British Tailors Shaped Today’s Luxury Menswear

From Gatsby to Don Draper, luxury menswear is a hot topic at the moment and sales of three-piece suits, tailored shirts, and other sartorial sensations are rising across the world. As illustrated in this month’s Vogue, traditional dresswear has flooded the men’s catwalks of 2013, and is now petering into the high-street too as the likes of Reiss, Zara, and Hackett all follow suit. But where does this sartorial trend come from originally? What are the origins of the world’s menswear? Well it turns out that it’s not that far from us at all, in fact, sartorial menswear is officially traced back to good old Britain.

The Origins of Menswear

In a large research study by London’s V&A Museum it has been revealed that British tailors and shirtmakers have influenced men’s fashion more than we think, and furthermore that the origins of this influence date back over 400 years. According to this study, British tailoring has been setting trends from as early as 1528 as the reigning Tudor monarchs prized high fashion and royal tailors traded their wares with courts from across Europe.

luxury menswear

Since then, the clothing of the British gentleman has developed from strength to strength with the invention of world famous styles such as tweed, tartan, the three-piece suit, riding coats, the dandy, and even the Wellington boot. As GQ editor and chairman of the London CollectionsDylan Jones explains: “The study offers a fascinating snapshot into the history and heritage of British menswear that amplifies the extraordinary legacy that we see around us today.”

Essentially this study reveals that without the legacy of British fashion the formal dress of every major western country would look dramatically different. We take these garments for granted but the sartorial style born in these isles shaped the nature of menswear for centuries and has been an inspiration for generations of designers in both men’s and women’s fashion.

Get Your Gatsby On

So if you or your partner feel inspired by this patriotic revelation or indeed by Di Caprio’s laconic portrayal of the Great Gatsby, then it’s probably best to go to the “mecca” of the sartorial world in London‘s Piccadilly. This includes the famous Savile Row and Jermyn Street where you can find rows of the oldest and greatest tailors, cobblers and shirtmakers in the world. For the true Gatsby look, think cream suits, high-waisted slacks, trousers with braces, and fine dress shirts worn with patterned silk ties.

the great gatsby

Sartorial Accessories

Vibrant bow ties are also a great way to ensure this look and whether Batwing or Thistle, there is something for everyone (as featured below in this selection from Budd Shirtmakers). I prefer paisley, argyle and plaid on men but find whatever works for you, and stick with rich silks which usually come in a huge spectrum of colours from black through to delicate pastel shades such as lemon, burgandy and cream.


In Fitzgerald’s seminal piece, Daisy Buchanan (the heroine of sorts) describes Gatsby as “the man in the cool, beautiful shirts” which indicates the tone and impact this style had on 1920s America and the far-reaching nature of Britain’s sartorial style and its role in shaping the world’s menswear we see today.

Images courtesy of  SantaBanta and Budd Shirtmakers.

Fashion Focus