I’ve seen a few ‘Best dressed men’ list and while I agree with many of the selections, I personally would rather view a list of ‘Style influencers’. Me being who I am I decided to put together a list of some of the chaps I consider the greatest style influencers, gentlemen who I believe exemplify Casual Fly. The names are in no particular order and while they are of different eras they share a few common threads - These men do not have stylists (at least not to my knowledge), and dressing seems to be an obvious extension of who they are while also being reflective of the individual (not who they wish they could be).
For those of you who follow the site you know that I take fashion with a grain of salt and that I believe that style is something that comes naturally and is developed over time.
"To attain style in dress you must look perfectly happy and relaxed in your clothes which must appear part of you rather than a wardrobe you have donned." ABC of Men’s Fashion page 108, By Hardy Amies.
Guerreisms’ Presents The Style Influencers (Part 1)
Miles Davis (Jazz musician)
Regarded as one of the most innovative, influential and respected figures in the history of music. Not only was Miles ahead of most in terms of Jazz, his manner of dress showed a man who did not follow trends but instead created them. Miles would combine elements, add his experience and personalty and make the style uniquely his.
He began his professional career wearing second hand Brooks Brothers suits from a pawn shop a few years later Miles would be wearing, according to Down Beat, “what the well dressed man will wear next year.” He was not one to stick to one style, instead he constantly reinvented himself from the Ivy League Look to Slim cut European suits to having his jackets cut specifically for his slouchy playing posture.
This man learned the rules, then rewrote them.
Frank Sinatra (singer)
The man that rocked the fedora with ease, class and cool. Sinatra exuded a calm cool second to none. Tailor made suits and tuxedos were signature pieces of Sinatra. There was no confusing things when looking at Sinatra, this chap could sing, dress, party and enjoy life … and did it all in a great suit!
Frank Sinatra is one of those rare gentlemen that could rock a bow tie or a loose tie with an unbuttoned top button and still looked comfortable and good in any situation. A suit didn’t make him look good, he certainly made the suit look great.
GIanni Agnelli (Founder of Fiat)
Esquire Magazine named him one of the five best dressed men in the history of the world - that in itself says plenty. His style was classic Italian which was common (he was born and raised in Italy) but it is he who exemplified Sprezzatura. He would often wear his watch over his cuff, or wear high brown boots under a bespoke suit. He understood and knew the rules of style before changing them. It is precisely his knowledge of the fundamentals of style that allowed him to break the rules… rewrite the rules in a way that very few could and still can copy without looking foolish and forced.
Gianni immaculate in dress and the little details he included made his style completely his.
Nickname: “The Rake of the Riviera”
The Duke of Windsor (King Edward VIII)
At 5’5” The Duke of Windsor understood the importance of the right items and fit. His jacket waists were cut precisely to elongate his silhouette. He always carried a cigarette case and all the pockets on the left side of his trousers were cut wider for that reason. The duke of Windsor although a short man gave the impression of being taller because he understood how to play with patterns that would normally be a no go for small people.
The Duke of Windsor was master of bespoke suits. Paying attention to every detail he believed in clothing that lasted a lifetime and the right fit. His wardrobe extended some 60 years because he never lost his slim figure (his waist remained between 29 and 31 inches).
This gentleman exemplified impeccable dressing and set the tone for the smoking jacket, the Windsor knot, and shirts with Windsor collar.
Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000)
His style exemplifies re-invention and the evolution of self, from Hip Hop kid to cultivated style. At a time when hip hop ‘style’ was ‘cool’ he traveled the road less popular and while looking back at some of his early style photos, it is evident that as he explored (without fear) he was able to find a style that was completely his own. Mastering colors and patterns, Andre 3000 brought cool to Preppy while transforming Preppy into a new style. He understood inner city urban and uptown classic and mixed the two doing it in a way that only he could.
