The perils of overdoing it.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by John Ellis, May 10, 2008.

  1. Film Noir Buff

    Film Noir Buff Senior member

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    I generally agree. A lot of what I see on the forum incorporates too many colors and patterns for my taste. Moreover, these colors and patterns are often too loud for me to appreciate. If I had to guess, the desire to pointedly express one's personality is to blame. I'm all for developing personal style, but maybe it would be better to rely on smaller details and interpretive choices to voice one's personality and stop trying to re-invent the wheel. I'm still trying to figure things out myself. Toward the end of college, I wanted to change the way I dressed, and discovered AAAC. I ditched all my designer stuff, and started wearing more classic, tailored clothes. But I don't think I put enough faith in the new format. I tied huge qaudruple-windsor knots, preferred bright pink or apple green super-spread collar shirts, and collected dozens of whimsical pocket squares and socks. I guess I didn't believe a 'shirt-and-tie'-based outfit could be interesting or creative enough without such bold strokes. It's taken a lot of time to become more comfortable with myself and my clothes. Now, if anything, I'm too boring and formulaic. Still, I don't see anything wrong with Bill's gun check in this regard. It's just a nice tweed in a classic pattern. I have no issue with wearing tweed or tweed-like jackets in the city. I figure, at the worst, I'm just dressing more casual that way. In a world where wearing any jacket is already a huge step-up in formality, this isn't necessarily a bad thing.
    I dont see anything wrong with a tweed jacket in the city either but I consider a cashmere or light weight wool with a tweed pattern to be optimal. Tweed doesnt mesh with the places youd go in the city. I think some force themselves to wear actual tweed because it was once done and they want to be authentic. However, i suspect if you gave the ancients their choice between tweed and cashmere, they'd've chosen cashmere. It depends what level your dress is at but everyone has wasted time and money to be different before they figured out how to do the "same" properly and indeed, better. I think Americans, even those that claim they are interested in propriety are much more color and pattern oriented than the English who are very much about cut and shape. It is always best to learn to do the basics better than everyone else and then branch out to form your own style. I think that developed style is both more solid and more genuine. If you were to take a sedate navy chhalk or pin striped suit and pair it with a white shirt, white pocket square and blue tie with small white woven pattern it would be enough of a departure to change to a boldly checked shirt, colorful tie and bright pocket squre. I think the sheer combinations possible with quite basic elements escapes us from time to time.
     
  2. kolecho

    kolecho Senior member

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    Overdoing it.... yes I have seen a few of those. Let's focus on cloth weight. I know some who wear flannel and tweed pants in tropical climate, amongst other things. I am one of those who don't subscribe to heavier is better ideology. Yes, the garment might drape better, but what is the point of cooking yourself in it. What is important is appropriateness. To some 19oz tweeds are uselful, others would have 80% of garments in 8-10oz frescos.
     
  3. John Ellis

    John Ellis Senior member

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    Overdoing it.... yes I have seen a few of those. Let's focus on cloth weight. I know some who wear flannel and tweed pants in tropical climate, amongst other things. I am one of those who don't subscribe to heavier is better ideology. Yes, the garment might drape better, but what is the point of cooking yourself in it. What is important is appropriateness. To some 19oz tweeds are uselful, others would have 80% of garments in 8-10oz frescos.

    Quite honestly although many heavy tweeds and flannels look fantastic they are completely impractical in the US climate which is totally different from the damp temperate climes existing in the British Isles. Basically it's either too hot or too cold to wear them in the US. I know there are posters here who talk blithely about wearing heavy flannels in air conditioned offices on the east coast and frankly I think they will be both uncomfortable and look at the very least faintly eccentric. Lighter weight flannels you can get away with. I've owned a couple including a delicious choc brown chalk stripe number that the moths took a liking to a couple of years ago. This thread is not about tweeds it's about nuance and staying the right side of side of invisible sartorial lines which often defy description but very real.
     
  4. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    The heaviest flannel suit I have is 14 ounces, and I can wear it in an office in winter without a problem. I'm not sure why, because in summer I overheat in about a nanosecond. There must be something psychosomatic going on about the time of year.
     
  5. John Ellis

    John Ellis Senior member

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    I dont see anything wrong with a tweed jacket in the city either but I consider a cashmere or light weight wool with a tweed pattern to be optimal. Tweed doesnt mesh with the places youd go in the city.

    I think some force themselves to wear actual tweed because it was once done and they want to be authentic. However, i suspect if you gave the ancients their choice between tweed and cashmere, they'd've chosen cashmere.


    It depends what level your dress is at but everyone has wasted time and money to be different before they figured out how to do the "same" properly and indeed, better. I think Americans, even those that claim they are interested in propriety are much more color and pattern oriented than the English who are very much about cut and shape.

    It is always best to learn to do the basics better than everyone else and then branch out to form your own style. I think that developed style is both more solid and more genuine.

    If you were to take a sedate navy chhalk or pin striped suit and pair it with a white shirt, white pocket square and blue tie with small white woven pattern it would be enough of a departure to change to a boldly checked shirt, colorful tie and bright pocket squre. I think the sheer combinations possible with quite basic elements escapes us from time to time.


