If you do not own the following things, you are not well dressed

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Manton, Aug 1, 2012.

  1. oldog/oldtrix

    oldog/oldtrix Senior member

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    The discussion of black tie attire earlier started me thinking (always dangerous): for a majority of men in present day America, it is likely equally true that, as with black tie, they have no occasion day-to-day, week-to-week, or maybe even month-to-month to wear most of what we put on our well-dressed lists. The best personal example I have of this sad phenomenon is my friend who, at his father’s funeral, wore a seen-better-days sport coat, too tight trousers, and casual shoes because that was the best he could do on short notice. This gentleman, and he is a gentleman in every meaningful sense of the word, is a senior level Ph.D. scientist who, among other thngs, travels the world making presentations on behalf of the government of this country. He has a good income, as does his wife who also holds a post-graduate professional degree, a lovely home, two fine European automobiles and an envirobox, and insignificant debt. His wardrobe circumstances, he told me, were attributable to the fact that “scientists just don’t dress up.” In light of his funeral experience, however, he decided that he wanted some wardrobe basics and asked me to help. It was sale time at Brooks Brothers, and he said he liked their shirts, so I arranged to meet him there. I went early and picked out, with his personality and life in mind, the following from the upper end of the offerings on hand:

    -one navy suit, 10 oz. worsted
    -one medium-dark gray suit, 10 oz. worsted
    -one navy blazer, 9 oz. tight weave hopsack
    -one wool sportcoat, brown/black/gray check 10/11 oz. open weave
    -two pair medium gray trousers, 9/10 oz. worsted
    -one pair black calf punch cap oxfords
    -one pair brown grain calf, split toe bluchers

    The total cost, with sale discounts where applicable, allowing for the inclusion of several shirts and ties, would have been less that $5,000. I told my friend, and I submit to you, that with this “wardrobe” he could travel anywhere and do anything he might need/want to do, short of black tie, and always be well and properly attired. I gave him examples of life events that most every man in his position faces and explained the options he would have from the clothing I suggested. He understood everything and did not dispute anything I was saying. He expressed admiration for each of the items I had picked out, though I made clear that there were other choices available within the same guidelines. He then bought the sportcoat, two pair of trousers (one of the gray I had suggested and one pair of brown), and the black oxfords. He said that was more than he had ever spent on clothing but that he understood the gaps he was leaving and would think about the other items. That was about a year ago, and he’s still thinking. And he is still a gentleman. And I am still crying.
     


  2. Coburn

    Coburn Senior member

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    1 a blue odd jacket [​IMG]
    2 mid gray flannel pants [​IMG]
    3 decent, nonchino khakis [​IMG]
    4 at least one funky (but tasteful!) nonblue tweed jacket [​IMG]
    5 a mid to dark gray worsted singlebreasted suit [​IMG]
    6 a navy worsted single breasted suit [​IMG]
    7 a white FC shirt [​IMG]
    8 several blue BC shirts, at least one BD [​IMG]
    9 black stitch caps [​IMG]
    10 some tasteful brown oxfords (exact configuration up to you) [​IMG]
    11 loafers in medium brown calf, suede or shell or else burg shell [​IMG]
    12 a solid black tie, knit or grenadine [​IMG]
    13 a solid navy tie, knit or grenadine [​IMG]
    14 a plain white linen hanky [​IMG]
    15 at least one DB suit, navy worsted or medium gray ×
    16 at least one linen suit ×

    17 at least one pair of brown suede shoes [​IMG]
    18 at least one formal tie, e.g., a B&W shepherd's check [​IMG]
    19 at least one wool or cashmere tie [​IMG]
    20 at least one linen or linen blend tie [​IMG]
    21 A complete, wellfitting, correct black tie rig, including shoes [​IMG]
    22 An overcoat in navy, charcoal or camel [​IMG]


    90 %. Not bad. I just don’t like DBs or wrinkled linen.
     


