Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekly Blog Roundup: 1/26/2013

Alright, a little late in the day, but when you get back in from weekend frolicking, check out these sweet finds:
Whew! No wonder I haven't been out yet... them's a lotta links!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sharp Stylings #60: The Older Man

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

What's that you say? You're in your, say, mid-40s and have reached a point in your life where comfort trumps all. You're happy hanging out in your Levis 501s, Adidas sneakers, and a Jam t-shirt because, after all, Mod is 'in your heart' and just a 'state of mind' anyways.

Well, SNAP! This dude down here says, "TYA because I'm off to TCB."
Photo from the Mode Parade blog.
That's right, this is how you gear yourself up when you're out makin' the scene. Hell, this dude's sharper than most 20-something Mod dudes I see walking around in sneakers and a parka. And he ain't following the path of guys his age who've just given up, happy to be 'comfortable' in their t-shirts and jeans. As an older fellow, this is how you command attention without saying a word.

And check out that forest green suit! See what I'm talking about when I say you can work within the framework of the 3-button suit and not look like every other Mod guy at the club? Check out the detailing here. First off the shade of that green is magnificent. (What would you say, forest green or hunter green? A reader suggested 'ivy green' and I like it!) Secondly, look at how that red lining just contrasts so beautifully with the outer color. This is why the color of a suit lining is so important... adds in that bit of detail just in case the jacket opens up slightly. Now, look at the cuffs... hard for me to tell, but those don't look like buttons, they look like white loops. Never seen a detail like that before! And lastly, look at the way the 3-button front is arranged. The buttons are tight in the center of the suit so that the jacket flares out a little nicer at the bottom. The wider lapel also helps contrast against the look of the narrow button field. The stance of the buttons is neither too high or too low, just dead center.

At this point, do we even need to go into the tight fit of the trousers, the silver cufflinks on the French cuff shirt, the puffed-out pocket square, or the pale pink tie which pushes a focus on the color of the suit?

Yeah, I didn't think so. Men, you always hear that you have it easy because, supposedly, you age more gracefully than women (not my personal opinion, by the way). Well, don't take that for granted. Earn the grace you supposedly have!


Monday, January 21, 2013

In Defense of the 3-Button Jacket

There was a recent discussion on the We Are the Mods Facebook page (fast becoming the #1 source of Mod Male post ideas) that I found pretty interesting. The heart of the discussion was the idea that there were no rules when it came to the Mod look and that there was no "mythical 'Mod Rule Book'" (although many people do follow the one written by Richard Barnes).

Now, I agree with We Are the Mods... to a point. I think too many people get caught up, pretty much, in what was written in that Mods book. And don't get me wrong, it's a great book. For many, it was their first look into the details of that original Mod world. But even I think some people take it too much to heart. (I'm sure many Mods today don't like the Beatles because of page 13.) Heck, even I took a lot away from it since, at the time, it was the largest source of Mod info you could find.

But over time, you learn what was done in the '60s, you take what you love away from it, and then you use it as a base to try to move forward. I think that what was done in the 1960s provided a great framework within which many Mods today work. So, sure, there are no real rules to this thing, but there is that framework which really helps define the style and set it apart from the regular Joe walking down the street in the retro style he just learned about from GQ.

And at the heart of that framework is the 3-button suit. Go ahead, say it. "Well, Mr. Mod Male, I thought you disliked Mod clichés?" It's true, I do dislike the clichés... y'know, the targets, the parkas, the Jam shoes, the Union Jack lapel pin. But I see the 3-button suit jacket in a slightly different light and I'll tell you why.
Steve Marriott rockin' the 3-button look. Need I say more? Alright, then, read on...
I grew up in the '80s and spent my adolescence in the early '90s. When I was getting into the Mod thing, all I had to go on was my father's description of Mods: "Well, kid, Mods in the 1960s wore suit  jackets with thin lapels and thin ties." For whatever reason, I was taken with that description, despite the fact that I had zero experience with suit jackets to begin with. The number of buttons on the jacket front didn't even enter into my Mod equation. For me, it was a lapel thing.
Lapels like these are what turned me on to the idea of a 'Mod' look.
Well, the very first suit jacket I had to start with was a simple 2-button number given to me by my friend who took it from his older brother. It was navy blue with black pinstripes and a single vent up the back. Nothin' Mod about it, but I didn't care... I had a suit jacket. My only issue with it was that the lapels were slightly larger than I thought they should be. After thinking about it for a bit, studying it, I realized what I needed to do. So, I asked my friend if she could sew a fake third button on top and stitch it through both breasts of the jacket (we didn't have button hole-making technology), since that would thin out the lapels. Once I got this jacket back, I pulled it over my head (no working button after all) and voilà! It looked perfectly Mod to me! And it was that 3rd button that made it stand out.