Andre 3000 is one of those chaps that oozes style and knows how to dress down something loud with his personality. With him bold isn’t too much and even if it’s too much for your subdued taste, you can’t help but acknowledge that he pulls it off effortlessly.
I’m the kind of guy who enjoys spending a few hours browsing through the local flea markets, I’ve even been known to spend some summer afternoons at my favorite salvage shop in Brooklyn (think the old tv show Sanford and Son) where I’ve found some priceless items that I foresee being passed on to the next generation … in simple terms I enjoy the new, but I have a soft spot for vintage and details. Often when someone crosses my path I see their details first and their complete ‘outfit’ second. Somehow I’ve trained myself to see the little things that are the core indicators of the subjects “style”.
This weekend I met a young chap (Justin Jeffers / The Fine Young Gentleman.com) who approached me and introduced himself. I’m not sure how long it took me to ask him about his watch but I know it was undoubtedly early in the conversation.
Justin explained to me that he found it in his father’s drawer and asked him about this watch that he had never seen him wear. Turns out that the watch was given to Justin’s father as a token of appreciation - to Justin it was a reminder of part of his father’s accomplishments both socially and career-wise. He became the new owner of the watch and changed the leather band with a series of nylon bands.
Call me sentimental, I can help but see a little poetry in seeing attachement to items because of some other reasons than their monetary value. While fashion can be costly … style and meaning is priceless.
This reminded me of 2 things from an earlier post. 36 things every man should do before dying (#15 & 32).
Traveling seems to be one of those things that is the most fun after the actual traveling part is out of the way. In the past I’ve traveled with the heavy plastic suitcases, as well as the canvas suitcases … truth be told I never found a suitcase that was manageable and sturdy and was determined to find one for my next trip.
I initially had decided to skip Paris fashion week but after a call (any excuse is a good excuse to go to Paris) I decided to pack up my bags and had out to the city of lights.
This post is about 2 things.
1. The right suitcase
2. Packing the suitcase
1. The right suitcase.
The suitcase selected is polycarbonate suitcase from Kenneth Cole Reaction. I must admit, I used to see people at the airport with similar suitcases and they made it look effortless - now I know why! After packing the suitcase it was still light and very mobile. You can turn the suitcase fully around with 2 fingers and always seem to maintain control.
2. Packing the suitcase.
Although there are plenty of ways of packing a suitcase, the suit jacket should always be given priority and protected.
After having lined the suit collar to the edge of the suitcase proceed by placing the pants inside the jacket.
In order to keep the jacket from getting crushed place your sock s and underpants in the sleeves of the jacket.
Fold the lower part of the jacket upward. 2 suits will fit comfortably and without worry of being wrinkled when you arrive to your destination ( as long as the remainder of the suitcase is packed snugly.
close the side with the suits and fold tightly the remaining items. Shoes are best stored in individual shoe bags so they won’t scuff.
When it’s all said and done, maneuvering your suitcase shouldn’t be a task and arriving with wrinkled clothes shouldn’t be an option.
The post was sponsored by Kenneth Cole Reaction. To find out more about the polycarbonate suitcase visit the Kenneth Cole website. (click link)
During New York fashion week I had the pleasure of meeting Elie Tahari, going back stage and attending the Spring Summer 2012 Runway Show.
I wanted to be your guide and give you a glimpse of the fashion world courtesy of Elie Tahari. (The views expressed below are my take) I will actually be interviewing Mr. Elie Tahari by the time this post goes up and will be sure to share with you some of his fashion insight.
It begins with the faces selected to wear/ represent the brand (left)
Then the snap shots of the looks to be worn by the models (right)
You have the photo of the model and what the end look in terms of make up will look like (left)
Make up begins (right)
The clothes go on (above)
The lights go on, the cameras flash, the buyers buy, you’ll see the looks in magazines.
For more on Elie Tahari visit the website (click link)
I’ve had the chance to meet some great people along the way. This blog has been a vehicle that has been allowed to park in the company of great minds, aspiring souls, and youthful potential - I thank you.
