The Silhouettes of Jackets

I’ve paid less and less attention to Pitti Uomo photos over the years, largely because so much of it gets monotonous. This past tradeshow, however, I caught these three photos from Tommy Ton over at GQ and thought they’re worth highlighting, if only to underscore the importance of how a suit is styled and shaped — two aspects which are just as important as how a suit fits. 

How a suit fits and how it’s styled are two different things. Fit can be basic and not so basic, and we’ve written a ton about the subjectFor a suit jacket or sport coat, having a good fit means making sure the collar stays on your neck (even as you move your arms), the chest doesn’t buckle away from your body, the shoulders end near your natural shoulder joints, and that there aren’t any ripples or pulls anywhere. Somewhat straightforward. 

Style is different. Style is not just about the fabric chosen and pocket details, but also about how the jacket is shaped and cut. 

Take the first photo, for example, of the three young guys in blue suits. All three wearing slim, columnar silhouettes, with low rise trousers and narrow shoulders. The lapels are a bit wider than what’s normal for such looks, but it’s a style that was made popular by Hedi Slimane when he designed for Dior Homme. These kinds of suits have been tremendously popular for over a decade now, but they only really look good on very skinny guys, such as these three. 

In the next photo, we have Mark and Jake from The Armoury, who are wearing something a bit more comfortable and relaxed looking. On Jake (the dude in the darker grey suit and pink shirt), the shoulders are a bit extended, the trousers come up higher, and the notches on the lapel are a bit lower than what’s popular nowadays. Still soft shouldered like everyone else’s jackets at the tradeshow, but the overall effect is different. Perhaps more Armani than Slimane. 

Lastly, Antonio from Eidos Napoli in the third photo is wearing a dark brown suit that he designed himself. Slim fitting, like the first photo we saw, but less columnar, as the chest looks slightly more relaxed (giving the illusion of a more nipped waist), and the quarters (which is that part of the jacket just below the middle button) sweep away as it falls towards the hips. The overall line, going from the top of the lapel down to the hem, is a lot more curved. 

A suit should always fit well, but how it’s styled is a totally open question. Pay attention to the different shapes that a tailored jacket can take, and you’ll notice that they can be framed like As, Vs, Xs, or columnar Is. Some shapes will look good on you, some will not, but that’s where the fun really begins — finding the style that’s right for you. 

To learn more about silhouettes, you can read our old post here

(Photos via Tommy Ton)

Rise High, Full Pleats, Can’t Lose
The advice that you should always avoid high-rise, pleated trousers - or that only heavier set men should wear pleats - is one of the most tired and wrongheaded ideas in menswear. Especially among fashion writers. Above is the photographer behind Guerreisms wearing a pair of bespoke trousers made for him by Salvatore Ambrosi, which he commissioned through The Armoury. The cut is on the rakish side of Italian tailoring, but as you can see — it looks great. 
With suits, a higher rise is especially nice, since it helps you avoid the dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse talked about. But even with odd trousers (meaning trousers that aren’t meant to be worn with a suit jacket), the cut can be flattering if it’s done well. 
Duke Ellington once said of music: “If it sounds good and feels good, then it is good.” The rules about whether or not you should wear pleats are silly. Maybe you like them, or maybe you don’t, but it’s always best to go by your eye. 
(Photo by EFV on StyleForum, where some Pitti Uomo coverage is going on)

Rise High, Full Pleats, Can’t Lose

The advice that you should always avoid high-rise, pleated trousers - or that only heavier set men should wear pleats - is one of the most tired and wrongheaded ideas in menswear. Especially among fashion writers. Above is the photographer behind Guerreisms wearing a pair of bespoke trousers made for him by Salvatore Ambrosi, which he commissioned through The Armoury. The cut is on the rakish side of Italian tailoring, but as you can see — it looks great. 

With suits, a higher rise is especially nice, since it helps you avoid the dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse talked about. But even with odd trousers (meaning trousers that aren’t meant to be worn with a suit jacket), the cut can be flattering if it’s done well. 

Duke Ellington once said of music: “If it sounds good and feels good, then it is good.” The rules about whether or not you should wear pleats are silly. Maybe you like them, or maybe you don’t, but it’s always best to go by your eye. 

