What do you think of whenever you hear the words “leisure suit”? The scene pictured in your mind might include anything from 1970s discos, “lounge lizards” who won’t take no for an answer when asking a lady to dance, or Mr. Furley from the television serial Three’s Company. These are commonly held perceptions of the leisure suit for the majority of people. These are the first things that come to mind. Maybe now you are wondering what in the world a leisure suit is? You came to the right place for the answers to all of your questions. It is now the year 2015, and leisure suits are back in style, but they simply aren’t the same attire from the bygone disco era. This guide will show you how to rock the leisure suit and it will also inform you about its history and context.
A leisure suit is a casual suit; sometimes three piece but usually two-piece, consisting of a shirt-like jacket and matching trousers. It is most often linked with fashion that was influenced by American culture and trends, especially during the 1970s.
The first appearance of leisure suits on the fashion scene was on the west coast of the United States in the late 1930s. They were worn in the summer as casual-wear for the wealthy. The early leisure suits were influenced by the heavy tweed Norfolk jacket worn by English sportsmen. They were made from lightweight fabrics and were worn until as late as the 1950s. They were especially popular in the Southwest where they became commonly worn at formal events. These leisure suits often featured collars and cuffs of contrasting colors. Suits of this pattern, embellished with embroidery and rhinestones, were made for 1950s Country and Western musicians, including the legendary and iconic Elvis Presley.
This way of dressing- suits as casual wear- became popular among members of Britain’s mod subculture in the 1960s. However, the style only achieved widespread popularity in the United States when synthetic materials such as polyester were developed, and marketed at low prices. This fact, combined with the American culture’s new tendency to shy away from formality, contributed to the leisure suit’s success. They are frequently associated with that era’s disco culture. Leisure suits gained critical acclaim by offering a fashionable, attractive, and inexpensive suit which could in effect, be used in formal business situations. Yet its defining characteristic was that it was casual enough to be worn out of the workplace setting. The leisure suit reached its peak in popularity around the mid to late 1970s, but fell from fashion in the very early 1980s. Today it is commonly considered an emblematic American fad of the 1970s.
In popular culture, the leisure suit quickly became associated with bars, gangsters, and ironically, with clueless dressing – the video game Leisure Suit Larry being an example of such misunderstanding. Many characters on the television series, The Sopranos (considered by many to be the greatest television series of all time) frequently incorporated elements of the leisure suit style into their own wardrobes.
There will be many occasions during your lifetime where you will have to get “dressed up”. At some of these events, you may want to wear a suit but wearing a basic suit and tie is just way too much for you. You still want to look your best though, and you prefer to wear stylish clothes. This is where leisure suits come in to play.
Leisure suits are still being offered and worn today, although not in the form of bellbottoms and pastel colors which is what many people first think of when hearing the term. Fashion labels such as Dior Homme and Dolce & Gabbana include casual suits among their collections. These are more similar to suits in the style of British mod than American disco. In recent decades there has been a lot of progress in the textile industry and the technologies needed to manufacture synthetic fabrics, such as polyester. This has fueled the creation of multitudes of new textures.
Leisure suits have come back in an elegant form that simply looks great for men who just do not feel like wearing a suit and tie. Some go far enough to say that leisure suits are a mix of formal and informal attires. The new leisure suit is something that can be worn with a dress hat such as a fedora. A fashion suit like a leisure suit is something to take every bit as seriously as a traditional suit when it comes to dressing to impress. You want to make sure you are wearing the right shoes with it and match it up with the right shirt as well. In order to take full advantage of the style leisure suits can confer upon you, they should be worn with an elegant pair of Italian-style dress shoes from labels such as Duca Di Matiste, or some high-quality suede boots, such as a pair of handmade Calzoleria Toscana. You could make a really flashy statement with a pair of crocodile skin shoes, handmade by one of the finest exotic shoes manufacturers, Belvedere. Our fashion team at SuitElegante recommends wearing casual style suits with either a nice button down shirt or a dressy mock turtleneck shirt. Most modern leisure suits also come with a lined jacket in order to make it comfortable and easier to move around in. Just because it’s called a leisure suit does not mean that you just throw it on and go. You should take pride when you get dressed up because, after all, it is still a suit. Leisure suits just aren’t the same 1970′s lounge lizard attire from that bygone era. We do not know what the future holds for leisure suits and casual suits. Having said that, the leisure suit can act as a suitable informal alternative to sports coats or suits.
What are your thoughts on the Leisure suit? Is this something you have owned or worn before?