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.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Late January Saturday Style. . .

Yours truly all decked out for a morning and early afternoon of errands around town. . .  on foot since the day is so temperate.  We had quite a bit of snow on the ground and much colder temperatures this time last January (2014).

It's a strange and somewhat amusing experience to find labels attached to to certain kinds of attire that, in one form or another, have always been a part of one's life and don't seem like anything special or unusual.  Take the combination of clothes above, which I put on after a mug of coffee and toast with thick cut, bitter orange marmalade mid-morning today. 

The blue oxford cloth button-down?  My maternal grandfather and father wore shirts like it 5-6 days a week, and sometimes in white, pink, or blue university stripe.  I always had and wore at least a few throughout my formative years and began purchasing them myself in my late teens and early 20s once I left home to live on my own.  No big deal.  Just part of the landscape.  

The tan corduroy jeans?  Again, an item I've always worn since my mother bought school clothes for me each August, although the long out-of-production Levi's corduroy jeans of the late 1970s and early 80s had a trimmer, straight-leg cut.  My father, in particular, was a fan of heavy corduroy pants and always wore them from late fall through early spring, usually with a Pendleton wool shirt on the weekends, and with a sports jacket over a black or navy turtleneck when he and my mother were invited to dinner and drinks, which used to be a lot more common for couples than seems to be the case now. 

Oh, and the 20-year old+ navy and cream L.L. Bean 'Made in Norway,' 80%wool-20% Rayon sweater?  Just something I thought was cool, given my interest in the Norwegian language, and purchased back during the early 90s.  The Bean duck shoes and red hooded shell?  My maternal grandmother and father wore stuff like this during weekends and/or snowy days.  But enough with the clothing label name dropping. 

Fine.  So, what's the point?  Well, stuff like this has simply been a part of my life for. . .  well, forever.    It never seemed unusual or exceptional to me.  No one ever discussed it other than to pay a compliment if an item was worn for the first time or two.  These kinds of clothes and footwear were simply what we put on at home during evenings and weekends though my sister and I (and some of our friends) dressed similarly for school.  This attire was never labeled as anything, just decent, suitable clothing for more casual settings during the colder parts of the year in SE Pennsylvania.   It seemed decidedly odd, during the preppy revival of the early 1980s, then,  when people began talking about, even gushing over, attire like this.  It was all old hat to me.

Fast-forward to 2015, and it's even stranger, and maybe also a bit unsettling, to visit various websites and blogs that label clothing like this as "preppy," "trad," "ivy league," or what have you.  More peculiar is that there are apparently lots of people out there obsessed with whether a particular item is suitable for these (to some degree 'imagined') communities.  It's great, of course, that there seem to be some, at least, who want to present themselves more nicely than has become the sad, sloppy, and pathetic average across so much of society.  Bravo!  I'm right there with you.  One's clothing can and does speak volumes whether we realize it or not, so I applaud anyone who takes the great pains necessary to wash his or her face, brush his or her teeth and hair, and put on something other than a ratty t-shirt, sweatpants, and nylon windbreaker before heading out in public.  

At the same time, however, I am reaching the conclusion that perhaps many of us have too much time on our hands and think too much about our clothes.  Should our 'stuff' really occupy that much of our thought during the hours of consciousness?  If that is the case, then our clothes are wearing us, which isn't how things should be.  Put 'em on in the morning, I say, and forget about 'em until you get ready for bed that evening.  Hopefully, at the end of your day, your outer clothes will be folded and hung again in the dresser or closet, as you remove them, with what needs to be washed tossed into the hamper.  As long as your clothes are clean, neat, quality items that will last more than a year or two if you have reached adulthood, who really cares otherwise?  Only a very small percentage of us I fear.  Some food for thought on this unseasonably bright and warm January Saturday in the American Midwest.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

First Day of Spring Semester 2015 Style. . .

Here's the get-up for the first day of a new semester.  If my appearance didn't scare my students to death, the amount of work present on the  course syllabi certainly did.

Ahhhhh. . .  Hear that? Yes.  It's the start of another semester, which means an opportunity to dress nicely five days a week.  Rugby shirts, tan corduroys pants, and L.L. Bean Boots are great, and they certainly have their place in my "at home" wardrobe, but it's nice to dress with a bit more pizazz if and when one is able.  

So, it was with a light heart that I donned a Tattersall oxford cloth button-down collar shirt, a Harris Tweed jacket, a dark red knit silk necktie, a pair of gray wool flannel pants, and a gray Shetland wool crewneck sweater this morning after a hot shower and a wet shave (with shaving mug and brush).  Yes, I was feeling more than a little Wooster-esque this morning, you know?  More like a day of shooting at Totleigh Towers awaited me, though, rather than a day of handing out course syllabi, verbally walking my new students through these, and threatening everyone with death if they fail to purchase the required textbooks and turn in formal assignments on the appointed due dates.  

