When it comes to being a little bit sassy (or a lot depending on personal preference), the sixties is a great era of history to draw inspiration from. From the sharp tailoring and Chelsea boots of the Mods to the roll neck sweaters and double denim of Steve McQueen, sixties style had it all. However, this year it is sixties inspired tailoring and formal wear that I am going to be incorporating into my work wardrobe.
Tailoring in the sixties oozed confidence and style; there was a wide and eclectic choice available for anyone who wanted to show off to the world that they knew how to dress. Bold pin stripes and checks were extremely popular amongst the working (mad) men in the sixties, and in 2011 we are seeing a resurgence of the sixties power dressing that prevailed.
Again this has been inspired by fashion looking back to the past in order to move forward. Over the past few years in men’s fashion we have seen the resurgence of ‘old school’ items such as brogues, chino’s, pocket squares and the bow tie – each making a strong case to be incorporated into our everyday looks. Some may even class most of these garments and accessories now as ‘timeless’. This reflects the world we live in right now. We all want an edge in order to get ahead, and one way to make yourself stand out is to utilise items that other’s may not dare to wear. So we look back to past eras for inspiration, we keep an eye out for limited editions, and we browse vintage stores regularly to get our hands on a one-off piece.
Popular culture is also playing its part. As Duncan mentioned with the revitalisation of Barber Shop grooming techniques, one of the most popular shows on TV right now is Mad Men. This series is set in sixties Americana and it has been idolised across the globe not only for its story telling, but the style icons it has produced. Who wouldn’t want to look as sharp as Roger Sterling or Don Draper on a daily basis? They look like powerful, confident men who are ready for anything the day throws at them (usually women and drink!). We can take inspiration from icons such as these and the (ever loveable) Gordon Gekko in order to bring our present day work wardrobe up to scratch.
So today I am going to breakdown how you can incorporate some of the key features of sixties workwear into your 2011 wardrobe in order to have you looking sharp, refined and ready for business.
The Sixties Workwear Look Book
So in order for you to get a feel of what we are trying to reproduce today I have created a look book incorporating some of the icons we described above. This should show you exactly the type of look we are aiming for within the rest of the article:
Breaking Down The Sixties Uniform
Now before we start – and as we have discussed hundreds of times before – the fit is the most important thing in tailoring. If it does not fit right, it’s not going to look right. Simple as that. Knowing your chest and waist size is the starting point, but getting professionally measured would be the preference. Once you know your exact measurements you can shop online or go into a shop feeling confident you will purchase a suit that’s going to look ideal on you. Also, for the love of fashion itself, make sure the trousers fit on the waist and fall just on the bridge of the shoe, with the jacket fitting and having some shape to it rather than a box shape I have seen so many times recently on my way to work.
Back to the sixties. The sixties produced a wide variety of suit cuts, with everything from one button to three button to double breasted available. Again this is one of the major reasons we have seen a resurgence of double breasted tailoring and outwear within the industry recently. As you can see in the lookbook above, Roger Sterling is partial to a double breasted work suit, and if you get the cut and fit right, it can certainly look very imposing and give off a very powerful vibe. Of course, suit style is all about personal preference though. Right now there are so many options and varieties at your disposal; although if you are struggling the 2 buttoned suit is a timeless winner which will never look out of place at any event.
The sixties were all about bold prints on suits, creating something different from the classic plain suit. My two favourites that I think you should consider bringing into your present day work wardrobe are bold pin stripes and checks. First of all, bold pin stripes are a great choice for a true business suit; nothing states serious more than this iconic print. Current day versions show some variety in that you can vary the strength of the pin stripe. For those who are less confident in their dressing, go for a faint pin striped navy suit which will not be so obvious as a bold black version. This is a real statement piece which will garner attention in your office against the sea of plain black/grey/navy suits you see every day.
So what to pair a bold pin stripe suit with? Well as the pin stripe is very much a statement pattern, the ‘norm’ in the sixties was to tone it down by pairing it with a plain white shirt and bold tie combination. This will definitely work and have you looking sharp without much thought. The white shirt will allow you to go crazy with whatever tie colour or pattern you desire. However, we have done a lot of work recently on FashionBeans in upgrading our work wardrobe and shirt and tie combinations, so we are not going to play it safe.
Why not try mixing your pin stripe suit with a striped shirt and solid tie combination? As we detailed in our basics guide, as long as the shirt striped is a different width to your suit pin stripe then you will not be clashing and in fact would of pulled off an advanced fashion look which many others wouldn’t even dare consider. Mix in a striped tie (again varying width or angle) and you will of mastered the multiple pattern work look. Something that will give you an edge in the style stakes and get you noticed for all the right reasons at work:
The Check Suit & Dressing Down
If you don’t necessarily want a business look and you want to perhaps dress down a suit, then a check pattern has lots of potential. Think Michael Douglas in Wall Street, or the more recent collection from Tom Ford (see it here). This is a little more subtle compared to a bold pin stripe and works just as well as a suit out of work at formal occasions. The jacket can even be separated and utilised with dark slim jeans for a really well put together smart-casual outfit. Again it will just give you that separation and edge whilst in a room full of plain suit styles.
What to wear with it? Well juxtapose a check patterned suit with a lightly checked shirt in a different colour and a solid colour tie and you’re sorted. You do not have to pair bold print suits with plain shirts and ties these day; be free, be creative, be bold. If you want to dress down the suit into a more casual look, then wearing the suit with a light merino knitted roll-neck jumper is a perfect alternative.
Accessories in the work uniform were big news back in the sixties, and we can certainly learn a lot from our stylish forefathers. We have always tried to drill into you the importance of accessories to either finish a look or to individualise yourself. This has never been more true than when dressing for work. You don’t want to go over the top with colours, patterns and the like when you are looking to be taken seriously, so incorporating subtle details through accessories is where you will find your separation.
Be inspired by the look books above and below; key sixties accessories included cuff links, braces, pocket squares, bow ties, slim belts and watches. All these can be brought bang up to date to give your workwear the shot of life it needs. This year let’s stand out and make a name for ourselves:
The Sartorialist Inspiration
The Godfather of all street style, and one of the biggest design influences on the internet; The Sartorialist takes beautiful pictures each and every day of some of the most stylish men on the planet. We have searched through the archives to bring you some of the best looks which optimise the sixties tailoring look we are going for:
Make sure you regularly take a look through The Sartorialist. Fashion inspiration doesn’t get much better than this.
So this year try something new, be inspired by the sixties and look sassy in stripes or checks. I know I’m going to.