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Brummell Vs. Classical Style - Page 2

post #16 of 120
As I recall it, Brummel actually said that if one turns heads one is not well dressed. The inmplication being that some degree of attention is inevitable but it shouldn't get out of hand.
post #17 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Cogburn View Post
If Will is widely recognized as being well dressed, then he by definition draws attention to his dress, does he not?

Brummell said if the clothes are noticed, then a man is poorly dressed. Now, as I said above, Brummell's standard is problematic because, strictly applied, it means that Brummell himself was poorly dressed.

Again, I don't believe that Beau - or Will - were/are poorly dressed. I think the admonition at issue is poorly thought out.



Bingo JC! I suppose you've established your point in one (or two) succinct sentence. May I add that this presuposses "The Beau's" statement to be literal. I do not believe it was meant as such.

With most who embark on the sartorial self-search, so much is absorbed (thanks to StyleForum and the Internet) and our primitive instinct is to try every idea all at once. Excessive use of color and accesories, say. As such, in all innocence, one ends up looking like a clown.

As one takes on satorial maturity (as I hope we all eventually do), the ancient maxim of "simplicity never being far from elegance" begins to take form in our minds. I suspect this is what the Beau meant to underline in his now ubiquitous quote.

For my part, there are days when on dressing up, I shake my head and mutter to myself, "I look so simple, even severe, that I could have arrived at my present station shortly after I embarked on my sartorial journey". But the truth remains, we all have to endure the entire spectrum. In other words, waste a lot of money (and time) to achieve the look like a court jester, then revert to simplicty - after much expense.

The moral of the tale (to my simple mind's eye), is that the sartorial adventure can be a powerful metaphor for life itself. We often expend a great deal of energy (in innocence and with the best of intentions) trying to get noticed i.e. the great job/career, the house, the cars etc., only to realize much later in life that it is in the simple things that we discover, and reveal our intrinsic worth. Most which we can find right under our noses - such as genuine love, family, good health, scholarship, wisdom etc.

Thanks for starting a great thread JC - Happy New Year!

Alan Bee
post #18 of 120
Thread Starter 
Point taken Will. But when might we say that attention has gotten out of hand? Obviously, this will depend upon the crowd, but my experience in even very professional, comparatively well dressed settings is that a bow tie will cross that line in a hurry. As will suspenders. And fedoras. Double-breasted suits and pocket squares are about as far as one can go ... and even that is pushing it (the square will always draw Brummell's feared double-take and a double-breasted suit will likewise more often than not).

Leave the white collar work place and it gets worse. Put on a sports coat and tie and go to a party and, well, incur the wrath of the hoi polloi. Even one of those two products is usually sufficient to turn the heads that Brummell worried about. Don an ascot or other exotic neck wear and pitchforks are lit.

Maybe I don't travel in the right circles. But I'm in the top 5% of wage earners as are most of my friends, so I doubt that's it.
post #19 of 120
Thread Starter 
Thanks Alan. I agree with you completely. And since I've been speaking (kindly) of the sartorial devil, I should further note that Will has very forcefully made your very point not a couple of days ago.

Similarly, a few weeks ago, I was in New York and stopped by Alan Flusser's shop for a chat. I was fretting about whether a suit that I had in mind was interesting enough to justify the time and energy to produce and Alan replied that simply by getting the fit and cut correct I will be clearly and noticeably better dressed than 99% of the men you will see on the sidewalks of Manhattan.

Cary Grant proved that point time and time again, did he not?
post #20 of 120
A very perspicacious analysis, Mr. Cogburn. Methinks you will be a most welcome addition to this forum.

You were spot-on--in my case, at least--when you describe dressing well as a middle finger raised in the face of the masses. My dressing well is in large measure an expression of disdain and protest agains the regnant slovenliness of contemporary America. I am as much or more a rebel than any beaded, bearded hippie back in the '60s. It gives me great pleasure to stride into the local market on a Saturday afternoon bedecked in sport coat, ascot and pocket square, striding about my business like an elegant peacock amid a flock of squalid, grubby starlings.
post #21 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLibourel View Post
... dressing well as a middle finger raised in the face of the masses.

