Another Giorgio Armani Suit Teaches Me a Lesson

Another day, another acquisition. This time a jet black suit ($1500 minus the 10% discount) that looks about 1000% Giorgio Armani.

With an Armani blue shirt, Hermes tie (acquired in Mexico) and Prada shoes I took on a major business meeting in the USA feeling relaxed and confident.

It took a while to pick this one out, as “fashionably black” is not a typical look for me, but I have to admit I am starting to understand the black thing.

Normally I would not have touched black clothes, now I am seeing the possibilities for coordinating more easily with a wide range of other Armani colours and styles. I am constantly surprised at how this little detour into fashion, style, appearance – yes, even narcissism, about which I will write some more in the future – is teaching me things that I would have considered utterly superficial just a few months ago.

It reminds me of a clever little scene in The Devil Wears Prada:-

It is a little odd that I although I once laughed at this scene from the point of view of neophyte Andy, I now find it funny from the point of view of Miranda, and quite realistic to boot.

I guess you are never too old to learn something new.

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The Impact of Armani Clothing

In recent days I have begun to wear Armani almost all the time – to work, on the street, around the house. I now own around 35-40 pieces of Giorgio Armani or Prada, and as I commented to my wife just last week, it is getting harder to dress in anything but Armani. Today as I sit in my office at the computer I am wearing Giorgio Armani shirt, pants, belt and sweater, and Prada shoes.

So what has been the impact? Perhaps a good illustration is to recount one nice story from work just last week.

I went to my head office, where I am well known, and entered one of the other departments. The office was empty but several staff were gathered at the coffee area outside chatting. One of my colleagues came running into the office after me and said “Can I help you?”, as if talking to a stranger, and then did a slightly odd double take. I thought it was a little odd at the time, and just said I wanted to leave some papers, which I did and left.

I found out the next day that this lady then confessed to her colleagues that she had not recognized me, despite having worked with me for more than two years. The story was related to me by another colleague standing in the coffee group. Several other people have commented that I look thinner or different – one (Italian) even asked if I was being dressed by Armani nowadays.

On the street I have noticed that I get a lot of quick, almost furtive glances from both men and women. To be honest I am used to anonymity, but now that I have noticed this attention I watch out for it and mentally keep count as I walk along a street. In stores I have noticed that attendants are more attentive, willing to spend more time with me than before, somehow taking me more seriously. This is especially true in the high end stores.

Finally I think I feel better presented and more stylish than ever in my life. Wearing these clothes has become the norm, not the exception. The clothes feel comfortable, I know they look good, and that makes me more relaxed.

I talk a lot about price on this journal, but it is now never a factor if I decide I want to buy something; I am however quite selective about what I buy, perhaps more so than at the start of this project. Even within the Giorgio Armani line I have found a sub-niche that suites me: the classic lines that cling a little bit around the torso and flow off the body to a single break at the shoeline. One assistant in the Munich shop has said that now she knows “my style”, she will call me when new things arrive that work.

It’s an interesting new outlook.

Details at Giorgio Armani

The Giorgio Armani collar stiffeners shown in this picture came with a shirt I bought a few days ago, and are made of metal, something I have not seen in collars since I bought a uniform from Gieves & Hawkes of No.1 Savile Row in the mid-1980’s. Most people will never even know these are in the collar tips, and yet they carry the branding, stamped into the metal. I like the way that subtle, sometimes hidden details matter at Giorgio Armani; I have spotted several little details in my growing wardrobe that would be under-appreciated if you were not paying close attention.

Avoiding Fashion Victimization

As I troll around the internet studying the topic of fashion a little more deeply, I am struck by the number of people who follow fashion as opposed to style.

What is the difference?

The difference is, I think, a combination of elegance, quality and time.

Just by casual inspection, as a fashion outsider, I can see that fashion items — the current “must have” outfits — are trying a little bit too hard to be cool; too many things are going on at the same time, too many things look cheap and gimmicky, and although they may look interesting today, they will fade rapidly into history.

Style, on the other hand, seems to happen in a very natural, organic way, without seeming to be forced. Everything works together in a delicate, soft, simple blend, without tricks or flashy, crowd-pleasing details. If you look at an Armani suit from a 15-20 year-old Vogue, it would still look incredibly up-to-date today.

I am not the first or the most famous to note this:-

“Fashions fade, style is eternal.”

Yves Saint Laurent

Fashion seems to feed on fads, things with (literally) a short shelf life, whereas style has a timeless quality that seems to work forever. And I mean quality in both the quantitative, Western, measurement sense, and quality in the Eastern, qualitative, intuitive sense — you can measure and feel the qualities of the garment.

To avoid becoming an expensive fashion victim, then, the choice is clear: stick closely to designs and designers who have reached similar conclusions, and who make clothes that exist above fashion, in the domain of elegance.

“The difference between style and fashion is quality.”

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio Armani Details

At the high-end the tailoring of a suit has to be impeccable, flawless. The above detail of a new ready-to-wear Giorgio Armani suit I bought less than a week ago shows the neat, perfect edging of the lining, and the deep lustre of the button chosen, no doubt with great care and thought, to close an out-of-sight internal pocket.