My point being is that we all (at one juncture or another in our lives) have had favourite films or individuals whom we have (or continue to) turn to for sartorial guidance or that we actively aspire to mimic in dress — style icons as it were.
That having been said, sometimes inspiration (and lessons in style) can be gleaned from the most unlikeliest (or unexpected) of sources.
Case in point: Mr. Wes Anderson's criminally underrated, delightfully whimsical animated stop-motion adaptation of Roald Dahl’s (he who was both author and gentlemanly spy) beloved children's tale the Fantastic Mr. Fox (which was first published in 1970 and brought to vivid life by Anderson in 2009).
Spearheaded in style by a rakish protagonist whose finely tailored, sartorially discerning (heritage) wardrobe could arguably give rise and new meaning — not to mention considerable sartorial reverence and clout — to the age old idiom of what it means to be ‘as sly as a fox”, Anderson’s unique sartorial rendition of the titular vulpes vulpes, whose rugged yet elegant preppy Americana meets English manor lord trademark look is as tastefully sartorial and dishevelled as it is functionally adroit and transitional, is (in my humble opinion) worthy of both imitation and bonafide (autumnal) style icon status.
A rakishly attired, classically preppy anthropomorphic style icon whose flattering signature aesthetic is not only an authentic reflection of his character, lifestyle and tastes but also in complete harmony with the film’s prevailing (retro) aesthetic and (perhaps most notably) illustrative of just how versatile and appealing corduroy — the most underrated (and underused) of all classic fall fabrics — can be when freed from both its casual demure and the characteristic clichés and associative connotations that have for far too long plagued it.
Inasmuch, you could say that he is a man (or rather fox) of highly cultivated style and substance whose unshakable will, incredible self-awareness (as well as confidence), and highly commendable sartorial astuteness are immediately evident within in what is a profoundly smart and refined manner of signature dress that is as equally practical, functional and utilitarian as it is refined, elegant and handsome.
Be that as it may, his corduroy-laden signature aesthetic is not only indicative of an individual who is at complete ease and comfort in his own skin but also reflective of a man who knows how to dress appropriately for the season or occasion and is well aware of his need for a versatile wardrobe that aligns with his profession (as a newspaper columnist), flatters his lithe silhouette, proves accommodating to his dextrous movements, and that naturally accentuates the distinctive hues of his plush fur coat so as to allow him to blend into his environment (which is imperative for a wild fox who has three predatory farmers to contend with who fancy nothing more then his head as on a trophy platter) and to move without restraint.
Having said that, it should come of no surprise that his distinctively preppy and smart retro wardrobe foundation — which was fashioned in the same vein of Mr. Anderson’s own (corduroy-laden) image and tastes — is framed by a tonally rich autumnal palette that places an impetus upon colours such as gold, orange, yellow and brown (alongside hints of white) that not only fastidiously embolden his complexion (i.e. fur) but make it possible for him to comfortably traipse through the (English) countryside by day or night as he pleases.
Yet in spite of that, you could say that Foxy (much like every other bonafide style icon) would be but an empty vessel if it were not for his previously alluded to trademark piece de resistance: a distinctively bold, handsome and hardwearing two-piece double-breasted corduroy suit (with an enterprising 4x4 button arrangement) that is cut to move with (and hug) his lithe form in a rich and lustrous (what appears to be) standard 11-wale cord.
Distinctive in its marriage of bold retro 70s’ styling nuances (think large peaked lapels) to a very flattering and modern soft tailoring silhouette (ie. unpadded/slopping shoulders, minimal canvassing, suppressed waists, cropped trousers, shorter jacket lengths, higher armholes), I like to imagine that Foxy’s suit was designed as a wholly capable, versatile and transitionally utilitarian staple that took into account the many converging needs of his duplicitous double-life in due course of formulating one singular piece that could conquer them all.
In detail, style and finish free of the all the characteristic tropes and traits that have for far too long plagued corduroy (i.e. elbow patches, boxy fits, suffocating weights, old fogy connotations), Mr. Fox’s uniform of choice dutifully propagates the notion of corduroy being a smart and stately tailoring option that can bridge the divergent domains of work or play as he takes to sporting it throughout the film whether plying his professional trade as a newspaper columnist (penning “Fox About Town”) by day or sneaking around in the dead of night so as to satiate his instinctive animalistic impulses in being the the self-fulfilling Robin-Hood foil (and bandit) to farmers Boggis, Bunce and Bean’s Sheriff(s) of Nottingham.
As such, and in adjudging his wardrobe as a whole, Foxy’s “hero” attire is at once luxuriously nuanced, functionally graceful, transitionally utilitarian, utterly comfortable, and aptly dexterous.
It is, in other words, boldly expressive (i.e. gold corduroy) yet shrewdly understated (classic detailing; exquisitely tailoring; simple accessorizing) and in complete sync with the innate tastes and sensibilities of the character himself — intriguing, refined, nuanced, unique, and (dare I say it) simply fantastic.
Inasmuch, Mr. Fox’s rakish, nostalia-tinged personal style is dutiful, authentic, authoritative, handsome, relatable and – most importantly in a Wes Anderson (he who is an unabashed lover of corduroy himself) fashioned world – uniquely dignifying and a fluid manifestation of his tastes, position (in the community) and persona.
Being calm, cool, and collected is not only his characteristic disposition after all but also his sartorial prerogative and natural resting state.
And yet in spite of having slowly broken free from its off-putting donnish affectations and academic redolence (i.e. from bow-tie wearing professors spouting philosophy and classicism; old fogeys in boxy cuts), corduroy still nevertheless has a stigmatic air of old-world smugness about it (it was once referred to as the corde de roi after all) that for many continually negates any merit or appeal it has accrued over the intermittent years…but it needn’t be as such.