(Photo by EFV on StyleForum, where some Pitti Uomo coverage is going on)

Silk Knit Ties for Summer
Silk knit ties are great for wear year round, but they’re especially nice in the summer. This is partly because they go well with the rumpled linens and cottons we wear when the weather gets hot, and it’s partly because summer clothes often look better when they’re a bit more casual (and the silk knit is the most casual tie of all). If you wear sport coats this season, there are few better ties to reach for than the silk knit.
The good news is that - unlike with regular neckties - the differences in quality here are much smaller. All knit ties are made by machine, which means there’s less variation to be had in handwork. They also don’t have an interlining inside (which regular neckties do), so the construction is much simpler. As a result, which silk knit you buy is largely about design and taste.
You can break up silk knits first by thinking of them in terms of their material. Even though all silk knits are obviously made from silk, each will have a different kind of “crunchiness” to them. Some will feel very crunchy in the hand, while others will be softer and floppier.
Of the crunchy variety, there’s Drake’s, Exquisite Trimmings, Conrad Wu for something with a denser weave, and Land’s End, KJ Beckett, Paul Stuart, Howard Yount, and our advertiser Ledbury for something looser. Notice that the different weaving patterns give the ties different textures. None are better or worse; just different.  
For something softer and floppier, there’s J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Ben Silver, Kent Wang, and The Knottery. Each, again, have theirs made in their own weaving patterns, which give them different textures. Rubinacci and Sozzi also make some in really attractive and unique patterns. You can find Sozzi at No Man Walks Alone, Exquisite Trimmings, and The Armoury (though you’ll have to call or email The Armoury to order).
My favorites? Probably the Drake’s for their width and texture, at least if you’re going for solid colors. Sozzi and Rubinacci are really nice for something a bit more unique. Few ties can beat Land’s End in terms of value, though. At full price, they’re a bit expensive, but if you wait for one of their many sales, it’s not hard to grab one for about $30. If you haven’t already, get one in solid black. It’s arguably the most versatile silk knit you can own.

Silk Knit Ties for Summer

Silk knit ties are great for wear year round, but they’re especially nice in the summer. This is partly because they go well with the rumpled linens and cottons we wear when the weather gets hot, and it’s partly because summer clothes often look better when they’re a bit more casual (and the silk knit is the most casual tie of all). If you wear sport coats this season, there are few better ties to reach for than the silk knit.

The good news is that - unlike with regular neckties - the differences in quality here are much smaller. All knit ties are made by machine, which means there’s less variation to be had in handwork. They also don’t have an interlining inside (which regular neckties do), so the construction is much simpler. As a result, which silk knit you buy is largely about design and taste.

You can break up silk knits first by thinking of them in terms of their material. Even though all silk knits are obviously made from silk, each will have a different kind of “crunchiness” to them. Some will feel very crunchy in the hand, while others will be softer and floppier.

Of the crunchy variety, there’s Drake’sExquisite TrimmingsConrad Wu for something with a denser weave, and Land’s EndKJ Beckett, Paul StuartHoward Yount, and our advertiser Ledbury for something looser. Notice that the different weaving patterns give the ties different textures. None are better or worse; just different.  

For something softer and floppier, there’s J. PressBrooks BrothersBen SilverKent Wang, and The Knottery. Each, again, have theirs made in their own weaving patterns, which give them different textures. Rubinacci and Sozzi also make some in really attractive and unique patterns. You can find Sozzi at No Man Walks AloneExquisite Trimmings, and The Armoury (though you’ll have to call or email The Armoury to order).

My favorites? Probably the Drake’s for their width and texture, at least if you’re going for solid colors. Sozzi and Rubinacci are really nice for something a bit more unique. Few ties can beat Land’s End in terms of value, though. At full price, they’re a bit expensive, but if you wait for one of their many sales, it’s not hard to grab one for about $30. If you haven’t already, get one in solid black. It’s arguably the most versatile silk knit you can own.

