A man called Adolfo recently commented on Permanent Style that “All men’s magazines and blogs are either too conservative/traditional or too modern/fashiony. There is no middle ground.”
It’s easy to sympathise with this view. There is a plethora of blogs out there looking at the latest catwalk shows, giving their views on which looks they like and do not like. This is fabulous (and free) market research for the designers, but the comment from fashion enthusiasts is not necessarily that original, insightful or knowledgeable. At a certain point, it is just like going shopping with a friend who insists on commenting on every outfit he sees.
Equally, some of the conservative/traditional blogs can seem rather nerdy, obsessing over the waist on a certain type of shoe or a vanishing line of Harris tweed. While the lessons concerning fit or materials are useful for anyone, the base knowledge assumed means that those lessons are long since past discussion.
Adolfo’s example of a middle ground is The Sartorialist, of whom I am also a fan. Scott manages to combine both contemporary and classic looks by looking at what people are wearing on the streets. And his photographer’s eye means that the images are both intriguing and attractive.
(The alternative is those sites that exhibit “What I’m wearing today”. You can imagine a situation where these might be fascinating, if it were Tom Ford for example, but unfortunately bloggers rarely come up to that mark. And more importantly, you can’t help feeling that you would have to read a lot of these blogs to get any comprehensive view of men’s style.)
I think the Sartorialist could be improved with more insight and commentary, perhaps along the lines of the conservative/traditional blogs Adolfo refers to. Scott presumably doesn’t have the time to write extensively about each shot every day, (and the actual comments on the site are rarely more than sighs of approbation) but there’s no reason we can’t. This is my first suggestion for combining the two types of blogs Adolfo refers to. Please tell me if anyone else has any suggestions.
As an example, I include this image from The Sartorialist. It is one of my favourites. I think it shows how well and how subtly a plaid jacket can work, with a few gentle echoes between the blue lines in the jacket and the shirt/tie, and between the jacket and its sombre, background trousers.
It has lessons for more casual (perhaps read contemporary) wear as well. For example, an odd, plaid jacket look can go very well with dark jeans. And if you are unsure what to wear under it, remember a blue shirt will always seem the most neutral and casual, and combined with a blue knitted tie it is the perfect background for the jacket. Try this as a background to anything more unusual or fashion-forward you are experimenting with.
Finally, the white pocket square picks up the look well and is a great addition to a outfit when you are already wearing a shirt and tie. Blue would look too conscious. White looks fresh and standard. On the contemporary side, there is always the risk that wearing an odd jacket and a knitted tie can make you look like a history teacher (though I do know some well-dressed history teachers). The handkerchief dispels that suggestion, as it rejects any idea that this combination is about laziness rather than style. A flowering blue/white handkerchief instead of the tie would pull this idea further along.
This analysis could just as easily be done through a more casual, younger example. Perhaps I’ll do this next time. In the meantime I’d be interested to hear what people think of combining traditional and contemporary analysis in this way. Particularly you, Adolfo.