Lately, I have come across a number of interesting quotations and hence, I thought I would open a new category of quotations that stimulate one’s mind and provide food for thought and discussion.
Today, I would like to start with a quote that is sometimes attributed to the famous composer Gustav Mahler, who used music in such a radically different way than his predecessors.
He supposedly said:
“Tradition is not to preserve the ashes but to pass on the flame”
The German original reads: “Tradition ist nicht die Anbetung der Asche, sondern die Weitergabe des Feuers” ….. Gustav Mahler
However, others such as Benjamin Franklin or John XXIII have been known to evoke similar statements. Some even claim it was first expressed by Sir Thomas More. However, that does not really matter because it is about the essence of this sentence – and in our case – its meaning for clothing and savoir vivre.
The more I read about classic men’s clothing, the more obvious it becomes to me that rules and their strict enforcement for their own sake do not really have anything to do with true style, in my opinion. Rules can be a crutch: those who follow them sometimes may not think about their style choices anymore because they assume they have found eternal wisdom in that matter. This has the unfortunate side effect of preventing them of thinking about the fundamentals of design and style. I really enjoy the history of clothes and accessories, and as you can hopefully see on the Gentleman’s Gazette, I always try to outline where things come from, how they were and how they shape the present day version.
Although this heritage and background information have shaped my sense of aesthetics, beauty and proper dress, it makes me realize that a simple change in fashion by influential characters could have changed an outcome for a certain rule dramatically. Think about the evolution of the morning dress and the abolition of the frock coat. What if it would have looked like an evening tailcoat? We probably would still wear that today.
Personally, I find the morning coat to be a most elegant piece of clothing. Just like the frock coat, it is a body coat meaning that it fits very closely. But unlike it, it has an cutaway line that creates a superb look. To me, this is a great example for passing on the flame.
Today, I wonder whether strict adherence to rules makes us often blind to new creations that may eventually become a classic – like the morning coat.In my opinion the key is to balance the two elements of Mahler’s quotation: past and the future, without just blindly following tradition.
What do you think ?