Sunday, June 26, 2005

The good old days...

Except for this illustrious blog, there are precious few places where the civilized gentleman may turn, these days, for sage advice and wise counsel on the matter of apparel and grooming. Men, at least in the USA, have no fashion magazines, and what few books are published on the issue are generally wrong on crucial matters.

A good litmus test is to go to the section on formalwear. Any book suggesting (or even tolerant of) notch lapel tuxedos ought be set aflame.

This wasn't always the case, though. Esquire magazine, in the 1930s, was THE beacon on fashion and style for gentlemen. The illustrations by Laurence Fellows still look fresh and timely (and more often than not, they look like the windows of emporia such as Paul Stuart and Ralph Lauren Polo) and still influencing civilized men's apparel 3/4 of a century later. But Esquire is no longer that. It's basically a New York-y Playboy* with a snotty edge and no nekkid wimmin.

Gentlemen's Quarterly (GQ) is another former stalwart. As recently as 1983 it was a vibrant, intelligent voice in men's fashion. Then all that changed in the fall of that year, when it changed its focus from fashion and grooming to deal with puff pieces on art, celebrities, politics, etc. The change was in response to a new magazine from the publishers of "W," entitled "M." The latter was an excellent magazine on fashion and style and had an unabashed American viewpoint. However, the publishers pulled the plug and with the demise of M, all we had left was an emasculated Esquire and a gelded GQ.

Our options are few. Stick close and pay attention, I'll get us all home in one piece.

-J.

* About which, the less said the better.

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