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The 2013 Sartorial Storm (Part I)

written for: Parisian Gentleman

John Hamm dressed for the role of a doctor in 1934 based on the writing of Mikhail Bulgakov set during the Russian Revolution. Could this "look " now be considered irresistible?
John Hamm dressed for the role of a doctor in 1934 set during the Russian Revolution and based on the stories of Mikhail Bulgakov. Could this look now be considered “irresistible”?

 THE MALE ELEGANCE CLIMATE

The male elegance climate appears to be simmering  to a boil lately (compared to a mere five years ago). While we are seeing a boon in men dressing well with a growing penchant for style and quality, at the same time we notice a collapse in the frequency of spotting the quintessential middle management man with scuffed-up shoes and a dilapidated leather belt with belt-hole notches shaped like inverted amebas (of which he seems oddly proud to announce that his belt notches chronicle his weight loss and gain history since 1990… hence you deduce that his belt must be around 13 years old).

These days, it is more likely for a man to feel good about having immaculately polished shoes and to find satisfaction in knowing that a belt is rarely needed with a suit in the first place, since the complete body line of a man looks much better when he opts for trousers designed for no belt, thus avoiding the “cutting of the man in half” visual effect that a belt causes.

This man realizes
This man understands that wearing a belt with a suit can be passé and cut the flow of the total line of a man.

Yet even if men are speeding towards sartorial excellence at an alarming rate, we continue to see the occasional breed of the sartorial counter-culture set fanning the embers of the spirit of the 1980s “casual Friday movement”, perhaps most by those who feel trapped as time-watchers living for 5 o’clock and for the promise of another weekend—leaving us with the impression of a lost ability to feel intrigue for any day except Friday, Saturday and Sunday…with even churches replacing dress standards with the come as you are mindset.

France (even with its obvious population of sartorial-gifted men and women) gives us a more direct example of a diminishing regard for the work week by introducing “Half-Day Fridays “, or more specifically a reduction of the hours in the workweek  from 39 to 35 hours, since the year 2000. At this rate, in the year 2052, we can project an introduction of the  two-hour workday–with  potential daily perks such as Tie-Less Thursdays, Facebook Wednesdays, No Need to Tuck Your Shirt In Tuesdays, and Don’t Bother to Show Up Mondays.

This passive attitude towards how we present ourselves creates a piggy-back effect that biases these same time-watchers towards the belief that the reason dressing casually is better is because it is easier. And, once it is perceived that the daily goal is to make things easier, then the possibility of sartorial glory is lost. And, if a sartorial atheist believes that Monday through Thursday constitute corporate enslavement, forced dress-codes, and a general sense of misery, then we accept that we are unlikely to see a glowing sartorial result within this cultural realm.

However, the incredible point that may be easy to overlook, is that the sartorially-inclined man can use Casual Friday to his advantage as an optimal opportunity to come to work in business-only attire, which causes him be noticed in a way that helps communicate his own unique persona while at the same time, nurturing career advancement potential and boosting the chance for success in his social endeavors.

Not foregoing the necktie on Casual Friday sets this man apart from the others.
Not foregoing the necktie on Casual Friday sets this man apart from the others.

Dress for the job above yours…and rethink casual Friday. Business Insider, 2011

Although many may consider disregarding Casual Fridays to be somewhat hardcore, in actuality, dressing well is a moderate gesture that pays great dividends.


THREE SARTORIAL RENAISSANCE CATALYSTS 

When considering the perpetual turnaround from style nonchalance to style concern, it is curious to consider what is causing the intensifying energy behind this sartorial revival that is winning eager converts by the hour. There are at least three catalysts causing  this resurrection of interest among men in all-things-sartorial:

First, the influence of television shows like Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, as well as Hollywood movies featuring gangsters and spys no doubt play a pivotal role in the perception reversal from sartorial indifference to sartorial passion that is occurring among men. By simply watching episodes of shows and movies with images of men dressed in fine-tailored clothing causes our minds to take sartorial notes; and put simply, our visual pleasure centers are repetitively rewarded with images of impeccably dressed actors—which eventually results in giving us an impression that dressing well can be…pleasurable.

