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.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Halloween 2018 Attire

The upper half for this chilly, wet last day of October.

And the lower half as I waited for the students in my 8am class to deliver their student learning team papers due today.  And as expected, there were a few instances of last minute, morning of drama via email meant to mask a complete lack of preparedness.  It's not like the date for peer review of working drafts and the final due date were not printed clearly in bold in the online syllabi.  I really wonder how some young people manage to put on their underpants each morning without choking on them in the process.

Adding a bit of seasonal color to the palette today while simultaneously refusing to submit to 'Da Frump' and still dressing like an adult male with a modicum of sophistication and awareness.  A plain white linen pocket square and slightly dressier shoes would make this particular ensemble sing, but what are you going to do?  I'll keep that in mind when Halloween 2019 rolls around.  Live and learn.

Speaking of Halloween, The Young Master, who recently turned nine, will terrorize the neighborhood dressed as a very stylish bat (The non-Vampire type, mind you.  He specifically requested no fangs.) this evening when he and his mother head out after dinner for a bit of trick-or-treat.  Can you believe tomorrow is already November 1st?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Sunday, October 28, 2018

We Once Went to War. . .

Along with millions of others, my maternal grandfather and various great uncles -- Methodists, Episcopalians, a Baptist, and one Catholic -- once went to war almost eight decades ago, in part, to stop the sort of thing that happened yesterday.  On Saturday during religious services at The Tree of Life Synagogue in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, an individual with a history of antisemitic behavior murdered 11 people: 

Joyce Fienberg, 75, Rose Mallinger, 97, Jerry Rabinowitz, 66, Cecil Rosenthal, 59, David Rosenthal, 54, Daniel Stein, 71, Melvin Wax, 88, and Irving Younger, 69, Richard Gottfried, 65, and Bernice Simon, 84, and Sylvan Simon, 86.  

During the first half of the 1990s, I used to catch the bus to and from college daily just up the street from this particular temple in a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood where you might think this kind of thing would never happen.  Have we learned nothing?   

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Double-Breasted Thursday: An Experiment in Blue and Brown. . .

 The upper half early today after a sip of fresh dark roast.

And. the lower half just before I began entering some team-led discussion grades into an online course page where students can keep track of their progress 24/7.  That''s the theory at any rate.  You would be surprised how few students actually do that.

On the way home yesterday, I stopped by the local shopping mall to pick up two dozen new white t-shirts.  Periodically (every three or four years or so), it makes sense to start fresh even when they have no holes or tears.  With time and wear, and regardless of any claims made to the contrary on the packaging, all cotton t-shirts will shrink, lose their shape a bit, seams may come undone, and they lose their whiteness.  Time to do something about that.  So, I parked the car and ducked inside to purchase a few packages of my preferred Stafford 100% cotton crew neck t-shirts.

What an education and an eye-opening experience it was to walk through the fairly empty (at that point in the day) mall, something I have not done for several years.

It finally occurred to me why so much of the population now dresses like street toughs, gang members, petty criminals, and meth heads with their hoods up to obscure their faces.  Almost all stores, from larger department outlets like Macy's and Penny's to smaller specialty boutiques prominently display and sell horribly overpriced sweatpants and hooded sweatshirts with oversized designer names, logos, or abysmally ugly graphics on the front, or in the case of items for girls and women, across the rear end (to the tune of "PINK," "Bootylicious," etc.).  This is what is marketed to the consumer in the vast middle and what drives current levels of "taste" [sic].   Clearly, this type of attire is what has again been deemed "it" for the coming holiday shopping season based on all of the holiday window and store displays already in place.

So there we have it.  My long sought answer at last.  This is why so many people dress so terribly in 2018.  It is what hangs on the racks in the stores to buy and is marketed to the masses as currently fashionable, so they buy it hook, line, and sinker.  Yep.  It's judgemental but there you are.  Yep, it's snobby and elitist, and that is unsavory to many.  However, leaving the house dressed like this, along with the often enough accompanying outlook and behaviors, is also far removed from my own upbringing and mindset that it might as well be a planet in another galaxy.  I know, I know.  "Check your privilege!" whatever that actually means.  Probably different things to different people.

In any case, people look like crap (there is simply no other word for it), and that is largely due to the kinds of one-size-fits-almost-all clothing that is sold to them.  It cannot cost clothing giants much to produce, but its retail price can be horribly inflated, and, worse, millions will purchase and wear it quite happily.  It can only be a matter of time before sweats begin turning up in most offices.  My understanding is that the so called hoodie has already made the leap.  I certainly see enough of them on library staff here at MSU. 

