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, May 28, 2017
Friday, May 26, 2017
The Young Master, his helper Ms. G., and Ol' Dad at school yesterday afternoon.
The Young Master presented two animal 'brochures' on piranhas and anacondas yesterday as part of his class's long-term project on the Brazilian rainforest. In a word, he was well and truly amazing. Calm, cool, and collected in his black sweatshirt, bluejeans, and dark tan chukka boots. More important, YMP exuded confidence, was knowledgeable about his subjects, and he even fielded some questions from listeners, other parents and grand parents in attendance, with minimal prompting. Easily the most impressive (and fun) school event we have attended. I am still gushing with fatherly pride this morning. Wow!
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
The late Cary Grant -- the master of understated elegance -- looking as calm, cool, and collected as ever in, of all things, a suit. Imagine that!
2017, you might recall, is The Year of Accessories here at Classic Style although you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise since I have not discussed them in some little while. So, it seems like high time to rectify that rather glaring omission on my part. Accessories can be tricky and even uncomfortable for a lot of guys just getting into kicking up their everyday style several notches. With that in mind, here are a few tips on navigating the sometimes murky world of menswear accessorizing.
1) Don't go overboard. Understated elegance is what you are after.
Too often, when I notice men wearing things like pocket squares, tie bars, etc., they overdo it. I actually spotted several 30-40 somethings in downtown Minneapolis, during my recent visit to the city, wearing suits with nice looking leather dress shoes (YES!). Unfortunately, their overall look was a bit busy because they had gone overboard with, you guessed it, too many small accessories. As Coco Channel once advised women, and I am paraphrasing badly here, take a quick look in the mirror before leaving the house and remove one item [maybe two]. Leave the wardrobe hyperbole for the Pitti Uomo dandies.
2) Less is more.
You can't go wrong with an understated wristwatch and either a wedding band or some other kind of (understated) man's signet ring. . . with possibly french cuffs and some subtle cufflinks for a special occasion. No more than that. Leave any other visible bling at home and for another time, ok Biggie G? Remember Coco Channel's advice to the ladies above.
3) What about pocket handkerchiefs?
Great! These are a fairly simple way of adding some panache to your wardrobe. But never, ever buy a matching necktie-pocket handkerchief set. Instead, pick out a pocket square that compliments your tie in some way. Maybe it has flecks of your main necktie color in it. Or some silvery gray that works with the white, gray, or silver repp stripes. Of course, if you're worried about getting it right and/or standing out too much, a white linen or cotton handkerchief folded carefully into your suit coat or sports jacket pocket always looks tastefully understated.
4) What about other men's jewelry?
Um, if you'll be wearing a suit or a sports jacket-odd pants combo with a necktie, I'd steer clear of any jewelry besides the wristwatch and one ring mentioned above in point two. Unless you want to grow a porno mustache, get a pair of aviator frame sunglasses, and pretend to yourself that you're the late John Holmes circa 1978. Remember. Less is more.
5) Should I wear colored shoe laces?
In theory, yes, but I'd be careful here. The more color, pattern, and textures you add to an ensemble, the less formal it becomes which is why traditional navy, charcoal, and gray suits, business formal attire in 2017 remember, are fairly plain garments. If you are wearing a pair of corduroy pants or jeans and a tweed jacket for a chilly Saturday afternoon in November, sure some red or green shoelaces might be kind of interesting to have in your tan wingtip brogues. That said, I would exercise caution here because it is all too easy to stray unwittingly into dandy clown territory. That is hardly the effect we want to convey, is it?
6) Look at photographs of "the greats" for accessory inspiration.
If your confidence still feels kind of shaky, do a Google image search for male style icons of the past like Cary Grant, Paul Newman, Young Sean Connery (as James Bond), David Niven, Clark Gable, Jimmy Stewart, et al. Study the multitudinous pictures you are bound to find and note what works (and possibly what doesn't) where the inclusion of accessory items is concerned. Grant, Newman, and Connery, in particular, provide the best examples of extremely well pulled together male figures where attire and attitude is concerned for my money. Do you even notice any "accessories" when looking at old photos of them? Probably not because they kept things very simple and did not go overboard with everything under the sun. Remember, guys, less is more. Resist the tendency to pull out all the stops with those recent accessory acquisitions.
