I had a live taping of my public radio show, Bullseye, Friday night in Pasadena. My wife gave birth that morning at 3:30, so I was pretty exhausted, but thanks to some great guests, things ended up going quite well. Joining me were the brilliant June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, Jasper Redd and the superb band The Internet.
On stage is one of the rare opportunities I have to wear a suit, and I rarely miss the chance. This one’s a vintage number from Alan Flusser Custom. Not custom for me - it was a shop sample. You can see even in this seated picture that it has a classic silhouette - strong shoulders and a nipped waist. In classic Flusser fashion, it does have a dandy touch, though - take a look at the turn back cuffs. A plain white shirt, white linen pocket square (PTO’s own) and a black wool tie by E. Tautz completed the ensemble. Oh, and a silk flower. At night, I try to keep it clean.
The episode’ll air in about two weeks. If you’re not already subscribed to Bullseye, head over to iTunes and do it now. I think you’ll like it.

I had a live taping of my public radio show, Bullseye, Friday night in Pasadena. My wife gave birth that morning at 3:30, so I was pretty exhausted, but thanks to some great guests, things ended up going quite well. Joining me were the brilliant June Diane Raphael, Bill Hader, Jasper Redd and the superb band The Internet.

On stage is one of the rare opportunities I have to wear a suit, and I rarely miss the chance. This one’s a vintage number from Alan Flusser Custom. Not custom for me - it was a shop sample. You can see even in this seated picture that it has a classic silhouette - strong shoulders and a nipped waist. In classic Flusser fashion, it does have a dandy touch, though - take a look at the turn back cuffs. A plain white shirt, white linen pocket square (PTO’s own) and a black wool tie by E. Tautz completed the ensemble. Oh, and a silk flower. At night, I try to keep it clean.

The episode’ll air in about two weeks. If you’re not already subscribed to Bullseye, head over to iTunes and do it now. I think you’ll like it.

(Source: jessethorn)

The Eighties Drape Suit
When I wear tailored clothing I lean toward a trim silhouette and the lineage of the midcentury Brooks Brothers/J. Press cut. Not that I’m unique; this describes me and maybe half of the American men who’ve bought new suits in the last three or four years. But in favoring these modern versions of “trad” or “ivy” looks, it’s tempting to dismiss most suits made between 1969 and 2001—when Thom Browne started his line and shortened our pants—as outdated, unflattering, or sloppy.
This 1988 New York magazine article on custom tailoring makes the case that 1980s suits were not sloppy or oversized—they were carefully considered exercises in proportion, calculated Savile Row influence, and aspirational dressing. The article trots out some hoary old chestnuts about the wonders of going the custom route, but it’s a wonderfully in-depth piece (15 pages—6 of them full, glorious, three-column, no-ad pages!), and I found this illustration of “the eighties drape suit” especially enlightening. Twenty-five years ago, this Alan Flusser suit represented the ideal: extended shoulders; a full chest; low-slung, six-button (one working) stance; wipe lapels; no vent; and full, pleated trousers with more of a break than Pitti Uomo has seen in this side of the year 2000.
This cut was the pinnacle of good taste at the time, visually referencing to the elegance of British tailoring as described by Flusser in his influential  books, Making the Man (1981) and Clothes and the Man (1985). I’d bet many men who asked for this cut at their tailor in 1988 wanted something timeless, just like many of us do today when we buy two-button, natural shoulder suits. The piece also cites Richard Merkin on Flusser and his drape suits: “He produces very haughty and snappy clothes with a wonderful arrogance about them.” 
-Pete

The Eighties Drape Suit

When I wear tailored clothing I lean toward a trim silhouette and the lineage of the midcentury Brooks Brothers/J. Press cut. Not that I’m unique; this describes me and maybe half of the American men who’ve bought new suits in the last three or four years. But in favoring these modern versions of “trad” or “ivy” looks, it’s tempting to dismiss most suits made between 1969 and 2001—when Thom Browne started his line and shortened our pants—as outdated, unflattering, or sloppy.

This 1988 New York magazine article on custom tailoring makes the case that 1980s suits were not sloppy or oversized—they were carefully considered exercises in proportion, calculated Savile Row influence, and aspirational dressing. The article trots out some hoary old chestnuts about the wonders of going the custom route, but it’s a wonderfully in-depth piece (15 pages—6 of them full, glorious, three-column, no-ad pages!), and I found this illustration of “the eighties drape suit” especially enlightening. Twenty-five years ago, this Alan Flusser suit represented the ideal: extended shoulders; a full chest; low-slung, six-button (one working) stance; wipe lapels; no vent; and full, pleated trousers with more of a break than Pitti Uomo has seen in this side of the year 2000.

This cut was the pinnacle of good taste at the time, visually referencing to the elegance of British tailoring as described by Flusser in his influential  books, Making the Man (1981) and Clothes and the Man (1985). I’d bet many men who asked for this cut at their tailor in 1988 wanted something timeless, just like many of us do today when we buy two-button, natural shoulder suits. The piece also cites Richard Merkin on Flusser and his drape suits: “He produces very haughty and snappy clothes with a wonderful arrogance about them.” 

