on January 16, 2007
After reading other reviews of this book, I requested it for the 2006 holidays and received it. I have read it cover to cover and am highly pleased overall. I offer the following plusses and minuses:
+ There are many photographs and illustrations showing proper fit, proportion, and style. Many of the photos are black and white, though this follows from the icons in them being from the first half of the 20th century - Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, The Duke of Windsor, and so on. There are recent color photographs also, including an excellent series on matching wardrobe color to different complexions.
+ This book points out many of the often mishandled details in menswear. Tailors at even good stores routinely hem a suit coat sleeve to the first thumb knuckle and leave the coat hanging halfway to your knees. The salesmen will recommend coats that bunch at the neck, and will steer anyone under 5 feet 8 inches away from double-breasted coats. This book shows that these faux pas are not merely blemishes but true style defects, yet easily repaired ones: show 1/2 inch of shirt cuff; hem your coat to be half your suit's visual height; find a proper fitting coat; and wear double-breasted if it fits well.
- Mr. Flusser, the author, never hesitates to state with a flourish that which can be stated neatly. Rather than say, to paraphrase, "A shirt with a white contrasting collar should have French cuffs, optionally also in contrasting white; button cuffs are not dressy enough," he uses twice the verbiage painting images of star-crossed sartorial lovers. It's a minor nuisance.
- It is occasionally difficult to decipher the men's clothing history lesson from the modern men's clothing advice. This is especially difficult in the sport coat chapter.
The other indispensable title for a menswear library is, appropriately, "The Indispensable Guide to Classic Men's Clothing" by Sulavik and Karlen. It specifically solves both minuses.
For "Dressing the Man," do not let two plusses against two minuses render you ambivalent. This book holds the advice to greatly improve a man's wardrobe and personal style, and to help him ignore disposable fashion in the process.
on April 27, 2004
There aren't many books that give classic and trustworthy clothing advice for men, but I wish there were more. The book has made me a better dresser and it has helped me to avoid making bad purchases, but I do have a few issues to raise:
* The author writes fluent prose, but sometimes it feels as though the author enjoys his quill a bit much
* As others point out, the color photos are rife with error and it is inexcusable
* While bespoke fashion is ideal (I own a little), most readers would be better served by some advice on how to properly fit a garment from the rack. The author gives only brief mention of this purchasing option and I got the feeling that he considers any suit not made on Saville Row to be rubbish.
* I found his mention of cuff links to be cursory. Flusser admonishes that a real cuff link is jeweled on both sides, but when is the last time you ever saw this? He could have at least given some tips on selecting quality single sided cuff links, because they vary greatly in quality.
I do indeed like the book, but in addition to learning about fashion I wanted to learn about how to make due without breaking the bank. In a future revision I hope the author includes some mention of practical, yet dignified, clothing choices.
Alan Flusser is a national treasure, and "Dressing the Man," along with his earlier book "Clothes and the Man," is a valuable guide for the man who is interested in discovering the principles of classic male style and applying them in his life. Through a wealth of photos and informed commentary, Flusser explains those principles, lays out the "How" and -- more importantly -- the "Why," and even assembles about as comprehensive a glossary as any man not a top-of-the-line tailor is ever likely to need. Some of the ideas, such as how to pair multiple patterns, aren't for beginners. But any man who studies this book and takes the ideas in it to heart will do himself credit, and be a definite improvement to the overall menswear landscape.
That's not to say this book is perfect. First, there's the semantic problem in the subtitle, "Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion." "Permanent fashion," is, of course, an oxymoron. And as I believe he noted in "Clothes and the Man," the principles and approaches he outlines here are rooted in timeless *style,* not changing fashion.
More important is the issue of the manipulated photos on pages 26-31. Even before I had told her about the reviews on this page mentioning the obvious doctoring of these images, my wife noted that there was something fishy going on. Her theory had to do with the processing techniques, not the lighting, but the point is the same: there's some publishing trickery going on in an attempt to emphasize the arguments Flusser is making about the effects of various styles of dress. I'm reluctant to hold Flusser himself responsible for this, but it is disappointing that someone resorted to such an obvious trick in order to make the author's point.
Still, however, those are only six pages out of more than 300, and don't mar the overall quality and usefulness of the work. If Amazon.com allowed partial stars in its ratings, I'd give this book four and a half, or even four and three-quarters. The copy I studied was a borrowed one, and now it's on my Wish List so I can have a copy of my own. I'm sure it will be a standard reference for years to come.
on February 6, 2003
Alan Flusser states in his foreword "The linking of permanent with fashion may well strike many as an oxymoron. Particularly today, when fashion is taken to mean a commitment to risk and change, mating it with the idea of permenance is bound to cause confusion, if not downright controversy. This is not an oversight but rather an attempt to provoke the inquiring mind."
Flusser concentrates on the importance of the silhouette and emphasizes the idea of clothing as being an extension of one's self, in direct contrast with popular men's wear designers of today, who instead force the man to conform to certain standards by means of premade and prefitted clothing.
Flusser goes into great detail about which colors and shapes will bring out the best in the man, with examples for all skin, facial, and hair types. He includes a wealth of examples to demonstrate the power of a correctly picked suit and its effect on the height, girth, and skin color, and how to maximize one's benefits and how to maintain an even, balanced look.
For one looking to move up to a higher level of sartorial sophistication, Flusser takes the reader through multiple pattern mixing, and advising how to correctly match shirts with ties, belts with shoes, and how to properly wear pocket handkerchiefs and suspenders.
