A Lesson on Structure from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.


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.



Comments on “A Lesson on Structure from Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

    Dirk on August 7, 2014 2:21 PM:

    All men, regardless of size or build look good in a tailored suit. Denim is a different story.

    Jeff on August 7, 2014 4:42 PM:

    Tell me, what does “tailored” mean? Hand-made or made to measure? Is it about a modern, trim fit? The quality of the cloth and sewing? Tailored is used so often and in so many contexts that it has lost meaning for me.

    Tom on August 7, 2014 6:45 PM:

    The meaning of “tailored” may be lost on you, Jeff, but not Google:

    (of clothes) smart, fitted, and well cut.

    Jeff on August 8, 2014 7:50 AM:

    Gee Tom, thanks. That was so useful.

    Rob on August 8, 2014 8:03 PM:

    As for this non-slim man, thank you.

    Aaron on August 9, 2014 7:56 AM:

    I associate ‘tailored’ solely with made to measure – as in made by a tailor: a person whose occupation is making fitted clothes such as suits, trousers, and jackets to fit individual customers.

    Tom on August 10, 2014 5:56 PM:

    @Aaron, possibly “bespoke” is more accurate.

    Chris on August 10, 2014 7:59 PM:

    That man could wear a suit like nobody else … thanks for a relevant glimpse into the past!

    Marie-Amina on August 11, 2014 2:32 PM:

    Thank you so much for advertising good taste, nothing like a man in a suit, thin or not, a man in a suit NEVER look ridiculous !! Suit can be fit or with that linen wrinkly. French with more than a decade in the fashion industry in Paris, I personally think that a man wearing a suit is more likely taken seriously, sexier and shows his good taste. So sexy that some woman adopt it as well, I do !!

    Jeff on August 11, 2014 3:35 PM:

    It appears there is quite a bit of padding on the left shoulder. I too am, uh, generously proportioned and had assumed that padding and wide lapels would make me look even bigger.

    Hilaire O'Shea on August 13, 2014 5:51 PM:

    For any item to `fit’ it has to touch the body. A point lost on those who choose `comfort over fashion’

Comments are closed.