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If your wardrobe is too large, you end up looking worse.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by radicaldog, Oct 9, 2009.

  1. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    Good. When this came out, I was instantly doomed by friends to Nick Smith.

    I didn't have a shadow of a doubt about it! (It's good to be able to blame the recourse to trite expression on not being a native speaker -- truth is, it's getting late and I'm quite tired.)


    And please: Tommy.


    Tommy.
     
  2. Ataturk

    Ataturk Senior member

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    I agree with Vox--about the fake "lived-in" look, about having more suits rather than trying to make up for it by overdoing it with accessories, etc.

    Except about the shoes (and I realize I'm not the first to say this). Shoes ought to look like they're lived in, and that's tough to do when you've got a hundred pairs of $500 shoes.
     
  3. embowafa

    embowafa Senior member

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    I think PG's post may have said it best. Aren't we all over thinking this? Doesn't the existence of someone like Vox kind of debunk the OP's argument? Dude has what looks to he an insanely large wardrobe and he has a success rate in the high 90%ile with what he wears. I think it boils down to a couple things... 1) You either have "it" or you don't. It doesn't matter how you got it, just that you have it. Guys like vox, PG, iammatt, cravate noir, maomao, yfyf have it. It doesn't matter how large their wardrobe is and how worn/lived-in/"owned" their items are. Sure, having the money to purchase said items is important, but key. Their style allows them to pick items, coordinate them, and wear them with what is perceived to be relative ease. Their consistency and success via good fits (and good photography, which is an underrated factor) leads to the next big point..... 2) WAYWRN thread. What started off as an innocent way of sharing what you happen to be wearing today has snow balled (mutated?) into the beast it is today. Everyone sees how good the aforementioned posters look and the first thought for new people is "Wow, I want to look just like those guys!". And in a rush to immitate these looks people forget that these guys have been honing their wardrobe/'craft' for YEARS. (Regardless of the size, the clothes they wear have years of thought behind them) People start posting their looks and the rest is downhill. As a relative noob to this board and men's clothing, I can speak from first hand experience. I've gotten caught up in the hype and circle jerk and posted fits that probably aren't the best, but I just wanted to be a part of it, I guess. The direction of the thread has taken a turn toward posting for the sake of posting. The fits, regardless of their general success, are usually met with a circle-jerky [​IMG] or [​IMG] which has kind of turned me off to the thread. I tend to agree with the previous poster who said that it seems that people are wearing these clothes just to post them on this message board. IMO, the poster child for the new nature of this thread is Mr. Moo. (I'm sure this will get me a 'go fuck yourself' response, but it really is the truth) He came onto this board with good intentions and he figured out that the key to a succesful post is some solid photography, and okay clothes. The rest is history. I mean, would Moo have ever REALLY even considered wearing the now infamous shorts suit if his previous fits weren't met with such thunderous applause? Think about it, he looked at those clothes, decided that the guys on SF would give him a [​IMG] and the hits would keep on coming. I'm willing to give him the benefit of the doubt that if it were not for WAYWRN, he would never think of wearing AND photographing that outfit. I'm probably rambling now, but my conclusion to the OP is that it doesn't matter how large your wardrobe is, if you have style, you have style. This message board, for all of its benefits (and they outweigh the negatives by a landslide), has created a culture where the focus isn't on the process of discovering your style but just sharing ANYTHING you can come up with as fast as possible.
     
  4. sifl

    sifl Well-Known Member

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  5. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This thread is eliciting so many thoughtful replies that I can't get to all the ones that merit comment.

    So let me just start with Mattypoo's excellent point.

    I think that it would be impossible to disagree fundamentally with this goal, the goal of "owning" a way of dressing. It sounds nice. Sartorial terroir.

    But we live in a rather swirly world today, do we not? Whether the rush of the waters is a circling of the drain or the adventure of the high seas, who can say?

    Chinese men wear Italian slip-ons and photograph themselves with Germen lenses drinking French wines. Americans dress like lethargic and picky Neapolitan aristocrats. Californian men are in skirts. High JASPS of the UWS trod about in Japanese denim. Descendants of the Mayflower and the cannibal feasts of the South Seas get English tailors to make FabergÃ[​IMG] eggs out of simple buttonholes. Topsy turvy. Glorious?

    Inglorious?

    It is simply the way things have become.

