Thursday, December 6, 2012

From The Sartorialist: Closer….. The Design Diet

This type of photo is a core reason I started The Sartorialist blog.


As a young man I learned the general rules of fashion, like horizontal stripes making a person look wider. It sounded reasonable so I blindly accepted it to the point I’ve never owned anything close to a striped t-shirt.


Then last January at Pitti Uomo I saw this gentleman wearing a plaid jacket with a very pronounced horizontal stripe. As opposed to making look wider it did the exact opposite. The strategically placed stripes dropped at least ten pounds on him by emphasizing the narrowness of his waist when counterbalanced with the broadness of his shoulders.


This is real sartorial genius.


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  1. irene

    December 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    and I understand why! Loving it

  2. Kelly

    December 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

    Damn, that outfit is hot.

  3. Nina

    December 6, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Love the suit!

  4. Simbarashe

    December 6, 2012 at 2:12 pm

    I’ve learn a lot by paying attention to the men you photograph, I’ll say that.

  5. Shai-Hulud

    December 6, 2012 at 2:14 pm

    empirically tested…
    “The Helmholtz Square and Oppel–Kundt illusions show a consistent and large overestimation of filled space such that horizontal lines serve to make a space appear taller, and vertical lines serve to make a space look wider. This effect persists when used on pictures of clothing, on cylinders of diameter less than about 6 deg., and on pictures of half-body mannequins viewed stereoscopically. These results indicate that more research is needed to identify the underlying mechanisms of this effect and that there is no evidence to support the widely held beliefs that horizontal stripes make the human form appear wider and that vertical strips have a slimming effect. All the evidence here points in the opposite direction.”

  6. Haggie

    December 6, 2012 at 2:27 pm

    What can I do to put you in a new Alfa Romeo today?

    • Viktor

      January 4, 2013 at 5:00 am

      For me you dont have to do anything at all ;-)
      Is it a Brera or perhaps a 4C?

  7. Nico

    December 6, 2012 at 2:29 pm

  8. My Vintage Curves

    December 6, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Being a curvy woman Ifollowed so many rules about what I could/couldn’t wear with my body type. But you know what? I was boring and frustrated.
    Now I have a new mantra: “First learn the rules, then break them”.
    I spent a lot of time learning, now it’s time to have fun!

    • Justin | The Sartorialist

      December 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm

      I’ve always thought of the rules as just a guide, or suggestion. Ultimately, the goal is to feel comfortable and confident in whatever you choose to wear. And of course, dress to your personality. If the rules help then great; if they don’t, create your own!



    • Elisabeth

      December 10, 2012 at 4:32 am

      Best fashion advice: don´t listen to Trinny and Susanna! Their advice to curvy women is that we all should wear vertical stripes! Nothing is less flattering! I would never ever wear a pin striped suit, but a Jean Seeberg sailor jumper on the other hand….

  9. AnnieL

    December 6, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    He looks awfully suave and has defined the boundaries of age! Great photo.

  10. Virginia L

    December 6, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Tanto italiano

  11. The 3 F's

    December 6, 2012 at 2:35 pm

    It’s amazing how much science is actually behind all of this. The way our eyes process shape and texture, how that’s translated to size and distance, it’s all very calculated and evolutionary. The way fashion has harnessed this to it’s advantage is one of the reasons I so love and follow it.

  12. kadeY

    December 6, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    i think this is just simply marvelous to look @

  13. Izael Garrido

    December 6, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    For the age of the gentleman he looks so good! I mean like he goes to the gym or something like that, I dont know if the stripes make it but man! he looks so good

  14. Anthony

    December 6, 2012 at 2:39 pm

    And yet a men’s checkered jacket is frequently unattractive to look at. It always makes the guy look like he came from a thrift shop. I wait to change my mind, as I did over sockless shoes.

