Challenging iGent Verities

Jan Libourel

Well-Known Member
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With the passing of nine years since I got into the clothing forum subculture, I have become rather weary of the tedious repetitive and almost cultic dogmatism regnant in them. Lately, I have been rethinking some of the cherished "rules" and thought I'd post my challenges to them.

No Notch-Lapel Tuxedoes: Notch-lapel tuxedoes were around prior to World War I. Contrary to what some forum "gods" have proclaimed, they did survive in the "Golden Age." They have been back in fashion and widespread use since the 1960s. If they were good enough for James Bond, Prince Phillip, the POTUS and George Clooney, isn't it a bit ridiculous to declare at this late date that they are "bad form"?

No Black Suits: Okay, maybe they don't complement sallow, North European complexions very well. Not all of us are North Europeans, and not all men of North European extraction have sallow complexions. I gather they are very popular in East Asia, and I think they complement golden, East Asian skin quite well. Moreover, iGents are quick to recommend almost-black suitings like dark charcoal and midnight blue. If these colors, all but indistinguishable from black are good, why then is black bad? Moreover, if black suitings are bad, why then is black formal-wear approved? For much of the year, it is broad daylight at 6:00 p.m. How can a man look good in a black tuxedo then but bad in a black suit at 5:00 p.m.? Moreover, black was the most common color for stroller jackets, morning coats and frock coats before that. Did the men of that era, often lamented as one of vanished elegance, look like crap so attired back then? Just wondering.

No Bluchers with a Suit: This one seems to be pure forum-lore. I have never seen it in a printed work, and I had been intermittently consulting etiquette books and style guides for about 35 years before discovering the forum culture. Yeah, they're a little less dressy and formal than oxfords, by and large, but what's wrong with dressing down the formality of the suit sometimes? I put bluchers with a conservative suit in about the same category as a BD shirt with the same.

Pinstripes Are for Business Only: Another thing that seems to be pure forum groupthink. Why? I have seen photos of such Golden Age icons as Fred Astaire, Cary Grant and "the Dook" wearing pinstripes in seemingly non-business contexts. I used to have a dark charcoal suit with subtle pinstripes that I wore to several funerals, and I thought I was a helluva lot better clad than some of the other attendees in tweed jackets, "California tuxes" and worse. For that matter, what exactly is wrong with wearing a pinstripe or chalkstripe suit to a wedding or cocktail reception?

Somber Attire for Weddings: Not exactly a rule, but most forumites seem to counsel dressing for wedding (if you are a guest) as if it were a somber, solemn affair like a funeral--dark suits and the like, at least if it's not a beach wedding. C'mon, weddings are supposed to be festive affairs. Why not wear lighter suits, blazers, bold and brightly colored ties, that sort of thing?

I know I am sounding a bit Cruiser-like here, but I am curious whether many of the rest of you participating in this forum are weary of the old dogmas.
 
@Bluchers - I think the issue is more of how many bluchers are designed rather than the fact that the shoes are a single cut of leather (which is what makes them bluchers, right?). But a lot of the bluches are see are very rounded, clunky lasts; not something I'd wear with a suit. I think the right blucher (something black and sleek) would have no problem pairing with a suit.

@Wedding attire - I think this probably depends on how others are dressing. You just don't want your clothes to stand out more than the clothes of the groom. If everyone else is going a bit loud, then no problem. I generally where a dark charcoal suit, light blue shirt, and a slightly bright blue grenadine (because hey, it's a wedding!). I think the tie is safely festive.
 
What is bluchers?

Aside from that I think I agree. About the black suits, I like them, but as acid boy said the fabric has to be nice. I wear them occasionally or when I have to go to events, but not for business. For example, this is a hell of a suit, I've seen it, and I love it, one day I will make buy one like it. (The lapels look like if they were from a tux, maybe it was for the photoshoot, but the suit have normal lapels. Fabric is Scabal Super 250's)

http://s3.sdr-files.buscafs.com/uploads/news/photos/news_photo_28152_1345058299.jpg

Aghhh can't upload image via mobile from a URL.
 
