23 January 2010

Take It Easy

As you already know, I enjoy buying, owning and wearing well made and distinctive clothing. As you may have noticed, fewer and fewer men's lives require or, dare I say it, even permit this kind of dress on any sort of regular basis these days, my own not excluded. Now this isn't to say we all need to succumb to the abject laziness of un-tucked shirts, sweat pants and un-shaved faces that is all too prevalent among the grown men of today. Conversely, dressing like a stuffy old man and constantly grousing about it is neither stylish nor cool, it's grumpy and, at best, quaint. Better to find some middle ground, even if you're version of middle leans a bit further toward your grandfather than your son.

For example: here we see a Brooks Brothers trifecta in this combination of tweed 2 button sack ($3.00), vintage repp tie ($1.00), and white oxford button down ($3.99). This combination of thick tweed, and skinny tie paired with that mystically inimitable "roll" of a Brooks Brothers collar is about as old as it gets.

Down below, rigid denim Wranglers, J. Press socks and Florsheim longwings. Now I can almost here the purist among you crying "why didn't you wear some flat front grey flannel pants?" True, the addition of grey flannels would make this outfit completely classic, almost to the point of a mid-sixties Ivy League nostalgia. So why wear the jeans? Simple: because grey flannels would have brought this outfit into the realm of mid-sixties Ivy League nostalgia.

I like these clothes, and I like to wear them. But I'm a not a student at Yale in 1965. My job far from requires that I dress this way, but still I choose to. By changing one element for casual, in this case jeans for flannels, I manage to wear these things without coming off like a pretentious jerk or a costume party joke. The same transformation can be managed by simply leaving the tie at home, or wearing a parka instead of a top-coat sometimes.

I don't want to "dress up" like 1965. I don't want to "dress up" like a Polo ad. But I will observe both these things, take what I will from them, and try to blend them, and myriad other cool things I've seen, into some unique combination of my own. You should too.

Learn from what you see, don't copy it, and above all, take it easy. It works out better that way.


26 comments:

Daniel said...

Great column! For the dapper dresser of today, one of the biggest frustrations is feeling like you are dressing retro instead of in your own style. I remember people having said to me in the past things like, "Hey, nice 1950s outfit." How horrible...You seem to chart a good course to avoid that problem.

For me, I usually forgo the tie in order to maintain that level of casualness. However, that leaves me with a great tie collection virtually unused. For me, though, jeans represent the epitome of how I don't want to dress, so I couldn't go with that as an option...I guess I've got to keep looking for another solution. Any other advice on casualing-it-up?

The Red Velvet Shoe said...

Not sure where "Boston`ish" is compared to "Fall River`ish" but the Savers there has a slew of The Andover Shop jackets as well as Brooks Brothers aplenty. . .that was just yesterday, so it may be a good day for a roadtrip.

spoozyliciouzz said...

Guiseppe,

thank you for your clarification on this ever-unnerving "classic clothing has to look this and that way"-attitude.

I myself combine jeans with tweed, simply because i like it, and it makes me feel comfortable. This is what stlye should be about.

Great tie job by the way :)

Cheers,
spoozy

OldSchool said...

I was a college student in 1965, and I wear grey flannels because that's how I take it easy.

For me to wear jeans would be no different from wearing un-tucked shirts or sweat pants; not because I'm a stuffy old man, but because I'd be dressing like a member of another generation and I find that ludicrous.

The Sluice Box said...

Great insight into your hybrid approach to classic style.
-Aaron

Diego Rafael Sanchez B said...

would you consider this a version of 'updating' the look and/or 'personalizing' it?

I think its important not to fall into the costume bit simply because one admires the dress styles of the past and so its good to throw a bit of one's one touch or at least diverge from pure, copied look...

Giuseppe said...

Old School,

That's it exactly. I'm in my early thirties, and I don't want to dress like I'm from another genration either.

I love my grey flannels, too. I own four pair. And rest assured, this jacket will likely hit the streets plenty of times with the flannels. I just don't think that such combinations should be written in stone.

That being said, I am jealous that you attended college in a time when students dressed like students, and didn't all attend lectures in their pyjamas.

FIXED BAYONET METAL SOLDIERS said...

totally wrong g . in the uk and italy perfectly normal to have the flannels

David said...

The voice of reason has spoken. Thanks!

Anders said...

Nice finds as always,
Shouldn't one wear wider ties with wide lapels and skinny ties with skinny lapels thou?

clg23 said...

"I am jealous that you attended college in a time when students dressed like students, and didn't all attend lectures in their pyjamas."

this quote actually made me laugh.Im in my 3rd year of college now and people look at me crazy when I wear an oxford and chinos, god forbid I throw on a tie and cardigan.

The Red Velvet Shoe said...

