Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Style: The Problem With Short Jackets

I have noted for a few years how men's tailoring is fast becoming very fashion forward. Whenever I browse magazines or visuals online I find that men's clothes are becoming tighter and shorter. I think at the rate we're going very soon it's going to be stylish to be naked, because the clothes are going to be so tight they'll give a painted-on effect. This brings me to the subject of today's post: short jackets. It appears to be a trend that won't go away, but, short jackets seem to be very normal in menswear today. Images like the above make me cringe because I can't help but feel slightly naked or exposed on their behalf. This absolutely can't be right especially at a time when we're trying to encourage more men to dress presentably. In my view, the fit of a jacket, whether a suit or sport jacket, should be traditional and proportional.

Traditionally, the length of men's jackets was measured by the length of their arms up to the middle of their hands, where the fingers bend at the knuckles. If one's jacket could be cupped at the hem then it was the correct length. Proportion, however, seems to have negated this theory because we come in different shapes, sizes and lengths. Arms that are long will, most certainly, exaggerate the length of a jacket if the cupped hand measurement is used. Therefore, proportion should be given a lot of consideration because it takes into account the body's proportions as a whole. I am very much in favour of this theory because it ushered in a new way of measuring a jacket's length by ensuring that the posterior is covered. Makes a lot of sense. The above image illustrates this point rather poignantly. The jacket is expertly cut, nipped elegantly at the waist, with a beautiful drape -front and back- however, it is awfully short, exposing both the posterior and crotch. In this instance if the jacket were as long as where the fingers bend inwards/ hand cups, it would make a world of difference. But some men prefer their jackets this way and some designers conceptualise around this aesthetic.

Traditionally and proportionally the short jacket syndrome can be overcome by unmasking its flaws: It is not flattering at all; it doesn't look good, not in a traditionalist's point of view. Think of how trousers are also becoming shorter and shorter, soon we're going to be in shorts suits. The man with a bigger midsection and conspicuous hips is going to be exposed. A tall man in this kind of jacket is going to have his upper body cut shorter and the short man will be even shorter, as though he is wearing something not meant for his age. This is why, because of my long arms, I use the proportion theory; as long as my posterior is covered then the jacket is long enough. My arms are longer than my posterior so going the traditional route will result in an ill-fitting jacket. I use the proportion theory as my rule of thumb; it'll work for some and for others it won't, however, let us consider how both theories work in relation to each other and therein you can strike a  balance.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Style: Panama Hat

The only piece of headgear I have ever had the confidence in wearing with aplomb has to be a cap. 'Most recently' a fitted cap. Yep, the hip-hop era had me on lock. During those years I used to have a fitted at the back of my car just in case the need to rock it would arise. Now, that I'm onto grown men's style however, I find that my taste has evolved and gravitates towards to more elegant hats. Besides a cap I am not a hat person. Just a single attempt and one look in the mirror in a store and I'm immediately put off by the way it looks.  It's not so much the whole look, it's just the crown. It looks and feels odd when it's on my head. I'm not a fan of a long crown, it just gives me cone head vibes. However, of late, I do feel like I will head into unchartered waters with a Panama hat.

It's light, airy and most importantly keeps the sun and light out. These are the qualities I admire most about it. And it is absolutely essential for summer. It is the perfect accessory with a summer weight suit, think linen, cotton or a pure wool, and because it is so light it means it shouldn't be taken too seriously. Even with a pair of tailored shorts and a fitted shirt it can definitely work.

Authentic Panama hats can fold in a wring like manner and not suffer any creases. My inclination is one with a wide, floppy brim which really shades you from the sun but still works with a casual suit. Even though it comes in a myriad of neutral colours my favourite colour is the off-white or cream white with a black grosgrain band. It's rather functional and will earn style points in bundles. But just like I'm teaching my young sons, no hats indoors.
PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Style: My Short Sleeves Steez!

I wear short sleeve shirts in summer, in a very casual way, despite what the style conscious gents consider an abomination. It’s very practical especially taking into consideration the humid and hot weather one has to endure for most of the year. I think what’s given short sleeve shirts a bad reputation is the gentlemen who wore it with a tie. I remember in high school, our deputy principal wore his short sleeve shirts with a necktie. Dare I say it, back in those days, the 80s to 90s, Afrikaner men were known to dress up short sleeve shirts. Whether it was in short khaki suits, safari suits or combined with dress pants, Afrikaner men were the purveyors of this style. I say they’re an abomination because very few men venture into this territory, many get it wrong and some just stick with the status quo, which is baggy, ill-fitting and billowy short sleeve shirts. It needn't be that way though.

I recently had a few shirts altered and tailored to get the correct fit for them. This pink and white candy stripe shirt had a long hem, baggy sides and sleeves. Since I’ve wanted to wear it in summer, the alterations were fortuitous. I shortened the hem and brought it half-way up my pants zipper, the length and width of the sleeves was also reduced. 

I had the length taken up to almost mid bicep. I also had it taken in the sides and had darts inserted. Even though this shirt is a button down, I think it doesn’t have any dressy qualities. That’s why I insist on wearing it without tucking it in. I think that the hem is also so short that tucking it in would lead to too many instances of it coming out of place.

This charcoal striped shirt goes way back to about 2006. when I first bought it, it had long sleeves however because I was wearing it less I decided to give it the chop because I thought it would make great garment for summer. It’s also button down and that justifies it being tucked in. It has also undergone the same alterations as the first shirt. 

The wonderful folks at CAT Apparel were gracious enough to send me this short sleeve shirt which was part of their summer range. It’s gingham, comprising blue, red and white checks. This makes it very versatile with a number of coloured chinos. 

I don’t think I’m brave enough to try a short sleeve shirt with a tie nor under a jacket. It works differently when wearing a t-shirt with a jacket. However, in my case, I think that a shirt sleeve shirt can work as long as you’re wearing it in the right context. For me it was matter of stepping out to the local mall or casual Friday at work. And given the high temperatures I’m of the firm belief that a short sleeve shirt is practical. Hopefully this post inspires you to wear it the right way.

                                           PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Pick of the Week: Pierre Cardin Mens Clamp Buckle Belt Brown

This week's pick is a slim, brown, mock-croc belt by Pierre Cardin. It's versatility is what I like most because it blends in with a suit, chinos, linen trousers and those 120S pure wool trousers. It's not over-powering at all, and this can be attributed to its slim design.

It has minute detailing of the brand name on the buckle which is almost invisible from afar and this takes it away from being gaudy or showy. If you've only ever worn thick belts in excess of 2 inches then it's about time you tried something slimmer because as long as it's tight around the waist then you shouldn't have a problem with the belt looking ill-fitting in the trouser loops.

The bronze buckle guides you to the shade of metals you should wear and this will lead to coordinating your ensemble accordingly. Although one is spoiled for choice, this mock-croc belt exudes elegance and it is incredibly affordable. Another alternative would be a simple calfskin.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.