The fashion world owes a debt of gratitude to British designers and British history. Many of today’s most popular styles originated in the British Isles, from the miniskirt to men’s suits. These iconic trademarks of British style may be traditionally British, but we see their influence all around the world.
Three Piece Suit
The most classic British menswear look dates all the way to 1666. In an effort to tone down the lavish dress of English nobility, King Charles II declared that members of his court must wear wool waistcoats with a knee-length coats and shirts. This declaration began the long-standing tradition of classic British suiting. Still today, British tailors pride themselves on impeccably cut three-piece suits made from the finest wool. Menswear designers around the world have Charles II to thank for the styles that are still worn today.
In addition to thanking Great Britain for traditional suiting, we can also thank them for pioneering one of the most popular men’s shoe styles. Modern brogues can trace their lineage back to hide footwear worn by rural Scots and Irishmen in the 1700s. The style became more refined over the years, and America especially caught on to the trend in the 1920s and 1930s when they became extremely popular. Today brogues are still considered highly fashionable men’s footwear.
Burberry Trench Coat
Initially designed to be worn by soldiers battling in the First World War, the Burberry trench is now a staple of British, and world, fashion. The water-resistant fabric was both functional and sharp-looking, so it is no surprise that regular citizens wanted to wear the coats as well. Today, Burberry trench coats are popular outwear for men and women alike. This classic wardrobe staple gives nearly any outfit a sharp, tailored look.
Tartans and Tweeds
Several of Great Britain’s most important additions to the history of fashion come from the countryside. These fashions began as practical fabrics and garments meant for hardy use. Today, we use these garments as much for form as for function.
Tweed is arguably the most “British” of fabrics. The rugged woven cloth was originally made for outdoors-men in the British Isles. Today, we tend to associate tweed with aristocratic or academic style. Tartan’s Scottish roots began as clansmen wore traditional plaids to distinguish the wearer as a member of a specific clan. Over the years, these tartan patterns were incorporated into military wear, outdoors gear, and, eventually, punk fashion.
Iconic British designer Mary Quant brought the miniskirt to the world in the mid 60s, inspiring a generation of fashion. The skirt’s bold design was quintessential part of the rebellious fashion of the 60s and 70s.
How many of these iconic British pieces do you have in your closet? We consider them all to be wardrobe staples, so if you don’t own them now perhaps a bit of shopping is in order!