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The Jalou archives

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September 8, 2014 by Ville Raivio

The French publishing house of Jalou has kindly shared dozens of full scanned copies of their selected magazines, ranging from the 1880s to this day. The archive offers stylish lifestyle magazines for men and women, mostly in French, as well as several international prints from around the world. The whole is one rich vein to mine if the reader has sufficient lingual aptitudes.

French magazines in the archives:

International prints:

http://patrimoine.editionsjalou.com


BBC: The Perfect Suit

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September 7, 2014 by Ville Raivio








Ivy Leaguer Casts Wary Eye at Fads

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September 1, 2014 by Ville Raivio

Ivy Leaguer Casts Wary Eye at Fads

In which a product of Princeton explodes the theory that 1957′s male children are blue-blooded Ivy Leaguers.

By J. B. Underhill

If there’s anything that gets bigger laughs in the Ivy League than Ivy League fashions it’s a dunning notice from Brooks Brothers. For like that famous New York clothing store which put its first suit together in 1818 and hasn’t changed the cut since, Ivy League dress is the product of age, tradition, studied casualness and the economic effects of a couple of wars and depression.

Fashion a la Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell or even Columbia just “growed” like Topsy. And all the attempts at imitation put out by the Grand Rapids type of clothing manufacturers can’t fake it. Take the “pear shape,” for example. That’s the no-padding, no-pleats effect that makes any Ivy Leaguer (he’d never be caught dead using the term) look like a bag of potatoes. He’s gathered on top like a barley sack, flares at the waist, then narrows at the ankle like an Edwardian dude.

 

Distinctive shape

The distinctive Ivy shape, of course, is accented by a tweed jacket and gray flannel trousers. The shirt, of course, is Oxford cloth, with a button-down collar. They have been worn by Ivy idlers since Scott Fitzgerald’s campus hey-day. The button-down stemmed from the polo shirt. Kept the points from slapping the rider’s eye, the fashion tradition says. For a while such prominent clothing establishments as Brooks in New York, J. Press, Chipp, Langrock and Fenn-Feinstein, which are scattered in the Ivy metropolises, put a button in the back. But this decoration atrophied during World War II. Hasn’t come back either, except in imitation shirts.

Want to tell an authentic Ivy League Oxford button-down? Look at the breast pocket. It won’t have one. The well-dressed casual Yalie caries (a) his father’s cigarette case (b) a crushed pack in his hip pocket (c) a pipe.

 

Three buttons

The jacket must have three buttons, setting up a constant war between the Ivy dresser and the pressing establishment which irons his clothes. Pressers think all sports jackets should have that be-bop, two-button drape effect. They press them that way. Joe Ivy takes most of this press out by buttoning up three button and hanging the garment in a steamy bathroom. Mildew sometimes sets in, but the purity of the three-button line is preserved.

Jackets skirts are cut long out of deference to the horsey set from Baltimore, Philadelphia, a few Connecticut provinces and the Myopia Hunt near Boston which each year assimilates any number of “Yoicks” -shouting Harvards. The swirl also conceals the hip flask needed for dry weekends at Vassar.

“Look, Jack, if i wanted pleats in my trousers I’d wear a double-breasted suit, too.” With this rapier-sharp jab, a classmate of mine pinioned a “boldlook” men’s store salesman in Dubuque, Iowa, several years ago. He since has bought all his clothes by mail from New York, adding inches to his carefully calculated measurements in the Manhattan store’s files as the years go by.

 

Pleats banned

For by their pleats ye shall know them. A pleat at the belt is to the Ivy Leaguer like the wrong shade of lipstick to the high fashion model. If caught at the Yale, Harvard or Princeton clubs in such attire, he would probably lose seat privileges at a Big Three football game. Shoes: If he’s out of college, cordovans shined – but not too shined – are musts. On the campus white buck shoes still are popular – if they are properly dirtied.

There is a special pit in the Harvard Yard where undergraduates (usually in the dark of the moon, because it would mean automatic disbarment to be caught) rough up their bucks to a proper dullness. White bucks so caught on in the Ivy League, that “white shoes” or simply “shoe,” became a common adjective for “fashionable,” or “up-to-date.” But the anti-white buck faction is making spectacular inroads. The group was spearheaded by a group of members of Princeton’s most exclusive Ivy club who took to wearing dirty white sneakers with their traditional dark gray flannel slacks.

