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History and Menswear – Audio discussion on why it matters

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History is important – it gives us a foundation to stand on.

Having a strong understanding of where something comes from and why it developed that way gives a man the strength when those around him do not understand.

This applies across life and especially in men’s clothing.

Man wearing a classic suit

Everyday we are told to buy this item to look sexier, wear this to smell more masculine, or sport this brand to be more accepted. I say a man with an understanding of history and core style principles can see right through the facade of fashion advertising.

He knows he can wear a flower in his lapel not because he saw it on a movie star, but because he knows soldiers wore them in their jackets as they headed to combat. He throws on a sport jacket not because “Details” says it’s in style, but because he understands that it will give him a more masculine appearance.

An appreciation and understanding of the past gives you the fortitude to resist fleeting fashion and embrace timeless style.

Above is my interview with Grant Harris of Image Granted – we talk about style, history, and why an appreciation of both matters.  I hope you enjoy this style podcast – let me know in the comments what you’d like to see more of!

 

RAW Transcript

RMRS-History-Mens-Clothing-Grant-Harris-Interview

[0:00:00]
Antonio Centeno: Hi, this is Antonio Centeno with Real Men Real Style. And today we’re going to be talking about history in men’s wear. And if you’ve read, and hear of my writing, you understand that I’m a big proponent of history because I believe that if a man knows where his clothing comes from, you know, the origin of why it is a certain way, that he will have the courage and the confidence to pretty much wear whatever he wants. I think one of my favorite examples is the bootnaire.

And when a man realizes that it actually has a military origin, then he realizes that soldiers, you know, their loved ones would pin a flower on their lapel as they head it off to combat. So usually like that all of a sudden make it I think a lot more masculine. And it helps to get rid of I think a lot of the false information that we’re being fed out there by the fly by night magazines and such.

My guest today is Grant Harris of Image Granted. And me an Grant go way back. He’s a great guy, he has a great sense of history, and even better sense of style. And I’m happy to have him here today. And without further ado, Grant Harris.

Grant Harris: Antonio great to be here. Good to have a few minutes with you again, it’s been a while since we had the opportunity to sit down and talk. But I’m looking forward to talking fashion and style, and even more importantly the history and where it came from.

Antonio Centeno: Yeah, well grant, you know, I’m hoping that these few minutes can turn into a few hours, actually more than that because I think it’s exciting as we’re getting started out talking about styles here, you know, capturing these information and making it available to more men. And you bring a lot to the table. I’m always honored to – for you to make time for me I appreciate it.

Grant Harris: Same here.

Antonio Centeno: Well I’ll go ahead and let you jump in Grant, we won’t you know, really waste anytime. If you can tell us a little bit about, you know, where you come from because I think your history and your background plays a lot in how you’re able to really walk in a room with complete confidence because from what I hear, you’re one of the best dressed men whenever you do walk into a room.

Grant Harris: Well that’s a big complement coming from you, I’m not sure about that, but I try my best. I know you have a military background, I have a military background as well being a graduate of Virginia Military Institute, VMI. And being a military graduate and being a marine is as you were in the past life, your appearance is very important, your dress and how you put yourself together is very important from day one.

And as you spoke about the bootnaire, there is a lot of history in terms of a man’s uniform that he wears while he’s in the military that transitions into what civilians wear today. And I fear that a lot of men like you said read the magazine and are not quite sure where things come from. There is a lot in terms of a man’s uniform when you’re in your in your dress blues, I know what you know what dress blues are, but basically it’s the highest level of attire, the most formal wear that a man can wear when he’s in the military as a marine.

And when you’re in your dress blues, actually they have a blue pair of trousers and there’s a red ribbon or and maybe some a red ribbon or red stripe running down the side of the gentlemen’s trousers. But that red ribbon and ivory stripe also represents the same ribbon or stripe that a gentleman wears on his tuxedo. So that has a military inspiration as well.

Antonio Centeno: Yeah, and actually, you know, most if there’s any marines out there, they’ll know this, but we call that the blood strip. And there’s a – there’s a little bit of an initiation that goes whenever you get that stripe because you have to actually be a corporal down the enlisted side before you – you know, anyone E3 or below does not have the privilege of that strip which in – you just give your – anybody out there who’s not familiar with the U.S. military system, usually the corporal, you have to have at least been in for three to four years, and so that your past the point of the marine corps is not fresh to you.

If you’re not going to actually stay in past probably four years, there are many marines that never attain the rank of corporal so which is a big deal because you’re – in a sense you’re making a commitment to the marine corps, and the marine corps is making a commitment to you in the terms of – once you become a corporal, that’s a leadership position and you are all of a sudden, you’re in charged of sometimes, millions of dollars of equipment and you’re 22 years old which is a pretty big deal.

Grant Harris: Right.

Antonio Centeno: Btu Grant let me ask – let’s move more toward how does apply to civilians? I mean to – because most people listening to this are probably not ex-military, and so how does history apply to civilian or basically you know, to normal to the average everyday stuff we see out there?

[0:05:09]
Grant Harris: Well if you know where something comes from, if you know the background of it, if you know the history of it, if you know the creation of it from day one or from the early states of it through its metamorphosis to where it is today or where it will be in the future, then like they say, knowledge is power. You have the ability to wear that garment with more courage, more confidence because you know where it came from and you know why it suits your body you know why it suits your style.

If you were not in the military and you have no desire to be in the armed forces, then some of the things that the armed forces wear and the uniforms may not be for you. So it’s all about knowing how that is suits you and your style and your body type in order to convey the message that you want. And I think everybody can take something from the military and the fact that they have a lot of pride in their appearance. Every man should have pride in his appearance.

And if he doesn’t it’s going to show, if he does, it’s going to show. So like I said with my military experience, when I was going through it, I had nothing – nothing on my mind was about fashion, I wasn’t thinking about fashion, I wasn’t thinking about style. I was thinking about presenting myself well according to the rules that were set before me in order to say, “Hey, I look good on a daily basis and therefore the people around me are going to respect me.”

On the civilian side, that’s the same thing. And believe it or not, the civilian side, you wear a uniform everyday. Suit and tie is basically a uniform whether you’re on Wall Street, whether you’re behind the microphone like we are right now, we wear a uniform because we’re business owners and we have to represent ourselves well. So whether you’re in the military or not, you’re wearing a uniform.

And like most men know, ladies like men in uniform whether he’s in the military or not. So I take my dress now just as seriously if not more seriously since I run my own business as I did when I was performing my military duties because whatever you wear, it is uniform and it should he held to that higher standards whether you’re in the military or not.

Antonio Centeno: So Grant, let me jump on the – refocus us a bit because you’re in Washington D.C. and it’s actually you know, a place where I would say you see some very well dressed men, but you also see a lot of people just wearing what I consider to be the de facto uniform of this at least it seems the last decade which is, if it’s cool outside like on probably – I know what the temperature is there. Here in Wisconsin you know, it’s – you need some long sleep.

And to most people that means they’re throwing on running shoes, jeans and a hoody. And most young men this seems to be you know, what they grab. And they don’t – I think get outside of that. One they’re a bit scared to get outside of the norm, and then the other on is the options that they see out there, they may feel that it’s going to make them stand out a bit, you know – most young men don’t ever put to use a good trench coat. Now that’s just – they have – they don’t know where that comes from.

Other times, they don’t realize that you know, certain types of pull over sweaters actually have a military origin I mean they were very useful obviously you know, from special forces to submariners. And so can you talk a little bit about you know, the history and how it should be able to give you – if you understand that – how it should be able to give you the courage to wear things which you don’t always see out there and kind of go against the norm?

Grant Harris: Yeah, there’s a couple of things in there, it’s interesting you mention the trench coat. A good friend of ours over at District – who is another D.C. [0:09:01] [Inaudible] operation pretty much, he is in love with trench coats. Anytime he gets an opportunity to wear one or talk about it, he’s going to do it. I have three to four myself. I believe every man should have a trench coat. And yes, the trench coat has very, very militaristic backgrounds. Everybody I’m sure was familiar with the name Burberry, if you’ve heard of it, if not, Mr. Burberry created the material – that gabardine that is basically water proof.

And he made it a trench coat, and it’s called a trench coat because back in the world wars one and two, they wore these coats in the trenches. And it kept them warm, it kept them dry and meant them meaning the soldiers. At that time it was a longer coat, today you can get shorter ones, you can get shorter ones above the knee, you can get longer ones made all the way down to the calf

[0:10:01]

but it has a very militaristic background with the ring belts that were for grenade and epaulets and everything that was – every piece had a function and a military function.

So I’m not sure a lot of men know where the trench coat actually comes from. And we can have a whole different discussion in the trench coat itself and how it has evolved over the years and the different materials and the different functions. But like you said here in D.C., sometimes – well not sometimes, more often than not, a lot of guys are afraid to stand out. And I see that as a disservice to themselves, I see that as a disservice to the whole industry in terms of what I do and what you do, and that’s why we’re here. Most guys think standing out, they think standing out in a negative way.

And there are plenty of ways to stand out in a positive way and say, “Hey, I care about how I look and how I present myself without being outlandish, without being over the top, without intimidating people.” And you know, wearing a shorts and a hoody or jeans and hoody – I have hoody’s myself, but there’s a time and a place for that. And unfortunately, the younger generation has seen that that time and place is everywhere, and unfortunately, that’s not the case.

So in order to do – in order to make a change with that, it has to be gradual. You can’t take a guy from jeans and a hoody and put him in a three-piece suit and expect him to be comfortable. And so maybe if you take off the hoody, and as you were mentioning, a lot of pull over sweaters have a military background. In terms of cardigans, the Earl of Cardigan cardigan is my favorite sweater. A lot of guys unfortunately here in D.C., they have issues with wearing a cardigan they think, “Oh it’s – it makes you look like Mr. Rogers or…”

Antonio Centeno: Yeah, it has a very – for many people, a very soft feel. Yeah, I love that you’re jumping in this, this is a great one.

Grant Harris: Yeah, and I told guys all the time, you know, a cardigan one is a type of sweater, and two, it’s a functional, it’s a more versatile type of sweater. And it doesn’t make you look like Mr. Rogers if you pick the right one. So – and a lot of guys and I hear this a lot, they say, “Well oh, cardigan season is over.” And that perplexes me because the variety of cardigans that are out there, you can wear a cardigan year round, all you have to do is switch the type of fabric and switch the type of weight that you’re wearing.

In the winter, yes, it’s a sweater, so you want to wear heavier weight, a wool, a cashmere, lamb’s wool, cashmere, or standard wool, yes you want to wear something heavier that’s going to keep you warm. But in the summer you can wear the same cardigan in a lighter weight cotton, in a lighter weight linen or cotton-linen mix, and have it like I say in a lighter weight and you’ll be just as good. It’ll shield you from the spring night time, you know, in the spring it’s – we have these drastic temperature changes.

It’ll be 80 degrees at noon, but by the time 6, 7 o’clock rolls around, it’s 20, 30 degree difference and there might be a chill coming off the water.

Antonio Centeno: Yeah.

Grant Harris: So a light weigh sweater, a light weight cardigan comes in handy with that.

Antonio Centeno: Specially if you have a lady friend with you, that’s always nice to be able to offer something.

Grant Harris: Right. And it’s very – in my opinion, it’s a very studios – and if you take the fact, let’s talk about Mr. Rogers, the guys say, “Oh, well I don’t want to look like Mr. Rogers.” If you take it on the fact that number one, you know who Mr. Rogers was because he was on TV for years, most guys haven’t been on TV, so you have to respect that fact. Everyone who knows Mr. Rogers who looks up to him in terms of he’s an outstanding guy, I let my children watch him, nobody has anything bad to say about Mr. Rogers and his appearance and anything bad to say about his behavior.

So that is a positive for Mr. Rogers. Mr. Rogers also had longevity. Every man should have longevity in himself, in his wardrobe. He was on TV for years, and he’s been on TV for years and people are still talking about him. So I hope that when I’m done with my career, I don’t know when that is, that people will continue to talk about me into the future.

Antonio Centeno: Well Grant, I’m sorry, it’s going to be hard for me to look at you and Mr. Rogers like in the same – I need – but no, I definitely see you coming being a father and having kids and having to deal with everything that’s currently out there. You know, I definitely see the value that he brought to the table. And – well we’ve covered the trench, we covered the cardigan.

What other – do you think there is some other items and because we’re – it’s getting warmer, and we talked about some of – some items which are a little bit heavier and keep you warm, but what do you think about like summer type clothing that has – you know, that you don’t think is used enough, and has a very strong – has a good history to it?

[0:15:09]
One of them I think about is a very – you know, is a button-down sports shirt, one that you know, use it that is clearly as – not a button-down dress or a sport shirt, one that makes good use of pockets, of the epaulets or of other features which clearly market as almost dessert wear. I mean to me it brings back a World War II, you know with the battles in North Africa kind of feel and having seen some of that. Or maybe for anybody that’s been in scouting. You know, we would – at times wear this type of a uniform despite you know, 100 degree weather, it was actually pretty comfortable. Are there any items that you see that a man could add to his wardrobe with a history – with a good strong history for summer?

Grant Harris: Yeah, like you mentioned, a camp shirt is one. Very functional, it has pockets, double chest pockets, epaulets, and a lot of the camp shirts are going to come in a linen or a cotton. In terms of – hold on one second Antonio, we’re going to have to chop this one up. There’s a shirt that I want to say but I can’t – now what’s the name of it…

Antonio Centeno: John Grey or?

Grant Harris: No, no it’s gabayera like…

Antonio Centeno: Oh yeah, the Spanish – Gosh I was just speaking with a gentleman down in a – well this is kind of embarrassing because here, I’ve got actually – Mexican-Spanish background Guy Haviera I believe is that right Grant? Yeah, we’d probably chop that up Grant, but I think people will forgive us because I’m actually working on a piece with a gentleman down in Miami Raphael Contreras Jr. Gosh – hopefully he’ll make a correction if I said his name wrong.

But he comes from three generations out of Cuba making these shirts. And you know, I love – so a lot of times people think a t-shirt is the coolest thing. But if it’s made out of polyester or if – you know, it really comes down to fabric type which is really important.

Grant Harris: Right, yeah, and the gabayera, this is very important. And the fabric which is what I want to speak to you more because if you get the fabric right, it doesn’t matter if it’s long sleeves, short sleeve how many pockets anything like that, if you get the fabric right, you’re good to go. A lot of guys they know about cotton, they know about linen for summer and for the warmer weather. There are other fabrics out there that will keep you just as cool if not cooler. We can start with cotton. There are several different types of cotton, the highest end cotton, the lightest weight cotton.

The best cotton that I know of on the market is seailing cotton. You know, it comes from a place called Sea Island. And it’s very – it’s vey high end, it’s very light-weight, also as your – paper thin, but still has the resiliency of cotton. And if you’re looking for something cooler, I would go that route. Obviously linen, but there are other fabrics such as fresco. That may be something that a lot of men have not heard because most of the time fresco is used in higher end tailoring, higher end sewing. And if you get to that point where you can order a fresco suit, that would be great. But fresco is a light-weigh fabric. And it’s – it can be mixed with other fabrics like linen, it can be mixed with cotton, it can be mixed with silk.

But if you wear it alone, it’s fine. And most of the time, it’s found in sewing, there’s also a fabric called whipcord, whipcord is also a type of cotton but it has ridges to it.

Antonio Centeno: Yes, it’s a serous sucker. Correct?

Grant Harris: Yes, some of the serous sucker. And I’ll set the serous sucker in a second, but whipcord is in my estimation, the next step above serous sucker. A lot of guys know serous sucker and they look at it and they say, “Oh you know, it’s a down south, but not too familiar or comfortable with the nokie crinkling and what not. That crinkling actually keeps you cooler because it creates space between your skin and the fabric and that means you could – there’s air circulation and it keeps you cooler, but whipcord is another option for you.

Antonio Centeno: To interject really quick, so it’s not just about the fabric, but it’s also about the weave because you know, both of those they play together and they both affect, you know, how air is going to be able to circulate through it.

[0:20:00]
And just to add, you talked about the Egyptian cotton is almost and it’s actually a lot less expensive just almost as a bond. And it really – yeah, and in case you’re listening and you’re not familiar with these types of cotton, really the big difference is going to be the length of the fiber, and how strong and how tightly they can wind it.

We’ve actually – and I grew up in the west Texas and we’ve got tons of cotton that comes out of there, but the problem with that cotton is it’s really – it’s only about an inch long that the fiber lengths versus the two – almost tow inches with the Egyptian, and you just can’t get a stronger – so your t-shirt cottons, those are going to be coming from west Texas you know pima cottons and stuff. And there’s also super pima. But – sorry to go off on that tangent, but we can talk – we could talk about cottons, giving them their own article.

Grant Harris: Yes. All the types, different cottons, cottons from Pero, cottons from Switzerland, cottons from all around the world, and yes, the Egyptian cotton is much less expensive than Sea Island, and it’s more ubiquitous, it’s – you can get it easier. And also it has – wearing it in your shirts, the Egyptian cotton is great for bed sheets. When it starts to get warm, they’re very soft, the more you wash them, the softer they get, the more then they get – you put it on your bed sheets and on winter time, you may have the flame on to keep you warm, but in the summer switch to the Egyptian cotton and you won’t be sweating in bed as much.

Antonio Centeno: That’s a good point, you know, a lot of guys don’t even think about this. So let’s – we’re going to come back though, we’ve been talking about shirts, and shirts with history. I like that you brought up the guy at the bar. Again I’m just killing this thing. But that is something that I think a lot of men I mean we’ve got a huge Hispanic population in the United States. And so many men kind of discount this because they don’t even know the history, but that’s actually – it’s a very interesting shirt.

It has a Spanish origin and it was supposedly brought over to Cuba although the Mexicans over in the [0:22:04] [Inaudible], they claim that they invaded it. But the funny thing is, and why I kind of give the Spanish a bit more of the influence is that you see it pop up in the Philippines and Zimbabwe. So these are the places where you basically had – you know, a very strong Spanish influence. And you see these – and if you – we’ll probably put up a picture accompanying this, but it’s a long shirt, has four pockets in the front, and it’s made to be worn untucked.

You see it in a lot of gown in Miami, in the Southern Florida area, but you know, I never really saw it much in Texas which blew me away now that I’m thinking about it because we’ve got such a strong culture there that I think would be receptive to it specially if they understood the history. And obviously you don’t have to be Mexican to wear it, you just have to – I think be hot, you know.

Grant Harris: Right, right. And it is a – it’s a long-sleeve shirt, but I’m sure it can be made in a short-sleeve version.

Antonio Centeno: It is actually, it comes in both long and short – it comes in all types of colors. I’ll put a link to my friend’s website. I mean he sells them directly online. And unfortunately he has some that I think are made from not the best fibers, but he has a lot of – I think he just tries to hit different price points, but he does have some amazing ones made out of linen which if you can just imagine a linen guayabera with the right weave, oh that’s got to be just a pleasure to wear.

Grant Harris: Right. Yeah, they call it the Mexican wedding shirt.

Antonio Centeno: Yeah.

Grant Harris: And it was made famous by an American Earnest Hemingway famously wore them on a regular basis.

Antonio Centeno: I forgot about that. Great point there. And so you think about – you hear something that you can wear it and one of the manliest of man out there – I mean a guy that wrote just – you know, I mean so – every book he wrote was just, you know, The Old Man and the Sea – you know, For Whom the Bell Tolls. I mean just these great books of manliness and strength. And when you wear this shirt, you know, that you’re kind of following in the footsteps of this guy, and if you understand the culture.

So here’s something that you can easily pull off when people laugh or – if someone you know, does have the balls I guess to laugh or snicker at you, you just – you’re able to go up and say, “Hey, you know, you’re crazy, this thing has a very strong history why aren’t you wearing one?”

Grant Harris: Yeah, and that bring up a good point. You were talking about following in the footsteps and going back to the roots – history. I had a gentleman, a while back, a few weeks back, made a comment on my Facebook page about wearing pink and how pink is a very manly color, all men should be able to weak pink, they should have any hesitation about wearing pink. Up until this point in history, we associate with pink with girls and women, blue with boys and men.

[0:25:03]
It wasn’t always like that, and I know you know this, but a lot of our listeners may not.

Up until the last couple of centuries or so, there’ll be boys dressed in pink. And a lot of men didn’t know that, the reason behind that – well there’s a lot of reasons behind that, but the point that I’m trying to make is that it comes from – it stems from a militaristic background. We all know that in the centuries past, the British or the English had the best Naval ships, they had the biggest Naval fleets, their Navy was tip top. And for all purposes, to make a long short, there was a Naval commander, he had a fleet, they were out at sea, they were dressed and how they wore their uniform at the time, but he wanted to be able to blend in with his surroundings.

