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MC General Chat

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by dieworkwear, Aug 4, 2012.

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  1. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    lol, well, I'm not trying to single anyone out or suggest anyone changes. I'm just posting what I see, which may or may not be correct. I don't insist upon it.

    Even I'm spot-on with that construct, the consolation is that as cultures are constantly in flux, the associations of clothes can loosen and reshape themselves over time (this is, of course, another word for "fashion"). Thus, the historical cultural condensates associated with certain looks/details/attitudes aren't permanent but constantly reinvented. What today might simply be a modern interpretation of an old elite's dress might tomorrow become a fresh new construct (#menswear, anyone?). Our cultures are all going through an interesting period of change at the moment, driven easy, daily, mass international communication on a grand scale. It's almost entropic; like a combination of dissolution and homogenisation at the same time, as if they're all turning to blancmange. It'll be interesting to see what new concepts arrive to create new forms. I think that's the case for clothes and other cultural trends too.
     
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  2. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

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    Another fine use of a primary colored tie.

    [​IMG]
     
  3. Ivar

    Ivar Senior member

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    Primary colors get a nay from me too. (Except on dark-skinned/tanned men in certain very specific contexts.)
     
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  4. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I wouldn't object to a definition of good taste as something like, "displaying wealth without looking like you are trying too hard to display it". Exactly how hard you should be trying varies across time and across cultures. A close variant is "displaying that you don't care about money without trying too hard to look like you don't are about money". In any case, over time, the things that are most expensive and difficult to produce or replicate will be the things that are most coveted. Effecting a look of monied indifference will always be a winner.

    It can be hard to admit that when you feel like you're just cultivating an aesthetic appreciation of beautiful things. And surely this is part of it too. But what we find beautiful is heavily influenced by what it costs to produce. Take something like pick-stitching. When it could only be done by hand, it was cool. Then machine-made knock-offs came along. To be sure, they didn't do it as well, but still, it looked kinda similar. Then the hand-made pick-stitching has to be more subtle and more irregular to differentiate it further from the cheap machine-made stuff. Now pick-stitching seems to be dying out as an element of a tasteful suit.

    This is true with colors too. The color purple became the color of royalty because it was produced through a long and expensive process that involved extracting small glands out of snails. I would guess that today, producing primary colors is fairly cheap and easy. The more complicated a color you intend to create, the more you need someone who knows what they're doing to design it and make sure it can be reproduced faithfully in whatever you intend to sell with it.

    My philosophy is just to accept that style and class connotations are irrevocably linked. There's no point in trying to talk your way out of it. It doesn't really diminish my own enjoyment of clothes, but my classism sensitivies may be anachronistically low.

    On the pics:

    I don't think Nick Foulkes looks terrible in his brown and yellow, but...well actually I guess I do. Brown and pink and yellow is a no. Maybe without the pink it would be ok. The second pic of the navy suit and blue blue tie is pretty good. I can't argue with that as being in good taste.
     
  5. Tirailleur1

    Tirailleur1 Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    This is interesting discussion. I wonder if this unb's observation applies to men of color. Most of dw's example outside of vox are pretty dark skinned individuals
     
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  6. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Ivar mentioned this - actually when I was writing this I almost mentioned that Tirailleur seems almost unique in his ability to look inventive and fresh in primary colors. I don't know if it's your skin tone or just overall high level of stylishness.
     
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  7. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    One day I was in a store called Uni Qlo. A friend was trying on some things and this black man came up to me to ask my opinion on what shirt would look best with his gray suit he was wearing. He had on a lavender shirt with it. I told him that I would personally like it best with a white, or light blue shirt and I showed him some at the store. He looked at them and held them up to him face and said, yeah, but, uh, I'm black. I was partially stunned because I never ever thought of matching anything to my olive skin and also I don't notice things like skin color on other people :hide:
     
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  8. aravenel

    aravenel Senior member

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    This is a really interesting conversation, guys. Wish I had more to contribute to it other than that I agree that "taste" has an irrevocable link to class--specifically "old money" class.
     
  9. SuitedDx

    SuitedDx Senior member

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    Interesting point about matching with skin tone since I typically avoid red (not just because I do not have a stable full of Ferraris) because it does not compliment my skin tone. Light pink and burgundy are fine but in between is a no-no.
     
  10. msulinski

    msulinski Senior member

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    I'm not clear on how lavender matched any better.
     
  11. patrickBOOTH

    patrickBOOTH Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  12. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    Wow, we're really delving into some tricky areas: taste AND race in one thread. Yummy, this will be good. [​IMG]

    I had a late start to the day and so, while dozing in and out of sleep, my mind returned to the topic being discussed in this thread. Is it actually possible to have a non-culturally-biased, or acultural, viewpoint on what looks good? Some schools of aesthetics would suggest so, but they all generally fall prey to the philosophical equivalent of what psychologists call the fundamental attribution error; in this case, "my perspective on what is aesthetically-pleasing is rational, while yours is culture-bound".

    Now, it's certainly possible to derive rational principles (or even rulesets) to create an aesthetically-pleasing outfit, as defined by a cultural perspective. In fact, that's what's been discussed ad infinitum on this board (e.g. manton and esp. mafoofan are excellent at this sort of concretisation/derivation of principles behind an aesthetic cultural framework; follow his rules and you wiil get a result that fits within the framework) & in a myriad of books on mens' style. These rationalisations can be made more or less internally-consistent, with a little minor bending of logic at the margins. Why is that helpful? Well, once you've decided you want to project a certain look or style, they'll help you achieve it. That's certainly not to be sniffed at, whether you have those aims or not.

