the sartorial crown jewel of the continent itself, South Africa, here is where to touch down, what to wear + pack,
and how to fill your days whilst drinking in the variable cultured nuances of these beautiful locales upon your next visit…
(Natural Hues + Tailored Practical Essentialism)
For many a man the sheer whisper alone of the word (which is a western moniker) renders one instantly nostalgic, having the ability to summon to the forefront of our imaginations imagery torn straight from the golden age (and modern silver-screen it must be noted) of cinema; it carries us back to a highly romanticized era defined by its cultivated charm, its refined menswear aesthetics, and its adventurous spirit and mystique ( which are omnipresent throughout such classic films as Casablanca).
For others, namely the adventurers and those who consider themselves worldly cultivated, it alludes to sunbaked excursions to medieval Mediterranean port cities, dreamlike sequences of desert intrigue and discovery, and (in all likelihood) a receptively modern nation coming to grips with a ever-present tide of western influence that is slowly assimilating itself into the deeply ingrained religious traditions of the nation.
Or it may be that you are of neither party and find yourself amongst the minority ilk who have yet to develop any sort of reflective (or stereotyped) opinion on it…
Respective of whichever categorical distinction you fall under, Morocco stands as one of Africa’s most popular tourist draws for good reason: it is a lively vestige of cultivated ancient history and ruin that is culturally accentuated by the draws of contemporary cosmopolitan locales, a mysterious land teeming with a myriad of enchantingly indulgent prospects for one to strongly consider.
Resting upon the northernmost — Mediterranean drenched — borders of continental Africa and resting a scant few miles from that of Spain and Portugal, Morocco is (and has been for well over a century) an exotic (yet safe) and accessible travel destination for the vacationing gentlemen looking for an inspiring and fulfilling excursion that brings to the table an inviting mixture of tradition/history and modern charm.
Which is precely why it has for over a century drawn to its iconic shores and contrasting landscapes such esteemed gents as Yves Saint Laurent — be sure to saunter over to the resplendent Jardin Majorelle he owns in Marrakech— and The Beatles (in the '60's) to such cinematic icons as Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart; Casablanca) and even Mr. 007 himself (Spectre filmed on location in Morocco).
And if it was good enough to capture the imaginations of some of the most revered and artistically renowned gentleman to have ever graced our planet then surely it has something going for it…
Well, whether it is the medieval architectural remnants and palisades, the lush desert oasis’ (like YSL’s Jardin de Majorelle in the Ochre City, Marrakech), the classic cinematic landmarks (i.e. Rick’s Cafe), the pristine Mediterranean coastline, its general acceptance of western culture and dress, or its unique and ubiquitously hued cities completely ensconced in blue (Chefchaouen) or sandstone red (Marrakech), the extensive draws of Morocco are many and far-reaching.
So, why not immerse yourself in this beautiful country and its deeply cultured roots whilst taking in all it has to offer, from the vibrant palm tree panoramic’s in the former “Hippie Mecca” of Marrakech to the east-meets-west cosmopolitan hub forever exalted and romanticized in cinematic history, Casablanca. And lest one forget about Tangiers, Fez, or even the resplendency hued likes of Chefchaouen.
Point being, Morocco can surely satiate any whimsical or prescribed personal wanderlust you may harbour or desire, which is precisely why it is an ideal option for the modern globetrotting gentleman looking for his next sartorial port-of-call.
PS. Do leave the fez at home…but do pick yourself up a unique and traditional pair of babyish leather slippers (which many men wear to this day) should you fancy a sartorial souvenir from your visit
Having said that, most modern Moroccan men are not immune to nor dismissive of the draws of both tailored formalwear and the western (often European) ideal of dressing. From modern businessmen and refined cosmopolitan denizens to the increasingly stylish avant-garde youth, the progressive styling and openly receptive nature of non-traditional menswear movement within the nation is quite evident in everyday life as is the legacy (and draw) of old-world European tailoring. Which is precisly why one is just as likely to saunter past a man in a traditional djallaba as he is to encounter one in a perfectly fitted 3-piece suit or a pair of simple jeans.
Tonally, the aesthetic is predominantly washed-out and often inspired by natural, earthy hues — khaki, sand, white, green — that are on occasion accentuated by punches of blue and red. Material wise, linen and cotton dominate whereas silk is generally frowned upon by all local men as it is viewed upon as being too effeminate.
Overall, the result is a look that is modern, breezy, and lightweight, albeit still traditionally mindful and carefully tailored in its basic styling essence.
