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, December 29, 2017

Just Say "No!" to Trashy in 2018. . .

From all of us at Classic Style, many happy returns in the New Year!


All you have to do is look and listen in almost any public space these days.  Or visit Yahoo News.  Trashy has taken over in public life as far as attitude, behavior, speech, appearances, and even discourse go.  Tacky, cheap, stupid, uninformed, and/or just downright offensive aren't far behind.  Sigh.  

Now, infer what you wish about ol' yours truly, but unless you have your eyes closed, there is no doubt we are feeding somewhere along the bottom in the second decade of the 21st century when it comes to how people conduct themselves privately and in public.  And the kinds of things we do.  To ourselves and to others.  We have lost something with the push for the increased democratization of society and related egalitarianism.  Fine ideals in and of themselves, but by throwing the baby out with the bathwater where acceptable personal and public standards are concerned, we sink ever further to the lowest common denominator with the rather unpleasant result that many more people than ever before have become far less pleasant to brush past, even if only momentarily, in the great ocean of life.

Several years back, Charlotte Hays examined this strange and troubling phenomenon in When Did White Trash Become the New Normal? (2013).  Theodore Dalrymple has also looked at the issue in more than one book on the subject.  While I have read neither author's work, I can certainly grasp what Hayes and Dalrymple talk about in no uncertain terms.  Rather than aspire to be anything better, to be more, to improve ourselves beyond the most base levels of existence and habit, in a vast litany of ways we now take our cues on how to exist, routinely and childishly, from the very dregs of society. 

This seems to be the case all the way to the top of the sociopolitical heap here in the United States.   We certainly have very few examples to emulate now when it comes to attitude, appearance, and behavior.  There are a few such public figures out there, of course, but they are very thin on the ground.  Do we find examples of how to dress and behave by looking toward politicians?  Athletes?  Celebrities?  Current pop stars?  Please. 

Too often, those people who conduct themselves in a polished way -- them wot is consid'rate -- are regarded as weird curiosities, if any attention at all is paid to them, simply because common decency and pleasant conduct are such foreign concepts to so many now.  It almost seems like common decency and pleasant conduct lack credibility with the vast majority of society.  As the late Elvis Presley once remarked in another context, "People think you’re crazy if you talk about things they don’t understand" (Thanks to Mature Style for the quote.).  We all know that people tend to ignore what they perceive as "crazy" at best, or worse do their level best to criticize and marginalize it.  The "it" to which I refer includes the most fundamental of social skills of course. 

Where, when, and how did we go wrong?  A rhetorical question really.  There are probably many causes behind our current malaise when it comes to teaching, learning, and practicing the most basic social etiquette.  Clearly, though, looking and acting like the worst possible guttersnipe seems to carry more weight with a great many people, and help garner so called "street cred," than do what I refer to in my own family life as daily niceties and even social graces.  And no, before anyone inquires sarcastically, I am not talking about white gloves and pillbox hats for the ladies, calling cards, or high teas. 

At any rate, while I promise not to launch into any further tirades in the coming year on this subject (it is just too depressing, and others have put it much more eloquently than I might), I'll simply conclude today's year-end post with this thought.  

The character Forrest Gump, created by novelist Winston Groom, might suggest, "Trashy is as trashy does."   I must concur.  Just say "No!" to trashy in 2018.  

-- Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas Week Style, or How to Enjoy the Snow and Cold. . .

 The Young Master and Dad on Christmas Day.



 The Young Master led the way on the Feast of Stephen, or December 26th.



The Young Master set the pace right from the start yesterday, December 26th.


My humble suggestion, if you live somewhere where there is winter weather right now, is to get outside and enjoy it in some way rather than complain about it like so many do.  Around our house, we like to toboggan, sled, and ski cross-country.  We have been able to do a fair amount of both the last four weeks or so here in Mid-Michigan.  The three of us have been out together each of the last three days, and the Young Master and I plan to head out again tomorrow to yet another nearby park with trails.  His skiing has really improved since last year.  The Young Master gets good glide when striding, navigates small hills well, and double-poles like a trooper to extend his glide.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Merry Christmas from Classic Style!

A calm, sedate, yet nevertheless festive Christmas greeting.


