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.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The First Sunday in Advent, or Can It Really Be the End of November 2015 Already?

Bruce Boyer's latest.  Easily one of the most delightful reads on men's attire that I've come across.

Sounds like a conference paper title, eh?

Spent a delightful 90 minutes or so last night perusing True Style and came across a few pointers that are worth pondering when we consider how we present ourselves to the world.  Especially since we are now in the midst of the (sadly) frenetic Christmas and New Year's season with its various gatherings and parties that, hopefully, at least, some men will dress for. These are taken from Chapter 16, entitleed 'Maxims', of Mr. Boyer's book:


12. Clothes talk.  In fact, they never shut up.  And if you don't hear them, perhaps you aren't the intended audience.

16. Being inappropriately dressed has the potential to be more embarrassing than saying something stupid.

22. Dressing decently should be a matter of politeness, if nothing else.

24. Clothes are social tools, like language, manners, and a sense of humor.


With those ideas in mind, I humbly request that we not make a habit of appearing at special holiday occasions looking/smelling/behaving like we've slept at the bottom of of the laundry hamper for the last six or seven days.  Even if you plan on a small dinner with the immediate family on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, shave and dress before the meal. . .  for them. 

So, are you listening guys?  Say it with me.  Put on a a pressed shirt in white or light blue, creased wool pants, and some kind of blazer or sports jacket  that isn't borrowed and actually fits you.  Add a belt, some dark or Argyll socks, and a pair of non-dusty loafers.  If you want to get really crazy, toss on a festive wool tartan necktie.  Don't forget your pocket square, which shouldn't match your tie.  There you are.  Cool, casual, and pulled together as well as appropriate for the (special) occasion. 

Remember.  It ain't gonna kill you to look nice once in a while.  Not only will you set a good example for any children in the picture, but spouses, partners, and significant others will also appreciate your efforts whether they comment on it, or not.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


P.S.
This marks the 400th posting here at Classic Style for the Average Guy.  Thank you for dropping by and suffering through my sometimes strident, and always pompous meanderings.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!


Since tomorrow is the annual day of Thankgiving here in the United States, I thought it high time to rerun a piece that has been featured here at Classic Style for the Average Guy for at least the last couple of years.  Take it in the spirit it is meant.  Part of kicking up our everyday style several notches involves our behavior, which might, in some instances need some work.  So, while I hope you might don, at the very least, a pressed button-down shirt and jacket or blazer plus some leather loafers before you join your loved ones at the Thanksgiving table tomorrow, remember, it ain't just about the clothes.  Here we go. . . 


The American Thanksgiving holiday is almost upon us, and with it, the start of the rather frenetic Christmas and New Year's Season.  While I naturally hope that regular readers of and occasional visitors to The Average Guy's Guide to Classic Style will have to good graces NOT to show up to any special holiday dinners or other events dressed in hoodies, sweatpants, sagging jeans, and flip-flops or sneakers, this post is not about attire

Nope.  Instead, it's a yearly reminder to average guys everywhere to remember and practice polite table manners.  It's about maintaining a proper sense of decorum, an awareness of occasion, and about coming across as someone with a smidgen of polish and sophistication when you sit down to the table.  Not just on special occasions either, but everyday.  Yep.  That's right.  I can almost hear the collective groans now.  Go on, boys.  Get it out of your systems.  All done?  Good.

As I started to say, here is a reprise of a post from November of 2012 (with a few small recent edits by yours truly), which presents all kinds of useful tabletop information, which used to be common knowledge.  At least in my particular dimension.  Sadly, however, that very knowledge about how to conduct oneself pleasantly at the table seems to have become more arcane and even esoteric in recent decades.  In any case, here we go. 

-- Heinz-Ulrich


*****

In the blogosphere right now, you'll come across any number of blogs that talk at length about men's clothing style, grooming, appearance, and how these things contribute to our being/becoming/conducting/perceiving ourselves as gentlemen.  Good.  That's a decent enough goal by itself.  However, it's only one small part of the picture.  There is another hugely important and related topic that no one seems to mention on the many blogs and websites on the subject that I peruse and read each week.  What is it, you ask?  

Why, table manners of course.  Shock!  Horror!  Gasp!  Yep, I said it.  And I'm making no apologies.  Table manners should be as much a part of our personal style as our attire and grooming, if not more so.  Average guys ought to keep that in mind.  Even when we are at home with the door closed.  Newsflash!  Our close family is just as deserving of polite behavior as people we work with, ride public transport next to, or pass on the street.
 
