Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Recently I have noticed how South African television is replete with sartorial aberration. The continuum, in post Apartheid South Africa, for sartorialism seems to have gone from bad to worse. I have been able to make this observation because daytime TV has been showing pre-1994 comedies and dramas. Our male actors and television personalities are not as well dressed as their counterparts of old. I don’t know where it all changed however I can unequivocally state that there is a distinct difference in costume and wardrobe arrangements. I watch contemporary TV shows and I am uninspired. The only consistency is in how dull and ill-fitting the wardrobe is. The sartorially bright moments, which are far and few in between, are totally eclipsed by senseless monochromatic looks, 100% polyester jackets with bellows pockets and hooded waistcoats. I’ve heard time and again how what you see at fashion shows can’t be directly transferred to reality, what I see on S.A. TV though seems to tell me otherwise. Even the so-called lifestyle shows are suspect, in that they hide behind watered down casual looks that don’t stimulate the mind and are always bland.

Velaphi is an early 90s South African comedy starring Ray Ntlokwana, as Velaphi, who plays the part of a messenger for a print and ad company. Youthful ignorance would’ve blinded me to the stylish appearance of the actors, however ( and recently so) my sartorial curiosity was aroused when I noticed how well coordinated the wardrobe and costume were. Formal and casual outfits well placed and represented.

In this scene Vusi Thanda is dressed in a brown tweed herringbone jacket, white shirt, patterned navy blue bow tie, black pants and under the jacket, holding up the his pants a pair of braces. Stylish and sartorial correctness couldn’t be more apt. On the casual side the combination of a leather jacket, plaid shirt and knit tie is well represented. You’d have to see it for yourself to believe me, but I’m sure these images prove me right. A glimmer of hope, however, is offered by the news anchors on Etv.

Monday, May 23, 2011

The Anatomy Of A Shoe

The great thing about style is that it can be applied in a practical way. What you learn from a plethora of style guides can be directly transferred and translated into your own interpretation of style. There is no room for erudition in matters of style. It goes without saying then that part of the learning process is in knowing the exact names of things, what they are and their function. Which brings us to the anatomy of a shoe.

Nothing goes a long way in illustrating a point than illustrations. I have always been somewhat confused by the open and closed lacing in shoes, until I came across an article on Style Forum addressing: the leather used in the various methods of shoe construction, welted shoes, Blake construction, reverse welts, etc. The article is concise and comprehensive. I learnt a lot from it, and you can too.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Unlikely Combination

The combination of a plaid shirt and a tie is not exactly new, however the never ending styles that the combination can be executed is what resonates with me. A plaid shirt has always been casual and laid back for me, never did it occur that a plaid shirt can be dressed up, in both a casual and formal way. As long as the execution is right then a stylish appearance is guaranteed. I'm very much from the old school when it comes to men's style; I don't do the open collar, loose tie look. If a shirt collar is rigid and crisp, a tie will always be complementary. Sure, gingham check with a tie works wonders. It's become somewhat perfunctory, if you will. Now, a plaid shirt and a tie? You're definitely stepping into quirky territory and it is important to strike a balance that highlights your look in the right way.

A plaid shirt is always going to be bold. It stands out and if it's going to be paired with a tie, then the tie must be simple and dark, so as to tone down the bold colour of the shirt. The combination works in a complementary way if the shirt and tie have at least one of the same colour.

The efficacy of some of these combinations is in how the rest of one's outfit is executed. Therefore, jeans, a cardigan or a v-neck jersey will be appropriate at times. When dressing it up then a sports jacket and chinos will be the ultimate complement. It even works with a suit because the only out of sorts piece is the plaid shirt. With endless possibilities, however, the perfect execution will most definitely redound.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

With The Cap To Match

I'm not a hat person, and I really can't explain my aversion to adorning one. What I can say, however, is that nothing distinguishes a man than a stylish approach to wearing a hat. It gets even better. You can wear hats according to the season and the weather because there are different styles in different materials and fabrics. I remember seeing a spread in GQ magazine featuring flat caps in seersucker, which would be summer perfect. Since it is autumn in South Africa, I found it important to talk about a few caps that would be apt for this weather and the mild winters. This has been a lesson for me, as well, because although I could tell the difference between some of these caps, I didn't know their exact names. Let's start with the Flat cap, also known as a driving cap.