The ultimate was struck in 1955 by a DKE at Yale named F. Peter Ffost, 3d, who had summered at Cap d’Antibe, soaking up a miraculous Mediterranean tan. He appeared in the fall at New Haven in a gray flannel suit and bare feet which he had protected from the sun with liberal applications of fuel oil. The contrast between his fish-belly-white feet and his Bond Street flannels ended the white shoe madness. Those in the know turned to black shoes, once thought to be extinct except in the cow colleges west of Philadelphia.

“Ties are to be striped; write it 100 times on the blackboard.” In the fashionable Eastern prep schools from St. Paul’s to Lawrenceville, young men are taught to hold up their places in the Ivy world. By freshmen year, scarcely a purchaser of ties at the Yale Co-op fails to know what British regiment he is joining when he tucks his rep stripe through his button-down collar points. “I always go over to the public library before buying a regimental striped tie,” one of the youths said the other day at the tie counter. “Make sure that way that it’s one of the really good regiments.”

When you care that much, brother, you can wear your Ivy League imitations with enough flare to make that Harvard man repeat his classic about Ivy fashions and the way they’ve taken the hinterlands by storm.

“You know, it’s awfully difficult these days,” the youth declared while sampling the Amontillado at Locke Ober’s in Boston. “There was a time when no one would wear a tweed coat and gray flannels unless he knew he was SUPPOSED to wear a tweed coat and flannels. Now you can’t be sure whether he’s supposed to, or is just wearing them.”

First published in St. Petersburg Times, 21.3.1957.


Anatomy of a Bexley boot

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August 29, 2014 by Ville Raivio

France’s own Bexley manufactures shoes with a singular pricing. All pairs cost 139 euros in the company webstore, and a second pair added to the same order is 89 euros — neither size nor model has effect to the deal. All other apparel from the maker follow the same, continually degressing pricing. Bexley was founded in Lyon in 1985 and has sold online from -95 onwards. The company webstore is among the oldest in France and has gathered closer to half a million customers. The founder Eric Botton has not taken other partners to his company, Bexley has thus remained independent. The newest coup after shoes, polishes, shoe trees and other goodies are clothes, which were added six years ago.

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The greater part of Bexley’s pairs are made in Europe and leathers sourced mainly from the renowned tannery d’Annonay. To put things fancily, Bexley follows the concept of vertical integration: the company designs and develops all goods itself, and sells them in its own stores. When no retailers are bickering among themselves for customers, Bexley is able to keep its price level clear. The lasts as well are developed in-house and new models are drawn on these. The maker offers both glued, Blake-sewn and Goodyear-welted footwear. As I had no previous knowledge of Bexley’s shoes, a company representative sent me a pair for Keikari’s long-winded anatomy series.

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Today’s anatomical topic is an example pair of Bexley’s model Irving, a derby boot with galosh suede shaft, round toe and Dainite-like rubber sole. They are made from a chamelon calf leather that has shades of grey, green and brown all over. They also have Blake-sewn soles as well as leather insole and lining. Both the upper and lining are thickish full-grain cow that clearly shows follicles. A purely cosmetic 360-degree welt runs around the boot, while upper stitching is medium-sized and straight. The model has brass hooks on the shaft, hidden eyelets on the vamp. The design looks like a derby when covered by trousers, but sitting will reveal its true form.

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The last is surprisingly snug all over and the pair quite tight with thick socks. The toe is nice and plump but toe and heel stiffeners are too soft. The sock liner is stuffed and glued, both tongues are crooked. It is difficult to tell how the uppers will age with wear, but an all-leather shoe is always a nice find — in this price range, this isn’t a given. Three things I must give credit for: the shaft is truly snug and looks great when closed, with a girth of just 22 cm in size 42; the rubber sole grips well to hand and ground, so it will hold on ice as well; an all-leather shoe for 139 euros is great.

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I feel Bexley offers a good boot for 139 euros. I don’t know how this price-quality deal is reached but on first inspection it’s mostly commendable. Likely the leather isn’t as high-grade stuff for the price but aging will only show with wear. Despite the shoddy finishing I can recommend Bexley for the student or otherwise frugal man who wants several years of wear from his shoe, and re-crafting for the sole. Quite the devils, these Frenchmen of Bexley.

