Below, you'll find a brief list of sources that were instrumental in helping us shape the content for Strong Suits.  

Craft and Design

  • Hayt, E. (2006, January 19). The Hands That Sew the Sequins. The New York Times.
    Elizabeth Hayt examines the traditional French  “petites mains”, the artisans which hand make the garments of haute couture, a practice long patronized by French culture and the fashion establishment. Hayt notes that the numbers of traditional petite mains are dwindling, especially due to the declining number of wealthy clients interested in haute couture, probably no more than a few hundred worldwide. In response, the fashion world is struggling to navigate the market as well as protect the craft of haute couture.
  • Bellafante, G. (2010, April 10). The Tailors Behind the Tailors Behind the Man. The New York Times.
    Ginia Bellafante examines how the world of custom men’s tailoring is governed by its own particular set of rules, one of which is that the famous names of custom-suit makers often aren’t the ones who personally make the suits. Instead, custom tailors often send the measurements off-premises to either a custom tailoring operation, such as the famous tradition-based operations of Rocco Ciccarelli and Rosario Giliberto. The numbers of custom tailoring companies in New York has declined over the last five decades, and the generation which was supposed to come up and replace the previous never did, giving the operations of Ciccarelli and Giliberto a monopoly over the market.
  • Leon Talley, A. (2013, January 29).  Life and Career of Andre Leon Talley. The Oxford Union Society.
  • In this public lecture to the Oxford Union Society, Andre Leon Talley describes his origins and career in fashion design.  Leon Talley speaks with a captivating sense of conviction and panache. He finds a way to sound objectively 'right' about things that are 'right' or 'wrong'. The lecture is guided by a sequence of photos from his career, sending him on tangents and rabbit holes tied together by a love for fashion. He was an unlikely figure in fashion, born and raised in North Carolina to a black mother in the "Jim Crow era" South.  He was a critic and creative director, rather than constructing the designs. Still, he was inspired by a handful of models and socialites. At one point, he fixates on Bianca Jagger, the former wife of Mick, and he goes "that's fashion, it gives you dreams." 

Reading and Writing Fashion

  • Chabon, M. (n.d.). My Son, The Prince Of Fashion. GQ.
    ‌Michael Chabon reflects about bringing his 13-year old son, Abe, to Paris Fashion Week. Chabon meditates upon the way in which witnessing his son’s experience at fashion week gave him a profound sense of his son’s character, the wonders and curiosities of the fashion world, and the joy and learning experience of parenting a confidently different child. 
  • Félix, D. S. (n.d.). Virgil Abloh, Menswear’s Biggest Star. The New Yorker.
    Doreen St, Fèlix profiles Virgil Abloh for The New Yorker, illustrating the character, experience and vision of the late Louis Vuitton creative director. Trained as an architect with his own streetwear brand, Off White, Abloh was all for reference and cross-pollination across media and arts. Streetwear is “Duchamp '' Abloh would say, it’s a wear about embracing nonsense and reference in order to replicate and create. Garnering fame, celebrity interest as well as controversy from his designs with Ye and Ricardo Tisci, his appointment as the first black director at LV affirmed the fashion industry’s awareness of fashion’s rising subcultures now made mainstream. 
  • McNeil, P., & Miller, S. (2014). Fashion Writing and Criticism: History, Theory, Practice. Bloomsbury Publishing. 
    Peter McNeil and Sandra Miller lay out the history, theory and practice of fashion writing and practice. The text introduces what fashion criticism is and traces its history briefly, reflecting upon the different types of modes of viewing and thinking about fashion that led criticism to where it is today. The text also demonstrates how this knowledge can be applied to fashion by students, “enabling students to acquire the methods and proper vocabulary to be active critics themselves.”

Uniformity and American Labor Culture

  • Design Talks: Reflecting on Uniformity With Thom Browne. Thom Browne Selects. Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, 2016.
    Live streamed conversation between Thom Browne and Matilda McQuaid, deputy curatorial director and head of textiles at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. The conversation comes in lieu of Browne’s residency with Cooper Hewitt, in which he designed a mirrored exhibition with items from their collection. Conversation mainly discussed the theme of uniformity and uniformity en masse in Browne’s work, relating the theme to Browne’s interest to mid-century American work culture, loyalty to the garment, and evolution versus change in the fashion industry. Important time stamps divided by category: on uniformity from  00:21:00-00:22:00, on mid -century American work culture: 00:42:57, 1:1:30. 
  • Welch, Adam. “Five Stylish Desks Curated By Mr Thom Browne.” Mr Porter The Journal, June 13, 2017.
    Coverage of an exhibition curatorship Thom Browne did in 2017 called Design At Large. Browne remarked on his love of work office desks: “I find their utilitarian purpose in relation to uniformity and true functionality inspiring.” Welch notes how Browne was an astute choice for the exhibition, due to his design eye and interest in “interrogating the format of the runway presentation in his own seasonal shows.“ 
  • Battista, Anna. “Thom Browne A/W 09” Review of Fashion Show, . Dazed, (February 2, 2009).
    Critical review of Thom Browne’s AW09 show, which premiered at Pitti Immagine Uomo. Critic Anna Battista noted a “Mad-Men style influence” and mass uniformity,  noting how Browne lined up each of his 40 models next to an office desk. Battsita notes how “The lack of variation was exactly the point…as it allowed the focus to fall on the pristine white shirts, extra long yet skinny ties and well-cut trousers, and to explore the details, proportions and innovative cut of each of these garments.” 
  • Friedman, Vanessa. “In The Studio: Thom Browne .” The New York Times, 11 Sept. 2015,
    New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman interviews Thom Browne as part of their video series ‘In The Studio’, which goes inside the private offices and behind the scenes of the professional lives of designers. Browne explains how minimalism is the guiding principle in his home, office and store. His collections consequently carry the discipline of the minimalist philosophy in their serious focus on high quality and construction.
  • Bindley, K. (2022, March 31). Blazers With Hoodies? Dress Sneakers? The Return-to-Office Dress Code Is Baffling Your Boss. The Wall Street Journal.
    Katherine Bindley explores in the Wall Street Journal the struggles offices face in terms of post-pandemic uniform dress code. In the post-pandemic era, many office workers are dressing down, causing difficulties and raising questions about what the office uniform needs to be. Moreover, as organizations’ attempt to draw workers back to the office, corporate organizations don’t want to alienate workers from returning in person with strict dress codes.

