Elegance: Put This On Season Two, Episode Five

Put This On, a web series about dressing like a grownup, visits Milan, a world fashion capital.

In this episode, our director Benjamin Ahr Harrison visits Biella, north of the city, to talk with Luciano Barbera. Barbera isn’t just one of the world’s most elegant men, he’s also the leader of Carlo Barbera, one of the finest fabric mills in existence.

For our PTO Place segment, we talk with the owner of G. Lorenzi. It started as a cutlery shop, and has become a spectacular tribute to the finest small accessories imaginable. It’s home to a visually stunning spectrum of knives, scissors, shaving goods, toothbrushes, combs, shoehorns and other tiny necessities.

In PTO Man, we visit Salvatore Battello, the elegant owner of W-D Man. Before he started his line, he ran one of the last companies in the world that worked with shagreen - the beautiful skin of sharks and rays. Battello tells us about his passion for vintage fabric, and his definition of elegance.

Plus Jesse answers the question “what color shoes go with the suit?” and Dave Hill offers a rudiment on the topic of socks.

This is the fifth episode in our six-episode second season. In this season, we visit the three greatest men’s style cities in the world, as chosen by our readers - New York, Milan and London.

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Watch it elsewhere:

Vimeo / Youtube / iTunes

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Buy Season One on DVD for $16

This episode was supported by our viewers.


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Executive Producers: Jesse Thorn & Adam Lisagor

Director: Benjamin Ahr Harrison

Host / Writer / Producer: Jesse Thorn

Rudiments: Dave Hill

Producer: Gianluca Migliarotti

Director of Photography: Daniele Vascelli

Sound: Daniele Belli

Editor: Todd Thoenig and Benjamin Ahr Harrison

Subtitle Translation: Giovanni D’Amico

“True elegance has just one rule: simplicity.” — Luciano Barbera
MyHabit Comes Into Its Own
In the wake of the quick growth of the flash sale site Gilt, many competitors sprang up. Gilt had secured relationships with many great companies, and generally had a good sense of what brands to align themselves with, so the first year or so was rough for these other guys. There was a lot of Nautica sales, in other words.
Recently, though, I’ve noticed that Amazon’s offering, MyHabit, has started to offer some great discounts on great brands. Today, for example, they’re offering E. Tautz, Luciano Barbera, Pringle and Jil Sander. Of course, they’re also (literally) offering Nautica, so the range of quality is broad, but it’s absolutely worth taking note. In the same time period, Gilt’s strength has weakened - their discounts feel smaller, their brand quality less consistent, the proportion of their offerings that are re-listings increased dramatically.
Many of the items on MyHabit are on significant discount - in a sale called “The Gentleman’s Essentials,” they’ve got Incotex trousers for $49, and many of the Luciano Barbera items were as much as 80 or 90% off. Nothing to sneeze at.
If you haven’t tried MyHabit, it might be worth signing up to get their sale announcements. I’ve been grateful to The Silentist and This Fits for their posts about good sales, but I think I’ll pay more attention to my inbox going forward. Do the same, and you might catch a great brand at great prices.
(A quick note: when we link to these sites, we usually use referral links when we remember because hey, why not, but frankly the benefit for us is pretty marginal and doesn’t affect our editorial decisions.)

MyHabit Comes Into Its Own

In the wake of the quick growth of the flash sale site Gilt, many competitors sprang up. Gilt had secured relationships with many great companies, and generally had a good sense of what brands to align themselves with, so the first year or so was rough for these other guys. There was a lot of Nautica sales, in other words.

Recently, though, I’ve noticed that Amazon’s offering, MyHabit, has started to offer some great discounts on great brands. Today, for example, they’re offering E. Tautz, Luciano Barbera, Pringle and Jil Sander. Of course, they’re also (literally) offering Nautica, so the range of quality is broad, but it’s absolutely worth taking note. In the same time period, Gilt’s strength has weakened - their discounts feel smaller, their brand quality less consistent, the proportion of their offerings that are re-listings increased dramatically.

Many of the items on MyHabit are on significant discount - in a sale called “The Gentleman’s Essentials,” they’ve got Incotex trousers for $49, and many of the Luciano Barbera items were as much as 80 or 90% off. Nothing to sneeze at.

If you haven’t tried MyHabit, it might be worth signing up to get their sale announcements. I’ve been grateful to The Silentist and This Fits for their posts about good sales, but I think I’ll pay more attention to my inbox going forward. Do the same, and you might catch a great brand at great prices.

(A quick note: when we link to these sites, we usually use referral links when we remember because hey, why not, but frankly the benefit for us is pretty marginal and doesn’t affect our editorial decisions.)

This photo offers a nice comparison of two trouser silhouettes. Luciano Barbera on the right is wearing something a bit fuller with a less aggressive taper, while the gentleman on the left is wearing something slimmer with a narrower leg opening. Which you should wear is probably dependent on all sorts of things - the silhouette of your jacket, the shape of your shoes, your age, your build, and your own sense of personal style. As I get older, however, I find myself drifting much closer towards what Luciano Barbera is wearing: a higher rise, fuller leg, and less aggressive taper. It just looks more comfortable and elegant to my eye. 

This photo offers a nice comparison of two trouser silhouettes. Luciano Barbera on the right is wearing something a bit fuller with a less aggressive taper, while the gentleman on the left is wearing something slimmer with a narrower leg opening. Which you should wear is probably dependent on all sorts of things - the silhouette of your jacket, the shape of your shoes, your age, your build, and your own sense of personal style. As I get older, however, I find myself drifting much closer towards what Luciano Barbera is wearing: a higher rise, fuller leg, and less aggressive taper. It just looks more comfortable and elegant to my eye. 

