Sartorialists usually think rules ought to be either followed or broken, depending on one’s rebellious inclinations. The in-betweens are sometimes referred to as ‘a twist’, which still implies the bending of a fundamental rule.
However, we should only call those instructions that we are compelled to follow for social reasons by the term ‘rules’; these might apply to uniforms, black tie, and other functional outfits that are collectively mandatory–you wouldn’t think of setting foot on a judo mat with a silk paisley belt, would you?
Sartorial tips fall under the umbrella of recommendations rather than rules: they’re mere guidelines to make your life easier. For instance, the Italian background, is arguably the most useful sartorial tip ever, especially if you have a taste for bold-coloured or patterned jackets.
The ingredients are very simple: light blue shirt and navy tie.
We often hear that menswear is headed towards casualisation. It may be so, but such casualisation is simultaneously paralleled with sartorialisation—men wearing suits not because it is the default template of social expectations, but because they like it. Tailoring has stepped down from normality only to climb onto a higher pedestal. That’s one of my pet theories—The Great Sartorialisation.
How we long for a sense of history in our garments; the apocryphal anecdote, the dubious legend, the fabricated fable—we can’t get enough of those little stories that give meaning to the tiniest ingredient of our outfits, be it a buttonhole or a lapel, a turn-up or a stitch.
Among those fads, we cherish the idea that our clothes can manifest some dormant origin. And sometimes, it is actually true. But such lineage rarely follows a straight line and words are treacherous signs that indicate multiple directions.
Although the development of the suit as the global modern outfit is grounded in the courtier, military then urban apparel of Western Europe, it has experienced many local adaptations, probably none as subtly distinctive as the Japanese take on contemporary menswear.
You may have read the excellent Ametora, How Japan Saved American Style by W. David Marx. The book showed with detailed historical accuracy how Japan’s youth adopted the Ivy League style in the late 1950s as a rebellious stance and transformed it in their own way, ultimately developing an original approach to classic style and even changing the way we look at denim as not just a rough cloth but as a possibly refined one. One could say that Japan’s acute sense of aesthetics made them keen selectors of the best the West had to offer — incidentally, Japan is a leading market for jazz and has developed a thriving industry in special editions and reissues, showing their true understanding of cultural otherness.
t’s that time of year again!
The Styleforum Charity Auctions are back to help you stay stylish AND help others: every winning bid is a donation that benefits the Ronald McDonald House, an organization that houses families whose kids are undergoing medical treatment.
100% of every final bid goes to charity, so bid often and generously to help those in need. In exchange, our wonderful affiliates are donating some of the greatest items in their stock; for instance, today you can bid on a Good Art “rosette” silver bracelet (RRP $795) donated by Self Edge.