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.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

It's Gunboat Weather!

Vintage Bates (aka "Phi Bates") wingtips.  The Bates Shoe Company doesn't make 'em like this any more.

While the frigid January weather in my corner of the world has moderated somewhat, it remains seasonably cold.  Perfect weather to drag out the heavy shoes, give them a quick once over with the horsehair brush, and take 'em for a spin.  I submit for your approaval a pair of vintage Bates wingtip brogues.

Spotted these in my best local thrift shop three or maybe four years ago and paid just US$9.99 for them.  Very little wear on the leather soles, hardly any on the heels, and despite a few small nicks on the leather uppers, nothing that some moisturizer and two or three coats of highly buffed polish couldn't fix.  I really worked to get the toes and heel caps glassy on these, and it still shows.  By the way, old nylon pantyhose really help bring up that high shine on toes and heels, a tip I picked up online somewhere from ex-soldiers, who shined their dress boots this way back when soldiers still had dress boots and were expected to keep them spitshined.

Now, as far as I can tell, the Bates Show Company hasn't made civilian footwear since the early 1960s, restricting its focus to just law enforcement and military footwear.  By my reckoning, that makes these shows at least 50 years old, but they still look (and feel) damn good for heavy winter weight shoes that go perfectly well with heavy corduroy pants on a cold winter's day.  Thought about selling them twice, but I'm glad I haven't.  This time, I'll keep them, so it's time to pick up yet another pair of cedar shoes trees since I never seem to have enough to go around the dozen or so pairs of shoes in my rotation.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Be Careful with Trendy. . .

Sure, he looks, um. . . nice.  But this Ubertrendy guy's clothes are going to look dated in the next 6-10 years.

In the world of menswear, it's really best to avoid jumping on too many trendy, of-the-moment bandwagons.  Currently, that includes increasingly trim cut everything and lower rises in pants among others.  Fortunately, classic male style has not changed that much in the last century or so.  So, I'd suggest opting instead for more classic proportions in our attire, which didn't seem too out of place 20 or 30 years ago, and neither will those proportions seem too out of place 20 or 30 years from now.  

Naturally, I do not suggest that we all don the dreaded Hammer Pants of the early 1990s! But slightly more generous cuts than what is currently viewed as cutting edge in the fashion industry -- at least where the fits of our pants, jackets, and shirts are concerned -- are also a bit more forgiving for those of us who are over 25 and weigh more than 130lbs. (58.9kg).  Think about it.  You've got to be able to sit down in your clothes unless you stand with your arms positioned just so in a department store window all day.  Know what I mean?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An Interview with Giuseppe Timore of An Affordable Wardrobe

Giuseppe Timore, of An Affordable Wardrobe, tells us how it's done.

If looking pulled together and thrift shopping are your things, then you need to check out An Affordable Wardrobe.  And here's a recent interview by Hendrik Pohl of Tie-A-Tie.net with the AAW proprietor Giuseppe Timore.  It's an interesting read that is well worth five minutes of your time.

-- Heinz-Ulrich 

Monday, January 27, 2014

An Addendum to Dressing the Cary Grant Way. . .

A smiling Archibald Leach (aka Cary Grant) in what looks like a jaunty Gen Plaid jacket, white shirt and subdued wool necktie.

Wise words in the post the other day borrowed from Put This On (via Dandyism.net) in which Burt Bacharach commented on the tasteful, restrained nature of Cary Grant's attire.  

The problem, however, is that male standards of dress (and behavior) have sunk so far from Mr. Grant's heyday.  In our own era of Slob Post-Post Modern of the early 21st century where anything goes (Braved a WalMart or Sam's Club lately?), a man will stand out in most places and situations by virtue of the fact that he is nicely dressed.  Even when he takes pains to clothe himself in the most modest, understated way possible.  I must admit that I am unsure how to reconcile those differences other than to suggest the following to those average guys who aspire to kick up their everyday style several notches.

Dress well, with modestly and subtlety, and yet with some quiet panache.  Go forth, be clear from the outset that you will attract some attention in most places, and don't worry about it.  Accept compliments when they are forthcoming, and ignore occasional thoughtless remarks and questions about your sports jacket and necktie, suit, or leather dress shoes.  It's part of that highly sought sprezzatura that is discussed so much at the moment.  That nonchalance comes from putting on our clothes in the morning, forgetting about them, and moving effortlessly and with confidence throughout our day without giving one's attire another thought.

