Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion Hardcover – May 20 2009
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About the Author
After studying design and working as a text-writer and conceptionist with advertising agencies in Frankfurt and Hamburg, Bernhard Roetzel dedicated himself to the world of menswear, becoming one of the authoritative experts in this field. In addition to his activity as an author and editor, he also holds lectures and seminars on menswear and style. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Bernhard Roetzel's book "Gentleman - A Timeless Guide to Fashion" is to put it simply one of the finest books available on menswear. It is comprehensive, full of beautiful images, binded handsomely, and methodically researched. I rate it as one of the three greatest books ever written on mens clothing.
Introduction - Who I am and how do I use this book
My name is Antonio and I own and operate [...], an online custom clothier. I talk with men on a daily basis about how to dress properly, have written over 100 articles on classic men's style, and write for the popular blog The Art of Manliness. I maintain my own personal library on men's style books and have read well over 70 of the most popular ones. I have owned this edition of Gentleman for 6 months, but read the first edition over 8 years ago. I use this book as a source for my writing and every time I read it (5 times now!) I seem to find something new.
Positive - Things I Love about this Book
1. Quality Content - The second edition of "Gentleman" is well researched and most importantly breaks into new thought when it comes to menswear and the lines of thinking in the industry. Where many authors are comfortable just repeating what they have read elsewhere, Berhard has used his experience as a journalist and textile expert to present the reader with a truly unique view fully supported by beautiful images. Within this book you will find information and ideas no other men's clothing expert has articulated. In fact the number and quality of pictures deserves a mention in itself - each page is elegantly laid out and presented so as to be digestible in seconds or chewed on for an hour. He manages to both give you an overview, while offering a deeper insight if you have the time.
2. Quality Build - The book is physically beautiful - the binding is crisp and clean, the pictures true to color, and the text small but readable without glasses.
3. Order in which he presents the subject matter - Bernhard systematically addresses all of the major issues in menswear. Within 350 pages he covers everything from grooming to dress shirts to custom suits.
4. Value - I would have paid $100 for this book - the information is that good. As that it is in print and there are plenty of them, it can be had for 1/5 this cost and is a steal. I own more than one!
1. European Viewpoint - Bernhard is German, therefore his view points are more European than American. This "problem" is not really a serious one, just something to keep in mind when you find certain items a bit eccentric or if the tone seems to be a bit too stuffy or formal.
2. Overwhelming for some - At 350 pages, this may appear to some as just too large of a book. However, its heavy use of images makes it very easy to read and understand even for a man who gives it a 10 minute glance over.
3. If you own first edition, perhaps not worth the upgrade - There is new material, but over 90% of the content is the same from the 1st edition. What he has brought in are new companies, tailors, and given Italian tailoring more attention - although not enough in my very biased opinion'
10 out of 10 stars (5 out of 5 for Amazon!), it is one of the world's top 3 books on men's style. If you buy one book on men's clothing, you cannot go wrong with this one.
Roetzel is a German who makes a living writing about style for outlets with which I am generally not familiar. For some reason, he writes about English style. Of course, Germans--that is German nobility, or German "gentlemen"--had their own styles at one time. Just as there was an English suit and an Italian suit, there is or was a German suit, and some style choices that were considered faux pas in England were acceptable in Germany and vice versa. Perhaps this is no longer the case, but whatever the situation, Roetzel is a German Anglophile and he writes about English style. Accordingly, the first book seems to have been a 1990s-era German book called "Der Gentleman" (I don't have this one) a guide for Germans to the English gentlemen.
Der Gentleman was then translated into English as "Gentleman's Guide to Grooming and Style." With typically German thoroughness, Gentleman's Guide provides a very complete and detailed guide to the clothing and toileting of an English gentleman. Methodically arranged and well-illustrated with high-quality photos, Gentleman's Guide is somewhere in between a coffee-table book and a reference book. You will find out not only about different types of shirt collars but also see beautiful photos of a typical English breakfast and find advice on what to wear when riding horseback. The only thing comparable I have found are Alan Flusser's books, but they are not quite the same. Flusser is focused on educating the reader to be aware of when buying a suit or choosing clothes to wear to the office or a night out. Roetzel is more focused on documenting the clothes and lifestyle of a certain class, place, and time period.
