Clothes and the Man: The Principles of Fine Men's Dress Hardcover – 7 Jun 1988
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Alan Flusser, a dandy to the core, makes a great case for his argument that men's style (as distinct from "men's fashion" -- yuck) changes little over the decades. The "look" that worked for Fred Astaire or Cary Grant still works today. Tab collars, rounded collars, suspenders, monk straps, French cuffs, handkerchiefs (aka "pocket squares") no tassel loafers with suits! ... the man who absorbs "the principles of fine men's dress" presented here will be well armed to do battle with a world where "dressing down" has become the sad and sorry norm.
If, as Oscar Wilde said, "A well-tied tie is the first serious step in life," Alan Flusser will help you take a great many paces down that road. Take that step now! It may even change your life too.
If you manage to buy this book elsewhere, you'll find it a pleasure to read. It has been adequately summarized in other reviews, so I'll simply relate two features that I especially liked: first, a fold-out section with pictures describing various shirt fabrics; and second, Flusser's tips on quickly discriminating between quality and standard merchandise.
If you are interested in reading about fine men's clothing, I recommend Bernhard Roetzel's _Gentlemen: A Timeless Fashion_. It offers much the same information as Flusser's book and features color photographs on every page (Flusser's does not).
Mr. Flusser covers all the essentials in detail: suit coats; suit trousers; sport coats; blazers; dress shirts; neckties; handkerchiefs; hose (socks); shoes; hats; and jewelery.
He covers sportswear such as cable-knit pullover sweaters and cardigans very briefly.
Mr. Flusser asserts the lines, look, and feel of all fine mens wear can be traced to the timespan of the 1930s - 1950s. This was the Golden Age of Hollywood when men dressed well (Cary Grant; Fred Astaire; Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.; Adolph Menjou; and England's Edward, Prince of Wales). Mr. Flusser's point is that if you want a suit that will not be out of date in five or ten years, ensure it is grounded in 1930s - 1950s style, with emphasis on the 1930s.
The only thing I disagreed with in the entire book was his reverence for the four-in-hand necktie knot in all settings. This knot is asymmetrical and does not belong in the boardroom or office. It is a knot that is to be worn casually to a club or in some other social setting. The Windsor or Half Windsor should be worn to the office.
This is somewhat a digression, but there is more to fine dressing than just the fabric against your body, or the leather upon your feet. Care must be taken to groom the hair inside your nose, so that it does not protrude outward. The hair on and in the ear must be cut. Nothing looks worse than looking at a man in fine clothes and seeing he has a thick patch of hair growing out of each ear cavity. Andy Rooney eyebrows are also verboten. Hair, beards, moustaches, eyebrows, ears, nose, teeth...all of these must be groomed/maintained properly to accentuate the look of fine clothes. Without these grooming basics in place, no suit is going to make you look good. Mr. Flusser elected not to cover grooming as essential to the "total package," yet he devoted many areas of the book to items that were not strictly related to clothing. I feel it was a mistake to neglect grooming.
Clothes and the Man is now 21 years old. It is as relevant now as when it was written. This book is a timeless masterpiece, fully deserving five stars.
More useful than Flusser's later book, Clothes and the Man reminds us that, ignoring the excesses of the 1970's and the general absence of style in Silicon Valley in the 90's, the well dressed man evolves slowly. We may wear driving moccasins and eschew opera pumps in the new century, but the well turned out 1920's man is recognizeable today. That's important because it's the long lives of Anderson & Sheppard suits and Cleverly shoes that makes them attainable by people of less than extraordinary means. And, at least for me, the pleasure of proper fit and great fabrics is the reason to pay attention.