June 27, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“Mr. Fairbanks’s eye for strong, but un-obvious combinations of colour was apparent in his clear-blue shirt striped and collared in white, canary-yellow wide tie, teal-blue and magenta sari-silk pocket handkerchief, and red carnation in the lapel of his slate-grey suit.
* * *
[Says Fairbanks:] ‘The most important thing is that the suit be well cut. Then it needn’t be particularly new or even particularly well pressed. It will always hang properly. I make my suits last for years. The other day, I took one that’s, oh, eight years old, in to be altered — have the lapels narrowed and the trousers taken in. I go to Stovel&Mason in Old Burlington Street where I’ve trained the cutter to what I like, and he never commits the classic fault of London tailors — leaving too much fullness in the seat of the trousers.
For sports things, I go to Huntsman, in Savile Row, but in any case I’m rather conservative about suits. Being an actor, I plan my clothes rather more. No one in public life can afford to overstep. One has a responsibility, and before I get anything new, I brood about it, try it out on my wife and daughters, and perhaps on someone in the Club. Once the suit is settled, then the only thing is shoes and linen. I usually wear proper shoes except when I’m travelling, then I wear [polished tan loafers] because they’re so comfortable on planes. Otherwise, I go to Maxwell’s in Dover Street, and I always have shoes with elastic sides. I’ve been having them made since shortly after the war, and I don’t even own any lace-ups any longer.
I suppose I spend more on shirts than on anything else, and I’m not so conservative about them. Mainly they’re from Turnbull&Asser. Beyond Turnbull, I go, oh, all over. I might buy something at Sulka here, in Paris at Charvet. I would rather buy in London than any place, though, because London is to men what Paris is to women. It’s a town that’s set up for it. You find a variety. In Rome or Paris or New York there are two or three top tailors or shirtmakers; in London there are fifty-two all over the joint. I never buy ties because I have so many. The other day a man came up to me and said, “You’re really right up to the minute, wearing a wide tie.” I said, “No, I’ve had this one since 1932″.
When it comes to combinations of patters and colours, my wife tells me that I run to reds and blues, but I assure you that it’s not conscious. I do like blues, and yellows, but not beige or tan. Combining the patters and colours is simply a question of getting a contrast. With a striped suit, I wouldn’t wear a striped shirt. With a striped shirt I would wear a plain woven tie in a much deeper or brighter colour. The thing to keep in mind really is that the shirt, tie, and suit can’t look all the same in colour or scale of pattern, and, of course, not to be self-conscious about combinations. The one thing that I am especially conscious of is combining ties and pocket handkerchiefs. I avoid matching them at all costs. The pocket handkerchief should be coloured and patterned, but not matching the tie. Better to have it related, or even entirely unrelated, so long as they don’t look wrong together.’”
~ D.F. Jr. in Vogue, August 15, 1966
June 26, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“Like most men, I dress to please myself. For any heterosexual male this is inextricably linked with the ability to attract the fairer sex. And women — even if they know nothing about single-button fishtail cuffs or matched pocket jettings — have an incredible eye for proportion. That is because genetically encoded in them is the ability to quickly identify the fittest mates through unconscious rapid calculation to seek perfection in proportions between breadth of shoulder, chest relative to waist, and length of leg relative to torso. In every instance, when donning one of my bespoke garments, the collective reaction of the female audience was one of arched eyebrow puzzlement. The words ‘This is our house style, sir’ rang in my ears, to which the retort, ‘Your house style should be adopted as a way to preserve male virginity forever,’ formed on my lips.
In comparison, slipping on a Tom Ford blazer literally made the formerly insouciant ladyfolk go weak in the knees and their pink parts behave like frightened puffer fish.”
~ Wei Koh in The Rake, issue 10, volume 4
June 26, 2014 by Ville Raivio
As cut by Cifonelli
It is debatable whether Cifonelli’s sharp and angular notch model can be termed as Parisian; theirs is a notch not as sharp or deep as the likes of CdL and Smalto’s. The Parisian designer Marc Guyot has also favoured Parisian lapels in his readymade and made to measure jackets, though the points are shorter still. The late but not forgotten Arnys offered Parisian models for the discerning few, with an upwards-pointing and short gorge. André Guillerme-Guilson, David Diagne and Marc di Fiore cut Parisian lapels with somewhat thinner collars. Wicket offers yet another, slim Parisian lapel in their moderately-priced readymade range. In formality, the Parisian lapel centres somewhere between the peak and notch lapel — perhaps not in best use in white or black tie.