When in the world did the Christmas season become so loud?  And I mean that in a figurative as well as an aural sense.  It's more than just the ever-present catterwaul of Mariah Carey, or similar 'artistes,' from somewhere in the background you understand.  The general over the top atmosphere riddled with superficial hyperbole that begins in September and, if retailers are anything to go by, ends abruptly on December 26th seems all wrong somehow.  The season actually lasts into January.  

Of course, it isn't simply retailers that do this to us.  It seems to be our whole culture.  Movies, television, radio, and everyday people as well.  The endless, exhaustive, misdirected, tacky, plastic elf-on-the-shelf "half-time" holiday extravaganza of the 21st century that assaults our senses each year at this time bears little resemblance to the quiet, contemplative, calm, unplugged holidays of my childhood and younger years where we actually enjoyed each others' company and talked to rather than blurted at each other.  Yeah, it was still like this as recently as the 1990s. 

Maybe it is simply age (the wrong side of 50) that has brought on this rather frank examination, but with age sometimes comes perspective.  It seems the relatively disposable gadgets and noncommittal attitudes of "If you don't like it, I kept the receipt so you can exchange it" have become as pervasive as having the TV switched on in the corner from early morning to late evening.   But no one is actually watching anything.  Do people really put so little forethought into what they do for (?) others?  Is this really the idea behind Christmas? 

The first time I came into contact with this sort of thing was with the family of a young woman I came close to marrying 20+ years ago.  A near run thing that.  And we won't even mention the apparent addiction suffered by so many that has come along more recently.  No, not opioids or methamphetamine.  I refer, of course, to people of all ages who walk around and even sit with Iphones forever in hand, or on their knee, and check incessantly for incoming text messages.  Even. While. At. The. Dinner. Table. 

Newsflash, ladies and gentlemen!  Few of us are that interesting or important.  Put your gadgets down for a few minutes.  We all have them at this point, and I'm not impressed.  Leave the ostentatious display of your relative affluence for another time, thank you.  "OMG!  Can U b leave wut he jst sd?" as so many might rashly text their besties filled with righteous indignation and invective in response.

Returning to the real point at hand, which is the the now rather generic holiday season in which we are awash, I have a modest proposal for society at large.  Maybe we should do things differently in moving forward?  It might be time to turn off the constant flow of largely pointless information for a time and engage more with the people across the (figurative) table from and to either side of you.  It might also be time to reevaluate our collective attitude and how we approach the Christmas period.  Maybe we ought to scale back a bit in how we go about it?   Does everything honestly need to be the biggest, baddest, shiniest, blinkingest, newest, fastest, talkingest?  Maybe we need to reconsider what is most important?  Various things worth thinking about in the last week or so before the festival begins in earnest.

I suggest taking a slow approach to Christmas, and indeed life in general.  Turn off, tune out, and drop out for a week or ten days.  The virtual world ain't going anywhere.  Return to the physical world.  Find and take pleasure in small things.  Read a book (Shock, horror, gasp!).  Have a game.  Toy soldiers, cards, Yahtzee, chess.  It doesn't matter.  It's time to reconnect with people.  Have a drink or a cup of something warm at home or at a cafe.  Talk to each other.  Help others.  Be kind.  Visit an elderly family member or neighbor who is alone.  This time of year can be very hard for some people especially when they have no one nearby, or their family is all gone.  Show that person you care.  Take some holiday goodies along, or even invite that person out.   He or she will appreciate it to no end, and I'll bet you might even get a smile in return.  Stranger things have happened.

What else?  Take walks in the park or around town on a brisk day.  Look around you rather than at your lap or hands where the phone usually resides.  Have some completely idle and unproductive time.  You don't always need to be doing something.  Just say no to data collection or vapid, pointless time wasted online!  Sit  still for a while.  Watch the world go by.  You'll see some beautiful and interesting things in the next couple of weeks if you take the time to look up and move your head from side to side.  Who knows?  You might find that the "cute," ironic, or downright snarky holiday texts from your latest Bro/BFF/friend-with-benefits, the 24-hour marathon of It's A Wonderful Life on TCM, and that singing plastic bass on the wall (a particularly tasteless Christmas gift from years gone by.  Remember it?) aren't all they're cracked up be.  