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A history of the sack cut

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August 28, 2014 by Ville Raivio

The sack cut is a method of cutting, used in jackets and coats, that stands out from the commonplace. Most all contemporary jackets have two darts running from the chest to just above the pockets. These are used to taper and bring form to apparel as well as making the male waist, usually narrower than the shoulders, stand out better. Sack jackets have no darts and their backside is formed from two large panels. This cutting style was born in the mid 1800s France, back when all men’s formal and frock jackets had backs formed from four curving panels. The clean front and even cleaner back of the French sacque jacket were something novel and distinguished, easier and faster to make as well. The sack-like name is either derived from the jacket’s French name or from the straight-hanging drape.

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Contemporary Brooks Brothers sacking with a dartless chest

The sack maker must draft the pattern and cut the cloth much more accurately than usual to make the clothing follow the body’s forms — or forget the thing entirely. The sack cut, you see, is one of the oldest forms of the suit, which enabled industrial clothing manufacture and dressing the nation at the end of the 19th century. The cut is loose and fits both the lithe and plump man, but suits just about no one without alterations. During the era when the suit was nearly everyman’s weekday garment, the navy blue serge sack was each man’s wear throughout the American continent. Indoors workers and clerks used theirs for business, artisans for Sunday and church best, the gentry for leisure. It is known by Esquire’s Encyclopedia.

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Ye olde Brooks Brothers #1 Sack Suit

One cannot write about sack jackets without telling the tale of BB’s Number One Sack suit. This model was born in 1901 and became the most popular sack cut of all times, reigning over American male dress for over six decades. It wasn’t the first of its kind, but the hundreds of stores and peerless price-quality deal of BB made a difference. This show-three-button-two, single-breasted, straight hanging and natural-shouldered garment was just as American as jeans with a T-shirt. The full cut covered bodily forms and kept eyes on the opinions and know-how of men instead of their frames. It also fit every body type so Brooks Brothers was spared the trouble of creating dozens of cuts for their selection. The sack jacket was essential part of the Ivy League style from the very beginning.

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Today the sack jacket is a rarity, made only by a handful of stalwart American factories and artisans. For one reason or another, the loose, mostly shapeless jacket has also been left in the shade in universities and among politicians as well. Making clothes with this cut would be easier and faster than crafting dartful, body-conscious jackets, so factories do have an incentive for returning it, and the sack jackets is also nice and comfy to wear. Perhaps the vogue has parted ways with the look of the past for good. The cut does go on on the shoulders of discerning Ivy League enthusiasts, and on the senior men who dressed this was already in the ’60s. As a whole, this is a loss because the dartless chest is very clean-looking. A jacket like this can also be altered to conform to the conformist body-hugging look of our latter day.

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Photos: Matti Airaksinen, Brooks Brothers


Interview with Lasse Ellingsen from Norskegentlemen.com

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August 23, 2014 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?

LE: I’m 23 and married to the most beautiful woman in the world!

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VR: Your educational background?

LE: I have no official degree and high school is my highest education. This is because I’m working with sales and have no need for any bachelor or master.

 

 

VR: Have you any children or girlfriend (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?

LE: My wife likes that I’m into fashion, because she doesn’t mind that her husband looks and acts like a Gentleman. However, sometimes she gets a little tired with my interest in fashion because she thinks some of the trends are over the top, and I like to shop more than her. For me, men’s fashion is a hobby, while she thinks it’s nothing but clothes. I can’t see any problem with having 5 different suits, since they are all in different styles and colors. She thinks one’s enough ;-)

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VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?

LE: My parents have always dressed me in nice clothes and think it’s important to dress appropriate. My father was always wearing a suit, so for me and them it’s been natural to be more interested in fashion than other people.

 

 

VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?

LE: Besides men’s fashion, I’m crazy about cars and motorsports. BMW and Porsche are brands that lay close to my heart. Fun fact: I drive a blue 2007 BMW Z4 Coupé and I drove it on the Nuremberg in Germany this summer.

 

 

VR: How did you first become interested in clothes, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics? Why these instead of fashion?

