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On the Utility of Rules for Dress and Fit

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by unbelragazzo, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Jackie Treehorn

    Jackie Treehorn Senior member

    Mar 26, 2012
    sTeALiN yO cAr
    Can we, though? All available evidence in modern-day society, up to and including on this forum, would seem to indicate the opposite. As M. Corbera puts it in his "Thoughts on Coherent Combinations for the Beginner" thread (a great read, and germane to this thread), very few people here seem to draw such distinctions. Instead, they select random garments based on purely aesthetic criteria, combining willy-nilly items that the "rules" intended should be separated, or separating items that the "rules" would suggest belong together, regardless of occasion. It is precisely this disregard for origin and context -- as provided by the "rules" -- that can lead people astray, ironically enough, on aesthetic grounds.

    This is because, even if rules didn't originate for aesthetic purposes, the garments that followed from the rules are often aesthetically correlated. For instance, checked tweed suits and densely woven, tattersal-patterned shirts look good together because they were designed to be worn together, for the same occasions. One was created expressly to be paired with the other, and aesthetics were taken into account when the design was done. Pairing a fuzzy tattersal sport shirt with a smooth, worsted business suit doesn't look bad purely because it violates a "rule" about town and country; it looks bad because the shirt was not created to be worn with the suit, and so the textures of the two garments clash discordantly. In this case, the "rule" gave rise to the design, and, even if aesthetics is our only criterion, the combination still fails.

    Knowledge of the origins and nature of the "rules" can lead us to make more informed aesthetic decisions, and ignorance of same can have a deleterious effect on style. Like it or not, the clothes we choose from were created according to the rules. Even if we choose to disregard the rules, they are still woven (as it were) into the fabric of our garments.
  2. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

    Jun 1, 2011
    Washington, DC

    I think of what you're describing are more aesthetic rules - by rules of social propriety, I was speaking more to, don't wear shorts to a wedding, in England don't wear a regimental tie that you shouldn't be wearing, don't wear a police uniform if you're not a cop, etc.. Anyway there are recent additions that are not "traditional" but follow the same spirit like wearing chambray with tweed or other textured fabrics like linen. I think most people would think chambray looks weird with a worsted suit, though it was not part of the traditional English gentleman's wardrobe. (from what I gather I have the history right in the previous couple of sentences, but I'm willing to be corrected)
  3. Victor Elfo

    Victor Elfo Senior member

    Apr 9, 2012
    São Paulo, Brazil.
    I would say that the "rules" are developed by guys like us (?), that use their time to "study" style. Therefore we must first endeavor to search what is beautiful.
    Good taste is developed, through the dialectic method.
    In sum, I agree with you.
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2012

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