Portrait of a Gentlemen


I like to walk through the National Gallery’s Renaissance collection on occasion and stare at the portraits, not because I’m nostalgic for a time before comprehensible memory, but because I like to look at their clothes. I really enjoy it. Its indirect inspiration gleaned from staring upon hardened generals in ruffled collars and turquoise lapels. 

These paintings comprise the ultimate look-book for any season. The portraits of regal men in immaculate dress looking at you through their oil-paint eyes can make anyone look down at his or her khaki shorts and feel a little embarrassed. The grace and feeling of a time before socks and under shirts could wick sweat from your body, and when suits were truly custom made, is truly something to behold. 

This gentleman, depicted by Joseph Wright in his 1770 work, Portrait of a Gentleman, is a great example of power conveyed through grace as well as attitude. The first thing that catches the eye is the wide, turquoise lapels, bordered by golden ribbon leading to the subject’s face. And while the lapels, brass buttons and red collar are elegant on their own, it is his gaze that should inspire you. This is a man looking towards the future with an unshakable confidence that never goes out of style. Coupled with the nonchalance of his folded arms, it seems he’s not only confident about the future, but also pretty certain about the present.  

That attitude will always be modern. 

I selected this piece because its style is hyper-masculine, yet refined. One should try and replicate this attitude every day, but also reflect on other elements of his dress. The playfulness of colors can be applied the modern man’s business dress. Despite the propriety conveyed by his suit, the color palette would be considered bold by today’s standards. 

For a more modern frame of reference, take this look from Prada’s Fall 2010 collection. Notice the color and confidence. While this look might not be appropriate for the office every day, it would be perfect for more casual Fridays and could easily transition into happy hour and well beyond. While most of us won’t be able to look at a Prada price tag without a quick twinge of nausea, this is a look that most men can put together with pieces they already own. Try different colors, khaki suit with a light weight pastel sweater for summer, experiment with shades until you find a look that suits you. And then, by all means, wear it with confidence. 

This attitude is evident in the style of many portrait subjects at the National Gallery. So, take a long lunch, or set aside a Saturday afternoon, walk to the museum and stare into the unshakable eyes of the past. Admire their clothes, the tailoring, the individuality and the grace. But, more than anything admire the refined confidence that is evoked and take that back to the office.


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  1. A says:

    Good writing style but I won’t be reading posts about mens fashion. I just really don’t care. I suggest Jamie start his own blog – CapHillStyleForMen…. you could even give him a tab on your own site if you were so inclined.

    Please, the every so often mens post is fine but you have tailored this blog so well to female readers. I speak for myself obviously but I think others will agree… don’t change that!

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  2. Ash says:

    I agree with A. I like his style, but I love the fit of the blog as is.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  3. DCGal says:

    Definitely creative! He offers a different perspective.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  4. Apples says:

    The writing is good. Very smart. But I agree with the above posters–Jaime should start his own blog and leave Capitol Hill Style for the ladies.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  5. Angela says:

    what i love about this post is that it’s the first piece that’s really localized style to d.c. style always reflects its location and though d.c. may not be the fashion capitol, this piece is all about finding inspiration in the vast resources of capitol city.

    i agree with the above posts that perhaps it should have added a female perspective or at least a unisex one, but if jamie’s creative and quick enough to incorporate d.c. into this post, i’m sure he’ll be fine pitching all of his writing for his female audience as well.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  6. AL says:

    I like that he’s trying to break into fashion on a female blog, but I too will be skipping this one b/c it’s not relevant to me at all.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  7. lulu says:

    This is the second intern that starts 2 consecutive sentences with “while” (see penultimate paragraph).

    While it’s true that writing is hard, it helps to read a post out loud before submitting.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  8. Katherine says:

    I like this post and disagree that it has limited applicability to menswear. Lots of us ladies wear black suits on a regular basis and this makes me think there are potential coordinating pieces in my wardrobe that I’m neglecting. Maybe a comment to that effect in the posting would have been a good addition, but it doesn’t bother me that he didn’t intentionally tie-in women’s clothing. This post is also geared more towards the professional-wear look that people seemed to think was lacking in the other intern posts.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  9. Hae says:

    i like the post!! very cool.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  10. grammar maven says:

    Sorry, but your title really needs to be “a gentleman”, singular, unless you’re making some allusion that just flew over my head.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  11. Dr. Jean Grey says:

    I’m sorry, I hate his writing style. Do not go there. “This is a man looking towards the future with an unshakable confidence that never goes out of style. Coupled with the nonchalance of his folded arms, it seems he’s not only confident about the future, but also pretty certain about the present.” Are you kidding? Please. No.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  12. Belle says:

    Grammar Maven—That typo may have been my fault. I’ll have to check, and maybe change, accordingly.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  13. K. Hill says:

    I agree with Dr. Grey. yawns I def won’t be reading anything that he writes.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  14. Melissa says:

    I won’t be reading these. I guess it’s nice to shake things up now and then with a menswear post, but I thought that was what Beau was for. I’m honestly not interested in menswear.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  15. Sarah says:

    I like him. He said in his application that he’s fresh out of college. Although the writing may be a bit airy, I think he has some great points. I say keep him to a once-a-month post or have him start his own blog. I’d actually read it.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  16. Lucy says:

    I wonder if he should start his own blog and guest column here, maybe with menswear posts around holiday times when we ladies are buying for our significant others, or maybe to comment on ladies’ fashion from a men’s perspective. Honestly, I won’t be reading his posts, but I think male perspective could really add a whole new element to the blog.

    July 15, 2010/Reply
  17. raenell says:

    I actually really like this post but its already been done by and If men want style advice, they should go to them, not here.

    July 16, 2010/Reply
  18. Jill says:

    I love this post. The National Gallery inspiration is so fresh, and the ultimate message is inspired. And inspiring. Full disclosure — I’m also a UNC grad and met Jamie on his D.C. internship search. Even during our meeting, I enjoyed his fresh perspective on D.C.

    July 16, 2010/Reply
  19. Norwegianette says:

    The national gallery thing seems kinda forced and gimmicky. I like his point about color, but like others have said it’s not very relevant for me. I’d like to see his take on female fashion though if he’s going to be writing for this blog.

    July 22, 2010/Reply