Manliness, Modernity and the Shaping of Male Clothing

Quote from Dr Henry Wampen, a German mathemetician who published many books on tailoring, “I took great interest in art and philosophy, and a question was then much discussed whether the Grecian ideal of beauty was simply ideal or founded upon scientific basis… I was induced to measure certain statues, and I came to the conclusion that the Grecian sculptors worked on scientific basis.”

Greek god bodies are always thought of as the male ideal. Interesting to know that it’s something achievable versus the photo shopped unrealistic images of women. I feel like although men have some pressure to strive for that Grecian body, they never have nearly as much pressure to be perfect as women do. I think I’m treading into different territory right now.


Tailored menswear used to be the norm. But once the shift to the acceptance of ready made clothing happened, the act of tailoring started to die out slowly. It seems that people also started to not like how close tailors got to them, and a retail transaction was %100 less invasive than getting “fitted-up”.

“The key ritual of fitting-up may also have slipped from view due to its intensely personal, almost erotic characterization. The transactions of the tailor moved towards the transgression of a fragile cultural terrain in which the potential breaching of corporeal, sexual and class taboos became dangerously real.”

The erotic characterization of tailoring has definitely affected the way I think. While reading I made a note reminding myself to look up tailors being depicted as gay in pop culture. I found nothing and I was so sure that I would’ve been able to find a ton of references! I was like Yea! There are so many tailors that are shown as gay in shows and movies. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough, but for now I guess I’m just a victim of our culture’s weird borderline homophobic view on tailoring.

Bond doesn’t mind a bit of tailoring.

“During the 1890s and 1910s the physical results of weight lifting provided a site for the spectacular celebration of the male form in London and other Western capitals. Pivoting around the near-naked figure of the body-builder this cult of muscularity found outlets on the music hall stage, in the circus, and in the pages of physical culture magazines.”

It seems that the buff male form has remained popular throughout history. When I read the passage I was immediately reminded of WWE wrestling. It’s exactly what’s described in the quote above. Male body-builders showing off on a stage. And you can see it twice a week. Why has this aggressive beefy image of men become the ideal for so many?

WWE. Objectifying men the right way.


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