In closing, it's high time for more of us to live life instead of simply observing it via a tiny screen and things like Snapchat or Instagram with their carefully curated (but largely artificial) versions of others' lives.  If you'll pardon the rather obvious reference (in my best Hugh Grant intonation), life actually is all around us.  If we just turn off the TV, stop being slaves to our portable electronic devices, and turn our backs on the passive spectator lifestyle that has taken over everywhere, it seems, we might have more time to begin living life once more.  That might have a direct bearing on our own self-esteem, mood, sense of purpose, and humanity toward others.  Just a small thought as we move into high gear with the real start of the Christmas Festival.

-- Heinz-Ulrich



P.S.

My own busy-bodiness aside, the above is  as much a comment on our shallow, totally self-absorbed society of 2017 as it is on our commercialism, consumerism, materialism, and false bonhomie throughout the year.  An unpleasant  phenomenon that becomes especially pronounced each December.  The good is out there, but we must wade through mountains of superfluous stuff to find it.


Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Here's Another Stylish Gift Idea. . .

An array of single malt scotch whisky brands for the sampling.


Another gift idea, depending on the person for whom you are buying, might be a nice bottle of single malt scotch.  You can find brands and bottles at various price points, which seem to  go by the age of the liquid in the bottle as well as the crafting and aging process.  For example, a bottle of 10-year-old Laphroaig will cost mush less than an 18-year-old bottle.  If you're nervous about buying the right bottle for someone you know enjoys scotch already, a neat related gift idea might be a book on scotches and how they are made.  In any case, online companies like Amazon make the shopping for, purchase, an shipping of such items relatively easy in the six or so shopping days left until Christmas.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, December 15, 2017

Snowy Mid-December Style. . .

Yours truly earlier this morning on the way to our local quick & greasy breakfast haunt with the Grand Duchess.  Eggs, ham, and hashed brown potatoes that are to die for along with a bottomless cup of coffee.  And now I will ski some of that off just around the corner and up the road from our house.

A more casual approach to everyday style here recently since the end of classes last week.  Just some final grading to finish in the next couple of days, and then posting course grades to the requisite site by the deadline early next week.  And then let the peevish, whiny emails from disgruntled students begin!  Tiny violins as my wife says.

In the meantime, various corduroy jeans, comfy old Norwegian sweaters (two of early 90s vintage from L.L. Bean and one from Dale of Norway that I've had since Christmas of 2000), ski socks, and the ol' trusty L.L. bean duck shoes have been getting a lot of wear here at home.  The scarf in the photograph is an old J. Peterman item given to me for Christmas by Mom and Stepdad about 20 years ago.  I wear end enjoy it every year from about the end of October to early April.

The long red stocking cap (actually made in Norway too), on the other hand, is something that I purchased man years ago at an annual winter festival held each February in Røros, Norway not far from the Swedish border.  Never, ever have I been so cold in my life as I was on that day.  It really was a can't feel your toes and fingertips kind of cold (yeeees, we were bundled up with heavy coats, hats, and gloves).  More like Scott of the Antarctic than a fun day out with friends. 

Somewhere, there is a photograph of yours truly and a friend with our sock-feet perched on the hearth of a large fireplace, with a lovely warm fire inside, in a bookstore on one of the main walking streets of Røros.  We ducked inside to have something to drink and warm up.  Well below 0 degrees Fahrenheit on that particular day.  And now I am off to dress for some cross-country (Nordic) skiing.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Two More Holiday Gift Ideas. . .

 Above yesterday morning, on the way to brush off and hitch up the ol' Subaru Outback sleigh for a jaunt into campus for a workshop on creating digital identities.  Ho, ho, ho!


And, pardon the thumb, the lower half.  Bright red ski socks and a brown braided belt, unseen in ths picture, completed the ensemble.


A couple of more Holiday gift ideas in today's photographs.  One, it's hard to go wrong with L.L. Bean duck shoes or boots for cold, or mucky late fall, winter, and early spring weather conditions depending on where the recipient of said gift lives.  Now, these always seem to sell out each year, and while there might still be time to order and ship the required size in time for Hannukah for Christmas, you can find similar foul weather footwear from companies like Sperry, Land's End, and Sorel.

On a different note, sometimes it can be fun to give (or receive) a gift that serves no other purpose other than that it is a neat thing to have.  Sterling silver, pewter, and stainless steel pocket flasks that hold a nip of something warm and medicinal are one such item.  You can find these at various price points on Amazon.  My own personal preference is for one like the flask shown below, in stainless steel with brown leather trim.  I hope Mrs. Santa is paying attention.

