The Man Who Believed in Simplicity

Although I own more clothes than I need, and think there are a number of advantages to having a big wardrobe, there’s something admittedly appealing about personal uniforms. The idea that one can put a lot of thought into what they buy, but almost no thought into what they choose to wear … because it’s always the same thing. Such simplicity feels freeing.

Jean-Michel Frank seems to have known this idea well. He unfortunately lived a short life – having committed suicide at age 46 – but in his brief time, he became one of the most influential interior designers of the 20th century. A pioneer in minimalism, he was known for his plain-lined but sumptuous furniture made from luxurious materials such as mother-of-pearl, shagreen, mica, and leather. For example, here’s a striking oakwood armchair upholstered in doe-hide that he designed for a hotel in Patagonia (his work was famous among wealthy elites in Argentina, who would often visit Paris, where Frank was based). He also designed a special collection for Hermes in 1924, which was recently re-released by the French luxury house. Included was a club chair made from sheepskin, a rye-straw marquetry screen, and a parchment covered dressing table. You can see other designs by Frank at artnet.

This idea of simplicity was extended to his wardrobe. Frank was said to have owned forty of the same exact grey flannel suit. Each was double-breasted with a four-on-two buttoning configuration (four buttons, two for closing), and made with a long peak lapel line and no ticket pocket (for the sake of simplicity, we can assume). The lapels were cut relatively straight, rather than curved with a belly. The chest was clean, the shoulders soft, and the upper arms a touch full. The result was a silhouette that allowed Frank to look relaxed and comfortable, but also gave him a great elegance.   

In a 1938 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, Frank was quoted as saying, “Throw out and keep throwing out. Elegance means elimination.” He seems to have done this in both his work and wardrobe, paring things down to their most essential forms, and making sure that what was done, was done exceptionally well. I’ll admit, the idea of wearing the same thing every day isn’t for me, but I also don’t look as good as Frank in a grey flannel double-breasted suit.

Community star Danny Pudi directed this fascinating ESPN short about Marquette University’s basketball unconventional basketball uniforms. It’s called “Untucked,” in honor of the jersey you see above - which was designed to be worn outside of the trunks. Designed, in fact, by one of Marquette’s players, an art major named Bo Ellis. It’s a great look not just at sports uniforms, but at the relationship between clothing and culture.

Community star Danny Pudi directed this fascinating ESPN short about Marquette University’s basketball unconventional basketball uniforms. It’s called “Untucked,” in honor of the jersey you see above - which was designed to be worn outside of the trunks. Designed, in fact, by one of Marquette’s players, an art major named Bo Ellis. It’s a great look not just at sports uniforms, but at the relationship between clothing and culture.

Word of the Day: Buksekrise
Remember the Norwegian men’s Olympic curling team? The guys who prefer go-to-hell pants? They encountered a Buksekrise (trouser crisis) after being forced into a tiebreak match with Great Britain today, a match they didn’t account for in their wardrobe planning. Each team member brought nine pairs of pants (the hubris!) and in their tenth match were forced into repeated wearing of their most abstract expressionist pair. Alas, the Brits, who dress like they’re working the concession stand, won the day, eliminating fancy pants from this year’s Olympics.
-Pete

Word of the Day: Buksekrise

Remember the Norwegian men’s Olympic curling team? The guys who prefer go-to-hell pants? They encountered a Buksekrise (trouser crisis) after being forced into a tiebreak match with Great Britain today, a match they didn’t account for in their wardrobe planning. Each team member brought nine pairs of pants (the hubris!) and in their tenth match were forced into repeated wearing of their most abstract expressionist pair. Alas, the Brits, who dress like they’re working the concession stand, won the day, eliminating fancy pants from this year’s Olympics.