I Colori Di Antonio Screening

Readers in New York City might be interested in a film screening happening this April 3rd at 7pm for I Colori Di Antonio (a film about the Florentine tailor Antonio Liverano). The event will take place at the School of Visual Arts’ Beatrice Theater, which is located at 333 West 23rd Street (between 8th and 9th Avenue). After the screening, there will be refreshments and a Q&A session with Antonio Liverano and the director Gianluca Migliarotti. Tickets can be bought here, and a webpage for the film can be found here

Real People: Finding Your “Voice”

Ethan Newton of The Armoury recently wrote a nice piece about finding one’s “voice” when it comes style, and it reminded me of Niyi in New York. Niyi is a bold dresser, often wearing things I’d never wear, and using them in a ways I’d never consider, but he’s also often pulling off looks that I admire. 

Above are two good examples. In the first photo, he’s wearing a tie I also happen to own. It’s a striped burgundy raw silk from Drake’s, which they sold a couple of years ago. When I wear mine, I pair it with a simple, light-blue, striped shirt and a conservative solid-tan sport coat. Niyi, on the other hand, is wearing his here with a dotted lime green shirt (!) and a more attention grabbing seersucker suit. 

In the second photo, he’s in a more somber, solid navy suit, but has enlivened the look with his choice in a tie and pocket square. The tie is actually from his own accessories line. It’s a navy cotton that’s been treated to a process called adire, a kind of hand-dyeing treatment developed by the Yoruba people of Nigeria. Niyi himself is of Yoruba descent, and his men’s accessories line heavily reflects his heritage. You can check it out at his website and (soon) Sid Mashburn

I’ve always believed that you don’t have to share other people’s choices in clothing in order to appreciate their style. Niyi’s bold sense of dress reflects his personality as much as my conservative sensibilities reflect mine. It’s this diversity of dress, and pursuit to find one’s own “voice” as Ethan puts it, that makes dressing personal, social, and fun. 

High Rise with Pleats
I love this photo of our friends over at The Armoury. The guy on the right is Jake, who’s wearing a pair of high waisted, grey flannel trousers built with single pleats. All too often, I read bloggers and fashion writers say that high-waisted trousers and pleated pants should be categorically avoided, or that you should only wear pleats if you’re a heavy set man. That’s a bunch of nonsense. You’d be surprised how good both can look if the tailoring is done well. 
One upside to having a higher rise is that your shirt and belt don’t peek out when your jacket is buttoned, as your trouser’s waistline will be closer to your jacket’s buttoning point. That said, a higher-rise can look great when the jacket is open or closed, as evidenced by Alan and Jake above. 
(photo via lnsee)

High Rise with Pleats

I love this photo of our friends over at The Armoury. The guy on the right is Jake, who’s wearing a pair of high waisted, grey flannel trousers built with single pleats. All too often, I read bloggers and fashion writers say that high-waisted trousers and pleated pants should be categorically avoided, or that you should only wear pleats if you’re a heavy set man. That’s a bunch of nonsense. You’d be surprised how good both can look if the tailoring is done well. 

One upside to having a higher rise is that your shirt and belt don’t peek out when your jacket is buttoned, as your trouser’s waistline will be closer to your jacket’s buttoning point. That said, a higher-rise can look great when the jacket is open or closed, as evidenced by Alan and Jake above. 

(photo via lnsee)

The Armoury NYC
Our friends over at The Armoury are opening their first US store next week, on Tuesday, December 10th. The shop is located at 168 Duane Street in TriBeCa, New York City. NYC is full of great menswear shops, and this just gives me another reason to be jealous I don’t live there. If you’re in NYC, you really ought to stop by. It will probably be like seeing their beautiful blog come alive. 

The Armoury NYC

Our friends over at The Armoury are opening their first US store next week, on Tuesday, December 10th. The shop is located at 168 Duane Street in TriBeCa, New York City. NYC is full of great menswear shops, and this just gives me another reason to be jealous I don’t live there. If you’re in NYC, you really ought to stop by. It will probably be like seeing their beautiful blog come alive. 

