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, 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