Remembering the 80′s Power Suit | The New York Times

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Power suits of the 1980s and ’90s, as seen in “The Wolf of Wall Street,” have given way to tailoring that hints at wealth quietly.

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Joseph Scherrer‘s insight:

Ah, the 80’s.

That decade of greed, excess, and conspicuous consumption.

And don’t forget mullets (guilty as charged), wide-shouldered double breasted suits, parachute pants, Vans, and Z. Cavaricci’s. The Ivy look and Miami Vice pastels were in for a while too.

I came of age during this decade (seems hard to believe that so much time has gone by) and have a lot of fond memories from that time.

Looking back, the fashion-driven, over-the-top look kind of makes me cringe, but at least it wasn’t as horrid style-wise as the 70’s (see the film American Hustle to see exactly what I mean).

This article from the New York Times reflects on the style of the 80’s as exemplified by Martin Scorcese’s film “The Wolf of Wall Street.”

In the film, Leonardo di Caprio plays John Belfort, a real flesh and blood stock trader who rode a dazzling wave of financial success during the halcyon days of junks bonds and hostile takeovers.

Of course, his ride came to an ignominious end when the Feds finally caught up with him and off to prison he went.

What’s really interesting to me is the way the article pulls in mostly anonymous contributors who are apparently working on Wall Street today. In somber tones, you hear them say things like:

“The power suit is over.”

“Less is more today. Finance is less brash, and so are its clothes.”

“Any external sign of wealth in how Wall Street dresses has been replaced with a desire to look average or normal.”

“I haven’t worn a pocket square in years,”

While this may be true for many in the Wall Street set and a large swath of the suit-wearing public, what it all amounts to is another demonstration of the fickle nature of fashion.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, “If you don’t like the fashion in business, wait five minutes and it’ll change.”

The current fashion trend is explained well in the article:

“…slimmer, more form-flattering suits, like the J. Crew Ludlow suit. It also means thinner ties; socks with more color or personality; and, particularly for those who do not have to wear ties, shirts with spread collars in fabrics borrowed from the “heritage hip” look…”

Now, I’ve commented on this trend before. Slim suits are great—if you’re slim. But if you’re a normal American male, i.e. mildly overweight, slim suits are going to look ridiculous on you. So, why would you ever want to wear one, especially when they’re going to be “out” in a couple of years (think I’m joking? I’ve started to see wide-lapeled sport coats show up on celebrities.)

The best, most generous answer I can offer is this:  because you’ve not been properly educated on how to dress with timeless style, you take your cues from your peers and the trend-setters so that you’ll “look right” and “fit in” while also feeling like you’re on top of it because you’re wearing what’s “hip” at the moment.

Not only does this approach cost more money (you have to change your look constantly to keep up), you are actually abdicating your opportunity to establish a true style of your own that works day-in, day-out, year after year.

How is this possible?

Because there are timeless principles of classic style that have been worked out over hundreds of years, that if you follow them, will guarantee that you’ll look great and put the best possible you on display in an effortless, elegant way.

My advice: Don’t follow the trends. Follow the principles instead.

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled

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Article publié pour la première fois le 03/01/2014

James Bond Suit Drape

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In Dressing the Man, Alan Flusser defines drape as:
The manner in which a garment hangs from the shoulder or waist.


Joseph Scherrer‘s insight:

A nice post on the drape of a suit.  From a technical perspective, you want the suit to hang well from the shoulders and waist.  Part of this is a function of the cloth, but the greater part is a function of the tailoring.  Although the Scholte drape is not seen very much these days, the way the suit hangs on the body remains critical…especially when it comes to the classic style principle of aethetic precision.

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Article publié pour la première fois le 05/04/2013

Summer Classic Style Option: The Safari Jacket | Dappered

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It’s been the dog days of summer for much of the US, but here in San Francisco, the weather has been remarkably mild. I’m actually a bit disappointed by it since I’ve been wanting an excuse to wear this linen safari jacket I got from Ascot Chang last year.

Joseph Scherrer‘s insight:

This article from Die Workwear gives a bit of history of the safari jacket, then follows it up with a ton of pictures.

I find myself hankering one because it’s just the ticket to take the edge of the night chill here in Rio and still turn out in tropical style.  The blue linen specimen in the photo looks pretty good.

