Friday, April 13, 2007

Apparel Arts: Fall 1934 issue digitized

Apparel Arts is the de facto magazine of record for men's clothing in the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s. It has achieved somewhat of a cult status for its colored illustrations of lounge suits, formal wear, collegiate styles and leisure wear. Judged in the dint of today's light, these illustrations and advertisements provide a remarkable glimpse of a vanished (or was it vanquished?) world of clothing.

Forget the Google book-scanning project! A philanthropic Fedora Lounge member has already scanned the contents of the Fall 1934 issue in this thread. Quite a feast for the eyes: observe and learn.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Goldarth's article on bespoke shoes, Lobb and Cleverley

For the more visually inclined, this article on bespoke shoes provides an excellent primer on the constituent parts of a traditionally constructed men's dress shoe. The article also introduces two well-known shoemakers, Lobb and Cleverley. Thanks to toniok on StyleForum for posting this.

The same website also has another article providing a nice peek inside Lock & Co, the St. James hatter.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Soft v. structured tailoring: Myth and reality

I think one of the most widely held assumptions of men's clothing aficionados is the belief that softly tailored jackets offer more freedom of movement and comfort than structured jackets. And why not? It seems intuitively obvious. However, as many a philosopher can confess, unexamined beliefs are often the cause of much misunderstanding and misinformation.

I raised the question of myth v. reality in soft and hard tailoring in this AskAndy thread. I did so because my own experience tells me that structure is not restrictive. In fact, I have structured jackets in heavier cloth that offer greater freedom of movement than jackets in lighter cloth with less padding. Hence, the statement that more structure means less freedom of movement does not ring true to me.

Let's dissect the claim often made on behalf of soft tailoring. It is argued that less (or lighter) canvas and padding and handsewing of seams are important to maintaining freedom of movement. I contend that these add little to a jacket's freedom of movement compared to other factors, namely, cut/pattern. The real benefit of handsewing is primarily a psychological one for the wearer. Compared to machine sewing, handsewing might give you an additional millimeter of flex across the seam. But this does not make a material difference in what is called the "primary range of motion" (POM).

In the discussion thread, AskAndy member (and tailor) jsprowls9 wrote these two following insightful gems:
  • "A structured garment and a soft-styled garment should feel equally comfortable when worn. Each will weigh differently upon the body by the nature of their styling and how the components are distributed. But, the myth about understructure impeding Primary Range of Motion (POM) is just that - a myth."
  • "Structured garments, when properly executed, promote greater POM because there is understructure (more than just canvas) which ensure the garment hangs from the body properly and accounts for POM with the greatest degree of accuracy."
Hard v. soft tailoring is one of the basic divisions of men's style. My advice is to understand what each tailoring concept is ultimately capable of in theory and practice before consigning one or the other to the sartorial dustbin.