    Couldn't agree more about pattern mixing. I'm constantly wearing blue loud gingham checks with blue chalk stripe suits and pink ties, or loud pink and white striped shirts with say mid grey sharkskin and a small black and white shepherd's check tie. Old Flusser has some great guidelines for all this in his various books.
     
  6. John Ellis

    John Ellis Senior member

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    The heaviest flannel suit I have is 14 ounces, and I can wear it in an office in winter without a problem. I'm not sure why, because in summer I overheat in about a nanosecond. There must be something psychosomatic going on about the time of year.

    I can see 14 oz being fine for winter but 19oz tweeds and flannels in three piece suits which I see mentioned regularly.
     
  7. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    Quite honestly although many heavy tweeds and flannels look fantastic they are completely impractical in the US climate which is totally different from the damp temperate climes existing in the British Isles. Basically it's either too hot or too cold to wear them in the US. I know there are posters here who talk blithely about wearing heavy flannels in air conditioned offices on the east coast and frankly I think they will be both uncomfortable and look at the very least faintly eccentric. Lighter weight flannels you can get away with. I've owned a couple including a delicious choc brown chalk stripe number that the moths took a liking to a couple of years ago. This thread is not about tweeds it's about nuance and staying the right side of side of invisible sartorial lines which often defy description but very real.
    As a point of reference, some of us live in a climate that is pretty similar to London, but still in the US. It is not a country that is 100% New York.
     
  8. RJman

    RJman Posse Member Dubiously Honored

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    As a point of reference, some of us live in a climate that is pretty similar to London, but still in the US. It is not a country that is 100% New York.

    When did you move to Seattle?
     
  9. Dewey

    Dewey Senior member

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    Plaid sportcoats in general are pretty rare these days. A few months ago I sat in O'Hare for eight hours and counted only one plaid sportcoat -- and this was in the kind of very muted pattern peddled by Joseph A. Bank. But I will see them, esp. on older men and younger men, and esp. in tweeds in the winter, here and there, in any given week. There's a contradiction in the OP and subsequent conversation. On one hand, the OP addresses the response of the general public to the dandy's clothes. On the other hand, the following conversation concerns what can only be a dandy's perception of the appropriateness of certain fabrics and patterns in certain places. There is no fair way to characterize the general public in the USA as having any sense that certain tweed patterns are only for certain settings. If it is cold outside, you can wear the loudest tweed in almost any corner of the USA and never will the general public regard this as outlandish or "overdoing it." So the objection to the tweed, following the OP, is somewhat comical. In the midwest, any pocket square is more likely to trigger a widespread perception of "overdoing it" than any particular tweed.
     
  10. Despos

    Despos Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    What I take to be the core of your post comes down to personal standards, when given flesh and blood render themselves as personal style.
    My basic rule is dress appropriately to the occasion but then personal taste comes in and makes everything a bit blurry. It used to eat me up internally what people would pick out or the styling requested and I would have to make for them. (I am a tailor) To resolve the issue I resigned myself to know it was about their self perception and their signature look and not my place to redefine those ideas. This gave me a sense of peace about the matter.

    My conclusion. Understatement is undervalued.
     
  11. itsstillmatt

    itsstillmatt The Liberator Dubiously Honored

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    When did you move to Seattle?
    I didn't say that I was one of those some, but San Francisco weather certainly lends itself very well to flannels, and actually we get more rainfall than London. We are warmer in the winter, but cooler the rest of the year. The fog and wind are also similar.
     
  12. John Ellis

    John Ellis Senior member

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    As a point of reference, some of us live in a climate that is pretty similar to London, but still in the US. It is not a country that is 100% New York.

    Well I have travelled fairly exensively in the US, I've even been to places like Billings, Montana or Rapid City, South Dakota, and the only climate that is remotely like the UK is in the Pacific Northwest where it is basically damp and temperate. Elswhere I'd say my generalization isn't too far off the mark.
     
  13. Manton

    Manton RINO Dubiously Honored

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    The northeastern US gets much colder in the winter than London. Heavy cloth here is perfectly rational and appropriate.
     
  14. aportnoy

    aportnoy Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Luicano Barbera wears cashmere sport coats, flannel trousers and dark brown suede shoes year round, but I suppose his style is not to be emulated.
     
  15. John Ellis

    John Ellis Senior member

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    I didn't say that I was one of those some, but San Francisco weather certainly lends itself very well to flannels, and actually we get more rainfall than London. We are warmer in the winter, but cooler the rest of the year. The fog and wind are also similar.

    Yep I'd have my Pacific NW starting in San Fran at a stretch although it can get fairly warm in Summer for consistently long periods. I still don't see myself wearing a 19oz flannel there. In fact I don't see myself wearing one in London. I might wear a heavy tweed in Auctermuchty. A lot of these fabric simply obsolete. They were designed for an age before central heating and air conditioning when everyone wore hats because they didn't want to catch pneumonia which was a major killer.
     

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