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Posts from the ‘men’s style’ Category

For the Love of Proportions! Ties, Lapels, and Shirt Collars


It’s a simple formula worth knowing:

The widest part of the lapel and the widest part of the tie should be similar in width.

We especially like this illustration by BlackLapel.com :


The next time you wonder why someone looks so good in a suit, note the lapel/tie width ratio and see if it is influencing your positive perception.

HOWEVER, one caveat exists for the man who craves ‘ more lapel ‘ (reminiscent of SNL’s pop culture ‘ more cowbell ‘ catchphrase):

It can be ridiculous to try to match the width of a tie to that of a super-wide lapel, and so the law of diminishing returns applies to just how wide the tie should be. In this case, match tie-width to shirt collar width (being careful to choose a more substantial shirt collar and tie when working with large lapels).

CARRYING THE PROPORTION THEORY EVEN FURTHER

Eyeing the shirt collar before putting on a suit, and choosing a shirt collar width similar to tie width, can be a real help in balancing proportions.

Case in point — media mogul Keith Olbermann is referred to as a master of proportions. Unbeknownst to many, Olbermann is quite a large man…but, his attention to proportions has kept this point fairly mute among the public.

In this GQ photo, we notice Olberman’s consistency in keeping his tie width somewhat similar to his shirt collar width (as his lapels are so expressive that matching tie and shirt collar width with the size of the lapel would be absurd). We also witness on the left, what happens when overall proportion details go wrong. The good news is that with a little education and some attention to what he is wearing, the man on the left can transform his entire appearance.

Olbermann’s shirt collar and tie (widest part of each) measurements are similar. Also note the finer point of how the shirt collar edge is slightly covered by the waistcoat, compared to the free-floating shirt collar on the left.

TIE DILEMMA OF THE KNIT TIE

Knit ties can be quite dapper, but it can be confounding to know how to use them in a suit ensemble. But, when factoring in the proportion formula on matching tie width with the lapel and/or the shirt collar width, suddenly knit ties begin to work better with suits. The problem with knit ties is that most of them are just too skinny, and this fact alone throws off the overall proportions of the suit.

But, once we purge these skinny knit ties, and opt for fuller, wider and more cleverly designed ones, then the proportion problem vanishes, and knit ties become a real viable option to add texture to a suit.

 

Spread Your Wingtips? Selecting the Right Wingtip Design for Your Foot


Gaziano & Girling

Brogue and spectators shoes alike peacock their wingtip designs, begging to be noticed for their clever perforations of twists and turns that channel thoughts of a certain fountain in Paris, or a delicate flower extracted from a crest displayed on a castle wall. While the people who hold their noses a bit high may say that wingtips originate from the countryside, and are too banal for their taste, the esoterics and the bohemians in spirit find this fact to be part of the charm of the semi-formal wingtip shoe.

And, for the those who haven’t noticed…all wingtips do not look alike. To look close, it’s easy to see that the designs on wingtip shoes vary wildly.  But even with their differences, all wingtips have two consistent similarities :

* All wingtip shoes have a W shape on the top of the shoe, and

* All wingtip shoes have decorative perforations.

A POSSIBLE EUREKA MOMENT

We have been binge-viewing countless websites and magazines lately, featuring brogue and spectator shoes. A couple of hours into our binge-viewing session, we begin to notice something that we haven’t noticed before…

Changing the type of W on the Wingtip changes the perceived proportions of the foot.

It was kind of an aha moment… and it seemed to deserve a closer look to see if it is possible that the design pattern on top of the shoe could cause the foot to look bigger, smaller, more narrow or wider. There were photos to share, but it felt rude to show photography of men with big trouser legs with tiny feet underneath, or men with skinny legs and feet so huge that their feet looked more like flippers, not to mention the wide-footed man whose feet looked almost square instead of oblong…you get the picture.

In putting together a few theories about how wingtip design relates to body proportion, we wondered if perhaps we were going a bit too far with it all (i.e., focusing so much on the feet in regard to overall body proportion). After all, we are just talking about…feet. But then, we remembered the possible universal truth that the first thing someone looks at when he or she meets you is your face and your shoes. We remembered the countless photos on Style Forum of men photographing their socks. And, we remembered how a certain group of men fondly refer to looking at shoes as…porn. And then, we decided to investigate.

In the initial findings, we stayed with two key points to analyze wingtip shoe design and its affect on perceived foot proportions:

1. Where is the W positioned on the wingtip? … high, medium, or low ?

2. Is the center of the W pointed or more flat?

BIG W OR SMALL W ? (affects how LONG the foot looks)

The positioning of the W on a wingtip shoe can range from high to medium to low W positioning. Here are examples of each of the three positions:

1. HIGH – W : the W covers more than the half of the front of the shoe (vamp + cap, starting from the throat line).  See also above opening photo by Gaziano & Girling.


Scarpe di Bianco

2. MID – W : The W covers slightly less than the half of the front of the shoe.


Ivan Crivellaro with a mid-position W. source: The Shoe Snob

3. LOW – W : The W covers only around 1/3 of the front.


One of the Corthay signature designs, The Vendome with a low-position W

SOME IDEAS

SMALL FEET :

* Select a low-W positioning with bold perforations on the toes.

As seen in the Corthay wingtip shoes just above, the low-W lengthens the appearance of the foot and the bold perforations draw the eye all the way to the tips of the toes, lengthening not only the overall appearance of the shoe, but also lengthening the appearance of the legs.

side note: With small feet, keep trouser legs more narrow and perhaps fractionally shorter than usual so that trousers don’t hide the length of the foot.

AVERAGE FEET (anything goes) :

* Since there are no disproportions with average feet, anything goes when selecting a wingtip design (unless the design itself creates a disproportional look).

Any shoe size between 8 – 10 (British) and 9 – 11 (American), is considered average. Here, Hugo (average foot size) is wearing a Corthay Low-W wingtip brogue. The design adds a nice lengthening affect to both the feet and the legs.


Photographed by Justin Fitzpatrick : The Shoe Snob

EXTRA-LARGE FEET:

* Select a mid or high W position, without a lot of “attention-grabbing” perforations

For those born with disproportionately large feet, a mid or high-positioned W with minimal perforations softens the appearance of oversized feet. The Gaziano & Girling brogues below are a nice example…and although it can be delicate to craft shoes for extra large feet, the design elements of the G & G brogues feel simple and elegant.


Gaziano & Girling … keeping it elegantly simple.

THE CENTER OF THE W : POINTY OR FLATTENED ?

Affects how WIDE the foot looks.

Some men have extremely wide feet, which can make the foot look more square than oblong, Other men have super narrow feet, which may look disproportionate with wide trouser legs.  The wingtip design can make a shoe appear more narrow or wider than it really is.

FOR NARROW FEET :

When the design of the W is more flat, this makes the foot appear wider than it actually is. In this photo, the W is completely flattened to form a U-Cap, which widens the look of the foot.


Roberto Ugolini Bespoke U-Caps

FOR WIDE FEET:

Select a pointed W, which makes the foot look more narrow, as shown in this pair of shoes (that you probably won’t forget):


New kid on the block, Clarence Clifford

Thanks to Justin Fitzpatrick and his incredible blog “The Shoe Snob” for vast visual inspiration in writing about wingtip design.

Sonya Glyn Nicholson, Senior Editor.

Links :

The shoe snob

Gaziano & Girling

Corthay

Ivan Crivellaro (facebook page)

Roberto Ugolini

Scarpe Di Bianco

Clarence Clifford

Zero Collar Gap: The Third Signal of a (good) Handmade Suit

A screaming collar gap ... such a pity for a promising look

Collar Gap Offender


It’s surprising to notice that so many people with exquisite taste fail to notice the importance of a good collar fit with no “collar gap”. In my own experience, I have been slow to pay attention to collar gaps on suits, especially when mesmerized by an otherwise incredible look of an ensemble.

Compared to many readers, I am fairly new to the world of tailoring, with only about two years of suit-making self-study. Yet I have noticed, after spending many years in surgical wear and fabric design (with patents on a major surgical fabric product) that I have gained a real fascination with the dynamics of garment appearance, fit and function. Out of all the components of suit making that I’ve learned to date, it is particularly interesting to watch how collar fit affects the front and back fit of a coat.