Rus in Urbe

In some parts of the world (namely England), it used to be that men’s clothing could be cleaved in half, so that there was a certain style of dress for the country, and certain style for the city. That time has long passed, and most men today have a lot more freedom in how they dress themselves, but even before things became so casual, there was a practice that some describe as “rus in urbe.” The term  means “country in the city,” and it was first coined by the Spanish poet Martial (though obviously not for sartorial purposes). In men’s dress, however, it means wearing clothes originally designed for countryside sporting pursuits, but in town. It was a way for men in the city to pull off a certain casual look, while still staying quite sharp.

It also happens to be a great style for fall. Dressing rus in urbe means relying on certain textures, patterns, and colors. Think prickly tweeds, ribbed corduroys, and velvety moleskins; patterns such as plaids and tattersalls; and colors such as rich browns, dark greens, and deep burgundies. Throw in a pair of country brogues or boots, particularly if they’re in a soft suede or a hard shell cordovan, and give your pants some nice, deep cuffs. You’ll have a great look this season. 

Of course, there’s always a way of taking things too far. I’ve seen men (on the internet anyway) forcibly layering every rustic item they have on their bodies. A tweed jacket is worn awkwardly over a quilted vest, which are then layered on top of a shawl collar cardigan and tweed waistcoat, under which you can see a wool tie and checked shirt. This kind of fifteen-level fall-layering can look incredibly contrived unless you’re posing for a Ralph Lauren ad.

Better, I think, to stick to something a bit simpler, like our friend Voxsartoria, who has a corduroy suit, or our other friend Mark (from The Armoury), who has paired a waxed Barbour jacket with some jeans. Gianni Angelli in the first photo also looks great in just a simple tweed jacket, blue shirt, and some brown corduroys. Rus in urbe doesn’t have to mean looking like you’re off to hunt pheasants on Main Avenue. When done well, it should look quite natural. 

(Images via Milstil, The Sartorialist, Voxsartoria, The Armoury, and Gezza’s Eyes)

Films about Italian Tailors

The long awaited Men of Cloth film is premiering in New York next month. The film is about three Italian tailors facing the decline of the apprenticeship system. Traditionally, very young men (often children, really), enter the tailoring trade at an early age, but with growing opportunities elsewhere, fewer and fewer have gone into tailoring, which has left many master tailors without students. This particular film focuses on three men: Nino Corvato and Joe Centofanti, who are both traditional custom tailors in the US, and Checchino Fonticoli, who has spent his entire career at Brioni.

The film is premiering on November 19th and 21st at New York’s Documentary Festival (Doc NYC). You can buy tickets here, and see the trailer here. Some other interesting documentaries will be at the festival, which you can browse here. Seems like it could make for a fun activity if you’re in town. 

Also, in case you’re unaware, our friend Gianluca Migliarotti (who directed and produced O’Mast) recently came out with a documentary on Florentine tailor Antonio Liverano. I had the opportunity to see it some time ago, and it’s a great film. Recommendable to anyone passionate about Italian tailoring, bespoke clothing, or even just traditional men’s style in general. You can see the trailer here. DVDs can be bought from The ArmouryExquisite Trimmings, or The Hanger Project