As my favorite high school English teacher pointed out to me once, if others' lives are so small and empty that a person's attire becomes the subject of conversation because he or she is well-dressed, that is everyone else's problem.  Don't lose any sleep over it.  And, whatever you do guys, don't stop your own efforts to dress better and behave more pleasantly just because friends or family might give you  hard time about it.  You are on the right track after all.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


Reflection and Recognition. . .

A very stylish young Michael Caine clowns around with Giovanna Ralli.

As average guys who want to kick up our everyday style several notches, we need to survey the sad "style" landscape of which we are a part in 2014, quietly recognize certain things, and make the conscious decision to change ourselves.  To begin with, and as I have indicated numerous times here on the Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style,  recognize that Style (with a capital "S") involves much more than simply clothes, accessories, and shoes.  It also involves habits, manners, speech, and attitudes.  How we conduct ourselves in other words.  A guy can have all the money in the world and a room full of stylish clothes, shoes, and all the rest, but if he behaves, to put it delicately, like a compete swine in his personal and professional interactions. . .   Well, he isn't that pleasant to be around for long, is he?  We can hardly consider him Stylish since expensive clothes do not distract people from other unpleasant characteristics and tendencies for long.

Second, average guys need to become aware of and recognize that there is a different way of being and presenting themselves to the world -- besides the most comfortable, the easiest, the least confining, the cheapest, the most conformist -- where clothes and behavior are concerned.  We must realize that it is perfectly acceptable to be be upwardly mobile in our personal standards of dress and behavior.  I'd even argue that it's preferable to the alternative, which is all around us now.  No need to go into it here, but spend any time at all in most public forums these days -- airports, public transport, malls, most restaurants, etc. -- and you'll unfortunately witness all kinds of less than savory behaviors. . .  in addition to countless walking sartorial disasters. 

Third, when we average guys work to polish our appearance, habits, and actions (both privately AND publicly) -- and, hopefully, project an image of good grooming, gentility, and sophistication in the process -- we should also recognize that some people (friends, family, complete strangers) won't be happy about it.  They might might rib us in a friendly enough way, toss out the occasional sarcastic remark or observation, or even be nasty about our attempts to improve ourselves.  So, we need to hold our heads up and not let it bother us.  We've got to develop the confidence (and thick skin) to recognize that what we are doing is a good thing and necessary.  Elevating personal standards, rising above the lowest common denominators of weak or non-existent manners and sloppy dress, and forging one's own way is certainly preferable to remaining within and blending into the slovenly 0f-the-people herd that holds sway most places now.  

It is worth noting that leaving the house with a pulled together look and behaving pleasantly is nothing to be embarrassed about or ashamed of, though I fear many would have us think otherwise.  Sadly, moving through life looking and behaving like a slob seems to be a byproduct of the various social changes in The West that have occurred during the last half-century or so.  While much of that was, perhaps, long overdue and necessary, high standards of personal behavior and appearance somehow got mixed up with and tossed out in the resulting purge as our society has rushed toward greater egalitarianism and democratization. Too bad that dressing well and behaving politely have been casualties of this gradual social revolution and now seem to be distinct liabilities in many places and situations.

Regardless of the precise socioeconomic reasons behind this particular situation, however, I do not advocate that average guys become loud, obnoxious, affected show-offs and gaudy dandies in their attire, speech, and manners.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What I do suggest is that we realize the very real need to take control of our situation.  We got ourselves into this mess, and we can get ourselves out again.  We simply need to develop the quiet, low key confidence to care about our appearance and behavior once again, learn what works, and what does not.  By the same token, let's relearn, if necessary, what is preferable where decent, everyday basic manners are concerned as well as what is unacceptable.  Finally, let's make the effort to remember everything and put it into practice.  Consistently and without fail.  

Ideally, we must strive to have greater respect for ourselves and show greater consideration for those around us.  We must also acquire and demonstrate a certain reserved elegance in everything we wear and do.  It is time to recognize and acknowledge that doing so is acceptable, worthy, and within our reach, men.  Now, how about it?