However, because table manners are associated with upbringing and/or perceived socio-economic class, they are a potentially explosive issue, prompting knee-jerk accusations of snobbery and arguments about elitism.  Regardless of your position, basic table manners are clearly a challenge for many these days based on what you'll observe in most any restaurant or dinner gathering in which people from different backgrounds come together socially.  

Sadly, lots of people labor under the delusion that table manners -- or indeed polite behavior and social niceties in general -- are stiff, overly formal, old-fashioned, and outmoded with no place in modern society.  And if that's your attitude, fine.  I can't change it.  

But let me make a few relevant points.  We aren't talking about state occasions, bowing to our social superiors, curtseying to the Queen, shrimp forks, or finger bowls here.  Just common decency and ensuring that we remain pleasant to have around.  We are not cavemen, wild dogs, or half-starved farm animals eating from troughs after all.  Moreover, actions speak louder than words.  And just like our attire, our behavior speaks volumes about us and conveys a great deal about where and who we come from, as well as the kind of person we are beneath the fancy clothing, excessive education, certifications, and impressive-sounding titles.    

Of course we want to make a good first impression with the various people we meet and those we work with.  But we also want to maintain that positive initial image over time.  Likewise, and I would argue even more important, we want to remain attractive, likable, and desirable to our chosen mates and partners.  The people with whom we share our lives and selves on a daily basis 24/7.  Why risk spoiling that with crude behavior?  Finally, if we have them, we want to set solid examples of decent behavior for our children.  We want, hopefully, to teach our youngsters to be gentlefolk with good grooming and at least a modicum of refinement and sophistication before they are unleashed on the world.  Basic table manners are a part of all that like it or not.   

So, without belaboring the point any further, here are 14 tips to remember that will go a long way in helping us average guys to be pleasant dining companions -- and more gentlemanly -- whether we are around the family table, having a working lunch with colleagues, or meeting that special person's parents for the very first time with a sit-down dinner as part of the equation.  Here we go:


1) Above all, use the words, "please," thank you," and (if necessary) "excuse me" liberally.  Don't forget it!  

2) Sit up in your chair with both feet on the floor in front of you.  Don't slouch in your chair, and keep your feet confined to the space beneath your seat.  Don't swing your feet or stretch out your legs beneath the table into someone else's space.  Keep yourself to yourself.  Finally, keep your feet off the darn chair!  In other words, don't bend one of your knees and rest your foot on the seat of the chair with your bent knee at face level. . .  something that seems to have reached epidemic levels these days.  Buck the trend, and just keep your feet where they belong.  On the floor.   

3) Keep your elbows off the table and your napkin in your lap during the meal.  Oh, and you might want to use it to wipe your lips gently when necessary.  Your napkin that is.  Not your elbow.   

4) Ask for things to be passed to you.  Don't reach.  

5) Cut your food -- or if eating a roll or bread, break it -- into bite-sized pieces.  Don't force huge hunks of food into your mouth.  Ick!  

6) No one will take your food away from you, so don't hunch over your plate with an arm around it, picking through your food with your fork as though someone will swoop down and steal it.  We aren't vultures, so let's not act like it.   

7) Slow down!  Don't gobble your food as fast as you can.  This is not a pie or buffalo wing eating contest at a summertime county fair.  

8) Don't slurp, burp, or make other noises at the table.  Excuse yourself if and when this happens although it really  shouldn't at a table of older children and adults.  Chewing with your mouth closed might help.  

9) Likewise, avoid (like the plague) talking with your mouth full.  No one wants to see that. And just imagine how embarrassed you would be if you spit out bits of food in the direction of a dining companion in the middle of relating something to him or her.  Chew it up, swallow, and take a drink before you say anything.  Oh, and try not to leave food particles on the edge of your glass.  Better yet, make sure you don't.  

10) Remember not to gesture or point at others with your eating utensils.  We're nearing the end of the meal here, guys, so stay with me just a bit longer.  

11) When you finish, don't wipe up your plate with a piece of roll or bread.  Just place your silverware to one side on your plate (the right side in the 10 o-clock-4 o'clock position), and leave any remaining food residue where it is.  By the same token, DON'T lick your plate or utensils clean.  Yes, I know.  But I've actually heard of families where this is the norm.  