Without doubt, there is much more to say on the subject of accessories for men, so this short tipsheet is in no way meant as the final word on the subject. Just remember, above all, to have fun with what you wear. Purchase, and enjoy a few well-chosen, tasteful (understated) accessories, and wear them with aplomb. Just not all at the same time, ok?
Think a little about what you are doing as you get dressed. That, of course, lies in the face of the coveted nonchalance that we read so much about, but a little bit of care will help prevent your feeling awkward later because you suddenly realize that you might be overdoing things just a bit with the oversized sports watch, half dozen rings, cubic zirconium cufflinks, colored shoelaces, and the tie tack you got in a Christmas cracker at that 2011 office holiday party back when you were that clueless intern, who had too much to drink and hit on your supervisor's wife before passing out in the mailroom.
The man himself, men's style maven G. Bruce Boyer.
Here is a link to a fascinating recent article on style and so much else, sent my way by a frequent visitor to the Classic Style blog. You've got to read Dress Up: What We Lost in the Casual Revolution by the inimitable G. Bruce Boyer. Oh, and thank you 'Old School!' Much appreciated.
-- Heinz-Ulrich von B.
Friday, May 19, 2017
A favorite Laurence Fellows illustration that has appeared before at some point here at Classic Style. It sums up today's sentiment nicely.
I have written as much here before, but it bears repeating. Personal outlook, behavior, speech, and cultivating a clean, neat appearance are more important than the make of a man's suit, shoes, or the color of his necktie.
After a hefty dose of reality television via hotel cable while in Minneapolis last week, time spent navigating large airports, and observing humanity in a large and rather pricey hotel, to say nothing of the various unsavory news items of the last seven days -- stories like the Ohio man arrested following his drunken tirade at Disney World in Florida, the high school-aged Arkansas couple arrested after their baby (one of four children the two have together) was discovered with more than 100 rat bites on her face and body, plus a whole host other "news" of a similar nature -- I have just one piece of advice for men of any age looking to kick up their style by several notches.
Ready, ladies and gentlemen? Here you go. Pull yourself up out of the filth and steer well clear of anything that smacks of the stupid, the ignorant, the crass, or the just plain trashy.
Those four words -- stupid, ignorant, crass, trashy -- seem to define much of society as far as personal outlook, behavior, speech, and appearance are concerned in 2017. Those four words also seem applicable to much of what that same society holds dear judging by what is all around us 24/7 just about anywhere you turn these days, and in what now passes for popular entertainment.
One visitor to Classic Style observed a few years ago that it seems like most of society in the United States suffers from low self-esteem and a lack of self-respect, so it (society at large) does not aspire to anything better. That might be true, to some extent, but I also think that same society, perceives, on some level, the rapid and tangible decline in standards of conduct and appearance all around it as self-affirming. There is no reason to aspire to anything better.
Most material things are now fairly accessible to most people anyway. So, why bother asking more of oneself or holding those around you to higher expectations? There's no &!#%@*!&%$ reason, right? The democratization of society at work. In so many ways, we have sunk to the lowest common denominator as a society, and most members of that society seem unwilling to step outside the box and pull themselves up out of the primeval slime for fear of drawing unwanted attention from their fellows. A strange version of Foucault's panopticism perhaps?
As I lamented a few weeks ago in a previous post, when might the now glaringly apparent coarsening of society moderate a bit, and the pendulum start to swing in the opposite direction? Or are the end times here already? That's a rhetorical question, of course, but shambling aimlessly through life like overgrown, foul-mouthed guttersnipes, who might as well be running a meth lab in the basement on the side, ain't the way forward, folks.
Now, you might exclaim in barely contained rage, "You privileged snob! How dare you call others out for their collective rudeness. You'll be among the first lined up against the wall when the Revolution comes. Why don't you simply ignore the coarser aspects of society if they are so offensive to your delicate constitution?"