LE: Besides that I’ve always liked to dress appropriate, my interest in men’s fashion had a kick start some years ago when I started in sales. I had to dress professional, but I didn’t want to look like typical “white collar”. Because of this, I started to read different overseas blogs about men’s fashion and developed an interest in clothes.As you can understand, I’ve been raised to dress and act presentably — the swag/hipster-style doesn’t appeal to me. I mean, style is subjective and you dress the way you feel so it’s more natural for me to wear a suit than the latest Justin Bieber-fashion.

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VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of clothing — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?

LE: I’ve gathered knowledge and inspiration mainly from blogs all over the world. I also like to talk to people, so whenever I’m shopping, I really like to talk to the retailer about their personal style and the latest products.

 

 

VR: When was Norske Gentlemen founded and what goals did you have in mind back then? How has the site been received?

LE: NorskeGentlemen.com was founded in October 2013. I’ve always been trash-talking about the “pink-bloggers” (a Norwegian expression) who are blogging about their life and fashion. So I never thought that I would someday have my own blog. But people have been giving me compliments about my way of dressing, and have encouraged me to start a blog so that I can inspire other people as well.

So my vision with the blog is to inspire men all over the world to dress better. Even though you are already deep into men’s fashion or just want to look at some cool clothes, I´m sure you’ll find something inspiring on NorskeGentlemen.com.

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VR: How would you describe your own dress? Which RTW makers or tailors do you favour?

LE: I would describe my own style as classical. I love to wear double-breasted suits, wingtips, braces and a hat. I don’t do that every day, so if you meet me on the street you’ll probably see me in my monk shoes, chinos and a blazer. In my everyday-outfits, it’s important to dress practically as well as stylishly.I really like brands like SuitSupply and Morris. Their collections and style appeal to me, and I’m pretty sure I could wear anything they have.

 

 

VR: Who or what inspires you?

LE: My nr.1 inspiration is www.TSBmen.com. I love Dan and the team’s personal style, and the work they do. A lot of people inspire me, like Khaled Nasr, DanielRe (on Instagram) and Angel Bespoke.

 

 

VR: What is your definition of style?

LE: Style is subjective, either you like it or you don’t.

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VR: Finally, how would you describe the style of Norwegian men and businessmen in general?

LE: In Norway, we have something called “The Jante law”. I´m not sure if you’re familiar with it, but basically it says that you should not think that you are better or greater than someone else. I think this affects the way we dress, which results in that people don’t want to stand out. Hopefully my blog can change that, and people will try to experiment with fashion. But don’t get me wrong. There are a lot of great looking Gentlemen all over Norway. And since we have a lot of money over here, many can afford those expensive clothes.

http://www.norskegentlemen.com

Photos: Norskegentlemen.com and Ørjan Andreasen


Anatomy of the Valstarino jacket

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August 21, 2014 by Ville Raivio

Valstar is an Italian maker with a penchant for outerwear, best known for their A-1 flight jacket version, Valstarino, born in 1935, and first made of leather. In its previous life, the company was English, making very English rainwear in England, and known as English Fashion Waterproof right until 1911. That year the maker moved to Milan, changed names and was born anew as the first Italian rain coat specialist. Obviously they did something right as the Princess of Savoy and the Duke of Ancona granted Valstar their snooty royal warrants in 1939 and 1942. While the old A-1 examples I’ve seen have small hip pockets, Valstar’s Valstarino sports large flapped patch pockets with side entry. Otherwise theirs is a faithful interpretation of a tried-and-true design.

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The example Valstarino is made from lavender cotton canvas with no lining, and has the usual A-1 details: button front; patch pockets; knitted stand collar, cuffs and waist; shirt-like construction. The fabric is strong, medium-weight and has no give. The cut is very slim, so much so that I had to size up from 38” to 40”, which never happens. After having tried on five different variations, I must mention that this cut is not standard in all Valstarino jackets, and ease of wear depends on the fabric. While this canvas version and another double-faced gabardine-flannel Valstarino are both slim and drape well, the other three were huge by comparison and bloused all over. The knitted collar, cuffs and waist don’t have much give, and, when coupled with the slimmer cuts, I’m confident to add that the Valstarino will not suit the fat man at all. The hem is short and the jacket best worn with high-waisted trousers. The dry clean only tag won’t please the lazy owner.

