Friday, December 26, 2014

Links: Photographer Spends 20 Years Documenting How We All Dress Exactly Alike

"For the last 20 years, unassuming Dutch photographer Hans Eijkelboom has traversed the world, picking a spot, be it in Shanghai, New York, or Paris, and meticulously photographed what he saw.

"The 'anti-sartorial' photographs of everyday people capture specific visual themes – people in red jackets, men with bare chests on roller blades – that are grouped together with the date, city and time range they were taken. And this combination and repetition is what makes the photographs so powerful. Viewed separately, they would hardly even catch our eye."

So writes one article, titled "Photographer Spends 20 Years Documenting How We All Dress Exactly Alike," about the project, which the photographer has turned into a book.
Dutch photographer Hans Eijkelboom captures the universal anti-style of pedestrians around the world," explaining the "anti-sartorial" quip of the previous link more clearly.

Still another piece declares, "The book represents two decades of these fascinating studies. It’s hard to look at these images and not chuckle at the idea of individualism. The work is definitely funny but also sort of profoundly sad."

I'm thrilled to see this, because it validates something I've believed for a long time. I always shake my head whenever someone talks about how clothing standards of the past were "conformist," implying that they no longer are -- because, you know, people today totally don't all dress alike. Human nature doesn't change; most people want to blend in -- not to stand out, not to draw attention to themselves for being different than the herd. 

Clothing styles have changed significantly over the past 50 years, and standards have become much lower and far less formal. But the basic impulse that most people have to conform and fit in hasn't changed. 

The book actually shows this to be even more true than I previously thought; what astounds me most is how so many people are not only wearing the same style of clothing, but the same color. 

This reminds me of the time maybe a year ago when I walked into a Target and, within about two minutes, saw about a dozen age 20-ish girls -- not all of whom were together -- wearing black fleece North Face jackets. Not just all wearing fleece jackets of different colors and brands, or all wearing North Face fleece jackets in different colors, or even all wearing black fleece jackets of different brands, but all wearing identical (or nearly identical) jackets, all fleece, all black, and all with visible North Face logos in the same spot. 

It also reminds me of a story that attorney Ken C. Pollock told in a 2008 interview with the Ivy Style blog:

"A couple months ago I went to a party right from work, wearing my suit, and all the other men were wearing jeans. The owner’s wife came over and asked 'Ken, why are you dressed in such a conformist manner?' I said, 'You think I ought to wear jeans and a plaid flannel shirt?' And she said, 'Yeah, that’d be a good idea.' Be a non-conformist — just like everybody else."

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas

I hope everyone had a great day. 

Thanks for reading this year.

Friday, December 12, 2014


Heavy Tweed Jacket's Tumblr is active again! It's not much, but I'll take whatever I can get.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Link: G. Bruce Boyer Profile

The "Die, Workwear!" blog has a link showcasing a profile of G. Bruce Boyer's wardrobe and home in the March 2014 issue of "Free and Easy," a Japanese magazine. I LOVE pieces like this. 

It reminds me of a similar feature on Richard Merkin's wardrobe and New York apartment (with the text of the article written by Merkin himself) in the Nov. 1990 issue of GQ. That's still one of my all-time favorite articles about men's style (shown through the lens of one man's style); I still have the issue and probably re-read that piece at least once a year.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Knowledge: Defiance vs. Ignorance

Some readers took issue with some of the items on the recent post with the list of 25 Sartorial Rules. 

I guess it's not surprising that some disagreed with not buttoning the bottom button of a vest. I could go either way, although I do regard leaving it unbuttoned as one of the marks of a sophisticated dresser, illogical as that may be.

I was more surprised at the dissent over leaving the bottom button of a suit jacket/sport coat/blazer undone. I'm aware that some jackets are cut more toward buttoning it than not, and I'm also aware that some great dressers, like Cary Grant and JFK, used to sometimes button theirs. 

I always say that most fashion rules are rules-of-thumb, rather than absolutes. I also always say that it's better to break a rule out of defiance than out of ignorance. It's one thing to know, for example, that the bottom button of a jacket isn't traditionally buttoned, but to deliberately discard that rule and button it anyway, for whatever reason; it's quite another to button it because you have no idea that it's not supposed to be buttoned. 

The people taking issue with this rule seem to have missed the whole point of this list; it was clearly aimed at educating people who don't know any better, not at people who do know better but disagree.