-- Heinz-Ulrich






Monday, December 11, 2017

Holiday Gift Giving Ideas. . .

My mother presented me with a ballpoint pen and pencil set  like this one for high school graduation may years ago.  I still use them in 2017.


With the approach of Hannukah, Christmas, and the gift-giving season in general, it seems like a good idea to include a few interesting gift ideas for the special men in your life (or perhaps yourself).  To start the silver Christmas tree balls rolling, it's hard to go wrong with a sterling silver pen and pencil set from a company like Cross.  No need to rely on someone else to lend you a chewed up Bic disposable ballpoint, or a dull pencil with no eraser when these are in your your inside sports jacket or suit coat pocket.  Sterling silver not to your taste?  The company offers a wide variety of elegant, sophisticated, masculine pen and pencil sets at all price points.  Visit their website at: www.cross.com.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Friday Afternoon Meeting Style. . .

 Poodle necktie courtesy of Chipp and the wool pocket square from the folks at Put This On.  The wool flannel jacket is by Brioni, picked up for a song several years ago via Ebay, and the green and white university stripe OCBD is of course from L.L. Bean.  Long live New England fustiness!


 Suede shoes by Allen Edmonds and Merino wool socks by Dapper Classics.


Who says Friday afternoon department meetings on socially conscious pedagogy at the tail end of the semester are no fun?  Arf!  Arf!  A seasonal variation on a combination of garments that owe a great deal to G. Bruce Boyer.  The first appreciable snowfall of the season arrived here in Mid-Michigan early this (Saturday) morning, so the suede shoes will likely not see the light of day again until sometime in March, or even April depending on when the winter snow and spring slop dry up enough for nice shoes once more.  In the meantime, the cross-country (Nordic) skis are lined up by the backdoor.  Winter can arrive full blast any time now as far as I am concerned.

-- Heinz-Ulrich




Two views from our front step at about 9:30 this morning.  The fall is my favorite season, but I like winter weather an awful lot too.  Now, if only I could get the blasted snowblower to start, so it's ready when we really need it!

The Vince Guaraldi Trio -- A Charlie Brown Christmas (Full Album)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Festive Tweed and Cords for Advent. . .

 Above today, December 7th, featuring a jacket by J. Press, a Pendleton wool necktie, and a pink OCBD from Land's End.  I have a few different wool tartan ties, but this one is my favorite, and it gets a lot of wear during December each year.


On the lower half, a pair of vintage Florsheim 'longwings', some wool dress socks by Dapper Classics, and a pair of dress corduroy paints again by Land's End.


My final day of classes for the current academic term today (Hurrah!), and now the grading, tallying of numbers, and online submissions of final course grades for almost 150 students spread across three courses can begin in earnest (Hiss!). 

In any case, I felt like dressing with a nod to the season this morning, so here we are.  A bit matchy-matchy, and even bordering on the dandy for some tastes perhaps, yet not an unpleasant ensemble by any stretch.  It occurs to me that, should a man wish (or be asked) to "dress up" for any sort of holiday occasion  -- parties, dinners, church services -- in the next few weeks that it's hard to go wrong in 2017 with a tweed jacket, cords, and tartan wool tie, and a pair of wingtip brogues.  Still pulled together, mind you, but a bit more casual and relaxed than a full suit. 

The latter item certainly has its place though, so be prepared should a more formal gathering call for it.  My maternal grandfather and father, for example, always wore suits for Christmas Eve church services and Christmas dinners at home as recently as the 1980s and '90s.  Sports jackets, cords, and, in the case of my father, a black or navy turtleneck pullover ala Steve McQueen worn with classic oxblood penny loafers were for parties during Christmas week or on New Year's Eve.

I like the particular combination of garments shown above so much, that I might just have to replicate it for our big Christmas Eve dinner and church service around the corner and down the street from our house.  

Last but not least, we woke here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold to a seasonal dusting of snow and bracing Michigan cold early this morning.  Can Christmas and cross-country (Nordic) skiing be far off?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, December 1, 2017

Pamper Your Feet From Time to Time. . .

Your feet take a beating, so why not give 'em a little extra attention?