Ah, if only it were so easy to sidestep the kinds of things I'm talking about. But as I say above, crass, stupid, ignorant, and trashy are everywhere you might look and within easy earshot in 2017. The senses are assaulted simply by virtue of turning on the television, walking down an airport concourse on the way to your gate, or, heaven forbid, attempting to have a quiet cup of coffee and some toast in the hotel dining room during the Saturday and Sunday morning breakfast buffets. People just don't know how to act, and that's a problem. What might ol' Mr. Sarte have to say about our current societal state of non-being?
Returning to the notion of classic style then. If a man wants to set himself apart and improve his personal style, he should focus first on improving personal outlook, behavior, speech, and in cultivating a consistently clean and neat appearance. Combed hair, a clean, tucked in shirt with a collar, and clean jeans with a belt will do at first. The tweed jackets, the suits, the tailoring, the wool neckties, and the leather dress shoes made from wooden lasts uniquely shaped to his own feet can come later.
Sunday, May 7, 2017
Procrastination! What a wonderful word on a sunny and almost warm spring day. Delaying the final batch of undergraduate papers and associated final course grades this early Sunday afternoon with some online jazz, another mug of coffee, and a few Leslie Saalburg illustrations although one or two might be by our old friend Laurence Fellows.
Picked up the Belvest and Samuelsohn double-breasted suits from the tailor's yesterday, and they look great after their slight alterations. A quick trip to the cleaner's tomorrow, and the former will travel with me to Minneapolis for its inaugural outing at the Saturday evening closing banquet (re: overly dry chicken breast) of a conference I am attending during the latter half of this coming week. The Samuelsohn coat still needs a bit of tinkering to get the vents to hang closed, I think, after trying the suits on again at home with an actual dress shirt, but it looks leagues better than it did two weeks ago.
Now, if only my black shoes that I sent a month ago to Allen Edmonds in Wisconsin for recrafting will return before I leave, sartorial life will be good.
Monday, May 1, 2017
A visually pleasing old Laurence Fellows (???) illustration from 1937.
Another quiet Fellows illustration that is more in keeping with the sort of calm socializing we prefer here at Classic Style. . . Although such occasions are few and far between in our corner of the world in 2017. Many in the academic sphere seem to make a conscious and concerted effort to turn up their noses at polite convention. Oh, the stories I could tell. Others, even when highly intelligent and accomplished in their respective fields, sometimes come from backgrounds where polite social conventions were, largely, not a part of their upbringing if we are honest about it. It always surprises me that more people don't pick up on these finer points, learning to walk the walk and talk the talk, so to speak, as they move into and through professional life. Sadly, I suppose that is no longer a requirement. The ongoing democratization of society is fine, in theory, but we have lost something along the way.
Of course, these stylized and idealized illustrations were meant to showcase new menswear items and styles when they first appeared in publications like Esquire and Apparel Arts decades ago, but they also hint at a more polished, refined, and largely bygone era. I am well aware that the 1930s were not a pleasant time for many around the globe due to The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl, the gathering of war clouds on the horizon, and so forth. Still, we could, without doubt, do with a bit of the gentility, as portrayed by these old pictures, in our own times.
While cigars are not an essential part of the equation for me (although I would not turn up my nose at a genuine Cuban were one offered), there is nothing wrong with a nip of brandy and a quiet chat by the fire after the evening meal. It strikes me as quite civilized.
These various pictures by Laurence Fellows were produced during the 1930s, when touch dancing was the norm, and people like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers were part of the public consciousness thanks to their films. Knowing how to dance, how to play an instrument like the piano, how to ride a horse (possibly), and how to conduct oneself in general, were considered part of good grooming.
Why this bout of style nostalgia and trip down an idealized memory lane. . . from an era thirty years before yours truly was born in the mid-1960s?
Day to day pleasant manners were simply a normal part of the scenery, at least in the more cultivated parts of society. Heck, they still were as recently as the 1980s in many places.
