Thursday, April 16, 2015


There's a very fine line between sartorial elegance and narcissism. The term sartorialist is a finger pointed primarily at fashion and most frequently at male plumage. In the age of metrosexualism there's an ease of acceptance that has allowed more men to express themselves through their own personal styles broadening the male look beyond tee-shirts and jeans. This isn't a new phenomenon nor is it restricted to the human genus alone.
All winter long I've been watching a cardinal family unit flit from branch to fence post in our backyard. That male cardinal has put his little wife to shame with his brilliant red relegating her to second fiddle with her drab brown low-lights.
And lets not forget how foppish the male species could get and did get during the Louie-Shmooey period; extravagant wigs, silken britches and lots of lace.
Today's sartorialists can simply be categorized as well-dressed. It's not foppish. It's just making style something you think about before you open your door and walk out in public. It's not for everyone but the more of us that embrace it the more interesting it becomes to take a walk down Fifth Avenue.
Stirring the pot of intrigue were two major finds over the past two weeks. One happened during a conference I attended in Madison. The Writer's Institute has been a Wisconsin tradition spanning over the past twenty-six years. The conference brings in writers, publishers and authors from around the globe for an intensive three day round of lectures, tutorials and the chance to sit down for eight minutes with a publisher to try to get them to snap up your book.
Putting me on the outside lookingin was a lecture on Steampunk as a Literary Vehicle delivered by Lord Bobbins. Even spellcheck hasn't caught up with the genre and only recognizes "Steampunk" by way of a wavy red underline.  Apparently Steampunk is a form of science fiction/fantasy that weaves a storyline into a 19th century world where steam-powered machinery intertwines with technology and aesthetic design in a power struggles between good and evil. The Steampunkers create their own fictionalized history. Lord Bobbins is actually a Madisonian (real name: Eric Larson) who has created a conference for Steampunkers much like Comic Con that last year attracted almost five thousand attendees dressed as steam powered robotic characters.  Although I don't think their costumes could be categorized as street wear the look is sartorial to the extreme.
The second, as with so much of the world of research these days, was when I googled "Sartorial". What came up was a blog called, "The Sartorialist"
There's virtually no dialogue here only the photographs of photographer, Scott Schuman, who travels the world either street snatching picks of male and female sartorial splendor or working professionally for the likes of GQ, Vogue and Interview. It's a candy shop of style for what goes on in the real world.
I've added it to my favorites and have been going back daily to check out what he's seen in London, New York, or Milan. It's not the Bill Cunningham trends he goes after; it's the splendor. It's the ones who have taken personal appearance one step or maybe a leap beyond.

This sartorial search in the sphere of manliness has led me to looking at the world of the barbershop where primping and pampering have taken the domain of Steel Magnolias to a whole new level. The bearded man of the turn of the twentieth century has returned the maintenance of all that facial hair has initiated all resurgence the barbershop as a symbol of that sartorial elegance. Here are some of my favorites

Vintage Photograph, London, ca. 1940-1950
Photographer unkown
Found on

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