The Profundity Of Style


One of the greatest catalysts for the progression of personal style is a growing taste for Art. I find it impossible to isolate my taste in clothing from my taste in almost anything else, a fact which others might find depressing but which I find reassuring; the way I perceive things are, in my opinion, unavoidably interconnected. I remember reading a passage on The Sartorialist advancing eclecticism and denouncing lifestyle escapism – the act of retreating into a favoured past decade.

The picture in question was a gentleman on a vintage bicycle wearing plus-fours, a flat cap, a bow tie and iPod earphones. The Sart’s hope was that Eminem was the gentleman’s musical artist of choice and not something of the epoch he was aping in dress and transportation, the argument being that ‘some people go too far’ in their unilateral attempts to revive bygone eras.

While eclecticism has its merits and attractions, it is fair to consider that such aesthetes are very often entirely taken by almost every artistic aspect of an age. For example, Victorian style dandies often collect Victoriana and frequent places and events that would provide the best possible setting for their elegant period clothing. The sensibilities of style are often so entwined in a lifestyle choice that it is easy to forget how profound and personal such choices are when measured by the superficialities of dress. Style is infectious and one of the most quietly powerful facets of living, capable of altering one’s perspective on the world and adjusting not only clothing and living spaces but literature choice, hobbies and even political opinions.

While such an assertion may not stir surprise in the reader, it is a rarely acknowledged fact that an appreciation of clothing stems from a greater and deeper wonder of Art, which, along with the sophistication of our communication is what anthropologists believe separates us from the other creatures that roam this earth.

I find that it is rare for a man’s sartorial taste to be utterly emancipated from his wider aesthetic taste which some find predictable and rather prosaic but which I happen to think is a mark of identification and profundity. A man’s experiences, his personality and his history not only affect such choices but are also developed by them. Although links between literature choice, clothing and interior decoration taste are justly assumed to be more prevalent in aesthetes, it is an interesting activity to assemble the accoutrements of one’s life and watch as the threads between them entwine and form the spectre of a chosen aesthetic.


  1. gary said:

    I think when you go overboard thinking about style you lose style

    January 24, 2011
  2. James said:

    “Intoxicated with the exuberance of his own verbosity” springs to mind?

    That said, I do agree with what Winston is saying. I just had to read it a couple of times to be sure.

    January 25, 2011
  3. Binker said:

    @James: It’s true. Every time I encounter a post on this page laden with pretentious, pseudo-intellectual products of using, I know it’s something by Winston before I even encounter the author line. The profundity of insecurity.

    January 25, 2011
  4. James said:

    I wouldn’t make that judgement, myself – its just quite funny at times. But enjoyable.

    January 25, 2011
  5. Michael Poplawski said:

    I found this article opened my mind to some items I haven’t thought about. A bit verbose? Possibly. In thinking of this I must admit that reworking my wardrobe over seven years ago has caused me to become interested in other areas. I never really thought of that before. Maybe it gives me more reason to go to museums, jazz clubs,and assorted restaurants. It has also caused me to meet many interesting people and hopefully become more interesting myself.

    Who knows? All I know is that I enjoy it.

    January 25, 2011
  6. Kai said:

    Binker no offence but coincidentally or not I usually find the people using the word “pseudo-something” as pretentious and insecure as they come.

    January 25, 2011
  7. James said:

    I hardly think Winston is being “pretentious”, “insecure”, or anything of the kind. There is a marked difference between authors who simply have a wide-ranging and nuanced vocabulary and those trying to overplay their intellectual hand. Winston is, in my opinion, firmly in the former category. If anyone is insecure here, it is those who feel threatened by a writing style falling outside their own preferences.

    As to the article itself, I think some interesting issues are raised. I might extend the hypothesis a bit by claiming that clothing and style are almost invariable, among affluent societies, a means of shaping an individual’s identity, and that this extends not only to public identity but self-perception. This is no less present in people who fuss over lapels and collars as it is with those seeking a particularly baggy cut in a particular brand-name of jeans. Historical evidence shows this is not new, and that the ideas Winston is touching on here extend to all periods of civil society, both in the west and elsewhere, and all the way back into ancient times.

    The topic is indeed a fertile one, and it’s a shame that some would let themselves be so blind to ideas simply on account of not liking the writing style.

    January 27, 2011
  8. James said:

    Correction to the second paragraph: “invariably” not “invariable”.

    January 27, 2011

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