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Showing posts from May, 2014

Keep Yourself to Yourself. . .

A section of an old fieldstone wall from my old stomping grounds of southeastern Pennsylvania.

Mending Wall -- Robert Frost

Something there is that doesn't love a wall,
That sends the frozen-ground-swell under it,
And spills the upper boulders in the sun,
And makes gaps even two can pass abreast.
The work of hunters is another thing:
I have come after them and made repair
Where they have left not one stone on a stone,
But they would have the rabbit out of hiding,
To please the yelping dogs. The gaps I mean,
No one has seen them made or heard them made,
But at spring mending-time we find them there.
I let my neighbor know beyond the hill;
And on a day we meet to walk the line
And set the wall between us once again.
We keep the wall between us as we go.
To each the boulders that have fallen to each.
And some are loaves and some so nearly balls
We have to use a spell to make them balance:
'Stay where you are until our backs are turned!'
We wear our fingers rough with handling t…

Sunday Casual Attire. . .

From the Land's End website, a men's short-sleeved Madras sport shirt.  I discovered these almost 20 years ago when I finally cut my hair and joined the adult world. 
We are in the midst of the long Memorial Day holiday weekend here in the United States, traditionally seen as the start of the summer season although we actually have about a month to go until the summer solstice.  

In any case, it's a quiet, pleasantly cool late Sunday morning at the von Boffke residence, and here is my suggestion for decent looking, yet totally comfortable summertime attire.  Today, I'm wearing a short-sleeved Madras shirt on top much like the one shown above, faded well-worn chino shorts on the bottom, and a pair of extremely well-worn leather boat shoes on the feet.  No socks obviously.  Perfect for lounging around the house, backyard, or even a quick run to the supermarket before a later afternoon barbecue.  You know.  For the hamburger or hotdog buns and a large bag of ice.

My father…

Add Some Pizzaz to Your Wardrobe!

A relatively young Humphrey Bogart, looking a bit menacing here, in a double-breasted Glen Plaid suit.

The always dapper Cary Grant wore a Glen Plaid suit in Alfred Hitchcock's North by Northwest.

Gary Cooper looks dashingly relaxed in his double-breasted three-piece Glen Plaid suit.

And of course, who could forget the great Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger?
Recently, I've written of my enthusiasm for Glen Plaid (a.k.a. Glenurquhart Plaid, Glenurquhart Check, or Prince of Wales Plaid)sports jackets and suits here.  I've recently acquire a sports jacket and a couple of suits in this pattern, one in blue and one in gray, that are waiting simply for me to take them to the tailor's for minor alterations.  Since I do not teach between May and late August, there is sadly no hurry since truly snappy dressing is not necessary during the warmest months of the year where I live.  Sadly, as I say since I actually enjoy shaving and putting on attractive classic menswear five…

Civility. . .

Hopefully, you conduct yourself better than these young children.
Civility -- polite, reasonable, and respectful behavior.  Courtesy.  Politeness. (Miriam-Webster Online).

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thinking ahead to Autumn Already. . .

This lovely, and very heavy, Southwick 3/2 suit arrived today.
It pays to be foresighted when assembling an adult male wardrobe.  While we haven't even had any hot weather (and only a few warm days) to speak of this spring in my neck of the woods, I already find myself thinking ahead to late fall and next winter.  Why?  This vintage Southwick beauty by arrived with the mail earlier today.  A fairly reasonable 'Or Best Offer' Ebay purchase when you consider that it's a full suit with several quality features.  

Made in the U.S. of A., the suit is sized as a 40 Long.  The coat fits cleanly across my back, chest, and sides without being too snug or hanging on my still reasonably trim frame.  The pants, while far too long currently, are fully lined to the ankles and have brace buttons already on the inside of the waistband, so I'll have the belt loops removed and wear the suit with braces.  Best off all, it is very comfortable.  Delightfully soft and HEAVY wool flannel w…

Class. . .

Wayne Station along the Main Line outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The concept of "class," to my mind, has less to do with the material assets your family might have and considerably more to do with polite manners, education, refined tastes, and (hopefully) a concern for the common good.  If you are fortunate enough to have all of those bases covered AND have scads of that mean, mean green, fine.  Contact me offline, and you can donate two or three million to the cause.  Or at least help us set up a trust fund to ensure our son's university education when the time comes.

All kidding aside, even if your background and means are more modest, there is no excuse not to acquire some grooming, sophistication, and gentility by the time a guy has reached his early 20s.   Let's also toss in the concepts of trustworthiness, honor, grace, poise, responsibility, tolerance, (self-) discipline, understatement, and character while we're at it.  Average guys who want to kick…

Proper Wedding Guest Style. . .

