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James Laver and Men’s Fashions In Technicolor, 1952


July 11, 2015 by Ville Raivio

The triumph of cloth over silk in men’s clothing


July 10, 2015 by Ville Raivio

“From the beginning of the [18th] century cloth had been the correct material for day wear; its quality constantly improved and with this, the tailor’s skill in cut and fit. Soon these became the distinguishing features in the well-dressed, and though originally the Frock and Buckskins had been comfortably loose, now the grip of Fashion ordained a tight fit; ease was sacrified to a new ideal — to look ‘smart’… As the ideal material for a close-fitting was cloth this fashion encouraged the wider use of that material… By the end of the century woollen cloth had reached to the very pinnacle; in 1795 the King himself at a reception was wearing ‘a prune-coloured coat of broadcloth’, and in 1797 the Prime Minister Mr. Pitt ‘went to Court in a brown cloth dress.’

But the final triumph of this material came when the arbiter of fashion George Brummel [sic(k)] pronounced the revolutionary doctrine that henceforth a gentleman’s clothes should be inconspicuous in material and exquisite only in fit; and for this he laid down the rule that the only permissible material was — cloth.

Brummel’s conception of a gentleman’s clothes was, in fact, a fundamental change from a pictorial design to an architectural one; from a composition in colours to one in lines, marking a progress from a crude to a subtle method of expressing social superiority.”

– C. Willett & Phillis Cunnington in Handbook of English Costume in the Eighteenth Century

J.H. Thornton’s Textbook of Footwear Manufacture


July 8, 2015 by Ville Raivio

The Honourable Cordwainers’ Company is an American non-profit organization for all shoemakers who care about the Gentle Craft and its golden, traditional principles. What makes The HCC interesting is their dedication and online archives, whose golden scans include the free, full, famous shoemaking guide edited by J.H. Thornton, the past Head of the Boot and Shoe Department at the Northampton College of Technology. While the Textbook of Footwear Manufacture was published in 1953, not too much has changed in shoemaking since those days. The book’s very detailed and lengthy explanations are gold for all who care about shoes and want to know all. Some 600 pages deal with shoe materials, constructions, lasts, patterns, designs, machines, designs, buying and selling, stitching, quality control, shoe parts, lasting, welting, heels, cleaning, repairing, and finishing.

In short, this is the real deal for shoemakers and shoe hobbyists all around.

Head over to the HCC for knowledge:

Lord Chesterfield’s Letters


July 4, 2015 by Ville Raivio

“Your dress (as insignificant a thing as dress is in itself) is now become an object of worthy of some attention; for, I confess, I cannot help forming some opinion of a man’s sense and character from his dress; and I believe, most people do as well as myself. Any affectation whatsoever in dress implies, in my mind, a flaw in the understanding…A man of sense carefully avoids any particular character in his dress; he is accurately clean for his own sake; but all the rest if for other people’s. He dresses as well, and in the same manner, as the people of sense and fashion of the place he is. If he dresses better, as he thinks, that is, more than they, he is a fop; if he dresses worse, he is unpardonably negligent; but, of the two, I would rather have a young fellow too much than too little dressed; the excess on that side will wear off, with a little age and reflection; but if he is negligent at twenty, he will be a sloven at forty, and stink at fifty years old. Dress yourself fine, where others are fine; and plain where others are plain; but take care always that your clothes are well made, and fit you, for otherwise they will give you a very awkward air.  When you are once well dressed for the day think no more of it afterwards; and without any stiffness for fear of discomposing that dress, let allyour motions be as easy and natural as if you had no clothes on at all. So much for dress, which I maintain to be a thing of consequence in the polite world.”

– Philip Dormer Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, to his son on 30.12.1748

Interview with Daisuke Yamashita


July 1, 2015 by Ville Raivio

VR: Your age and occupation?
DY: 37 years old, occupation is actor.

