Sunday, May 30, 2010

Intentionally Wrinkled

Having traveled a short distance to hang out with a friend this morning, it came to me that linen would make a very good travel fabric.

Here's why.

It wrinkles. It's supposed to wrinkle. A linen suit or jacket without wrinkles is like a car without wheels: they just have to be there for it to work. And since we sit for long periods of time when we travel, our clothes tend to wrinkle even if they aren't supposed to.

So next time you want to travel wearing a suit or jacket, be like Cary Grant and try linen. That way when you arrive wrinkled, it looks natural. It looks right.

Of course your suit or jacket can't just be wrinkled, but it has to be wrinkled in the right areas: arms, back of the jacket (from sitting), at the back of the knees, etc. You want wrinkles, but you don't want to look like you just pulled the suit out of an overstuffed closet. The wrinkles must be specific.

I took a cue from Mr. Grant today and went all linen, since it was absurdly hot outside. I paired a jacket and trousers of slightly different colors as well as different types of linen to help contrast the look. Throw in a pink 1930s "Fruit of the Loom" tie, spectators and a Stetson and we've got a great summer kit.

click to enlarge images

The jacket is made of smooth, finely woven linen while the trousers are a little more course and loosely woven. Both are lightweight and drape very well.

Give linen a try if you're travelling this summer.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Emperor's New Clothes

Often times a vintage collector will be called out for wearing "costumes". And to the average eye vintage clothing may look like costumes. The styling is different from what most people are use to but vintage is far from costume.

Speaking for myself, I don't consider vintage to be a costume. I live in 2010, own a computer (obviously), drive a vehicle less than ten years old and don't speak like an iGent. I'm modern throughout except for my taste in clothing because, quite frankly, modern clothing is terrible. I prefer the quality, styles and cut that vintage has to offer.

A few vintage collectors may fancy themselves as living in the 1930s and therefore wear a costume, but most do not.

So what exactly is a costume?

In part, it has to do with mindset. Like those few 'vintagers' who believe they are truly living in the Golden Era, costumes (the people wearing them) believe or at the very least act like they are something they are not. In order for there to be a costume there first must be something that is make believe. And mindset is the gateway through which something becomes an act.

On the other side of the viewing glass, the viewer's mindset is just as important as the wearer's. Movies and false notions of the Golden Era have shaped the viewer's mind into thinking that anything vintage looking or inspired by vintage is a costume: a fedora (any fedora) gets the ubiquitous Indiana Jones remark; a pinstripe double breasted suit becomes a gangster suit; full cut trousers transform into a zoot suit, etc. Rather than trying to learn about and understand clothing from the Golden Era and the folks to collect it, most Joes use their ignorance of the period as a crutch.

Physically, a costume is false. On the outside it looks pretty good, like the real deal. But inside, down to the details it is ugly. Costumes are thrown together with budget and ease of production in mind. Halloween costumes are flimsy. Most stage costumes are pieced together from what can be found.
And most importantly, costumes don't fit right. They're made to create a certain appearance and nothing more.

Here's where I might ruffle some feathers.
Rather than 'vintagers' being the ones wearing costumes, I argue that iGents and other folks who wear ill-fitting modern pieces are really the ones who wear costumes.
These are the trademarks of modern costumes: low armholes, paper-thin fabrics, horrible fits and cuts made by machines (off-the-rack) and even by a surprising number of modern tailors (made-to-measure and bespoke), and a super high price tag. All one must do to find such costumes is search the numberous online clothing fora.

So rather than seeing a different clothing style as a costume, first look and see if it meets the above trademarks of a costume. And if it does, rest assured that it's the emperor's new clothes.

Monday, May 10, 2010

WIW: Casual in the Afternoon

The weather can't seem to make up its mind. One day it's 80 degrees out, the next it's down in the 50s.

Warm weather will come and stay, but for now I'm bundled up.

Yesterday I wore my mid-'40s flannel suit to help fight off the cold morning air. The tie is late-'20s/early-'30s French, a really neat floral design. The hat is a 1930s Adam. Mixing brown and black (very dark gray in this case) can work if the colors and shades are right.

click images to enlarge

After church I finished fixing up and cleaning my 'new' 1970s Schwinn Suburban. Nothing like riding a vintage bike! Really comfortable to ride and I love the big, padded seat.
The shirt is a ligher weight flannel from Bass Pro Shop.

Can't wait to take it out again when the weather is warmer.

Monday, May 3, 2010

WIW: Lounging

Yesterday was beautiful. I was a bit under the weather but not enough to enjoy the weather. It was warm and sunny with big puffy clouds in the sunny sky. Isolated rainstorms rolled through the area and every so often we'd get a light rain for 5 or 10 minutes while it was still sunny outside.

There's nothing like the smell of a cool rain on the hot, dusty concrete.

The light-weight cotton shirt and linen trousers kept me cool while the hat and boat shoes added some color.


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