Sean Connery with Tailor Anthony Sinclair, London. A precursor to the male elegance media rage.
007 Sean Connery with Tailor Anthony Sinclair, London. Sean Connery’s,  fittings  finally offers the masses a peek at the world of bespoke tailoring…and provides a precursor to the current male elegance media rage.
The iconic Michael Kenneth Williams from the HBO television series "Boardwalk Empire".
The iconic Michael Kenneth Williams from the HBO television series “Boardwalk Empire”.
From the 2012 film "This Means War"---In the movie, the leading characters location is traced by a villain through a torn patch of South American vicuna , a relative of the llama shorn every three years and considered to be very rare and luxurious. The scrap of fabric is identified as coming from "Savile Row's finest tailor".  The mystery question of the real-life suit's origin? Chris Pine's suit is Ralph Lauren's Purple Label  and the Brit's Tom Hardy suit is Paul Smith (with a signature narrow lapel and slim leg).
From the 2012 film “This Means War”—In the movie, the leading characters location is traced by a villain through a torn patch of South American vicuna , a relative of the llama shorn every three years and considered to be very rare and luxurious. The scrap of fabric is identified as coming from “Savile Row’s finest tailor”. The mystery question of the real-life suit’s origin? Chris Pine’s suit is Ralph Lauren’s Purple Label and the Brit’s Tom Hardy suit is Paul Smith (with a signature narrow lapel and slim leg).

A second  pop culture influence (as covered in the PG article (A défaut de fin du monde, la fin d’un monde ?) comes from more and more ad campaigns capitalizing on the mesmerization with bespoke tailoring by featuring models in authentic, not so glamorous bespoke tailoring workshops. These campaigns create an awareness that something more exists in the world of style. Perhaps the man who gains a glimpse of the Savile Row tailor’s life in an unexpected print advertisement stops for a moment, and asks himself  “What is that??”. Once this question is posed, many men find themselves on a journey to the sartorial promise land, with the only regret being that they hadn’t started the trip sooner.

Even though for some of us, it can be funny to notice that some of these advertisements greatly exaggerate the quality and origin of many products, we can still appreciate the awareness that is created as themes such as the tailor’s dusty workshop, continues to grow among ad agencies promoting male elegance.  In the same vein, numerous ad campaigns are also promoting men’s style by featuring men who look as if they have stepped into a frame shot from another time era (usually ranging from the mid-1800s up until the 1960s) which brings on a sentiment for hand-tailoring, or at least encourages a sentiment for items that relay the spirit of being hand-tailored.

Corneliani. Yet another ad campaign with subjects photographed with the "dusty workshop tailor-at-work theme."
Corneliani. Yet another ad campaign with subjects photographed with the “dusty workshop tailor-at-work theme.”
Time Era Dressing -- Sans the vest, this man evokes the emotion of the 1940s
Time Era Dressing — Sans the vest, this Pepe Jeans model evokes the emotion of the 1940s
Timothy Everest, tailor to the upper echelon of public figures and celebrities, provides designs that particularly appeal to the more cutting-edge sartorial thinker. Here: The Town Coat, reminiscent of the beloved frock coat from the mid-1800s
Timothy Everest, tailor to the upper echelon of public figures and celebrities, also provides designs for younger brands like Superdry, that particularly appeal to the more cutting-edge sartorial thinker. Here: The Town Coat, reminiscent of the beloved frock coat from the mid-1800s

As fresh as it looks…the town coat is firmly grounded in history, owing a great debt to that forebear, the frock coat. It may surprise many, but back in its mid-19th-century heyday, the frock coat was as “it” as it gets, having come into fashion as a more subdued (and less froufrou) alternative to courtly attire — the Helmut Lang of its day. But by the dawn of the 20th century, it itself had come to personify the calcified rigor of aristocratic European society…NY Times, November, 2011

The third influence may be very familiar to the readers of PG. Men and women alike from a vast array of different backgrounds, who have experienced a sometimes unexplained interest in how men dress, are now writing about their sartorial thoughts, impressions, and experiences. And with the internet in place, these voices are now able to reach the bulk of the world, where like-minded people assimilate in sartorial thought and spirit.

