The Gentlemen’s Curb

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An Education in Wardrobe Must-Haves

All items in your wardrobe are equal but some more equal than others. Some items make or break your whole look, and it will be worth spending time and effort to make sure you choose wisely. This challenge is not exclusive to the modern-day man, as most of those key clothing items and accessories have been around for decades, some even centuries. Here are a few of those staples with a bit of their history.

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Photo Credit: Lylah Levi

A Versatile and High-Quality Blazer

Throwing on a blazer is like cheating. A good blazer will be versatile and can be used for more formal occasions or just hanging around in. It gives you a finished look without having to put in all the effort. Blazers are different to sports coats as they are more formal than their counterpart and are made from solid color fabrics. Blazers are usually made from durable and thicker materials, suited for outdoor wear, making them perfect for spring and autumn. The term ‘blazer’ comes from jackets associated with the Lady Margaret Boat Club (1825), the rowing club of St. John’s College, Cambridge. The clubwear was bright red and was termed blazers as of such. Blazers can complement a shirt to finish a more formal look or can be worn over a casual t-shirt, giving you a typical professional creative look. Investing in two or three high-quality blazers will change up your wardrobe significantly.

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Photo Credit”Brain Tru

A Good Pair of Jeans

The staple of everyone’s wardrobe must be a good pair of jeans. For the origin of this iconic pair of trousers, we can go back to 1873 when Jacob Davis and Levi Strauss patented the design. The very same Levi Strauss who founded Levi Strauss & Co, better known to the world as simply Levi’s. Jeans nowadays come in many forms, but it’s hard to escape the basics of jeans, it is dungaree cloth or denim and copper rivets. The rivets were introduced to strengthen areas that would usually tear and damage. The denim fabric is said to derive its name from ‘de Nimes,’ which basically means ‘from Nimes,’ a city in France. Davis & Strauss’ jeans initially were meant as sturdy trousers for factory workers, miners, farmers, and cattle drivers. For the decades following jeans were associated with practicality and functionality, not for fashion sense. It wasn’t until the 1950s when James Dean gave jeans its fashion edge in the film ‘Rebel Without a Cause’ (1955). Throughout the 60s and 70s jeans became increasingly mainstream, eventually becoming casual wear.

A Set of High Impact Neckties

A few high-quality neckties are essential in every male wardrobe. The origin of neckties can be found in cravats, which you might mistake for very thick neckties. Cravats can undoubtedly add class to your outfit, but due to it being an uncommon sight, it will make you stand out. The cravat dates to the 1630s and has a military origin. Louis XIII of France enlisted Croatian mercenaries in his army. The name ‘cravat’ is thought to derive from the French word ‘cravate,’ a variant of Croate (Croatian). These hired soldiers have pieces of cloth wrapped around their necks, believed to hold together their cloaks. The theories are that the fabric was used to cover a dirty shirt or that is was of psychological effect to protect the neck against spears. If you are a cravat aficionado, consider visiting Croatia on October 18, when the country celebrates its national Cravat Day.

Throughout the decades, the cravat would take on different shapes and sizes and travel around the world. It wasn’t until the industrial revolution at the end of the 17th century that neckties, as we know them now, were developed. The necktie was simply a no-nonsense version of what has gone before it that was easy to put on, comfortable and wouldn’t come undone during the day. In fashion, the necktie made its mark in the late 1950s and early 1960s when bands such as the Beatles and the Kinks donned around skinny ties. As clothes became more form-fitting, a skinny tie was the perfect way to push back against the establishment. And regardless of what you think of neckties, skinny or not, the consensus is always that clip-on’s are unacceptable.

 

A Watch that Says Something About Its Owner

Watches are still a powerful fashion statement, even in a time where most people rely on their smartphone to know the time. Watches evolved from spring-driven clocks, which first appeared in the 16th century. The watch was continuously developed and reinvented from the 16th century to mid-20th century. It wasn’t until the invention of the quartz watch in the 1960s that a leap was made into how watches functioned. The quartz watches innovation was the use of electricity and a vibrating quartz crystal, which provided a more stable and reliable process than the previous generations of mechanical watches. The term ‘watch’ comes from the Old English word ‘woecce,’ which means ‘watchman,’ referring to town watchmen who used the device to keep track of their shifts. One of the more iconic brands in recent times is Casio, widely popular for its modern looks. Casio has many successful and popular lines, such as the G-Shock Military Watch which provides a rugged fashion statement.

A Good Fitting Shirt

A good wardrobe can not lack half a dozen good fitting shirts. T-shirts are excellent for casual wear, but when you need to dress up, a well-shaped shirt makes the difference between to just being there and making an impression. One of the first shirts found was retrieved from a First Dynasty Egyptian tomb at Tarkan, circa 3000 BC. Shirts during their evolution were surprisingly seen as casual wear and only for lower-class workers. It wasn’t until the 20th century that this shifted, and shirts became associated with higher skilled jobs and standing. Nowadays there is no excuse to wear ill-fitting shirts. It might take some time to find the right brand that fits you correctly, but it’s worth the search. Alternatively, you can get a tailored shirt. But buyer beware, brick-and-mortar stores and skillful measuring still beat most online self-measure services. As with most iconic fashion items, we might enjoy them now, but they took generations of skilled labor to get here.