If you ask anyone that’s even tangentially connected to the clothing world about how a man should go about dressing better, they will almost certainly tell you that one of the first steps is “finding the right fit.” This oft quoted phrase is a concise way of stating that all men must determine what works for them and what does not. This is surely a personal matter, but it also raises a quandary for some men – after all, how does a man find his right fit, if he himself is not so fit. From runway shots, to campaign ads, to e-comm imagery, right down to the in-store mannequins, the majority of men that we see as the template for how to wear clothing today are svelte, if not unrealistic in shape. And yet, most of our are not graced with the lithe physique of a model, so it’s worth asking, where are the real(istic) men?
That answer to this conundrum, lies in the past. Ernest Hemingway, Fatty Arbuckle, Alfred Hitchcock, Marlon Brando (the later years) these were all men of substance in every sense, and yet their added girth never interfered with their status as icons. Amongst these heftier legends, German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe stands out, not merely for his designs, but for his dress.
The phrase “less is more,” is often associated with Mies, and with good reason. His stark, modernist structures were marked by straight lines, negative space, and a minimal use of color. That phrase does not just describe his work though, it also encapsulates the manner in which he presented himself as a man. Much like his contemporary, Le Corbusier, Mies favored a toned down wardrobe, but his style certainly did not suffer as a result. In his low-slung double-breasted suits, dark striped ties, and light shirts, Mies cut a rakish figure despite his paunch. He was not a handsome man, nor a slim man, but Mies knew his fit and for that he’ll forever be a paragon of good taste.