The idea of what constitutes formal wear has constantly evolved since humans decided to settle down and have a meal that was more than merely plucked, gathered, or clubbed to death. The French revolution made suits popular, Jawaharlal Nehru made wearing Indian formals cool, the Kennedy era bid adieu to hats and so on. Change, no matter how much it is resisted, is good. It refreshes our perspective on life, also giving us something new to occupy ourselves with. Just think how many of us pour over catalogues and websites every season, trying to decide what to acquire to keep our look contemporary yet personal. Here, then, are a few pieces that you can look at incorporating into your wardrobe for the coming season. None of these fall under conventional, so if you find yourself squirming as you read on, know that what needs to change first, before you can change your wardrobe, is you.
Jeans came to acquire a rebellious image purely because of the advertising that promoted it around the world. Sure, they were invented as work clothes, but I’d like to see how many of us step out in our Rs 25,000 denim-wear to work by the roadside. So, seeing how this quotidian article of clothing has risen to be regarded as luxury, it would be good to introduce it in our formal wear wardrobe. Selvedge jeans are already much in demand. Japanese brands rule the space, from Momotaro to Samurai, Studio d’Artisan to Japan Blue. Locally, try Korra jeans, because they go a step further and do them bespoke. Get them to do a two-button sports jacket, one which can be teamed up with khakis to complete a nouveau take on semi-formals.
Back in the day, people wore slip-ons even around the house, because central heating hadn’t been invented yet. So, to make them less constricting than daytime leather-ware, these were made with velvet and sported cushioned/quilted linings, so that they could be worn comfortably in the house. They became somewhat obscure with time, but today, they are being revived with all the pomp of yore: rich velvet in vivid colours with embroidery for garnish. Matthew Cookson is one of the preferred makers of velvet slippers, but Tricker’s is good too, and Stubbs & Wootton is great, with bespoke ones. Locally, I have seen some good stuff from Dapperman and Monkstory, while the house of Asteri Man is the one which can even custom-make your pair. The best bit? Velvet slippers work equally well under Western three-piece suits and with Indian traditional formal attire.
I think they are highly underrated as an accessory. They are easy to tie, easier to carry on trips, never get in the way and always look elegant. Yet, so many of us prefer to confine ourselves and conform to the herd standard. Upgrade and acquire a few bow ties. Needless to add, the only ones that matter are the ones which you knot yourself; a pre-knotted bow tie on anybody who is not in 2nd grade or younger is simply ridiculous.
The era of wearing dull, staid navy blue and black socks under suits is passé. Today, it is acceptable to flash some colour every time you cross your legs, thereby showing that the wearer might be all game face, but still packs a touch of the quirk somewhere. And if colour socks hold the potential to effectively eradicate the public nuisance of manspreading, then it is absolutely a style sense to put our weight behind.
When someone says it’s the little things that count, in formal wear it translates to accessories, or otherwise put, legit male jewellery. From cufflinks to tie clips, collar bones to collar pins, brooches or lapel pins, even a dainty pocket watch, all of them lend that sense of old school flair to even the most drab of suit-shirt-tie combos.