1001 Black Men–#421

One of the things that I love about men’s clothing is how little it changes. Actually, I should revise that statement: One of the things that I love about adult men’s clothing is how little it changes. Drive through the business district of any American city and you’ll see what I mean. Sure, there are different kinds of suits–zoot suits, sharkskin suits, polyester leisure suits; but when it comes to the work environment, men’s suits rarely stray from the fundamentals. Take, for example, the guy in this picture. He was standing outside the Elihu Harris building on Clay Street in Oakland. Almost everything he was wearing would not be that out of place for a working man living (and dressing) in 1927. (I know this because one of my prized book possessions is a reproduction of the 1927 Sears Catalog.) More than the fashion turnstile that is youth fashion, the trends in working men’s suits can best be described as slight variations on a theme. One year pants will be cuffed, and a couple years later they won’t. Then, five or ten years later, cuffs will come back into vogue.

As someone whose fashion aesthetic was pretty firmly established by the time I was 15 (weird, I know), I can appreciate the consistency in the menswear realm. Although it has run off the rails a few times–most notably, during the 1970s–the matching pants and jacket thing remains a firm foundation.

Ajuan Mance

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