January 3rd, 2010
As many of you know, Guy Richie recently directed “Sherlock Holmes”, a 2009 re-imagining of the original Sir Arthur Conan Doyle character. While the movie isn’t entirely traditional and true to the original works (to the point where one may stipulate it’s 24 starring Sherlock Holmes with magic), there’s quite a bit of great traditional fashion with a slightly modern spin- with some great fashion tips you can learn from.
First off, let’s go ahead and address the core style of Sherlock Holmes- Victorian fashion. Victorian fashion is, at least in my opinion, freaking awesome- it’s an example of aesthetics-for-the-sake-of-aesthetics, but with a remarkable masculinity and function that, frankly, looks damn cool. It’s also the easiest locale to pinpoint the beginning concepts and implementations of the modern suit as we know it, though many previous designs existed before it.
Sherlock Holmes features an interesting mix of Victorian fashion (well, vague feelings of it, which I’ll explain below) mixed with more traditional style. Characters are almost always donned in some form of suiting- three piece suits in the English style, what appear to be two piece suits, lots of vests, and the like. Of course, to make the style more “Victorian” in feel, many of the characters wear distinctive period clothing, such as pocket watches, various hats (newsboy hats, trilbys, etc), and outlandish cravats.
So what can you actually apply to your wardrobe?
What to Apply
Despite the movie’s constant outlandish attempt to don Holmes in interesting and eccentric clothing, the real person to watch in Sherlock Holmes is Watson.
Wearing a number of different interesting mostly tweed suits always paired with a distinctive detachable rounded collar, Jude Law’s Holmes is the character that’s arguably the most fashionable in this film. Not only does he bring a plausible class to a rounded collar, but because he is portrayed as excessively clean and “so”, Watson is often much more interesting sartorially than Holmes ever ends up being. There are a few misses for all characters fashion-wise in the film (most notably some of the color choices, the unbuttoning of double breasted coats, and ESPECIALLY some of the choices for Holmes, who seems to be competing in the contest for the most outlandishly and arguably inappropriately dressed), but Watson is almost always well dressed.
The first thing you should look into is the rounded collar, which is also occasionally called the club collar. These are, unfortunately, incredibly hard to find in modern stores, as they are somewhat specialized offerings- that is to say, they’re the avant-garde of the somewhat stoic and traditionalist world of suiting. Brands that have or previously have had rounded collar shirts include Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren. Keep in mind a lot of rounded collars shirts are rather expensive- don’t expect to make them a staple of your wardrobe easily.
The second thing you might be interested in is a nice tweed suit. Tweed suits are a lot easier to get your hands on than club collars, and ultimately more useful- though actual tweed suits are admittedly still somewhat difficult to find. In general, any sort of more “English” suiting works- light plaid or check patterns are good replacements. If you really want to embody the look, look for an English cut suit- that is, higher armholes, sometimes double breasted, with slimmer pants and slightly softer shoulders. Virtually every suitmaker will have some version of a English patterned suit, so it isn’t hard to find one- just apply the same rules to one as you would to any suit you would purchase.
Finally, don’t be afraid of the men’s hat, especially now. Though I’m not giving you carte blanche to obsessively wear fedoras/trilbys like a basement dwelling nerd (or increasingly a Forever 21-going hipster), embrace the men’s hat- I’m talking newsboy caps, flat caps, and the like. Ironically, these are growing in popularity in the fashion world- they’re both incredibly fashion-forward and perfect for cold weather. Don’t go overboard- don’t go leather, don’t wear one everyday, and for god’s sake, don’t buy something ridiculous looking- stick to something classy and possibly super-traditional (think heavier fabrics) for a great and very versatile look.
In closing, Sherlock Holmes is not the perfect example of Victorian fashion by any means. It’s really best described as a convenient hybrid- enough Victoria to be English, but enough modernity to be familiar to viewers (one might argue this is how the entire movie is comprised, but I’m revealing my Basil Rathbone inner fanboy). Nonetheless, it’s a great way to get an introduction to what a nice mixture of older fashion and newer fashion might be- namely, a traditional but strangely modern style that you can easily weave into your everyday dress.
September 13th, 2009
“The Frisky”, a Turner-run equivalent to this site for women, has recently posted an article simply entitled “10 Things Women Don’t Understand About Men“, in which they ask some really ridiculous questions about men’s behavior. That being said, obviously, such an opportunity will not go ignored here- so here are the answers for The Frisky’s “10 Things Women Don’t Understand About Men“.
1. What is so hard about asking for directions?
It’s all ego and a little bit of wanderlust. The predominant theme, of course, is the ego- and in a general sense, the desire to fix something for oneself. Men typically are acculturated (at least in the west) to be as little interdependent as possible, which is precisely why the problem of “we’re lost” is generally fixed by the thought of “I’ll find a way out by myself”. As well, most guys have a kind of passive desire to discover things for themselves, as opposed to following directions- meaning, in essence, that it’s more “fun” to see the inner mechanisms yourself than to have someone explain it to you in detail.