Tweed Herringbone flat cap

A flat cap is characterised by a soft, round brim in the front. Although it is recommended for casual wear, there are those who go their own way and wear it with formal wear. Although not advisable I have seen some gentlemen making it work. And although the flat cap pictured above is rather chunky, in a heavy herringbone, they are also available in wool and a lot slimmer and sleeker. This cap is also known for its warmth, thus becoming a shield against cold and wet weather.

Newsboy cap

Stokley Williams wore a newsboy cap, also known as a gatsby or what I like referring it to as; an Eight Panel, in the 'Someone to Love' video. And Shawn Stockman of Boyz II Men fame wore one in the video for 'On Bended Knee', with the button attaching the front to the brim undone. I prefer the name Eight Panel because it is self explanatory; the top of the cap is divided into eight panels which converge at the centre of the cap, held together by a button. This is also a casual cap, which is worn a lot in certain subcultures; hip hop being one of them. Just the other day Raekwon the Chef was wearing an Eight Panel, rather appropriately, on the Monique Show.

What I have found in my research on these caps is that the one cap advocated by most for formal wear is the Ascot cap.

Ascot Cap

The Ascot cap, although similar to the flat cap, is a hard men's cap distinguishable by its hardness and rounded shape. It is typically made of felt or wool. In two columns I read I found that an ascot cap made in felt is recommended for formal wear because it is modern and blends in with the modern aesthetic of formal wear. With an ascot cap you look a lot less than a farmer in the city and more like a modern man adhering to stylish sensibilities.

Another version of the flat cap I have come across is one with air vents on the sides just above the ears. I doubt it is still in production because the images I have of this cap are "stills" from a popular South African comedy from the early 90s titled 'Velaphi'.

I wouldn't rush to call them air vents because they are a derivative of a certain function. This cap has adjustable side tabs which allow for fitting on different size and shaped heads. The vents come about because the cap is either tightened or loosened according to the wearers preference.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Herringbone, Brown Herringbone

Sometime ago I was thinking to myself that one of the best style guides a man can employ is nature. Yes, nature. The flora and fauna are a guideline how we should dress, especially the colour schemes we can utilise. The seasons, however, are fundamental. The seasons also tell us how light or heavy we should go. Therefore with the advent of autumn it goes without saying that as the leaves lose their green, leafy lustre a wardrobe change is also important. This, then, couldn't be a better time to embrace a herringbone blazer. A brown one to be exact. I used to hear things such as 'brown is a manifestation of fleshly desires', I don't believe that no more. I can't think of a more appropriate and resplendent colour than brown.

This colour and pattern lends itself to so many working and complementary combinations. Tweed herringbone in brown coupled with velvet, corduroy and wool, these combinations work mellifluously. In this instance your whole outfit is worked around the jacket. A stylish brown herringbone jacket is a men's professional or formal wardrobe essential. This jacket would look smart at work or a special occasion. It is more than a mere additioin; it is also a definite upgrade.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Great White Hype

Style and the man can sometimes be a daunting task, filled with both enthusiasm and apprehension. Colours, shades, textures, patterns, fabrics. These can all run on a man and send him into a state of flummox. To ease  your transition into a stylish disposition a solid white shirt is always a good start. And it doesn't get anymore easier, clearer and solid than that. After all, the common denominator in most school uniforms is a white shirt.

A white shirt is the ultimate blank canvas on which to apply to your daily dressing and sartorial experiments. You can definitely wear a white shirt everyday of the week with different outfits and people will or will not notice. Notice how well coordinated and complementary a white shirt can be. It doesn't get any simpler. Think of how white works with other colours, shades and hues. This also applies to texture, fabrics and patterns. A white shirt will always be the central or underlying piece that holds everything together.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.