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Interview with Gabor Gyöngyösi from Buday Shoes


December 27, 2016 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
GG: 66, founder/owner of Buday.


VR: Your educational background?
GG: Mechanical engineer.


VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your shoe enthusiasm)?
GG: I have two children, a son and a daughter, they are also infected with the „shoe virus”.


VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back when you decided to become a shoemaker?
GG: I have been working with shoes for 32 years, so my family wasn’t surprised when I told them I wanted to deal with handmade shoes.


VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides footwear?
GG: I love sports, sailing, and tasting good wines.


VR: How did you first become interested in shoes, and when did you turn your eyes towards artisanal shoemaking? Why classic models instead of fashion?
GG: I was about 18 years old and a young sport shooter. We often travelled to „western” countries with the national team. That is where I saw fantastic shoes, and bought myself one or two pairs on every trip. The other athletes gave me the nickname „little shoemaker”. I never thought back then that the joke would become reality one day.


VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the crafts — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
GG: I learned my professional knowledge from books, I have read nearly everything with the word „shoe” in it. I was taught shoemaking itself by old Hungarian masters, and, of course, I am still learning, I think it lasts a lifetime.


VR: How would you describe the House Style of Buday shoes?
GG: Our company is a family-run business. We can be characterized by a pursuit of perfection. In the early days I liked cool and trendy models. As time went by, I became more and more interested in excellent quality. I think the most outstanding shoes are classical Budapesters.


VR: Do you have a favourite shoe model (eg. monk, derby, oxford, balmoral boot) and leather type?
GG: I tend to love all models equally if we manage to make them perfectly. Then I can adore them for weeks.


VR: There are several quality shoe companies in Hungary — why should my readers choose yours?
GG: I find the fact that we have several excellent shoe manufacturers in Hungary a good thing, as a healthy competition leads to good results. Naturally customers should choose us because we are unique in Hungary (and not only here) in using 6 different welt sewing techniques. We are also unique in offering practically any colour choice, we finish dying the leathers outselves, sometimes we make as many as 3-4 different colour effects on one shoe. Finally, the perfect fit for our customers.


VR: What is your definition of a well-made shoe?

GG: Well-made shoes are created from outstanding materials, they conform on the last perfectly. They attract attention by their comfortably perfect fit, and noble simplicity.


VR: Who or what inspires you?

GG: Drive: we would like to manufacture the best, most beautiful, the most expensive instead of the worst, the ugliest or the cheapest Budapesters in the world.


VR: Finally, how can my readers find out if a shoe has a good fit?

GG: I would like to highlight a few criteria out of many. Firstly, the shoes must have the right length; second, they should fit around the bunions (it is not a problem if they are a bit tight first); third, the instep height has to be right with derby and oxford models. If these three things fit, and your heel is not loose, then we can say that the last and the model are both right.

How woven cashmere cloth is made at the Ermenegildo Zegna factory


December 22, 2016 by Ville Raivio

Interview with Andy Poupart


November 12, 2016 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
AP: I’m 59 years old and I’ve spent my entire career in the computer industry. I started out working in the computer center of a British university and moved to the US in 1981 and started working for a computer manufacturer and I’ve spent the majority of my career since then working for several computer companies. For most of my career I’ve been either a software engineer or I’ve managed software engineering teams.


VR: Your educational background?
AP: I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and physics.

VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
AP: I have two grown daughters who are largely bemused by my style renaissance. It’s also true to say, however, that my Instagram presence is largely due to their prompting. But when they were young, I did not dress remotely like I do now. They knew me as a father who largely dressed in jeans and polo shirts, a man who wore sneakers most days. So, the father they see now does not look like the father of their memories and I think that is disconcerting for them on some level.

I am very happily married. It is the second marriage for both of us. My wife is a stylish and elegant woman in her own right and it is perhaps because of her that I  started dressing better than I did. Not at her prompting, however. It was more because I wanted to honor her, to try to be someone that she would be proud to be escorted by.

VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?
AP: My mother was also a stylish woman and I think she recognized when I was fairly young that I knew how I wanted to look. She knew that if I wanted a particular look, whatever it might have been, that I was not prepared to compromise. I can look back and recognize now that, within the limits of a family budget, she helped me to express myself in the way that I wanted. She let me experiment.
VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
AP: I am a fairly accomplished photographer, although I don’t shoot as much as I used to. I cook and my wife and I enjoy enjoy wine. We do travel a fair bit, too.


VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics?
AP: I’ve always been interested in style and fashion, both men’s and women’s. But, as I mentioned above, I’ve lived most of my adult life in jeans and polo shirts. About four years ago, I had to make some changes in my diet and lifestyle to reverse a trend of increasing blood sugar. These changes had a side effect for me of losing around 30 pounds, too, and so I needed a new wardrobe. Over the years, I had accumulated a number of jackets, some of which now fit me better than they had in years. But even the jackets that fit me were rarely worn and I decided I wanted to change that. so I started to wear them, even though I was still wearing jeans and sneaker, for the most part. But over time, I realized I needed better trousers, which led to better shoes, which led to wearing a tie occasionally, which led to bow ties, and so on.