Even with correctly sized and well-fitted quality dress shoes, it's still likely that you'll have calluses build up somewhere on your feet over time, which might potentially lead to other foot problems down the road if left unchecked.  So, how about accompanying the woman in your life to a manicure/pedicure salon a few times a year?  It's wild and crazy, I know.  But why not?

That's what I did with my wife this (Friday) morning when we took the day of just for us.  After a large breakfast at our favorite quick and greasy (actually a locally owned restaurant where the gal who runs it knows us by name and hot breakfast beverage habits),we headed from Willamston back down Grand River into Okemos, Michigan to a nail salon and spa favored by my wife The Grand Duchess.  

Without going into all of the eeeewwws and uggghhhs, let's simply say that my feet look and feel better than they have in years.  Rough patches and calluses gone.  Almost as soft as a baby's bottom again.  And the hot rock treatment on my feet and lower legs at the end of everything was divine.  The occasional pedicure could become habit forming.

What about your own feet then, men?  How about setting those unfounded fears of being/seeming too effeminate to one side, and get yourself a pedicure from time to time.  No one needs to know, and your feet will thank you for it.  It certainly put the spring back into my step.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Classic Style Annual Table Manners Public Service Announcment . . .

Remember, gents.  Table manners are an important part of our everyday style, even in 2017, despite any arguments to the contrary.  


The holiday season is once more upon us, and with it the annual lead-up to the rather frenetic Christmas and New Year's period.  While I naturally hope that regular and occasional visitors to Classic Style will have the 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 -- or, frankly, any other common attire of the sort -- this post is not about that.

Nope.  Instead, it's a yearly reminder to average guys everywhere to remember and practice polite table manners.  Not just on special occasions either, but everyday.  With that idea in mind, 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, most of which used to be common knowledge.  At least in my particular dimension.  Sadly, however, the very knowledge about how to conduct oneself pleasantly at the table seems to have become more arcane and even enigmatic in recent decades.  Much to our collective detriment.  In any case, here we go.


*****

In the blogosphere right now, you'll come across any number of blogs and websites that talk at great 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 daily 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, exclusion, 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 cross paths.

Sadly, too many people in the 21st century labor under the delusion that table manners -- or indeed polite behavior and social niceties in general -- are stiff, overly formal, old-fashioned, not genuine, 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, dogs, or 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, likeable, 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 crass or even just downright 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 upon the world.  Basic table manners are a part of all that like it or not.  After all, do you really want to come across like a ravenous street cur that knows no better?

So, without belaboring the point any further, here are 15 tips to remember that will go a long way in helping average guys become more pleasant dining companions -- and become more gentlemanly in the process -- 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.   If serving yourself, don't pile heaps of food on your plate.  Take a small share (a slice or two of meat, and a serving spoon or two of other items), and leave enough for others.  You can always come back for a second helping later.

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, stabbing at or 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.  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 once witnessed a young woman engage in the latter yesterday in the dining commons of my former small college where I was holding late-semester meetings with students.  Ugh!  But then, she was sitting with one 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)
While at the table, there is certain subject matter (illnesses, certain surgeries, anything having to do with the bathroom, or bodily functions, related jokes, 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 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?


15) And here's one last tip to keep in mind.  Silence your cellphones and leave them elsewhere.  Don't bring 'em to the table, guys.  Talk to each other (when your mouth is empty of course) and give your full attention to those with whom you dine this holiday season.  Be mentally present at the table in other words, and leave the digital bells and whistles for another time.  Do you really need to text your best dudebros from your three semesters on a college campus somewhere about the big game during the meal?  And for the love of Christ, remove those damn baseball caps or knitted skicaps before you sit down to the table! 

 

Remember, guys.  You might be wearing wild new statement socks, those nifty square-toed shoes, your best ripped jeans, and your lucky "going out" shirt (think about it) to Thanksgiving dinner this year at your latest on again-off again girlfriend's parents' house.  But behaving like an ungroomed slob at the table is not attractive (understatement of the year) and will rapidly undermine any decent impression you might otherwise make.  

Unless, of course, Dad or her brothers either answer the door, lounge on the sofa, or come to the table clad only in  their underwear.  Then knock yourself out, disregard all of the advice above, and let everyone see the "real" you.  By all means.  Ask your date's mother to pull your forefinger between the main course and dessert if you want.  Go on.  Without doubt, everyone around the table will think the result is terribly clever and guffaw raucously.

