Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Great Trad Manifesto

Well, not really...

Read the Trad subforum at Ask Andy About Clothes for a week or so and you'll discover that the most public devotees of the style cannot agree on what it is.

The curious can read the occasional discussions on the other message boards devoted to men's clothing - Style Forum and Film Noir Buff - and become even more confused.

"Trad" - a clumsy term, short for "traditional" (
whose tradition?) - is best defined, I think, by what it isn't:

  • Darted jackets
  • Any shirt collar other than buttondown, with occasional exceptions for forward point or club collars
  • Pleated trousers
  • Anything that looks like it was designed by someone with a last name ending with "-ini."
  • Anything that appears to have been designed at all
  • Anything that fits too well
  • Anything flashy


Now immediately we can start to pick at this list. If we are going to make exceptions for some collars, why not all?

Is a guy wearing flat-front trousers, a white buttondown-collared shirt, a repp tie and a darted two-button blazer going to be zapped by a thunderbolt hurled by Chipp, the Trad god of Compliance?

Is a man in lime-green pants with embroidered, spouting whales on them really going to try to maintain he is a master of quiet understatement?

And my beloved chinos, baggy to the nth degree, can hardly be called elegant. One pair is so voluminous it's hard to think of them as pants - more of a mobile cotton force field.

So what is it then, this Trad? The British Ivy look, as ceaselessly promoted by FNB's Russell Street?

The look in the photos of "American Trad Men" in this thread on AAAC?

The efforts of the actual forumites, in this thread?

Or something entirely different?

More to the point -

Who cares?

Wear what you like and have fun.

So much for the manifesto.



Anonymous said...

It's a state of mind.

I've just about concluded that the 3 button sack is the least important component to the trad look. I love them and all, but there are just too many real world trads that wear a 2 button darted. And they don't have to move mountains to get them either. Don't even give it a thought. Just get a blazer. What's the big deal? Who even thinks about it? That seems kind of trad to me.

3button Max said...

well put gents
we have been manifesto(ed) to death .
Kudos to Longwing and Patrick-you guys just get it.
Part of the trad ethos was always about indiference(perhaps because many could afford to be) or maybe New England legendary parsimony-
I am unabashedly a fan of the 3 button sack-but it isnt a deal breaker-I have an old Harris 2 that is better wool than some tweed sacks I have seen.The advantage though is that lapel width, button stance etc matter a less on a sack- flies in the face of planned obsolescence- i wore a cousins navy blazer well into the 80s-rolled the lapel down to a 2 bought some new buttons
-the trad curriculum- --NOT- I'd call it cheap. The old New englandrs would find the trad costume party a ludicrous act of hubris(like buying a Rolex for yourself-when a timex(albeit on a funny ribbon) will do.
still it is big tent and one should wear what they like.

Anonymous said...

Interesting point Longwing - Trad as a state of mind or attitude to life beyond just being a wardrobe of clothes does make absolute sense when you read Andy's Trad forum. The Barbour jacket for instance is generally held to be a very Trad item, yet it is far from being Traditional American. The Barbour is Trad because of what it is perceived to stand for far more than just for what it actually is.
I wonder if that makes sense? And
Andover, Press and Brooks can maybe be viewed in a slightly similar way. Although they undoubtedly are Traditional American what makes them Trad is more than just the details of their tailoring style(s).
Best - Russell.

Anonymous said...

And I'd say that Max has it right too.