Then I began to do some research. I began to learn about how clothes were suppose to fit. I realized that most of my clothes were too big, for example, and as I learned more and came into contact with more resources, from which I learned more, I began to understand.

In addition, I had always harbored a desire to have a suit made for me by a Savile Row tailor. But I did not know which tailor to select and I was somewhat daunted at the prospect. But I heard of a tailoring firm called Steed Bespoke Tailors that is part of the Anderson&Sheppard diaspora and that visited San Francisco regularly and I decided to go with them. And it has been a good relationship.

VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the tailored look — from books, talks with salesmen or somewhere else?
AP: All of the above, I would say. Except, perhaps, salesmen. I would add online resources, too, as a major learning resource for me. I’ve learned a tremendous amount in direct conversations with some of the people that I have met online.

Clearly, menswear has standard texts by Boyer, Flusser, Manton, and others. But there’s no escaping that the internet is and continues to be a tremendous tool for learning and for obtaining items that, without it, one simply would not encounter. An example of that might be the French sock vendor Mes Chaussettes Rouge. I would never have encountered them if were not for their online advertising and for an article I read, online, about the socks that they carry that are used by the Catholic church. I’ve been to the physical store in Paris and I think it’s fair to say it’s not in an area where a typical tourist might wander. So that experience is a direct result of discovery online.


VR: How would you describe your personal style?
AP: To the extent that I have a style, it’s a combination of what I hope is a classic English style and then at times a fairly unrestrained exuberance bordering on dandyism. I love color and I love wearing things that few others would wear. For example, I bought some of the last few meters of an ivory flannel with a navy pindot windowpane from Fox and had it made up into a lovely double-breasted suit. I wear it on warm evenings, or sunny summer days and I love it. People notice it because you almost never see anyone wearing such a thing. But I have a gorgeous lovat green tweed jacket that is classic and conservative and occasionally people notice it because it is so classic and well cut.


VR: Which tailors or RTW makers do you favour and why?
AP: I use Steed, as mentioned earlier and Hemrajani Brothers for my tailored clothing. I have more or less stopped buying ready-to-wear clothing.


VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your items?
AP: I like to create a long line. I have my jackets cut longer than is “fashionable” today, and somewhat longer than many people are comfortable with. But it creates the line I’m looking for. I want my clothes to be well cut, to be comfortable, and to look like they were made for me.


VR: Who or what inspires you?
AP: My wife inspires me. She empowers me to express myself and to follow my own path. In terms of men’s style, I admire Fred Astaire and Cary Grant. If I could have a sliver of their style and gracefulness I would be a lucky man.

VR: What’s your definition of style?
AP: That’s a tough one. Style is individual. Style is harmony. Style is beauty. Style is being comfortable in your own skin and having confidence in your appearance. I don’t think you can have style without confidence.

 interview_with_andy_poupart_at_keikari_dot_com6Featuring the lovely Michèle Free

VR: Finally, given your knowledge on the subject, how would you describe the dress of the American IT-crowd?
AP: Extremely casual. In my little corner of the industry, dress is virtually irrelevant. It simply does not matter how you dress. What matters is how you do your job. I accept that I work in an industry that is, even now, somewhat unusual in that regard. But where most of my colleagues interpret that freedom to mean they can dress extremely casually, which I also used to do, I have used it to dress the way I do now, in tailored clothing. Why? Because I want to.

Photos: The Poupart Archives

A tour at the Chester Jefferies glove factory


October 15, 2016 by Ville Raivio

Interview with Craig Featherstone from Henry Poole


September 15, 2016 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
CF: 41, Master Tailor & head cutter/company director, lifestyle blogger.

VR: Your educational background?
CF: BTEC fashion design, apprentice and then head tailor with David Chambers bespoke 1994-2007, Freelance tailor – Ozwald Boateng 2007-2008. In current role with Henry Poole ltd. since march 2008.

VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your tailoring enthusiasm)?
CF: I aptly have a ‘Gentleman’s family’ (one of each). Daughter Reili, 9 years old, and son Coiry, 6 years old. They have to put up with a lot, as much of my business is abroad. I am all over America more than 5 times a year, for up to 2 weeks at a time. My wife works as a Senior Assistant Director for Sky Sports. Working in the media, she also likes to dress well. We compliment one another.


VR: …and your parent’s and siblings’ reactions back in the days when you began?
CF: I used to be in a band as a teenager and I would design and make our outfits, I went to fashion college and always had a passion for clothing and design. My parents knew whatever profession I decided on, I would strive to make it to the highest level, and tailoring is quite an unusual profession, a great talking point. I always want to be the best I can and encourage myself to learn every element of my trade. For me, it’s important not only to talk the talk but actually to have the skills to back this up. Plus I’m naturally curious and can turn my hand to most things!


VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides tailoring?
CF: I have a black belt in kickboxing and jujitsu from when I was younger. I enjoy playing golf and football. I also do some charity work and event organising. I cook a mean steak. I love to travel and visit new places. I property develop, too, when the opportunity arises.


VR: How did you first become interested in clothing, and when did you turn your eyes towards classic style? Why classics instead of fashion?
CF: I have always had an interest in looking good and from a very young age I was self-aware, and understood how I dress has a real impact on how people perceive me. I think I have progressively veered more towards classic style as I have got older (my mantra is, better with age). For me, you can’t go wrong with a classic suit, as it will never date. Although at times I like to experiment with my outfits, with a different-coloured trouser and jacket combo or use an unusual material.


VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of tailoring– from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
CF: I have read a few books but mainly my love of learning and creating new things helps drive me. I was the only person willing to attempt making a bespoke cover for the Aston Martin one77 for a Paris car show reveal, I will always push myself to take on new and unusual challenges as that’s how I can further develop my knowledge of how materials drape and problem solve to perfect and modify a structure. If I don’t know how to make something, I will keep experimenting until I can work it out!


VR: How would you describe your own dress? How about your “house cut”?
CF: There isn’t a ‘house cut’ — the whole point of bespoke is to make sure we meet the needs of the customer and create whatever they request. I would always advise, though, to select a structured suit jacket over an unstructured one as much of the hand work goes into the canvassing of a bespoke creation. I would define my own image as classic and clean with a modern twist.


VR: Please tell us when you joined the team at Poole, and what goals you set for yourself in the beginning. How have you been received so far?
CF: I set myself the task of becoming company director within 5 years when I first started at Henry Poole in 2008 (I actually did it in 3!). I joined Poole initially to learn the final part of my trade, pattern cutting which made me a complete ‘Master Tailor’. There are very few of us on Savile Row who can literally do everything from start to finish, I am proud to be one of them, that was my aim!


VR: Why should my readers choose the house of Poole over other Savile Row tailors?
CF: Poole is the founding and first tailor’s shop to open on Savile Row and the inventor of the Dinner suit. There is so much history at Poole’s (and a great ledger library in-house — customers dating back to 1800, including Winston Churchill, Charles Dickens and, more recently, David Gandy). We have just as many American clients right now as we do British. For me, personally, I’m in my 5th year working in America, so I have developed some expertise for that market. I’m very aware of my clients’ preferences in the U.S. The most important relationship to maintain through the bespoke process is with your cutter.


VR: Who or what inspires you?
CF: I find inspiration in everything, everyday. Whether it be through Architecture, Art, music or clothing. I love anything that looks good. I am motivated always to make the best of what God gave me. I dress to impress, no matter where I am. Perception is key in my trade, so I must make my choices wisely, to be the best I need to look it. I never know who I will meet from one day to the next.


VR: What’s your definition of style?
CF: Style is creating your own identity, which expresses who you are. It shouldn’t feel forced. I don’t follow fashion generally as it dates pretty quickly. I understand what suits me already, therefore I don’t feel the need to jump onto a trend but I do keep an eye on it, though. Sometimes I find inspiration in a look which helps me develop patterns that work better for modern day tastes. I choose clothing to compliment my silhouette and enhance my image. I wear the clothing, not the other way ’round. People will always judge you initially based on your look, so remember; your clothing choices should be synonymous with the message you want to deliver and how seriously you wish to be taken.


VR: Finally, what’s your estimate on the effects of Britain’s EU exit on the business of bespoke tailoring?
CF: As a luxury product, we make for the super elite so I would like to hope it won’t affect our trade too hard, although it’s too early to say, really. I definitely think most industries will feel a bit of a pinch in the coming months, or even years, as people may be more careful what they spend their money on and be less frivolous. At the end of the day, business still goes on as usual, and to do good business you need to look sharp, nothing is going to get you noticed more than an amazing bespoke suit. My thoughts are that perception is key, so if you can look like you’re doing well in life, then you usually will!

Interview with tailor Mark Powell


August 10, 2016 by Ville Raivio

Natural shaving cream from Executive Shaving


August 6, 2016 by Ville Raivio

Executive Shaving launched a new shaving cream a few months ago. Its essential oils, coconut acid and glycerine soften the beard while rosemary, eucalyptus, bergamot, juniper and pine needle take care of the scents. Like all of ES’s private label hygiene, this cream is manufactured by a reputable British maker but sold at a favourable price point. I have three jars to give out to Keikari’s Finnish readers, and all one needs to do to take part is leave a comment with an email address under this post. The winners will be chosen according to random numbers and contacted within a week’s time.

