I know, I know. There is so much advice floating around the blogosphere. Every where you look there is someone telling you what you should or shouldn't do. I don't necessarily have a problem with this, but the credibility of the person giving said advice can be quite the elephant in the room, which is why I would like to direct you to some of the most credible advice I have ever read - that of Luciano Barbera. You've seen him on The Sartorialist countless times and the phrase "living legend" doesn't even remotely do him justice to be honest. His website is required reading as are his musings (no, truths) on style. Read 'em. Learn 'em. Love 'em. Break 'em.
"It’s not enough to have beautiful clothes. Lots of people have beautiful clothes. In fact, some people have too many. What is important is what you do with them. On the following pages I share some comments on how I dress and what I have taught my sons. Of course, they do not always take my advice. But that is the point. Neither should you. Look, listen, learn, and discard where appropriate.
A suit tells the world you are ready for business. A jacket tells the world you are open to fun. For me the ideal jacket should have soft and natural lines and balanced proportions. It should fit you but not constrict you. I do not believe in stiff shoulder pads. That is vanity, not style. Do not make it too tight. If it’s too tight, you will look like a matador. Any time I see a man playing golf or tennis in his jacket, I know he and I could be friends.
There are many schools on trouser length. In America they are often worn so that the pant leg tumbles over the shoes. Many Europeans now wear them quite short. You even show a little sock. What can I say? Perhaps we Europeans are secretly afraid of flash floods. The picture at right shows, quite literally, where I stand. I call this the Mid-Atlantic Solution since it is halfway between Europe and America. The pants just breaking lightly on the shoe. I do not want to see your socks, but I do want to see your shoes.
I know I have said you can have too many clothes. But I take that back where shirts are concerned. The shirt is a triumph of modern life, like the automobile or the web. It is easy to put on and take off, quick to wash and easy to store. Plus, shirts look great. A man should own as many shirts as he wishes - the more the better.
I personally have so many shirts that I sometimes walk into my closet, pull one out, and think to myself, “Now where did that come from?” Having lots of shirts will allow you to surprise yourself with your own good taste.
The tie follows the culture. In the 50s I wore a bow tie. In the 60s I tied a Windsor. In the 70s I went open-necked. In the 80s I had a big aggressive knot that said, do not mess with me. Now I find that what I want is a less-fussed-over-knot with a soft pleating. It is simple. It is declarative. It feels right. How will I wear my tie in the next decade? Who knows? Ask me then.
Everyone knows you wear wool in the winter, linen in the summer, and a straw hat from June 15th to Labor Day. Everyone is right. And therein lies the problem. Follow these rules and you will look like everyone else. Better that you display a little originality. On the gravest days of winter I put on my gray flannels, a cashmere tie in a sober color and my white linen jacket. The pants keep me warm. The tie gains me entrée into good restaurants. The blazer reminds me that summer will come again."
[Editor's note: Hat tips to Die, Workwear! and Mister Crew.]