One of the exciting side effects brought about by the sustained and evolving resurgence in menswear, elegantly executed lifestyles, and well-crafted luxury goods, is the recent release of some great new books geared toward men.
For the past several years, there has been a coffee table drought of sorts; a lack of interesting books devoted to mens style. Alan Flusser’s contributions are de facto bibles when it comes to elegant dressage and, as he so eloquently coined it, “permanent style.” However, few titles have been able to give him a worthwhile nudge on the bookshelf.
Things changed in 2009, when “Take Ivy” was published. Previously beloved as a cult classic in the fashion world, the Japanese language book was republished in English. The publisher was stunned with the intense demand once word got out. Apparently, men were starving for quality style guides and substantive books filled with interesting, useful, historical, and practical information about how to dress, how to live, what to drink, and how to behave.
Authors obliged. Some of the weak offerings were no more than a collection of generalizations and pictures of people on boats and sitting on tartan chairs. Others, like the impressive “Preppy,” sought to delve deep into the fashion and philosophy of the preppy lifestyle. “The Ivy League,” a stunning new book, which will be reviewed soon on OTC, captures both the style and culture of the Ivy League world. It prompted a deep reflection on this editor-in-chief’s own upbringing and resulted in a major article currently undergoing final edits. Finally, the quality of menswear books is beginning to meet demand.
Perhaps the most interesting book to land on our doorstep is “The Gentry Man: A Guide for the Civilized Male.”
Gentry was a landmark magazine for men from the 1950s, which covered all aspects of gentlemanly pursuits. It lead with a distinct worldly, intellectual approach; a cross between today’s Esquire and Monocle magazines.
From cocktails to suiting, automobiles to academic treatises. Art, culture, and travel mingles with fashion and interior design. It was a magazine for the thinking man’s dandy. Playboy, but without the nudity.
Editor Hal Rubenstein collected some of the best articles from the magazine’s 22 issues – far too brief a run. Of course the technology is out of date and the fashions a touch stodgy, but that is beside the point. The hefty book, 256 pages, is divided into distinct sections that take advantage of the subject matter’s depth and breadth: Style; Homes, Cars, and Travel; Food and Drink; Sports and Culture; and Art and Architecture. Thomas Crowne likely read Gentry.
Much of the advice perfectly relevant for today, especially the underlying message of gentlemanlyness and intellectual curiosity. These are the hallmarks of a true man and this wonderful book is a guide-cum-historical reference for those seeking to put some substance behind their style.
The Gentry Man goes on sale May 8, 2012.