When you look at the picture below what is your first thought about how the man is dressed? Is he dressed well or is he dressed poorly? Either side could be argued for. However, I would like to argue in favor of the former. For the man pictured is no clown, he is a legend within the world of menswear.
There is a difference between knowing the rules and breaking them and not knowing the rules and breaking them. The former often signifies a well dressed man, as the rules are often broken in good taste and for good reason. For some gentlemen breaking certain rules can be signatures of their personal style. In contrast, the latter classification often signifies one who is ignorant, poorly dressed and of poor personal style.
The man pictured is Massimo Cifonelli, a 4th generation Cifonelli of the legendary Cifonelli house of Paris and the newest friend of The Fine Young Gentleman Blog, is of the former classification. I should note that he is also a very hospitable and courteous gentleman. For he took time out of his day to show me and a friend around his shop and factory, it was amazing (I will cover my Cifonelli visit in an upcoming post). At the end of the visit I commented on a few of Monsieur Cifonelli’s sartorial tweaks (ie purposely broken rules, or in his case his own personal style). I believe most people would not understand the nuances of what he has achieved in the picture below, however, I regard them to be part of his individual artistic and sartorial expression. I would advise paying attention, for one could garner some fine inspiration from Monsieur Cifonelli.
First, we have a black dress shirt, often viewed as sacrilege. Monsieur Cifonelli pairs it with black dress pants and wears both with class, unlike most who don the combination. This combination also serves to direct focus to his tie, which I believe is where he is really showing displaying his personal style. On the topic of his pants, the waistband was unlike anything I have ever seen, no doubt bespoke, but it looked to be some type of tab/stacked button arrangement. He is also not wearing a jacket when wearing a tie and cufflinks, but again, I believe this is done purposefully to put emphasis on the centerpiece of his ensemble, his tie.
I would like to note everything about his tie. We have a tie that is completely out of proportion. It is extremely short and extremely wide, taking up a large portion of the width of his chest. As a result of the girth of the tie a large knot is created, much like those the Duke of Windsor favored. Said knot is also crooked (which is quite an italian move) and held so by a tie clip (which is more of an American move). And yes, the tie clip is purposefully only half on the tie and the small end of the tie is purposefully peeking out. With just his tie he was able to pull off seven separate acts of sartorial expression, or rebellion, whichever you may choose.
Moving outward we have his wrists. Two things to note here. First, although it cannot be seen in the picture he has his cufflinks fixed in opposite directions, one facing the top and one facing the bottom (which is something I love to do with double sided links, Monsieur Cifonelli’s were not double sided). Finally one should focus on his left wrist and the relation between his watch and cuff. His left cuff is tight enough around his wrist to ensure that it does not cover his watch, instead exposing his watch. Some could take this as pretentious or an attempt to show off one’s watch. Monsieur is not the type of gentleman who needs to show off his watch. Given this, I say this is yet another expression of his personal style; it reminds me of how the late Gianni Agnelli used to wear his watch over his cuff (if you don’t know who Mr. Agnelli is you should research him at your earliest convenience, he is known almost as well for his style as for his business acumen).
Most men can not pull of what Monsieur Cifonelli has done here, nor could they do it with as much panache and class. However, for most of his nuances there is a time and place so if you choose to take inspiration from this picture know what your getting yourself into before you do so and be prepared to explain yourself to those who do not understand, for there will no doubt be many of those people.