People could carry on a two-way conversation once upon a time rather than deliver endless, frantic monologues on autopilot. It seems that there are more of the latter now anytime two or more people convene. My suspicion has always been that this is a way for nervous, anxious, and socially uncomfortable individuals to control (they think) the direction a conversation takes. Let's call it what it is. . . awkward.
Gum cracking, loud conversations audible at a distance, and other kinds of crass behavior (use your imagination) were not yet commonplace. It's hard to imagine this pair loudly honking their noses into crumpled up paper napkins during a meal at the table. People (more of them at least) practiced kindness, consideration for others, and knew how to respond to such niceties in kind.
Whether he owned evening wear, or not a man -- some of them -- knew the importance of putting his best foot forward at all times. In any case, you never wanted to come across as coarse and uncultured. Yet again, this is something that was the case into my own lifetime during my formative years. How far we have fallen and in such a relatively short time. I am indeed out of step with the vast majority of society. It almost seems as though boorishness is now worn as a badge of honor by many (most?) in the second decade of the 21st century. When might the pendulum swing the other way I wonder?
Saturday, April 29, 2017
This delightful cotton suit by Belvest arrived here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold yesterday afternoon. I've wanted to add one to the ol' wardrobe for some time now to augment the linen and seersucker (Yes, I said seersucker!) suits that already come in handy during the warm first few weeks of the autumn semester, which kicks in at the end of August each summer. Found this one ('Leaf Green' is the color.) on Ebay, new with tags but costing only about 10% of its suggested retail price amazingly enough. The sad part is, after the usual minor alterations, I'll probably have to wait until the end of the summer for an excuse to wear it. Watch for a photograph or two at that time.
And the point of sharing this news? Well, first off, not all suits need to be the usual worsted wool in navy, gray, tan, or charcoal. More casual cotton numbers like this one offer a refreshing alternative during the warmer months, resisting wrikles a bit better than linen (if that is an issue). They are also a bit more staid than seersucker, which most guys outside the American south probably balk at wearing for fear of sticking out. Finally, you can find incredible bargains on topnotch stuff if you "shop" routinely, know precisely what you are after, and keep you eyes open.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
The upper half yesterday, featuring a necktie by Brooks Brothers in University of Wisconsin colors.
Had a bit of fun yesterday with what I call my UW Tie. Sadly, the only neckties I have ever been able to find have had goofy badgers or W's all over them. Two years ago, though, I came across the Brooks Brothers number pictured above and purchased it. Given our sunny morning yesterday, it seemed like a nice idea to wind down the semester with some bright red with white repp stripes and a three-button blazer that features heavy brass buttons with the University of Wisconsin seal in the center. If anyone actually got close enough to scrutinize said buttons, and the light went on about the colors on the necktie, it would be clear where my heart truly lies although we are one state to the right of Wisconsin on the map.
In other news, today (Thursday) is my final day of classes for this semester. Classes end officially tomorrow (Friday). Why, oh, why do certain students insist on coming to the last office hours of the term to complain about grades and past assignments NOW? Oh, and the two who assured me that they would come to "talk" (in other words whine) to me? One is pulling an 86% at this point and the other an 89%. And that's before the final paper has even been collected, graded, and added to the mix. Sigh.
And the lower half.
Monday, April 24, 2017
A vintage Corbin Glen Plaid silk-wool suit worn with a Ben Silver necktie above.
A wonderfully bright, sunny, almost warm day here this morning, so it was the perfect time to break out a lighter suit and a pair of tan shoes, which I moisturized and shined yesterday evening. It's had to see in the photo below, but a glassy shine is beginning to form on the toe caps and heel box of this pair. I use neutral shoe polish by Lincoln along with a horsehair brush and a piece of old nylon stocking to bring up the shine. This is a trick I learned from a woman in the military via Youtube a few years ago. I am eager to try Saphir products, though, to see how those work. Very easy to become obsessive about shoe shining products and techniques, you know!
