While I work in what is considered a traditionally conservative environment, every so often I do enjoy wearing something a bit outside of the norm. Enter this suit. I wrote a post a while back about how it entered my wardrobe quite unexpectedly. The combination of it actually being wool and $30 pretty much made it a forgone conclusion that it was going home with me. At the time, I figured it would be a nice thing to have for more "casual" outings, say paired with a t-shirt or button-down and sneakers but I've come to appreciate it as a way to bring a bit of the unusual to the formal. Needless to say, I kept everything else pretty straightforward and solid.
As American society struggles to deal with the realities of its racial divide and inequality, I find myself reading more to learn about the history of the country that I now call home.
Not too long ago, I came across a story that despite the feelings of sadness it evoked also encouraged and inspired me. In July of 1966, about a year after the Watts riots erupted, Life Magazine did a cover story following up on conditions and feelings in the community. The editors at Life recently revisited the piece and wrote:
"A year after the flames were put out and the smoke cleared from the southern California sky, LIFE revisited the scene of the devastation for a “special section” in its July 15, 1966, issue that the magazine called “Watts: Still Seething.” A good part of that special section featured a series of color photos made by Bill Ray on the streets of Watts: pictures of stylish, even dapper, young men making and hurling Molotov cocktails; of children at play in back yards and in rubble-strewn lots; of wary police and warier residents; of a community struggling to save itself from drugs, gangs, guns, idleness and decades of despair."
While the issues were and continue to be much deeper than clothes or outward appearance, the photos showed how these young men refused to let the extremely oppressive environment they had to live in define how they presented themselves. To me, they also remind me of a time (in this case not even that long ago) when men took pride in how they showed up.
While it's been quite some time since I set foot in a J.C Penny store, every so often I still find myself dressed head to toe in pieces I picked up there during the all too brief Wooster era. On those days, I also realize that my closet seems to be coming to a natural state of balance as I'm truly starting to practice the principle of "buy less, buy better" and falling in love with Italian tailoring even more. My recent acquisitions have been more Borelli and Berg & Berg and less Stafford and H&M but I would attribute that more to the noticeable decline in quality at those places than a desire to buy more expensive clothing even though its sort of comparing apples to oranges. All that being said, I think it's cool to be able to look at my closet and see the gradual evolution happening.
Now that Spring has finally settled into its stride, I'm getting to pull out brighter colors and integrate them with the staples such as this navy hopsack blazer and lighter gray wool pants. Of the few bowties I own, this is hands down my favorite one and the sweater allows me to dress it up or down without too much fuss.
Navy Hopsack Jacket, White Oxford Cloth Button Down Shirt, Blue & Coral Floral Bowtie x Stafford, Blue & Coral Stripe Crew Neck Sweater x Brooks Brothers, Grey Wool Trousers x Claiborne, Brown Double Monk Strap Shoes x Mercanti Fiorentini, Silk Pocket Square x Anon, Reverso Classique Watch x Jaeger LeCoultre, White Paper Lapel Flower x Kent Wang.
Unlined Wool/Cashmere Check Jacket x Luigi Bianchi Mantova, "Toya" Washed Cutaway Shirt x Hugh & Crye, Wool Trousers x Claiborne, Blue Silk "Flowers" Tie x Haines & Bonner, Espresso Kiltie Wingtip Monkstrap Shoes x Leonardo Principi, Silk Pocket Square x Anon.
"Behold the turtle. He only makes progress when he sticks his neck out" - James Bryant Conant. This blog is documentation of my journey, sticking my neck out to pursue my passion for men's style and tailoring.