I have cut and pasted the following article from the NY Times. You can find the original here: Well-Dressed Travels Well
January 31, 2008
Well-Dressed Travels Well
By DAVID COLMAN
IN fashion the swaggering march of progress sometimes offers more questions than answers. Like, why does a minor yet sublime improvement (upgrading to cashmere socks or handmade shoes, say) always take a back seat to some Dutch-designed, laser-cut, steel-paillette tank top that struts up and down a runway, to be worn maybe once more — by a model on the cover of Angst?
If you furtively harbor the notion that true fashion is more about the clothes men wear than those they don’t, you might avert your eyes from the runways and into the bleachers.
Contrary to the idea perpetrated on makeover and reality shows that men in fashion are a crew of sorbet-suited wags prone to flinging around pashminas, catty comments and little dogs with equal abandon, the majority of fashion’s men — shocker — are well and conservatively dressed. (As for the catticisms — so, so guilty.)
More important, if a man in any creative and vital business wanted a sensible road map for how to dress well for a long business trip, he would do well to bypass the runway coverage on Style.com in favor of the fashion vérité on The Sartorialist, the photo blog by Scott Schuman.
Mr. Schuman made his name shooting stylishly dressed “real people” on the streets of New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Stockholm and elsewhere. In the last few seasons, though, he has discovered a mother lode of good men’s style hiding in plain sight during the grueling city-hopping fashion parade known simply as “the collections.”
“People say to me: ‘Why do you shoot editors? They’re not real people,’ ” Mr. Schuman said. “But they are. They’re professionals with deadlines and work to do. It may seem romantic, but these guys are up at 8, going to shows all day and then out to dinner with an advertiser. You see them beautifully dressed, but they’re also practical. It’s about getting from Point A to Point B.”
If Mattel were to update its 2002 special-edition Fashion Insider Ken, he should come boxed with this: One suit (blue or gray), two pairs of jeans, five button-down oxford shirts (in white), a pair of dark shoes, a pair of sneakers, a cardigan, a V-neck sweater, a cashmere scarf, a simple overcoat (also cashmere), a light raincoat, socks and underwear.
Fashion Insider Ken would also need some sturdy luggage that is not too flashy (Jim Moore of GQ swears by Tumi) and a roomy, low-key but statusy shoulder bag that does double duty as a carry-on (Fabien Baron, newly named an editorial director of Interview, has one from Balenciaga). And one little flourish, so that you know he is not a dreary British peer: a U.K. football-club scarf, the latest impossible-to-get sneakers or a wood-veneer case for his little iPhone.
“I am very low-key,” said Olivier Lalanne, the editor of Vogue Hommes International, based in Paris. “I dress very conservatively — I think most editors do — almost to the point of being boring.”
But boring should not be confused with unattractive or cheap, just understated. Mr. Lalanne chuckled. “You can’t tell it’s expensive unless you touch me,” he said.
And this being the world of Fashion Week, Ken does need labels, the crucial ones being Jil Sander, Thom Browne, Prada, Dior Homme and, most of all, that master of statusy understatement, Martin Margiela. Even Mr. Margiela’s ultradiscreet trademark, four little white pick stitches on sweaters, shirts and bags, is instantly discernible to the style cognoscenti while invisible to others, like a whistle only dogs can hear.
Why so safe? “I think there’s a little bit of fear of being a fashion victim,” said Pierre Rougier, whose fashion public relations firm (luckily for him) represents Jil Sander and Balenciaga. “I have to have enough to meet all my clients, but I get everything in one suitcase and a carry-on, and I can go for 20 days.”
His formula is familiar: “A button-down shirt, a V-neck sweater, a pair of black pants and very classic shoes.” Not that he isn’t finicky. “I can get obsessed with the fit of pants,” Mr. Rougier said. “I fell in love with these Jil Sander pants, and I bought them in four colors.”
For professionals in a creative field, their pragmatism seems almost unimaginative.
“The simpler the better,” said Tommy Fazio, the men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. “I basically wear navy and gray, so everything is interchangeable. If you think about your closet, there are 10 things you always wear. So you pack those things, some basics to go with, and you can travel for two weeks.”
In the end, clothes that make it easy to look good are the best things designers can offer — and the smartest things men can buy.
“To me, there’s always a disconnect between the runway and real life,” Mr. Schuman said. “You watch the show, you hear people talk about how brilliant Miuccia Prada is, but you know it’s never going to end up on them.”
He added: “I don’t want new. I just want to feel like I look nice.”
Labels: men's fashion, NY Times, travel