Favouring the Bold

I had the rare opportunity (rare around the Manse during the summers) of catching the televised news over the weekend and I was struck by the … sameness, for lack of a better word, …. of the American male wardrobe. The idea of minimalism, and Cary Grant may be its father, is alive and well. Dark suit, solid white or blue shirt, conservative tie; most men can achieve this look and most can concentrate on exacting fit (although there was little evidence of that on the news).

(Things haven’t changed much since 2008. AP Photo/Richard Drew via The Huffington Post.)

But, add pattern and colour — those playthings of the great dressers like Astaire and the Duke of Windsor — and the results are startling to the modern eye. It is almost a lost art, dressing this way, and that’s a shame.

The Duke of Windsor as pictured in "Vogue" magazine, via "A Suitable Wardrobe."

(Patterned shirt, tie, pocket square, pinned collar, but solid suit. Astaire plays it elegantly safe here.)

There are still a few practitioners, Flusser acolytes all? Dressing should be an intensely personal expression. Which does lead you to wonder what most people are thinking. I know that most of us are loathe to stand out, and flamboyance of the Sebastian Horsley sort should be avoided in my opinion, but I would still like to see more self-confidence from the men of America. Especially with fall on the way and the chance to layer pattern and texture that much easier to find.

Maybe it’s that there are so few left to show the way? I’ll see what I can do over the next week or so to give you a point of reference. Our goal should be to stand out, in a good way.

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10 Responses to Favouring the Bold

  1. Turling says:

    I would watch the news all the time if Brian Williams wears that suit the Duke of Windsor is wearing.

  2. Archer says:

    Chris,

    Great post it is so true….noticed this the other day while at church….everyone where the same navy suit from BB or Josabanks.

    One of my tailors, Billy Hooper, is bucking this trend. Check out my web page http://archermd.blogspot.com/ to see some of his work….

  3. Ari says:

    Archer – consider yourself lucky if your peers are wearing BB or JoSaBank, or even wearing a suit at all. People now consider that formalwear.

  4. Paul says:

    We have very smart fellows at work…. clodding around in jeans with shirttails in the wind… I’m tempted to give them Flusser’s book for Christmas!

  5. Paula says:

    The top photograph is hysterical! I wonder what they were discussing and who they were looking at?! The only thing more dull than their wardrobes would be their personalities– Although an improved wardrobe may help the ‘optics’, these network morning shows are just painful.

  6. mary says:

    So true. I stopped watching TV (and gave away my new flat screen) about 2 years ago because I felt that my brain was wasting away every time I watched –the above photos confirms my suspicions.

  7. They need to take a look at the terrific website, The Sartorialist for
    some inspiration. This present day look is safe, very safe.

  8. Edward says:

    I watch network news about 20 minutes a year. But there are 1-2 programs I like on tv (HBO, Showtime & BBC), and then of course there’s netflix.

    Question for Mr. E: So what is it about the newsmen’s clothing that could fit them better? In the photo, the guy on the left has his jacket sleeves scrunched up a bit, and the guy on the right looks like he’s wearing a sack (which I don’t personally like), but my sartorialy inexperienced eyes can’t find any dramatic problems with fit in that photo.

    I *have* noticed that local weathermen on tv hardly ever raise their upper arms beyond about a 45 degree angle– I don’t think their jacket armholes would allow it!

  9. Brian R. Sheridan says:

    As a former TV anchor, we are encouraged to dress like a bank executive. We don’t want to appear to dandyish to an audience that probably wear nothing but ballcaps and flipflops. We want to appear solid, serious, and trustworthy. Matt Laurer has bucked this trend somewhat on the Today Show. I favor wearing patterned shirts, tie bars, and pocket squares. I would get teased by co-workers who thought I looked to dressy.

  10. Hi Edward, I should have been clearer. The suits in the ancient photo of the anchors fit just fine. While I was watching the news, I saw a lot of collars standing off of necks, bowing lapels, and the armholes that don’t allow movement as you’ve mentioned.

    Mr. Sheridan, I do like Matt Lauer’s look. I understand that, although he is colourblind, he used to sell men’s clothing. Like you, he gets it.

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