The CdL look
While the notch lapel, peak lapel, shawl lapel and throat latch lapel are more or less seen in films, advertisements and the media, the Parisian lapel is a rare sight outside of France. French tailoring houses have clients all over the world, though; once the reader has seen and read of le cran Parisien, he is likely to recognise one. I have never seen the detail offered by non-French manufacturers or tailors, but I’m sure there’s a few to go around. Please let me know of them in the comments or by email, and I will update this title accordingly. The Parisian lapel is still as beautiful as it was in the ’50s, and a uniquely French touch.
With the kind assistance of Julien de Luca and Julien Scavini.
Photos: Marc Guyot, Cifonelli, Camps de Luca
June 24, 2014 by Ville Raivio
The newest chapter in my journey in Austro-Hungarian shoemaking was assisted by SourceCulture, the only webstore with stock pairs from Rozsnyai Shoes. The order: made to measure black nubuck hippo leather chukka boots from Rozsnyai. They feature 360-degree storm welts with a combined, white hand-sewn stitching, Vibram Eton rubber soles (similar to Dainite, but better in grip and durability), elongated almondy round chisel toe, rounded chukka style with black calf piping, clean and seamless back, dark purple lining, three hidden eyelets. The hide is CITES-certified and made from the grain part, lightly sanded for a nice, soft nubuck finish.
Two house style features come to boot: a full, separate sock liner with cork bottom and gimped edges, and extended leather heel stiffeners that reach out almost to the vamp. Not quite arch supports but close and lovely. Continuing the pleasant fit of a previous austerity pair, the boots contour very well indeed. Most readymade boots have more room around the ankle than necessary, and my bulbous left Os cuineiforme II (or pinky toe) has proved troublesome in the past. Removing the bugger would be a unique option, but true MTM averts such thoughts. It’s a funny thing still; around a year ago I used to think that I had a few well-fitting pairs.
Hippo leather is an interesting new acquaintance. While the striated surface interest gives a rough and coarse look, the hide is extremely flexible and soft to touch. Scars and rough spots vary from animal to animal — the hippo that lives on in this boot form bears marks from battles lost and won. Unlike reverse calf and other bovine suedes, hippo has no nap to brush. My Finn in London, the cordwainer Teemu-Pekka Leppänen from Cleverley, tells me that hippo is a very tough, durable and comfortable leather. Time will tell how it ages. The Internet, in turn, informs me that hippo hides are around 3 cm thick on average but some parts, like the butt, measure 5 cm. Coupled with a hefty layer of fat, the hippopotamus has an armour of skin like few others.
The leather is split to some 2mm thickness for use in footwear. Returning to the boots; while the uppers are glove-soft and light, the soles provide sturdy heft that makes the pair feel like regular boots. White stitching gives added contrast to an otherwise matte, almost devoid-of-light leather, and a study in purple decorates the lining. I plan to wear them with some nice, dark corduroys and moleskins in rain, ice, dung, dirt and melancholy Finnish winter gloom for the next decades to come.
June 20, 2014 by Ville Raivio
June 17, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Alexander Kabbaz is on a mission. Apart from draping the necks and backs of men of ample means, he wants to educate those who enjoy learning. The chosen method is digital, the given name Sartorial Excellence News and the content excellent. These thorough primers shed some nice light on the fineries, details and differences between fibers, makers, fabrics, shirts, socks and the Ethos of the artisan.
June 15, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Everyman knows the white and blue collar shirt, but this power duo is not the only option available. The ranks of the classics have room for cream and grey shirts as well, these suitably distinguished but gentler colours. Lend me your eyes for a while, I shall explain. Where white is usually raw and bleached to near striking, and light blue is sure but dull, cream and grey shirts broaden the wardrobe palette nicely. It is true that white shirts are fine for most all men, but it’s equally true that the colour won’t flatter the lightest of skins — men such as this will only look paler in white. The heavily tanned man, in turn, will look browner and roasted still against the shining whiteness. What’s more, the white shirt is a piece of business or occasion clothing that’s usually too dapper with off-time apparel. To top this paragraph, I will say that the white collar is easily soiled by the neck and skin that sheds oils or flakes, and smart shirtings have a way of disliking bleaching with chlorite.