As a rather horsey looking tall, thin young woman intoned in a series of Old Navy TV ads way back in the spring of 2001, "Ya gotta get this look!"  Clearly millions across the U.S. have bought into this particular "look" and see nothing unsavory about it since perceived comfort now trumps all else as well as any remaining vestiges of propriety that might linger here and there like cobwebs.   As long as we can squeeze our oversized selves into something without buttoning it, tucking it in, or wearing a belt, who cares about dressing like the some of the most peripheral members of society?  Very few apparently.  How sad that we -- a society that weathered The Great Depression, helped defeat Nazism, outlasted the Soviet Union, and put men on the moon -- have come to this. 

My t-shirt run yesterday was a terrific a-ha moment but also a horrible instant of realization.  There is nowhere left to go.  As a society, we have reached the nadir of taste in acceptable public attire.  Next time, I'll just order t-shirts through Amazon and avoid the mall all together.  Like a nasty sunburn after a long day of careless overindulgence at the beach without sunscreen, my eyes and skin still smart from yesterday's brief sojourn into the real world. 

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

It's Harris Tweed Tuesday. . .

Continuing my single-handed fight against 'Da Frump' this chilly October morning. . .  That's a Robert Talbott Ancient Madder necktie by the way, purchased in a thrift (charity) shop several years ago before we decamped for Michigan and left the terminally brown prairies of Illinois behind for good and all.

And the lower half.  These suede Allen Edmonds brogues are surprisingly comfortable given how infrequently they are trotted out.  Perfect with a heavier pair of corduroy pants, but once we begin having accumulating snow and/or late fall-winter wet, the two pairs of suede footwear in my rotation remain safely shoe-treed on their shelves in my closet.

Still suffering from mushy brain this morning after leading graduate students, who are about to enter the academic job market, through a seminar on developing statements of teaching philosophy yesterday (Monday) afternoon.  It was a rare treat to work briefly with more focused and driven adults during the session.  The vast bulk of my working life is spent teaching undergrads, who in many instances, lack the focus and maturity of their older graduate and European counterparts.  

Don't get me wrong.  For the most part, I enjoy my work in academia.  I have been able to parlay my love of languages and, more recently, popular culture into a career, which is what I set out to do almost three decades ago.  Not everyone can say that.  But, there are also challenges and frustrations with the work, something that probably is true for most jobs.  In this particular instance, it is some of (too many of?) the students themselves.

For too many American students, the college years seem to be an extension of middle or junior high school (ages roughly 11-13) based on how they act and react to people and situations around them.  When our undergraduates are not staring pie-eyed into their iPhones that is, or whining about the need to attend classes, or trying to negotiate higher paper and project grades/characters after the fact, or they go on the warpath due solely to a perceived subtext of slights in more honest feedback than they have expected and for which they have asked in the first place.  While there are always exceptions, being proactive no longer seems to be part of their genetic make-up by and large.  

I suspect all of that has to do with the palpable sense of entitlement that now resonates just about everywhere and the fact that, beyond the credential it provides, education and the opportunity for it are not really valued in U.S. life and society.  Remember, we now live in an era when being smart, informed, and really knowing about something is dismissed, mocked, and even derided.  Intelligence is neither seen as cool, nor admired.  Turning our back on facts that stare us in the face is the preferred way of doing things from the top right on down.  

Education, when it is thought of at all, and rather than being seen as an amazing opportunity and a form of self-improvement, is instead a commodity, an automatic 'right', something to purchase, complain about, reject, and return if you are not 100% satisfied with the outcome. . .  a top grade in exchange for a typically mediocre performance.  Just like a plate of underdone pasta at one of our generic Italian chain restaurants here in the United States.  For far too many young people (and their parents), education is taken for granted, pure and simple.  Little more than a charm on a bracelet.  A box to check off on the bucket list of life.  

If you pay attention to the news media on the subject, you are aware of the discussion around the sobering prospects facing college graduates however.  In short, a degree alone is no longer a guarantee of immediate entry into a lucrative white collar  (re: managerial) position  with a spacious corner office that features an actual door at 22 or 23.  But was it ever?  Hence the profusion of baristas oozing ennui and terminally detached 20-somethings holed up in their parents' basements following graduation, stuck in a repeating cycle of Snapchat, Instagram, online gaming, Tinder, and hookup sex if we are to believe what we read.  An overdeveloped sense of entitlement, unresolved self-esteem issues, and really wicked full sleeve tattoos are not enough by themselves, however, to enter into a comfortable and productive adult life.  