Gender Performance and the Uniform

  • Craik, J. (2003). The cultural politics of the uniform. Fashion Theory, 7(2), 127-147.
    Jennifer Craik’s article explores the dimensions of the uniform from cultural theory. Craik uses Marcel Mauss’s approach (1985) to the body as a fusion of different sociological, psychological and biological features that together produce a social body. With this understanding, Craik argues that the uniform has a doubled nature as a type of ensemble with ostensible meanings as well as a bodied experience.
  • Barry, B., & Weiner, N. (2019). Suited for Success? Suits, Status, and Hybrid Masculinity. Men and Masculinities, 22(2), 151–176.
    In this article, Barry and Weiner analyze the sartorial biographies of four Canadian men in order to investigate how the suit is understood and worn in daily life. The four men varied in their subject positions–body shape, ethnicity, age and gender identity–allowing the researchers to look at how the intersectional identities of the men were associated with their relationships with suits.The researchers found that while the men wore the suits to participate in these signifiers, they also wore and experienced the suit from a marginalized position in the gender hierarchy.
  • Casanova, E. (2016). 2. Just Like Dad?: Family Relations and Class Origins in Dressing for White-Collar Work. In Buttoned Up: Clothing, Conformity, and White-Collar Masculinity (pp. 35-64). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
    In this chapter, Casanova examines the interconnections between father-son relationships and the class origins in white-collar work dress. Across the interviews, Casanova found that dress socialization of the white-collar uniform for all of the men was related to their fathers’ performed transmission of white-collar dress norms. The sense that the suit was the uniform of white collar workwear, specifically masculine workwear, was deeply embedded in the sons’ conceptualization of what appropriate workwear was for a man.
  • Soller, K., Neu, D., & Holmes, M. (2022, March 4). How Thom Browne Turned the Gray Flannel Suit Into Something Subversive. The New York Times.
    Kurt Soller analyzes how Thom Browne’s brand grew to make gray suits function as subversive garments for their wearers. Soller notes how Browne’s upbringing and father influenced his essential reference to the gray suit. Yet, Soller notes how Thom Browne’s brand is ultimately queer and subversive as, “by constantly tweaking his trademark gray tailoring, remaking (and unmaking) it in countless permutations over 76 collections, he’s forever referencing the heteronormative hegemony of the American patriarchy, but he’s also always taking revenge on it, encouraging all sorts of artists, tomboys, trans people, foreigners and other outsiders to wear pieces that weren’t originally meant for them, all produced in a country that wasn’t meant for them, either.”
  • Stines, S. (2017). Cloning fashion: Uniform gay images in male apparel. Critical Studies in Men's Fashion, 4(2), 129-151.
    Steven Stines examines how gay men have employed gay uniform and fashion in order to produce a recognizable image or code of queerness, sometimes as social or political statements. Stines notes how oftentimes gay men use fashion that is a type of imitation or exaggeration of aggressively heterosexual attire, such as with the gay fashion post WWII. From the 1970s hypermasculine dress code, the 1980s androgyny, and the 1990s Chelsea Clone fit, the uniform of gay men has shifted in dialogue and conversation with socio-political societal dynamics. According to Stines, coming into the twenty-first century, gay uniformity has declined, as the visual boundaries of clothing in relation to gayness seem to be disappearing.
  • Trebay, Guy. Men Are the New Men. The New York Times, June 30, 2022.
    Fashion critic Guy Trebay reviews menswear for Spring Paris Fashion Week 2022, highlighting Thom Browne and Heidi Silmaine from Celine for being able to re-imagine menswear for big commercial houses without yielding personal vision and for playing with gender and gender performance in clothing. Trebay notes the American archetypes at play in both Browne and Silmane’s work, such as surfers, sailors, cowboys, tennis pros, etc.  and how Browne and Silmane navigate dressing men from queer identities.
  • Hill, Rosemary. "What Does She Think She Looks Like?" The London Review of Books presents, 2018.
  • In this lecture at The British Library, Hill discusses the characters and fashion in the writing of 20th century female writers like Virginia Woolf, Sylvia Plath, and Muriel Spark. Hill also draws upon some popular media and current events to think about the relationship between gender and dress in the context of the interwar period. The term frock consciousness was coined by Woolf to describe how women wear and write about their clothes.
  • Woolf, Virginia. (1927). The New Dress. New York Magazine, The Forum. 
  • In this short story by Virginia Woolf, a woman named Mabel attends a social gathering. She is deeply embarrassed about what she is wearing, and the story, in Woolf's recognizable anxious, stream-of-consciousness, modernist writing style, tracks the development of Mabel's self-consciousness. The relationship between clothing and interiority of self -- a theme commonly discussed in scholarship about fashion theory and fashion in literature -- is evident here.


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