Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from June, 2014

Keep Things on a Formal Footing. . .

Jay North as Dennis "The Menace" Mitchell and Joseph Kearns as his crotchety neighbor Mr. Wilson from the old TV show Dennis the Menace.  Mr. Wilson was always "Mr. Wilson" to Dennis and his pal Tommy.  He was also "Mr. Wilson" to Dennis' parents Mr. and Mrs. Mitchell.  A teensy bit of respect and formality for people older than you are, and people you don't know well is a nice thing and should be cultivated more than has become the sad norm.
Being presumptuous with people you have only just met or do not know that well might be common in current social interaction, but that does not necessarily mean it's a good thing.  

A better practice to follow, in professional and business settings at least -- and when you have service people doing things for you around the house -- is to use the formal form of address (Mr./Ms./Mrs., etc.) until invited to do otherwise.  Now, that might strike some as incredibly stuffy in 2014 when almost everyone seems to …

A Strident E-mail. . .

A restored Pennsylvania farmhouse, not unlike the one in which I spent most of my formative years.
"Just where do you come off telling others what clothes to wear and how to live their lives?" began the rather nasty e-mail I received the other day.  "And who the blankety-blank-blank do you think you are?"  It continued on in that vein for quite some way, but you get the general idea.  Sigh.  This was a first for me.  E-hatemail.  Isn't the relative anonymity of the web great?  I guess if you stick your head up above the crowd, especially online, someone is bound to take a pot shot or two at it sooner or later.  It's easier now than ever before to do that.

Ok.  The following probably will not win me many friends, but here you go.  I'm the 40-something son of an upper middle class WASPy family (mostly Episcopalians, some Methodists, and one Southern Baptist who liked his whisky sours) that stretched from Massachusetts and Rhode Island through the Poconos i…

Be Handy in the Home. . .

The upstairs bathroom in-progress.  While I like the color red, I have always felt that it was the absolute wrong color for this particular room.  Ugh!
An average guy working to kick up his everyday style a few notches should attempt to be handy in the home.  Even fairly simple procedures like hanging pictures and painting count, so you needn't risk life and limb scaling 40' ladders or handle live wires as you attempt install wall receptacles.  Yours truly has been, for example, busy the last week or so repainting the upstairs bathroom, front hall downstairs, the front stairs, and the hallway landing at the top of those stairs.  I've also been busy uncluttering (decluttering?) the living room and library on the first floor.

Of the two adults in our family, I am the more domestic.  While the Grand Duchess makes some fantastic things in the kitchen, it's me who does our laundry each week, makes the beds, and keeps the first floor of the house straight and vacuumed.  I…

An Evening out with the Guys. . .

Had a good time yesterday playing pool, enjoying a few beers (Stella Artois for me), and losing quite a few games of Nine Ball with a couple of good male friends, a chemical engineer and a poet/English professor.  While I did finally manage to win two games by evening's end, more through dumb luck than any great skill, the conversation during all of this was priceless.  We covered everything from critical theory and psychoanalysis (I know, I know.), to Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan war literature, to sci-fi movies, to 1960s garage rock, and bebop vs. cool jazz among other things.  

Before we knew it, four hours had elapsed, and it was time to say goodnight.  However, we've decided to do it again before too long, and our English professor friend has even invited us rock climbing, something I've never tried before, but one must be open to new experiences.  Oh, and all three of us were dressed decently for a summer's evening.  Very casual and nothing particularly outstandin…

Random Photographs from the Week. . .

Like father, like son.  

Start 'em young on the road to dressing nicely as I've mentioned here before at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style.  Even when things are extremely casual.  The Young Master wore this year's red leather dock-siders to his grandparents in the Pacific Northwest where he and his mother are right now.  So, it's been blessedly quiet for Dad here at home the last 1o days or so, miss 'em though I do.

My new Sperry Top-Siders  arrived this week. . .  since the Land's End ones shown above are starting to wear through (and fall apart) on the soles.  They'll remain in the summer rotation as long as possible though.  


The new footwear arrivals above need to be scuffed up a bit through normal wear, but they were instantly comfortable and have better support than the old ones.  These kinds of shoes, or their canvas deck shoe cousins, were standard summer wear for most of the men (and many of the boys) in my family during the evenings and w…

How About Casual Neckties?

