If The Suit Fits…Wear it


Your Brother’s Suit

Too Tight

It was about ten years ago when someone, or some fashion group, designer decided that slim was the next big thing. Seemingly overnight every new suit buyer was asking for the slim fit suit. Now it didn’t exactly happen that fast, and it took longer in the Midwest, but it happened nonetheless. I wish my marketing campaigns were as successful as this. As with all things new, concepts were taken to extremes. Thom Browne promoted a shorter coat, more traditional in feeling and appearance and short length trousers. You could see hairy ankle bones all over New York and the rest of the fashion world. It even got so ridiculous that the famed ICON of traditional appearance and probity, Brooks Brothers contracted him for several seasons to produce a line for men and women called Black Fleece. The quality, though, was superb.

Other designers got on the band wagon. Traditional stores were “cleaning up” their old stodgy look for a more contemporary look. Problem is,things got out of hand. Clothing looked spayed on, saran wrapped, skin on a wiener. And who helped this hapless uncomfortable , I can only stand in this, garment?????

Just Right

WOMEN!! They took their boyfriends, husbands, significant others, mothers took sons to buy the slim fit suit, shirt, pants, etc. Whether you were built like a fire plug or a broom stick, it was de rigueur. You couldn’t get clothing tight enough for some customers. GQ had actors and athletes on covers, in photo shoot spreads, late night show hosts as well as many other men’s mags in the slim suit. Can you imagine the middle linebacker of your favorite team wearing a sprayed on glen plaid suit? Just like the painted on swimsuit for SI.

Thank God or someone, the trend is moving to more comfort. Letting your calves breathe as I read it said(and other body parts). In the 60’s I wore dress “pegged” trousers to school. Uncomfortable to sit behind a desk all day. Bottom opening maybe 16 inches. Thank God we are going to be allowed to breathe….if she says it’s OK! Now you won’t have to look like you are wearing your little brother’s suit.

Tie Knots

One not to use and One Knot to use

Windsor Knots

The Duke of Windsor before the knot

All style is a matter of personal preference. However, to me there are things that look better, have certain panache, a meaning behind its use. The knot of a tie is a matter we take up today.

When I was a young school boy I attended a private Catholic school both grade school and high school. It seems like I wore a tie since kindergarten. My Dad, being a barber, wore a “barber coat” while cutting hair. He did, however, where a white shirt and tie everyday to work. Hat, coat, dress shoes and dress trousers. In those days there wasn’t casual work clothing. He got to work, took off the shirt and tie, put on the barber coat and was ready for work. When the day was done, he shaved, washed and put the shirt and tie back on to go home for dinner.  I used to watch him tie his tie. Confusing to me at first. He tied a Windsor knot. I learned the knot and tied it for my First Holy Communion picture.

tie knot

JFK Four-In-Hand

But as I grew older, other influences changed my choice of knots. Very influenced by some of my high school buddies whose fathers went to college in the east and the Kennedy crew and administration, I chose a four-in-hand knot. I wanted to emulate the look, be collegiate, Ivy League.

The symmetrical Windsor knot was thought to have been invented by the Duke of Windsor, Edward VIII. Most probably it was devised by his father George V. He liked the full knot to fill the space in his full open spread shirts. The Duke obviously popularized it and became attached to him.

The four-in-hand was considered a simple knot or school boy knot. Not as serious or intricate to tie. Research indicates that the knot could have been used by the carriage drivers on the horses’ reins and their own scarves when driving the carriage. There is even a club in London named for the knot.

tie kno

The Full Windsor

Whatever the origin, the four-in-hand became the knot of choice of the Ivy League class. Simple knot, tied not to neatly, not too seriously in keeping with the ideology of the WASP to make serious dressing, not so serious. Insouciance. Look like your’re not taking yourself to seriously. Sometimes the knot is askew in the tie space to exaggerate the look.

Presidential WASP knots.

This knot is preferred, the four-in-hand for ANY collar type. The Windsor is just so big and complicated looking like a fist under your chin. And that knot tied loosely looks even worse.