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While all of them are straight and even, the jacket is sewn with a coarse, loose stitch that is on the ugly side. All buttonholes have a bit of purl on them, but they, too, are sparse. All buttons are lifeless plastic, attached poorly and droop already. The jacket has two medium-size inner waist pockets with metal zippers and a silly Valstar alien logo on one. A large hanger loop decorates the inner neck. The main interest for me are the large hip pockets, which I adore for looks alone. The button front is slow and cumbersome to use when done up fully, but closing just a few at the middle gives a nice, slouchy look not really accomplished with zipper jackets. Another high point are the sleeves that are cut high and taper to the wrist nicely, guaranteeing comfy use and form-fitting look.

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After pondering these great and poor things, I will end by declaring that the Valstarino is one of my favourite short outer layer jackets. The maker offers it in hundreds of fabric and colour combinations, made from leather, suede, cotton, wool, lined, unlined, light, dark, that there really is a Valstarino for every man who fits into the cut. The look is clean enough to be worn with tailored trousers, and not many short outer layer jackets can accomplish the same. The largest, most convenient and affordable selection of Valstarinos can be found from Yoox. My thanks to American WWI materiel designers and Valstar for the jacket that has no peers.

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Balance in men’s clothing

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August 18, 2014 by Ville Raivio

Master tailor Chris Despos and tailoring savant Michael Anton have kindly answered questions of balance in men’s clothing, and the following link leads us back to the early days of style forums for men.

http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/forum/showthread.php?60268-What-the-heck-is-balance


A stylish interview with Gay Talese

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August 17, 2014 by Ville Raivio


The P3 eyeglass frames

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August 16, 2014 by Ville Raivio

The P3 is a classic frame model shaped somewhere between the terrain of round and oval. In these frames, the bridge is cast or carved as part of the same piece as the frame around glasses. The P3 is not usually wide but it is higher than most frames, and the lower part curves more than the upper one. Both the frame borders and earpieces are thin in this shape, and the model is usually decorated with round metal attachments. The earliest mentions of the P3 in optical publications are dated in the 1930s, and these first versions sported earpieces attached to the middle of the frame along with cushions below the bridge.

Later on, earpieces rose up and were attached to the top piece of the frames and cushions disappeared from many versions. The bridge is usually shaped in the form of a keyhole. The curator of The British Optical Association’s Museum, Neil Handley, tells me that this model got its American name of P3 from the US army. During the Second World War, The U.S. Army Materiel Command distributed frames in this shape to myopic soldiers, and named them dryly.

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This shape is known as Panto or PRO in Britain, while P3 means the pantoscopic, or meridian, sum where the longitudal and latitudal angles of the lens differ by three millimetres. The meridian of P3 frames in America was during the 1950s to 1960s, when an ever-increasing number of people took a liking to the frames they’d seen on soldiers’ faces, and chose the similar shape on their noses. Another name for the P3 is horn rim frames as this material was most popular before the progress of the plastics industry. A more rarefied material was tortoiseshell, hand-carved for that special artisanal make. Acetate is the most popular one today as horn frames are delicate and turtles shall not be touched anymore.

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Both horns and tortoiseshells had a natural, beautiful colour alternating in shades of brown that was an important factor in the popularity of P3s, Pantos or PROs. This shape can be made from metals, too, as the shape alone has meaning for this name. Metals in the colour of gold have been more popular than silvery ones. Looking at some choice photos of old, I notice that P3s have been popular on the faces of writers, lawyers, journalists, architects, academics and men of other creative bents. This band of brothers also includes some discerning politicians.

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As for naming names, I can link John F. KennedyHarry S. TrumanJames DeanMohamed ElBaradeiTom BrokawArthur M. Schlesinger Junior, history professor Matti Klinge, Finnish president Paasikivi and belligerent banker Björn Wahlroos. I feel the finest main colour for P3s is dark brown, this way the frames are also nice and dark for occasions as well. Beige versions are best in the shining of spring and summer. Those frames that are mottled, translucent and alternating in shades of brown are always interesting and lively. The P3 loses part of its charm in black or metallic, though the shape still stays.

The largest and most handy selection of P3 frames I’ve found is offered by the American Ben Silver, who has a shape to frame each occasion and taste.




Copyright © 2013 Ville Raivio





Only a beautiful life is worth living.


"If John Bull turns around to look at you, you are not well dressed; but either too stiff, too tight, or too fashionable".
~ Beau Brummell

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