Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Article: Dressing for the Kentucky Derby

Check out the article written by Antonio Centeno and myself entitled Dressing for the Kentucky Derby over on 'The Art of Manliness' website. Hopefully it will help you with the basics when it comes to dressing for semi-formal summer events.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

1940 Mont. Ward Spring/Summer Suits, Part 4

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

click to enlarge
Note the pleated/pinched front on the jackets above. This was a sporty look for young men and a very short-lived fad thanks to the American entry into the Second World War a year later. Fabric could not be spared for such unusual and uneeded features during the war.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

George Will on Jeans?

Two days ago George Will had an interesting article about, of all things, jeans. Read up and let us know what you think.


Demon Denim

By George F. WillThursday, April 16, 2009

On any American street, or in any airport or mall, you see the same sad tableau: A 10-year-old boy is walking with his father, whose development was evidently arrested when he was that age, judging by his clothes. Father and son are dressed identically -- running shoes, T-shirts. And jeans, always jeans. If mother is there, she, too, is draped in denim.

Writer Daniel Akst has noticed and has had a constructive conniption. He should be given the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has earned it by identifying an obnoxious misuse of freedom. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, he has denounced denim, summoning Americans to soul-searching and repentance about the plague of that ubiquitous fabric, which is symptomatic of deep disorders in the national psyche.

It is, he says, a manifestation of "the modern trend toward undifferentiated dressing, in which we all strive to look equally shabby." Denim reflects "our most nostalgic and destructive agrarian longings -- the ones that prompted all those exurban McMansions now sliding off their manicured lawns and into foreclosure." Jeans come prewashed and acid-treated to make them look like what they are not -- authentic work clothes for horny-handed sons of toil and the soil. Denim on the bourgeoisie is, Akst says, the wardrobe equivalent of driving a Hummer to a Whole Foods store -- discordant.

Long ago, when James Dean and Marlon Brando wore it, denim was, Akst says, "a symbol of youthful defiance." Today, Silicon Valley billionaires are rebels without causes beyond poses, wearing jeans when introducing new products. Akst's summa contra denim is grand as far as it goes, but it only scratches the surface of this blight on Americans' surfaces. Denim is the infantile uniform of a nation in which entertainment frequently features childlike adults ("Seinfeld," "Two and a Half Men") and cartoons for adults ("King of the Hill"). Seventy-five percent of American "gamers" -- people who play video games -- are older than 18 and nevertheless are allowed to vote. In their undifferentiated dress, children and their childish parents become undifferentiated audiences for juvenilized movies (the six -- so far -- "Batman" adventures and "Indiana Jones and the Credit-Default Swaps," coming soon to a cineplex near you). Denim is the clerical vestment for the priesthood of all believers in democracy's catechism of leveling -- thou shalt not dress better than society's most slovenly. To do so would be to commit the sin of lookism -- of believing that appearance matters. That heresy leads to denying the universal appropriateness of everything, and then to the elitist assertion that there is good and bad taste.

Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances. But the appearances that people choose to present in public are cues from which we make inferences about their maturity and respect for those to whom they are presenting themselves.

Do not blame Levi Strauss for the misuse of Levi's. When the Gold Rush began, Strauss moved to San Francisco planning to sell strong fabric for the 49ers' tents and wagon covers. Eventually, however, he made tough pants, reinforced by copper rivets, for the tough men who knelt on the muddy, stony banks of Northern California creeks, panning for gold. Today it is silly for Americans whose closest approximation of physical labor consists of loading their bags of clubs into golf carts to go around in public dressed for driving steers up the Chisholm Trail to the railhead in Abilene.

This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don't wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.

Edmund Burke -- what he would have thought of the denimization of America can be inferred from his lament that the French Revolution assaulted "the decent drapery of life"; it is a straight line from the fall of the Bastille to the rise of denim -- said: "To make us love our country, our country ought to be lovely." Ours would be much more so if supposed grown-ups would heed St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, and St. Barack's inaugural sermon to the Americans, by putting away childish things, starting with denim.

(A confession: The author owns one pair of jeans. Wore them once. Had to. Such was the dress code for former senator Jack Danforth's 70th birthday party, where Jerry Jeff Walker sang his classic "Up Against the Wall, Redneck Mother." Music for a jeans-wearing crowd.)

Sunday, April 12, 2009

WIW: Easter

Happy Easter.

Today I wore a 1940s DB suit that I found at a local Salvation Army thrift store. For $15 I 'stole' this gem. Very desirable with such bold pinstripes.

click photos to enlarge

The jacket is a bit loose but definitely wearable. The trousers, on the other hand, needed some alterations. I took the waist in a bit and had to let down the legs, which were about 6" too short before altering. I sacrificed the 2" wide cuff (forgive me, I have sinned) and replaced it with a 'faux' cuff. More on the faux cuff in another post.

I'm very happy with the results:

As you can see, the trousers drape nicely thanks to the faux cuff and are very wide at the opening.

Paired with an off-white Wormser "The Texan" fedora and brown and white spectators, this suit is very striking.
And a '40s trumpet tie for celebrating the glorious resurrection.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

1940 Mont. Ward Spring/Summer Suits, Part 3

Part 1
Part 2

We continue the 1940s Mont. Ward catalog series with this third part. Be sure to click on the photos to see the details and descriptions.

click to enlarge
A wonderful green tweed (again, green seemed to be the color that year) belted back jacket. A Holy Grail for vintage enthusiasts. Also note the number of pockets, creating no need for a vest.

A conservative late-'30s 3-piece suit, good for business. Note the green fedora the subject is holding.

A rather unique suit with a "blade back" (often called a bi-swing back) for better movement in the arms and shoulders. The bi-swing back was often seen combined with belted backs but as the illustration above shows this was not always the case.
Again, note the green fedora.

A fine looking pinstripe suit, something a dandy might be drawn to.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Two in One

I have returned. Thank you for the patience while I was away.

As I said in my last post, I have several new things to show. So, this first post back will be a "what I wore" post. But wait, there's more! Not only do you get one WIW but two in one post! Amazing!

Two Sundays ago I wore the below outfit:
*Early 1940s custom-made SB peaked lapel sportscoat
*1940s Champ fedora
*1930s tie
*modern shirt, trousers and AE shoes

click to enlarge photos
The jacket is a marvelous fit, the only issue I have is the arms being a couple centimeters too long. But this is rather nice since most vintage jackets are usually too short in the arms for me.

I don't have any photos, but the lining and the interior details are astonishingly fine, better than most anything produced today. This sportscoat oozes quality.

And last Sunday was the below outfit, which might have been a bit premature but the weather was too nice to let it go.

*Early 1950s jacket and vest from J.C. Petersen's, my great great-grandfather's haberdashery
*1940s Dobbs fedora
*1930s lighthouse tie
*1940s sunglasses
*modern shirt, trousers and Bostonian spectators
While most of the outfit is summery, I decided to stick with a regular heavy felt fedora rather than a straw Panama hat. Sort of a compromise, if you will.
Very nice herringbone pattern to this jacket and vest combo:

I was going for something like the look on the right and think I achieved it to good effect:


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