“I have this little idea, but since I want to make it seem more important, I’m going to call it a theory. Tradition in taste is now in the public domain because the faster we thrust into the future, the greater the tendency to sentimentalize the past. And so the true classics will continue to hold an important place in our hearts.” Bruce Boyer
“But what really pisses me off today is that it’s very difficult to get a true button-down constructed the way they used to be. It’s all fused collars now. It used to just be two pieces of cloth stitched together, and now there’s a lining inside that’s fused with glue. I get my shirts from Mercer because they still make the old-fashioned collar. It comes back from the laundry all wrinkled up, and people say, ‘Your collar’s all wrinkled,’ and I say, ‘Yeah? Well they’re a lot more comfortable and I really don’t give a shit.’”

G. Bruce Boyer at Ivy Style.

(via pindotsandgrenadine)

“A navy blue suit, white shirt, and dark blue tie always looks great and always will. But why should we deny ourselves a plaid madras shirt with a colourful linen sports jacket, a pair of red suede driving mocs with our trim jeans, a grass green tie with a blue voile shirt and tan khaki gabardine suit?” — Bruce Boyer at Drake’s Diary
Ed Morel and Bruce Boyer, at the Panta trunk show Jesse talked about. 
Both gentlemen have especially nice shirt collars on. 

Ed Morel and Bruce Boyer, at the Panta trunk show Jesse talked about. 

Both gentlemen have especially nice shirt collars on. 

“Great men of style develop a sense of how to attune their appearance by learning what works for them, what they should avoid and what they could accentuate. It’s an act of self-creation, a coinage of one’s own minting. It’s no use trying to emulate someone else’s style and make it your own, but you should study others and incorporate. Propriety is one thing, and a certain sense of correctness is important. But it’s those individual details that make life interesting. Style comes from subtlety and from deepening the ordinary in life.” Bruce Boyer

drakes-london:

Style and taste are a particular sort of intelligence, and vice versa.

Aesthetic judgments rarely transcend the culture of the judge.

The style of studied nonchalance is the psychological triumph of grace over order. 

Style is a simple way of saying complicated things. Which is why Fashion is shallow, but taste is deep. 

There’s no right or wrong about style. Like a poem, it simply is what it is. 

Real luxury is understanding quality, and having the time to enjoy it. 

In the end, aesthetic judgments are perhaps merely enthusiasms. 

In matters of taste, if you can see the trees well enough, you don’t have to see the forest. 

To consciously avoid fashion is in itself a fashion. 

Today tradition is commercially merely another commodity. As is History. 

In a world of plentiful choices, taste is the hallmark of restraint. 

Luxury may be, as Balzac says, less expensive than elegance. But both are less expensive than fashion. 

Uniforms both include and exclude. 

Taste is one of those human concerns in which a lack of experience is no hindrance to opinion. 

Precision in dress is the neurotic refuge of the perpetually insecure. 

Deliberate nonchalance is intended to imply a strength held in reserve. 

Mother of Pearl Card Cases

Bruce Boyer has been writing for Drake’s new blog and I’ve been admiring (what I assume to be) his card case. I found pictures of a similar case at this antique’s site. It’s not nearly as nice as Boyer’s, but it’s of the object alone and close up. 

Card cases such as these were common among well-to-do Europeans during the Victorian era. They were invented in China, but became popular on Europe’s continent during the 19th century, then quickly spread to England and America. They were usually made from mother-of-pearl, sterling silver, or paper mache, and would often be decorated (though men’s cases tended to be more simple and than women’s).

Calling cards were integral to Victorian social life and there were all sorts of sophisticated rules governing their use. For example, if you wanted to visit someone without an invitation, you would leave your card with her servant. If she wanted you to visit, she would send a servant to deliver her card to you. If you received her card by mail, however, it meant that your visit was thereby discouraged. There were also ways of communicating through a card without using any words. Folding the top right corner of the card meant congratulations, the bottom right was a call of condolence, and the bottom left a farewell.

We obviously don’t have calling cards anymore; they’ve been replaced by business cards. Business cards don’t really serve the same social function (partly because we’re more informal, partly because we no longer have servants). Still, cases such these can be used to hold business cards all the same. They’re a little antique-y, but not in a fusty way, and I think incredibly beautiful things to own. 

"There’s More to Style Than Clothing"

PowerHouse Books recently emailed me an electronic copy of their latest project, Gary Cooper: Enduring Style, a monograph on the legendary actor’s timeless fashion and alluring sense of style. I scrolled through the file yesterday and couldn’t help but be impressed by how natural and elegant Cooper always looked in his clothes. He was obviously known for playing many roles well - everything from the cowboy to gentleman - but even in candid shots, Cooper never failed to look natural no matter what he wore. In some images, he’s photographed wearing corduroys, a cowboy hat, and a field jacket with bellow patch pockets. In others, he’s wearing a peak lapelled, pinstriped, double breasted suit, highly polished black wingtips, and a starched, white, dress shirt with a collar pin. Cooper was able to carry both American sportswear and European tailored wear with grace and ease; nothing ever looked overly studied or out-of-place.

In his essay at the end of the book, Bruce Boyer wrote that Cooper was born in the frontier prairie town of Helena, Montana. He grew up around ranch hands and grasshoppers, and learned how to shoot a rifle, use a knife, and ride a horse at a very young age. When he was eight, he and his brother were sent to be educated at the Dunstable School - a “proper” English school in Bedforshire, England, just 30 miles outside of London. Here he attended school in little tweed suits and starched Eton collars, and he studied Latin, French, and English poetry. As Boyer put it, “[t]he result was that by the time he reached adolescence he’d had the advantage of both an American-West, frontier upbringing and a highly civilized British Edwardian education. His sense of style was a unique blend of both.” Later in life, Cooper continued to hunt, fish, and travel extensively, all of which I think played no small part in why he always looked natural in his tweed field jackets and Savile Row suits.

I’ve lamented to friends that people care too much about the authenticity of their clothes, but don’t demand the same authenticity in people. There are people who dress like international men of leisure, but they’ve never travelled outside of the country; people who dress like they come from elite universities, but aren’t terribly well read; people who dress like early 20th-century factory workers, but … live in 2011. The men I draw the most style inspiration from - both dead and living - have a sense of style that’s in accord with their lifestyle and character. Their clothes always express them as an entire person.

In his review of the book, one of my favorite bloggers, Mister Crew, wrote “the one thing to take away from this book [is that] there is much more to style than just clothing.” I couldn’t agree more. Of the men who are interested in dressing well, there are some who convincingly carry off what they wear and those who always look like they’re in costume. The difference, I think, is that the latter thinks clothes make the man when in reality they only help frame him. If a man wants to look like sophisticated and elegant, he of course can, but it takes more than wearing the right kind of clothing.