September 22, 2013 by Ville Raivio
‘I am 34 years old and work in search engine marketing and optimization. I got my undergraduate degree from Wittenberg University, a private liberal arts university located in Ohio. I am currently single and do not have any children. Besides working on my blog, thrifting and learning more about clothing, I enjoy reading classic literature and staying physically active. I have been interested in design and style ever since I was a child. It didn’t matter if it was architecture, automobiles, or clothing. There were always certain shapes, colors and textures that I was drawn to more than others. I think that I really got interested in clothing at about age 12.
At that age, I wasn’t interested in classic clothing, but I started to become very conscious about the way people constructed outfits and how they styled their clothing. As a teen, I became drawn to classic clothing, but it wasn’t until I graduated college and entered the workforce that I found the style that could be referred to as Trad (whether or not Trad is an actual thing is grounds for another discussion), I often explain my style as boring preppy.
I was naturally attracted to classic dress. I am not sure why, but it always seemed to me that this is the way that a man should dress. This may be because of the men that I saw dressing in this manner and my admiration for them. I was also drawn to it because it is simple, utilitarian, and it allowed me to fit in at the workplace. It is important for me to note this, because I was never taught about business dress by my father. Like many baby boomers he despised what he considered “dressing up.” So, he invested little time and energy in his wardrobe. This left me to find my own way. Learning how to dress in this manner helped me gain confidence in my appearance. It taught me how to be seen, but not heard, if that makes sense. It also led me to my own style mantra, “Simple, classic, boring”, which has served me well.
I began learning about classic American dress through observation. I picked up the basics like blue OCBDs, flat front chinos, Shetland crew neck sweaters and penny loafers; however, it wasn’t until around 2007 – 2008 or so that I stumbled upon Ask Andy’s Trad Forum. Before this, I didn’t know that there were so many people interested in this style, and that it had a term (Trad) that described it. This forum contained a wealth of information on the subject and pointed me to a lot of other resources such as Ivy-Style.com, O’Connell’s Clothing, and many others. I still frequent the Trad Forum along with a handful of other forums, but now I am more influenced by a few specific contributors than by the forums as a whole. I also study old magazines, yearbooks, movies, a handful of blogs, and I still “people watch” with great enthusiasm.
I started my blog a little over two years ago. I have always liked to do research. My blog gave me the chance to combine this with my interest in style and a platform to curate my findings. I think that my blog is a little different than a lot of the blogs in the Trad/Ivy/Preppy niche. I don’t just alert readers to new products or cover historical aspects. Instead, I try to offer a mix of posts that covers historical images, architecture, reviews of products, “how to” articles, and to share my own sartorial growth with my readers. I would say that the biggest difference is that I include a lot of personal narrative. The blog has been a lot of fun, and I am excited to see where it goes in the future.
I have come across lots of great vintage pieces over the past few years. I would have to say that my favorite makers from the past are Brooks Brothers and Deansgate. For me it is all about a great natural shoulder. I have also found a lot of great pieces from defunct menswear shops that have no maker labeled. My tailor is always amazed at the things that I bring in for him to work on. Currently, I think that the MTM Southwick Cambridge model is the nicest jacket available in terms of soft shoulder tailoring with a 3/2 roll. I am also excited to see Brooks Brothers reintroduce their Own Make line.
I have learned a lot about traditional American style over the past few years. I think that there are a few important points that are often overlooked. The first is that traditional American style is still very much alive in America, at least it is where I live in the Midwest, and it is especially more common in conservative industries albeit in a more watered downed version than what they were wearing during the Ivy League boom years, but it is still around. The second important point to remember is that, despite the very casual dress code of today’s climate, traditional American dress is a casual style that hinges upon never being too dressed up or too underdressed. The third, and most important point in my opinion, is that by dressing in this manner you will never be in style, but you will always look correct.’
Photos: © Jerrod Swanton