VR: Your educational background?
DY: Kokugakuin University’s Department of Literature with a Japanese Literature concentration. I have not gone to school for shoes and clothes. I learn about shoes and clothing by talking to artisans and reading books. In other words, it’s self-education.


Viennese break


VR: Have you any children or spouse (and how do they relate to your style
enthusiasm)? How about your parents and siblings’ reactions back when you were young?
DY: I’m single. Because my mother wanted to be a fashion designer before, she learned pattern making and design, and she had been particular with clothes, design, coloring. I think it impacted me.


Norwegian styling from Foster&Son


VR: How did you first become interested in clothes, and when did you turn your
eyes towards handmade items? Why classics instead of fashion?
DY: Again, it’s my mother’s influence. And, Because I was a child actor before, I have appeared on TV programs. So my mother needed to regard to my fashion sense. When I was 11 years old, I quit acting for a while. However, I continued to have an interest for fashion. And, when I was 17 years old, I knew Alden from Japanese fashion magazines. I awaked to classic fashion at that time. I bought Aldens the first time at the age of 21-year-old. I cannot forget the impression at that time. However, I like classic fashion as much as all fashion.


That very first pair of well-made shoes: the Alden loafer


VR: How have you gathered your knowledge of apparel — from books, in-house training, workshops or somewhere else?
DY: Yes, books, in-house training, and hearing from artisans.

VR: How would you describe your own dress?
DY: Just wearing the clothes that I liked.


The unique rock walls of Inishmaan


VR: Which RTW makers and tailors do you favour?
DY: I favour tailors above readymade.

VR: Who or what inspires you?
DY: Craftsmanship.


Austrian shoemaking by Georg Materna


VR: What is your definition of style?
DY: Whether it fits my sensibility. My favorite is elegant, chic, simple, slightly cute, etc., very many styles. And, I think a sense of fun is important.

VR: You have travelled all over the world to meet clothes makers in many cities.
When did you begin this journey, and what is your motivation?
DY: The start of the journey is September 11, 2014. And the finish goal date is June 12, 2015. Wonderful handmade goods have craftsmanship and imagination and device. I want to know these. In other words, the thirst for knowledge and curiosity is my motivation.



VR: What other hobbies or passions do you have besides apparel?
DY: Watching baseball (Yomiuri Giants fan), comics, food and beverage,
coffee (handdrip filter coffee). Recently, I’ve begun to like sake (Japanese liquor). And, of course, my best favorite is acting!

VR: Over the years you must have learned quite a bit about artisans all over the
world. What sort of people are best suited to artisanal jobs?
DY: People of strong decisiveness, not indecisive, and not nervous.


Photos: Daisuke Yamashita

Bespoke shoemaker Emiko Matsuda from Foster&Son


June 29, 2015 by Ville Raivio

Shoe advice from The Foot Doctor #2


June 27, 2015 by Ville Raivio

VR: You also have a thing for shoes. Is leather your favourite material for footwear? Likely the reader already has a collection of leathery shoes but, from the point of podiatry, why is leather such a great material?


MW: Yes, as you know, I have a bit of an obsession for shoes and leather is my favorite material for footwear. I wear leather shoes/boots as often as possible, so basically anytime I’m not working out in the gym or in scrubs in the hospital. Most days in the hospital, I will just dress up and switch into scrubs as needed, just so I can wear my leather shoes. Leather is a great material for many reasons:

First off, it is a natural material and being such, it is able to breath naturally. This allows the feet to breath more than most other shoes. Too much moisture in a dark, warm, enclosed space is just a breeding ground for both bacteria and fungus. That microbial growth predisposes us to infections that can cause many problems in the future, which include athlete’s foot or fungal nails.

The_Foot_DoctorDon’t worry. It really doesn’t look like this, but I use this when I lecture on it for a bit of a laugh.


Second, real leather is tanned on the inside to give it color and those tanning methods are usually less of a problem on the skin. There are some cases where the chrome tanning agents (for certain leathers) can cause an itchy rash on the skin, but it is more likely that the synthetic materials will do that to people, because most of the tanning agents are not damaging to the skin in the first place. In the end, leather is just skin from an animal, so if the tanning agents preserved that hide, it usually won’t cause much of a problem to live human skin.