Chelsea Boots
For as long as I’ve been interested in shoes, I’ve always favored boots, and one of the first kinds of boots I fell in love with were Chelseas. Chelseas are a kind of ankle-length, pull-on boot with elastic side gussets. They were invented in the mid-19th century as an alternative to the button boot, but they didn’t really gain popularity until the 1960s, when they were picked up by young men in Chelsea, London (hence the name) and then famously worn by The Beatles (though technically speaking, the Beatles wore a modified version of the Chelsea).
Various English shoe companies make Chelseas in their most classic form (the kind that we associate with the Mod movement of the 1960s). On the uppermost end, there’s Edward Green’s Newmarket, which are fantastically beautiful, but also fantastically expensive. A bit more affordable (but still quite expensive) is Crockett & Jones. They have three versions, simply named models 3, 5, and 8. Their Chelsea 3, being the sleekest and featuring a single-layer leather sole, is the dressiest. Models 5 and 8, on the other hand, are built on studded Dainite soles, with number 8 being a nice, almond-toe compromise between the sleekness of number 3 and the roundness of 5. You can buy these from Crockett & Jones or Barneys New York, though Pediwear, Robert Old, and P. Lal will likely have better prices (note, P. Lal’s prices are denoted in Malaysian ringgit, so you have to convert them).
Slightly more affordable options can be had through Grenson, Shipton & Heneage, and Carmina. Our friends at The Armoury stock the Carmina version in the very sleek Simpson last, while Skoaktiebolaget sells them in the slightly less tapered Rain (a last, as many readers know, is the form that the shoe’s leather is pulled over, and is what determines the shoe’s shape). Carmina can also custom make Chelseas for you, where you choose the last and material, but this comes at a 50% upcharge.
For something more affordable still, there’s Loake and Herring, Charles Tyrwhitt (don’t be fooled by the sale, as they’re always on sale), Markowski, and RM Williams. You can also check eBay, although you’ll want to be careful to avoid the frumpy versions (I’m not a fan of Blundstones, though my friend Jake over at Wax Wane likes them).
If you’re considering getting a pair, try them in black. Those are arguably the easiest and most versatile to wear. If shaped right, and built on a leather sole, they could span everything from suits to jeans. Brown leather would also work well, although on the suit end, they might need to be paired with more casual options (Mark over at The Armoury can be seen here looking great in his tan suit, blue gingham shirt, and Gaziano & Girling Chelseas). Brown suede could also be nice, especially under a pair of tan cavalry twill trousers or some light, washed blue jeans. Whatever you choose, I recommend wearing them with a slim trouser leg, just to keep with the Mod tradition.

Chelsea Boots

For as long as I’ve been interested in shoes, I’ve always favored boots, and one of the first kinds of boots I fell in love with were Chelseas. Chelseas are a kind of ankle-length, pull-on boot with elastic side gussets. They were invented in the mid-19th century as an alternative to the button boot, but they didn’t really gain popularity until the 1960s, when they were picked up by young men in Chelsea, London (hence the name) and then famously worn by The Beatles (though technically speaking, the Beatles wore a modified version of the Chelsea).

Various English shoe companies make Chelseas in their most classic form (the kind that we associate with the Mod movement of the 1960s). On the uppermost end, there’s Edward Green’s Newmarket, which are fantastically beautiful, but also fantastically expensive. A bit more affordable (but still quite expensive) is Crockett & Jones. They have three versions, simply named models 3, 5, and 8. Their Chelsea 3, being the sleekest and featuring a single-layer leather sole, is the dressiest. Models 5 and 8, on the other hand, are built on studded Dainite soles, with number 8 being a nice, almond-toe compromise between the sleekness of number 3 and the roundness of 5. You can buy these from Crockett & Jones or Barneys New York, though Pediwear, Robert Old, and P. Lal will likely have better prices (note, P. Lal’s prices are denoted in Malaysian ringgit, so you have to convert them).

Slightly more affordable options can be had through Grenson, Shipton & Heneage, and Carmina. Our friends at The Armoury stock the Carmina version in the very sleek Simpson last, while Skoaktiebolaget sells them in the slightly less tapered Rain (a last, as many readers know, is the form that the shoe’s leather is pulled over, and is what determines the shoe’s shape). Carmina can also custom make Chelseas for you, where you choose the last and material, but this comes at a 50% upcharge.

For something more affordable still, there’s Loake and Herring, Charles Tyrwhitt (don’t be fooled by the sale, as they’re always on sale), Markowski, and RM Williams. You can also check eBay, although you’ll want to be careful to avoid the frumpy versions (I’m not a fan of Blundstones, though my friend Jake over at Wax Wane likes them).

If you’re considering getting a pair, try them in black. Those are arguably the easiest and most versatile to wear. If shaped right, and built on a leather sole, they could span everything from suits to jeans. Brown leather would also work well, although on the suit end, they might need to be paired with more casual options (Mark over at The Armoury can be seen here looking great in his tan suit, blue gingham shirt, and Gaziano & Girling Chelseas). Brown suede could also be nice, especially under a pair of tan cavalry twill trousers or some light, washed blue jeans. Whatever you choose, I recommend wearing them with a slim trouser leg, just to keep with the Mod tradition.