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, March 14, 2015

Make it a double-breasted Formal Friday. . .

The always dapper surgeon, Dr. Andre Churchwell, one of my particular style touchstones.

Well, it seems the writing bug has bitten me today.  Hypergraphia they call it.  Amazing what the start Spring Break, and how that frees the mind for ten days or so, can do.

Since we are nearing the start of Springtime in my neck of the woods, the snow is now gone, and temperatures are gradually climbing, the days for heavy tweed and wool flannel suits are numbered.  That, and my general disdain for the abomination know variously as casual/ blue jean/ dress down Friday* meant that I decided on a clothing combination yesterday very much like the photograph above for my final round of midterm student-instructor conferences.  

I'm sure it scared the heck out of some of my undergrads, but that's not my problem.  Not everyone in the world, they will discover before long -- those who actually complete their degree programs. . .  the small liberal arts school where I teach shares similar problems with two-year community colleges -- lives and works 24/7 in grubby khakis and a knit polo shirt with the company logo on the chest, bagged out sweats, or jeans that have been preternaturally faded on the fronts and backs of the thighs.

No photographs of yours truly, sorry.  Dead battery in the camera yesterday.  However, my particular take on Dr. Churchwell's look above comprised a gray double-breasted Glen Plaid suit, in super-soft wool flannel, by Ermenegildo Zegna that I purchased about two years ago from Giuseppe at An Affordable Wardrobe, a light blue cotton dress shirt with a point collar from Land's End, a Royal Dublin Fusiliers regimental stripe necktie by Robert Talbott that I've had for a dozen years or so, and a pair of supple dark oxblood captoe oxfords from Allen Edmonds. . .  along with charcoal wool knee-length dress socks and a white linen handkerchief in the coat pocket, although I opted for a plain TV fold.  I wore braces instead of a belt with the pants, and the whole ensemble felt both comfortable and toasty warm.

Now, I realize there are lots of people out there who, for some reason, choose to view wearing a suit as, somehow, trying too hard and no longer necessary.  As something that breeds mistrust, somehow, a mark of "the man" who continues to oppress the poor and the proletariat, keeping both groups disenfranchised, and in their places. . .  who has his foot firmly on the collective neck of the hard-pressed middle class, keeping the increasingly elusive American Dream ever so slightly from its grasp. . .  blah-blah, blah-blah, blah-blah. . .  and so on, and so forth ad infinitum.  

A few of my students have been bold enough to suggest as much, albeit in clumsy, round about ways, in a couple of their early informal assignments, which had nothing to do with attire, so it remains not quite clear how two or three of them got to that point in their essays. A sign of our times and the preponderance of social media, I suspect, in which too many people seem to think their opinions about everything matter.  Oh, yes.  I get it.  The irony of that observation is not lost on me.

Anyway, to the anti-suit majority, I can only reply that this rather unpleasant attitude is, just possibly, a myopic misinterpretation and a misunderstanding.  The manifestation of a very human tendency to think or say unpleasant things about people who look, dress, or act differently than we do.  A variation of the tired, old passive-aggressive challenge, "So, whaddya think yer better'n me?"  In other words, a rather limited experience and world view is at the root of it and drives too many in thought and deed.  Step off, George.  Just step off.

Oblique Seinfeld references notwithstanding, there are still some men, I am one, who enjoy wearing a suit now and then whether it is required, or not and think nothing of doing so.  It is as comfortable, physically and mentally, as slipping into favorite old (clean) clothes that were previously folded and put away with care in the closet or dresser the last time laundry day rolled around.  A pressed, well-fitted suit simply looks pulled together, polished, and sophisticated in a way that very few other combinations of men's clothing do.  And who out there does not want to look as well-groomed as possible in his clothes?  Believe it, or not, suits can help with that. 

So, give wearing a suit a try when it is not required, i.e., for occasions other than weddings and funerals.  And who knows?  You just might find that it's more comfortable than you expected.  Heck, people might even pay you a compliment or two about your spruced up appearance.  It happens.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

*There was an amusing, very telling scene several years ago on the TV show The Office in which a middle-aged female character, not exactly in the first bloom of youth, showed up for work one Friday morning in an immodestly short dress without panties (blurred but unmistakable during the broadcast).  Each time a coworker turned away in embarrassment, or asked her not to bend over, she replied with great irritation, "But, it's casual Friday!"

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