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The Three-Piece Suit and Modern MasculinityEngland, 1550-1850$
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David Kuchta

Print publication date: 2002

Print ISBN-13: 9780520214934

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520214934.001.0001

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Inconspicuous Consumption

Inconspicuous Consumption

(p.173) Chapter 7 Inconspicuous Consumption
The Three-Piece Suit and Modern Masculinity

David Kuchta

University of California Press

This chapter provides a definition for inconspicuous consumption where elite men's fashion is considered as opposition to luxury. It explains that this distinction was driven not by a sociology of conspicuous consumption and invidious distinction (the attempt to keep up with, or ahead of, the Joneses), but by a dynamic of inconspicuous consumption and invidious indistinction (the attempt to keep away from, hidden from, and superior to, the Joneses). It observes that in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, it was competition for social distinction—fashion itself—that motivated the anti-fashion movement of the great masculine renunciation. It concludes that in attempting to create an image of masculinity compatible with ideals of liberty and property, the three-piece suit merely reproduced a fashion tyranny in inverted form.

Keywords:   inconspicuous consumption, elite men's fashion, sociology, conspicuous consumption, invidious distinction, invidious indistinction, great masculine renunciation, three-piece suit

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