And a recently polished pair of tan Allen Edmonds captoe oxfords below. The pleated pants have a full break, which I have felt for a few years now veers a little close to sloppy. So, over time, I will have various pants, both part of suits and odd pairs that suffer from the malady, shortened ever so slightly. As mentioned in yesterday's post, I like my pants to break somewhere a bit longer than a medium break and a bit shorter than full break. In any case, these were held up with a very attractive pair of navy braces that feature red and silver paisleys all over.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
Kind of an interesting visual to include with today's post.
A lovely, sunny Saturday in late April here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold, and I finally had the chance to take a Belvest 6/2 double-breasted suit and another, by Samuelsohn, into my tailor today for a few minor alterations after a lengthy delay. Both are items I picked up for a song on Ebay during May of last year. Perhaps not the best way to acquire wardrobe additions, especially with items like suits where fit is so important, but the prices were such that I couldn't pass 'em up when I came across them. Since I remain able to fit things in the 40R or 41R range at the half century mark, purchasing attire like these without the benefit of trying it on first is not too much of a concern.
Not me, but a photo I found online, illustrating how my tailor plans to address the fit of one of my suitcoats althoug he limited to pinning to just the rear side seams.
For those things that need some work once they arrive, like these two scores, it's off to the tailor! Both suits fit reasonably well already, after the obligatory sleeve and inseam shortening last September, and I have worn the Belvest a few times since, but each suit still had some problems that needed to be addressed. Hence today's visit. Parenthetically, it is always amazing to me the number of men, of all ages, that I occasionally notice walking around in suits with pants and sleeves that are far too long. They could look so much better if only they would have a few minor alterations made to the raw off-the-rack items, but there you are I suppose.
Anyway, the Belvest suit coat, while it looked fine from the front, clearly had too much material across the small of my back and between my shoulder blades in the upper back region. What a pleasant surprise it was when the tailor simply pinned a bit in along the two rear side seams, and the coat instantly looked better all the way around. The pants still lacked the amount of break I prefer, something between medium and not quite full, so that was very easy for the two of us to work out. I also opted to abandon the cuffs (turn-ups) and go for a more formal non-cuffed look with a angled hem (called a Guardsman's Slant), which features some break in the front and hangs straight to the top of the shoe heals in the back to create an unbroken line.
Another visual aid that shows how a suit coat should fit when correctly adjusted for one's unique measurements.
The Samuelsohn suit was potentially more complicated, at least where the pants were concerned. While I no longer enjoy the 31" waist of my twenties, thirties, and early forties, I was a bit distressed when the suit arrived late last spring, and I wasn't even able to button the blasted pants! The suit had been advertised as a 40R with pants featuring a 34" waist after all. Grrrrr. Finding the time for routine exercise has been difficult at best since our son was born in 2009 (my wife and I used to be avid road bicyclists, sometimes managing 200 miles a week in the summers), and then there have also been the increased job commitments since our move to Michigan State University in 2015, but surely my girth has not increased that much over the last seven years! I was at 33" late last fall when I hit 50, or as I call it, my latest 29th birthday.
Fortunately, my tailor came to the rescue when I asked him if anything could be done. He informed me, after taking a look inside the waistband, that it and the seat of the pants had been taken in previously by about four inches. Let both out, he suggested, so yours truly could close and wear the pants of the suit comfortably while preserving his middle-aged vanity? No problem! Same thing with the double-breasted coat, which was just a bit tight when my arms were raised. Likewise, it too had been taken in quite a bit. The tailor informed me that he could let out the rear side seams slightly to make everything more comfortable and allow the two side vents of the coat to hang straight over my seat and remain closed while preserving the overall shape of the coat including the sightly suppressed waist. All I have to do now is wait about two weeks before everything is ready, and I can try it on before paying the bill and bringing the suits home.
