“It’s now cool to dress up, and to know about the minutiae of roped shoulders and Windsor knots. Type the words “menswear blog” into Google and marvel at the trove of pages that comes up.”—
The Wall Street Journal has a piece today on the death of the necktie in corporate environments and its resurgence in non-dress-code-enforced situations, especially among younger men. They also use their Google machine to find some so-called “blogs.”
The WSJ on Pleats
The Wall Street Journal published a piece last week about the possibility of pleats coming back in fashion. Author Ray Smith writes:
“They’re pushing pleats – again. It took years, numerous tries and sometimes, coaxing from girlfriends and wives, to get men to part from their pleated pants and squeeze into flat front pants. Now, just as men have finally gotten comfortable wearing the style, many menswear designers are bringing back pleated pants.”
Smith then goes on to write about the various eras when pleats have been fashionable (and likewise, unfashionable), and suggests that because of what we’ve seen on designer runways and in high-end boutiques, perhaps pleats are coming back in style.
I genuinely have no problem with fashion or even trends. Even classic men’s style is a lot less timeless than many of its adherents believe. But articles like this make me think that menswear too often adopts one extreme before it swings towards the other, declaring everything else before it bad. Like how slim flat fronts have long been said to be the only kind of trouser every man should wear, you can imagine pleats one day becoming such the rage that deep folds will be put on every trouser in every store. At that point, some writer will then pen an article declaring, “flat fronts are coming back in fashion again.” And the cycle starts over.
Pleats serve very specific, useful functions. For heavy men, they can accommodate the natural widening of the hips and seat when the wearer is sitting down. They can also help the trouser line drape cleaner and more sharply, and as Mark and Ethan at The Armoury noted, if a man likes to wear higher-waisted pants, they can help visually break up the expanse of cloth that takes up one’s lap. For these reasons, heavier men will actually look slimmer in pleats, while men with washboard stomachs can go either way. What one should choose depends on one’s proportions; the kind of trousers at hand; how much one values that cleaner, sharper leg line; the types of suits and sport coats one likes to wear; and one’s own sense of personal style.
Unfortunately, too many fashion writers have written off pleats, rehashing that terrible advice that slim, flat fronted trousers are the only kind of trousers men should wear, regardless of who they are. That has left a lot of men who aren’t even that large look heavier than they are. Beware of such advice. Neither flat fronted nor pleated trousers are “the thing” every man should own this season. It depends on what flatters you the most and your own sense of personal style. Obviously the latter partly depends on fashion and trends, but don’t ignore what you look like in the mirror in favor for what you’ve read in magazines.
J Crew and Loro Piana
J Crew uses Loro Piana cashmere yarn for its sweaters. So what accounts for the difference between $1,000+ Loro Piana sweaters at high end boutiques and the $300 ones at J Crew?
On the one hand, quality manufacturing - the boutique sweaters are made in Italy, J. Crew’s in China. On the other hand, Loro Piana’s need to maintain its luxury brand image.
Read more in the Wall Street Journal here, and if you want to identify the good stuff yourself, check out Jesse’s article “Looking for Quality Cashmere” here.
"Mr. Drake, who learned the trade at British luxury label Aquascutum, sold the company for an undisclosed price to the Armoury, a Hong Kong menswear retailer."
(hat tip to my friend w.o.e. for the link)
Speaking of my conversation with the Wall Street Journal, here’s the whole interview on their sports blog. In it, I discuss college basketball coach outfits like the nightmare above, which I think Bob Huggins may have purchased from one of those “Two Suits! Two Shirts! Two Ties! Two Belts! Two Shoes! Two Hundred Dollars!” stores. (To be fair, it’s also possible he stole it from Willie Stargell.)
Ben Cohen of the Wall Street Journal was nice enough to give me a call and ask me some questions about how coaches should dress for March Madness. Ben also spoke with Glenn O’Brien, GQ’s Style Guy, so I’m proud to be in such august company.