I've written before about looking through an album of a friend of mine on Facebook from Easter or something. An apparently 20-something female friend of a 20-something male (the husband of my friend's cousin) asked him why he left the bottom button of his jacket open, and he responded, "I think you're supposed to." It's like neither of them has ever seen a man in a suit before. THOSE are the types of people these lists are written for.


For the record, I think anyone who buttons the bottom button of their jacket -- even Cary Grant or JFK -- looks like a hillbilly.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Photo: Widespread Ivy

Someone posted this today on Ivy Style's Facebook page. It's a jacket from Sears' "Traditional Collection," which the owner dates from the 1960s. The lapels appear to bear that out; they're a little narrow for my taste. But check out the other details: 3/2 roll, swelled edges, and natural shoulders, which the owner reports as an ultra-tradly 19".

It's hard to believe that stuff like this was once so widely available; Ivy style obviously spread beyond the northeast and the rarefied confines of purveyors like Brooks Brothers and J. Press, to middle America and even to middle-class outlets like Sears. SEARS! Amazing. (My recent post on long-wing "gunboats" also showed a pair from Sears that I found on eBay.) 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Link: 25 Sartorial Rules

The blog "Put This On" has a list called "Twenty-Five Pieces of Basic Sartorial Knowledge So You Don’t Look Dumb." Sadly, most men I see today need at least some of these. It's astounding how quickly this knowledge has been lost; I believe it was basic, common knowledge just a couple of generations ago.

I enthusiastically agree with 23 of them. 

The two exceptions: 

"20. Never wear visible socks with shorts."

I don't have a strong opinion either way; I generally see shorts as utilitarian and inherently unstylish, and the bare male leg as unattractive. 

"Never wear polyester outside of the gym or theme parties."

Polyester isn't ideal. But, in my opinion, cotton-poly shirts that still look and basically feel like 100% cotton, or silk-poly ties that still look and basically feel like 100% silk, aren't deal-breakers.  

Regardless, this is probably the best and most succinct list of basic sartorial rules I've ever seen. I wish every man would read and internalize it. 

I reproduce it below, in case it's ever removed: 

1. Unbutton the bottom button of your jacket. It’s not intended to be buttoned.

2. Same goes for your vest. 

3. Remove the tags on the sleeves of your jacket before you wear it. 

4. Jackets sometimes come with white basting thread on their shoulders or holding closed their vents. Remove this thread before wearing the jacket. 

5. Jacket pockets are intended to be opened. Use a small scissor or seam ripper. 

6. More than three jacket buttons is never appropriate for anything. 

7. On a three-button coat, buttoning the top button is optional, and some lapels are rolled so as to make the top button ornamental. In other words: if buttoning the top button seems wrong, it is. 

8. Brown shoes, brown belt. Black shoes, black belt. 

9. Belt or suspenders. Never belt and suspenders. 

10. Your jacket sleeve should be short enough to show some shirt cuff - about half an inch.  

11. Your pants should end at your shoes without puddling. A slight or half break means that there is one modest inflection point in the front crease. If your pants break both front and back or if they break on the sides, they’re too long. 

12. Your coat should follow and flatter the lines of your upper body, not pool around them. You should be able to slip a hand in to get to your inside breast pocket, but if the jacket’s closed and you can pound your heart with your fist, it’s too big. 

13. When you buy a suit or sportcoat, it should be altered to fit by a tailor. This will cost between $25 and $100. 

14. Your tie should reach your belt line - it shouldn’t end above your belt or below it.

15. Your tie knot should have a dimple. 

16. Only wear a tie if you’re also wearing a suit or sportcoat (or, very casually, a sweater). Shirt, tie and no jacket is the wedding uniform of a nine-year-old. 

17. The only men who should wear black suits during the day are priests, undertakers, secret agents, funerals attendees and yokels. 

18. Cell phone holsters are horrible. 

19. So are square-toed shoes. 

20. Never wear visible socks with shorts. 

21. Or any socks with sandals. 

22. If your shirt is tucked in, you should be wearing a belt (or suspenders, if you’re wearing a jacket as well, or your trousers should have side adjusters and no belt loops). 

23. Flip flops are great for the pool and the beach and not great for anything else. (Some say this is a matter of taste. We agree. If you have any taste, you will only wear flip-flops at the beach or pool.) 

24. Long ties are not appropriate with a tuxedo. 

25. Never wear polyester outside of the gym or theme parties.