So, what should you wear + pack?
My advice would be to consider a wardrobing approach that tows the sartorial line between formal and casual wear, that is tonally muted and anchored by a natural colour palette, and that consists of staple warm-weather essentials that offer form, function, and style in equal measure.
By that very nature, trim (linen) suits, fitted (but not to slim) shirting (grandad button-ups, polos, and jumpers), and practical outerwear (field jackets or bombers) should be the foundation pieces you build upon. Versatile and interchangeable, they are the essentials that can carry you through most any social occasion whilst also taking into consideration the cultural mores that dominate the destination and the level of refined nature of your characteristic disposition.
For more formal (and gentlemanly) occasions as well as for making the most out of your stay, I’d insist upon wearing a muted brown (tan/sand) linen two-piece suit (a la 007 in Spectre) — or a pairing of formal separates like I styled above)— with a white lightweight cotton grandad dress shirt and a pair of suede Chelsea boots (or polished leather penny loafers) to ensure you are accepted to a wide variance of (formalwear required) locations (such as restaurants, social clubs, malls etc.) and social occasions during your visit.
Contrarily, a pair of slim-fit cotton chinos in dark brown, navy or beige alongside the aforementioned knitted polo and either a pastel hued linen blazer or bomber jacket would be proper attire given you are frequenting the Mediterranean coastline or venturing into the desert for a day of exploration. As for footwear to accompany this ensemble, a streamlined pair of suede driving shoes or woven espadrilles that can be teamed with the braided leather belt will make for the perfect finishing touches.
Whatever the styling scenario or case may be, a gentleman visiting Morocco should always mindful of the cultural and social mores that dictate the acceptable attire of the nations working and general populace alike. For Morocco that means a conservative approach that is characteristically driven by a humble and unpretentious religious ideal: nothing overly ostentatious nor inappropriate (such as shirts with numerous open button exposing plenty of skin.)
This features 12-piece wardrobe capsule ensures that you will always look the dashing and proper part whilst being respectful of the national customs. It offers up a modern sartorial point of view that reflects upon both the (cinematic) history and the forward thinking mentality of this bountifully lush nation enticing situated upon the banks of the Mediterranean.
(Utilitarian Safari + Military Aesthetics)
And the vacation in hand: the gentlemanly African safari.
But, why the safari you may ask?
Well, if you would allow me to humour you for a brief moment — before we delve into what to wear + pack — by imagining if you will a day that begins with an alarm clock, mind you not one emanating forth from the usual suspects (ie. smartphone or clock), but one provided by the serene murmurs of passing doves as they flutter by while the sun rises in glorious unison; Now fast-forward to the early morning where before your very eyes an image— seemingly pulled straight-from-a-postcard — begins spontaneously unfolding while you glance amusingly at a migrating herd of Wildebeest that are nonchalantly carousing adjacent to your person as you joyously sup on your breakfast; It is now midday, and as luck would have it you have managed to snap photo-after-photo of bathing elephants, lounging cheetahs, and that pride of lackadaisical lions slowly gathering their wits as the afternoon (often heat-inducing) malaise begins to wear off throughout the animal kingdom; And just like that it is the evening, and a fully pampered schedule of affairs are at your every beck-and-call should you desire anything whilst you spent the dying hours of the day in the lap of luxury with a glass of scotch in one hand and a good book in the other (or good company) as an emancipating feeling of carefree ecstasy slowly sets in that was brought on by an epiphany like realization that you have not a thing (nor electronic distraction) to concern yourself with or a trouble in the world to burden you down…and that gentleman is the timeless draw of the African Safari.
Sure, it is indeed all rather capricious, romantic and steeped in nostalgia, but if truth be told there is (and always will be) something enduringly pure and naturally alluring about it, a draw that will never completely wain no matter how big a characteristic or cliched quibble is lobbied at it.
When all is said and done, the African safari is a tailored vacation for those out there who either desire secluded exclusivity or a return to a more sensibly and carefree (yet highly stylized) lifestyle and vacation.
So, dust off that leather bound journal and fountain pen in order to (re)discover the practical vistitudes of the safari aesthetic while satiating that long dormant inner gentlemanly adventurist lying with you very being today by gifting yourself to such an esteemed and highly cultivated vacation experience that stands asa celebration of the classic gentlemanly virtues of exploration, enriching adventure and rugged sartorial exceptionalism.
With that in mind, here’s how to do it in style…
Taking that to heart, what you will find in the two curated looks above are 12 versatile pieces that can be mixed and matched to craft a myriad of stylishly sensible ensembles beyond those specially curated for this feature.
Having said that, if there were to be one signature piece amongst the entire collection that best personifies and most properly captures the very essence of the African safari experience whilst also readily paying stylish homage to our safariing forefather of the past, it would undoubtably be that of the eponymous safari jacket
Historically, it acted as the core foundation of the British military’s tropical (African) uniform and traditionally (as should yours) features four front patch pockets, a belted waist, and the requisite shoulder (rank distinguishing) military epaulettes. Striking a fashionably laudable balance between form, function, and style, it was expressly designed to comfortably operate in tropical climates without becoming too overbearing or structurally stifling…and succeeded in doing so admirably.
Conversely , a gent could also pack/wear his finest evening wear if a more exquisitely refined and luxuriously secluded excursion is in the cards. Or, if “ roughing it” is what you fancy, opt for heritage-tinged tactical outdoors look as demonstrated in the “Tactical Safari” look above that consists of a cotton ribbed henley, fitted cargo pants, leather work boots and a (complexion/skin saving) desert shemagh scarf.
Whatever the case may be, and whichever wardrobing route you do eventually settle upon, you can rest assuringly in knowing that the safari aesthetic is one filled with sharp and simple pieces that can be utilized in a myriad of ways to create a raft of timelessly refined and comfortable warm-weather ensembles that will not merely only properly outfit and protect you whilst adventuring but also transition from the savannahs to your everyday wardrobe rotation seamlessly (with but a nick here and a substitute there).
Overall, what one should aim for is in cutting a dashing silhouette that can be identified as being a tasteful melange of vintage-inspired tailored refinement teamed with an aura of contemporary rugged gentleman abroad. It's an essentialist approach to wardrobing predicated upon the mixing and matching of practical basics with modern essentials to create looks the are not only respectful of the occasion and its history but also to a gent's elevated level of sartorial standards
It’s rugged tailoring orchestrated in a tastefully proper manner.
The Rainbow Nation
(Vibrantly Layered + Patterned + Dandyish)
Often regarded as the burgeoning fashion mecca of the continent (and the only African nation to boast its own version of GQ), the gents of South Africa — from Jo-burg to Cape Town — are collectively a creative lot unafraid to fly their unbridled (and very colourful) sartorial freedom flags. It is a country where European heritage menswear and tailoring (reminiscent of the refined class of 1920’s formal essentialism) boldly dominate; a place where loud patterns and animal prints (i.e. camouflage, leopard prints and varying degrees of tribal design) stylishly reign supreme.
Consequently, the overall aesthetic is one most closely reminiscent of that in which can be seen on the shores of Italy come the advent of Pitti Uomo, albeit with a more youthful verve and culturally sensible doctrine to define the final product.
And the crowning sartorial jewel of it all?
That would be the bustling metropolitan style hub of Johannesburg, where the popular (resoundingly dandyish) “smarteez” styling subculture first originated and to this day proudly calls home. The “ smarteez” are a collective group of young men who — against both constant ridicule and scorn —have managed to transform (in a few scant years) what was a rather dull and muted menswear fashion scene into one bleeding of renewed life. Driven by a desire for change and a steadfast dedication and belief that has uniquely manifested into becoming a far-reaching movement of structured freedom brought on by an expressive form of style, the ideals of these men have since assimilated themselves throughout the nations biggest cosmopolitan cities and rural regions alike…it is truly a commendable sartorial tide of change whose near omnipresent cultural influence can be seen in the styles of local men of all walks of life, ethnicities, and monetary means throughout the nation.
South Africa has transformed and fully established itself as an up-and-coming menswear destination world round, a place where the general vibe and style is a creatively mixed panolopy of repurposed vintage (often 1920’s/thrift) formalwear, modern European tailoring, and heritage African streetwear.
And the average look?
Resoundingly opulent and peacockish without question, but one must note that it is tasteful form of dandyism driven forth by an intended social manifesto that demands positive change and acceptance (as alluded to previously above).
And it all started from the bottom up, with street tailoring leading the charge before making way for a larger bespoke formal suiting industry that has just recently been bolstered by a new class of homegrown fashion designers that have collectively managed to elevate South Africa to the stylized pedestal it currently occupies today, rendering it as the fashion capital of Africa and a prime vacation spot for any curious style-conscious gent/refined sartorialist who is looking for a unique fashion-centric inspired inclusive vacation.