The writers that are rising to acclaim realize that writing about how we dress has as much to do with emotion as it has to do with knowledge. And where there is emotion, there is meaning. This specific element of a writer evoking sentiments, combined with a scholarly approach to dressing well, appears to be fundamental in rallying the interest in male elegance by a growing population of men.

James Sherwood (in a suit perhaps reminiscent of Andrew Ramroop's first suit in 1969?).  Sherwood has gained worldwide respect for writing about bespoke tailoring with emotion, as well as scholarly detail.
A candid shot of James Sherwood (in a bespoke coat by Edward Sexton). Sherwood has gained worldwide respect for writing about bespoke tailoring with emotion, as well as with scholarly detail.

And so, as a man’s attitude sets the stage for the development of his appearance, indeed there seems to be a new awareness among men that time is short—a knowing that living life well each day is infinitely more rewarding than waiting for the perineal Friday to roll around.  Most notably, men in their 20s are recognizing that a striking sartorial style quickly sets them apart from a league of other men who have overlooked the shaking effect of developing an unforgettable persona.

Now we can say with strong certainty, that we have entered a completely new sartorial age–where quality matters and a return to style has become important in people’s lives.

Part II will examine this mass attitude shift and attempt a cultivated way to understand the emotion a man feels as he develops his sartorial persona—as well as how the women around him may perceive and react to him.

SN

14 Comments Post a comment
  1. ” based on the stories of Mikhail Bulgakov ” I am intrigued!!! One of my favourite books ever is by Bulgakov 🙂

    February 1, 2013
  2. If I said it once, I said it a thousand times, YOU have the best photos on WordPress, bar none. I am always impressed and amazed with your post. Great info for any man.

    Paul

    February 1, 2013
    • Thank you, Paul. I work hard to try to “get it right” with photos and text, and your comment is truly encouraging. A heartfelt thank you for taking the time to write. ~S

      February 1, 2013
      • You’re welcome.

        February 1, 2013
      • Buongiorno

        There is an aware just for you! 🙂

        Best Wishes & Warmest Regards

        ~ Clarissa

        February 7, 2013
  3. Jueseppi B. #

    Beauty brains & fashion sense. I have always said menswear is the best, we have the best fashion of the two genders. 😎

    February 1, 2013
  4. Awe the art of tailoring, when suits worn by Men were the norm. Thanks for the article. 🙂

    February 2, 2013
  5. The 1940s-esque look on that Pepe jeans model is AWESOME! I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again…well-dressed men always get my vote.

    February 3, 2013
  6. A very interesting posting, I wonder
    what you would think of my own choices,
    as I certainly look nothing like this…

    Have a wonderful start to your Tuesday 🙂

    February 5, 2013
  7. Love this:) So true! Very well done! Interestingly, I was at the airport the other day and there was an elderly gentleman who was dressed so well, dapper if you will, in an elegant style reminiscent of the days when men dressed like gentleman. Anyways, as I was sitting there, at least 4 women approached him and complimented him! If more men only knew! This guy sure did 😉
    Thanks for your such lovely articles~

    February 8, 2013
  8. gincoolette #

    I am in love love love with your blog. Also I love the style from Mad Men. And I love everything you picked for the guys in this week post. Thanx for sharing and if you like drop by my blog at http://www.fashionfrugals.wordpress.com. I talked about Massimo Dutti which I love for both gals and boys. Gin

    February 10, 2013
  9. excellent, though i have no clothes to dress up in, since i am poor 🙂

    February 11, 2013
    • Thank you so much for your response. If money is an issue, maybe you would like to explore the vintage clothing available in so many male elegance vintage stores that are popping up of late…as discuseed in https://iconicallyrare.com/2012/09/16/sartorial-notes-on-elegance-and-vulgarity/

      Your point about financing a wardrobe is a hot topic, but creativity can abound in building your own quality persona, if you are inspired. Nice to receive your comment. ~Sonya

      February 11, 2013

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