Men’s Hats Throughout the Years

As much as people like to say that headwear is a functional accessory, the truth is that it was always a fashion piece first.  As a conscious choice, hats always seem to add a little extra punch to an outfit, even if they are a sort of anachronistic accessory.  Hats have been largely absent from menswear from the 1980s to the 2000s, but if you take a look at recent editions of Pitti Uomo, or even just at your local mall, you’ll see they’re coming back. The fact that they have seen a slight resurgence inspired this article, where I briefly talk about how hats have changed through classic menswear.

Back in the early 1900s, stylish clothing was a privilege reserved for the wealthy. The rich had not only different outfits for different occasions, but different hats as well. Top hats were reserved for white tie, while homburgs and bowlers rounded out the pieces appropriate for suits. In fact, the homburg and derby really reigned supreme until the 1910s. Most hats of this period went for an elegant aesthetic, being stiff and made of fur felt, silk ribbons, and leather sweatbands. Crown shape/height and brim width certainly varied throughout the years, but hats pre-1920s were typically moderate all around. The pinch-front felt hat with the curved, upturned brim was an especially popular model. The straw boater was also quite popular during this period and would remain relatively unchanged in shape until the 1950s, when brims were shortened. Wool caps were a “sporty” alternative, a quality that seems to have stuck with this type of hat ever since. Early caps were pretty utilitarian, made with pleats, belts, and flaps to keep the wearer comfortable, warm, and stylish.

1900s -1930s

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While these wool caps have stood the test of time (currently serving as the “vintage hat of choice” for many), no other hat is as iconic as the soft felt fedora. It was first introduced in the 1890s but didn’t catch on until the 1910s. Like suits, fedoras definitely went through changes with each era as tastes evolved. Early fedoras had a tall crown (mainly with a center crease) and either was upturned or downturned all around; again, varieties were always present. In general, the fedora was certainly a contrast to the narrow-brimmed, stiff homburg of preceding years.

The evolution of the fedora

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By the 1920s and 1930s, the fedora was the hat of choice for almost all men. Homburgs were only reserved for formal men, while the top hat was starting to fade from men’s wardrobes. It probably helped that fashion was finally getting into the hands of the everyday man, who wanted a hat that was stylish and functional at the same time. A high crown fedora was still in vogue for this period, with 2-inch brims and a semi-wide ribbon (narrow ribbons were reserved for casual or western themed hats). One of the main differences between these fedoras and the older ones was the fact that the brim “snapped down” in the front. While boaters were still worn, the panama hat was the smart piece of choice for the warm season, with the optimo model (featuring a center ridge) being the most popular.

Short rounded porkpie hats grew slightly in popularity in the late 1940s with creative types, and at the same time, fedoras got a bit wider. The newly lowered crowns started to have more of a teardrop top and prominent pinch, instead of the simple center crease; eventually, a fully circular top would become fashionable in the 1950s. Straw hats were increasingly popular in the post-war era, with colorful bandana-esque ribbons. Not all of them were designed like the optimo, with most being most similar to fedoras; the actual weave would vary from model to model.

During the ivy movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s, suits became more minimal. Lapels got smaller, darts were lost, and trousers became flat front. In order to match this “slim look”, fedoras went through some changes. Crowns became short and tapered and the brims were heavily reduced. You can see a lot of this style in early Bond films or period productions like Mad Men. Personally, I don’t think this shape is as flattering as the other decades before it.

1940s – 1960s

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Unfortunately, hats (and other formal pieces) were discarded moving forward into the 1960s. As a whole, men were dressing up less and the new ivy/continental look seldom incorporated hats. It didn’t help that cars were getting smaller, so men couldn’t drive while wearing a hat. Soon, headwear became just another fashion accessory that wasn’t needed in the world. By the late 1960s and early 1970s, men wore ball caps, bucket hats (from the recent war), and flat caps if the weather called for it. The fedora did make a brief comeback in the 1970s and the early 2000s, but those two models couldn’t be more different than each other. The disco era one was reminiscent of 1940s ones, though they were often made of wool (rather than felt) and had a wide brim; by contrast, the fedoras of the millennium were clearly modeled after the short, tapered 1960s ones except embroidered cotton was now the fabric of choice.

Today, hats seem to be coming back, worn by stylish men who want to add something extra to their sartorial style. It’s usually for vintage-inspired outfits, but I really do enjoy it. While floppy fedoras (sans ribbon) seem to be the most popular, you can still see western ones frequented by Americana-workwear enthusiasts, as well as beanies, berets, and caps in other circles.

1970s – Modern times

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Personally, as much as I like vintage style, I still can’t bring myself to wear hats too often. However, the fact that more guys seem to rock headwear with their tailoring might change my mind. Perhaps the stigma against the hat within classic menswear can finally go away!