12) Finally, please don't wipe your mouth with your hand or the back of your wrist when you are finished.  Use your napkin!  That's what it is for, but be discreet.  Your napkin is not a washcloth/face flannel for Heaven's sake, so don't scrub your entire face with it.  And it should go without saying that you never, ever blow your nose into it!  If you run into nasal issues during a meal, excuse yourself from the table without going into details and, once again, take care of the problem in private, well out of earshot of your dining companions at the table.

13) Avoid picking food from your teeth with a toothpick or finger while you are still at the table.  I actually witnessed a young woman engage in the latter yesterday in the dining commons of my small college where I was holding late-semester meetings with students.  Ugh!  But then, she was sitting with her knee bent and a foot on the seat of her chair, airing her differences to the other three young "ladies" (sarcasm intended) at the table with her, so I should not have been surprised.  In any case, if or when you find yourself with food stuck between two teeth, excuse yourself from the table for a few moments to take care of the matter privately in the restroom.   

14) Here's a final tip to keep in mind.  While at the table, there is certain subject matter (illnesses, certain surgeries, anything having to do with the bathroom, or bodily functions, etc. ) that is best left for another time.  If you absolutely need to discuss it at all.  Talking about things like that during meals is just plain crude and will probably put at least one other person at the table off of their food.  Really.  Our mothers hopefully raised us better than that, and we are no longer 10-year old boys at summer camp trying to show our friends how gross we can be.  Hopefully, we have left that behind by now.  Right?

 
There we are.  Behaving like ravenous street curs at the table is not attractive (understatement of the year).  So, let's make sure we take the necessary steps to avoid coming across that way.  Start by making the various and sundry pointers above habitual.  Yes, even when you are alone.  Make pleasant behavior at the dining table a normal part of your routine, and you will be well on your way to becoming an extremely pleasant dining companion in most situations you'll encounter.  

And, as I indicated previously, if you take issue with what I've said here and persist in ignoring it, that's fine.  We are certainly permitted our different points of view.  But there is probably little danger of us sitting down to enjoy a meal together anytime soon.  Now go put on a shirt with a collar and some clean pants without an elastic waist, damn it!

Playful Irreverence for a Pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday. . .

The upper half, featuring my other Harris Tweed jacket sold at one time by Land's End.  American made and not as boxy as some of their jackets became by the early 2000s.  I used to own several and gradually donated them to thrift/charity shops as I acquired nicer blazers and sports jackets.


And the lower half, featuring dark green and navy herringbone socks in Merino wool by Dapper Classics (yet again), charcoal wool flannel pants, and those Allen Edmonds 'Schautal' suede wintips/brogues.  Most of the snow is gone from our sidewalks and walkways on campus, and the sun is out today, so. . .  I'm also wearing a newly acquired chocolate suede belt by Allen Edmonds, another gift received for my most recent 29th birthday.

Yet more playful experimentation with different items of clothing and accessories here today.  One of my more visually appealing combinations lately I think.  Happy Thanksgiving to visitors from Classic Style for the Average Guy to visitors from the UNited States.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

If it's Tuesday, this must be Michigan. . .

The upper half early this morning included a Land's End British regimental striped necktie that I purchased back in 2004 when LE was selling a whole bunch of these.  I want to say it is the stripe of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers, but that might be incorrect.  Regardless of whch particular regiment the stripe represents it would be extremely bad form to wear this tie were I visiting the U.K., never having served in the regiment in question.  However, we are such a messy, crass post-postmodern hodgepodge here in the U.S., that I hope I might be excused (just maybe) for sporting it on this side of the Atlantic where fewer people recognize such associations.  The color combination is delightful in any case.


And the lower half, featuring a new pair of Dapper Classics yellow Merino wool socks and a pair of vintage Corbin khaki pants in medium to heavy wool flannel.

Having fun combining a few different items this morning.  Something old, something new, nothing borrowed, and something blue.  I also received Bruce Boyer's latest title from Amazon.com yesterday ( a birthday gift from good ol' Mom), and it is fascinating based on the cursory skim I've had the time to give the book in the last 24 hours.  True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear (2015) is very literate yet eminently readable.  A well-written handbook of sorts with  just the right mount of wry wit and pith, it also presents sound advice for men interested in kicking up their everyday clothing style several notches.  Packed with information, the book is both entertaining and indispensable.  I would go so far as to say -- if classic men's style mavens and devotees will forgive me -- that True Style surpasses anything I have read by the great Alan Flusser.  There.  I said it.  No hate email, please.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Snowy Monday in Late November. . .

