I wouldn’t wish that everyone dressed like me. But it’s hard sometimes to find inspiration for the day’s dress when all around you is a sea of jogging bottoms, polyester and denim.
For those that get great pleasure from thinking about what they wear, and a particular thrill from a well-cut jacket and starch-sharp shirt collar, this is my experience on where I find my daily inspiration. I’d be glad to hear yours.
The greatest comes from reading. There are of course many films in which the dress inspires, but reading is closer to hand and more quickly consumed. It would take up much of one’s life if it required watching a classic movie every evening in order to feel stimulated for the following day’s dress. Though you’d learn a lot about films in the process.
No, reading is the key. First off is the internet, again because of ease and speed. Great blogs are few and far between, but Will’s thoughts on A Suitable Wardrobe often spark a raid through the closet and when Scott Schuman covers men on The Sartorialist, which sadly seems to be less often these days, there is usually some takeaway on classic Italiana. Scott’s virtue in this respect is that his taste in menswear is far narrower than women’s. So while it may be more sporadic, it is more consistently inspiring.
Industry shows like Pitti are a great occasion for such inspiration, and this year Tommy Ton’s coverage of the streets – as well as those at the Milan shows, to a lesser extent – has been a revelation. Although he is probably less consistent than Scott, the emphasis on details is great. From this year’s shots my takeaways are tan corduroy and buttonhole pins.
The style forums are a wonderful resource for research, but in my experience less useful for daily inspiration. While the threads illustrating what readers are wearing that day are impressively eclectic, there is rarely one good idea in 10. Cynically, the lack of professional photography probably doesn’t help either.
Books are next. I’m currently reading James Sherwood’s latest take on Savile Row, the coffee table book released last year. While dealing almost exclusively with historical dress, the wealth and richness of photography get the blood pumping (further evidence of the importance of good-looking shots).
Inspirational magazines are rare. I think The Rake is the best by some margin, but then I would say that – I write for it. (I know, equally, that my own site, Permanent Style, inspires men around the world, but it’s hardly an independent recommendation.) The GQ Essentials twice-yearly supplement is worth a look, as is Esquire’s Big Black Book in the US. Fantastic Man is better written than any other fashion magazine, but its taste in clothes tends not to be classic.
Shops provide some inspiration, but when most clothing is bought bespoke you are limited to those retailers that produce good tailoring – Ralph Lauren, Zegna, Tom Ford among them. Equally, sorting through my own closet is unlikely to dig up that many forgotten outfits; it’s not on that scale quite yet.
Which leaves me with you, dear reader, the man on the street. For to come full circle, while I would not wish that everyone was sartorially obsessed, it is a wonderful feeling to see someone walking towards you that inspires in his originality. Yesterday there was a man with a purple cardigan under a navy suit that did just that. It brought up memories of an old Sartorialist shot, of a Bergdorf Goodman window I believe.
That kind of inspiration is wonderful and unexpected. Here’s hoping these words produce some more of it.