Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On the Street…. Shrunken Shirt as Cardigan, NYC

Yesterday I posted an image of a young man at NYU wearing a cool shrunken (or, more probably, vintage kids) flannel shirt as outerwear (bottom photo).

A lot of people commented that it basically had no redeeming style factor because it was “too grungy” to adapt into most other styles. For me personally, the only part of the look I really noticed was the idea of a shrunken shirt as almost a replacement to a cardigan.

That’s why I wasn’t so surprised when I ran into this guy yesterday on 5th Ave doing the exact same concept but in a totally Ivy League way. I hate to keep bringing up the idea of “abstract inspiration” but this is a perfect example of how to be inspired by a vague concept of proportion (or color, or mix of genres or whatever) instead of being blinded by the reality of how something appears.


Close comment

Detach comments


  1. starbahks

    December 10, 2008 at 10:11 am

    what a creative concept!

    can’t wait to try it myself ;)

  2. d-money

    December 10, 2008 at 10:20 am

    sart, i see the guy on the top doing something TOTALLY different from the guy on the bottom. first of all, that top picture is an AMAZING look, however, i don’t see the shirt as being shrunken at all. the sleaves are of normal length as is the length of the shirt. the bottom guy is just wearing a shirt that has ridiculous proportions for him. i may be wrong, but i in no way see the similarities between these looks.

  3. [email protected]

    December 10, 2008 at 10:28 am

    genuis !!!

  4. Dominica

    December 10, 2008 at 10:35 am

    Well, to be honest – I liked the man from your previous blog better (On the Street….Cotton, Cashmere & Nylon, NYC) I like the IDEA of recycling clothes and re-using them but I find this look a bit boring…(sorry..)
    It's how I DON'T want my husband to look like…I also have the impression it makes this guy look older than he really is…

  5. Paris Bijou

    December 10, 2008 at 10:44 am

    funny, but i like it!

  6. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 10:45 am

    He looks perfect! So dapper. I love your posts/pictures on menswear — more, please!

    As for the NYU kids… I think your photo captured the “spirit” of NYU perfectly — metropolitan school setting, artsy, expressive and care free… NYU probably has some of the most fashionably creative students in the country (I should know, I am a grad student there).

  7. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 10:48 am

    that is way too much thinking about a shirt.

  8. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 10:59 am

    As always, it’s the accessory details that make or break: the tie and hat complete the smart look. Without them, it’s just a guy wearing two shirts.

  9. Dan in Richmond

    December 10, 2008 at 11:04 am

    Exactly right. Concepts like this are one of the things I find inspiring about this blog, and learning to recognize them often involves altering your usual preconcieved responses. Very cool.

  10. Jorge from W Palm Beach

    December 10, 2008 at 11:05 am

    In my opinion, the main difference between yesterday’s photo and this one is the way it fits. I found a vintage, USA made LLBean overshirt and I wear it similarly to what you show today. I think the collar echoes the shirt collar, and you can dress it up or down as you see fit. Please note that the tails of the overshirt are not so long that it covers your crotch or your butt. It looks like it was thought out as an overshirt and not like you are piling on an extra. Jorge from W Palm Beach

  11. suzanne nelson

    December 10, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I think your comments are totally valid. I love it when people ‘think outside the box’ (sorry, hate that over-used expression) and surprise me. I love it too when people use their clothes or choose their clothes with a sense of irony. This often requires an amount of self-deprecating humour, but that is cool.

  12. suzanne nelson

    December 10, 2008 at 11:08 am

    PS – like when you wear your sweats; you’re being ironic, right?…..

  13. KevinHedahl

    December 10, 2008 at 11:10 am

    The length of the sleeves in relation to the shirt length makes it appear purposefully created for the look rather than shrunk to fit. It’s quite a dapper look, especially tied with the beautiful green tie.

  14. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 11:11 am

    absolutely love it.
    so chic.

    i love it when men of his age dress like this.

  15. Stratos Bacalis

    December 10, 2008 at 11:13 am

    Good idea! I think you have to be skinny to properly show this off though!

  16. tj

    December 10, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Great color combination. The tie and shirt work very well together. The cap is perfect for the cool (but not freezing) weather.
    My only quibble is that the shirt-cardi seems a bit snug. I think it would work better one size up.

  17. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Sart you are of course spot-on. To make a mark in dress as in life, one doesn’t necessarily have to invent to be great. But to detect components to innovate takes far greater insight. The shrunken shirt, as interpreted by the man in the blue cardigan, gets an A+! Angela in Santa Barbara

  18. carissa

    December 10, 2008 at 11:36 am

    “instead of being blinded by the reality of how something appears” – absolutely, or being blinded by the formulaic styles the media constantly blitzes to the consumer. the use of individuality and creativity in one’s adornmnet is what the sartorialist captures so well.

  19. Deja Pseu

    December 10, 2008 at 11:59 am

    I’ve been doing the shirt-as-cardigan thing for years but with cotton shirts during the summer, when it’s too warm for a jacket but office air conditioning makes it too cool for just a t-shirt. I like what both of these gentlemen have done with the look.

  20. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    I prefer this look, but the old look was nicely done. Fashion is being good at choosing from what other people are wearing, style is being good at choosing something different to wear. Both these gentlemen are stylish, this one happens to also be more fashionable.

  21. Daniela

    December 10, 2008 at 12:19 pm

    Totally agree with sart… and carissa if it was a 3/4 shirt… it wouldn’t be out of proportion, anyway?!
    great attitude from this couple (duo)

  22. Another Brick In The Wall

    December 10, 2008 at 12:36 pm

    I like both looks. The two men had a similar concept in mind, but they ran with it in two very different directions.

    What I like most is that the neither guy is letting a small fitting shirt stop them from creating a whole new look. I would have never thought to do something like that.

    But I might now.

    +Oscar, Los Angeles.

  23. A La Mode

    December 10, 2008 at 12:40 pm

    So cute, So British!

  24. XAVS

    December 10, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    Scott! you are right and as Carissa sais up here its just this ‘not being blind or attached to any particular trend’ what makes Sartorialist such special. Excellent! I’m gonna try this myself as soon as weather warms up a little bit…its not a matter of dying trendy!

  25. Nicola

    December 10, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    Oh, Sart, you always have a method to your madness. I was surprised at the NYU guy & girl yesterday but here you are, totally tying it together. And now I begin to search for something similar for a particular boyfriend of mine…

  26. How!

    December 10, 2008 at 12:52 pm

    I like what you wrote:

    . . . how to be inspired by a vague concept of proportion (or color, or mix of genres or whatever) instead of being blinded by the reality of how something appears.

    How about:

    How to be inspired by proportion, color, or mix of genres and not blinded by the worry of what other people think.

    Appearance is in the eye of the beholder. No?


  27. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    I love it when you analyze your photographs. Your thoughts on inspiration are spot on. As with just about everything in life, it’s important to think outside of the box. I often find inspiration from styles that do not fit my aesthetic preferences, and interpret them in my own way.

  28. Bonita

    December 10, 2008 at 1:17 pm

    i dun think its too much thinking about a shirt. these pictures are not posted here so ppl can judge them but to share the person's individual style. fashion is always inspired by abstract ideas/concepts those who understand art will understand that. It doesn't matter if you would wear it or if its wearable. this best part of this blog is that the photos capture ordinary ppl on the streets most of the time not'dressed up' but simply lookin good. its a refreshment from watching stick thin models parading around on runway shows (which i also LOVE)<3

  29. Gwen

    December 10, 2008 at 1:39 pm

    I don’t know if it is coincidental that I have noticed the same trend that the NYU student emulates at my college. I absolutely love it. Both in the practicality with the use of layers, and the colorful visual appeal of the plaid. – depends on the body type to work.

    I don’t get the same excitement from the navy button-up, but I see the similarities he makes.

  30. Trish

    December 10, 2008 at 1:49 pm

    Nice kicks for that guy! :)

  31. August Clothing

    December 10, 2008 at 2:01 pm

    I think it’s wonderful that such a variety of opinions exist about these two very different looks…to me they both look great BECAUSE they’re so different and expressive of their own styles. Great job getting a dialogue going!

  32. Lisa Chow

    December 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    I think they both pull it off in their own ways and that’s the genius of it. Same concept, two VERY different stylings tailored to the individual. And isn’t THAT what style really is about? Who cares if you think it’s too short, too fitted, too whatever…they both look confident in their choices and that’s what enables them to pull it off.

  33. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    1st guy >>>>>>>>>>>> 2nd guy

  34. bee

    December 10, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    This is typical NYU. It was probably overpriced or belonged to this guy’s younger brother.

