Christian Barker lays down the 13 sartorial commandments that
should be written in stone...
13. Fasten Furious
addition to the facts of life, any responsible father will teach
his adolescent son the rule of “Sometimes, Always, Never”. Meaning,
on three-button suits, you can Sometimes fasten the top button (but
really, why?), should Always button the middle, and Never do up the
bottom button. Steps A and N apply for two-button jackets, while a
one-button’s tough to mess up. (The principles of “Sometimes,
Always, Never” may also be applicable to certain aspects of the
facts of life — ask your dad to explain how and why, we’re not that
sort of publication.)
12. Lengthy Legging
pant overflowing the shoes looks messy, makes your feet appear
smaller, and visually diminishes your height as the stacked cloth
shortens the leg (which is why we’re glad tiny Tom Cruise has
finally broken the habit). Although a relatively generous break can
be executed tastefully, and conversely, ankle-exposing ‘highwater’
trousers may also be successfully deployed, a trouser just kissing
the shoe is the Platonic ideal.
11. Forewarned is Forearmed
Eschew ephemeral fashion!
Disregard the knuckle-grazing designs of Demna Gvasalia! Properly,
a jacket’s sleeves should end around your wrist joint, and the cuff
of your shirt should extend about a half-inch to an inch beyond
10. Mind the Gap
a coat sits away from the neck and shirt collar, the empty space is
what’s called ‘prole gap’ — short for proletarian, because it
apparently makes you look like a peasant. (History teaches us that
in pre-industrial society, serfs, field hands, blacksmiths,
yak-herders and the like were often woefully unschooled in the
sartorial arts and thus, sadly prone to this type of tailoring
9. Cheap Tricks
men make the mistake of buying a lot of inexpensive garments,
thinking this will give them a larger wardrobe to work with.
However, the menswear savant will tell you, always buy less but
better, investing in high-quality classic pieces that are
trend-resistant and improve with age. Rather than purchase a whole
new outfit comprising mid-range or fast fashion apparel, spend the
same sum on one outstanding piece that complements other garments
you already possess.
8. Matchy-Matchy Calamity
A shiny tie and pocket square in exactly
matched material screams ‘rented-by-the-hour Vegas wedding
ensemble’. Rock socks the same colour and you’ve hit the kitsch
trifecta. Instead, look to have your tie and pocket square in
similar or complementary colours, or tones and motifs that carry on
a conversation (a repp stripe tie and ancient madder hanky which
both feature a touch of red, say). There should be a relationship
between the items, but they shouldn’t be twins.
7. No Capes!
Here at The Rake, we may have been an
early proponent of ‘robe-shouldering’ (draping a coat across the
shoulders), but now we look at the preening peacocks thus attired
and — like a horrified Robert Oppenheimer observing a nuclear
explosion — are aghast at what we played a role in creating. When
it comes to actual capes, meanwhile… as we learnt from The
Incredibles, they’re always a bad idea. Even for superheroes.
6. Knot Advisable
The four-in-hand is consistently
best, while a half or full Windsor may on rare occasions be
permissible. But please at all costs avoid finicky ‘fancy’ tie
knots of the sort you may have glimpsed in the darker recesses of
Instagram, often seen in company with the travesty that is the Hex
5. Unsuitable Attire
Sure, the ‘broken suit’ is a thing nowadays.
Remember, though: The smoother a suit jacket’s cloth, the less
success you’ll have attempting to repurpose it as an odd jacket
coupled with contrasting trousers or jeans. A more sensible move is
to simply wear a legit blazer or sports coat — just as the lord
(Boyer) intended and the good book (Flusser’s Dressing the Man)
4. Hide & Seek
They needn’t be exactly the same,
but the leather of your watch strap, belt and shoes should all
dwell harmoniously in the same realm. Black belt and brown shoes?
That’s an irreconcilable clash to rival Stark vs. Lannister. Untold
suffering will ensue.
3. Excess Accessories
Bountiful bracelets and rings,
tie clips, floral boutonnieres, lapel pins, lavishly staged pocket
squares, spats, steampunk specs, walking sticks, flamboyant
feather-adorned hats — and all at once?! It’s too much. Back away
from the jewellery box, ragazzi.
2. Sausages & Buns
Chaps in too-tight suits look
like wieners wrapped in string — bulges in all the wrong places.
Equally, the trend for short, derriere-exposing blazers and suit
jackets needs to come to an end. Like a good lawyer, a coat should
always cover your behind.
- 1. Stop the Pomposity
“Whoever fights monsters should
see to it that in the process he does not become a monster,”
Friedrich Nietzsche said. Take heed and be careful, as you develop
menswear expertise, not to become an obsessive sartorial elitist,
endlessly judging others on the basis of their dress sense. Because
there’s nothing as unstylish as snobbery. Well, except maybe socks