-Pete


Apparently NBA players are bitching about having sleeved jerseys, but the NBA is keeping them because they sell extremely well. I’ll tell you why they’re selling well: Because for any fan, the basketball jersey is, by far, the hardest jersey to pull off. It takes a lot of confidence to walk out into the world with bare shoulders and your [luscious] pit hair sticking out and repulsing everyone. NBA players look great in sleeveless jerseys because NBA players are world class athletes. The rest of us are not. You get really self-conscious really quickly when you’re standing there in a basketball jersey. You are already halfway to playing for the skins team, and playing for the skins team is TERRIFYING. If I’m an NBA fan and I have a choice between rocking the beater or a sleeved jersey, I’m going sleeves every time. It’s not even close.

Drew Magary articulating a fear I know all too well: getting picked by the skins team.
-Pete
Image: The Spurs’ Tony Parker looking salty in a sleeved jersey.

Apparently NBA players are bitching about having sleeved jerseys, but the NBA is keeping them because they sell extremely well. I’ll tell you why they’re selling well: Because for any fan, the basketball jersey is, by far, the hardest jersey to pull off. It takes a lot of confidence to walk out into the world with bare shoulders and your [luscious] pit hair sticking out and repulsing everyone. NBA players look great in sleeveless jerseys because NBA players are world class athletes. The rest of us are not. You get really self-conscious really quickly when you’re standing there in a basketball jersey. You are already halfway to playing for the skins team, and playing for the skins team is TERRIFYING. If I’m an NBA fan and I have a choice between rocking the beater or a sleeved jersey, I’m going sleeves every time. It’s not even close.

Drew Magary articulating a fear I know all too well: getting picked by the skins team.

-Pete

Image: The Spurs’ Tony Parker looking salty in a sleeved jersey.

Australian Convict Uniforms

Here’s a curious thing. Above is what the Australian government used to make their convicts wear. The broad arrow you see on the pants originate from the UK, which used to be put on government owned property (such as their convict uniforms and military items). Today, it’s been used by designers such as Nigel Cabourn for decorative effect. Dare I say, the UK version of broad arrow convict pants look much more stylish, and I can can see them being recreated today and sold at fashion boutiques for a crazy price. 

To be fair, the Australian ones were made to look silly on purpose. These were used in the mid-19th century to distinguish repeat convicts from others. The loud, bi-color design was made so that their wearers would feel humiliated and stand out in a crowd (thus preventing any escape attempts). The long trousers had broad arrows stamped on them, and the jacket was unusually short and had a high, stand-up collar. The cloth used was also a very itchy woolen, apparently so that the wearer would be extra uncomfortable (I mean, what’s up with that hat?). Prisoners who wore these were nicknamed “canary men.” 

(Photo via New South Wales Government page on “A Convict Story”)

