11 May 2010

Fare Figura & A History of Men's Fashion

A highly recommended addition to the serious sartorial library.


Written by Farid Chenoune & translated by Deke Dusinberre


" Italians have never understood the the major principle behind civilized stylishness, which should appear unconscious." Jean-Francois Revel

Fare Figura: To cut a figure, to keep up appearances, to swagger in a society where men are habitually addressed by their professional title, such as Dottore or Ingeniere. A History of Men's Fashion

I'm always intrigued by men and their devotion to a 'type' of dress. I assume these are brand loyal guys who stick with a cigarette, cigar, scotch, gin or breakfast cereal their entire lives while running around on their wives.

Monogamy has it's place but it ain't in clothing. I love Italian clothes and they love me. At just under 5'9, the Brioni jacket has always fit well. Borrelli linen trousers are cut large enough for my waist but are tapered through the leg and are the most flattering pant I own. And while you've heard it a million times, fit is everything, it's different for everyone. It must suit you.

Ivy, Trad, Prep, NAG (North American Gentile), whatever you want to call it - is known for it's casual fit, rumpled appearance and whiff of, "I don't give a shit." Give any man a gray sack suit, a button down and rep tie and that man can pull off a decent and classic look.

From A History of Men's Fashion (1993), " ...Italians tend to be more attired than dressed, a distinction that led to disapproval, in the name of British understatement, of this penchant for preening. Igor Margovitch could thus deplore, in 1946, the Italians' lack of naturalness in their love of "newness," leading them to "prefer changing often rather than pay dearer for finer quality... This is completely different from the English taste for garments that are so broken in that they wind up an outer skin." Igor Margovitch, Made in Italy, Lausanne, 1946

I take what fits and always try for calm. Mixing Italian clothing that fits with English or even Ivy shirts and ties takes some effort. Is it worth it? It is to me. Fall and Winter speak to American and English wools, tweeds, tattersalls, hacking pockets and Polo coats worn for protection and warmth. Summer and Spring are made for the Italians with paper thin sweaters, brightly colored ties and bright jackets light in color and weight and certainly in swagger.

7 comments:

Enzo AGC said...

This sounds an awful lot like my father, an ivy-educated wap from south philly. I learned a lot of things from him and this I learned too: If life is about balance and America was conceived to be a mixture of the best ideas then nothing makes more sense to me than mixing high quality and well-wearing english goods with colorful Italian tailoring.

Laguna Beach Trad said...

Excellent. English...Italian...Prep/WASP... That's the right way to approach it, I think.

M.Lane said...

I think the classic style of Italian clothes is really fine, as you point out especially in spring and summer. The fabrics are just perfect in hand and weight. I have a light weight Brioni blazer that is a golden tan that always gets a lot of compliments and a fall weight Corneliani blazer in light tweed with a pale blue windowpane that is also fantastic. It has a very British ticket pocket.

As for trying for calm, I seem to recall a certain uncalm opera cape...

ML
mlanesepic.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Nice post, nice observations, Tintin.

A well made pair of elegantly draped, cuffed, medium gray all-season wool trousers combined with a light blue button-down pinpoint shirt, topped off with a v-neck cashmere sweater of almost any color: and you have the casual Spring/Summer Italian look, at least in my mind.

But never, ever forget the fine black loafers with light colored socks. An Italian will not forgive you for inferior shoes.

-DB

initials CG said...

Tin, head out to Rome for a few years...

They can be vulgar, they can be subtle... who gives a damn...

The chicks are hot...

Ok, it's not haiku

cribs said...
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Men's Fashion 101 said...

Really nice post. Lots of information. Thanks for sharing.