Leisure Suit

Leisure Suit Larry

A leisure suit is a casual suit consisting of a shirt-like jacket and matching trousers, often associated with American-influenced fashion and fads of the 1970s.

Suits as casual wear became popular among members of Britain’s mod subculture in the 1960s, but only achieved widespread popularity in the United States when—with the creation and popularization of synthetic materials—unprecedented cheapness met with a culture that had come to hate formality.

They are frequently associated with that era’s disco culture. Leisure suits gained popularity by offering a fashionable, inexpensive suit which could conceivably be used in formal business, yet was casual enough to be worn out of the workplace setting. The leisure suit height of popularity was around the mid to late 1970’s, but fell from fashion in the very early 1980s. Today it is commonly considered emblematic of 1970s American kitsch.

The leisure suit became associated in popular culture with bars, gangsterism, and conversely, with clueless dressing – the adventure game Leisure Suit Larry being an example. A sub-genre of the leisure suit culture is the ‘Full Cleveland,’ a leisure suit combined with a white belt and white dress shoes. By extension, Full Cleveland also refers to anything outlandish, excessive or exaggerated.

Leisure suits are still being offered and worn today, although not in the form of bellbottoms and pastel colors which came to be most associated with the term. Fashion labels such as Dior Homme and Dolce & Gabbana include casual suits among their collections, which are more reminiscent of suits in the style of British mod than American disco. Also, vast progress since the 1970s in technology of synthetic fabrics such as polyester has resulted in the creation of visual and tactile textures which seem much more organic.

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