You might be able to get away with jeans and one of those awful untucked "going out" shirts at your workplace, at the local bowlong alley, or at a bar on Saturday night, but they are not correct wedding attire.
The wedding season is (almost) upon us.  With that in mind, here is a vital bit of information for average guys who want to kick up their everyday sense of style several notches. Are ya ready boys?  All right fellas, let's go!

Unless it has been specified on the invitation that an upcoming wedding, to which you are invited, has an ultra casual, southwestern, or (God help us) a country and western theme, the correct attire for male guests at a wedding is an understated suit (gray, charcoal, or navy) with a necktie and recently polished and shined leather dress shoes.  Newsflash!  Weddings are formal occasions.  Jeans are not formal wear.  

While most people in most places around the world now wear them, and some pairs of jeans retail for an obscene amount of money, t…

Honest Toil. . .

My mother told me, "There is nothing wrong with good, hard work," on the day I started as a 19-year-old part-time stock clerk at a local supermarket in October 1986. . .  for slightly less than US$4 an hour.  This was after my grandfather delivered the ultimatum to me -- I had been out of high school roughly 15 months -- of choosing either school or work.  I could not hang around doing nothing anymore. 

For the next five years, I developed callused hands unloading 50' (about 15.25 metre) trucks three (early) mornings a week, occasionally four, with an old-fashioned manual pallet jack.  I also stocked shelves in the dry grocery, frozen food, dairy, and produce departments, bagged grocery orders when the store was busy, mopped filthy floors, cleaned and maintained refrigeration equipment, and gathered up shopping carts in all kinds of weather year round, shoveled snow outside the store, cleaned public toilets as well as all kinds of other tasks associated with working in …

10 Easy Ways to Give Your Attire That "Lived In" Look. . .

The real James Bond -- author Ian Fleming, looking relaxed and at ease in a suit and bowtie no less..

And we're not talking rips or tears. . .  or  beer, ketchup, or guacamole stains down your front.  That's not what I mean.  As an average guy making the effort to kick up his everyday style several notches, you want your clothing to look its best.  And clothes look their best when they look lived in.  Here are ten easy tips that will help you achieve that.  Ready?  Here we go!

1) You must wear your clothes.
Don't leave your good stuff hanging in the closet or folded in your dresser.  Put it on.  Make a habit of wearing nice things.  You'll begin to feel quite comfortable in them fast, which will make you look relaxed and, wonder of wonders, give your clothes that coveted "lived in" look.

2) Don't fret over a few wrinkles.
Barring accidents with food, ink, or blood, once a year dry-cleaning is fine for suits, sports jackets, and odd dress pants.  In the meantim…

15 Absolutely FREE Life Tips for Average Guys. . .

Problems and disappointments in your life?  Um, it might be more you than anyone or anything else.
Disappointed with how things are going?  Lots of us have been there (I certainly have), and too many average guys find themselves in that same boat now and then.  But however crummy you might perceive the current situation to be, and before you complain too loudly about the unfair hand life has dealt you, consider the following:

1) It might be you.
You might need to grow up.  Being an adult means that a person must accept responsibility and learns to exercise self-control in all areas of his life.  A lot of average guys, whether they are 20 or 60, seem to forget this.  And yes.  You are correct.  Growing up is not always fun, but there you are.

2) You are not the center of the universe.
The world does not stop turning on its axis just because you have had a bad day or some imagined disappointment.  If Mom and Dad have led to to believe otherwise, they've done you a disservice.  Wake up.


Don't Get Carried Away. . .

When someone invites you to, "Make yourself at home!" better to err on the side of caution and consideration for others and not take this ubiquitous phrase quite so literally.
When you are invited to someone's house, even if the event is very informal, resist the urge to let it all hang out.  I'm talking specifically about things like removing and leaving your shoes and coat in a heap on the floor just inside the front door when you arrive, resting your feet on the furniture, and putting your cup or glass directly on a table while ignoring the coaster you've been given, or worse (use your imagination).  

Newsflash!  You are a guest in someone else's home.  You are also an adult, so demonstrate respect for your hosts, their home and property as well as your fellow guests if there are any.  You might well have been invited to make yourself comfortable by your host(s) on arrival, but don't take that hospitality to unintended (and often undesired) extremes.  In…

Put on a pair of REAL pants!

