Last week, we traveled up to New York City for the invitation-only party to celebrate the U.S. launch of the new book Rowing Blazers. Held at the newly inaugurated Polo/Ralph Lauren flagship store on Fifth Avenue – opening only days earlier – the event was a fun, crowded,  and sartorial cacophony of colors and patterns.

Penned by award-winning oarsman Jack Carlson and with principal photography by F.E. Castleberry, Rowing Blazers is a celebration of the historic garment upon which that most classic of men’s habiliment, the classic blue blazer, rests.

2014 09 24 23.42.11 OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

2014 09 23 16.57.54 OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

Not only did we spend the evening among 700 smartly dressed folks, we also had the pleasure of whiling away the afternoon beforehand with our friend and mentor Alan Flusser (above). It goes with saying that his outfit for the evening aptly reflected Alan’s mastery of color, pattern, and personality.

We also had the honor of OTC’s editor-in-chief being highlighted in Hodinkee’s watch spotting roundup of the Rowing Blazer event (below). For those who don’t know about Hodinkee, it is the web’s premier resource for watch news, product launches, in-depth industry reporting, and fascinating insights into the world of horological curiosities. Only one watch publication was invited to actually attend the Cupertino launch of the Apple Watch: Hodinkee.

Rowing Blazers 49 OTC OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

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A big thanks also goes out to the brand partners who outfitted our E-in-C for this fantastic event. Bonobos provided the Windsor single vent blue blazer and Heritage Washed Chino khakis; both trim, modern updates of preppy classics. We again joined forces with Deo Veritas to create a custom dress shirt, this time in a light purple gingham check. Still the best online custom shirts we have found. Eye Buy Direct provided us with new glasses and sunglasses for the trip. And to answer the question many folks were asking, yes, that was Frank Clegg’s Courier Messenger Bag in shrunken leather into which our copy of Rowing Blazers went.

Now, on to some great images from the September 23, 2014, New York City launch party for the new book, Rowing Blazers.

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Rowing Blazers Bulldog Blanket OTC at the New York Launch Party for the Book Rowing Blazers

 

 

Alan Michael Drake 1024x685 Owning Your Style: According to Alan Flusser

If there is one name in the world of menswear that genuinely deserves the overwrought moniker of legend, it’s Alan Flusser.

Alan is not just a menswear designer, not just an author, not just an innovator, and not just the guy who invented Gordon Gekko’s signature look for the movie Wall Street. He is also one of the most well-versed and well-read menswear experts alive today. Flusser’s close friend Ralph Lauren even asked him to write his biography, a very personal project on which he is currently working.

He also happens to be a very nice guy.

Alan Flusser literally wrote the book on dressing well; more accurately, he wrote the books. When people ask me what they should read to help them learn about dressing well, I typically start off with, “anything by Flusser.”

So, when I first met Alan, it was my equivalent of a young baseball fan meeting, say, Babe Ruth. Flusser exudes a passion for clothing and possesses an unwavering assertion that dressing well, and carefully choosing clothing that fits your coloration and frame, comfort and personal style, matter even more today.

Having more or less created what is often referred to as the “New York” or “Wall Street” look, he is the embodiment of owning your style. Flusser’s rules are logical and designed to help guide a customer or reader to clothing that works well for them, that matches their body type and personal attributes, and best expresses their personality.

Over the intervening years, Alan Flusser has been a mentor and guide. Among other things, we have discussed the continuing lack of real guidance for many young men who are looking for role models when it comes to dressing well. Too often, magazines and celebrities, “style experts,” and self-professed consultants focus on ephemera like of-the-moment trends and looks that, frankly, don’t look very good. That’s not dressing; it’s dressing up like someone else.

Mount Gay Logo 100x100 300x300 Owning Your Style: According to Alan FlusserAs an educator at heart, Alan is relentless in his focus on the why and how of dressing well and creating personal style. Grounded in classic English fashion and infused with 1930s American glamour, he has an attitude and persona that are forward-looking and intellectually aggressive but not rude. There is the Flusser way to dress and that’s what you need to buy into when you ask Alan and his team for help with your wardrobe. It’s elegant and casual, formal but witty.