A selection of my own more casual (and warm weather) neckties in wool, silk, cotton, and wool-silk blends.
The old necktie gets a bad rap these days.  Especially during the warmer months of the year.  And lots of guys moan about them being unnecessary and uncomfortable.  But hold on a second.  Let's consider the issue more closely for a moment.

First of all, look around you.  What do you notice?  Yep.  In many, many instances, the leaders  -- the decision makers, the ones calling the shots, the higher-ups, the muckety mucks --  within the educated white collar world still wear neckties with their suits, or blazers and sports jackets for those less formal days/events.   Let's just not talk about those high-profile terminal adolescents like Mark Zuckerburg and Richard Branson, or the more sloppy male academics, all of whom who eschew normal educated professional attire.  

Let's also ignore some of our male political leaders and hopefuls here in the United States, who now and t…

Give what you can. . .

Don't be indiscriminate, and research the charitable organizations before you send that check or donate online if there is any question about how your donation(s) might be used since there are, apparently, a few bad apples out there.  That said, give what you can, when you can, to help your fellow humans in need wherever that might be.
As an average guy working to kick up his everyday style several notches, it's important to keep in mind that one of the most stylish things a man can do is to support various charitable organizations, either by volunteering one's time, or with an occasional cash donation.  It's not something you need to talk about or volunteer in general conversation, and quiet sanctimony isn't permitted either.  Helping the greater good should simply be something you do when you are able.  

Pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps is part of our national myth in the United States.  And the idea is all well and good.  But at the same time, we can'…

Find Pleasure in the Small Things. . .

A calm Norwegian meadow in full summertime bloom.
Average guys who are aware of the need to kick up their everyday style several notches realize that it's about more than clothes, shoes, and how you conduct yourself at the dining table or with colleagues on the job.  Being a stylish adult male in the broadest sense also includes slowing down, disengaging, and taking pleasure in small, often overlooked activities as a way of recharging the mental batteries.  Here are just a few activities that help yours truly:


1) Doing the wash, folding, hanging, and/or ironing it and taking silent pride in a job well done.

2) Reading the paper on a Sunday morning.

3) Enjoying a quiet afternoon at home without the TV blaring or sitting before the computer.

4) A quiet walk around the park or your neighborhood with your spouse or significant other.

5) Time spent in quiet, calm interaction with your child (or grandchild).

6) A good book and a cup of fresh coffee, or an occasional nip of something medicinal…

Keep Your Eyes Open. Always. . .

Brand spanking new with original tags, apparently never worn before, all leather, US-made J.C. Penney full brogue wingtips with Goodyear welt construction.  Maybe not US$2000 hand-made shoes, but at less than US$10, I'm not complaining.  The uppers are delightfully supple and the aroma of new leather and its related squeakiness is music to my ears.  Yes, I'm clearly a shoe nerd.  I see that now.   
Whether you assemble a classic wardrobe through careful thrifting, the occasional E-bay purchase, or you've got enough spare cash for new items at retail prices, it pays to keep your eyes open.  Always.  For instance, I found the tan wingtips above at my best local thrift/charity outlet earlier this afternoon after weeks of seeing nothing there.  Absolutely nothing.  

And then. . .  Boom!  I walked into the shop on a whim today, turned the corner toward the shelves where shoes are displayed, and there they were.  Just my size, a US 9.5A.  Truthfully, I can also wear a 9D and an 8…

D-Day Style. . .

June 6th, 1944.  A fascinating, amazing, and frightful feat in planning, logistics, and cost of human lives on both sides.
When you stop to think of things like the 1939-45 war and the allied invasion of Normandy in June of 1944 -- to say nothing of the various conflicts that have arisen in the years since -- suddenly things like leather dress shoes and the precise fit of a man's shirt or suit seem completely frivolous by comparison.  Since my wife and I have German, Japanese, Russian, and Muslim friends, colleagues, and acquaintances (all perceived as "The Enemy" at one time or another), I am always of two minds whenever these significant anniversaries come around.  Rejoicing seems wrong somehow and quiet reflection preferable.  What horrible and unspeakable things we are capable of thinking about, saying, and doing to each other.

-- Heinz-Ulrich