I recently came across the post of a young writer I know in which he took the time to write a few words about me. This is a chap hungry for wisdom, and open to what it takes to get there. I was once again reminded that STYLE is not how you dress your body, but instead it’s how you express your soul.
I am humbled by your words Michael (click here)….. and thank each person that understands it’s bigger than just photos.
In a recent interview I was asked to list my 5 favorite finds for the summer. Feel free to e-mail me your short list - Summer’s not over yet and I’m always looking for that forgotten or hidden gem.
1. Super Duper hats.
I came across this hat company recently while in Florence Italy and I must tell you I think I have a new favorite hat company. The brown straw fedora that I have of theirs is certainly the first of many to come. (www.SuperDuperHats.com)
2. Great fabric.
I went to my favorite fabric place and stocked up on some great summer and winter material for some choice pieces I have in mind. I no longer shop for clothes - I simply acquire pieces that I personalize, having them made from scratch is the epitome of personal.
3. A brand new red Harris Tweed blazer from Orvis.
This was my e-bay find of the Summer. This is one of those items that’s not for everyone - therein lies the beauty.
4. Persol Sunglasses
I had a chance to go to Lens Crafters and pick out a pair of sunglasses - While the selection was wide and there were countless commercially cool frames, Persol had the ones that matched my style. (www.LensCrafters.com)
5. The Rake Magazine
In terms of quality and content, this is my favorite men’s magazine. I decided to pick up the few issues that I was missing via back order (you can only order it online in the States. The magazine is based in Singapore) It’s not a $4 dollar magazine, but I believe it’s a keeper and worth every penny. (www.TheRakeOnline.com)
You have become accustomed to seeing the images on the site, but should also expect to read some gems from time to time. I make it a point to re-post this list at least once a year and check it myself, I’d like to believe it’s about more than just photos.
I present to you 36 things every gentleman should do before dying. Of course this is not etched in stone (or in any particular order) and you may decide some don’t apply… the point is to create your list at some point and do your best to live it.
1. Travel to Paris, and New York.
These cities have a certain mystique about them… it’s well deserved. Plan to visit one (preferably both) and be sure to experience what makes those cities unique. Side note - Real gentlemen don’t do tour buses.
2. Master the omelet.
This is one of those things every man should learn. know how to create an omelet and know how to find those hidden and forgotten items in your refrigerator. Nothing goes better with that good morning kiss than that good morning breakfast.
3. Travel to a third world country.
Nothing will ground and humble you more than this experience. walk down a third world street and take a moment to reflect on what’s important in your life.
4. Get a manicure.
A real manicure and afterwards, might as well cater to your shoes - get an old fashioned shoe shine outside while people watching.
5. Throw a real party.
I mean prepare every detail. from rolling the sliced turkey, to mixing the olives, to slicing the french bread, to lighting the candles. Select the right music„ chill the white and let breathe the red wine. Throw a white table cloth on the table and invite the big boys.
6. Write a love letter.
A high school note doesn’t count. Take time to write a real love letter to someone deservant. No e-mail, no text, a hand written love letter that speaks from the soul. (keep a copy for yourself, you’ll be glad that you did in the future)
7. Establish a reputation
A gentleman, a scoundrel, a dandy, a lazy bum. People will perceive you a certain way and there is power in perception. Hopefully you’ll choose to present yourself in a favorable way.
8. Give something away just because.
One day when someone tells you they like something you have, just give it to them as a gift. it may be a book you’re reading, your watch, your pen, the point is to simply give away something simply because the person complimented you on it or because they noticed it.
9. Fast for 3 days.
Not a juice fast where you fill your belly with sweet stuff, go 3 days only consuming water. Take time to reflect on yourself, your life, and literally let the inner you relax.
10. Give up something you enjoy.
Practice self control and decide to simply give up something you enjoy. be it soda, a certain type of meat, candy, a tv show. The point is to practice self control, you’ll be fine… even a bit stronger.