There are other more necessary qualities to function and do well in the mainstream of society.  For instance, the ability to make a simple decision based on the information you have, move forward with it, and then accept responsibility for that choice regardless of outcome seems to be a thing of the past much to our collective detriment.  Moreover, the fabled can-do attitude of U.S. citizens now seems largely absent.  Instead, we have a societal and even generational obsession with celebrity and "living my dream," however far fetched and unlikely that might be.  And how many more would be sports, acting, and singing talents do we need really?  The related failure to launch has replaced getting on with things and doing the best job possible to handle whatever life might send our way.  

Having more modest, realistic expectations for oneself might be part of a solution to the problem.  That certainly ought to be part of the high school, college, or university curriculum since it does not seem like many families manage to instill this quality in their offspring anymore.  I came across an article recently online that suggested a growing deficit of tradespeople like plumbers, electricians, and similar.  The impression given by the piece was that not enough young people want to do these sorts of outwardly unglamorous, but more practical, and sometimes highly lucrative jobs anymore regardless of the apparent need for them.   

Think about it for a moment.  Already, it is rare to see young people in various part-time jobs that used to be the territory of the high school and college set -- retail cashiers, stock clerks, fast food employees, wait staff, etc. -- because the young no longer want to do these kinds of jobs.  Now, it seems to be primarily retired people on fixed incomes, immigrants, and/or the working poor who do this kind of work.  How spoiled we have become, and no wonder our society is  in the state it's in.  

However, it is jobs like these that help a young person to focus, learn responsibility better than they might have to that point, and figure out that the way forward is to get some initiative, buckle down, and adjust to the world rather than expecting the world to accommodate callow ideals and, often, sophomoric quirks.  Going to work for several years right out of high school before continuing one's education, in whatever form that might take, forces a person to grow up, take a more active role in life, and modify his or her views about perceived goals accordingly.  A few years working 40+ hours a week, earning your own money and paying your own bills provides  a fantastic education in itself, and it really helps a young person to figure out his or her priorities.  Fast.  

Contrary to so much of what we are told these days, in much of life you either sink, or swim, and I see too many undergraduates every semester who almost willingly sink regardless of the support already in place at the macro and micro levels on most college and university campuses to help keep them from doing so.  We do everything we can to ensure so called "student success" from the top down while ignoring one very simple fact.  If you wave your hands to clear away all of the dust in the air, success is still up to an individual.  A person must decide him- or herself to join the rest of society and actually participate in life.  If you refuse to do so, others cannot impose success, academic or otherwise, upon you.  In other words, you can lead a horse to water. . .

It is worth pointing out that this now lengthy essay (Can we even all it that?) is not the view of some old fuddy-duddy crank on the wrong side of 50 although it is easy to dismiss it as such, and I am sure some readers will.  Before you are carried away by righteous indignation and tune out all together, allow me to counter that this discussion is, rather, a frank assessment of a very real problem.  Let's call it rowing in circles of self-imposed irony with one oar as a metaphor for being firmly stuck between adolescence and. . .  late adolescence.  It is nothing new and was already apparent when I was an undergraduate myself close to 30 years ago sans the technological gadgetry and facial piercings of course.  The situation is more pronounced than ever before in 2018 to the point that you cannot help but notice it among the student body.

My suspicion is that the responsibility for much of this does not lie solely with young people alone, but that has its start with their parents, who, for all of the material goods, tutoring, and lessons of one kind or another that they might have thrown at their children, have done an abysmal job of teaching basic life skills, pragmatism, and a more measured self-perception to the next generation.  Sure, many undergrads seem to have over-sized egos and considerable bravado on the surface, but at the same time so many of these young adults -- because they ARE adults after all -- are medicated and/or seeing a psychologist for one reason or another if my students are anything to go by.   

Now before you ask (And, no, I do not.), many undergraduates share this kind of information voluntarily.  It almost seems to be a topic of casual conversation, for some, with people they barely know.   What is wrong with this picture?  Maybe they have little else to talk about?  As I mentioned in another recent post, so much is directly attributable to the family of origin though.  Not an easy thing to hear, and I suspect that very few analysts and the like, who specialize in family psychology and dynamics, would be that blunt, but there you are. 

