Book Review: Style & The Man

Words by: Andrew Hodges


Alan Flusser recently released an updated and abridged version of his Style and the Man.  The book was originally published in 1996 and included now-outdated advice on specific locations to purchase men’s clothing and accessories around the world.  The shopping guide has been eliminated from this new version and what remains has been updated for 2010.  The stated purpose of the book is to offer the male clothing shopper “some insight into how to discern the stylishly classic from the provisionally fashionable.”

The book is so small (5 x 8 inches and 137 pages) that I was prepared to be disappointed.  In contrast, one of my favorite style books, Flusser’s Dressing the Man, is 8 ½ x 11 inches and 308 pages.  I really enjoy the multitude of photographs and old Esquire illustrations in Dressing the Man; on the other hand, Style & the Man has just a few black line illustrations.  Notwithstanding this shortcoming, I was pleasantly surprised about the volume of good advice that is packed into this little book.

The book contains eight chapters on tailored clothing, dress shirts, shoes, neckwear, accessories, formal wear, custom-made clothes, and traveling with your wardrobe.  In the first chapter on tailored clothing Flusser gives advice on the fit (specific to different body types), fabric and quality of the suit.  The chapter on dress shirts continues with advice on fit, fabric and quality.  The chapter on footware includes a discussion on fit and quality of dress shoes, and a section on hosiery etiquette.  The chapter on neckwear gives advice on how to judge the value of a tie as well as how to wear a tie.  Flusser dispenses advice on such diverse topics as belts, braces, handkerchiefs, and jewelry in the chapter on accessories.  In the formal wear chapter, Flusser gives very detailed and specific advice about the ritual surrounding the way that formal wear is supposed to be worn.  As the presence of a chapter on custom-made clothes might hint, most of the advice in the book pertains to shopping for ready-to-wear clothing.  In this short chapter Flusser discusses the advantages of custom clothing over ready-to-wear  apparel.  The final chapter contains advice on packing your wardrobe for wrinkle-free travel.

If I had to choose between Dressing the Man and Style & the Man, I would choose the former.  But Style & the Man is an excellent supplement to the larger tome.  I picked up my copy of Style & the Man from for about ten dollars.  At that price it’s hard to go wrong.