  15. Laurel

    December 6, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Also, it’s not only the plaid (which is brilliantly spaced) but the placement of the pattern (for sewing the jacket) on the plaid when constructing. The waist is nipped in right at the black horizontal stripe- essentially placing a visual belt around the narrowest part of the body. Hat’s off to this tailor! Huzzah for traditional tailoring.

    • Linda

      December 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm

      Genius tailoring. Also note how the stripes – both horizontal and vertical – are used to border the lapels and collar.

  16. pr

    December 6, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    This jacket is hideous and how do you know he looks 10lbs lighter- have you seen him naked ?

    • Justin | The Sartorialist

      December 6, 2012 at 3:32 pm

      I appreciate your opinion on the jacket, but I’m a bit curious. Why do you think it’s hideous?



  17. comme fraiche

    December 6, 2012 at 2:47 pm

    this man would look good in any jacket because he is in good shape

  18. Jennifer

    December 6, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    Love his suit!

    xo Jennifer

  19. adrian

    December 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    wow…i love the check!

  20. Star White

    December 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    He looks like a million bucks! Great photo, great style!

  21. Gian Luca M

    December 6, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    yes … this is true sartorial genius …

    Gian Luca M

  22. Joy

    December 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    Have you noticed the watch/bracelet on his right hand? Red and green just like on the jacket. Can he get any smarter than this! Perfection!

  23. Iliyana

    December 6, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    such a gentalmen look!

  24. Mr Essentialist

    December 6, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Your are right, this is a true example of sartorial perfection. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Miss Kutsu

    December 6, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Great jacket, great man!

  26. Daisy Nguyen

    December 6, 2012 at 3:07 pm

    In the midst of an important conversation, AND looking so regal. LOVE his look!
    -Daisy Nguyen from the PS BANANAS! fashion blog:


    December 6, 2012 at 3:10 pm

    so stylish :)

  28. MB@YarnUiPhoneAPp

    December 6, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    This guy looks like he takes care of himself…lifting weights, perhaps. He looks very confident…and he better in a jacket that attracts as much attention as this does! FWIW, it’s hard to sew and match plaid stripes. I try, but it’s challenging!

  29. Marián

    December 6, 2012 at 3:38 pm

    Great look and picture!!

  30. Janie (AngelQueen)

    December 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Who would have thought that I would find this outfit is smart. I think it’s stylish and a bit old-fashioned. But bottom line, I like it.


  31. Thefashionguitar

    December 6, 2012 at 4:04 pm


  32. Denisa

    December 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    He looks great. Like a typically italian gentleman. Have a nice day.


    December 6, 2012 at 4:20 pm

  34. M Ruth

    December 6, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I like it when Scott breaks down a photo for us. I might have thought… oh good looking guy… nice jacket … but not picked up on what was behind it.

    Thanks Scott. More of this? Please?

    • Justin | The Sartorialist

      December 6, 2012 at 4:40 pm

      Hi M!

      This post is actually an excerpt from Scott’s new book. But it is quite coincidental that you mentioned giving more of a story to the photo. Scott and I have been toying with a few ideas. If one sticks we’ll definitely roll it out. Stay tuned!



      • M Ruth

        December 6, 2012 at 7:08 pm

        Thanks Justin. For example, once Scott mentioned that style is often about one great accessory. I didn’t know that. It was so helpful in looking at his photos, but also in creating my own “style.” It’s made me more gutsy.

        • laurel

          December 7, 2012 at 1:49 pm

          Totally agree. I respect Scott’s eye and love his simple analysis

  35. Betsy

    December 6, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I couldn’t agree more.

  36. Monsieur Marcel

    December 6, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    There’s symmetry in those lines, like the way the green slanted lines on the lapels connect to the red vertical lines on the front; no mere accident, made possible only by good design and fine tailoring.

  37. Sevan

    December 6, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Great tailoring indeed. I like the cinched waist, broad shoulders but also the diagonal stripes of the tie combined with the ones on the lapels.

