September 19, 2009

Naples, Nations & New Notions

Refused of their demands, the freedom fighters of Naples and its isle-studded bay beat the drum to unification as a last resort. In 1861, the tiny island of Ischia joined the forces of Garibaldi and united with the Republic of Italy.

Nine years later, on September 20, 1870, even my tatà tatà (dialect for ‘great grandfather’) enlisted with the troops of Italy’s first king, Vittorio Immanuele II.

Bombing Rome’s gate, Porta Pia, great grandpa and the partisans liberated central Italy from the domain of the Papal States and rebaptized Rome as the nation’s political capital. Alas, Naples and its surrounding islands have been slowly acculturating to the mainstream of Italian peninsular life ever since.

The 19th century laid the foundation of the modern era for menswear, introducing concepts like lounge wear, formal wear, outdoor wear, sportswear, and the tuxedo—but all based on the 3-piece suit. Changes occurred progressively by the decade.

With the new notions of equality from the French Revolution, menswear became less ostentatious and more uniform. Embroideries and lace went out the window. The length of pants dropped to the ankle. Boots became a mainstay. The dandy was conceived.

Double-breasted waist coats featured long tails and high collars. Overcoats were particularly façonnable. Broad shoulders and a narrow waist portrayed a real gentleman. High collar shirts were worn with wide cravats.

Out went the wigs and in came natural hair, just oiled or waxed. Curly hair was prized, as well as sideburns and—later—goatees. Conical hats evolved into the top hat and, soon wide brim hats, bowler hats, and straw boaters were sported.

Eventually the frock coat replaced the tailcoats, which were reserved for formal occasions, while numerous new styles of coats and jackets appeared on the scene. Collars evolved continually, as well as the shape of ties and bow ties. Shoe heels grew in height.

2010 Trends & Takeaways from the period:
Although the tuxedo will not vanish from formal occasions, the most formal look of spring/summer 2010 entails a relaxed version of the dapper debonair dandy with a double-breasted jacket and fedora hat. Like the popularity of boots in this period, boots will be one of the key accessories that add authentic masculinity to the androgynous trends of spring/summer 2010 collections.

Photo top left Vittorio Immanuele II, Copyright Men's Fashion by Francesco.
Photo middle right French Nobleman, Procession Sant'Alessandro, Ischia, Public Domain.
Slideshow Public Domain.

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