My Grandfather (aka Granda) was not a wealthy man. He was not a vain man. He was like most of his generation, a hard working family man. Manual labour on the River Clyde building ships for the war effort of WWII and then onto the famous Singer factory to help the world in its sewing efforts was how he earned a living. Like most men of that vintage, he was always well turned out. It wasnt a statement, it was the norm.
I think he preempted Mr Obama by losing the tie Circa 1992, but the tailored look along with a smart shirt and dress shoes remained the mainstay of his everyday personal style. His “off duty” look was probably along the sartorial lines of Arnold Palmer or a middle aged Jack Nicklaus. This meant the suit jacket or blazer made way for a vneck jumper or cardigan. The standard did not exactly drop off a whole lot. This casual look was only reserved for watching tennis, football or snooker of course. I do not think the variety of coats, suits, ties etc in his wardrobe would have allowed him a tracksuit bottom day in front of Netflix. Perish the thought!
He bought the best clothes he could. Fashion was not a consideration as style was style and the season did not matter greatly. It was the West coast of Scotland after all where the weather could change several times over a single hour. The clothes were bought with a view to lasting forever. That wasn’t even a conscious view held by his generation, it was just the way menswear was back then. Proper clothes that would be worn over and over again, without necessarily showing their efforts due to the quality of manufacture.
What I am getting at here is outwith the everyday style that dictated most men dressed like Gregory Peck and thought little of it, was the fit of the clothes my Granda’s generation wore. The clothes were a good fit, but not a skinny fit or slim fit, but a classic fit, almost baggy and loose, especially the trousers or slacks as they would be called on occasion. The crotch area of the trouser almost seems a little too long? This gives a feeling of space, comfort and allows room for fine pockets and a few pleats for extra dapper factor. They would be cut to sit on the shoes and would still be supremely elegant while cycling headlong into a stiff Scottish breeze as my Granda would often do. So, as history oft repeats itself, I am now dabbling in this kind of style and fit.
This has happened twice in particular. Firstly was the epitomé of sustainable style in that I revived an old suit from about 15 years ago which I no longer wore. I had bought it in a renowned tailors in Dublin (Louis Copeland), so it may have stopped fitting me or I may have tired of the cut or style, but it’s quality and durability were never in doubt.
I got it altered slightly and was then able to wear it to work on a few days when I needed a pep in my step. Low and behold, the wider pleated trousers were so comfortable and attracted a few positive remarks (people don’t often pass remarks on a man’s trousers in my experience). The comfort and the joy of putting my hands in my spacious pockets and jingling some change (not a euphemism I might add) was quite revelatory. I decided I wanted more of the same for my casual wardrobe.
I checked out Universal Works from England. They have are a brand I have wanted to explore for a long time, but sometimes other stuff gets in the way. Another part of me simply did not have the guts to leave slim fitting clothes on the sidelines and embrace the space. So, I picked up a pair of wide legged, pleated trousers in a wonderful camel colour.
A perfect foil for most shirts and most shoes. The quality and feel of these is just fabulous. They almost beg you to go for a stroll such is the joie de vivre they bring.
My default outfit with these trousers is a white t-shirt or blue shirt with some minimal white sneakers. My Granda would not have dared let the side down with such a misstep, so with that in mind I have also worn them with a classic Oxford shoe.
The suiting and trousers we have all been wearing in the last decade has been a bit on the tight side perhaps. Maybe it’s time for us all to dig out the old family photos and see what our grandparents saw fit to wear and follow suit?