-- Heinz-Ulrich  

Friday, January 24, 2014

What to Aim for with Our Attire. . .

The always dapper Cary Grant.

This particular piece of sartorial wisdom comes to us via Put This On.  Here it is:
  “Someone once gave me a very fine description of Cary Grant’s attire at a time when the motion-picture star was considered the best dressed man in this country: ‘I’ve been with Cary Grant a dozen times lately, and when I leave him I have the recollection that he was beautifully dressed. But, for the life of me, I can never remember a single thing he was wearing — his hat, shirt, tie, suit, or anything else.’ And that’s what all of us should try to achieve — the impression of being well dressed without wearing any one article that blatantly sticks in a person’s memory.” — Bert Bacharach in Right Dress (via Dandyism.net)

-- Heinz-Ulrich





Thursday, January 23, 2014

Objectionable Behaviors. . .

While this kind of scene might be. . .  tolerable in children this young, there are far too many guys over the age of 18 who, apparently, know no better and see little reason to change.  Don't believe me?  Look around the next time you're in an Olive Garden, Applebee's, or similar type of restaurant.

I noticed an interesting statement made yesterday by a Mr. J. as I perused The Daily Prep blog this morning, which resonated with me.  It seems like a very good idea to share his comment here.  The gist of it goes like this: "I have one life to live, and it is mine.  While I cannot [and do not] control the behavior of others, I can and do avoid those whose behaviors are objectionable."  

I might be misquoting Mr. J. slightly, but the basic idea is sound.  Gross, crass, boorish, thoughtless, and inconsiderate personal habits and (anti-) social behaviors ARE a huge turn-off for many people of both sexes.  We are not bound to endure older children or adults who cannot manage to get their acts together socially speaking.  It should not even need to be said, guys, but I'll say it anyway.  If and when you are out of high school, college, or university, indulge in objectionable idiosyncracies at your social and professional peril.

And if you've got children of your own, begin teaching them pleasant (table) manners plus other desirable behaviors and habits sooner rather than later.  While kids need constant reminders of course, waiting until they are 9 or 10 is too late to start with stuff like this.  Don't miss that particular boat!  We owe it to our children (and the various people they encounter throughout their lives) to ensure that kids possess, practice, and refine basic social skills.  

It's no laughing matter.  And if you are unsure of a few finer points of polite behavior and table etiquette yourself, there is certainly no shame in consulting a book or two on the subject.  I recommend anything by Amy Post and/or Peter Post.  I have a few such books on my own shelves in the living room.  Just type one or the other name into Amazon's search feature, and you'll turn up various titles that will be extremely useful to purchase and consult whenever necessary.  As the Quaker Oats TV commercials with Wilford Brimley used to say in the late 1980s, "It's the right thing to do."



 Scratching your ass and/or adjusting yourself in public are just two offensive habits in a long list of offensive habits that far too many average guys engage in routinely and without embarrassment these days.  You don't have to look hard in public places to observe various permutations of what 'm talking about.  What I want to know is, what were Mom and Dad doing during this guy's formative years?  Raising boys to become pleasant young men with some grooming and gentility involves more than simply putting a roof over their heads and food on the table.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

20 All-too-Common Male "Looks" (and Behaviors) That Need to Disappear in 2014, Part II

Are you guilty of leaving the house in clothes that look this bad?  Photo from Postgrad.Com.

Yesterday we looked at various flawed male "looks" that are all around us these days, and which the average guy striving to kick up his everyday style several notches should leave behind at all costs.  Today, let's pick up where we left off yesterday and examine Part II of  20 All-too-Common Common Male “Looks” (and Behaviors) That Need to Disappear in 2014.  Some of these points will seem familiar to you, and others less so, but all are sartorial and behavioral issues that need to be addressed if we want to come consistently across to others as men with some grooming, sophistication, and good taste.  And regardless of what some might say and would like to believe, very little of this is subjective or open to argument.  Unless you were raised in a barn somewhere.  Got it?  Good.  Now, here we go!
 