I just want to say that it is so wonderfully refreshing to find young (and not~so~young) men who prefer to take the time to dress & think about what they will "don" on any given day . . . while my clients thus far have been woman, I am seriously considering adding a "Mens Department" as I find so many amazing vintage/classic men's garments and would love to see them merged into today's generation of flip flops & t~shirts. . . "OLD SCHOOL" makes the point that for each generation, what is considered "casual" or "taking it easy" is so different: my step~grandfather used to spend summers with us on "The Lake" and I never saw without a starched shirt, tie, vest & trousers, with matching socks & Wing Tip shoes . . .that was dressed down to him! (Oh, his "extra" was the tumbler of JW Black on the rocks & a book on his lap) . . .his life was full of travel, culture & mystery . . . his wardrobe told you so . . .

Thad said...

Great article! I have to agree ... while I love vintage clothes, it is very easy to become a caricature. Combining items that you love (and I have to second the choice of jeans) with your vintage finds, you can develop your own style ... and, like you do, lead by setting an example of good style for today's men.

OldSchool said...

Giuseppe,

For the first four years we wore OCBDs, chinos, and weejuns. In our senior year, we added blazers, herringbone tweed jackets, and neckties: regimental stripes, club figure, or wool challis--because we emulated grad students (and grad students emulated professors). No "pajamas" were in sight at all: Even when we went from the dorm to the gym, nobody wore sweatsuits; we dressed properly, and changed into our sweatsuits at the gym. I guess nylon jogging garb hadn't been invented yet. And this was not the Ivy League--it was Cal (Berkeley) a school where--contrary to popular opinion--everybody wasn't a leftist radical or a hippie. And yes, for even a one-hour flight from San Francisco to L.A. we wore the same proper attire. Today, when I go to the faculty club for lunch, apart from the President of the university, I'm usually the only one wearing a tie.

Cyclo2000 said...

Hey! I LIKE dressing up like a Polo ad!?!

;-)

DAM said...

Can I get a witness! By wearing jeans you also keep the ensemble young, appropriate and fresh.

It's also fine for both work, but going out on the weekends and it won't look like you are trying to hard.

Anonymous said...

Effing 'A' post. Well said.

Sean said...

Every girl's crazy for a sharp dressed man.

That's why I put on nice clothes.

Young Fogey said...

"fewer and fewer men's lives require or, dare I say it, even permit this kind of dress"

I understand that at certain Silicon Valley firms--Google & Yahoo are the names I've heard--if the CEO sees you wearing a tie, you'll be fired on the spot.

Repulsive if true, awful even if only an urban legend.

Fortunately, more and more younger men are rejecting the excesses, sartorial or otherwise, of the Baby Boomers. The damage they have inflicted is great, but we may yet be able to recover.

For an in-depth analysis, read The Perpetual Adolescent for starters. Also try The Male with No Plumage and Every Day is Dress-Down day for deep thoughts about the ideological basis for making men shed their mantles of authority, sobriety, and gravitas: the suit and tie.

Me, I'll keep rejecting the Baby Boomers, both ideologically and sartorially. I'll keep wearing a jacket and tie every day.

OldSchool said...

Young Fogey,

Thanks for sharing "The Perpetual Adolescent" with us. One of the most articulate, nay, eloquent pieces of argumentative prose that I have read in a long time.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Had to be vintage Brooks Bros. Look at the roll to the collar on the OCBD! I wish they still made them like that.

Keep fighting the good fight.

David V said...

Anon: The "look" is a well established and classic look for menswear. That you don't like it and what you think it is trying to do is not a universal truth.

Young Fogey said...

Old School:

Glad you liked "The Perpetual Adolescent." I hope you tried the other articles, too. Thank you, too, for sharing your experience. (P.S.: Today, I'm wearing a tie identical to your picture.)

Daniel:

Try wearing cotton pants, like chinos, with your wool jackets and silk ties. Try wearing knit ties, especially striped ones. Try wearing wool ties. Try wearing tweed jackets with your silk ties. All these options bring down the level of formality yet incorporate a tie. Good luck in bringing ties into your wardrobe!

Young Fogey said...

G:

"Learn from what you see, don't copy it"

Actually, I think copying another person's outfit is a good way to learn from it. If I wear a tweed jacket with a white button-down and a navy & maroon striped tie, I get a feel for how that combination works, and then I can try tweaking it. I might try a blue shirt, or a pink one;, or I might wear my gray herringbone jacket, or a navy blazer; or I might try a different tie. Using your examples as starting points can be a good way to develop one's own sense of style.

I love your outfit in this post, except for the yellow socks and the jeans. If I follow your lead and wear the "same" thing on top (my herringbone tweed is bluer than yours), but wear blue slacks and matching socks, am I really copying you? Or am I just inspired by your example?

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

Anonymous said...

Which regiment did you serve in?

Giuseppe said...

The same regiment that every other civilian who wears stripes ties served in.