Anatomy and review of Lanvin sneakers


July 2, 2016 by Ville Raivio

Lanvin has a claim for being the oldest fashion house still up and running. The story goes that one Jeanne Lanvin, a skilful milliner from Paris, founded the house bearing her name in 1889. The same story credits the founding idea to the clothing Lanvin designed and made for her daughter, and in time attracted the attention of the finer set of Paris. This story ends in 1958 when Lanvin’s daughter died, and the ownership of the fashion house has been bounced from one investor to another since. Lanvin is still in the business of fashion, but this side does not interest me — much more interesting are the sneakers that they offer. Unlike most street or casual or leisure shoes, Lanvin’s are made from premium leathers and finished to a high degree.



Lanvin sneakers were designed by the company’s current head menswear designer, Lucas Ossendrijver, as part of their autumn and winter collections in 2006. Originally for men, the sneakers with their large toe caps were later offered for women as well, and received plenty of press visibility after one Michelle Obama was seen wearing a pair. The rest, I guess, is dryly called history. If the reader hasn’t been following news on clothing, it’s best to note that so-called quality sneakers have become more prominent in the 2000s. While the older pairs were quickly made in China or other far-flung destinations from cheap-ass leathers, with polyester linings and glued stiffeners, the finer models of today hopefully have full- or at least top-grain leather uppers with leather lining, European make, leathery stiffeners and stricter finishing. These, of course, come with a heftier price tag.



As far as design goes, Lanvin’s sneakers — with their fat rubber soles, flat toes, low profile, big laces, metal eyelets and big tongues — are related to Adidas Superstars, which are related to Converse All-Stars, which are related to Keds, which are related to the very first sneaker, the Plimsoll, designed and made by The Liverpool Rubber Company all the way in the 1830s. If time and traditions have more weight than anything else in clothing, the soft Plimsoll is more classic than most shoe types born later on. Just about the only older design is the opera pump, but those are not seen too often. In essence, the Lanvin sneaker is a copy of the Plimsoll, just without the shaft and in place of canvas uppers there is fine leather, and “the right” logo. The fashion house has its sneakers made in Italy, Spain and Portugal from an endless array of colour and material combinations. Now on to the details.



The sneakers’ main design point is the contrast toe cap, differing in colour or texture from the rest of the pair. Patent leather is the house’s go-to choice, but I must note that nearly all patent hides are made from third- or fourth-grade leather that’s just covered with a plastic layer to hide the weaknesses. In time, the plastic will crack. The sneaker cap has a folded edge and hidden stiches, which make it very clean-looking. Still, after walking the shoe has bent on the top of the cap instead of behind it, leaving an ugly crease. The smooth cap leather looks lively, nice and high-grade. The rubber soles are truly fat, with a height of 2.8 cm, a boon in case of rainy days or muddy streets. They have a Lanvin logo at the middle and ribbed grip surfaces at the bottom and sides. A loose contrast stitching attaches the sole unit to the uppers. One’d think that all this rubber guarantees a smooth, nice walk but I feel the sneakers are so-and-so as far as comfort goes. The metal eyelets are nondescript apart from the top ones that have a small Lanvin logo.



The calfskin uppers are smooth, nice and, apart from the embossing, have but a small grain. The leather lining is smooth and pleasant. After bending, the upper leather returns quickly to its original last shape. Writing of lasts, the sneakers have a nicely close fitting around the instep, but the ball of the foot is wide. The sides have very little curves. The toe is elangated and up-close looks comically wide. Luckily this effect disappears when viewed upright. A high point worthy of praise is the heelcup: few lasts, in dressy shoes or leisure pairs, have such a wonderfully close fit all around the heel. The tongue has a foam padding for comfort, but seems to be made from thinner, poorer leather than the upper. Stronger foam lines the ankle sides, again for comfort. Two grommets allow some air to circulate from the inner waist side. While the upper stitching is looser than I’d like, it is straight and has a nice contrast colour. The piping leather around the ankle is made from the same constrast stuff as the toe cap. The shoelaces are flat, waxed and very wide.



The full sockliner is made from leather and seems to have no foam insert under the heel. A nasty surprise awaits under the liner: the insole is made from fiberboard. Traditional dressy shoes have a nice, thick leather insole that takes the shape of the wearer’s foot, but I guess fiberboard is still better than a hot, sweaty plastic version. Lanvin sneakers cost a bit less or more than 400 euros in Europe. The model has the most high-quality materials, finishing and design I’ve found so far among sneakers, but I still won’t recommend them at full price. Four hundred will buy a fully handmade welted shoe from Hungary, far more durable and better-made in all respects. From sales, yes, I would say the Lanvin sneaker is a good find. What remains to be seen is how the rubber soles and leathers will age and last. This is the sneaker I will compare all others to.


Interview with Al Castiel III


June 27, 2016 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
AC: I’m a twenty-two-year-old University student and I currently intern in the bespoke department at Paul Stuart in New York City. I’m also a contributing writer for Ivy Style, and do freelance writing for other online menswear sites/blogs in addition to my own, Regattas and Repp Ties. I previously worked in sales at Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren, as well as being a campus representative for Social Primer.


