March 25, 2013 by Ville Raivio
“I am 27 [this interview is one-year-old], and a small business owner and web analyst. I graduated from law school in Germany, but decided not to pursue this career path. I am married and do not have any children. My wife fully supports my passion, knows how to joke about it and she firmly believes that I don’t need a third tuxedo. My parents never had a deeper interest in clothing or style, but they were happy for me to have found my passion. My sister is six years younger than I am, and when I moved away from home, she was not into fashion but she tolerated my interests. Over the years, she grew more fond of clothing, accessories and style and now she also has a passion for it as well.
My interest in classic men’s clothing evolved when I was 14 years old. I began collecting Montblanc fountain pens – I bought and sold them on ebay as an alternative to delivering newspapers – and cuff links before I transitioned to men’s clothing. Unlike many others, I was never interested in designers but always more in high quality craftsmanship and clothing. I visited craftsmen, collected tailoring books, magazines and everything relevant I could get my hands on. Today, I maintain a small private library for classic men’s clothing, including roughly about 500 books, numerous men’s fashion and men’s tailoring magazines from the 1920’s to the 1980’s and more than 150,000 pictures of men’s clothing – mostly illustrations and the like. Virtually all of my reading – even in my “down” time, in some way pertains to fashion.
Over the course of the last twelve years, I also found a number of interesting people on websites and internet forums. These individuals not only taught me a lot, but they also connected me with other people in the trade so I gained even more knowledge and I continue to meet fantastic individuals. Also, I started to collect and actively wear vintage clothing, which made me aware of all the subtle style differences throughout the decades. Generally, my style and personal passions revolve around quality – no matter whether it is quality food, quality clothes or quality time I spend with people. I prefer to cook a good meal rather than eating at an average restaurant, I prefer craftsmanship over designer goods, and I prefer in deep conversations over small talk.
In regards to clothes, my style is very classic with lots of influences from the 1920’s to the 1960’s. To me, clothes are a form of self expression and my greatest hobby. I enjoy playing with combinations, colors and patterns. I’m not afraid of incorporating pieces that aren’t currently in style, such as a homburg hat or an ascot. My goal is to own a truly complete wardrobe. By that, I mean a wardrobe that covers everything from workout clothes, a Norfolk suit and morning coat to a tailcoat with an evening overcoat and top hat. In combination with a wealth of accessories, such a wardrobe allows me to create an infinite number of unique outfits. I never rely on just a single person or brand. My current wardrobe consists of many vintage garments and items from several craftsmen and brands.
For example, I have a clothes – suits and jackets from A. Caraceni and many shirts from Siniscalchi. I also own a morning coat from San Francisco from 1926 (which I wore at my wedding), a tailcoat from Hussmüller from 1961 and a marvelous overcoat from 1935. Since there are hardly any bepoke tailors left in the US, it is difficult to commission things. As such, the last bespoke piece came from Alexander Amann in Berlin. During my green card application in 2010, I was legally unable to work. Since classic men’s clothing was not just a hobby but a true passion for many years, the Gentleman’s Gazette was my attempt write down some of the things I learned over the years and fill what I felt was a badly underserved internet community of enthusiasts. I wanted to provide unique content and insights that were not available anywhere else. I like to cook and eat well, I adore travelling and photography, and I am also happy to engage in an exciting conversation. Generally, I am very interested in all kinds of things, ranging from interior design to classical music.
A style change requires a certain investment of either money or time or both. In regards to people with a limited budget, I could say things along the lines of buy a dark suit, a navy tie and white shirt… However, there are so many different kinds of navy ties – satin, knit, grenadine, jacquard, repp, twill… that I do not think it would be of any help. Also, style is not like a cooking recipe that works for everyone. It is important to feel comfortable in what you wear in the sense that you are happy to wear it and it suits the occasion. Most young people do not have the need for a lot of suits. Instead, they may be more interested in combinations of coats and trousers.
That being said, I think a sportscoat – for example in brown/beige houndstooth and a navy blazer paired with tan or grey trousers are good basics to have. Don’t make random additions but evaluate how a new items fits in your existing wardrobe. Can you combine it with other things you already own? If not, skip it. Paired with the right shirts, ties, scarfs, pocket squares, socks, gloves and hats you can look different every day. There are many examples of what I consider to be high quality goods in these categories that have been profiled on the Gentleman’s Gazette.
Above all, invest in fit and quality – they are absolutely worth it if you want to build a lasting wardrobe of versatile pieces! If you cannot afford to buy a new bespoke jacket, skip H&M stuff, and save your money for a trip to London, Hamburg, Paris, Rome or Naples and try to find the best vintage stores. This will not just result into a more solid wardrobe but provide also a great intercultural experience. Or, look at local vintage stores; Once you know how things fir properly, eBay is a wonderful tool to find lightly used, high quality goods. It takes time to find good pieces. Don’t just settle for the next best thing and know your measurements and your alterations tailor and his / her prices and limitations. I would tell anybody who is building are wardrobe to be diligent and patient in their search, and it will eventually pay off. ”
Picture: © Rose Callahan
~ originally published in Finnish on the 23rd of May 2012