11. Buy an Antique.
Take a day and search through an antique shop. Find a piece that you enjoy and add it to your home. Find a piece that adds character to your home and you’ll find it may become one of your favorite things at home.
12. Repair a piece of furniture.
Now I don’t mean go build you an elaborate cabinet with hidden compartments, or putting together an piece from Ikea. Take the time to strip down a table, buff it, refinish it. No need to make it a habit, but at least experience it once.
13. Play chess.
If you don’t know how, learn… if you already know how, play it more often. Chess is for the big boys, gentlemen don’t play checkers.
14. Have a suit tailor made.
Pick out the material, discuss the process with your tailor, enjoy he measuring process. While everyone can’t afford a bespoke suit, this is one of life’s guilty pleasures you should make a point of experiencing.
15. Give away a keep sake.
Find an item, hold on to it for a while (maybe a coin, a token, a lucky pebble, a money clip) then give it to a friend after you’ve had it for a while.
16. Write a book.
Now everyone may not be able to do this, but everyone should at least try. Take time to document something worth documenting.
17. Have a hobby.
Every gentleman should have at least 1 hobby. be it card collecting, stamp collecting, pens, or watches. Nothing gives you as much peace of mind as sitting home relaxing looking over what you’ve taken time to gather.
18. Spend a quiet evening ALONE.
Cheese, wine and candlelight or a cold beer and pizza - learn to enjoy your own company.
19. Vacation alone.
This one needs no explanation… ALONE.
20. Have a wall full of photos.
Select a section on your wall and frame photos of close friends, family and loved ones in general. A picture paints a thousand words… a wall full of photos speaks volumes of love.
21. Stay up all night working.
I’m not talking about working the graveyard shift. Spend all night working on something you enjoy, something you’re passionate about. Then, look out the window at daybreak before you go to bed.
22. Bid at an auction.
Don’t just bid, WIN. it may be an item you may not cherish forever, the point is the thrill of the win.
23. Strike up a conversation with someone you’re not attracted to.
Take the time to strike up a conversation with a woman on the merits of simply making her smile. Not because you think she’s beautiful, but simply because making a stranger smile is a beautiful thing.
24. Celebrate your birthday.
Celebrate your birthday by giving something back to the world. It has allowed you to see another year, why not give back… write a book, a poem, make it about what you give, not what you get.
25. Buy a painting.
No litho, no generic painting, save up some money and buy an original.
26. Prepare a picnic.
Plan it, surprise her, and enjoy it.
27. Custom make a piece of jewelry.
Although you may think it may be too expensive, you’d be surprised. Design a piece and bring it to a jeweler. It’ll have a special meaning and will be one of a kind … like you.
28. Write yourself a note.
Write about the temperature, how you feel that day, your thoughts on love, life and in general. Date it and tuck it away Come back to it a few years later (if you remember where you hid it) and reread it.
29. Dance the Waltz.
At least (try it) once. You’ll be surprised…. and the electric slide!
30. Write a thank you note.
Write a note to a close friend, a family member simply because. Let them know what role they played in your life.
31. A Kodak moment.
Capture a special event on film. Time surely flies, but memories have a way of lingering when captured.
32. Buy an Item with the intention of giving it away.
Save it for someone much younger and give it to them when they can appreciate it.
33. Volunteer for a good cause.
Invest one day in something you always wanted to support. giving back is golden.
34. Buy an elderly person lunch.
One day while you’re buying yourself lunch, just turn around and offer… no, insist on paying for the elderly person’s lunch behind you.
35. See an opera, and/or play.
Dress the part.
36. Remember it’s deeper than Fashion - Live with style..
+1. An anonymous person sent me a comment and corrected a few errors that he/her found. This led me to add one more thing to the list.
Humble yourself when wrong, and acknowledge your mistake(s).
Thank you anonymous.