10 April 2012

6X2::6X1 (or, Numeric Codes for Clothing Nerds)

For a long time a good double breasted navy blazer was a desire needing fulfillment in the closet of An Affordable Wardrobe. Double breasted coats of all types are harder to get "right" than single breasted coats, as so much depends on the number and placement of the front buttons. Personally, I find a 6X2 or 4X1 front to be acceptable, though I loathe the 6X1 front so popular in the 1990s. Unless of course it's a 6X2 rolled to 6X1 model. Hardcore clothing nerds will read all that coded numerology with ease. For the rest of you, I will explain.
I recently picked this coat up with the intention of selling it. I really wasn't going to keep it. For one thing, I already had a good double breasted blazer acquired not too long ago, and for another, I don't really need any of these clothes, let alone more of them. In the end, however I couldn't help it. This one fits me too well, is cut from soft but hard wearing cloth, and is drenched in too many nerdy style details to pass up. Pure Polo Ralph Lauren at it's finest, made in USA, likely mid-90s. I remember this cut from back then. I always thought it was cool, but never owned it. Soft shoulders that extend just beyond the natural shoulder, adding a whiff of English "drape"; high cut dramatic 1930s style peaked lapels; side vents; a slightly shorter skirt; and the elusive 6X2/1 button stance.
Those lapels are cut like knives, sharp. Sure, they're wide, but the softness of the cloth keeps that all in check. Besides, I happen to be of the opinion that peaked lapels on a double breasted jacket are best served on the wide side anyway.

But it's the button stance that really does the trick. 6X2 means there are six buttons on the front of which 2 are functional, as seen here. 6X1 means only one is functional. It's a style that smacks of bad 90s, because it was bad and happened in the 90s. Dated, in a bad way. Then there is this cut, rolled to one button, but with two fully functional. Inside, there are two buttons as well, thereby actually allowing the coat to be worn in either position. Additionally, the top button hole is finished on the inside, much the same way the top hole should be finished on the 3/2 single breasted cut beloved by American traditionalists everywhere. Unfortunately, this cut has become nearly impossible to find, which is a shame. I find it to be elegant and nonchalant all at once. Which is kind of what we're all supposed to be shooting for with this whole menswear bag, isn't it?

At one time, this was something of a "house cut" for Polo Ralph Lauren. Here we see the man himself sporting what is likely the very same jacket I just bought. My Honda Civic, on the other hand, offers no comparison to his 1938 Bugatti. Bet his car isn't full of paper cups from Dunkin' Donuts and plastic bags from Market Basket either. But we do have the same jacket.

As with all things Ralph, it comes from somewhere else. People malign Ralph as a thief, but I see what he does a little differently. Jesse Thorn once referred to his work as an "abstraction" of what rich people wear, and that just about nails it. This kind of thing would be really awful, if it weren't for the fact that the good stuff is really good.

Double breasted coats worn this way were actually something of a (dare I say it) trend amongst wealthy Brits and the guys who dressed like them back in the 1930s. Here we see the original model as worn by the Duke of Windsor back then. (side note: I have no time for the Duke of Windsor. I know, he's a seen as this romantic hero who abdicated his throne for "love". But in truth, he's a rich white kid of dubious political leanings who shirked his eminent responsibilities in order to remain a spoiled rich white man-child forever. But I digress, he did have nice clothes. Frankly, I have more respect for Ralph.)

I've worn this jacket a dozen times in the three weeks I've had it, I like it that much. Action shots coming soon.

6X2::6X1 Catch it if you can.

21 comments:

Kionon said...

Oh, G, your views of the Duke of Windsor match my own. Leaves me giggling.

Aside from my naval dress blues, I have never owned a double breasted coat, and I just don't think I could pull it off well enough. Maybe so, but as hard as it is to find one, it is harder still to find one in my 34...

knightrunner said...

Comments about the Duke of Windsor speak right to my exact feelings of the man. I can not understand the perpetual love-affair people have with this Nazi-sympathizer.

While he did help popularize many staples for the well-dressed man, I can agree he was nothing more than a wealthy do-nothing. His father pegged him accurately.

BTW: Interestingly, the Duke was one of Izod's first customers to sport their "new" Dozi tennis-shirt.

Young Fogey said...

From what I've read, the DoW was a vapid, shallow man. His own father didn't want him on the throne, and it's just as well that he abdicated. He would never have been able to fulfill his responsibilities—as his abdication so amply demonstrates.

Politically, he was no more than a "useful idiot" for the Nazis. I think that castigating him for his politics makes as much sense as castigating an American politician for his food preferences.

Having said all that, beautiful jacket. Can't wait to see the action shots.

Todd said...

WRT the Duke of Windsor comments, I couldn't agree more. However, why "white"? Rich, yes. Privileged, certainly. Dubious political (and personal) judgement, for sure. How does "white" play into it? If the heir to the Japanese empire prior to WWII had done the same thing would you have said "a rich brown kid"? And I doubt he made those choices in order to "remain...white". I think that one was out of his hands.

Roger v.d. Velde said...

Bravo in summing up the truth about the disappointing Edward VIII. I've never seen him as anything other than you described. And I think some of his clothes fitted badly too.

Your blazer is very nice, but I couldn't wear it. It's the metal buttons that I just can't do.

