Journal

"With a suit, even if you're having a nervous breakdown, you still look like you're in charge." These words, spoken by Hollywood film director Paul Feig, have been the secret of a central part of our 130-year-old business: the Jaeger suit. It's not all that well known, but Jaeger actually played a key role in shaping the suit's own history.

Today's business suit sprang from unexpected beginnings. Its story began in England in the late 17th century when, with his subjects dying in their thousands during the Great Plague, King Charles II felt it was somewhat in bad taste for members of his court to be parading around in lace, feathers and fur. In sympathy for the victims, he ordered them to wear tunics in grey, navy and beige instead. England's merchants never went back, probably realising it was far more practical to travel the country plying their trade in something actually comfortable.

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Two hundred years later, on a now world-famous Mayfair street, the lounge suit as we know it today was born. Influenced by Savile Row's tradition of military tailoring, the padded shoulders were an echo that was left over from military epaulettes. More gruesomely, the true purpose of the buttons on the cuffs were for the surgeons who at the time practised on neighbouring Jermyn Street - allowing them to keep their sleeves folded back and out of the way, thereby preventing them being spattered with blood.

But the suit's popularity really exploded in the 19th century, when the Industrial Revolution saw more men set off to work in offices and factories. Clothes were important. As Mark Twain put it at the time: "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society." Thousands turned to the suit: authoritative, respectable and appropriate for the workplace, while also embodying new values of professionalism and progress.

It was around this time that a woollen suit made the name of a certain Dr Gustav Jaeger. A photograph from our archive, dated around 1880, shows Dr Jaeger dressed in his creation - the first suit created entirely out of wool: practical, warm and comfortable. It was an immediate hit with London's artistic crowd - George Bernard Shaw famously lived in his woollen Jaeger suit, to the extent that, as GK Chesterton noted, it "became a part of his personality".

In the first half of the 20th century men of all classes wore tailored suits to work, with only the label as an indicator of each man's social position. And yet Jaeger was a firm favourite with everyone from businessmen to stars of the silver screen, such as Cary Grant and Sir Ralph Richardson, making us key in establishing the now iconic,

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internationally recognised image of the elegant English gentleman. One of our archive adverts expresses it perfectly: "This is the suit that Jaeger makes that makes an Englishman".

By the 1960s, the suit had become a style statement in its own right, with its strong, sharp and visually assertive silhouette. Men had realised: no other menswear improves the posture or endows the wearer with the confidence a well-made suit can. No longer confined to the office, it had been appropriated as a London street style trend by Carnaby Street's Mods. After more than a century of conformity, men were reclaiming fashion for themselves - with the suit at the core of their changing relationship with clothing.

Jaeger catered for these male trendsetters with classic suiting that had a modern twist, often through the use of brilliant colour. One notable example was a 'sharp little tweed suit' we designed in a bold 'Van Gogh yellow', which got lots of attention after appearing in Vogue in February 1963. A Jaeger advert from the era proclaimed, "We make suits with an individual look. Not uniforms. Our suits have that little extra style. That little extra thought in the design." It's a credo that holds up today, with our tradition of drawing on London's world-famous reputation for Savile Row tailoring to provide exceptional quality, expertly cut and distinguished - yet affordable - menswear. So, when you buy a Jaeger suit, you know you are buying a classic: a suit imbued with tradition, heritage and the richest kind of history. Journal

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