And most of the time when they were – their surroundings at that point in that time and their location and their geography, the sun sets gave off a pinkish hue over the horizon and everywhere, this gave off a pinkish hue on the sunset. So he said that he wanted his uniforms to be made to blend in with the sunset. So therefore a hue of pink was created for his entire fleet and every man on the submarine, every man on the ship, was dressed in pink to blend in with their surroundings. Now if you can’t wear pink based on the fact that one of the – a fleet commander of Naval ships in the most – and the strongest and the most respected Naval history on the face of the planet had his whole entire fleet wear pink, and you’re scared to wear a pink shirt or a pink tie, then you need to learn your history a little bit more.

So I’m leaving out a whole lot of names, but that bottom line is that if it’s good enough for the English Navy, and it’s good enough for a fleet commander then it’s good enough for me and you.

Antonio Centeno: It’s a great example Grant. And it actually just immediately gets me thinking about another piece which I don’t see utilized enough. And many people, you know, this may be a common one, but the blazer and the military history behind the blazer. I’m just making a blazer for a gentleman and we’re putting on very special buttons that represent the Airforce. And it’s something that you know, for him, with that military background, he wants to have – he knows that he’s going to be in settings in which he needs to be conservatives, you know he doesn’t want his clothing screaming, but he does want to pay attention to those small details.

So he’s taking what is traditionally a Naval garment that came from you know, well it depends on you know, who you talk to, but you know, supposedly what HMS blazer or something like that, another pretty history story there. But he’s wanting to add an Airforce attached to it by putting on specific buttons that represent his branch of service. Now I thought – and they great thing is you know in the military, you could find buttons – you know, I’m in a Texas so I could get some UT buttons, you know, that I can just buy on the web, or you know, you could obviously VMI has those as well, but if you’ve gone to a small college, you’d be able to get that.

Or you could even have them made specifically, or you can go with something that’s more of a family – you know find out what your family crest is and put it on there, and then you’re able to wear something that is more than just a piece of clothing, it’s almost like a suit of armor that you know, you can – you know, I’ve got – whenever I’m going to go into a tough situation, I find that I kind of start playing with my wedding ring. And it gives me a little bit of strength because I know in the end, the people that matter to me, that I care about, they – you know, they could care less what everyone in this room thinks about me.

And when I have that bit of confidence, I’m able to walk in and just say what I want to say, and not really worry about others’ opinions. And I think if you got a piece of clothing or an item that – it’s not just a piece of clothing, it’s something that is almost like an heirloom, and then the cool thing is you can pass it on to your son.

Grant Harris: Right. Definitely. And that’s a big thing for me is passing it on down to the lineage and say, “Hey, this is where this came from.” And a lot of men enjoy that specially if they came from a military background.

Antonio Centeno: Yeah, so – so we’ll go ahead an we’re approaching you know, the 30-minute mark and I’d like to kind of wrap things up – kind of talking about – we’ve talked about the importance of history and clothing, we could go on – I think we’re going to definitely go into specific discussions about the trench coat, the – you know, definitely the guayabera and hopefully, I will be able to bring in Rafael to talk about this as well. That’d be great to have him.

[0:30:00]
But what do you think a man can do now to kind of let’s say he doesn’t have access to a lot of – well, what steps can a man take now to introduce history into his wardrobe and be able to use that and build confidence and I’ll just – the example I – because I’m almost – even though I talk about this stuff, I actually don’t have a family with a strong history, and I didn’t have – I’ve never had pieces passed on to me.

And it’s kind of fun for me actually to be acquiring pieces which I know – I’ll be able to pass on to my son. One of them, actually is pretty famous because their logo is, you know, they’ll fight over it when you’re dead. I’ve got a saddleback a leather brief case, that I now – it was a gift from [0:30:38] [Inaudible] over that the art of manliness. And I just love this thing. I’ve been treating it with leather conditioner and you know everywhere I go, people check it out. It is a very many bag and I love it because it’s going to – you know it’s got a hundred year guarantee, and I’m sure you’ll get pass that.

