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.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Bold Tweed Thursday. . .

The upper half yesterday morning early.  The jacket is by Southwick and was thrifted for between US$5-7 a year or two ago.  On the bottom, a pair of heavy olive green chinos and the usual L.L. Bean duck shoes over ski socks.  I don't think I've gone so many days in a row without wearing leather dress shoes since my first teaching job up in Minnesota back in 2003-2004.

Well, folks.  The weekend has arrived and with it a cold and low fever.  Darn!  I had looked forward to some idle downtime during the next couple of days, engaging in a few hobby things I enjoy given a planned lull in course work and lesson prep.  But when you crummy, even normally fun things just don't seem like, well, much fun.  Sigh.  Ok.  Time for something to nibble on, and then back to bed.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

To Followers of Classic Style for the Average Guy. . .

IMPORTANT: Google Friend Connect (GFC) & Blogger follower changes

I've noticed that on a couple of days, I've suddenly lost a significant amount of followers on Google Friend Connect (GFC). While you do tend to lose a follower here and there, the sudden loss of this many followers seemed strange to me. Another blogger recently googled to see if GFC was experiencing issues (back in 2011 they phased out GFC for non-blogger sites, so wouldn't be the first time).

Apparently, starting the week of January 11th, Google has been slowly adding this requirement: you now MUST have Google account in order to follow blogs through Google Friend Connect. If you follow blogs with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut, or other Open ID providers, you will lose your subscriptions to blogger blogs via GFC. 

Fortunately, if you'd like to continue receiving updates from me, you could do as they suggest and sign up for a Google account and re-follow your blogs.  Thanks!

Here's the original message:

In 2011, we announced the retirement of Google Friend Connect for all non-Blogger sites. We made an exception for Blogger to give readers an easy way to follow blogs using a variety of accounts. Yet over time, we’ve seen that most people sign into Friend Connect with a Google Account. So, in an effort to streamline, in the next few weeks we’ll be making some changes that will eventually require readers to have a Google Account to sign into Friend Connect and follow blogs.

As part of this plan, starting the week of January 11, we’ll remove the ability for people with Twitter, Yahoo, Orkut or other OpenId providers to sign in to Google Friend Connect and follow blogs. At the same time, we’ll remove non-Google Account profiles so you may see a decrease in your blog follower count.

We encourage you to tell affected readers (perhaps via a blog post), that if they use a non-Google Account to follow your blog, they need to sign up for a Google Account, and re-follow your blog. With a Google Account, they’ll get blogs added to their Reading List, making it easier for them to see the latest posts and activity of the blogs they follow.

We know how important followers are to all bloggers, but we believe this change will improve the experience for both you and your readers.

Posted by Michael Goddard, Software Engineer

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Doubleshot Tuesday. . .

The upper half for today early this morning over coffee and the final 75 pages of The Preacher, by Camilla Lackberg, part of my Scandinavian and Nordic Detective Fiction course this semester.  

A chilly, raw day today although much of our snow cover has gone here in the southern part of Lower Michigan.  Still cold enough for tweed and sweaters though.  The Donegal Tweed jacket shown above is one I found for about US$5 in a thrift/charity shop about three years ago.  The label inside is virtually all in Irish Gaelic other than the bit about 100% wool.  After the side and back seams were taken in by my old tailor, Mrs. V. back in Central during Fall 2014, it now fits very nicely over a thin sweater like the Land's End number in the photo.  The dark green wool tie is another thrifted item by Bachrach, and the pocket square is the wool one purchased on sale at the start of the month from Put This On.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

On the bottom, a pair of navy Land's End dress cords with the, by now, usual L.L. Bean duck shoes and ski socks.  I stepped in a deep puddle this morning crossing from the lot where I parked across to campus.  Not looking where I was going.  Imagine if I had worn one of my leather pairs of shoes and thin Merino wool dress socks?  Uh-huh.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Late January Monday Style. . .

The upper half this morning.  A thrifted Alan Flusser tweed jacket, sweater and ocbd shirt by L.L. Bean, and a Seiko sim dress watch, which was given to me by good ol' Mom way back on my 36th birthday in the early 2000s.  The necktie was a plain navy wool number.

The new semester has yet to settle down into a dull roar at the start of Week Three, but I had a few moments to sip some fresh dark roast coffee and snap these photographs this morning during office hours before my first class.  The first batch of undergrad papers arrives in just two weeks. . .  Jeeze Louise!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

An the bottom half, featuring dark green Land's End dress cords, L.L. bean duck shoes, and yet another pair of heavy to-the-knee ski socks.  I'd love to put on a pair of leather dress shoes, really I would, but the snow, slush, and salt has simply been too much.  Fortunately, we already had the requisite bad winter weather footwear before leaving Central Illinois for more northerly climes.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Winter's Majesty. . .

