Full Monty will never go for a Burton

Sad news of Burton menswear tomorrow shutting up shop in the northern town, where the firm was founded 112 years ago, evokes latest reminder of derivation of well-worn phrase Full Monty.

Thursday, 9th June 2016, 2:20 pm
Updated Monday, 13th June 2016, 12:19 pm
Burton sign of past times

The eponymous 1997 kitchen sink classic film may have been set at Shiregreen WMC and other Sheffield locations but, rather than featured birthday suits, it was Sir Montague Burton's waistcoat included three-piece Chesterfield suits from what was once the world's largest wholesale bespoke tailoring service that most likely coined the "complete" term.

'Go for a Burton' paradoxically remains a functional phrase around these parts and regional pride inclines us to favour suggestion it too refers to self same premier supplier of post-war demob suits.

From 'A feather in your cap' to 'Wear your heart on your sleeve' we in South Yorkshire still like to talk about what we wear with selected fashionista sayings.

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The Phrase Finder, conveniently based in our city, proves a profitable source of other such clothes-related idioms.

A feather in your cap: This badge of honour derives independently from such disparate cultures as Hungarians and more familiar Native Americans.

But children's rhyme Yankee Doodle Dandy is probably best known source, citing "went to town, riding on a pony, he stuck a feather in his cap, and called it macaroni".

Dressed to the nines: Smart, nay flamboyant, attire description may derive from tailors using nine yards of material to make a suit. The more material you had, the more kudos you accrued. But nine yards seems generous for even the most foppish dandy.

More likely etymological explanations - as with cloud, whole yard and days' wonder - is nine is simply a popular superlative

Men in suits:The oft derogatory term for convention-following corporate types has been part of our lexicon for as long as tailoring itself.

First coined as specific, rather than general, meaning to refer to US sports attire before, it has since become common to our language since at least '30s. Famously Fab Four motormouth, late great John Lennon, branded The Beatles' business advisers as such.

On with the motley: Let's get going reference could originate from Motley cloth, made from two or more colours, referenced by Chaucer's Canterbury Tales "A marchant was there ... In motlee" and common stage costume of harlequined court jesters.

And, as with many modern day references, Shakespeare's 1600 As You Like It references such garb ... not to be confused with 1981 miss-spelled rockers Mötley Crüe.

Too big for your bitches: or ye olde breeches or, indeed boots, has long conveyed conceit and elevated self opinion. It sounds like an American phrase. Because it is, first found in print among Davy Crockett's 1835 account.

Spin-off phrases include modernised '91 Right Said Fred's hit single "I'm too sexy for my shirt" proclamation.

Wear your heart on your sleeve: Open display of emotions expression may derive from middle ages (not middle aged) jousting when knights wore, tied to their arms, cloths and colours of their chosen lady.

Again first record can be attributed to Shakey in Othello when a treacherous aide feigned openness to appear faithful as with "... but I will wear my heart upon my sleeve, for daws to peck at, I am not what I am". Indeed, Iago!

And here, seamlessly, video reminder of Full Monty cast keeping on their hat, another traditional mainstay of Burton tailors.