“A suit tells the world you are ready for business. A jacket tells the world you are open to fun. For me the ideal jacket should have soft and natural lines and balanced proportions. It should fit you but not constrict you. I do not believe in stiff shoulder pads. That is vanity, not style. Do not make it too tight. If it’s too tight, you will look like a matador. Any time I see a man playing golf or tennis in his jacket, I know he and I could be friends.” — Luciano Barbera (via voxsart)

(via abitofcolor)

“Alas, you can’t and you won’t. But wait, I have a solution. Knit ties. No, hear me out before you go to have ‘a little work done.’ Knit ties are imperfect by nature. The knot slips a bit. They fly in the wind. They pull over time. They have a variable shape. They are casual, playful, a kid dressed in his dad’s clothes. Do you have a bulldog? They are like a bulldog face. Imperfect, yet, beautiful. Forever young? No. But they ooze sprezzatura, spirit, elegance. And, oh, if you don’t have a dog, you might get one. I worry you are not getting out enough.” Luciano Barbera, on how to stay young forever
Three Thoughts on Trousers
1. You need more than jeans. In an interview published earlier this month, Luciano Barbera said he objected to men wearing jeans for any occasion. That’s a stronger position than I would take, but I do think men (Americans especially) rely far too much on jeans. Don’t be afraid to wear other kinds of trousers.  
For someone just starting to build a nice wardrobe, I recommend starting with a pair of khaki chinos and grey mid-weight wool flannels. After that, get some seasonal trousers. Brown corduroys and charcoal moleskins work well for fall/ winter. Grey tropical wool and tan linens work well for spring/ summer. You can wear any of these with your basic blue or white button up shirts, or their respective seasonal counterparts such as flannel plaids and madras. 
2. Your pants should flatter you. Most men wear pants that are too big and too long. Your trousers shouldn’t be so large that extra cloth is folding around your pelvis when the waist is cinched. You should also take them to a tailor and ask for them to be hemmed with a slight break or no break at all, depending on your taste and how large your trousers’ leg openings are. 
Other men wear their pants too tight. This is often a more fashionable look, but I think it lacks elegance. These trousers often have low rises and overly tapered, skinny legs. I prefer mine slightly higher waisted, a bit fuller in the leg, and go down with just a bit of taper, but not too much. I think this gives more appealing, classical proportions, as demonstrated here by Luciano Barbera. 
3. Know what you can tailor. Make sure your trousers come up to where you like them to and fit your seat well. Most everything else can be altered. The waist can be let out if there is the fabric allowance, or taken in. The legs can also be tapered. You want to do this only to a degree, however. Reducing the waist more than two inches, for example, will cause the side seams to come too far back. These days, I personally just make sure pants fit in the seat, rise, and thighs well, and adjust everything no more than a half an inch (except the hemming, of course). If you need to alter a bit more, it’s probably not a problem. 
Note that if you let out trousers on a fabric such as cotton, you may be able to see the holes from the previous seam. It’s a bit safer to do this with wool. 

Three Thoughts on Trousers

1. You need more than jeans. In an interview published earlier this month, Luciano Barbera said he objected to men wearing jeans for any occasion. That’s a stronger position than I would take, but I do think men (Americans especially) rely far too much on jeans. Don’t be afraid to wear other kinds of trousers.  

For someone just starting to build a nice wardrobe, I recommend starting with a pair of khaki chinos and grey mid-weight wool flannels. After that, get some seasonal trousers. Brown corduroys and charcoal moleskins work well for fall/ winter. Grey tropical wool and tan linens work well for spring/ summer. You can wear any of these with your basic blue or white button up shirts, or their respective seasonal counterparts such as flannel plaids and madras. 

2. Your pants should flatter you. Most men wear pants that are too big and too long. Your trousers shouldn’t be so large that extra cloth is folding around your pelvis when the waist is cinched. You should also take them to a tailor and ask for them to be hemmed with a slight break or no break at all, depending on your taste and how large your trousers’ leg openings are. 

Other men wear their pants too tight. This is often a more fashionable look, but I think it lacks elegance. These trousers often have low rises and overly tapered, skinny legs. I prefer mine slightly higher waisted, a bit fuller in the leg, and go down with just a bit of taper, but not too much. I think this gives more appealing, classical proportions, as demonstrated here by Luciano Barbera. 

3. Know what you can tailor. Make sure your trousers come up to where you like them to and fit your seat well. Most everything else can be altered. The waist can be let out if there is the fabric allowance, or taken in. The legs can also be tapered. You want to do this only to a degree, however. Reducing the waist more than two inches, for example, will cause the side seams to come too far back. These days, I personally just make sure pants fit in the seat, rise, and thighs well, and adjust everything no more than a half an inch (except the hemming, of course). If you need to alter a bit more, it’s probably not a problem. 

Note that if you let out trousers on a fabric such as cotton, you may be able to see the holes from the previous seam. It’s a bit safer to do this with wool. 

“What is my message? Simple … That style is not about what you have but what you do with what you have. When people ask me how they should dress, I tell them don’t worry. Take care of your life. Your clothes will follow.” — Luciano Barbera (via Sartorial Doctrine
“The most forceful statement is understatement” — Luciano Barbera
Luciano Barbera is pictured here with a green tie and grey suit. As I’ve written before, this is a killer combination. Also, check the brown suede shoes. All together a very handsome fall look.  

Luciano Barbera is pictured here with a green tie and grey suit. As I’ve written before, this is a killer combination. Also, check the brown suede shoes. All together a very handsome fall look.