Here's a tip for average guys who are new to this kind of thing, try everything on BEFORE you pay your bill and leave the shop. Then, if something is still not quite right, you can have it addressed, although that might involve waiting another week or two before your alterations are completed. I find that tailor's shops are busy places. To begin with, there are fewer tailors than once was the case, so they always seem to be swamped with work. That means, on a related noted, that people tend to find them, the good ones at least, and your new suit might not be the first in line. Who knows? You might just have to hurry up and wait as they used to say in the U.S. Army according to my late paratrooper grandfather, who always looked amazing in his suits, Monday through Friday, on Sunday mornings, and for most other special occasion throughout the year. The last time I saw him in a suit, he was in his 80s and, while a bit stooped in his posture at that point, Granddaddy still cut an impressive figure. It's all about how you carry yourself, I guess, and he still had it.
But what about the cost of alterations to a suit? Well, I find that tailors seem to be all over the board with pricing based on my own experience and rates I have seen online from tailoring shops that maintain an internet presence in various major cities around the United States. I suppose some guys out there might balk at spending a bit more over and above the price of a suit, though, and this explains the overly long sleeves and inseams that I lament in paragraph two above. However, if you want to look your best when you don that new suit, that means you'll need to spend a bit more -- Yes, yes. A First World problem. -- to have a few necessary alterations made before you actually wear the item in question. Let's not be cheap here, fellas. There's no excuse for being a tightwad about things like this when you have already purchased a suit at a substantial savings either on sale, via an online forum like Ebay, or otherwise discounted. Got it, Ebeneezer? Come on.
So, after all of my blather here, what's the moral of the story? Well, there are three actually. One, off-the-rack suits look miles better when you have minor alterations -- sleeve length, inseam, and waist suppression at the bare minimum -- made BEFORE you wear them in public. You'll still end up with some pretty damn good fitting (and looking) attire. Two, when there are problems with fit, a tailor can make minor adjustments one way, or the other by about an inch or two, depending on the specific issue in question, to address the problem and make your suit look stunning. Three, watch what you eat and, if at all possible, exercise regularly in some way -- cycling, swimming, martial arts, cross-country skiing, running, etc. -- to burn enough calories and maintain a trim physique. There is just no getting around the fact that clothing in general fits better, even before alterations, than it might on more generously proportioned figures.
Of course, the best fitting suits are custom made for your precise physical dimensions alone. Think Saville Row here, although it is possible to have equally good stuff made elsewhere. Even online operations, I have read, offer a viable third option in 2017 when it comes to suits made exclusively for your personal measurements. While one day I hope to add a bespoke suit to the ol' wardrobe, to be perfectly frank, cost is a consideration right now. As I say though, a First World problem.
Now, God bless those internet style personalities (and you know who you are) with household budgets apparently large enough to swing this on a regular basis. But for others, things like student loan, car loan, and house loan repayments tend to take priority over bespoke clothing. Sadly. You know how it is. Still, quality off-the-rack items that fit pretty well to begin with can be made to fit very well, and thus appear, even better after the careful attentions of an experienced alterations tailor. I cannot stress that point enough for average guys looking to kick up their everyday style by several notches. Take your suits to the tailor!
Saturday, April 15, 2017
So, put on a suit and necktie -- or at least a sports jacket and odd pants -- with a pressed dress shirt, shined leather dress shoes, and a matching leather belt should you opt to attend either an Easter church service in the morning, or an Easter dinner later in the day. Even if your immediate family remains at home, let's remember to mark a special occasion by dressing appropriately before you sit down to the table. Let's demonstrate that we possess more than an ounce of grooming and sophistication while also setting a good example for the younger male members of the species.
Happy Easter from Classic Style!
Friday, April 14, 2017
Wednesday, April 12, 2017
As above. . . Another Brooks Brothers odd jacket worn with an L.L. Bean ocbd shirt, Land's End necktie, and a silk pocket square from Put This On that I picked up for peanuts back in January.
Just enough time early this morning to enjoy a cup of fresh coffee at the cafe on the ground floor of our library here at MSU and snap a couple of phone photographs before heading to the office to plow through another stack of student papers before class. Perhaps today's attire is a bit matchy-matchy, but not offensively so. I'd certainly repeat this particular combination of items without giving it a second thought. Just one more example of how an adult male can dress comfortably, yet look pulled together, and all without getting anywhere near a suit. . . Heaven forbid! You too can achieve a similar look this without too much trouble.
