Every time I see a photo of Bruce Boyer, I’m reminded of the importance of looking (and feeling) comfortable in your clothes. Bruce has such a natural ease and style about him, whether he’s sporting a double-breasted jacket or lounging in a tan cardigan. The man personifies (real) sprezzatura.
Here, Bruce was photographed in front of The Armoury in NYC, where he was recently signing copies of his latest book, True Style. He’s seen wearing a green tweed sport coat and gray flannel trousers, along with a vintage jungle jacket (which he acquired nearly thirty years ago, like most of his wardrobe). Bruce tells us this is an example of his one of his basic principles: that a man should buy quality, classic clothes and keep them forever.
The outerwear jacket is the lightweight version of the M-65 field coat, which I’ve had for about 25-30 years now; I also bought the heavier weight version about the same time, but lost that one somehow and last year bought a new one from Alpha. The new ones aren’t as good as the originals, but still a very good jacket at a very good price.
The sports coat and flannel trousers were made for me a couple of years ago by Steven Hitchcock, a wonderful Savile Row tailor who specializes in the soft tailoring I like. The coat is a lovat-colored 18 oz. tweed with a faint orange windowpane overcheck. Gray flannels or tan cavalry twills seem to go with every sports jacket I own, and they are my go-to cold weather trousers. The shirt is bespoke from Turnbull & Asser, light blue end-on-end with a small spread collar and button cuffs, and the tie is wool crepe puppy-tooth pattern I bought a few years ago from Drake’s. The shoes are 25-year old Edward Green, the “Dover” model in tan Scotch grain. Ordinarily I’d probably be wearing brown suede shoes, but it was raining that day. The hat is the “Voyager” model from James Lock, with the smaller racing brim that was popular when I bought it about 35 years ago.
I admit to fussing a bit when getting dressed, trying to make sure that no particular item stands out, but on the other hand I don’t want to look all matched up either, or wearing some contrived costume like a Ralph Lauren window display. Some of my friends tell me I look better in gray, but I happen to like greens and browns, and it seems so easy to mix those earthy colors with more vibrant ones like blues and oranges and yellows in the accessories. And of course you can always get new friends, but a good sports jacket can last forever.
And finally I want to say that I don’t advocate my approach for everyone. It suits me and my lifestyle. I think young men particularly should experiment, try different approaches and see what works for them, what they feel comfortable wearing. And, in the end, it’s all attitude.
If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of True Style. It has some good, gentle advice on how to dress well, plus a ton of social history and insightful observations on why we wear what we wear (and why we admire what we admire). One of the best new books on this topic in a while.
(photo via The Armoury)