Styling The Man

A Tip of The Hat

Sean Crowley ©Styling The Man
A handsome topper makes nearly every man look like a protege of George Raft.  A snappy dresser, dapper.

Hats are marks of distinction; they can add an element of character of the wearer. Think Indians Jones and his hat. They’d be no hero there without the hat. The hero is always the one with the hat, riding up in the nick of time. Bear in mind, a good position is everything. Therefore you should rock it at an angle. Whether your face is long, square, round, or a combination, when properly angled, the shadows compliment your better features.

Which hat style looks best on you? Is it a Tribly or porkpie style? This style tends to have a sharp, moderately sized crown, with narrow brim, hense the term  stingy-brim, which looks great on a man with a small face and narrow shoulders, say like Sinatra.? Or are you the Homburg or fedora type, which by virtue of their generous brim, add balance for a man with a more medium to wide jaw, full face and broad shouldered. Which ever you choose remember, hats are very visible, and you don’t want your hat to be wearing you. Therefore you should wear it in your correct size; width of hat’s crown should match width of your face. Brim’s width should stay within confines of your shoulders, and rest 3/4 inch above your brow, and no better than 1/4 inch above your ears is the proper fit. And remember to pull it down slightly in the back, to allow your handsome face to be seen.

 

O’MAST

NAPLES’ NOBLE EMPIRE   The beautiful time honored craft of bespoke tailoring rests eternally within the heart of Naples’ enduring cobbled medieval passageways.

O’MAST is a documentary about the strong, passionate life force of tailoring held in the Neapolitan former Kingdom. From the anecdotes spoken humbly by some of Naples’ master tailors, director Gianluca Migliarotti stitches together a story of spirit de corps, heritage and sartorial distinction.
From the opening panorama of the Bay of Naples as seen from a 16th century balcony, the soundtrack, an aging, jazzy, sinuous bit, Magliarotti wraps the audience and plants them in an atelier of the tailor Beppe Modenese and Marchese Giancarlo. Terrifically seamless editing-masterfully executed. When Antonio Panico spoke of his clientele spanning three generations, the perspective of commitment to a craft on an instinctive level becomes so clear. All those wonderful, rarified bolts of luxurious fabrics, seducing at decorum’s distance my willing heart.

Naples’ noble empire of bespoke craft reminds us of the day when attention to detail and passionate approach to one’s craft was not taken as a trend, a whim of branding. O’MAST is one for my collection, a permanent place among the other cineaste gems.

No Easy Suede

Sean Crowley ©Styling The Man0008
NO EASY SUEDE  Suede shoes make anything worn with them appear nonchalantly stylish; once shod in these beauties, smitten by the suede’s beautiful buff to a fine nap, aficionados only reluctantly return to the usual hard shine shoe world. The suede shoe in brown shows up well in every season, contrasting warmly against lightly hued spring colors, like crocuses peering over rich brown loam. And soft and comforting, a natural refinement accompanying winter-weight wools, worsted and flannels, for the freezing zones.

The suede shoe quite possibly made its American debut at the 1924 Meadowbrook Country Club in Long Island New York. There was a Polo match, naturally international in scope, hosted there. The invitees, crème de la crème of society’s crop all gathered. The Prince of Wales, the personification of English qualities, and a great source of inspiration, made the scene decked in a pair of brown buckskin suede casual lace-ups, another one of his unique sartorial pivots, under a double-breasted chalk-striped flannel suit with long rolled lapels, no doubt woven in his namesake pattern. The Man Who Would Be King’s avant-garde sense of style caused many waggish comments. On both shores of the Atlantic, there were those aghast and caustic. Some decried his choice as “a mark of great effeminacy”, others went as far as calling the footwear “brothel creepers.” Men of the era rejecting the Reverse Calf as suede was called, in favor of the traditional high polish smooth shoe leather, thinking the effect as breaching good taste, delicate and unmanly!