So below. Land's End dress chinos, recrafted Allen Edmonds shoes, and Merino wool socks from Dapper Classics.
Monday, April 10, 2017
Thinking Spring above. The jacket is Brooks Brothers, the pocket square is a silk number from Put This On, and the necktie and shirt are Land's End Items that have been in the spring/late summer rotation for at least a dozen years.
Managed to put my cold weather gear in storage on Sunday and rehang the warmer weather items in my wardrobe and a spare closet in the second-floor TV room across the hall. Most of the tweed, corduroy, and flannel items migrated to a cedar-lined closet that I appropriated in our basement where the female half of the previous occupants of our house kept the wedding dresses she sewed for her clients. This being Michigan, I kept a couple of warmer, flannel suits within easy reach in case we get another cold spell before the spring semester ends in a little over two weeks, but it's time for some brighter colors and lighter garments if you ask me since we are heading full speed toward mid-April.
In other news, I'm home a little earlier than usual today since one of the student groups scheduled to lead discussion during class today was a no-show (and no, they failed to contact me ahead of time to indicate that there might be a problem), so they've cooked their own goose. Or is it geese? In any case, I've got an unexpected hour or so to play with this early afternoon, which isn't a bad thing since I am in the midst of reading and grading the latest batch of student papers, quite a few of which have been very good. That helps make the job of reading through them slightly less hellish than it might otherwise be.
Thinking Spring below. Land's End dress chinos, calfskin monkstrap loafers, and cotton dress socks from Dapper Classics. Again, the pants and shoes have been in my wardrobe since 2007-2008 and see regular use in warmer weather. The shoes are some of the most comfortable I own.
Thursday, April 6, 2017
An fictitious ideal, for many of us, but you take my point I hope. There is nothing vanilla about the man.
There's an interesting post over on the Put This On blog today on the challenges faced by clothing companies like J. Crew. The piece concludes by singing the praises of their menswear, in particular, as reasonably priced (Fine. I've got a few J. Crew pieces myself.), ubiquitous (Um, wait a second. . .), and vanilla (Stop right there!) enough to suit most personalities, places, and situations in which American guys might find themselves in 2017. Just let me catch my breath for a moment before I continue. I'll be better directly. . .
There now. While I certainly would never suggest that grown men stray near more dandy territory, like we might find in the pages of a Rose Callahan photographic book on the subject, if this is not their sartorial aim, do we really want to dress in a way that is, ubiquitous and/or vanilla? Good God!
First of all, suggesting that people to strive for middle of the road -- vanilla -- in anything is completely incomprehensible to me. Second, there is the issue of ubiquity. Who in the world wants to be ubiquitous? Are most men really so fearful of somehow sticking out that they are satisfied by blending into the sloppy sweatpant gray mass that has become the visual backdrop of society during recent decades? No need to answer. It was meant rhetorically.
So, what's the point of today's mini-rant? Men, for the love of Pete, don't be afraid to add some variety, flavor, and spice -- in other words a smidgen of personality -- to your daily attire. Continuing with the analogy, what about dressing a bit more in the direction of Mint Chocolate Chip, Rocky Road, Neapolitan, or Butter Brickle for example?
Whatever your preferred flavor of ice-cream, never, ever stray into vanilla territory when it comes to the details of your personal appearance, or how you live your life for that matter. Let's all strive for a bit more panache where our clothes and daily behaviors are concerned. There's nothing wrong with standing out, but let's do it in the right way.
And what would a post ranting about "vanilla" style be without a photograph of our wintry weather here in Mid-Michigan all day today. . . April 6th mind you. Some of the wettest, stickiest damn snow I've ever come across anywhere. Definitely not the powdery, fun variety.
Sunday, March 26, 2017
Friday, March 24, 2017
The upper half Thursday morning this week just before walking the Young Master out of the front door to await the school bus.