Casual meets Classic – The Evolution of My Wardrobe Incorporating Casual Outerwear

Wearing casual outerwear with more tailored, classic menswear has quickly become one of my favorite styles. In this article, I want to give some insights into how I built my current outerwear collection, along with what styles I plan to add in the future. I’ll also touch on some of the basic principles I use when pulling outfits together, and finally, I will provide some guidance on what items I feel pair best when incorporating casual outerwear into your wardrobe.

Building My Casual Outerwear Collection

At the beginning of 2017, I owned only two pieces of outwear: a lightweight bomber jacket for spring, and a heavier jacket for winter. I made it my mission in 2017 to focus on adding quality, casual outerwear pieces to my wardrobe. I’d first like to review the process I used when choosing these items, in addition to how I pair them with work attire.

When it comes to choosing outerwear, versatility is the name of the game for me. I have a fairly tight clothing budget so I carefully consider how much use I am likely to get out of an item before deciding to pull the trigger. When starting my outerwear search, I turned to Instagram for inspiration, searching hashtags like #styleforum, #mnswr #ptoman, as well as a few of my favorite accounts such as @stylejournaldaily, @drakesdiary, and @sartorialviking. With my research in hand, I was able to narrow down a few styles I felt could be dressed up or down with relative ease. I found myself gravitating towards field jackets, chore coats, safari jackets, and classic waxed 2 pocket jackets like the Barbour Beaufort. I quickly realized that a combo of these casual styles in staple colors would be versatile enough to wear with a ton of looks – everything from trousers and a tie during the week to jeans and a tee on weekends.

I remember first trying to find field jackets and suede bomber jackets, the latter of which I have still yet to get in my hands. I searched relentlessly through the Styleforum buy & sell section looking for anything that may fit the build. There were pieces like the Eidos “Ragosta” and suede bombers from Valstar that were perfect but out of my budget. As my search continued, about a year ago I posted a wanted ad looking for any that might be sitting in people closets not being used. When that failed, I realized that it was probably for the best considering the price point; then, I turned to eBay to see what more affordable options I could find. After stalking Luxe Swap eBay listings for weeks on end I ended up bidding on and winning a couple amazing field jackets: a navy from Brunello Cucinelli and an unlined tan cotton by Aspesi. A short while later, I added a vintage Private White VC “Squaddie” waxed wool jacket (also from eBay) and a few used Epaulet field jackets off of Grailed.

The last style I wanted to add to my wardrobe was a classic chore coat, and this one took me a few tries to get right. After trying out a few brands and having to return or sell them due to fit issues, Epaulet released their updated chore coat design called the “Doyle”. I quickly snatched up one in olive duck canvas and it became one of my favorite pieces in my closet. I have since added two more “Doyle” jackets, one in an indigo dyed cotton sashiko fabric and another in banana yellow wool.

Future Acquisitions

Looking into 2018, I do have some additional outerwear items on my wish list. These items will be ones that can further bridge the gap between casual and classic menswear as I transition to more tailored items.

A field jacket like the Eidos “Ragosta” in a navy Donegal fabric is first on my list pending budget. I’d also like to pick up a slightly more tailored piece of outerwear like a raglan topcoat or belted coat but in a casual patterned cloth, such as a herringbone or houndstooth. I will be keeping a close eye on Styleforum affiliate Spier & Mackay as they hinted at adding some patterned topcoats to their line this fall. Epaulet also took to Instagram to preview plans for an updated version of their field jacket, which I am very excited to see finalized. Lastly, I am looking forward to what Private White VC does in 2018; they sold off a lot of their current 2017 inventory, which I can only hope means big things are coming.

Putting it all Together – How to Blend Casual Outerwear and Classic Menswear

The one challenge I have found with casual outwear is that you can never really get the pieces to work all that well with suits or full formal attire – unless the former is very casual in cut and fabric. With this, I like to stick to layering casual outerwear over unstructured sport coats and textured fabrics and accessories. These are the kinds of items I have found incorporate easily into an outfit with a casual jacket: oxford shirts, flannel or cotton trousers, denim, tweed or cotton sport coats, and knit or shantung ties.

When it comes to building an outfit that includes casual outerwear, I like to start from the ground up. I first choose my trousers as I have less variety to choose from at the moment and therefore need to build my outfits around them. I have a wide variety of shirts so I typically select this piece based on my plan for layering/outerwear that day. For example, if I am planning to wear a bold cardigan I may opt for a simple white or light blue shirt. However, without the sweater, I would likely choose a striped shirt to make more of a statement. Getting comfortable pairing items in my wardrobe took practice and experimentation while I got a feel for what I liked and what would work well with my personal style. After pairing outfits like this for many months it has become second nature, which is great because a couple years ago this process could be rather daunting at times!

