In ‘Men’s fashion explained’ I will take one item from the classic ‘ABC of Men’s Fashion’ by Hardy Amies to discuss here on the blog. We still can learn from Sir Hardy, the late dresser of the Queen.
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THE ABC OF MEN’S FASHION
The book “ABC of Men’s Fashion” by sir Hardy Amies is an alphabetical guide for a (gentle)man’s appearance. Although first published in the 1960s – the 1970s still had to come – Hardy Amies denounces the decay in the appearance of men. For us beyond the 1970s this book should be a guide to rediscover that fashion is masculine too. Every extra attention by a man to his appearance should be encouraged.
Summer nears and due to the temperature people show an increasing part of their body. Summer season is the best period for those who like good looking legs or muscled arms. A lamp should never be put under a bowl.
Style seems however dead during the warmest period of the year. Practical wear prevails a bit to often over decorum. Sometimes indecency seems to be another word for tourism. But what we want is to stay stylish and yet enjoy summer, so let's regard Hardie Amies' view on summer and holiday wear.
How to dress
Hardy Amies begins with stating that we must consider the meteorological, but certainly also the cultural climate of our destination, and whether or not it is city or countryside. "Because", he says, "it's simply rude to wear holiday clothes in Paris. And: "it must therefore be admitted that the feeling of wearing the wrong holiday wear can make all but the very strong minded very unhappy."
Furthermore, he gives the following hints:
"Always wear a collar and tie in a town, even if it is by the sea, after six o'clock."
"Never wear shorts except actually on the beach or on a walking tour. Every man knows them to be inelegant and often considers them indecent."
"Sandals are hell, except on the beach where you want to take them off: or on a boat. And worn with socks are super-hell."
"All short sleeves look ghastly. If you feel hot, then roll up your sleeves but never above the elbow."
"Travel in a dark suit, in as light a weight cloth as you can afford. Wear black casual shoes."
This all means: no shorts, no short sleeves, and it is better to wear a suit. About the sandals we knew already of course. But I think Hardy Amies' opinion is a bit 1960s. I believe shorts and short sleeves can be stylish, yet properly worn and of slim fit cut. Otherwise, they do look ghastly with silly lengths of sleeves and pants. And a suit: yes! A nice piece made from linen or seersucker; fabrics which breathe.
The most important message I think is to dress to the occasion. That is easy-to-go-wear to the beach and some nice pieces when going to town. It is the respect for the people and the place, according to mr. Amies. I recently heard someone saying: "You always dress for the benefit of other people". And how? That I think is the Art of Dressing.