    And then when you jump out of the plane from this high altitude view and parachute deep into the clothing Interwebz and things like WAYRN threads, you also have the following going on: quests for information, change and self improvement; validation and conformity on the fly; vanity.

    Unless one equates "ownership" of dress with manifest, demonstrable uniformity of dress, I think that it would hard to go much further than that in such an environment to determine who owns what look...particular among a bunch of strangers.

    Chew on that.

    - B

    I guess that isn't really what I am talking about, or at least, you, and many others seem to think about and intellectualize clothing to a degree which would never cross my mind. I suppose I am blind to, or at least consciously blind to, ideas dealing with various social and regional backgrounds. Now, you will say that I prefer clothing that is distinctly regional, but really I prefer that clothing despite the fact that it is regional, and simply because it fits my eye. To me, while the analysis can be interesting (when somebody else is doing it,) it leads to the very phenomenon I am talking about, which is the inability to own what you wear because it is something that is though about and rationalized rather than bought because it is enjoyable and fits into the life you lead every day. At least, that is what I think.
     
  6. bigbris1

    bigbris1 Senior member

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    I agree, Matt. There are 3 things that drive me to make a purchase; 1. I must like it, like I have to have it (pleasing to my eye), 2. It's something most others wouldn't buy, can't find anymore or just think is wrong & 3. Price.

    Take the paisley Polo jacket I once wanted. I liked the look, I knew not too many others would have bought it nor could go out and buy one if they did like it. What held me back was the price.
     
  7. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    I have your back on this...we're outnumbered (ironic, isn't it?) but we'll go down fighting.
    My travels preclude me from giving real time (or thought) to this matter ... and so does the spotty internet service. As you know, of course, I'm severely iChallenged ... but I'll take advantage of it when I find it.

    In the mean time I leave you with fighting words ...

    Fight Fiercely Vox
    Fight, Fight, fight!
    Demonstrate to them our skill.
    Albeit they possess the might,
    Nonetheless we have the will.
    How we shall celebrate our victory:
    We shall invite the whole lot
    Up for tea! How jolly!
    So hurl our suits, shirts & shoes upon the field;
    Enough to stop any Bonesman in his tracks,
    And Fight! Fight! Fight!​
     
  8. RSS

    RSS Senior member

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    To me, while the analysis can be interesting (when somebody else is doing it,) it leads to the very phenomenon I am talking about, which is the inability to own what you wear because it is something that is though about and rationalized rather than bought because it is enjoyable and fits into the life you lead every day.
    Iammatt has hit the nail squarely on the head.

    And now ... I must go find breakfast. Sorry vox ... no camera with me.
     
  9. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    I guess that isn't really what I am talking about, or at least, you, and many others seem to think about and intellectualize clothing to a degree which would never cross my mind. I suppose I am blind to, or at least consciously blind to, ideas dealing with various social and regional backgrounds. Now, you will say that I prefer clothing that is distinctly regional, but really I prefer that clothing despite the fact that it is regional, and simply because it fits my eye. To me, while the analysis can be interesting (when somebody else is doing it,) it leads to the very phenomenon I am talking about, which is the inability to own what you wear because it is something that is though about and rationalized rather than bought because it is enjoyable and fits into the life you lead every day. At least, that is what I think.

    Well, I just took it for granted that anybody with an account here is guilty of this style-adverse overthinking.

    But, professional overthinker that I am, I offer two replies: (i) the current style disarray of the real world partly justifies taking refuge on the interwebz, the idea being that it a small evil (overthinking) for a greater good (the preservation of the classic style sensibility); (ii) there are some people here who are certainly more guilty of this than others (Mafoofan, yours truly, etc.), but I say, if you're going to do something, do it properly! (Where's the smiley for tongue-in-cheek?)
     
  10. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    To me, while the analysis can be interesting (when somebody else is doing it,) it leads to the very phenomenon I am talking about, which is the inability to own what you wear because it is something that is though about and rationalized rather than bought because it is enjoyable and fits into the life you lead every day. At least, that is what I think.

    It seems to me that the degree to which you think about clothes has no direct relationship to this notion of "owning" what you wear.

    Here's an excerpt from my re-post of Filangieri's old piece on AAAC on Neapolitan tailoring:


    Talking about fitting sessions, I would like to share a little hint of local history.

