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.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

He/She is so. . . Civilized?

Unlike the man in this photograph, my expression was deadpan, but inside I cringed.  And then wept inconsolably.

My wife and I had an appointment on Wednesday evening this week with a behavioral specialist (A Ph. D. candidate here at Michigan State University), who will be running a 15-week social group, part of a larger study in which our son will participate, for children on the Autism spectrum.  

Everything went fairly well until she casually dropped some extremely rude terms into  the conversation.  Bear in mind, the three us us sat in an office suite, the couple to whom this specialist spoke were two educated, well-spoken, professionally dressed adults, who she had never met before, and my wife and I were not speaking like this.  Typically we don't anyway.  

Suddenly, I was back in the non-union stockroom three plus decades ago unloading trucks with a manual pallet jack.  I thought I had left that kind of thing behind years ago.  Guess not.  To paraphrase those old 1940s-1950s educational film shorts, produced by Cornonet Films and the like, "Excuse me, but your [lack of] upbringing is showing!"  

Laugh all you want, but there was something to these films, many of which were still shown to me and my contemporaries in preschool and elementary school during the first half of the 1970s.  They certainly underscored the kinds of behaviors and conventions that were taught to me in my own extended family either implicitly, or explicitly.

Returning to last Wednesday evening, and as always in these kinds of unexpected social situations, I was momentarily stunned, nonplussed, and then mentally signed off for the rest of the meeting once I had collected my wits.  I know.  I know.  I shouldn't be surprised by this point.  But huge, red flags like this makes it very hard to listen to what someone says, and continue to participate in an exchange, when he or she fails to recognize that it might be better to leave the bathroom terminology out of the discussion.  Save it for the taproom why don't ya?  Sigh.

There really ought to be a required two-semester sequence of charm courses for college students everywhere with a refresher for those in graduate programs.  How to behave, why, and things you just don't do or say in polite company.  Hey, a guy can dream, right? 

Others have occasionally lamented the sudden and drastic fall in standards of speech and conduct, so I realize that I am not completely alone, but good God.  My late maternal grandfather always insisted, as I have no doubt mentioned here before, "People are pigs."  As a teenage and younger adult, I used to laugh and dismiss his observation, but the longer my journey through adulthood, the more I see how right he was.  

Keep in mind, ol' Granddaddy hailed from rural North Carolina, from a farming family no less,  but Great Grandmother Stokes and her daughters -- Great Aunts Lillian, Marnie, and Martha-- tolerated no nonsense when it came to daily manners, behavior, and etiquette.  It wasn't just the six siblings from that family who behaved politely without fail either.  The same was true, as far as I could tell, throughout the extended family into my mother's and uncle's postwar generation -- the so called Baby Boomers -- as well as my own, those of us born during the 1960s and 70s.   I knew all of the players in the extended cast well and saw them often throughout childhood and into young adulthood when the older WWII generation began to reach the end of their lives.  Collectively, however, we knew how to behave.

So too, did the families of my various friends and classmates during my years as a school pupil in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States.  Don't forget, these kids and their parents spanned the socioeconomic spectrum from farmers and the working class on the one hand to more comfortable educated white collar professionals on the other.  I well recall various mothers and fathers reminding my friends to eat nicely at the table, say please and thank you, speak kindly to others, etc. well into our late teenage years.  So, clearly many families besides mine at one time cared about and made a far more concerted effort to instill pleasant habits into their offspring.

All of which brings me to the usual sad conclusion and inquiry posed here at Classic Style before.  What the hell has happened in the last 40-odd years?  That's a rhetorical question you understand  The social progress of the last half-century or so is fine, but the baby has been thrown out with the bath water where even the most basic social graces are concerned.

Based on what is all around us now anytime we are brave enough to venture out the front door, to say nothing of the cesspit that comprises much of the virtual world, you might be forgiven for thinking that many people act like they don't know any better. . .  which means they very probably  do not know any better if we stop deluding ourselves for two seconds.  

Oh, right.  My privilege is showing.  Shame on me!  Please.  Let's all just stone me to death in the village square, thank you very much Shirley Jackson.  That would certainly be easier than what passes for society actually looking more closely at itself, wouldn't it?  I shudder to think about the kind of coarse world our son will have to wade through when he is my age.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, September 28, 2018

Suede Thursday. . .

 The upper half yesterday.  Slightly dandy with the purple and pink parrot pocket square, but hey. . . So, how do I entertain myself during twice weekly obligatory office hours to which few if any students ever come?  Why, take selfies of my attire of course.  That and comb article databases for the latest thinking on college-level pedagogy.  Actually turned up some interesting stuff this time!