If I have learned anything from this remarkable gentleman, it’s that owning your style is an active pursuit. Owning your style means that you take a participatory role in developing a sense of self and a sense of your own fashion. You take the time to learn about what makes you look your best and what flatters you the most. You know those guys who always seem to look sharp and put together no matter what, the ones who make it look so effortless and cool? Chances are, they work at it.

Alan Flusser taught, and continues to teach me, that the act of developing and owning your personal style is something that ultimately affects every part of your life – and that’s a good thing.

Every great story begins with a time and a place.  For Mount Gay Rum, that time is 1703 and that place is Barbados, the birthplace of rum.  Introducing Mount Gay Black Barrel, a double matured rum from the inventors of rum.  First matured in toasted whiskey barrels then finished in deeply charred bourbon barrels, Mount Gay Black Barrel balances full-bodied character with subtle aromas.  Learn more at www.facebook.com/mountgayrum

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Mount Gay Distilleries via Glam Media.  The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Mount Gay Distilleries.

 

The Smart Side of Style

Tom Wolfe Portrait The Smart Side of StyleBeing called stylish can mean so many things. You dress well, nice haircut, cool bag, great car, impressive art collection. Even how you walk down the street can be stylish – look at John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Then there’s the kind of stylish that transcends mere clothing or accoutrement; being smart.

As many women would point out, smart is very stylish.

Now, we are not necessarily talking about book smart or theoretical physicist smart. While that level of intelligence is genuinely impressive, simply being curious about the world around you and seeking out different points of view can make you a truly interesting person.

Good looks will only get you so far; you should also be up on current events, able to carry a conversation, know something about the world, and capable of clearly communicating your thoughts. You don’t have to be an expert on all things, but you should be aware of what’s going on around you and have an informed opinion.  What do you know about other cultures or different political systems?

Can you engage in a basic discussion about why what happens to the Euro affects the price of your favorite beer from Belgium?

Some people, like the brilliant writer Tom Wolfe, above, are both very smart and very stylish. One reason he can carry off his trademark white suit is because his intellect is equally sharp. Mr. Wolfe’s distinctive look is not merely a prop; it’s a physical extension of his wit, humor, and razor sharp intellect.

Alan Flusser via Modern Destiny The Smart Side of StylePerhaps one of the most intellectually forceful arbiters of style is Alan Flusser, right, who happens to be a close friend of Tom Wolfe.  Alan is an intellectual omnivore, fluent in such disparate subjects as publishing, global business, politics, economics, golf, Buddhism, etiquette, and of course the histories of American and English fashion.  Drop Alan into a random cocktail party or boardroom and he can chat with anyone about practically anything.

Turning yourself in into a socially interesting person is not as difficult as you might imagine.  While the prospect may seem intimidating – even manufactured – all that is really required is your taking an interest in the world out there.

For starters, take an inventory of the things that already interest you – art, music, business, economics, or history – whatever they may be. Then, every day, make a point of learning a little something from each of those areas. This is not a test, you don’t have to recall everything verbatim, just keep the information handy and notice where you found it.

Get a daily paper like the Wall Street Journal and skim through the various sections – you can learn about business, finance, marketing, design, media, and politics on your way to work.  Monocle magazine is an OTC favorite for its global briefing approach to telling readers about interesting places, cultures, governments, and design.  It also has a robust online presence that includes a 24-hour streaming radio station.  Apps like Zineo and Zite deliver magazine and newspaper content right to your smart phone or tablet.  Too busy to read – listen to any number of free podcasts on subjects ranging from art history to science to geopolitics.  Better yet, just talk to your friends and coworkers about what’s going on in the world.

What tends makes many successful people so interesting is their breadth and depth of knowledge.  They find the world exciting and can jump from topic to topic, often making and insightful connections.

For example, as a reader of OTC, let’s say that you are interested in style, business, marketing, and global events.  In particular, you are a long-time fan of Ralph Lauren, especially his remarkable ability to identify and dominate so many profitable markets.

RL growthstrategies banner The Smart Side of Style

Ralph Lauren is not only a store; it is a multifaceted, publicly held corporation.  Hop over to its investor relations site and peruse the company’s growth strategies and earnings releases.  Even if you only focus on the press releases and corporate profile, the picture of a diverse and global industry quickly comes into shape.

