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Where did three-piece suits go?

By XN Iraki | July 22nd 2020

A three-piece suit was the ultimate symbol of good grooming, a sign of power, wealth and elegance. It did not matter that we live in the hot tropics astride the equator. Old photos after independence show Kenya’s who is who wearing three-piece suits. Now it is an object of curiosity, much like suspenders. What happened to the three-piece suit?

Some could comically argue that the three-piece suit is the first casualty of global warming; it became too hot to wear. Others argue the unpopularity of this attire is the best indicator of the decline of British influence and mannerism and the rise of American casualism. Americans, through CNN, movies and internet have displaced the British in the Kenyan psyche. It is also possible that poverty has left the three-piece out of reach of most Kenyans. Why go for three pieces when you can’t afford one piece?

It is also possible that other status symbols beyond three piece suits have emerged; from cars to residencies, schools, hospitals, churches, clubs and more recently the colour of your children. Noted the rising numbers of interracial kids?

The rise of designer clothes from Kitenge to Mandela shirts have left the three-piece suits without serious takers. Death of the three-piece suit has gone hand in hand with decline in the number of tailors who can fit you.

The demand for youthful appeal may have made three-piece suits unpopular. Who wants to appear old fashioned or old? Who wants to be wearing a three-piece suit in wedding photos? How would job interviewers rate a young graduate wearing a three-piece suit today?

Apparel shops and boutiques have ridden on the demand for youthfulness appeal. Noted how hard it is to get clothes for the elderly? Who in his 60s or 70s want to wear a “pencil”? 

Should we weep over the death of three-piece suit or even suspenders?

Today it is hard to define what official wear is. Even official letters are becoming rare. May be we should interpret that as a sign of newly found freedom. We hope this will unleash creativity, innovation and new business opportunities. Compare Facebook, WhatsApp and official letters.

Before you write an obituary for three piece suits, go over your dad’s or grandparent’s old photo albums and admire the elegance of three piece suits. It is an echo from past, but there is something sentimental about the three-piece suit. Who can fit me a three-piece suit to show off and relive the good old days, when I was younger and more innocent?

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