To be fair, I encounter quite a few young minds each semester who manage to transcend this rather bleak characterization.  Young adults who seem well balanced and engaged with attainable goals, firm plans on how to achieve said goals, and maybe a back-up Plan B in mind, as well as a healthier world view, and a more realistic sense of themselves.  Now and again, I also see some amazing work produced by students that goes above and beyond the expectations for a particular assignment.  Clearly, quite a few of these same individuals have their ducks in a row based on our conversations.  

On the other hand, far too many students resemble the less pleasant picture I paint above.  Anxious almost to the point of stasis, if we are honest, and fearful of commitment in most forms.  Vague, tentative, clueless, aimless, emotionally fragile, and lacking in intellectual agility or resilience, they are prone to dealing with the unexpected by means of angry and obscenity-laden outbursts at whomever is most convenient.  Finally, and perhaps most troubling, so many undergrads seem like lost souls already at 21 or 22.  Many have, In the words of one senior year student with whom I spoke a week or so ago during office hours, "no earthly idea" of what they'll do after graduation.  How can this be the case after four or five years of study with, in many instances, double or even triple majors (areas of concentration and specialization) as well as the coveted internships?  

Before we place the blame for all of this on the institutions of higher learning themselves, the prospect of crushing student loan debt, and/or a bleak economic and post-graduation employment outlook, let's slow down for a minute and consider something else.  Perhaps the real answer might (just might) lie closer to home.  I'll wager, instead, that much at the root of the problem stems from the students themselves and the lack of readily discernible curiosity, drive, and direction.  We can but work with the raw material we are given.  That point is a much larger part of the problem than we collectively care to admit.  

More sobering, these self-defeating habits are firmly entrenched long before many young people ever set foot on a college or university campus.  And where does that come from?  Once again, it all starts with the family.  Needless to say, it is awfully hard to displace the kind of closed off, reactive mindset that I observe again and again with more reasoned, realistic, measured, and balanced thought, not just about the world but about one's place in it, within the typical eight semester/term sequence here in the U.S.
The contrast is stark between average U.S. undergraduates and their counterparts in other areas of the world.  In particular, when it comes to level of maturity, focus, realistic goals, and the ability to function on their own without Mom and Dad leading 'em around by the nose from first wake-up call to bedtime.  That specific difference in approach and expectation  became glaringly apparent during the two times I studied in Norway, a drinking nation largely proud of its viking past mind you.  But I digress.  

The point is, and without wishing to paint a utopian picture of Norwegian culture and society, its young adults with whom I have lived, studied, and interacted seem far more capable for the most part and much better adjusted to life with the challenges it brings by their late teens and early 20s.  Keep in mind that many students there are a few years older, they (the men at least) have their obligatory military service behind them, and many have worked for a few years before making a conscious decision to return to the classroom and embark upon a course of study lasting several years.  In short, in our own (guilt driven?) push to give our children every material whim and opportunity while at the same time bolstering their self-esteem to artificially high levels by making them the sole focus of absolutely everything, we are instead doing them a huge disservice.  And that is crippling them  when it comes to making a smooth transition from (an already extended) adolescence to a reasonably independent, flexible, and resilient adult life.   

Overindulgence, constant hovering,  and smothering involvement in virtually every aspect of our children's lives is not the way to raise functioning and capable adults, who not only are open to and willing to explore and consider new ideas in our ever-changing and increasingly connected world, but who can also meet the challenges increasingly presented by life in the 21st century without falling all to pieces and crying foul at the slightest bump in the road.  

It might be better for us to take a few steps back from 'Buddy' and 'Sweetpea.'  Let's make a conscious and concerted effort to stop infantilizing our children.  Let's stop trying to be besties with our kids.  Instead, let's get back to being Parents with all of the wonderful, as well as less than savory, images that implies.  Feed, clothe, and teach them to walk in oh, so many ways, yes.  Share in their triumphs and successes.  Provide a shoulder to cry on when they occasionally fall down.  But besides teaching them to walk, let's also teach our children to walk away by the time they reach their late teens and beyond, to stand more firmly on their own feet, and handle their own challenges, trials, and tribulations.  We're not really doing so at this point, but it would be healthier for everyone if we did.

Returning to the point at hand, yesterday's teaching statement talk itself -- more a guided brainstorming session -- went reasonably well, and was over before we knew it, but the two weeks or so of preparation and the rush of nervous adrenaline, combined with the usual challenges of family and professional life, left me feeling wiped out by 9pm Monday evening.  I conked out after a halfhearted but amusing game of Scrabble with The Grand Duchess and slept until almost 5am, a rare occurrence during the week.  Luckily, there is not much on tap for today except listening to some student-led discussions in my 10:20am Film Noir class, in which students begin discussing issues of race and ethnicity as reflected in movies like No Way Out (1950), The Well (1951), Crossfire (1947), and Border Incident (1949).  