11) Cargo Anything
Pants with lots of pockets don’t even look good on soldiers although they might have a genuine function there.  But on anyone else?  Um, no.  British paratrooper pants with pockets on the thighs might have seemed cool when Sting or Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth occasionally wore ‘em 30 years ago, but let’s not kid ourselves here.  Time has marched on, and pants like these never manage to look good.  Even when clean and relatively unwrinkled.  And cargo shorts just look plain dumb.  There.  I’ve said it.


12) Over-sized Anything
This point relates to a few things mentioned in Part I of 20 All-too-Common Male “Looks” (and Behaviors) That Need to Disappear in 2014.  Just why so many department stores still seem to carry over-sized stuff is beyond me.  Even more vexing is the number of people who continue buying and wearing this stuff.  Unless it has something to do with the fact that we have become so overweight here in the United States during the last 30 years or so and, apparently, live on our overstuffed couches most of the time.  Unless you really, honestly, truly do have the ubiquitous glandular condition that so many people seem to claim, exercise some agency and get off that sofa.  Turn off the TV or computer, start exercising in some way routinely, and cut out the constant snacking, which seems to be a way of life for many.  Oh, and get yourself clothes that actually fit.  You’ll look a lot better instantly. . .  whatever your physical dimensions might be, and -- Surprise! -- that will have a positive effect on how you feel about yourself, your life, and the world in general.


13) Wrinkled Clothes
This particular “look” is easy to avoid if you simply fold and/or hang up your stuff when it comes out of the dryer as soon as the cycle ends and the dryer buzzes.  You might not look creased and crisp, but you’ll look a whole lot better than if you pile your laundry back into your duffle bag or basket and leave it there all week, haphazardly digging out one item at a time on an as needed basis until it’s laundry day once again.  What are you, a college freshman living away from home for the first time?  Come on guys!  It’s time to get with the program and start caring a bit more about how you look, the message you inadvertently send to the rest of the world, and what others think about you as a result.  Not caring at all is a pretty piss poor attitude to drag along behind you as you go through life.  That particular millstone is drowning you, boys, so it's time for you to start caring about what you look like.  You’ll be glad you did.


14) Sunglasses worn facing backwards on your cap or head
One word for the kind of guy who routinely sports this look: DOUCHEBAG!  And that’s a word I never use, but it fits here.


15) Ski caps
Unless you are outside in the winter braving the cold, or actually on the ski slopes, these look really stupid when you wear them inside and/or during the rest of the year.  And you know what?  If you’re hair is thinning, you’re not fooling anyone but yourself by covering up that shiny crown.  It’s time to own your male pattern baldness instead and get a classic fedora or tweed cap for those colder days.  But don’t forget to remove it when you enter a building and/or sit down to the table for a meal.


16) Visible Tattoos
Hasn’t the whole tattoo craze been done to death already?  Contrary to what many in the middle-class, suburban world, and elsewhere think, tattoos are not edgy and succeed only in making average guys and (gals) look tacky and cheap. . .  at best.  And they certainly don't make you look tough, just misguided.  Moreover, when soccer moms, high school kids, and corporate drones are getting and displaying tattoos, you know that a trend has long overstayed its welcome.  And let’s be honest here.  There’s nothing attractive about faded, sagging tattoos on middle-aged or older bodies however cool and unique that barbed wire thingy around your upper arm might have seemed 20 years ago when you were lifting four days a week in the basement fitness room of your dorm, and your guns were at their peak.   Nope.  It’s far better to avoid tattoos all together.  Ok, Sailor Jerry?  Or at least get your ink somewhere where you can cover it up without too much trouble.  No doubt, this point will anger some readers, but there you are.


17) Flashing (Real or Fake) Gang Signs
These look so incredibly stupid in photos that various people, outside the gang world,  share online via Facebook and elsewhere.  Why in the hell would an upstanding average guy, who is not in actually part of a gang, and who is otherwise making a genuine effort to kick up his everyday style several notches, want to imitate something that lawless gangbangers do?  Guys, these people are criminals and murderers.  Remember?  So, unless you really are in the Crips, Bloods, or whoever stop it.  It's neither funny, nor cute. 