Keep in mind, in the '80s and '90s, typical suit jackets had large lapels and 2-button fronts. You couldn't escape them! (And there still pretty popular today, especially in the business world.)
Pulp Fiction's Jules and Vincent modeling the typical suit look you saw in the 1990s.
So, for me, the 3-button suit was something that, right off the bat, set you apart from all the other suited-up Joe Schmoes. I became less concerned with lapels than I did with the number of buttons on the jacket (not to say I still didn't prefer the thin lapels).

As time went on and I began to understand jacket construction more, I realized something else about the 3-button jacket: it tended to create a high-cut look (with less shirt and tie showing), which to me seemed very streamlined. Of course, my goal was to get really enveloped by my jacket, so 4-button fronts were highly sought-after by me (but rarely found).

But then, I began to question my own fascination with the 3-button look. I had a friend who, one day, showed up to a club in a 2-button jacket. He saw me looking at him funny and cut me off at the pass, "Yeah, it's two buttons, but I dare you to find a cooler-looking jacket." He was right! There was something about his jacket that still had a very Mod look, despite only having two buttons. And this is when I learned that even more important than the size of the lapels, even more important than the number of front buttons, was the height of the button stance. The buttons of my friend's jacket were high up on the front so that his top button was about as high as the top button on my 3-button jacket. You see, he was wearing a vintage 1960s 'bumfreezer' jacket!
Jackie Mittoo daring anyone to question his choice of a 2-button jacket.
These days, I still love the 3-button jacket... it's just my thing. But, more importantly for me, is how high that jacket buttons up. A few years back, I walked into a Zara shop in San Francisco and was excited to see them stocking up on 3-button jackets. Oh man, finally, I could find sharp contemporary suits with a Mod look! But when I tried on the jackets, something just didn't look right... they buttoned too low. What was the point in a 3-button jacket if it buttoned as low as a regular 2-button jacket?
A button stance so low, the top button is probably resting on this guy's navel.
Many Mod types to get hung up on the whole 3-button thing. Hopefully, though, they aren't choosing their jackets with only that in mind. As Steve Harvey here shows, 3 buttons does not a Mod suit make.
Steve Harvey, Ace-Facin' his way around.
And he's got some of the details here that might fool a layman (pocket square, ticket pocket, mustache). See, you gotta keep in mind other details of the jacket such as that button stance, the lapel size and shape, the shoulder size, the armholes, the vents, and, most importantly, the fit itself. All of that is what sets a Mod suit look apart. Steve Harvey's a big guy and tends to wear suits you can either swim in or play quarterback in. Heck, he's one step away from making sense!

So, is the 3-button jacket a Mod cliché? Well, it definitely can be I guess. Take the typical Merc jacket that most 101 Mods would be happy with. Tonic material? Check. Ticket pocket? Check. Side vents? Check. Thin lapels? Check. 3-button front? Check. Overall, there's nothing wrong with this, but it can be a cliché look when there are 5-10 other Mod dudes standing around you, wearing the same exact suit (albeit in maroon or navy).
If you're happy being a part of the Mod army, then no effort needed.
What I like is when people take the 3-button framework and expand upon it. Maybe they'll widen the lapels a bit or make those lapels rounded instead of pointed. Maybe they'll use a reverse peak lapel. Maybe they'll use a 2-button front but raise the stance. Maybe they'll use a 3-roll-2 jacket and keep the top button unbuttoned.
DNA Groove offering: 3-button framework with slight reverse peak lapels, patch pockets with button fastening.
Or, like DJ Warren Peace probably prefers, maybe they'll ignore the 3-button front altogether. For instance, did you catch Martin Freeman on the Colbert Report a few months back? He was wearing what looked like a single-button jacket with wide peak lapels. Personally, not my thing at all. However, I was still struck by how slick he looked thanks to the details that brought it all together, from the pattern of the suit, to the tab-collar shirt (with club collar), monochromatic red pocket square, and red tie, all of which combined very well. He wasn't wearing the standard 3-button number, but still came of as very dapper in a Mod way. Martin Freeman, kudos to you for challenging the 3-button look.

So, yeah, there really are no rules to this game, but there is a framework on which one could base his look. And if you prefer rules, then learn what those perceived rules might be... that way, you can learn to break them in style.

Me, I'll stick with my 3-button look. After all, I've been lucky with a good collection of 3-button hand-me-downs I've received from friends over the years. On that note, Faces, take it away!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekly Blog Roundup: 1/19/2013

Alright guys, another set of great things to read about this weekend. Some really cool stuff this week, too! Prepare to get nothing done for the next hour or so.
Weather's nice out here... time to hit the road and enjoy it!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Weekly Blog Roundup: 1/11/2013

Before you get ready for the weekend, delve into these great reads first!
Aw phooey. I can't concentrate anymore, so please go out and have a great weekend!

