My Style: Ignatious Joseph

Portrait of Ignatious Joseph

Portrait: Courtesy of Ignatious Joseph

Celebrities and style...

Have almost nothing in common today; celebrity is just another word for fashion.

Please describe your style in three words.

Effortless, elegance, and tradition.

What is the biggest mistake one can make when getting dressed?

Showing disregard for the day’s weather.

Do you believe in role models?

I believe that young people learn by example, not by preaching. It is not the “model” that counts but the sincerity with which a person fulfils her or his role.

What are your favourite fabrics?

Flannel and gabardine, but especially fine cotton cloth.

Are there any style combinations that you object to?

I object to insincerity in any form. It is not the combination of “style” but the absence of it which is objectionable.

Which city has the best-dressed men?

It is hard to say these days because, in Europe at least, the major cities are full of non-natives. Still, it is hard to find men in Italy’s great cities who are badly dressed. The further one moves to the north, the more difficult it becomes to find men who care as much about their attire as their cars and tires.

Would you say that you are conservative or bold?

I would say I am conservative—in the sense that I am not addicted to innovation. Gentlemen’s clothing until the 1920s was actually very dynamic. The introduction of the industrial uniform—the sack suit—suppressed much of the traditional flair which I aim to conserve, and occasionally even restore.

What are the rules in the way you dress?

Necessity prevails over serendipity. I consider carefully where I am going and what I have to do during the day—occasional dress means knowing the occasions for which one is preparing.

Name one garment/accessory that you can never have enough of?

Hose or to use a more common expression “socks”. I walk a lot. Good shoes and stockings are simply essential.

A man should always look like…

The person he sees in the mirror every morning. Only stage actors need costumes.

Who taught you what you know about style?

I grew up in the dusk of Britain’s Asia empire. The gentleman’s style that shaped our youth was that of the ubiquitous Briton in the colonial service. Of course, I am always learning new things from the artisans in the clothing crafts.

How do you select your clothing every morning?

As I said, weather and occasion. After a few years of careful selection, I do not have anything in my wardrobe which I am afraid to wear…

The three essential things a man should know about style are…

From whence he comes, where he is and where he is going.

Do you have any shopping rituals?

I guess the first thing I do when I arrive in a city is look for the most inspiring shops.

We will never see you wearing...

Clothing with pre-made holes or other ridiculous defects.

The most stylish person you have ever seen...

To say that would be to reduce the diversity of styles to another cliché. We do not need icons to worship.

What is the first thing you notice on a man?

His shoes. Although I am a shirtmaker, cheap shoes are the easiest sign that a person does not understand the real purpose of clothing.

Which new designers do you follow and why?

I pay attention to what I see. I am an active observer. Names are not important, it is what actually gets produced. There are always new and interesting ideas to be found among serious designers whether they are young or established. I am interested in the ideas and not the “names”.

The only article of clothing that a man needs to pay close attention to is…

That is like saying that the only thing a man needs to do is wash under his arms. When a man has developed a conscious style, then his daily attire is composed as if it were one article of clothing—one sees the whole man and not his left sock or handkerchief.

What are the most treasured items in your wardrobe?

If by treasured you mean something kept like precious gems, I cannot answer you. If you mean practically, I guess my shoes are the most treasured—that is perhaps why they have become a kind of “trademark” or signature by which I have become known and recognised in public.

Is comfort an enemy of style?

Certainly not. However, I do not believe that nightwear is for public consumption.

Which designer never fails to impress you?

As a matter of discretion, I refrain from recommending or criticising others by name.

The best words of advice you have ever heard?

You can make more money, but you cannot make more time.

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