It occurred to me a while ago that though I am a bibliophile and a classic menswear enthusiast, I didn't own a single book on clothing. I believe one's library should reflect their interests, so I had to remedy this immediately. I'm a long-time reader of Simon Crompton's writing at Permanent Style and was intrigued by the promise of using street-style images to explain "why these outfits work using ideas of formality, colour combinations and mixing up sartorial and more casual clothing."
The book is largely what it promises. It is comprised of 77 photographs of outfits, mostly from the talented Jamie Ferguson, accompanied by a short description of why Simon thinks the outfit works. These spread across four chapters. Three of the chapters focus on a different piece, jackets, suits, accessories respectively, and the fourth is devoted to casual looks. The paper is of good quality with a matte finish.
The the photography is universally excellent and the outfits, 30 of which are worn by Simon, are, with a few exceptions, equally attractive. Simon does an admirable job attempting to encompass the full breadth of classic menswear in the outfits selected.
Simon's voice clearly comes through in these short descriptions, but their brevity may nonetheless be jarring to readers of Permanent Style's longer form articles. Moreover, because the descriptions are tied to outfits Jamie has photographed and of which Simon approves (likely a smaller number than you might think), the book can sometimes feel disjointed, as if I was being hurried from one outfit to another rather than being lead through a comprehensive guide to style in classic menswear. The descriptions of each outfit are often full of little pieces of wisdom, but this disjointedness kept me from retaining much of it.
At the end of the book there is a fifth section devoted to the sponsors who made the book's publication possible. The photos here are also tasteful, but on a higher gloss paper which makes them stand out. While I understand the fiscal calculations that led to only using this paper for the sponsors, it would have been nice to have this quality of paper throughout the book.
Ultimately, this book serves best as a signifier of one's interest in classic menswear and a compendium of beautiful style photos, a quintessential coffee table book.
For my next sartorial book, I think I'll choose one that focuses more substantively on the history or culture of menswear. I want to be able to write more culturally resonant works similar to those by Derek at dieworkwear and this seems like the best way to do it. If you have suggestions for books I should consider, please let me know.