Ah, the Esquire Big Black Book

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Ok, so it’s time to balance things up. In a previous post I reviewed a style programme only available in the UK. Now it’s time for a magazine you can only get in the US.

Last year I chanced across the Esquire Big Black Book while in New York on business. I couldn’t believe my luck – this was actually how a style magazine should look, with analytical features, practical advice and photo shoots where you can actually see the clothes.

This year my luck was even greater. I was only changing planes in New York on my way back from Buenos Aires, and stumbled onto this year’s edition. Note to self: try and be in the US in October. In October. In October.

The BBB is not high fashion. Granted, the watches range from $3,000 to $20,000, but then I was never in the market for that kind of watch anyway. More important is that the ethos of the BBB is value for money. As fashion director Nick Sullivan says: “It is not about how to spend your money. It is about how not to waste it.”

So we have a few good investments, among them a mohair tuxedo, a good umbrella and a three-piece suit. Each is expensive (the silver-handled umbrella costs $2,000) but that is inevitable. The point they make is still valid: with menswear it is simple and rewarding to invest in good pieces, pieces that will stand the test of time and feel better with use.

Then there’s decent interviews with actual designers – Tom Ford, Stefano Pilati and Ferrucio Pozzoni – rather than movie stars or musicians; and well-researched features, again related to style – on how to refurnish old clothes and the return of the briefcase.

(My favourite quote from Pilati: “Let’s not talk about the suit becoming fashionable again. To me, the suit has never been fashionable. A suit is a suit and you need it for certain occasions. If you are a fashionable man and you want to wear your suit with a pair of sneakers and a t-shirt, then that’s a different story.”)

But the best part of the BBB, the reason I will keep each year’s edition alongside the Flusser books, is The Information – the practical guide printed on tinted paper at the back of the magazine. Want to know how to wash cashmere? Or what to do with a leather jacket that gets soaked in the rain? The Information will tell you.

Why aren’t all magazines like this?


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Simon Crompton is a journalist and a style enthusiast living in London, who blogs at permanentstyle.blogspot.com. He has too many suits.

Comments

  1. I thought that David Granger’s (editor in chief) quote “The Big Black Book aims to give its readers the knowledge, the backstories, and the wherewithal to make informed choices when making choices is a necessity.” Great way to some up what the magazine strives to provide us all.

  2. Caligula says:

    We unfortuanately have this in Monte Carlo.

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