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 28, 2018

Christmas Week Vintage Christmas Card Style. . .

Here we are three days post-Christmas, but I hope you might be able to find a few quiet moments to sit down and actually chat with friends and loved ones sans electronic devices in your hands or on the table in front of you.  Or the TV blaring in the corner or (shudder) over the fireplace).

Instead, let's look at each other!  Talk to each other!  Be mentally present while you do.  Respect the views and ideas of each other.  Practice basic civility.  

Your talk needn't be about anything consequential or of substance.  You needn't discuss anything as ponderous as U.S. politics, Donald Trump. . . or Duchess Meghan.  Just talk about whatever comes up and see where the conversation leads.  

Before you know it, three hours will have passed by, and you will have reconnected to each other.  Hopefully over a mug of something warm, or a nip of something medicinal.  Try actually talking TO each other rather than AT each other.  You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas from Classic Style!

Wishing everyone peace, goodwill, and maybe a even a bit of joy this Christmas season.  Merry Christmas!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Monday, December 24, 2018

It's Christmas Eve at Classic Style. . .

Three more wonderful vintage images that seems, somehow, a bit more like Christmas ought to be  in stark contrast to the media- and retail-driven circus, um, cycle that now so colors the festive season.  And on the morning of December 26th, it's on to the next big thing.  Surely, there is more to the Christmas season, and the actual point behind it, than that?
If you observe and celebrate, Merry Christmas.  Peace, joy, and good will to all in any case.  Goodness knows we are in dire need of more civility and basic decency in the 21st century.  A pessimist by nature, I nevertheless maintain a glimmer of hope that we might get our collective act together at some point.  

If you are in the mood for some lovely and traditional Christmas carols with a church organ and choir, give a listen to the rebroadcast of annual The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from the chapel at King's College Cambridge via BBC Radio 4.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas Morning Style. . .

A Christmas gift from The Grand Duchess in 2016.  Although I wear and enjoy these pajamas all the year 'round, they seem especially right for Christmas Day.

Gentlemen, whatever your preferred sleeping attire -- pajamas, in your underwear, sweats and a ratty old college t-shirt. . .  or au natural -- it is hard to go wrong with a crisp pair of pajamas on Christmas Morning.  At least until it's time to put on some actual adult clothes for visiting, guests, and/or the celebratory meal.  Add either a wool flannel robe, or a silk dressing gown over top, and you've got a winning casual combination as you enjoy coffee, check your stockings to see what Santa Claus or Father Christmas have left for you, and nibble on some of Great Aunt Waltraud's legendary Dresdner Stollen.

The Grand Duchess makes us an authentic Dresdner Stollen each December, and it lasts about six or seven days.  It's a bit late in coming this year since Sonja has been very busy the last few weeks, but she has promised to whip one up during Christmas Week.  There is nothing better with that first mug of coffee in the morning.  But, I digress yet again!

Returning to the point at hand, the moral of today's story?  If you can bring yourself to do so, press a pair of pj's ahead of time, fold, and stow 'em in your dresser draw to pull out and put on before you appear on the morning of the 25th.  Don't forget to brush your hair and run a warm washcloth/face flannel across your mug either before you head downstairs to wish the rest of the family a Merry Christmas.  Your S.O. will appreciate it even if he, or she says nothing.  Trust me.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Smooth Christmas JAZZ (Traditional Carols and Songs)

There Is a Certain Something. . .

A very colorful vintage illustration of Father Christmas.

There is a certain something about those old-fashioned images of Santa Claus and Father Christmas that used to be on Christmas cards well over a century ago, long before the now familiar Coca-Cola Santa Claus in red began taking over the world from the late 1940s onward.  Periodically, I cull the web and collect various old images into a folder on my computer desktop.  A digital scrapbook of Christmas long past if you will.  Anyway, here is a very natty version of ol' Saint Nick that is one of my favorites.  I hope you might like it too.  

Now, I've got a pie to bake and a couple of dishes to assemble in the kitchen (it's just after 10am here) for our Christmas Eve Dinner tomorrow.  So, after a second mug of coffee, no more sitting around wasting time.  We will again be having, among other things, a goose as the main part of the meal for the second year in a row.  Our son Young Master Paul enjoyed it so much last year that he suggested, before the meal was even concluded, we have a Christmas Goose every year.  Good man!  That was all we needed to here.  So, a goose it is.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Friday, December 21, 2018

Winter Soltice Style. . .