But, what do you think a man can do now to kind of start introducing history into his wardrobe?

Grant Harris: Well, a couple of things. One, he can buy clothes because every piece of clothing like the things we’ve spoken about today, I mean every piece of clothing has a history, it has a beginning, it has a point where it was created and it has a story behind it. So, if he buys a t-shirt, if he buys a blazer, if he buys a tie all of that has a history to it. The second piece of that is, he can educate himself, which is the most important part which is why I love what I do and why you love what you do, is education part. He can read, he can listen to these audio recordings and sessions, he can sign up for our style boot camp, he can go to your blog, he can come to my blog. He needs to educate himself on the history of clothing and he needs to take an interest in it.

If he take an interest in it, and then if you decide “Okay, well I’m going to buy these specific pieces, in order for them to last over the years and maybe I can pass them down to whoever,” then he’ll be ten steps ahead of the next guy, who doesn’t even care. So, take an interest in history, read about it, listen to it, anything that you can find out about what it is that you’re interested in, and then go buy it, or ask for it as a gift, anyway that you can get it and then take care of it.

Like you said, you know you’re treating your bag with leather conditioner, you’re taking care f your property it’s an investment. So, you know, buying clothes is – a lot of guys look at it as a cost and an expense, but it’s an investment if you purchasing and buying the right pieces.

Antonio Centeno: I love that you just used that word and in fact, I was going to jump in and talk about it. And for me it’s about investing in core pieces and I don’t just say this because I’m a custom clothier and I sell men $1500 suits you know, it’s more than that. For me it’s about buying something that you’re going to – you’re going to take care of, and you’re going to be – every time you wear it, you’ll going to feel great about. I think I’d made mistakes earlier on, I would often go with the cheapest item I could find that was okay.

And I would never pay that extra ten, 20, 50 dollars to get exactly what I want. And – but when I started doing that and I’ll just use a pair of Maui Jim sunglasses. I’ve got the same, Maui Jim sunglasses that I purchased six years ago. Before that purchase, one I’ve never spent more than a hundred dollars on a pair of sunglasses, so whenever I did spend a hundred, I got them on sale for like 170. When I did buy those that was like “Wow, that’s a lot of money.” And I was just – I was a student at that time, but I was finding that when I bought cheap frames that worth ten to 20 bucks, not even – yeah ten bucks each, I treated them like cheap frames, and they of course, behaved like cheap frames.

And you know I was just never really happy with it, they did the job but they didn’t instill comfyness and they didn’t – I didn’t really feel good every time I wore them. But today, I still wear I still wear the same Maui Jim sunglasses, and a good quality product that lasts, but also I feel, you know – I feel great and sharp, and I receive complements every time I wear that. Now, that $170 over a period of six years and probably, I would say easily, 600 wears you know, over six years I mean gosh, we’re talking a, you know, not – I’m paying pennies, every time I wear that, and I’m still reaping the benefits.

Grant Harris: I agree. I have this – a very similar story with my sunglasses and I have one pair and they’re Randolf engineering, which is the Aviator sunglasses which are the Aviator sunglasses for Aviators, and a lot of guys are familiar with Ray-ban, Ray-ban is great, Ray-ban is good, and I recommend and suggest Ray-ban but Randolf engineering has a long history and they were the original Aviators sunglasses.

[0:35:07]
Antonio Centeno: I think actually – they make – I remember when I was in flight school getting issued those glasses I believe they’re made by that company. That’s awesome. And you think about you’re wearing something which was developed specifically for Aviators to deal with glare at high altitudes. I mean …

Grant Harris: Exactly.

Antonio Centeno: … that how much more confidence do you need with something that was developed for, you know, experimental military purposes, you know, in a high altitude flying?

Grant Harris: Right. And same your story, I have never spent, you know, a hundred bucks over on sunglasses or anything like that. I read about it. I read the story about the Aviators and what not like that, and how it was created specifically for them, and they cost right about a hundred and they’re still going strong today and I have no sign of – there’s no sign of, you know, them not in the future, but I’ll take care of them because I know that it’s an investment, so very similar story.

Antonio Centeno: Good deal. Good deal. So we’ve talked about investing in quality pieces, educating yourself, is there anything else a man can do? Let’s say, you know, within the next day or even in today that, you know, he can – he can use – he can use that to incorporate history in his wardrobe?