2. Why do you need a gadget to unlock your car door?
I’m not sure why (stereotypical) women pretend like they don’t have their own gadgetry to fool around with- like vibrating mascara brushes (yes, that does sound dirty) and the like. In general, men like gadgets because they represent the new and the strange- and a lot of guys like the status bonus of having the latest and greatest stuff. As ironic as it may be, this is the exact reason why many self-important “businessmen” once ran around with pagers strapped to their belts- it had nothing to do with convenience as much as it had to do with the ambiance it perceptibly gave them.
3. What is it about “Star Wars”?
“Star Wars” is famous because it is generally accepted to be a really good genre-defining movie. “Star Wars” isn’t what we would consider some sort of tear-jerking masterpiece of writing, but what it does is evokes a sense of fun that only the Sci-Fi genre can. Similarly, movie series like the “Indiana Jones” series do this well not because of the complexity of the story, but because, in a kind of “Flash Gordon” sort of way, we get a kick out of the simplicity and action. Many guys will argue there’s a lot of depth to “Star Wars”- that may or may not be true, but it seems to mainly boil back down to the idea of the genre being fun for the sake of fun.
4. And the “bro hug”? Hug it out or don’t hug it out, you know?
As I’ll also note below, men do not like to touch each other, mainly because inter-male affection is frowned upon in most Western societies. In India and many other countries, this is very different- but you get what your culture has borne, and in this case, it’s a strong sense of personal space between members of the male sex. Would you much rather have us holding hands and hugging affectionately (as happens in the streets of India much more than it does between members of the opposite sex)? I think not.
5. When you keep one seat between you and your buddy at the movies, are you saving room for the holy spirit or what?
See the above. It also happens to give us more leg room and more arm room, which is ultimately more comfortable. If you ever take the time to look, most men sit fairly spread out, which is often cited as an attempt to be dominant and mark space. Females, trained to be relatively compact (both possibly as a sign of submission and also as a way to prevent showing panties in a skirt), do not do this.
6. Why are you so hung up on the bitchy girls?
Why are you so hung up on bitchy guys? The answer is simple: no-one likes problematic people, regardless of gender.
7. If you want to break up with us, why don’t you say so?
I’m not entirely sure where this question comes from (smacks of some angry female author making an article about an ex-boyfriend or something), but the general answer to this is just as complex as with girls: a lot of reasons. Some guys like the sex. Some don’t know how to safely break it off. Some don’t know if they want to break it off themselves. It’s always different and very hard to describe, and very dependent on the situation at hand.
8. Forget about putting the seat down, why don’t you ever change the toilet paper roll?
What kind of silly question is this? Guys are different. I have a good few male friends who actually get so semantic that they debate which way the toilet paper should be hung. If we’re making grandiose stereotypes, allow me to continue with them: we do it because the ever-present debate of toilet paper hanging has yet to be remedied.
9. Why do you ask for our number if you have no intention of calling?
There’s an insane amount of stigma attached to calling a girl, which some guys balk at. Additionally, some guys (myself included, at times) do not understand the proper protocol for certain number-givings. Merely deciding to call is hard enough- if you were vague in any way (or made appearances of being reluctant to give the number), often a guy will read that as a subtle sign and merely not call. In other cases, if you gave the number in a casual situation (i.e. in the sense of a club or meeting or business sort of thing), many guys will not call because they think it falls into the “box” of the aforementioned group, and that it would be rude to call. Even if they do decide to call and want to call, there is something rather intimidating about calling out of the blue for a date- try cold calling a male friend sometime.
10. Seriously, do you not smell that?
There’s actually some validity to the idea that men smell differently than women- but hey, let’s presume that we both do in a similar way. Pending that everything else is equal, everyone (regardless of gender, age, etc) has a very hard time smelling their own body odors after a while, mainly because they acclimate to the smell. Because of that, you too probably smell in some respects, no matter how much cleanser and perfume you may be wearing.
November 28th, 2008
I occasionally wish I was a super-rich magazine writer that had a business account. That way, I could excuse virtually anything I did on “writing topics”- watching movies, going to shows, drinking exorbitant amounts at fancy bars, going to random foreign countries “just because”- the works. That isn’t happening (owning the place you write for negates the fun of handling the money), but recently I took the time to go see the new Bond film everyone is talking about- Quantum of Solace- and try to see what all of the self-proclaimed fashionistas on the internet are raving about.
Quantum of Solace, as you more than likely already know, is the sequel to Casino Royale, the first in the new line of Bond films starring Daniel Craig, the guy most people know for starring opposite of Angelina Jolie in the absolutely horrible Lara Croft: Tomb Raider flick. The movie is essentially about Bond going somewhat (if not all the way) solo as he rages over the death of Vesper Lind (Eva Green) and fights to stop the wannabe environmentalist Dominic Greene (Mathieu Amalric) from taking over the water supply of Bolivia. If this sounds like one of the most boring James Bond plots yet, you are entirely correct.