    An old Maestro told me that many decades ago, when he was a young apprentice, most of the best customers belonged to the old Bourbon aristocracy and they had a lot of time to amuse themselves in the “sartoria” because they were not supposed to be personally involved in any kind of professional occupation (labour belonged to the bourgeois middle class and to the poor members of the working class). The affluent gentlemen of the high Neapolitan society used to spend endless hours perfecting their exclusive wardrobes down to the tiniest details, and they literally “trained” generations of tailors to work in a finical, exacting manner and to seal into their bespoke suits the patrician allure and the appetite for perfection of their aristocratic customers.

    Many members of the Neapolitan gentry grew so affectionate to their custom tailors that they used to say (of couse in Neapolitan dialect) : “E’ mane ’n cuollo m’e ponno mettere sulamente mugliereme e o’ sarto” (“I allow only my wife and my tailor to touch me .”) That’s how - through decades of countless, endless fitting sessions - the elusive, aristocratic style that is known as the “Neapolitan cut” came to life.


    Now, despite what a person with a philosophy of non-chalance about clothes might call an obsession with details, could one actually claim that these men of leisure did not "own" their Neapolitan clothes? They most certainly did.

    Now, their obsession was aesthetic. Beyond that, it was probably devoid of intellectual content, and therefore, they were not "intellectualizing" clothes in the way that I think you mean.

    I think, however, that 99% what you might call intellectualizing on Internet clothing forums is really just shooting the breeze...like I am doing right now.


    - B
     
  11. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    A wise man pointed out this old piece by George Frazier: http://thematerialist.net/artofwearingclothes.html#4 That was back when many well-to-do Americans were quite European in many respects, or so I'd like to think. Look at how limited A. J. Drexel Biddle's (considered by many the most elegant man in the US) wardrobe was: Even in its entirety, Biddle's wardrobe seems, by contrast, almost monastic. It includes seven so-called business suits—two double- and one single-breasted navy-blue serge; one double- and one single-breasted dark-blue pin-stripe flannel; one single-breasted charcoal-grey flannel. (They were made by either H. Harris of New York, who charges $225 and up for a two-piece suit, or E. Tautz of London who charges, as to do most topnotch British tailors, almost a quarter less. All have skeleton alpaca linings and the sleeves have three buttons and open buttonholes. The single-breasteds have three-button, notched-lapel jackets.) For formal daytime wear, Biddle has a charcoal-grey cheviot cutaway, a single-breasted white waistcoat, and black trousers with broad white stripes. (With these, he wears a black silk ascot and a wide wing collar.) For semiformal daytime occasions, he has a charcoal-grey single-breasted cheviot sack coat and trousers, in either black or Cambridge grey, with broad white stripes. Besides a ready-made Aquascutum raincoat, Biddle owns three outer coats—a double-breasted blue chinchilla ($175 from Tautz), a single-breasted light drab covert cloth ($225, H. Harris), and a double-breasted polo coat with white bone buttons ($325, Harris). He has, in addition to a tweed cap, four hats, all of them purchased at Lock's in London too many years ago for him to recall exactly what they cost. One is a high-silk, one an opera hat, and the other two homburgs—one black and one green. For formal evening wear, Biddle has tails ($175, Tautz), a double-breasted dinner coat with satin shawl lapels ($150, Tautz), and, for warm weather, two single-breasted, shawl-collared white gabardine dinner coats ($98 each, Tautz). His evening shirts, with which he wears a conventionally-shaped bow tie, have pleats, roll collars, and are made for him by Dudley G. Eldridge of New York at $28 each. Biddle's sports clothes include three tweed jackets ($160 each, Harris), three pairs of charcoal-grey flannel slacks, and a half-dozen button-down shirts made by Eldridge out of silk that he, Biddle, bought in Spain. His shoes, of which he has three pairs of black for daytime wear and one patent leather and one calfskin for evening wear, were made by Paulsen & Stone of London, who also made for him, for sports wear, a pair of black moccasins, a pair of black loafers, and two pairs of white canvas shoes with brown leather toes and rubber soles (which he wears with either prewar white flannels or an ancient double-breasted light-grey sharkskin suit). Biddle's neck-band shirts, which are either starched dickey bosoms (elongated so that the bosoms extend below the middle button of his jacket) or semi-starched pleated bosoms, have white cuffs and bodies of either grey or light blue. They cost $26 each and are made by Eldridge, who also makes his stiff white collars ($3 each) and his ties ($7.50 each), which run to solid black silks and discreet shepherd checks and are shaped so as to make a knot small enough to fit neatly into a hard collar. His underwear is ready-made and comes from Jacob Reed's. As for his military wardrobe, [...] Biddle somehow manages to squeeze by on a total of five uniforms. Incidentally, that description is quite moving for me, as if we adjust for the times the wardrobe is remarkably similar to that of my father (born 1932), also a (retired) army officer. It never occurred to me that the preponderance of black shoes must have been characteristic of earlier generations. Apologies for the digression.
     