The synthetic materials are usually not very breathable and the chemicals used in changing the colors can commonly cause skin irritation as well as lead to increase fungal growth. It is fine if a running shoe has actual mesh to allow the air exchange for cooling, but many sneakers don’t really have these open pores, because many of the more “fashionable” sneakers use synthetic leathers or cheap corrected grain leather that has many coatings applied to make them look nicer. Yes that “leather” will look almost perfect, but it closes off the leather and prevents the shoe from having the durability and breathability of natural leather.


This is an example of an allergic atopic dermatitis that can be caused by irritation to the skin from synthetic leathers. As you can probably tell, this was from a flip-flop strap.


Of course there is a variety of leather qualities and that makes a difference in the durability of the shoes overtime, in addition to their appearance, but that is a bit too in depth for the scope of this right now.

Another part of leather that relates more to the medical side, is that leather can be used in more parts of the shoe than just the upper of the shoe. When it is used as the insole and in other parts to construct the shoe, the shoe will be able to absorb more sweat from the feet to keep the feet drier. That leather insole will eventually dry out (give at least 24 hours between wearing the same pair), so it will be almost like new again. This helps prevent microbial growth. That same leather insole will also start to take the form of the foot overtime, which will further increase the comfort factor and stability of the foot in the shoe.

One also can’t forget that most of the synthetic materials are very thin and pliable. Yes leather can be molded to the foot overtime with wear, but it is still much more durable and rigid than the mesh fibers used in running sneakers. This rigidity will also help to give the foot more support, and there can be even more for the ankle in people who choose to buy ankle boots. I commonly recommend to patients that if they have a history of ankle injuries or general ankle instability, to consider lace up ankle boots, because that thicker leather commonly used in boots is very stable and when tied tight enough, can help prevent an ankle injury in daily life, instead of needing to wear a bulky ankle brace.


Laced Ankle brace that is quite bulky and fits best in sneakers.


The_Foot_Doctor_at_Keikari_dot_com11I’ll take this Gaziano&Girling Glencoe from Skoaktiebolaget any day over that brace, especially at times that I am not wearing sneakers!


Another great quality of leather is that there is so much variety in color options and types. Most people think of dress shoes and boots as just available in a wide variety of browns and black, but as many shoe lovers know, there is grey, blue, green, red, purple, etc. If the colors are not available by common tanning methods, many higher quality shoe companies will dye the leather or even apply a patina (by painting the leather) to give the desired shade. So this gives just as much color variety as the synthetic materials.
There also are many types of exotic leathers that can be used to give different looks and feels for the person wearing the shoes. Most people think of just cow or calf leather, but there is crocodile/alligator, suede, various patterned grain leather, and other exotics, like ostrich, lizard, snake, eel, stingray, turtle, deer, moose, elephant, giraffe, hippopotamus, kudu (a type of antelope), horse hide, shell cordovan (horse but from the membrane above the muscle), etc. They each have different durability, comfort factors, and styles of shoes that work well with each leather. On a non-medical side, but purely for enjoyment, I find this the most important benefit to natural leathers.


VR: Our feet sweat quite a bit each day. Do you have some average numbers to share about the amounts, and how does the liquid affect our skin?

MW: There are about 250,000 sweat glands in an average pair of feet and they sweat about half a pint of liquid (8 ounces – 0.24 liters) per day. The main concern of that amount of liquid released is how it helps microbial growth. It is very difficult to stop the sweating, but using real leather shoes and giving them at least 24 hours of rest between wears is key to help prevent the fungal growth.

There also are many other easy ways to help, such as changing socks during the day and using powder for the feet. There also are alternative types of materials for socks, such as ones with bamboo fibers to help with antimicrobial properties, moisture wicking fibers, or even the newer copper fiber socks to help reduce fungal infections.  In extreme cases, even receiving Botox injections to help decrease the actual sweating can be an option.