Finishing Touches

When choosing a tie I’ll look at my chosen shirt and cardigan, or lack of a cardigan, for guidance. My current collection of ties is quite casual, including lots of soft fabrics, knits, slubby shantung, and grenadines. From there, I will select my footwear and outerwear last. I’d like to say I have some sort of method to my madness here, but in all honesty, both items get chosen almost exclusively based on the weather that day. I’ve built a strong base of versatile items in both categories and will likely go into much more detail on my footwear collection at another time. Like other areas of my wardrobe, my footwear collection falls on the casual end of the spectrum (i.e. I do not own any balmoral shoes or anything in black). When it comes to the weather, if it’s wet or raining outside I’ll typically grab a waxed jacket like my Private White VC “Squaddie” jacket and functional footwear with rubber soles. When it’s dry out, which is about 4 months of the year in Calgary, Alberta, anything goes in my eye! As mentioned above, with my outerwear pieces being quite versatile, the last factor I consider is what piece would contrast best with my chosen trousers. My favorite casual outerwear as of late is the olive duck canvas “Doyle” jacket from Epaulet.

Why Blend Casual & Classic Pieces?

Pairing casual outerwear with classic pieces gives you a chance to experiment with textures and more saturated colors. It’s also a great way to spice up your business casual attire. Don’t be afraid to pair up some less conservative color palettes and outerwear that you may have written off as exclusively casual. If you try something similar out and are on Instagram I’d love to see – tag me (@burzanblog) in your pictures so I can check out how you guys style your casual outfits.

For more inspiration, you can browse the What Are You Wearing Today – Classic Menswear, Casual Style thread on the forum.

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How to Declutter Your Winter Wardrobe

It’s half past 8, it’s 25°F outside, and you’re rushing to get out the door—running late for work again. You throw open your closet to choose a coat to layer up over your suit.

“Hmmmm, which one will I wear today?

“I could go full Russian and wear the Norwegian Rain Moscow with fur collar. But that’s my favorite coat and I wore that yesterday.

“I could go full Italian with the Eidos topcoat. Ehhh, that’s too insouciant for the workplace.

“I suppose I could go full #menswear and wear the robe coat. Nah, I’ll get a hundred snide comments.

“Dang it, now it’s 20 to 9 and I still haven’t picked a coat. Forget it, I’ll wear the Moscow again.”

The signs are obvious—it’s a Tide ad.

Just kidding, you’ve got a #menswear problem.

Maybe it’s time to declutter your winter wardrobe, including—but not limited to—your sweet outerwear collection. Here are five tips to help you do so.

declutter your winter wardrobe

I wrote a little bit about this in one of my previous article. The gist is to have a system for your clothes—whether it’s shirts, trousers, jackets, coats—where it’s obvious what you have worn recently and what you have not. Doing so allows you to identify what winter wardrobe items you just don’t wear.

I don’t recommend going full Marie Kondo, assessing the specific level of joy each thing brings, then donating the rest of it—but, if there are jackets, sweaters, flannel shirts, or anything else that you haven’t worn all winter because there’s other stuff you enjoy wearing more, it’s probably safe to get rid of those things.

declutter your winter wardrobe

Allow me to state that besides the “joy” factor, there is a time that you have to acknowledge that your style has changed and maybe it’s time to get rid of old things you never wear for that reason. There was a good season or two I was still gaming the J.Crew sales to try to score good deals on V-neck merino sweaters before realizing, “wait a minute, I don’t actually wear these things.”

There’s also a time to acknowledge your #dadbod, to put it charitably. Looking at my own dad, I can see that at my age, he had roughly the same body shape as I do. But something clearly happened in the ensuing 10-15 years (at 62, he’s back to my size again, and I have a mind to kop an Eidos jacket or two for him at some point). I fully intend to maintain my current fitness level forever, but we all know best intentions don’t always go fulfilled. If you find yourself in a position of unfulfilled intent, consider it an opportunity to sell off old clothes that don’t fit and upgrade with something that does.

Besides, those old 32 waist APCs have too low a rise for your more sophisticated appreciation of higher rise denim.

declutter your winter wardrobe menswear

There’s a point where you can declutter too much. I know because I’ve been there. My friend Jonathan had gotten engaged, and for his bachelor party, we went paintballing—in March (in Ohio). Sounds like a great (if freezing) time, except I had purged my closet of nearly everything I might’ve been okay getting covered in paint. I wore pebble-grain chukka boots from Banana Republic that up until then were still in somewhat regular rotation (this was early in my menswear transformation, cut me some slack). So while I enjoyed the final gauntlet we put Jonathan through (he had welts all over his body for his honeymoon), I was definitely not appropriately dressed for that day.

These days, I make sure to have stuff in my closet or in storage bins downstairs so that I’m not caught without the right gear. Like a few weeks ago when I dug a trench outside my house for drainage in 30° weather after a week of heavy rain. I was glad to have a fleece, old jeans and some old boots to work in the mud in.

declutter your winter wardrobe men

Back in my merino V-neck wearing days, I recall having a perfect navy sweater. It was from Banana Republic and I wore it to great effect all the time (in particular over a blue gingham button-up shirt—you know the one). But even then I recognized that Banana quality left something to be desired, and there came a point within 2-3 years that it was clearly showing its age. I knew I needed to replace it and reduce how often I wore it.