18) Fist Bumps, Etc. 
Know what, Tyler?  You’re an adult now.  It’s not Sanford and Son ca. 1973 anymore.  And you aren’t on the playground with your best buds Steven, Ducky, and Curtis anymore like you were that one summer after your collective year together in the second grade.  So, shake hands firmly when you meet people and say “Good Morning, “Hello,” or “How do you do?”  And please leave the weak, ubiquitous “Nice to meet you” to the soccer moms and preschool teachers’ aides, ok guys?  You’re men now.  Act like it. 


19) Cracking/Popping Your Knuckles
I'm unsure why this particular crass behavior has never occurred to me before because lots of guys (and gals) do it all the time without a thought.  But cracking your knuckles is as annoying and off-putting as constantly burping, spitting, or passing gas in a public space like the office and thinking a lighted match somehow makes your disgusting behavior permissible.  Cracking your knuckles is another habit you need to become aware of and work to stop if you indulge in it.  Remember, a huge part of our personal style has to do with things besides clothing, shoes, and accessories.  Pleasant personal habits and behavior will go a long way in helping an average guy come across as a more polished and sophisticated individual. Plus, you become much nicer to have around even if others can't quite put their collective finger on why that might be.


20) Casual Shoes with Suits or Sports Jacket/Dress Pant Combos 
Not as egregious as certain other points I’ve made today, sure, but worth considering all the same.  Here’s the deal.  When you’ve gone to the trouble to improve your overall look with decent shirts, a few jackets, and some creased wool dress pants – or even a suit or two – why spoil it with rubber-soled casual shoes, which are really just sneakers masquerading as dress shoes?  Leather uppers or not, rubber-soled casual shoes are meant to be worn with khakis or jeans during the evenings and on weekends.  When worn with an otherwise more formal ensemble, they scream mall security and Information Desk staff.   

For a more professional, urbane look, invest in some high quality, leather-soled dress shoes!  And don’t argue that they are uncomfortable.  When you find and purchase shoes that fit you, and opt for quality brands, you are investing in something that will not only last a long time (with regular care and maintenance), those same shoes will also feel extremely comfortable to wear.  If they are uncomfortable -- Ding!  Ding!  Ding! -- they don't fit you.  Try a different size and/or width.  My personal favorite is the American brand Allen Edmonds, but there are a number of other shoe brands out there that are comparable or even better.  The point?  Don’t wear the rubber comfort soles with your suits or sports jackets and ties, and don’t cut corners either.  It makes solid (and comfortable) sense to get the best you can afford when it comes to your footwear, Ebenezer.  Know what I mean?


Any combination of the problems noted in the two parts of 20 All-too-Common Male “Looks” (and Behaviors) That Need to Disappear in 2014 risk making you come across like a schmo, a schlemiel, a rube, or a prole -- take your pick -- who hasn’t a clue about looking and/or being appropriate, serious, and capable in any sense or form.  If you are at all aware of the need to kick up your everyday style several notches from what it is currently, however, then these are ways of looking (and acting) that you’ll want to leave behind -- far, far behind -- in 2014 and beyond.  Trust me.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

20 All-too-Common Male "Looks" That Need to Disappear in 2014, Part I


 
After a small delay, here is the first of a two-part series on various and sundry looks (and behaviors) that average guys, who want to kick up their everyday style several notches, would do well to leave behind and even eradicate in 2014.  It ain't pretty, and I don't mince words, but we need to do something about ourselves now, men.  So, it's Classic Style Bootcamp.  Ready?  Here we go. . . 

1) Any Kind of Saggy Pants 
Sagging jeans, khakis, and the like make you look sloppy in the extreme, as if you don’t give a darn about yourself, or those around you.  And maybe that’s true.  But don’t be surprised if and when you encounter difficulty moving seamlessly into new and different social or occupational situations because you resemble a half-full bag of leaves and lawn clippings in the midst of a Magic: The Gathering tournament at the local gaming shop.  Careful attention to details and neatness when it comes to personal appearance, on the other hand, has a direct influence on how others perceive you and your abilities.  Don’t believe me?  Experiment with a neatened up version of yourself for one week and then your usual rumpled bed look the second week.  Pay close attention to how most people react to you.  Unless you go through life with your eyes closed, you can’t help but notice what I’m talking about.    In the meantime, get pants that fit and wear ‘em with a belt at your waist where they belong.