Spartan Stadium at MSU from the rear of the library early today with the Red Cedar River in between.  Still lots of snow everywhere although some attempt has been made to clear the walkways around campus since the snow fell on Saturday.


One way to keep warm: a heavy duffle coat and a 20+-year-old J. Peterman woolen scarf.


Of course, a Harris Tweed jacket and a heavy oxford cloth button-down collar shirt also help.  Seemed like a good morning to fish out my vintage L.L. Bean cross-country skier necktie too.  Sadly, I have not been able to locate the box with our own ski boots in it although I have spotted the long bag containing our skis and poles.  Otherwise, we would have been out on Saturday and Sunday.


And finally, those golden tan dress corduroy pants again with heavy socks and L.L. Bean duck shoes.  Today was not the day for fine footwear by any stretch.

A few shots of out first taste of winter and my response for a Monday morning.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A Tweed and Cord Thursday. . . .

The upper half today, again featuring the J.Press herringbone jacket that has show up here before.  As much as I wear and enjoy all of my various bolder tweed items, this one is becoming the go-to tweed jacket in the wardrobe simply because it works with so much else thanks to its less obtrusive pattern.

Channeling Mr. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster this morning as I dressed post-shower and shave.  We're off to visit Aunt Dahlia at Brinkley Manor late this afternoon and help Tuppy Glossop out of some romantic predicament or other, while hopefully avoiding accidental engagement to an eager young lady ourselves.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the lower half, which includes a newly moisturized, polished, and buffed pair of Allen Edmonds MacNeil brogues/wingtips and a new pair of Dapper Classics Merino wool Fair Isle pattern socks.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Allen Edmonds Resole. . .

The Shoe Snob - How to Polish Your Shoes Properly. . .

As Comfortable As Pajamas. . .

The upper half for today.  A Made in the U.S.A. three-piece wool flannel chalk stripe number from Polo Ralph Lauren and sold by Mark Shale.  The necktie is a hand-sewn Robert Talbot.


And, as always, the bottom half.  I was fresh out of navy and charcoal wool socks, so I went with these, which kind of echo one of the colors in the necktie above.  As usual, I opted for braces instead of a belt with the pants, which have brace buttons along the inside of the waistband.

Today's suit was purchased for between US$5.99-7.99 a year or so ago from one of my old thrift/charity haunts back in Central Illinois.  As far as I could tell at the time, it had been worn maybe once, if ever, before finding its way to the thrift shop, and required no alterations at all.  Even the coat sleeves were short enough to allow some shirt cuff to show with my arms at my sides.  And absolutely no wear on the seat of the pants, elbows of the coat, or anywhere else.  The suit fits as though it were made for my body, and the cut of the suit resembles those wonderful Laurence Fellows illustrations of the 1930s.  So, I have a delightfully vintage appearance when I venture out in this one.  Easily, one of my best thriting finds ever along with that J. Press tweed jacket.  

Best of all, this particular suit, because of its flannel nap is as comfortable and warm on a blustery day as any pair of cruddy sweatpants or pajama bottoms.  And a lot better looking too.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Make it a double-breasted Tuesday. . .

The upper half early this morning.  Although it could stand an inch taken in along the back/sides, the 6x2 coat fits more nicely than it appears here, but I was, of course, sitting and holding my stupid phone out in front of me and down low to avoid including my tired, middle-aged face in the shot.  The wool suit is medium weight and features a really nice nailhead finish.


And the lower half.  I always give my shoes a once over with the horsehair brush before putting them on, but I think it's time for a bit of TLC, and this pair of shoes has not had it since sometime late last winter, or early spring.  I wore some navy braces in lieu of a belt by the way.


I decided to wear the faux Drones (Brooks Bros. Makers) necktie this morning with a navy double-breasted number I haven't worn since last spring.  Hmmm. . .  Not horrible, but I should have kept it simple and gone with plain navy or charcoal wool socks instead of stripes.  And the shoes could use some leather lotion, a new coat or two of polish, and sole dressing if we are honest.  Grumble, grumble, grumble

On another note, a young man in one of my classes today wore a single-breasted gray suit with double monk strap shoes (without socks it turned out) and a white shirt with French cuffs and cufflinks no less.  His skateboard kind of spoiled an otherwise nice look, but you've got to hand it to the guy for making the effort regardless of the reason behind it.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, November 16, 2015

One Monday in Mid-November. . .

