A VALUABLE LESSON FROM MY FATHER
At an early age I took notice of how my dad put things together before going out. We didn’t have much money so he was very careful about what he chose as it needed to last more than one season. He didn’t buy many suits but what he did buy was impeccable and he was willing to spend a little more money for it. Fortunately, I was lucky enough to be his size!
Dad believed that his suit spoke for him and was somewhat conservative in style, after all it needed to be acceptable over a few years. The trousers were never too wide or too narrow and he wanted them to rest at the top of his shined shoes with nothing more than a small break. I recall he once commented that a good suit was not intended to clean the floors of every room and so his look was trim with clean lines. Out of all his suits my favorite was a glen plaid that had several colors mixed among dominant strands of dark and light brown. As a result, he could wear almost any color tie and here is where the ensemble made a difference! He always chose complementary colors with enough brightness and contrast to make that outfit really pop!
A U.S. Navy veteran of WWII, Dad went nowhere without shined shoes, “Why go through the effort of choosing nice clothing if your shoes look like you just finished working in the yard?,” it certainly made sense to me. The concept was later re-enforced for me at ROTC during college years. For inspection we were sharp as a tack; but after we marched in formation we were covered in dust. That part didn’t make a lot of sense to me but some interesting details were re-enforced about how a man dresses; the military way! Over the years these proved to be valuable lessons about personal style. Our shoes were shined to the extent that you could see your face in reflection. I actually spent more time on them the night before “Drills” than I did on my studies! Secondly, our shirt button placket and fly lined up perfectly as well as the edge of our belt buckle. I found this valuable to know and observed it in others I respected. If these are not lined up, your appearance is simply sloppy. In addition the “tie over fly” was an absolute no, no! The tie reaches to the top of your belt and goes no further. The TOF is a sloppy, careless look no matter who does it.
Finally, Jackets are always buttoned when standing!
Yes, some flexibility is merited in casual attire but in a suit these rules hold. A neat appearance is always a positive reflection on you!
Another observation was how the shirt contributed to dad’s ensemble. It never clashed with his suit or his tie. In fact, patterns in his ensemble were never present in more than one part of his attire. His point was simply this: “For a man, your tie is the focal point of what you’re wearing it should not be competing for attention with another pattern in your outfit”. Never wear a striped shirt with a striped or plaid tie! Why? The lines compete with each other. Your presentation is simply irrational. Any design student knows this! Quite simply there’s too much going on and it’s not satisfying to the eye. And yes, the concept applies to other items as well, even if there is no tie. A plaid shirt with striped pants are a no-go!
By the time I was a young adult I was able to walk out the door with confidence. It’s interesting that in the course of a lifetime certain things change and others remain the same. Styles are no exception. Longer, shorter, tighter or looser; Dad’s principles still hold up. Line and color are the basic principles of dress and design, there’s just no getting away from it!
Thanks again Dad for all you’ve taught me, I only wish you were here to celebrate this Father’s Day with me.
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