Skip to main content

It's May 1st. . .

A visually pleasing old Laurence Fellows (???) illustration from 1937.

Yes, it's May 1st everyone.  So, why not celebrate quiet refinement and sophistication with an old-fashioned cocktail party this evening?  No inebriated loud games of beanbag toss, ratty cargo shorts, plumber's crack, ridiculously large stainless steel propane grills, rumbling 4x4s, women's sweatpants with the word 'PINK' splashed across the backside, tramp stamps, or ill-mannered children in sight.  Hey, a guy can dream of gentler times, right? 

-- Heinz-Ulrich


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?

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Problem of "Business Casual" Attire. . .

This is how it's done.  Business Casual the RIGHT way, ladies and gentlemen.  Even during the summer months.  A photograph (taken by Studio B Portraits) which appeared in 425 Business Magazine in May 2017.


This post on the problem of business casual dress began as a quick postscript to a previous blog entry last week but quickly grew and grew as additional thoughts occurred, were developed in more detail, and revisions made.  So much so, that it seemed, eventually, like a better idea to make the initial P.S. afterthought into its own entryAre ya ready, Freddy?  Then, here we go. . . 
------------


Unless you actually plan to sell beach snacks and trinkets on Cozumel, become a serial barista, or greet customers at a fancy nightclub after taking out huge student loans to attend university somewhere for four or five years, plus an MBA afterward, it's really a better idea to err on the side of (somewhat) more formal work attire any time you head into the office or meet with clie…

If You Travel Abroad This Summer. . .

No baseball caps or fanny packs visible here, but you take the point I hope.
A comment was left on another attire and lifestyle blog that I look at a few times a week that hit the nail on the head: 

"When in Rome do as the Romans. Please don’t wear shorts, a fanny pack, sandals, and a baseball cap as they scream “ugly American.” 


I would add only that the visually jarring look described above also has its British, Scandinavian, and German variants.  To borrow a page from the late Nancy Reagan's book, "Just say no!"

Unless of course you are by a swimming pool, or on a beach somewhere with the aim of looking like a cooked, slightly inebriated lobster by day's end when you stagger back to your hotel for dinner and later clubbing with all of the usual tactless, ostentatious displays of lowbrow drunks off the leash away from home for a few days.  Then, by all means, go right ahead.

For those interested in doing things in a more understated way, dressing with comfort in m…

Dressing for the January Cold. . .

Said 'polo coat,' found via Ebay and acquired for pennies on the dollar.

Dressing for the cold in a professional sense can sometimes be a challenge in our age of so called athleisure technical gear that looks like it might be more at home on the ski slopes, or tobogganing at the local park than in a quasi-white collar setting.  Sure, there are still companies that produce classic men's overcoats of one kind or another, but too often these items are obscenely expensive when purchased new at full retail price.  While I no longer shop thrift and charity establishments, let's be reasonable.

Luckily, there are other options though, for instance Ebay, where I stumbled onto this vintage Polo University Club double-breasted 'polo coat' (in a wool and camel hair blend) at the end of November 2018.  I've been on the lookout for one of these for several years, and given the ridiculously low asking price, I made an offer, which the seller accepted.  Yes!  Call it a late …