Yours truly, just back from running a few Friday morning errands as we enter the last few days before Christmas 2018.  This particular combination of clothes is what I like to call my out-of-work Off Broadway actor's uniform. . .  which is to say my waiter's uniform*. 

Up and at 'em early today getting the Young Master breakfasted and ready for school, which I've done since classes ended on December 7th, to help The Grand Duchess a bit.  Typically, I also get our son up and serve him breakfast on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays during the school year, and daily during summer vacations, so no hardship there.  It's all fairly routine.

Anyway, after he climbed aboard the school bus, it was off to his school myself to drop off a fruit platter, strawberries, and bananas for his class' Christmas breakfast.  Finally, it was onto one of our local big box supermarkets to assist ol' Saint Nick by picking up a few things for the Young Master and Grand Duchess to discover in or below their stockings on Christmas Morning next week.

But I digress!  Let's get to the attire for today.  

The ensemble you see above is a pretty typical variation of my weekend and/or running errands "uniform" during the cooler half of the year when I am not on campus.  If it's not a tweed jacket of some kind over an oxford cloth button-down shirt, then it is either a rugby top or Norwegian sweater on the upper half with corduroy jeans in one of several colors, a surcingle belt, and those same chocolate suede camp moccasins that have been mentioned in previous posts.  

The scarf came from Ryder & Amies in the United Kingdom and is in the colors of my alma mater, the mighty University of Wisconsin-Madison.  As far as I know, we do not have quite the same tradition of scarves in school colors here in the U.S. (maybe within the Ivy League?).  Nevertheless,  I have wanted such a scarf for years, already being a fan of long wool winter scarves anyway, and finally ordered one during the winter of 2015-2016.   

Yes. Perhaps a bit of silly and pretentious Anglophilia, sure, but you could say I come by it honestly.  My maternal grandmother's family came to this country from England during the first half of the 20th century, my maternal uncle and mother both lived outside London and Southampton, respectively, for several years each, and we still maintain fairly close ties to that area of the world although I have not been back for 30 years.  Indeed, my professor step-father is a Welshman. 

Although we don't hold that against him.  After all, this is the season of goodwill and forgiveness. . .  Even with all of his tired, long-winded stories about the heyday of Welsh rugby during the 1970s and the old TV series of a similar vintage, The Likely Lads.  My mother, long ago, forbade ol' step-dad  from talking anymore about either subject in her presence.  It is, admittedly, much more interesting to hear him hold forth on jazz, single malt scotch, Asian temple bells, Kendo, and American politics. . .  not to mention the work of Kirk Douglas and Burt Lancaster.  

Now, how's that for circuitous?

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Another vintage Christmas card this morning, this tome an illustration of rather old-fashioned --  Dare I say traditional? --  glass tree ornaments.  While we don't have any that look exactly like these, we have quite a few ornaments with similar shapes hanging from the boughs of our larger tree in the living room.

*I've been dressing this way, more or less, for almost 40 years now since good ol' Mom presented the almost 13-year old me with that very first herring bone tweed jacket to wear with tan cords, a blue ocbd shirt, and Fry boots during a day-trip with her to Manhattan in October 1979.  While Dad was a stockbroker -- his company at one time was "bullish on America' -- my mother worked for many years as a buyer, department, and later store manager in clothing retail, making twice monthly visits to the Garment District in New York City.  Often, we accompanied her for the day to get a taste of The City That Never Sleeps, which would also include lunch somewhere special (sometimes joined by our father or grandmother), and visits to one or another cultural attraction in Manhattan.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Getting in the Christmas Spirit at Last!

The Holstentor Gate on the way from the train station into the old city center of Lübeck, Germany, the one-time leading city of The Hanseatic League, a trade federation centered on the Baltic Sea and North Sea but with a reach tat extended well into Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Britain and the Low Countries.  Situated just a mile or two from the old internal border between the DDR and the communist GDR (you could almost see across the border from a high point), the city looked very much like this in January 1986 when I first visited.  I was instantly captivated and have loved the place ever since, visitingg again in 1990 and with my wife 2009.  In the winter of '86, there was still considerable coal smoke hanging in the air, and I even happened upon a young, tall blonde guy all dressed up in 19th century chimney sweep clothing with a top hat and smudges on his cheeks with all of his chimney-cleaning gear looped over a shoulder while walking along a quiet side street.  One of my biggest regrets is that I failed to ask if I could take his photograph. 