Grant Harris: Well I say, do this – he doesn’t have to make a purchase in the next day or so. What he can do is, if he has time there’s different ways I would go to – at your store of goodwill, I’m not telling you to buy anything, although you should, but that’s not the issue at this point. The reason why I say that is because your store is in goodwill, are notorious of having older garments that are made of higher quality some and – and you got to do dig for them a little bit. A lot of times, they have those polyester jackets and all kinds of crazy funky colors but that’s not what you’re looking for.

As soon as you find a polyester jacket, the next one you’ll see will be handmade that was given up by someone who passed on, so forth and so on and it’s quality, and you’ll be able to tell the difference. So pick up that polyester jacket and then pick up the one that was handmade for a gentleman, look at it, feel it, put it on, look at the lining, touch it, grab it, stretch it, do whatever, play with it, and you’ll see the difference and you’ll say “Hey, well this jacket is made a whole lot better, I don’t know why, but it’s made a whole lot better.” And if you don’t why, that’s when you go back and like we talked about educate yourself. “Ok, I found this blazer, and the lining was made like this, or the shoulder was cut like this” or the lapel was – looked like this, why didn’t it looked like that?”

And then go from there, and then when you go back to the – to the goodwill or if you’re going to a restore shop, you’ll be able to tell the difference between quality and not-so quality. So, that’s what I would suggest a man do in the next few days, if he wants to take his style to the next level.

Antonio Centeno: Grant, that’s a great suggestion, I mean I’m just thinking of, you know, I’ve never even really thought those type of stores, but they’re basically museums with quality pieces that have shown that they can last overtime, and you can go in there and see some of the best, you can see some of the worst, but you’ll find that worst eventually falls apart and probably, doesn’t hold its value for very long buy yeah, you may find a piece in there that was made 40 years ago, but because it was made with quality fabrics, was made in a style that’s timeless, you could actually pull it off today.

Grant Harris: Yeah, I agree and that can be a whole other conversation.

Antonio Centeno: Yeah, it can, it can.

Grant Harris: You know, I’ve got many pieces in my closet that no one can tell the difference that I paid basically pennies for and people think that I paid hundreds if not thousands. So I’m more of an advocate for it. But it’s all about the education piece for me.

Antonio Centeno: Alright Grant, well for anyone listening I hope you’ve enjoyed our conversation about history in men’s wear and – how – I think if we leave you with anything, it’s take the time to educate yourself, learn your history, and you’ll find that you can take a whole new look at clothing, you will be immune to the fashion news out there that’s trying to cycle you through and just get you to purchase more. And you’ll be able to see through all that and be able to identify quality, core pieces that you can use to build your wardrobe, you’re going to spending less money, you’re going to be able to walk with greater confidence.

And you know, just put out a great image of yourself and be able to project the image that you want. Grant, thank you very much and Image Granted, how – everything going good for you over there?

Grant Harris: They’re going great, you know I’m setting up these – these little discussions and we’ll be working together over the style boot camp and having guys check in so I’m looking forward with that, but be sure you know – check this out www.imagegranted.com.

[0:40:08]
Antonio Centeno: You – and you got some other places that you’re putting out content, right?

Grant Harris: Yeah, I write for a lot of separate online bloggers or online magazines.

Antonio Centeno: You’ve got the Primer thing going still, right?

Grant Harris: Primer, yeah Primer magazines. Good, I’m working out I – I have a new series over there, Style Q&A series. So if you’ll go to primermag.com, you can look it up and submit your question for style Q&A and I will personally take it from my inbox and give you an answer so you can take the next step down your – down your style with journey.

Antonio Centeno: Alright, well there you have it, and Grant, thank you for your time today, and that is it.

[0:40:39] End of Audio

 

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About Antonio

Antonio Centeno is President of ATailoredSuit.com and the founder of RealMenRealStyle.com. He has created over 700 articles & videos on men's style, blogs over at the Art of Manliness, and is the creator of the internet's best selling personal presentation course - A Man's Guide To Timeless Style. Antonio has studied clothing design in London, Hong Kong, and Bangkok. He is a former US Marine with an MBA from UT Austin and a BA from Cornell College. He loves to hear from old friends and make new ones.