Summer Style When You’re Not Gary Cooper

I don’t know if you spend much time on clothing forums, but on the classic men’s style side, things usually go like this: an argument erupts, a bunch of random strangers weigh in, some vociferous poster throws down a 1930s illustration from Apparel Arts or a photo of the Duke of Windsor, and everyone simmers down. Those images are basically what pass for reason and authority on such forums. If you had enough of them, you could be some kind of final arbiter for these people – like a Biblical judge, but hopefully in a judicial robe once worn by Edward VIII.

Every time someone appeals to these images, I’m reminded of “The Art of Wearing Clothes” by George Frazier, which is the single best article I’ve ever read on men’s style. In it, Frazier wrote this of Cary Grant (a style god among style gods):

Although Grant, who is fifty-six, favors such abominations as large tie knots and claims to have originated the square-style breast-pocket handkerchief, he is so extraordinarily attractive that he looks good in practically anything.

And it’s true, some men are attractive enough to simply wear whatever they want. Take Gary Cooper, for example. The first photo is one of my favorite images for summer. Cooper is seen here wearing a guayabera – a loose, four-pocket style of shirt with a straight bottom hem. According to lore, the style was first widely adopted in Cuba during the colonial period before spreading quickly throughout Latin America, where it was worn to both informal and formal gatherings. Jesse wrote about them last year after he had one made at Ramon Puig in Florida (where there’s a large Cuban community).

Cooper looks great in his unusual guayabera, short shorts, and ankle laced espadrilles, but he’s also Gary Cooper. For a non-Gary-Cooper-looking guy like me, I’d rather take John Wanye’s ensemble next to him – loose linen pants, a more traditional four-pocket guayabera, and a pair of creped sole shoes. Or better yet? Gary Cooper’s very, very simple style in the second photo: a white t-shirt and comfortable fitting trousers with camp pockets, just for style sake.

It’s good to know your limits. 

A Simple Summer Look
I love this Apparel Arts illustration. I found it last year on an online men’s clothing forum, and put it in my head to try to find similar pieces. Unfortunately, by the time I did, summer had already passed. This year, however, I’ll be wearing this on more than a few occasions once the weather gets hot (though, I’ll probably leave the ascot and pipe to more dashing men).
The great thing about this is how stylish it looks with just a few simple pieces. To get something like this for yourself, consider this long-sleeved polo from Kent Wang. Though not technically the same as what you see above, I think long sleeves rolled up look better than short ones. I also find that long sleeved polos have the advantage of being able to do double duty underneath sport coats. They show the bit of requisite shirt cuff underneath the jacket sleeve, and ensure that no bare wrists will be exposed when you move your arms. If you want something sportier, however, Kent has a number of short sleeve options as well.
The upside to Kent’s polos is that they have a few “button up shirt details” that make them look a bit smarter than your average tennis shirt. The collar band, for example, is reinforced, so the collar doesn’t flop down and lay flat against your shoulder (like you’d see on most polos). The downside, however, is that they fit very slim and the sleeves can be a bit tight. Kent has measurements posted though, and he accepts returns.
For other options, Jesse has recommended Lands’ End. I also really like this new polo at The Armoury, which I believe was made for them by Ascot Chang. To order one, you’ll have to call or email their store (expect the price to be higher than either Kent’s or Lands’ End).
Tan trousers are harder to find. For mine, I bought a pair of flannel ones from Howard Yount, but they’re sold out now and won’t be restocking until fall. Flannel has a bit of richness and mottling that’ll help keep this from looking like a Best Buy employee uniform. You can find something similar at the moment at O’Connell’s and J Press, the second of which is having a sale right now. And though they’re not tan, these Pantas look fantastic. Their prices aren’t cheap, but their pants are some of the highest quality you’ll find in the ready-to-wear market.  
Finally, for the creped-soled shoes, consider some of the options I mentioned a few weeks ago. I think pair of sueded, dark brown chukkas with rubber crepe soles here would look great.

A Simple Summer Look

I love this Apparel Arts illustration. I found it last year on an online men’s clothing forum, and put it in my head to try to find similar pieces. Unfortunately, by the time I did, summer had already passed. This year, however, I’ll be wearing this on more than a few occasions once the weather gets hot (though, I’ll probably leave the ascot and pipe to more dashing men).

The great thing about this is how stylish it looks with just a few simple pieces. To get something like this for yourself, consider this long-sleeved polo from Kent Wang. Though not technically the same as what you see above, I think long sleeves rolled up look better than short ones. I also find that long sleeved polos have the advantage of being able to do double duty underneath sport coats. They show the bit of requisite shirt cuff underneath the jacket sleeve, and ensure that no bare wrists will be exposed when you move your arms. If you want something sportier, however, Kent has a number of short sleeve options as well.

The upside to Kent’s polos is that they have a few “button up shirt details” that make them look a bit smarter than your average tennis shirt. The collar band, for example, is reinforced, so the collar doesn’t flop down and lay flat against your shoulder (like you’d see on most polos). The downside, however, is that they fit very slim and the sleeves can be a bit tight. Kent has measurements posted though, and he accepts returns.

For other options, Jesse has recommended Lands’ End. I also really like this new polo at The Armoury, which I believe was made for them by Ascot Chang. To order one, you’ll have to call or email their store (expect the price to be higher than either Kent’s or Lands’ End).

Tan trousers are harder to find. For mine, I bought a pair of flannel ones from Howard Yount, but they’re sold out now and won’t be restocking until fall. Flannel has a bit of richness and mottling that’ll help keep this from looking like a Best Buy employee uniform. You can find something similar at the moment at O’Connell’s and J Press, the second of which is having a sale right now. And though they’re not tan, these Pantas look fantastic. Their prices aren’t cheap, but their pants are some of the highest quality you’ll find in the ready-to-wear market.  

Finally, for the creped-soled shoes, consider some of the options I mentioned a few weeks ago. I think pair of sueded, dark brown chukkas with rubber crepe soles here would look great.

Summer 1930s, Summer Today

Although I’m not usually one to trot out Apparel Arts illustrations and harp on the timelessness of classic men’s style, today I’ll do just that. Check out these three wonderful illustrations from the 1930s. Each and every one looks just as good now as it did then. 

Take, for example, the man in the double breasted jacket. Imagine it being made from a cool fresco wool or heavy linen. Paired with linen Bermuda shorts, pique cotton polo, and navy canvas shoes, it looks quite smart. The man next to him, in the soft-red ribbed sweater, mid-grey shorts, and cream espadrilles, shows how a slightly more interesting color combination can be executed. 

Fall is almost here, but we still have a month and a half of summer left. There’s still plenty of time to wear loafers without socks, shorts with cuffs, and linen trousers cut high without a break. Enjoy it while you can. 

Vox Sartoria takes on the issue of formal pumps with black tie.
I’ve worn both oxfords and pumps with black tie in the past, and the latter is my strong preference. Vox is correct: as part of a full black tie ensemble, they are elegant, and not feminine at all.

Vox Sartoria takes on the issue of formal pumps with black tie.

I’ve worn both oxfords and pumps with black tie in the past, and the latter is my strong preference. Vox is correct: as part of a full black tie ensemble, they are elegant, and not feminine at all.

This is the picture I’m taking to my tailor when I get my Donegal tweed made up.

This is the picture I’m taking to my tailor when I get my Donegal tweed made up.

High summer style, circa 1937, at Gentleman’s Gazette.

High summer style, circa 1937, at Gentleman’s Gazette.