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.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Holiday Dressing. . .

 An illustration of a cocktail party by the late Laurence Fellows that appeared in the old Apparel Arts magazine.  Now, you don't necessarily have to don a suit for holiday gatherings, but how about sprucing yourself up a bit this December?  This particular illustration comes to us courtesy of The Gentleman's Gazette.

And no, we aren't talking about the kind of dressing you stuff a turkey with!  Rather, the subject is pulling ourselves together and raising the attire bar several notches above what has become the accepted norm -- sloppy -- over the last couple of decades.  In other words, guys, get dressed for those special Holiday/Christmas/New Year's Eve dinners and parties that come around each year at this time.  Actually dressed. 

Getting dressed means that the following items should be left at home in your bedroom closet: 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 frankly, very few people can pull it off well.  Save those kinds of garments for the gym, basketball court, beach, pool, or backyard where they are actually appropriate.

For upcoming December social occasions, how about a navy wool blazer or tweed sports jacket instead? Combine it with some creased wool dress pants or dressier corduroys, a blue or pink cotton oxford cloth button-down shirt (pressed and tucked in of course) with a light crewneck sweater over top, and loafers (tasseled if you're feeling adventurous) with a matching belt.  You can always excuse yourself for a few minutes to remove the sweater and comb your hair again if you become too warm.  

Step up your look a notch or two for religious services with a nice wool necktie of some kind, either plaid or with small paisleys or foulards.  Better to save those "Holiday" ties with blinking lights or elf graphics for another time though.  

In any case, make sure your socks aren't white!  It's safer to go with something dark, like navy or charcoal over-the-calf socks.  A pair of colorful argyll socks can add a bit of light-hearted pizzazz to your ensemble though.

"But that kind of thing sounds expensive!" you might protest.  Well, to reiterate a point I've made in previous posts, if you know your correct sizes (visit a tailor to get measured), it's fairly easy to find the items mentioned above in thrift and consignment shops.  It just takes a bit of patience and maybe some time.  You can't necessarily count of finding everything you need in one fell swoop, though, so it pays to think and shop ahead when you are assembling an adult male wardrobe.

"I'll be overdressed!  I'll feel. . .  Funny!"  Well, the plain old fact is that it's actually better to show up a wee bit overdressed to what is a special occasion after all. You absolutely do not want to be THAT guy who shows up in a stained shirt and torn jeans with scuffed sneakers however.  If being the best dressed man in the room makes you that uncomfortable, you can always remove the necktie, roll it up, and put it in your jacket pocket.  And if you must, remove and hang up your jacket in the hall closet.  Just don't forget to claim it when you leave.

The main point here is this.  You've got to realize that you aren't 10 years old anymore.  You're a man now and should dress the part.  Especially since we are talking about special occasions that someone might have gone to considerable trouble and expense to plan and organize.  It's all about showing respect for yourself, your hosts, and the occasion.  Trust me.  It's not "cute" to show up for a party or event looking like you've just crawled out of bed to slurp up your cornflakes on the floor in front of the TV on Saturday morning.

So gentlemen, as Tiny Tim rightly observed, let's make a serious and concerted effort this December to eradicate the strange phenomenon of the perpetually sloppy and eternal man-child.  Let's dress and behave like grown men with some grooming, taste, class, and sophistication.  And hey, for a change, how about shaving and getting dressed for your own family even if you aren't leaving the house on Christmas and New Year's Day?  Chances are your significant other and adult guests will appreciate your effort.

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