 

Edited by voxsartoria - 3/17/12 at 4:58am
post #22 of 120
JC, thanks for a thoughtful post

Suspect that no matter one's tastes in clothes, most high-achieving professionals are conscious of how certain items (perhaps obviously costly or unusual) are perceived, consciously or sub-consciously, by colleagues, clients, etc....every industry, geography and socioeconomic stratum has its own culture and peer pressure (even among codgers)

I tend to think personal style is inextricably wound up in one's confidence, judgment and creativity....and view it as expressed in one's choice of career (and achievement levels); attire; choice of commuter car (one's riskiest daily activity); choice of daily grub; choice of shelter, etc etc

But it's often dangerous to generalize from a quick impression of one's clothes, car, dining habits, etc....many guys who are extraordinary in some of these allegedly style/taste-revealing categories are indifferent or downright mockable/sloppy in others....such is complexity of life
post #23 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by ZON_JR View Post

Who is this guy, and why are you spamming every post with this photo !?
post #24 of 120
I think here is where each of us has to do some soul searching, deciding what sort of image we wish to present and our motivations for doing so.

Personally, I have long since accepted that people will notice my taste for the somewhat eccentric. I'm fine with that, but I *don't* want to appear ostentatious. I also don't want to make others uncomfortable by being constantly overdressed. My interest in clothing will draw some attention, certainly, but I want it to be the right kind of attention, or at least a sort of charitable bemusement. I'm not interested peacocking for peacocking's sake, or in trying to impress others with expensive-looking clothes. People recognize that sort of thing, even today, and tend to react to it very negatively. Our motivations are often more transparent than we might think.

On the other hand, I think it's quite possible to err on the side of bland anonymity. Living in constant fear of attracting attention can be no better than seeking it out. Confidence, coupled with a bit of restraint, carries the day.

Here's a nice post by Bruce Boyer on A Suitable Wardrobe that touches on the topic.
post #25 of 120
I recall smoking a cigar on the Kowloon waterfront surrounded by literally hundreds of mainland Chinese who were asking for my autograph as they had never seen someone dressed like me in the flesh. Nonetheless, I would not have drawn a second glance at the Penn Club in Manhattan or the Wolseley in London. Was I well dressed? I believe so. One's native dress has always been correct. The rest is just a matter of self-confidence.
post #26 of 120
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alan Bee View Post
For my part, there are days when on dressing up, I shake my head and mutter to myself, "I look so simple, even severe, that I could have arrived at my present station shortly after I embarked on my sartorial journey". But the truth remains, we all have to endure the entire spectrum. In other words, waste a lot of money (and time) to achieve the look like a court jester, then revert to simplicty - after much expense.

This is very true. After a while of "dressing up" with colors and accesories becomes just to much. Same with shoes too.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday View Post
On the other hand, I think it's quite possible to err on the side of bland anonymity. Living in constant fear of attracting attention can be no better than seeking it out. Confidence, coupled with a bit of restraint, carries the day.
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This is exactly what I wanted to say - great input, doc.
post #27 of 120
Bravo Cogburn! One of the most thought provoking threads I have read here in some time. Quite an introspective and sociological conundrum. I myself face this issue on a daily basis. While I appreciate Mr. Brummel's advocation for restraint, he lived in a very different time than we live in today. I believe that if he could see how poorly the masses were dressing today, he would be more allowable to "raising the middle finger" or "turning heads" in order to get back to an appropriate standard of style.

I believe this is the first thread I have read from beginning to end and hope to continue checking back on occasion. Good job.
post #28 of 120
Excellent post, Cogburn. Brings to mind a moment early on in my in-house career, in which I paired a purple check shirt with a solid purple tie (I had not, to that point, worn a suit and tie more than twice a month). One of the company principals popped in, did a double take, and asked, "did we just hire Grape Ape?" I learned a lot from that interaction.
post #29 of 120
Quite interesting, and in and of itself it does pose a conundrum.

But let me counter with another question: In this day and age, in ones milieu do the tenents of Brummell even matter? And as a corollary, does "Classical Style"?

How many people here on Style Forum have heard of Brummell before joining?
post #30 of 120
Mr Cogburn,

What Beau Brummell actually said was:

"If John Bull turns to look after you, you are not well-dressed, but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable."

In 2010, if men who try to dress well botch it up, it's because they wear clothes that are too stiff, too tight or too fashionable. So Brummel actually had a good many things right.

Brummel, Byron and many of the elegant set of the times were hardly shrinking violets. They wanted clothes that highlighted their rather immense personalities as opposed to distracting attention from same. They absolutely wanted to be seen, remarked and even idolized for "the men they were", not for their clothes.

It's the old "the man makes the clothes" tenet that never seems to tarnish.

Cheers

Michael Alden
www.dresswithstyle.com
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