November 9, 2014 by Ville Raivio
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November 4, 2014 by Ville Raivio
The fedora is a soft felt hat with a wide brim, a deep dimple at the middle of the crown, and small dimples on both sides of the crown’s front. The brim circles the crown, the ribbon decorates the brim, and most quality fedoras also have a band that can be attached to the buttonhole on coat lapels. This way the hat won’t flutter into the ground should a strong gust whip outside. The man in the lookout for an individual look can bend his brim askew or customise the crown’s shape to his heart’s content. The fedora hat is named after the play Fédora, first shown in 1882. The French dramaturgist Victorien Sardou wrote his play especially for the legendary Sarah Bernhardt, whose role was the title one as the princess Fédora.
In the play she indeed wore a soft felt hat with a strong dimple in the crown, and the brim turned up markedly, and this the audiences took to. Bernhardt was otherwise a well-known wearer of men’s clothes long before copyists like Marlene Dietrich. Inspired by the strong Bernhardt, suffragettes took the fedora as their own and wore this headgear on both sides of the Atlantic beginning from the last stages of the 19th century. This genderised joy lasted for a few decades before men took the fedora by horde and power as their own, and the prior hat styles lost their appeal before this new, softer one.
Compared to the popular top hat of yore, the fedora was cheap and warm headwear that could be conveniently folded into smaller space, and as it was also lower it was better suited to motoring. Thus it ousted the top hat, the hard homburg and the rock-hard bowler hat at the last by the 1920s. The fedora differs from the very similar-looking trilby due to its wider brim, and for this reason it also best suits the man wide in face. The finest versions were made from fur or beaver and rabbit felt, the cheaper ones from lambswool felt. Fur felt is still better quality as it flexes more, is warmer to wear and keeps its form when wet.
The reader likely best knows the fedora from countless films made until the 1950s. The Great Loosening, or the abandoning of the formal culture of dress, began in the next decade and so the fedora was switched to a grand hairstyle or any other headgear that had no stench of the past. Still, this hat has partly stayed alive thanks to Hollywood, actors, musicians and bald men. It protects the head well and sets the wearer apart from a wide sea of beanies, and Indiana Jones, for one, couldn’t be imagined in any other apparel. Without the fedora all mafia films would be but pale mirages.
The felt hat is the warmest headwear a man can choose. Warmth from the head is stored into the crown, and natural hair insulates well and warms the noggin even more. Ears are naked, to be sure, but rare is the man who has lost his own to wind or frost. The fedora is very soft and flexible, so it can be handily folded into a bag, say, when stepping in. Fur felt models also return to their shape when the bent hat is raised up once more. In hat semantics, the fedora has always been a suit accessory and clearly more formal than a flat cap, but takes second place after the homburg due to softness. The bowler and top hat are another things entirely, for the former has nearly disappeared from all places, and the latter is formalwear. The man contemplating fedoras best think twice as this apparel has become a rare sight — and like all rare things it looks peculiar. If the verdict is in favour of the fedora, this trusty garment will keep its benefactor warm and stylish year to year.
Category Hats and Caps
November 3, 2014 by Ville Raivio
November 1, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Bill Smith was a tailor, a ‘prentice he’d been
whose work was as perfect as ever was seen
he knew how to build up a front and to press
a frock coat, a morning coat, lounge, or a dress
for full forty years at the trade he had worked
and during that period no job he had shirked
but one fact his conscience continually mocked
he’d not made a job yet that couldn’t be cocked!
chorus: fol-de-rol-liddle-lol; fol-de-rol-lay; more collar-ology every day!
said Smith: “Now this frock coat I’m starting to make
will be absolutely perfection I’ll stake;
every point will be studied, the collar fit clean,
the edges I’ll prick with a fifteen between.”
the fronts then he molded artistic and true
he pinked it so much that his shopmates turned blue
a penny an hour were his earnings if clocked
on this wonderful garment that couldn’t be cocked.
chorus: fol-de-rol-liddle-lol; fol-de-rol-lay; no collar-ology encore I’ll say
the words that gave them a most terrible shock
were “I ordered a lounge and you’ve made me a frock.”
fol-de-rol-liddle-lol; the theme of my song: no matter what happens the journeyman is wrong!
~ as told in Nothing but the Best by Thomas Girtin
October 30, 2014 by Ville Raivio
October 30, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Yeahfredastaire is a nice little collection of style on the shoulders of song’n’dance man Fred Astaire. These closer to 1,000 photos have ample scope of both the formal and informal side of Astaire in colour, and in black and white.
