The pithy, opinionated, and sometimes brutally frank Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke challenges average guys to live a life less ordinary and embrace classic style in the broadest sense. it's time to rise above the trite, the boring, the predictable, the mundane, the banal, and the commonplace. It's time to stop behaving like barnyard animals at the trough and leave behind the perpetually sloppy man-child aesthetic of the last two decades or so. It's time to learn once again how to present and conduct yourself like an adult with some grooming, finesse, and sophistication. And here is where you can learn how.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

10th Wedding Anniversary Madras. . . Style???

As I said to my wife when we were looking over our photographs post-supper last night, "Ignore the ass in the jacket!"

Yesterday, my wife, The Grand Duchess, and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  I gave her with a pair of Italian sterling silver earrings, cycling tights along with a high resolution yellow cycling jacket, and an all too rare dinner out on the town sans child, something we have not done by ourselves in almost a year.  Our son the Young Master is only borderline ASD, but he can be difficult to handle at times when the routine is interrupted.  God bless Mrs. P., his para-professional from school, who came over for a few hours to keep him occupied and prepare him for bedtime.

Anyway, we tried a local eatery -- The River House Inn -- and enjoyed ourselves immensely.  The weather was cool for late June with low humidity and a light breeze, so we were able to have our wine, meal, and dessert along the shady banks o the Red Cedar River.  The food was good, but it really is the setting that makes this restaurant special.  Leafy, green, and fairly quiet last night. 

To celebrate our milestone in style (something that is open to debate depending on how you feel about busy plaids), I gave that vintage Corbin Madras jacket it's first wearing along with a pair of khaki dress chinos and plain Allen Edmonds brown loafers.  The jacket was very cool and airy, which I hoped for given it's mostly unlined structure.  If you don't mind people turning to stare, which they will since Madras jackets are not exactly common, I heartily recommend them for guys who want to kick up their warm weather style a few notches beyond the ubiquitous cargo shorts and flip-flops. Ugh!

Best of all, my jacket got the spousal stamp of approval.  To my great surprise, my wife heartily approved of it, something I did not expect.  I figured that she would nicely tell me NOT to wear the jacket when I accompany her somewhere and send me back upstairs to put on something else.  However, The Grand Duchess, to her credit, apparently liked it and said as much a few times during the evening.  Or maybe she was simply being polite?  In any case, we had a delightful evening out together and have decided to do it again in a few weeks when Mrs. P. is available once more.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Time to Get Your Bergman On. . .

Strawberries from the supermarket never seem to taste quite as good as these.  And then there is the heavy cream of course

It's that point in the (early) summer, so instead of an actual lunch today, we enjoyed fresh strawberries picked by the Grand Duchess and Young Master this morning along with real whipped cream (my contribution) and shortcakes.  Definitely not heart-smart, but delicious.  Ahhhh. . .  I also now feel better prepared for a game of chess with Bengt Ekerot.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Style Over Fifty Relauch!

For your classic style erudition and enjoyment, another great old Laurence Fellows (?) illustration, apparently showing a gabardine suit.

I just learned of the relaunch of a much missed blog, entitled Style Over Fifty, which presents all manner of musings and practical information on how to present oneself in a more stylish way.  And you don't have to be of a certain age either.  There promises to be plenty at this blog for guys of any age who either want, or realize the need to kick up their everyday style a few notches.  Click on the link above to be transported magically to the blog in question, or you can find the link in my list of 'Interesting Style Links' along the right-hand side of this page.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Easy Weekend Style. . .

Ahhhh. . .  Nothing quite like the feel of a freshly ironed Madras shirt in the summer.  Olive green chino shorts with green surcingle belt and the ubiquitous leather dock-sider shoes on the bottom.

It is so easy to look a bit better and yet appease the almighty gods of comfort with summer weight Madras, poplin, or seersucker shirts and a pair of chino shorts.  You can wear this stuff to mow the grass at home, drink a glass of midday iced tea on the rear patio or back porch, read a book in the hammock, walk to the mailbox, or hop in the car and make a quick run to the super market for those forgotten hamburger buns.  All without embarrassing yourself with a sloppy, rumpled and/or/probably stained appearance.  Your spouse or partner will appreciate the small effort you make to look better than the mean even if he or she says nothing.  These things do not go unnoticed.  Trust me.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Relaxed Summer Style. . .