South Africa: it is loud, vibrant, and fashionably speaking, characteristically unique and driven by the individual — a place where every man is their own creative muse and personal stylist.
All-in-all, South African men understand that an evolved look is contingent upon the final execution. And that at the end of the day it is about the personality of the individual shining brightest and not about the labels one sports of the trends he adopts. Which means that one’s cultivation of style will always culminate into a more tailored and tasteful form and way of life.
And that my friends, is something that we all can surely agree with!
For example, let's say that if you typically wear/are comfortable with leather loafers then maybe try a pair out in animal print; don’t wear something, say a scarf, if you ordinarily never do as it will show in the way you carry yourself while wearing it.
With that in mind, and seeing (understandably) as many gents would rather not veer into full (South African) pea-cocking territory then I'd advise that they alternatively consider subtly playing and experimenting with the wide variances of choice by tastefully incorporating small dashes of South African patterning flair into go-to looks they already are comfortable with and routinely employ on a daily basis in their everyday life.
For most, that would entail substituting one statement making piece at a time (rather then applying them all as so many South African men seemingly tend to do), whether it be a boldly patterned jacket or a brightly hued pair of coloured trousers is a matter completely left up to ones spontaneous whim or his discretionary comfort levels.
But for inspirational sake, I've curated two looks above — one for hitting streets of Johannesburg and the other for exploiring the wine regions around Cape Town — that will allow you to flex your sartorial muscles erstwhile injective a tasteful touch of South African flair into an otherwise characteristically muted wardrobing aesthetic. Both are formal looks that draw they eye but do not demand any added (ie unwanted) attention to ones person as well as being versatile ensembles that can socially transition from street to formal occasions without nary a change.
As for the pieces curated for a sojourn to Cape Town and a weekend spent sampling the finest wines and cuisine offered in its abundant surrounding lush countryside, I have decidedly curated a look that will tastefully mark the occasion should you choose to undertake in such a journey with a loved one or significant other. Suitably, I felt a micro-print grey/blue/brown windowpane blazer was properly sufficient as was a pair of grey slacks alongside a plush set of embroidered velvet tasseled loafers, a classic black leather minimalist watch, a French-cuffed cutaway collar white dress shirt, a pair of navy ribbed socks, and the cultivated refinement bequeathed by the thick-framed round sunglasses. As a complete entity, the look is very sharp and streamlined and is sure to please the likes of your company as well as any onlooking parties.
Overall, the general vibe and styling tendency of South African men seemingly veers towards that of European tailored opulence charmingly accentuated by touches of local tradition, individuality, and a characteristic penchant for peacockish + western experimentation. It is all rather fanciful and very formal in structure, but casually nonchalant in t’s classy execution and intended purpose. It is a refreshing take on unrestrained sartorial freedom that is contingent upon fully embracing (and pulling the trigger on) any style whim you may have.
Experiment wisely gents lest you lose yourself in all the patterned opulence and veritable options at your creative disposal come a trip to South Africa…
Final Word + Up Next…
It is often said — and in the mind of yours truly will forever hold true — that traveling is an essential, fulfilling part of life, an evocative and inspiring character building opportunity that lays before a man a full slate of variably enticing prospective discoveries and mysteries to uncover, diverse inspirational style and fashion aesthetics to consider adopting or referencing as reflective sartorial muses of sorts, and timeless excursions and experiences to bask and revel in.
In its simplest form, traveling is the source of a seemingly boundless array of fascinating stimulations, enticing adventures, and inspiring aesthetics and imagery just begging to be tastefully surrendered to.
DESTINATION LOOKBOOK INSPIRATION
Sartorially speaking, that often entails the broadening of ones horizons, the expansion of his comfort zones, and the refinement of his cultivated tastes; it has the power to inspire and truly change the way we view the world around us and the way we present ourselves to it as direct consequence.
On the whole, travel can be an enlightening experience for some, a morally affirming compass for others, and a style muse for a select few — having the tangible ability to alter ones very being regardless of circumstance or of the initial purpose and intended desire/result of any trip up for reflection.
Point being, it is a commendable gentlemanly pursuit (and for some a hobby) that all gent's — of all walks of life — should readily attempt to partake in as much as humanly possible in their lives.
And with that we shall close out this feature as I bid you adieu and send my best regards.
Happy Travelling Gents!
NEXT STOP: Mainland Europe…
Do you intend on visiting any region of Africa this year? If so, what do you intend to pack?
And, do you agree/disagree with any of my picks (let me know which and why below if so)?
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