  3. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    Treehorn @ 78: maybe it’s because I am from California but to me a true blazer with brass has exactly the opposite connotation. It’s the one tailored garment that EVERYONE has. I was wearing cheap kiddie versions by age 5 and my mother would buy me a new one once every 2-3 years as I outgrew the old one. There was nothing aristocratic about it, though I suppose rich people wore them. The point is, so did everyone else.

    To those of you engaged in that side-bar discussion, my list is not meant to be a SW list.

    [email protected]: see what I wrote to the dwarf above. I’m to pare down to the basic essentials. The reason a loafer is better than a derby is that you can do more with it. By all means, get some derbs and wear them as you suggest, but you can still be well dressed without them. You can’t be well dressed without black stitch caps and you can’t wear those with odd jackets. You need something that can go with all your odd jackets in all seasons, and the loafer does that.

    o/o, I like your list, though I would have made one of gray pants flannel and the substitution of split toes for loafers makes sense. Though I still think loafers are more versatile, and probably less like to “scare off” a guy like that. The idea of him buying only the black shoes to wear with his blazer makes me :shudder:
     


  4. gomestar

    gomestar Super Yelper

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    Pls invite me so I can wear my tux again. Thx.



    there was an event a few months ago that was black tie, but I was in France. Oh darn.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012


  5. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Only if you bring the wine. :fistbump:
     


  6. gomestar

    gomestar Super Yelper

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  7. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    this is a great story. thanks for sharing. much appreciated.
     


  8. Fuuma

    Fuuma Franchouillard Modasse

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    Went through the list, just for fun. It is interesting to note that while I do not profess to dress MC I own most of the items in the list.

    -a blue odd jacket. If you live in a two-season climate, then two, one for warmth and one for the cold (yup, summery one is cotton and electric blue though)
    -mid gray flannel pants (nope, I have a light grey flannel suit I love and got because of MC influence but generally avoid overtly textured anything)
    -decent, non-chino khakis (I don't wear khakis or chinos so nope)
    -at least one funky (but tasteful!) non-blue tweed jacket (I have a beige with reddish overtones tweed jacket, Victorian cut though as it is by Paul Harnden. This is half SF influence, half fashion whim)
    -a mid to dark gray worsted single-breasted suit (yup)
    -a navy worsted single breasted suit (yup)
    -a white FC shirt (yup, with spread collar, never wear it unless there is something semi-official. FC are for stuff like marriages IMHO)
    -several blue BC shirts, at least one BD (yeah, own 2-3 blue shirts, all BD)
    -black stitch caps (yeah, more than one pair even)
    -some tasteful brown oxfords (exact configuration up to you) (yeah)
    -loafers in medium brown calf, suede or shell or else burg shell (no, hate loafers)
    -a solid black tie, knit or grenadine (not sure what tie I own but I do believe I have a silk black one so no good)
    -a solid navy tie, knit or grenadine (think I do)
    -a plain white linen hanky (have about 6-8 of those)
    For the "more advanced" players:
    -at least one DB suit, navy worsted or medium gray flannel (the best dressers will have both) (have a navy db)
    -at least one linen suit (nope, have some linen blend jackets though)
    -at least one pair of brown suede shoes (nope, well I got a pair of desert boots to go in deserts)
    -at least one formal tie, e.g., a B&W shepherd's check (yeah I think)
    -at least one wool or cashmere tie (yeah)
    -at least one linen or linen blend tie (nope)
    If necessary
    -A complete, well-fitting, correct black tie rig, including shoes (yeah except for the shoes cause I hate that stuff)
    -An overcoat in navy, charcoal or camel (yeah)

    At one point I think I'll upgrade ties just for fun, like get 10 decent ones to cover most occasions. They'd need to be slim though otherwise I'll just look silly. Now if I own most of these items it should be pretty much a given that a MC wearer does, quirk/hate aside (i.e. I will never wear loafers).
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012


  9. fritzl

    fritzl Senior member

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    i have to sleep over that. fair?
     


