Dressing rue MAN
Inn the sparest outfit, while on others lie will not be able to get enough decoration. Regardless ol the approach, the ability to switch from one mode to another is an essential skill in any man's dressing arsenal. On the practical front, a dexterity for harmonizing patterned clothes can lend versatility to a wardrobe of modest means as well as increase the number o( combinations when
traveling with limited luggage.
The historv ol patterned lashions and their rise to sartorial sophistication has its ori gins in the early 1920s. when men began to experiment w ith a variety of less formal garments as a result of spending so much time in the function driven gear of World War I. Patterned attire also represented a departure from the stiff stolid Victorian dress of the prewar years. The new lounge coat s easy, flowing lines inspired men to loosen up and smell the roses.
\\ hile the dashing Prince ol Wales established main ol the styles that came to be ideiv tified with the era's "man about town." perhaps his most defining contribution to popular taste was his insatiable appetite for pattern mixing. Throughout his life, the Prince was routinely photographed in any number of audacious consortiums of checks, stripes, and plaids. And he wore them all with an aplomb devoid of arrogance, formal and fastidious w ithout a hint of stuffiness. While his interest and affinity for clothes was no doubt exceptional in the annals of modern menswear. his particular fondness for patterned attire was as much a function of his Britishness as his royal birth.
The l-nglish aristocracy spent considerable time on their country estates, and their dress aptly reflected their outdoor lifestyle, with large-patterned, splash) -hued estate suits as the favored regalia. The Scottish influence of Balmoral Castle and other royal hunting lodges paved the way for t he introduction of individual district checks and clan tartans into estate living. 1 losts and guests were regu larly kitted out in local I lighland fare of tartans, tweeds, plaids, and argyles. As the philosopher and confessed Anglophile Andre Maurois once observed. "There is something affected and deliberate about the casualness of shaggy fabrics in which a continent dresses, while the English know how to be truly casual and there-lore truly elegant."
As for the nobleman's seat itself, melanges of color and pattern were strewn about to warm up the typically cold, cav ernous manor house into a place of liv ed in warmth and casualness. The typical English country room was an eclectic amalgam of ancestral heirlooms, antique tapestries, and chintz-covered furniture. punctuated by oversized shocks of fresh flowers. 'Thus the English country squire found himself surrounded by a plethora of visual stimuli.
However, unlike other young men of regal birth, the future king of England devoted a considerable parr of his ado-
The young Prince of Wales in royal attire.
The young Prince of Wales in royal attire.
OPPOSITE: The Prince of Wales had an insatiable appetite for pattern mixing here are four.
LEFT: Prince Charles carries on the royal partem tradition.
Icsccnce to the fitting and donning of vividly colored and elaborately decorated clothes that bore some royal, military, or family significance. Such a diverse and extensive wardrobe required the full time sen ices of tour men just to organize and transport it when the Prince of Wales traveled.
Given the strict dress requirements ol his youth, with its disciplined and nearly letishis tie attention to detail, its no wonder that as soon as he was old enough, the Prince threw off the shackles o! his parents' Kdwardian formality. In doing so. he created a worldwide awareness and demand for his liberated dress, which the Trench later termed "chic fatigue." denoting an easy, casual stylishness.
With affluent Ivy l eague collegiates raking their fashion cues from vacations spent attending the rowing races at Oxford and'Cambridge. Anglomania was at a fever pitch. While they brought home interpretations of the clothes worn by the dashing Prince of Wales, men from around the globe turned to the British heir for clues on how to dress for sport and travel. Pretty soon, lashionable men everyw here began to realize that combining two or more patterns w ithin an outfit imbued them with an aura ol distinction and urbanity.
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