I’m not the kind of guy to, say, buy seven identical pairs of shoes so as to spread out the wear and tear amongst them and prolong their natural life. But I do think it’s good to recognize those things you’ve identified as your best-of, favorite items (see point 1), and when there’s an awesome deal on the same or very similar thing, you can buy it to keep the magic alive. Depending on what it is, you can take advantage of seasonal sales, especially if you’re under no time pressure to immediately replace it.

declutter your winter wardrobe outerwear

The coat matrix skews admittedly toward a tailored-favoring audience, so I apologize to the streetwear guys. But it can be useful for classifying the coats in your wardrobe, which will, in turn, help you spot gaps (or surpluses in certain categories). The gist is to break your outerwear into categories based on the level of formality level, and how warm they are.

It’s fair to say that the colder months are more ripe for dressing well because of all the layering opportunities and wealth of great clothing categories (sweaters, outerwear, scarves, etc.). The flip side of that is that the risk of over-stocking your closet to the detriment of warm-weather attire. You need to save some room in your wardrobe so you can look great all year round—not just when it’s freezing outside.

Use these five tips to help free up some space and clear out the cruft of your wardrobe. Of course what you do with that newly vacant space is up to you. Something tells me it’ll quickly be filled again.

Presidential Style: The Best Dressed Presidents In History

For the last few administrations, presidential style has been incredibly boring. The uniform of navy/charcoal suit, white shirt, and solid red/blue tie is strictly adhered to, and those who break the mold are met with harsh criticism (remember Obama’s tan suit?). If we look to the past, we can see that a few of the presidents were actually quite stylish. It might be a case of writer’s bias, but it’s no surprise that these presidents served during the first half of the 20th century. Here’s an overview of the style of three of the most jaunty presidents in US history.

Coolidge

Calvin Coolidge is not a president remembered for action. According to journalist Walter Lippmann, Coolidge was occupied constantly with “grim, determined, alert inactivity.” He earned the nickname “Silent Cal” during his tenure as Vice President and continued to live up to it when he ascended to the presidency in 1924. Amusingly, in 1927, Coolidge’s terse demeanor caused considerable political confusion when he announced his intention not to seek re-election.

Coolidge goes fishing presidential style

Coolidge goes fishing.

He called a press conference, and handed each reporter in attendance a card that simply read, “I do not choose to run for President in 1928”. The reporters struggled to determine the exact meaning of the words, and he refused any further explanation and left.

While his presidency is often overlooked, there is no denying that Coolidge had great style. Serving for most of the 1920s, President Coolidge exemplified the best of that era’s tailoring. In almost all of his photographs, he can be seen wearing the typical slim, high button suit, complete with narrow cuffed trousers. With a background as a New England lawyer, it makes sense for him to be impeccably dressed.

Although most official portraits and photos show him in formal morning dress, he still knew how to make the business suit look good. He was most often seen in plain worsted suits or business stripes, but was spotted wearing interesting summer outfits as well. As a true 1920s gent, he’s mainly seen in what are presumably starched, detachable collar shirts, and brocade ties. While this could seem a dandyish uniform to us, this was the norm back in the 1920s. He had a formal demeanor, both in an out of office, going as far as wearing a hat while shaving. The man even wore a fedora and a three-piece suit while fishing on vacation!

Honestly, Coolidge made this on this list for one specific outfit. In 1927, while vacationing in the Black Hills of South Dakota, he was given an outrageous cowboy outfit- a huge ten-gallon hat, red western shirt, and wide-legged chaps embroidered with “CAL”. Despite the laughter he received from reporters, he loved it and wore it proudly all summer.

The infamous cowboy outfit presidential style

Coolidge’s infamous cowboy outfit.

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FDR

Not only does Franklin Delano Roosevelt hold the distinction of being the only president to serve more than two terms, but he served during one of the most turbulent times in world history. He took office during the height of the Great Depression and passed away just before the end of World War II. The New Deal helped bring relief to millions of Americans and influenced American politics for decades. Fireside Chats helped keep morale and optimism up through economic hardship and war. He consistently ranks among the best presidents and was revered for years after his death.

FDR in a patch pocket stripe suit presidential style

FDR in a patch pocket stripe suit.

FDR might take the cake for me as the president with the best style. Unsurprisingly, he was born in the same East Coast upper-crust that graced the pages of Esquire in the 1930s.  Like Coolidge, he could be seen wearing the iconic slim, long silhouette of 1920s suits early in his career.  He apparently kept interest in fashion, as his suits evolved with the times.

