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Work Attire Over the Last 10 Decades

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Out here in LA, jeans have been de rigueur in the workplace for some time—other than a select group of film/tv agents, almost nobody in L.A. is required to wear a suit and tie. Even the Wall Streeters here can get away with business casual most days. A lot of businesses out here that have business casual mon-thur, have extremely casual Fridays, which is supposed to mean jeans that haven't been distressed and a nice pair of shoes but that doesn't stop some from wearing inappropriately short skirts and Uggs.
I'm not sure how you all feel about Uggs in the workplace, but I can tell you, they certainly wouldn't have been tolerated even 20 years ago. A cursory look at the last 10 decades of office attire history reveals the following:

Early 1900s: Men were all about frock coats, vests, watch fobs, and, of course, the old top hat.

img_MenClassicCollar.jpg 1920s: Wristwatches were issued to men in the army during World War I. When the soldiers came back from the war, they went on wearing those wristwatches, doing away with fobs, but, more interestingly, vests, too. Why wear an uncomfortable vest if you don't have to put your fob in it? Also, the stiff, starched detachable collar was still popular around this time, but softer ones that—look out!—attached to the shirt were gaining in popularity.

VintageAccess_LG.jpeg1930s: While The Depression forced many into unemployment, it also allowed more women to enter the workplace because in some households, if the wife could find work, one income was better than none. Suits were ubiquitous at the office; so working women adopted their own versions, which they complemented with matching hats, gloves, bags, and shoes.

doublebreasted.jpg1940s: Here's an interesting fact from work attire history: Before the war, double-breasted suits made up almost 50% of all suits made; by the end of the 40s they accounted for only 12%. Why? Simple: Wartime cloth restrictions squeezed the second breast right out of the suit.

photo1.jpg 1950s: Two things happened after the war: women celebrated the end of restrictions by opting for small-waisted, billowing skirts (One of Dior's used 20 yards of fabric!). Chanel's knit suits also became popular during this time. For their part, men continued wearing the same old drab Brooks Brothers suits, but, hey, at least the suits were getting smaller with each passing decade.

jfk2colour.jpg 1960s: JFK, trendsetter that he was, shook office wear up by appearing in a two-button suit on a televised debate with Richard Nixon. From that day on, three buttons were for old people.

002.jpg 1970s: My favorite fact about this earthshaking decade: In 1970 about 80% of shirts sold by Arrow (the largest shirtmaker at the time) were anything but white. Six years earlier the reverse had been true.

3.jpg 1980s: Wall Street and Trump took over in the 80s, bringing with them suspenders and contrasting collars. Maybe it was because men thought women should look like men, or because MTV-influenced fashion spread to the workplace, but women's suits all had large shoulder pads stuffed in them by the mid-80s.

Dockers-Custom-Fit-Khaki---Pleated.jpg1990s: the decade can be summed up in one word: Dockers. The suit finally gave way, first to khakis and then to jeans. Blame it on all those Gap ads, or just the culmination of changes started in the 60s, but all forward-thinking tech-geeks hung up their suits for good in the 90s and many others followed.

Picture 72000s: Ahh, the decade that turned t-shirts into currency. Thanks to technology, every blogger can now print, stock and sell t-shirts. They have become like temporary tattoos, allowing us to express our personalities, humor and style. As casual has become more and more accepted in the workplace, t-shirts are becoming more common. Though it's fiction, the boys on The Big Bang Theory epitomize the new dress code, wearing cool tees over top stylish long-sleeve shirts. (Oh, and incidentally, the mental_floss tee you see this lovely model wearing is available right here in our store!)

What about you all? What does your office let you wear and, more importantly, what do you WISH you could wear to work?

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Big Questions
Why Do Shorts Cost as Much as Pants?
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Shorts may feel nice and breezy on your legs on a warm summer’s day, but they’re not so gentle on your wallet. In general, a pair of shorts isn’t any cheaper than a pair of pants, despite one obviously using less fabric than the other. So what gives?

It turns out clothing retailers aren’t trying to rip you off; they’re just pricing shorts according to what it costs to produce them. Extra material does go into a full pair of pants but not as much as you may think. As Esquire explains, shorts that don’t fall past your knees may contain just a fifth less fabric than ankle-length trousers. This is because most of the cloth in these items is sewn into the top half.

Those same details that end up accounting for most of the material—flies, pockets, belt loops, waist bands—also require the most human labor to make. This is where the true cost of a garment is determined. The physical cotton in blue jeans accounts for just a small fraction of its price tag. Most of that money goes to pay the people stitching it together, and they put in roughly the same amount of time whether they’re working on a pair of boot cut jeans or some Daisy Dukes.

This price trend crops up across the fashion spectrum, but it’s most apparent in pants and shorts. For example, short-sleeved shirts cost roughly the same as long-sleeved shirts, but complicated stitching in shirt cuffs that you don’t see in pant legs can throw this dynamic off. There are also numerous invisible factors that make some shorts more expensive than nearly identical pairs, like where they were made, marketing costs, and the brand on the label. If that doesn’t make spending $40 on something that covers just a sliver of leg any easier to swallow, maybe check to see what you have in your closet before going on your next shopping spree.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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Musee YSL Marrakech
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Design
A Pair of New Museums Will Honor Fashion Icon Yves Saint Laurent
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Musee YSL Marrakech

In 2008, the legendary Yves Saint Laurent—the 20th century fashion luminary whose designs were inspired by fine art, menswear, Moroccan caftans, and peasant garb, among other influences—passed away at the age of 71. Now, nearly a decade after his death, fashion fans can pay homage to the iconic designer by visiting two new museums dedicated to his life and work, according to ARTnews.

Morocco's Musée Yves Saint Laurent Marrakech pays homage to the designer in a place he famously loved. (He first bought a house in the city in 1966, and his ashes were scattered there after his death.) In 1980, he and his partner Pierre Bergé bought Marrakech's Jardin Majorelle to prevent its destruction by developers, turning it into an immensely popular public garden. Located near the garden—along a street that is named after him—the new museum's permanent and temporary exhibits alike will feature clothing items like the designer's influential safari jackets and smoking suits along with sketches, accessories, and other archival items.

The Moroccan museum will serve as a sister institution to the new Musée Yves Saint Laurent Paris, which is located at the site of Saint Laurent’s historic atelier and office in France. Following an extensive renovation of the building, the Paris institution will house thousands of sketches, photos, and fashion items related to the designer. The first exhibition will be a themed retrospective, “Yves Saint Laurent’s Imaginary Asia."

Both museums are scheduled to open in October. We’re already donning our smoking jackets.

[h/t ARTnews]

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