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How formal is an outfit? - Page 2

post #16 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by edmorel View Post

Canta, you are slipping (or is it I?). I thought this was the post you were referring to:

In the other threak I was talking about leftofthedial but that's not to say that everyone else wasn't talking about something completely different.
post #17 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post


The guy dressed for dinner every night. It wasn't exactly ceremonial attire for him. Also, the amount of sartorial leeway you get when you're either heir to a throne, reigning monarch, or the guy who turned down world leadership (not to mention famously well-dressed) is pretty vast.

 

The problem, for me, with "FU" black tie is that the message black tie is supposed to send is kind of the opposite of that. That's probably a very petit bourgeois view of black tie -- it is ceremonial attire in my view, part of having good manners. That's not to say you could never do tartan, or a non-black cummerbund, or even socklessness, but it would need to be subtle.

post #18 of 41
I agree. I just wanted to raise an objection to the idea that black tie can never effed with period. White tie ok, but white tie is dead. Maybe since black tie is the new white tie it now also can't be effed with. But personally I like thinking of black tie as casual and therefore playful, just not in the way SS has done it.
post #19 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

I agree. I just wanted to raise an objection to the idea that black tie can never effed with period. White tie ok, but white tie is dead. Maybe since black tie is the new white tie it now also can't be effed with. But personally I like thinking of black tie as casual and therefore playful, just not in the way SS has done it.


At the end of the day we each have to decide how we want to dress and in the big scheme of things, clothes is pretty far down the ladder of important things. That being said, I think that one of the worse things that the internet menswear movement has brought to us is "playfulness" in men's dress attire (suits/jackets etc). There is a difference between what people like the Duke, Agnelli etc did and what the sockless, unstrapped double monk, wristicles crowd is doing, IMO.
post #20 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivar View Post

Like YRR92, I'm taking my cues from Vox today, so my take on this particular ensemble is that it would sit pretty firmly in Vox's dressed-down "city suit" category were it not for the lack of socks. I don't recall Vox's model actually mentioning where forgoing the socks sits on his city-country continuum, but I think we can safely assume that he would consider it a "syntax error." Hence, this ensemble is one of those "neither fish nor fowl" outfits that are all too common in the menswear blogosphere.

I think you're trying to apply a framework that is either irrelevant or that simply breaks down in this area.

City - country has no bearing on this (or probably any) discussion. So hopefully we can just toss that aside.

To strain you analogy a bit, I think you have to know what language someone is speaking or trying to speak before you can say pass judgment on syntax errors.

Hence Ed's point makes a lot of sense - the rules of the game are pretty well established for black tie and if SS was supposed to wear black tie, he effed up. But if it was (that abomination called) creative black tie, then it's another story.

What I'm driving at is that some people are ignoring context and jumping to impose a misplaced set of norms.
Edited by Cantabrigian - 8/27/13 at 5:16pm
post #21 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

I agree. I just wanted to raise an objection to the idea that black tie can never effed with period. White tie ok, but white tie is dead. Maybe since black tie is the new white tie it now also can't be effed with. But personally I like thinking of black tie as casual and therefore playful, just not in the way SS has done it.


It seems to me that the ideal for playing with black tie is like the ideal for drinking champagne. You can get schwasted and embarrass yourself, or you could partake in just enough that you come across as especially charming.

Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)

Note that the last time I drank "champagne," it was actually Frexinet and I fell asleep in a corduroy jacket on a dorm room floor, and the last time I wore black tie, the prom theme was "Memories Never Fade." I reveal this in order to make this a wittily self-aware iGent-ish post, rather than, well...

 

post #22 of 41
It merits mentioning that Vox -- to harp on his "coherent combinations" again -- allowed for dandyfied derivations from the protocol, but only under the assumption (1) that you are an actual dandy (which is about more than donning a loopy outfit), and (2) that you go all in with the flamboyance.
post #23 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by archibaldleach View Post

I do think that there is a heirarchy of formality and that it generally does not work well to mix and match elements that are from extreme ends of that heirarchy. One can safely go a level above or below depending on context, but that's about where it should stay. I lack the time and patience to do a detailed accounting of formality levels of every article of clothing, so am sticking to broad categories of outfits. I may edit / add if I have time.

You're answering the simpler and less interesting question.

What you wear for formal and CBD occasions is fairly apparent.

We're talking here about how you evaluate an outfit when you could otherwise wear shorts and a tshirt.

On that point, you seem to be in the camp that items have a set or at least largely determined level of formality. I'm not sure I agree (or disagree for that matter) but I'd like to hear more about why you think that.
post #24 of 41
There is a difference, but what's playful and what's moronic is a matter of taste. That unbuckled monks and wristicles look stupid (fwiw I agree on these) doesn't mean we have to wear clothing most guaranteed to blend in. For instance, sticking to black tie, I quite like a dinner jacket with a spalla camicia. I like velvet Belgians with satin bows worn with a tux. I think these are not so silly as the earlier examples. But they're also not exactly what you would get from going to brooks or whatever and getting the standard black tie rig that nobody would ever notice.
post #25 of 41
Thread Starter 
For the record, sock less with anything but driving mocs or boat shoes is dumb.

What I want to get into is whether this outfit is formal or casual and, by extension, how you should go about critiquing it--
Quote:
Originally Posted by leftofthedial View Post

Apologies for the crazy eyes and dark-ish photo:




Epaulet
Carmina
Barney's tie
Post Imperial square
post #26 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantabrigian View Post

I think you're trying to apply a framework that is either irrelevant or that simply breaks down in this area.

