Summer silk suits became the dressy, more sophisticated alternative to the newly developed “miracle fabrics” such as Dacron and Orlon increasingly being used for everyday wear. This turn towards natural silks and mohairs was all part of the “Continental Look” emerging from Italy in the mid-50s, bringing sleek silhouettes and a rainbow of colour to men’s wardrobes. Colour was something new to tussah silk, previously only found in its natural shade of light brown, the Italian mills found ways to dye the yarn. Italian menswear was suddenly awash with bright green and red, amethyst, silver, canary and azure.
In men’s fashion, this trim look with added colour was revolutionary, a reaction to the cheaper man-made fabrics. Men started wearing silk as a status symbol, and no wonder. Hand-loomed tussah silk had a natural, quiet lustre, superior draping ability, and a jaunty, irregular-textured quality because of the irregular slubs inherent in the weaving process. As Apparel Arts magazine succinctly put it at the time (1953), a silk suit or sports jacket was “cool, crisp, lightweight, porous, and resilient.” They might have added sophisticated, cultivated, and cosmopolitan.