James82

Starting Member
Here’s a question on a point that has frustrated me. Where is it possible to find information about the details necessary for conservative looking clothing? I don't mean specifically "American trad." More "north Atlantic," sort of English oriented but including American, Irish, German, Canadian, etc.

The real difficulty I found is that I used to just buy whatever was advertised as “classic fit” or “traditional fit” or something similar, with classic fabrics (dark suits, tweed sport coats) and realized it wasn't as conservative as I was looking for. Too much "classic James Bond." Not enough T. S. Eliot.

Its seems that a lot of details I never paid attention to (lapel width, gorge, etc.) vary even within the limits of "classic" and that some have a more reserved sober look (think traditional image of a judge or professor) while others are a bit more "timeless ladies man." Any ideas on what details would be good for me.
 
Last edited:

Charles Dana

Honors Member
Forget about labels such as “classic” and “traditional”— they mean whatever any given merchant thinks they mean. Instead, examine online photographs of actors, politicians, judges, and professors from the 1930s through the mid-1960s. Peruse college yearbooks from those decades and note how the professors and administrators are dressed. If you actively look, the “details necessary for conservative-looking clothing” will probably come to you via osmosis.

Where to actually buy “conservative-looking clothing”? Try O’Connell’s clothing store in Buffalo, New York and Ben Silver in Charleston, South Carolina. Examine the websites of both of those merchants. (You can also try the J. Press website, but I’m warning you—most of the guys modeling the suits on that site look lousy because they are wearing jackets that are too short with a button stance that is too high. J. Press suits can look pretty good if you get a proper fit.)

Look, study, and think. When you see the clothes you have in mind, you’ll know it.
 
Last edited:

EclecticSr.

Super Member
No offence, but my head is spinning and that only after 1 or 2 glasses of fine Cabernet after reading your post.

Have money to burn, then get thee to a bespoke tailor and try their patience. Use terms like trendy, classic, T.S.Eliot, Q, M, trad, Bond, American German, Irish, lapel width, Canadian etc. Hey for good measure use Cordings, throw in Outer Hebrides tweeds. Heck, I forgot North Atlantic.


If I missed any I apologize, I may come back after my third or fourth glass, might help jar my diminishing memory bank. No snarky reply please.

Much too much to digest in one post.
 

richard warren

Senior Member
Here’s a question on a point that has frustrated me. Where is it possible to find information about the details necessary for conservative looking clothing? I don't mean specifically "American trad." More "north Atlantic," sort of English oriented but including American, Irish, German, Canadian without anything too loudly national (sack jackets, Cordings, etc.).

I also don’t just mean “classic.” Its easy enough to find information about “classic clothing,” the type that can be worn by three or four generations and make it impossible for an observer to tell if the person wearing them bought them or inherited them.

What I mean by “conservative” is not just classic but along the lines of sober, reserved, respectable. I mean the type of clothes that (without looking like a costume of an earlier period) would suggest a man might be a judge (if its a dark suit) or a professor (if its an odd jacket) rather than the type of clothes which (though classic) make a man look like the life of the party or like he should be surrounded by a crowd of flirtatious females.

The real difficulty I found is that I used to just buy whatever was advertised as “classic fit” or “traditional fit” or something similar. Then I gradually realized that a lot of the suits, jackets, ties, etc. advertised that way were not doing what I wanted—and this with perfect fabrics, charcoal and navy suits, neutral color tweed jackets, etc.

I’d be standing there in a “classic fit” charcoal suit and it still looked a bit too much like the type of thing you could picture any of the James Bond actors wearing (and so “classic” rather than “trendy”). Didn’t look enough like the original actors who played M or Q or like T. S. Eliot.

Recently one jacket I bought (supposedly around the bare minimum of “classic”) looked way off and I could tell it had something to do with the lapel. Finally found out one problem I’d been having. Most “classic fit” lapels are at the thinner end of the “classic” range and so still have a more “fitted” look. Also discovered that something called a gorge should be on the lower end. And apparently even “classic fit” jackets made today tend to have the waist pulled in enough to have as “trim” a look as possible while still making a jacket that can be worn for decades (or could have been made decades ago) without ever looking either new or outdated.

Its these types of minor details that I really need, not things like the basics of American, English and Italian cut.
 

richard warren

Senior Member
If I understand your problem, you might like a Brooks Bros. Madison fit, which was still fairly sane the last time I bought one.

Traditionally, the details of a suit were dictated by the proportions and features of the wearer, with mass produced suits designed to cover some fraction of the curve around the middle, with relatively minor variations for fashion or style. More recently the business seems to have been taken over by people with no interest in designing for the benefit of actual suit buyers.

The book The Suit by a fellow going under the name Antongiavanni is an example of some fairly traditional ideas of how a suit should be...if you can stand the occasional parochialism and precious prose.
 

Oldsarge

Moderator and Bon Vivant
You might find just google-imaging 'Conservative 3-piece men's suit' for starts. Then look over the pictures with care and a critical eye. When you find one that matches what you think you want, go to the website and look some more. Eventually, you'll find the pot of gold but it can be a very long rainbow.
 

smmrfld

Super Member
OP is overthinking this, which in turn is causing ETB, or early thread burnout. Just use some common sense and buy what you like. Oh...and your characterization of judge or professor attire is wildly outdated. I know several of both...and their clothing is nothing like your generalization.
 
Last edited:

James82

Starting Member
OP is overthinking this, which in turn is causing ETB, or early thread burnout. Just use some common sense and buy what you like. Oh...and your characterization of judge or professor attire is wildly outdated. I know several of both...and their clothing is nothing like your generalization.
The problem is I have had a hard time finding what I like because it seems that a lot of "classic" clothing is not as "conservative" as I am looking for. The initial post has been much shortened and might give a better idea what I mean.

As far as professors are concerned I spent five years in graduate school and now live in a smallish town in which my social circles are closely connected to a small liberal arts college. No more three piece tweed suits and bow ties but some (admittedly limited) academic milieus still maintain sartorial continuity with the older tradition. Unfortunately the new "classic fit" tweeds and summer weight check jackets that I see there (and am able to buy new) often seem a bit too sleek looking.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
James, drive down to Charlottesville one of these days and visit Eljo’s clothing store. Perhaps they’ll have what you’re after. (I’ve never been to Eljo’s, but I’ve heard good things about it.)

P.S. I still don’t fully understand why it is important that you learn “information about the details necessary for conservative-looking clothing.” Either you like the looks of something or you don’t.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
James, drive down to Charlottesville one of these days and visit Eljo’s clothing store. Perhaps they’ll have what you’re after. (I’ve never been to Eljo’s, but I’ve heard good things about it.)

P.S. I still don’t fully understand why it is important that you learn “information about the details necessary for conservative-looking clothing.” Either you like the looks of something or you don’t.
Kinda like trying to learn how to dance by studying math. :icon_scratch:

The other answer being, there is no answer. The OP seems to have a fairly definite mental image of what "conservative looking clothing" is, which by its nature of being his personal, individual image is subjective. Therefore, he's asking someone who will not necessarily share that image, nor even know what it is, to define its constituents. That's a logical impossibility.
 

richard warren

Senior Member
Strange to imply that information about clothing details is somehow foreign to this forum.

Anyway, some guy anamed Andy wrote an encyclopedia on the subject, available here:


I suspect the OP has the exact same image of conservative clothing most everybody else here does (although many have apparently abandoned it and refuse to recognize the truly awful nature of current fashions); he just cannot find any.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
Strange to imply that information about clothing details is somehow foreign to this forum.
The information isn’t foreign to this forum; it is foreign to this thread.

I suspect the OP has the exact same image of conservative clothing most everybody else here does...;he just cannot find any.
Yes—He already knows the details he wants and those he doesn’t want; we don’t need to describe them for him. Finding a place that sells the clothing that he wants is the problem.
 

EclecticSr.

Super Member
Okay, the kinder gentler me is back. Maybe a loose fitting J.Press sack suit, same for sport coat or, something from the Andover shop. Maybe Ben Silver. Though they may not be geographically convenient to visit. Cable Car clothiers in S.F. may not be what they once were. O'Connell's in Buffalo N.Y., Ethan is your friend.