And the more sedate lower half, featuring some olive-gray dress chinos that are about a dozen years old, Merino wool dress socks, and a pair of Allen Edmonds suede half wings that were recrafted two or even three years ago..

This particular combination of jacket, chinos, shirt, and shoes works really well during the fall months before the snow finally flies in late November or early December.  So much so that the jacket and pants hang together on the same hanger although once cold weather arrives, I sometimes swap in a pair of charcoal or mid-gray wool flannel dress pants.  But that's getting a bit ahead of things.  

Yesterday was crisp, partly to mostly sunny as the early morning cloud cover abated, and decidedly seasonal.  A perfect day to trot out a wool flannel sports jacket and the suede dress shoes in lieu of the lighter weight hopsack blazers, linen, or seersucker, and loafers that have figured prominently since the autumn semester began one month ago.  Can you believe it?  Only two weeks to go until Midterm!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Blazers, Blues, Bingo Little, and Buck Knife Wednesday. . .

 The upper half this morning, featuring one of my workhorse navy blazers worn with a necktie from Bird Dog Bay, a nod to my distant equestrian past. If I recall the Wodehouse stories rightly, Bingo Little once sported a similar item, which almost put  the normally unflappable Jeeves to bed for a few days when he noticed it.

Still having fun with the wardrobe this week, an easy one thanks to peer editing of the first student learning team papers and collecting said projects today and tomorrow (Thursday).  Then, the real fun begins once I must sit down to read through everything two or three times and assign grades using the grading rubric for the project. 

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the lower half, featuring a recently recrafted pair of Allen Edmonds captoe oxfords and a patterned pair of pants that I have not worn in over two years.  How do I know?  I (re-) discovered my late maternal  grandfather's Buck pocketknife in the right front pocket.  The pocketknife has been missing since the spring of 2016!  A happy and terrific relief.  Clearly this particular pair of pants needs to be worn more often.

Belvest DB Tuesday. . .

 The upper half for Tuesday this week, featuring a 6x2 dark charcoal suit with a subtle maroon stripe woven into the material.  The necktie (red with blue and silver microdots) came from Land's End about 14 or 15 years ago, when I needed to expand my professional wardrobe for that first teaching job after graduate school.  I don't trot it out often, but it never fails to get a compliment or two.

Dress more presentably, sure, but have a bit of fun with your attire too.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

And the bottom half of the same suit during very early morning coffee at the cafe in the main library before my first class of the day.  Also shown are a pair of navy paisley dress socks by Dapper Classics and a pair of shoes by Allen Edmonds that were recrafted a year or two ago.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Are we in an epsiode of The Twilight Zone, or The Outer Limits?

There are days when I observe the people around me, and how they appear for public consumption at work, in a professional environment mind you, and feel as though I am, in actuality, simply in the midst of a great huge daycare center.

The jettisoning of the tailored wardrobe is merely a part of the larger and ongoing 'democratization' of dress that started to standardize the wardrobe with the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and whereby we may all eventually be encased in the same synthetic coverall and molded plastic footwear.  Still others will tell you the degeneration of the trad wardrobe is all part of the “me” generation’s retreat from social consciousness and public style, part and parcel of a general lack of empathy, manners, and responsibility.  More ancient members of the community can often be overheard muttering that we will eventually descend into anarchy, barbarism, and loincloths. -- G. Bruce Boyer

Read the entire article by clicking here!

As one reader has suggested here at Classic Style in the last year and a half or so, it seems like a substantial portion of society will not be happy until they can appear publicly in sagging diapers and/or onesies with food smeared on one cheek, sleep in their eyes, and terminal bedhead.  I'll go a step further and submit that we're just about there.  Rod Serling (of The Twilight Zone fame) would appreciate it.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, September 10, 2018

8 Secrets To Being Well Dressed | Hanger Project

You know that you have arrived. . .

A 1934 illustration of a herringbone suit by the great Laurence Fellows.

Sartorially speaking, you know that you have arrived when a person, who you do not know, first compliments your suit, and then remarks that you look relaxed and comfortable in it.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, September 1, 2018

At Home during the Weekends. . .

Not my photograph, but it helps underscore the point of today's post nicely.

As my mother and grandmother used to say occasionally during my formative years, "The people you live with are every bit as deserving of the social graces as those you meet in public.  Now, go back upstairs, brush your hair, and wash your face!" 

-- Heinz-Ulrich