The Days of Extremes

We seem to live in a world of extremes. Extreme politics, extreme consumerism, extremist movements, pick your reference point. We seem, as humans, to be drawn to it. One of the big extremes we see now is the extremes in dress. Yes, we have gone more casual all around with varying results. However, we have also seen the opposite in tailored clothing. Let me give you an example. A gentlemen will wear baggy jeans and a sweatshirt for much of his days. The clothing is ill-fitting and past its expiry date. Now, when the time inevitably comes to get a suit, he now wants it as tightly wrapped to his body as can be done and despises even the slightest wrinkle that may present itself. This is another case of extreme.

I spend an inordinate amount of time looking back on old photos from Apparel Arts, and of celebrities of a bygone era such as Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, the Duke of Windsor, Paul Newman, and many more. What I always noticed about them was there perceived comfort in their clothes. They always looked a bit rumpled, perhaps the tie was a bit askew, a collar button undone or shirt popped, and his shoes may be slightly scuffed. It gave the impression, God forbid, that they lived in their clothes. It made them more approachable, even if they were in a suit. They did not look, nor try to look, like a model on a runway or an advert in a fashion magazine. They wanted to be comfortable in the clothes they wore.

Who looks more comfortable?

Over the past month or so, I have seen a lot of fashion. You see February is the buying season for Fall 2016. We at John McNabb Clothier meet lots of sales reps decked out in their most 'fashionable' duds. The current trend in menswear is still the super shrunken fit though this is fading in many other areas, but Canada is always a bit behind. This look barely passes on someone of my small frame. It can look downright awkward on someone that is built more like a normal adult male. I almost feel uncomfortable looking at them. What happens when they gain 5 pounds? Your clothing should always be comfortable. Now a suit is never going to feel like a pair of sweatpants, it is not designed for working out or lazing on a couch. However, you should be able to breathe. You should also not get overly fixated on a bit of wrinkle in your shirt or jacket. It adds character and show that you are not overly fussy.

With so much of the world now living permanently in denim, it only makes sense to be a bit more relaxed when wearing a suit. And that does not mean just forgoing the tie. What it may mean is experimenting more with cloth, something in a cotton chino or a flannel. Perhaps getting a little more casual in design and colour, or adding accessories like funky socks or a knit tie. The suit need not be relegated to only the fanciest of fancy occasions. It actually can be quite a comfortable, utilitarian garment (think of all those pockets!). Just don't get it too tight, and with all things in life, don't sweat the small stuff ;)

Jason Byron Reynolds

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