Menswear Style | The Rules of Engagement
One thing I think we can all agree upon– the hard & fast rules of menswear past have pretty much been shot to death. Personal preference (with good & bad results) seems to dominate today, and the media darlings (celebrities, designers and God forbid– celebrity designers) have done everything in their power to erase what was good and leave their own mark on fashion & style. The funny thing is– there’s still very little individuality worth noting. And the real irony– conformity is still largely present, it’s just that there are more uniforms to choose from, which sometimes requires a little more effort to pinpoint the reference– but in large part it’s still a game of follow the leader. We can all name and probably fall into some of the new categories– the “heritage brand hipsters”, the “denim fetishists”, “the skinny jean rocker”, “the Kanye”, and the list goes goes on and on and on.
Esquire did a list last year on the new laws of casual style. With things moving at light speed today, it would be interesting to see which, if any, still hold up?
And we’re talking style, not fashion. The top picture of plaid man represents fashion– the image below of Kirk Douglas is pure style. The skinny belt is back, btw.
Pattern mixing was big for Fall, with guys everywhere layering tartans, buffalo checks, etc. But beyond the “in your face” look is the subtle art of the knowing gentleman who can pull it off with a much more subtle and dapper effect by choosing patterns that complement, not compete– but you have to know the rules. The Glen plaid acting very much like a solid in terms of scale and color, adds interest and texture where it would have been just as easy to pair the bold plaid with a solid grey flannel trouser and call it a day.
1. When in doubt: a white oxford shirt.
No argument there. Heck, even The Sartorialist agrees– it must be so. If that’s not good enough for ya, how about preppy icon JFK?
7. A rugby shirt is the most masculine thing a man can wear.
Hmmm. The Rugby shirt, which I love, seems to be something you either get or you don’t. Masculine, sporty and steeped in heritage. It can also look good dressed up– yep, there’s a rugby under there. He reminds me the group of guys below– spectators at an Oxford rugby match, c. 1939.
8. The 1950s and 60s were the high points of casual. Everything before and after was hit-or-miss.
Well, I know what you’re saying. There was a coolness and an almost naivete that is very appealing. We’re talking early 60s though, right? Because it started to get hit-or-miss in the 60s too.
14. Justin Timberlake doesn’t look quite as good as he thinks he does.
Amen to that.
22. Always tuck: polo and dress shirts that hang below your hip. Never tuck: sweaters and turtlenecks. Everything else is negotiable.
Some style icons past (Clark Gable) and present would disagree. I’m a big fan of the tuck.
69. There’s not a whole lot of room for irony or imitation in style. The best-dressed men always dress like themselves.
A pretty good rule to end on, and very good advice indeed. Fashion is imitation, style is essence.