BEAMS’ Creative Director Nakamura Tatsuya introduces and educates the reader on the school of thought behind the classic jacket and pants combo. In Japanese fashion, this book guides the reader in tedious detail on navigating the waters of sportcoats and slacks. In the early pages of the guide, we find our sartorial professor dog, donning his blazer and bow tie, musing, “The mixture of sand is actually quite intricate. One should enjoy the expression of one’s own sophistication; the higher, intellectual pastime.”
The word used for mixture can also mean combination, playing on the art of the jacket-pants combo. In the introductory pages are the quintessential 8 jackets accompanied by playful, preppy illustrations. The first jacket is the Navy Blazer, which the guide explains the history and its role in Ivy fashion history. Second is a cotton jacket, recommended for the warmer temperatures of spring and summer. The softer the color the better in order to capture the essence of the seasons.
The third in a similar vein is the Linen Jacket to keep the wearer cool during the brutal heat. Fourth is the Safari Jacket, packing a lot of fun and beloved by Hemingway and President Roosevelt.
The fifth is the Hunting Jacket, wherein the guide emphasizes the elbow patch among other patches provide the jacket its character. As sixth we find the equestrian Hacking Jacket, with its design for function and utility.
The tweed jacket from Ireland and Scotland comes seventh as the suitable fall/winter jacket. And eighth is the Norfolk jacket, described as a traditional jacket originating from England.
The rest of the guide goes on to explain the various details behind the jacket-pants combo: fabrics and colors, appropriate sizing and lengths, and suggested accents (ties, shoes, etc.) for each look. While it describes the process of buying a jacket, it does not tell the reader which store to head to. Rather, in the small print beneath the photo examples, the items and their according stores are thoroughly listed.
Mr. Nakamura emphasizes that in the west, men hardly need such a guide. We simply have our fathers, uncles, grandfathers, and society as a reference. As Japan is without this direct source of reference, the greater the need for guides such as this becomes. Despite our cultural heritage, perhaps it is time we picked up these guides to relearn a bit about our own past. — PETER E. LAVELLE