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Why the rules for men's clothes are obsolete - Page 6

post #76 of 115
[quote=Mark from Plano;1227228]If Sator is correct and the last major shift involved the gentrification of the casual...that is, that suits began, as he so often points out, as beach and sporting wear...it seems to me quite possible that the next round of business attire will involve a rather large dose of denim.[/QUOTE]

That has been going on for many years, at least in SoCal, in businesses with personnel that don't have public contact. I can remember in the mid-70s working for an insurance company that mandated coat and tie for their male employees but had given up on dress codes for women. The result is that the men had to come to work in coat and tie, while the women were sashaying in their jeans and T-shirts. Wearing coat and tie is no hardship if you can afford decent apparel, but the pay there was niggardly in the extreme. We could afford nothing but cheap clothes, which took all the pleasure out of it!
post #77 of 115
At last we have been freed from the tyranny of the rules.
post #78 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bob Loblaw View Post
At last we have been freed from the tyranny of the rules.
In my opinion, the so-called "rules" have never been tyrannical, but rather just guidelines that provided some degree of comfort and self-confidence to men wanting to avoid dressing in ways that would be seen by others as inappropriate. I really doubt that many men said to themselves, "Damn, I'd like to wear this lavender shirt, but those rules--which must be obeyed--won't let me." On the other hand, my guess is that countless men who were anxious and unsure about what to wear found welcome help in discovering that most people would find brown rubber-soled shoes wrong at a formal affair--and thus didn't make fools of themselves with their Rockports at a black-tie dinner.
post #79 of 115
I have been keeping out of this thread deliberately after having spotted a mirror thread on FNB a while back.

To be absolutely honest, I am quite realistic about the fact that the lounge suit has the same level of formality as a frock coat in the Edwardian era, and the sports coat the same level as a morning coat. I enjoy shocking people by reminding them that the Monstrously Ultra-formal Lounge Suit is beach wear.

Today it is proclaimed that "there are no Rules today" because Rules are always monstrous, old fashioned and oppressive tyrannies, incompatible with the Glorious Freedom of our time; - ergo, Rules must be torn down: "Viva La Revolución!" But, if we truly live in the Age of Absolute Dress Freedom, then FNB should be able to wear couture house dresses with trains to work, and I should be able to go in court dress.

The fact is, university students go to lectures in jeans and t-shirt because it is a kind of rigidly prescribed uniform. They are not allowed to wear lounge suit and tie, because they would end up outdressing theirs seniors (lecturers) and be derided by their peers for being "out of uniform". It is not phrased that way but the results are the same.

That IT types have to wear slobwear to demonstrate their greater Spirit of Freedom and Creativity is just another form of prescription to which there is mass conformism. The Generals demanded that the Workers wear slobwear to enhance their creativity and they obeyed.

Rules today are as rigid as they ever were, except that today we avoid the old fashioned formalised prescriptive element of years past to convince ourselves that we live in a Golden Age of Freedom. The Rules today are unwritten and punitive repercussions come in the form of derision or silent exclusion. Yet, forumites have still reported being called into the office to see the boss for wearing lounge coat and tie in a business casual environment.

I swear that after the Social Revolution of the mid-20th century, people decided we live in a Utopia of Freedom and that we had to run around naked in the New Paradise. That being impractical, underwear has been strictly prescribed as a viable alternative. We live in the Age of Nudity:

http://thelondonlounge.net/gl/forum/...pic.php?t=7663

(Note that, we live in the Second Age of Nudity following the student riots in Paris hailing the start of the Social Revolution. The First Age of Nudity followed the storming of the Bastille - also in Paris.)