Were I to do this over again, I would reach or my solid navy wool necktie, I think, instead of this one whose design is too similar in scale and appearance to the houndstooth pattern of the tweed hacking jacket.


More successful with the bottom half today.  Hard to go wrong with olive green, navy, and tan suede.

Sometimes you nail it, and sometimes you stumble a bit when it comes to combining various items into a cohesive ensemble.  The necktie today, sadly, didn't quite work with the jacket.  Well, you can't be afraid to get it wrong sometimes I suppose.  One never learns what works together and what does not otherwise.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Imagine My Surprise. . .

The repp stripes point in the wrong direction, but otherwise, there is a striking similarity between this tie and the kind that might have been worn by Messrs. Wooster, Glossop, et al in the dining room or bar of Wodehouse's Drones Club.

Late last Friday afternoon, as I wasted a few minutes online before the Grand Duchess arrived home with some fabulous Middle Eastern take-out dishes for supper, I stumbled onto a description of the Drones Club necktie.  That's right, the Drones Club as mentioned in numerous P.G. Wodehouse stories.  "My, that sounds awfully familiar," I thought.  "I believe I have something similar hanging from my own tie rack."

Demonstrating with no apologies what a truly frivolous and empty-headed popinjay I am, I threw open the doors of my wardrobe to check, where, lo and behold, I discovered that there is indeed an old Brooks Brothers necktie bearing a striking resemblance to the plum, black, and yellow colors described on the webpage at which I looked.  I am not sure whether to feel slightly embarrassed, horrified, or tickled pink to discover an item in my wardrobe so much like the fictitious Drones Club necktie pictured below.  Ah, well.  I'll wear it anyway with careless abandon when Monday morning rolls around.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


The apparent necktie color and stripe configuration of Wodehouse's The Drones Club.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Henry Mancini - Goofin' At The Coffee House

Something for Sellers (Pink Panther Theme) - Henry Mancini

The Village Inn (Pink Panther Theme) - Henry Mancini

Glenn Miller & His Orchestra - Moonlight Serenade

Friday Morning Meeting Style. . .

 Here's how the upper half looked this morning.  A Polo University Club wool flannel blazer (thrifted about five summers ago) worn over a pink and white University Stripe OCBD shirt with an old Land's End necktie that I purchased about 10 years ago.  I added my PKP pin when I realized that the person I was to meet today needed some way to recognize me.  It worked.


And here's the bottom half.  Yet another pair of gray flannel pants, charcoal Merino wool dress socks, and a pair of Allen Edmonds cap toe oxfords.  Very supple shoes that I could easily wear all day.  If more guys were aware of how comfortable good quality leather dress shoes can be, the bottom would soon drop out of the athletic shoe industry.  Call it a hunch.


And the same shown here beneath my trusty old London Fog trenchcoat, purchased new during the summer of '99 before I left for Norway, along with a wool scarf that Mom and Step Dad gave me one Christmas over 20 years ago.  The coat is a bit worn in places now and no longer repels moisture quite as well as it once did, but when clean and pressed, it is extremely comfortable and still looks good I think.

A cold one here today with bits of snow and ice coming down from the sky occasionally.  A good reason to hunker down and remain inside since I normally have no commitments on campus during Fridays this semester.  However, I had a meeting scheduled with head honcho on the executive committee of the local Phi Kappa Phi chapter about the possibility of serving in some way, shape, or form.  So, time to shower, shave, and pull myself together after shuttling the Young Master through his own morning routine and getting him to the school bus.  

Must admit, that I felt pretty good leaving the door and heading to the car considering that it was still so darn early.  And do you know?  It was the oddest thing.  Lots of people, from the desk clerk at the Kellogg Center check-in desk in the lobby, to the greeter at the State Room restaurant, to random people I met on the elevators greeted me very politely and/or provided the requested assistance with a smile.  Same thing when I stopped to pick up a few things afterwards at the supermarket on my way home.  

The argument might be made that what I point out here simply comes from good customer service training in both cases.  And that may very well be.  However, I have found many, many times that people tend to react to and treat you differently -- better -- when you DO NOT look like you've spent several days living beneath Oscar the Grouch's garbage can.  Just my opinion, of course, which makes that observation very easy to dismiss for many people, but I nevertheless think there is something to it.  