VR: Your educational background?
AC: I am a rising fourth year student at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Sciences.


VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style enthusiasm)?
AC: I’m far from having a spouse or children, but women I have previously been in relationships with have appreciated my sense of style and passion for things sartorial.


VR: …and your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were younger?
AC: I don’t have any siblings, but my parents always encouraged me to dress in a manner that I enjoyed, even if it was more formal than that of my peers.


VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
AC: Besides clothing, my greatest passion is music; I play drums, piano, and guitar, and used to play the drums professionally in a band during High School. I’m also an avid skier, and try to take at least one ski trip every year. I play squash and tennis recreationally, and used to row competitively as well.

Some of my more “adventurous” hobbies include scuba diving and riding motorcycles (of the sport/racing variety). I also love to travel.


VR: How did you first become interested in style, and when did you turn your eyes towards the classics?
AC: My father was my one of my earliest style influences. Him giving me his old GQ magazines at thirteen years old got me interested in men’s style and fashion.

When I first arrived on campus for my first day of secondary school, I was overwhelmed with the sea of upperclassmen in Lacoste polos, Sperry Top Siders, penny loafers, madras trousers, repp ties, Nantucket reds, oxford shirts, and the like. I thought to myself, “I want to look like that”. What I didn’t realize at the time was that my father had been wearing Ralph Lauren and tassel loafers for well over twenty years prior.

So, I suppose you can say that prep school was the driving force that turned me towards classic style. The beauty of it was that my schoolmates were just dressing as their fathers did, and their fathers before them too.


VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of the tailored look — from books, talks with salesmen or somewhere else?
AC: Reading anything tailoring related that I could—from Alan Flusser and Bruce Boyer’s books to various blogs online has been a great source of information for me over the years. Ralph Lauren was one of my earliest introductions to tailored clothing. Working in the clothing business for the past several years has also helped me grow my tailoring knowledge base. Visiting many of the great tailoring houses of Savile Row and talking with the head cutters during the brief time I lived in London was a great learning experience as well.


VR: How would you describe your personal style?
AC: I would say my personal style is heavily rooted in timeless American menswear, or what some people call “preppy”, with a strong British influence. I also admire many of the great Italian tailoring houses as well. I definitely have a bit of a “dandy” streak as well.


VR: Which tailors or RTW makers do you favour and why?
AC: My primary tailors are The Andover Shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. They’ve been making my clothes for the past few years now. The legendary Charlie Davidson and Larry Mahoney’s impeccable tastes and discerning eyes have guided me to commission some truly beautiful pieces. Like myself, they subscribe to an American version of the quintessential British look, or the Anglo-American look if you will. I’ve also had many items made for me by Luxire. I can’t say enough great things about them. They are always willing to fulfill even the most obscure tailoring requests.

I am also a big fan of Paul Stuart’s custom garments made in New York as well as Miller’s Oath (both bespoke and ready-to-wear). As far as Savile Row tailors go, Steven Hitchcock, Anderson&Sheppard, Henry Poole, and H. Huntsman&Sons all make beautiful bespoke garments that are considered some of the best in the world. I’m also a big fan of Rubinacci in Italy.

Looking to ready-to-wear, I really love Paul Stuart and Ralph Lauren’s offerings, in addition to Kamakura Shirts out of Japan. Ben Silver in Charleston and Sid Mashburn make an incredible garment too. As far as shirts and shoes go, there are so many companies that I enjoy that I’m afraid I’ll leave a lot out if I name any.

Though, you can never go wrong with a Brooks Brothers oxford cloth button-down shirt.


VR: Have you any particular style or cut philosophy behind your items?
AC: While I appreciate more “structured” tailors like H. Huntsman&Sons or Gieves&Hawkes, I am a strong proponent of “soft tailoring”, or natural-shouldered garments. I like to have a balance between being too conservative or too trendy, while still remaining timeless. The goal is to be able to wear the same suit fifteen years from now and look current. However, since I’m a sIimmer guy of a rather average height, I prefer to have my trousers made rather differently than the traditionally cut ones you see in the “drape” style of tailoring. I always opt for a plain front trouser with a slim leg, tapered at the knee with very little to no break, and a cuff. Side vents are essential for me on suit jackets and sport coats, as they provide the most comfort and are additionally the most flattering vent option a man can utilize. Surgeon’s cuffs, pick stitching, hacking pockets, and ticket pockets are favorites of mine (I actually use the ticket pocket for my subway card), but I don’t have all of these options on every single one of my garments. I believe that to be well-dressed, one needs to have variety in their wardrobe.

I have a few other style quirks, like wearing Hermès ties, braces with braided silk ends, Alden tassel loafers, or cutaway collar shirts. Additionally, I rarely wear belts unless I’m in shorts, jeans, or khakis. I prefer side tabs with buckles for a cleaner, more streamlined look. Moreover, unless I’m in a professional setting or the temperature is under 45 degrees Fahrenheit (7 degrees Celsius), I’ll eschew socks.


