Män i kostym : prinsar, konstnärer och tegelbärare vid sekelskiftet 1900

Detta är en avhandling från Nordiska museets förlag, Box 27820, S-115 93 Stockholm, Sweden

Sammanfattning: At the turn of the nineteenth century, most men wore suits. One easily gets the impression that all these men look more or less identical; the suits seem to resemble uniforms. Furthermore, compared to the women’s clothing of the period, the suit seems restrained and even drab in its shape and colour. The dissertation takes up this point and examines the claim that all men look alike in a suit. The purpose of the dissertation is to study what was signalled when groups as disparate as princes, artists and hod-carriers dressed in similar pieces of clothing. If there were, in fact, differences, of what did they consist; how did the men invest the suit with new and different meanings? This dissertation does not, however, focus exclusively on suits. The three groups of men wore work-specific clothes, as well. How might one interpret the contrasts between their work clothes and civilian attire? The primary source material consists of portraits of men from the three above-mentioned groups. The pictures are supplemented by an examination of some of the clothing actually used by men who belonged to the groups in question. Research into how princes, artists and hod-carriers dressed showed that these groups moved in different tension fields. These tension fields were created by historic and social problems with which the men had been forced to cope. The princes’ tension field was that of tradition/modernity, the artists’ that of boundary-crossing/conformity and the hod-carriers’ that of body/intellect. The men’s way of dressing, their appearing in both civilian and in work-related clothing, embodied a struggle both for the right to be included in modern society, and for the freedom to remain alien – or rather, for the right to be included on their own terms. The suit was polyseme, capable of denoting several different manly ideals and masculinities. It was a question of who the suit-wearing man was – the collective to which he belonged, as well as his personal style and taste, that determined the suit’s connotation. For this reason, the men's suits came to signal different things, even when their surface appearance was fairly uniform. However, variations did occur. The men exploited the margins of freedom available within male fashion. When the artists expanded the frames determining how a suit could be worn, they showed that male dress could vary even beyond what the decrees of fashion might allow.

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