Men's leisure suits, a hallmark of the 1970s disco era, were commonly known as "disco suits." A man could throw his leisure suit, made of inexpensive polyester, into the washing machine for cleaning Leisure suits came in almost every colour, especially pastels. The shirtlike jackets had distinctive wide lapels and the trousers featured bell bottoms. Men usually wore the jackets open with a funky printed shirt underneath.
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American designer Jerry Rosengarten came up with the leisure suit in 1970. It was meant for everyday wear or for a night at the disco. The casual set of clothing was made to accommodate a men's size 30-inch waist since the ideal physique for men in the '70s was long and lean.
While the suits were intended for men to wear to work as well, they never caught on in the workplace since they were considered too casual and a fad.
Men accented their leisure suits with gold chains and vinyl platform shoes like the character played by John Travolta in "Saturday Night Fever." In the movie, Travolta sports a white leisure suit in his famous disco dance sequence.
Leisure suits still have a spot in today's society at Halloween parties and conventions. Iowa holds an annual Leisure Suit Convention in Des Moines. The convention, which features live music from the '70s, invites people to wear their favourite leisure suits to compete in costume and dance competitions.The leisure suit has also appeared in the book "The Encyclopedia of Bad Taste," written by Jane and Michael Stern and published in 1990.
There is also a computer game named Leisure Suit Larry concerning a middle-aged "lovable loser" who has to complete quests such as seducing attractive young women.
A Decline in Popularity
The leisure suit hit its peak of popularity in 1977 when "Saturday Night Fever" was released. At that time, Macy's department store ran commercials urging professionals such as doctors and lawyers to wear their leisure suits on the job.
By the end of the 1970s, leisure suits began to fall out of favour. Fancy restaurants posted signs that the leisure suit was not appropriate dinner wear and that those dressed in them would not be admitted.
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