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parismengq19

In keeping with my bi-annual tradition of taking a couple street style photos and writing far too much on them, after this latest crop of shots from Paris Fashion Week I’ve decided to finally call Takahiro Kinoshita’s number. If there’s anyone whose style I try to emulate, it’s Popeye Magazine’s editor-in-chief, who I consider to be a true Miyuki-Zoku in 2013. Case, in point these photos from two (consecutive?) days at Paris Fashion Week – the first (above) taken by Tommy Ton for GQ depicts Kinoshita in a rare casual fit, while the second (below) from Youngjun Koo’s series for High Snobiety, captures Kinoshita in his more common “neo-trad” look. It’s this dichotomy – relaxed one day, tailored the next, that positions Kinoshita alongside Yasuto Kamoshita, Motofumi “Poggy” Kogi (Dennis Rodman jersey and all), and Yoshimasa Hoshiba, as one of the most influential men in American style today, because let’s face it, the Japanese are simply doing it better right now.

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What really resonates with me is that, Kinoshita appears perfectly at ease in both photos, never seeming the least bit uncomfortable despite the disparities between the two looks. The casual fit reminds me of the sort of shoot that Popeye might actually do on a younger East Coast look, with wider legged khakis, woodland camo, and the slightest hint of a tennis sweater, volleying between Take Ivy and New England heritage. There’s also some interesting things going on with proportions between the top buttoned jacket that fans out, and a  shorter sweater with the slightest hint of an oxford peeking out.

As for the more tailored look, I am fascinated by how Kinoshita takes a very traditional palette – mainly grey and navy with touches of white and black, and makes it modern primarily though fit. With tapered trousers (capped off by a perfectly proportioned cuff), a slimmer jacket, a higher inseam (the common thread between both shots), and details like a club collared shirt, a knit tie, a higher gorge, and beltless trousers (interestingly with the belt loops still intact) it’s sixties trad through a post-millennial lens. Some might call it sacrilege, I for one just wish the stores on Madison Ave. could at least try to keep up with our brethren from the Land of the Rising Sun.

Tradaholics

As the weather forecast finally starts to look up, I leave you this week with a photo I hope you’ve all seen already. Taken at Yale in 1965, this is in my opinion the only photo worth looking at for the next few months, thanks to the fellow second from left. White chinos, sock-less loafers, three-roll-two navy blazer, chalk white buttons, OCBD, club masters, hair like YSL at 21, unflappable attitude. This is what I’d consider to be the perfect spring look, so go forth and dress better than everyone else.

Oh, and here’s a close-up for good measure.

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It opens with a Princeton crested navy blazer, closes with a duffle coat and in between The Talented Mr. Ripley traverses between the Ivy League world of New York City, the cobblestone steps of Italian cities, and concludes with a nod to the English countryside.  As the diabolical Tom Ripley (played by Matt Damon) arrives in Italy from New York to bring Dickie Greenleaf (played by Jude Law) back to the city and his father’s shipbuilding empire, he is clothed in pleated trousers, a black knit tie, and what appears to be a Brooks Brothers button-down, which would’ve been standard issue for any “Princeton man” of 1955.  I won’t spoil the story by detailing Tom’s exploits as a con artist, although Damon’s performance as one of the most finest liars to ever grace the silver screen is worth the price of admission alone.  But it’s the costumes, running the spectrum from trad to Neapolitan to Anglo that wrap the entire film in a blend of hopsack, cord, wool, and cashmere which covers all the character’s ruthless deeds and personality flaws, making them seem all the more sinister from behind those fine threads.

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VRS

This past summer, during an exceptionably slow day at work, my friend (and former co-worker) Matt spontaneously summed up the entire current menswear wave with one word: “Italiatrad.” While Matt’s impromptu portmanteau was all we needed to kill a day discussing the marriage of Neapolitan and Ivy, after that day I’d practically forgotten about the word altogether, although I’m pretty sure Matt’s been searching for a “real” definition of the word ever since.  This past week though, I found Italiatrad back at the forefront of my mind, as I sat there reading the announcement that Antonio Ciongoli was leaving his role as deputy creative director of Michael Bastian to spearhead the creative direction of Isaia’s resurrected diffusion brand, Eidos.

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Japan10

One of my favorite sentiments to pull out when talking about our friends over on the other side of the world, is that “the Japanese do Americana far better than we ever could.”  Of course, it’s a blanket statement holds about as much weight as a bag full of feathers, but nonetheless it sure is fun to say.  I first came up with the line during a spur of the moment discussion with a few colleagues about the state of the Japanese vintage market, which by now is probably stocked with more U.S. made deadstock pieces then any of us could even begin to fathom.  It’s a cheeky line and makes me seem much more well-versed on the topic than I am, so I’ve kept on saying it, but each time I repeat it, it becomes that much more evident to me just how much of a double-edged sword those ten words are.

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John Updike5

A month or so back, I was talking with a friend and I let it slip out that my ultimate goal when it comes to my personal style was to simply dress like John Updike.  Considering how much slack I already get for dressing like a fifty year old trapped in a twenty-one year olds body, I’m always skeptical to admit that one of my icons is an author from the late twentieth-century, as the obvious connotations regarding literature, and bygone decades make Updike seem, for lack of a better term, unprovocative. And yet to me, that’s the entire point of iconizing Updike, as he proves that you don’t have to look glossy, or flashy, or trendy, as long as you look like you know what the hell you’re doing.

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For the past year now, I’ve been suffering from a bit of conversational deja vu.  Every few days or so I keep getting caught in these identical discussions wherein I’ll tell someone that I don’t own a single item of black clothing and they’ll proceed to tell me in so many words that I’m insane.  For the first few months that I had these sorts of conversations I felt some form of superiority over whoever I was talking to, as if my choice to abstain from wearing black somehow made me better than them.  There were even times where I’d go as far as to say that wearing black was lazy, a shortcut to looking well-dressed.

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I realize it’s quite a cliche to start off a week about politics by writing on America’s most storied first family, a clan that includes some of the most revered (and written about) style icons of all time, but truth be told it’s still the Kennedy’s and the precedents they set that sit as the benchmark for how all politicians present themselves today.  Watching the debates leading up to this year’s election, it was difficult for me to ignore each candidate’s respective appearance.  Issues and substance are always paramount in politics (or at least they should be), but there must be a foundation to build all of this upon otherwise all we have is a series of pandering talking heads.

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A couple weeks back, as I was digging through the Bengal Stripe’s archives (which while unfortunately retired, is still as relevant and well-written as ever) I found this piece by Nico about graduating school and moving away from the “scholarly look.”  Nico’s lament about moving forward into the working world spurred a realization that for me the opposite has been true.

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Last night I experienced what was either an incredible twist a fate, a sign from the gods, or a mere coincidence that I’m reading far too much into.  You see, what you’re reading right now is my take two on Andy Spade, my first attempt at this post was scraped entirely after one of the surreal moments I’ve had in recent memory.  As yesterday was my final day at work, I was kindly granted an early exit, getting off three hours before close, which gave me an unexpectedly free afternoon.  After meandering through downtown, I decided to head home and fumble through the conclusion of my original post piecing together some evocative statement about Andy Spade and his literal dad jeans.

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