or Connect
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › How formal is an outfit?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

How formal is an outfit? - Page 3

post #31 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantabrigian View Post

For the record, sock less with anything but driving mocs or boat shoes is dumb.

 

 

I don't have a problem with loafers of any kind and no socks, but anything that is buckled or laced looks just dumb IMHO

 

On the Duke's "fun" black tie, I don't think he used such tuxedos for strict black tie events (or did he?), just for more casual dinner, cocktails, etc. He probably knew perfectly when to do it and when not to do it. Someone please enlighten me.

 

Personally, if I had to wear a tuxedo (and I doubt that opportunity will ever come, since it is not ceremonial wear in Spain), I would try to get it as correct as possible, but that's because I'm an enthusiast. I have to admit no one takes formal wear seriously anymore. Though if I had to break the rules I'd think twice before wearing no socks, as that is just plain nasty for many people and I could get attention for the wrong reasons.


Edited by RDiaz - 8/28/13 at 5:36am
post #32 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by GBR View Post

I've not read that full thread but that can hardly be classified as formal - merely dreadful - trouser length and shoes for starters.

There's worse... he's NOT wearing socks....hardly formal. But then what is formal these days, and does anyone outside of SF really care? As long as he's happy.
Edited by MikeDT - 8/28/13 at 6:05am
post #33 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ivar View Post

Would I be right in assuming that you'd place no socks at level 5 or below?

No. I'd put it at Level 4 with the caveat that this look only works if one is wearing loafers. I think that loafers without socks, linen pants, shirt and a relaxed summery odd jacket can work together. Personally I probably only go sockless at Level 5, but I think it's tolerable at Level 4.

Clarification Edit - It's a Level 5 look that can work with a Level 4 outfit. I should have been more clear.
Edited by archibaldleach - 8/28/13 at 10:31am
post #34 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantabrigian View Post

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.

It's tough to articulate exactly "why" I think this way re: items having a determined level / range of formality; it just seems intuitive. I may be talking in circles a bit here and feel free to try to drill down on anything further, but let me give some examples of how I'm thinking about this. Level 1 (formalwear) and Level 2 (CBD or otherwise business formal if not fully CBD) are pretty obvious, I agree. Maybe you dress down a worsted solid suit by pairing it with a BD collar shirt (not a fan myself but at least IMO it's not awful) or wear a more casual tie with it but that's about it. The conservative worsted suit with no tie look to me is an instant fail and just looks stupid IMO. Level 1 and Level 2 are pretty boring as I think that formalwear and conservative suits have very limited range.

Things get more interesting at Level 3 through Level 5 (there is probably a Level 6 too if we go casual enough too). A casual look built around jeans, for example, can be spruced up by a nice pair of loafers, monks or derbys in place of the awful athletic shoes that get worn way too often (oxfords say business formal to me and are jarring to my eyes with jeans). I'm not sure if it makes the look much more formal (I think the denim dominates the formality discussion no matter what you do with it) but it probably gives it a more sophisticated appearance at the very least. Wear jeans with a jacket and tie and it just looks wrong, like the top and bottom half of your body is engaged in some sort of schizophrenic battle. Just like denim dominates the formality discussion, I think the sockless look calls attention to itself and singles out an outfit as casual. In both cases, wearing a tie is a complete syntax fail (the fact that the sockless look in this thread involves double monks makes it that much worse as I really only think the sockless look works with something as effortless as a slip-on shoe, not even going to touch the way too short pants). You have something that is jarring because when one item suggests very casual and the rest of the outfit suggests something much more formal. Try the sockless look on a lazy summer afternoon when you're wearing linen trousers / shirt / summer odd jacket sans tie and it works because jacket sans tie is not so inherently formal as to creating a jarring contrast. I think the key to playing with the formality level of your outfit is to make more subtle changes.