I certainly remember how people reacted to and treated me when I wore nothing but tight jeans and t-shirts as a young long-haired rocker back in the 1980s and early 90s. . .  despite everything my family tried to tell me and instill during those early years, and before I understood fully what they meantThen, the other penny finally dropped about 1995, and I could not help but notice how things changed -- markedly -- once I decided to have my hair cut short and begin dressing better as I wrapped up my undergraduate work and continued with graduate school.  

Appearance matters.  Like so much else in life, I guess, people either get it, or they don't.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A Blustery Thursday in November. . .

The top half today included, among other items, a herringbone pattern Harris Tweed jacket by Hunting Horn.


 The bottom half, including Land's End corduroy pants, Merion wool socks from Dapper Classics, and yet another pair of wingtips/brogues, these too by Allen Edmonds.

Cold, windy, and rainy here today.  A perfect reason to channel Bingo Little, Tuppy Glossop, and Bertie Wooster, albeit with a bit more color, before heading out to brave the weather here in the southern part of Lower Michigan.  Mid-November has indeed arrived.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Make a it a Double-breasted Wednesday!

A Brooksgate wool flannel navy blazer with brown foulard necktie and a green and white University Stripe OCBD shirt.


L.L. Bean gray flannel pants, Merino wool socks by Dapper Classics, and those recrafted (2013) Allen Edmonds shortwings once again.

Still having fun with clothes this morning and thought I'd upload these before finishing lunch and getting back to the afternoon grind.  At my old institution in Central Illinois, one of the most visible university muckety mucks also wore double-breasted blazers and suits.  And he looked pretty good too.  But the problem was in his always matching bowtie and pocket square exactly.  Clearly these were purchased as sets.  

In private, my wife the Grand Duchess expressed the opinion that that particular feature of his attire made him look like he was dressed for a high school musical when he might otherwise have looked really sharp.  Since I veer toward the dandy side of thing anyway and occasionally stray into matchy-matchy territory myself, albeit unwittingly, I'll hold my tongue (uncharacteristic I realize)  and keep walking forward without adding any snide comments of my own.  

After all, how many men do we really see these days, at least in the United States, wearing double-breasted blazers and suits?  Exactly.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tweed Suit Humor: Peter Sellers doing Michael Caine on Parkinson. . .

Southwick Tweed Suit Tuesday. . .

The top half of today's tweed suit venture.  A very, very warm and heavy suit.  The pants are fully lined to the ankles, so it must be chilly weather before this one is practical.  Dark blue and maroon paisley silk braces worn with this in lieu of a belt.


It was uncanny, but I was nearly done in by a disembodied hand writhing around on my office floor this morning.  Somehow, it had managed to wriggle its way into my Seiko slim dress watch, a birthday gift from good ol' Mom about a dozen years ago.


Navy Merino wool socks by Dapper Classics with resoled vintage Florsheim gunboats.  I obviously need to apply brown sole dressing and a coat or two of clear polish on top of that, darn it.

Enjoyed trotting this Southwick 3/2 suit out today for early morning office hours, rereading selected course texts, and lesson planning followed by a couple of classes (with a medium cappucino in between) this afternoon during which I returned the graded second batch of formal papers collected two weeks ago.  Mostly very good to excellent this time around, and, as always, I learned a few new things from my students and had interesting ideas brought to my attention as I worked through their papers during the last 12 days or so.  That is what I enjoy most about my vocation.  But. . .

There are always several papers in each batch where the student writers clearly did not bother to read the detailed assignment prompts and wrote something else besides what the assignment asked for.  Or what they wrote was so vague and lacking in any specific details that it became apparent by the bottom of page one that these particular undergrads -- I have freshmen through seniors in each of my courses -- had not thought about the materials beyond the most superficial level.

Then, my particular favorite.  I always receive a few papers each go-around so poorly written that two or three consecutive readings leave me none the wiser as to what the writers mean to say about their topic.  We want to assign good grades, really we do, but jeeze Louise.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, November 9, 2015

Peter Gunn - Henry Mancini

Inaugural Outing of AE Schautal Wingtips/Brogues. . .

Here they are.  Extremely comfortable.  Full leather lining and excellent support as you would expect from Allen Edmonds footwear.

A chilly, sunny Monday in November here today, so perfect weather for tweed jackets, corduroy pants, and suede wingtips/brogues.  I even managed to scare up a pair of heavy green laces sent to me by the Allen Edmonds people two or three years ago when they returned a pair of shoes post-recrafting.  Glad I kept these in the shoeshine box, 'cause they don't look too bad here.  It's funny, but when you've got interesting things to wear, suddenly Monday's don't seem as awful.  

