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On the Utility of Rules for Dress and Fit - Page 2

post #16 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

Ok, but these rules/principles describe, instead of establish, what we find attractive.

No. You have it backwards. Proportion, symmetry and unity are what we find appealing. This is intrinsic to human perception.
The rules provide an algorithm for achieving proportion, symmetry and unity
post #17 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coburn View Post

No. You have it backwards. Proportion, symmetry and unity are what we find appealing. This is intrinsic to human perception.
The rules provide an algorithm for achieving proportion, symmetry and unity

By your logic, if I perceive something as attractive, though it be asymmetric, I am wrong? I guess we should all switch to Windsor knots then...and put a second breast pocket with matching PS on our right side....
post #18 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

By your logic, if I perceive something as attractive, though it be asymmetric, I am wrong? I guess we should all switch to Windsor knots then...and put a second breast pocket with matching PS on our right side....

Pure symmetry is boring. Artists introduce asymmetric details into the overall general symmetry to provide surprise, generate interest and pull the eye across the canvas.
post #19 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coburn View Post

No. You have it backwards. Proportion, symmetry and unity are what we find appealing. This is intrinsic to human perception.
The rules provide an algorithm for achieving proportion, symmetry and unity

In any case, I'll allow for the possibility that, say, symmetry is always and everywhere attractive, and all attractive things are symmetric (although I think I've already given compelling counterexamples). In this case, the argument is purely semantic. There are two ways to find something attractive - 1) look for something attractive 2) look for something symmetric. Symmetric is then the definition of attractive.

But the world and our aesthetic tastes are more complicated than that, I believe. The only way to even determine what qualities determine whether something is attractive or not is by looking at things we consider attractive and determining what characteristics they share. Our perception of attraction is the primary. "Rules" or "principles" are designed to capture that perception, not the other way around.
post #20 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coburn View Post

Proportion, symmetry and unity are what we find appealing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Coburn View Post

Pure symmetry is boring.

Either boring things appeal to you or you are contradicting yourself.

Edit: that statement is too confrontational by me. What I should say is, once you're trying to make a distinction between "general symmetry" and "pure symmetry", you're relying on judgement rather than principles already.
post #21 of 43
I find it amusing that four-in-hands look better to me than other knots. I wonder if that's an exception to the symmetry rule or just something that SF has influenced me to believe.
post #22 of 43
It is CLOTHING!! HAVE FUN AND ENJOY!!

no more, no less............
post #23 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

Looks like you're on a Balzac kick recently, FC?

Good has but one style; evil a thousand.

- Honoré de Balzac
post #24 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by F. Corbera View Post

Good has but one style; evil a thousand.
- Honoré de Balzac

Reminds me of a Tolstoy quote....

Anyway, let me also differentiate between two different ideas and clarify what I'm talking about:

1) we all have different tastes which are equally valid, therefore rules about what's right can't possibly be useful, since we could disagree about what looks good and what doesn't

2) assume that we all agree on what looks good. a parsimonious set of rules still may not be sufficient to define what looks good, which still requires just looking at it and deciding whether it looks good or not. there still may be some things that look good (again, that we all agree on) that break some "rules", and some things that satisfy "rules" but do not look good (again, to any of us).

I'd like to talk about 2), not 1), although I admit at times in this thread I've been somewhat vague about the distinction.
post #25 of 43
Well, as I noted in my original response, I don't buy "rules" to be an obstruction for StyFo members attempting to look good since (a) very few seem to follow rules and (b) the few who do look better than those who don't.

Rules and habits are different things. There are a few habits that are aped to no particular distinction and with little manifest understanding.
post #26 of 43
Before we go about discarding rules in favor of pure, subjective expression, we should consider why the rules exist in the first place, and whether they offer value in the pursuit of our intended expression. Instead of thinking of rules as arbitrary standards to be disregarded, we can think of them as techniques, to be learned before being applied in one direction or another.

Note that improvisational jazz musicians are often well versed in music theory. Jackson Pollock and Pablo Picasso mastered the fundaments of classical composition before experimenting with new forms of painting. By the same token, it seems wise to have a firm grip on the basics before attempting to use them, or blend them, or even subvert them.

