Garath W. Henry

Archive for August, 2010|Monthly archive page

A summer suit: via An Affordable Wardrobe

In Outfit on August 11, 2010 at 2:33 pm

One of the fashion / style blogs that I really enjoy reading is An Affordable Wardrobe.  A post that appeared over there today illustrates why I think this blog is double plus awesome…

Summer weddings are fun, though dressing for them can be tricky. For a guy, wearing a suit and tie in the heat is mostly an uncomfortable prospect. But that shouldn’t stop you. I see it as an opportunity to pull off one of the Summer looks I love so much but rarely get to utilize, given that we live in a time when casualness is king, and Summer specific dress clothing, for men at least, is practically becoming archaic. Still…

The outfit that Giuseppe (the author of the blog) put together is killer.  (Check out that amazing knit tie!)

image via: An Affordable Wardrobe

An affordable Wardrobe is also the site that turned me onto the idea of recyclingold shirts by turning them into pocket squares.  A great idea.

Research shows that avoiding logos = success.

In Design, Social Style on August 10, 2010 at 5:31 pm

Today the fashion/style blog Put This On posted a link to a very short, but interesting, New York Times Article about how visible logos affect a customer’s buying habits. 

From the article:

Rather than rely on obvious logos, expensive products use more discreet markers, such as distinctive design or detailing. High-end consumers prefer markers of status that are not decipherable by the mainstream. These signal group identity only to others with the connoisseurship to recognize their insider standing.

Another interesting point the article made was that many people / groups of people will wear very logo heavy clothing to show that they have “made it”, while “high class” people who have “made it” don’t want to show off their success in such obvious ways, such as the material, cut, or stitching of their clothing. 

Example of clothing which communicates wealth with out logos:

Image via: Put This On

I teach high school students, and many of my students often wear very (IMHO ugly as sin) logo intensive clothing.  I’m looking forward to sharing this information with them.

Made in Italy = 2 out of 3.

In Hand made on August 6, 2010 at 5:36 am
photo

I just finished reading a very eye opening article by David Segal about the Italian fashion industry in the New York Times.

The article talks about lots of stuff, but one thing that really stood out was a new law which will affect the labeling of clothing…

WHEN describing the ills of his businesses, Mr. Barbera tends to focus on one issue: the “Made in Italy” label. For the last decade, he says, a growing number of clothing designers have been buying cheaper fabric in China, Bulgaria and elsewhere and slapping “Made in Italy” on garments, even if those garments are merely sewn here.

Until recently, there weren’t any rules about what “Made in Italy” actually meant, but that will change when a new law goes into effect in October. It states that if at least two stages of production — there are four stages altogether — occur in Italy, a garment is made in Italy.

Until I read this I never really thought about the importance the “Made in Italy” label has.  Don’t get me wrong, I knew it was seen as a sign of the highest quality.  I just never really spent time thinking about how important the label it was to the national pride, or the national economy of the nation state of Italy.  I also never considered how easy it would be to slap the label on any old bit of clothing.  I’m sure that some people (tailors and other clothing people) would be able to tell but most people (myself included) would not really be able to recognize the difference.

The article is really outstanding.  If anything I wrote here blew your hair back you should really give the whole thing a read.

Mad Men: Season 4 Episode 1 “Public Relations”

In Social Style on August 5, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I believe that AMC’s Mad Men is currently the best show on TV.  After watching the season four premiere episode titled “Public Relations” I thought it would be fun to do a post on each episode of this season.  So here goes…

WARNING SPOILERS!!!!  If you have not watched the episode yet PLEASE don’t read further! You have been warned.

I’m going to be commenting on two things that I saw in this episode.  The moral of the episode and fashion.

The Moral of the Episode:

This episode opens up with the Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) sitting in an interview with a reporter from Advertising Age.  Draper is being being aloof, telling the reporter that he’s from the Midwest and was raised to believe that it was not polite (vain) to talk about one’s self.  In short Draper sort of stonewalls the reporter, forcing him to make assumptions, and fill in blanks on his own.  The result is a non-hostile article which can’t be seen as an attack, but is not very flattering either.

Draper’s partners at Sterling, Cooper, Draper, & Pryce are furious.  We see both Roger Sterling (played by John Slattery) and Bert Cooper (played by Robert Morse) pull Draper behind closed doors to tell him that he screwed up.  The Englishmen Layne Pryce (played by Jared Harris), makes it clear that he is also less than pleased in a far more subtle way, via body language and by not saying anything about it.

Draper Does not really see the problem.  It’s his job to manipulate people’s perceptions, and he does that well.  He helps his customers sells their products, he wants the focus on his behavior, not on himself .

The other partners remind Draper that their agency is a product, and Draper is a named partner in that product.  Thus selling himself is in effect selling the agency and its ability.

