Flanderian

Connoisseur
Paul Stuart has long produced beautiful catalogs employing lush photography, each centered about a specific theme. Throughout much of the ‘80’s and ‘90’s these also included extensive ad copy. This was well written, and usually, both entertaining and insightful. For the autumn 1980 catalog they chose to use Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style for their theme. Strunk and White’s guide was printed in 1920 as a guide to writing well. It was, and still is, well respected. Paul Stuart’s ad copy adapted its form for a guide to dressing well. And while it is by necessity intended to aid sales, that does not prevent itfrom being insightful and perhaps, sometimes, profound. Certainly it has been blatantly borrowed by many other advertisers since.

While Stuart’s ad copy goes into much more detail and covers an entire page, I’ve retyped only the rules themselves for your consideration, hoping they might prove thought-provoking.

Rule 1. Don’t confuse style with fashion.

Rule 2. Don’t confuse style with substance.

Rule 3. Don’t imagine that time governs style.

Rule 4. Choose some clothes that are not in fashion.

Rule 5. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating noncommittal clothes.

Rule 6. Avoid the pretentious, the exaggerated, the coy and the cute.

Rule 7. Be sparing of the tried and true.

Rule 8. Remember that style is an increment in dress.

Rule 9. Never sacrifice comfort to style.

Rule 10. Dress in a way that comes naturally.

Postscript: Contained in the autumn 1980 catalog is an example of one the rare, bravura items Paul Stuart would always include among its more sedate offerings. That season it was a 3-piece suit made of lovat Keepers Cloth. While technically lovat, I might describe the cloth as stone green, or grey-green. Keepers Cloth is very heavy, tightly woven marled tweed intended to withstand virtually anything, and it is indeed almost indestructible. They had Samuelsohn tailor it into a suit with a vest, forward pleated trousers, lower bellows pockets and half belt. Stunning!
 

jeffdeist

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Thanks Flanderian, this is thought-provoking. There is definitely some nuance and overlap involved. Number 4, for example, raises a question: not in fashion generally, or not in fashion amongst one's peers (e.g. AAAC readers). For example, an undarted 3/2 roll sack suit certainly is not common today, and thus not "in fashion." But it would be very commonly promoted by Trads, and AAAC readers would view such a suit with approval.

So perhaps the AAAC community simply has traded one kind of conformity for another. But looking good, or at least looking better than one would otherwise, is its own reward.
 

Natty Beau

Senior Member
Thanks Flanderian, this is thought-provoking. There is definitely some nuance and overlap involved. Number 4, for example, raises a question: not in fashion generally, or not in fashion amongst one's peers (e.g. AAAC readers). For example, an undarted 3/2 roll sack suit certainly is not common today, and thus not "in fashion." But it would be very commonly promoted by Trads, and AAAC readers would view such a suit with approval.

So perhaps the AAAC community simply has traded one kind of conformity for another. But looking good, or at least looking better than one would otherwise, is its own reward.
Interesting point. Admittedly, I am sometimes baffled by the importance some people put on a tiny, nearly imperceptible slit, or its absence.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
Rule 5. Avoid tame, colorless, hesitating noncommittal clothes.

And twenty-seven years later, Paul Stuart launched the Phineas Cole line so that you wouldn't have to look hard in its store to find an item that fits rule number five.
 

Fading Fast

Connoisseur
It is not the little buttonhole slit. The distinction is that the 3/2 sack jacket is undarted and that makes the big difference .
Is the natural shoulder also part of the sack jacket? Hence, is a "true" sack a 3/2, un-darted, natural shoulder jacket? Are there any other features necessary to fit the definition?
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
Thanks Flanderian, this is thought-provoking. There is definitely some nuance and overlap involved. Number 4, for example, raises a question: not in fashion generally, or not in fashion amongst one's peers (e.g. AAAC readers). For example, an undarted 3/2 roll sack suit certainly is not common today, and thus not "in fashion." But it would be very commonly promoted by Trads, and AAAC readers would view such a suit with approval.

So perhaps the AAAC community simply has traded one kind of conformity for another. But looking good, or at least looking better than one would otherwise, is its own reward.
You are very welcome, Sir!
 

Natty Beau

Senior Member
It is not the little buttonhole slit. The distinction is that the 3/2 sack jacket is undarted and that makes the big difference .
I was calling the darts tiny, imperceptible slits, and I think they are, from more than a few feet away. It still shocks me a little that anyone would hate either the darted or sack style, with as little difference as it makes.
 

L-feld

Elite Member
Hmmph!

View attachment 12306

"Time only governs fashion. If you doubt this, look at some old portraits. Unless you are familiar with the period, you won't know if the subject's clothes are in fashion. But you will know at once if they had style."
"The sack suit, known as the lounge suit in Britain, was introduced in France in the late 1840's and had become the standard suit of clothes for most men from 1855 onward. Often, the vest and jacket were of matching fabric with the trousers or pants providing a color contrast. In other cases, nothing matched, but suits made of all matching fabric, a practice considered most obnoxious and garish, were called "ditto suits."

https://www.waltontaylor.com/sacksuit.html
 

Reuben

Honors Member
I was calling the darts tiny, imperceptible slits, and I think they are, from more than a few feet away. It still shocks me a little that anyone would hate either the darted or sack style, with as little difference as it makes.
It depends on the fabric. On something with a bold, distinct pattern, like seersucker or madras, I find that darts make the jacket seem "off" to me, while on a solid navy or subtle POW check the darts are much less obvious.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
"The sack suit, known as the lounge suit in Britain, was introduced in France in the late 1840's and had become the standard suit of clothes for most men from 1855 onward. Often, the vest and jacket were of matching fabric with the trousers or pants providing a color contrast. In other cases, nothing matched, but suits made of all matching fabric, a practice considered most obnoxious and garish, were called "ditto suits."

https://www.waltontaylor.com/sacksuit.html
I think that may be missing the point.

Less left-brained.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
Thanks Flanderian, this is thought-provoking. There is definitely some nuance and overlap involved. Number 4, for example, raises a question: not in fashion generally, or not in fashion amongst one's peers (e.g. AAAC readers). For example, an undarted 3/2 roll sack suit certainly is not common today, and thus not "in fashion." But it would be very commonly promoted by Trads, and AAAC readers would view such a suit with approval.

So perhaps the AAAC community simply has traded one kind of conformity for another. But looking good, or at least looking better than one would otherwise, is its own reward.
Rule 4 is expanded thusly -

"Clothes that are in fashion one year are often out the next. But clothes that are too distinctive to simply echo current dictates, provided that they are not so different as to be eccentric, often anticipate fashion or remain independent of it. And, if well suited to the wearer, they will go on being distinguished and distinguishing year after year."

It may also be helpful to observe that in 1980 Paul Stuart was a somewhat different thing than it is now.
 
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arkirshner

Honors Member
I was calling the darts tiny, imperceptible slits, and I think they are, from more than a few feet away. It still shocks me a little that anyone would hate either the darted or sack style, with as little difference as it makes.

When a man first begins to drink he learns to distinguish between beer, wine and hard liquor. As he gets a little experience he begins to distinguish between ale, stout and lager; between Bordeaux, Rioja and Chianti; between Vodka, Tequila and Scotch. As he gains more experience he can distinguish between different Scotchs , different Tequilas , and different Vodkas etc, etc,


Sack and darted, to some there is little difference, to others the difference is clear.
 
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