Collar fit is such a strong component to the overall look of the suit, and if we start paying attention to different collar presentations, then we can quickly spot examples of a properly sewn suit collar and a poorly constructed suit collar. Here is a prime example of a poorly constructed suit collar that may be “fault elusive” to many. It is a pinterest sensation that is hard not to like, with a real problem–a shouting collar gap:


Even our dear Prince Charles, in his earlier years, made the mistake of wearing a suit with the dreaded collar gap in one of his portraits. Here we see a photo of the Prince years ago, with a text book example of how a collar gap contributes to the front V-Tug of the suit coat. But, not to worry since in the years that followed, prominent Savile Row houses such as Anderson & Sheppard promptly corrected the problem with technical precision. Take a look at the Prince’s before and after photos.


In this photo, we see:

1. an obvious coat collar gap with the jacket pulling away from the shirt,

2. the shirt collar is showing fully underneath the coat collar on the back of the neck, instead of less than 3/4″ (or less than 2 cm) of shirt collar fabric that should extend from the coat collar.

3. the classic front panel V-tug, and “fabric collapsing” in the chest area,

4. a secondary collapsing gap created between one of the lapels on the coat and the shirt itself, causing the lapel to lose its intended straight line.

Of course, the prince does have his hand in his pocket, which can affect the overall look, but since he is doing so carefully while choreographing his pose, we can conclude that his pose probably has minimal affect on the front drape of his coat.

And now, notice the corrections in this suit:


In this photo, we see the following corrections:

1. the suit collar follows the shirt collar closely, with what appears to be around less than 3/4″ (less than 2 cm) of shirt collar showing,

2. there is the correct amount of tugging of fabric around the chest and waist area of the coat, and

3. the overlapping lapel does not rise and curve against the shirt, but lies flat at a straight angle.

THE PHYSICS OF A SUIT COLLAR


To understand the physics of fabric draping that occurs when there is a collar gap, perform a simple exercise:

First, take hold of the back of the collar of the shirt or coat that you are wearing now and pull the collar backwards. You will notice two things that happen:

1.The front panel of your shirt or coat will pull up upwards, creating a “V-Tug” appearance with some fabric collapsing around the chest area.

2. The back of your shirt or coat will “bunch”, creating fabric folds.

When the collar is working in the opposite direction of the neck, an opposing upward pull occurs on the front of the jacket, and fabric is pulled up and “bunches” around the upper back.

Yet, when the collar is sewn properly and hugs the neck, these problems are eliminated.


To illustrate the point, pull your collar downwards, towards your neck, and notice the dynamics that occur in correcting the chest and upper back fit.

In this situation, the fabric on the back of the jacket is secured flush against the body and the fabric in front works with gravity to create a nice drape with the correct amount of tugging around the chest and the waist of a well-sewn suit.

Compare the different upper back results in the following two suits:


Upper back “Bunching”


Smooth upper back

Here, the close fit of the collar is vital in helping the fabric across the upper back lie smoothly against the body.

HOW UNEVEN SHOULDERS CAN CAUSE A COLLAR GAP

Most of us are not exactly evenly proportioned. And, it’s not unusual for one shoulder to be lower than the other shoulder. When wearing a ready-to-wear suit, the person with uneven shoulders can see a few problems occur:

If the left shoulder is higher, as seen below, in a ready-to-wear suit that is uniformly sewn,

* a collar gap will form, usually around the shoulder that is set lower, and

* fabric bunching will occur that moves in the direction the higher shoulder (as seen above)


In the photos of Prince Charles above, his right shoulder appears lower than his left shoulder, and the collar gap is showing against his weaker shoulder. In the photo that follows, it appears that his tailor has made the corrections necessary to even out the appearance of his shoulders.

Other than slightly adjusting the coat button positions (moving the buttons a fraction higher or lower) on these problem-suits which are pulling either to the left of the right, or a valiant attempt to slightly pad the lower shoulder, there is little that one can do to correct this type collar gap problem on a ready-to-wear suit. A person with offset shoulders should whenever possible, have his or her suits handmade.

IT’S ABOUT AWARENESS

As we take notice of how the collar fits around the neck, we develop an eye for fine tailoring.

Here are some contrasting examples of the bad and the good:


Collar gap with classic V-Tug with collapsing fabric and a curved (instead of straight) left lapel.


And now for the good:


PG Director Greg Jacomet in Cifonelli (who worked with an uneven shoulder). Here there is no collar-gap, around 2 cm of shirt collar showing in back, a straight lapel angle, and the correct amount of front tugging.


