A brief history of British tailoring

Whether you’re planning to do away with tradition and host a very modern wedding or are sticking to a classically chic vibe, one thing’s for sure, what the bride and groom wear will be firmly in the spotlight.

Whilst brides up and down the country will be tirelessly searching for the perfect wedding gown, grooms are often seen as having an easier job when selecting the suit they’ll say “I do” in. Just like bridal trends, groom style evolves with time. The suit however remains a staple part of a groom’s wedding attire, and it’s been this way for as long as we can remember.

Tailoring has a big part to play at both modern and traditional weddings, and the art form also has a long history.

Here we take a closer look at British tailoring through the years, exploring how things have changed from past to present, and how grooms benefit from this heritage right now.

Tailoring as we know it began in the 1800s

Men throughout history have been enjoying bespoke tailoring, with parts of elaborate outfits created using a single fabric even found in archaeological digs. The suit we know and love today however was born on Savile Row in the 1880s.

It was bespoke tailor Henry Poole & Co, aka the founders of Savile Row, that changed tailoring and put Britain on the map for its forward-thinking style. Before this point, suits were simply a similar pair of trousers and jacket, available in brown or black.

Henry Poole & Co brought a whole host of colours, designs and fabrics to the market, giving men more to choose from to this day. The company was founded in the early 1800s and specialised in military tailoring before taking the leap into the bespoke world.

The dinner jacket that changed it all

Henry Poole & Co is also responsible for the creation of the first, modern-style dinner suit, which was commissioned before the opening of their flagship Savile Row store. We’ll let King and Allen explain more about the story behind the very royal commission:

“The earliest record of a formal jacket without tailes (ie. a dinner jacket) dates back to 1865, when the future Edward VII commissioned his tailor, Henry Poole & Co, to make him a blue silk shorter jacket and matching trousers to wear to informal dinner parties at his Sandringham estate.”

With the creation of the dinner jacket, a global style icon was born. Edward VII appeared on the front of newspapers all over the world and became renowned for the British tailored style.

He promoted British tailoring passionately, and the trend of wearing tuxedos, waistcoats and dinner jackets spread to the far reaches of the planet as a result.

From everyday essential to special occasion

During these early days and at the beginning of British tailoring, suits quickly became an everyday essential for any self-respecting gentleman. Back then, a man would have a suit for every occasion, including less formal, day-to-day designs.

Even working-class men would don a suit in the evenings and weekends after hanging up their work clothes.

The popularity of suits as casual wear made these designs more affordable. This did mean the dilution of British made goods, as thanks to growing global networks suits were transported into the UK from all over the world.

A resurgence in quality British tailoring

Suits and other formal wear are more readily available in the modern-day. Yet despite the opportunity to purchase cheaper suit designs from all over the world, the heritage-rich British tailors are yet again becoming the first choice, especially for special occasions like weddings.

By setting a benchmark for great quality since the 1800s, grooms trust British standards more than ever. They’re leaving mass production techniques and synthetic fabrics behind in favour of a carefully crafted, bespoke suit full of creative touches that add personality to their wedding attire.



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