"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle."
Ernest Hemingwayemail me if google hasn't got the answer..
Always good to see my buddy smile - just stay away from bear lovers ;)
Interesting how these sites profit from my friends & I without asking..
Word on the street is that there is a "white man" walking the lanes of Hong Kong looking for a seamstress that can do buttonholes..
Early morning Secret MAN Business..
* Actually just a caffeine hit
Read this great piece from my good friend ethandesu:
Building a classic wardrobe
Part One - The Navy Jacket
Fashion is a fickle business - as likely to tear down it’s heroes one day for the bold choices that won them acclaim the day before. It is, like no other industry, one where everyone is the expert, no one truly the authority - in expressing the individual, no one truly can give a definitive view other than the individual. It is with some trepidation that I even think to offer advice to the world at large, not knowing even a fraction of a percent of the whole encompassing audience.
The role I take with the gents I am lucky enough to know on a professional basis is one of a confidante, a sounding board and a mirror. There is no one man I’ve met that should be dressed in Ethan’s style other than the one i see in the mirror each morning, so to give sweeping advice or direction is always going to miss as many as it hits. Luckily for me, the men that shop with me take the time to share a little of their personality, so together we can put together a wardrobe that best represents who that man is, or more appropriately, who he wants to be.
It’s an odd dynamic - no where is ego more important than in the designer, no where is it more of a setback than in the tailor or haberdasher.
But nevertheless, here goes.
In the time I’ve spent building my wardrobe, and those of the guys that shop with me, I’ve never met a man that wouldn’t find use for a nice blue blazer. Whether the self made millionaire that retired to live on a yacht, and lived in a double breasted 4x1 hopsack in junior navy, with rolled up chinos and topsiders, or the young professional marrying in to a family of much greater means than his own who needed a midnight suit where the jacket could accompany grey flannels for dinners with his inlaws. Or a multitude of others. The navy blazer has been a utility for so many men I’ve met - something worth investing in, because of it’s practicality.
I currently wear three - a navy linen Herringbone made by my friend Patrick Johnson - 2 button and single breasted, the Ariston Linen is full in the hand, nearly denim in it’s depth of colour and flecking, and the perfect complement to a light summer trouser, with loafers sans socks and a knit tie. It’s cold weather counterpart is an Orazio Luciano dark navy woollen twill, this time a 3 roll 2 with Spalla Camicia and patch pockets. It feels bullet proof, may even actually be so, and needs pale oatmeal coloured cords and cordovan boots for stomping through Florence in January. It’s as substantial as a leather jacket in how I wear it, and one of the many reasons I love winter.
Finally I have an RAF blue suit, the jacket a 6x2 double breasted with ticket pocket and a long skirt. It feels like an englishmans jacket, and works as well with a full trouser, forward pleated in a mid grey flannel, as it does as a suit.
The versatility of blue comes down, in my opinion, to it being a rich colour that remains formal. While grey can often be too formal, and black a very flat and dusty shade, navy can vary from vibrant French to stoic English midnight, can pair successfully with nearly any shade of shirting, and feels rich enough to complement brown, black, chestnut or oxblood in shoes.
I have always favoured a richer blue - coming from Sydney where the light is brutally honest, black worsteds look dusty and midnights dull. I like a blue that is either indigo in it’s depth, or closer to a junior navy in it’s vibrancy. When worn with browns, greens and burgundies, it feels clean enough to keep the whole looking city appropriate. And as I usually wear deep twills, knits or cashmere ties, the overall effect is balanced.
I also suffer from a skin colour I describe jokingly, though accurately, as corpse white. I have long been jealous of the darker skinned of us for their ability to wear colours without bound. If my skin tone was from brown to black, I’d be wearing the oilier, darker navy options, particularly in weaves like Herringbone or nailhead to keep the cloth looking rich.
My advice when investing in a first blue jacket is to keep it looking like a sportcoat - as it needs to work with any number of odd trousers, the more all round it is the better. For me this would mean a 3 roll 2 front, with a reasonably soft shoulder and flapped pockets. Ticket pockets, hacking pockets, centre vents - all feel to limiting and suit to me. And though patch pockets and elbow patches are a step too far in the other direction, the happy medium errs slightly toward relaxed.
While I’d never say that your budget precludes you starting a classic wardrobe, indeed there are great options in cotton at an entry level price point, this is an item worth investing in. If you can afford to have it made, great - this is a piece that will never become redundant so fit is doubly important. But if not, don’t worry - it’s a piece you’ll also update with regularity, improving till you have that perfect piece. It would be my first go to when testing a new tailor, and the one jacket I’d keep if I was allowed only one.
