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25 June, 2013 / Andrew Read

Journal of fashion

On our accounting jokes website we posted the joke:

How does an accountant make a bold fashion statement?

He wears his blue suit instead of the grey.

It appears that one accountant went beyond this limited choice.  Matthaeus Schwarz, a 16th Century German accountant, published the first book of fashion.  The book comprised 137 water colour paintings of his outfits from all periods of his life up to his 63rd year.

Source:  BBC and Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum

Source: BBC and Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum

Schwarz was born in 1497 (3 years after Pacioli’s Summa was published) and studied to become an accountant in Italy.  He worked for the Fugger family, important merchants and bankers in Germany, who were one of the richest families in Europe at the time.  Schwarz was a fashion innovator and spent a large proportion of his income on his wardrobe.  He pushed the existing laws and conventions of appropriate dress to their limits.  Schwarz’s dress was not only to satisfy his vanity, he also dressed in order to obtain social and political prestige which was successful as he was made a noble in 1541.  Schwarz died in 1574 at the age of 77.

Source: Winterman, D. (2013, 8th June). Fashion: The accountant who created the first book of fashion. BBC News Magazine.  Retrieved 20th June, 2013, from


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