MANual of Style

Lesson 16: Fine Details by Shreyas
25 February, 2010, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Casualwear, Special

This brings us to the end of the casualwear unit.

Today we’re just going to talk about some details: the signature item and the matter of richness.

Signature Items

A signature item is an extremely noticeable item, often an accessory, that you wear often if not always—Hercule Poirot’s moustaches, my key necklace, Ianto Jones’ astonishing ties, etc. A few friends-and-acquaintances of mine have signature items (a hat in one case, a watch in another) they have had to replace over time, as the original wore out.

Signatures are a delicate balancing act between unnoticeable (most mens’ wedding bands) and cartoonish (Gilligan’s hat). I think it’s pretty cool to have a signature item, but it takes balls to do it and careful styling to pull it off well. A really good signature can be a comforting style talisman, something you’re always confident about no matter what else you’re wearing. If you want to try it out, pick something you have that’s pretty eye-catching and unusual, and try to incorporate it into your outfit for a straight week. If that feels good to you, maybe you’ve got a signature item.


The quality of fabrics is something that is sadly neglected in the education of the modern man. I think everyone should have a solid idea of what makes a fabric look rich, and mostly what makes fabrics look rich is quality. The things that make fabric look good are also good indicators of its feel and durability.

A good fabric will have a high thread count. Usually you won’t see this on the label of anything but bed linens, so to get a comparative look at some different thread counts, look at your favorite department store’s bedding section—you’ll see that, as a general tendency, higher-end sheets have higher thread counts and feel smoother against the skin. This is because thread count (the number of fibers per square inch) is constrained by the fineness of threads used to weave the fabric. A tighter weave requires finer threads, leading to a smoother-feeling fabric. Generally, if you can see the weave without bringing a fabric close to your eyes for a serious inspection, you can probably feel it too. (For sheets, the printed count isn’t an infallible metric for market reasons, but the naked-eye test is a good rule of thumb.)

Good fabrics will also have threads that are finished differently, and composed of longer single fibers. Check out Wisegeek’s discussion about combed cotton—a fabric using longer fibers will feel smoother to the touch and last longer, because the longer pieces are more securely interlaced. The smoother surface will also give it a subtle sheen.

You’ll also find that high-quality shirting fabrics are often woven in interesting ways that play with texture. One of my favorite shirts is a sort of platinum affair with alternating matte and satiny stripes—the combined textures make it look more expensive than any one of them would by itself.

What’s the point of all this? Well, good fabric is attractive because it’s touchable. It feels nice under your fingers. A good shirt can make people want to touch you (or give them an excuse). It’s as simple as that.


2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I second that. Is MANual of Style done? Or just sleeping?

Comment by tony dowler

Shreyas! I miss this blog and suggested replacements are full of fail! When does the next unit start?

Comment by Brendan

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