Easy and Elegant Life

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

The Whistle Blower

Carolina&Reinaldo Herrera_LIFE_051993

”When you walk down the streets of New York today, it seems as if the whistle has blown for the factory, and the factory workers are let out. Everybody looks the same. No originality, no individuality.”
(Reinaldo Herrera seen here with wife Carolina in May of 1993. The quote is from 1997.) Mr Herrera was a member of the committee helping to choose the International Best Dressed List.

He might have been uttered that sentence in the 1950’s when conformism was at an all time high. Except that the men pouring from the “factory” doors of Manhattan would have been swathed in grey flannel. Today, and certainly during the 90’s, I find there to be an awful lot of individuality. I just wished that most dressed better because (or in spite) of it.

We’re trying to do our part, you and I, fighting the good fight. However, my reach isn’t quite as pervasive as I’d hoped. A few examples.

Despite yesterday’s post and the fact that we are in the grips of Hurricane Ida’s aftereffects, I spotted no fewer than five people walking dogs (some did have bags in hand, a small victory!) without benefit of a proper raincoat. Or rain jacket… Really? Torrential rains and blustery winds and a highly absorbant cotton hoodie is the answer? Cool is looking like The Rat Pack, not the drowned rodents that inspired the moniker.

At the wonderful fundraiser for the State Board for Community Colleges (where we were enteratined by The Capitol Steps) there were a great many well-dressed people. Given that the dress code was business attire, I am hopeful for the immediate future.

Seated at our table was one very amusing gentleman who — at first glance — appeared very well-dressed: dark well-cut business suit, contrast collar and double cuffs with gold links, striped shirt, silk tie (whose design wasn’t my cuppa, but that’s subjective as is everything sartorially related) pocket square and shined shoes. So far so good. He also sported a gold bracelet, a gold ring with a stone, his wedding band and a large watch (black leather band, may have been a Cartier?) But, when he unbuttoned his jacket, his silver-tipped leather beltshone in the overhead light.

That’s just one step from Rodeo in my book.

I see a lot of this style belt and don’t find it appropriate for a suit. And I’m a guy who has mixed his metals (gold wedding band, stainless watch; rarely worn with a suit though.) Please keep the belt simple when wearing a suit and in the same colour as your shoes. If you dislike belts (as I do), and your trousers have an extended tab, have them altered to fit you without a belt, with or without suspenders/braces.

When is too much jewelry too much? When it distracts.

Finally, all the wonderful tailoring in the world goes to waste if, when you stand, your suit coat is unbuttoned. A proper button stance, choice of vents, pockets, a coat of the right length with even a little bit of waist supression will immediately slim and elongate your figure. Dubious? Please see this gentleman at The Sartorialist. He gets it right every time.

8 thoughts on “The Whistle Blower

  1. I hate when someone turns out to be a lot of feathers and not much chicken :O(

    Thanks for posting those two pics – who is he? My husband is not a slim man so finding jackets is always a trial – I am going to take those photos with me as an example of what I want his tailoring to be like!

  2. We have a saying . . . “Big hat, no cattle,” for folks who either talk a big game but have nothing to back it up, or in the case of the fellow with the ‘rodeo’ belt, dress the part of someone they are not. If this fellow truly is on the rodeo circuit, or owns/runs a ranch (and I am not referring to a ranch-style house), then I am very forgiving if he is wearing is this over-the-top belt with his suit. Cowboys aren’t known for their elegance. And we have another saying . . . “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.” But perhaps he is a city boy who has made a fashion faux pas? No excuses, there! Poor guy, didn’t his wife spot this before he left the house?

  3. His name is Reza Raein, an oil magnate. His bona fides can be found with a cursory Web search.

    Excerpted from a missive sent to The Sartorialist:

    BARBER New York: Peter at Delta Hairstylists

    BARBER Naples, Italy: Gianni at Barbieria, via Crispi 13-15

    TAILOR/ALTERATIONS suits, Naples, Italy: Mr. Pasquale Sabino at PrimoPiano Italia, Piazza dei Martiri, Naples

    TAILOR/ALTERATIONS shirts, Naples, Italy: Mr. Salvatore Piccolo, via Strettola S. Anna alle Paudi 54, Naples

    DRYCLEANER: Sophia Careplus 150 E 79th St NYC ( hand pressing of shirts + general dry cleaning)

    DRYCLEANER: Perry Process 427 E 74th NYC (suits)

    SHOE REPAIR Naples, Italy: Paolo Scafora Custom Shoemaker TEL +39-333-239-6239

    SHOE REPAIR NYC: The Empire, 991 Lexington Avenue, NYC (ask for Roman)

  4. An interesting point of discussion…. I agree with you. The one fellow blew it with the silver tipped belt. The ring with a stone is questionable too. The other thing that annoys me about how people are turned out is the lack of gloves, especially as the weather drops. And with everyone concerned about flu and germs, wouldn’t gloves afford some protection? Also, the lack of head covering on men in cool weather. Nothing looks as pathetic as a mature man with thinning hair being blown about in winter. A Persian lamb wedge, or one in mouton will add great distinction, not to mention height. The fellow on the Sartorialist looks very elegant. The width of lapels is perfect. I find that the currently promoted narrow lapels give the effect of a jacket that is the wrong size, too small, almost a Herman Munster-ish effect. I like them slightly generous but not wing-like. Ditto for mid width ties; somehow they always look right and proportionate. Very much enjoyed this post.
    Square with Flair

  5. Actually, the fifties were a far, far better dressed decade, and more individualistic, although less freaky. Today one sees a sea of jeans, t-shirts, sneakers and baseball caps, as well as nondescript black suits with white shirts, no necktie and clodhopper shoes. Herrera was right.

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