Chief Wahoo, Indians and Rooting For Outfits
Remember the old Seinfeld bit? When you pick a favorite sports team, the players change, the ownership changes… ultimately you’re just rooting for outfits. I’m a sports fan, and I of course care a lot about outfits, so I find myself thinking about sports uniforms a lot. Ask me about baseball stirrups sometime. You’ll get an earful.
Lately, the big news in the sports uniform world has been the controversy over Native American-themed mascots, team names and logos. There’s been a lot of bad news coming out of Washington, where the team name is an outmoded term that in 2013 can only be considered a slur. In Cleveland, though, there’s some good news.
For decades, there’s been debate in Cleveland, in the Cleveland Indians organization and in the larger sports world over the team’s “Chief Wahoo” logo. I won’t link to it here, but you probably know it - it’s a cartoon drawn in 1951 of a grinning Indian brave, with bright red skin and a fat, bulbous nose. It looks like an animated image of Hirohito from WWII or a black person in some 1930s cartoon short. Outside of its familiar context, it’s really pretty shocking. But after sixty years of using it in one form or another, many Indians fans are understandably attached to it.
The team removed the image from its caps in stages over the last few years, and as SportsLogos.net is reporting, they seem to be in the final stages of eliminating it from their identity completely. It’s something I wish had happened a few decades ago, but I nonetheless tip my (Chief Wahoo-less) cap to the team for handling a situation that frankly needed to be handled. Doing it without fanfare is entirely reasonable and genuinely decent.
Should the team change its name completely? I think that’s a thornier issue. Unlike “Redskin,” Indian (and particularly American Indian) is a term chosen by many in the Native American community. Members of the American Indian Movement have fought and died for it. There are millions of people who claim Native identity in the US, and their preferred name is a spectrum - many prefer to be identified by their nation, for example - but we can probably stipulate that Indian isn’t a slur. Whether it’s an appropriate name for a sports team? That’s a very reasonable question.
Here is some important context: American Indians aren’t a historical peoples, and they’re not mythical, either. They live here in America with us, any reasonable measure shows they’ve got it tougher than almost any other demographic group.
The overwhelming majority of mascots are mythical or historical (49ers, Wizards) animals (Hawks), or more abstract (Sonics). Do you think a real group of people is comparable to, say, Bobcats? Do you think it’s fair for a group of people historically stereotyped as savage and violent to object to being admired solely for their courage in battle? Powerful people who aren’t Indians have defined the idea of Indian-ness in the American consciousness for hundreds of years. That’s a tough spot to be in if you’re the one being defined.
Let me say this: I’m sure that the folks who say Indian nicknames are intended to be positive are sincere. It’s just that that’s not the whole issue. One of the great fights American Indians face in contemporary America is defining themselves as a living people, rather than historical-mythical characters. Being a mascot is essentially the opposite of being human. It’s about creating a narrow, broad-strokes identity. That’s the whole point of a team identity. It’s pretty much either fun or badass.
Are there ways to genuinely honor people through sports teams? One would hope that teams with Native-inspired names would at the bare minimum actively engage Native communities, so those communities have a real voice in they way they’re represented and can take real pride in the teams. Florida State, whose team is called the Seminoles, has taken steps in this direction. There’s also another alternative: just pick a name that won’t be hurtful to a real and significant group of people. That’d work, too.
But anyway, back to uniforms, because uniform-wise, there’s great news for Cleveland fans. The new caps, which have a few variations, are handsome as all hell. They’ll need to be integrated better into the uniform identity system, which is very “Baseball Script” heavy, but if you’re looking for a cap to wear out and about, you could really do a lot worse. One of the best new cap styles in recent years. And truly: I tip it in the direction of Cleveland.

Chief Wahoo, Indians and Rooting For Outfits

Remember the old Seinfeld bit? When you pick a favorite sports team, the players change, the ownership changes… ultimately you’re just rooting for outfits. I’m a sports fan, and I of course care a lot about outfits, so I find myself thinking about sports uniforms a lot. Ask me about baseball stirrups sometime. You’ll get an earful.

Lately, the big news in the sports uniform world has been the controversy over Native American-themed mascots, team names and logos. There’s been a lot of bad news coming out of Washington, where the team name is an outmoded term that in 2013 can only be considered a slur. In Cleveland, though, there’s some good news.

For decades, there’s been debate in Cleveland, in the Cleveland Indians organization and in the larger sports world over the team’s “Chief Wahoo” logo. I won’t link to it here, but you probably know it - it’s a cartoon drawn in 1951 of a grinning Indian brave, with bright red skin and a fat, bulbous nose. It looks like an animated image of Hirohito from WWII or a black person in some 1930s cartoon short. Outside of its familiar context, it’s really pretty shocking. But after sixty years of using it in one form or another, many Indians fans are understandably attached to it.

The team removed the image from its caps in stages over the last few years, and as SportsLogos.net is reporting, they seem to be in the final stages of eliminating it from their identity completely. It’s something I wish had happened a few decades ago, but I nonetheless tip my (Chief Wahoo-less) cap to the team for handling a situation that frankly needed to be handled. Doing it without fanfare is entirely reasonable and genuinely decent.

Should the team change its name completely? I think that’s a thornier issue. Unlike “Redskin,” Indian (and particularly American Indian) is a term chosen by many in the Native American community. Members of the American Indian Movement have fought and died for it. There are millions of people who claim Native identity in the US, and their preferred name is a spectrum - many prefer to be identified by their nation, for example - but we can probably stipulate that Indian isn’t a slur. Whether it’s an appropriate name for a sports team? That’s a very reasonable question.

