New book explores men’s fashion

March 9th, 2009  |  by  |  Published in Research News

Andrew Reilly

Andrew Reilly

From the leisure suit and football jerseys, fashion applies to men.

“Just by nature of dressing in the morning, men have fashion,” asserts Andrew Reilly, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa assistant professor of apparel, product design and merchandising. “What they choose to wear tells us who they are, their values, their opinions.”

Finding few texts to address the topic in their classes, Reilly and Northern Illinois University colleague Sarah Cosbey created their own.

The Men’s Fashion Reader (FairchildBooks) is a compilation of essays by experts that address menswear from historical, cultural and political perspectives; men’s attention to their body shape (from when thin was in to “pump me up”); and other topics. Chapters cover football and military uniforms, necktie and facial hair trends and fads from dandyism to hip hop.

Reilly’s contribution investigated whether men’s suits, like women’s fashion, undergo cycles, changing incrementally until hitting an extreme and changing direction. Looking at lapel, collar, cuff, waistline, pocket and other factors through the 20th century, Reilly determined that menswear is also, although less consistently, cyclical.

“The book is for anyone interested in sociology, anthropology, psychology or cultural or gender studies because we examine how these forces helped shape how men dress or don’t dress,” he says.

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