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The Five Pre-Style Fundamentals

Over the coming days, I will be laying the foundation for a particular approach to personal style: a “philosophy of personal style” if you will.

As such, I’ll be covering a lot of subject matter ranging from the psychological and sociological to the economic and cultural.  The objective is to provide you with a solid understanding of the factors that underpin the art dressing well.  With this foundation in place, we’ll be able to advance to a practical process for achieving your personal style.

But first, we need to start with the no-kidding basics, and I do mean basics: the motives for dressing.  Johnson (et al) in their book Fashion Foundations: Early Writings on Fashion and Dress state that, “As we dress the body…we manipulate, modify, and supplement it…[as] a means to present ourselves to others through personal, social, and cultural identities.”

The implication here is that establishing a personal style is a much more complex activity than we might imagine.  Motives for dressing, then, revolve around self and also our relation to others to include such basic functions as protection and warmth as well as decoration, modesty, and symbolism.

Let’s take a brief look at each of these.

Motive #1: Protection.  Protection is perhaps the most basic of all motives.  It extends to environmental hazards and protection from one another.  Charlton Heston in “Planet of the Apes” or Raquel Welch in “One Million Years B.C.” illustrate this well.

Protective Dress Heston Welch







Motive #2: Warmth.  As the “naked ape”, we do not possess built-in organic insulation from the elements as does the rest of the animal kingdom.  The Roman poet and philosopher Lucretius perhaps expresses it the best:

 “And therefore almost all are covered with hides, or else with shells, or with the horny callus, or with bark.”

Motive #3: Decoration.  Whereas the first two motives are imposed upon us by the physical environment, the motive to decorate oneself is the first that moves into the psychological and social realms.  The motive for decoration is one that is very familiar to us all: to make ourselves attractive, especially to others.  It also serves to bolster our own sense of dignity.  As archeological evidence seems to suggest, this urge to decorate ourselves is an ancient one.

Motive #4: Modesty.  The Biblical story of Adam and Eve provides the best explanation of modesty in that clothing ourselves reduces our shame of nakedness and therefore works to restore our human dignity.  Ironically, the motive of modesty is practically opposite to that of decoration.  J.C. Flugel calls this opposition “the most fundamental psychological fact in the whole psychology of clothing.”  (Yes, there are people who study the psychology of clothing!)  With this view, clothes become the medium through which these two competing motives—decoration and modesty—are reconciled.

 2-6-13 Tailored and Styled--Adam and Eve

Motive #5: Symbolism.  Here we arrive at an important motive for our purposes and that is the symbolism of one’s dress.  In short, what we wear communicates to others something of who we are and what we do.  For instance, wearing a suit or uniform communicates that we have an occupation.  Wealth is communicated by the use of jewelry, new clothes, exotic or expensive fabrics, designer labels, and excellent fit.  Conformity is communicated by subdued colors and mass-produced clothing.  The motive of symbolism gives new meaning to the phrases “look the part” or “dress for success.”

Going forward, I’ll be using the motive of symbolism along with the decoration-modesty dichotomy to inform my approach to personal style.  In the meantime, I’ll ask you to think about why you dress the way you do and what it might be communicating to others.

Is it the message you want to send?

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled Writer

Article publié pour la première fois le 07/02/2013

Tailored and Styled Goes to Rio

My wife and I are headed to Rio de Janeiro today, “The Cidade Maravilholsa.”

We’ll be staying for few months as part of a mini-sabbatical following my retirement from a 24-year Air Force career this past Friday.

Even though it’s winter there, classic summer style is still called for.

I’ll keep the content flowing once we get settled into our apartment (which is only two blocks from Ipanema beach).

Ipanema Beach

Needless to say we’re looking forward to it!

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled Writer




Article publié pour la première fois le 30/06/2013

How to Choose the Right Shirt Collar for Your Face | Iconicallyrare

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Choosing the right shirt collar can enhance your appearance

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Joseph Scherrer‘s insight:

This practical article by Sonia Glyn Nicholson spells out in simple terms how to select the right shirt collar.

It all boils down to the shape of your head:

– If you have a large, wide head, wear long and narrow collars

– If you have a narrow, slim head, wear spread collars that are slightly wider

– If your head is balanced in size and shape, you can wear anything

She includes several illustrations and pictures to make things even easier to understand.