Here is some important context: American Indians aren’t a historical peoples, and they’re not mythical, either. They live here in America with us, any reasonable measure shows they’ve got it tougher than almost any other demographic group.

The overwhelming majority of mascots are mythical or historical (49ers, Wizards) animals (Hawks), or more abstract (Sonics). Do you think a real group of people is comparable to, say, Bobcats? Do you think it’s fair for a group of people historically stereotyped as savage and violent to object to being admired solely for their courage in battle? Powerful people who aren’t Indians have defined the idea of Indian-ness in the American consciousness for hundreds of years. That’s a tough spot to be in if you’re the one being defined.

Let me say this: I’m sure that the folks who say Indian nicknames are intended to be positive are sincere. It’s just that that’s not the whole issue. One of the great fights American Indians face in contemporary America is defining themselves as a living people, rather than historical-mythical characters. Being a mascot is essentially the opposite of being human. It’s about creating a narrow, broad-strokes identity. That’s the whole point of a team identity. It’s pretty much either fun or badass.

Are there ways to genuinely honor people through sports teams? One would hope that teams with Native-inspired names would at the bare minimum actively engage Native communities, so those communities have a real voice in they way they’re represented and can take real pride in the teams. Florida State, whose team is called the Seminoles, has taken steps in this direction. There’s also another alternative: just pick a name that won’t be hurtful to a real and significant group of people. That’d work, too.

But anyway, back to uniforms, because uniform-wise, there’s great news for Cleveland fans. The new caps, which have a few variations, are handsome as all hell. They’ll need to be integrated better into the uniform identity system, which is very “Baseball Script” heavy, but if you’re looking for a cap to wear out and about, you could really do a lot worse. One of the best new cap styles in recent years. And truly: I tip it in the direction of Cleveland.

(Source: jessethorn)

The Personal Uniform
I try and abide by Archival Clothing’s resolutions, in particular “Come up with a signature uniform. Wear it once a week.” I put one together each season, which, I admit, may not be in the exact spirit of the Archival idea. Having a coherent, reliable set of clothes means one less decision I have to make on days I wear it, ensures I get good value out of the items in the outfit, and if I’m done my planning well, has me looking decent at least once a week. Reasonable people might find this level of planning precious or juvenile, like laying tomorrow’s outfit on the bed, but I find the “uniform” provides a center that anchors my wardrobe between laundry days.
See also this story on the reliable Mr. Irby.
-Pete

The Personal Uniform

I try and abide by Archival Clothing’s resolutions, in particular “Come up with a signature uniform. Wear it once a week.” I put one together each season, which, I admit, may not be in the exact spirit of the Archival idea. Having a coherent, reliable set of clothes means one less decision I have to make on days I wear it, ensures I get good value out of the items in the outfit, and if I’m done my planning well, has me looking decent at least once a week. Reasonable people might find this level of planning precious or juvenile, like laying tomorrow’s outfit on the bed, but I find the “uniform” provides a center that anchors my wardrobe between laundry days.

See also this story on the reliable Mr. Irby.

-Pete

Apparently the Miami Marlins are now a rec-league softball team sponsored by a Caribbean-themed chain restaurant.
On the plus side, they’re celebrating Mojito Tuesdaze with 2-for-1 drink specials all month long!

Apparently the Miami Marlins are now a rec-league softball team sponsored by a Caribbean-themed chain restaurant.

On the plus side, they’re celebrating Mojito Tuesdaze with 2-for-1 drink specials all month long!

Vintage uniform posters from the Royal Mail.

via Retronaut (thanks Greg & Kyle)

murketing:

Army football team in full on camo uniforms! Explained on Uniwatch.

Oh great.  Who let McNairy onto the football team?

murketing:

Army football team in full on camo uniforms! Explained on Uniwatch.

Oh great.  Who let McNairy onto the football team?