Archive | August, 2012
26 Aug

26 Aug

Gallery 25 Aug


Fitting Larger Men

There’s been more than a little ink spilled by now on how men should dress for their specific body types. For example, I’ve read that larger men do better in two-button jackets with lower buttoning points, rather than a true three-button design. The idea is that a three-button gives you more visual heft and adds weight to your frame. Similarly, flapped pockets should supposedly be avoided because they draw attention to your waistline, and ventless jackets are said to be more slimming. 

Some of these things may or may not be true. Who knows, really. The black and white photos above are of men from the 1960s, and I think they look great for their time. Here we see flapped pockets, three-button jackets, and two-buttons cut like a three. The skimpy lapels might exaggerate their frame, but they still look pretty good overall. 

Whatever may be true, the one cardinal rule I think should always be observed is that heavier men should wear fuller fitting cuts. You can see how well this works above, though admittedly the color photographs show a man on the edges between a fuller cut and slim. 

If you’re a larger man, consider wearing easier fitting clothes. Tight fitting ones, particularly around the waistline, will only accentuate your size. There’s nothing like a stuffed sausage look up top coupled with overly slim trousers to make a man look heavier than he actually is. Worse still, if the trousers are heavily tapered, they can exaggerate your waistline. Better to wear something proportional to your frame. The jacket doesn’t have to baggy or sloppy, but the chest, stomach, and upper sleeves shouldn’t appear tight. Your trousers should also be full enough so that they look like they can support your torso, and not like stilts that may buckle at any time. In fuller fitting clothes, a larger man will look more comfortable and elegant than he would in slim ones, no matter what other details he’s supporting – two vs. three buttons, flapped vs. besom, ventless vs. vents. Above, you can see this is true from the 1960s till today. 

(Photos from Cutter and Tailor and The Sartorialist)

25 Aug

25 Aug

Gallery 23 Aug


Choosing the Right Tie

There are a number of things you should consider when choosing a tie: the kind of outfit you’ll be wearing, the environment you’ll be in, the time of day, the season, and perhaps even the weather. Some of these should be intuitive. For example, a brightly colored tie is obviously less serious and somber than a dark one. Thus, it should be worn in the morning, in the summer, or to casual events. Similarly, a dark woolen tie might be better for cloudy, casual days in the fall or winter, or maybe when you’re in the country, while a dark, quietly patterned, heavy silk twill would be better for business offices. The general principles here are simple: bright or light colors, matte materials, and bold patterns are casual; dark colors, shiny silks, and conservative patterns are more formal.

Other things are slightly less intuitive. For example, a printed pattern may be considered slightly more formal than one that has had its pattern woven in. Take a navy silk twill, for instance, with a small repeating floral pattern. If the pattern is printed on, it can be used for business meetings. If it’s woven in, the subtle texture might make it more appropriate for cocktail parties.

You should also consider the pattern type. To my mind, stripes look more at home with sport coats and blazers, and are best worn in casual work environments such as college campuses. On the other hand, a tie with a small repeating pattern, such as the floral or figured patterns you see above, are probably better with smooth, worsted wool suits, the kind you’d wear if you were working in law or finance. In other words, a dressier tie for a dressier ensemble. 

Of course, these aren’t hard and fast rules. Some Macclesfield neats (a term sometimes used for ties with small repeating patterns) can be worn with sport coats, and a repp striped tie can sometimes be worn with the right suit and shirt for a very American look. Moreover, some events call for their own ties altogether. In my opinion, the best ties for weddings include black and white glen plaids or Shepard’s checks. Despite being a bit bolder in its pattern, they look very tasteful with a white shirt, navy suit, and black oxford shoes. In the end, you should judge what works with your own eye and intuition. That’s what makes choosing the right tie more of an art than a science. 

Image 23 Aug


The Simple Pleasure of Wearing Clothes

Many menswear writers like the overload the simple topic of how men should dress with an unnecessary amount of complications. There are rules and theories for everything, and a background of esoteric terms for fabric types and clothing details that you have to memorize in order to understand those rules. On some level, I think men largely benefit from understanding these things. We at Put This On, obviously, try to present some of them to our readers. At the same time, one shouldn’t let these theories muddle the simple pleasure of getting dressed. The act of waking up, pawing through your closet, and then slipping into the clothes you’ve selected for yourself can be a very enjoyable part of one’s day.

In a recent documentary, Tom Ford explained this scene from A Single Man, where his distraught protagonist George drags himself out of bed in order to get dressed. The scene wasn’t in the original book Ford based his movie on, but he put it in because it related to him. When he’s in a deep and dark depression, one of the things he enjoys doing is putting on a suit. “It might be false,” he said in the documentary, “but I feel like if I shine my shoes, put on a tie, and make myself look as good as I can possibly look, I feel better. That somehow it’s armor; it’s a ritual that I go through.”

And isn’t that what’s enjoyable about clothes? Aside from making us look better at job interviews and first dates, nice clothes are enjoyable simply in and of themselves. I enjoy putting on a pair of wool trousers, a perfectly fitting dress shirt, and my favorite sweater even if I’m planning to stay home.

Apart from dampening our love for dressing, I worry that a hyper-rational, over-thought approach to dressing can needlessly confuse men. Perhaps they’ll fumble their way through their closet and ignore their own intuitions (or worse still, fail to develop one). Or they fall back into a kind of unimaginative “paint by numbers” approach to dressing. The latter seems particularly joyless to me.

So, by all means, take what you can get from books and websites about classic men’s style. I think many of them are helpful. But at the same time, learn to train your own eye for what looks good. I still think one of the best ways is by observing others. Develop a sensitivity for the nuances of how and why certain things work, and apply it to your own sense of style. Most importantly, even more than learning about whether black or brown shoes go best with fawn gabardine trousers, learn how to enjoy wearing clothes. There’s a lot of pleasure in it.