On the other hand, it might be somewhat more civilized if you ensure that you are a pleasant dining companion by taking the necessary steps above.  Even when you are alone.  Make considerate behavior during mealtimes a normal part of your routine, and you will be well on your way for many of the situations you'll encounter during the holiday season or, indeed, anytime of the year.  

-- Heinz-Ulrich  

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Southwick 3/2 Bold Tweedy Tuesday. . .

 Said Southwick tweed jacket with a 3/2 roll and slightly wide lapels, leading me to believe it hails from sometime in the 1970s.  The lapels are not offensively wide though, so I trot out this particular jacket several times each season and keep everything else pretty staid.


And the bottom half, featuring a pair of vintage Florsheim "gunboats" that I have had for several years now.  They were completely resoled two years ago and will probably outlast me although I see that the sole dressing could stand to be redone at this point.



Yet one more example of how an adult male might up his seasonal style game a bit while also setting himself apart from the shambling herd of walking dirty laundry hampers that dot the landscape in 2017.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, November 11, 2017

A Casual Friday at Home. . .

 Yesterday above.


Yesterday below.



Even on those chilly fall days days when one is at home, it is easy be "comfortable" (an apparent obsession here in the largely sedentary and overweight United States) and yet presentable.  

In this, the 601st post of Classic Style, I once again suggest that it is possible to be comfortable and cozy without resembling a shambling mound of wrinkled, dirty laundry that is riddled with stains from slops of beer, salsa, microwavable foods, and bodily fluids (Don't believe it?  Look at most people in virtually any public space these days).  The photos above illustrate just one possible example of how a guy might look reasonably presentable for those less dressed up days at home.  

Men, you don't need to look like down and out homeless people who have somehow wrangled enough credit to have three or four cars sitting in the driveway and a mortgage in the suburbs.  There is a better way.  Get some self-respect and pull yourselves together for the love of God.  The people in your lives will appreciate it.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, November 10, 2017

Coming Soon: 'The Dearborn' by Optimo Hats. . .

The Dearborn by Optimo Hats of Chicago.


Sadly, there is a school of thought out there, personified by the blog/website Put This On, that guys who wear hats in the 21st century look like "dicks."  Their word, not mine.  

That attitude is really too bad.  A properly fitted, decent looking hat (and I don't mean backwards baseball caps or those cheap, hipsterish Hawaiian Punch porkpie and trilby hats from the  local shopping mall that sit on the top of your head) can add a certain amount of flair, panache, or even gravitas to your appearance.  Especially the right kind of hat when worn with a trench coat, or other long overcoat.  Yeah.  Just like in those old cynical, pessimistic, fatalistic, and psychologically bleak Films Noir from the 1940s and early 50s.  You dirty rat!  See?  Yeah.

So, it's a year late in coming, but I finally got around to ordering one more special 50th birthday gift for myself this morning.  I opted for a phone fitting and was assisted by a very knowledgeable and helpful young woman with an alto voice, that also displayed a very slight twinge of southern accent.  It was all rather fetching.  Were I 20 years younger and unmarried, I might have engaged in a bit of snappy Film Noir-ish repartee with this disembodied female voice.  

As things transpired, however, I refrained from playing out a weak attempt at a J.Peterman inspired dialogue, kept my cool, and let her do her job unhindered.  I came away with, what I think, should be a fantastic and very stylish bit of headwear.  The hat itself should arrive on or before December 23rd.  Can't wait.  And hell yeah I'll wear it!

That's Optimo Hats of Chicago guys.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Chilly Fall Weather Has Finally Arrived. . .

 The top half on Tuesday morning this week as I took a short break from reading and grading the second batch of student papers.


And the bottom half.  Looks like this particular pair of shoes needs some leather balm and a good going over with a horsehair brush before their next outing.


So, it seemed like a fine time to swap the warmer weather gear for tweeds, corduroy, and several wool flannel suits.  This particular combination of garments struck me as especially pleasing.  

It's sleeting outside at the moment as I type this early Thursday afternoon.  Can the L.L Bean boots be far off?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Three-piece Thursday. . .

 The upper half today, featuring a light pink short, dark green and crimson paisley necktie, and linen pocket handkerchief.  Out of sight here are the navy and crimson silk braces worn in lieu of a belt.