And, if you can find them, track down the pre-Regulation FD annual reports; they are nice enough to put on your book shelf.  The decidedly less design-oriented but current online annual report can be found here.  Take a look; even if you are not a numbers person, it’s pretty fascinating to see the nuts and bolts of how businesses operates.

As you continue to read up on Polo’s real estate holding, licensing deals, distribution networks, and marketing and financial news, you will see a network of stories that touch on everything from import/export tariffs to the migration of global manufacturing jobs.  Remember the outcry over the company not manufacturing Team USA’s Summer Olympics opening ceremony outfits in the United States?  Their commitment to doing so for the next Winter Olympics resulted in a fascinating case study in the economics and politics of fashion.

Focusing on even just one company like Ralph Lauren can teach you volumes when it comes to market segmentation, global menswear production, political issues facing the textile industry, and how cultural expectations affect product development.  Not only will you have a greater understanding of the business of fashion, you’ll also have a lot to talk about at your next cocktail party.

So, as you work to perfect your wardrobe, choose a new pair of bespoke shoes, or track down the perfect briefcase don’t forget to look around and learn something about the world. Becoming a better global citizen is about as stylish as you can get.

 

DF12 12.18 GQlo 104 GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style Agenda

Recently, OTC had the chance to spend an evening with Glenn O’Brien, best known as GQ’s legendary Style Guy.  He was in town to celebrate the launch of the fall/winter GQ Style issue at DC’s elegant new nightspot, The Huxley.  Earlier in the day, we sat down with O’Brien at his suite in the Ritz Carlton.  While it is always fun to meet a well-known figure, perhaps the most impressive thing about Glenn is that style does not seem to impress him very much.

Without question, Glenn is on the inside of the fashion world.  He knows the people worth knowing and has access to the designers, brands, and luminaries we all read about.  Glenn is witty, wry, intellectual, and observant; traits which have served him well over the years.  However, for a “fashion” writer, he is an odd fit in the best of ways.  First and foremost, he’s a writer.  He is interested in people and stories, ideas and the world around him.  Glenn is far more curious about who you are than who you’re wearing.  If anyone has been there and that, it is Glenn.

Compared to the often overwrought dandies that populate the style blogosphere, Glenn O’Brien’s sense of style is wonderfully prosaic; suits, blazers, nice shirts, classic ties and jeans, and the occasional weathered biker jacket and Picasso beach shirt. He has a distinctive look and way of assembling these classic elements that reflect his own history and personality.  Glenn does not need to impress anyone with just-so outfits, skinny suits, or anachronistic dandyism.  Not that he is opposed to any of that, by the way; when asked about the landscape of today’s blog-driven fashion and vintage-inspired sensibilities, Glen embraced it all.  When is comes to trends and the vagaries of fashion, he’s very open-minded.  In fact, his favorite suit is actually from the mid 1990s.  “Yeah, it’s out of fashion, but I love it,” he says.

Scott S. The Sartorialist GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style AgendaBlogs, he noted, have democratized the means by which style and fashion evolve.  “Say what you want about Scott’s [Schuman] site, but The Sartorialist has created a new way for people to explore fashion,” said O’Brien.  “The real-world nature of the photos is great; it allows you to experiment on your own and not rely on corporately constructed ensembles.”

That theme – the natural evolution of personal style, versus “assembled” style – was a thread woven throughout our conversation.  What the Style Guy appreciates most is personal expression and the willingness to value quality, construction, details, longevity, and patience.  Wear what you like and be proud of it.

This sentiment was best expressed when we chatted about mutual friend, the legendary menswear author and designer, Alan Flusser.  Alan, known for his impeccable style and ability to assemble beautifully classic wardrobes that best compliment the wearer’s coloration, physique, and personality, is also a fan of comfort.  One of his lesser appreciated skills is marrying the formal and informal – such as the day he sported a bespoke linen blazer and shirt, natty pocket square, electric blue Todd’s Gomminos, …and slate grey Nike wind pants.  Took about a half-hour to realize he was even wearing them because he made it work so seamlessly.

