Friday, 5 November 2010
Style is subtle
Style speaks simply and softly. It is, as the mission statement for this site states, a matter of weaves and lengths. It is a about details and small, personal touches. It is not loud, it is not brash; it is not obvious.
The wearer of a bespoke suit should look good without the man (or woman) on the street knowing exactly why. He does because of miniscule details and attention to fit that the layman cannot readily identify.
I mention this following an interesting exchange on a previous post about whether a Homburg or bowler hat is too unusual on the streets of London, given that 99% of men wear no hat at all. I love wearing my fedora, but feel a Homburg or bowler is a step too far.
To give an example: I would happily meet a lawyer for a business meeting (my day job is in legal journalism) wearing a fedora; it might receive a comment and it would certainly be unusual, but it wouldn’t approach being unprofessional. Many more unusual or traditional trappings, such as a bowler hat, cane, pocket watch etc., would approach and perhaps cross that line. Like so many questions of dress in the past, it is a matter of propriety.
These items might not draw a second look walking down Jermyn Street; but style for me has to have a wider application than that. As I wrote over two years ago now, if a man adopts too many aspects of historical dress he merely becomes a historical figure. He verges on costume.
In that exchange on this blog, Roger asked: “Isn’t the point supposed to be that you will wear what others are too jelly-spined to wear?” Well, no. What you wear should certainly not be determined by what other people think, as Roger comments later on. But at the same time, style is revealed against the background of one’s environment and peers. It does not exist in isolation.
A frock coat is a beautiful thing and, on its own, extremely stylish. But worn today as a part of everyday clothing it stands out too much to be stylish (outside of certain formal events). Style is subtle.