Inasmuch, I am here today to champion the notion that you needn’t ascribe to such a narrow (and misinformed) sartorial paradigm but that you should rather take to paying particular heed to the finely attired lead of the rakish Mr. Fantastic Mr. Fox in adopting and adapting his heroic corduroy uniform of choice into your seasonal wardrobe repertoire.
Be that as it may, and if the Fantastic Mr. Fox’s unique style has indeed coloured you intrigued (like many films before it likely have), read on for a more detailed dossier on how to best style his signature double-breasted corduroy suit in the city addition to an exploration of the enduring virtues of corduroy as a fabric, three additional ways to sport it whether at work, home or in the country, and (last but certainly not least) a corduroy shopping guide — suits, trousers, shirts, etc. — to peruse that effectively bookends this feature before we part ways with a summary and some final words of (Mr. Fox inspired) styling wisdom…
GANT Button-Down (unavailable) or ASOS Mustard Cord Shirt ~ $40 | BIRLINE Harris Tweed Watch ~ $275 |
MR. GREY Mustard Socks ~ $20 (not shown)
Chief amongst said characteristic lot is, of course and without equivocation, the peculiarly rakish Fantastic Mr. Fox — or vulpes vulpes —whose rugged yet refined signature style and ageless heritage wardrobe (you could say) is heroically deserving of a fable in and of itself.
Crafty, cunning and always (shrewdly) dressed to impress, Anderson’s (arguably self-fulfilling) portrayal of Dahl’s revered trickster and fatherly figure not only slays it in the personal style department but can talk his way in-and-out of any situation (much alike the famous Reynard the Fox from medieval lore whom it is said inspired Dahl’s Mr. Fox) or dilemma.
Being himself an unabashed proponent of vintage Ivy League/preppy aesthetics as well as an ardent champion of corduroy formalwear, it stands to reason that Anderson’s tastes in style and dress were indeed a driving inspirational force behind his (re)imagining of many of Mr. Fox’s handsome trademark look(s) — fabric swatches for Foxy’s suits were sourced from Anderson’s personal tailor after all.
That having been said, it should come of little surprise that Foxy’s trademark corduroy suit (more so then anything else in his well-rounded repertoire) is the shining (wardrobe) star of the film. Modelled in the same vein as one of Anderson’s very own, its velvety smooth cotton composition (corduroy is often referred to as the seersucker of autumn) has the look and feel of a luxury woollen fibre but arrives in a resilient and sturdy finish that has the added virtue and capability of being machine-washable (which should prove a massive drawing point for many).
To wit, his exquisitely tailored gold/ochre/burnt-orange, standard 11-wale double-breasted cord masterpiece can indeed function as a referential beacon for any interested party that markedly draws upon the enduring virtues of a fabric that innately lends not only instant warmth and comfort but a luxuriously smooth and tactile finish to any garment (formal or otherwise) it graces.
In any case, Foxy’s suit (at its core level) injects upon his persona an elevated stateliness in dress and professional distinction that together help instantly (and markedly) differentiate him from the rest of his animal brethren erstwhile also serving his need for a uniform that blends into the countryside and allows him to operate in the (camouflaged) comfort of the shadows — style and substance in equal spades you could say.
His bold, statement-making double-breasted rendition and rakish sartorial disposition notwithstanding, when shopping for a corduroy suit to call your own (or even a pair of trousers or a shirt) my advice would be to gravitate towards softly tailored jackets (i.e. no shoulder padding; perhaps completely deconstructed) with suppressed waists that are free of any ostentatious bells-and-whistles (i.e. elbow patches), fitted trousers that are cut to hug your legs (and finished with cuffs), and both darker palettes (see above) and thinner wales (i.e. the thicker the wale the more casual the garment) so as to maximize your suits versatility and (transitional) utility in wear.
Be that as it may, it should go without saying that I am certainly of the opinion that both it (corduroy that is) and the Fantastic Mr. Fox are wholly deserving of accolade and inspirational reverence as the bonafide (fabric) pillars and icons of the autumnal season that they have become.
As such, and suffice it to say, I believe that there should indeed be no shame in picking up on the subtle nuances in dress of the notably rakish Mr. Fox — whose soft tailoring both flatters and moves with his body — or in turning to the criminally underrated corduroy suit this season should you desire as there are indeed lessons to be learned (and style to be unearthed) from what may seem to otherwise be the most unlikeliest of sources and (unexplored) avenues.
To that end, it warrants one final parting note that when it comes to shopping for (or rather commissioning) tastefully designed and finished corduroy garments (beyond suiting that is) in today’s “see-now, buy-now” landscape that you are most definitely spoilt for choice as both popular high-fashion brands and luxury (designer) houses alike have increasingly taken to stocking what is effectively a much broader spectrum of clothing and accessories (crafted in plush cotton corduroy) that feature more tastefully streamlined fits as well as styles and cuts that better flatter and suit modern tastes, sensibilities and silhouettes -- this is indeed not your grandfathers boxy/stuffy corduroy by any means.
Having said that, and in coming full circle, the only question that I wish to pose to you is whether or not, after perusing this feature that is, you fancy yourself as being as sly and rakishly attired as the iconic Mr. Fantastic Fox himself?
If so, here’s to raising a glass to not only all those out there who revel in famously draping (cotton) corduroy over their physiques this autumn but also too any who are driven to cutting a rakish dash, diversifying their wardrobe portfolio, and elevating their sartorial credentials by means of dressing in a like-minded (heritage) vein of the elegantly poised, always well put-together and sartorially astute Fantastic Mr. Fox.
Share your thoughts, opinions and anecdotes…
Aside from that, are there any unorthodox films or animated movies that you hold in high regard that have sartorially inspired you in your lifetime?
If so, do feel free to share below…
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