VR: Why is the shoe the most important part of our wardrobes?

MW: I feel that the shoe in the most important part of our wardrobe because it is literally the base of our outfit. We are on our feet all day and with all of the factors and possible damage involved, we need to take care of them. When you are comfortable, you appear more confident, and can focus on the task at hand, whether it is work or play. I don’t know how many people here care what the general public think about shoes, but I have read multiple surveys done of women, asking what is the first thing that they look at. Most say they look at the shoes as a sign of attention to detail and pride in what they do by taking care of those shoes.

The_Foot_Doctor_at_Keikari_dot_com12Edward Green Navy Shell Cordovan Double Monk Strap shoes from Leffot


Most people in the professional world are stuck wearing very conservative outfits, and shoes are a way to add some more variety to it all. They can really dress things up, but can make everything more fun as well, by varying color, style of shoe, sole material, etc. Most people in business, medicine, law, etc. are stuck wearing either black, dark blue, or grey pants/suits most of the time and a blue, white, light purple, or light pink shirt for most days of work.

One usually doesn’t have to always wear black shoes everyday (unless they are in banking) and even if they do, they can alternate from a pair of plain cap toe balmorals, to whole cuts, to wingtips (full brogues), to long wing bluchers depending on the formality of the day. I’m personally not a huge fan of black because most doesn’t have much depth to it, like browns and oxblood, but I still keep a few different styles for the variation.
If the person can wear other colors than black, there are so many shades of browns to choose from as well as burgundy/oxblood. I even like to take out a pair of navy blue monks on Fridays here and there, because they can still look professional, without being gaudy. Grey and dark green are two other colors that can still look professional and are commonly not thought of.


Gaziano and Girling Grey St. James from Skoaktiebolaget


Shoe style and color are a way to make a huge difference in the total outfit and let us show our personality and creativity in how we blend or even contrast those colors and styles.


These may be a little much for some of you, but for people who love to wear browns and olive shades in the fall, like me, this Olive shoe with brown burnishing by St. Crispins for The Armoury really helps take it to another level.

Yale University’s 20-Article Ivy League Dress Code from 1965


June 24, 2015 by Ville Raivio

As published in Take Ivy, the American style bible, the following image shares the views of the Yale dress study group from the ’60s. The group only gave recommendations for freshmen, so the reader is advised not to take the list as rules set in stone or ivy.


Tips for ironing trousers


June 17, 2015 by Ville Raivio

There is no single correct way for ironing trousers — only the end results matter. As traditions go, smart trousers are pressed so that a straight, sharp, handsome line forms above the legs. These begin at the pleats, if the pair has some, and run right on the middle of the leg to the ankles. Flat fronts are usually pressed an inch or some below the waistband. I have had numerous experimentations on many cloths, materials, and models in the hunt for razor creases, so I like to think my findings may help the reader out. A few tips are rarely wasted.

Traditions are once again valuable as few details or contructions on classic clothing are purely ornamental. Pleats are a fine example. They are used to gather some loose cloth below the waist so that trousers may expand when sitting, and remain more comfortable than pleatless models. Their use is very functional and welcome, but pleats also work as fine decorations that mark the lines for creases. The olden irons of choice for tailors weighed several kilos. Their metal body held warmth very well and their heft proved golden for pressing. Few men own such devices anymore, but we do have steam irons. These lack weight but have good steam options. Creases look good, but they also divide and pack the fabric to remain closer to our legs. Most trousers just look slimmer and cleaner with some great creasework. Thus, my little tips follow tailoring traditions adapted for modern irons.

I usually spray and wet the trouser legs slightly, then place a thin rag above the cloth for protection. Next I grab the steam iron, with settings adjusted for the fabric at hand, and press it very hard to the surface. By hard I mean leaning my body weight onto the thing because modern irons don’t have the weight that guarantees results. It’s best not to move the iron at all when pressing down, it will only leave wrinkles on the fabric. The average iron has little width, so a trouser leg usually requires at least three horizontal presses before moving up- or downwards. Most ironing boards are soft and flexible, and will bend under the heavy pressing. This will not allow razor creases, so it’s best to iron the trousers on a truly flat, level surface of choice. My tips are very simple: great creases require moisture, warmth, and really heavy pressing. They will last handsomely as long as the cloth allows. Cotton and linen fare poorly, but great wools are peerless. In short, creases show that we appreciate beautiful details and things.

Shoe advice from The Foot Doctor


June 14, 2015 by Ville Raivio

Matthew Wohlgemuth is a senior medical student of podiatry with a specialization in foot as well as ankle surgery, and biomechanics along with footwear to boot. He also likes more or less handmade shoes quite a bit, so I’ve taken to calling him The Foot Doctor in this new series of advice on foot health, shoe fit, quality, and overall smartness in shoes. I also like to think he’s just the right man to answer any and all questions podiatric. The good Foot Doctor cordially gave Keikari his time to go through my list of questions. This first post goes through the differences between the hand and the foot as well as the choices between sneakers and welted pairs.

* * *

Ville Raivio: You are currently studying podiatry as well as foot and ankle surgery, so you likely know a few things we common shoe enthusiasts don’t. Our lower extremities handle movement and weight distribution, but how does the human foot differ from the hand?

Matthew Wohlgemuth: The foot is similar in many regards to the hand in that it has main bones of varying shapes called tarsal (in the foot) or carpal (in the hand) bones that are at the start of each foot/hand. Then they have metatarsals (foot) or metacarpals (hand) that are long bones to connect the tarsals/carpals to the phalanges, which are the fingers/toes.


Credit: The Project Gutenberg eBook of On the Relations of Man to the Lower Animals, by Thomas H. Huxley


In this part of general anatomy, the structures are very similar except that the foot has larger tarsal bones than the hand’s carpal bones and the long bones (metatarsals, metacarpals, phalanges) are longer in the feet and gradually start from a higher point and come down on an angle. To further clarify, the bones in the hand go fairly straight, but the long bones in the foot start higher up in the air (forms the instep and arch of the foot) and gradually drop down to the ground as you move forward to the toes. This varies from person to person and that is why some people have high arches/insteps and others have flat feet.

The more functional difference between the hand and foot is due to the hand being used for controlled and precise movements like writing, playing piano, etc. The musculature is generally able to give better control as well as that the proportion of the length of the fingers to the rest of the hand is much larger than the proportion of the toe length versus the rest of the foot.

The foot on the other hand, generally can’t do very precise movements and grasp items (there are exceptions), but the structures need to be able to absorb the pressure of the person stepping on the ground. There is supposed to be an arch of the foot, which will partially collapse to help absorb the pressure more than a solid rigid structure. There is a band called the plantar fascia under the foot that helps this process and many people who don’t get proper arch support in a shoe develop plantar fasciitis, which is now becoming much more prevalent. In severe cases, heel spurs can even form under the foot from the constant tension of the plantar fascia on the heel bone (calcaneus).




This is why it is important to have shoes that have proper stability and possibly arch support to help hold up the foot to prevent these problems. It is unfortunate that most shoes that men buy are completely flat inside and made with inferior materials that don’t have any rigidity. This is part of the reason why arch supports, insoles, or orthotics have become so common, because they are available to help support the foot and in some cases, help correct biomechanical disruptions when walking.


VR: Canvas sneakers, Crocs-like “footwear”, and running shoes are the obvious choices today. The first two lack support and the last one cushions the step greatly. Do these choices often lead to foot problems you’ve encountered in your study cases or patients?

MW: In terms of these alternate types of “footwear” there are both pros and cons.

Canvas sneakers and crocs are both very breathable. The canvas is a light and easy material to keep and the crocs have open perforations to allow air exchange between the inside of the shoe and the outside air. The benefit here is that can help the moisture build-up that leads to fungal infections like athlete’s foot (Tinea Pedis) or fungal nails (onychomycosis).