A good example of a garment with a wide range of use (at least in the U.S.) is the navy blazer and its contrast with other odd jackets. Pair it with black shoes, medium grey trousers, white shirt and a conservative solid tie and it's just a small step down from a suit in terms of formality. Try this with any other odd jacket; it just doesn't work as there is a limit to how formal you can possibly make something like tweed or similar jackets look. Substitute the white shirt for a blue shirt, the grey trousers for tan trousers and adjust the tie accordingly and the navy blazer gets dressed down to the "California Tux." Most other odd jackets can play in this environment now too. Now take off the tie. I think this is the utter limit to how much you can dress down the navy blazer and some other odd jackets. Some tweeds might work with jeans and a dress shirt. I think the navy blazer, which can be stretched reasonably high in terms of formality just looks completely out of place here. A casual odd jacket can still work. Switch out the dress shirt for a t-shirt and you're done with odd jacket land; an odd jacket in this context just looks dumb IMO. I could maybe see a casual odd jacket it with a nice sweater serving in more of an outwerwear function, but that's it. To a lesser extent, maybe a linen odd jacket with something like a polo. I'm not recommending these looks; just saying that's as far as I can see one going without the contrast in formality being too jarring.

So most casual looks can be spruced up, even if it does not really make them more formal, with a nice pair of shoes that is not a pair of oxfords. Going sockless can make a casual to business casual look a bit more relaxed and casual when done in the summer and with loafers. Some odd jackets can dress up a casual look and most odd jackets can be dressed up or down by adding or subtracting a tie or switching up the trousers. In any event, each garment has their limit to how formal or how casual you can make it. Subtlety is key in adjusting the message a particular garment sends.
post #35 of 41
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by RDiaz View Post


Personally, if I had to wear a tuxedo (and I doubt that opportunity will ever come, since it is not ceremonial wear in Spain)...

Interesante. No sabia.

What's the most formal thing you'd wear for weddings or really swanky parties or state dinners? Dark suit & tie? Or is there like some Spanish native dress / uniform that I've never heard of?
post #36 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cantabrigian View Post


Interesante. No sabia.

What's the most formal thing you'd wear for weddings or really swanky parties or state dinners? Dark suit & tie? Or is there like some Spanish native dress / uniform that I've never heard of?

 

Most (if not all) weddings here are celebrated during daytime, so morning dress would be appropiate. Otherwise, just a dark suit. Swanky parties or state dinners, on the other hand, are not ceremonies, so black tie would be fine I guess... with ceremonial wear I meant it's not appropiate for weddings, baptisms, funerals and the like (and I guess the baptisms and funerals part is not just a Spanish thing tongue.gif)

post #37 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by unbelragazzo View Post

I'll never understand the no socks thing.

Here's the issue with the current state of sock-less affairs. The sans-socks look (in the context of trousers and jackets) originated in prep and boarding schools. While students couldn't stray from their uniform, they always looked to find subtle ways to rebel against conformity. No socks (when worn with Weejuns and an appropriately cut pair of trousers) are a very tongue-in-cheek nod to a sense of casualness. In a formal setting this acts as more of a "fuck you" than a "look at me."

The majority of today's sock-less looks (as best as I can tell) were born out of deliberately dumbing down traditional clothes. Since we live in a casual world nowadays, no socks dampens the blow of being "dressed up." Plus, there is the homage to the "fuck you" flare of preppies past. Unfortunately, when you add flood hems and/or 6" leg openings, you completely destroy the spirit of the look. You're left with "look at me." The subtlety (which is what creates the charm) is gone.

I almost never wear socks. However, I do so as subtly as possible. While those around me will eventually catch onto my bare ankles, I've never put a pair of pants or a pair of shoes on with the intent of drawing attention to my ankles. To me that's asinine. I also only go sans socks with loafers. I'd say 75% of my shoes are loafers. Having grown up never wearing loafers with socks, I simply have been conditioned to never think "socks before shoes." Lastly, I only go sock-less in situations that are appropriate. Living in the South, working in a business casual environment and being a younger guy means that the majority of my situations (professionally and socially) demand a much more casual appearance.

I agree that the majority of the "sock-less culture" (I feel dirty coining that) today is affected and generally in bad taste. However, when the absence of socks is a subtle nod to a laid back approach to dressing and not a vie for attention, it can be pulled off with a decent degree of charm.
post #38 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by bourbonbasted View Post

Here's the issue with the current state of sock-less affairs. The sans-socks look (in the context of trousers and jackets) originated in prep and boarding schools. While students couldn't stray from their uniform, they always looked to find subtle ways to rebel against conformity. No socks (when worn with Weejuns and an appropriately cut pair of trousers) are a very tongue-in-cheek nod to a sense of casualness. In a formal setting this acts as more of a "fuck you" than a "look at me."

The majority of today's sock-less looks (as best as I can tell) were born out of deliberately dumbing down traditional clothes. Since we live in a casual world nowadays, no socks dampens the blow of being "dressed up." Plus, there is the homage to the "fuck you" flare of preppies past. Unfortunately, when you add flood hems and/or 6" leg openings, you completely destroy the spirit of the look. You're left with "look at me." The subtlety (which is what creates the charm) is gone.

I almost never wear socks. However, I do so as subtly as possible. While those around me will eventually catch onto my bare ankles, I've never put a pair of pants or a pair of shoes on with the intent of drawing attention to my ankles. To me that's asinine. I also only go sans socks with loafers. I'd say 75% of my shoes are loafers. Having grown up never wearing loafers with socks, I simply have been conditioned to never think "socks before shoes." Lastly, I only go sock-less in situations that are appropriate. Living in the South, working in a business casual environment and being a younger guy means that the majority of my situations (professionally and socially) demand a much more casual appearance.

I agree that the majority of the "sock-less culture" (I feel dirty coining that) today is affected and generally in bad taste. However, when the absence of socks is a subtle nod to a laid back approach to dressing and not a vie for attention, it can be pulled off with a decent degree of charm.

So intention matters more than results?

ps: when I think of a sockless I don't think of preppies (didn't know the anecdote you've just relayed), I think of Mediterranean countries or the beach, it's not such a rare gesture that it can be associated with just one thing.
post #39 of 41
Quote:
Originally Posted by Fuuma View Post

So intention matters more than results?

ps: when I think of a sockless I don't think of preppies (didn't know the anecdote you've just relayed), I think of Mediterranean countries or the beach, it's not such a rare gesture that it can be associated with just one thing.

Intent to the extent that you understand the execution. Trad means of dressing are marked by fuller cuts and wider silhouettes. You wouldn't notice ankles with a quarter break on a 18" leg opening. However when you're wearing a 13" opening and a hem at the ankles, you're intentionally drawing attention.

The Mediterranean look and feel is pronouncedly casual. Like much of trad, the sock-less look is a borrowed element from European trends. The big difference is that bare ankles, when worn by the Italians, French and Greeks, accompanied more louche fabrics and fits. They were clearly in vacation mode, bearing ankles under airy linens and tropical open-weaves. With the American, "preppy" execution, you were pairing bare ankles with worsted wools and canvas cottons.
post #40 of 41
Trad's treacherous territory, as it aims to condense down decades of evolving fashion into a single never-was. When you talk about prep school style, when do you mean?
post #41 of 41
My mistake. I should not be so obtuse.

When I give a nod to "prep school style" I am combining the cliches associated with places like Choate, Exeter, Milton, etc. (read: any of the schools that are regularly name-dropped in publications like The Preppy Handbook), and the universities most associated with a prep school feeder-base (read: Ivies and elite liberal art schools). The majority of my observations are pulled from photographs taken or literature written between the 1960s and 1980s, though there are examples I have seen from the 1950s.

I think of this era, book-ended by Mod in the early years and "power dressing" in the later years, as the golden years of a classic American dress. It is the point in which American "trad" (as it is loosely defined) began nailing down European influences and making them distinctly American.

My specific anecdote above is shaped from what I have read in the past as well as my own (albeit much more recent) experiences. I won't claim to be an expert on the historic implications of the style, but draw conclusions from a number of examples I've seen.

Doc, as you are far more of an expert in this arena, feel free to correct me.
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Classic Menswear
Styleforum › Forums › Men's Style › Classic Menswear › How formal is an outfit?