Apart from some great suit combinations (which grew to be a bit more conservative during his tenure as president), one of my favorite images is of him in 1933, shaking hands with Vincent Astor.  He’s seen wearing what I believe is a play on the stroller suit: a patch pocket jacket with cream striped trousers; it’s even complete with a light-colored fedora and a pinned spearpoint.  In the 1930s, he sometimes wore unstructured suits with little shoulder padding. He wore one in 1935 during the signing of the Social Security Act. In contrast to the business suits around him, FDR made the bold decision to wear an unstructured light-colored summer suit.

Another great piece of his wardrobe is a wool cape, which he wore during the Yalta Conference.  It’s a quite ornate garment, complete with a velvet collar, satin lining, and a braided silk fastener. Apparently, the President preferred it over an overcoat, due to the greater freedom of movement it allowed. You can’t deny that he looked pretty regal wearing it over his suit. Maybe those Pitti guys were onto something!

FDR's famous cape and top hat presidential style

FDR’s famous cape and top hat.

I would be remiss if we didn’t mention Franklin Delano Roosevelt Jr., who seemed to pick up a few style cues from his father. He was a Harvard student throughout the 1930s, and was the epitome of early ivy style, with one famous picture showing him in a shearling collar overcoat, herringbone tweed jacket, and a pinned collar with a foulard tie. It’s practically something I would wear!

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JFK

On September 26, 1960, millions of Americans tuned in to the first-ever televised presidential debate. Richard Nixon was sick, tired, and thanks to his light-colored suit, blended in with the studio backdrop. John Kennedy, on the other hand, knew the power of appearances and came well-rested and well-prepared. As the famed (but slightly misleading) anecdote goes, those that saw the broadcast on television said that Kennedy easily won, while those that only heard it on the radio declared Nixon the winner of the debate. During the height of the Cold War, Kennedy successfully avoided nuclear exchange during the Cuban Missile Crisis and directed NASA to begin research that led to the Apollo 11 mission. Kennedy remains the youngest man to be elected president, and he and his wife became fashion and pop-culture icons.

JFK is often considered the most fashionable president, no doubt due to the love that 1960s fashion enjoys today.  It’s important to remember that he grew up during the late 1910s and he was fond of what I like to call “Golden Era” style.  There are pictures from his youth wearing traditional 1930’s attire, wearing cream flannels, navy jackets, and a pinned collar. One of my favorite images is him in a pleated patch pocket jacket, which is one of my personal grails.

JFK in the early 1930's presidential style

JFK in the early 1930’s.

Like the others on the list, his approach to style is influenced by his upbringing, again hailing from a wealthy east coast family.

JFK loved fastening all the buttons on his suit jackets presidential style

JFK liked fastening all the buttons on his suit jackets.

As university students became the arbiters of fashion, it makes sense that he developed a keen sense of style.

There’s even a great picture of him and FDR Jr. in the 1940s, where Kennedy is pattern matching with a pinstripe suit and a striped shirt. It’s quite fascinating to see how much fashion influenced him, as he truly kept up with what was in style. In the 1950’s, even Kennedy wasn’t immune to the bold look; one of his look at the time consisted of a heavily padded jacket with a swing tie.

The JFK we all know is the poster boy for 1960’s style.  His suits are generally very conservative two-button jackets with slim lapels and an equally slim tie. Some say that he wore paddock suits (since he fastened both buttons), but in my opinion, that’s false; paddock suits have a high button stance and if you compare his suits to others (sometimes in the same picture), his had a normal button stance. He probably just liked to fasten both buttons.

Casual style flourished in the 1960’s and was something largely absent from the wardrobe of previous presidents. Kennedy was spotted relaxing in sweaters, chinos, and loafers – a big change from the linen and tweed sport suits worn by his predecessors when OOO.  Additionally, we can all agree that his shades looked cool as hell. It’s no wonder why he is revered among the proponents of ivy style.

 

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Today, it seems that most male politicians opt for the same uniform – and nobody says they shouldn’t, considering their focus should be on more important things than style.

However, that’s exactly the appeal that the men on this list have for me; their attire did not only look effortless, but it spoke for them.  Looking at Coolidge’s starched collars, FDR’s cape, or JFK’s odd separates, we can catch a glimpse of their personalities. If clothes played a huge part in presenting oneself to the world in the past decades, today, in the Internet era, there are other ways for people in the public eye to express their personas.

Did social media kill our politicians’ style?


You can keep up with Ethan’s thrifting and vintage adventures on his Instagram (@ethanmwong) or on his blog Street x Sprezza.

Peter’s Guide to Dressing for a Date

Ah, Valentine’s Day. I remember our 2nd Grade class getting loads of pink cardboard paper and glitter to create cards for “our valentine,” not knowing what that was. Then I found out. A good way to jump-start anxiety at an early age. Fortunately, I was exempt, because if you’re like me (you know who you are), every day is Valentine’s Day!