And the lower half, featuring a pair of 'Strand' captoe oxfords in Oxblood (or is it Chili?) by Allen Edmonds, shortly to revisit the AE factory outside Milwaukee for recrafting.


This charcoal wool flannel three-piece suit is a Polo Ralph Lauren number that I picked up in a thrift shop three or four years ago for the princely sum of US$7.99.  If it had ever been worn before, it was just once, so no signs of wear anywhere.  It is heavy, soft, and warm, so ideal for chilly fall, winter, and early spring days.  Best of all, and this rarely happens, the 40R garment fit like it was made for me once I tried it on.  It has never needed alterations of any sort.  Even the sleeve length was perfect, allowing half an inch of linen to show with arms at my sides.  A serendipitous day.  So, I paid, took the suit to the dry-cleaners, and have worn it several times each fall and winter since.

It is hard to tell from these somewhat awkward selfies, but what I like most about the Polo Ralph Lauren suits in my wardrobe rotation is their cut, or silhouette.  These garments are very 1930s in outline, so you resemble those great old Laurence Fellows illustrations when you don one of the suits.  That might bother some, who desire more current, trendy, or whatever, and there is the tired old argument floating around out there about being "in costume," but none of that bothers me.  At this point in life, I am able to put stuff on in the morning and forget about it until I change clothes once home again in the late afternoons. 

Finally, the suit above is one of the most comfortable that I own, almost like wearing comfortable pajamas.  Yeah, that's right.  Pajamas.  But better.  And with  creased pants, vest, and a coat! 

Clearly a big part of forgetting about your clothes once they're on in the morning has to do with your physical comfort in them.  Assuming everything fits one's particular dimensions, it has always puzzled me why so many guys say they are uncomfortable in a suit.  It comes down to two things as far as I can tell.  Either something really is too tight, or two large.  Or the discomfort claimed is less physical and more psychological.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, October 27, 2017

Sartorial Frivolity. . .







In view of the generally deplorable state of the world politically and socially -- Just take a gander at almost everything featured in Yahoo News. -- I offer a brief interlude of fairly innocuous escape this morning via what  I like to call my sartorial frivolity.

Three separate ensembles worn this week illustrate how a man who cares about pulling himself together might do so in our current age of apparent low self-esteem, societally speaking that is, and the resulting dress downism of the last two decades or so.  At the very least, these photos show that it's ok to have some fun with your clothes while getting on with the day to day challenges of life.  In other words, dressing well doesn't have to hurt, guys.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Ben Silver Necktie Thursday. . .



The upper half this last Thursday, featuring said necktie (thrifted for about US$2.00 a few years back) and one of my four navy blazers.  I know, I know. . .

It's funny.  Not 'funny ha-ha' so, but rather more 'funny peculiar' as my maternal grandmother used to say.   At this point in my sartorial journey, I vary things from day to day during the weekly schlepp from Monday through Friday, combining a suit or two with somewhat more casual sports jacket-odd pants combos the remaining days.  And always with some kind of decent leather dress shoes and a necktie (almost always) of one sort or another except in the warmest August and September weather.  

A few of the classrooms I am stuck in by the unseen, unfeeling, and enigmatic classroom assignment gods each semester are in older, unrenovated buildings with inadequate climate control.  That means, that when 35+ bodies are crammed into said rooms for classes lasting an hour or more that things rapidly become uncomfortable on warmer days during late August, September, and, occasionally, late April.  

As much as I enjoy my ties, sometimes, it's just too damn hot as the song goes.  Invariably, inevitably, and irrevocably someone's Axe deodorant or body spray fails, and an already uncomfortable room is also filled with the redolent aroma of male body odor, but that's another story.
------------

Returning to neckties for a moment, however, the weather here in Mid-Michigan has cooperated nicely so far this fall, and I've been able to wear them comfortably.  Hence the Ben Silver number above, which never seems to see the light of day as often as certain other neckties in the collection.  Not so with the navy blazers, which, depending on the season, make an appearance at least once each week.  

I've somehow acquired four of them over the years, two single-breasted and two double-breasted in both heavier and lighter weights, so they feature prominently on those mornings when I am in a hurry and/or can't get the old brain in gear in the early morning darkness to think for a moment about what might go with what.  Navy blazers are reliably easy to pair with other things without straying unwittingly into goofy clown territory because of clashing patterns or colors.  