  35. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 4:24 pm

    So that makes me the lone dissenter – I find neither style inspirational or exciting. Guys rock these looks in the UK all time. Flat cap blokie is wearing something Brad Pitt was wearing something similar in ’07, and t’other bloke is wearing something we see in the UK everyday – you looked over the indie scene in the UK yet? Kings of Leon anyone?

  36. The Life and Times of a Southern Foodie

    December 10, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    As I said before. I like it a lot.

    What is right is right.

    I like the contrast of the youth and the older doing the same thing in their own way

  37. GD1891

    December 10, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Its nice to see the shrunken shirt make its come back. This has been a popular style in the northern coastal towns of California for many years (Santa Cruz specifically). I was doing it as a kid in the 80′s myself.

    I really like it as a cardigan replacement now that I’m a little bit older.

  38. May Kasahara

    December 10, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    I think the top fellow is doing it perfectly – I don’t see the flannel looking shrunken at all.

    It bothered me how the inital shurken flannel almost hit at the elbow joints. It was uncomfortable to look at.

    I love today’s shot though.

  39. Ivy Lane

    December 10, 2008 at 5:06 pm

    Sooo…we can’t wear our sweat pants after 10:30 am..but we can wear a child’s shruken wool shirt anytime and be taken seriously??


  40. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    The shirt as jacket look has been done by chubby middle aged women in the midwest for years (except the shirt is typically unbuttoned). I have cautioned my mother against this look and I would do the same for anyone else.

  41. kat

    December 10, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    Same great concept, different execution. They both look great, I prefer the hoodie under the checked shirt personally though. Brilliant post Sart, thanks.

  42. NSK

    December 10, 2008 at 5:51 pm

    I understand how the similarity between the younger guy and the older guy, but only the younger guy can really pull it off.

    The problem is that the shrunken-shirt-as-cardigan look requires a slim silhouette (and accordingly relatively few layers) to avoid appearing bulky.

    The younger guy looks natural because he’s skinny, and his whole outfit is narrow, trim, and short. The older guy looks like he’s affecting some look because the proportion of his trousers and hat denote a more traditional, non-trendy look that’s at odds with the overshirt.

    If you’re going to wear the overshirt, I think it has to be heavyweight (the guy who wears light cotton overshirts in the office should consider putting on a jacket), high-cut armholes, trim shoulders, and cut really short, like JUST below the waist, if even that. Pair that with narrow jeans or, better, really trim khakis, and the whole outfit comes together.

  43. thwany

    December 10, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    he’s handsome.

  44. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 6:12 pm

    clever…esp when you least expect it.

  45. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 6:24 pm

    loving the more “average people” photos rather than the more high fashion/designer looks. great post.

  46. Jack Daniel

    December 10, 2008 at 6:31 pm

    I really appreciate the fact that you have a great eye for detail and not only looking at the whole ‘picture’.

    Do you have a new camera-lens, by the way?

    The first picture of this post is wonderful!

  47. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 7:06 pm

    @Anon 4:24: Kings of Leon are an American band, not part of the “UK indie” scene. They also don’t have very exciting style.

  48. Joseph Holmes comedy

    December 10, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    I didn;t really see the kid’s look as anything that innovative (still kinda liked it though).
    Though I’m fairly used to seeing men wear bigger shirts (usually wool pendleton ones) and outerwear.

  49. lily

    December 10, 2008 at 8:07 pm

    I ABSOLUTELY agree with what you are talking about the process of creativity. The moment we are going beyond the temptation of judging everything through “the dark glass of the past” is a fresh perception offered. You are getting inspired by something that is more abstract, beyond the “Matrix”. I love that. It’s freeing and reveals the spirit of an artist. Thanks.

  50. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 8:45 pm

    Sart, dont you feel like, this is so unnecessary . You are a old guy. I know that you dont need to work, but for god sake, to charity or something.

    Grow up !

  51. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 9:18 pm

    I dont see what’s so avant garde about any of this…I have a couple plaid wool shirts that I wear as “sweaters” (on top of a normal button-down) all the time in the winter. No big deal,people give me compliments occasionally but I’ve never thought of it as something worthy of discussion

  52. Anna

    December 10, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    when I was at a private grade school I got bored wearing the same collard shirts so I wore two one day at the same time. The kids made fun of me in class that morning,but my cool teacher used it as an example of society and fashion. Hurray! What a memory turned around now! Thank you!

  53. Alex

    December 10, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I totally agree about not “… being blinded by the reality of how something appears.” I have constant trouble with trying to communicate concepts of style to others who cannot see past exactly what is in front of them to the idea i’m trying to demonstrate.

