1 Men’s suits are on their way out. As a result of what Marks & Spencer’s director of menswear calls ‘customers’ rapidly changing needs’, fewer than half of the company’s clothing stores are now stocking suits.
Meanwhile, sales for shorts and jogging bottoms are up. Last summer, market analysts said that nationwide spending on suits was down 89 per cent, owing to the pandemic and a ‘diminished need to wear a suit to the office’.
2 Consequently, Marks & Spencer’s remaining suits have been up in arms, and down in legs. A pressure group led by a charcoal woollen three-piece suit plans to picket the company headquarters early next week.
An allied group of M&S ties will also be there. ‘If the suits are being axed, then let’s face it: ties will be next,’ says the group’s spokesman, a machine-washable, polka-dot, pure silk tie in navy blue and white.
Men’s suits are on their way out. As a result of what Marks & Spencer’s director of menswear calls ‘customers’ rapidly changing needs’, fewer than half of the company’s clothing stores are now stocking suits
3 It is strongly rumoured that hundreds of suits that have already been sold, and are at present hanging quietly in men’s wardrobes up and down the country, are planning to join the picket line.
‘We will wait until our owners are away. Then we will let ourselves out of our wardrobes, down the stairs, out through the front door, ready to march on London,’ declares a light grey, two-piece vintage suit, currently living in Dorking, Surrey, who refuses to be named.
4 Suits were first worn by members of the legal profession. The name is believed to derive from the legal expression ‘sue-it’.
5 For well over a century, militant revolutionary groups in Russia, China, Africa and South America have shunned traditional Western suits in favour of more rough-and-ready workers’ clothing, only to start wearing them the moment they gain power.
Having established the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Chinese communist Mao Zedong would always be seen in a blue proletarian tunic with four prominent pockets, said to represent the Four Virtues of propriety, justice, honesty and shame.
But in his private life Mao preferred to swan about in a beige three-piece suit with discreetly flared trousers and double-breasted waistcoat, supplemented by a pink shirt and silk tie with bold cerise-and-lime diagonal stripes, designed by trendy British fashion house Tootal Coordinates.
6 Since the Allied withdrawal from Afghanistan, demand for suits has soared in Kabul and surrounding areas.
‘It’s like a dream come true!’ says senior Taliban fighter Showaddywaddy Ahmed Muttawakil. ‘Frankly, I’ve been sick to death of wearing these mouldy old things through two decades of struggle. I mean — they’re so unseemly! But now with my new M&S loyalty card, I’m entitled to 20 per cent off all suits and ties, including bow ties. And, believe me, this makes our great struggle worthwhile. By the end of next week, I’ll be as smart and dapper as TV’s Lord Sugar.’
7 The number of buttons on each cuff of a suit has long been a sign of prestige. One button means that you are of no importance whatsoever, whereas eight or more buttons show that you are a senior CEO or world leader. The only person ever to have worn over ten buttons on each cuff is President Donald J. Trump. On the day of his inauguration, President Trump instructed his tailor to sew an extra 15 buttons on to the outside of each sleeve, and a further 15 buttons on to the inside.
Many long-established rock musicians, among them Shane MacGowan, Liam (pictured) and Noel Gallagher, and Keith Richards have got into the habit of arriving at venues in their usual smart suits and then changing backstage into battered jeans and T-shirts, ready for their fans
8 Debate still rages over the purpose of the vent at the rear of the male jacket. What on earth is it for? Tailors remain divided over the question. Some believe it is there to facilitate the discreet expulsion of wind; others argue that, like the cuff button, it confers prestige: no vents for down-and-outs, a single vent for middle-management, two vents for billionaire philanthropists and three vents or more for members of the Garrick Club.
9 Many long-established rock musicians, among them Shane MacGowan, Liam and Noel Gallagher, and Keith Richards have got into the habit of arriving at venues in their usual smart suits and then changing backstage into battered jeans and T-shirts, ready for their fans.
Today’s wealthier rock star will always employ a valet — his very own Jeeves — to ensure a proper smattering of dirt, creases and rips on all garments before he takes to the stage.
When the rock star returns to the green room, a top-class valet should be able to get him dressed back in his suit and out of the stadium in under five minutes.