Thursday, July 31, 2014

More Summertime Reading. . .

An engrossing collection of essays by academics and museum curators on all things Art Deco.  A heavy, over-sized coffee table book that I recommend highly.

We take a holistic approach to personal "Style" here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style.  So, various things besides simply clothing and attire are covered, which, hopefully, will enable a guy to kick up his everyday style several notches and live his life as a more informed, refined, and interesting individual.  A stylish man has considerable breadth and depth to his education, interests, and personality.  Ideally, he continues to inform himself about various subjects, news, and current events long after college and university exams are behind him.  Hence this morning's brief post. 

-- Heinz-Ulrich

This one is, of course, connected to my model soldier and military history hobby.  A fascinating mid-19th century war in Central Europe when drums still beat the march time, flags still flew in battle, and uniforms were still colorful.

Currently, one of my favorite detective thriller authors.  Real page-turners about a downtrodden, hopelessly flawed cop living and working in Oslo, Norway of all places.

And for the stylish preschooler (current favorites of our own Young Master). . . 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summertime Style. . .

     Yours truly, beating the heat in my standard summertime uniform, during July 2008 as I checked on a couple of pork shoulders for some of that North Carolina Pulled Pork BBQ that I whip up from time to time.  A 6' high privacy fence now surrounds our backyard, a 2010 addition after two summers with our overly familiar (and clueless) nextdoor neighbors.  Time now though for a scotch&water I think.  Or maybe a gin&tonic?

Summer is in full swing here in our little corner of the American Midwest as it no doubt is for many of you in the Northern Hemisphere.  July has been delightfully unusual so far this year.  With the exception a day or two here and there, when the AC became necessary at night, it has been unseasonably cool and green, something that is not typical for this time of the year in the midst of Central Illinois.  Usually by this time, it is hot, dry, and the grass is a uniform brown most places.  Hopefully, August and September will continue in a similar temperate and comfortable vein.  Cross your fingers and toes!

I am listening online this afternoon to Norwegian State Broadcasting (NRK), Program 1 out of Bergen on the west coast of Norway, a place where I spent a lot of time in a previous life about 15-20 years ago.  The program features a pleasing mix of chat and a wide array of music from the last 40-odd years along with an announcer who speaks with a delightful Bergen accent.  Playing at the moment is There She Goes from 1987 by The La's.  

The song always reminds me of my wife since I used to hear it quite a bit on the radio during the winter and spring of 2000-2001 when the Grand Duchess and I began dating while in grad school at the University of Minnesota although neither of us realized just then that we were becoming a couple.  It was all still pretty innocent movie festivals and coffee afterwards along with occasional late-night telephone calls during the week about non-romantic, work-related stuff.  Or so it seemed at the time.  And I've never really worked out which of us pursued the other though I suppose it hardly maters now.  Funny how life works and good things sneak up on you when you least realize it.

Anyway, I'm still plugging away at the current group of five wagons for the supply and pontoon train that is taking shape for my mid-18th century fictitious armies, based loosely on the Prussian and Austrian armies of the same period.  You can read all about my übergeek model soldier hobby of longstanding by visiting the Grand Duchy of Stollen blogI finally decided some several years ago to wear my dweeb badge loudly and proudly.  Hello, my name is Heinz-Ulrich, and I paint 30mm metal soldiers for a hobby!

The autumn semester begins again in about four weeks (sigh), and I received one of those emails yesterday morning, inviting me to a day-long professional development seminar on August 11th.  You know the kind.  How dare they encroach on our summer.  Attendance is not mandatory you understand, but I feel like I ought to be there since it has been two years since I last did so.  Guilt is a wonderful thing, and the powers that be know it.  Just when it really began to feel like summer too.  Well, at least it will be time to dress up for campus appearances and teaching again soon, so there is that one small plus I suppose.  I've got a number of new items ready and waiting for the late summer and cooler fall months.