In reality, clearly announced dress rules make life easier for people. They need not be enforced in an old fashioned, rigid fashion. It is infinitely easier to grab the charcoal coloured lounge and white shirt in the morning than to figure out what this bloody "business casual" thing is. When we permit ourselves to admit that rules in some form or other, written or otherwise, will always exists, then there is a great sense of relief that we no longer have to kid ourselves otherwise. Life becomes easier.
post #80 of 115
^^^This is a well written post, Sator.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sator View Post
The fact is, university students go to lectures in jeans and t-shirt because it is a kind of rigidly prescribed uniform. They are not allowed to wear lounge suit and tie, because they would end up outdressing theirs seniors (lecturers) and be derided by their peers for being "out of uniform". It is not phrased that way but the results are the same. That IT types have to wear slobwear to demonstrate their greater Spirit of Freedom and Creativity is just another form of prescription to which there is mass conformism. The Generals demanded that the Workers wear slobwear to enhance their creativity and they obeyed. Rules today are as rigid as they ever were, except that today we avoid the old fashioned formalised prescriptive element of years past to convince ourselves that we live in a Golden Age of Freedom. The Rules today are unwritten and punitive repercussions come in the form of derision or silent exclusion. Yet, forumites have still reported being called into the office to see the boss for wearing lounge coat and tie in a business casual environment.
I recently was reminded of the rigidity of the unwritten rules of dress. A couple weeks ago, I drove to Northeastern Ohio to play a multi-act "Oldies" show. This was a concert that featured some original artists that had big pop hits back in the 1950's and 1960's. I was hired to be the house keyboard player. These gigs are fun--I get to wear my "Rock Hat." So, I arrived early to the venue, parked the car and tried to find the stage door. I spied what looked like the correct door and started to open it. I heard an authoratative voice call out, "you can't go in there!" It turned out to be the promoter of the concert (a really great guy, it turned out.) I explained I was in the band. He told me OK, but I sure didn't look like a member of the band, based on the way I was dressed. I was wearing chocolate brown Brioni corduroys, Allen Edmonds boat shoes and a checked Turnbull and Asser shirt. The brands are high quality, but these particular items certainly didn't look "designer". I looked like a librarian on holiday. Hardly formal clothes either, but different from the expected uniform: Black T-shirt with silly slogan or rock band logo, black square-toed rubber sole shoes and black cheap jeans. Anyway, I was all right, and plus, I actually wear clothes like this on purpose to the reheasals, as it is is good to look neat. For the concert the dress code was black suit, black shoes, black dress Shirt. The drummer did not have to wear a jacket, but had to have a black dress shirt. I wore black for the performance. The audience and promoter were happy.
post #81 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sator View Post
Rules today are as rigid as they ever were, except that today we avoid the old fashioned formalised prescriptive element of years past to convince ourselves that we live in a Golden Age of Freedom. The Rules today are unwritten and punitive repercussions come in the form of derision or silent exclusion. Yet, forumites have still reported being called into the office to see the boss for wearing lounge coat and tie in a business casual environment.

I couldn't agree more. But funnily enough, that works both ways.

While society does impose its rules in a different manner, someone who is well dressed still gets attention. I have gone to the same bank unshaven, dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and flipflops, as well as clean cut and in a suit - the person they see is very, very different in both cases. Even in this age of "business casuals", people mock, but compliment the slightly overdressed person. And you're thought to look "sharp" for simply wearing well clean, fitting clothes and polished shoes.
post #82 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Metlin View Post
I couldn't agree more. But funnily enough, that works both ways.

While society does impose its rules in a different manner, someone who is well dressed still gets attention. I have gone to the same bank unshaven, dressed in a t-shirt, shorts and flipflops, as well as clean cut and in a suit - the person they see is very, very different in both cases. Even in this age of "business casuals", people mock, but compliment the slightly overdressed person. And you're thought to look "sharp" for simply wearing well clean, fitting clothes and polished shoes.

Do you all find this complimentary mockery to be the case?

My experience is that women will complement either alone or in groups, and packs of men will mock. A guy by himself or in a mixed male/female crowd is more likely to complement than a guy in a group with other guys.
post #83 of 115
Unfortunately, the emanation of counter-culture -- particularly here in the US -- over the past 60 years since the spawning of the Stupidest Generation has forced discarding the common individualist principle of "questioning authority" and supplanted it with the axiom of "defying authority." This defiance meant, whether right or wrong, that all things of earlier generations were to be thrown on the rubbish heap. One of the most ostensible ways for the counter-culture to express this (much like the National Assembly hunting and hanging all aristocrats after le quatorze juillet) was by destroying the mode of dress of Western culture (particularly in the generation of television, where looks were/are everything).

It would appear that they were successful. It has now been so long that all previous generations are virtually non-existant to maintain the old culture. Now any attempt to restoring formality is met with both ignorance and confusion because simply no one is around to remember. This is why "business casual" is so misunderstood -- the sartorial wheel must be reinvented from scratch.

Someone wearing a suit to work is just -- well -- not done. Why would one wear a suit? We don't know. No one else wears one, as far as we remember, and no one ever did. Yeah, some stuffy guys wear dress shirts with ties, but that is only for formal places of work. I know I am over-generaizing here, but this is how I see the trend diffusing throughout the culture.