Such expressions of personal style are indeed personal, and they don’t work for everyone.  That’s OK; such is  the beauty of true style and importance of personal expression.  Real sartorial skills take time to learn and experience to develop.  Truly good style requires personal honesty, and when achieved is distinctive, admired – sometimes mocked – but often noteworthy.

We asked about something Flusser often states; that today there are no real male role models when it comes to style.  While there are celebrities who dress well, these stars are often outfitted by others who have mapped out a sponsored image for them.  Or, they dress by contract; disinterested in style themselves and playing the role of living mannequin to paying brands.

Alan Flusser 2011 Dennis C. GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style AgendaGone are the days, says Flusser, when the likes of Cary Grant or Gary Cooper embodied the values of male sartorial attention to detail.  They had a keen appreciation of tailoring and personal expression and they understood the power of projection sophistication coupled with nonchalance.  True, notes O’Brien; but they also had the benefit of being studio actors who had at their disposal dedicated wardrobe departments.  Today’s celebrities are essentially freelancers, solo brands out to define and effectively telegraph their public persona – often for a fee.

When asked to name some leading male style role models, The Style Guy said that, frankly, the best dressed men he knows are often civilians – doctors, lawyers, businessmen. They simply have the interest, ability, and inclination to learn what works and what they actually like.  These everyday guys are not embarrassed to care about the details of fashion, and they appreciate its impact in their professions and how they are perceived.  That said, he did mention the likes of Andre 3000 and Rolling Stones drummer, Charlie Watts, as examples of well-known sartorial class acts.

Glenn is old school, and that is one of his strongest assets.  He is ecumenical when it comes to the breadth and depth of fashion out there today.  Never disparaging, he defended the popular “Made in Brooklyn” meme that is beginning to spawn its own bit of mockery.

“I’m tired of hearing about ‘ironic’ mustaches or ‘ironic’ Brooklyn shops.  There is no irony as far as I see,” he says.  “These folks looked around, saw the future, and said, ‘we don’t want that; we’re heading in the other direction.’  Good for them.”

All those handmade satchels, small batch suits, custom shirt makers, vintage fabric bow ties, and hand-welded city bicycles are what’s driving the resurgent interest in menswear and American urban style.  They are making real things that consumers want, and all that “irony” is being riffed on by the big corporate brands…ironically.

DF12 12.18 GQlo 117 GQ’s Glenn O’Brien: Setting Your Own Style Agenda

Watching Glenn work the room at DC hotspot, The Huxley, it was clear that he is someone comfortable in his own skin.  Overall, he was surrounded by a stylish crowd, although some guests were trying a bit too hard to be GQ-awesome while others appeared to have opted for a cautious DC law firm look.

Looking somewhat professorial in a simple Anderson & Sheppard grey suit, blue checked shirt, and yellow tartan tie he wore his famously inscrutable expression with aplomb.  When informed that we were chatting with O’Brien, Alan Flusser responded without hesitation, “Glenn is one of the few forces for intelligent manners and intelligent fashion.”

Gentlemen, all the way around.

 

Alan Flusser Strolling Down to DC

Alan Flusser 2011 Dennis C.1 Alan Flusser Strolling Down to DCAlan Flusser, the legendary clothier, celebrated menswear author, guru of classic style, and all around charming fellow, will be in Washington, DC, next week.

Alan and his crew will be in town Tuesday, February 21, through Thursday, February 23, to meet with new clients and check in with old friends.  If you have ever wanted to learn more about the exceptional custom tailoring offered through Alan’s renowned Custom Shop, this is a wonderful opportunity to do so.

Ensconced in the luxurious Hotel Sofitel adjacent to historic Lafayette Square and down the street from the White House, you can see mannequined examples of classic Flusser style.  You’ll also find samples of luxurious accessories, including crocodile belts, hand-rolled pocket squares, and bench made footwear.

Appointment times begin at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday and conclude 9:00 a.m. on Thursday.  Hotel Sofitel is located at 806 15th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005.

To make an appointment, please contact Peter, at The Custom Shop.  He can be reached at: peter (at) alanflusser (dot) net or 212-888-4500.