“The Measure of a Man”, JJ Lee, book review

05 Jan







































Hi everyone,

Had a little down time during the Christmas break to curl up on the sofa and read this little Canadian gem of a book that was graciously given to EHC for its reference library, thanks to Theresa Tayler a feature writer with the Calgary Herald [who will give you the scoop in all things fashion, trend and style].

The author, JJ Lee writes about the relationship he has with his own father through time from Montreal to Vancouver, revealing his own perspective on men’s fashion. Woven through the story is his experience apprenticing at Modernize Tailors in Vancouver’s Chinatown and includes an unexpected concise version of men’s fashion and tailoring history.

It is well worth a read, for those who don’t have the time to study men’s fashion history in depth giving a very good overview of what the resulting state of men’s tailoring is today, alone.

“Most men [today] have never learned how to wear a suit, let alone how to buy one. Their fathers never taught them…sometime in the 1960s or 1970s; fathers started dressing like their sons. As a result, two or three generations of men have lost the savoir-faire…for all the hullabaloo about the revival of suits, when it comes to the in-the-trenches how-how, most men remain clueless. They don’t know what is a proper fit, what can be altered, and what should never be altered in a new suit (shoulders should simply fit; it they don’t, move on), or what kind of lapel works best for what kind of body. They know nothing, and this goes for the salespeople too.” Pg. 199

Savile Row tailors in London are struggling to hold on to their unique status, as the epitome of luxury and style providers in men’s tailoring, in light of increasing ignorance of what high quality and bespoke really means.  This is true of ladies couture and haute couture as well, which is why school’s such as Ecole Holt Couture are so passionate about educating the public and teaching the young,  who  through no fault of their own, may never have encountered these standards in their lives.

In reading the author’s story, I’ve gained a valuable insight into how men (in general) fundamentally perceive themselves and what a very good tailor should be doing to enhance the male figure.

“Broad shoulders, a waspish waist, and long striding legs: the suit was devolving to the heroic first principles of plate armour. The new modern nineteenth-century man was to be clad in, and as Anne Hollander put it to me, ‘his honesty and his integrity – in native worth and hour clad – from Milton’. A suit is supposed to suggest that underneath is Adam, innocent and pure, and also Apollo, full of creative zeal and energy and  total balance and beauty in all directions, and infinitely sexually attractive to everybody, of every sex.”

“Even if he has never set eyes on an ancient Greek sculpture or pored over centuries of studies to crack the secret code of the body’s most beautiful and classical proportions, a tailor will work to enhance a client’s figure and help the suit-wearing man achieve those divine proportions.”pg. 149

Again, the same is true of what a skilled professional couturier strives to achieve for women clients. That they should be dressed to enhance the best of what nature has given them, to diminish imperfections (that we certainly all have), create beauty, to build confidence in self and not settle for anything less.

Until Next time….. J


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