Stefan Bernard in a Zegna jacket. Notice the close collar fit on both sides of the neck, and the correct front panel tugging. The lapel angle is intentionally curved instead of straight, with both lapels curved and angled evenly.


Pal Zileri. A nice RTW specimen on all counts.

There are a few things you can do to improve the situation of dealing with a collar gap, ranging from wearing wide-spread shirt collars to mitigate the appearance of the collar opening to looking at having a tailor build up a weak shoulder on the coat, to making a subtle shift in button placement to improve a pull of the coat to the left or to the right (again, usually indicted by uneven shoulders). But, of course, having the collar correctly made to form to your neck from the beginning will save a lot of trouble in the end.

Any fool can know, the point is to understand- Albert Einstein

Sonya Glyn Nicholson

sources:

Dress Like a Grown Up

The Garment Doctor: The Collar Gap

Garment Doctor Series

Bespoke Suits in Singapore: Kevin Seah

Kempt: How a Spread Collar Can Improve a Collar Gap

Why Do Men Wear Suits? A Turbo Ride Through Time (1450 – 1900)

Several artists throughout history have attempted to capture the essence of a gentleman through oils and photography. Today we pause for a moment to take a look at a few valiant works that portray gentlemen of the times, art ranging from 1450 – 1900. All of the oil artists have aptly entitled each of the paintings below  “Portrait of a Gentleman”.

POG5 08portra

1450 – Portrait of a Gentleman by Andrea del Castagno, a landmark Italian portraiture, with the gentleman’s right hand clutching the long end of a hood worn over the shoulder. Source: Wiki Paintings

POG4 bartolomeo-veneto-portrait-of-a-gentleman

1512 – Portrait of a Gentleman by Bartolomeo Venet0 (1502 – 1546), Italy. Veneto is said to inspired by DeVinci

POGY

1555 – Portrait of a Young Gentleman by Tintoretto, whose real name was Jacopo Comin (1518 – 1594). For his notable energy, he was also known as II Furioso, Source: 1st Art Gallery and Wikipedia

POG 2

1629 –  Portrait of a Gentleman by Nicolaes Pickenoy (1558-1656), a Dutch Painter of Flemish origin.

POG6 Portrait-Of-A-Gentleman-C

1730 – Portrait of a Gentleman by Vittore Ghislandi (1655 – 1743), who trained in Milan during the post-medieval Baroque period. Source: see below

pog10

1742 – Another Portrait of a Gentleman, by Vittore Ghislandi (1655 – 1743) Source: Web Gallery of Art

POG 1

1809 – Portrait of a Gentleman by an unknown artist Source: Lemon Tea and Earwig Biscuits

pog4 John_Ponsford_Portrait_of_a_gentleman

1842 – Portrait of a Gentleman by John Ponsford (1790 – 1870)

POG 3 wilgus_PortraitOfGentleman-1

1850 (estimated) – Portrait of a Gentleman by William John Wilgus (1819 – 1853), also known for his works of Ichabod Crane and The Headless Horseman Source: Oxford Gallery

POG12 1868

1888 (estimated) – “The Czarevitch”. Nicholas Romanov of Russia (1868-1918), a few years before he ascended the throne in 1894 as Nicholas II, the last Tsar of Russia Source: J Cosmas Vintage Photography

pog13 Two-gentlemen-seated-carte-de-visite-stavanger-norway

1890s – Carte De Viste, Two Gentleman of Stavanger Source: infomercantile.com

POG11 gentleman-wearing-a-top-hat-studio-portrait-by-max-platz-chicago-1900_i-G-37-3725-WHSAF00Z

The Year 1900 – Gentleman Wearing a Top Hat, by Max Platz, Chicago Source: art.com

A Shoulder That Sings: The Second Signal of a Handmade Suit


The thing we know about men is that if they love a certain thing, then they are capable of immersing themselves in the subject of their affection until they become gurus in their own right. And, it is a little fascinating for women to watch this drive that men have to pursue and grasp technical information about the things they care about, to the point of a sort of pleasurable suffering (and there is a growing number of women who have “caught the bug” of wanting to emerse themselves in some of these enchanting worlds such as the arenas of fine spirits, travel, and tailoring).