Haberdashers and other retailers of the time found them an awkward thing to sell. In that the hides usually came in natural shades of brown, clothier salesmen fussed about convincing their clientele on what they should wear with seemingly informal shoes. It seems the dandy won out. The social set, the style savvy, found them a refreshing, comfortable novelty. The next decade saw the novelty wear off and suede shoes found widespread acceptance with the masses, post-depression. Now came a plethora of shoe styles to accommodate the interest; cap-toes on town lasts-a predecessor to the wingtip Oxford preferred by businessmen, captains of industry, etc; rubber-soled Bluchers for motoring to the country and puttering about once there, and the ankle-high desert boot, now called the Chukka, which was originally designed with two eyelet laced and used for spectator sportswear.

Meanwhile the buckskin shoe had become such a favorite within the upper crust English club circles, that one respectable pair was all the well-dressed man needed in his wardrobe to consider his weekend dress complete. Here in America, the club set at Meadowbrook and Piping Rock adopted the informal look of a tweed hacking-jacket with Grey flannel trousers, nudging his argyle-socked feet into a favored pair and head off to motor through the North Fork with his lady-love by his side.

Sean Crowley ©Styling The Man0001

2Sean Crowley for Genteel Flair ©Charles David_0002

1Sean Crowley for Genteel Flair ©Charles David_0003

The Enduring Paisley: An exotic reminder of Antiquity…

imageA BRIEF HISTORY OF PAISLEY  The Enduring Paisley: An exotic reminder of antiquity; of kingdoms, sacred empires, dynasty & revolutions, a unique gentleman’s accessory, usually subtle in hue and tone. Notable in its elegance. Grab any psychedelic paisley and give a distinct flair to a venture capitalist or a menswear novice; a classic navy blazer with brass buttons, a simple shirt of choice; The paisley tie, no tie-bar, a perfectly washed pair of jeans; solid over-the-calf wool socks, finished off with a handsome pair of chukkas in dusty brown.

Adapted as print for men’s neckwear at the end of the 1920, paisley as a design has the unique distinction of remaining intact and true to its origins through millennia. From pre-Islam Persia, the pear or swirling pine-cone pattern image laid out, overlayed or intertwined with embellishments, found its way as a template in the weaving centers of the Silk Road, sacred places like Samarkand. Silk & cotton weavers took note in the early Chola dynasties existing in W. India and Tamil, their terrorities throughout Indonesia in the 12th century.

Coming into Kashmiri kingdoms, the native goats offered the luxury of letting their coats be woven. The effect was warm yet featherweight, an ideal partnership for fending off the chill of evenings spent abroad sumptuous summer houseboats on the mountain rimmed lake Kashmir. This featherweight, beautifully woven, jewel-toned fabric fashioned into generously sized shawls soon found favor with the colonials on post during the British Raj. Empire building fostered, timely enough, a wave of technology advancing rapidly in north England and Scotland, paisley. The industrial revolution gave this intriguing design a more manageable name than those it endured over the ages. The tradition remains, the function altered to modernity.

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Bros, Brahs, Buds & Dudes

THE SQUARE  A gentleman always carries a handkerchief for incidentals. Just don’t offer a lady friend the same one you blow out loogie.

I give you the handkerchief, also known as the handkercher, hanky, the hank, the pocket hank, the Pocket square, the square. A contemporary reduction in size, maybe on average 5 – 8 inches square, from the elaborate swatch of fine linen or silk heavenly flowered in non-stitched lace of many descriptions. The pocket square, now in its more conservative size, is adaptable to many origami-like transformations of debonair.  Color, texture, weight.

I like subtly with an edge. Like a dusty tan linen shirt, hard white lightly shred Levis, a natural flax-tone silk-linen single button or DB and, stuffed into a casual three-point flop in the breast pocket, a hanky by Christian Kimber. A recent design addition to the menswear world. A square which celebrates the London Gherkin structure, which structurally rather resembles the Graf Zeppelin of the first Led Zeppelin album cover. As you play around to get it just so, the feel of the pliant silk is sumptuous and the graphic pattern grid has endless artful possibilities of lines and planes, meridians and longitude perspectives which DeChirico could find amusing. Another eye-catcher for the well-dressed, is the Federation bandana. A Journey into a mushroom Taupe space, gridded by abstract white larger slashes. The designer’s iconic spaniel sits in attention in mild color frill.

Take a look through Christian Kimber’s Look-book. The footwear is also superb with Spanish and Italian craftsmanship on display.