But let’s say you want to take your SO on a special date. What do you wear? The answer to that depends on the situation. Dinner and a movie? Opera and cocktails? A walk on a moonlit beach? Decisions, decisions.

The quick answer is: be you, but a bit nicer looking. You could show up in your pajamas, but dressing up demonstrates respect for your date and the occasion, because both are special, right? Right. Unless the date is a pajama party. In which case, wash your pj’s first.

 

VALENTINE’S DAY DATE FOR NEW COUPLES

For new couples, keep it casual. If you’re meeting at a coffee shop, wear a nice pair of jeans or khakis, a button up oxford, and clean sneakers or oxfords. After coffee, why not take a walk at a nearby park? Or better yet, find out what activities she likes – hiking, bicycling, karaoke – and plan around that.

valentine's day outfit menswear

Shawl collar jacket: Eidos | Long-sleeved t-shirt: Orcival

Of course, just because you’re a new couple doesn’t mean you can’t get all fancy. If you’re date’s down for a night on the town, go for it – and dress accordingly. If you start with dinner at a nice restaurant, go for a dark outfit. It’s safe, unfussy, and easy to dress up or down, depending on where you go. A fail-safe option is a navy suit. Pair it with a crisp white button up shirt, or swap the shirt for a thin charcoal or black merino turtleneck. If dark jeans are your thing, reach for black Chelseas or zip boots, a blue oxford button down, and a grey tweed sport coat or field jacket.

Daytime date from Beige Habileur. Everything about this is awesome and chill, but refined.

Shirt: G. Inglese x Beige | Pants: Husbands

 

A SPECIAL VALENTINE’S DAY DATE

Perhaps you’ve been together for a while now, and are looking for something special to do. Show that you were paying attention – you were, weren’t you? – by choosing something she said she liked to do. It could be a picnic, wine tasting, or a leisurely walk to a park, downtown, or movie theater. If you have access to a beach, lake, or river, walk there, and bring a frisbee with you to enjoy the sun – everybody can play frisbee. All you need are a nice pair of jeans, boots, and a nice button-up shirt.

However, when it’s a special occasion that calls for something a bit more formal, consider what she’ll be wearing. Being over- or underdressed can be a bit embarrassing, so set the tone by saying “Let’s dress up,” and be sure to follow by saying what you’re wearing so that she can have something on which to base her decision. On the other hand, she could have that one outfit that she’s been dying to wear, so let her choose and follow suit. What if she says she has nothing to wear? Besides starting an argument (don’t do it), you have two options: go shopping with her (that’ll score you major points) or tell her far enough in advance so she can plan to go shopping with friends. Whatever she chooses, be a gentleman and let her take center stage. You may have the perfect red velvet cocktail jacket, but be careful not to outshine your date; remember that this is her night. Show that she’s important by taking her into consideration. For example, ask her what her favorite outfit of yours is and wear it. Or find out what her favorite color is, or which one she’ll be wearing, and chose a flower or pocket square that complements it.

the armoury menswear outfit date night valentine's day

Shirt: The Armoury | Pocket Square: Drake’s

SOMETHING DIFFERENT THAN A DINNER…

Dinner and a show is always a safe bet, but why not try something different? Go to that one restaurant she’s been dying to try, and then follow up with a dancing class. Or you could go to a club that plays her favorite music. Many museums have evening hours, perfect for an after-dinner stroll and providing easy topics for conversation. If black tie is too formal, a nice suit, comfortable shoes, and a listening ear are all you need to enjoy your time together.

Pro tip: if she likes perfumes, start the evening out by going to a department store and trying scents. Let her pick one for herself, ask her to pick one for you, drop your bank card, and the rest of the evening is set. You’re welcome.

Evening date - houndstooth flannel suit and rollneck

Evening date – houndstooth flannel suit and rollneck.

 

 

Grey flannel suit: Eidos
Navy turtleneck sweater: Stephen Schneider

 


Any date, no matter the day, is an opportunity to show your partner that you care about your relationship. Let your dress reflect that by notching it up a bit. These are occasions to engage in relaxed conversation, have fun, and cement your relationship. The special dates are your chances to create long-lasting memories. Don’t let your dirty sneakers ruin it.

An Overview of Ties by Decade

We’ve already talked about how suits and sportcoats can be differentiated by era and how you can pull them off.  Ties can also be categorized similarly, as I believe that vintage ties are a great source of quality pieces which still have a place today. In general, most ties pre-1960 had thin interlining, forming a great four-in-hand knot, and untipped edges that will not look out of place even in modern outfits. But if you pay close attention to their shape and designs, you’ll also be able to recreate a vintage look, if that suits your fancy.

This is an overview of ties by decade, considering the patterns, shapes, and constructions that were peculiar of each generation. Keep in mind, however, that the same patterns and designs were sometimes sold for lengths of time, overlapping each other, so by no means is this guide definitive.