Sure, you might just paint a revolutionary masterpiece without any grounding in rudimentary theory and form. But aren't you much more likely to reach your desired outcome if you know how to use the brush and mix the pigments?
post #27 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jackie Treehorn View Post

Before we go about discarding rules in favor of pure, subjective expression, we should consider why the rules exist in the first place, and whether they offer value in the pursuit of our intended expression. Instead of thinking of rules as arbitrary standards to be disregarded, we can think of them as techniques, to be learned before being applied in one direction or another.
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

Again, my point is not that the rules are useless. Far from it. The number of choices you make in putting together a fit are extremely large, especially if we are considering not just the items in your wardrobe, but all the items that could be your wardrobe. Considering every combination of color, pattern, silhouette, styling, and accessorizing may literally be an impossible computational problem. Rules help us pare down this space in order to guide us to where the best choices are likely to be. But writing down a list of rules and never breaking them is neither a sufficient nor a necessary condition for elegance. The only necessary and sufficient condition for style is style itself. You identify it by looking, not by analyzing.
post #28 of 43
I disagree with the assertion that "the only necessary and sufficient condition for style is style itself." The statement is not only tautological, but wilfully reductionist.

Whether or not one is cognizant of the choices he's making in aesthetic judgment, he's still making choices. Those choices are not arbitrary. They're also incremental and cumulative. When putting together an ensemble, one has to start somewhere, with some combination of elements. For some, the first choice is the suit or jacket. For others, it's the shirt and tie. Whatever the case, a first choice is made, and that choice leads to further choices. One need not always examine his choices, or indeed analyze them. But one is still making them. "Style" doesn't materialize from the ether, fully formed. It is the sum of many parts. The parts still exist, regardless of whether one chooses to take conscious consideration of them.

I would submit that "taste" is the sum of one's aesthetic inclinations and preferences. Taste can be unexamined and automatic. But "style" is, by necessity, an application of taste. And both taste and style benefit from study, practice, and consideration of existing principles.
post #29 of 43
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

1) we all have different tastes which are equally valid

Appealingly egalitarian, but I don't buy it. Or maybe I do but find it useless. The guy in the oversized suit and square-toed shoes is entitled to his opinion but there's no reason for me to put any stock in it. For my purposes, his tastes are not of equal value to Vox's.

The best we can do is seek out those with similar tastes and purposes. Part of what has happened to this forum, and effectively destroyed Andy's, is the misguided notion that a style forum, lowercase, must value all opinions and tastes equally. But that's not possible. There has to be some common ground, some basis for comparative discussion, because otherwise anything goes. And what's the point in discussing that?

I know that's point 1, and you don't want to discuss it, but I think the same thinking informs point 2. Our tastes are informed by certain things, and all we can do is seek out those with similar frames of reference.
post #30 of 43
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday View Post

Appealingly egalitarian, but I don't buy it. Or maybe I do but find it useless. The guy in the oversized suit and square-toed shoes is entitled to his opinion but there's no reason for me to put any stock in it. For my purposes, his tastes are not of equal value to Vox's.
The best we can do is seek out those with similar tastes and purposes. Part of what has happened to this forum, and effectively destroyed Andy's, is the misguided notion that a style forum, lowercase, must value all opinions and tastes equally. But that's not possible. There has to be some common ground, some basis for comparative discussion, because otherwise anything goes. And what's the point in discussing that?
I know that's point 1, and you don't want to discuss it, but I think the same thinking informs point 2. Our tastes are informed by certain things, and all we can do is seek out those with similar frames of reference.

I would agree to what you say here. I do think there's such a thing as "good taste", and that some people have it and others don't. When Vox doesn't like something that I like, or vice versa, I will at least look again and see if my impression changes, just like if a good friend whose taste in movies I respect likes a movie that I disliked, I would consider watching it again to see if my opinion changes.

But I don't think the existence of "good" taste invalidates 2). It may even strengthen it. I'll allow that "the rules" are not followed by most SF members, and that in general more rule-following would be a good thing. But at the same time, you won't have style like Vox just by following Vox's rules, because you would not have his good taste to guide you.

I guess one way to express what I'm trying to say is, good taste is too complicated to be boiled down to a parsimonious set of rules. Given this, at some point, if you want to have great style, you have to give up on memorizing rules and just try to develop your aesthetic sense.
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