G. Bruce Boyer: long-time journalist and author, is one of my favorite writers on the subject of classic men’s style.
Originally an English Literature professor, Bruce began as a men’s fashion writer at Town & Country Magazine.
He has since written for publications such as The New York Times, Harper’s Bazaar, The Rake, and The New Yorker, among others, and has published numerous books in observance of classic style.
He’s written about the subject for over 40 years.
What I appreciate most about Bruce is his lovely, engaging writing, and his appreciation and reverence for clothing that transcends both decades and trends.
He has a way of explaining why well-dressed men look so great, even if you can’t put it into words yourself, and more importantly, how we all can elevate our own personal style.
He doesn’t take this idea of men’s style and fashion too seriously:
“It’s not a cure for cancer. It’s not going to solve world poverty or climate problems. At most, it’s an economic business and it will make us feel better about ourselves.”
via Lehigh Valley Style
When I grow up, I want to dress just like him, and if you’re a fan of the Lean Wardrobe philosophy, you’d probably dig his style too.
Here are a few great quotes about style from Bruce.
Not too over the top…
“In a world of plentiful and diverse choices, the hallmark of taste is restraint.”
G. Bruce Boyer, True Style
It’s easy to chase one shiny style object after another, trying numerous looks on for size and experimenting with different styles. Which isn’t to say there is no place for experimentation (this site, for one, encourages it when in the process of discovering your personal style).
Also, in terms of a particular garment’s style, there’s a lot of room for interpretation as it applies to color, texture, and proportion.
Take a look at the street style shots from events like Pitti Uomo and you’ll understand the definition of peacocking.
When you get beyond all that, there’s something to say about a well-fitting ensemble in a somber color, accented only by small doses of color and pattern. You don’t have to go all out, all the time, with every wardrobe. Sometimes simple is best.
Fashion + Personality = Style
“Style is what happens when a person bends fashion to his personality.”
I get plenty of emails with questions about the How-To’s of fashion.
How do I pull this off, how should I wear that, what goes with this, which works with that…
Yes, there are rules, but some (many) of those rules are meant to be bent and broken.
Learn the rules of fit, proportion, and the classic style of dress, but don’t get caught up in the rigidity of it.
If you prefer a bit more color, a shorter break, a mix of patterns, or socks that match your shoes instead of your pants, go for it.
On developing a signature style…
“Many people simply take on the roles provided for them (by the media, retailers, designers, or whatever). But I find that usually men (and women too for that matter) of style develop “signatures,” whether they be uniforms or little eccentricities that distinguish them.
“This happens because the sort of person with whom we associate style has studied himself sufficiently to understand what works for him and what doesn’t. Or perhaps it’s better to say what his attitude can carry.”
The Lean Wardrobe is a perfect place to start, if you want to build a uniform and look all your own.
The LW is a base wardrobe for you to build on as you develop those little style quirks and eccentricities that make your style unapologetically you.
And speaking of signature style, check out our series on these stylish gents.
A concern for quality
“A person should dress his age and have a concern for quality.”
via Permanent Style
You may have noticed we stopped highlighting the prices of garments in our articles, especially as the determining factor of its purchase-worthiness.
We also now feature products with a wide array of price points.
The thing is, we’re all at different stages in our lives. Some are ready to invest in better quality, while others are still figuring out their look or their go-to, everyday uniform.
Some have large budgets, others, small.
The important thing, regardless of how much you have to spend, is a focus on finding the best quality you can afford.
Sure, if you’re experimenting with a new look, by all means, go for affordability. But when it comes to your staples, the items you want to hang onto for years, buy the best you can.
Keep an eye on our In Pursuit Of series, where we profile outstanding, well-designed, high-quality lean wardrobe pieces.
