Jackets, Trousers, And The Intricacy of Sand

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

5 Comments on "Jackets, Trousers, And The Intricacy of Sand"

  1. What year was this published?

  2. Ezra Cornell | January 12, 2020 at 6:19 pm |

    This is delightful!

    The last bit — about this being such a recent phenomenon in Japan, and therefore requiring style guides — is typical Japanese modesty. The widespread use of “Western” clothes among Japanese men dates back well more than a century, with major department stores selling readywear for men by the 1910s, after first introductions in the 1880s. The history of “western” clothes in Japan is very long and fascinating, and any Japanese man could recount the same sorts of memories that a previous post recalled of visiting a menswear shop and getting their first proper suit.

  3. This is great. Japanese readers must be disappointed if they come to the US and find out hardly anyone really dresses like that anymore. If only people in the US really had their fathers to inform them of how to dress like this.

    Does anyone know a modern analog of the Hunting Blazer? I saw somebody wear something like that a while ago and thought it was a great casual look.

  4. Old School Tie | January 13, 2020 at 4:42 pm |

    I would say that style #05 is more of a shooting jacket than hunting jacket. Just as most divers these days eschew Submariners or Seamasters in favour of dive computers, most hunters opt for modern style attire even if it is made by traditional makers from tweed or waxed cotton. A shoot on the other hand is more likely to attract shooting coats and breeks. The illustrations are very twee, I like many of the outfits but cannot imagine any instance where I would wish to dress as Monty, still….

  5. Henry Contestwinner | January 13, 2020 at 7:14 pm |

    In the Japanese text, someone has misread the character 妙 (みょう・たえ) ‘knack, skill’ as 砂 (すな) ‘sand,’ which resulted in this odd sentence: “The mixture of sand is actually quite intricate.”

    That should read something along the lines of, “The skill of matching clothes is actually quite deep.” (I added a couple of words because the English needs them.)

    I think the rest of the text might be better rendered as, “One should enjoy this high-level intellectual activity, which expresses one’s sophistication.”

    Sorry to kill the quaintness and the title of the post.

    Regardless, the real focus is on the outfits in the illustrations, which are fun to look at.

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