17 June 2010

Yesterday & Today (Quirks & Conservatism)

Menswear hasn't changed much in 100 years...at least not the good stuff. After a weeks worth of pushy and perhaps questionable sartorial attempts, I chose today a fully classic combination. But in reviewing the photos, I realize that there are some particulars about the cut and fit of many of my clothes that may seem a bit peculiar. As you may have guessed by now, every little detail of my rigs, no matter how seemingly insignificant, is there on purpose. So, before we begin a discussion of the 'right' or 'wrong' of these things, allow me to present my point:

I'm 5'10". The rules tell me that I should wear a size 40 regular jacket. But I wear a size 40 short, technically the 'wrong' size for me. But it isn't wrong...not for me.

I came up learning that a man's jacket should extend just to the tip of his thumb. As you can see in the above photo, my favorite trusty J.Press hop sack blazer falls well short of this mark, by an inch or more. This works for me, because my inseam is only 29 inches. Through the years, I've discovered that a size regular, my 'proper' size, makes my legs look stumpy, while a shorter coat makes me look taller and leaner. This jacket, besides being a hard wearing quality piece in excellent shape for its age, is one of the most flattering and useful things I've ever owned.

Couldn't be more classic when paired with a fresh white tennis shirt from Lands End, no name seersucker pants in a sharp trim cut, and a brown Coach belt. Funny, I paid more than three times as much money for the tennis shirt as I did for the 25 year old J.Press blazer. Which leads me to another point, or rather, tangent:

Most men don't do vintage. It's too confusing. A girl can rock a psychedelic maxi dress, or some bell bottoms with aplomb if she's on her game, but for a guy, it's harder. Unless you want to devote yourself to the costume of one particular period, and all the comment and conversation that invites, forget it. The great thing about quality menswear is that it always works. That's why this old blazer and this brand new shirt and some likely 1980s pants play so well together. When I hunt these things down, I pay little attention to era, and all my attention to quality.

Down below, penny loafers and bare ankles. These pants are finished to 28 inches, a full inch short. Why? Because I know that I will never wear these pants with socks, and that a high water cuff is so much better in this case. For me that's a personal quirk. Come June, I'll do everything I can not to wear socks again until September.

If you've always figured there's a 'right' and a 'wrong' length for jackets and trousers, consider that it's all a bit relative. In the 1940s, lapels were wide, jackets were long, and pants were high waisted and baggy. In the 1960s, lapels were narrow, jackets short and pants trim and short. A size 40 regular in 1944 was a lot different that a 40 regular in 1966. My point? Find the cut that suits you best, and go with it. Pay little or no attention to numbers or terminology. Thom Browne and his devotees would have us believe that short is the new modern. In a few years time, someone else will come along to push padded shoulders and long jackets on us. It's all cyclical, and kinda bullsh*t. Trust your instincts, but temper them perhaps with the well meaning opinion of a lady or two.

Deep down, you know what works for you. Go out and find it, and wear it in good health.


Sean said...

Thanks to the statistics class I just finished,it is worth noting that at 5'10" you are right in the middle of the bell curve of heights, which helps with the thrifting.

Tall scrawny weirdos like me have it a little tougher, but I still go to this site before thinking of throwing down real cash for clothes.

Young Fogey said...

Sartorial gold. Excellent advice for us all.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Yo G, total Friday morning awesomeness! This is the real deal.

CoastingThroughTheSouth said...

I love the look... the blue blazer with the seersucker pants

Thornproof said...

It sounds like you have mastered your proportions ... something that every man should do. If they did, then shopping would become very easy for them because they would know if something fits or could be tailored to fit.


Anonymous said...

Your jacket sleeves are too short.

Anonymous said...

A shorter pant with sockless loafers is a smart classic look.

dandiacal said...

Giuseppe: Fred Astaire wore his coats a tad on the short side so you are in excellent company.