So, how did it all start? Until the mid-eighteenth century the main influence on clothing styles came from the court of France. Men wore silks and satins, lace ruffles, silk stockings and powdered wigs. In the mid-18th century, however, leadership in men's fashion shifted from France to England and a definable British style began to emerge. In Britain the nobility liked to spend a good part of the year on their country estates rather then at court. Life in the countryside with hunting, shooting and other outdoor activities required practicality, movability, durability and warmth in clothes and this is where many British innovations came from: the frock coat, the riding coat and Wellington boots, for example .
George "Beau" Brummell, watercolor by Richard Dighton (1805) sourceThe one who established the basics of what was to become "the English gentleman's style" was Beau Brummel, the trendiest trendsetter in the history of trendsetting. His influence on men's fashion was immense and his ideas were novel for the time in which he lived. He dramatically changed the minds of men in regard to the rules of how men should dress. He is credited with introducing and bringing to fashion the ensemble of jacket, trousers, waistcoat, shirt and tie that is still popular and worn throughout the world for business and formal occasions.
For over 300 years, British menswear has been a source of style and innovation and its influence can be seen today on the streets and catwalks throughout the world.
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