- In a world where the logos on Ralph Lauren
's polo shirts seem to be getting bigger and more conspicuous each year (I think now they're roughly the size of Andre the Giant's hand print) and the marks of other luxury manufactures like Chanel
, Gucci, Coach
and Louis Vuitton
have become so ubiquitous as to be readily identifiable to neophytes in the fashion world, one must ask where will this trend end?
By dressing ourselves in high-end fashions are we to become nothing more than walking advertisements, eager to announce to the world 'this is where my clothes are from' as if that actually says something important about the wearer? At this rate, people will be seen walking the streets looking like a professional race car driver, but instead of being dotted with patches announcing the driver's affiliation with Mobil, Bridgestone and Lowes
, they'll announce that your underwear is made by Armani, sandals by Cole Haan, jeans from J. Crew and sunglasses by Prada - your shirt will not need any explanation however, the pomegranate sized polo pony will say it all.
This 2009 Mercedes Benz E63 AMG sedan has been debadged as to not reveal the model of the car on the trunk lid. Car buffs will still be able to tell what model car it is by looking at special accents like the massive quad exhaust, but for people who don't know what it is, telling them it's an AMG will be of little to no interest to them. Image courtesy of almostdeluxe.com
Now this is all hyperbole you see. I do not look down my nose at those who were these brands; in fact I have several polos from Ralph-albeit none of the giant polo pony variety. All I'm saying is that I had an epiphany while dressing for an event a few weeks ago, and I think it bears mentioning.
As I was dressing, I decided to pull one of the two new Thomas Pink shirts I got for my birthday off my closet rack and take it out on an inaugural run as it were. It was a nice looking shirt with a few interesting touches that caught my eye: the fabric was a pink check with the Thomas Pink logo (a sitting fox for those that don't know) on the left breast embroidered in the same light blue thread that attached the buttons and accented the button holes on the cuffs and the very last button on the shirt tail, but it wasn't until I went to roll up the double button cuff that one particular addition caught my eye: on the inside of the right cuff was embroidered the word "Pink" in pink thread.
'That's funny' I thought to myself, why would a shirt maker, renowned for the quality of their merchandise, go through the trouble of stitching a word on the inside part of a cuff in a place where nobody but the owner would see it unless the cuff was rolled back. It was just like the colorful and contrasting fabric sewn into the back of the shirt neck by the label, which would go totally unnoticed unless the shirt was taken off and handed to somebody - even then it could still go unrecognized. Then it hit me: the quality and style of the shirt will more than speak for itself, even to people who have never heard of the legendary shirtmakers on London's Jermyn Street, making the logo superfluous.
It made me think back to conversations I've had with my father and friends as we began to enter the professional world and talk would inevitably turn to the topic of business and formal attire: who makes the best shirts, what cut of suit is best for a particular event, and often, should I have my dress shirts monogrammed and if so, where should I have it done?
Having functional buttons on a suit jacket tells those in the know that the suit is bespoke without needing a flashy logo or other obvious outward sign that speaks to the piece's quality. Image courtesy of bnet.com
This last question has surely sparked many a debate as everyone is entitled to follow their personal aesthetic, but I for one am in the camp against everything except monogram embroidered on the shirt tails and once, every so often, I'll let one slide when I notice one on the cuff. I believe that discretion is a gentleman's art. My grandfather, who was an exceptionally well dressed man, used to specify that the jacket buttons on the sleeves of his custom suits be functional, a lesson passed down to me by my father, if for no other reason than to be able to unbutton one as a discreet wink and a nod to those in the know that the suit was bespoke. It always seemed to me like something Cary Grant
would do and I saw something timeless and romantic in a style of dress that incorporated small, almost unnoticeable bespoke touches into ones wardrobe.
It is similar I felt, to buying a Mercedes-Benz
AMG sedan for example, or any other supped up luxury car and then taking the badge denoting that it is the 590 horsepower model off the car. Those in the know would still be able to tell the difference between and E500 sedan and the E55 AMG model by the massive cross drilled brakes, more aggressive body kit and of course those four mean looking howitzer barrels of an exhaust protruding from under the rear bumper, but asides from those little touches there is nothing terribly overt that screams 'look at me and how cool I am in my really fast car!' True elegance and luxury don't need to be discussed, after all, if you need to rub it in someone's face how great something is, they probably can't or don't care to understand why some particular thing is better than anything else. You'll achieve the dual goal of boring them and
looking like a tremendous cad.
All of these thoughts came flooding back as I stood there looking down at the word "Pink" stitched into the cuff. Still almost half dressed, I picked up the phone and called my father, who had given me those shirts a few weeks earlier. 'Dad,' I said, 'you know those Thomas Pink shirts you got me for my birthday, you'll never guess what I just found inside the cuff. Right on the inside it has the word "Pink" embroidered on it.' "Oh yeah?" he said. "How cool. That reminds me," he went on, "did I ever tell you about what your grandfather used to do with the buttons on the sleeves of his suit jackets?"