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Simplicity

Manton

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So I am reading Heat, a book by a writer who gave it all up to become a chef. Very enjoyable.

At one point, Buford (the author) is having a conversation with a famous British chef (no longer an oxymoron). Said chef uses the word "simplicity."

Buford comments: "In normal life, 'simplicity' is synonymous with 'easy to do,' but when a chef uses the word it means 'takes a lifetime to learn.'"

How would you apply that aphorism to dressing?
 

JayJay

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What appears to be the most simple and effortless is often difficult to achieve. I think this applies to dressing.
 

rach2jlc

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Originally Posted by Manton
So I am reading Heat, a book by a writer who gave it all up to become a chef. Very enjoyable. At one point, Buford (the author) is having a conversation with a famous British chef (no longer an oxymoron). Said chef uses the word "simplicity." Buford comments: "In normal life, 'simplicity' is synonymous with 'easy to do,' but when a chef uses the word it means 'takes a lifetime to learn.'" How would you apply that aphorism to dressing?
The "lifetime to learn simplicity" thing reminds me very much of the Japanese concept of "wabisabi" (侘寂). Anyway, as far as dress, it seems to me to be the way that an elderly African American man in the south on his way to church can look incredible in an outfit that I (as a young white guy) can never wear and one that did not cost an absolute fortune. It's one that just WORKS... often you aren't sure why because it doesn't necessarily "follow" the Sartorial rules. I think, thus, true simplicity in dress is a combination of experience, habit, constant use to the point it becomes automatic, attention to detail, and a hint of natural flare with the confidence to wear the CLOTHES (as opposed to them wearing you).
 

Cary Grant

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It's a wonderful analogy Manton to which I would agree. Taking a look at some of the more popular posters in the WAYWT for example- it's the rare few who have pulled together, consistently, that which strikes the eye as "elegantly simple" and thus netting quite powerful results.

BTW- if you liked Heat, try Soul of a Chef if you haven't already.
 

rach2jlc

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Originally Posted by Cary Grant
It's a wonderful analogy Manton to which I would agree. Taking a look at some of the more popular posters in the WAYWT for example- it's the rare few who have pulled together, consistently, that which strikes the eye as "elegantly simple" and thus netting quite powerful results.

BTW- if you liked Heat, try Soul of a Chef if you haven't already.


What, are you implying that SoCal's knee-length sweater and tights weren't "elegantly simple?"
 

Johnathan

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Originally Posted by Manton
So I am reading Heat, a book by a writer who gave it all up to become a chef. Very enjoyable.

At one point, Buford (the author) is having a conversation with a famous British chef (no longer an oxymoron). Said chef uses the word "simplicity."

Buford comments: "In normal life, 'simplicity' is synonymous with 'easy to do,' but when a chef uses the word it means 'takes a lifetime to learn.'"

How would you apply that aphorism to dressing?


Fantastic book, and his words ring true for just about any cultivated thing in life.
 

Bsquared

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I would say that Parker seems to have nailed it with his last post in WAYNT.
 

Despos

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Originally Posted by Bsquared
I would say that Parker seems to have nailed it with his last post in WAYNT.

That is what I was thinking. I was surprised by all the positive comments about a very simple look.
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by rach2jlc
What, are you implying that SoCal's knee-length sweater and tights weren't "elegantly simple?"


Now, now.

SoCal's tastes are about as far from mine as they could be, but he is clearly having fun with his cloths and they work for him.

But this raises the point (or one of the points) that I was getting at initially. I have, I think, gone through three "phases." The first was a rather rote and slavish adherence to THE RULES. (Cue up jokes from the SF peanut gallery.) I think this served me well, but it got dull. The cooking analogy would be memorizing the recipes in your favorite book, and perfecting them to the last 1/4 tsp, or rigorously practicing everything you learn in culinary school until it is second nature. This is a useful exercise. Personally, I don't think you can ever get really good unless you go through this stage. But it can only take you so far.

The second stage involved, not breaking the rules, but stretching them, pushing out to the boundaries. Lots of four pattern combinations. Loud plaids and stripes. Contempt for the simple white shirt and black shoes. The cooking analogy would be, the obsession with truffles, foi, fowl, game, wild mushrooms, etc. and disregard of staples. Also, branching out into new techniques and buying a lot of nifty equipment that you use, maybe, once a month: mandoline, chinois, etc.

The third stage is a dialing down, a comfortableness with solids, basics, etc. and a feeling of "ease" and of not really caring if you don't look quite so peacockish. The realization that cut and fit matter so, so much more. (Technique + ingredients = great food, not tableside flambe drama.) I would go further: it is the gradual, building preference for simple clothes and simple combinations over the more intricate. The cooking equivalent would be not being afraid to serve roast chicken because your guests might not think it "fancy" enough.

That is not to say that stage three was a reversion to stage one. I do things now that I never would have done in my rote-rules stage. But the deviations are, mostly, subtle, not that noticeable unless an observer is A) steeped in this and B) really paying attention. It's like throwing in a non-traditional ingredient into a dish because, intuitively and through experience, you know it is going to work no matter what the recipe says.
 

rach2jlc

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^Agreed.

Not to keep bringing you wabisabi, but the steps you described are basically the typical way that Japanese aesthetic traditions (from calligraphy to other artisan crafts) were taught or learned. The early stages of calligraphic writing are attempts to write as "perfectly" as possible, copying things down almost like printed blocks. Then, you twist a bit, explore a bit, and by the time you are 90 years old, your writing looks like beautiful, but illegible, scribble.

Innovation is in the subtle details, not the throwing of the baby out with the bathwater.

I think also that Picasso was getting at something similar when he said something like, "I could paint like a master by the time I was 14 and I spent the rest of my life learning to paint like a child."

And, as for SoCal, of course I was joking and SoCal's my buddy. I said on that thread numerous times how I thought it was great that he enjoyed his dress as much as he does. It's just not something I could do, nor something that I think fits into this model of "simplicity" of dress. Having "fun" with your calligraphy was not the issue with the great masters, but calligraphy isn't the ONLY way one can write. I'm excited that we are at a stage in men's fashion when this kind of variation CAN exist freely.
 

SoCal2NYC

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Is there a way that I can get an RSS feed from this blog so I can find out which threads I am discussed in?
 

Manton

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Originally Posted by SoCal2NYC
Is there a way that I can get an RSS feed from this blog so I can find out which threads I am discussed in?

It's pretty much all of them. Check back often!
 

buck.9299

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Simplicity in dressing can be achieved via some time of experimenting to find what looks good on you and from that point on you got it.
 

SoCal2NYC

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I think there is simplicity when I just carbon copy a runway look.

"Hi Jess,
I want look number 7. Put it on the Visa on file. Thanks!"
 

rach2jlc

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Originally Posted by SoCal2NYC
Is there a way that I can get an RSS feed from this blog so I can find out which threads I am discussed in?

It's just because you represent what 99% of men wish they could be... financially independent, having sex as often and with as many people as you'd like, and dressing completely in a way that you enjoy.

And you know you love being the topic of discussion, you attention-seeking bitch...
 

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