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  12. radicaldog

    radicaldog Senior member

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    Now, despite what a person with a philosophy of non-chalance about clothes might call an obsession with details, could one actually claim that these men of leisure did not "own" their Neapolitan clothes? They most certainly did.

    Now, their obsession was aesthetic. Beyond that, it was probably devoid of intellectual content, and therefore, they were not "intellectualizing" clothes in the way that I think you mean.

    I think, however, that 99% what you might call intellectualizing on Internet clothing forums is really just shooting the breeze...like I am doing right now.


    - B


    This is probably just another way of restating your point, but it is worth noting that those leisured Neapolitans were dandies at best, and most probably just a bunch of vacuous narcissists. I do think part of the point of this thread was to set aside dandyism and focus on what one may gracelessly call the 'style civilian' way of dress (you know how Wilde sometimes wore his 'aesthetic uniform' etc.).
     
  13. JPHardy

    JPHardy Senior member

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    I agree with the premise that a smaller, let's say more refined wardrobe will make some one look better.

    I don't agree that a smaller wardrobe makes someone looked more "lived in"(assuming we agree on what that term means). That can be the case sometimes but it is not universal.

    I know I'm restating my case again, by Using Vox as an example like you did. If he only wore 5 of his suits exclusively for the next 5 years and then posted pics, I predict that his pictures would look the same they do now. That is just the way his clothes are made, the way he dresses and the way he projects himself.
     
  14. SkinnyGoomba

    SkinnyGoomba Senior member

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    I still dont know about smaller, but simpler maybe.

    My wardrobe is getting more simple, I dont wear nearly as many bright colors as before, and when I do its seasonally appropriate and not at all overwhelming.

    I think when you first start admiring clothing you look to the more extreme ways of being noticed for it and as you become aware of the fact that people are gawking at you, rather then admiring, one might tone it down to a level that can be admired instead.

    My wardrobe is small compaired to many on here but i find that I would be comfortable with about 2-3 suits, 10 jackets and 10-20 trousers.

    I'm finding what i dont like as well as what i like, so I'm rotating out some of the stuff i dont like to keep the quantity down and quality up. No need to keep things that you will never wear.
     
  15. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Well, I just took it for granted that anybody with an account here is guilty of this style-adverse overthinking.

    But, professional overthinker that I am, I offer two replies: (i) the current style disarray of the real world partly justifies taking refuge on the interwebz, the idea being that it a small evil (overthinking) for a greater good (the preservation of the classic style sensibility); (ii) there are some people here who are certainly more guilty of this than others (Mafoofan, yours truly, etc.), but I say, if you're going to do something, do it properly! (Where's the smiley for tongue-in-cheek?)

    Well, you can over intellectualize clothing in different ways. FWIW, your comments and points don't cross that line for me, and I find them interesting, and think that, in many ways, they look to examine and understand the difference between a well thought out, yet natural, way of understanding clothing and style as it has existed, and a recreation of that style under terribly false pretenses that nearly always goes awry.
     
  16. voxsartoria

    voxsartoria Senior member

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    A wise man pointed out this old piece by George Frazier:

    http://thematerialist.net/artofwearingclothes.html#4


    [​IMG]

    Incidentally, that description is quite moving for me, as if we adjust for the times the wardrobe is remarkably similar to that of my father (born 1932), also a (retired) army officer. It never occurred to me that the preponderance of black shoes must have been characteristic of earlier generations. Apologies for the digression.

    I like that digression.

    This is probably just another way of restating your point, but it is worth noting that those leisured Neapolitans were dandies at best, and most probably just a bunch of vacuous narcissists.

    The titled aristrocracy are the scum of the earth.

    But often well dressed.