*It amazes me that no men’s journal worth they salt has ever asked him to write for them. But after meeting a few in the print industry of late, I now know why - they do not have either the experience or context to understand anything further more than “advertising dollars”.. They do not value integrity, just the share holders .
SNAP - Ethan & I are wearing the same cloth, same tailor today ;)
Him in HKG & me in SYD.
Self Portrait in Olive Knit
Sorley at The Armoury
From our earliest experiences we dress in costumes, preparing for the world we hope to tackle. From the cowboy at 5 to the skater at 15, we don the costume and feel the strength to play the role. We affiliate with our tribes though the badges we wear, be it a Nike swoosh or a bespoke Oxford, and learning which of these are someone else’s costume and which are our own is the essence of dressing well.
For many the first business suit is much the same. A costume to wear from nine till five, until the Friday bell sounds and the costume of weekend comes out. The one pair of black shoes, the two charcoal suits. A dreary garb for that aspect of life we endure, waiting for a time when we can dress as ourselves. But more often than not our non work garb is as much a costume, a uniform, as the business suit. The porsche owners ball cap or the yachting jacket, the monogrammed loafer and the designer underwear that proclaims style through association, but not necessarily style in and of itself.
The most confident dressers I have met are those that are able to eschew these badges and dress in a way appropriate to each facet, each endeavour in their lives. A suit and tie is as much a costume as a pair of overalls and red wings, depending on who is wearing them, where and when. In the correct context garments regain their utilitarian aspect, and what is more masculine, more grown man than that?
To drop the costume, the badges, the associations that come with a certain brand or team, is a frightening prospect for many. While for our grandfathers classic dress was a learnt skill, part of the essential lore passed down from father to son along with manners, etiquette, how to shake a hand and how to meet an eye, for many my age that is a verbal history that has been severed.
The rise of street wear and youth culture means that many people that were youths in the sixties had no interest in dressing like their fathers. The rules were abandoned and clothing was liberated. By the seventies and eighties, the rules were back, but being rewritten each season by designers trying to sell a new look.
When progress is dictated by obsolescence and change, both the good and the bad are abandoned, to the detriment of the man trying to dress well. It’s little wonder that many men approach shopping and classic dress with as much enthusiasm as a chore. But an increasing number of men are rejecting the lack of individuality in mass market clothing.
Men want to know the rules. Not to be bound by them, but to be empowered by them. To know what works and why takes the power away from the designer or the retailer and places it squarely in the hands of the everyday man.
I’ve often suspected that the first bespoke suit a man makes is like learning the magicians secrets - that moment when a man understands that he can dress himself more aptly as himself with much better results than any designer can.
A man who has dressed himself and understood why it works, rather than following the advice of his spouse or partner, has one more weapon to face the world with. Literally he has gained his suit of armour.
So to make it simple, how you dress depends on you. Grown men style is literally that - the style of a confident, self aware man. Dictated only by where you are, what you are doing, and who you are with. A dinner suit is a tool, perfectly adapted for the formality of a black tie event. As inappropriate at a breakfast as jeans in a board room. To respect the occasion and the people you are with by the formality, or lack of, in your appearance is truly grown man style.
By Ethan Amos Newton
In response to the previous message - this article that Ethan wrote some time back is worth a re-read With times of financial insecurity, invariably there comes a return to proper business wear - the Friday casuals and tie-less weekdays become too risky for those whose superiors work in the same office, and convincing a client that you have their best interests are at heart when taking their money is even harder, making the appearance of sobriety and professionalism ever more important. But this bearish turn after years of bullish business is only a small part of why men return to classism and elegance in their dress. In 1956’s “The man in the gray flannel suit”, Gregory Peck wears what came to signify mindless corporate adherence - the clone like sack suit in a gray worsted, black oxford bals and a fedora. More than 50 years later, a classic gray suit and polished black shoes are nothing of the sort. Indeed, to wear a suit now is bucking the trend, and to wear it well - in gray rather than black, a plain worsted rather than a myriad stripe, fitting comfortably and tailored correctly, rather than overhanging the knuckles and falling off the hips as young trends have seen them evolve. Much like the punk who wears ripped denim and a Mohawk to “rebel”, Friday casual and branded sportswear no longer says much of someone being an individual and comfortable in their role, but more that they lack the confidence to dress. Ethan Newton
After working in the industry the past 12 years, I have seen a shift from the mindless optimism and consumerism of the early 00’s, with clothing traded merely on the strength of the model wearing them, to a much more educated man, looking for quality, heritage, and an individually tailored product. While we have had a new suit wearer looking for only the hallmarks of traditional tailored excellence - the surgeon cuff, the channel cut sole, the bridle leather attaché - increasingly this is being bastardized by clever marketeers, much like the over use of the very word “bespoke”. So where is the new value in menswear? In clothing tailored not only to your body, but to your life, personality, needs and idiosyncrasies - be they physical or otherwise. The new suit wearer doesn’t want to dress like this American designer, that Parisian house or this Savile row cutter - they want to dress of themselves.
