The Return of Elegance

by G. Bruce Boyer
(Fashion Consultant for The Custom Tailor & Designers Association of America and Fashion Editor for GQ and Esquire magazines)

Taken from : The Custom Tailor & Designers Association of America Newsletter, vol. III, number 5, March/April 1995.

We've been hearing about a return to elegance for several seasons now, but all the uproar generated in the media over "casual days" in the corporate community seemed to have put that concept on the back burner for a while. Then the other day we were thumbing through the new issue of MIRABELLA when our eyes caught the opening editorial, "About Style ."

Elegance is not something you put on for evening. It's an all-day, everyday quality that begins with your attitude and finds expression in your wardrobe. It's about choosing well--made clothes and putting them together carefully and creatively. What looks elegant now? Suits with fit and polish.

MIRABELLA was of course talking about women's clothes, but we were struck by how appropriate it all was to a man's wardrobe! And what we thought it all indicates is that the grunge and tattered chic and casual business dress has not exactly worked out that well for everybody after all. When the rules are thrown out, when no guidance is given for appropriate dress, when, in short, the result seems to be not the peace, stability, and beauty that was hoped for, but rather a great deal of nervousness, disturbance, and anxiety.

The idea of "casual" business days was that allowing people to dress down would promote camaraderie, comfort, less competition. It was thought the bottom line would be a harder/working employee. You've probably noticed that a lot of these so-called athletic clothes actually have the ironic effect of making some people appear less athletic than they would in almost any other outfit, but let's forget that. The actual result of throwing out the rules of traditional business dress is that many employees feel less sure of themselves, more competitive, and more anxious. The result has been a lowering of morale, a loss of stability, and a lot of grumbling.

We're not about to say that giving up a tie on Friday promotes revolution. And in fact we've been on record for some time now on the issue of comfort; the whole idea of individualized clothing is devoted to personal comfort. But what we have always been conscious of is that individuality and comfort are not the enemies of propriety and appropriateness. In the end, the clothes that make sense are the ones that bring together the public and private man. The CTDA believes that individuality, propriety, and comfort can be nicely brought together in a good fitting, well-made suit.

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Last modified 02.26.96.