DD5CC954-8FC8-4B5A-A636-2CAA7B60A677-17605-00000F2CD4D8FB74_zps3c32b5cc.jpg


These are bluchers.

Oh, thanks mate! I don't see the trouble of those combined with a suit.
 
I've seen people wearing "dress loafers" with suits; it's awful, but unfortunately common.

The others look like driving mocs. I'm a big fan of moccasins (not those, though), but I can't imagine them with a suit (I don't think I've ever seen it, either in Texas or SoKo)
 
I think anti-black suit stems mainly from the difficulty of incorporating more color. Black is very flat in that sense - it's easier to pair different colors in ties and shirts against a navy or grey backdrop than a black one.

I agree about bluchers. No reason balmorals are the only "suit appropriate" shoes on the planet. I agree though too with Chorn Chorn re driving mocs. Yikes.

I think the general gravitas of a wedding (ie, its importance in the lives of its participants) lends to dark clothing. Lighter clothing is usually more "festive" and less serious. I don't have a problem wearing lighter clothing if that's what the wedding party has determined its wanted, but the most formal appropriate is usually best. In that sense, it's sign of respect for the ordinance and the participants.

Can't comment on the tuxes, but think that whole thing is generally blown WAYYYYYYYYY out of proportion.

Pinstripes? I go back and forth on.

-

Pleats, while I personally don't like them, are not the devil. Correctly used, they're immensely flattering and allow pants to drape far better than not. Also higher waisted pants as opposed to low-rise jobs sitting literally across the dick-line.

I'm sure I have more opinions, but am really tired tonight.
 
Also re: black suits and formal wear in wedding parties - I can't stand when people cite the oft-repeated line, "you'll be mistaken for the groom."

Really?

You really think that people coming to this wedding via invite aren't going to be sure who the groom is? He's the one next to the chick in all white.

:gtfo-73:
 
I have gotten mistaken for the groom once. But that's because people are dumb.
 
My distaste for black suits is probably knee jerk iGent-ism, but if I were to bust out some post hoc rationalization:
- in the day time, straight black creates too harsh a contrast with its surroundings. I see a lot of black suits and most of them look terrible for reasons outside the color, but they look a little better on cloudy days, lending this rationalization some credence.
- I think a fit with a black suit can always be improved by replacing the black suit with an identical navy or charcoal suit. I'm normally not one to buy into this argument; variety should play a role here, not just "what looks best"...but I don't think black really provides much variety
 
To be honest, I'm not a big fan of black shoes either. Most of mine are brown and I'll wear wear them just about anywhere and in most context.

This. I personally don't like wearing black shoes with a blue suit. o_O
 
I would add a couple of other iGent verities that I can't savvy:

No Blue Odd Trousers: Where this one came from, I have never been able to comprehend. As I recently remarked in a thread on this at SF, I find blue trousers are an excellent complement to many of my odd jackets. I can think of no aesthetic reason why this would be wrong. If it is a matter of cultural norms, well, a lot of them are offered for sale. Go figure.

No Fusing: Yeah, like any clothing buff, I prefer full canvas and all that good stuff. However, I have owned quite a few fused garments, jackets and suits, that were handsome, durable, good fitting garments. I cannot recall ever having any problems with fusing (puckering, etc.). For the guy who wants to look good on a limited budget, fused garments are probably going to be his only option (aside from thrifting). However, I think a guy can look very good indeed in a fused garment, and the technology is much improved today. There is no need, I think, to react toward fusing (fairly priced) with the horror vampires are supposed to show toward Holy Water, which seems to be the typical iGent reaction.
 
No Fusing: ... There is no need, I think, to react toward fusing (fairly priced) with the horror vampires are supposed to show toward Holy Water, which seems to be the typical iGent reaction.



A-freaking-men.

Of course, I aspire to better garments. But no reason to discount others the way the iGent rages on fused suits.
 
Question: Which brands use nice glue/chemicals for fusing the materials?
 
Somber Attire for Weddings: Not exactly a rule, but most forumites seem to counsel dressing for wedding (if you are a guest) as if it were a somber, solemn affair like a funeral--dark suits and the like, at least if it's not a beach wedding. C'mon, weddings are supposed to be festive affairs. Why not wear lighter suits, blazers, bold and brightly colored ties, that sort of thing?