City - country has no bearing on this (or probably any) discussion. So hopefully we can just toss that aside.

To strain you analogy a bit, I think you have to know what language someone is speaking or trying to speak before you can say pass judgment on syntax errors.

Hence Ed's point makes a lot of sense - the rules of the game are pretty well established for black tie and if you were supposed to wear black tie, he effed up. But if it was (that abomination called) creative black tie, then it's another story.

What I'm driving at is that some people are ignoring context and jumping to impose a misplaced set of norms.

I should have been clearer about Vox's terminology. He meant something more like city/formal/public vs. country/informal/private:

http://web.archive.org/web/20120711...oughts-on-coherent-combinations-for-beginners

That is to say, what I call "country" is a shorthand for informal/private, as opposed to formal/public. Again, using his terminology.
post #27 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantabrigian View Post

We're talking here about how you evaluate an outfit when you could otherwise wear shorts and a tshirt.

On that point, you seem to be in the camp that items have a set or at least largely determined level of formality. I'm not sure I agree (or disagree for that matter) but I'd like to hear more about why you think that.

Even then, I think it's relatively more difficult to put together something if it isn't internally consistent in terms of formality. I generally limit my concern in that area to the materials used. The heavy lifting in terms of "what materials look good together" has already been done.

 

To go back to leftofthedial's fit, as far as I can recall the formality in terms of the materials was pretty consistent, with the exception of the square. If he had done the same short pants thing with a Harris tweed jacket and a satin tie, it wouldn't have worked as well. By creating tension with some very untraditional touches inside a traditional rig, he put together something that sends a different message than either pure trad or total edginess. I guess I have a similar ethos, but I'd like to keep people guessing a little more ("Is YRR really square?" vs. "Is YRR really hip?"), partially because I haven't seen a "twist on a classic" I like and partially because I don't know the answer myself.

 

My answer to the direct question (is it casual or formal) is "both." It's formal because the traditional elements used are formal. It's casual because the non-traditional elements make it so. To critique it, it makes sense to talk about the formal elements in terms of formality, and to talk about the casual elements in terms of casual attire.

post #28 of 41

I think that trying to get a definitive answer to the question in the OP, formal? (yes/no), will not help you judge this outfit (or many others).

 

When we dress and when we see what others are wearing we have several kinds of reactions. The first is likely to be a combination of personal prejudices and aesthetics: 'do I like this or not', 'does this look good or not?' The more educated one's eye, the more this judgement veers towards that of pure aesthetics and away from simple prejudice, but there's always a mix. Now, the thing is that many people stop trying to educate their eye at a certain point. So, many on this side of the forum, can spot a roped shoulder half-a-mile away but would be lost when it came to understanding what Yohji Yamamoto's fluid, overzised cuts are supposed to be doing. And vice-versa. You can also make a choice to favour a particular kind of aesthetic, and can even, as a matter of cultural politics and even social control, insist that others favour this too. I would argue that a lot of what goes on here is actually the latter.

 

That's when we have to go beyond that initial reaction and think about what standards we should judge a fit against. If it is quite clear that someone is not playing by rules that we play by, or even understand, we have to make an effort to understand what they think they are doing. First of all, are they successful in what they are trying to achieve? This is not just a matter of anything goes, BTW, because people often fail at what are trying to achieve or misunderstand aspects of the fit at which they are aiming. To continue the example from above, just wearing a normal oversize suit for example, does not achieve the same effect as wearing Yohji.

 

If we can summise that someone knows what they are doing, then we can start to consider whether they have achieved the result they want. I think it's clear Leftofthedial does and did. Then we can go back to discussing the question of whether it works on other grounds. Formal / informal, city / country - these categories do not really work as markers of what is acceptable when you are dealing with subversions of categories. How successfully is any category subverted? Funnily enough we seem more than happy to accepted certain things that were once subversive ('tweed in the city', anyone?), but not others.

 

So I think what Leftofthedial is going for here is a slightly louche look which has something of the 1950s Parisian intellectual but also a nod to contempory notions of hip. The hair, the glasses and the way the cigarette is held (even the fact that there is a cigarette) all speak to this even before we get to the clothes, which are of course all well cut and fitted, except for those trousers, which seem calculated to remove the outfit from traditional CM and place it as something that is at home on the street. It's got a really well-worked combination of tightness (formality if you like) and casualness (or informality), which play off each other.

post #29 of 41

^^
The idea of some forms of subversions vs. others is an interesting way to put it. I suppose (and I am fully aware that this post will use the word "subversion" too much), that "tweed in the city" isn't necessarily internally subversive -- there is no subversion within the rig itself (if you'll grant me a hypothetical "coherent" tweed rig), but the context would have been externally subversive. Leftofthedial's fit is both -- within the rig, he messes with traditional style, yet by dressing in coat and tie in a streetwear context, he's messing with his external context. Does that scan?

post #30 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by YRR92 View Post

^^
The idea of some forms of subversions vs. others is an interesting way to put it. I suppose (and I am fully aware that this post will use the word "subversion" too much), that "tweed in the city" isn't necessarily internally subversive -- there is no subversion within the rig itself (if you'll grant me a hypothetical "coherent" tweed rig), but the context would have been externally subversive. Leftofthedial's fit is both -- within the rig, he messes with traditional style, yet by dressing in coat and tie in a streetwear context, he's messing with his external context. Does that scan?

 

Makes sense to me!

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