Icons of Men’s Style Book Review
Published in 2011, Icons Of Men’s Style [please note link goes to Amazon product page] was a gift from my in-laws a few years ago. Menswear enthusiast that I am, I already own quite a few books on the subject and wasn’t sure that this would add any value.
As it happens, it has filled a void in my collection (and I would say in the menswear literature market as well) because it’s different. The entire approach of the book is unlike, say, Roetzel’s Gentleman or Flusser’s Dressing The Man. Though valuable and information-rich, those titles focus primarily on tailored clothing and serve as encyclopedic “how-to” guides in many ways.
Sims’ work, on the other hand, is a history tome masquerading as a coffee table book. It’s thoroughly researched and its focus is on the origins of everyday garb that modern men wear. Comparatively little attention is paid to tailored clothing, while everyday garments like Bermuda shorts, Converse All-Stars, and even the t-shirt get their due.
Photos are very prominent throughout the book. There are decades-old ads for the garments being discussed, photos of celebrities donning various items, and stills from movies and television shows in which the clothing plays an integral part of the discussion.
- Uses a multitude of images from pop culture to reinforce its points, whereas many other books limit themselves to actors from the Golden Age of Hollywood.
- Thoroughly researched with lots of rich historical information.
- Focuses on menswear items that typically get little to no attention.
- Some of the items Sims focuses on seem to be drawn out of a hat or are of questionable taste (e.g. cargo pants and Hawaiian shirts).
- If you’re looking for advice on how to wear or style the clothing, this book offers relatively little.
Sims’ book truly has some gems in it. Here are some of my favorite bits:
- I had no idea that Dunhill, a former tobacconist, made the Rollagas pocket lighter that retailed for as high as $50,000 (£26,000), in 2007 currency values. As a former smoker with champagne taste, I would have loved to try this lighter even once!
- The original polo shirt was not Rene Lacoste’s invention, but rather provided the inspiration for Brooks Brothers’ button-down collar oxford shirt.
- The inspiration for the sole of the Sperry Topsider came from Paul Sperry noticing the tread on a dog’s paw.
- Elvis wore Jack Purcells. *Editor’s Note: Mike also owns a pair and must therefore as cool as Elvis.
- A miner named Homer Campbell wrote a complaint to Levi’s in 1920. He was disappointed that the jeans he’d worn six days a week for three years didn’t hold up as well as the pair (not a pair, the pair) he’d worn for thirty years prior to that. They don’t make them like they used to!
Final Review – 4 Out Of 5 Stars
Icons Of Men’s Style does a great job of filling a void in the menswear literature canon. It focuses on pieces not typically focused on and is one of the better-researched books I’ve read. With that said, some of the items Sims chooses are of questionable taste. And while it’s outside the scope of the book, there’s no advice on how to wear the clothing he discusses. This is a book for a seasoned menswear enthusiast, not a beginner.
You can purchase the book on Amazon.
Further you can see the author Josh Sims on Amazon.com page here.