    It leaves me with a lot of hard work to complete a finished product before showing off my ideas.

  54. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    His tie is from J. Crew. The dimple’s great. I love the tattersall shirt, and I think the look wouldn’t work if the flannel shirt wasn’t solid. Very well done!

  55. Anonymous

    December 10, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    it’s like no one ever heard of a shirt jacket

  56. Starck Mad

    December 10, 2008 at 11:02 pm

    It’s a beautiful photo, as ever. I don’t see it as ‘shrunken’ at all, seeing as how everything is ‘scaled’ so much smaller these days.
    Despite wearing a 42, I felt like a cow in Tokyo last month. It’s all relative.

    This looks sharp.

  57. Peter Breese

    December 10, 2008 at 11:10 pm

    Fantastic! Dig the look.

  58. annie

    December 11, 2008 at 12:10 am

    the man on 5th ave is HOT. well dressed without being too preppy. love it.

  59. Anonymous

    December 11, 2008 at 12:42 am

    I agree with you 100% on the abstract inspiration Scott!

    Merry Christmas (if you celebrate it!) you have made my life so much better because of your documentation of personal style. It challenges me to discover and push my own personal style, as well as try new things.

    Happy holiday season!

  60. Anonymous

    December 11, 2008 at 12:53 am

    I think sometimes we forget that just because it isn’t OUR style, doesn’t necessarily mean it ISN’T style. Style to me is mixing things in an unexpected way, in a way that makes the wearer happy, without over-powering them. That’s personal style. I think the young man from NYU looked as fantastic as the gentleman in blue from today’s post. Just in a different way.

    Oh an by the way, that “grungy” look is working it’s way back into fashion everywhere…hence all the plaids and the re-emergence of Dr. Martens on the runways. So I don’t see that as a very valid point anyway.

  61. Will

    December 11, 2008 at 1:27 am

    That tie is perfect.

  62. Daniel

    December 11, 2008 at 1:30 am

    blinded by the reality…

    i read this book once about the debates around quantum physics in the 40s and 50s. The book wasn’t really about quantum physics – it was about how the advances within a single discipline can achieve such a velocity that they become beacons for an entire culture. these guys’ conferences would be all over the papers the next day. it was out of control.

    anyway – i read this blog cause it explodes the boundaries of what fashion can be.

    in fact, anything interesting explodes the boundaries of what we feel or think. that’s why putting these two photos together is so compelling.

    thanks dude!

  63. moira

    December 11, 2008 at 3:06 am

    I get it! even if it is abstract…what an interesting twist

  64. Duncan

    December 11, 2008 at 3:49 am

    The younger chap seems to have ruffled quite a few feathers. Isn’t that what being young is about? Pushing things, experimenting, making your own rules and creating something?

    The older bloke isn’t pushing anything new – shirt under shirt, standard English country or Prep. wear. That said though he has the essential element – being at ease with his own style. Sounds simple, but it’s a rare commodity.

    On these grounds hats off to both of them.

  65. beachroad

    December 11, 2008 at 7:18 am

    I have doctored up a shirt that no longer fits or works the way it was intended and gotten a few more miles out of it, especially if shirt was great quality to begin with. Removing collar, shortening or cropping off, to name a few.

  66. Anonymous

    December 11, 2008 at 7:18 am

    and in this way every idea can be translated to a proper fashion flew… in a couple of years you will see everything comes back in a translated version… nice piece of writing sart..

  67. Anonymous

    December 11, 2008 at 8:12 am

    I don’t see the similarity AT ALL.
    And I doubt inspiration came from the same place.

    And what’s this talk about “i love it when men of his age dress like this”. He just a man…

  68. Scott W

    December 11, 2008 at 8:41 am

    They’re both fab!

  69. Laura

    December 11, 2008 at 9:05 am

    Sorry, still “no” on the small shirt jackets. My son is a studio artist in San Francisco and, to work, he wears flannel shirts that he buys by the pound and skinny black jeans. Many of the shirts are too small. Must be a coast to coast uniform. Makes his own messenger bags though.

  70. erin c

    December 11, 2008 at 9:41 am

    you = absolutely brilliant.

  71. Bubbles

    December 11, 2008 at 9:42 am

    What an amazing blog!!
    Loved it!
    I’ll add you to my list!
    xxx from London! ; )

  72. Anonymous

    December 11, 2008 at 9:54 am

    I don’t see what the big to-do is about the shirt, from what I can see it is a flannel over-shirt, they have been selling them at Paul Stuart for years.