Madeline Bassett and Bobby Wickham just might have been a bit more interesting by comparison!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And here's close-up of the shoes and socks, in this case my trusty Allen Edmonds wing-tip brogues (one of the most comfortable pairs of shoes I own) and a pair of Merino wool (with  a bit of Lycra) socks by Dapper Classics.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I love the winter weather. . .

10" Bean Boots in use.  Unlined.  Very comfortable.  Very warm with ski socks underneath.  Wish I'd had a pair back in the early 80s.

Just returned from walking the Young Master to preschool in the midst a beautiful cold, snowy January morning.  The snow sparkles when the low sunlight hits it.  Enjoying a quick second mug of coffee before I head upstairs to don my cross-country ski gear.  The Grand Duchess and I are off to a local park for some quiet morning skiing while we have a few child-free hours at our disposal.

The L.L. Bean footwear shown above has been my go-to choice since our first appreciable snowfall of the winter arrived last Monday evening.  I managed to purchase them at the end of October 2014 -- a birthday gift certificate from good ol' Mom -- before the company sold out of this year's batch.  When I mentioned to my mother on the telephone how comfortable the boots are, and that I wished I'd had a pair years ago in SE Pennsylvania when the winters were hard, she asked, "Well, why didn't you ask for some?!"  

I answered -- and remember this was in the midst of the early 80s preppy boom -- with something along the lines of this.  The boots and other such "preppy" gear didn't go with the image I thought I was cultivating at the time in my teen-aged Van Halen/David Lee Roth wannabe guise.  Back then, I was extremely vocal in my disdain for anything that wasn't denim, leather, or brightly colored spandex much to the chagrin of my parents and maternal grandparents, who, to their great credit, put up with my youthful rockstar fantasies without saying too much.  

Keep in mind that my high school girlfriend and her family were extremely preppy (Whatever that actually means at this point given the term's dilution over the lest few decades) in background, outlook, attitude, and appearance. . .  and her father was a betweeded anthropology professor at the local university.  As I've written here at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style before, though, my own family had a foot in that same world, so why I was such a pain in the neck about dressing and conducting oneself nicely remains a mystery.  Callow, obnoxious youth, eh?  Glad I finally worked it out and grew up.  That, however, is a story for another time.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Later. . . 

It's amazing how a little physical activity in the outdoors will improve one's outlook and aid mental and emotional relaxation.  The Grand Duchess and I enjoyed about 90 minutes of quiet 'shussing' on our light touring skis this morning, heading around the perimeter and through the woods of a local park that is also a popular sledding and tobogganing spot due to it's two big hills.  

Since the kids are all back in school, however, at least until 3:30pm, we had the run of the hills and flew down them several times before heading back home.  The snow was crusty, cold, and surprisingly fast thanks to a bit of freezing rain two days ago, new snow on top of that, and then considerable wind exposure last night.  Let's just say, all of that combined made for pretty thrilling runs down those two hills.  Not bad at all for an ungroomed area.  Not bad at all.

Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 is THE Year of Polish and Sophistication. . .

The wonderful Stephen Fry as the Wodehousian character 'Jeeves,' the very embodiment of polish and reserved sophistication.

Two weeks into the new year, but let's resolve to make 2015 the year of "polish and sophistication," to use a term that recently came from the mouth of my five-year old son.   Make it your business to learn how best to present yourself to the world through improved attire, speech, and personal behavior.  

There are lots of books out there on these subjects -- my personal favorites are by names like Peter Post and Bernhard Roetzel for example -- or you can drop by The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style for occasional how-to musings and discussions of why this kind of thing remains important and relevant in the 21st century despite the fact that many people in 2015, inexplicably,  seem to take great pride in being coarse.  

With a nod to the infamous 'Dean Wormer' in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978), badly dressed, crass, and smelly with a habitually foul mouth is no way to go through life.  You can to better than that.  I challenge average guys everywhere to make 2015 your year of polish and sophistication.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Nordic Skiing Style. . .

The Young Master trying out his Christmas skis for the first time this afternoon.

When it's cold and snowy, you can forgive people a lot of what we at The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style might otherwise consider style don'ts.  

Nevertheless, the Young Master really dressed up the slopes of a local park this afternoon as he joined his mother and me for his inaugural run under his own steam, stylin' on his new pair of yellow and black cross-country skis (a gift from Santa Claus).  The outting went really well.  No falls for him, even when he got his skis tangled up.  And the Young Master even reminded me at one point to keep my own skis parallel to one another as we 'shuusshed' along the top of a ridge and down a slight incline before repeating the exercise a few times during the hour or so that we were out today.  It was a moment I've waited for since before he was born.

In other style news, I walked into the better of my two local thrift/charity outlets yesterday, and there was a gray herringbone tweed jacket, in a sack cut, by J. Press.  And it fits!  Naturally, I snapped it up for less than US$10, and after dry-cleaning, I'll wear it on the first day of the new college semester later this month.  Maybe over a Fair Isle sweater?

-- Heinz-Ulrich