SprezzaTrash is a relatively recent newcomer to Styleforum. Even so, he’s proven to have a style and sensibility that fits right in with Styleforum’s emphasis on (or obsessiveness with) details. In his particular case, inspiration comes from a wide variety of sources – here, he talks about what drew him to vintage clothing, and the enduring charm of styles long-past .
I didn’t get into “fashion” until about 5 years ago. Even then, I dressed as the poster child for #menswear, wearing floral shirts and skinny suits and ties. However, whether it was from reading Tintin as a child, or from watching the inaccurately-costumed Great Gatsby movie of 2013, I felt as though vintage style was my true calling – and, through a chance Facebook meeting, I began to make contacts and friends in the vintage community.
Eventually, I began actually purchasing garments that looked like what I had only seen in images and illustrations. It was so different than what I saw on Tumblr or Instagram. The basic details of my new purchases were all there: the wide lapels, the high rise, the “correct” double breasted configuration.
I was only a student (still am), so I purchased as many full suits and tie lots from all eras as I possibly could. I still have a modest true vintage (my term for 1920-1940s) collection, but I made do with what I had to create as many outfits as possible. As I went to more vintage events and talked with more people, I learned a lot about what made true, Golden Era style. None of it involced the clip-on suspenders, wacky bowties, or tweed jackets that everyone touted as “vintage” (or dapper) style. I began to see the real, specific details: the drape cut, the horizontal peaks, spearpoint collars and collar bars, the wide lapels with blunted edges and low notch, “exploding pocket squares;” I saw that tie prints differed from each era, and that many men used advanced pattern mixing within one outfit. Eventually I decided that I didn’t want to buy vintage for the sake of buying vintage. This meant no more low buttoning 1950’s suits and no crazy swing ties from the late 1940’s. No, I wanted to dress in the 30’s.
By the time I started posting regularly on social media, I was torn between my two sides: my desire to remain modern and my love of vintage clothing. The main thing holding me back was how rare and pricey vintage clothing was. Even though I obtained most pieces “on the cheap”, I couldn’t bring myself to wear these nearly-100 year old garments everyday. It also didn’t look right; I liked the aesthetic but I was still conscious of wearing an “old” look in the modern day. It wasn’t until I discovered the guys from The Armoury, Drake’s, and Bryceland’s that I learned that it was definitely possible to dress with 1930’s vibes while wearing modern clothing! They had the wide lapels, the foulards and print ties that I loved, and the striped shirts.
Obviously, I don’t have enough money to go with bespoke or high end RTW, so I made some concessions. I started to thrift and find 60s-90s clothing that still had the wide lapels, half-lined jackets, and high rise that I was looking for. Soon, I began to retire my super slim, low rise fast fashion pieces, and started to thrift exclusively; my keen eye for detail has helped me come across some great pieces at extremely low prices. Thanks to developing a close relationship with two different tailors, I was able make my finds wearable and similar to modern tailors’ work. I mix eras all the time, but I think my style still comes across as “old school” due to simple styling; particularly in the ties I choose to wear, as certain tie prints and designs are incredibly specific to various eras.
I’ve now become comfortable and confident in my style. Even if I’m not always wearing true vintage, I’m able to have the vibes and aesthetic that I like. If you compare me to my two original sources of inspiration, I’m much too modern (in terms of fit) to be vintage and too vintage to be modern (in terms of style). As a friend has told me, I dress “like a man from 1938 came to the modern day and spent his life thrifting.” That said, sometimes I do a modern interpretation of a 30’s outfit or I do a vintage version of what I see on the Armoury. It really proves that nothing is new under the sun. I’ve even recently “discovered” ivy style, and it’s dominated my non-suited looks for the past 6 months.
Many people have misconceptions of what vintage style is and often get it wrong; no one back then dressed in zoot suits or like what you see in Goodfellas. I think that’s what drove me to start a blog – I definitely want to prove that people can dress with vintage vibes in the modern era – you just have to study carefully and have a good eye for detail. There are plenty of nuances that come from each distinct decade, and pulling what you like from each one with careful accuracy is important if you want to develop a vintage style and pull it off well.
You can follow Ethan’s vintage adventures both on his blog, and on Instagram at @ethanmwong.