As stated in the article:

“Safari jackets became part of sporting wear during the late 19th-century, when Westerners went to Africa for safari tours and big game hunting. Since then, they’ve cycled in and out of fashion. The height of their glamour was probably around the mid-20th century, when they became associated with Ernest Hemingway, Clark Gable, and James Bond.”

Raphael Schnieder over at Gentleman’s Gazette wrote a nice piece on safari jackets that include some great apparel arts illustrations.

Here’s another article from the Suits of James Bond on the safari jacket.

If you’re in the market and are not going to Ascot Chang or custom route, you can get a sharp one at J. Peterman or at the Beretta store.

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled Writer


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Article publié pour la première fois le 18/07/2013

The Untold History of the First Men’s Style Revolution

Tailored and Styled Blog Post 10 Mar 13--King Louis XIV

In a previous post, I explained how King Charles II first mandated the use of a three piece suit for court wear.

The period after his edict has since become known as the “Great Renunciation.”  Because within less than a half a century, men discarded the brightly colored fabrics, satins and velvets, and lace and embroidery that characterized the conspicuous consumption of the aristocracy.  This included high, red heeled shoes!  See those worn by super snazzy King Charles XIV.

Tailored and Styled Blog Post 10 Mar 13--King Louis XIV

Loubourtin anyone?

Tailored and Styled Blog Post 10 Mar 13--Louboutin Shoe

(See this BBC link for a fascinating story of men and high heeled shoes)

The Great Renunciation occurred during a period of great political upheaval in Europe including the American and French democratic revolutions, the Irish Rebellion, the Regency Crisis, the War of 1812, the Napoleonic Wars, and Great Britain’s subsequent imperial expansion.  Huge economic change occurred with the rise of capitalism and the Industrial Revolution.

In England, this political and economic cauldron boiled over into a struggle for power between royalty and the merchant class.  Both group’s identities were directly tied to their legitimacy to wield power.

The aristocracy progressively rejected the ideology of luxurious display in favor of one of “inconspicuous consumption.”  This sartorial approach was characterized by sober colors and simplicity.  It reinforced through external dress an ethic of rationality, self-restraint, and moral virtue.

Here’s a painting of Adolphus Hanover, 1st Duke of Cambridge.  The Duke is dressed in conservative dark blue frock that matches the background.  He has no wig and his expression is steady and controlled.  The only ornamentation is a medallion depicting his royal status.  Quite a difference from even 20 years before when aristocratic dress was much brighter and more ostentatious.

Tailored and Styled Blog Post 10 Mar 13--Adolphus Hanover, 1st Duke of Cambridge

(Painting by William Beechey, 1800)

For middle class businessman, modesty in dress was nothing new:  it was previously legislated in the form of sumptuary laws (laws that regulate consumption) that prevented them from wearing luxurious clothing.  This modesty was coupled to an ideology of freedom and liberty hard won and justified through revolution.  It also symbolized virtuous hard work and frugal living—the opposite of aristocratic entitlement and landed leisure.  In the painting of a monied lawyer below, note the sober, earthy colors of both the background and the clothing as well as the serious, even challenging expression.

Tailored and Styled Blog Post 10 Mar 13--Charles Christie Esquire

(Painting of Charles Christie, Esq by Henry Raeburn, 1800)

So here we have a dynamic where the main components of an ideological basis for a style of dressing were claimed by two distinct political classes vying for power.

For both, the three piece suit embodied virtue, modesty, frugality, and industry.  But most importantly for both, wearing a three piece suit communicated legitimacy of claims to political and social power.

Virtue.  Modesty.  Frugality.  Industry.  Legitimacy.  Power.

Could these be some of the principles that still underlie the idea of classic men’s style?

Tell me what you think!

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled Writer

Article publié pour la première fois le 11/03/2013

Styleology: Check out this bold Spring Look

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- Kiton – Cashmere, wool and linen Jacket – Linen and Silk Tie -


Joseph Scherrer‘s insight:

Had to post this ridiculously creative Spring ensemble from Pauw Mannen.  Bright coral/turquiose City Gunclub, light blue cotton spread collar PoW shirt, coordinated with navy blue and light blue dot linen/silk tie, and a what I’ll call a silk “carnival” pocket square.  Something for you adventurous type to aspire to!

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Article publié pour la première fois le 15/03/2013