Men risk being left behind an Amazon womankind – fashion archive, 1927

Men risk being left behind an Amazon womankind – fashion archive, 1927

10 October 1927: Professor Hill warns that the scanty wear of modern woman is hardening her and men are handicapped in their old-fashioned mufflings of tweed

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Professor Leonard Hill was presumably not merely playful when he warned mankind at the health conference at Durham to make haste in discarding its tweeds and serges if it wants to uphold its physical superiority over the other sex. The light and exiguous wear of the modern woman, he asserted, is hardening her. The old-fashioned mufflings in which man enswathes himself are a handicap by comparison. He hinted darkly of a future when an Amazon womankind, untrammelled by too many wrappings, would rule their heavily clothed menfolk, and he urged his fellows to let in some light and air to their starved frames before it is too late.

He is on safe ground in reminding us that no such revolution has occurred in men’s wear as in woman’s. We have, it is true, ceased to imprison our heads in “toppers” except on very special occasions, and a soft collar may nowadays appear at a boardroom table without disgracing the man of affairs who wears it. But in essentials we dress as did our grandfathers, holding firmly to our tweed and wool, casting no clouts till summer is demonstrably present and resuming them layer upon layer at the first hint of autumn.

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Will another decade see mankind gay in durable, washable artificial silk clothing, sending a suit to the laundry each week as regularly as he now sends his shirts, and immune, through the courage with which he then faces cold, from the catarrhs and coughs with which his present reliance on warmth is apt to afflict him? And if coat and trousers go, will a complete break be made and the ancient and noble fashion of the toga once again make Romans of us all? The world would certainly be pleasanter as well as healthier for the change. But even hygiene must yield to convenience. Man goes armed in anything from six to ten pockets with the weapons he needs in the daily struggle with life. And a structure that maintains ten pockets capable of accommodating wallets, note-cases, pipes, matches, keys, tobacco pouches, change, an odd book or two, and a pencil and pen must be of stout stuff. If his tailors can devise a garment light as air that yet will house, each in its allotted place, the items of his armoury, man may consider the reform. But not till then.

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