Future Classic

On the eve of the Spring Carnival, there’s a lesson to be learned from the icons of the past. Because in fashion like in life, the great icons look at the past in order to reinvent the future.

It was a sign of the times: Frank Sinatra, the leading man of the late 1940’s and 50’s, stands in a studio smoking a cigarette, thumb and finger distance from the microphone, wearing a minimal single breasted suit and blue tie. It was the end of the 1940’s, the beginning of Sinatra’s reign of cool.

Earlier in the decade before, the Second World War had seen men’s suiting change forever. In the 30’s, more was more. Men wore double breasted suits with full cut trousers and tuxedos with long tails. But when the American government restricted the use of cotton and wool during war times, the fashion world responded with new designs, and it was Frank Sinatra who lead the charge.

But before the likes of Sinatra, the transition between the boisterous suits of the pre-war period and the constraints of war time had been rather awkward. And then came this iconic figure, Frank Sinatra, wearing single breasted suits, embodying everything that was understated and restrained. In a time when fashion was forced reluctantly down a minimal path throughout the 1940’s, Frank Sinatra made the constrains of minimalism something to cherish and behold.

Through his style, the fashion world learned something incredibly important. We are always constrained by the times. We’re constrained by the availability of materials, of world events and attitudes and social norms. But the people who embody the style of a generation and move fashion forward turn constraints into opportunities, take inspiration from the past, and redefine the future.

So on the eve of this year’s Spring Racing Carnival in Melbourne, when you’re choosing your outfit, think about what it is that constrains you. Think about what it is your outfit says to the world. Look back at the outfits that men have been wearing to the Melbourne Cup over the past century - from top hats and long tails to bright colours and floral shirts - and then decide who it is you want to be. If you love something from the past, own it. If you’re constrained by something, make it an opportunity.

Remember that the future of fashion is decided by those people who are bold enough to make decisions based not on the crowd, but on their own beliefs. This is a circle, not a revolution.

At Rhodes & Beckett, we’ve curated our Spring Racing collection of suits based on inspiration from people of the past, and in doing so we’ve imaged our own future. Sothat when you’re on the track this spring, you feel like an icon of the past, while being on the cusp of something new.

Photographs by Sid Avery