19 February 2012

Mixing It Up (Quietly)

You hear a lot about pattern mixing in menswear blogs. The ability to bring numerous patterns together to create a harmonious whole is considered one of the marks of the "expert dresser", whatever that may mean. I play this game all the time myslef, sometimes succesfully, sometimes not. It's fun. But too much pattern mixing can make a guy forget that sometimes a combination of solids can be more striking. Sometimes, only one pattern will do the trick. In order to keep things interesting, yu have to mix things up sometimes. This can mean turning it down as much as turning it up.

Brooks Brothers "non-iron" shirt, $5.49, mohair and wool knit tie, $1.99,
vintage Italian wool knit vest, $cheap

Here, my well loved guilty pleasure of a non-iron shirt is paired with a yellowy buff vest in fine merino knit and a very nubby and fairly wide burgundy knit tie. The color combination of navy, white, burgundy and gold, is a mainstay of classic menswear. The shirt gives us pattern, while the two wool elements give us texture, two ways: fineness in the vest, roughness in the tie. We've also got an eclectic mix of periods here: a recent shirt, a 1970s tie, and a 1960s vest. And so, for all its simplicity, this combo is plenty interesting. The balance of the outfit remained relatively staid: a Brooks Brothers navy blazer (recent), charcoal worsted slacks (1960s),  and dark brown cordovan wing tips. Hunter green socks and a muted paisley square provided just the right dandy whiff.
As for the tie, we'll call this one currently another guilty pleasure. At nearly four inches wide, you'd almost call it huge, but I like it. Vintage mid-70s "Heathernit" by Rooster, 65% mohair/ 35% wool. Its not the only one, as I've been inexpicably drawn to wide knit ties lately. I think I'm ahead of my time. Any day now we'll be swamped with a retro 1970s look: wide lapels, nipped waists, broad ties, buckle shoes. I think we'll be spared the polyester and overall "brown" ness, but we might not be so lucky in the longhair and moustache department. Mark my words. Tom Ford has been nudging us into it for years, and this everything-a-little-too-small trend is bound to be replaced with everything-a-bit-too-big. After all, without exagerated proportions of one kind or another, fashion couldn't exist. How else could they make last years stuff look so hopelessly outmoded?

In any case, don't be too afraid of a wider tie every now and then, or pleats, or not, or pattern mixing, or a bunch of solids. Don't be afraid of your clothes at all....unless you're concerned with fashion, in which case your clothes should scare you to death. Mix it up, but don't let it mix you up.

In other news: Don't forget that I will be joining forces with Newton Street Vintage for a live appearance at the Drill Hall Flea Market this Sunday, 26 Feb. Details in the side bar. The Shop will go into vacation mode Friday to return on Monday. Many Winter items on sale plus some new stuff you haven't seen yet. I invite you all to come down, grab a beer, and get nerdy about menswear.


Scott Alexander said...

Excellent writing, G. Similar to my most recent post, though you bested me with the badass Rooster knit.

davidsl said...

a tie that is 4 inches wide could almost be called an ascot. lol.

Anonymous said...

Dear Sir,
what's your opinion on Dr Martens dressier (lower and plainer) shoes?
I've seen them in a shopwindow the other day and I'm browsing the eBay to find some decent used ones or new old stock...

Thad said...

I second the wider tie, especially in an outfit like that one (and oddly, similar to the one that I am currently wearing at work ... yes, I am guilty of checking your blog at work). I feel that the wider tie creates a larger knot that is more noticeable when the majority of the tie is hidden behind a sweater.


Erin, Eric, Declan and Soren said...

Question. What color pants go with the gold vest, blue/white shirt, and red tie?

Giuseppe said...

As stated in the body of the post, charcoal grey worsted wool.