1910s

While the modern tie as we know it has been around since the 1860s or so, ties at the turn of the century through the 1910s were different than those you see today today. Like the oddly shaped suits of the era, there really wasn’t any “standardized” shape or length. Some models were short and exceptionally wide while others were slim and angular; in general, there were a lot of variations similar to the the different suit cuts and designs popular during this era. Woven brocade silk was the name of the game, but prints were still widely available, with florals and stripes being the most popular. I don’t own many myself, but I find that these designs are sometimes a little too dandy to be worn with contemporary tailoring.

1920s

Ties of the 1920s got closer to the shape we know today, thanks to the growing popularity of turndown collars, which allowed for the four-in-hand cravats and bowties to be worn. The novelty shapes seen in previous decades continued to be worn, but went out of style in favor of more standard styles by the mid-late ’20s. Woven silks and shiny brocade/jacquards dominated this era, with many designs directly influenced by the art deco movement. Style as a passion for collegiate youth began to take off in the late 1920s, and more men began buying neckties to show off their style. Some of the most beautiful ties I’ve ever seen come from this era, with some being wonderful interpretations of the classic patterns and prints we see today, just with a little bit more creative freedom.

1930s and 1940s

Of all the eras, my favorite ties come from the ’30s and ’40s, although they were definitely less “artsy” than the decade that preceded it. Most young men preferred simple stripes and foulards.  Geometric prints, two-tone plaids, and university stripe reps dominated the fashion illustrations of Laurence Fellows, who was one of the most prolific menswear artists of the time. Ties of this era were characterized by being 3-4” wide, but tapered through the body, widening out again to the back blade. The length was short, but perfect for high rise trousers. While silk was the mainstay of tie fabrics at this time, wool and rayon began to be popular choices as brands tried to one-up each other for the market. One fabric that is popular among collectors today is Palm Beach, made by the suit company that patented its own unique blend of wool and mohair (later cotton too); these ties are hard to find and often fetch a lot of money on eBay.

1950s

The bold look of the late 1940s to mid 1950s had a big effect on ties.  The four-in-hand was cast out in favor of the wider Windsor knot. Tie patterns also got crazier, with large scale abstract designs being favored in place of the classic patterns. Novelty prints came in full force, with some ties featuring pin-up models, animals, and scenery. These ties were often painted by hand.

As tailoring began to become wider and elongated, ties designs also followed suit (pun intended), with ties from the early 1950s featuring long, vertical patterns.  However, this fad was soon cast out during the ultra-conservatism of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Thanks to Mad Men, the ties of this next era will be familiar to most. As men began to wear their trousers lower, the ties became longer, as well as slimmer-seldom going beyond 2.75” in width.  Foulards and vertical designs were still made, but most men preferred stripes and solids to go with their sack cut business suits. This conformity was in reaction to the bold era that preceded it.

1960s – 1970s

This theme of rebellion continued in the late 60s and early 1970s, as crazy designs soon took hold.  A return to fashion in the minds of consumers helped bring back abstract designs, featuring crazy paisley prints, wide stripes, and a multitude of colors.  In general, it looked almost like the 1930s-40s with one main exception: polyester was the new fabric.  These synthetic ties were wide and thick, creating huge knots that went perfectly with wide disco collars. Ties like these can often found in thrift stores.


Just like tailoring, ties have changed quite a bit over the years. Like most of menswear, the manufacturing quality of ties decline after the 1960s as the best ties today are found by more artisanal makers like Kenji Kaga and Drake’s, who have not only preserved the untipped folded methods but have even brought back the vintage-inspired prints and patterns.

Personally, I’ll always prefer foulards and stripes from the 1960s and earlier, as they provide a vintage avenue for classic menswear that is often more affordable for younger guys like me. These vintage ties can be quite similar to high end ties today, making them easy to wear as well as making for an interesting conversation piece to those who notice it!


Post the pictures of your ties on the Neckties Thread on Styleforum.

You can read more about why I prefer vintage ties on my blog Street x Sprezza.

Pitti Uomo 93 – Day 3 & 4

It seemed like Peter Zottolo (@urbancomposition) would have never reached Mediterranean soil, after being stuck in America (first) and the Old Blighty (then) due to inclement weather and air traffic conditions; however, in the end, our hero did arrive in the Promised Land aka the Fortezza da Basso, and these are his first shots from the opulent carnival known as Pitti Uomo.

Enjoy!

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Pitti Uomo 93 Streetstyle

I appears like more people are taking menswear more seriously this year at Pitti Uomo 93. And by “more seriously”, we obviously mean that we’ve been seeing many more “Styleforum Approved” outfits than usual.

If you’re in Florence, don’t forget to stop by the Styleforum Maker Space – we are showcasing great artisans and having lots of fun eating mozzarella di bufala and Tuscan salumi!

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Styleforum Maker Space – I Sarti Italiani

i sarti italiani bespoke suits abiti su misura sicilia sicily

While Neapolitan, Milanese, and even Roman tailors are world-famous and respected, we can’t possibly ignore the fact that tailoring schools flourish all over Italy – even on the southern island of Sicily.

