Most people who aren't into men's clothing of a particular type would walk past this lovely fellow Anthony on the street without regarding him as being super-stylish or really notice what he was wearing. His was a connoisseur's style perfectly executed, an ensemble whose elements had been stripped back to the barest of essentials. I can't really think of anyone I have seen look so stylish for a long time. These sorts of beautifully dressed older fellows aren't uncommon in Italy, but they really are in Australia.
When I peruse the photos on this website, I often feel that the style is a bit forced and overdone. An outfit will involve monk-straps, plus a pocket square, plus a scarf, a dozen different contrasting textures/layers/clothes...........plus a monocle.........It's not that it doesn't look good, frequently it looks really fantastic, but it seems more fashion than style. It advertises that the person who wears it has put their outfit together with a tremendous amount of care and premeditation, redolet lucernum, so to speak.
My insight for 2011 is that provided the cut and quality of what remains is impeccable and of the highest order, then style is much more a matter of stripping away than adding. An outfit should not look stylish, simply plain, to the uninitiated. Once that has been achieved, then a single perfectly chosen accessory can simply add a master-stroke that elevates a structurely sound outfit to a nirvana-like quality. However, to achieve this requires a level of care and, unfortuantely, expense, in selecting the constituent parts that is hard to master. In particular, I think it involves actually handling clothes and materials before you buy them.
My aim for the following year is to tackle clothing as a series of zen koans in which I try and achieve a perfectly balanced combination whose watch-word is absolute restraint and simplicity. This is actually my coming aim for the year more generally - to strip back and simplify my life as a precondition for greater elegance - what I eat, how I exercise, how I spend my time, who I spend it with.
My conundrum is that many of the styles I favour are incompatible with this stripped-back style. I really love three piece suits with a lapelled waistcoat. Equally, I love double breasted suits and enjoy a MTM relationship with Polo Ralph Lauren 40 L - I think my doppleganer is their house model. I love tweed. I hope to spend the rest of year working out how to resolve this tension. I'm not sure that its possible and this may be the beginning of a gradual revolution across my entire wardrobe.
My other resolution for 2012 is more a product of circumstance. My girl-friend and I are about to go to Paris for three months to study French, with a month or two tacked on either end in Japan/Spain and afterwards driving around Fnrace for a month then Corsica/Sardinia/Sicily/Rome/Croatia/Portugal. My resolution is to travel like it was 1954 - a suit, a tie, proper shoes when it is cold - a pair of tailored shorts, a shirt and loafers when it is hot - not in affected way, but simply to raise a huge middle-finger to the t-shirt and tracksuit crowd who make up 95% of people you see in airports. This is something I have been moving towards for a few years now.
More general insights/resolutions/hopes are:
Beautiful cashmere sweaters can look much better and less contrived than a blazer/sportscoat.
The contemporary obsession with short-jackets is well overdue for extirpation - a bonfire of the vanities should be held when sanity returns and the classic curl-the-fingers length make a bloody, vengeful return. As do slim ties/lapels.
Wearing proper Derek Rose slippers, dressing gown, pyjama bottoms around the house (especially when no-one else is around) is a grander statement of aesthetic commitment than anything worn in public.
White and light blue are the only permissible shirt colours.
Jeans need to return to a marginal form of workwear.
2500 years later the Riace bronezs are still the ideal to which all male exercise should aim. More boxing, running and good eating. The foundation for any good outfit is the physique. MTM and bespoke are less important than actually looking good when those clothes come off.