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.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Linen Thursday. . .

A Southwick linen and wool blend sports jacket, a Geoffrey Beene Italian necktie, and a cotton pocket square from Put This On above.

Still very warm and humid here in Mid-Michigan.  Lower 80s (about 28 Celsius) today, so I hauled out some warm weather gear.  Kind of pleased with how nicely all of this seemed to come together this morning without too much thought, which is how we like it.  I will, however, share a real howler from earlier in the week tomorrow that illustrates what can happen when you don't think about your attire at all.  A real "What in the heck was I thinking??!!" moment.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Allen Edmonds shoes, socks by Dapper Classics, and linen pants from Polo Ralph Lauren I think on the bottom. 

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Late Summer Office Hours Style. . .

A linen-wool blend by Southwick was the centerpiece of today's ensemble.  I've had this a year or so but only had the usual minor alterations taken care of in June.

Various patterns at work here, but it doesn't look too terrible from a distance (Thank you, Bette Midler!).  Well, you've got to have a bit of fun from time to time and not be afraid to dress with some personality either.  I like charcoal and navy suits as much as the next guy, but a little color and pattern from time to time certainly spice things up.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the bottom half today, a sunny, cool, and comfortable late summer-early fall day.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

If it's Tuesday. . .

 The top half today.
It must be blazer and ocbd shirt day.  Newly added buttons, a recently purchased silk knit Italian necktie, and one of those new cotton pocket squares from Put Ths On.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the bottom half.  I grabbed the socks from the sock drawer without thinking very early this morning post-shower and shave.  Were I to do this over again, navy blue or charcoal I think would work much better.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

New Squares!

They have finally arrived!  Two cotton pocket squares and a silk one from Put This On.

While I have a number of different pocket squares already, sometimes you just need to replenish things a bit.  So, when the folks at Put This On had a sale back during the first half of August on their handmade squares, some of which were reduced to a mere fraction of their original retail prices, I threw caution to the wind and ordered the three you see above.  It took longer than usual for these to arrive due to an out-of stock on one item, and some crossed wires in communication, but we eventually sorted everything out, and here they are.  Since the weather is supposed to cool considerably , with much lower humidity, by the start if the week, a suit is in order for Monday with the restrained blue and red number at right I think and a very plain necktie.  Ahhhhh. . .  It's nice to look forward to getting dressed instead of viewing the possibility as something to fear and loathe.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, September 9, 2016

Casual Friday Meeting Style. . .

Here's the top for today along with a rather ebullient silk pocket square featuring 'Harry the Labrador', who belongs to the Grey Fox in the U.K.  I could hardly pass up buying one of these last winter when they became available.

Normally, I do not have any commitments on campus most Fridays and have little opportunity to wear more than chino shorts and a short-sleeved Madras, seersucker, or polo shirt in warmer, quite humid weather like we've had here in Mid-Michigan this week.  But this morning there was the first meeting of my university's Phi Kappa Phi executive committee for the 2016-2017 academic year, so my presence was required.  Our secretary, however, had assembled such a thorough and well-presented agenda for this morning and, indeed, the coming year, which was emailed to us a day beforehand, that our face-to-face meeting was, in my view, unnecessary.  Ah, well.  It gave me a reason to shower, shave, press a shirt, and look alive for an hour.  Here are the results of my efforts to appear engaged in the conversation around the table between 11am-Noon today.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the lower half.  The dress chinos are Dove Gray although in this particular shot they look more light stone khaki or whatever clothing companies are calling it this year.  The Witchy-Poo socks are by Dapper Classics.

On the way home, I stopped by my tailor's to pick up my three-button blazer that has always been a bit too tight in the body.  He let it out about 1" total at the side seams, which makes the item hang cleanly now, and it no longer buckles at the lapels when I fasten the middle button either.  Oh, and he replaced the old generic buttons with genuine brass buttons that feature the crest and motto of my alma mater, the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  I'll wear this with a blue oxford cloth button-down shirt and a new maroon silk knit necktie on Monday.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

I'm your ice-cream man. Stop me when I'm passin' by. . .

Today's suit minus the white poplin button-down collar shirt, brown Allen Edmonds split-toe oxfords, and the solid navy socks.  A white cotton handkerchief in the coat pocket completed the look.

Hot and humid here in Mid-Michigan today, so I hauled out a vintage, made in the U.S. of A. Abercrombie & Fitch seersucker suit.  Cool and airy thanks to a quarter lining in the coat and lightweight material.  If we had had a breeze, it would have been even more comfortable.  

Strangely, I did not feel self-conscious once I put it on this morning and went about my business on campus as though I'd always worn the suit in question.  Self-confidence is key in this instance.  And hey, compared to the leopard spandex and big layered hair I used to sport onstage in the 1980s, seersucker is child's play.  Several students around campus complimented me on the suit, which, while never necessary, was nice to hear.  

My late stockbroker father actually had a similar Brooks Brothers seersucker suit that he wore to the office in southeastern Pennsylvania and corporate HQ in Manhattan in warm weather during the 1970s and early 80s, so it was not too much of a stretch to make the leap myself.  Tomorrow, equally warm and sticky, so I think the worsted wool tan suit will be in order.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Sunday, September 4, 2016

So, what's the problem?

