Ditto Suits

The mid-nineteenth century saw the introduction of a type of men's suit that would become the dominant form of Western men's dress clothing of the next century. The ditto suit, as it was called, featured a jacket, vest, and trousers made from the same fabric. Also called the sack suit, the new style was characterized by a loose-fitting jacket which hung straight from the shoulders with no seam or fitting at the waist. The ditto suit was a fairly informal type of dress clothing, and it was generally worn for business, travel, or street wear.

The early part of the 1800s had been a time of careful dress for men, sometimes called the era of dandies. Dandies were men who paid careful attention to their clothes and followed the latest trends. Such stylishly dressed men as Englishman George "Beau" Brummell (1778–1840) had a great influence on men's fashions. High-collars, perfectly starched cravats, and tailor-fit jackets, vests, and trousers in complimentary colors were all part of the dandy's look during the first half of the nineteenth century. The perfection of fit that the dandies sought was not reproduced in the first ready-to-wear clothing. Introduced in 1860, the ditto suit offered a loose-fitting ready-to-wear outfit made from the same color and type of fabric. Middle-class and working men quickly adopted the ditto suit as an easy, less-expensive alternative to the expensive tailor-made dress clothes modeled by the dandies. Ready-made clothes soon began to replace tailor-made clothing. By the end of the century, the ditto suit had become the most popular type of everyday suit for most American and European men.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Bigelow, Marybelle S. Fashion in History: Western Dress, Prehistoric to Present . Minneapolis, MN: Burgess Publishing, 1970.

[ See also Volume 4, 1930–45: Men's Suits ]

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