The Gentleman’s Trifecta is my husband’s term for the things represented in this photograph that we took in 2007.
I will explain a little more in the following editorial, which I wrote and published on Elegant Survival in 2010:
Burberry Suit from Sphere Magazine, Christmas Number, 1936
The Elegantly-Dressed Man
In this stylish drawing of a man, you don’t see a skinny jacket that is bursting open to expose sad trousers that hang at the hip, a bulging shirt and too-long tie. What we see here is a man who wears his trousers at the right length, ones that don’t pile-up like discarded potato sacks on top of his shoes, and which come up to the actual human waist, thereby visually lengthening his legs. And we see the gentleman’s traditional accessories: hat, gloves and walking-stick, each of which serves a purpose, such as protection from the elements, enthusiastic pigeons, dirt, germs, roving animals, and whoever may dare to attack him or anyone else in his immediate vicinity; the gentleman is always well-prepared for a stroll down today’s mean streets. Alas, this picture is clipped from an advert by Burberrys that appears in one of my 1930s Sphere magazines. Today’s men, in general, look like short, dumpy cads in clothes that are designed to distort human proportions. (Add the slovenly yet popular three-day growth beard to complete a tragic modern image.) Never in history has so much sartorial splendour been readily accessible, and yet men have seldom looked worse. It doesn’t cost any more to dress correctly than it does to do it badly, especially since some of the ghastliest clothes are going for the highest prices. There are few contemporary examples of elegant dressing in trendy venues and magazines. Help yourself by not following fashion, but instead by looking toward the best elements of the past for useful examples of tasteful masculine dress.
White’s Boots for Men: Elegant and Tough (Photo Copyright M-J de Mesterton)
What has Jimmy Choo ever done for you? Can you kick a criminal to the kerb? No, you’ll fall flat on your face in those six-inch high, toeless travesties. If you want real protection from the elements and power to get things done, White’s Lady Packers are number one! Form and function combine to create a beautiful, strong woman’s boot. Made in Spokane, Washington, USA.
In the days when the American west was being settled, men and women wore tweeds from Scotland, British-inspired suits, long, luxurious skirts, long-sleeved blouses, shirts, and waistcoats made of durable, thick fabrics. Naked knees, elbows and plumbers’ cracks were rare sights. Combined with rugged yet elegant cowboy boots and hats, these tasteful clothes served two functions, affording both ladies and gentlemen dignified self-esteem out on the range, and protection from the elements.
~~Copyright M-J de Mesterton 2008
“The American Cowboy is the best-dressed man.” –Count Oleg Cassini, Clothing Designer
Clothes dryers are energy-wasters, and will ruin your clothes as well, through fibre-loss and shrinkage. Some electric dryers even tear holes in clothes. Hand-washing and line-drying your shirts and other washable garments will extend their lives. I use Zote soap and a microfibre cloth to rub dirt out of cuffs and collars. Underarms need special attention, too. I use a microfibre cloth instead of a brush because it is more gentle on the fabric, while strong enough to grab what I like to call “café crud” from cuffs.
You don’t need a fancy contraption for natural clothes-drying; a five-dollar investment in a clothesline from a supermarket, and a packet of wooden clothespins for about three dollars will do, and you can be line-drying in a jiffy. Having a couple of trees to hold your clothesline at each end is lucky indeed, but in their absence, posts can be installed.
When travelling, pack a small piece of Zote or Octagon soap for hand-washing dainties and shirts in your quarters. The shower is a nice place to hang them; they will likely dry overnight, and probably not need ironing. You might pack a couple of clothes-pins as well.
The sun and Zote soap both act as brighteners, and your clothes will have a clean, fresh scent if treated to a sun-bath.
