When Bruce read our article on Nicoletta Caraceni’s 50-year-old jacket recently, he was spurred to send an example of his own: the Anderson & Sheppard jacket worn above.
And really, there are few people better placed to talk about how tailoring ages than Bruce. He’s been buying bespoke on Savile Row and elsewhere for a little over 50 years, and for much of that time been paid to consider and write about it.
When he first started commissioning bespoke, however, Bruce was a long way from being an authority. He had only been travelling to London for a few years, and was feeling his way around the local tailors.
“I was a teacher when I first started visiting, and I didn’t have a lot of money,” he says. “I would buy one suit a year, perhaps two at the very most.”
Bruce suggests that it was also cheaper to buy bespoke back then – with a good bespoke suit costing perhaps £500. Although an inflation calculator suggests that it depends a lot on which side this was of the 1970s, and how Savile Row responded at the time.
Still, this particular jacket has certainly proved its value. It was bought by Bruce a few years into his time at A&S, having decided to trade up to Savile Row after a previous tailor, Bernard Weatherill, passed on.
“I had used some of the cheaper tailors around town, and then Bailey & Weatherill for a few years, on Regent Street,” he says. “I really liked what Mr Weatherill did, he was a real artist. He mentioned only in passing one day that he also made the suits for Patrick MacNee, from The Avengers, which put a real gloss on the experience for me.
“After Mr Weatherill passed away I moved to Anderson & Sheppard. I visited all of them to see what they did, but plumped for A&S because I liked their style – the combination of shape and softness. I find some tailors can do softness and some do shape, but few can do both. It also helped that they were a little cheaper.”
Bruce – by this time a fashion editor for Town & Country magazine – summoned up the courage to go into A&S’s corner shop, and was met by an exquisitely dressed Colin Harvey.
“The man was tall – certainly six foot, perhaps six two,” remembers Bruce, “and very slim. He can’t have weighed more than 170 pounds. Just the perfect figure for tailoring.
“He was one of my main mentors when it came to style. He had some dandy elements – a starched collar, satin ties – but the suit itself was always quite plain and simple.
“I remember I asked him once whether we should consider cuffs on the jacket. He smiled at me, thought for a moment, and said ‘I think that might be a little studied, don’t you?’ And so of course I didn’t have the cuffs.
“I still think this is a mistake men make today – being too extravagant with their cloth, rather than playing with the flexibility of accessories.”
Bruce’s first commissions were suits: a three-piece single-breasted grey flannel, and a brown/green tweed suit. There followed a half dozen other pieces – suits and tweeds, a navy blazer, “nothing outre” – before several years later, he commissioned this jacket.
“I was looking for something mid-season, for Spring and Autumn,” he says. “Not a lightweight Summer jacket, and not a heavy heavy tweed. I can’t remember whose cloth this was, but the weight and colour combination were perfect.”
The cloth is an unmilled worsted, 14oz wool (perhaps considered Winter-weight today) and has a brown Prince-of-Wales check, with the overcheck a faint orange.
There are several reasons Bruce thinks it has lasted 37 years.
The first is the emotional resonance. Mr Harvey himself passed away a few years after it was made, and the clothes he cut will always have a particular significance.
The second is the conservative colour and pattern – it’s a classic, which it’s been consistently easy to dress up or down.
The third is the cut. The Anderson & Sheppard style, with its extended shoulder, draped chest and slightly closed foreparts, has proved very resilient to trends.
“I’ve given away lots of clothes over the years, bespoke and ready made,” says Bruce, “but this has always held on. It’s consistently been chosen from the wardrobe, and consistently been comfortable and reassuring.”
It’s certainly impressive that the A&S cut has felt relevant throughout. Of course, Bruce will be the first to admit that he’s dressed like a rather ruminative professor since his twenties – his style hasn’t changed.
But the jacket’s longevity is still a testament to moderation in style – the length, the lapel width, the buttoning point are all far from extreme. Other more fashion-led things did not last as long.
“If I’m honest the jacket is perhaps an inch longer than I’d really like,” says Bruce. “But that’s the only thing I’d change.”
Surprisingly, the jacket has also needed few alterations. “I’ve maintained my weight well over the years,” Bruce says, “and the only physical change really has been a certain ‘compacting’. As you get older, you shrink slightly – I’ve probably lost a good inch in height.”
That would explain the jacket being a bit long, and Bruce has also found that his shoulders have grown smaller, moving the sleeves further down his arms. As a result, the only alteration he has actually made is to shorten those sleeves slightly.
“I’ve also replaced the waist button several times. It’s always the stress point, and it’s not surprising that it would work loose over the years. But I’m a bit of a dab hand at making these alterations myself – replacing buttons, sewing lining when it comes loose.”
Other than these changes, the jacket shows no obvious signs of fraying or wear, despite hundreds of outings. “In a few years it might need patches on the elbows, but they’re still passable,” says Bruce.
Just as impressive is the fact the jacket has stayed free from moths, and not suffered any other damage in storage.
“I’m quite careful with my clothes, cleaning out closets and so on,” says Bruce. “I also dry clean them as little as possible. Americans have an obsession with cleaning things, and it ruins good clothing – it’s the worst possible thing for a well-made suit.” His daily routine is to brush down the jacket after it has been worn, and then hang it on a valet stand to air for 24 hours.
This is something I should personally do more – I even have a lovely valet stand for the purpose. But I often forget how useful this airing is, for allowing the cloth to dry properly, and for smells to evaporate away.
“I’m so glad it has aged so well, because I do think it’s a beautiful piece,” says Bruce. “What we call fit – but is really line, the silhouette of the garment – has always been perfect, and that’s probably the single most important thing.”
“That’s why a good cutter is so crucial. You can have the best material in the world – a vicuna, perhaps – but if it isn’t cut well, then what’s the point?”
And in the long run, of course, such clothing is always less expensive. “You and I have always talked about this Simon, but people today just don’t think about the long-term cost, only about that price tag in front of them,” concludes Bruce. “That’s a shame, because cheap clothes are so much more expensive over a lifetime.”
Nice to hear someone with experience espouse the same things as you – and indeed have the evidence to prove it.
Next in this ‘How great things age’ series, one of my own beloved pieces of A&S tailoring.
wonderful article! Bruce is truly a great source of inspiration. I would like to read an in-depth “at home” report about Bruce where he talks about his favorite garments. You have previously written this article Personal style: How to dress like Bruce Boyer – Permanent Style who is a bit on that track and I have also “read” (Japanese …) about Bruce in Free & Easy from March 2014. But a more in-depth article would be very interesting where Bruce talks about his favorite shoes, shirts, jackets, etc.
Thanks Adam, and great suggestion. We’ll do that
He is fabulously dressed. Sadly my only interaction with him was brief in the Armoury in NYC and I found him to be a tad snooty and pretentious.
There’s some real irony here.
Ha, I suppose the use of the word tad here is the offending article? Fair enough.
I like this article because it focuses more on the way clothes make you feel than it does about how they’ve been made.
It is all to easy to obsess about hand felling and buttoning points, but the end product of all that is likely to be a permanent state of anxiety, which rather obviates the point of nice clothes.
Good clothes should make you feel good, not worry about getting marked down by fanatics.
It’s interesting to see the comment on pricing.
I have an archive related to tailors and tailoring. A receipt from Hawkes and Co, No 1 Savile Row, dated 1946, shows a DJ priced at 49 guineas.
I wonder how much it would cost today?
It seems that a guinea was equal to £1.05 in old money so, applying the inflation calculator that means about £2,150 in modern price adjusted terms
Always keep in mind that goods change prices at very different rates, however. Real estate (and rents) have gone up a lot faster in the past 50 years than food prices. Largely due to the lack of and increase in competition.
Great article Simon. What are some of the oldest pieces that you still routinely wear and out of everything you’ve got, which do you think you’ll be wearing over 30 years from now?
Good question. I think it’s largely the pieces I’ve highlighted in the ‘how great things age’ series – and there will be a couple more over the next month or two.
But perhaps worth a round-up piece at some point, summarising my favourites from that point of view?
James thanks for the calculation, but that is not what I meant when I said I wonder how much it would cost today.
If Hawkes and Co made DJs for 49 guineas in 1946, I wonder what G&H would charge for one today. I’m guessing nearer £5k?
My own A&S jacket, made by Mr Hitchcock, is wonderful indeed.
Charcoal Escorial wool feint windowpane check. Classic A&S cut. I’ve well cut black heavy jersey track pants, and a black or charcoal Smedley poloneck or Uniqlo fine merino crew, and this works really well . I know you scorn trackpants rather, but well cut in a heavier quality jersey they work well and lend a less ‘gentleman’ more current look.
Thanks Ben. I’m afraid I would, especially with a jacket, especially an English one. But if you like it, that’s the important thing
Love that old A&S cut. Save for the dropped notch of the lapels it looks similarly cut to your first A&S piece right? Which is my favourite of yours, by the way. I wish you had better pictures of it because if I ever go to 32 of old Burlington street I would request them to style the coat as yours.
Yes, it is.
Personally I think I’d go for a two-button jacket now, rather than that 3-roll-2. I like the look of the blue linen jacket they cut for me later rather more
Simon I tried to find the two A&S suits using your search function/brand search and couldn’t. Can you share? Also a website improvement suggestion here perhaps.
Thanks Zo – could you tell me exactly what you searched for? That would be helpful.
The first A&S suit referred to is here.
The blue linen jacket is here.
A couple of observations – the fit of the jacket feels roomy, personal choice perhaps? Also I notice that the position of the lapel button hole (though from the pictures it appears an extended bar tack than a functioning button hole) is a lot lower on the lapel than what modern tailors would do – has that evolved as a trend over the years?
And a question on the cloth, you say it is an unmilled worsted – isn’t that the default for worsted? A milled finish would give the cloth a fuzzy, flannel like appearance.
Very nice jacket though, I have a very similar one myself. Mine has a purple over-check, around 13-14ozs, it was a vintage cloth so has a more robust feel than today’s cloths of the same weight.
It is certainly roomy, yes. Partly the cut, partly personal preference I think. The drape will add a little of that impression.
Nice point on the buttonhole – yes I think the height has varied as a trend over the years. Although it is a normal functioning buttonhole.
And yes, unmilled is the default for worsted. A worsted flannel would be milled. But clarifying that this is not milled helps communicate a little of what the finish is like.
Thank you, the best articles to read at PS of you ask me.
Keep them coming. ☺️
What a lovely article. Kudos.
We need more this man on PS !
He tells a great story e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rpg6rQU2Pc
It’s nice to also see a piece like this as it beautifully answers the question of a big initial cost regarding bespoke.
Just on a technical point …. I note the pockets are horizontal .
Doesnt this cause one’s waist to appear broader ?
Is it best for men who wish to ‘narrow’ the proportions to maybe go for slanted pockets ?
Slanted pockets can have that effect, yes. However I would say it’s a fairly minor one, and it also looks a little more flash/fashion-driven.
Wonderful post and reminder. I often see Mr Boyer wearing these (or similar) mid brown suede derbys. Would love to know more about their make.
Great point about the quality of the cloth. We fascinate on cuffs ,buttons, lapels etc and forget that.
I have a wool jacket of my grandfather, no idea of the provenance , but it is similar to relaxing in a comfy chair by the fire. Lots of useful information in your conversation. Very good read. More of this type, please.
“I had used some of the cheaper tailors around town, and then Bailey & Weatherill for a few years, on Regent Street,” he says. “I really liked what Mr Weatherill did, he was a real artist…
“After Mr Weatherill passed away I moved to Anderson & Sheppard… Bruce’s first commissions were suits: a three-piece single-breasted grey flannel, and a brown/green tweed suit. There followed a half dozen other pieces – suits and tweeds, a navy blazer, “nothing outre” – before several years later, he commissioned this jacket. ”
According to Wikipedia, Bernard Weatherill Ltd merged with Kilgour, French & Stanbury in 1969. Bernard Weatherill MP became Chairman of the combined firm. He was Speaker of the House of Commons from 1983 to 1992. In 1992. Shortly after becoming a Life Peer, Lord Weatherill resumed his chairmanship. Bernard, whom I was fortunate to meet on several occasions, passed away in May 2007. His father, called Bernard who also ran the family tailoring firm, had passed away in 1962.
Mr Boyer’s jacket from Anderson & Sheppard, pictured above, is dated 9/5/83. So Bruce moved to Anderson & Sheppard around 30 years before Bernard Weatherill actually passed away. Perhaps Mr Boyer could explain the huge discrepancies between his above comments and the historical facts.
I’m sure Bruce can clarify, but – he was buying bespoke in the 1960s, so it is the father of the Bernard you know, also called Bernard, whom Bruce had suits made by. He switched to A&S several years after, as mentioned, after trying several others around the Row. As I wrote, this jacket was also not his first from A&S by any means. That was again, several years later. Those severals clearly translate to around 20 years.
I hope that helps
Not that it matters, but Bruce was born in 1941, and if Weatherill passed in 1962, that means he had already been commissioning bespoke for a couple of years …as a teenager?
That is surprising, though I guess he wouldn’t be the first 19-year-old on this site to venture into bespoke for the first time at that age
I’m replying to comments in the wrong order Felix. See Bruce’s reply above for clarification
There was also a Weatherill &. Sons bespoke tailor in Eton; they used to make a lot of our stuff when I was a pupil there.
From memory they were acquired by Welsh & Jeffries (late 80s?).
No idea if they were linked to the Weatherill mentioned in the article, but logic suggests they were.
“Bruce. He’s been buying bespoke on Savile Row and elsewhere for a little over 50 years”. So he (80 this year) must have started buying bespoke in London in his late 20s. My guess is that he must have moved to A&S in the early 80s when Bernard Weatherill MP (the son) was alive and in Parliament.
My real concern is that the Bernard Weatherill brand (is it still owned by Kilgour?) is in decline. It does not offer bespoke tailoring, just MTM. In the last few years, it has focused on selling a limited range of basic RTW country clothing (most likely made abroad) at massive discounts. The Savile Row store now appears to be closed permanently as neither an address nor a phone number is given on the website, just an email contact. Very sad!
It’s been that way for a very long time Kenny. It was pretty much bought by Kilgour just as a brand to do a country line with.
I’m worried more about the actual Row tailors that are doing so much great craft, and are really suffering right now.
A very enjoyable article. What’s particularly interesting to me is the underlying emotional memory of the people and circumstances around an item of clothing. Such as what was going on in your life at the time, the person you bought it from and how it made you feel. For me such items include the red Shetland sweater I was wearing when one of my daughters was born in 1976 ( long story) which I don’t still have, and the old Belstaff jacket that feels like an old friend whenever I put it on especially over the past year. I don’t believe it’s any different to other inanimate objects, that hold certain memories. Also if keeping some clothing for a long time helps to keep you physically in reasonable shape over that period then that’s a healthy bonus too.
Perhaps in future interview articles you could ask about a favourite item of clothing and why, that has survived in the long term ( as you have occasionally done before) and I’m sure your readers have their favourites as well.
Thanks Stephen, and sure good idea
Lovely article. You wear it well, Bruce
This is a great article! Will the lighter cloths used today respond as well to several hundred wearings? I doubt it. I also have a jacket from 45 years ago, it is a light navy blazer 3 roll 2 in a heavier english cloth. It still looks great. it is now at the tailor’s having the waist let out about 1 inch. That type of notch was the style back then. Oxxford did a more extreme version that was unattractive even then
The buttonhole should be about 1and a quarter inches – 1 and a half inches from the top of the lapel to allow for a flower (carnation perhaps) to sit within the space without sticking out over the edges of the lapel, or being to low from the top.
I have a similar coat (jacket) dated 1990 and almost identical but I made it myself.
Great article and a solid testimony to Boyer’s taste and the A&S style.
He is so correct when he trumpets their shape and softness.
This is why I never go to the Italians for tailoring. We’ve got absolutely the best on our own door step and their pricing is realistic.
And yes, he’s spot on about dry cleaning. It ruins stuff. A spunge and press is the best (if needed).
Just a quick question, why does the interior label have Esq after Bruce’s name. I know it means Esquire but unsure of why its there.
It’s an old-fashioned term for a gentleman. Mine have it too from several tailors. It was assumed you must be a gentleman if you were a customer
Interesting. In the US, it’s the title for a lawyer (but rarely used since it’s so stuffy).
Love these articles, Simon. Especially this one showing a jacket that really has lasted a decent amount of time.
Thank you always for all your great content.
Great article here as well. I sure hope that some of the Jackets that I have had made will age just as well as Bruce’s
That said, I have a completely off-topic question that I’d like to pick your brain on.
What are your thoughts on hoodies under tailored jackets and coats? Specifically in lieu of say a rollneck, or similar pullover?
I’ve been playing with the combination for a few years now, and find the hood portion creates a nice scarf/muffler like silhouette that frames the face pretty well. On the other hand, having a hoodie under said jacket/coat definitely skews the entire feel of the outfit significantly towards the casual end.
I’d really like to hear your thoughts on this matter.
I think this is very much a personal style matter – how much you want to wear pieces of contrasting formality and casualness. Personally I wouldn’t wear it with a jacket, but do with more casual coats – see examples here and here. That’s also a look Saman Amel do well.
But not with a jacket. That’s where I draw the line.
I would also say that if you are going to wear a hoodie like that with a jacket, it’s going to clash less the more casual the jacket is. So certainly not structured tailoring, at the least Neapolitan. And ideally even something like an unstructured jacket, like my Stile Latino one. You may also find it works better with the jacket left undone. In which case there is less point in it being well fitted.
I think the key is to be aware of that range of smartness of outer layers – from coats, to soft makes, to sharper ones – and then make your own call where your style sits on it.
These kind of formality guides are good at framing the discussion, but shouldn’t make all your decisions for you.
I’m happy to answer the question raised by Mr. Kenny. There have been at least three Weatherills in the tailoring trade that I know of. This particular tailor to whom I referred is not Bernard Weatherill, but the Weatherill of Bailey & Weatherill, the firm which was in Regent Street until the late 1970s I believe. To answer Mr. Gisi’s enquiry, most of my suede shoes are from G.J. Cleverley, the oldest pair now around 40 years old, old enough to walk out on their own I suppose.
Aha, thank you Bruce
And many thanks from too as I’ve just seen Bruce’s reply. I was not aware of another Weatherill, possibly a family member or relative, in the tailoring business. Bernard was an “old school” Tory and the last Speaker to wear the wig with the traditional stockings. Unlike a couple of his successors, he was greatly respected by his fellow MPs.
anyone else read this with his voice in your head? strange how that works.
Somewhat related, if anyone has Netflix, Martin Scorsese just released Pretend It’s A City, a series of interviews with noted A&S wearer Fran Lebowitz. I think she’s the only person who can wear yellow gloves in her overcoat pocket and not look affected.
Interesting Mr Broyer says the jacket is about 1 inch too long for his ideal length but doesn’t mind wearing the jacket. 1 inch is a considerable difference and based on the few photos here of him wearing the jacket, I would imagine the jacket being far too short if it was an inch shorter. The length itself, visually from what I can see, is long for a sportcoat but not proper suit length long so it still looks nice. So while I would agree that based on preference it may be a little long , I don’t think by 1 inch.
Curious what do you think about this Simon as I see you regularly wear longer length sportcoats/blazers.
Well it’s not a small topic – my views are mostly expressed in this video, if you haven’t seen it.
And of course there are also measurements and discussions of length in each of the chapters in the Style Breakdown series
This series has had some of my favorite pieces of writing on clothing out there. This article is no exception. In a way, these articles are as much about the people as the piece of item itself. The reverent tone of the piece is incredibly up lifting. Just for a moment, these articles distinguish the buying/selling of the item from the material item itself. This jacket is not something you can just buy. Instead, a piece like this is earned by loving, wearing, and taking care. A good solve for the soul and a lovely reminder of how to love craft.
I’m so pleased you think that Miles. In a way, I think any coverage should always include at least as much about how the things wear and age over time, as about what shiny new ones there are to buy
The cloth in Bruce’s trousers is perfect for the jacket. Would you know what cloth it is?
I checked, and they are Dugdale cavalry twill made by Cad & Dandy
Great look…I wish I had his unstudied elegance…perhaps with time.
The trousers….the trousers where are the from?
I checked, and they are Dugdale cavalry twill made by Cad & Dandy
You mention cuffs or gauntlet cuffs in this article and I was wondering what your thoughts were on the subject? Interestingly, Michael Drake posted a picture on Instagram the other day of Bruce wearing and Anderson & Sheppard jacket with cuffs and I thought it looked superb. You don’t normally see them, and they seem both more casual and more formal, but they also seem to visually complete a sleeve in much the same way that cuffs on trousers visually complete trousers. I know they are a bit unusual but they also seem to look really nice. They make a jacket look less mundane and more special.
I think it’s a little personal, but I don’t really like them except on black tie perhaps and certainly on coats.
They have too much of a tendency to look like a gimmick.
As the article points out, tailoring use to be cheaper. Now to get bespoke, you have to spend several thousand dollars. Prices have gone up, especially for the tailors that have become social media famous. For example, say you purchase three sportscoats and three suits. Let’s assume 3,000 to 5,000 a pop. That’s $24,000.00 you will spend. Sorry, but I do not buy this logic of clothing will be less expensive in the long run if you keep buying bespoke every year or even every other year like some. I’d rather save that money. Just my observation.
I think there are a lot of factors there Dan. The long-term value of bespoke is not just that it lasts longer, but that it looks a lot better every single time you wear it – as well as lasting longer. And being a more pleasurable experience, etc.
I was going to make a similar comment. I don’t think buying these types of products needs justifying – if you can afford it, and you enjoy it and derive pleasure from wearing it and from its production, that seems enough – but implying it’s somehow saving money in the long run is I think disingenuous at best, and just misleading at worst.
After a bit of Google diving, the typical spend for an adult for clothing for a year is about £1,000 (and that’s clothes, shoes, underwear). So a Savile Row suit at £5k is 5 years worth of a typical person’s entire wardrobe – you’d have to be wearing that suit (and only that suit, which could get a bit unhygienic) a whole lot for that to be an economical trade-off.
Not trying to be unkind though – I think this is a great article, and one that will probably resonate with a lot of people.
Cheers Sam. A good point, though I think looking up average clothing spending could also be a little misleading. You have to like clothes really, and therefore be spending rather more, to be looking at bespoke. You also need to be in an income category than can afford it. Plus an age etc.
Also, of course, bespoke doesn’t have to cost 5k.
Something about how old this garment is, and subsequently how familiar Bruce Boyer is with it, makes his approach to it it very understated. It is, I think, in alignment with the aesthetics typical of PS. Perhaps a middle point between “How Great Things Age” and “Oh, This Old Thing?”. A lovely read.
I’ve known Bruce a while and he has great taste, always dresses well and has boyish enthusiasm for classic menswear.
The jacket is gorgeous but did not get the “full Scholte treatment” which would have skipped the front dart and not butchered the plaid. Post John Hitchcock’s departure, I don’t believe anyone at A&S knows how to do this well – the style we associate with Liverano did originate with Scholte and was used at A&S in the past and looks way better especially on plaid jackets.
Bruce’s more recent sartorial pushes have been less reliable – Marol has great finishing but limited ability to fit – and the last time I saw him he had a Gaetano Aloisio suit where the jacket fronts were off with one side longer than the other.
All my jackets cut by Mr Hitchcock were not made that way – as the various A&S suits and jackets around the site show.
The Gaetano Aloisio suit when I saw it, certainly didn’t have that problem. Perhaps it’s hard to judge in passing.
Bruce is a legend – and he has contributed more to any one aspect of menswear studies than I will to my own field of academia (combined). My observation, here, is a personal one, and can in no-way be extrapolated wholesale to the board, or to the readers. I don’t speak for anyone else.
Since last March (when the pandemic began coming to my area of America), I’ve had a slow (or sudden – I can’t really tell) movement away from wearing things like Bruce’s jacket, or from the very formal suits you often review on this site. I have found that most of my wardrobe is made up of these things. I was watching an episode of Community last week, and there’s a moment when Jeff Winger walks into the teacher’s lounge at his community college: all of the men are dressed like Bruce (maybe not so well-turned-out, sure), or more dressed like Frasier Crane during the height of the bad-taste-90s (the generic black sack suits, or the three button front jackets done up, or the severe white shirt with dark tie). And, I’m sure I’m alone here on this particular site given its name and content, but I started to realize that there’s nothing that ages you more than putting on a jacket like Bruce’s (or a handful of the sport coats and blazers in my very own closet). Now, this could be a function of my feeling older (and getting older), but I think it’s more the effect of seeing how much “dressing up” is actually like putting on a stodgy costume – and one that is largely out-of-step with the world (and has been for some days). And that’s increasingly the case given the pandemic. It’s made me realize (and it’s taken me a very long time to get to this point), that there’s a difference between wanting to dress nice (or well) – for yourself – and being “that guy who always wears a sport coat – or suit – no matter what the occasion.” And while I’d been moving away from being “that guy” for a year or so before the pandemic – the events since last March have accelerated that awakening for me (and my devolution/evolution, if you will). I don’t want to be “that guy.” That guy looks old. He looks out of place. He looks unnecessarily stodgy. He looks like my father (who had a closet full of sport coats that were way too big for him, but he wore them anyway, and walked around talking about their cashmere content). Again – this is just me, I’m sure, but while I don’t want to wear “just sweatpants” – I do want to wear more zip front sweaters (vs. blazers). I don’t want to just wear Robert Graham or Mack Weldon athleisure pieces – but I don’t want to reach for my d’Avenza suits either. And when/if things go back to normal, I don’t think that I can.
I think you’re right, the pandemic has accelerated the casualisation of society that we’ve been seeing for many years, and this makes such jacket-and-tie combinations look increasingly old-fashioned. It’s a shame, but not something we can help.
However, I would urge you and everyone else not to think that this means there is no need to dress well, or pleasure in doing so. Such a pursuit has very little to do with what the actual clothes are. In the same way that someone can have just as much a love of cooking when they turn vegetarian.
And indeed, there are many principles in common – something I wrote about many years ago, on the same topic, here. And of course most recently here, when discussing casual chic.
The reason that clothes look old-fashioned is that people stop being interested, not that they continue to be. It is only when you stop really being interested, and taking pleasure in it, that you stop evolving or being aware of the role of clothes in society around us.
I hope that makes sense, and I hope you maintain that interest in good knitwear and jeans, or oxfords and chinos, or loopwheeled T-shirts and vintage cargo pants. Whatever it may be.
I would have to disagree with this comment, although I believe that my perspective is partly determined by where I live. My observation of the way that many middle-age men dress is that they are not wearing suits or even sport coats but are in some version of workwear (if they are trying to be fashionable) or just in generic casual wear (jeans, shorts, t-shirts, trainers) if not. I would suggest that there is nothing that makes a 50-year-old man look “old” and “out of place” more than certain types of workwear (this is not an overall complaint about workwear, which is great in its place). Instead, here in Hong Kong, I see many younger men wearing sport coats and tailoring who look anything but stodgy. Undoubtedly, this is partly the result of the influence of the Armoury and other similar shops, which have persuaded younger men in Hong Kong to embrace tailoring in charming and unexpected ways. Ultimately, the joy that one expresses in what one wears is what stops one from looking “stodgy”, not a quest to try to avoid looking “old”, which can lead to rather sad results.
Nicely put Jason. I do wish there were more examples of that kind of dressing around London, at least in a density to be noticed
I understand Jason’s points – as they are thoughtfully articulated and well-reasoned. I’m sure it’s just me, but I think Bruce would look measurably improved if he wore something from any given Brunello Cucinelli sportswear collection (earth-tone cashmere jumpers with suede trim, fitted, flat-front pants, and something like a Berluti Playtime sneaker). No – Bruce couldn’t wear a Nike or Adidas tracksuit and get away with it. Of course not. And no, Bruce shouldn’t wear “workwear” as Jason has defined it here (nor should anyone, by the way). But Bruce is in excellent shape. He’s trim. He looks good for his age. He doesn’t need to “age” himself further by A) wearing a coat that looks like it’s about 33 inches long from the bottom of the collar (such a coat would look ridiculous on me and I’m 6′ tall), and B) dressing as he did in 1983.
I don’t have a single piece of clothing (currently) that I owned in 1983. I also (doubt) that I will be wearing anything (even my entirely handmade suits) that I currently own in 38 years (the year 2059) — if I’m still alive, that is (and I certainly don’t want to be buried in a suit or sport coat).
My main point in my original post was to say – more or less – “If something doesn’t truly flatter you, you shouldn’t wear it.” Tom Ford once said that the biggest favor a man can do himself as he gets older is to not gain weight. Alan Flusser looks terrible in the clothes he wears because of his size (that wasn’t the case for Alan in the 1980s). This A + S jacket from 1983 that Bruce is still wearing is too long for my taste, it has a ticket pocket (which I personally dislike), and the trousers have pleats (which my tailor told me is the kiss of death for any outfit — and she started cutting for Giorgio Armani in the 1970s). And while I know that pleated pants are all the rage (something I simply cannot understand as they simply do not flatter anyone – except, allegedly, very wide or overweight men), I think those pleated pants do “age” Bruce.
As for Hong Kong being (partly) sartorially transformed by The Armoury? I think that cuts both ways. I would never suggest that men can’t be flattered by a suit. I have a closet full of 50 or 60 suits that were tailored to perfection for me and me alone. But what Jason says reminded me of the moment I saw that Alexander Kraft was coming out with his own line of suits and separates. Just as I don’t want to see an entire city of men dressed like Mark Cho and Alan See (which I know is an overstatement because that isn’t actually happening), I don’t want to see a generation of iGents dressing like Alex Kraft either. Does Alex Kraft look good in everything he wears? Yes – he pretty much does. Because what he wears doesn’t “age” him, or make him look out of step with what’s going on around him. And Alex dresses that way because he “lives that way.” Alex has residences in Monaco, Palm Beach and Provence (among other places). He travels in the kinds of circles that require bespoke everything. But he also doesn’t just have “one speed.” He knows that there is a time and place for a tux and a time and place for slippers and jeans. And that’s something I didn’t “get” for many decades. I was too linear. And that was my only point: I don’t want to be linear anymore.
I think people have a responsibility (I can’t remember where I read or heard this that influenced me, but…) to dress as part of their environment. The way we dress impacts our environment and the people in it (maybe it was – ironically – Luca Rubinacci who said this). But we also have to dress “our age” (and this doesn’t mean, “Let’s put on the uniform of a 75 year old privileged white male,” nor does it mean, “I’m old, so let me reach for what I wore 38 years ago”).
I think our “uniforms” need to change over time – just as our needs change. I think that if we’re going for a walk in a public garden that we shouldn’t automatically say, “Let’s put on a suit and tie,” or “Let’s put on a sport coat,” as many men did in 1950s America (and probably Europe, too, if not more so).
If one puts on a C.P. Company bomber at age 50, I don’t think the fashion police or the age police need to be called. But I do think that we must consider when we dress:
A) The environment that we’re in or contributing to
B) Our body-mass-index
C) What is reasonable to wear given the times and the social circumstances or expectations
D) Whether our long-term “uniform” is a “grave that has become a groove,” and/or merely a “script” that we keep reading from, and enacting
E) Whether the damn clothes flatter us (which is more than just BMI; it’s also our skin coloring and our personalities)
I do not want to be “that guy” (in a different way) walking to the coffee shop in a powder blue velvet track suit at age 65 (like George Costanza draping himself in velvet), nor do I want to be heading out to the public garden with my wife and kids (15 years from now) dressed in a suit or sport coat that I picked out 38 years prior.
I’m not sure why all of this means so much to me, but it clearly does, and I will be returning to this subject time after time.
There is one instance that Simon TRULY saved me: I wanted this amazing, hand-cut d’Avenza sport coat that was on Ebay. It was a masterpiece, but I knew (secretly) that it looked exactly like a picnic tablecloth. I emailed Simon a picture of the coat – and he was incredibly diplomatic about it. It took two follow up emails for him to admit: “Yes it looks like a tablecloth, but I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.”
I also find that if you have to ask someone else, “Should l buy this?” or “Should I wear this,” you already know the answer. And the answer is a resounding NO.
And that’s the idea here: we should be honest with each other about the clothes we wear. In the end, it’s about individuality (not looking like Mark Cho or Alex Kraft — or Boyer or Flusser). But it’s also about not letting your friends wear a tablecloth.
In where I live, in the unquestionably casual Southern California, there is a concerted effort among a subset of younger people to experiment with tailoring like in Hong Kong. If you want a good example of this, search Ethan Wong. Although he writes about it, and is therefore visible, Ethan’s certainly not alone in dressing this way. Tailored jackets have acquired an almost punk-like vibe to them — worn as a kind of a stodgy “fuck you” — to the dominant mode of increasingly expensive and expendable streetwear here. I would not be surprised if it was folded back into the norm again as rebel trends often are.
As an aside, i’ve been feeling this for the last couple months. But there should be a “best-of” article on the comments section at some. Some of these comment exchanges are really enlightening (my own comment excluded.) Maybe that’s what you want though… for all of us to have to do some digging through the site.
Great example. These things always get re-used and re-purposed in the search for something fresh, or even rebellious.
Thanks on the comment section, that’s a good idea. Obviously a chunk of work, but not unfeasible. I do want people to find the comments they want, but I do also like that the quality is pretty high generally, which helps. Unlike most Instagram feeds
“Tailored jackets have acquired an almost punk-like vibe to them — worn as a kind of a stodgy “fuck you” — to the dominant mode of increasingly expensive and expendable streetwear here.” This is an excellent point and really highlights the way conformity can be viewed in many different ways. In many environments now wearing a tie is much more of an act of individuality than wearing Berluti playtime sneakers would be (though it would admittedly be quite funny to see Bruce wear them).
Although I enjoyed reading Wes’s well-argued post, I don’t think that Mark Cho is in any way trying to create little mini-Chos in Hong Kong, dressed in identikit ways. One of the charming things about The Armoury under Mark and Alan is precisely that it encourages a playful attitude towards tailored clothing, which is about expressing individuality. To me, it is much more original and amusing than Brunello Cucinelli’s collections, which come over as slightly repetitive riffs on a certain vision of Tuscan life. (In contrast, Bruce Boyer dresses in a way that perfectly expresses who he is and one can see the joy in that expression. Somehow I doubt that this would come over quite so well if he were to be dressed as Wes suggests.)
I was also intrigued by the assumptions behind the idea that one should not wear a piece of clothing that was thirty-eight years old. If we look at womenswear, for example, some of the most strikingly dressed women are those that incorporate vintage pieces into what they wear, partly because taking something from outside the current fashion cycle allows it to be stand out as being more individual (of course, you need the right eye to make it work). It would be odd if we said: “I don’t want to hang that painting from 38 years ago on my wall” or “Please take away those chairs – they’re 38 years old!” but somehow beautifully-made clothes should be discarded. That doesn’t make much sense to me, nor should it be a particularly contemporary idea given the way that we should be reassessing over-consumption.
Very much agree with a LOT of what Jason has to offer this conversation. I want – more than anything – Bruce to be Bruce, and me to be me. I’d draw 2 sharp distinctions between what I’m saying and what Jason is saying that may (or may not) be useful for this conversation that I’m enjoying way too much being a part of (and I appreciate that Jason is making me think more deeply about this) —
First – A stylist can help anyone (even a very sartorially-inclined person) look better (as even Roger Federer has a coach to point out what he can’t see, to push him when he falls into a rut, etc.). So – it’s possible that someone like Bruce (perhaps not the great BB himself) could benefit from someone saying, “Try this. You might like the freshness and sleekness of Cucinelli. It may transform you. Maybe try some Loro Piana outerwear when you go outside. Perhaps you’d like these knitted pieces by Isaia, instead of wear your old school sport coat.”
Second, there’s a huge difference between hanging (in your office or home) a Childe Hassam watercolor painted in 1917, and wearing (today) a coat that you owned in 1917. Alessandro Sartori is one of the great people working in fashion today, and he is an avid collector of vintage. I completely understand its appeal. My distinction would be: I don’t want to wear “MY 38 year old coat” – as I would hope that my interests in fashion and style would have changed enough in 4 decades to make me say: I’m not going to keep that stuff anymore. Would I wear a 38 year old coat that I thrifted last year? Probably not, but it’s possible.
Bruce’s outfit works for Bruce. It’s a solid template for a lot of us to follow. It’s largely unassailable. It’s also remarkable that Bruce CAN still wear the coat and wear it well. Again – he’s “maintained” himself well over the years. In that way alone he’s an inspiration to me.
On the other hand, I’ve been moving towards: sleek and fresh. I want something that flatters me (in the here-and-now).
I love antique furniture. I love old paintings. I collected ancient netsukes as a child. I just don’t want to wear them.
That’s a useful response to my own existential angst — as well as to my own evolution as a dresser. I think that part of what I’m writing here (which I’m sure is not revolutionary by any means), is that I’m changing. I now prefer more casual suits (Tombolini Zero Gravity suits are just amazing – with patch pockets and no lining or canvassing anywhere). A Zero Gravity suits looks as far away from Bruce or Frasier as I can get (so – perhaps it’s a reaction to watching Frasier – again – last year – or seeing my Dad wear, basically, Bruce’s outfit on the regular). I’m really getting into Isaia knitwear, as well. I’m starting to mix the high and the low much more effortlessly (in the sense that I’m not even thinking about it). The closest I can come to tracing all of this is two things: I was in Vegas about 12 years ago at the Armani store at Caesar’s Palace Shops, and I was eyeing a gray jersey knit suit. The sales woman asked if I wanted to try it on. I demurred. She said, “I think you’re ready for it.” I probably was, but I didn’t pull the trigger. More recently (probably in 2016) The Rake magazine published a piece about how we’re moving towards casual wear and “nobrow” culture – and the idea that we don’t need heavy shearling coats anymore (given our lives), nor do we need “heavy anything” (tweeds, for example). That the modern man is moving towards pants with draw-strings, or hybrid jackets. I had mixed feelings about that notion at the time. Now I am “all in.” You, Simon, have probably answered a half-dozen emails of mine along the way, (since I started following you blog), not to mention about 30 of my posts. So, thanks for being a part of helping me figure this on-going-style-thing out.
Nice to hear Wes, very pleased I’ve done so well.
One quick thing to throw in – we are fortunate in the West that there are many, many things we don’t ‘need’. But when we only focus on that, we lose many of the pleasures in life. They include enjoying the spongey feeling of shearling – and the natural root it has, the fact you’re wearing the sheep – just as much as they include understanding how to drink tea. (Not brewed for 30 seconds in a cup. Try good tea, in a heated teapot, brewed for a decent time, drunk in small quantities from the pot when very hot…)
They also include, of course, almost everything we would call culture.
As for taking care of clothes after a wear, have you considered an LG Styler or Samsung AirDresser type appliance? I bought one about a year ago and it has turned out to be the most used electronic device at home by far.
No, I haven’t. Interested to hear whether you previously aired clothes after wearing, and steamed them now and again as well?
Most people do neither, and that would be a big differnece.
Also no idea where I’d put it!
I find myself agreeing with much of what Wes is saying. I’m 55 and find myself more interested in everything on PS, apart from jackets and suits. I find my bespoke tastes are now primarily shoes, knit wear and trousers(and hats, scarves and gloves) and obviously , outerwear.
A changing time? Perhaps. Of course , no one know where style will go.
But,I don’t aspire to dress like my father, and, even less than my grandfather
Hi simon i agree with wes above though I’m based the other side of the globe in Asia. I’m wondering also if your blog wil be pivoting towards a more casual stance (e.g. 5 casual jackets (not sportscoat) to own etc.) in the future?
We are gradually including more of this, yes – it’s something I discussed on this post if you’re interested.
My interest has always been in dressing well – thoughtfully, elegantly, responsibly. The categories are rather less important than the philosophy
As follows from what you wrote, the person commissioned many dozens (if not a couple of hundreds) of jackets from the most expensive (best?) fabrics from the most expensive (best?) tailors. However only one(!) is worthy to be included into your «How great things age». What happened with the other ones? Do not you see a hidden contradiction in this? May be this phenomenon is only a manifestation of the probabilistic law of large numbers: there is at least one perfect thing in each randomly chosen collection of things provided the collecting is large enough?
I’m not sure why you think only one jacket from that collection was worthy of inclusion? That’s not something anyone mentioned. I also very much doubt Bruce commissioned hundreds of garments.
However, there is a good point there, which is that it is interesting to talk about how many from the wardrobe are still worn regularly.
There are many excellent reasons to justify bespoke tailoring but surely the statement that ”…in the long run, of course, such clothing is always less expensive…” isn’t one of them. For a start, I don’t believe it is true. Bespoke might sometimes prove less expensive but I suspect this can not always be the case. An individual garment might last a long time but its price over that time isn’t something to be thought of in isolation. The longevity versus cost equation depends upon many factors including, but not limited to, clothing rotation, care and maintenance, the cost of the rest of the wardrobe and those almost inevitable purchasing mistakes. Some people may even be able to get many years of wear out of RTW for similar reasons. Your answer to Dan, Simon, mentioned some valid aspects of bespoke but didn’t really address the point he was making about cumulative expense, perhaps due to conflating value and cost. While it is good to celebrate items of menswear that last well, perhaps the tendency to assume that all bespoke works out cheaper in the long run should be avoided.
I agree Ian, and you make the point well. It is never going to be accurate to assert either extreme – that it always is or isn’t cheaper.
Though I guess when people bring this up, the mere possibility that it could be cheaper in the long run is the thing they really want to say, because for many that will be unexpected.
I think Wes makes some very interesting points in his submission but I have to take a different view on things.
As urban composition so ably demonstrated a couple of years ago on these pages we are nearly all different characters in the way we dress depending on our surroundings. My uncle who is still active at 90 did everything in a three piece suit, work, eat and even garden, but that’s not the majority of us now. To be fair he did occasionally put on some Wellington boots when he was digging.
Most people I know cannot wait to get back to working in a city environment, maybe it won’t be five days a week it may be just two or three and will certainly want to dress smartly because going into town will be more of an occasion. So maybe you’ll only require a nice navy or dark grey suit for your trips in.
I see myself as the work guy as above, the guy who wants to go out for dinner with friends where it will be soft tailoring, the guy who is on holiday and nearly always dresses in linen and light of fabrics and finally the guy who likes workwear such as over shirts and heavy denim.
We can be all things and we just gotta please ourselves and sometimes our partner too😊
Simon has mentioned previously the 20 year cycle and were clearly seeing this in an abundance of tweed and corduroy at the moment. But surely well cut classic menswear such as navy cashmere jackets will go on forever.
Bruce, you are one of my style icons and thank you for your inspiration
Happy new year to you, Bruce Boyer our distinguished guest, and to all PS readers! It’s always instructive to read on Bruce Boyer’s perspective on menswear.
As to the length of this jacket, IMHO, it’s … perfect! It’s one of its unmistakable features I’ve noticed before reading the post.
Thanks for this post, Simon.
I rarely comment on comments because I’m either too embarrassingly happy or too frustratingly puzzled by them, but I thought I wanted to respond to a few points brought up. First off, thank you everyone for your comments, I haven’t reached the point of complacency yet, and I’ll try to do better in future. Although I should add that writing about .clothing and even wearing clothing is not my whole life.
Mr. Sam has accused me of being disengenuous and misleading, but I can assure everyone that I am neither: anyone can do the simple math for himself as to what is more expensive. Mr. SJ makes a good point about Marol, it was one of my many experiments that didn’t work out to my satisfaction either. But he’s completely wrong about Aloisio, who is a great tailor by anyone’s standards and the suit he made for me has proper line and balance. So I can only assume that Mr. SJ based his remark on a misleading photo (I don’t think photos can be disengenuous, and to my knowledge have never met Mr. SJ in person wearing that suit). To Mr. Wes, I would only say that I look old-fashioned in my dress because I’m old and can’t imagine that I should try to look any other way; in fact I’m one of those who believe it’s perfectly fine, natural, and wise to dress your age, it can avoid in most cases being thought disingenuous. And finally, a happy New Year to you Mr. John, and good wishes to everyone.
My comment was not intended to offend – we met at The Armoury and you put on the Aloisio suit to show me and my comment above was the same that I mentioned to you and Dan at The Armoury. Not a big deal and I am sure easily corrected. I am sure GA is a good tailor as you and Simon have said – you have far greater experience with him than me. Not a style I particularly liked.
I don’t comment on things I haven’t seen in person unless it’s with that caveat.
Hope you are well.
I love the series and also the inclusion of the guest pieces. This particular piece has inspired me to seek out something similar for myself.
For a casual, dependable sport jacket like this, do you think patch pockets might be a wiser choice for a commission today? I know I ask this in light of having just been exposed to a lovely testament to the longevity of traditional flap pockets, but would appreciate your thoughts all the same.
On a similar note, do you think patch pockets on a grey flannel suit would look a little too casual, or do you view it as an acceptable way to make the suit more casual and insouciant? I’m rarely in an office environment, and mostly move in circles in which suits are rare. If not the pockets, do you have any other suggestions as to small adjustments in fut or style that may work to make a mid-grey flannel suit ever so slightly less business-y and more, shall we say, writerly?
That’s lovely to hear.
For the sports jacket, I think patch pockets might be wiser, yes. I don’t think actually that they or the flap pockets that Bruce has will age badly – compared to, for example, very wide lapels or a very short length. But on balance I’d go with patch.
On the flannel suit, no I would stick with flap pockets. There’s more of a risk there of it looking out of place. I might go for a mid-grey rather than a dark grey, to make it less business-like, but otherwise I would concentrate on what else you wear with it. This will create the look. For example, an open-necked denim shirt and suede shoes, rather than a tie and oxfords.
Thanks so much, Simon. That’s really helped.
Not sure what valet stand is. That is not a simply hanger, right?
No – see example of one I helped design here
Wow, this is astonishing!
Thanks, Simon! I studied Honorific. Obviously, out of my budget for now, will use regular hanger instead.
Yeah, that is the very top of the top
Really enjoyed this. Bruce has such a great way of leading your eye to the essential. Things I wouldn’t see otherwise.
The times they certainly are a-changin’.
I distinctly remember past appearances from Bruce not so long ago where he only earned general praise and compliments; if anything, some annoyance from a few readers because he would not disclose who his taylor was (supposedly this preventing them from addressing him much coveted commissions themselves).
Now he gets quite some trashing on charges of dressing classical and keeping a good quality, timeless design jacket for too long.
Bruce dresses now the same he did at the time of those past posts.
His choice of style makes him look the best a man of his age can. In my opinion, also the best anybody in their fifties and beyond can expect.
You may feel more contemporary or relevant in other styles, but will not look better. Tailoring does that for you.
We seem to be in a race for the next new dressed – down, youthful looking thing, even if it is not to our own advantage.
Don’t ever change, Bruce! A shame not so many men stand that ground anymore.
6′ 2″ and 170 pounds!! Mr Harvey must have been close to skeletal. Inspite of what the industry projects these figures are the worst to dress and fit.
I cannot imagine how the drape cut that A&S have become famous for came anywhere close to fitting him.
Have a look at Fred Astaire for a good example Peter… It gave him a chest he never had otherwise.
Bruce’s eyeglass frames are the Anglo American 406 in Japanese Havana (JH).
Simon, you have superb website!
I flatter myself by saying that I dress like Mr Boyer.
That is when I dress at all. At least for the past year it’s
been mostly jeans and polo shirts “sheltering in”. Unfortunately,
I do not get my clothes from A &S. However, I have visited their
boutique several times and I notice that Mr. Boyer’s shoulders are
more padded and extended than the jackets on display or on the
A & S website. Is that an individual preference or an older House
Style? I personally could never wear shoulders like that. I am
too broad and top heavy.
That style has varied a little over the years, and I’m sure Bruce’s physique there has changed a little bit as well.
However, the A&S shoulder is still padded and fairly extended normally. You can change that a little as a customer, but not a lot.
Hello Bruce. Great article and wisdom “That’s a shame because cheap clothes are so much more expensive over a lifetime.”
My father worked at A&S in the ’60s & ’70s, he was a cutter, but mainly front of house.
I’ve very fond childhood memories of Mayfair, the tailoring word and hearing about the Scholte style. As an impressionable child I recall with wonderment my father mentioning the famous clientele. All the Best Andrew…………..