The tailor’s privilege

As I’m swearing over the Bardot dress I’m working on, and thinking about my next project, I’m pondering something that have puzzled me for a long time; why are there so few patterns for men’s clothing?

Whereas there is an abundance of patterns for all kinds of women’s clothes, what you find if you look in the men’s department are shorts, pajameses and nightgowns.

My own answer for this is that professional manufacturing of men’s clothes were traditionally made by (male) tailors whreas women’s clothes were made by (female) seamstresses. (Because of the intimacy in measuring and fitting?) Male expertise is often valued more than the female counterpart, and perhaps the male tailors kept the patterns to themselves, thereby forcing men to buy their clothes from them, skraddareSSMF061039S

Or maybe it’s because women “can’t” be seen in the same dress too often whereas men can do with one good suit and so it’s more worthwhile sewing the female wardrobe than the male? Or is there just a bigger market for women’s clothes?

Does anybody know?


6 responses to this post.

  1. I think it’s largely that there’s a bigger variety of what women can, and do, wear. My boyfriend’s wardrobe consists of t-shirts and jeans (which is what he wears 90% of the to time), a pair of smart trousers, couple of shirts, couple of jumpers and shorts. Whereas I have trousers (smart, jeans, casual), shorts, cropped trousers, skirts (different lengths, smart and casual), dresses (ditto), umpteen different styles of tops, jumpers, cardigans…you get the idea! Look around if you work in an office – almost every man will probably be wearing trousers and a shirt, but among the women there’ll be a much wider variety. Hence we need so many clothes! Or that’s what I tell the other half anyway 😉


  2. really good point. However, as a man, once ya get patterns for trousers, shirt, jacket, waistcoat, and accessories (ties, undies etc), ya don’t need to buy no more, which is great. I don’t know if I’m typical, but I don’t like to stand out from the crowd too much, and prefer the same cuts and patterns, but in different fabrics as a change. But then us men haven’t always been like this, so I don’t really have an answer. I just like sewing!


    • yes, women’s clothes usually change more so probably a bigger market. Can’t help still being stuck on the idea that it’s also something about guilds and keeping your secrets to members only. Do you make your own patterns or buy them? I’m looking for some high waisted forties pants for men.


      • I’m sure the guild thing is around, and tailors certainly have tried to keep the profession fairly ‘cliquey’. I think it’s a legacy that endures, and that it makes sense in some respect because you need to keep your income coming in, and don’t want gazumping by someone else.
        In terms of the trousers, a standard pattern could easily be modified. I generally start with standard patterns, and modify them – with the forties pants, just extend the waist and flare out the bottoms. Does that sound easier than it probably will be?

      • yes, that’s how I usually work, and yes unexpected problems always show up, but then again I always alter everything. no easy way out for me:)

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