Lately, more men are expanding their knowledge beyond the subjects of cars, watches, scotch and cigars, and entering into a whole new realm of knowing the pleasure of owning a handmade suit. In this series of The Signals of a Handmade Suit, we jump headfirst into a technical swimming pool of tailoring aspects…to seek what it is about tailoring that gives pleasure to the eyes of men and women when we see a handmade suit. In a way, many of us are becoming aesthetes who simply appreciate beauty. And this penchant for what is beautiful, naturally leads us into the world of tailoring.

While the shoulder area of the suit is one of the easiest places for the tailor to measure, delivering the desired aesthetic look of the shoulder is, in itself…an art .  And, if you recall that the lapel roll can be the first signal of a handmade suit (as discussed in the first article of the series), then perhaps you will agree that quality shoulder expression is next (if not tied for first) as the second signal of a suit made by hand.

Shoulders are the most defining element of the silhouette of a jacket. They can be natural,  soft, convex, concave, lightly padded, padded or built up or knocked-down. Shoulder expression is simply the shape and appearance of the shoulder area of a coat. The shoulder area sets the parameters for the silhouette and drape of the suit,and so a technically correct cut is vital, of course. But just as importantly, is the “feeling” the shoulder expression evokes, creating real messages ranging from tones of professional to regal and from sporty to scholarly. A man who knows and understands himself, and is armed with some bare fundamentals on tailoring, should instinctively know which shoulder expression he prefers.

The construction of the shoulder should complement the build of the body. Sloping shoulders may need padding to lift the area. Narrow shoulders with a gut may want to slightly extend the horizontal shoulder area to offset things a bit. A body with a strong V shape, may shun strong shoulders in favor of more balance. But, a good shoulder construction is not too big (no sagging shoulder crown over the shoulder line) and not too small (provides relative ease in moving arms from front to back). All the rest is a matter of personal taste.

The old way of classifying shoulders types has been through describing where a suit is made. It seems silly these days to do this, since there are so many expats living in different places that we now have access to rich cross-cultural talent in various locations aound the world. And face it, the Italian tailors can’t really be classified because they will do almost anything (and usually do it well). At any rate, since these categories are often referred to, then it is worth a quick look at these designated “shoulder styles”:

1. American


Natural shoulder, very minimal padding, follows the shape of the body. The sack suit, the perennial “preppy look”

2. British


Stiffer suiting with a lightly padded shoulder. which compliments a nipped waist.

3. Italian


Versatile shoulders ranging from a strong and defined shoulder area, either with a “roped” look or with shirring (pleats) that makes the shoulders appear broader, to a natural shoulder made with tailoring precision. Note: Italian expertise in shoulder construction is so varied, that it often overlaps with British and American norms of shoulder expression.

EXPRESSING THE SHOULDER

Notice below how by simply altering the shoulder construction of three similar coats, a completely different look for each piece results. Let’s name the shoulder expressions below as:

1. Pagoda Concave “Rope” Shoulder (Italian)

2. Straight Shoulder (British)

3. Sloping Shoulder (American)


Also demonstrated nicely in this photograph, are the main two components that make up the top of the shoulder sleeve: the crown, which is either lifted, left flat or knocked down (as demonstrated above), and the area that connects the sleeve to the coat, the shoulder ridge, which can range from a deep ridge, to a light ridge, to a knocked down ridge, as also shown above.

ITALIAN/FRENCH TAILORING – Expressive and structured shoulders

AK SHOUD

The Cifonelli Shoulder worn by Alexander Kraft

Higher armholes, cut slightly larger than the norm will give the appearance of an improved posture and broader shoulders. Many Italian tailors pride themselves on the fact that they prefer to eschew shoulder padding in favor of working with canvas and fabric to get the shoulder look they want. A wider shoulder cut allows room to move around (except perhaps not to raise your hands above your head because of the high-cut armholes. But not to worry, since Hugo tells me that whoever wears Cifonelli suits never surrenders anyway).

 

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ITALIAN TAILORING – No padding please


Here are two Italian Neapolitan unpadded shoulder constructions: Left: Pagado, or Con Rollino, which means “with roll” (a very narrow and slightly puckered sleevehead, normally unpadded, where excess fabric bulk pushes up the sleevehead, creating an elegant rope effect). RIGHT: spalla / manica camicia (knocked-down shirt-sleeve tailoring, usually with shirring, which follows the shape of the body and falls naturally and is usually prepared by a high-level RTW house, or a Neapolitan Tailor).

