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