This review only touches on some of the larger parts of the book. The book goes into great detail about the history of men's fashion, and how preferences for colors and materials have evolved through time. I was very pleased to find the book extremely well written and intelligent throughout. I recommend this book to anyone who cares about bettering the way one looks.
on May 6, 2004
Flusser does a great job outlining the classical 1930's style of dressing that is the standard for well-dressed men in the US and Britain. His work is the definitive one, and his prose is interesting. The pictures are outstanding.
A couple shortcomings that caused me to rate it a 4--first, his section on color coordination is far too brief, although he does give the principles or coordinating color with hair, skin, eyes, etc. This is something that is usually overlooked in the mass of details on this subject in other fashion books. Second, some key points are hidden in his eloquent sentences while they would be more accessible if they were bullet-pointed. For example, I didn't realize that a dinner jacket should have one button, although I had read his section on the topic fairly carefully.
on June 12, 2003
In the consulting field, one can get away with corporate casual in most venues. Corporate casual for me is basically slacks, shirt, sport coat, no tie. However, there are times one must go completely dressed and in these instances, books like DRESSING THE MAN are outstanding to teach those of us who are style challenged the art of matching threads. (I recently read and reviewed CASUAL POWER by Sherry Maysonave. For those in the corporate casual line as I described, this is an outstanding book.)
My biggest downfall is the total lack of sense in putting outfits together. OK, if I have a suit, no problem. But, how about patterned slacks...what shirt? What jacket? Socks? You get the idea. DRESSING THE MAN solves most of the mysteries and, quite frankly, opened my eyes as well. It seems as though symmetry is not necessarily a mandate as long as the style has precendent. Patterned slacks and patterned socks for instance. Many of our '40s and '50s movie stars were into this scene. Were they ridiculed? Nope, just copied.
Many of the corporate stalwarts of old have moved to a more casual theme in recent years, creating the move toward comfort over dominion. Could the stodgiest be modifying, changing with the times? By contrast, how many suits do you think were even owned by the Silicon Valley tech generation of the '80s and '90s? Now, that has changed and the tech crowd, many out of work, are looking for new work...and buying suits for their interviews to ensure they are being taken seriously. Most of these style barbarians had no clue as to the style, coordination or even expectations of dress. Alan Flusser to the rescue. In '85, Flusser wrote the critically acclaimed, CLOTHES AND THE MAN, which could be called the predecessor to DRESSING THE MAN. With this offering, no man should have an excuse for being a style freak.
DRESSING THE MAN is chock-full of illustrations, pictures, and suggestions. You'll see vintage photos of Gary Cooper, Errol Flynn, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire and many more. Most of these pics look like they jumped right off the pages of GQ. Flusser offers a variety of suggestions relating to choosing suits, shirts and ties and takes it as far as coordinating your outfits with skin tone, hair color, and body type. Shoes, socks, wristwatches, and even hats are covered.
If you're interested in reading a book on men's dress and learning the styles, DRESSING THE MAN fits the bill quite nicely. If you are interested in reading a book on men's styles AND you want to read it in bed or perhaps on a plane ride, this is not your book. At a full 8.5 x 11 inches, 320 pages and at least 5 pounds, this is not a book to lug around.
on March 16, 2003
I say ALMOST perfect for it has 2 major flaws. But first let me get to the good stuff: a lavish volume full of wonderful vintage photos, illustrations and well-written advice covering color, proportions, patterns, suits, odd jackets, trousers, waistcoats, dress shirts, neckwear, hosiery, shoes, accessorites, formalwear, and business casual. This volume won't age as you do as you refer to it again and again over the years. However, this book has two puzzling flaws: the chapter entitled THE POWER OF COLOR, while necessary, simply is lacking in content and the color photos DO NOT fit in with the rest of the artwork contained in the volume. In fact the photos cheapen this otherwise superb book. This goes for the BUSINESS CASUAL chapter as well: it seems lifted out of another book of lesser quality and inserted into this one. This book probably isn't for the man just out of college, the man for whom a pair of khakis is dressing up, nor the man who considers J Crew to be height of fashion but highly recommended for the man ready to upgrade his appearance.
on May 22, 2007
This book falls into one of my most favorite genres of such; Men's fashion, grooming, style manuals. This one is beautifully photographed with many, many tried and true guidelines for men who wish to appear well dressed. A good number of the photos are from the Golden Age of Hollywood in the 40's and 50's. This was a time when many of the rules for fashionable men were firmly established. On the other hand, there have been many cultural changes in how American and European men approach fashion and style. For these men (of which I am one) portions of Mr. Flusser's book will seem dated and irrelevant. I found this true of the section that addresses a man and his accessories; especially jewelry! The best thing about Mr. Flusser's style chronicle is that is does establish the ground rules for what is appropriate for business, casual and formal wear. One who is so inclined may veer from the foundations to find one's own sense of style. I enjoy this book and I reccomend it to anyone wanting to establish a wardrobe foundation. Worth the price.
I fully enjoy this book. I recommend it.
on January 15, 2009
Reading, Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion, will help separate you from the wannabes. The book introduces several subtle fashion strategies you never would've noticed had you not read the book. Although it's short on color matching, it made up for it with concrete style directions. I'm satisfied with the book and recommend buying it to anyone truly interested in the art of dressing well. Be warned, despite its title, this book concentrates on style creation. Those interested in the changing winds of fashion may want to look elsewhere.
on November 27, 2011
Great book! Probably the most definitive and well written literature written on the subject of mens fashion.
Pros: Teaches you what to wear based on your own unique blend of facial features and skin tone and personality that draws attention to you not what your wearing. Wealth of knowledge on the subject.
Cons: A lot of info, more than you need in fact, a great deal of the book goes into the history and cultural impact of mens fashion.
Would be a lot more beneficial if it was condensed down to the essentials.
If you are serious about dressing well and doing it yourself, Get the book, read it through, take whats important, leave the rest. Use it as a reference.