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Honored Professor | Moderator, All Forums
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I would suspect that many -- if not most -- individuals gravitate toward lighter, softer fabrics these days. Certainly lifestyle changes, indoor heating and air conditioned homes, climate controlled shops and office buildings, temperature regulated modes of transportation, (I will leave global warming to The Interchange ;)) as well as changes in tailoring techniques have made certain heavier fabrics impractical and lighter cloths more abundant. However, even when and where a sturdier weight cloth might be appropriate, I understand that customers often opt for lighter fabrics. Durability does not appear to be a major factor.
 

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^ Indeed, one's choice in fabric can run to the heaviest weights, when one's primary lot in life is to stand around and look pompous! Though, Prince Phillip does it so well. :)
 

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I think that one of the major infrastructure determinants driving the development of modern men's dress has been the introduction of widespread indoor heating in both buildings and transport systems.

One of the things I noticed this Southern Hemisphere winter was just how much a longer coat runs substantially warmer. It struck me that historically, the knee length frock coat went out of fashion around the time electricity started becoming widely available ie around the early 20th century. Indeed, I have also found some evidence that the frock coat evolved out of a type of overcoat ie a formal double breasted knee length coat evolved out of the need to stay warm. Warmth was the raison d'etre of the frock coat!



In this example, the wearer has on a waistcoat, frock coat and frock overcoat. The lightest cloth he was wearing was probably around 18 Oz weight. His overcoat was probably even heavier.

The coat that supplanted the frock coat was the mini skirted lounge coat :icon_smile: - literally beachwear to be worn during the summer, when whoever was able to, escaped the smelly, stifling cities to head off to the beach or country resort.

The more the 20th century progressed, the more well heated indoor environments became commonplace, and the more men felt comfortable wearing beachwear all year round. It seems that indoor heating technology progressed to the point that men were happy to dress in garments formally regarded as underwear eg shirts and t-shirts. Hats, gloves, even ties and cravats too were all in some way intended to keep the wearer warm while he rode on horseback, or horse drawn carriage - and each of these men's accessories have been gradually cast aside as superfluous.

For various reasons (I believe related to further infrastructure considerations ;)), there is a drive to turning down air conditioning during the summer. I for one would welcome a similar change encouraging a commensurate reduction in the intensity of indoor heating. I would prefer turning heating down to Edwardian levels myself in the hope that I may see the frock coat return to fashion :icon_smile_big:
 

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I have many items in my wardrobe over 15-20 years old, including a Huntsman sport coat I had inherited and refurbished from 1966. One needs to take proper care of clothing, and, if very well made, bespoke items can last almost indefinitely. True, heavier items do hold up better, but some of my tropical weight suits are over 20 years old.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
Indeed. I am fortunate to have a good number of items in my wardrobe that have seen more than two decades of wear and many of them are of rather moderate weight. Certainly well made, well cared for clothing of even tropical weights can last a very long time, but some of the heavier fabrics so prevalent even into the 1970's would last forever. Their heritage precedes the frock coat; they were akin to armour! :icon_smile_big:
 
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