Where I work, no one -- except rarely -- wears a anything but a short-sleeve shirt and jeans. Sometimes chinos and golf shirts are worn, but never shoes without rubber soles -- ever. And yet I wear a suit to work every day. Other than actual owners, I am HNIC, so when I am asked why I dress so nicely by workers, I merely reply that I do so because I think I ought to do so. In years past, I was a bit less formal (i.e., open dress shirts, no jacket), but I always felt embarrassed when ocassionally dealing with customers who were better dressed than I.

I hope I haven't rambled too much and was still able to contribute a small bit to this necessary discussion.
post #84 of 115
There has been an antinomial current in Western thought since St. Paul. Then we have the view that laws restrict negative liberty. Rules may not be laws, but for our discussion they will substitute nicely. For those who advocate positive liberty, laws/rules are not coercive restrictions of one's liberty, but means to ensure liberty in a democratic society. By the way, we have rules for these fora? Anyone feel restricted? Anyone feel their freedom from self-expression curtailed? The positive notion of freedom can allow for political self-determination in a democratic society (Sandel) or self-realization as an individual (Fromm).

Rules are not limited to social behavior. No rules, no games. Rules distinguish Texas hold-em from 5-car stud, baccarat from chemin-de-fer, American football (in which one guy can use his foot) from English football (in which one guy can use his hands). I'm about to play go here in Japan, the rules of which are so easy a 5-year-old may learn them in 5 minutes, the strategy of which is so complex no supercomputer can stand a chance against an average amateur. The creation of this game evolved according to the creation of its rules, some now which are obsolete, others of which are relatively new. But no two games will ever be the same and my freedom to create is potentially infinite.

I have Flusser's Style and the Man and Dressing the Man. The rules to which he adheres are a foundation for self-expression. Moreover, the rules are meant to be tailored to the individual. Not only must the clothes fit properly, but they must be tailored to your proportion and complexion. This does not restrict you but opens up possibilities for you to express yourself.

I think of classical menswear as a game like older games of go and chess. Not everyone wants to play these games. Fine. But with clothes, with the exception of rebel style, I don't know of a contemporary substitute. Business casual is lazy, while modernist design is tailor-made for the designer's image, name, and bank account. Are there any other alternatives? I'm watching the DVD of Rome right now, while I also love Star Wars and Star Trek. But somehow I don't think we're headed in those directions.

The suit may eventually become archaic someday, but that day hasn't happened yet. In the meantime, we can dress according to the rules, breaking them when we feel creative. I'm too much of an amateur right now, so hidebound is my goal at this moment. In the meantime, those who don't follow the rules intentionally or unintentionally look buffoonish and should stay out of the game. Unfortunately, here in more conservative, business-oriented, fashion-conscience Japan, or at least in the Kobe-Osaka area, here are the rules that I see consistently broken:

1. No black suits. (Haven't seen any high-contrast man here pull it off).
2. No black blazers. (Ditto).
3. Never wear a tie with a short-sleeve shirt.
4. Don't let your tie extend below your belt. (Some ties seem to double as fig leaves.)
5. Show some cuff.
6. Don't let your jacket forshorten your legs and arms.

Wearing garish ties all the time may not be breaking a rule, but it looks terrible and is popular here in the Kobe-Osaka area at least. Like so many Americans, they either wear a garish tie or no tie at all. Additionally, many of the young guys here, when they are not wearing ladyboy metrosexual streetwear and want to dress up, wear black or dark gray shirts with either a dark gray or a white tie, a look I see a lot of English teachers wear as well.

Lutheran repudiated the antinomial views of his fellow reformer, the (quite literally speaking) iconoclast Zwingli in saying, "Who loves not wine, women and song, Remains a fool his whole life long". And Nietzsche, who at one time aspired to become a Lutheran minister like his father, would reaffirm such a view. While the idols may have been in their twilight in his view, they should be sounded out. In fact, this is what Brummell and Windsor did. But today we have no Brummell, no Windsor, only lazy and ignorant people with a video-game education.
post #85 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLibourel View Post
So, the question I will toss out to the heavy hitters is, will the versatile odd jacket survive and to a large extent displace the suit as dress wear, or will it be perceived as merely the "Lite" alternative to the suit and go down along with the suit?

For whatever reason, based on my limited observation, odd jackets seem more popular with older men. Younger men either seem to perfer a suit or go directly to the dismal expedient of shirt and tie sans coat when they wish to dress down from the suit.

