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tempting to dismiss most suits made between 1969 and 2001—when Thom Browne started his line and shortened our pants—as outdated, unflattering, or sloppy.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tempting to dismiss most suits made between 1969 and 2001—when Thom Browne started his line and shortened our pants—as outdated, unflattering, or sloppy.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

Closet Maintenance: Consider a “One in, One out” Policy
When I began thinking about my clothing purchases beyond “Hey I like that shirt,” and building a wardrobe thoughtfully, season by season, there were lots of holes to fill. Dozens of resources offer advice on how many suits, jackets, shirts, shoes, belts, jeans, sweaters, ties, watch bands, collar pins, camp caps, regatta-striped blazers, etc. etc. a man must own, and because acquiring cool stuff is fun, I quickly overdid it a little. (Celebrated illustrator and dandy Richard Merkin, pictured, would recommend at least a dozen sets of braces.) An occasional ebay selling binge or donation to Goodwill can dispose of the shirts that don’t quite fit or shoes on which I gambled and lost, and some treasured items eventually wear out beyond reasonable repair, but even so I continue accumulate stuff more quickly than I can realistically wear it out or tire of it.
Once you reach critical mass, whether that means enough stuff to make it to laundry day or enough to require a second storage unit for seasonal pieces (and who am I to judge), a policy that can prevent hoarding is “one in, one out.” For example, I have enough sweaters—basics; cotton, wool, cashmere; tasteful intarsia and an ugly Christmas sweater just in case. My sweater drawer is full. Should a top-quality, beautiful piece really strike me (say an Inis Meain or Inverallan), I can buy it; but only if I get rid of a sweater I already own.
Using the one in, one out policy makes editing a reasonable wardrobe easier. It cuts down on impulse purchases (i.e., do I really want to get rid of any sweaters in order to buy a cardigan on deep sale?), eases seasonal transitions (less stuff to store or pull out of storage), and helps keep a closet refreshed rather than just bursting.
-Pete

Closet Maintenance: Consider a “One in, One out” Policy

When I began thinking about my clothing purchases beyond “Hey I like that shirt,” and building a wardrobe thoughtfully, season by season, there were lots of holes to fill. Dozens of resources offer advice on how many suits, jackets, shirts, shoes, belts, jeans, sweaters, ties, watch bands, collar pins, camp caps, regatta-striped blazers, etc. etc. a man must own, and because acquiring cool stuff is fun, I quickly overdid it a little. (Celebrated illustrator and dandy Richard Merkin, pictured, would recommend at least a dozen sets of braces.) An occasional ebay selling binge or donation to Goodwill can dispose of the shirts that don’t quite fit or shoes on which I gambled and lost, and some treasured items eventually wear out beyond reasonable repair, but even so I continue accumulate stuff more quickly than I can realistically wear it out or tire of it.

Once you reach critical mass, whether that means enough stuff to make it to laundry day or enough to require a second storage unit for seasonal pieces (and who am I to judge), a policy that can prevent hoarding is “one in, one out.” For example, I have enough sweaters—basics; cotton, wool, cashmere; tasteful intarsia and an ugly Christmas sweater just in case. My sweater drawer is full. Should a top-quality, beautiful piece really strike me (say an Inis Meain or Inverallan), I can buy it; but only if I get rid of a sweater I already own.

Using the one in, one out policy makes editing a reasonable wardrobe easier. It cuts down on impulse purchases (i.e., do I really want to get rid of any sweaters in order to buy a cardigan on deep sale?), eases seasonal transitions (less stuff to store or pull out of storage), and helps keep a closet refreshed rather than just bursting.

-Pete