I recently thought about an old article on esquire.com with the title, The 12 Styles of American Man: Which One Are You? I remember, ten years ago reading it and looking at the twelve photos, and wondering to which style I most closely related. The Trad – a guy in chinos, oxford shirt, knit tie, and herringbone tweed was definitely the one I was at the time. I assumed, clicking on this article again today that I was another character, but it turns out I was wrong. I feel like these days I lean toward another I hadn’t even considered.
When Esquire posted this feature ten years ago, we were at the height of #menswear. The Trad is described as follows, “Also Known As: The New Englander, the professor. Dress code: Tweed blazers, button-down oxford-cloth shirts, rumpled khaki chinos. First known sighting: The original J. Press shop in New Haven, Connecticut, 1902. Recent sighting: Hipster coffee shop near you.” They go on to list famous people who dressed in this style, plus some other silly anecdotes. It’s entertaining, and ultimately they break down his dress with links to said items on various retailer websites. Point is, I thought the prep revival at the time was the best and easiest way to dress, and would continue to be my style until I was old enough to not care about clothes anymore. I still own chinos and several oxford shirts and knit ties, and even a herringbone tweed jacket. But over the past five or six years have changed the way in which I wear those items. I assumed I’d become the guy known as The Rake, but now I’m not so sure.
The Rake is described as, “The playboy, the ladies’ man. Dress code: Tailored blazers, dress shirts (top three buttons undone), big watches. First known sighting: Las Vegas, 1960s. Recent sighting: The after-after-after party. Hall of Famers: Robert Evans, Joe Namath, Tom Ford.” Yeah, no. I remembered that entirely wrong. Maybe it’s because my favorite print magazine is The Rake, so I just assumed that The Rake would be more like the pages of THE Rake. I’ve definitely done the blazer and dark jeans look, and big puffy pocket square, but have shied away from it in recent years in favor of a more refined and mature look (and accompanying attitude.)
I’m not Italian. I’ve never thought of myself, necessarily as one to gravitate towards Italian style. Perhaps, however it’s the influence of such gentlemen as Luca Rubinacci, creative director of the Milan-based tailoring house, Rubinacci, or Nicola Radano of Spacca Neapolis, or Gerardo Cavaliere of Sartoria Giuliva, among others that led me to change my tune. The Italiano, in this piece is described as “The sprezzatura man, the American who looks vaguely European. Dress code: Soft-shouldered tailoring, colorful accessories, driving shoes. First known sighting: Naples, Italy, early twentieth century. Recent sighting: Corner table at Cipriani. Signature accessory: Billowing pocket square.“
Sid Mashburn, who describes his namesake company’s house style as “preppy hippie,” also has a certain Italian flair. It happens that much of their stock is produced in Italy, and reflects a certain American-Italian hybrid style.
Agnelli-Esque, a Tumblr site dedicated to posting photos of stylish gents in the vein of the late business leader and style icon, Gianni Agnelli hits the nail on the head in regard to this particular style of dress. The photos span decades and continents, showcasing the impeccable style of such distinguished gentlemen as Bill Nighy, Paul Newman, Jerry Lauren, Sid Mashburn, and several more who are clearly actual Italians.
I don’t have many places to go these days, but in an earlier post I alluded to wanting to step up my game when we do return to work; when I get back on the road to see customers or head to trade shows, etc. I’d already used most of this as a basis to my personal style over the past few years anyway, so any addition of a tie or other colorful accessory would just add a little something extra.
This was a fun activity for me, and not a source I expected to revisit from ten years past only to realize my sartorial choices today. Special nod also goes to The Woodsman, “Also Known As: The hunter, the outdoorsman. Dress code: Waxed-cotton jackets, corduroy pants, all manner of tweed. First known sighting: English hunting lodges, 1920s. Recent sighting: In line for a Wes Anderson movie. Hall of Famers: The British Royals, Ted Turner, Peter Beard. Hobbies: Hunting, shooting, fishing.“
Perhaps it’s the influence of Matt Hranek at the WM Brown Project, or the fact that I now live in a rural-esque suburb of Pittsburgh that I find this so appealing. I do love my waxed jackets and my hatchet. But that’s for another time.