On the clothing and classic style front, the main point of this blog after all, not much to report.  It's summer, so I've worn a steady diet of khaki shorts, madras and/or knit polo golf shirts with leather deck shoes most days.  However, there is a four-season wool, navy pinstripe, single-breasted canvased suit by Southwick on the way that I picked up for a song (less than US$10 if you can believe it) via Ebay recently.  After the usual minor alterations and dry-cleaning, it will replace a similar Jos. A. Bank suit, which has been part of my wardrobe for seven or eight years, but I've never been completely happy with the fit of the coat.  Especially the overly large, boxy shoulders, one of several common complaints about Jos. A. Bank suits of more recent vintage.  You know, since they started manufacturing their suits in sweatshops outside the United States back in the 1980s or 90s.  Maybe it was earlier than that? 

Otherwise, my thrifting habit continues but at a slower pace since my closet and dresser drawers are absolutely crammed full of stuff.  I nevertheless stumbled on four like-new Kenneth Roberts silk foulard neckties a couple of weeks ago in my local thrift/charity shop, all made and finished by hand in Italy.  The prices were so good that I picked up all four: one in wine, navy, yellow, and one in tan.  I can wear 'em when the semester starts next month.

Summer vacation is a time for reading, and I've managed to get through a couple of detective thrillers during the last few weeks, for example Field of Prey by John Sandford and before that Breakdown by Sara Paretsky.  Next up is one of the Harry Hole thrillers by Norwegian author Jo Nesbø.  The title escapes me at the moment.  I've also been working slowly through The Powers of Horror by Julia Kristeva, a somewhat less fluffy bit of feminist nonfiction that deals with the concept of abjection.  

While terribly interesting reading, Kristeva's work is not necessarily something you breeze through in just a few nights before you drift off into dreamland.  Not unless you want to have violent, disturbing dreams that is.  And then there has been the fascinating book on the Art Deco movement, given to my by the Grand Duchess for our anniversary at the end of last month, which is really a collection of essays on the architecture, interior style, furniture, and clothing fashions of the 1920s and 30s.  And of course, we've been working our way through the Midsommer Murders series via Netflix streaming, so it has been kind of busy around here since the spring semester ended at the very start of May.

Ahhhh. . .   You hear that?  The house is still at almost 4pm in the afternoon, the Young Master is having his daily Quiet Time, and the inside temperature with the windows open is ideal for an afternoon nap, so. . .   That is where yours truly is headed next.  A supper of fresh tomato sandwiches (courtesy of the Grand Duchess and her vegetable garden) along with fresh sweetcorn off the cob and iced tea, sweetened with sugar and flavored with fresh mint from the garden, will follow.  After the Young Master's bedtime, it's back down here to Zum Stollenkeller for 90 minutes of hobby indulgence before a game of Scrabble or Yahtzee with the Grand Duchess afterwards.  School might start in less than a month, but for the time being, it's still summertime!

--  Heinz-Ulrich

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Three Points to Keep in Mind. . .

James Purefoy as Beau Brummel in the 1996 BBC production entitled This Charming Man.

An average guy working to kick up his everyday style several notches should aim to be the following:

1) Be discerning where your personal appearance, conduct, and who you spend time with outside of work (or obligatory family functions) are concerned.

2) In other words, be meticulous when it comes to the details of your work and casual attire, your behavior in public, at home, and by yourself as well as in your choice of friends.  Where the latter is concerned, choose interesting people with wide-ranging interests and experiences, who enrich your life, and whose lives you can enrich in turn.  Life is too short to spend one's waking hours in less than interesting company.

3) Last, be fastidious in the maintenance of everything mentioned above rather than sinking to the bottom simply because it's the easiest path to take.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Sunday, July 20, 2014

A Dozen Things You Simply Don't Do in Public. . .

Personal grooming behind the wheel of your car?  Just don't!

