"Most fashion and dress scholarship has focused on women, with a popular assumption that men aren't as attuned to clothing as women,” says professor Andy Reilly of the Fashion Design & Merchandising program. “Of course, this is objectively false.”
To help set the record straight, Andy has contributed a chapter to a new book, the Routledge Handbook of Masculinities Studies. With his co-author Jose Blanco F., Andy discusses how the academic field of clothing and dress among men is growing, as is the number of new scholars and publications. They also discuss the role and meaning of clothes to men in creating cultural, social, and psychological identity, as well as gender, ethnic, and sexual influences.
“Men have used clothing to create different identities,” he says. “For example, the business suit is probably one of the most recognized clothing items for the ‘career man.’ It dates back to King Charles II of England and had strong political and class connotations. But the suit has evolved from its origins to something that looks quite different today.”
Andy adds, “Euro-American men's dress changed from excess and exuberance during what has become known as the Great Masculine Renunciation of the 18th century, when plain dress took over as a sign of seriousness and business. Yet, that is a very white, heterosexual, cisgender ideal. Other cultures and groups have their own conceptions of masculinity, such as the ‘Black is Beautiful’ movement of the 1960s, where African-American men wore clothing from or inspired by Africa, and genderless styles we see today.”