 Here is the view from our driveway down toward the street just before 10:30 this (Friday) morning.  Definitely suburban, but awfully quiet and almost rural.  Works for me.

We're enjoying the winter so far here at Totleigh-in-theWold although there is not yet  quite enough snow for cross-country skiing.  Locals keep remarking to us, though, that this year has been unusual in that there is usually much more snow on the ground by this point.  Still, we've had a few opportunities to fire up the snowblower to clear the driveway before heading in to campus, and we routinely enjoy the fireplace most evenings.

This evening, the Grand Duchess and I will play a game or two of Scrabble and enjoy something medicinal by the hearth following the Young Master's bedtime.  I found her a nice bottle of Apricot brandy late this morning for us to sample a bit of, and then perhaps we might follow it with a glass of wine, or some single malt scotch. . .  all of which should help my Scrabble game immeasurably!

Lest anyone think me a complete lush and reprobate for purchasing booze before Noon, I can offer a defense, albeit a rather thin one.  I had to run a few errands once the Young Master had left for school as well as pick up a few things at the supermarket for supper this eveningNaturally, I took a spin through the wine and liquor aisles on my way to the checkout counter at the front of the store, and , well, there you are.  A few bottles of wine, the apricot brandy, and a bottle of single malt scotch magically found their way into the shopping cart.  

I chuckled at this as I stood in line to pay because it reminded me of my maternal grandmother's Friday forays to the grocery store and, more important, the Pennsylvania state-run liquor store.  She always picked up a bottle or two of something on the way home, usually scotch in the winter, gin in the summer, and wine year-round before the start of the weekend.  I've written here before about my Episcopalian and Methodist forbearers, all of whom enjoyed a drink or two in the late afternoons and early evenings before supper during the weekends and on holidays.  

I realize there are people out there who will equate that with being full-blown alcoholics on a park bench somewhere.  My non-obsevant Lutheran wife, on the other hand, grew up in a less well lubricated home -- practically a dry county if we are honest -- although she has acquired a taste for a sip or two of liquor, a glass of wine with supper, and once in a while some Irish whisky or single malt Scotch with me.  It can be a nice way to unwind before heading off to bed on a Friday or Saturday evening at the end of a long week, and we really don't indulge all that much.  A few bottles of the evil firewater last us a loooooong time in other words.

Finally, as an aside, my heavy, dark green duffle coat has had more wear so far this winter than during the previous three.  Easily, one of my best Ebay finds.  And inexpensive too.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And here is photograph taken from our front walk through part of our wold.

This is the direction from which the school bus approaches each morning.

And, of course, our woods out the back, hence my rather grandiose borrowing of Wodehouse's Totleigh-in-the-Wold.  Look closely, and you'll notice deer tracks everywhere.  I've only actually spotted two of them in the last month, but Bambi and his cohorts are clearly walking all around the house at night based on all of the new tracks we spot in the snow each morning.

Indoors, something medicinal.  I finally tracked down and retrieved the handmade crystal scotch decanter and glasses to which I treated myself before Christmas.  Due to my oversight, they were sent to our former temporary address that we left in mid-December when we moved into Totleigh-in-the Wold.  Luckily, the ladies in the rental office there set this aside and hung onto it until I called last Tuesday inquiring after it.  For the time being, the decanter contains some 10-year old Laphroig, but once that's gone I'll spring for something older.  The Grand Duchess and I are also sipping our way through a bottle of Aberlour single malt that she gave me for Christmas.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mid-January Style in Lower Michigan. . .

The upper half today, minus the heavy dark green duffle coat from Scotland.  The necktie is a recently acquired wool number from Bert Pulitzer,

Cold and snowy here since the official start of the spring semester last Monday.  That has meant a moratorium on polished leather footwear sadly.  In its place, I have relied on LL Bean boots and the duckshoes show below worn with skiing socks.  Obviously, this would not quite work with a suit, so I have worn nothing but corduroy pants, tweed jackets, ocbd shirts, and the occasional crewneck sweater of one kind or another on really cold days along with wool neckties.  Brogued "longwings" in brown or dark tan would, admittedly, be better on the ol' feet, but I'm not complaining.  How fortunate that the Grand Duchess and I already had the LL Bean footwear in our respective wardrobes though.

-- Heinz-Ulrich 

And the lower half.  Dark tan leather belt not seen here.  Not my office rug, I promise, but a lounge area on campus where I enjoyed some very early morning coffee before settling down to read  new article on the Hitchcock films Psycho and The Birds.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Italian Return to Elegance. . .

Two photographs from the New York Times article, showing us how it's done.

A very interesting piece on the return of elegance to men and their style in Italy.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, January 11, 2016

A Few New Items for the New Year. . .

