The wider applicability is that, leaving SF aside, the greatest impact our outfits have is a holistic one. The average stranger you meet will process an outfit instantly and stereotype it into various pigeon-holes. Acquaintances will do the same, but modify those stereotypes slightly by in light of their existing impression of you. All this will happen instantly, and unconsciously. Point being, as long as you get the broad brushstrokes of an outfit right (by "right", I mean "in sync with whatever specific image you want to project to others"), the details really don't matter.
I appreciate that this runs contrary to how SF likes to view clothes, but that's because SF scrutinises clothes. Most people you meet will just mentally snapshot & pigeon-hole them. Now, if the details conflict wildly, the gestalt is equally confused. But as long as they're vaguely in sync with each other, the exact details really don't matter. People will see "slim suit", or "70s suit", or "cool kid", or "typical professional", etc, etc.
I think this is important, and very well said. In the context of this thread and its history, sometimes one concentrates on the parts, sometimes on the ensemble. Room for both, I think.
In real life, sometimes one just dresses. And sometimes one dresses *for* something: a profession, an occasion, or whatever. I’m inclined, therefore, to think of the principles of classical styles as means, rather than ends—as tools to use to achieve a particular goal.
The particular fit in question was intended for a senior academic in a university environment. That’s an environment that’s conservative to a degree, but equally relevantly is an environment which is, in virtue of its mission, inherently multigenerational (ranging from 18-year-old freshmen through faculty in their 90s); it’s thus complexly hierarchical both by age and rank.
In such a context one dresses not just with the goal of looking like “X.” One also dresses in order to *avoid* looking like “Y.”
That’s just how I think of it. I’m not saying anyone else needs to think of it that way, and I’m certainly not saying that there might not be equally fruitful or even more fruitful ways of understanding things.
Best to all, and thanks,