-Pete

voxsart:

Fall/Winter Day Shirtings, According To Flusser.
For evening?  White, of course.

Simply a useful guide.

voxsart:

Fall/Winter Day Shirtings, According To Flusser.

For evening?  White, of course.

Simply a useful guide.

Menswear books: Alan Flusser, Dressing the Man

If I didn’t know the name Alan Flusser, I’d still trust Dressing the Man by virtue of heft alone. Its size, shape, and weight could deal serious damage, although those cumbersome qualities keep me from carrying it around to test in a street fight, and even if I could easily carry it around, would I? I don’t mind learning how to dress in public — we always have to, in some sense — but it feels somehow inappropriate to reading a big, shiny book on how to dress in public. Then gain, if you’re going to learn how to dress that way, make it with a big, shiny book by a guy like Flusser, who dressed Michael Douglas for Wall Street and, more importantly, appeared in the sixth episode of Put This On's first season (as well as an interview minisode).

But does this one rise above its closest-looking relative in publishing, the coffee-table book? All the lush, often page-filling photography of the Fred Astaire, the Duke of Windsor, and Luciano Barbera, not to mention the jaunty vintage illustrations, makes you wonder. After so many school years of bloated, distraction-laden textbooks, my alarms sound at the sight of splashy chapter-opening spreads, fonts a little too large, lines set a little too far apart, or boxes which may or may not enclose information. The aesthetics of Dressing the Man outshine most educational publishers’ strongest design efforts, but a confusion of purpose remains: is this an analysis of the best men have worn, or a primer for those who need to know how a shirt works? Reaching for both audiences, the book generates a certain friction: experienced dressers will wonder why they’re opening fold-out sections showing which fabrics are which, while learners like myself will, buoyed by how nifty they find those fold-outs, proceed to mire themselves in a discussion of dinner jacket trousers versus full-dress trousers. (Something to do with stripes.) Flusser includes a glossary to help us find our way home, deepen the feeling of textbookishness though it may.

Hence my suggestion that the next edition be titled something like Permanent Fashion: Theory and Practice. Flusser introduces this concept, which should ring familiar to longtime Put This On followers, with an explanation born of a paradox. “Menswear has enjoyed three decades of unprecedented growth and freedom to configure and reconfigure the sartorial tastes of several generations,” he writes, “yet there are fewer genuinely well-dressed men now than before. There has been nothing permanent about recent fashion.” He roots his proposed alternative as deeply as possible in the era between the World Wars, noting that, despite the “considerable economic tumult for America,” this time produced, regardless of wealth or class, “the best-dressed generation in the twentieth century.” This opens the door to 21st-century man’s standard objection: he fears looking like an octogenarian on his way to a costume party. But the book’s images seem curated to dispel just these reservations; who, even today, would laugh a Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. or a Leslie Howard out of the room? (Even the Howard wearing an unflatteringly narrow collar in a photo Flusser uses as a negative example commands respect.)

We could draw our aesthetic ideals from worse times than the one when Astaire and the Duke of Windsor stood astride the world. Not only did they take pains with what they wore and how they wore it — Astaire to the point that he could wear a necktie as a belt, the Duke to the point that he could combine five different patterns and introduce suede shoes to the American continent — but neither were particular Adonises. Dressing the Man does contain gloriously composed shots of the Cary Grants and Gary Coopers of the world, but there’s infinitely more instruction in the way that, balanced by the elegance and distinctiveness of their dress, the royal’s befuddledness and the dancer’s goofiness don’t count against them. For those still unconvinced, Flusser includes the likes of Jean Cocteau and the current Prince of Wales, eccentrics who, in their immaculate and intricately personal habiliment, surely transcend mere handsomeness.

“How is it that after almost three decades of unprecedented fashion consumption, so few capable practitioners of this masculine art form have been bred?” Flusser asks. “If dressing well were simply a matter of donning the latest designer duds or owning an expensive wardrobe, fashion nabobs would be in abundance. My quick response is that learning how to dress well is much like trying to build a classically beautiful place to live. No amount of professional decoration or priceless furnishings will ultimately make much of a difference if the floors or walls that they are to adorn rest on a shaky foundation.” Safest, then, to build that foundation according to long-standing principles than to those dreamed up last Fashion Week. This notion’s strongest distillation comes in a Brooks Brothers quote in the glossary: “Today’s peacock is tomorrow’s feather duster.”

