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.

Friday, November 23, 2012

"But I feel so uncomfortable when I'm dressed up!"

This classic menswear illustration by the late Laurence Fellows shows two gentlemen simply relaxing and enjoying themselves in each others' company.  And what do you notice?  Why, they're dressed of course.

A common complaint heard from many average guys is that they feel physically and psychologically uncomfortable in situations where they must dress up.  But what does "dressed up" mean anyway?

Dressed up means unwrinkled, clean adult clothes with decent leather shoes and a matching leather belt with some kind of blazer/sports jacket and wool or khaki pants combination at the very least, or even a suit for those more formal occasions.  A silk, linen, or cotton pocket square is optional for those more adventurous sartorial souls out there.  

Moreover, when you are dressed up, your creased pants should sit at your natural waist (in the vicinity of your belly button), NOT down around your hips or rear end with the crotch between your knees.  Your necktie, if you are wearing one, should be comfortably cinched up high enough to cover the top button of your fully buttoned long-sleeve shirt.  Finally, its front blade should be long enough to end at the very middle of your belt.  Too much longer or shorter than that, and you look like a goofball who hasn't a clue.

Dressed up does not include in any way the following items: sneakers, sweatpants, t-shirts, an untucked "going out" shirt, jeans or cargo pants, shorts, flip-flops, or anything resembling a baseball cap.  That's dressing down, and very few people can pull it off well beyond the gym, basketball court, beach, pool, or backyard where those kinds of garments are actually appropriate.  Get it?  Got it?  Good.

Let's make a serious and concerted effort to eradicate the strange phenomenon of the perpetually sloppy and eternal man-child by getting our collective act back together and sprucing ourselves up beyond the bare minimum.  Ok, guys?  A highly effective way to do that is by dressing like we're adults more often than has become the accepted norm over the last 20-odd years. In a word, let's dress and behave like grown men with some grooming, taste, and sophistication.

With that out of the way, how can we address the perceived comfort issue?  There are two related ways to feel and appear more comfortable and at ease when you are dressed up.  Pay attention.

First, as I've indicated here in a recent post, get clothes that fit.  Get your precise measurements taken at a tailor and purchase garments that come as close as possible to those measurements.  Thrift and consignment shops are a great way to do this without breaking the bank.  Where and however you buy your clothes, yes, you'll need to try them on and check yourself out in the mirror to ensure proper size and fit.  Get over it!  Make your purchases once you've picked out a few good quality items and then revisit your tailor for any necessary alterations (sleeve and inseam lengths, minor waist alterations, etc.).  Remember, about the only thing tailors cannot do is alter shoulders in jackets.  So make sure a jacket fits there before purchasing it.  If it does not, walk away.

Second, once you've assembled a modest wardrobe, wear your clothes.  Don't keep them in your closet, saving them for those two or three special occasions a year.  Pick up and dust off your self-confidence, put on some good looking threads, and go forth!  Leave the house.  See and be seen.  Join friends for a drink in the evening at your favorite watering hole and do it dressed.  Or throw on some loafers, tuck in your shirt and grab a sports jacket  before you meet that special someone for a coffee and something sweet at your local cafe on a Saturday or Sunday.  The point is, wear and enjoy your clothes.  Caring about appearance and making a modicum of effort to look acceptable for public consumption -- the world ain't your living room after all -- will have all kinds of explicit and implicit benefits for you. 

For starters, you'll find that by actually wearing dressier, ADULT male clothes, you begin to feel less self-conscious and more comfortable in them, soon forgetting them altogether.  That's how you look and feel comfortable in your clothes.  Call it nonchalance or sprezzatura, an Italian word that's enjoying a lot of popularity right now.  In any case, when you look comfortable  in your clothes, you also project an incredibly strong aura of self-confidence that's hard to ignore.  Women, co-workers, and supervisors to name just three groups with whom you interact routinely will pick up on your improved appearance immediately.  Not to mention sales clerks, restaurant greeters and waiters, plus ticketing/gate agents in airports  and flight crews.  People, whoever they are, pay attention to those who appear pulled together and at ease in their dress, speech, and behavior regardless of the situation.  Calm power, or the appearance of it, is an aphrodisiac as the saying goes.  Trust me.


And here's a photo of that well-known style maven, notorious cad, and bounder Ulrich von Boffke in an equally relaxed setting earlier this fall, sitting around the house DRESSED.  No sweatpants or ratty cargo pants in sight.

1 comment:

Horatio said...

I find it hard to believe you have a toddler at home. Do you keep him penned in his room, or is your wife the Best Housekeeper Ever?

Regardless, you look great, as always.