Feeling better about oneself and, indeed, whatever life drops in your lap -- via the the hated and feared email inbox -- between late Friday afternoon and early Monday morning (I do not check work-related email at home during the weekends) is an oft overlooked reason in favor of dressing more presentably.  If more people dressed even halfway better than has become the accepted norm, I am convinced there would be fewer cases of depression and/or the general ennui that seems to afflict so much of Western humanity in the 21st century.  Maybe if we looked better, we'd begin to feel at least somewhat better about ourselves? 

I worked that one out during my first teaching job after grad school in the early 2000s when I began wearing a jacket and tie five days a week.  We were not required to, of course, by the small Minnesota college where I landed that first job, but I know my chair appreciated it, and quite a few students commented favorably on it during my year and a half there.  At the very least, I looked like I belonged at the front of the room.  And, one day, I realized that "dressing up" four or five days a week really wasn't the hell that so many people mistakenly think.  

My maternal grandmother, who was still alive at the time, agreed wholeheartedly when we discussed this point on the telephone one afternoon.  I'm sure my grandfather, a retired executive who worked for many years in Manhattan, chuckled when she related the conversation to him later.  He knew the old, long-haired rocker me you understand.  It must have tickled them pink to discover that their 30-something grandson had finally arrived at certain conclusions for himself and taken steps to get with the program.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


 I also wore some new Merino wool Argyll socks from Dapper Classics today , which were purchased during the recent Halloween promotion, 20% off all socks with orange in them.  Couldn't resist.  A very nice shot of the shoes too.  Gorgeous and just the thing to wear with corduroy pants on a chilly autumn day.


 And the very BOLD Southwick tweed jacket.  A bit matchy-matchy with the orange today, I realize, but no one actually saw my socks as far as I know.  Certainly, none of my students did since I always stand during classes.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Novembers Past, Novembers Present. . .

A male ring-necked pheasant, like used to be extremely common in SE Pennsylvania when I was a boy.

This Sunday morning while enjoying that first mug of coffee, I overheard a couple of blue jays squawking just outside the window of our temporary diggs here outside of East Lansing, Michigan.  The mind is a funny thing, because my first thought was of the many ring-necked pheasants years ago when I was a boy and teenager in southeastern Pennsylvania, especially during Late October-Early December each year, when it seemed that you could not swing a dead cat without either seeing or hearing them.  Ring-necked pheasants that is.  As a toddler and very small child, according to good ol' Mom, I referred to them collectively as Silly Pheasant, a generic name that remained in use among the family for many years thereafter especially once the weather cooled in the fall.

The corn had been harvested by that point, the leaves were mostly off the trees, and the landscape was beginning to look decidedly wintry.  I guess it was easier to see and notice the birds given the lack of vegetation, and of course the hunters were out with their dogs flushing the birds from their hiding places.  I was informed a couple of years ago, before he died, by fellow blogger Mainline Sportsman that the ring-necked pheasant is no longer stocked by the state of Pennsylvania in the great numbers that it was at one time, so the bird has become much less common, which is a bit sad.  I will forever associate the ring-necked pheasant and its distinct metallic call with the late fall, my favorite season of the year. 

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On a completely different note, I finally managed to find a place online -- Basket Code -- that produces sets of blazer buttons featuring the crests and mottos of American universities.  Yes!  So, although they are a bit dear, I will purchase a set for my Alma Mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and have a tailor sew them onto my summer-weight three-button blazer that gets used about six months of the year.  These will replace a set of plasticy looking buttons that I've never been entirely happy with, but they were what was available when one of the original brass-edged buttons came off and disappeared before I noticed nine or ten years ago.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, November 7, 2015

"The Ipcress File" John Barry FULL VINYL SOUNDTRACK ALBUM 1965

Bernard "Pretty" Purdie talks about ghostnotes. . .



Of Thank-you Notes Past and Present. . .

The Young Master and I have had birthdays in the last couple of weeks, and today we'll sit down together to write a few thank-you notes for the cards and gifts sent to us from family members.  Both the physical notes and a couple of the cyber variety for relatives in areas of the world where the mail is unreliable.

Too many people, if and when they think about them at all, regard thank-you notes as a quaint reminder of a bygone era.  A relic of the past.  Something about as necessary in the 21st century as gloves, calling cards, and  walking sticks.  Something that is, somehow, too time consuming.  You know the old, tired refrain, "I don't have the time."  We hear this excuse used for everything from thank-you cards, to dressing presentably (not expensively or well, just presentably), to actually setting a dinner table properly and sitting down for an evening meal (without TV and I-phones mind you), to washing one's face and brushing one's hair before appearing in the morning.

