This story was filed to the New York Observer for its website but was inexplicably “killed,” as they say in the newspaper business. My editor liked it, but apparently someone upstairs didn’t find it very compelling. There’s not much of a trad angle for you guys, save for the inclusion of G. Bruce Boyer and recent Ivy Style contributor Al Castiel III, who provided engaging, multi-generational conversation throughout the event.
I’m pictured afterwards winding down with cocktails and music-making. Imagination and personal mischief are part of the fun in dressing, and in my mind I was dressed in a sort of ’30s Anglo-Ivy. The jacket is a fitted windowpane in camel hair by RL, two-button with a high gorge and wider-than-usual lapel for me, which reminds me of ads for Brooks two-buttons from the ’30s and ’40s. I paired it with a navy dotted grenadine tie, white linen square with navy trim, white oxford from Kamakura, charcoal worsteds from O’Connell’s, light gray cashmere argyles, and — the hottest thing in 1936 — Norwegian peasant moccasins.
Castiel was dressed in a custom Andover Shop jacket and Alden tassel loafers, while Boyer had on tweed jacket, grey flannels and cashmere sweater vest.
The rejected post follows; the point about the web versus real life I think is worth reiterating. Oh, and a gold star if you can guess the preppy who wore boat shoes with his tuxedo. — CC
* * *
Ten years ago the online menswear space, like much of the Internet, was still a Wild West, full of venemous trolls and anonymous vitriol. On Style Forum.net, one of the pioneering message boards for men obsessed with bespoke suits, seven-fold ties and benchmade shoes, members in crush-the-enemy fields such as law and finance would clash in online cage matches over sartorial trivialities. “For them,” the renowned menswear author G. Bruce Boyer has said, “style is a blood sport.”
You’d never guess it from the bonhommie on Saturday at Gary’s Place, an event space in Midtown, where Style Forum and A&H Magazine hosted a trunk show called The Proper Kit, drawing hundreds of fastidious clotheshorses. IRL — or in real life — there were no fisticuffs over pocket-square folds or purposely unbuttoned buttondown collars. The closest thing to bodily harm was the poor fellow who fell down the staircase, one of the risks of wearing double-monk straps. For Style Forum editor-in-chief Jasper Lipton, the trunk show clearly exposes the duality of real life and the Internet. At gatherings such as this, men celebrate each other’s individual flourishes rather than criticize them, and clothing is revealed as a three-dimensional thing, animated by a living person who walks and talks and breathes life into his garments. “A man’s style cannot be appreciated through a photo posted online,” said Lipton.
Today Style Forum boasts 185,000 registered members, daily content, and a slew of business alliances. Stephanie Coleman, of San Francisco-based Wikia Lifestyle Properties, is a Style Forum partner. One of the few women in attendance, Coleman said she found the roomful of discerning gentlemen refreshing when compared to the celebrity and PR-driven world of women’s fashion. “These men are passionate connoisseurs who care about craftsmanship, attention to detail, and brand backstories,” she said.
The exhibitor roster included such esoterica as Bianca Mosca, a London-based brand that was touting its new custom alligator accessories program, with items ranging from $375-$2,500, while working the room was Bram Frankel, founder of William Abraham, which offers socks made from the down fiber of cervelt, a rare species of New Zealand deer, price $1,200 per pair (think of it as $600 per sock and it doesn’t sting so much).
G. Bruce Boyer was the event’s guest of honor, manning a table where he signed copies of his latest book, “True Style: The History And Principles Of Classic Menswear.” He regaled fans with tales from his vast arsenal of sartorial anecdote, including the one about the preppy from North Carolina who wore boat shoes with everything, even his tuxedo, and the time a London haberdasher refused to sell Boyer a regimental necktie unless he could prove he had actually served in the regiment.
Considering that clothes-loving men can’t always shoot the breeze and chew the fat like their fantasy-football coworkers, swapping stories of sartorial audacity and folly was something to savor. Boyer certainly felt more comfortable fielding awkward questions from book-buyers than reading anonymous comments on the web. “If this were the Internet,” said the septuagenarian, “I’d be hiding under the table.”