Sunday, February 28, 2010


Whenever you dress casually you clearly are not bound by many rules. In fact, you should do whatever you want to do within reason. Consider practicality and pleasure. Yet, do not forget to wear one thing that shouts!

If your like any of my non-African friends your asking me what I mean. Well, Africans are not as bound by the rules of color Westerners follow. Colors don't imply orientation or sex, they are just colors. We simply wear what we like and think nothing about color matching. We also will wear any colors together yet somehow there is a harmony there. We never really ponder the colors we just work on feeling. 'Feeling' is very important to any African art. Our artwork works on two principles that contrast each other artifice and the natural. Dressing is no different. Feeling is simply a sense of harmony that a work of art has in its entirety, taken as a whole. Things without feeling are not considered art. This idea only matters because Africans tend to use high contrast in works of art. For example, loud colors, busy patterns, and the use of realistic and abstract elements all in the same body of work. For those two cousins to get along feeling must be present. Keep this in mind as we explore shouting.

Shouting, literal translation from several East African tongues, refers to the element that contrasts the most. This shouting element can be as simple as a contrasting texture, a print, a color, or a change in formality, or informal element in a formal article. Africans naturally do this. We'll combine the traditional printed cloth with a odd coat and come up with an interesting looking odd coat. I for one, take a Kente cloth and have it sewn into a pocket square. The square's pattern shouts so loudly other Africans and the cognoscenti can spot it's origin. Shouting adds style and flare to your entire look. Italians seem to have something similar and they call it sprezzatura; from what I can gather it seems to be attached to the man doing it. It also is not exactly contrast but not doing something in the normal way. Many copy each other on purpose instead of developing out of the natural. Shouting is attached to the element, the article, or the contrasting aspect. Shouting also is never affected or forced it is developed naturally. An example of this is Ozwald Boateng. His entire line is all about shouting, ignore the cut and fabrics. His ability to style is principled in shouting. If you have a chance at looking at some of his looks you'll begin to see the common thread. Now, just like in real life shouting can be done to some one in the same room or clear across an estate; it is the same sartorially. Go light or sprinkle on the seasoning heavily. Boateng shouts until your ears bleed.

To drive in my point, let's move on to some examples of shouting and I'll guide you to a better understanding:

Funky socks shout.
These boots shout.
Purple blazers shout.
Patch pockets and turnback cuffs on a suit coat shout loudly!

Photo Credits: Hart Schaffner & Marx, Leffot blog, Perry Ellis, M Magazine, don't remember the first photos owner.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

MTO Dreams

I've been secretly socking away some money for some Made-to-Order Shoes. So far, I've got about $600 saved up. I'm thinking about splurging on some boots or some monk straps. Whatever I do, I'll definitely make it a fun shoe. Hell, I might even go for some button boots.

Now onward ho! Shoes today are greatly limited in design and materials. This is probably due to the market in mens fine shoes being usurped by sneakers and cheaper alternatives. One can only get an idea of this by reading and studying ads from the past. As an avid thrift shopper and yard sale aficionado I can tell you that even regular people could afford to purchase fine leather shoes. Why, the market was flush with a surplus of makers and the entire environment supported it. Sneakers were utilitarian and only for sport thusly, the propers shoes due to saturation and demand could be offered and low as well as astounding price points. Another side effect was that, just like today, the various makes could be creative and market different styles and fashions.

You don't believe me do you, take a look at the following:

Too many to describe. Just know that they would look proper even today. I'm really digging the straight tip oxford in the corner.

This appears to be spectators with 2 different kinds of materials. It appears to be suede, calf skin, and white leather. The materials contrast highly and look sharper for it.

A casual design with some perforations. Botegga Venetta still designs shoes like this every S/S.

A spectator monk hybrid next to a spectator with some perforated leather panels.

Photo Credit: All are Esquire and found all over the internets...

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Taking Inspiration From the Joker

The Joker's trademark colors are green and purple. These colors look well together yet many ignore there potential. Whenever I mention it to a friend they laugh or bring up the Joker. I take it in kind and just prove them wrong. Instead of looking like a cartoon character, I channel a dandy of exquisite taste.

Take a gander and analyze why this works:

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dressing to Live.

Life is composed of many stages. These stages bring many different aspects of culture, knowledge, responsibility, and costume. The last of these is what we shall concern ourselves with and explore further. We shall seek to understand it and apply .

To avoid argument, let us assume that life begins from conception and ends at death. Here are the stages: conception to birth, infancy to school age, school age to young adulthood, and full adulthood to middle age, eldership, and finally death. At conception to birth you wear nothing and from infancy to school age your parents dress you according to the fashions of your age, sometimes their whim takes over. During young adulthood you begin to develop your own ideas and dress according to them; most will follow what the media, their peers, or affiliate groups wear. The next stage full adulthood, by now you are firmly stuck in your way of dressing. If you are a man you have to own at minimum a 1 suit and you have completely become absorbed in your profession's attire. Eldership is a free-for-all. You can say and wear anything you desire. Many now have the privilege of dressing with all the exclusive items of their culture. In my culture, you can now wear tribal dress with a cane and highly decorated head dress even before the Chiefs. Then finally, at death, you once again wear nothing at all.