Keep this article for reference…

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled

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Article publié pour la première fois le 07/01/2014

Tweed Guide – The Curiously Compelling Story of Tweed

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Some view tweed as an itchy, stuffy, stodgy fabric only worn by aging northeastern college professors or by English gentry in the Scottish dells. However, check out the style icons who’ve worn tweed well:

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Joseph Scherrer‘s insight:

I wrote this post, my first for Gentleman’s Gazette, in collaboration with Raphael Schneider, who runs the site.

The post logs in at 3000 plus words and is chock full of photos, links, and videos conceived to provide you with a comprehensive education on tweed and how to wear it in a classic way.

In this article learn about:

– The origin of tweed

– The history of tweed

– Types of tweed

– Tweed patterns

– How tweed is made

– A rundown on a recent crisis in Harris Tweed

– How to wear tweed

– Where to find tweed

Indeed, tweed has a curiously compelling story…enjoy the piece and let me know what you think of it!

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled


Article publié pour la première fois le 01/09/2013

The Trousers Guide, Part 1 | Men’s Flair

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Joseph Scherrer‘s insight:

This is the first of a two-part Men’s Flair curation on men’s dress pants. Men’s Flair is run by Aleksandar Cvetkovic, a full time student at Oxford University. Aleksandar is a self-professed dandy who wants to build a career in the menswear industry after he graduates. With Oxford credentials, I don’t think he’ll have a problem doing that.

At any rate, Aleksander writes in this post about the “turn-up” or trouser cuffs.

If you’ve spent any amount of time on men’s style sites, you’ll see the subject of cuffs vs. no cuffs arises regularly.

So let me be clear straightaway: there is no “rule” for having pants cuffs or not.

For my part, I am not a huge fan of turn-ups. There are two reasons for this. First, going without cuffs has a more formal heritage and my personal style tends toward a more refined look. Second, I like more of a clean line that extends from my torso to my shoes. The horizontal line of a turn-up breaks that vertical line. Cuffless pants help keep that vertical line clean and  accentuate my height and build, thus contributing to the overall elegance I seek.

I don’t have anything against turn-ups. I think they look just fine. However, they do have more of a country, sporting heritage. Some like cuffs because they believe the extra fold of cloth at the bottom of the pants serves to “finish” and ground the overall silhouette. I see their point, but nonetheless I choose a different approach.

In this piece, Alexsander gives a fine re-cap of the history of turn-ups. He also supplies several reasons for wearing them.

The first is because they are in fashion. Which of course is not a good reason at all to consider using them.

The second reason he provides is that turn-ups, when done well, add more shape to the trouser and help them drape better. True, but remember that your tailor can add additional fabric inside cuffless pants to help them drape. Also, the heavier the weight of the fabric the less you have to worry about drape.

The third reason is that for some body shapes, turn-ups serve to balance the proportions of the body. This is in keeping with one of our principles of classic style that goes back at least as far as Beau Brummel in the early 1800’s: “aesthetic proportions.” Wrapping yourself in a three-dimensional suit of clothes should enhance your proportions in a visually pleasing way.

The fourth reason is that turn-ups work better on pants that are fuller. This includes pants with pleats. Although as stated above, there is no set rule on wearing cuffs with pleats. My personal parameter is that pants with two-pleats should use cuffs, pants with one pleat you can go either way, and pants with no pleats should not have cuffs.

He goes on to give some guidelines on how the cuffs should be built.

– The cuffs should be constructed so that there is no break in the front of the pants. I disagree with this one. I always like just a slight break in the front of my pants.

– Match the height of the cuffs to the “chunkiness” of the jacket you’re wearing. For instance, if it’s a tweed suit, feel free to go higher with your cuffs, 2 inches or even more.

– If you’re tall, higher cuffs will look better. If you’re short, go with something closer to 1″.

Remember that there is no right and wrong when it comes to cuffs. Keep in mind the personal style you are seeking to achieve, the proportions of your physique, and the type of fabric involved and you’ll be just fine.

By Joe Scherrer | Tailored and Styled
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Article publié pour la première fois le 17/02/2014