  73. Anonymous

    December 11, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    reagrding the gentleman in the driving cap: i believe all this is hickey.

  74. TheSundayBest

    December 11, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    I do this as well – good to see I’m not alone in thinking this was a good idea. I purposefully look for smaller shirts that can achieve this, but so far have only found one – an older Woolrich.

  75. JohnQSmith

    December 11, 2008 at 8:16 pm

    I love it! It has breathed new life into my collared knit button-fronts. The plaid one, however, I don’t like so much. The sleeves on it are throwing me way off; other than that, I think it’s okay, too.

  76. Shaina

    December 12, 2008 at 9:56 am

    So its the “concept” we should be focusing more on, rather than what we see right away. Got that! ;)

    and I couldn’t agree more with what Daniel (1:30 AM) said. That was really deep! lol! It’s amazing how a single concept can be interpreted in so many ways! :-D

  77. Jennifer

    December 12, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    What amazes me is that you found 2 people – with a couple of decades between them – wearing the same look. I wish we could trace them both back in time to see if there was some connection as to how they came up with the concept.

    PS: I like the kid’s look much better. It looks more organic. Top Guy looks like he practiced his look.

  78. Anonymous

    December 13, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Don’t like the NYU kids but the “shrunken shirt cardigan” is an interesting idea and it actually works (in this case, at least). I like the guy’s outfit: it’s simple but stylish. Good choice of colors too.

  79. swile67

    December 13, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    i love the shrunken shirt…it shows this guys creativity!! As for the preppy his hat too. I have noticed younger men are wearing these hats I would typically see on older gentleman in the past…my dad has an amazing tweed patchwork cap from N. Ireland. I love this look on younger men!

  80. jmb

    December 14, 2008 at 3:50 am

    I totally understand (and agree) with your abstract inspiration theory – and I understand it in this instance as well. Thanks for keeping it real and not only focusing on one genre of people. All sorts can be inspiring.

  81. Aava

    December 15, 2008 at 6:40 am

    The last guy with the red backpack is super gorgeous.

  82. Anonymous

    December 15, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Sart, please, do you know where can I find that cap from the top guy? Love it, got to have it! The fit is perfect. Please, give us some light!

  83. Anonymous

    December 23, 2008 at 11:55 am

    fabulously coordinated

  84. // e //

    December 23, 2008 at 10:16 pm

    I’m stoked on the new large photo format. Bigger is better.

  85. Midori

    December 24, 2008 at 12:20 pm

    I love both styles. The use of the shirt in the first pic creates a very smart look, while the other ones is funky and fun!
    Two very different looks with the same concept.

  86. Anonymous

    December 30, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Both guys are cool, but my eyes are on the girl’s coat. I had THAT coat (well, not that…) many years ago and I loved it to pieces. I loved it so much that I had it too long. My favourite ever. That Marella coat.

  87. Sustainable Sean

    December 31, 2008 at 12:00 am

    I think it looks great, love the idea of a vintage shirt over somethinig contemporary.

  88. allie.

    January 7, 2009 at 1:25 am

    creative look, bad habits

  89. Anonymous

    January 8, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    I like the young woman's coat and the pink scarf.. the whole look. Yes, it has been done before and perhaps she got the coat from a vintage shop but, that is precisely the thing; I can just feel the excitement she must have felt when she first spotted this coat. Practical & economical solution to cold that is also very chic. It's not done head to toe look accomplished by shopping at major stores in one afternoon. Love it and rekindled my passion for this classic camel coat look.

  90. Meg

    January 9, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Honestly I like both. What a contrast it makes to put them together! The grunge boy has a creative view on fashion, and Mr Ivy League is more upmarket. The hat in the top photo really caught my eye though. I have one nearly exactly the same, formerly belonging to my grandfather and I wear it with whatever I feel like at the time. Obviously with my look, sixteen year old female preppy punk, it works in a different way to this man. But I really love the style of hat.

  91. Anonymous

    February 1, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Love the guy with the cap and sweater. Love the tie, love the whole look.

  92. dcinDC

    June 2, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I did denim shirt over a dress shirt with tie (both tucked in) back a while for work one day. Really liked the look, but never did it again – will have to do that – this fall – summer in DC is the time to wear as little as possible, not double up. Thanks for the reminder!

  93. Hrvoje Grubisic

    July 4, 2014 at 6:05 am

    Awersome. Period.

Leave a comment

Related posts