    However, it doesn't get us much closer to deciding if there is an abstract aesthetic that is pleasing irrespective of culture. One way to determine this would be to look at points of clothing consistency across cultures. This feels a little "lowest common denominator" to me (phenomenological commonality might be an answer, but is it the answer?) but then I've always liked thought experiments more than actual experiments, so that could account for that. Still, I do feel there must be a more perceptual way to define what is pleasing to look at i.e. through a scientific understanding of how human vision works and how that to the feeling of pleasure. Obviously culture will act as a secondary overlay, influencing the connections, but study enough people across cultures and some common residue should emerge. This is not a new concept (neuropsychologists, gestalt theorists and various other tribes have been working on these concepts for decades), but I don't think any have applied their theories directly to clothes. They've concentrated on faces, features, geometric & absract shapes and the like.

    Hmm, there's a certainly a PhD thesis (at a minimum) in there for someone more motivated than I.

    My hunches are that some cross-cultural aesthetic pluses are:
    - an outfit that encourages saccadic eye movement (mimicking how eyes look at faces)
    - outfits with broad symmetry but one or two key asymmetric features (again, like faces)
    - outfits that broadly emphasise secondary sexual characteristics (the exact ones will vary across cultures).

    Beyond that, and the precise mechanism of achieving those goals, is more culturally-bound.

    Anyway, all vague, rambling, unevidenced and inexact, but hey, that's what this thread is for, right? :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
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  13. mafoofan

    mafoofan Senior member Dubiously Honored

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  14. Tirailleur1

    Tirailleur1 Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    That was a pretty interesting read hf. I really didnt mean to bring up race in regards to the topic. I was merely contemplating whether this analysis applies to men of a tint shade which could be a southeast asian, african or a white person with a substantial tan.

    But I do agree that culture plays a role in regards to good taste

    I also think age plays a role as well
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013
  15. Holdfast

    Holdfast Senior member

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    Oh God, and just as I was logging off for the evening... this guarantees that this thread will have another 20 pages by the time I check in tomorrow! [​IMG]

    Seriously though, your thoughts on the themes of the last couple of pages will be interesting. In particular, I'm curious as to whether you believe it's possible to derive an acultural aesthetically-pleasing outfit and whether its principles would tally with any of my hunches outlined in the post just above.

    (not saying it's necessarily practically relevant; I'm not really interested in that. More as a thought experiment about whether it's theoretically possible to derive a valid construct or not.)

    Anyway, I certainly look forward to seeing the state of the thread tomorrow. Try not to kill each. The bloodstains are hard to get out. [​IMG]
     
  16. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think the silhouette of broad shoulders, a smaller waist, and swelled chest, are pretty universally admired in males. Of course slight variations across cultures will exist, and the ideal numbers may vary across cultures while the ratios stay the same, but this might be near as universal as the hips-to-waist ratio in women.

    But you're going to have a hard time finding a non-culturally-dependent rationale for the tastefulness of pick-stitching.
     
  17. mymil

    mymil Senior member

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    I think all style is going to be culturally relative. Even if it is true that unbel's "broad shoulders, a smaller waist, and swelled chest" are universally admired traits (and I'm not sure it is---for example specific times and specific cultures for whom corpulence is admired because it indicates wealth), how to emphasize and indicate them? Why wear clothes at all: why not just be naked and develop large shoulders and pecs? Padded, extended shoulders vs. spalla camicia?

    I'm most familiar with anthropology, which would seem a good field to approach some of these questions, but there has been very little good research on clothes. There has been more linguistic research on color terms, though, and the way different people categorize colors varies dramatically. Even within cultures! I would guess that SF members have more color terms than average men in our respective societies. Does this mean that people with different color terms would find different combinations of colors most aesthetically pleasing? I don't know, but possibly.
     
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  18. Tirailleur1

    Tirailleur1 Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Mymil true words..m

    Nigeian men especially older ones with less influence from the west tend to prefer rotund stomachs. It signifies their baller status.
     
  19. mymil

    mymil Senior member

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    Some men value inguinal hernias because your guts fall into your balls and make them really big.

    Some more things: codpieces. Penis sheaths (yes, that's a thing; no, I'm not going to post a picture for you). Men's tights (at certain points men's slender legs were considered worthy of display). Frilly collar things. White powdered wigs (would Foo advocate cream powdered wigs instead?).
     
  20. SuitedDx

    SuitedDx Senior member

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    I always enjoy psych references :slayer:


    This type of research would probably be more in the area of cognitive psychology. Any well-dressed cognitive psychologists here on SF?


    I proposed this... and the committee member with the square-toed shoes said no. If someone does plan to fund a grant for this type of research, I will be one of the first in line to collaborate!


    Very interesting topic about men's style here since I dabble in clinical and research work related to men and masculinity. I think the biggest confound is that (I would guess) almost everyone here on SF is influenced by "Western" culture since we focus primarily on this type of clothing. Although the membership is international, suits, ties, and oxfords are the norm here and does not go beyond societies that have this type of influence. It would be interesting to find out how people from non-Westernized cultures view our "style." Would they think our clothing in general is "abnormal" regardless of fit/color/material?
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2013

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