This reminds me of all the talk I hear about personal branding now-a-days.  How a person is a product, and to be successful a person needs to market themselves as such (1).

Anyway, Draper does not buy it at first.  But as the episode goes on and SCD&P start to lose business he changes his tune.  At the end of the episode Draper gets another interview, this time with the Wall Street Journal, and he goes at selling himself the same way he goes about selling products.

I believe the Moral, or the point, of this Episode is: You are what you do.

Draper is an Ad Man, he dresses things up so that they will be easy to sell to customers.

The interesting realization in this episode is that it shows that Draper is a human being, a person.  But Draper has became a product, a commodity to be bought and sold. Draper is a commodity (something that can be used to) that sells other commodities.

Fashion Lessons:

It really seems to me that the male fashion of the late 1950s and early 1960s is making a come back (perhaps Mad Men is part of the reason for this).   Thus I believe every professional male should be taking notes as he watches Mad Men.  I’m personally a big fan of Roger Sterling’s style (2).

There is lots of great fashion lessons to be noticed in the first episode of this season, but rather than reinvent the wheel I’m just going to point you over to an amazing post about the fashion in this episode over at the Esquire blog on Men’s Fashion which states…

It comes down to style, which in the end is the biggest (if not only) thing you men will want to take away from the boys of Sterling/Cooper/Draper/Pryce…

Here’s the lesson: Rather than buying twenty affordable things this fall, find a few nice things that last. An epic overcoat. A gorgeous gray suit. Wear them often and make them signatures. Start seeing your shopping habit as opportunities to invest in your character’s wardrobe. (We’re pretty sure we’ve seen that jacket on Peter Campbell since about the day he got made Head of Accounts.)

Fit, color, quality — this is not rocket science, gentlemen. Also, us women are extremely tactile. Think about how the fabrics you’re wearing feel on the skin. (We do this for you all the time.) Women are lecherous, too, so buy clothing that accentuates your assets. A few key investments can really transform you from a boy into a man. But most of all, women love a mystery. You look at the guys at the new agency so far this season, and still, they never let their clothes overpower their presence. Because nice clothes serve as a hint of what’s beneath and within. Which, in your case, is hopefully a finer character than Don Draper.

The only thing I want to add to what the post over at Esquire has said (better than I could ever say it) is that I loved Don Draper’s black overcoat.  I can’t find a good picture of it, and due to the dark scenes in the episode it was often difficult to see, but mark my words it is a damn nice coat!

______________________

(1) My own personal thoughts on this change as time goes on… Sometimes I’m repulsed by the idea that of people (human beings) being seen as a product to be “consumed” on a marketplace.  Other times I think it is the natural extension of corporate personhood shifting back on its self and become personal corporatehood.  Always fun to think about.

(2) As noted here.

Bold red tie VS subdued gray tie.

In Outfit on August 2, 2010 at 3:41 pm

The set up:

I’m someone who normally wears lots of blacks, grays, whites, and blues.  Until very recently I was someone who stayed away from bold primary colors.  However, recently my girlfriend Mei told told me that if I were to throw in a bold primary color with many of my outfits the result would be double plus good.

The experiment:

Figuring that I really had nothing to lose, and everything to gain, by attempting this small change I gave it a shoot.  To my way of thinking, rather than try a very new outfit, the best thing to do would be to wear an outfit which I normally wear, and add the bold color to it.  Wearing the outfit in the past gives me some data to work with.  Namely: I  know how people respond to the outfit with out the bold color.

So I put together one of my typical outfits.  White dress shirt with matching pants and vest.  Then I grabbed one of my, infrequently used, red ties and threw it into the mix. The result is pictured below.

Red tie by you.

Bold red with white and gray.

The result:

Throughout the day many people made some very nice comments on the outfit in general. In my humble opinion the most flattering comment was that I looked like I could be an extra on the TV show Mad Men.

**Side note: Just in case it was not obvious –I often go for the Roger Sterling look.**

As I stated above, I’ve worn a similar outfit in the past (see picture below) but did not get nearly as many positive comments.

  by you.

Blue, black, and gray.

So as of this writing there is one data point that seems to suggest that the use of a bold color resulted in more people taking notice of my overall outfit.

Things to consider / keep in mind:

Whenever someone changes something about their personal appearance said person’s friends, family, co-workers, and others who see said person often tend to notice and comment on the change.  Due to the fact that I don’t normally wear bold colors, people may just be making comments because they register the change.

In addition to this, in our culture it is social protocol to make positive comments about someone when they change an aspect of their appearance.  It is considered rude to make a negative comment, even when a negative comment is probably justified.

Moral of the story:

I plan to gather some more data about this.  But in the meantime if I ever want to tall attention to myself, or my clothing, I’m going to use more bold colors.  When I want to blend in more I’ll use a more mono-chromatic color scheme.