I think the suit will probably outlast the odd jacket. It requires less thought and skill to wear successfully.
post #86 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by gentleman amateur View Post
...In the meantime, those who don't follow the rules intentionally or unintentionally look buffoonish and should stay out of the game. Unfortunately, here in more conservative, business-oriented, fashion-conscience Japan, or at least in the Kobe-Osaka area, here are the rules that I see consistently broken:

1. No black suits. (Haven't seen any high-contrast man here pull it off).
2. No black blazers. (Ditto).
3. Never wear a tie with a short-sleeve shirt.
4. Don't let your tie extend below your belt. (Some ties seem to double as fig leaves.)
5. Show some cuff.
6. Don't let your jacket forshorten your legs and arms.

Wearing garish ties all the time may not be breaking a rule, but it looks terrible and is popular here in the Kobe-Osaka area at least. ...

This is an interesting post showing one of the aspect of rules that is forgotten - rules are local. What is correct in one place is not necessarily true in another. In Kobe-Osaka these are not offences, they are correct by virtue of being the accepted norm. Another example is the pinched waist and flared skirt typical of English suits, these are considered wrong in the US. Wearing brown shoes with a dark business suit (is there any other kind?) in the UK - wrong in the UK but right in the US. Even within the US what is considered correct on one coast is not always considered so on the other coast (or the mid-west).

Rules are modified by the context surrounding you (see Sator's earlier comment about IT workers being expected to dress scruffily) and as such there are few universal rules in style.
post #87 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sator View Post
I have been keeping out of this thread deliberately after having spotted a mirror thread on FNB a while back.

To be absolutely honest, I am quite realistic about the fact that the lounge suit has the same level of formality as a frock coat in the Edwardian era, and the sports coat the same level as a morning coat. I enjoy shocking people by reminding them that the Monstrously Ultra-formal Lounge Suit is beach wear.

Today it is proclaimed that "there are no Rules today" because Rules are always monstrous, old fashioned and oppressive tyrannies, incompatible with the Glorious Freedom of our time; - ergo, Rules must be torn down: "Viva La Revolución!" But, if we truly live in the Age of Absolute Dress Freedom, then FNB should be able to wear couture house dresses with trains to work, and I should be able to go in court dress.

The fact is, university students go to lectures in jeans and t-shirt because it is a kind of rigidly prescribed uniform. They are not allowed to wear lounge suit and tie, because they would end up outdressing theirs seniors (lecturers) and be derided by their peers for being "out of uniform". It is not phrased that way but the results are the same.

That IT types have to wear slobwear to demonstrate their greater Spirit of Freedom and Creativity is just another form of prescription to which there is mass conformism. The Generals demanded that the Workers wear slobwear to enhance their creativity and they obeyed.

Rules today are as rigid as they ever were, except that today we avoid the old fashioned formalised prescriptive element of years past to convince ourselves that we live in a Golden Age of Freedom. The Rules today are unwritten and punitive repercussions come in the form of derision or silent exclusion. Yet, forumites have still reported being called into the office to see the boss for wearing lounge coat and tie in a business casual environment.

I swear that after the Social Revolution of the mid-20th century, people decided we live in a Utopia of Freedom and that we had to run around naked in the New Paradise. That being impractical, underwear has been strictly prescribed as a viable alternative. We live in the Age of Nudity:

http://thelondonlounge.net/gl/forum/...pic.php?t=7663

(Note that, we live in the Second Age of Nudity following the student riots in Paris hailing the start of the Social Revolution. The First Age of Nudity followed the storming of the Bastille - also in Paris.)

In reality, clearly announced dress rules make life easier for people. They need not be enforced in an old fashioned, rigid fashion. It is infinitely easier to grab the charcoal coloured lounge and white shirt in the morning than to figure out what this bloody "business casual" thing is. When we permit ourselves to admit that rules in some form or other, written or otherwise, will always exists, then there is a great sense of relief that we no longer have to kid ourselves otherwise. Life becomes easier.

