Saturday, August 7, 2010

Don't Ruin Your Silhouette

As recently published on Men's Flair:

A silhouette is the outline of a solid object. When applied to male attire it refers to the (hopefully pleasing) outward appearance of a man’s clothed shape. Michael Anton, writing under the pseudonym Nicholas Antongiavanni, very artfully stated in The Suit that “the virtue of tailored clothing is that it improves a man’s rudimentary shape.” Unfortunately many men seem to consistently and unwittingly sabotage the tailor’s effort to create a pleasing silhouette.

The habit of walking around with an unbuttoned jacket is a quite common sartorial sin. An unbuttoned tailored jacket hangs open like a limp dishtowel. Jackets are tailored to accentuate the narrowness of a man’s waist and then flare out at the hips. The button set near the natural waist holds the jacket closed at this narrowest point. To ensure proper drape and a pleasing silhouette one should always, when standing, fasten the top button of a two-button jacket, or the middle button of a three-button jacket.

Many men seem compelled to fill their trouser pockets full of all sorts of paraphernalia. Common lumpy masses include lighters, knives, huge wads of keys and fat wallets stuffed with three-year-old receipts and expired credit cards. Trousers should hang without any lumps or ripples; filling trouser pockets with all of this kit ruins their elongating line.

I hold a special dislike for those clunky, awful belt-worn cell phone holsters. Unless your name is Bruce Wayne, please don’t wear junk hanging from your belt.

So what to do with all of these trappings? The first thing is to pare them down. Clean out your wallet. How many credit cards do you really need to carry in your pocket? Are you really going to use that coupon for a free round of miniature golf? Get rid of the key to that car you sold last year. Do you really visit the safe deposit box often enough that you need to carry the key with you every day?

Once you have separated the wheat from the chaff, you need to decide how to covertly carry the necessities. You might invest in a nice coat wallet (see Andrew Williams’ recent profile of Ettinger of London) and keep it in an inside jacket pocket. I carry a slim iPhone in one inside jacket pocket and three keys (office, home and car) in an outside jacket pocket; these items are completely unobtrusive. If you must carry more than a few bare essentials then put them in a nice leather briefcase. I’m saving my pennies for a Swaine Adeney Brigg document case…

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