If you know what you like, stick with it
“…by the time I was 20 or so, I was honing my style and taste, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.”
via The Hogtown Rake
More of this:
“I’m afraid I’m a prisoner of my youth. When I was a young man — 12 to 20 — I experimented with all sorts of dress, but more and more drifted to American Ivy Style clothes with a British influence. As early as 1958 or so I was also already aware of the Italian approach — we called it “Continental” style at the time — and was affected by that too.
“By that time I had stopped experimenting with styles and was more interested in simply finding shops and craftsmen who could give me what I wanted. In other words, by the time I was 20 or so, I was honing my style and taste, and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since.
“I admit to looking a bit old-fashioned, but then I’m not a young man any more so it doesn’t really matter. I’m comfortable with style, whatever that is. I’ve made my bed and I’m happy to sleep in it.”
One more argument for a Lean Wardrobe…
“For young men just starting out, I would want to persuade them to slowly build a wardrobe based on conservative taste and good quality.”
He goes on to say:
“Three good pairs of shoes are better than six cheap ones because the good ones will last longer and look better even when they’re old; the cheap ones will look cheap even when new and they won’t last long.
“I always feel I can never afford to buy cheap clothes. I have shoes and ties and shirts and sports jackets that are more than 20 years old, and they fit and feel marvelous, and look more wonderful than when they were new.”
I don’t need to repeat myself, do I? Mr. Boyer nails it.
Start with a few classics…
“Start with a few classics: a good blazer and gray worsted suit (the weight of which will depend on your climate); a few good light blue shirts; a good pair of dark brown oxfords; a few simple dark blue silk ties.
“Then add a few pairs of odd trousers (
khakis, flannels), a tweed or lightweight sports jacket, a nice cashmere sweater. A few more ties, a pair of slip-ons, that’s the way to build a wardrobe.
“Never buy anything that can only be worn with one outfit; a tie that can only be worn with one certain suit or jacket is an expensive tie no matter what it costs. Resist fashion trends. Just because this season a lot of people are wearing red trousers doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for you.
“Learn what works best for you, what you like and feel comfortable with, and stick to it.”
In summary, buy slowly, methodically, and with purpose. Buy the best you can afford, and when building a base wardrobe, avoid trends (things at the top of the Lean Wardrobe Pyramid).
You’re judged by what you wear, whether you like to believe it or not
“Most people don’t take clothing seriously enough, but whether we should or not, clothes do talk to us and we make decisions based on people’s appearances.”
I’m not sure why some people are so offended by this, or they’re in such denial that presentation matters, that they’ve made the decision to dress as slovenly as possible to say “F the system,” or “I don’t care.”
You’re only hurting yourself by not caring, but sure, dig your own grave.
When you’ve finally decided to make an effort, start here so you get off on the right foot.
Comfort over fashion
“I think tailored clothes should have good shape, but be comfortable. I would never sacrifice comfort for fashion. But that’s what fashion is, isn’t it? Something so ridiculous, it’s got to be changed every season.”
via Articles of Style
Why is it always assumed that dressing well means dressing uncomfortably? If that’s the case, you’ve never worn a garment that fits perfectly.
Ditch those color and skin tone charts
“I have to confess that I don’t pay much attention to what colors might suit me, I simply wear colors I like.”
via Permanent Style
It doesn’t matter much, and if you have to think that long about it… you’re thinking too hard.
Learn what looks best on you, wear colors you’re drawn to, and be unapologetic about it.
Taste, style, quality
“I’ve never been as interested in fashion as I am in taste, style, and quality. Style is the most enigmatic and interesting because it’s so inexplicable and you can find it anywhere. It seems to have nothing to do with wealth or intelligence or any particular skill.”
…and more to do with creativity and the willingness to experiment.
Shouting vs. Whispering
“Fashion writes in bold italics, while style whispers between the lines.”
G. Bruce Boyer, True Style
A perfect metaphor for true style.
In addition the interviews I’ve cited above, here are a few more articles featuring G. Bruce Boyer. Enjoy.
And a few of his books…