Il n'y aura plus désormais que deux catégories d'hommes : les veaux et les révolutionnaires. En cas de mariage, ça fera des réveaulutionnaires.
post #88 of 115
Thread Starter 
A couple of clarifications: I do believe that there were standards to getting dressed; perhaps rules with a small "r". Except at the most general level imaginable, I don't believe there was ever a universal paint by numbers approach to being safe with what you wear. You can choose intrinsically elegant items which fit you well and because they may have no relation with each other you can still end up with an outfit devoid of style or sincerity. Thus, good ingredients thrown together without care/talent/flair can result in an insipid outfit. Concerning universal standards, as soon as you choose something, someone else is going to have a positive reaction and yet someone else a negative one. Although it depends on the situations, minimizing the negative reactions and maximizing the positive ones are what make a man more pleasingly dressed. If you consider a solid navy suit as the only choice for a man to wear, we would quickly develop stratifications based on quality of the material, construction, style, finishing etc... What will end up being most pleasing will be the current viewpoint of the most successful style for a man intersecting with the skill of the tailor and how in tune he is with current viewpoints. Dressing "rules" evolved in an unwritten form amongst circles of people. Think of dress codes or "rules" as invisible strings operating people like puppets. Depending on whom you are and what you do, the strings have been more or less severed. If you are a tailor it is more likely most of the strings are still intact (he has no choice but to accept many of the physical teachings of western tailoring) but if you are at a media company, most of them may have been severed. I think the greatest reason that you cannot have a single arbiter of rules for clothes is because the casual workplace killed off the universal expectation of what to wear. As mentioned above, the removal of obligations to wear tailored clothes killed the idea of scrambling to a book to figure out what to wear to be safe. Instead, we have more local fiefdoms than ever before, some of them as small as the single wearer himself. It would be better to recast oneself as a wardrobe designer keeping abreast with the times and the messages clothes send than to try to deploy a universal standard. Think of the death of the "rules" as more of the fall of an empire with people still living in the ruins and using stones from great works to make new buildings or even stone walls. When I say that men's tailored clothing has become costume, I did not mean it in a Halloween sort of way but merely that those clothes have made the journey from required uniform to special (and often expensive) items which men choose to wear for purposes of status up and above the minimal signalers of vocation, this status is more individualized than it used to be. To a certain extent, men no longer wear suits to be viewed as decent or protective (battle armor), they wear them to show off their success/flair (Tournament armor). This is both bad and good. Bad because you don't have a limited palette which would necessitate individualism through forced creativity and minimize getting it wrong. Good because you can choose from a wider range of choices and if you get it right it enhances your personal nimbus of authority. It is bad because you run more chances of dressing like a woman (when in doubt, match) or some other unfortunate direction and run the risk of being observed as slick. The natural shouldered "sack" suit may or may not be objectively ugly but due to its associations it has become objectively handsome. Mens clothes gain associations outside of their intrinsic beauty and men themselves do not just wear clothes to be elegant or beautiful. If you take Duchamp ties as an example. I think that as silk designs most people can agree that they are attractive. It is when they become neckties that problems arise. In some circles they are hideous in others they are exalted; even in those circles where they are accepted, not many men will wear them. With the right clothes they are a positive, with the wrong clothes they are out of place. On the right person, with the right outfit for the right occasion, they are brilliant. Getting dressed is a complex interlocking Venn diagram. I think the suit itself in the USA is relatively safe if only because while Americans claim they want equality it is more likely that they want everyone else to be equal while they themselves are special. I have mentioned before that as long as the folks on TV providing you with entertaining or important information wear suits and ties, the suit remains safe to wear, even if less people are wearing them.
post #89 of 115
Quote:
Originally Posted by passingtime View Post
This is an interesting post showing one of the aspect of rules that is forgotten - rules are local. What is correct in one place is not necessarily true in another. In Kobe-Osaka these are not offences, they are correct by virtue of being the accepted norm. Another example is the pinched waist and flared skirt typical of English suits, these are considered wrong in the US. Wearing brown shoes with a dark business suit (is there any other kind?) in the UK - wrong in the UK but right in the US. Even within the US what is considered correct on one coast is not always considered so on the other coast (or the mid-west). Rules are modified by the context surrounding you (see Sator's earlier comment about IT workers being expected to dress scruffily) and as such there are few universal rules in style.
There are indeed local variations. British preference for braces, French cuffs, and black shoes, Italian preferences for belts, barrel cuffs, and brown shoes. But with the exception of the black suit, what I described is not the accepted norm in Kobe-Osaka. There are men here who show cuff and get their tie length right. Most just don't know or care, I suppose, but there are those who do. As for no tie, that is imitating American business casual, using the hot weather as an excuse. As for tie with short sleeve shirt, there are dorks everywhere, US and Japan included.
post #90 of 115
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sator View Post
But, if we truly live in the Age of Absolute Dress Freedom, then FNB should be able to wear couture house dresses with trains to work...
So hard to find the right shoes...
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