  38. Franco

    December 6, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Beppe tavola è un gran maestro del gusto sartoriale ” old school” ma con un pizzico di eccentricitĂ . Il risultato è un eleganza molto ricercata ma allo stesso tempo portata con grande disinvoltura e stile.

  39. monkeyshines

    December 6, 2012 at 5:07 pm

    brilliant blazer!


  40. samuel

    December 6, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    His Jacket with his watch strap!

  41. Nic from Thriving Wives

    December 6, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    I agree with breaking the “rules”, but I would argue this gentleman is not wearing horizontal stripes, but in fact a large plaid. In my mind it is the combination of the wide and long striped that give him that fantastic, slimming, tailored look. Great fabric choices also go a long way in making one appear thinner.

    Strive to Thrive,

  42. Jill

    December 6, 2012 at 5:46 pm

    I’m also loving the sophisticated color combination. Well, played, all around.

  43. Ed

    December 6, 2012 at 6:11 pm

    I don’t get it.

    I REALLY don’t get it.

  44. margarita

    December 6, 2012 at 6:24 pm

    feels strange to try to teach you something about fashion, but…isn’t that known as a common legend? That horizontal stripes make you look wider? I just know that from arts and I always wondered why people get it wrong, because it feels completely logical to me. Horizontal stripes set a strong contrast in direction to the vertikal line of the human body and by thus they optically balance it’s shape out. It’s again all about proportions and lengths of course, not all horizontal lines – but in general.
    Oh, and I love that coat and the way he wears it with that natural effortless coolness of his.

  45. Margherita

    December 6, 2012 at 6:47 pm

  46. Grim

    December 6, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    It’s the small details that make it, for brilliant tailoring in such a pattern can still recall Herb from WKRP unless the details complement:
    worn only one-buttoned; pocket flaps tucked in; crisp white shirt; striped tie; watch-band;minimalist pocket square; slim pants.

  47. Erica

    December 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm

    With due respect, I am stunned that you would consider this a stripe being as the vertical “stripe” clearly distracts the eye. I love the photo and he looks great.

  48. Benjamin Lee

    December 6, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Style analytics. To me, the most interesting part of fashion…besides a captivating photo.

  49. LAB

    December 6, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    This guys is so BOSS. Great colors, nice fitting jacket, spread collar, NATO strap watch band in complimentary color scheme. His reds are close but off a little… that’s how you do it. I’m still building my closet and in the jacket and blazer world I’m a youngster. But when I do grow up, I wanna be just like him.

  50. Jamie Grace-Duff

    December 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    The way those stripes were cut on the lapels – swoon. I aspire to have such vision and skill to cut something like that in fabric! Thanks for sharing and inspiring my tailoring mojo.

  51. Grey Fox

    December 7, 2012 at 12:04 am

    It seems to me that the vertical and horizontal stripes cancel each other out, giving a neutral effect on proportion.

    This shows how you have to experiment as you get older, rather than be dictated to by convention.

    While not to my taste, I really admire the skills of this gentleman’s tailor.

    Grey Fox
    A man searching for style in middle age

  52. Javi

    December 7, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Nice answer Justin

  53. une chatte grise

    December 7, 2012 at 2:54 am

    The jacket is so boldly pattered and over-detailed–stripes bordering and connecting on the lapels (as M Marcel notes), running perfectly out from the body onto the arms–that it’s almost a piece of performance art. Strange and fascinating effect here.

  54. kingesquivel

    December 7, 2012 at 3:10 am

    Still, it looks like one of those guady jackets out of the 70s. Those are some wide lapels. This could be Sean Connery about 1975.

  55. Adam

    December 7, 2012 at 4:06 am

    I’m very impressed with the tailoring of this jacket. It’s nice to see the skill and attention to detail.

    To my mind, this is really a check pattern rather than striped since it has both horizontal and vertical lines. (I prefer to call horizontal lines “hoops” then it’s more obvious whether you’re talking horizontal or vertical).