When the challenges set by white shirts are summed up correctly, the light blue choice rises in value. These problems can also be thwarted with the colour cream, which finds a niche somewhere in the peculiar landscape between white and yellow. The same is true for grey that’s not as devoid of colour shades as pure white is. Cream dinner shirts have been part of high-brow dinners on both sides of the Atlantic for closer to a century now, and it does indeed look kinder in flashlights than its whiter-shade-of-pale cousin. Colour makes a difference. Consider cream and grey.
June 12, 2014 by Ville Raivio
VR: Your age and occupation?
AR: 28, Legal Advisor / Lawyer.
VR: Your educational background?
AR: Master of Law (graduated 2012).
VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
AR: Yes, I do have a spouse whose own style actually is impeccable, no hassle but very clean and simple. I’ve said that she leaves me in the shade when it comes to style and dressing up. But I guess that’s the way it should be, so I just try to make my best and stand up to those standards myself. I think shopping and dressing-up in general is more like a mutual interest where both can rely on another and ask for another opinion when needed. In terms of the blog, more than anything I think she’s just supportive and understanding. And no, I have no children.
VR:…and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days?
AR: Well, I guess this hobby or enthusiasm has never been a problem for any of them but, on the other hand, they’ve never had any other kind of reactions on the matter either. They’ve realized from the start that it’s a permanent part of me.
The feedback I’ve gotten from my mother or from my brothers has always been positive, and I think in a way the sparkle for being well-dressed dates from my childhood, when my mother always took care that all the children were appropriately dressed no matter where we were heading.
Secondly, when I was younger, I used to look up to my brother who I felt was very stylish and properly dressed. Nowadays, however, the roles might have changed and I’m the one taking care of their shoes and garments and all the gifts they ever get from me are somehow clothing-related. I guess (and hope) they’re pretty fine with it.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
AR: To put it shortly, sports — in all kind of forms. I played ice-hockey till I was 18, I’ve played football, floor ball and I used to dance for quite a many years as well. Nowadays, it’s mainly gym, jogging and taking care of myself in other ways. I still follow ice-hockey and other sports pretty closely and my team HIFK has a huge place in my heart. Basically, I try to go to every home match they have during the season.
Also, I’ve always been fond of good food and drinks, but I’d say recently that interest has gotten bigger and bigger. I’m definitely not that good a cook and I can’t say to be an expert when it comes to wines or other drinks, but I really enjoy good restaurants and feel passionate about drinks in good company.
VR: How did you first become interested in clothes, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic clothing? Why these instead of fashion pieces?
AR: I think it was in the end of primary school or the first grades of secondary school when I first time was influenced by, and got interested about, trends and fashion (such as Adidas Superstar sneakers, Micmac jeans, etc.) I got very inspired by David Beckham who I really looked up as my idol and at that time I started to pay attention to the way I looked for the first time (for real). During my years in secondary school and high school I got “awarded” as being “The best-dressed guy” and “Trend of the year” in our school so I guess that also feed my interest in its own way.
In terms of more “classic style,” I guess part of it originates from the way I was raised (as mentioned earlier) but most of all I believe my occupation, and the fact that I’ve always wanted to be a lawyer, plays a big role in it. Through these ideas, visions and, of course, many TV-series, I’ve always had this picture of how one should be dressed in legal profession and what’s the standard in the field. So I believe that influenced the way I started to dress myself already in high school and why I became interested in menswear.
And, well, “why these instead of fashion pieces” is a tough question and I probably would avoid such a strict statement when it comes to my own way of dressing. Actually, I would avoid it in general as well because I believe dressing oneself and style need always to be linked to the context, environment and era. Thanks to the rise of the so-called #menswear-culture, classic style is now a “big thing” again, and someone could even claim it to be a trend at the moment. On the other hand, classic style has its own cycle and trends in terms of what’s popular and what’s not.
Finally, it’s a fact that there are pieces that can be seen and called as “timeless classics,” and making those the core and ground of one’s dressing gives it not just stability but also versatility. If we take the navy blue blazer and grey flannel trousers, for example, we have a classic combination that can be made suitable for almost any situation by just modifying the materials, textures and accessories chosen. So maybe it could be said that going with the classics make one’s choices easier and safer, but still choices need to be made on the aesthetic- and personal preferences.
VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of apparel — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
AR: Like everyone, I believe, who has interest in classic menswear, I’ve read the books written by Roetzel and Flusser. Also I think one of the first places I looked for information back in the days was the Keikari-website. I’ve also acquired and read other books but I need to admit that most of my knowledge I’ve gathered through websites and forums. During the last couple of years, I’ve been lucky to meet a lot of people from the industry, who posses a huge amount of knowledge. Following what they are doing, having discussions with them and being able to see the industry “from the inside” has been a great experience, and through those people I’ve gained a great deal of knowledge as well. But there’s still a lot to gain…
VR: When did you decide to set up DressLikeA (at Blogspot) and what’s your motivation for the site? How do you select the content?
AR: Well, it’s now been around three years since I started DLA, which in the first place happened after many of the people I knew had told me I should start posting. That, I think, was because during this time there were only a couple of blogs concentrated on menswear and men’s “classic style” in Finland (Keikari being one of the only ones). Despite this, the main reason for starting to post, however, was to use the blog as an inspiration board for myself.
Many things have happened after that. From the beginning, or at least from the point when I moved my blog from Blogspot to Tumblr, the reception for the site has been more generous than I could have ever even hoped for. The main reason for my blogging is still to bring up content I get inspired by, but I also recognize the fact that through my posts I can inspire others.
In terms of content, there are of course many sources of ideas and inspiration. First of all, nowadays I get a lot of feedback, questions and inquiries from my readers (which I’m really grateful,) so those often inspire me to write about products or how to wear or acquire some specific pieces, for example. Secondly, the content of the blog is, of course, a lot inspired by my own style choices. Many times if I’m looking to buy something, or have bought something, I may find it useful to write about that to help my readers in case they’re going through a similar thing. And thirdly, there are obviously seasonal changes and trends that are interesting and inspiring to write about.
There are many good Tumblr-blogs (and #menswear-blogs in general) so what I’m trying is to make DLA original and personal, and to be something that stands out of the crowd while not just being one of the sites re-blogging the same pictures like others.
VR: You’re also part of the new Tyylit.fi-website. When was the idea born and what plans do you have for the content?
AR: Right, tyylit.fi is a project that has developed into what it is (at the moment) through the last couple of years. First of all, in a way to give credit for the founding of Tyylit, my thanks go out to you, Ville, because Keikari’s forum was the place where we guys now running tyylit.fi met in the first place.
Tyylit.fi has two different sides, the blog and the forum. In the blog, there are three editors in addition to myself and, in terms of content; we try to cover not just menswear and clothing, but to write also about movies, drinks, traveling, culture and lifestyle in general. We are just at the beginning of our journey when it comes to tyylit.fi but I firmly believe that it’s something Finland has been missing, and the kind of website there’s a real demand for. As I’m writing DLA in English and most of my readers come from abroad, I did not want to change the language into Finnish. On the other hand, writing one blog in two different languages did not sound like a good idea either. So far I’ve been really satisfied with what we have done with #tyylit and I believe it will grow to be the biggest style and #lifestyle-site for men in Finland.
So, whereas Keikari is mostly about classic style, tyylit.fi tries to cover style in a more broad perspective. Some people have tried to build some kind of a confrontation between tyylit.fi and Keikari, but I personally believe that, as the menswear-culture in Finland is still in its infancy, there’s definitely a place for both sites and both communities.
VR: How would you describe your own dress? Which RTW makers and tailors do you favour?
AR: My style is simple and adaptable. In general, I’d claim my style to be pretty versatile but always guided by the phrase “Whatever you wear, always dress to kill” — which actually stands as a guideline phrase for DLA.
What I mean is that it doesn’t matter whether you’re wearing a suit or jogging pants, you need to be able to feel confident and representative in whatever you’re wearing. I try to keep my style always appropriate for the occasion; at work my style is mainly formal (whenever necessary), outside of work it has more of a casual twist. A couple of years ago my style was a lot more about bright colors and a lot of different details but I’ve come my way to learn how to keep it simple.
Secondly, I personally admire Italian style as well as the way of thinking, so most of my influences and the style I’m aiming for come from there. However, I am living in Scandinavia where we have 4 clearly different seasons, and every now and then it can get really cold and snowy, so even though one might be inspired by the Italian way of dressing, one needs to learn to adapt the style to the climate.
