Something I have been thinking on as I begin a biography of Beau Brummell and read Roycru's comments... It seems to me that there are two kinds of ways of propagating rules, unspoken and enumerated. Unspoken rules are those which dominate those who are, for lack of a better term, in the know. Some understand that wearing a tuxedo to a cocktail party is gauche almost as a matter of instinct. Others have to be told, often through confusing and foolish dress codes written on invitation cards. For those who were born into a certain social strata the rules weren't rules at all. They were simply known and accepted norms of behavior. Kind of like how guitarists would never "touch another man's axe" without permission. These accepted norms of behavior only became rules when those not in the know had to be instructed on them during the great democratization process that engulfed the U.S. from the 1870s to the 1950s. By this I don't mean to belittle the so called rules. Indeed, I imagine few of us were brought up in the privileged lifestyle that I reference here. I know I wasn't. However, as one delves deeper and deeper into the sartorial history of the western man, as he understands it's idiosyncrasies more and more, and as he begins to obtain a nuanced understanding of what he is dealing with, he begins to understand that there really are no rules. Just accepted norms of behavior. And when he understands this he is fully equipped to bend and adapt those norms to his needs.
Very well stated. I stick by the advice in "The Suit." Dress as conservative as you have to and as dandified as you can get away with. I think of all the sartorial writing out there Parisian Gentleman is one of the best, especially Dirnelli who calls it like he sees it.
I do think that rules are a great equalizer, kind of like like school uniforms. Lots of ways to stand out of course even while sticking to the rules.
Edited by smittycl - 5/4/16 at 6:18pm