I Sarti Italiani has been making bespoke suits, trousers, and shirts since 1986; they focus on precise, careful stitching, and they only use the best quality materials for their suits. The lining is always cupro bemberg, the buttons are either corozo, horn or mother of pearl, and the canvas is in camel hair or horse hair.

The selection of fabrics is on point: Ermenegildo Zegna, Loro Piana, Cerruti 1881, Draper’s, Vitale Barberis Canonico, Bottoli, Larusmiani, and Scabal are only few of the names you’ll find in I Sarti Italiani’s fabric book.

i sarti italiani palermo styleforum maker space quality

Sicilian tailoring features the same, relaxed characteristic of Neapolitan tailoring, without the flairs typical of the Partenopean tradition. I Sarti Italiani offers bespoke solutions and blends Italian craftsmanship with unique Southern taste. Our very own Peter Zottolo has recently written an article about his recent experience with I Sarti Italiani in occasion of a recent trip to Italy.

You can find I Sarti Italiani in Sicily at these locations – but they also do a home or office bespoke service for those who are too busy to stop by the showroom:

Sartoria Montelepre (PA) C/da Vallotta s/nc 

Show-room Marsala (TP) Via Mario Nuccio n°10-12 

Show-room Palermo Via Isidoro la Lumia 27/A 

Official Website


At The Maker Space, you’ll be able to chat with the tailors and get measured for your Sicilian bespoke suit. Click here to read more about the event and RSVP.

Why Black Tie Matters

“What are you wearing tonight?” My wife and I have this conversation, more or less, every year, about this time. She calls out to me from her closet. We’re off to see The Nutcracker, which starts in less than two hours.
“Black tie.” 
Again?
There’s more than a slight tone of incredulity, but then, I can’t blame her. The egalitarian tuxedo (or dinner suit) has remained, in principle, unchanged for over a century, and although every sort of fashion has been tried on the red carpet, most likely it appeared ridiculous.  Classic black tie, however, looks good on everyone, not because it defies the folly and fickleness of fashion, but rather transcends it.  Which is fortunate, I think as I reach for the hanger, as it makes getting dressed for black tie events easy.

tuxedo black tie styleforum menswear guideWhite tie may be the reigning champ of event dress, and when done correctly it is indeed a sight to behold, but I’m glad black tie casualized things somewhat.  The jacket shed its tails, and the wing collar on the shirt softened into the turndown collar, except on single breasted dinner jackets with peaked lapels, where wing collars are still OK. 
Vests became an option alongside cummerbunds, or both embellishments can be ditched altogether, if your waist is covered by a double breasted jacket, as mine is. It’s a bit more sporty since single breasted one-button jackets increase the elegance of an outfit, but both should have peaked lapels; notch lapels make an outfit look like a regular old suit, and what’s special about that? Peaked lapels, or swankier yet, a shawl lapel, with silk satin or grosgrain facing is appropriate for your black tie event. My outfit for the evening has the latter, which I prefer; the sheen from grosgrain is more subtle and has a bit of texture. 
Trousers, of course, match the facing down the outside of the leg, making the top and bottom a complete outfit.
As I take out a pleated white shirt with covered placket, I wonder if I should get another shirt in piqué and some nice onyx studs.  I prefer the sleek appearance of a “fly front” placket, and owning studs is just another thing to lose.  Still, it adds a small bit of decoration suitable for special outings, and some might argue that it’s historically proper.  Maybe I’ll start shopping for them.

tuxedo black tie velvet

I’ve always felt self-conscious about pumps.  Having large bows on my feet not only seems a touch precious, but slip-ons seem casual to me. Fortunately, a pair of well-shined calfskin wholecuts are just fine. Perhaps later my wallet might surrender to the luster of patent leather oxfords. I like how they echo the gleam of silk from the jacket, down the trousers, and continue unto one’s feet – which are covered in fine black hosiery, of course.
The beauty of black tie is simplicity.  Everything except the cotton shirt and optional silk or linen handkerchief is black.  Equally acceptable is midnight blue, which caught on fervently in the 30’s, fell out of style, and presently is returning with a vengeance (although too blue is too blue, GQ).  
Limiting your options is incredibly liberating and makes dressing for formal engagements a breeze – I’m fully dressed in ten minutes, and there’s not many other outfits that flatter the physique as well.  The only way you’ll look like a penguin is if you’re The Penguin.
“You’re done already?” 
Congratulations, you won the race.  Now help your partner get ready, or you’ll miss the curtain rising and you’ll both lose.


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PETER’S SHOPPING LIST FOR BLACK TIE 2017

 


Still have questions? Ask the Styleforum community! Join the conversation on The State of Black Tie thread, and post your black tie outfit on the What Are You Wearing Today thread.