VR: When did you set up your own blog, and what was the motivation?
AC: The summer after my senior year of High School, right before entering University in 2013, I thought that blogging would be a fun way to occupy my free time. Over the past few years it has become far more than a way to kill time, but a labor of love.

After years of reading great blogs like (the long gone) Prepidemic, Unabashedly Prep, K. Cooper Ray’s (who would later become my boss) Social Primer (the blog would become the launching point for his neckwear brand), The Trad, Maxminimus, Ivy Inspired, GQ McGee, and many others, I figured I might as well try my hand at blogging too. I always thought that there were plenty of people out there that have the potential to dress impeccably and want to do so, but don’t always have the right guidance. That’s where I figured I could help out. My goal was — and is — to help others get a bit of inspiration from what they see on my site and cultivate their own personal style, gain some sartorial wisdom, and not feel the need to be subject to trends.


VR: Who or what inspires you?
AC: I’m truly blessed to know some of my own style icons personally. Charlie Davidson, Bruce Boyer, and Mark Rykken have all taught me incredible amounts and have driven me to learn as much as I can about clothing. I’m proud to say that I have many stylish friends that continually inspire me as well. Additionally, observing well-dressed men on the street and taking cues from the greats like Fred Astaire, Gianni Agnelli, Cary Grant, Prince Charles, and many others is another form of inspiration for me. I also love to get sartorial inspiration from watching classic films.


VR: What’s your definition of style?
AC: Style isn’t just about being knowledgeable about clothing. One can be extremely educated about clothes and have absolutely no style, and vice versa. Good taste and an eye for details are essential. It’s about being comfortable in your clothes and always looking at ease in them, whether in pajamas, or in white tie. When people ask me about the difference between style and fashion, I like to tell them that style is a reflection of who you are, and fashion is a reflection of others telling you who to be.


VR: Finally, how would you describe the dress of the American East Coast universities ?
AC: Severely lacking overall, but with potential. A lot of guys out there are starting to dress up for class a bit more in button-downs, loafers, khakis, etc. Rather unfortunately, this is still a proportionally small amount of students. However, it’s great that fewer and fewer people (almost none these days) are wearing sweats or pajamas to class, at least at my University.

Alison Schneider: Sometimes Clothes Make the Professor


June 17, 2016 by Ville Raivio

Frumpy or Chic? Tweed or Kente? Sometimes Clothes Make the Professor

published in The Chronicle of Higher Education


“There was just one problem with the English department’s job candidate: his pants.

They were polyester, green polyester, and the members of the hiring committee considered that a serious offense. For 10 minutes they ranted about the cut, the color, the cloth. Then and only then did they move on to weightier matters.

He did not get the job.

Neither did a woman lugging an oversized tote bag (too working-class). Or a man sporting a jaunty sweater and scarf (too flaky). Or a woman in a red-taffeta dress and cowboy boots (too — well, too much).

In the world of academe, where the life of the mind prevails, does it really matter if a scholar wears Gucci, gabardine, or grunge? What about good looks? Can such things tip the scales in a job interview, weaken a bid for tenure, or keep you off the A list on the conference circuit? Many professors say they can, although there is quibbling over the reasons why.

Talk about appearances might seem unjustified given the profession’s showing in the arena of good looks and good taste. “Academics are still the worst-dressed middle-class occupational group in America,” says Valerie Steele, chief curator at the museum of the Fashion Institute of Technology and editor of Fashion Theory: The Journal of Body, Dress & Culture.

But despite their threadbare reputation, scholars spend a lot of time thinking, talking, and writing about appearances. Last month, Elaine Showalter, an English professor at Princeton University, came out of the closet, so to speak, and admitted in Vogue magazine that she has a fetish for fashion. She waxed eloquent about her Cossack minidress and turquoise boots from Bologna. ‘For years,” she wrote, ‘I’ve been trying to make the life of the mind coexist with the day at the mall.’

She is not alone. Scholars squirm when the topic of appearance arises, but a growing number agree that even in the ivory tower, image and intellect are hopelessly intertwined.

‘I absolutely judge what people wear,’ says Wayne Koestenbaum, an English professor at the City University of New York’s Graduate School and University Center, who dabs on specific perfumes to pay homage to particular writers. (He declined to provide an example. ‘It’s much too personal,’ he says.) But ‘there are people who are excited as I am by certain ideas, certain artistic movements. There are semiotic codes of dress, makeup, and hair that say things about your allegiances.’

He should know. He dyed his hair red when he entered graduate school. ‘It was intimately connected to my intellectual advancement and my movement into feminist and gay theory.’

That sounds like self-conscious gobbledygook to some professors. When it comes to appearances, academe breaks down into two camps: pro-frumpy and pro-fashion. Fans of frumpiness insist that if you want to prove you’re intellectually a cut above the competition, think twice before parading around in an Italian-cut blazer.