All in all, style, clothing and dressing oneself need to be fun and inspiring, not something inflexible or something you are “forced to do”. You need to acknowledge certain rules and etiquette that are not meant to be broken, but, on the other hand, after you’ve learned to deal with the rules you can also learn how to break them in a right way.
In terms of brands, shops and tailors, I more and more try to favor Finnish brick and mortar shops (such as Vaatturiliike Sauma, My o My, Fere and Schoffa) as well as stick with the brands I know the people behind of. When talking about brands, for suits and jackets I favor Lardini, G.Abo Napoli, L.B.M 1911, Tombolini and SuitSupply at the moment. Most of my trousers come from the Korean brand Finealta which is specialized to making just trousers, and I believe two thirds of my current ties are made by Drake’s or Viola Milano. In shoes, I have multiple pairs from Alfred Sargent, but I’m also a huge fan of Carmina and Crockett&Jones. Finally, I value a lot of (new) brands that are born from the passion of their founders, such as Christian Kimber Footwear and the before mentioned Viola Milano for example.
VR: Who or what inspires you?
AR: In general, I try to gather inspiration from everyone, wherever I am and whatever I see. But basically I happen to find most of my inspiration from people walking on the streets, the guys at Pitti Uomo or at NY or Milan fashion week, the people I have around me, the places I travel and very much the colors I see around me. In addition, I read a lot of other blogs and magazines which are a big source of inspiration for me as well — not only in terms of my personal style, but also for the blog of course.
One thing I always want to point out, when someone asks about my inspiration, is a quote I found years ago on Styleforum; when it comes to developing your own style (or the style of your blog for that matter,) you need to separate inspiration from copying someone’s style. You must always investigate, you must learn, you must understand and then you must choose. If you’ve done your due diligence and appreciate the process, then you’ll never let “the popular opinion” dictate your success.
Finally, there are many people I admire and I get inspired by. In case of certain individuals, I come up with names like Ezio Mancini, Renato Plutino, Yukio Akamine, Jeremy Hackett, Brunello Cucinelli, Alberto Scaccioni, Patrick Johnson, Agyesh Madan, Nick Ragosta, Antonio Ciongoli and one of my dear friends Tuomo Pynttäri from Vaatturiliike Sauma.
VR: What is your definition of style?
AR: I think style is all about good manners and respect for other people. In terms of clothing and style, I’d say it’s essential to be able to dress oneself according the situation and environment and to do that with simplicity, adaptability and personality.
VR: Is there something you wish more men would know about dressing well?
AR: First of all, simplicity is beautiful and most of the times less is more. It also might sound a bit arrogant, but one of the greatest recommendations that many times stands true is “If you’re not sure what you’re doing, don’t try it”. One can, of course, learn (and everyone does) through trial and error, but not everything needs to be done that way. So, if you’re not sure, play safe. Go with simple combinations, follow the color-wheel, and mix colors and textures that are close to each other. As said before, you don’t need to follow every rule but it helps if you know them.
Secondly, dressing oneself starts from awareness, both for oneself and the environment. Age, presence, build, skin color, the specialties of body, and, through these combinations, finding the colors and style that suits oneself. Not all styles or clothing suits everyone, so just copying someone else does not lead you to success. In addition to yourself, you must also acknowledge the environment you are dealing with. If jeans and a polo-shirt are the norm at the workplace, it might look odd if you one day arrive to the office fully dressed-up wearing a suit and a tie and just giving the impression that you’re trying too hard.
So, to put it shortly, dress according to your age, dress according to the situation and dress according to the environment.
In the beginning, you should concentrate on basic acquisitions and build the wardrobe piece by piece. Start with garments that are versatile and choose quality not quantity. One can never underline the importance of a good fit. That’s the most important thing to pay attention to. You don’t need an expensive suit to stand out — jeans and a t-shirt will do if you just make sure the fit is right. After you’ve covered the basics, you can move to the next step and start making purchases just based on feeling.
Finally, my advice for not just those who are in the beginning of their path but who already have covered the basics, who read blogs and spend time on the forums; Concentrate and focus your energy on how you can make yourself look better not through negativity or finding mistakes in the way others are dressed. In the end, dressing up, menswear and clothing are supposed to be something that make you feel good.
June 2, 2014 by Ville Raivio
Scrolling back a few years, the incomparable Manton took the time to once again answer the bit that habitually comes up online. The short answer is no and the longer answer is…maybe. Much depends on the fabric, the original maker and the alterations fellow.
Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio