Saturday, January 29, 2011

Suits I Bought When I Thought I Knew Something, pt II

Pursuant to my last post on this subject, as promised, I couldn't let this week go by without writing about the second suit. This is the first suit I ever bought with my own money. Probably 2004. It is a navy blue, wool, 3-button suit, with light blue pin stripes. The first thing, I remember, that caught my eye about the suit were the light blue stripes. At the time I don't think I had seen anything like it. What I was totally unaware of was the high 3-button stance, short lapel, long sleeves and the lack of vents. The jacket had no vents at all. It's no wonder I felt like a stiff the one time I wore it with a patterned shirt and tie. Fast forward to 2011, the suit has undergone a tremendous transformation.

As usual the top third button was removed. I'm all about long lapels and that deep V. This also helped to expose the tie a bit more. With these kinds of 3-button suits a third button helps to keep the tie in place, a tie bar serves that function excatly.

The sides were taken in slightly and the sleeves were reduced. Showing cuff  is one of those all important rules one has to adhere to.

I rounded off the look in these tan bit loafers. Another important feature that I wanted to try out and effected by Soli Omar Tailors was the insertion of a single vent in the jacket. And true to form Yunus was able to get it done. The results below...

I like how everything turned out with this suit. Right now I have retired it deep in my winter closet. It is very business-formal, so I see myself wearing it to presentations at work or interviews, in winter though.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Above The Rim - Stylish Big Man

The evolution of Chris Bosh's style seems to have started a few years ago. I surmise that probably around the time that the Orlando Magic made it to the NBA finals. The 2008/ 09 season. That season Bosh was an All Star, however due to injury he didn't participate in the game. Instead of representing the Eastern Conference in uniform, he showed up in this:

This is a rare sight in the NBA. Lost amongst a deluge of oversized, 5-button, incredibly baggy suits, Bosh is a stylish diamond in the rough. Maybe a stylist is involved in his evolution. What I appreciate most is the consistency with which he dresses. A lot of thought and effort is out into the process. From formal to casual Bosh is a lesson to the entire league.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Chestnut Brown Shoe

Ever since Esquire magazine ran a one page spread on a pair of chestnut-brown derbies by Bally, I haven't been able to get them out of my mind. Their rich, warm colour. Round toe design. The burnished leather. It really is a shoe that stands out based solely on its hue. Everything else comes secondary. The colour, comes first. Another reason why the colour resonates with me so much is because it is reminiscent of the shoes that were worn by members of the police, military and prison services during the Apartheid regime. I remember the shade clearly, it was chestnut-brown.

Because it is an earth tone, it has a direct relation to red and brown. There can be slight confusion with, one of my all time favourite colours, ox-blood. A deep tan can also be considered within the chestnut-brown family. This is definitely a shoe and colour for autumn, where coordination with tweeds and flannels would be de rigeur.

In my opinion, a sapphire blue flannel suit would be the best complement for a shoe in this shade. I do have the suit. I just need to fix it and complement it with these beautiful shoes, without invoking images of my country's past.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Suits I Bought When I Thought I Knew Something, But Knew Nothing About Style

In 2011 my wife and I have resolved to do things differently, especially when it comes to involving third parties in our marriage. Sartorially, I finally resolved to test whether a suit can be tailored and altered to my personal preferences. And there was no better way to commence on this project than with this grey, pin-striped, 3-button suit. I needed the sleeves reduced, the sides taken in and, most importantly I needed to get rid of the third party.

In late 2005 I purchased the pants at EasyWear, for a mere R120. For some reason the pants and jacket were sold separately. I think I can safely say that at the time I purchased the pants, the jacket was not in stock. Towards the end of 2005, upon visiting EasyWear, I came across a pinstriped jacket that looked similar to the pants I had at home. Knowing that product moves slowly at this store I decided to give the jacket a pass. It was only in February 2006, after receiving an invitation to a wedding, that I intensely mulled what to wear. Vuyani Ngalwana happened to be on the cover of Financial Mail, on the cover he was wearing a blue shirt with a grey pinstriped jacket. This was my awakening. I decided on wearing the same combination to the wedding, I had to find the jacket though. Visiting EasyWear on the morning of the wedding, and as experience would prove me right, I found the exact jacket still hanging on the rails. It was going for an absurdly low R180, and I bought it without hesitation. Like I said in the title, I knew very little about style back then. I wore the suit, with a blue shirt, sans a tie and black loafers. The single vent was sown shut and nothing occurred to me to open it. I'm not even going to talk about the breast pocket. I looked...ok. Fast forward to 2011, and these are changes the suit has undergone.

At the tailors I had the lapel pressed to eliminate the 3-button stance and have it only as a two button. Nothing can be done about the top button hole missing a button. It remains there, uncovered, and is worn in a stylish and nonchalant manner.

I had the sides slightly taken in. This image reinforces the fact that this jacket was meant to be 2-button.

I have underestimated this shoe for a long time. Much like the suit. I decided to give my Pringle penny loafers a good polish since I have never worn this suit with any other shoe but loafers. And after putting them on with these fun socks, I felt that the transformation was complete. Thinking about the suit's fabric, I am reminded of when I wore it for the first time. It was in February, which is the hottest month in Durban. Thinking back to 2006, I don't remember ever breaking a sweat in it. And when I wore it again recently, with temperatures in the late twenties, I still didn't break a sweat. Because there is no labeling inside the jacket I surmise that it could be a poly-viscose blend.

As always all the tailoring and adjustments were done by Soli Omar Tailors. Next week I will be bringing you part 2 under the same title.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Youthful Ignorance: Wear Pants On Your Waist, Boy

It's like I can hear my mother's voice, "xiba ibhrukhwe esinqeni, kwekwe", (wear your pants on your waist, boy). As incesssant and nagging as this sounded back then, in hindsight I can see that my mother was only helping, putting me on to a stylish and presentable appearance. There's something awfully wrong with wearing dress pants on the hips, as opposed to the waist. I may be wrong though, because of my subjectiveness in the matter, in this assertion, but I have found that wearing pants on my waist has been very flattering to my appearance. Coupled with pleats and a long rise, I feel complete.

I have never been the type to sag my pants, even in the days when I considered myself a real hip-hop head, I didn't sag. I might've worn my pants, jeans, etc, on my hips, but I never sagged on my butt. Back then, for me, it was a comfort issue as opposed to being trendy. But wearing pants on your hips can have serious draw backs; the pants will never stay in place but will rather sway from side to side because of the movement of your butt. Also, there can be a droopy effect inside your pants in the butt area, as if you're lugging something in there. You guys knows what I'm talking about. Most importantly for me, pants on the hips expose the hips, and any sign of weight gain can be detected there first. Especially in black men.

Consider popular Metrofm jock dj Sbu, The man dresses well, but there is something that his stylist(s) isn't telling him. Since he lost some weight in the recent past he still has a prominent butt. Also his hips are wide. Therefore pants with a low rise aren't suitable for someone with his body proportions. The above image illustrates exactly what I'm talking about. He is wearing his pants on his hips and therefore there is a bulge in the hip area.

Proportion seems to be the biggest challenge to wearing pants on the waist. In short gentlemen it doesn't exactly work as high waisted pants can suppress and shorten the torso. The length of a tie and a shirt's design are also important. For a short gentleman, an even shorter tie can lead to legs appearing overly elongated and an even shorter torso. Therefore the most suitable manner of wearing pants on the waist is that which presents the torso and legs in best proportion to one another.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Stylish Head Gear

I am not big on anything that is worn on the head. Well...I did fitted caps and scullys in my younger days but that was about it. There's something about how hats fit on other people, that I feel I could never be able to pull it off. When it comes to a Panama hat, however, it is right up my style alley. Last week Friday's outfit, I know would've been complete in this hat. Fairly associated with summer attire a Panama hat is also closely associated with the tropics. Sir Sean Connery wore it well in an ad for Louis Vuitton shot in the Carribean. Images of Col. Sanders also have him in a Panama. Just search for them and you shall find them. The Panama hat goes way back. If you're looking for a current example of how a Panama serves style and function, then look no further than the current cricket going on between South Africa and India. Those umpires wear a mean Panama.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

A Thought For Southern Sudan

As the people of South Sudan participate in a plebiscite tomorrow to decide on secession and assert their autonomy, it is imperative that we spare a thought for them. Anything remotely close to elections and voting are always hotly contested, in Africa though, there seems to be a consistent dynamic: The outcome is almost always disputed and some leaders have an aversion to relinquishing power. The Southern Sudan issue is different in that its people are going to the polls to vote on whether they should stay a part of Sudan or break away. The highlight for me here, is the fact that there is the prospect of a bloodless and smooth transition for the people of Southern Sudan. I'm not saying there hasn't been any bloodshed, however to reach this point and beyond, I feel that it is momentous.