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Reflections on a Golden moment

mySaxonMY SAXON  I see that Leo DiCaprio, auctioned his watch to a fellow swell, in the name of Earth’s
redemption.  An admirable thing but, I wonder if he really enjoyed wearing his timepiece, treasuring each minute’s movement, confident in knowing precisely the date, should an unexpectedly serious moment blitz the short-term memory suddenly. Did he privately caress the burnished black fine grain leather of the classic gold buckle wristband-something ultimately genteel and suave, that might be glimpsed under a french-cuffed, gleaming white linen shirt, worn say, by 007’s adversary? Would he pause to buff the crystal gently and reflect into the matte obsidian watch face and consider the simple pleasures of being a swell fellow?

This is a pleasure, owning and experiencing my Larsson & Jennings gentleman’s timepiece.

Glenn Hammonds Curtiss

PlaneAVIATION  Glenn Hammonds Curtiss was one of the most influential figures in American History that you’ve never heard of. He made the first long distance flight in America in 1902, from Albany to New York City. His lifelong fascination with speed made him one of the great pioneers of human flight.

In 1878, in a small village that sits on the southern end of Keuka Lake, named Hammondsport, Glenn Hammonds Curtiss was born to parents Lua Andrews and Frank Richmond Curtiss. At a young age, Glenn became fascinated with bicycles and how fast he could make them go, and would ride the bicycle his grandmother bought him-up and down the mountain roads in his neighborhood. Like those other pioneers, the Wright Brothers, Curtiss designed, built and repaired bicycles. Being the constant innovator that he was, he soon begin to experiment, adding combustible engines to his bicycles and started racing them. In 1903, Curtiss set a motorcycle record, riding at 64 miles per hour. Four years later in Ormond Beach, Florida, he rode the world’s first V8 motorcycle he designed and built-at a whopping speed of 136 miles per hour. That same year he built the handlebar throttle. The Media of his time nicknamed him “fastest man in the world”.

In 1907, Curtiss joined Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association (AEA). The next three years, he snagged the Scientific American Trophy with planes built by Alexander Graham Bell’s Aerial Experiment Association. In 1909, at the first International Aviation Competition Meeting held in France, Curtiss narrowly beat France’s own Louis Bleriot in the main event to take the gold cup. But, his greatest triumph came on May 29, 1910, when he completed the first witnessed cross-country flight in the United States. With hundreds of thousands of people lined up on the Hudson just to get a glance of their local hero, Curtiss flew 150 miles from Albany to New York City. Thirty-four years after his death, Curtiss was enshrined into the The National Aviation Hall Of Fame.

The Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY is a spectacular way to discover and experience the wonders of aviation and invention. The moment I entered the Museum, I felt like a kid in a candy store, I didn’t know where to begin my exploration. The Museum offers a remarkable insight into the life of one of America’s most significant figures, with a precious collections of artifacts, dating all the way back. From vintage motorcycles, bicycles, cars, period furniture, antique guns used in combat by the U.S. Military, to guided tours, interactive exhibits, and get this, a movie theater that sits up to 75 people. There are even restoration shops, with people actually restoring old airplanes, vintage cars, bicycles.

Even though the story of aviation may begin with the Wright Brothers, Glenn H. Curtis made many noteworthy contributions that led to sweeping changes in aviation.

Small Style Details

Double Knot Cufflinks and Longines Wrist watch

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Happy Birthday, Ralph!

Ralph LaurenTHE VISIONARY  The genius of Ralph Lauren has always been his expansive imagination, which fills his inspirational passion and spirit for design.

I remember when the doors swung open to Ralph Lauren’s inaugural venture into Soho, the focus of a dynamic stronghold of the art scene downtown. The concept was to bring the customer closer to the designer’s working process of his vision. The design studio hybrid boutique melded the various lifestyles, drawing major creative names from around the globe. The product looked fresh and new and everyone wanted to get their hands on some.

