Originally Posted by YRR92
A) I'm willing to be you have a strongly-defined idea of what that social purpose is. Do you mind laying it out for me, or directing me to a place where you've done so?
Sure, here is a simple example: when a man wears a suit, he is conveying that he is doing work that relies on decision-making over physical labor. You might even go so far as to say he is conveying leadership, participation in the establishment, etc. And then, within
the suit-wearing idiom, he is armed to convey all sorts of messages because the forms and components of a suit-based outfit are so highly-developed. Wearing a white shirt is more formal than wearing a blue one. Wearing a pocket square indicates that not only is he tolerating the idiom, but that he embraces it and enjoys it. The color of his suit matters too. Grey and blue convey a more business-like demeanor while browns and tans are more casual. The list goes on.
So, when you scrap the suit, you aren't just scrapping the message that wearing a suit conveys. You are scrapping all the communicative possibilities that it allows as well. The way we wear a suit is part of the classic menswear "language" that has developed over decades and centuries.
It's like learning French in America. Learning and speaking French conveys a certain message--it conveys an interest in Western culture, an interest in history, etc. It can also convey snobbery. Yet, regardless of what adopting the language in and of itself conveys, once you are using the language, you are armed to say so many other, more nuanced and expressively unique things because French is so highly refined and developed.
Originally Posted by YRR92
B) I think a lot of the percieved dissonance is due to modernism rejecting extraneous / vestigial details, while classic menswear embraces these to an extent, and the water is quite muddied with regards to what is and isn't an "extraneous" detail. The example that comes to mind are patch pockets -- simpler to construct (I assume) than besom or flap pockets, but they use more material and are arguably less clean-lined. I may be barking up the wrong tree there, though. Does the main idea of that scan to you, though?
Modernism is not, strictly speaking, minimalism. In fact, I view minimalism as a sort of intellectually bankrupt movement. It does not add to any analysis of what's good or bad.
Modernism is a philosophy, not merely an aesthetic language. You cannot know if a building is a good modernist building unless you understand how it works. What it looks like is not enough. The same is true when applying modernist thought to clothing. The fact that something can be called "minimalist" or not "minimalist" by virtue of its appearance says nothing of its modernist value. Modernism is about accomplishing what is better, what is true. So it must always be pursued in light of what we contemplate "better" to mean.
In the language of classic menswear, patch pockets have a communicative function. They tell me a jacket is more casual than it would be with besom pockets. Removing all pockets might make the jacket more "minimalist," but not necessarily more modern, as you are sacrificing value without a achieving a clear net benefit.