Friday, March 18, 2011

Luciano Barbera's Style Tips

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.

The Jacket
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.

The Shirt 
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
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.]


  1. words for the well-dressed man to live by!

  2. Jesus Christ, man, why not just link to his site instead of copying the whole damn thing. There's such a thing as copyright, you know.

  3. Has there ever been a GOOD comment from an anon? I appreciate that LAS and friends found out that this satorial giant has his own website. Thanks for the post.

  4. Barbera distills his many years in the business and life into the simple motto I wish more men would honor: Dress for yourself. Too many people jump from look to look based on Lookbooks and Tumblers without asking themselves if this look is really them! Have confidence and dress to please your own sense of style; It will show in everything you do.

  5. Fashion or ("style" to those who prefer euphemisms) should not be dictated from one generation to another. Being a reflection of creativity, lifestyle and perspective (on the past and an ever-broadening view of the present), a healthy, evolving culture should produce and ongoing revolution in all forms of expression, including dress.

    Its one thing to appreciate Shakespeare. Its another to ape his writing and "style" oneself as a great writer in his fine tradition. Thus, it is one thing to consider the degree of thought Mr. Barbera puts into the topic of mens fashion, and perhaps aspire to achieve a similar perspective. However, his specific taste in trouser lengths are irrelevant to that endeavor, and poring over his website for tips on what to wear trivializes the enlightenment he supposedly represents.

    The key is how you think, not what you think.

  6. cool, now you just copy things from other people. this blog is SUCKING

  7. Thanks for the post but I already read Die, Workwear! which is is a better blog than this one.

  8. Die, Workwear! is 100 PERCENT CLOWN SHIT.

  9. I like the tips, but I agree with others' qualms and think you should mention that you are quoting Mr. Barbera at length


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