Can you tell the difference in formality among the three pics at the top? If not, then I cannot recommend enough a recent Style Forum thread titled ‘Practical Thoughts on Coherent Combinations for Beginners.’

I’ve learned as much reading this post over the past couple of weeks as I did in the previous year of learning about #menswear. The primary posts are written by SF stalwart F. Corbera. As it currently stands, at more than 25 pages of posts, the thread is a bit of a slog and includes a fair share of SF in-jokes and sniping between various other members, among some valuable commentary and informative dissent. You’ll find links to each of the substantive posts at the end of my post. The series is not done, but I’m enjoying it so much, I had to share.

F. Corbera is the author of the voxsartoria tumblr and also posts on SF under that name. His style is immaculate, if not entirely to what I aspire, not least because it is greatly helped by very deep pockets. However, before you fear the series is just about replicating his particular style, it’s worth noting that an early post presents the incredibly flamboyant Label King [video] as a coherent dresser.

Despite many claims to the contrary there are “rules” to #menswear. Note the quotation marks. Obviously, these are not formal rules like those found in sport. You will not be given a suspension for pairing suede loafers with your navy worsted two piece. The rules of #menswear are more about tradition and coherence, both practical and aesthetic. They are something to be observed, if not slavishly obeyed.

If the rules were like those of sports, it would be relatively easy to learn them. You could sit down and read them in an afternoon and then readily consult them thereafter. Of course, the informal “rules” are much more ephemeral. What F. Corbera does is to solidify this ephemera, by drawing on the British tradition of city vs. country wear. He is under no illusions that the rigidity of this distinction has waned. Rather, it serves as a device to explain the relationship between coherence and tradition. He explains how various pieces relate to this tradition and why pairing city pieces with city pieces, or country pieces with country pieces produces a coherent look, that – assuming fit is in place – will almost certainly look good. Dissenters have noted other relevant traditions, and I don’t doubt they are correct. But, I think the presentation of F. Corbera ought to be considered more informative than definitive. Certainly coherence can be achieved through other traditions. But, if you’re a n00b like me, you should be trying to absorb as much clear and useable information as you can.

At the beginning, the posts are a bit broader, and set up F. Corbera’s theoretical approach to the matter. Then, he appears to be to be much too strident with the city-country spectrum. However, I urge you to carry on as he soon applies the theory in the construction of coherent outfits.

The informative posts from F. Corbera are sporadic among the slew of posts the thread has attracted. However, I’ve linked to each below.

0. Preliminary

a. Practical Thoughts on Coherent Combinations for Beginners

b. What is a beginner

c. Discordancy or HarmonyContinued Continued

1. Navigate all elements of each “fit” to one point in the path from country to city

a. Get your act in line

b. Forces undermining coherent city/formal/public combinations for beginners 

c. Examples of coherent city/formal/public combinations for beginners

d. Thinking about the casual suit 

e. A city look self-assessment

f. What is the casual suit

g. The two types of casual suits 

h. The odd jacket 

i. Odd jacket from city to country, from formal to informal

j. The city/formal odd jacket

One of the better, thoughtful dissenting posts comes from Flying Monkey. I also appreciated the observation of inlandisland, who related the matter to systems theory.

I’d recommend reading the substantial posts and then, if you have the time and inclination, go back and read through. There are other useful observations.

Note: The pics are taken from those given as examples in the thread. I apologize for not directly crediting the photographers, subjects or original posters.

Note: The thread has been moved to compile all the substantive posts together. There was also a new post today (Feb. 14, 2012). I will continue to update this post as F. Corbera adds to the thread.