‘If it’s a choice between being chic or frumpy, I think it benefits academics more to be frumpy,’ says Emily Toth, a professor of English and women’s studies at Louisiana State University. ‘If you look like you spend too much time on your clothes, there are people who will assume that you haven’t put enough energy into your mind.’ Dr. Toth, who doubles in her off-hours as Ms. Mentor — the Miss Manners of academe — has dished out pithy advice for years, first in a column for Concerns, the journal of the Women’s Caucus of the Modern Language Association, and now in a book, Ms. Mentor’s Impeccable Advice for Women in Academia.

As for the taffeta dress and cowboy boots — which Ms. Mentor saw for herself — such an outfit may signal that a scholar doesn’t grasp the right professional priorities, she says in an interview. ‘If you don’t know how to dress, then what else don’t you know? Do you know how to advise students or grade papers? The clothes are part of the judgment of the mind.’

Clothes also help determine if someone will fit into a particular institution. Ask around, and you’ll hear professors talk about regional norms for academics: The Midwest dresses down, the South dresses up. Tailored but casual wins the day in the Northeast, and anything goes in California — as long as it looks good. Not to mention the fact that individual universities have their own idiosyncratic norms, which professors ignore at their peril.

‘A lot depends on institutional context,’ explains Catharine R. Stimpson, dean of the graduate school of arts and sciences at New York University. ‘At a small, fraught department, where everybody is out to get everybody else, they’d use anything — they could even use a little Liz Claiborne — as a sign of overreaching.’

Perhaps the biggest liability of looking too good is that colleagues and students may spend more time thinking about what a professor wears than what he or she says. When clothes become a distraction, the frumpiness faction contends, they do a disservice to young scholars who are trying to establish themselves in their field.

Men occasionally take flak for putting too much of a premium on their own appearance. People still talk about what Andrew Ross, the ultra-hip director of the American-studies program at N.Y.U., wore to the M.L.A.’s 1991 meeting: a yellow Comme des Garçons blazer, a Japanese hand-painted tie, and wedge-heeled suede shoes. Back then, Mr. Ross told The New York Times that the jacket was ‘a sendup of the academic male convention of yellow polyester,’ but these days he doesn’t care to comment. Little wonder. The outfit made him a legend in some eyes and a laughingstock in others.

Still, he says, ‘I don’t think it’s a bad thing that academics think more about their appearance right now, when the profession is under siege. It translates into a perception that they’re not otherworldly, that they don’t live in ivory towers, that they meet people where they are rather than tell them where they ought to be.’ His only fashion regret: removing his earrings when he went on the market. It didn’t even land him a job.

‘Dressing fashionably in academia is like clearing the four-foot high jump. The bar is not that high,’ says Michael Bérubé, an English professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. ‘Anything with some cut or color draws derision — and admiration — because the sartorial requirements of the business are so low.’

Mr. Bérubé may know whereof he speaks. He showed up at last month’s M.L.A. meeting sporting an electric-blue suit of 100-per-cent polyester. He loves the outfit: ‘It’s an amazing color, and it never loses its crease!’

A man may be able to pull off an electric-blue suit without raising eyebrows, but what about a woman? ‘I still think there’s a predisposition to take men more seriously,’ says Domna C. Stanton, a professor of French and women’s studies at the University of Michigan. Junior-faculty women face a particularly difficult quandary, she says. ‘How do they convey professional seriousness without looking like a man in drag?’

Here’s the short list of Ms. Mentor’s do’s and don’ts: For starters, younger women should play down their sexuality. Skirts should be knee-length or below. Pants are never appropriate for interviews. Steer clear of high-heeled shoes. Choose dark colors over light ones. Ms. Mentor recommends dark purple: ‘It looks good on everyone.’

But some people think playing by the rules is the riskiest move of all. ‘I don’t think frumpy gets you anywhere except forgotten,’ says Jane Gallop, a professor of English and comparative literature at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. She’s made strong fashion statements for years. She wore velvet jeans and a sweater when she went on the job market; donned a now-legendary skirt made of men’s ties when she lectured on psychoanalytic theory and the phallus; and slipped into suede fringed pants and cowboy boots to talk about Western civilization.

She hasn’t toned down her look much since her junior-professor days. ‘I teach in torn T-shirts that I have actually torn myself,’ she says. And she still defends using clothing as conceptual art: ‘There’s a stupid impression that a lack of style signifies seriousness, but anyone who comes from a literary sense of things knows that style is often the best way to convey complicated things. You should use everything you have to make people think.’

Dr. Showalter agrees: ‘Teaching is performance. We use everything we’ve got, and costume is part of it. That’s not to say that you dress up like Emma Bovary, but a little liveliness is desirable.’