The main Christmas market in Lübeck nestled in between next door to the Marienkirche (St. Mary's Church) just visible in the left rear of the photograph  and the city Rathaus (city council) at center right with all of its cupulas.  Many years later, the Grand Duchess and I had a delicious lunch in the restaurant that now looks over the square where this 'Weihnachtsmarkt' sets up every December during the Advent period leading up to Christmas. 

Well, things are slowing down here at Classic Style.  I've signed off of university email until after the first week of January, most of the gift shopping is done, the Christmas trees and house are decorated, and that wonderful winter quiet seems to have settled over everything a day or so before the season begins in earnest.  No snow yet, but I've got my fingers crossed, and the skis stand ready by the back door.  It's dark and chilly in any case, which is fine by me.

Otherwise, not much happening for the next few days until we journey all of five minutes around the corner and up the road to our neighborhood Episcopal church for the 5pm Christmas Eve service.  In the meantime, throughout the season proper, and into the new year, I'll share a few vintage seasonal illustrations, one of my many side interests.  

Stay tuned, and wherever you are, I hope you have some time to put up your feet and relax with a drink of something warm, or warming (if you know what I mean), and those nearest and dearest to you.   Gifts, food, and sweet treats of various kinds are fine, but it's the visiting, chatting, and whiling away the hours together that is the best thing about the Christmas season in my view.  Although we're still a few days, allow me to wish you and yours the compliments of the season.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

A Christmas card from 1910 according to accompanying online information.  Quiet, old understated greetings like these resonate more with me than much of what is churned out by greeting card companies today.  That either makes me an old soul, or a fuddy-duddy.  Probably both.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Mid-December Dentist Visit Style. . .

Not seen here, a pair of Allen Edmonds 'Cavenaugh' penny loafers and navy Merino wool dress socks with tiny red polka dots.

The semester has been over for about ten days now, so I have not been on campus much other than for a couple of brief meetings last week.  Most days, are now spent in corduroy jeans and rugby tops here at home along with some chocolate suede Allen Edmonds camp moccasins, which are my house shoe of choice (sans socks) during the colder months.

In any case, I had a session with the dentist this morning early, followed by a few Christmas-related errands afterward.  So, why not have a bit of fun and jazz up an otherwise mundane morning a bit with some understated festive attire then?  You know,  instead of shambling and schlepping around in public like a huge basket of wrinkled laundry on legs.  As others have commented elsewhere, people tend to treat you better when you present yourself well.

The L.L Bean 'no iron' ocbd shirt pictured is a concession of sorts.  I have a four or five of these, and for those days when one is in a real hurry, it can be very handy simply to pull a shirt off the hanger and put it on without pressing it first.  Of course, even these will look better after pressing with a hot iron.  

I'm still not a huge fan, and these types of shirts do not breath as well as the 'must iron' variety, but there you are.  Today was my morning to get The Young Master up and ready for school, so this shirt made my own morning machinations easier once the school bus picked him up, I grabbed my car keys, and headed across town for my appointment.

And to paraphrase the late Joan Crawford (and the nine-year-old Young Master), "No ugly sweaters, ever!!!"

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Throwback Sunday. . .

Yours truly in mid-September 2012, wearing a tweed jacket by Magee and a pair of loafers that I used to wear on rainy days given their corrected grain finish.   The jacket, while a nice specimen, was always just a bit green and mustard for my taste, so I donated it to our local thrift/charity shop along with some other things that weren't quite right before we left Illinois in June 2015.

The Young Master, taken at the same time, at play in his old room on the second floor of our old Craftsman house.  He was nearing his third birthday here and already sported some rather stylish autumnal tones of his own with a rather natty rugby top.  Perfect for constructing improvised Space Needles in imitation of the real item in Seattle where one set of grandparents resides.

Looking through some other older photographs this afternoon, I stumbled across these two from mid-September 2012,  Yours truly is slightly heavier now and with a bit more gray in his hair, while the Young Master, now 9, is much taller than he was in this photograph.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

As luck would have it, I managed to score a vintage Polo Ralph Lauren camel hair-wool blend polo coat, very like the one pictured above, via Ebay for a very reasonable price.  Pennies on the dollar really.  The coat is on the way, and after the usual dry-cleaning, will become a part of the regular winter rotation.  I've wanted one of these for a number of years now, so this late birthday-early Christmas gift to myself is kind of exciting.