“The Elegant Man” is one of those great books that serve as a useful reference and a coffee table conversation piece all at once.
It's big, well laid-out, and full of images and tables that encourage casual page-flipping, but also packs a wealth of real information between its covers.
I consider it one of the top ten books a man can own on style – and it could easily be argued into the top three for the right man whose lifestyle encourages more formal dress.
Overall I consider it a vital resource for any dedicated suit-wearer, fine dresser, or man building a classic wardrobe.
I use information from “The Elegant Man” in many of my discussions about suits and details of fabric, cut, and style. It's one of my favorite resources for thinking about wardrobes and the way that one piece of clothing can tie in with all your other garments.
Positive – Things I Love about This Book
1. Real Tailoring Insight — The authors are experienced tailors with years in the fashion and fabric industries. They really get into details of common build error and construction methods in a way that most people don't when they discuss menswear.
There's a deep understanding of how suits, sport jackets, blazers, and formal wear should lay on the body, and they illustrate this with both black and white images and color photographs.
2. The Fabric Overview – This alone is reason enough for many men to purchase the book. Outside of a textile textbook, I have never bseen another men's clothing book go into as much detail concerning the fabric from which clothing is made. I constantly find myself reaching for this book to confirm facts when doing research for articles.
3. Serious Wardrobe Discussion — Most articles or books treat every piece of clothing as its own stand-alone category. That's great for detail, but Villarosa and Angeli do a fantastic job writing about the concept of a “wardrobe” that all works together as well. It's a basic idea that needs a lot more attention in modern fashion writing.
4. Care and Maintenance Instructions — The last section has some detailed advice on taking good care of high-end clothing. It's worth having just for the illustrated step-by-step guides to clothing care, which are way better than anything you can find on a typical department store or how-to website.
1. High Dress Standard — The book was written by men who wear quality dress clothes as a daily habit, and speaks to men with similar tastes. There's very little discussion of the more casual styles that a lot of men wear on a regular basis.
2. Old-Fashioned/European Styles — Some of the cuts and types of clothing discussed aren't seen much anymore. You're unlikely to ever need the discussion of Norfolk jackets and knickerbockers, for example (traditional British woolen hunting clothes) — though it does make for interesting reading, and adds to the coffee table book value!
Five of five stars here — this is one of the best books a serious dresser can own. If you're going to wear suits right you want to have this one on hand.
Please note – this book is no longer in print and it appears my review has caused a shortage! It is now much harder to find for less than $100 – if this isn't in your price range try your local library!