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4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
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on 27 October 2008
It is easy to get pleasantly lost in this book. Using the device of an entertaining and anecdote-filled ramble through two or three hundred years of the development of sartorial elegance, the author sets out, with precise wit and clearly researched erudition, the specifics of today's appropriate gentlemanly attire. Not everyone will share his enthusiasm for trouser buttons, spats and collar studs, but there is something for most people here; even if only as an inspiration for dumping branded trainers and for discarding 't'-shirts with messages that might have been mildly amusing for 15 seconds when you bought them.
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on 5 January 2010
If you want to know about 'what the well dressed man is wearing' or, indeed, what he ought to be wearing then go no further than this book where there is plenty of advice for those who wish (and have the funds!) to have their clothes tailor made. Various establishments are listed and recommended where such services might be obtained. The book is littered with memorable quotes and anecdotes well worthy of mention around the dinner table to the delight of all. Mr. Storey's advice on how to remove lipstick from the shirt collar is priceless and he leaves one with the impression that he just might have had cause to use the remedy himself on (more than?)one occasion!

This book is a real gem and I, for one, wholeheartedly recommend it.
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on 2 January 2010
The title of this book is misleading, rather than being a history of men's fashion, this is a guide of what to wear and where to get it for the man interested in classic styling. Unfortunately it is not well written, the author often muddles through sentences in his opinionated, conversational style.

If you are looking for a guide of how to dress classically in modern times, this is a up to date (2008) guide, if like me you are looking for a history of men's fashion through the ages this is not the book for you.
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on 19 June 2015
A lovely, if somewhat personal, book and guide to dressing well for the gentleman.

It is well illustrated and in depth as to high style for a traditional gentleman. All is here: white tie, black tie, morning dress, casual dress, etc. Of course, one should be aware that the author is well heeled himself to be able to afford much of these things (indeed, who could write about Savile Row tailors as if popping to the local shop or suggest getting half a dozen waistcoats like going to buy a box of eggs) but these things can be obtainable by those who know where to look for a fraction of what they would be worth brand new. Also, the book is firmly traditional so don't expect denim or other such larks (if you are looking for something more modern/contemporary orientated then the Debrett's Guide to the Modern Gentleman, although very (and I mean very) thin in details, would do the job).

As someone else noted, it is not a history but a guide to the form, though some of what he writes may not be entirely accurate and are his opinions on a specific item. Nevertheless, it is one of the most comprehensive of guides on this subject and fun to read and if you are a traditionalist like me you would appreciate its usefulness as a whole.
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on 23 February 2011
A must-read book of quirky information and interesting facts about the history of men's fashion: exploring what best-suits and why and, contrariwise, revealing some of the worst fashion no-nos throughout the past. With expert advice from some of our most excellent male fitters, Storey's guide to what the well-dressed are wearing is an intriguing and amusing book, which no man should be without!
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on 11 March 2013
Good read with lots of good tidbits and info about men's fashion through in the 20th century, unfortunately some of the information is of no use unless you live in the UK which i do not!!!
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on 18 April 2009
Ever since the French Revolution, the well dressed man has striven to emulated the ideal of the well dressed English gentleman. One of the leading Parisian shoemakers is called John Lobb, another French maker J.M. Weston. The Hungarian maker Vass calls one of its models the Old English. The Italians hanker after the Romantic ideal of "lo stilo Inglese". Everywhere I looked in the Ralph Lauren store on Madison Avenue the place seemed to be decorated wih cricket bats and polo boots. The Romantic ideal of the English gentleman lives on.

However, most of the books written by self-professed Anglophiles have curiously been written by foreigners. Bernhard Roetzel is German. Alan Flusser is American. So when you get the authentic English perspective written by an Englishman, it is cause for celebration.

The title of the book is somewhat misleading for the dress etiquette protocols and traditions outlined within it remain largely of relevance today. I must confess, that while very little of the content of these dress protocols were in any way foreign to me, it came as a surprise to see them so full and engagingly articulated, without once seeming prescriptive in an old fashioned authoritarian way. Rather, the tone of the writing is engaging, the language clear, readable and informative. Above all, the content is carefully researched.

Even things such as Levee court and diplomatic dress are decribed here - I thought I would never see such a thing written in this day and age, but there it is. Particularly impressive is, for example, the insistance in using the expression formal morning dress. Indeed, earlier in the nineteenth century, morning dress encompassed quite informal forms of day time dress and so within it there were gradations of formality. These days, we tend to use the expression "morning dress" as a synonym for formal daywear, but this was not always so. A good example of the remarkable attention to detail includes a contemporary source of lemon chamois dress gloves for morning wear. Where NJS dug that one up from, heaven knows, for that is precisely the sort of thing that the great dandy Count D'Orsay was once described as sporting. Not only that, but charming things such as tatersall check waistcoats for country wear, and even correct hunting frock coats (in hunter's pink) are described for wear in their correct context.