The Neapolitan Touch — Shirring




A notable feature on some Italian shoulder constructions is the process of shirring, or pleat-like folds at the seam where the sleeve connects to the shoulder. In this process, the upper sleeve is cut significantly larger than the armscye (arm cut-out on the coat itself), and since there is more cloth on the outer cut than on the inner cut, the fabric puckers and gathers around the shoulder area, when the sleeve is sewn onto the coat.

One of the best commentaries I’ve seen on the perceptions created by shirring the shoulders is taken from the “London Lounge”:

This is not done for aesthetics, although the devotees of the style certainly claim it is beautiful. To the unknowing eye, it looks sloppy, like a sign of inferior tailoring. But it most definitely is not. It is not to everyone’s taste, however, and de gustibus, as the saying goes. Anyway, it is done for comfort and freedom of movement. Classic Neapolitan coats have very small armholes, very close shoulders, and relatively lean bodies—more roomy than a Roman or Continental coat, but less than traditional Savile Row, and much less than what is typically made in America. The large upper sleeve combined with the tight armhole, draped chest, fullness over the blades, and soft front canvas give the arms a most free range of movement. The coat can be worn all day, in almost any circumstance. The heat might get to you, but you will be able to do whatever it is that you need to do without having to take off your coat. (Within reason.) Source: BespokenN 

 The Roman Shoulder — Yet Another Italian Option


The Roman Shoulder, Brioni

The Roman Shoulder is more structured and, unlike the puckered con rollino shoulder, is unpleated and slightly padded. This construction emphasizes the “V” shape of a man and results in a “masculine look”.

The general rule is that if you have strong shoulders, you may opt for less padding; but if your shoulders are more weak, then it is best to choose padding in the shoulder area, in order to give the illusion of broadening the shoulder area.

BRITISH TAILORING — Straight to the Point

The shoulder line is key on a bespoke suit. Once you have a strong understanding of that, the rest flows from there. ~Ozwald Boateng




According to AW London / Savile Row, there are three British shoulder construction standards:

A Classic British Suit – The Shoulder

1. The shoulders should neither be too narrow or to wide, but slightly hug the shoulder

2. Shoulders should be padded to add structure, rather than bulk

3. There should be a sharp 90 degree right angle between the shoulder and the sleeve of the suit

British tailors have historically used just enough padding to follow the natural shoulder line, with a precision fit that could be suited for the military. Some tailors will barely extend the natural shoulder line so that the sleeve will hang straighter.

AMERICAN TAILORING — No Strange Shoulders, Please


Leonard Logsdail, Custom Tailor, NYC

Neapolitan tailors are known for their unpadded shoulders, and traditional American tailoring is known for the same. This can be a confusing point when trying to differentiate the two international styles.

The 1980s left pictures in our heads of Americans dressed like MC Hammer in oversized coats that gave the appearance that men everywhere had borrowed an oversized Marlon Brando jacket for the evening. With this image difficult to shake, many American men are finally discovering the elation that a properly fitted suit brings. Fine tailors like Nino Corvato and Leonard Logsdail of NYC are getting the look right. And American men seem to trust Anderson & Sheppard in London to make a well-tailored suit that they don’t feel strange wearing.

And also, not everyone wants to emphasize their shoulders. Some shoulders are so broad, that broadening them out more with a wide shoulder design would result in looking like a carnival Strongman. Others just want a balanced shoulder that doesn’t draw attention to itself. Instead, a more sporty or toned-down look is wanted with soft shoulders that have a natural and continuous line running from the top of the shoulder towards the arm. Hence, the sloping shoulder construction comes to the rescue.

How Much Knowledge is Enough?

There is much more detail that can be given about how the shoulder of a handmade suit is constructed, but hopefully for those not already familiar with shoulder construction options for a suit, with a simple familiarization about which shoulder options are out there, we are able to make informed choices, instead of simply “hoping for the best” when investing in a handmade suit.

Sonya Glyn Nicholson

sources:

Valet Handbook

Shoulder Expression, Style Forum, Jeffery D.

The London Cut, James Sherwood

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

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