The rest of the day should be  fairly quiet until the Young Master arrives home after school, has his snack, and we head off to his usual Tuesday afternoon appointment before returning home at suppertime and a relaxed evening following that.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, October 20, 2018

A Brief Quiz on Fops, Macaronis, Dandies, Hipsters, and Metrosexuals. . .

An interesting visual array of said gentlemen.  How well do you know your fops, macaronis, dandies, hipsters, and metrosexuals?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Whatever happened to???

This seems to be how most people, regardless of their age, shuffle through life given our collective customer service-based mindset.  But is it really the way forward?

In the wake of finishing reading and grading the first round of student learning team projects for my three courses this semester -- a two-week project in itself -- I ask, whatever happened to the good old-fashioned work ethic and related consistency?  

I cannot tell you how many undergraduates I meet each year who have no readily apparent or discernible work ethic.  Yes, a select few do, and they tend to do well in their university work.  They will probably do well just around the corner in later adult life too.  But most young people I come across each year do not have this quality as far as I can tell.  I have now taught and worked with college and university undergrads for over 20 years, and the problem, while perhaps more pronounced than ever before, is not entirely new.

My own view is that if work ethic and consistency are not present by 18, they will not suddenly appear as if by magic for most people once they graduate at 22 or 23.   There is a certain window of time in and with which parents or caregivers must work to instill certain positive core values and habits.  Clearly many such figures have dropped the ball on this particular point with their offspring if we are brutally honest about the situation. 

Sure, an abundance of largely fleeting and disposable material goods along with the latest chirping-burping digital toys may be, or may have been, present.  The trappings of membership in the now vast middle class to which everyone aspires.  

But the more important intangibles that permit someone to succeed throughout life, rather than drift aimlessly, seem absent.  How very sad.  

Again, if we are clear-eyed with ourselves as a society, no attempt to impose such values from the top down will change things.  As with so much else in life, the related concepts of positive work ethic, consistency, and even dependability start in the home.  As a much loved and respected Sociology professor, an Afro-Caribbean, once told us during one of the three courses I took with him at community college way back in the early 1990s, "You cannot legislate attitudes."   Parenthetically, he moved onto a large university in Tennessee, not too long after our paths diverged, where he still teaches.  One of the more interesting, engaging, and outstanding professors from my early student days.

Returning to the point at hand, sharing this particular set of related observations on work ethic will, no doubt, cause righteous indignation to well up in the throats of many readers.  Some might infer and/or snarl certain things about yours truly, as that is their right, but there we are. 

Shooting the messenger, when we don't care for the message, rather than taking a deep, hard look at our personal and collective selves, seems to be the preferred way of doing things.  Or, to take a rather more Girardian* approach, we attempt to discredit and/or destroy a designated scapegoat in order to restore our missing sense of (social or personal) harmony.  Human nature if you will.

-- Heinz-Ulrich 

For more on Renee Girard, click here.

Friday, October 12, 2018

A complete loss for words. . .

The infamous sweatpants episode -- "The Pilot" -- in which Jerry rakes his pal George over the coals for continually venturing out in public while clad in sweatpants.  An extremely prescient observation by Mr. Seinfeld back in 1993 or '94.  It certainly seems like the vast majority have, indeed, given up by this point in history.

A chilly, gray October Friday here in Mid-Michigan today.  A perfect day for a quick trim at the barbershop plus a few other small errands before joining another couple this evening with my wife for dinner and drinks at a local restaurant.  

During my midday run, I dropped by my tailor with a couple of suits for some minor alterations to improve fit.  As I collected my ticket, a couple arrived, one of whom carried a black plastic garbage bag full of sweatpants that the male half of the pair wished to have altered.  The tailor directed him to one of the changing rooms as I said goodbye and left.  I really and truly think that I have now seen and heard everything.  

The questions begs, though, how well do sweatpants hold a crease?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

A Saturday Morning P.S.

A very chilly week ahead is forecast, which means just one thing.  High time to make the twice yearly shift in seasonal attire and move the tweeds, corduroys, and wool flannels into the bedroom closet!  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls.  It's that time again.  The warmer weather gear can then have a quick brush down and move to the basement cedar closet for the season.  Time for wool dress socks, tweed jackets, corduroy dress pants, flannel suits, and yes. . .  'The Dearborn' wool felt fedora from Optimo Hats of Chicago will make a triumphant return for season two.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Foggy Days and Mondays. . .