After reading Dear Abby online this morning, in which a woman wrote about her husband's habitual grooming behind the wheel of the car, and how this kind of distracted driving frightened her, it occurred to me that it was time for another reminder post like today's.  So here we go.

For average guys who realize the need to kick up their everyday style several notches and are working hard to do so, remember, it's not always about the clothes and shoes.  More often than not, "Style" has to do with how we are to be around, from others' perspectives, both at home and in public.  The kind of men we are in other words.

One very effective way we can ensure that we remain pleasant to those we know well and those with whom we are unacquainted, but who might notice us from across a crowded room, is to observe the dozen tips below when it comes to certain extremely common, but less than pleasant personal habits.  In a nutshell, here are various crass/gross/icky things you simply don't do in public.  Even if it has never occurred to you before.  Not knowing is no excuse for being boorish and coarse.  Especially in the age of the Internet.  Ready?  Take notes if you need to on the following: 

1) Don't clip your fingernails or toenails in public.
Do this in your bathroom at home, Tyler, and don't leave the clippings behind for someone else to walk though.  Need I say anymore?

2) Don't shave.
Unless you are lucky enough to have a corner office at work like Don Draper, with a door you can shut fora few minutes of privacy, to say nothing of an electric shaver in your top drawer, you shave in your own bathroom at home over your own sink.  You don't do this around or in sight of others.  And you certainly should not be doing it at the wheel of your car as you scream in to your Center City office at 90 miles per hour on the Schuylkill Expressway because you kept hitting the snooze bar on the clock radio that morning.

3) Don't brush your teeth or gargle.

4) Don't comb your hair, beard, or 'stache.

5) Don't trim your eyebrows, ear, or nosehair.

6) Don't pick at bugbites, sores, or scabs.
It's time to get those nervous habits under control, Cody.  Besides, picking at yourself can cause infections and leave behind ugly scars.  Apply disinfectant, a band-aid (plaster) if necessary, and let it heal for the love of Pete.

7) Don't fix a wedgy.
What are you, five?  Retire to the bathroom at home, or the restroom in public, to fix your underwear.  Or try buying a larger size of tighty whiteys.

8) Don't adjust yourself.
Go somewhere else where you'll be alone for a minute or two to fix the problem in private, Elephant Man!  The rest of us don't want to see this.  Trust me.  It's neither macho, nor sexy.  The rest of us, male and female, are laughing at you.  Really.  We are.

9) Don't pick your teeth.
Not at the table, not as you walk away from the table to pay the bill in a restaurant, and certainly not in a room full of people.  And don't be so gauche as to ask the waiter or waitress (or your host) "Do ya gotta toothpick?"  Likewise, don't make a habit of "working" a wooden match or toothpick in the corner of your mouth constantly.  It just makes you look trashy and common.

10) Don't burp or hiccup out loud. . .  or pass gas for that matter.
Is it really even necessary to mention this?  For too many, sadly, yes it is.

11) Don't spit.
It's foul and totally unhygienic.  To put it another way, a gentleman does not spit.  Period.

12) Don't honk your nose into a handkerchief or tissue, Finnegan.  Or your napkin while seated at the dining table.  This is about as disgusting as items #10 and #11.

There really isn't much more to say about any one of these offensive practices other than this.  If you absolutely cannot control yourself and must engage in any one of the items mentioned above, retire to your bathroom or bedroom at home, or the nearest available mensroom when you are out.  No one wants to experience your grooming rituals and unpleasant personal habits, and they should not have to.  

Now, I must be in the declining minority though because you don't have to look hard to encounter these kinds of things most places these days.  The world in 2014 seems rife with men (and enough women) who think nothing of engaging in one of more of these habits anytime and anyplace.  Gross behavior almost seems like a badge of honor for lots of people now, something I simply cannot fathom.  

Let me assure you, though, that behaviors like these ARE, in fact, highly offensive and just plain uncouth.  They should not be for public consumption and are best attended to in private.  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A Couple of Classic Items for Sale. . .