+1 this. I'm getting chopped apart in another thread for my suit choice for a wedding last night. I know it was brown, but the other colors were bright, and the unstructured nature of the jacket lent itself to the casual nature of this particular wedding.

The thing is, if you have no chops then ya, follow the easy set of rules, but if you've been and done it, stretch out. I know some disagree with my choice, but I'm 100% sure I pulled it off.
 
Speaking of cuffs, where the heck did the clunky 2" trouser cuff come from. It always looks off and is never seen on normal people.
 
Speaking of cuffs, where the heck did the clunky 2" trouser cuff come from. It always looks off and is never seen on normal people.

I asked the same question on FNB quite awhile ago. When I first became aware of the trend, I thought maybe it was some retro "Golden Age" thing of beloved the iGentry, but on looking at a passel of Golden Age illustrations, I sure couldn't find anything of the sort. The reason for their popularity in certain circles sure beats me!
 
I have one pair of trousers, from a gray suit, that have 2 inch cuffs. It was definitely a SF influenced decision, but it's one which I am happy with a for a few reasons:

* I like it for the sake of variety. I'd never have all my pants done with such cuffing.
* I dislike small (1 inch) cuffs. I'd rather have 2 or nothing.
* It seems to create a greater sense of balance between the top and lower halves of the outfit. Up top you have a jacket, tie, shirt, and pocketsquare--all of which may be patterned and of different colors. Down below, you have a long, narrow block of a single color, and then shoes. The 2 inch cuffs may add a bit of visual weight here. You still have a long, unbroken block of color, but it's better framed.
 
Another iGentism that I don't dig is, "No solid-colored pocket squares." If they were good enough for Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan, they are good enough for me.
 
Another iGentism that I don't dig is, "No solid-colored pocket squares." If they were good enough for Fred Astaire and Jack Buchanan, they are good enough for me.

I've never understood this one either. Most times, these ridiculous patterns that end up being worn completely ruin the visual effect of what the square is supposed to be in the first place.
 
It might be a knee jerk reaction to the matching of solid squares to solid ties seen at such illustrious places as Men's Warehouse. As far as solids, I have cream and navy silk and that's really it (outside of white linen). The cream silk is the only one of the two that gets any wear as I have a blue-gray with polka dots that generally looks better than the solid navy. Solids with texture I think could work very well (I have a grey and brown herringbone PS's that I like a lot...but are a little bulky for my tastes).

(I know very little about the art of the proper pocket square)
 
What about buttoning a single breasted dinner jacket? Should I button or not button while standing up?
 
I prefer to button because it just takes a second and a half, you look better, and the act of buttoning itself conveys a sense of composure and propriety.
 
It's odd to see skinny lapels on a jacket with a low buttoning point.
 
This isn't exactly an i-gent verity, but Leather Soul sells some UGLY fucking shoes. Its also a fantastic business model when everything they sell seems to be out of stock with a several month backorder.
 
I don't really understand who they're targeting with that by-line.
I think it's great for luring in boring but pretentious types that think they have style, the quintessential igent.
Yeah, can I focus on the natural colored sole and how it works on a few shoes and then they went nuts and slapped them on everything? Or how AE can do up a custom shoe and have it at your door in three weeks but Alden takes months on end?
 
This isn't exactly an i-gent verity, but Leather Soul sells some UGLY fucking shoes. Its also a fantastic business model when everything they sell seems to be out of stock with a several month backorder.

It looks as if I am going to be up in Beverly Hills for the first time in a long time this Saturday. I'll have to check out their establishment on Rodeo Drive if I'm anywhere near there. They must be doing well to be able to afford the rent on Rodeo. I was once told it is about twice as high as for similar space on neighboring streets.
 
Reading through a few forums on SF - I hate how "quality" has become less descriptive and now can be safely classified as simply a buzzword. Some guy posting in the 3Sixteen thread, at 3 posts, impressed with the "quality" of the jean after wondering if the thighs will stretch (to which someone else eagerly jumped on the groupthink train and said "yeeeeeah man, dem thighs stretch fine" (false)).

Yeah, ok.
 

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