Monday, May 9, 2011

"Only Think About Your Tie When You Buy The Next One"

I don't always agree with the stuff that comes out of Scott Schuman's mouth, but his recent treatise on Italian style for GQ UK is pretty great.  Despite what you think about Italian style bombarding the blogosphere as of late, Scott and his blog have served as an advocate for this stuff since The Sartorialist's inception in 2005.  Whether or not Scott is an expert I will leave up to you, but there is not denying the wisdom of a man who has worked closely with the men who embody a particular aesthetic.  The bit about taking a little extra time when shopping and getting alterations done is particularly poignant.

"A lot has been written about 'Italian style'. A number of 'facts' have been detailed: the Agnelli-isms of unbuttoned shirt collars, unbuckled monkstrap shoes, ties over the sweater - your general sprezzatura minutiae. But when it comes down to it, these things border on gimmick. To me, that's not really about what Italian style is about, or what people relate to in my photographs.

What I think people are actually aspiring to is something much trickier to attain. It's the same kind of thing that you've seen in all classic menswear icons, most perfectly embodied by Cary Grantand Fred Astaire. It's grace.

Why people react to Italian style is the grace with which these gentlemen inhabit their clothes.

Now, some people will discredit this and call it 'effortless style', or write it off by saying, 'These Italians are just born with it.'

But it's quite the opposite. There is nothing effortless about their style, or their look. What's unique is that they put an extreme amount of effort into their look when they buy the clothes, when they have the clothes altered by their tailor, and when they put them on in the morning.

But once they put them on, they don't think about them until they take them off again at night. It's that graceful thoughtlessness that is so seductive.

Do me a favour. Look at these photos [below]. Look at the shoulder line. Look at how relaxed these guys are. Their shoulders aren't uptight and around their ears. These guys are having fun.

Then take a look at your typical Saville Row-tailored gent. Refined (read: restrained) to within an inch of his life, shoulders straight as a board and typically looking like they're having as much fun as an American wearing a suit.

If there is one piece of advice that I could give to someone who wants to embody, in their own way, the very best of Italian style, it would be: take an extra half an hour when buying the clothes, and extra half an hour at the tailor to make sure they perfectly fit you, and an extra half an hour in the morning to make sure you are confident in your choices.

Then think about food, think about women, think about cars - and only think about your tie when you buy the next one."



  1. im sure this is going to garner the requisite schuman hate, but this is some pretty insightful stuff here. well said, and very observant. and he's right, you definitely want to make sure your gear is specified according to your tastes because it's when you hit that particular sweet spot that you can start to actually wear your clothes with a certain ease and comfort that these guys radiate. some kids already realize this, obviously, but props to schuman for actually speaking up on it.


  2. This bores the ass off me, I'm European and this is nothing new. The recent US blog fascination with 'dub Monks' and the like is hilarious. Seriously catch up! It feels like my cousin from the country has come to visit.

  3. It's not whether you're Euro or Anglo, it's about feeling good in your own skin and happy with who you are. Then whether you're wearing Canali or Bastian for Gant or a pair of no-name jeans and a tee, you will be seen as stylish, sexy, and chic. The rest is window-dressing!

  4. Um. . . maybe the wearer's stance (or appearance thereof) is dictated by the design of the suit, maybe there is a reason for that design, and maybe neither the design of a suit nor the rationale behind that design has anything to do with how much "fun" the wearer is having.

    You fashion nerds take yourselves and your powers of apparel-based remote psychology way too seriously.

  5. I don't want my legal counsel, accountant, execs, etc. to look like they are relaxed and having fun. I want them to look like they are on point and ready to do business.

  6. Please do correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that traditional American suits were known for their relaxed shoulders and lack of padding? Wouldn't this make the shoulders a little bit more relaxed? Are Italian suits even more relaxed? I swear I've seen a photo from J. Press of a young lad wearing a very relaxed sportcoat.

    I'm still a neophyte when it comes to suiting, so please enlighten me.

    Great post as always LAS.

  7. Yup... its all about confidence first and foremost. You never look good if you look uncomfortable (very different than uncomfy)or like you are trying. Its about understanding yourself and the rules of fashion and then, and only then breaking them so that your look and eccentricities become yours. If you keep futzing with your tie so that its twisted just so, then you've missed the point. However, if you twist it just so before leaving the house and then ignore it all day, you are a bad ass. Trends come and go, but style is personal.

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