Alan Flusser knows a lot about style. Anyone who has read his books knows that, and knows that he has a gift for communicating his knowledge (though I would say that he had a better editor on Dressing the Man, which has a lot less flowery prose than Style and the Man).
The enigma of Alan Flusser is that, although he knows a lot about men’s clothes, he doesn’t necessarily follow his own advice. In a recent comment on this site, one reader pointed me to a video interview with Alan on men.style.com, the GQ men’s style website. The video can be seen here.
In the interview he is wearing a charcoal-grey pinstriped suit, white shirt, black tie and a pink handkerchief. It’s a combination of strong tones that some might find hard to pull off – that black tie and white shirt could easily make you look like you are at a funeral, and a strong colour like pink can easily look cheap against black.
But it seems to suit Alan well, and he has obviously decided (pace his tonal recommendations in Dressing the Man) that his is a high-contrast complexion, complemented by high-contrast clothes.
Half way through the video, though, the camera pans down to reveal Alan wearing a pair of pale, ripped, rather baggy jeans. It’s hard to think of a starker failure of marrying formal and casual – indeed, as in our previous discussion, in wearing jeans and a jacket – well.
The textures of material are at completely different extremes (worsted, denim) as are the colours (white and high-contrast, blue and subtle) and the patterns (pinstripe could not be more formal, ripped jeans hardly more casual). It is an archetypal Newsreader Look.
So I am afraid I have to disagree with the reader on this point – Alan here is doing the exact opposite of everything I have professed and argued. Try wearing that combination yourself and then wear it to work.
But, and it is a big but (no sniggering in the cheap seats please), I have complete confidence in Alan Flusser. His books are too good, and have been too fundamental to my passion for clothes, for me to think that he does not know what he is doing. He knows the rules and he knows he is flaunting them.
Alan also has a rather personal take on style generally, as can be seen in the other photos shown here. I can only presume that when you know all the history and traditions of men’s cloth-combination, you want to do something a little different. You can only break the rules well when you know why they are there, after all.