Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

Silhouette, Silhouette…

Mr. Maier has it right, there is casual and there is casual.

The problem with menswear today is that it rocks. I should say “It ROCKS!” As in “Dude, you are really rocking that suit.”


Now I, like Donny Osmond, admit to being a little bit rock and roll. But since I am no longer a skinny teenager, I find that I no longer want to look the part. And I know that you wouldn’t want to have such a sight inflicted upon you.

At one point, even rockers wore sharply cut suits and ties. They were working it like a job, as the saying goes. The Beatles, with their long hair, skinny suits and Chelsea boots were seriously conservative compared with the spandex and shredded denim crowd that they would spawn. Mick Jagger was a Savile Row customer. Me? Despite the 30 minutes that I spent being a punk rocker, my look was more akin to The Style Council new mod. At least that’s what I hoped.

But what I’m driving at is the quest for eternal youth embodied by the 30+ year old “rockin’ ” his two day beard, slim suit, skinny tie, and … sneakers. It’s not cutting edge; it’s been done. Everyone plays around with the suit. The college kids did it after the war… WWI…. when they rebelled against Victorian restraint. But they looked pretty good doing it. The sack suit was our answer to the London cut. All loungey, unshaped comfort. The pendulum swung again… and again. You needn’t go to awning striped and piped blazers, nor do you need to go for the black suit, black shirt, etc. look so popular in Hollywood. You should pay attention to how your clothes will look in five years. Suitably elegant? Keep it. Hopelessly outdated? Hold on to it and sell it on eBay when it becomes ironic. In my wardrobe I have things made this season and things made for Mrs. E.’s grandfather. They sit side by side very comfortably. To stay fashionable, simply stay discreetly elegant.

“Hey, how come we wear trousers and he wears leotards?” Dean Martin questions Sammy Davis, Jr.’s seriously slim fitting suit.

I’m not suggesting that you forgo comfort. Look at the Bottega Veneta collection above, I have more constricting pyjamas. Sure, it’s a “Charlie Chaplin” silhouette with a fitted jacket, looser trouser and sturdy shoe. Armani draws on the same inspiration, as did Ralph Lauren: the 1920’s and 30’s. Because that was the epitome of male elegance. Take the lessons learned and apply them to every article of clothing that you purchase or commission. Does it make you look good and is it timeless? Well-cut, well-fitted, comfortable clothing appropriate for your age will never age you. You will always look well-dressed and elegant.

Take for example the following two celebrities.

Jude Law (a Kilgour man. Image Alan Davidson for the Daily Mail) may make some mistakes, but on the whole…
Jude Law from the Daily Mail photo by Alan Davidson

Steven Tyler (People Magazine. Credit: Schwartzwald-Kaffe/Splash News and Pictures;Theo Wargo/WireImage)

” ‘Nuff said.”

Unless you’re a very buffed up rock star (with Charlie Watts as the obvious sartorial exception); please don’t go there. And even if you are, reconsider wearing a well-cut jacket (with long trousers, please.) It can only help.

(Image Glenn Harris for Photorazzi via exposay.com)

Thus endeth the lesson.

8 thoughts on “Silhouette, Silhouette…

  1. Ewwww. those pictures of steve tyler are horrible. How about Bryan Ferry and Robert Palmer as two very well-dressed rockers? The pix of Palmer that I’ve seen when he’s casually dressed still look elegant.

  2. A few years ago, New York Magazine ran a story called “What’s Up with the Grups”. The concept was 30-40 somethings were behaving and dressing like teenagers. The conclusion? The next generation will have to become more formal and better dressed. It is the only form of rebellion left. I simply cannot wait until the revolution begins.

  3. Hi Fairfax, yeah… I was shooting for some sort of irony, or tongue-in-cheek. It’s a look I just don’t get and I’m afraid that that is very influential today.

    LuLou, you and me both. I’m looking forward to the passing splendor when in my dotage.

  4. Everything is on repeat…or, its karaoke to steal a phrase from Peter Saville. And I now love Fairfax, as Ferry and Palmer were the first two who came to my mind while reading this post!

    There comes a point that one should know the appropriateness of style above fashion, and situationally, and by age 30 one should get it.

    Are you judging fashion by American standards, or are you including other areas of the world? I’ve been in Manhattan too long…

  5. The Italians seem to get the idea of dressing well — the only place I felt underdressed when we were traveling. Even in jeans, suede shoes and a blazer they are appropriate and elegant. See The Sartorialist for evidence.

    Fashion is transient and so I tend to discount it. Mixing in a fashionable piece or two is enough for me. Proportion, fit and situation-appropriate is most important to me.

  6. Bottega, Jude . . . everything was going so well until Steven Tyler. May have to watch the little video clip again to erase those supertight ripped jeans from memory 🙂 Great post, E&E.

  7. Today’s fashion is sad and hilarious at the same time. While watching some international news programs this weekend I noticed that most of the world has taken to the teenage/college slacker look that permeates most of the USA, a fashion statement every clothing/department store puts front and center in their displays.
    C’mon guys, a button up shirt with slip on leather loafers is a whole notch up from that and gets noticed easily. I don’t care if you wear jeans or not, make a difference.

  8. I Just Dont Understand why all of u are hating on steven hes a nice dude enuff said. i mean he’s really not that bad lookin’ very well dressed. he’s that type of person who could walk outside in a cheetah leather coat and get away with it becuz everyone knows he’s dat kinda person… i mena really. get over urselfs

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