My question is this.  How can you not take a few minutes from you busy schedule -- step away from the I-phone Finnegan/Connor/Logan/Kinsie/Kelsey/Kaliegh/Etc. -- to thank someone for taking the time to remember you and send you something?  How can you, in good conscience, not show a bit of consideration and common decency to others who are not required to think of you?  How can you ignore doing what is socially acceptable and correct if we get right down to it?

I once had the wife of a couple we were close to go all to pieces -- honestly -- because I sent them a brief thank-you card after we joined them for supper at their house about ten years ago after I left Minnesota and joined the Grand Duchess in Illinois during the year before we were married.  I was absolutely dumbfounded when it was later brought to my attention that "We are really good friends, so we shouldn't even have to feel like thank-you notes are necessary."  What?  WHAT??!!

Perhaps she was simply trying to mask her embarrassment, or working through her own social anxieties?  Maybe it was something else?  Who knows?  However, I remained undeterred and continued to send them brief notes of thanks each time after we joined the couple in question for evening meals and socializing.  Strangely, the gesture was never returned when we entertained them at our house.  Many, many times during a ten-year period.  As Tom Jones sang, "It's not unusual. . ."

In any case, I have continued to send brief thank-you notes -- like I was raised to do by my slightly tipsy, bridge-playing, Southern Episcopalian and Methodist forebearers -- throughout my adult life to friends, family, and mere acquaintances.  The Young Master will learn this social skill too, and hopefully it will not turn into an awkward thing for him on reaching adulthood.  If simple notes of thanks for gifts, pleasant company, and the like come to be regarded as embarrassing inconveniences, then we really and truly are in deep trouble as a society.  Sigh.

So, ladies and gentlemen, allow me to bang the drum one more time.  Take a few minutes of your time and cultivate the habit of sending brief notes of thanks.  These do not have to be lengthy either.  Just something along the lines of, "Thanks so much for the delightful meal and good company last night.  Blanche and I really enjoyed ourselves.  Let's do it again soon.  Next time, at our place.  Be sure to bring little Allan and Stella along.  -- Stanley." 

At the very least, taking a few moments to write and send thank-you cards will set you apart as someone who shows a modicum of consideration for and thanks to others who have been kind enough to remember and/or include you.  You are showing kindness, in turn, for kindness that has been extended to you.  A pleasant social give and take that is nothing to sneer atIt is that tiny bit of grooming and sophistication, after all, that is really behind Classic Style for the Average Guy.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Spring to the Step. . .

Today's shoes, although the photograph was taken two or three years ago in my den in our old house in Illinois.  Closing is in three weeks, and then we will have sold it.

At the conclusion of today's class on Scandinavian and Nordic Cinema, a student approached me to touch base about a couple of items on the syllabus.  As he turned to leave, he asked, "By the way, is that a jacket with a 3/2 roll?  I've never seen one in person."  I was wearing my J. Press Herringbone tweed jacket among other items.  

We then spent the next ten minutes talking men's classic attire and dress shoes.  I should mention that said student was dressed rather well in his own Allen Edmonds shortwings, a sportsjacket over a pressed sports shirt, and wool dress pants with a sharp crease.  He was on his way to a job interview in downtown Lansing.  Yes, indeed.  It seems there are some 21-year olds out there who get it, which does the mind and soul good on this unseasonably warm November afternoon.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, November 2, 2015

Flannel and Flies for a November Monday. . .

Nippy here in the southern part of Lower Michigan this morning, so I grabbed a  favorite wool flannel sports jacket from the wardrobe -- a Pal Zileri number in Glen Plaid -- and combined it with a pair of charcoal gray flannel pants, a light blue oxford cloth button-down shirt, and a recently acquired vintage Orvis necktie, which I've only worn once before (several weeks ago).  I topped off the ensemble with a pair of chocolate brown suede Allen Edmonds shortwings and an Italian silk pocket square that I picked up for a dollar or two at a thrift/charity shop several years ago.  Everything seemed to work well together, but it was almost too warm by the time I came home after midday, and I am actually sitting in khaki shorts and a short-sleeved navy polo knit top as I type this.  Can you believe it's November 2nd?

-- Heinz-Ulrich