Today’s book is a heavy one, and full of knowledge and facts. It’s clocks in at some 300 odd pages, profusely illustrated and lots of text. Published in 2002, this is a timeless tome indeed. And properly hefty, in it’s hardbound format. This is not a book to be taken lightly!
The full title of the book is “Dressing the man – mastering the art of permanent fashion” and content-wise this is quite different from books covered in recent reviews. This one is all about instruction, history and Rules. Yes, Rules, what a gentleman does and does not, in a sartorial way. Where there is room for innovation and cheekiness and where the Rules are set in stone.
Yes, this is a different world from the one we regular chaps inhabit, this is where the serious grownups roam. that’s not to say there isn’t useful info for us here though. Tips on fit are universal and good to know. How long should the arms of a jacket be, which type of collar works best for the shape of your noggin, which colours work best for your fine complexion?
Or how can you tell when your business jacket actually fits, or is too tight? Yes, I realise that a clear sign of tightness is the popping of buttons, but we’re among sophisticates here and they have less obvious clues, such as this:
Going by the illustrations and people included in the book, much of the content is likely most relevant if you move in swanky New England circles, have stacks of money, and maybe even lived 60 years ago. This is the world of suits for occasions, knowing your tie knots, matching the patterns of your blazer and slacks and really, knowing the cues of how men dress. It’s great browsing though, as the illustrations are numerous and interesting. Heres a few sample pages:
I haven’t read through it from start to finish, but I have already learnt interesting things I had no idea from before. Such that the shoes I always thought of as a typically French style (and I even have a pair known as the “Paris” model), are in fact known as a Norwegian. Given that the penny loafers are also of Norwegian original, that means Norway has had at least some impact in the world of footwear.
Do I recommend this book? If you’re looking for a comprehensive guide to gentlemen attire, yes, it’s a decent book. If you’re looking for more general tips on how to upgrade your daily, more casual style, it has less to offer. At around 30 pounds it’s not a cheap book, but given the timelessness of the content maybe it has enduring value? Unless you’ve grown up in an environment where such sartorial knowledge was a natural part of your education, this book does provide an insight into sartorial sophistication most of us really have no idea about.
It is well done though, with cohesive writing, interesting images and good layout. Compared to a number of other books I’ve looked at recently, it’s a very professional effort.
I’ll leave you with another great illustration. This photo would make a great poster.