And with the rather subdued cotton pocket square (from Put This On) visible.
Ahhhh. . . There is nothing like returning to the house after putting the Young Master on the school bus, closing the door, and being met by the aroma of freshly made coffee in the front hall. Happy Friday everyone!
The weather has warmed somewhat during the latter half of the week here in Mid-Michigan, and while my thoughts have not reached linen and seersucker suits quite yet, or, in my more casual summer hours at home, madras shirts and khaki shorts with well-worn leather docksider shoes, you could just about get away with dressing less warmly by yesterday (Thursday) morning. So, I pulled out the vintage London Fog Glen Plaid topcoat from the downstairs front hall closet along with a pair of suede shoes and a matching (more or less) belt.
The eagle-eyed among you will notice that the necktie and pocket square are not coordinated, and this is a conscious choice on my part in the quest to avoid being too matchy-matchy with the accessory items that form part of each day's attire. As I have indicated here before, a man wants to avoid looking as though he has purchased his tie and pocket square as a set. No, no, no! It is far preferable to throw caution to the wind and have one thing that doesn't quite go with everything else, which will help impart a more nonchalant look to everything. Beauty through imperfection as I have written in a previous post or two this year.
After all, even if we do spend time thinking about out clothes before we dress in the morning, that is not the impression we want to convey. And while I am perfectly happy to admit that I am a vain, empty-headed popinjay who thinks about nothing but his appearance, I would advise any man who is looking to kick up his daily style a few notches to avoid straying into this same territory -- The Bermuda Triangle of Menswear and Personal Style Blogging -- himself.
And the lower half with recrafted suede 'shortwings' by Allen Edmonds and socks by Dapper Classics.
The top half a couple of days ago, featuring an Italian wool necktie and silk pocket square that were picked up for a few dollars three or four years ago in the best of the three thrift/charity shops that I used to shop in our old stomping grounds of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois.
Still nippy here in Mid-Michigan earlier in the week, so it was time to haul out a genuine tweed suit by J. Press for one last wearing before things warm up. . . maybe. This is easily the heaviest suit I own, and while I am unsure of the exact weight per ounce of the fabric, this is one item that will be far too warm above 50F/10C for most people. It's HEAVY.
The coat is 3/2, and the pants are plain front, worn with braces rather than a belt although I still need to have the beltloops removed at some point by my tailor. A more casual kind of suit, but certainly one that you will not see everyday (if at all) in my area of the world and in my line of work. Each time I put it on, I feel as though I should be on my way to meet Bertie, Tuppy, and Bingo at the racetrack for an afternoon of gambling under the watchful eye (and guidance) of Jeeves.
And the lower half, featuring long-wing brogues by Allen Edmonds and a pair of Merino wool socks by Dapper Classics.
Sunday, March 12, 2017
The upper half, featuring a jacket by J. Press that was purchased at a thrift/charity shop about three years ago for less than US$10 and a Land's End 'Hyde Park' ocbd shirt purchased new about the same time. These are only ones sold by the company these days that are not part of their 'No Iron' nonsense. How much longer will that last I wonder? It is getting increasingly difficult to find ready-made dress shirts that are not pre-treated with all kinds of unpleasant chemicals to make them (more or less) 'No Iron'. Time finally to try out shirts made by Mercer et al I guess.
And the bottom half, featuring Italian flannel pants (again purchased in a thrift shop two or three years ago) plus a pair of completely recrafted Allen Edmonds split-toe oxfords. Not my favorite shoe style, but it's nice to vary the look of one's footwear from time to time. My late maternal grandfather wore split-toes and long-wings almost exclusively throughout his working life and into old age.
Tattersall, tweed, and flannel one cold Tuesday in late February a few weeks ago. Fortunately, it remains frigid here in Mid-Michigan at the moment as we approach mid-March, so I can still get away with heavier, warmer items like these for at least the next few days.
In other news, the current semester begins again tomorrow morning after nine days of Spring Break. Sigh. I just cannot get myself in preparation mode for Monday morning. Come on Finals Week!