From at least the early 1860s, women adopted tweed for outer garments such as jackets, cloaks, paletots, and coats, despite the fact that tweed was predominantly a men's wear cloth. The increasing participation of women in sports, such as countryside walking, shooting, and, later, cycling, led in the 1870s to the development of the tailored costume. This featured a matching jacket and long skirt that were generally made from some form of tweed. By 1900, the tailored costume had become accepted as informal or sporting wear for women of all classes, despite its earlier connotations of "mannishness" and feminism. The tweed industry, however, did little at this period to adapt its designs for women, other than to make them in lighter weights of cloth.
In the early twentieth century, British couturiers, such as Digby Morton, Hardy Amies, and Charles Creed, helped to stimulate international markets for superbly tailored tweed suits. The French couturier Coco Chanel was also inspired to include it in her collections after traveling to Scotland on a fishing trip with the Duke of Westminster in the 1920s. Her desire to include tweed in her exclusive designs was such that the Duke subsequently bought her a Scottish tweed mill. Linton Tweeds of Carlisle in Northern England has maintained an exclusive relationship with the House of Chanel since 1928. Tweed has since become an integral element of the signature suits that are endlessly reinvented by the House of Chanel.
Contemporary tweed manufacturers aim to maximize the potential of international markets for "traditional
British style" and also to promote their links with the more volatile consumers of radical, innovative fashion. Tweed retains traces of its earlier history in the present, on the one hand as remaining representative of British class and conservatism. However, it also exists as an ephemeral fashion textile that contributes to the rapidly changing visions of designers such as John Galliano at Dior, Alexander McQueen, and Vivienne Westwood.
See also Chanel, Gabrielle (Coco); Galliano, John; McQueen, Alexander; Scottish Dress; Westwood, Vivienne.
De la Haye, Amy, and Tobin Shelley. Chanel: The Couturiere at
Work. London: V & A Publications, 1994. Gulvin, Clifford. The Tweedmakers: A History of the Scottish Fancy Woollen Industry, 1600-1914. Newton Abbot, U.K.: David and Charles, 1973. Harrison, E. P. Scottish Estate Tweeds. Elgin, Scotland: Johnstons of Elgin, 1995.
Henry Ballantyne & Sons Ltd. London: Biographical Publishing
Company, 1929. Hoad, Judith. This is Donegal Tweed Co. Donegal, Ireland: Shoestring Publications, 1987. Ponting, Kenneth. "The Scottish Contribution to Wool Textile Design in the Nineteenth Century." In Scottish Textile History. Edited by John Butt and Kenneth Ponting. Aberdeen, Scotland: Aberdeen University Press, 1987. Taylor, Lou. "Wool Cloth and Gender: The Use of Woollen Cloth in Women's Dress in Britain, 1865-85." In Defining Dress: Dress as Object, Meaning and Identity. Edited by Amy de la Haye and Elizabeth Wilson. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1999. Textile Manufacturer 15 (January 1878): 2.
TWENTIETH-CENTURY FASHION Women's fashion at the beginning of the twentieth century was largely a matter of status. The stylish silhouette was defined by the narrow sans-ventre corset, which squeezed away the belly and gave the body an S-shaped line; by the long, sweeping skirt lengths; and by high rigid collars. Textile designs took the lead from art nouveau plant ornamentation. Parisian couturiers, such as Jean-Philippe and Gaston Worth (sons of the first celebrated grand couturier Charles Frederick Worth), the Callot sisters, Jacques Doucet, and Jeanne Paquin, were at the forefront in such society dresses.
This style was diametrically opposed by the "health dress," propagated by advocates of women's rights, artistic women, and doctors. This design hung loosely without a corset. Its sack cut was rejected by most style-conscious women, despite the designs of art-nouveau artists like Henry van de Velde.
The suit began to establish itself as a multi-faceted garment, becoming a symbol, eventually, of democratic fashion. The businesswoman used it in her career and the society lady as a travel and recreation outfit. The jacket was mostly styled in a masculine cut with lapels and cuffs; the frock coat was occasionally shortened above the ankle. Suits were offered by manufacturers as well as posh tailors such as John Redfern and Henry Creed. With the advent of the suit, the blouse became the central style element, featuring both luxuriously decorated and simple models. Comfortable kimono blouses, with cut-out sleeves, could be worn over skirts. Top coats, or paletots, taken from men's fashion, and carcoats or dusters, satisfied the desire for functional clothing. Around 1908, the Parisian couturier Paul Poiret created a new style called la vague. Inspired by the Ballets Russes, he combined the body-liberating "health dress" with elements of Asian dress. Paul Poiret had ties with the world-famous Vienna Workshops, which operated their own fashion department.
Originating in England, the Edwardian style (named after King Edward VII) was the leader in international men's fashion. Men's fashion was regulated by exact rules, which were published by prominent tailors, as to when and under what circumstances each suit was to be worn.
Business attire included the sports jacket (sack coat) and the more elegant suit jacket. Daytime suites incorporated the frock coat (Prince Albert). The cut-away was considered suitable for more private and prestigious occasions. The smoking jacket fulfilled the role of comfortable, casual evening attire. There also existed specialized sporty ensembles. It was important always to choose the correct hat: soft felt, bowler, homburg, canotier, panama, or top hat. There were also many different coats to choose from, such as paletots, chesterfields, raglans, and ulsters.
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