In finance, banking, legal, and certain other lines of work, it is best to keep things simple and conservative.  Leave the go to hell pants, neckties, and Madras sport jackets for another time.

An interesting and thought-provoking article on the inappropriate dress of job candidates in the banking and financial sector  in London came across my computer screen several days ago via the BBC website. And my question is this.  Why is this such a surprise? And how in the world is this an affront?  

It strikes me that universities have done students a huge disservice by encouraging them to believe business and professional life is somehow the same or very similar to one's private life with all that might imply.  Getting ahead and moving up in working life often requires that people look and act, I'll say it, BETTER than they might at home.  And that might mean becoming aware of and reining in some of the quirks of personal appearance or behavior and habits in the workplace.  This isn't rocket science if you'll pardon the oft used cliche.

It strikes me as a very simple problem for companies and firms to address by printing and handing out acceptable business dress codes, with plenty of examples in pictures, of what is acceptable business wear -- depending on company location, type of business, and culture -- and what is not.  Human Resources could also set up and offer routine seminars in etiquette training (both within the office. . .  and at the dining table for those entering positions higher up the company ladder) for its young hires to impart that veneer of needed polish. The people doing actual interviews could also mention to potential short list candidates that they will need to dress and conduct themselves in accordance with the company's accepted policies as representatives of that company who interact with both the public. . .  and other associates behind the scenes.

There is really nothing wrong with having a company culture like this, just like there is nothing wrong with, at least in theory (I don't buy into it), having an ultra-casual company culture like one finds in Silicone Valley in the United States for instance.  But a young person should hardly be surprised (and apparently many are in 2016) if he, or she does not get the job, impressive university credentials notwithstanding, because he or she demonstrates a lack of awareness about how to make a positive impression, through appearance and behavior, for what is a PROFESSIONAL white collar situation after all.  A smooth transition into that kind of environment, especially in a capital city and financial center like London, requires more than just impressive paper credentials.  Since so many parents have apparently not taught this to their children, it seems like high time for universities to pick up the slack and instruct their students on how you get and hold onto a job in the real world. . .  especially within the white collar sector. 

Not only do you adopt the accepted uniform of your particular (or intended) station in life, you likewise elevate your outlook and behavior.  On a related note, you put your best foot forward in all senses, all of the time during business hours when you are on the company clock.  One must learn how to walk the walk and talk the talk as an adult if he did not get that sort of grooming during the formative years. Doing so is difficult but not impossible.  Again, as a representative of a company or firm -- banking, financial, legal, or otherwise -- people must be able to conduct themselves in a way that is in accordance with their employer's image especially in more conservative professions.

If that plain fact of life is unsavory, and the preceding verbal cliches aside, job-seekers are always free to apply elsewhere.  Goodness knows there are plenty of offices these days where pilled fleece pull-overs, backwards baseball hats, pajama days, and barely concealed belching are de rigueur.  But who would you rather have handling your business and accounts?  Someone who comes across as polished, professional, careful, and capable?  Or an overly familiar individual whose behavior and/or appearanace seems more in keeping with a slumber party, or an evening of drunken clubbing in Blackpool or Las Vegas?

-- Heinz-Ulrich


And by the way, the last time I checked, companies and businesses in a capitalist system were still permitted to hire the person best suited for an open position.  Another fact of life.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

A Linen Suit on September 1st?

Here's the top half of today's gear.  Very cool and even breezy.  But what's with that uncooperative shirt collar?

The Labor Day weekend has yet to commence here in the United States, but the number of days left during which linen and seersucker are acceptable, if we go by traditional sartorial guidelines, are few in number.  You can understand, then, my eagerness to try out a Polo Ralph Lauren blue label linen suit that I splurged on last spring.  

Following a few minor alterations, it has been hanging in my wardrobe waiting for an inaugural wearing since mid-June.  The verdict?  Very light, breezy, and comfortable in today's 70-degree, partly sunny, breezy weather. However, my lower back still became a bit moist this morning, despite minimal lining in the jacket, while walking 15 minutes across campus from the building where my office is to another where my Tuesday-Thursday class meets.  Anyway, the suit pictured above was worn with a plain brown leather dress belt, brown Allen Edmonds "shortwings," and some fairly subtle brown and white striped socks if you can imagine such a thing.  

But it gets much worse, ladies and gentlemen.  Since it is supposed to become somewhat warmer and more humid by the time classes resume next Tuesday, after a three-day holiday weekend, I plan to pull out the vintage blue and white seersucker suit (oh, yes) one day next week and maybe also the madras sports jacket with some dress chinos another day.  Yes.  I know.  It's now September 1st.  How very gauche of me to wear warm weather attire into the start of the fall seasonI'm so ashamed.  Clearly, a crass parvenu of the first order here.   But it's not quite time for the heavy wool flannel double-breasted numbers or tweed and corduroy yet either, and one might as well be comfortable.  Gosh, with that attitude, can sweatpants and flip-flops worn on a daily basis with a ratty backwards baseball cap be far off? 

-- Heinz-Ulrich