2) Flimsy Basketball Shorts 
Unless you are actually on the basketball court, or in your backyard where no one else has to see you, ditch those flimsy to-the-knee things.  They do not look cool on the street, Cameron, and you seem positively "slow normal" when basketball shorts are part of your outfit in the middle of winter most places.  Besides, no one else should have to see your underwear, or bare ass and jockstrap for that matter, showing through the ultra thin material from which most shorts of this kind are made in 2014.



3) Sweats or Warm-up Pants Anywhere but the Gym 
Or the privacy of your TV room at home.  As Jerry Seinfeld said to his terminally unemployed doofus friend George Costaza many years ago now on the Seinfeld TV show, "Do you have any idea what you are saying to the world when you go out of the house dressed like that?  I give up!”  You don’t look like someone who is in full command of his life when sweat and/or warm-pants are a regular part of your public attire.  More like a bottom feeder.



4) Hooded Sweatshirts 
These run a close second to sweatpants and warm-up pants mentioned above in the daily Clueless Sweepstakes.  In addition, look at the kinds of guys who routinely appear in public with a hooded sweatshirt.  You might be the most upstanding, nicest guy around, but do you really want to look like a petty thug out to rob and/or deliver a beating to someone?  If you’ve never considered that before, it’s time you do because people who wear these things, especially with the hoods up, don’t seem like the greatest people around and project the most negative of stereotypes whether they intend to or not.



5) Visible Underwear 
Is it really necessary to wear your pants in such a way that the rest of the world can see your boxers or briefs?  While Virgin Airways bigwig and renowned global adventurer Richard Branson might make a point of eschewing traditional male attire like neckties and sports jackets, things that mark one as an educated professional – Is that really such a bad thing? -- I’ll bet you can’t see his underwear during board meetings or elsewhere when Sir Richard is moving among the general public or meeting his immediate corporate subordinates.  Long story short, it’s UNDERWEAR boys!  It’s not meant to be shared with people on the sidewalk, public transport, in the classroom, at work, or in restaurants.  Keep it out of sight.



6) Graphic T-Shirts 
It’s not 1975 anymore, and, the living-a-post-college-life-infused-with-irony hipster phenomenon notwithstanding, t-shirts with slogans and graphics make you look slightly uncool at best.  Especially when you are well over 25.  If you really want to project a more pulled together and adult image with your everyday attire, good buddy, it’s time to purge your dresser drawers and closet of items like those retro Keep on Truckin’ t-shirts.  What about those very rare occasions when and where plain t-shirts might actually be appropriate in public?  Stick with navy, black, and mid-gray pocket tees that don’t say anything clever or feature things like unicorns, dragons, and 20-sided dice.



7) Clothing with Skull & Crossbones, Daggers, Pot Plants, or Barbed Wire
What can we possibly say here?  Do you really want to look like Jessie Pinkman, Badger, and Skinny Pete on Breaking Bad?  These guys are criminals, albeit fictitious, with drug habits and a host of other problems.  Resembling people at the absolute rock bottom of society, in appearance or behavior, is no way to go through life.  And it’s certainly not the way to make a favorable impression with anyone else except other criminals and drug addicts.  I make no apologies for actually having the balls to say this in writing either.



8) Backwards Baseball Caps 
I first noticed this look in a big way when I moved from Pennsylvania to Wisconsin to attend the mighty UW-Madison back in 1994.  Sadly, it has not gone away in the intervening two decades.  Keep in mind, however, that even baseball catchers don’t wear their hats backwards anymore, opting for specialized high impact helmets now.  And the hip-hop look?  It’s as passé as the music, guys.  Time to leave it behind.  If wearing a ball cap is that much a part of your personality, at least have the good grace to buck this tired trend and turn the freakin’ thing around with the brim over your eyes like it was meant to be worn.  You just look stupid otherwise.



9) Over-sized Athletic Shoes 
Huge white sneakers only succeed in making a guy look like a) Jerry Seinfeld in the 1990s, b) Mickey Mouse, or c) a Micronaut action figure from the late 70s.  I don’t care how much you might have paid for ‘em.  And you know what?  With all of the cool, genuinely classic leather dress and casual shoes out there which might cost the same or not that much more than the over-sized basketball shoes, there’s really no excuse not to have a decent pair or two of shoes in your closet besides the Air Jordans, Crocs, and Tevas.  And by the way.  If you’re idea of dress-up shoes is a pair of red Converse Chuck Taylor high-tops, I’m not really sure I can help you.  Or if we can be friends anymore.