FLW said...

The jacket is great. I've seen that look on lots of stylish gents. Speaking of English drape, it was featured a couple of times in that Anderson and Sheppard retrospective from last year.

More importantly, bravo for breaking the dam holding back the salvo against the DoW. True love and all that is fine, but he abandoned an entire nation when it needed him. Dressing smart isn't worth a damn if you can't summon the courage to act as bold as you look.

Colonel Codswallop said...

Fellow was a bounder.

Anonymous said...

As with other gigolos, the duke's jackets were at least one size too small.

Yankee-Whisky-Papa said...

I have the same jacket. I have occasionally seen a rare 6x1 that looks good. It can make a tall guy look lighter and cooler (temperature-wise) during summers... but it is a rare find.

David V said...

Congratulations on your find. I have a DB 6x1 that I bought in the 90's. The problem is that the button stance makes anyone with less that a perfect waistline look tubby!A 6x2 is at the top of my trifting list. I've found two but being English, have always felt too long and so wee returned.
I have no fear of metal buttons.

Thomas said...

Love a DB blazer-Can't wear them anymore because one shoulder has gotten much lower than the other - not obvious except in a double breasted jacket- used to have one shoulder built up a bit but that required letting the sleeve out got to be a mess- I agree w/ the observations on DoW- I do however have a pair of gold cufflinks made for him in 1950- Garter device on one side and the "WE" cypher on the other in dark blue enamel-wear them every day

Nick said...

Nice piece. As a patriotic Englishman...couldn't agree more with your pithy put down of the Duke of Windsor: weak and selfish chap, with a fine wardrobe.

Kionon said...

Todd, without going into details, Taisho Period Japan is actually my area of expertise and... even if Hirohito wanted to abdicate, that's not the way it worked. Chichibu could not have taken the throne... Long story short, the comparison you've tried to make isn't one borne by the peculiar situation of the Japanese monarchy in 1926.

Young Fogey said...

Kionon,

I think you're missing the point. If I'm not mistaken, Todd was criticizing G for criticizing the DoW for being white.

Giuseppe said...

No, I was criticizing him for being a spoiled rich white kid, which he was. In his time, and even still today, few non-white people reach his level of wealth and influence. Therefore, I think its pertinent. Both the politically correct and the racists who bemoan what they see as a currently downtrodden white race tend to forget that sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your accurate comments about the Duke of Windsor. Yes, he had nice clothes. But the worship of the Nazi sympathizer--so common among igents--is creepy.

Young Fogey said...

Well, G, I wouldn't call whites "downtrodden," but programs like Affirmative Action do put whites (and Asians, too) at a disadvantage for no other reason than race.

Discrimination based on race--isn't that more or less the definition of racism?

But we digress. The DoW was a wastrel who shirked his responsibilities for selfish reasons. It just so happens that he was really, really good at dressing well, and had the wherewithal to demonstrate it.

Brent C. Kryda said...

Detroit seems to have a thrift drought concerning 6X2s. This is unfortunate, as the more grand in carriage among us pretty much require a 6X2 to maintain a decent appearance. Is there a way for a heavyset gent to pull off a 6X1?

Kionon said...

After the war, there was actually quite a bit of pressure for Hirohito to step down, and for Chichibu to ascend to the throne, the problem is, the Emperor can't really abdicate according to prevailing theories of kokutai... He sorta has to die for the next in line to take the throne. Hirohito and Chichibu's father, Taisho, was mentally handicapped, but there was zero suggestion of him stepping down... Todd may have been trying to make a point about G's use of race here, but the circumstances just aren't the same. Even if Hirohito was a fashion conscious playboy (and he wasn't, he was a devoted husband and amateur botanist who never had a mistress and was dead set against the imperial "right" to concubines), he could never have abdicated. Todd should have chosen another monarch for his analogy...

Oh, and white privilege exists, and very much existed when the Duke of Windsor gave up his thrown as Edward VIII. Japan pushed for clause in the Treaty of Versailles and international law under the League of Nations which would have condemned racism- Europe and the US said no.

Frank Beans said...

"White privilege" is post-modern politically-correct gobbledegook for "non-whites are not as successful in creating and sustaining the kinds of civilization that we whites find acceptable."

Ultimately, it's another leftist way to attack Westerners (i.e., whites) for being who they are and for doing what they do. In other words, it's anti-white racism, and is therefore immoral, as all true racism is. (As opposed to, for instance, braying "racist!" whenever someone criticizes Obama or his policies.)

I believe, however, that Kionon, while his knowledge of Japanese politics and history may be outstanding, is letting his expertise get in the way of the analogy (and analogies are always inherently imperfect): Todd is asking, would Giuseppe have criticized a (hypothetical) "rich yellow/brown/black" kid the same way he criticized the Duke of Windsor?

I don't know.

I don't really care.

I agree with some of the other posters: Edward Albert Christian George Andrew Patrick David (Edward VII/Duke of Windsor) dressed well, but was a "wealthy do-nothing," a "wastrel," "disappointing," and a "bounder."

And as far as I can tell, he wasn't really smart enough to form political thoughts. Maybe he liked the Nazis for their clothes?

Giuseppe said...

Well, it wouldn't be the first time the nazis were noted for their design skills.