    - B
     
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  17. Parker

    Parker Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I like clothes.
     
  18. luftvier

    luftvier Senior member

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    I've not gone through tall 15 pages of this thread. It's duly entertaining. To address some of the concerns raised:

    1) WAYWRN is a blessing and a curse. The iGentry pea-cocking has really opening my eyes to what is possible, sartorially, with a few nice pieces and some creativity. Coming from a background that is neither sartorially inclined nor wealthy, I had no clue as to what was appropriate or acceptable in terms of creativity in men's style.

    That said, the thread has changed quite a bit since I first joined. My first posts were responded to with constructive criticism on how to improve my appearance and tailoring - compare this to today's [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] or [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG], and the functionality of WAYWRN is diminished.

    2) It's not a matter of how many clothes one owns, it's a matter of how one wears them and how put-together he appears.

    Not to pick on Moo, but everyone knows how much forvmites skewered (and continue to skewer) him on WAYWRN for his choices of SFvm Approvedâ„¢ but ill-fitting clothing. He's learned now, due in part to the relentless torment, but it's a problem that can affect many newer posters on the Fvm. No hard feelings Moo, please, it's just that you seem to have become the resident celebrity on such matters, and your visibility makes the best example for reasons of this thread.

    Seeing so many well-dressed guys when all you have in your wardrobe is Men's Wearhouse can cause two things - first, feelings of shame for your shitty suits, and two, an immediate desire to up your ante and jump into the narcissistic WAYWRN fire.

    Coupled with the aforementioned pea-cocking, we have what's really best described as a circle jerk

    There are a number of people on this forum who know what they like and do it well. Vox is rather classical in his stylings, as does HoldFast. Man of Kent looks, to my American eye, quintessentially English. PG generally looks fantastic with his excellent accessorizing. PandArts and I look to the 50s/60s for our muse (not to say that I am, in any way, the archetype of sartorial success). Niidawg just looks classy. Regardless of how many clothes each has, each knows what he likes and owns his looks.

    Now, I myself have been guilty of a few impulse purchases (what sticks most in my mind is a 3btn notch lapel BOSS tuxedo), as have we all. But that's a consequence of learning one's own style, just as relapse is part of recovery from drug addiction (see e.g. smoking).

    I would buy more, but I am out of the money and the closet space to facilitate more purchases.

    Keep on the excellent conversation, iGents.
     
  19. james_timothy

    james_timothy Senior member

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    Doesn't the existence of someone like Vox kind of debunk the OP's argument? Dude has what looks to he an insanely large wardrobe and he has a success rate in the high 90%ile with what he wears.
    I think it is support for Vox's argument that one can avoid the peacocking of WAYRN by having a sufficiently large wardrobe that one has what is right for today without having to spice up what one wore yesterday.

    I think I disagree with this- it does matter how they got their ability to dress, and it isn't something in-born but is acquired by watching how other people dress. Outside of the web, we just don't get much opportunity to see people who really know how to do it. It isn't something magical- just an acquired skill that takes time to learn.

    Because they have a sufficiently large wardrobe. (I can't believe I've come around to Vox's way of thinking.) Otherwise one has to work at extracting the most out of what you have and one usually errs on the side of peacock. At heart RadicalDog's argument is that the best is always just what is necessary and sufficient, not an overwhelming surplus nor a poverty stricken lack. He never tells one how to achieve what is essentially a theoretical aesthetic position.

    I think it is true that actually having older clothes is only part of the story. Despite Vox's 15 year old suit and shirt, if I was to wear them I would still look like a newly minted Vice President of something or other, because I have not in the past worn pinstripes, and I wouldn't know when now to wear them. In my context it would be out of whack, and I'd look like I had the junior VP psychology. This despite the objectively high quality of the clothes.

    I have to agree with that.
     
  20. Will

    Will Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Even with closets full of the most classic elements, it takes a critical mass of clothing to achieve good looks day after day without undue repetition. No matter how good a man's ensemble, if he wears it every other day it loses its impact.

    Whatever number of suits, shoes and other things a man requires to achieve that objective is the correct wardrobe size. Vox, from his photos, is well past that. Foo, not to pick on him for he is on his way, is not there yet.

    This is perhaps the principal reason that the very well dressed tend to be either middle aged, or the inheritors of an Agnelli-class wardrobe.
     
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