Wasting time here this Friday afternoon -- before plowing into final grading of student poster projects this weekend -- digging up various classic menswear illustrations by Leslie Saalburg and Robert Goodman online along with a single picture by our old friend Laurence Fellows. See if you can figure out which one that is. Sure, it's not 1940 any longer, but there is nevertheless considerable inspiration here for any man looking to kick up his everyday style by a few notches in 2019.
On a related note, I've actually spotted quite a few young men wearing suits, leather dress shoes, and neckties around here during the last couple of days, and to a person they have looked pretty darn good. Decent fit and silhouette. No overly long coat sleeves or pants legs, no overly large shoulders, decent, conservative colors and even a few muted patterns, but thankfully no black suits that I noticed. Everything tucked in, fastened, and knotted like it ought to be.
Moreover, a hiring committee I currently serve on interviewed a 30-something candidate yesterday. He too was dressed in an attractive suit-shirt-tie-shoe combination that seemed to suggest he actually knew something about attiring himself professionally beyond the ever-present coffee-colored Patigonia fleece and hiking shoes of the outgoing person he might replace. Said candidate also seemed unselfconscious and moved accordingly during the hour-long interview, which suggests that wearing a suit might, just might be a fairly routine occurrence for him. It's not hard most of the time to spot someone who dons a suit only once in a great while. These individuals invariably move and hold themselves as though they have yard/meter sticks taped to their spines and arms. Profoundly uncomfortable and ill at ease in other words.
Returning to the point at hand, I haven't observed this many members of the nominally male persuasion wearing suits at the same time since journeying now and then into Manhattan -- Midtown, the garment, financial, and/or theater districts -- for the day with my mother, father, or grandparents in the late 1970s and early 80s. Sure, there are the male members of the various college and university administrations where I have taught the last 18 years or so, but otherwise, suits and sports jackets worn with ties and decent looking leather dress shoes have been relatively few and far between. You know, because we don't want to dress like "The Man." Heaven forbid.
But let's get back to the young besuited guys mentioned above. My guess is that there has been some kind of student conference on campus for business or marketing majors during the latter half of the week. Oddly, I have not noticed any young women dressed along similar professional lines, but the male students have managed to pull it off pretty well judging by the pairs and small groups I have seen ambling across campus the last few days.
Even if a few of them looked a bit stiff, or the shoe color was a bit too tan with a dark suit in a couple of instances, I've gotta hand it to these young guys. Someone, somewhere is instructing them in the art of wearing an occasional suit, and they have risen to the occasion. Hallelujah! Nothing makes a man look better than a well-fitting suit regardless of his age, or the occasion. Suits should be worn more often than simply for weddings, funerals, the occasional business meeting, job interview, or conference.
But it gets even better. Yesterday afternoon (Thursday), while sitting in the barber chair for a routine haircut on the way home, a trim, tall 60-something man walked in wearing a charcoal flannel suit with faint chalk stripes, leather cap toe oxfords in dark brown, white shirt, subdued necktie, and, when he removed his coat to sit down for his haircut, actual braces that buttoned onto the inside of his waistband. Slightly rumpled, yes, but he seemed comfortable and at ease in his clothes, and in no way was his appearance sloppy, odd, or off. My guess is the man in question must work somewhere in downtown Lansing, the state capital, either in state government, or as a senior partner in one of the nearby law firms.
Now many out there argue vehemently that the ol' suit has fallen from favor. That it no longer has a place and is out of context as society becomes more egalitarian, and we rush madly in the direction of everyone looking equally oatmealy, pilled, stained, logo'ed, slightly sweaty, and just plain bedraggled. That because so many will not/do not/cannot fathom the idea of/supposedly no longer need to attire themselves in this way, then no one else should either. Grimy oversized t-shirts, sagging jeans, bagged out sweatpants, and cargo whatever should suffice for everyone. To dress otherwise is simply oppressive costume play that is somehow an uncomfortable, sociopolitical affront to the cubicled, the downtrodden, and the disenfranchised. Right?
Pshaw! Suits ain't out of the game just yet, and I, for one, will continue to celebrate, wear, and enjoy such maligned attire for the foreseeable future. At least until those futuristic silver jumpsuits and brightly colored polyester uniforms as worn by the casts of 1960s sci-fi TV series like Lost in Space and Star Trek come into wider fashion. "Danger Will Robinson! Danger! Danger! Danger!" I'll lean in to that. Phasers and tricorders too.
In the meantime, enjoy perusing these great old illustrations.