Book Review: Sharp Suits

Saturday, January 30, 2010
I had intended to visit Child and sons today, to get them started on the alterations to my blazer, but unfortunately they close at 4pm on a Saturday, and some of my other engagements overran, so I didn't have the chance. I shall try to go next weekend, and in the meantime will content myself with the lovely replacement buttons which arrived on Wednesday.
Instead, I thought I would briefly mention a book I recently bought myself, and which I have been very much enjoying. Sharp Suits by Eric Musgrave is a look at the history and changing styles of men's suits. Musgrave's detailed examination of how suits have developed, the styles of different tailors, and the influence of English, American and Italian tailoring on suit fashions is fascinating in itself. However, it is the pictures that accompany it that many readers will find particularly inspiring. These make up a large percentage of the book, and are scattered liberally throughout each chapter, as well as being occasionally grouped together in double-page spreads covering some feature such as 'Striped Suits' or 'Double-Breasted Suits'.
Sharp Suits
Musgrave is undogmatic both in his writing and in his selection of pictures; as happily including a picture of The Beatles in collarless suits as a picture of Prince Charles in flawless Anderson and Shepherd bespoke. The upshot is that while the book by no means serves as a guide as to how you should dress, it does tell you enough about different styles and how they have failed, succeeded or been developed that you can make your own decisions.

There is something to be enjoyed, and appreciated, in every picture but especially in some of the remarkable images of people like the Duke of Windsor; whether you are interested in a readable history of the suit, or simply in an attractive coffee-table book littered with excellent photographs, this book is a very worthwhile purchase.