Gentleman's Guide was a Barnes & Noble Book and for some reason came out as a paperback first. It came out as a hardcover several years later under the same name and with no changes. Then H.F. Ullmann produced a book called Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion, followed a year later by Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion. This last book is a hardcover with a pinstripe design rather than the well-known red cover. It turns out that Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion is almost exactly the same book as the original Gentleman's Guide. For the most part, only cosmetic changes have been made. The graphic design has been updated with new fonts, colors, and layout. A few paragraphs have been replaced by new ones here and there. A few illustrations have been replaced. The biggest change is the absence of the blonde, blue-eyed model who graced both the outside cover of the Gentleman's Guide as well as the chapter headings.
When I tried to order Gentleman: A Timeless Fashion, I got sent a copy of the Gentleman's Guide instead, which just goes to show how close they are. (Although I can't say for sure, I'd be willing to bet that A Timeless Fashion is exactly the same as Gentleman's Guide, and was simply produced before H.F. Ullmann decide to make the cosmetic changes in A Timeless Guide to Fashion.)
From my perspective, A Timeless Guide to Fashion was a small step backwards from the Gentleman's Guide. Any man who is really interested in these books is probably more likely to enjoy the older fonts and design choices over the newer ones. Moreover, the red cover and model were distinctive. If I were shopping for one of these books today, I would get a copy of the Gentleman's Guide or A Timeless Fashion and forgo A Timeless Guide to Fashion altogether.
As for a general review of these books, it almost goes without saying that a true gentleman would never own or rely on one. The material is so detailed as to be almost a send-up of the English gentleman rather than a sartorial exploration. Moreover, the contention of the book's forward, that a gentleman is any man who lives and conducts himself in a certain manner, is a modern democratic conceit. Most of the material objects and lifestyle shown in this book are beyond the reach of 95% of its intended audience. And with moola', one would still need to combine leisure and birth. However, for me this does not detract from the enjoyment of the book because, like Roetzel, I am something of an Anglophile. For the $20 sunk cost of this book, I can sit down any time I want with a Glenlivet or Veuve Clicquot and be transported for 30 minutes. This is the consideration you have to make when considering whether to buy one of Roetzel's books. Are you looking for help choosing the right suit for the right occasion, or are you a fan of a lost male culture? If you are looking to educate yourself about clothes, buy one of Flusser's books; if you are looking for escape or inspiration, Roetzel is the way to go. (Another purchasing consideration is the gift. One of these books would make a great gift, and at this price for A Timeless Guide to Fashion--a new hardcover full-color glossy--it would be hard to go wrong.)
This is one of my favorite books of all time. It is a history book of fine men's clothes. It includes everything from shaving instruments, saville row suit makers, fox hunting uniforms, and classic male celebrities that influenced fashion. It is different than many other books because it is so easy to read and profoundly interesting and inspiring. I can not stress enough how much it will inspire the reader to dress well. It was so interesting my friends and I actually read it cover-to-cover although it is the type you could flip through.
If you are interested in men's fashion, then this is a must read for you.
I also use this as a reference book. The book helped me set up a good idea of what is a good style. Such as: shoes are one of the most important items you should invest. Why you need a navy blazer, grey flannel trousers. What kind of overcoat you should buy. What's the culture and history behind a Barbour wax jacket. A list of all the best vendors for shoes, suits, neckties etc. The book is well illustrated and have a large number of detailed pictures.
I ensure you that after you read the book, your eyes would be much sharper and you yourself might turn a little bit snobbish when you are selecting clothes for yourself or looking at others' outfits.
Trust me, at this price, it's a wonderful buy. (BTW, I also read Alan's book as mentioned by others. His books, though well written, are mainly on suits and are not as practical as this one.)