‘Give me a break,” replies Camille Paglia, a humanities professor at the University of the Arts. ‘Yes, teaching is a performance art. But when the teacher hijacks the classroom for self-display — of fashion or mannerism or cult of personality — we have a corruption of education. Professors think, “They’re here because of me, because of my wonderful whimsy, my wonderful way of doing things.” It makes me want to throw up.’ Ms. Paglia favors pantsuits for public lectures — she’s especially fond of her flowing, Donna Karan tuxedo suit — but sticks to simple slacks, a plain jacket, and rubber-soled shoes in the classroom.

What does all this sartorial sniping mean for scholars going on the job market and the people who are grooming them? Professors spend an inordinate amount of time fine-tuning not only what their proteges will say at interviews but also how they will look when they say it. Mentors criticize everything from the studs in the job-seekers’ ears to the shoes on their feet.

The result: Scholars hunting for jobs are expected to look far better than those who have one, says Nancy K. Miller, an English professor at CUNY’s graduate school. ‘I wonder if the emphasis on appearance at the hiring level isn’t a displacement of the real issue: that these students aren’t going to get jobs. We focus on their clothing as if the perfect suit or haircut, or the toning down of extravagant styles, will guarantee them a job.’ Alas, she says, it won’t.

The deconstruction of dress weighs particularly heavily upon minority professors. ‘There is a special turn of the knife for racial and ethnic women,’ says Nell Painter, a black historian at Princeton. ‘There are prejudices against people who look too Jewish, too working-class, too Italian, too black, or too much of anything different.’ She adds, however, that ‘if you look too WASPish, that’s probably all right.’

The stakes are high for blacks, Ms. Painter says, because nothing they do is neutral. ‘If you wear a pair of classic trousers and no kente cloth, that makes a statement. And if you wear kente cloth, that makes a statement.’

‘My difficulty with that,” says Karla F.C. Holloway, director of African and African-American studies at Duke University, ‘is that it makes the other parts of you invisible — your scholarship, your intellect, your seriousness.’ That’s why she favors formality. She doesn’t repress her African-American roots — she wears ethnic prints and wraps her hair in a braid, like her grandmother did — but she steers clear of casual couture. ‘Casualness has never been part of our professional demeanor,’ she says. ‘Maybe because we can’t afford to make it part of our professional demeanor.’

The most glaring exception may be Robin D.G. Kelley, a historian at N.Y.U. He does have some designer suits in his closet, but most days he pulls on a pair of black jeans, black combat boots, and a ‘contemporary’ — meaning ’50s-looking — shirt or sweater.

Students think he’s hip and approachable. But looking cool has its cost. ‘At every stage in my career, youth and informality — in dress, in appearance, in presentation — have been the bane of my existence. Professors take me less seriously.’

Fortunately, Dr. Kelley says he has found that ‘the one thing that speaks louder than dress is the work that you do.’

Hair, however, is something else entirely. ‘People lose their jobs over how they style their hair,’ he says. A big Afro is associated with late-’60s radicalism, while straightened hair signals that you’re a ‘serious sell-out white wannabe.’ Braids, dreadlocks, and shaved heads give the impression that you’ve got a chip on your shoulder. ‘When I had my hair short, I was a safe Negro,’ Dr. Kelley says. Now he’s growing dreadlocks, a decision that’s cramping his style when it comes to his current work, a book about Thelonious Monk. He’d like to don the kind of funky hats that the jazz pianist wore, but he can’t until his hair finishes ‘locking,’ he says. ‘It’s really messing up my vibe.’

Things are complicated in other ways for those professors — men or women, white or black — graced with exceptionally good looks. In academe, beauty is a double-edged sword. Scholars, like everybody else, sometimes assume that a sound mind isn’t likely to be accompanied by a sexy body.

Bennett Link, a physicist at Montana State University at Bozeman, posed bare-chested last year in the ‘Studmuffins of Science’ calendar, a tongue-in-cheek tribute to good-looking geeks. The attention over his appearance as ‘Dr. April’ has died down, but he admits that when the calendar came out, he wanted to keep it quiet.

‘The way a person looks doesn’t play much of a role in the sciences,’ he says. In fact, he adds, it’s a matter of pride among scientists to dress down. But image is critical. ‘It’s important to appear smart and competent. I wasn’t sure if the calendar would hurt my chances for tenure.’ (He went along with the idea after his girlfriend at the time had sent in the photos.)

Most people think good looks don’t hurt. ‘Generally, looking attractive helps you get a job,’ Ms. Gallop says. ‘It’s not supposed to be true — and it’s nothing that ever gets said — but prejudices operate against people who are seriously overweight or have bad skin or are really unattractive. It produces a kind of discomfort.’

As Ms. Mentor puts it, if A is the cream of the academic crop when it comes to looks, and F is ‘wolf man,’ then ‘wolf man does not get a job.’ Fortunately, she says, most scholars fall somewhere between B+ and D+. But then, she’s grading on a curve.”

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