The con to Crocs is that they don’t give support. Many people will just slip around in the Crocs, which can cause injuries in the future, if they are worn so often, especially in someone who moves around quite a bit for work. They are still somewhat popular as summer shoes at the beach and in the health care field (they are very easy to clean), but more medical professionals are now using clogs, which have a natural arch support and rigidity to help support the foot better. Plus the small increase in heel height is actually good for most people’s foot types. Most people don’t have a heel bone that is at the exact same height as the front of the foot (Anterior Cavus, Posterior Cavus, etc.), so a small heel will actually allow the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon to relax slightly, which can help relieve and even prevent pain, from the heel bone being on the floor for extended periods of time.


This case is an extreme but shows the concept of having different heights for the front and back of the foot (Anterior Cavus).


Canvas shoes, on the other hand, are usually flat for the heel, which is okay for some people, but in many cases can lead to an over lengthening of the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon, which can lead to pain in many patients. Those flat type shoes are usually one of the first things that I correct in patients. There is not a problem wearing them on occasion, but a normal basis is usually too much for most people.

Running shoes are another beast entirely. There are many different families of running shoes so I will just keep this part brief.

There are extremes like minimalist or bare foot running shoes. They are not necessarily bad at all, but they are not a good choice for most people. The purpose of these types of shoes is to feel like you are running barefoot and have complete control of your step, while still protecting your feet from rocks, glass, etc. The problem is that the runner needs to strengthen their lower leg and foot muscles to get the full benefits of them. There are many muscles that enter the foot from the leg and then some muscles that are entirely in the foot. Many of these foot muscles are not fully utilized and that is what these types of shoes will do. They also are quite flat, so they will not work well for people who have these uneven feet that I previously mentioned.


Vibram’s 5 Finger Shoe is a barefoot style/minimalist shoe


Then there are the normal cushioned running shoes that are soft and have added protection for most people. These are the most common types of running shoes and usually do not cause a problem for most people. Yes they are soft, but it gives further protection for whoever wears them, and if the person needs added arch support or even a custom orthotic to correct their gait, these sneakers are great choices. They still have plenty of support if you get shoes that are of high enough quality.


Asics Gel Nimbus 17 is a top-level cushioned running shoe. It is a comfortable all-around running shoe.


The next type is a stability shoe. It does just what the name suggests and gives a more rigid and stable support structure to run on. They usually have some stiffer materials utilized as well as the actual outsole of the shoe has more dense materials used to hold up the collapsing foot. These are fine for most people as well, especially if they don’t want too much cushion. They are also a great option for people who tend to over pronate. Pronating is the process of the foot partially collapsing to absorb pressure. Pronation is normal but many people pronate too much, which is what lengthens the plantar fascia (as mentioned earlier) and can cause foot pain.


Asics Gel Kayano 21 is a top-level stability shoe. This works well for mild to moderate over pronators.


The final major type of running shoe is the motion control shoe. They basically are using the same concept as a stability shoe, but are much more bulky to really hold the foot in the position it is in. They are not recommended for most people, unless they pronate to the level of pain or are very overweight, since these extra additions of dense materials will support the force that the runner’s body places on the shoe.


Asics Gel Fortify is a top-level motion control shoe for severe over pronators. You can see the very thick outsole and the darker grey in the very dense materials used for the most supportive part of the outsole. This is not recommended for people besides those who are overweight over pronate severely.


It is a shame but, at least in the US, one must be willing to buy shoes that have a list price of $100 or more at this time to get a shoe made with the superior materials, and one that will actually last for some time. Most of the lower-priced shoes do not have the full support that they need because there is so much cost cutting, and many of those cheaper pairs are made just for the individual retailers to give budget options. It is actually not even worth buying those cheaper shoes unless you have no foot problems and don’t use sneakers often. If you exercise on a normal basis, it is well worth it to buy the $100+ shoes, just for the more sturdy construction method alone.

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