Mr. E living to dress at Christmas.

The sartorial blogosphere sometimes waxes poetry and philosophizes about dressing to the point of making it seem like that is the expression of ultimate masculinity. Dressing to them is intrinsically important to their life; they live to dress. This is advisable only in some circumstances. The most appropriate time for this is during eldership. It is in this stage of life that one has no responsibilities, theoretically and maybe only in the best case scenarios, and society has freed one to the point of allowing them to pursue and develop the intrinsic things in life. Some examples of this in Western culture are the senior citizen golfers, continuing education or life long learning programs at universities, and the Flavio Briatore like playboy billionaires.

Manton, M.D. dressing to live for his medical practice.

Well what of the majority of us that are sartorialists. It is estimated by menswear retailers that we are of the 18 - 34 age range, the so called video-game demographic. This is the adulthood to middle age category. In the full adulthood stage of life we are seeking things that are instrumental. On the young side one is occupied with education on the older end one is completely engorged with wealth building in their career. These things are all to build a life for themselves and their families; the foundation for the lifestyle they will hopefully live during eldership is being created. This stage of life requires instrumentality in the choice of dress. For, to succeed in one's career one must dress according to the profession and peers in one's place of employment. One is said to be 'dressing to live'. To dress to unique or outdress the superiors will bring ill will towards you and hamper your success; Antongiovanni, the author of TheLondonLounge.Net fame, writes something similar in his book, "The Suit."

While it is admirable to seek the intrinsic values of dandyism it is much more useful for the majority of sartoralists to dress with what they can get away with. One should copy their peers and superiors but not to a tee. Copy the form but play with the particulars. Choose to be a dandy with the items one does not expose very much. Socks and pocket squares lend themselves to this quite well. Items that are front and center like ties should follow the norm to ensure one's livelihood. Remember this advise, dress to live in your youth and live to dress during eldership.

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Interesting Fair Isle Sweater Vest

From time to time one comes across anomalies in the menswear world. These are items that existed for a short period of time, are not traditional, completely bizarre, or just plain archaic; yet they are desirable, even if controversial.

The Houndstooth Kid, an internet friend of the Eccentric Orange Gent, recently posted about the mess jacket. This got my wheels turning and inspired me to post about my sweater vest. Sometimes you gain inspiration from your peers and I thank him for that.

Here is the interesting Fair Isle sweater vest:

The most interesting thing about this sweater vest is closure system. It creates a very large opening in the chest and opens up so many possibilities for tie and shirt combinations. The deep opening makes it unsuitable for wear without jackets and with bow ties. Sorry! This is a straight tie and jacket affair. The pattern and closure make it highly informal. You should only wear this with a casual or country suit. The more daring of dandies will choose to take it with an odd jacket and odd pants. Sadly the buttons stop short of allowing you to wear a pocket watch although, one could jerry rig one for extra style points.

While this seems to be novel; it actually is a style of sweater that fell out of favor after the sixties. I've come across a few and even asked a seasoned Atlanta financial executive who happened to be wearing one at an alumni mixer down town about them. The banker told me that they were all the rage when he was a student at Emory in the '60s. They also can be found on ebay from time to time. I personally think they should still be around and only add interest to the sweater combinations that dandies can piece together.

Ebay Image

Next time your thrifting consider this option. I overlooked mine but after three months of passing it by I finally came to my senses and picked it up. Please, let us remind ourselves every once in a while of forgotten words in the sartorial dictionary.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Money Never Sleeps!!!

As a child, I watched Wall Street immediately I wanted to be Gordon Gecko with a conscious. His wealth and lifestyle were something for me to dream about. My ultimate dream is to have a penthouse one day and live the life of a Chief. Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps is coming out and guess who is going to watch it? Do I still want to be Gecko, no, I want to be Warren Buffett. Both are the reason I studied finance. Okay! Not exactly but roll with it.

In the long run, I want to enter Private Equity and chase my financial goal, for now, I'm quite happy being Bud Fox's dad and working hard for a living. After all, the skills I'm sharpening now will serve me well as a banker or financier.

Let's get down to business: I picked up a pair of cuff links made from silver, my favorite. They are chain linked and have buy on 1 side and sell on the other. This is exactly what I could picture Gordon Gekko wearing in Money Never Sleeps. I may not have his wealth but I've got this handsome pair of links. I can't wait to wear these. They are worth all $12 I spent on them. Check out the un-boxing.