You have to know the rules before you can break them

You have to know the rules before you can break them

I am of that generation and from a culture where when I think about my grandfather I don’t ever remember him not wearing a suit and tie (and more often than not a hat). Not because he was particularly dapper or style conscious that was just plain and simple the staple wardrobe for men of that generation in those days.

There usually was a Sunday /special occasion suit and a week day one (or two) selected I am sure by my grandmother. There was no element of self expression through experimental ties or anything, this was the uniform for the male of a certain age in a certain income level and that was all there was to it.

The concept of the uniform has ruled men’s wear for a long time, from the little boy in short pants, evolving to long pants (a true coming of age moment), a brief moment of careless, sloppiness and then often a stint in the army and then the work attire. For that generation I don’t believe there was ever a moment of the concept of how a male dresses as a form of self-expression.  It did not exist, it was age based, rule based income, and status level based.  End of story.

How things have changed! Sure arguably men’s wear is still held to far stricter rules than ladies wear, male politicians are expected to wear suits, bankers, lawyers, if you want respect wear a suit.  But for a vast amount of us though, it is a do as you please, and in far too many cases do as if you don’t care. (More on that some other time).

When I took my tailoring course the one teacher I had, an older very rigid Italian man retired from being a professional tailor to become educator who pounded the rules in our heads about techniques and cloth   Rules on cut and no dissent was tolerated.  Oh, how I hated that man, and how the shift of the width of a lapel notch by a mere centimetre could cause outrage!

Yet. I look back now and am most grateful to him and in his ways because what it has given me is a foundation from which I still built my designs.  Sure we try to break the rules about what men’s wear can be and provide people with the tools and  pieces to express themselves as unique human beings, but if you look closely there is always a starting point of credibility and foundation about the garment and it is because of that, that I feel that no matter how interesting the piece may be it is never clown like or costume-y, but believable.