Events, parties, soirees, were in abundance in Soho. The aroma of fresh perfume filled the air, and everywhere you looked, there were swarms of the hip & stylish roaming about. People were so friendly and on top of their game-whether artificiality stimulated or innately elated. Fridays heralded a jam session at 357 Magnum, where live drummers added a third dimension to the D.J. spinning vinyl. You might just dance into Lenny Kravitz or Lou Diamond Phillips, or even the peripatetic Mick Jagger with the fabulous legginess of Jerry Hall in tow, on a usual evening. Conveniently across from our boutique on West Broadway was the downtown destination, Cipriani, where our crew after work, frequently kicked back, sipping on the house specialty Bellinis, so delicious and refreshing, while munching on freshly, crisp baked bread sticks. That was when Cipirani was humming under the radar and far away from clash of the titans. Sunday nights around the corner, you found Boom cafe, where there was a cool Euro vibe, and a very sexy sophisticated energy. I remember Maximiliano, the manager, drew a crowd of the cool and fascinating. There was always a D.J. ensconced in the dimness, rocking exotic mixes. It was the mid 90’s, so we as a freshly assembled staff were enjoying the benefits of a booming economy, and basking in the radiance of the new arrival of a true icon.

One of my fondest memories of those times was the occasion of Ralph Lauren’s 66th birthday, when our store manager decided we should all chip in and get Ralph a present. You could only imagine what a challenge this posed. What do you get a man of many tastes-a man who truly has everything-and a radiant being at that-for his birthday. Well after days of meandering around possibilities and fizzling ideas for many hours of conversation, our vintage buyer, Bob Melet, came to the rescue with just the perfect thing. He found an American flag, made entirely of vintage denim, dating back to the early 1900’s. Since Ralph is clearly a fan of true denim, and passionate about the American flag-it was a match for a life icon.

Gentleman that he is-we received the most genuine thank you note.

 

What I do is about living. It’s about living the best life you can and enjoying the fullness of the life around you-from what you wear, to the way you live, to the way you love.

LeLabo

THE MIGHTIEST OF SENSES  The charming little perfume shop Le Labo, on 232 Elizabeth St in Manhattan, is a delightful olfactory experience.

After being at Le Lebo I felt I’d walked into the world of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille, from the book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer. My sense of smell was awakened and it was as though I was seeing the world from a whole new perspective. Everywhere I went, I noticed the subtle smells, making me more aware of how and why I was perceiving my environment.

While I was there at Le Labo talking to their extremely helpful staff, and taking these pictures for my blog piece, in walked a gentleman asking for a fragrance to help cheer him up from his winter depression. Such a testament to the power, smell has over us! Smell is a sense we tend not to think much about. It is largely ignored in comparison to taste or sound and especially sight. Fragrances are only really considered when purchasing a luxury perfume, when we have to put up with a bad one. But smell taps into our deepest, most abstract emotions, dreams and memories; it is inexpressible, intangible, ephemeral. In Patrick Süskind’s book Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, the omnipotence of smell is demonstrated by the unveiling of Jean-Baptiste Grenouille’s final perfume – those who smelled it experienced God!

So it makes sense that this surreptitious little sensation of ours has power over who we are attracted to; we are much more likely to fall in love with someone who smells wonderful than someone who looks wonderful. Moreover, fragrances can make us feel emotionally and physically connected (or disconnected) to those around us! Le Labo also has scented candles, which are a subtle, but powerful way to create an enchanting atmosphere in your home or the bedroom.

The FAQ section of their website is quirky and very informative about the processes of creating, selecting, storing and using perfumes. Here is just one example:

Q: Are there erotic perfumes?

A: Here we go… “Well literally not, at least on in the sense of direct-action aphrodisiac. Pheromones in fine fragrances are a myth. Nevertheless, some raw materials reproducing notes of an animal musky nature, and which somehow may unconsciously stir our ancient memory of sex attracted pheromones expelled… At Le Labo, we love animalistic/sensual notes, not only for the sensuality, the long-lastingness and the very special signature that they bring to our perfumes, but also because they bring back the animal within us! All perfumes are created keeping this in mind: don’t forget fine fragrance is about seduction, and seduction is ultimately about sex”.

The other thing that’s really unique about Le Labo is that they mix the essential oils and alcohol together only once you purchase the fragrance. This ensures it’s longevity and they even put your name on the label. I only wish I could include the experience of smell to this blog post, but the images will have to do for now. I highly encourage you to go into Le Labo to smell the beauty for yourselves.

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