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, 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!
Wednesday, March 1, 2017
The closest I'll ever get to so called "novelty" neckties. Not a Tasmanian Devil, Wile E. Coyote, or Pepé Le Pew to be found. Thank you for helping me with the correct spellings of these characters' names Old School!
Accessories, carefully chosen, allow one to have a bit of fun and express some personality when dressed to the nines. Among my 90 or so neckties -- I know, I know. -- are a few critter and club ties that make the rounds several times a year between late August and mid-May when I have occasion to leave the house and appear on campus looking pulled together. While very few men in 2017 actually need anywhere near that many neckties, it has always struck me as sad when I have crossed paths with the occasional grown man at a formal event or job interview, and that person clearly owns no other necktie besides one with a cartoon character on it.
If a man in our overly casual age has just one necktie hanging in his closet, I suggest that it might be either an understated repp stripe tie, or a dark solid like a navy or black grenadine weave since these kinds of ties will work with just about anything from a full suit, to a navy blazer worn with gray flannel dress pants or creased khakis, to a tweed sports jacket and a pair of corduroys. Of course, if you appreciate the beauty of, and the slightly more formal air suggested by, a well chosen necktie (Yeah, we are out there.), there are plenty of other kinds that you might add to your rotation. These range from less formal knitted silk and wool weaves to muted wool plaids, houndstooth, and tartans at one end of the necktie spectrum to the more shiny silk Glen Plaid numbers like you might see at more formal weddings that are not strict 'white tie' affairs.
Whatever you do, and assuming you are over the age of 12, however, steer clear of the Elmer Fudd neckties. Ok, Gomer? At best, you come across like an unsophisticated rube who knows no better, which is hardly the impression you want to make. That brings us back around to the subject of the critter and club neckties pictured above. Critter neckties enable a guy to impart a bit more irreverent personality to his attire, even when suited up, without straying into the dreaded cartoon character territory. Club ties allow a man to show an affiliation with, or membership in, his particular organization of choice without painting his face and flabby bare torso in the colors of his favorite professional sport team. David Puddy anyone?
Pictured above are the various critter and club ties that are part of my own necktie collection. My personal favorites are the wine colored parrot tie brought to me from Italy by my parents 20 plus years ago for dog and house-sitting while they traveled in Northern Italy during a summer-long stint my professor step-father had doing something for the U.N. in Trento. The next favorite has to be my navy blue pheasant tie from J. Press although the newer Ivy Style tie at center runs a close second to it.
The cream colored bicyclist tie was given to me by my in-laws a few days before The Grand Duchess and I finally married in June 2006. Yep, before we had our son, my wife and I were avid road cyclists (my better half raced while at university), sometimes managing 200 miles a week in the saddle during summers. Sadly, that is a thing of the past at the moment until we can get The Young Master (7) riding on his own although he does tandem pretty well with his mother already. The yellow and red Orvis tie, on the other hand, is a wry nod to my late fly-tying and fly-fishing father, who somehow always managed to suck the life and joy out of an activity that should otherwise have been fun! Probably why I haven't been fishing since I was nine or ten, a looooong time ago at this point, but I do like the necktie.
Moving right along, the navy whale and green prawn ties allow me to be a bit silly without straying too far beyond the parameters of reasonably good taste, although P.G. Wodehouse's character Jeeves might disagree vehemently since both the whales and prawns are, without doubt, in the same boat with Bingo Little's horseshoe necktie. It is worth noting, however, that I would not wear either tie to a formal meeting or event!
Last of all, the two Phi Kappa Phi neckties bookend everything else nicely. I'm an active member and serve on my university chapter's governing board as well as a second committee at the national level. Typically, I wear these two ties with suits as well as navy blazer-odd pants combos. Look closely, however, and you'll notice that no Roadrunner tie is apparent. Mercifully.
The new square in action early this morning before the first class of the day.
As mentioned in a previous post or two, 2017 is the Year of Accessories here at Classic Style, and one of my favorite accessories happens to be pocket squares. I began wearing the silk paisley variety in my jacket and suit pockets back during the fall of 2003 in my first job immediately post-graduate school when I taught for 14 months at a small college just outside Minneapolis, Minnesota. Oddly, I don't recall specifically what it was that inspired me besides the vague impression that empty chest pockets struck me as somehow odd.
The rather dandy move, in the minds of many men, was, admittedly, into uncharted territory. My nearest examples of how professional men ought to dress, my father and maternal grandfather wore suits five, and sometimes six, days a week in their working lives as Philadelphia and Manhattan-based corporate executives. Only my grandfather though ever adorned his suit coat pockets, and that was invariably with a folded white cotton handkerchief. Nothing more. Unless I wear a navy or charcoal suit, however, I tend to go in for a bit more color most of the time.
Today's example was purchased on sale from Put This On, a source of nicely made, reasonably priced full-size 16" pockets squares, last May or June. I only just got around to stuffing it into my jacket pocket for the first time this morning. Behold!
I don't bother with any special folds, unless wearing a white linen square with a dark suit, and typically just put the square in question in my pocket and, at this point, truly do forget about it until undressing and putting things away at the end of day following my return home. Neither do I attempt to match my pocket square to my necktie, preferring to have one part of my ensemble that doesn't quite coordinate with everything else. I believe that the late Hardy Amies advocated this sort of approach to one's dressing, and the idea works for me. Beauty through imperfection.
Sadly, no necktie today as you'll also note in the photograph above. I had one all laid out to put on -- a navy silk number with pheasants on it by J. Press -- but decided at the last minute that it would have made the overall look too busy. So, with head down, I slunk to the car since it was high time for yours truly to get to school.
Speaking of neckties. . . Tune in tomorrow, and I'll share several examples of somewhat irreverent, yet still attractive, neckties that are part of my regular smart casual rotation.