What does "sleek" mean?

JibranK

Super Member
I don't think I would say Connery's suits are the most sleek of suits. As Savile Row firms go, I'd say Huntsman is quite sleek whilst Anderson & Sheppard is not. This is nothing against A&S, just what fits the definition. Anthony Sinclair's suits are somewhere in between. As for Bond, I would say Lazenby's suits by Dimi Major are much more sleek. Again, nothing against Connery's suits, which I am most fond of.
I don't think so. The military/equestrian cut is a lot more waisted. Conduit cut is slightly nipped at the waist and longer than usual, so no dramatic shape - just sleekness.
 

CuffDaddy

Connoisseur
I use the term to mean clean, minimal-but not stark, austere. There is nothing that needs added nor taken away. Sophisticated. The aesthetics derive from the design/cut, rather than embellishment.

I can't square "sophisticated" with the rest of that definition. Sophistication, definitionally, includes some level of complexity, which is the opposite of what you are referring to. Unless you mean sophisticated to mean worldly, in which case it still doesn't work... certainly, some of the more elaborate and decorated modes of dress would be anathema to rubes and familiar to worldly, affluent citizens of the world.

A paisley pocket square, for instance, could certainly be sophisticated. But its appeal does derive from its decoration, not its "cut," which is the same as that of a paper towel.

As for "trim-fitting clothes," I cannot help but notice that most such clothes actually tend to cling and rumple more. (Go see the recent thread re: a new David Reeves suit, which featured photos of pants legs so "trim-fitting" that the creases of the pants couldn't be maintained as the trousers cling to the wearer's body.) I don't know how that's "clean" or "sleek," much less "sophisticated." Are we to take it that Prince Charles, whose clothes are rarely "trim-fitting," does not dress in a sophisticated way?

But I do think you are on to something that "sleek" is the weaker form of "austere."
 

Sir Walter

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I can't square "sophisticated" with the rest of that definition. Sophistication, definitionally, includes some level of complexity, which is the opposite of what you are referring to. Unless you mean sophisticated to mean worldly, in which case it still doesn't work... certainly, some of the more elaborate and decorated modes of dress would be anathema to rubes and familiar to worldly, affluent citizens of the world.

A paisley pocket square, for instance, could certainly be sophisticated. But its appeal does derive from its decoration, not its "cut," which is the same as that of a paper towel.

As for "trim-fitting clothes," I cannot help but notice that most such clothes actually tend to cling and rumple more. (Go see the recent thread re: a new David Reeves suit, which featured photos of pants legs so "trim-fitting" that the creases of the pants couldn't be maintained as the trousers cling to the wearer's body.) I don't know how that's "clean" or "sleek," much less "sophisticated." Are we to take it that Prince Charles, whose clothes are rarely "trim-fitting," does not dress in a sophisticated way?

But I do think you are on to something that "sleek" is the weaker form of "austere."

I think there is some sophistication in simplicity, (plain but elegant).
 

Sufferable Fob

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
The "complexity / highly developed" idea of "sophistication" needn't be aesthetic only.

A very thin electronic device, even if the lines are simple, likely has a highly complex inner-working with a skilled arrangement of internal parts.



In the same way, a whole-cut shoe might be "sophisticated". It is a simple-looking thing, but a product of highly-developed shoe-making.

Indeed, a highly-developed product doesn't need to look overwrought. If this were so, our architecture would have surpassed the Victorians in frilly ornamental gee-gaws. They might be nice to look at for some people, but they do not really say anything about the complexity of the engineering.
 

Mad Hatter

Super Member
I can't square "sophisticated" with the rest of that definition. Sophistication, definitionally, includes some level of complexity, which is the opposite of what you are referring to. Unless you mean sophisticated to mean worldly, in which case it still doesn't work... certainly, some of the more elaborate and decorated modes of dress would be anathema to rubes and familiar to worldly, affluent citizens of the world.

A paisley pocket square, for instance, could certainly be sophisticated. But its appeal does derive from its decoration, not its "cut," which is the same as that of a paper towel.

As for "trim-fitting clothes," I cannot help but notice that most such clothes actually tend to cling and rumple more. (Go see the recent thread re: a new David Reeves suit, which featured photos of pants legs so "trim-fitting" that the creases of the pants couldn't be maintained as the trousers cling to the wearer's body.) I don't know how that's "clean" or "sleek," much less "sophisticated." Are we to take it that Prince Charles, whose clothes are rarely "trim-fitting," does not dress in a sophisticated way?

But I do think you are on to something that "sleek" is the weaker form of "austere."
IMO Prince Charles derives wardrobe sophistication from such things as suitable color schemes, button placement/lapels, age-appropriate clothing, etc. Not so much as how loose his jackets are, nor how much they cost.

Re: complexity/sophistication-I somewhat buy that. Sometimes it's not the ornamentation, but the work involved. Dimitri Bottier wholecuts take the term to a new level with their construction and design. It will show if you compare one to an AE wholecut.

Re: fit-No arguments from me. When clothes are that confining, it transceded trim to tight. One can say there's still freedom of movement, but when the intended aesthetic effect is spoiled, it becomes an unintended consequence.
 

Moose Maclennan

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Moose, as applied to shoes, what does "sleek" or "streamlined" mean?...

:)

Lower profile, thinner sole, often a less fussy design.

Perhaps Italian loafer as opposed to American longwing?


I only ever really hear the word applied to sports cars, cats and - benevolently - to rats...
 

Packard

Senior Member
Can wingtips be "sleek"? I think not.

