Mark E. Seitelman – The Oxxford Man
I always find great joy in meeting people with different styles, because even though it may not be my style, I appreciate the fact that they HAVE a style. It seems to me like a lot of iGents have a very narrow point of view they consider to be superior or correct, forgetting that style goes way beyond clothes and also includes their mind.
Today, I would like to introduce you to Mark E. Seitelman, a New York Attorney with over 30 years of experience in malpractice claims and compensation settlements. Although a lawyer, his style is very different from fellow attorney Ed Hayes.
The Drape Style
Mark was so kind to show me some of his suit outfits while I was in town. I also had a chance to get to know him a little better and learn about his sartorial experiences. Dressing up was something he learned from his parents and always fascinated him. As an adult, he invested in custom clothing and like many other bespoke customers, he tried various tailors and cuts before he found the style, workmanship and expertise that suited him best.
The Classic American Oxxford Style
When I asked Mark what he liked about them, he said that he appreciated their classic, American styling and the superb construction of the jacket as well as the fit.
The Raw Silk Suit
When I met Mark for the first time in person, he wore a dark business suit with a light blue shirt, plain navy tie and black shoes. For most people on the street, this would be just another generic business outfit. However, Mark’s outfit was different in many respects.
Once I came closer, I immediately spotted the little, irregular dots on the fabric which are so characteristic of raw silk – and it was in fact silk. While most silk jackets or suits are usually colorful and geared towards summer or evening wear, you rarely see a navy pinstripe fabric in silk.
The jacket was half-lined and had four cuff buttons with hand sewn buttonholes. The trousers featured the typical Oxxford back waistband and were tailored for suspenders. Overall, I thought is was a rather refined choice – unique but not at all flashy.
The 6×2 double breasted suit was paired with a navy blue, plain silk tie, held in place by a vintage Tiffany’s tie bar and a light blue cotton shirt with a James-Bond-Style cocktail cuff from Turnbull & Asser. The outfit was completed with a wristwatch from Hermès and a blue pocket square.
The black half brogue slip on shoes with a metal plate were bespoke and made by G. Cleverly, London.
The Houndstooth Sportscoat
Apart from this outfit, Mark had a number of Oxxford garments that he showed to me. One of them was a beautiful houndstooth sportscoat in brown and beige. Not only is this pattern very versatile, but with its patch pockets, it reminded me of the 1930′s.
Plaid Shooting Jacket & London Lounge Fabric
Then, he showed me a really fine plaid sportscoat with a half-belted back and shooting pleats. Next came a beautiful plaid three piece suit made from a limited Edition London Lounge wool flannel fabric. While the London Lounge fabric looked very similar to my brown Caraceni flannel suit, Mark told me that he probably wore it only 5 times because it wears quite warm and the pattern is too loud for him.
Summer Silk Suit
Finally, Mark put on a plain beige, peaked lapel summer suit. The fabric had the same weight as the pinstripe suit before and was quite light. However, in my experience silk can wear very warm and the weave is generally tighter than a fresco fabric. As such, I was wondering how well it would work for warm weather but Mark seemed to have no bad experiences whatsoever.
All of these outfits – maybe with the exception of the London Lounge fabric – are very understated and classic, yet the fit and details in the choice of fabrics, pleats, and pockets create a very sophisticated overall look. I have always been an advocate of color in menswear, but Mark shows that even regular business outfits in navy blue can be very unique without the addition of colorful accents.
What do you think of Mark’s style? Would you add more color? It probably really depends on the work environment – as a banker or lawyer, the color palette is certainly more limited.
The Person Mark Seitelman
In the comments below, Benny was interested to learn more about Mark Seiteman as a person, and Mark kindly answered these in detail:
When I started working in 1980, there was no such thing as casual clothes in the downtown office. In fact, three piece suits had made a revival in the mid 1970′s, and men were still wearing them.
I started at an insurance defense law firm, and most of my fellow attorneys were dressed in suits from Brooks Brothers and stores which no longer exist, such as Wallachs, Gorsart, Syms, Merns, and Bonds. Essentially, the suit was an uniform. Dark colors in the winter, and light ones in the summer. Some of the older men wore cotton poplin and seersucker suits in the summer. Every day was a suit day. Sportscoats were not worn. However, there were flashes of brillance and flamboyance even among this “meat and potatoes” crowd. My boss wore dark Anderson & Sheppard business suits and an occasional blazer for a “travel day.”.
The suit uniform continued until the late 1990′s when casual business dress began to take hold. First, it was “casual Fridays.” Then it became casual everyday. At that time I joked with Alan Flusser as to whether I should throw my custom Flusser suits into the shredder. He recoiled in mock horror. However, I was unaffected by the casual cancer. I had my own firm by 1990, and I continued wearing a suit everyday. I still do. The lawyers in my office must wear suits.
As for making bad choices, everyone does.
Here are a few lessons that I have learned:
1. Be careful about buying at sales. There is always the temptation to buy because it is such a “good deal.” However, the purplish blue suit that seemed like such a great buy may be worn only once because something about it is not right. Therefore, the bargain is actually no bargain at all. You have to measure a garment’s value by not only its price, but its longevity and usefulness. The bargain suit bought at $300 and worn once is more expensive than the custom suit purchased at $3,000 and worn one hundred times.
2. Since quality clothes are expensive, you have to get use out of them. It makes no sense to buy a suit that you will only wear once or twice a year. Clothes are to be used and enjoyed everyday and everywhere.
3. Custom clothes can be turn-out to be less expensive than ready to wear in that you will get more wearings out of a custom garment. Also, more thought must go into choosing the cloth and styling as compared to buying off the rack. There is less chance of making a bad decision because the item was “such a great bargain.” See rule # 1.
4. Do not be hasty in ordering custom clothes. If you are on the fence regarding either a cloth or styling choice, wait a few days to be sure. Otherwise, you may be stuck with a suit that gets consigned to your bad choices archive.