And dressing of yourself can mean much more than gorge height and lapel width. It’s about what you do functionally in your suit, the climate you wear it in and the image you wish to present. One of the best dressed men I have the privilege of making for - Most Exerent’s GW - has clothes that speak not only of him, but that carry what he needs to carry, perform for the different clients he may meet, cities he may be living in or persona he needs to present. While some suits are in unlined, high twist cloth, cut fuller in the leg and more generous in the sleeve to allow the sharpest result when getting off a plane and into a meeting, others might have hidden phone pockets and lining details for while he is at home. Suits made in two colors of the same cloth - generally navy and grey or mid blue and cream - allow for four different looks from minimal packing space. Trousers are sans belt loops to allow multiple colours of shoe and bag without worrying about having the right belt. The best dressed man might only have 5 suits and 10 shirts, but you can bet they will all fit perfectly - both on the wearer and with each other.
While the modern city has a dearth of good tailors, and the younger man a lack of funds to visit the best, it doesn’t mean that to wear ready to wear clothing means all chance of individualism is gone. Indeed, for many young men still proportional in their measurements, off the rack may achieve a better result when beginning to build a wardrobe. My steadfast rule has always been, whatever you are willing to spend on a suit, allow at least 20% of that figure again for alterations. A $9000 suit 2 inches to long in the sleeve and trouser will look like it’s worth all of $90, just as an immaculately finished and fitted $900 suit will stand up credibly beside one 5 times it’s value. Sadly most young men miss this part though, and rather than having their clothes fit them well, they spend the extra money on a branded wallet or cufflinks, making the whole far less than the sum of it’s parts.
An average suit below the $1000 price point should perform it’s duties for 2 years or so, a suit double that price might live to three times it’s age when well cared for. A bespoke suit, handmade from the best cloth can expect to be inherited by your son. But only if well treated. Likewise a good pair of shoes might live live for 15 years where an average pair only 5, but if any garment is worn continuously you will be lucky to get 6 months before t starts looking like a dogs breakfast. I’d advise young men to buy two pairs of shoes, and two suits, at the limit of what they can comfortably afford. Rotated, aired and polished, they will only get better, and mean that they are still good garments by the time you can afford to go shopping again.
Pocket squares, knit ties, cufflinks and tie pins are all great things to have. I couldn’t feel properly presented without them. But never at the expense of a great pair of shoes, a suit that fits or simple clean classics. In that sense, Peck’s grey flannel wearing Tom Rath had a head start on everyone.
In response to the previous message - this article that Ethan wrote some time back is worth a re-read
With times of financial insecurity, invariably there comes a return to proper business wear - the Friday casuals and tie-less weekdays become too risky for those whose superiors work in the same office, and convincing a client that you have their best interests are at heart when taking their money is even harder, making the appearance of sobriety and professionalism ever more important. But this bearish turn after years of bullish business is only a small part of why men return to classism and elegance in their dress.
In 1956’s “The man in the gray flannel suit”, Gregory Peck wears what came to signify mindless corporate adherence - the clone like sack suit in a gray worsted, black oxford bals and a fedora. More than 50 years later, a classic gray suit and polished black shoes are nothing of the sort. Indeed, to wear a suit now is bucking the trend, and to wear it well - in gray rather than black, a plain worsted rather than a myriad stripe, fitting comfortably and tailored correctly, rather than overhanging the knuckles and falling off the hips as young trends have seen them evolve. Much like the punk who wears ripped denim and a Mohawk to “rebel”, Friday casual and branded sportswear no longer says much of someone being an individual and comfortable in their role, but more that they lack the confidence to dress.
EthanDesu & his tools.
He evens dresses up to polish ;0)