Sunday, June 21, 2015

department stores and the military brought us ready-to-wear

I was reading the entry on department stores and it struck me as odd that it focused so much on the selling of ready-to-wear clothing. What other type of clothing would you buy?

When I play games set in a medieval setting, sometimes you'll encounter tailors. However, games never require that you be measured so that you can come back next week after your leather armor is put together. You buy "leather armor" and that's that. Tailors are essentially portrayed as having small clothing shops filled with ready-to-wear clothing.

So, prior to the early 1800's, you either made your own duds or you went to a tailor, got measured, then came back when they were finished. When fashions changed, you simply added a larger collar to your shirt or shortened your skirt or added buttons to your fly.

Apparently the first mass produced clothing was made during the war of 1812. Unless you're in G.I.Joe, there isn't much individualization going on, so it was pretty efficient to order large numbers of the same military outfits of each size rather than measuring each soldier.

It wasn't until the early 1900's in the US when department stores opened up offering lots of clothing in various sizes, ready to be purchased and worn without modification.

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