Gentlemen’s Fabrics 101 – Silks

Silk – the word itself mimics the fabric it names as you say it flowing softly through your lips only catching slightly at the end.

Assorted Giorgio Armani Silk Ties and Neckties
Assorted Giorgio Armani Silk Ties and Neckties

Silk comes from the harvested cocoons of the larvae of the mulberry tree moth, Bombyx mori, and in domesticated fashion on silk farms in a practice called sericulture. Bombyx mori is a completely domesticated moth and it is entirely dependent on humans for its reproduction and does not occur naturally in the wild. If it was not for human need of silk, this creature would cease to exist.

The Silk Moth Bombyx mori from Wikipedia
The Silk Moth Bombyx mori

Silk farmers practiced sericulture in China since the Yangshao period, dating back as far as much as 5 000 years BCE. The top producers of silk cocoons are China, India, Uzbekistan, and Brazil, with silk production also occurring in many other countries. The cocoons are then unraveled to produce a single, long thread which is then woven into the fabric known as silk, which may then be dyed and made into clothing. Silk has industrial uses as well, but they do not interest us here.

Alexander McQueen Mens Spotlight Jacket in Painted Silk
Alexander McQueen Mens Spotlight Jacket in Painted Silk

Since ancient times men have worn silk garments. Aileen Reibeiro details how Rome forbid men to wear silk clothing through their sumptuary laws in her book Dress and Morality. What a shock modern Italian designers like Versace, Gucci, Prada and Armani, among others, would have had when confronted with such restrictions! It is also considered haram (forbidden) for men to wear silk under the teachings of conservative Islam, yet halal (allowed) for women. The Kingpin aesthetic is not so restrictive.

The history of silk being a luxury fabric as well as being painted and dyed have associated flair and colour with it. And so should the gentleman considering adding silk to his wardrobe. Silk is a material that can easily have you veer into a look that is neither flattering or gentlemanly. However, in the Kingpin aesthetic you can use silk effectively to present yourself as a man who enjoys the finer things and is bold enough to show it. Besides ties, I find silks to wear well in the heat, and in more tropical climates, and even the beach or when boating. Be careful not to over do it! Refrain from complete silk outfits! Balance a silk shirt with linen trousers for a more grounded look. Wear the level of vibrant colour you feel confident in wearing and no more, else you should quickly resemble a lost clown instead of  romantic figure! It should go without saying that the best silk piece a gentleman can acquire is a top rate silk top hat.

Victorian Gentleman with Silk Top Hat and Waistcoat and Tie
Victorian Gentleman with Silk Top Hat and Waistcoat and Tie
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