Oscar Wilde once said “Looking good and dressing well is a necessity. Having a purpose in life is not.”
In fact, in their heart of hearts, every man fancies himself as a fashionista of sorts. This is especially true for Italian men. My father was Italian through and through and wore alligator shoes, argyle socks and cashmere sweaters.
One of his good buddies was a buyer for Saks Fifth Avenue when Saks was Saks, and he would bring home a variety of luxury items for me and my siblings to wear. Little did we realize that he was breeding into us a sense of high style which would eventually cost us small fortunes to indulge.
I think the idea of Italian fashion may have even prompted my youngest sibling to move to Padua, Italy which is where he remains. He often told me that Italian men are more fashion-conscious than women and would promenade through the piazza in the early evening showing off their clothing.
So it should be no surprise that one of the most elegant men’s stores in Nassau County is run by an Italian. And no I am not talking about Claudio del Vecchio, the owner of Brooks Brothers. I am talking about Joseph Tipodi, owner of two high-end men’s clothing stores. One is Southhampton Blazer and Button Company and the other is Joseph & Joseph Clothiers and they are both on 7th Street in Garden City.
I sat down with Mr. Tripodi last weekend and talked with him about men’s fashion and how he got into this business. He was born in Oceanside and lived in Nassau County his whole life.
His father was a shoemaker and Joseph studied physics and economics at Adelphi and went to graduate school at Brooklyn Polytechnical to study mechanical/ aerospace technology. He soon discovered he had more interest in people than in space and turned to the fashion business.
He must have been paying attention in his economics classes at Adelphi because he established his stores in 1993 in an ideal location. He wanted to cater to white-collar Wall Street type clients and he’s been going strong ever since.
After we got through the preliminaries I asked him what one might call a series of naïve or simple-minded questions. I asked “Why does fashion exist?”
He paused, looked a bit surprised, thought for a moment and then said “It allows people to be different from each other. He allows them to express themselves and to make a statement. If you are a conservative you will wear a button-down look. If you have a sense of liberalness you may wear more passionate colors.”
I then asked him if he thought that each culture expressed their identity differently. He said “I think so. Look at Italy. The leading designers include Armani, Zegna, Cuccinelli, Canali and Ferragamo. Men’s fashion dominates their culture.
In France, the big designers are for women. Designers like Chanel, Givenchy and Louis Vuitton all establish the feminine mystique which is very French.
The British favor woolens and represent the conservative look. By the way, the American designer Ralph Lauren did most of his early research in the archives of old British fashion houses and thus his American look has its roots in Great Britain.”
He mentioned that the next big color this year will be blue and he said he likes the new slim look in fashion and feels it benefits the older gentleman. I had a suspicion he was making a subtle suggestion to me so I asked him to offer the gentleman reader five fashion tips. He said
1) Always wear clothes that fit you properly. Too tight or too loose is not a good look.
2) Classic clothing is timeless and will rarely go out of fashion.
3) Always have a few crisp white shirts in your closet. White makes all other colors you wear pop out and look better.
4) The new stretch fashion fabrics wrinkle less, breathe better and are comfortable.
5) Always invest in a navy blue suit. The color navy goes good with any complexion.
So now all you men out there now know where to go to by your clothing. Southhampton Blazer and Button Company of Garden City has been taking care of classy Nassau County men for the last 26 years.
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “being perfectly well dressed gives you a feeling of tranquility that religion is powerless to bestow.” And fashion designer Tom Ford said “Dressing well is a form of good manners.”
So if perchance you are in need of some tranquility and good manners why not go down to see Mr. Joseph Tripodi in Garden City and indulge yourself, Don’t you think after all your hard work that you deserve it?