 The upper half today, featuring a 3/2 cotton sports jacket in olive green from Brooks Brothers, an old 'must iron' shirt from Land's End, and a navy Grenadine necktie from Chipp, which is getting quite a bit of wear lately.

And the lower half. . .  Shoes are calfskin monkstrap loafers from Land's End of all places.  About a dozen years ago, the company had some dressier footwear in a few of its catalogs that actually wasn't too bad.   The dress khakis are a more recent purchase from LE, about three or four years ago, while the socks were purchased from Dapper Classics back in 2013 or '14.

Foggy days and Mondays don't always get me down, especially when I have the excuse to dress up a bit for classes and other duties on campus.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Sunday, October 7, 2018

The Perfect Cool Weather Casual Shirt. . .

One of the current crop of rugby shirts on offer from Land's End for Fall 2018.  The photo has been "borrowed" from the LE website.

When the weather turns chilly, there is nothing like a rugby shirt to dress up those more casual moments once you come home and change out of the day's creased dress pants, blazer or sports jacket, oxford cloth button down or similar, and remove the ol' necktie and (hopefully) leather dress shoes or loafers.  Best if all, rugby jerseys seem tailor-made for lazy weekends. . .  Assuming anyone stills allows themselves to have lazy weekends in 2018.  Heck, rugby tops might even work in certain business casual environments, and certainly for those occasional Saturday mornings when when drop by the office for a few hours to catch up  on the week's work.

In any case, I've worn and enjoyed casual shirts similar to the Land's End number pictured above, from roughly September each year through to the following April, for close to 40 years now.   But why rugby shirts exactly?  

In short, they are comfortable, warmer than a long-sleeved t-shirt, but less bulky than many sweaters.  They also have an actual collar making them a bit dressier than, say, a gray sweatshirt, which makes all of us look more pulled together.  What's more, they are tough and last a long time.  And rugby tops just look good.  Certainly better than the now ubiquitous pilled fleece. 

It's also worth keeping in mind that rugby tops coordinate well with jeans, khaki chinos, tan corduroy pants, and even shorts for those cooler summer, late spring, or early fall days.  In those more private moments at home with the door closed, they even manage to elevate grey sweatpants a few notches if that happens to be your go-to (albeit inescapably frumpy) choice for the lower half.  

All of which is to say you needn't be embarrassed to answer the front door if someone knocks, and you actually choose to answer.  Likewise, you'll look more pulled together if you step outside to get the mail, walk your dog to and from the park, or make a quick run around the corner to pick up that half-gallon of milk that you might have forgotten on the way home.  It's hard to miss with rugby shirts, in other words, when it comes to cool (-er) weather casual gear.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Thursday, October 4, 2018

On Sale Now at Allen Edmonds. . .

The Delray in Dark Chili.  I've ordered myself a pair along with a matching belt.  The photograph comes from the AE website.

Long on the lookout for a pair of split-toe oxfords, I took advantage of the current sale at Allen Edmonds this morning between tasks to place an order for a pair of Delrays and a new dress belt to go with them.  My late maternal grandfather always wore split-toes similar to these -- in black, brown, and oxblood no less -- although I don't remember his being quite this sleek in design.  

The dress shoe collection will be just about complete when these arrive.  What can I say?  I dig nice leather shoes.  Seriously though, having a number of pairs in the rotation keeps all of 'em lasting and looking nicer for much longer than if you wear the same pair daily.  

So too do routine moisturizing, shines, and a good brush-down with the ol' horse hair brushes -- courtesy of the same maternal grandfather, who passed his brushes onto me about five years before he died in 2006 -- each morning and each evening before replacing the cedar shoe trees and shoe bags.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Tuesday Blues and Grays. . .

 The upper half today, featuring a jacket by Hickey-Freeman, necktie by Chipp, and an old Land's End shirt with a spread collar, purchased way back in the early 2000s when the company still sold "must iron" shirts that were correctly sized.  Even the company's Hyde Park oxfords now suffer from skimpy fit and skimpy collars.

The lower half, featuring navy Merino wool socks, gabardine pants, and those same Allen Edmonds shoes that have shown up here before.

Keeping things simple on this rainy, gray Tuesday here in mid-Michigan.

-- Heinz-Ulrich