A vintage Corbin madras jacket -- Guess which one! -- and two linen-silk numbers from Southwick.

Spending time down in the basement office here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold this Friday afternoon after enjoying a popsicle with my son The Young Master who concluded his kindergarten year of school with a half-day.  It has, moreover, been several weeks since the last style post of any consequence has appeared here, so I thought that I would share three loosely related snippets now.

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I finally found a new tailor, who really seems (pun unintended) to know his stuff when it comes to menswear.  Originally from Vietnam, the proprietor of Unique Tailors and Cleaners has run his shop for 17 years above, of all places, the local Meijer's supermarket!  The shop is bright, clean, and busy with lots of customers and the various items they bring to the shop hanging in neat rows right behind the counter.  Best of all, turn-around is at right about a week although the shop offers to address very simple jobs rapidly while you shop for groceries downstairs.  As an interesting aside, the owner told me last week that he not only did clothing alterations in Vietnam, but he also made men's clothing.  So, my suspicion is that he really knows what he is doing.  I will not hesitate to take a couple of recently acquired suits to him for a few more complicated alterations later in the summer.

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For now, I had the sleeves shorted and inch or so on the three jackets pictured at the top of this post.  Two of them are linen-silk blends by Southwick, and the cotton Madras number is a vintage piece by Corbin that is almost like wearing nothing thanks to very lightweight material and just enough lining inside to slip on and off comfortably.  Best of all, this is one of the tamer madras tartans I have come across, so I snatched it up  on Ebay, for a song incidentally, when I saw it a month or so ago.  Besides thrift/chatrity shops, Ebay is also a very useful place for finding gently used, and sometimes even new with tags, male attire in the classic vein.

The secret to wearing Madras jackets seems to be that you keep everything else absolutely plain, so probably a summer weight mid- or light blue blue cotton shirt and either pale gray, or light khaki dress chinos, and a white linen or cotton pocket handkerchief with this.  I'll freak out my new students a few times, I am sure, with this jacket once the fall semester begins at the end of August.  In the meantime, I picked up my jackets and dropped off three pairs of gabardine dress pants that have always been about an inch too long, and the waist on two pairs needs to be let out a bit.  I am interested to see how the owner of Unique Tailor and Cleaners does with this somewhat more involved process.

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  My maternal grandfather's horsehair shoebrushes that I continue to use myself.


Finally, even if you are not a spitshine/glase enthusiast when it comes to your leather dress shoes, it's always a good idea to give them the quick once over in the mornings when you dress, and again when you undress in the evenings, with horsehair shoe brushes.  It keeps a nice sheen on the leather and sole edges besides keeping the welts dust free, something that is a pet peeve of mine.  These brushes once belonged to my maternal grandfather, and date from the early 1950s.  He used them five or six days a week during his working life until I became a teenager in the late 1970s and earned weekly allowance/pocket money by, among other things,  using these same brushes to keep Granddaddy's footwear presentable.  

Granddaddy took another sales job after retiring in 1981, something to do that would get him out of the house, and continued to dress well in suits or sports jackets with odd pants and a necktie.  At about that time, I was a young teenager in need of spending money as slightly older friends began driving, and we went out to do things after school or on weekends.  Seeing an opportunity for both of us, Granddaddy suggested that I keep his several pairs of dress shoes presentable with a good shine once a week.  He later chuckled and told me that the men he met always used to ask just how he got his shoes to look so good.  The secret was, of course, his mercenary grandson!  

Anyway, Granddaddy finally presented his shoe brushes to me in 1998, or '99, shortly before he and my grandmother moved for the last time, and I have used them almost everyday since then, at least during the days from the end of August to the start of May each year when I dress for professional activities on campus.  Summers at home are, as I have written previously, a lot less formal with chino shorts, short-sleeved madras or polo shirts, and leather dock-siders.  

But back to dress shoes and shoeshines.  While there is something very relaxing about shining your shoes, as well as the science behind it, a light treatment of leather balm once every week or two and a good buffing with brushes like these will impart a nice sheen to your dress shoes, keep them looking more than presentable, and without the process taking too much time.

-- Heinz-Ulrich