Sharp Stylings #59: Claudio De Rossi

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

Here's a piece of advice: If you're dressed up in your finest Mod gear, ready to hit the town, get your dance on at a soul club, and bird-dog the chicas, do NOT look at what Claudio De Rossi is wearing. It will make you feel like a stone-cold ticket.

Many of you probably know Claudio from his amazing clothing brand, DNA Groove, which features a line of clothing that combines colorful fabrics, Mod detailing, a dandy aesthetic, all with a modern, contemporary flair. (Oh, and just wait until you see the shoes he offers!)

Claudio De Rossi is one of the few who took their love of Mod stylings to the extreme. And by that I mean he wasn't just happy buying clothes from other designers... naw, he became his own designer! And from there, he made a great business out of it, supplying stylish men with a good source of clobber based on his own ideas. Claudio's like someone with a sweet tooth who's opened his own chocolate factory.

And trust me, this guy's got a good eye for detailing, color matching, and fittings. Here he is in a simple outfit that outshines most pattern-heavy outfits I've seen:

Light pink shirt, charcoal trousers with a slight flair, and an off-white suit jacket with a high gorge, lapels that look to angle downward, and sharp side vents. Very muted colors are used with a pocket square that ties the trousers and shirt together. And, again, wait until you see the shoes! Beautiful off-white loafers with  burgundy detailing.

Not only is this all kinds of dapper, but it's versatile too. You can wear something like this during the day as casual wear or during the evening for a social outing (tie optional). Heck, based on the hose in the background, this is how Claudio dresses when he's gardening! Dang... makes me think twice about what I wear the next time I'm at the laundromat.

Seriously, though, Claudio De Rossi is pure inspiration when it comes to clothing ideas. He's extremely creative in his color choices and how he matches certain pieces. He's put out a great clothing label that has reached beyond a Mod base and has gotten the attention of the male fashion world in general.  And, he's a good guy on top of all that.

Personally, though, I'm just glad he doesn't live in my city. Imagine having to keep up with this guy all the time?

For more on Claudio and DNA Groove, check out this ModCulture interview along with this College No. 9 interview. And, if you're on the Facebook and want to keep up with DNA Groove updates, then check out the Facebook group here.


Saturday, January 5, 2013

Weekly Blog Roundup: 1/5/2013

Oky, I'm going to try to get better with the weekly blog selections this year. I've let myself get way too lazy lately, but time for that to end! I'm easing back into the blog world out there, so only a few selections this week:
Alright, now go out and have a great weekend!

Friday, January 4, 2013

Sharp Stylings #58: Dave Pike

We can learn so much from yesterday’s fashion icons.  And living in a post-Mad Men world means we can even enjoy aspects of current male fashions! Every Friday, I’d like to start your weekend off right with a little style inspiration from either then or now. Hopefully, my fellow Mod enthusiasts will find the whole or some detail of the whole to appreciate and maybe even adopt.

First off, HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE! Hope you had a great time! Unfortunately, I spent it downing a magnum of Dayquil while we watched fireworks on Channel 4.

Now, in case you are wondering, my biggest MOD MALE resolution this year: POST MORE SUBSTANTIAL POSTS, not just Friday musings on sharp and casual styles. My other personal resolution: try to wear ties on a more daily basis. (For some reason, my wife rolled her eyes at that one.)

But let's start the new year off with a look at one of my favorite jazz figures, Dave Pike. A couple of weeks ago, there was a discussion on double-breasted suits on the We Are The Mods Facebook page. Me, I'm a huge fan of the double-breasted look and, here, on the back of his Doors of Perception LP, Dave Pike shows how to rock the look:

Sure, it's a much later style, circa 1970, but dig on how well this looks. Four-button jacket with a high button stance and a high gorge, so that only a bit of the tie and shirt are revealed. (Remember, less is more!) I know many of you are fans of thin lapels, but on a double-breasted jacket, I tend to prefer some width. Pike's lapels hit the mark here. The pattern of his suit is just icing on the cake. And in order to ensure the pattern stands out, he's using a white shirt (with long collar) and a lightly-colored tie so that all your attention is focused on the double-breasted action.

Oh yeah, I'm sure most of you think I'm going to end this post with Dave Pike's Mathar, which should be a staple in any Mod DJ's collection, but instead let's stick that that period right before he fell in with the sitar crowd. From Doors of Perception, here's a funky slice of free-flowing jazz for you: The Drifter.

[UPDATE: And check out this live footage of Dave Pike, along with guitarist Volker Kriegel, in action!]

Enjoy the weekend and spread some good vibes!