One point that is particularly worthy of praise is that NJS also gives us the correct term "reefer jacket" for the double breasted, blue serge jacket with gilt buttons that has latterly ursurped the name of "blazer". Mercifully, he steers the reader away from the stereotypical colonial look of the blue reefer worn with grey flannel trousers. Instead, he insists on the proper nautical and sporting combination with white ducks or flannels. Perhaps for future edition he will challenge the Americanism that has taken hold of calling reefers, "blazers".

Another authentically English touch is the clear distinction between country and city wear. This is taken to traditionalist extremes to the point that the old fashioned idea is revived that sporting a breast pocket handkerchief with anything but country and casual wear is naff. I had thought this idea died in the Victorian era, for this was the reason that frock coats and dress coats used to made without a breast pocket - a feature that was thought fit only for sporting and country garments. In the Victorian era that meant only lounge and morning coats had them - the latter being a type of sports coat for riding. Once these two garments started to be worn in town, so too did the breast pocket remain adorned with a handkerchief. Next evening dress ('tail') coats started to be made up with the welted chest pocket.

Perhaps of greatest note of all, is the quiet debunking of a few oddities that have been widely recommended on American internet clothing fora. The first of these is the widespread recommendation to wear brown, rather than black, shoes with a city lounge. The second is the prescription to have the coat sleeves short enough to show 1/2" of shirt sleeve, which NJS suggests is an Americanism. Curiously, Roetzel also recommends this. Although it is often claimed that this is "traditional", in all the many tailoring and cutting texts I have seen published over the last 170 or so years, never once have I seen it recommended that the sleeves be finished like this. Nor can I find this in old etiquette books. Rather than inventing fictitious "traditions" to support his case, NJS tells us that the coat sleeve length should be finished to taste - a recommendation I can find textual support for in older texts. It is typical of NJS that he mentions such revolutionary concepts that upset the apple cart of internet convention so quietly, almost as an aside, unannounced by fanfare, and unadored by rhetoric.

One surprising compromise to modernity is, however, the rather easy acceptance of city lounges in checks and plaids. In some conservative British circles this still reputedly remains cause for the offending employee to be sent home to be told to return after changing into more appropriate attire, or else for the wearer to be subjected to snide comments such as "off to the country, are we?" It is indeed unfortunate that Americans and Italians all love to wear "British" style Prince of Wales check lounges with their brown shoes in the city. With the exception perhaps of the acceptance of checks in town, NJS gives us a much more authentically English view of the English dress heritage, which from St Petersberg to Tokyo, has become the international lingua franca of the well dressed modern man. For dress is a language that always speaks volumes about its wearer.
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on 28 August 2014
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on 4 March 2010
This remarkable book works brilliantly on so many levels.

It is a specialist and well informed guide on formal dress for men based on the finest examples of the first 50 years of the 20th century (in London and the country houses of English society), all skilfully selected for their qualities of timeless correctness and aesthetic success.

It is a primer both in fashion and in the rituals of high society. It can be enjoyed as such either by those, whether as volunteers or conscripts, who are still playing this game, or by those who are just happy to watch and enjoy the fun vicariously as bystanders.

It is well written and generously yet always exactly and appropriately illustrated.

It gives names and addresses of current suppliers, so as to be the complete "how to" guide for readers.

It is, clearly, a labour of love.

But the author, for all this, doesn't take himself too seriously. It is, in fact, a very funny book; which sends itself up, at times, outrageously - whilst never letting go of a passionate devotion to and enthusiasm for the subject.

It sparkles, entertains, informs, and (in small doses, and taken with a pinch of salt) inspires. There is nothing like it; it is one of a kind. But it is perfectly brilliant.

Buy it; if the subject matter appeals to you at all, you're bound to love it.
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on 3 March 2011
I agree with the reviewer Harry Argyll. I bought this book because I am very interested in costume and the history of clothes through the years but this turned out to be a little bit informative as in: What to wear, when and why but then it seemed to turn into an advertising book for gent's outfitters, etc in London and other parts of the country. There are better books for those interested in the history of clothing. There were times when I was simply flicking past pages as I had no desire to purchase these clothes - only to know about their history.
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