Then try to find a good tailor with the patience of Job.
Good luck. Hopefully you'll find that sweet spot.
 

Flanderian

Connoisseur
Okay, the kinder gentler me is back. Maybe a loose fitting J.Press sack suit, same for sport coat or, something from the Andover shop. Maybe Ben Silver. Though they may not be geographically convenient to visit. Cable Car clothiers in S.F. may not be what they once were. O'Connell's in Buffalo N.Y., Ethan is your friend.

Then try to find a good tailor with the patience of Job.
Good luck. Hopefully you'll find that sweet spot.
Or buy stuff from O'Connell's! 👍
 

medhat

Super Member
I'll take a stab at it. A looser fitting suit with minimal waist suppression (if at all). Length of jacket covers (no cheating) the backside (buttocks - think the horizontal butt crease). Medium width lapels, 3 roll 2 length. Pants, pleated, with a full leg. Cuffs. That's what I picture for a conservatively-styled suit. And that's what I owned.
 

richard warren

Senior Member
Some of us older folks seem to gloss over the issue of affordability for younger people, who by all accounts through no fault of their own are economically disadvantaged compared to prior generations, and that most people buy (or would like to buy) their suits in stores where they can get them altered.

The closest thing to a conservative suit you can buy in a mall may be some Hart, Schaffner (sp?) and Marx models.

Shortly before the (hopefully temporary) end of civilization I was in a department store in which there was nary a wool suit but an abundance of synthetic ones for pretty low prices, all of which seemed to be designed to make the wearer look decidedly not conservative, while the other department store at the other end of the mall still had fairly decent looking wool suits, but at prices that may strike a young man as a bit much.

And may I take the opportunity to recommend Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, published in 1841 and as illuminating as ever.
 

Charles Dana

Honors Member
Some of us older folks seem to gloss over the issue of affordability for younger people, who by all accounts through no fault of their own are economically disadvantaged compared to prior generations, and that most people buy (or would like to buy) their suits in stores where they can get them altered.
In his second post in this thread, the OP stated that he is “able” to purchase “new...tweeds and summer-weight jackets” but that they “often seem a bit too sleek looking” for his taste.

Apparently, then, money isn’t the issue; it’s where to find the clothes that conform to the conservative ideal that is already fixed in his mind. So unless he tells us to stick with budget options, we should just offer him names of whichever retailers we can think of that sell what he probably wants. And with respect to alterations, the OP hasn’t mentioned them as an issue. Yet.
 
Last edited:

Adriel Rowley

Senior Member
Some of us older folks seem to gloss over the issue of affordability for younger people, who by all accounts through no fault of their own are economically disadvantaged compared to prior generations, and that most people buy (or would like to buy) their suits in stores where they can get them altered.

[...]
Charles is correct in seems James has no limit to budget, however, in case some young person comes across this thread, will respond to this in order to prevent limiting options. I have found purchasing previously owned sport coats and suits to be far better than purchasing new. If know what to look for, the quality will be better, they can be had for very little (I have oft paid less than $5 for a suit), which also has the benefit of exploring size and style.

To apply this to the particular concern of not conservative enough, how about not only looking to the aforementioned retailers, also look online where can find older and vintage sartorial clothing?

Myself would add if money isn't significantly limited, to look for an older tailor who knows proportions and can craft this conservative suit. I was surprised there are two tailors here in Mesa, one does traditional cut (the other their fits were a mess, shouldn't be calling themselves a tailor), maybe even one near you.
 

JBierly

Advanced Member
What is advertised as "classic" fit is very different from a sack suit. More like the classic "mad men" look. For me a more classic fit is a garment that lets you move freely in your clothing, a higher rise, deeper pockets. some freedom in the crotch, etc..
 
Your email address will not be publicly visible. We will only use it to contact you to confirm your post.

IMPORTANT: BEFORE POSTING PLEASE CHECK THE DATE OF THE LAST POST OF THIS THREAD. IF IT'S VERY OLD, PLEASE CONSIDER REGISTERING FIRST, AND STARTING A NEW THREAD ABOUT THIS TOPIC.