If you're going to leave the house, unless you're headed to the gym or the basketball court just down the street, put on a real pair of pants.
"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat.  You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants." -- Karl Lagerfeld

That sums it up very well.  Time to think about what you are saying to the rest of the world with all of those excessively baggy, over-sized clothes that you think are so comfortable.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Just Say No. . .

Archie Bunker (played by Carroll O'Connor), who personified boorish, crass, and ignorant attitudes and behavior during much of the 1970s on Norman Lear's TV series All in the Family.
A grad school friend of mine, currently living and working in Budapest, recently lamented the apparent absence of manners, tact, and style (in a very broad sense) across so much of society.  She felt that there are now many who long for greater civility and decency in the way we behave alone and in the company of others.  Indeed, it seems that too many in 2014 see nothing wrong with boorish, crass, rude, ignorant, and just plain stupid behavior. . .  if they don't celebrate it outright. . .  which many do.  At least that is how things seem too much of the time and in too many places. 

That's especially true where popular entertainment is concerned, much of which seems to glorify the offensive and the ignorant.  Think of TV over the last 40+ years from programs like All in the Family in th…

Basic Alterations 101. . .

A skilled tailor can work miracles with making the fit of your clothes more exact.
As many have pointed out elsewhere in the menswear and men's style blogosphere, 'fit' is the most important thing when it comes to kicking up your everyday style several notches.  And there are all kinds of things that a skilled tailor can do to make your off-the-rack, vintage, or thrift/charity store finds fit as if they were top of the line, custom (bespoke) garments.   I'll refer you to websites like Ask Andy About Clothes for a more complete discussion of the magic of which tailors (the good ones at least) are capableJust dig around the various fora there.  
In the meantime, here are four simple alterations that will help average guys look a million times better in their suits and blazer/sports jacket-odd pants combos.  If you are just such a guy, pay close attention.

Tailors hard at work somewhere along London's Saville Row in the mid-1940s.

1) The Jacket -- Sleeves First of all,…

Don't Forget These in Your Quest for Better Everyday Style. . .

Make sure you get enough sleep, among other things.  It will improve your appearance, productivity, and outlook on life to no end.
For all of the talk about clothing, shoes, accessories, and personal conduct here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style -- and elsewhere in the menswear blogosphere -- it's important not to overlook smaller things that can help a great deal when an average guy makes the decision to kick up his everyday style several notches.  Here are ten tips that come immediately to mind: 

1) Hands
Keep 'em clean, clip your nails once a week, and file any rough edges at once.  Don't bang up your hands in the yard or garden either.  Wear work gloves.  Don't bite your nails, keep your cuticles pushed back with an orange stick, and be sure to moisturize!

2) Toenails
Is it really necessary to say that you need to keep these clipped?

3) Face
Shave daily, or, barring that, Monday through Friday at least.  The bleary-eyed, three-day growth, and perpetual unde…

A Style Question. . .

A belt worn with braces?  Don't do it!
This morning, I had a question posed by a former student of mine from quite a few years ago, who is now in law school and a Facebook friend.  He wrote:
"Style question for you: if you're wearing a suit with braces, is it necessary (style-wise) to also wear a belt? I would think not (and I often prefer the more classic look of braces) but of course the braces are typically concealed by one's jacket, and so it may appear that one has simply forgotten the belt."

This very question has been addressed often elsewhere in the menswear blogosphere, but here is my take on the matter.

If and when you are wearing braces, as I hope you are with a suit, definitely do not add the belt. It's not necessary and looks silly. You might also consider having a tailor remove the belt loops from said suit and simply wear braces when the suit is necessary.  Or you just feel like wearing it.  

Removing the belt loops makes for a smoother, m…

Make it a Double-breasted October. . .

Recently arrived from An Affordable Wardorobe.  Too bad, school is over until late August, and it probably won't be cool enough to wear this suit until mid- or late October once the heat of the summer and early fall have left us.  This photo comes from the AAW blog.
Here's a post for the real menswear nerds out there.  Two or three days ago, a new item was deposited on our front doorstep.  This Ermenegildo Zegna double-breasted suit in super-soft wool flannel, purchased from Giuseppe Timore at An Affordable Wardrobe, and to which I treated myself when an outstanding payment for a recent translation arrived.  It was still a steal.  Here's the description, taken directly from Mr. Timore's blog:

"Double breasted suit in grey glen check flannel, (black and soft off white check). 40L.  Broad European shoulders, draped chest, 6x4 double breasted front, four button cuffs, no vent, fully lined. Trousers [feature] double reverse pleats, brace buttons, soft cut. 100% wool,…