10) Unlaced Work Boots 
If you do a lot of back-country hiking, regularly work in construction, fix cars in a garage, or shovel manure in a barnyard, I can see where some heavy work boots have some relevance and application.  Otherwise, lace ‘em up and tie the darn things, or, better yet, get some decent looking leather dress shoes and relegate the boots to weekends when you take the dogs for a hike outside of Sedona or Flagstaff.  Contrary to what your 9th Grade girlfriend might have thought and said, you most certainly do not look cool over the age of 18, shambling aimlessly along the sidewalk in footwear like this.  Unless you’re aspiring to be an extra on Yo’ MTV Raps circa 1993.


There you go, men.  Let me hear you say it, "Thank you, Sir!  May I have another?"  Now drop and give me 20.  Tune in later this week for the second half of 20 All-too-Common Male “Looks” (and Behaviors) That Need to Disappear in 2014.  Some might not like to read this stuff, but it needs to be written and acknowledged all the same.  And we can't really sink any lower than we have already.  Can we?  In extreme cases, even nudity might be an improvement over the kinds of things I outline above.  Well, maybe not on second thought.  Surely, many of you understand what I mean though?

-- Heinz-Ulrich 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Coming Shortly: Widespread Male 'Style' Trends That Need to Disappear Now!

Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman on Breaking Bad. 

Be sure to tune in again later this weekend for a discussion of current male attire and attitudes about it that need desperately to disappear. . .  Like 15 years ago or longer.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Polar Vortex Style. . .

My wife never seems to snap the shutter when I'm actually smiling.  Her index finger must have been chilled yesterday afternoon.

Just because the weather has been absolutely frigid in my little corner of the American Midwest the last several days does not mean a guy has to leave the house looking like a a strange hybrid of dirty laundry piled in a basket and the Michelin Man.  Think of that odd layered look so many guys seem to adopt, which invariably includes a hooded sweatshirt and some kind of stained plaid work jacket with an odd knitted skicap.  

Granted, if you're working in a logging camp in Northern Minnesota or driving a snowplow and salt truck in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, that look might suffice.  But for the supposedly white collar professionals, who populate an insurance industry giant that is based in my little city, and male academics with obscene amounts of post-secondary education?  No.  You've gotta walk the walk and talk the talk, boys. . .  and pull yourselves together a bit more than you might be used to before heading out the door for public consumption.  

As but one example of that, here's how yours truly braved the cold yesterday (15 Fahrenheit/ -9.4 Celsius was the high), the opening day of the new university semester:


* McGregor Duffle Coat (extremely heavy and windproof) -- Ebay
* Land's End Fair Isle Sweater -- End of Season clearance
* Land's End Corduroy Pants -- Purchased on Sale
* LL Bean "Duck Shoes" -- Purchased on Sale
* J. Peterman Wool Scarf -- Christmas gift from dear 'ol Mom 20 years ago or so
* Lined Leather Gloves -- Christmas gift from dear 'ol Mom in 1985


Largely invisible in this photo are the usual Harris Tweed jacket (thrifted), light blue ocbd shirt by Land's End (sale), a muted olive green, navy, and maroon wool necktie with equally understated Mallard ducks on it (thrifted), and a pair of heavy 'Smartwool' Nordic skiing kneesocks.

Needless to say, I was as snug in a bug in a rug for the ten minute walk to and from campus, which is the only reason I didn't add my trusty old tasseled wool ski cap by Dale of Norway, which was also a Christmas gift in 1995, to the mix.  The lack of any breeze at that point in the day also helped the old ears immeasurably.  In any case, it just goes to show how, with a tiny bit of determination, pointed gift hints to family and loved ones, and careful shopping, an average guy can assemble a cold weather ensemble that not only keeps him warm when the mercury drops well below freezing, but it will also help him manage to look reasonably nice.  Arrogant?  Possibly, but there's no harm in feeling good about oneself either.  Classic male attire will certainly help in that regard.

-- Heinz-Ulrich