A bit of a splurge last week, but I really liked the necktie!  A silk J. Press pheasant tie 'Made in Ireland'.

It's always a nice surprise when you forget that you have things coming in the mail.  Such was the case with these three new items that I purchased last week.  And then immediately forgot about them until they arrived today.  Decadent and disgusting consumerism, yes.  The walking embodiment of a First World problem.  

Still, I can't decide whether to wear the tie with a tweed jacket tomorrow when I meet the students in my other two classes this semester, or the blue wool pocket square with a different tie.  The white linen square will be saved for the next time I wear an actual suit.  What a frivolous and vapid popinjay I am!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Taking advantage of a clearance sale at Put This On, I picked up this lovely wool pocket square with beautifully hand-rolled edges.

And another pocket square on clearance from Put This On, this time in white linen.  These measure 16"x16" and will be welcome additions to my collection of silk squares.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

January X-Country Skiing Style. . .

All suited up and rarin' to go.  The Young Master models his skis and Mom's fleece-lined Minnesota "Vern Hat" as she calls it.

What do you do on a cold, blustery, and snowy January day in Michigan?  Get out into the open of course atop your cross-country skis!  The Young Master and I skied our back and front yards earlier this afternoon during a pause between these mini-systems that are predicted to blow through with light snow all week long.  Who knows?  We might actually have enough on the ground to ski one of our nearby nature reserves next weekend.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And he's off!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Syllabus Revision Thursday. . .

The upper half this morning includes a newly acquired L.L. Bean navy crewneck sweater in Shetland wool that was purchased on sale worn over a heavy Bass ocbd that I purchased a year or so ago at one of my old thrift/charity store haunts back in Central Illinois.

Cold with a bit of snow on the ground here in Lower Michigan lately, which provides a good excuse to don an oxfordcloth shirt and a crewneck sweater along with a pair of corduroy jeans. . .  as if one ever needed an excuse to do so.  These kinds of items are my "at home" uniform from October through mid-April each year, although I often substitute either a rugby shirt, or Norwegian sweater on the top as previous photographs here at Classic Style for the Average Guy will attest.

Classes begin for the new semester next Monday, so I have been busily updating old course syllabi this week to make the courses and syllabi I developed in my previous position better fit current requirements here at MSU.  Not difficult, really, but time consuming we might say.  Still, I had time to order the Young Master a couple of new shirts on clearance earlier this morning -- a blue and white university stripe ocbd and a red Tattersall button-down -- once he left for school since an email came to my in-box from Janie and Jack

Janie and Jack is an online clothing outlet we learned about through good ol' Mom ("Granny" to the Young Master) several years ago when our son was just a baby.  They provide good quality, classic clothing for boys and girls from newborns through about 12 years of age, the kinds of things you won't find, for example, at places like The Children's Store, The Gap, or Old Navy

Naturally, you'll want to avoid going overboard with Janie and Jack items, or else you will end up with children that resemble Thurston and Lovey Howell from the old Gilligan's Island TV series.  However, a few carefully chosen, understated clearance items, purchased two-four times a year, add a pleasing, nicely groomed appearance to a child and his, or her wardrobe.  At least as far as school clothes and attire for special occasions are concerned. 

Although children outgrow their clothes in the blink of an eye, there is no reason why, once they are out of diapers, our boys and girls cannot grow up wearing something else besides the ubiquitous sweatpants, cargo shorts, t-shirts, sneakers, and pajama bottoms worn 27/7 by so many people of all ages.  Ugh!  Remember, it's never too early to begin imparting at least a veneer of polish and sophistication to our children.  Besides teaching them common decency, good habits, and pleasant manners, we can achieve that polish and sophistication -- or at least get a bit closer to it -- by cultivating at a young age the habit of dressing presentably (surprise!).  How can anyone take issue with that?  

Too many people do of course.  But the all-too-commonly heard excuse that, "We should just let kids be kids" is exactly that.  A very weak excuse.  The practice of presenting oneself better than what has become the accepted and extremely sad average by this point in history starts in childhood, or, rather, it ought to.  Like the study of foreign languages, the sooner, the better as far as I am concerned.  Start now.  If you wait until kids are 11 or 12, you miss the boat on a lot of things.  Play with your Legos and Transformers, or out on the backyard swingset, in the treehouse, or in the sandbox (in older playclothes)  all you want, but you needn't look like you have just crawled out from beneath Oscar the Grouch's garbage can while you do it.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the lower half, featuring "Gunnlaug", one of our two feline family members.  She routinely joins me down here in my basement den once morning feeding time has come and gone.  After the Young Master was safely on the school bus this morning, I headed inside and swapped my L.L. Bean duck shoes and ski socks for these Sperry dock-siders.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday, Monday. . .