    I think it’s good to know and understand the “rules”, but any garment is a mix of characteristics, pattern, colour, texture, etc. so each garment has to be taken on its own merits in the context of who’s wearing it and what with. The “rules” are only pointers and we should not be enslaved by them.

  56. Markus

    December 7, 2012 at 5:21 am

    1ce again this shows that no “fashion rule” is to be considered brazen and if broken thoughtfully and with an individual poise it adds much more fun and surprise 2 life :D

  57. mMore

    December 7, 2012 at 6:29 am

    …perhaps is it Santa’s new uniform and fisic du role?

  58. 9

    December 7, 2012 at 9:14 am

    best post in ages?

  59. Edward Halliwell

    December 7, 2012 at 11:08 am

    “This type of photo is a core reason I started The Sartorialist blog”

    And this type of photo, and it’s sharp analysis, is a core reason why I started reading the blog, but now it’s mostly pictures of women. It feels like the blog has changed focus.

    More like this post please!

    • Justin | The Sartorialist

      December 8, 2012 at 10:48 am

      Hi Edward,

      Don’t worry, we have plenty of surprises in store!



  60. Tina

    December 7, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Love – this is why I read the Sartorialist – the fashion and styling you post proves that their are no rules. Your eye for outfits and unusual pairings that work so well inspires creativity in my own wardrobe. Thank you! Side note – as a lady, I much enjoy the increase in woman’s fashion posts. :)

  61. theitaliano

    December 7, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    i think that the outlook of this man demonstrates character.

  62. shark mombassa

    December 8, 2012 at 4:43 am

    no its not… its really obvious….

  63. Zsuzsa

    December 8, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Yes, yes! give me more, comment more.

  64. Martine

    December 8, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Great jacket. Personally, i really don’t believe much in any of these purported optical illusions. people look like what they are.

  65. Patrick

    December 8, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Thoroughly ugly jacket. Morevoer, the distortions in the vertical lines due to bulges in his torso are particularly unflattering. A visual essay on how not to dress.

  66. Jules

    December 8, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    You are totally right :D!!

  67. Giovanni

    December 8, 2012 at 6:39 pm

    @ Patrick
    I totally agree. There ‘s a mess of horizontal, vertical and oblique lines (not only the the tie, there’s also the handkerchief poking up from the breast pocket). The watch/bracelet on his right hand has a nunce that clashes with the colour of the tie. And I don’t see any prevalence of horizontal lines. Anyway, from this point of view the scientific article pointed out by Shai-Hulud is great and gets rid of any popular beliefs

  68. Mark W.

    December 9, 2012 at 11:11 am

    I dig the Gucci strap and the dynamics of the jacket except the shoulders…he should have kept the shoulders natural considering all the other soft proportions of the jacket. The lapels of the jacket are the hard anchor proportions, but those are generally accepted and excepted on a good blazer or suit jacket. Nice photo, Sart!!

  69. working socialite

    December 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    A well tailored jacket is a man’s best friend without a doubt!

  70. p. kathleene gabunales

    December 10, 2012 at 4:57 am

    Well look at how the linear patterns work with the tie

  71. Wes

    December 10, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    The tailoring of the plaid is impeccable. Note the color contrast (and alignment) at the notch lapel leading into the shoulder. That’s not by accident. Really nice. Both masculine and adventurous.

  72. Jack

    December 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm

    He makes this ensemble look effortless, and yet the small details he puts forth are there to surprise and enjoy. I would expect his choice of belt and shoes continues the effect. Beautiful!

  73. Kitoko

    December 11, 2012 at 12:13 pm

    The colors, style and lines…effortless elegance!

  74. sissy

    December 14, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    that would be ‘breadth’ rather than ‘broadness’

  75. Roy

    January 2, 2013 at 6:59 pm

    I frankly hate that jacket. It’s hideous. Granted he is matched up nicely, but still…. I ultimately don’t think it’s a flattering look.

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