What's more, navy blazers look suitably formal when worn with creased dress pants, a tie, and dress shoes, but, in our terminally dressed down, comfort-obsessed culture, navy blazers also work well with a pair of khakis or even jeans.  If you have only one sports jacket hanging in your closet, it should be the the navy blazer, an incredibly versatile piece of attire.  As my mother informed the 14-year old Heinz-Ulrich when she presented me with my first navy blazer for a semi-formal dance many years ago, back when schools still had those sorts of things, "It's a classic man's wardrobe staple that goes with just about anything."
 ------------

A sobering thought to close today.  In an article that I read not long ago about the beleaguered middle class, the point was made that people don't really want to change anything about themselves in an appreciable way.  Upward mobility is dead, and aspiration to be more and rise up the social ladder is a thing of the past the article implied.  The middle class has no wish to move into new milieus where it might feel uncomfortable.  The people belonging to it are, for the most part, unconcerned with leaving the metaphoric village behind.  What the middle class apparently wants, according to the article in question, is just a bit more money.

-- Heinz-Ulrich



And the lower half, featuring Merino wool socks from Dapper Classics and a pair of Allen Edmonds loafers.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

J. Press and SWIMS Style!


As above.

At last, the autumn weather is here.  So, a gray, rainy and cool day today here in Mid-Michigan.  Hence the J. Press 3/2 roll tweed sports jacket, ocbd, wool necktie, corduroy pants, and Norwegian-made SWIMS to protect the Allen Edmonds gunboats.  Not shown are the accompanying London Fog trenchcoat that has served me for almost 20 years along with the cream, red, and navy plaid umbrella (with a genuine wooden handle and shaft) by Brooks Brothers.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


So below.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Ivy Style Necktie Tuesday. . .

The upper half, including the limited edition Ivy Style club necktie and a cotton 3/2 roll jacket from Brook's Brothers.


The lower half, featuring socks by Dapper classics and Land's End dress chinos.  A bit matchy-matchy with the socks, but I couldn't manage to locate a plain navy or tan pair in the early morning darkness. Canary yellow might have been interesting though!

Finally, a refreshingly cool October day that doesn't leave you damp and sweaty after walking from one side of campus to another at a brisk pace to make a lunchtime meeting.  A little olive green, tan, blue, and red here today.

-- Heinz-Ulrich von B.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

An (Almost) Drones Club Necktie Thursday. . .


The upper half this bright blue October Thursday, featuring a must-iron Brooks Brothers  university stripe OCBD shirt worn with a BB 'Makers' tie that is strikingly like the club tie worn by members of P. G. Wodehouse's Drones Club. . .  save that the stripes slant the wrong way of course.



And the lower half, featuring a chopped off pair of Allen Edmonds chocolate suede brogues and a pair of Land's End dress chinos.


Something between a G. Bruce Boyer and a Bertie Wooster look here in Mid-Michigan today.  Still a bit too warm for tweed and corduroy but a very pleasant lower 70s Fahrenheit (about 22 C. give or take) in any case.

-- Heinz-Ulrich.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Belvest Tuesday One Last Time for the Season. . .

 The upper half during early morning coffee and work email before heading across campus to my office for the obligatory office hours.  In other words, additional prep time before class meets.


And the lower half.

Sunny and warm again here in Mid-Michigan today, so I hauled out the cotton Belvest suit for one final wearing early this morning.  

Other items included a genuine Panama hat sent to me by good ol' Mom last June, a cream-colored cotton pocket square from Put This On, recently recrafted Allen Edmonds shoes, and a peach-colored Italian silk necktie by Kenneth Roberts.  I must get a few pairs of navy cotton dress socks at some point.  The several pairs I have now are wool and too warm for this sort of Indian Summer weather.  I made do with these, but they're a little busy.  Fortunately, you can't see 'em when I stand.

The Belvest suit is something I splurged on last spring, new with original price tags still intact, but I nevertheless managed to pick it up for a mere fraction of the suggested retail price.  The moral here is that if you know what you are after and keep your eyes open, eventually you'll find it.  Inexpensively too.

-- Heinz-Ulrich


A rare standing selfie before I changed into chino shorts and pique polo top after arriving home early this afternoon.  Only two dozen student papers left to read and grade before Thursday!