If this referendum works, it has the potential to be big. Big in a positive way. It could pave the way for many a secessionist movements, however, in a positive, diplomatic, peaceful, agreeable and negotiable manner. Sudan president Omar Al Bashir has been forced to stick to his promises of the referendum and this has helped in reaching an agreement with the leaders of Southern Sudan. I'm hoping for a peaceful referendum, an acceptance of the outcome and a smooth transtion thereafter. If all this happens then this can be a shining example for other Africans nations. India and Pakistan can also apply this to their conflict over Kashmir. And, I'm very much inclined to extend this concept to Russia in its conflict with nations such as Chechyna and Georgia. By accepting the outcome of the referendum other African nations and leaders have no excuse when it comes to negotiation, elections and the outcome.

The leader of Southern Sudan, Salva Kiir Mayardit (pictured above), is touted as being a humble and patient man. In my opinion he is also a stylish man with his trademark cowboy-like hat. He wears a suit and tops it off with his hat. That's a little bit of individual style and character in the midst of a storm.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, January 7, 2011

These Durban Streets, This Durban Heat

Normally I wouldn't dare venture into the city, on a scorching hot day, in pants, a shirt and a jacket. This notion was, in the past, underpinned by the fact that I dressed in the wrong fabrics for summer, and vice versa in winter. But not anymore. The perfect gentleman has wised up to the fact that light, soft, breathable fabrics are the order of the season. Faced with the prospect of doing a lot of walking I put together an easy and cool outfit for the day.

Chinos are vaunted as versatile and trusty. A man can't have enough of them. What better way to traverse through the heart of the city, unresticted, than in a pair of chinos. The shirt is not denim but rather cotton. This is a fact: In the correct fabrics a man will always be comfortably dressed. The navy blue pin striped jacket was added for a little casual formality, a distinct and distinguishing feature. And as cool as one particular gentleman I saw dressed in white shorts, a turquoise golf shirt, white sneakers and a panama hat, my linen jacket was equally cool.

A last minute executive decision saw me change my footwear from horse-bit loafers to these white sneakers by Tiger Onitsuka. With the amount of walking I was going to do there is no way my feet, and loafers would've survived the concrete jungle. The sneakers proved comfortable and stylishly complementary. Ever since I purchased this light brown briefcase, today is the first time that I used its belt for a sling over my shoulder. Steve Harvey once said "It's so hot in Africa it feels like the sun is leaning on you", the truth is, he was right.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Summer Assignment: Eliminating The Voops Effect

The word 'voops' is early 90s township slang for anything baggy. In this case, particularly, pants. This time, however, the term applies to most of my dress shirts. It is hard to maintain a clean, slim silhouette when an essential part of your outfit is baggy and looks ill-fitting (such as the above picture). So much so, my facial expression, tired and droopy as it seems, tells you that I have reached my wits end with baggy shirts. My outer wear can't be in pristine condition, only to find that underneath it I am lugging around a parachute disguised as a man-blouse.

With this in mind, on a recent trip to Soli Omar tailors, I decided to pose a few questions, to Yunus who always assists and assures me that anything I want can be done, about tailoring and special adjustments on shirts. Can the sides be taken in? Can the sleeves be reduced? Even the arm holes? And in keeping to his positive form, all my questions were answered in the affirmative. My first experience in a fited shirt came earlier last year, in a red and white gingham check shirt and a white no-name brand shirt I found at Meltz for R29. A fitted shirt is great for any man in the sense that it eliminates any excess material, especially on the sides. It flatters your body as it follows your contours and, when fitted right, it becomes the best complement to an outfit, especially when worn without a jacket. I find that a breast pocket also forms part of this irritation, something I did not find in any of the fitted shirts I own. Therefore I have picked a few shirts I will be taking to Soli Omar tailors to resize and adjust, as they are doing me a disservice aesthetically.

I shall report back with the results soon.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.