…I mean but the low-hanging thereof. My photo shows elegant baggy or wide-legged trousers. Baggy pants, as in Oxford Bags, have been chic for decades in classic clothing. But, most people, when referring to the problem of low-sagging pants (trousers) just use the term, “baggy pants”. That’s really unfair, since what is being excoriated is the plumber’s crack, a source of derision for all times. What people abhor is the hideous sagging lowdown pants/trousers style. It really amounts to indecent exposure–someone’s underwear and opening showing in front, and whatever you wish to call it bared in the back–that’s the issue. Here is an article which I was sent by Sweden’s The Local–News in English: http://www.thelocal.se/8941/
“Of all suits, the double-breasted is the most elegant,” says designer Alan Flusser, who chuckles at the “fashion” for DB. For well-dressed men, says Flusser, the suit’s ability to confer strength, stature and the suggestion of good breeding has made it a classic for 100 years…”~~Forbes Magazine September 2008
So, you are possessed of a perfectly shaped body and decide to go shopping. There is nothing available but low-rise pants and skirts that rest on the hip. The fashion industry and its manufacturers are saving big bucks on your back. You decide that to go against what seem to be the demands of current fashion is pointless, so you buy whatever looks prettiest on the hanger. Once it goes onto your well-toned corpus, something sinister happens: your legs now look a mere foot long, and your tight “abs” sit above the low-rise top of your skirt or slacks, looking for all the world like a beer-gut. What’s happening here? The fashion industry is sabotaging your looks while saving themselves money on yardage. It’s now impossible to find a pair of pants, tights, or a skirt that comes up to the natural waist; anything that does is derisively and incorrectly labeled “high-waisted”.
If you must have your clothes made for you in order to avoid this sick, disfiguring fashion regime, there are ways to do it without breaking the bank. A well-constructed pair of corduroy, moleskin or tweed trousers will get you through the depression in style, last for many years, and what’s most appealing about them is that they will make you look taller than everyone else (unfortunate fashion-victims that they are). Even a well-shaped jacket can be sabotaged by slacks, skirts, or trousers that hang below it. Last night’s Academy Awards brought out a cavalcade of men whose crotches landed below the bottom edge of their jackets–poor misguided fellows, yet rich enough to get it right. Overly long slacks creating a puddle of fabric on top of men’s shoes do not lengthen their legs visually–they just look wretchedly tailored.
A tasteful and reliable source for elegant, durable tweed jackets and trousers is Bookster U.K. They will guide you through the ordering process, and see to it that your clothes have an actual waist, so that your investment isn’t a waste. The clothes are made by Bookster in England. There are plenty of British and American companies that copy the traditional English styles, but have them made inexpensively in China. Yet, these clothes are crafted the old-fashioned way, close to where the fabrics are milled in the United Kingdom. It may take a couple of months to have a great pair of trousers or elegant jackets made, but you just might be wearing them for a lifetime. Bookster U.K. is a small operation with a huge reputation for customer service and fine clothing. They specialize in equestrian and tweed clothes, which are perfect for town and country.
Don’t let hip-hop fashion and cheap clothing manufacturers dictate your style. It is time for an uprising against the tyranny of low-rise clothing.
Le Boulevardier sent this link to me: a Forbes article about what men will be wearing, with his comment that we at Elegant Survival have been lightyears ahead of fashion trends. We don’t advocate the style of a certain era, like some sites do, coming off like campy costumers. Our style has remained constant throughout the decades. We have written about the figure-and-image-enhancing qualities of classic cuts and fabrics, for both men and women. And let’s hope that the days of low-rise pants and ugly stubble are gone off the style radar, and relegated to the slums or prisons where they started. We are sick and tired of seeing men and women dressing and walking like slobs. Let the depression bring on some real dignity in human appearances. I’ve seen dogs that look better than the Hollywood crowd lately (maybe that’s why the brooch-pooch is so popular among them). Putting a movie star with a three-day growth on the cover of a style magazine is inexcusable. Beware of Splay-Foot, Shorty-Pants and Stubble-Face. They have made a mockery of the human race!