This steady-handed, unreconstructed rigor should comfort even the Palo Alto tech worker worried about showing up to the startup dressed for fox-hunting. That man should only skim the late chapter when Flusser ventures into the free-for-all of post-Bubble “business casual.” Writing in 2002, Flusser avoids even acknowledging the era’s squarest-toed excesses, but it’s tough to imagine the suggested near-monochromatic combination of severely buttoned polo shirt and corduroy jacket standing the test of time. Dressing the Man's value lies in its Platonic-sounding axioms of cut, fit, and color, especially as regards harmonizing your wardrobe's coloring with your own. “As a medium-contrast complexion, Trevor enjoys the most latitude of any type…” Maybe that's what I'd rather not read in public. But then, the ladies have understood and expertly exploited this sort of knowledge for centuries. We've got to catch up however we can.

Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall. To buy Dressing the Man, you can find the best prices at DealOz

Put This On Episode 6: Body

Jesse Thorn visits Carl Goldberg, owner of CEGO Custom Shirtmaker in New York City, to learn the difference between a custom shirt and an off-the-rack shirt. Then it’s off to Alan Flusser Custom in New York for a visit with the proprietor, a menswear legend. Flusser offers some tips on dressing for your body with the help of three associates of Put This On. Finally, a visit with Ryu Kwangeol at Pro Tailor in Los Angeles to answer a viewer’s question about altering off-the-rack dress shirts.

Previously: Put This On: A Conversation with Alan Flusser

iTunes / Vimeo / YouTube

Clothing Credits

Funding Credits

Related Posts

Put This On: A Conversation with Alan Flusser

In this special micro-episode of Put This On, we present a conversation with menswear expert Alan Flusser. Flusser has written the seminal contemporary American texts on getting dressed: Style & the Man and Dressing the Man. He’s also helped create a menswear iPhone app called BeSpeak. He runs Alan Flusser Custom in Manhattan, and famously dressed Michael Douglas for the film Wall Street. While Alan’s worked as a designer of ready-to-wear and has worked closely with tailors for decades, his work at the shop is as neither a designer or a tailor - he’s more like a consiglieri, guiding men towards their best appearance.

Alan’s expertise features heavily in our next episode of Put This On, but we thought we’d take this opportunity to introduce you to one of menswear’s great treasures.

Our favorite custom shirt shop, CEGO, has teamed up with one of our favorite eBay sellers for a very unique sample sale in Manhattan. Aaron obtained the stock of Alan Flusser’s custom shop when it changed management, and is offering a sale of sample goods and fabrics from the store. The goods will pretty much run the gamut, and Aaron assures me there’s lots of good stuff. Of special note to people who wear the sample jacket size of the show, 41L. (Like me, dammit, all the way out here in LA.) You can check out photos here.
Carl from CEGO tells me they’ll be offering a special $100 labor rate if you buy shirting fabric from Aaron, and some of CEGOs fabrics will be on sale as well.
WHEN: Friday April 29 12-7, Saturday April 30 10-4WHERE 246 Fifth Avenue (at 28th St), Suite 511, New York, NY

Our favorite custom shirt shop, CEGO, has teamed up with one of our favorite eBay sellers for a very unique sample sale in Manhattan. Aaron obtained the stock of Alan Flusser’s custom shop when it changed management, and is offering a sale of sample goods and fabrics from the store. The goods will pretty much run the gamut, and Aaron assures me there’s lots of good stuff. Of special note to people who wear the sample jacket size of the show, 41L. (Like me, dammit, all the way out here in LA.) You can check out photos here.

Carl from CEGO tells me they’ll be offering a special $100 labor rate if you buy shirting fabric from Aaron, and some of CEGOs fabrics will be on sale as well.

WHEN: Friday April 29 12-7, Saturday April 30 10-4

WHERE 246 Fifth Avenue (at 28th St), Suite 511, New York, NY

Speaking of Will and A Suitable Wardrobe, on the latest episode of his podcast, Will spoke with Alan Flusser, one of the great men’s style experts.

If you’re live in New York or environs, don’t miss your opportunity to hear from Alan Flusser. Mr. Flusser is one of the most respected authorities on classic men’s style, the author of some of the best books on the subject, and a guest on an upcoming episode of Put This On.
The talk is free, and it’s at the Fashion Institute of Technology:
 Wednesday, March 2, 6pm Katie Murphy Amphitheatre Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, first floor
You can register for the event for free here.

If you’re live in New York or environs, don’t miss your opportunity to hear from Alan Flusser. Mr. Flusser is one of the most respected authorities on classic men’s style, the author of some of the best books on the subject, and a guest on an upcoming episode of Put This On.

The talk is free, and it’s at the Fashion Institute of Technology:

Wednesday, March 2, 6pm
Katie Murphy Amphitheatre
Fred P. Pomerantz Art and Design Center, first floor

You can register for the event for free here.

One of the most fun things we did on our trip to New York was to stop by Alan Flusser’s shop.  There, we met Dennis, who in addition to working for Mr. Flusser is the proprietor of the blog Made-to-Measure NY.  Dennis couldn’t have been a more gracious host, and was excited to hear that we’re subscribers to his interesting blog. 

Above is Dennis’ first video, which has some lovely illustrations of how to wear a pocket square.