Andrew Cedotal | 6:07 am, March 15th, 2010
Though classic menswear has experienced something of a revival in recent years, and The Sartorialist (and his army of imitators) have made the street style world terra cognita, no one, to our knowledge, has yet undertaken a proper taxonomy of menswear bloggers. Consider this our attempt.
Remember when NYMag, in their profile of Andy and Kate Spade, joked that “so many men in this city have been wandering around in flannel shirts and Red Wing boots, taking their meals in restaurants with walls covered in a mishmash of antlers and art?” Yeah. Those are these guys.
While this corner of the menswear community has been much maligned as a gang of Life photo archive-combing eccentrics, they do serve an important place in the menswear ecosystem. They host amazing flea markets. They single-handedly keep the Red Wing company in business. And, to be fair, they dig up come of the most amazing pieces of Americana available on the Internet — A Continuous Lean’s vintage catalog finds are alone worth regular visits.
Likes: Vintage postcards, racecars, Arctic explorers, flannel (obviously)
Dislikes: Silk, shaving
The Trad (actually a Manhattan insurance broker; formerly an Army paratrooper and park ranger) has a motto that aptly expresses the philosophy of these menswear grognards: “Not as good as it was. Better than it will be.”
Trads have a direct connection to the classic, anglophilic world of American WASP style, and their preference in dress shows it: heathery Scottish colors, natural shoulders, and a healthy regard for surcingle belts (like The Trad’s, pictured right). But the Trad viewpoint on clothing is really a prism through which all aspects of life can be viewed. Like that Barbour jacket, do you? Well, you’d better marry a girl like that — quotidian, homely, and dependable. Brooks Brothers doesn’t make lapelled tattersall vests any more? I guess they just went away. Like your youth will someday. Sigh.
Likes: Oxford shirts (preferably from Brooks or J. Press before their acquisition by vaguely unpalatable foreigners), 12-year whiskys, the United States Armed Forces
Dislikes: People who think “Oxford” is a cut or a material (It’s a weave, you louts.)
The followers of “classic menswear” are easy to identify. They’re obsessed with breaking down clothing by type, they abhor the use of man-made materials, and they all — all – have read every one of Alan Flusser’s books.
Perhaps the best way to understand the Flussites is through the cloth subscription clubs organized on the Ask Andy forums. A group of devotees will decide on the exact specifications of a fabric, pool their resources, commissions a mill in Italy or Scotland to make it for them, and will then split it up and show off how, exactly, they have made use of it. Obsession, crystallized!
Likes: Matched patterns, foulards, back issues of Apparel Arts
Dislikes: Denim (a declasse fabric suitable only for poor agricultural laborers), athletic shoes, back vents
These are the bloggers who — whether they ply the tailoring trade themselves or not — are concerned to the point of obsession with the cut and fit of men’s garments. Ever wondered why cuffs and pleats go together? Or how to spot a hand-finished buttonhole? Or how the inside of a men’s jacket is layered? These are the people for you.
Some of their writing can come across as boring or even flack-y (Thomas Mahon of English Cut, for example, rarely posts except to announce his stateside business trips), but there’s no better place to learn about exactly how high-end men’s garments are — and should be — manufactured.
Do not, however, under any circumstances get them started on the “true” meaning of the word “bespoke.”
Likes: Peaked lapels, 12-ounce nailhead worsted
Dislikes: Polyester, machine stitching, http://www.yoox.com/men
Maybe whenever you head to a proper thrift establishment (not a curated vintage store, you coddled milksop), all you can find is mountains of mom jeans, double-knit blazers, and Saucony Jazzes. But that’s because you’re looking in the wrong places entirely. If only you knew the secrets of these bloggers, you’d be hauling home tweed hacking jackets, and hand-tailored linen suits, and…oh, I’m sorry — all you can find is Gap tees? How sad. How very sad for you.
Giuseppe, the part-time Boston wine merchant who writes An Affordable Wardrobe, is the godfather of this community, having helped establish many conventions of the genre — the triptych of chest-up/shins-down/full-body photos used by menswear bloggers to show off their outfits, their grousing against the decline of great American brands, and so on. But while their watchword is, ostensibly, value, the Hipster Thrifters are far closer to dandies than they might admit — Giuseppe once acquired an entire suit in black watch tartan, Young Man/Old Man has a thing for raw silk gingham, and the Natural Aristocrat (pictured) frequently dons ensembles that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rake shoot.
Ask them for advice, and they will give it. Ask them where their secret thrift shops are, and they will dissemble to no end.
Likes: Robert Bruce, Gimbels
Dislikes: The Andover Shop, Paul Stuart
While Trads and Flussites might subtly name-check JFK or Frank Sinatra in passing, or gently allude to their respective influences, New Boulevardiers announce their adherence to mid-century menswear with everything they write. They’re the closest thing menswear has to fanboys.
With both the Ivy-centric sartorial ideas of the trads and the focused historical obsession of the Americanskis, New Boulevardiers are obsessed with cultural icons such as Steve McQueen and Michael Caine, rather than the 30s/40s-heavy pantheon of the Flussites. Again, like the trads, they tend to view fashion as just a window into life, although their selection of heroes is sometimes questionable.
Likes: Menswear magazines you have never heard of that are only published in Former British Empire countries, Free Jazz Vinyls
Dislikes: Gene Dickinson, Jason Robards