What about tasseled loafers? Can they be sleek?

Aldo Shoes has some fairly awful looking shoes (in my opinion) that have squared off toe boxes and up turned toes that make you look like a warm weather elf. But they do seem rather reminiscent of formula 1 race cars, so are ugly shoes "sleek" if they otherwise meet the "sleek" criteria?
 

CuffDaddy

Connoisseur
Packard, I think you and I may be on the same wavelength. Some people throw around the term "sleek" as though it is the highest state design can hope to achieve. For clothes and shoes, I have grave doubts whether that's true.
 

Packard

Senior Member
Packard, I think you and I may be on the same wavelength. Some people throw around the term "sleek" as though it is the highest state design can hope to achieve. For clothes and shoes, I have grave doubts whether that's true.


I know that for watches (a fashion item, I'm told) that "sleek" is out; bulky cumbrous designs are in.

In women's attire sleek comes an goes. One year it is form-fitting apparel; the next it is the bulky shapeless ones that are selling best.

It seems to me that iconic designs tend to be neither very sleek, nor very bulky--but find an appealing middle ground.
 

CuffDaddy

Connoisseur
It seems to me that iconic designs tend to be neither very sleek, nor very bulky--but find an appealing middle ground.

Yes! In my view, sleek is a point on a spectrum. It is not the mid-point on the spectrum. Something that is very sleek is necessarily giving up on some other positive attributes. Everyone has to find their own balance, but balance of some sort is required.
 

Sir Walter

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Cuffdaddy and Packard

I think you both are overburdening the term. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and each of us see things differently. I am not sure what is given up by shoes that are sleek other than that which is unnecessary to achieve a minimal but stylish appearance. The dictionary explains sleek as having smooth and graceful lines. This corresponds to the explanation I gave previously. IMO, wing tips most certainly can be sleek, C&J, Vass, EG, JL all have exquisite examples.
 
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CuffDaddy

Connoisseur
I think you both overburdening the term. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and each of us see things differently. I am not sure what is given up by shoes that are sleek other than that which is unnecessary to achieve a minimal but stylish appearance.

Actually, it is we who are attempting to unburden the word. Rather than being asked to carry the full weight of "beautiful" or "elegant," we think it means something more limited and specific.

A shoe that achieves maximum sleekness* through simplicity necessarily gives up the detail, the counterpoint, the contrast and variety, the opportunity for display of the craftsman's creativity, of a more extensively worked shoe. Just as the heavily brogued shoe gives up a certain amount of refinement, austerity, etc., in comparisson with the sleeker shoe.

The point is not to denegrate "sleek" as a word, just suggest that, in some situations and for some people, sleek is desirable - but not always.

* Of course, to the extent that "sleek" in shoes means "long, not broad," then it just gives up a proper fit for all but the slat-footed.
 

Sir Walter

Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Actually, it is we who are attempting to unburden the word. Rather than being asked to carry the full weight of "beautiful" or "elegant," we think it means something more limited and specific.

A shoe that achieves maximum sleekness* through simplicity necessarily gives up the detail, the counterpoint, the contrast and variety, the opportunity for display of the craftsman's creativity, of a more extensively worked shoe. Just as the heavily brogued shoe gives up a certain amount of refinement, austerity, etc., in comparisson with the sleeker shoe.

The point is not to denegrate "sleek" as a word, just suggest that, in some situations and for some people, sleek is desirable - but not always.

* Of course, to the extent that "sleek" in shoes means "long, not broad," then it just gives up a proper fit for all but the slat-footed.

If the shoes by the companies I have mentioned did not show craftsmanship they would not be able to charge the high prices they are able to command, nor would they be held in such high regard.
 

CuffDaddy

Connoisseur
If the shoes by the companies I have mentioned did not show craftsmanship they would not be able to charge the high prices they are able to command, nor would they be held in such high regard.

Sure, they show craftsmanship. But extensive brogueing gives much more opportunity to show it. And the "sleekness" itself is certainly not what shows it, as DFWII explained.

But there are plenty of luxury goods that don't really show any extraordinary craftsmanship, yet still command super-premium prices. Price is not the barometer of craftsmanship. There's often a correlation, but they are not the same thing.
 

Mad Hatter

Super Member
Actually, it is we who are attempting to unburden the word. Rather than being asked to carry the full weight of "beautiful" or "elegant," we think it means something more limited and specific.

A shoe that achieves maximum sleekness* through simplicity necessarily gives up the detail, the counterpoint, the contrast and variety, the opportunity for display of the craftsman's creativity, of a more extensively worked shoe. Just as the heavily brogued shoe gives up a certain amount of refinement, austerity, etc., in comparisson with the sleeker shoe.

The point is not to denegrate "sleek" as a word, just suggest that, in some situations and for some people, sleek is desirable - but not always.

* Of course, to the extent that "sleek" in shoes means "long, not broad," then it just gives up a proper fit for all but the slat-footed.
I think that may be the heart of the matter-you might have too broad a definition to the term. By no means is something sleek necessarily elegant nor beautiful. An eel might be considered sleek, but by God they are ugly creatures.

I know I could not endure a whole wardrobe of "sleek".
 

CuffDaddy

Connoisseur
I think that may be the heart of the matter-you might have too broad a definition to the term. By no means is something sleek necessarily elegant nor beautiful. An eel might be considered sleek, but by God they are ugly creatures.

I know I could not endure a whole wardrobe of "sleek".

Sounds like we're in agreement.
 
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