Not my shaving gear, but I liked the photograph just the same.  Truthfully, straight razors are a bit scary for yours truly (I'll stick to my Gillette Atra razor and blades, thank you).  It must be due to the old Brian De Palma film, starring Sir Michael Caine and Angie Dickenson Dressed to Kill (1980), but I do use a shaving mug and brush quite happily.

Nothing quite like a shower, shave, clean clothes, and a good, strong side part in your hair.  The final week of our Christmas break, and the new semester begins on Monday the 11th.  Unusually, I have managed to get lots of little things accomplished, and it is just 11:57am.  Not even lunch time.  Amazing what you can accomplish when left alone for a few hours and able to focus your mental energies.  Ahhhhhh.  Even if I accomplish nothing else, it has already been a good day.  Men, let's march into the new year with purpose, drive, and greater elegance and everyday style!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, January 2, 2016

How might we introduce more elegance and style into our daily lives in 2016 and beyond?

An old ad for Ballantine Beer.  I have only witnessed beer consumption this glamorous once, or maybe twice in my life.  Nothing against the beverage itself, and I enjoy the occasional glass with a good brat and saurkraut, but usually, occasions that include beer do not resemble anything close to this idealized scene from 1954.

How might we easily and effortlessly introduce more elegance and style into our daily lives in 2016 and beyond?  Here are just a few brief suggestions:

1) Instead of sitting around the house in sweat pants, cargo pants, or pajama bottoms most of the time, how about adding a few pairs of corduroy jeans for the winter and a few pairs of khakis (long, or short depending on the season) for the warmer months?  It's not going to kill us to look a bit nicer even when we are behind closed doors.  Let's keep up appearances even if only for ourselves.

2) I'll bang the ol' drum again since this is clearly such a challenge for so many in the 21st century.  Table manners, table manners, table manners!  I was reminded of this point when we joined a colleague of my wife's (along with that person's immediate family) for lunch on New Year's Eve.  The invitation was very gracious, yes.  But, um, it was not a comfortable experience sitting across from and next to the people involved considering that everyone but the husband behaved as though he, or she was at a trough in a barnyard.  Yuck!  At the barest minimum, a) chew with your moth closed and don't smack your lips, b) don't talk with your mouth full, c) keep your napkin in your lap and your elbows off the table, d) sit up without hunching over your plate, and e) sit still without tapping/bouncing your foot if you are an adult, or swinging your legs if you happen to be a child, and don't drift into some else's space while at the table.  

How can ANYONE argue with these basic points?  Yet people take issue with the idea of manners (around the table and in daily life) all of the time if, or when one is foolish enough to raise the issue.  I understand that it is not polite to tell someone directly that he, or she is rude, but jeeze Louise!  How can people achieve high levels of graduate education (and enjoy an essentially upper middle class income and lifestyle), read widely, travel around the world, live other places, rub elbows with all kinds of other interesting people in their work, and ostensibly teach culture to young, undergraduate minds without acquiring at least a veneer of sophistication themselves beyond their particular, rather narrow field of expertise?  Basic manners are part of that sophistication like it, or not.  Clearly, a terminal degree doth not a charming personality (or, indeed, family) make!  As has been pointed out here before (by a reader), the poorest people can, sometimes, be the most polite, interesting, and charming.  By the same token, the most privileged and moneyed can, likewise, be the most crass and boorish in their behaviors.

3) Keep your living space picked up, put things away when you finish with them, and stop decorating your abode like some kind of hyper-masculine, overgrown college kid on his own for the first time.  In other words, lose the teenager's room/ dorm room/ first apartment/ man cave aesthetic forthwith and pack up. . .  no, GET RID of the unframed posters taped to your walls along with the miniature NFL helmet collection, and other assorted college and professional sports tschotschkes.  It's high time to cultivate a bit more sophistication where your interior decorating is concerned Bubba.  I suggest starting with the Masculine Interiors website.

4) Stop drinking from the bottle, can, or red plastic Solo cup and. . .  ask for a glass.  Simple.

There.  Now, that didn't hurt, did it?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy 2016 from Classic Style for the Average Guy!

A vintage magazine advertisement from the mid-1950s.  Surely, there must still be a few groups of male friends who look and behave in as civilized a way when they gather in 2016?

Happy New Year!  Let's make 2016 'The Year of Greater Elegance and Style.'  Let's strive to introduce both to a higher degree into our daily personal appearance, behavior, and living spaces.  Even if we are not born into monetary riches, there is no reason we cannot make an honest effort to spruce up ourselves and our surroundings.  As ol' Mom used to tell my sister and I during our formative years, "Do it for yourself, even if or when you are by yourself."  She had a point, ol' Mom did.

-- Heinz-Ulrich von B.