The business suit is meant to exude strength, power and confidence to the wearer just with appearance alone. Dressing in well tailored suits shows refinement and class when attending that important business meeting or dinner date, but why is this so? Does the fashion industry rely on the stable foundation that society has slowly established for the suit, in order for the individual wearer to stay fashionable? Or does the confidence come from the clothing itself? Wearing a suit to work can be considered ‘Power Dressing’, a term commonly associated with the phrase ‘Dress for the job you want, not the job you have’. Over the years, fashion designers have slowly nipped and tucked the suit from its original bulky shoulders and pinstripes to make the garments appear more streamline, using lighter materials and cleaner lines (2). The suit fabrics have also varied from their more outdated counterparts with a larger array of variety now out on the market, featuring subtle patterns, and a wider variety of shades and colours (4). “The suit has always been an important aspect of my business, and researching shapes and materials is an ongoing aspect of my work. The suit has become sleeker, with a more slender line and natural tailoring.”- Giorgio Armani (3)

DKNY's 2010 ad featuring male suits on the streets

DKNY’s 2010 ad featuring male suits on the streets

In 2013, retailers specialising in Formal Menswear in Australia recorded a collective revenue sum of $328 million with an annual growth of 4.0 from 2012 and a total of 364 stores across the country (1). This displays a significant rise in demand for suits and business attire as men become more autonomous when purchasing their wardrobe. This increased need to ‘power dress’ at the office coincides with a large spike in the prevalence of office jobs and not surprisingly, the influx of women within the workplace (1).

The men’s suit has stood the test of time and has evolved and developed with the lives of the everyday man, picking up on the demand for individuals to appear confident and classy within their careers and social life. Just like the little black dress, the suit will continue with its ongoing success within the fashion industry.

  1. Formal Menswear Retailing in Australia: Market Research Report, 2013, IBIS world, viewed 21 September 2014, <;
  2. Goulart, J & A 2014, The Power of the Suit, Eligible Magazine, viewed 21 September 2014, <;
  3. Leitch, L 2014, The Rehabilitation of the Power Suit, The Telegraph, viewed 21 September 2014, <;
  4. Breward, C 1999, The hidden consumer: masculinities, fashion and city life 1860-1914, Manchester University press, viewed 21 September 2014, <;