The first thing noticeable about the new Bond movies is that Daniel Craig has been outfitted in oldschool British tailoring, as opposed to his predecessor, Pierce Brosnan, who wore Italian cut suits (which were sometimes a bit ridiculous, admittedly). The big name in this new movie is Tom Ford, who did the design for Craig’s suits, glasses, and pretty much everything but his underwear- so you know it’s going to be stylish.
The “main uniform” of James Bond- the black suit- is back and better than ever. Well tailored and with a clear English cut (three pockets, two buttons, very tight tailoring)- it’s all essentially perfect. The lapels are relatively narrow (As are the shoulders, or as narrow as they can get), but the waist is taken in very tightly, which gives the “skirt” part of the jacket a little bit of move. There are no belts whatsoever. The suit is apparently also made with old school mohair tonic fabric- an old 60s fabric that apparently was used to give a more “classic” look, reminiscing back to the Sean Connery days of James Bond.
Craig’s suit is not accented with much other than what you might expect- a pocket square and a nice crisp french cuff shirt with cufflinks. Nothing ostentatious at all- hell, even the ties are rather demure. The key theme of the new James Bond via Tom Ford seems to be keeping it low-key- and thus classy. This isn’t surprising, considering this seems to be a recurring theme nowadays- but it’s interesting to see James Bond, formerly known for heavy italian suits and big watches (and even bigger cell phones) now keeping it minimal.
Bond does change out of the standard black suit, which begins to show the real versatility of the costume designer, Louise Frogley. Bond is also seen in a nice full length double breasted topcoat with the lapels popped (or some form of long black coat, I was barely able to make out what it was), a rather large padded bomber of some sort, and even a dark blue polo with jeans.
One of the most notable changes to Bond’s wardrobe are the sunglasses, newly designed by Tom Ford. With a strange bridge bar running from both lenses and slightly turned eye drop style lenses, the silver aviators are anything but traditional. By all means, I personally liked the design, but even on Craig they seemed ever so slightly stupid looking. Too bad.
Overall, Quantum of Solace costume designer Louise Frogley did an incredible job doing what she did- and while the Tom Ford glasses were a bit strange, I felt that the movie all together did a very good job getting the “James Bond Feeling”- something the movie itself, outside of the fashion, kinda failed at doing. I’m still somewhat angry that not only did Bond not use a single useful gadget, but he also seemed to forget to visit Q, or do anything else useful other than go Peter-Parker-in-Spiderman 3 emo. But whatever.
So, what lessons can we learn from Quantum of Solace?
First, go without the belt. I know I’ve advised against it before, but it seems that it’s finally picking up in pop culture enough to go with it safely. Sure, it’s been the “correct” way to wear suits for quite some time, but I think it’s finally time for a miniature belt-less revolution.
Second off, keep it simple, stupid. Bond is dressed simply for a reason- minimalism is the new maximalism. Go understated, clean, and stylish, and you will always win.
Third off, ties that match your eyes are always good. Craig dons a gray-blue tie that matches his eyes, and you could do very well matching that. For brown eyes, a brown tie may be a bit silly, but a black tie could never hurt.
Finally, no-one can stress the importance of arm candy. Get one or two hot women and have them walk around you periodically. You will always look better.
How to Get the Look
The “Bond Suit”
- A Black Suit with a slight sheen (be it legitimate mohair tonic fabric or not)
- A crisp white french cuff (not barrel cuff) shirt
- A white handkerchief for a pocket square
- A gray-blue, gray, or light tan tie
- Black Oxfords(?)
- Simple metal cufflinks
Yep, that’s it. No belt, no tie clip, no expensive jewelry- nothing. The key here is all in the tailoring. Daniel Craig’s suit is so damned amazing because it is tailored incredibly well- tight in the stomach, slightly (but not too) loose in the coat skirt, and so well tailored in the pants that it needs neither belt nor pleats. If you want this kind of suit, it doesn’t matter too much what you buy so much as where you get it tailored- so start hunting for a good tailor.
- Peak Lapel Black Tuxedo
- Crisp white Tuxedo shirt (Or a standard white french cuff shirt, I can’t tell which he wears)
- Black bowtie
- Black Oxfords(?)
- Simple metal cufflinks
Again, very damned simple. The tailoring is the same as the “Bond Suit” above- it’s all about making it fit perfectly, so no matter where you get a tuxedo, you’re essentially forced to rely on the skill of your tailor to make this look right. Unfortunate, but true.
- Dark blue fitted polo
- Dark wash jeans (Straight leg?)
- Tan leather (suede?)
- Aviator Sunglasses
Chances are, you probably have one or two of the above in your own wardrobe. This isn’t a very “James Bond” outfit, but it still can be rocked fairly easily.
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