If you’re looking to deepen your knowledge of men’s style, consider reading True Style by G. Bruce Boyer. Here’s what I learned!
It can be hard to find a men’s style book that is both informative and entertaining. In True Style: The History & Principles of Classic Menswear, G. Bruce Boyer is able to communicate his expansive menswear knowledge without being overly pedantic.
In this article, I review this instant classic and explain why I think it deserves a place on every well-dressed guy’s bookshelf.
True Style reads like a collection of short essays. Each chapter showcases a different aspect of menswear, indicated by the chapter title, ranging from “Italian Style” to “ Fragrances” and “Summer Fabrics.”
Every essay is a bite-sized morsel that could easily be by a casual reader in just a few minutes or studied in more depth by more scholarly-minded folks.
As a whole, these essays constitute an excellent sweeping overview of the history and principles of classic menswear.
I particularly appreciate that Boyer includes the “why” behind various facets of a man’s wardrobe.
For instance, when describing business attire, he briefly delves into the history of the Industrial Revolution and the court of Louis XIV to provide the groundwork for explaining the customs of modern business attire.
In his introduction, Boyer explains the “why” behind the book — that knowing your clothing options and the history behind them is the first step in dressing intentionally and “reclaiming your dignity through dress.”
About the Author
Bruce Boyer is an acclaimed American menswear writer and magazine editor. He has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in English literature and was an English Literature professor for seven years.
Boyer calls his personal style “transatlantic” — part American Ivy League and part Saville Row. He has a love for tweed (fitting for a former professor) and quality, tailored garments of all kinds. (Source).
He published his first book, Elegance: A Guide to Quality in Menswear, 1985 and has subsequently written and co-written several books.
Boyer has also been the fashion editor of Town & Country, Esquire, and GQ.
He has an incredibly enticing way of writing. There’s an elegant, nonchalant attitude that draws the reader in.
His writing is a reflection of his humorous personality. Listen to his comments during this New York Symposium panel discussion to get a taste of what I mean:
Even when sharing strong opinions (such as in his Ten Commandments on men’s style), Boyer oozes laid-back charisma.
Here are just a few of my favorite quotes from True Style:
“Dress is a foolish thing, and yet it’s a more foolish thing not to pay attention to it.“Lord Chesterton (p.x)
“My motto is, if you like it, wear it.”(p. xvi)
“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are that person’s lawful prey.”An old saying (p. 37)
“Highlighting one particular aspect of the wardrobe tends not so much to solve a problem as to create one: it tends to remove the wearer from his clothes.”(p.134)
“Perhaps cologne’s best-known advocate was Napoleon, who had a standing order with his perfumer for fifty bottles a month. He was a tad indulgent, but then emperors are expected to be.”(p. 82)
“Wearing a business suit and dress shoes without socks is “fine for men in the fashion business… they can’t help themselves. But, dear reader, this look is not right for you.”(p. 164)
There are so many more wonderful passages I could have shared. As you can see, this book is really fun!
My Recommendation: Who’s the Book For?
I’d recommend True Style to people who are interested to know the basics about dressing well, according to traditional sensibilities.
Even if you’re a season sartorialist, this book is worth a read. For one thing, it is incredibly entertaining. Not only that, it’s chock-full of historical tidbits and interesting facts.
Those who prefer to dress in a more trendy or subculture-specific way can still find value in this volume, even if it serves as background knowledge or a fun read.
That said, this book has relatively few images — just an occasional black-and-white sketch. Consequently, if you’re a more visually-minded person, I think that the book Dressing the Man would be a better introductory menswear book for you.
All things considered, True Style is an almost indispensable menswear book that ranks among my top style books of all time.
What other menswear books should I review? Leave your suggestions in the comment section below!