  10. OlSarge

    OlSarge Senior member

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    I'm working on it, I'm working on it!
     


  11. Parker

    Parker Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    yeah, it's interesting how universal a lot of these items are. even in a non-MC / designerfashion context, a lot of these are just staples of being well-dressed. e.g. navy/gray suit, white shirt, black tie, black captoes, overcoat, etc.

    i have 90% of the list. I don't have a formal rig and I stopped wearing any khakis/chinos, but I do have a couple khaki suits.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012


  12. schrag

    schrag Well-Known Member

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    I am upgrading the wardrobe but have less of a need for suits than listed. Work in a business casual academic admin environment. Placeholders & rough equivalents in bold


    -a blue odd jacket. If you live in a two-season climate, then two, one for warmth and one for the cold Cotton Cream/Stone SC, usually paired with navy trousers (inverse california tuxedo)
    -mid gray flannel pants
    -decent, non-chino khakis
    -at least one funky (but tasteful!) non-blue tweed jacket Brown Check Wool/Cashmere and a Pale Olivey-Brown Herringbone, patch pocketed, but not proper tweed
    -a mid to dark gray worsted single-breasted suit Suit is Zara bought for convocation in 2010 and worn under academic robe, while I get more use out of sport coats I am on the hunt for a mid-grey number
    -a navy worsted single breasted suit
    -a white FC shirt
    -several blue BC shirts, at least one BD - Half blue half white in this config
    -black stitch caps - quarter-brogued captoes
    -some tasteful brown oxfords (exact configuration up to you) - Alden Brown suede wingtips - counted again below
    -loafers in medium brown calf, suede or shell or else burg shell - my high instep rejects any loafer without an elasticated vamp - and I'm not going to start rocking Aldo to check this box off.
    -a solid black tie, knit or grenadine - textured silk
    -a solid navy tie, knit or grenadine
    -a plain white linen hanky

    For the "more advanced" players:
    -at least one DB suit, navy worsted or medium gray flannel (the best dressers will have both)
    -at least one linen suit
    -at least one pair of brown suede shoes - See above (Alden)
    -at least one formal tie, e.g., a B&W shepherd's check
    -at least one wool or cashmere tie
    -at least one linen or linen blend tie

    If necessary
    -A complete, well-fitting, correct black tie rig, including shoes
    -An overcoat in navy, charcoal or camel Upgrading from black this season
     


  13. oldog/oldtrix

    oldog/oldtrix Senior member

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    I agree with the changes you would make, for me but not for my friend. He'd never wear anything "heavy" like flannel pants (the sport coat, though slightly tweedy in pattern, had a smooth finish and a light hand). As for loafers, he cannot fathom shoes without laces; he has sport sandals with laces. As for his choice of the black oxfords, he said he wanted the dressier shoe. I almost said "to wear with f--king what?" Instead, I said "great idea; they'll go with both the navy and the gray suit when you get them." I romanticize about my youth in men's retail, but that's because, when I was last in that business more than 40 years ago, I could have effortlessly sold more on any given Saturday to most customers with half the income and clout of my friend. Every day, my nom de web rings more true to me.
     


  14. gsugsu

    gsugsu Senior member

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    With respect to brown suede footwear suitable for mid-grey flannel odd pants and suits, what is the most versatile or most appropriate colour? Does this change when pairing suede with charcoal flannel - dark brown only? How about navy?

    Viewing photos of colours such as mink, polo, tobacco or snuff without having seen them in person have me at a loss.

    Look forward to your insight.

    G
     


  15. roquesoon

    roquesoon Senior member

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    Interesting to hear all the comments on formal dress. As a classical musician, my first three suits were (in this order): tux, black worsted, full evening dress. I find all three to be hilariously anachronistic for what I do, but oh well. Getting to wear tails on a regular basis is a treat, even if it is faintly ridiculous to be in evening dress when audience members are wearing god knows what.
     


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