It's been interesting to watch the explosion of menswear writing online over the past few years in the form of blogs, fora, and other sites. Along with that, its been gratifying for a guy like me to realize that he's "not the only one" who cares about this stuff. Apparently, far from it, in fact. More and more men, especially younger ones, seem to be taking an active interest in how they present themselves, and with it has come some small return to a gentility we've been lacking for too long. Bravo!
There is, of course, a down side to this. There is an underlying tendency among many of these online resources to encourage personal pigeon holing. The "preppy" guys only do preppy, and are ready at a moments notice to decry anything that falls outside of their own iron clad code of rules. So too the European tailoring guys, the British Savile Row guys, and so forth. Heaven help the fellow who dares to appreciate more than one school of thought, or worse, actually attempt to combine them within his own wardrobe. It borders on fetishism. This kind of close-mindedness will only spell defeat for anyone attempting to build a suitable wardrobe built on thrift shop finds and ingenuity. Keeping an Open Mind may in fact be rule #1 of successful thrifting.
What it is is a well made jacket rendered in beautiful silk tweed in my size for less than ten bucks. A perfect coat for an unseasonably warm day in March. It looks well paired with a white shirt with short pointed spread collar (not a rolling button down) and an Italian knit tie.
My point is this: I may generally prefer a style based on the basic tenets of American traditional tailoring, but I won't toss an item away out of hand if it happens to lie just outside of those guidelines. Nice clothes are nice clothes, and fortunately for men, the minute details that differentiate one style from another are just that: minute. Truth be told, the only people likely to notice these little things are fellow clothing dorks. The rest of the world just sees a guy who looks nice in nice clothes. Additionally, real style is found in easy blending of various elements, not in rigid adherence to secret codes. In that regard, being at the chaotic mercy of the thrift store can actually help a man sharpen his skills in a way that makes his eye keen and his choices solid.
All this only works if you keep an open mind.
22 March 2012
Secrets of Thrifting: Keep an Open Mind
Labels: forward pleats, open mind, Polo Ralph Lauren, secrets of thrifting, silk knit tie, silk tweed, spread collar
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G, what's the story behind 4 button cuffs vs. Ivy?
I agree. Living in Glasgow, Scotland it is very hard to thrift sack suits, ocbds, loafers etc. much as I like preppy style. So when you find a three piece saxony twist bespoke suit in green herring bone with an orange windowpane overcheck, hacking pockets, twin pleats, turn ups and buttons for braces, you buy it and then set about wondering how you can wear it without looking like the head ghillie from a Russian oligarch's sporting estate in Perthshire, or ADG on one of his quieter dressing days.....
Well said. There's nothing more limiting than joining one of the "schools" of dressing and spending half the time condemning all the others.
Why would anyone want to shut out the possibility of taking on good elements from many styles? It's just parochial. And in thrifting you need that open mind to be able to pick up a wider range of bargains.
Maybe you have this mentality because you buy for resale as well as for yourself?
I just found a beautifully aged belted brown leather jacket in the Salvation Army this lunchtime, for a score. Would easily be $2000 at Ralph Lauren. I never knew I wanted or needed one until I found it, or maybe it found me.
The joy of the thrift store is the surprises it turns up and the way it coerces you into being open-minded. Because it is cheap, I always give it a go and ultimately end up falling in love with these pieces that I would never have considered or known about had I shopped on the High Street.
Thrifting - Its about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on!
I just did a post inspired by this one. I'm with YOU on this!
An open mind... good heavens, you'll be advocating artificial fibres next! I tremble in anticipation.
Helpful advice for anonymous Scottish preppy: lend it to your gardener to wear for a week, or, if you don't employ one, sleep in it a few times before you wear it in public.
All my suit jackets, and many of my odd jackets, have four button cuffs. (All of my Ralph Lauren jackets, suit or otherwise, are so festooned.)
Maybe it's a West Coast thing.
Forward pleats are the only acceptable kind as any fule kno.
goes well, that tie is the perfect one for grey
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