October 26, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“The sight of the clothes worn on the streets today provokes fascinating thoughts. Marcifully, you can say, there is less gentility. No one seems to be attempting to be something grander than they are. Anoraks, trousers and white running shoes abound on both sexes. It it remorsely non-upper class. This does not make for classlessness. It only shows the differences into high relief. It throws up the relation of fashion to manners. It is rude to the citizens of London, Paris and New York to be ill-dressed. It is particularly rude to dress squalidly at the opera, theatre or concert hall. It is rude to your fellow public and rude to the performers. If you can pay £100 for a ticket at Covent Garden, you can afford a dark suit. Marks&Spencer’s have three-button-coated suits for £150.”
~ Hardy Amies in The Englishman’s Suit (1992)
October 20, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“On a trip to Japan in the early 1980s, Jobs asked Sony’s chairman Akio Morita why everyone in the company’s factories wore uniforms. He told Jobs that after the war, no one had any clothes, and companies like Sony had to give their workers something to wear each day. Over the years, the uniforms developed their own signatures styles, especially at companies such as Sony, and it became a way of bonding workers to the company. ‘I decided that I wanted that type of bonding for Apple,’ Jobs recalled.
Sony, with its appreciation for style, had gotten the famous designer Issey Miyake to create its uniform. It was a jacket made of rip-stop nylon with sleeves that could unzip to make it a vest. So Jobs called Issey Miyake and asked him to design a vest for Apple, Jobs recalled, ‘I came back with some samples and told everyone it would great if we would all wear these vests. Oh man, did I get booed off the stage. Everybody hated the idea.’
In the process, however, he became friends with Miyake and would visit him regularly. He also came to like the idea of having a uniform for himself, both because of its daily convenience (the rationale he claimed) and its ability to convey a signature style. ‘So I asked Issey to make me some of his black turtlenecks that I liked, and he made me like a hundred of them.’ Jobs noticed my surprise when he told this story, so he showed them stacked up in the closet. ‘That’s what I wear,’ he said. ‘I have enough to last for the rest of my life.’”
~ from Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson
October 18, 2014 by Ville Raivio
After four months of waiting, a parcel arrived from Kettering, bearing fine boons from the house of Gaziano&Girling. These made to order boots are a co-operation project between Keikari and G&G, the Thorpe model with a few tweaks in the form of brass eyelets, storm welt, Ridgeway rubber soles, white welt stitching, all made on the lovely GG06 round toe last for casual wear. I have written the same several times already, but there’s no higher rush for a writer than quoting himself, so I must add that GG06 is underrated.
It is G&G’s finest last and I remain undecided if it’s also the finest British round toe last as Edward Green’s 202 is still in business. The Thorpe pair below also takes advantage of the new and interesting hatch grain calf leather from the A&A Crack x Horween co-operation, re-coloured in Kettering to vintage rioja shade. A very dark, nearly black burgundy, this colour is painfully difficult to photograph and my poor old Eos lost the battle. Picture number six best captures the colour, suffice it to say that it’s an eggplant shade on steroids.
Each boot weighs some 850 grams thanks to the sturdy Ridgeway sole units, with an unmatched grip on wet surfaces. While the hatch is a man-made grain, it looks natural and all follicles are there for the Asperger-inclined eyes to see. I chose brass eyelets for nice patina and to avoid shoe lace scars on the upper leather. The white welt stitching harkens back to 1930s, when most men’s shoes, even the black ones, were still usually sewn in white to better show off meticulous hand-stitching.
I have sworn to myself that I will vomit if I ever again read about pig bristles used to sew pie-crust shoe aprons, so I shall not mention this method. These Norwegian boots do have a split toe and personality sewn and folded carefully, and one hidden seam for looks. While G&G has no RTW boot last so far, the round toe model fits the style well, even with chunky soles. It’s a close-sculpted one even in wide fit.
The boot is lined with first-grade calf in a nearly-matching shade to the uppers, and has a bellows tongue for wintry use. The counter and toe have strong leather stiffeners that won’t bend much at all. The former one extends nearly 10 cm towards the arch, though there is no additional arch support. Then there’s the smell. The boots smell lovely and, combined with the wooden shoe trees, the aroma is fragrange-worthy. I trust someone will become rich if the scent is reproduced, bottled and sold to the iGent throng that lives online.
Finally, the shoe trees are closer to sculptures than regular tools of the trade. They are easy to pull off and slide in, also smooth, curvy, soft, and smell like a wood should. A finger-sized hole is drilled in the middle to better evaporation. The large box also included a large flannel buffing cloth and shoe bags along with a polish jar in the wrong colour. Oh well.
Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio