dark green polo shirt Where do Main Line men gauge on the style barometer
According to the August edition of GQ, Philadelphia men are among the worst dressed in the country. In fact Philly is ranked 6th among “the most sartorially challenged metropolises in the greater United States.” The style magazine maintains that Philly is the “sartorial nation’s capital of three things”: mullets, ironed jeans and groomed goatees singling out the Main Line’s own free wheeling Pat Croce for his chin based facial hair. It goes on to maintain: “add two million Vick jerseys, cheesesteak grease stain as hoodie accessory, and Stallone’s grey sweatsuit and black Cons and you’ve pretty much covered the city’s entire contribution to the style community.”
Yo! That is one brutal assessment.
So how do Philly’s bros to the west, Main Line guys, stack up when it comes to fashion savvy? In the eyes of area clothiers reaction is mixed.
It seems the Main Line man’s traditional conservative style may be a victim of Casual Friday, that end of the week trend of dressing down in the workplace, according to David Abraham, proprietor of the Tiger Shop on North Wayne Avenue in downtown Wayne. The affable clothier pulls no punches on his perception that suitable workplace dress in the Philly region has taken a nosedive of late. He believes it is difficult to discern nowadays if someone is going to work or getting ready to toil in the garden.
Abraham, a Merion Station resident, blames the West Coast for starting the trend which a dozen or so years later has actually exceeded trend status of workplace casual and how it has caused Philadelphia area’s notion of “dress for the job you want, not the job you have” to come apart at the seams.
He relates a story about just how much the concept of dressing for success is lost in today’s culture: a man who stopped into his shop just recently to seek fashion advice as he was set to interview for a promotion at his office asked Abraham if his ensemble should include a tie. The question stunned the seasoned clothier.
Abraham, who keeps a sign, “The Top 10 Reasons Why Men Should Wear Suits,” posted on the dressing room door, muses that there was a time when a well dressed man was the norm, not an aberration. He mentions the cable hit “Mad Men,” which depicts the 1950s and 1960s when “guys were dressed up and they looked great.”
Brothers Bob and Lou D’Amicantonio, whose shoe store, Angelo D’Amicantonio Son, has been a downtown Wayne fixture since 1932, say Main Liners tend to dress more conservatively but agree with Abraham that more and more men appear underdressed these days from head to toe.
Bob, who maintains a longtime affiliation with the Wayne Business Association, is particularly taken aback by the flip flop, especially when it is time for a night on the town. He contends that they are not the most attractive footwear and that those who don them are “not doing their feet any favors.”
He recommends a driving moccasin (such as by Ecco) or a tassel moccasin (such as by Alden) or a classic penny loafer (such as by Sebago) instead of that flip flop to go with that polo shirt and slacks or khakis for that casual but sharp summer look.
And save the flip flops for the pool or beach.
As for the office, on those days when a casual but professional appearance is warranted, he advises a cap toe Oxford or tassel moccasin to go with the blazer.
Frank D. Englund Jr., proprietor of Englund’s Apparel for Men in Malvern, says a current trend these days is younger guys wearing jeans and a sport coat for going out at night. The sport coats, however, have no lining or shoulder padding. “A shirt fit with a sport coat look” is how he describes it.
“A lot of the young guys are buying it,” he observes.
Kroon is one such designer of this style, he adds.
An alternative, he suggests, is one with a more constructed look to it, one with a lining and shoulder padding. kroon, he says, also offers this style complete with attractive lining and zippered pockets inside to hold a cell phone or pair of shades.
“It’s a real popular sportswear line right now,” he points out.
Englund’s, which opened in 1964 and according to the owner is Chester County’s oldest privately owned men’s store, also carries a line of suits by Canada’s S. Cohen with narrower lapels and a two button flat front.
Englund, in fact, believes the two button, side vents, slightly padded, flat front (no pleats) style is here to stay at least for the next five to 10 years.
As for suit color, bet on black, a current hot seller whether solid or striped.
Aside from S. Cohen, two other suit and sport jacket makers getting attention at Englund’s are Chicago based Hart Schaffner Marx and Maryland based H. Freeman, two of the top American made, medium price lines in the country.
As for those dress down days in the workplace, Englund prefers a nice cotton shirt ($65 to $110) and slacks ($95 to $100), such as from Ralph Lauren but ditch the khakis.
“The bottom line is you get what you pay for,” says Englund.
Debbie Morrison, manager of Jos. A. Bank clothiers on Lancaster Avenue in Haverford, believes Main Line men are no doubt fashion conscious.
“I’m actually very surprised that Philly did so poorly, but the Main Line and Philly are two different beasts. The men who come in here take pride in how they look. And our associates take great pride in making sure that they leave looking their best.”
Because of today’s challenging economic climate, where professional appearances matter in an unpredictable job market, Morrison, who notes that the 106 year old retailer specializes in traditional men’s clothing, attire “that will stand the test of time,” sees the days of business causal diminishing. The suit is back, proclaims the manager, and this affirmation would make Armani mantled Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) from the CBS television comedy “How I Met Your Mother” beam with awesomeness.