A Southwick wool suit in a lovely herringbone patter, sized 44R.  Learn more by visiting The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style on Ebay.

A Brooks Brothers wool sports jacket in a beautiful creamy Glen Plaid, sized 43R.  Learn more by visiting The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style on Ebay.

These and lots of other quality items are available for purchase via The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style Ebay page at very reasonable rates.  Drop by and have a look.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, July 14, 2014

Elegance versus Vulgarity. . .

The late Gary Cooper, about 1936, looking extremely understated and elegant in a double breasted suit.

"We communicate vulgarity or elegance or something in between each time we meet another person. When we recognize this point, then presenting our best selves takes on a whole different perspective. Suddenly we can be inspired by something as simple and yet complicated as clothing.  And when we finally realize that our body is a canvas that offers us the opportunity to communicate the workings of our inner self, a whole new world is opened for us to discover." -- Sonya Glyn Nicholson

Read the entire essay at Parisian Gentleman.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Dressing for the Dentist. . .

This morning's shoe and sock combination.  Loafers are Allen Edmonds, and the socks are cotton trefoil numbers from the wonderful Dapper Classics, which recently celebrated its second year in business.

I returned home an hour or so ago from a 90-minute session with the dentist, which resulted only in his telling me that the crown ordered a month ago and scheduled for installation today did not quite fit properly.   The new crown will not be back from the lab that manufactures these for another four weeks.  

Sigh.  It's times like these when dressing nicely for oneself, even for something as mundane as an early morning dental appointment, helps one come to terms with wasting time and waking up far too early.  So, what did ol' Heinz-Ulrich have on this morning?  

Things were pretty casual really.  Besides the shoes and socks pictured above, I wore a pair of very light Dove Gray dress chinos from Land's End that I've had for a long time, a summer weight navy wool blazer, and a pink and white striped OCBD shirt in a fairly light weight by Ralph Lauren, which joined the wardrobe last fall.  No pocket square though, something that was purely an oversight, but maybe it's better not to get too dandy for a visit to the dentist or doctor.  Right?

One thing about looking pulled together for these kinds of appointments.  And I've mentioned it before here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style.  Looking nice (re: NOT sweatpants and an untucked golf shirt with baseball cap and over-sized white "dad sneakers") seems to cure receptionists, hygienists, dentists, nurses, and doctors of that patronizing -- and intensely annoying -- tone that seems to be rampant in the healthcare industry here in the United States at least.  

You know what I mean.  When healthcare professionals automatically call you by your first name and speak to you with an overly loud voice as though you are an idiot five-year old who does not understand the most basic English.  GOOD MORNING BOBBY!  HOW ARE YOU TODAY?  NOW, THIS BIG POPSICLE STICK IS REALLY CALLED A TONGUE DEPRESSOR, AND I NEED YOU TO OPEN YOUR MOUTH REALLY WIDE.  OK?  THAT'S A GOOD BOY.  It's almost enough to provoke physical violence when someone in pajamas -- oh, excuse me -- surgical scrubs with cute little bunnies and shooting stars all over them speaks to you like that.  Know what I mean? 

Anyway, it's far better to show up the to the office or clinic looking like you deserve a little respect and consideration, which means that you ought to go looking pulled together. . .  instead of like you are taking a sweaty beer break from mowing and raking grass clippings in the backyard on a hot day.  Besides, you deserve to be spoken to as Mr./Ms./Mrs. by people who do not know you.  At least until you until you invite them to call you by your first name.  Over-familiarity and false bonhomie are two of the many things wrong with public life in 2014.  But I digress.  

So, soften those godawful early morning appointments, and give yourself a small reward for rising before the sun, by dressing a bit better than might be required.  You'll feel a tiny better about yourself and the world as you start your day.  And isn't that worth the extra few minutes it might take to match your shoes and belt and tuck in your shirt properly?