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Showing posts from 2019

A Busy Tailor's Shop. . .

An interesting old illustration of a bustling tailor's establishment.

On the way home today, I stopped by my tailor to drop off the bottom half of my tweed J. Press suit to have a couple of loose buttons on the inside of the waistband, for fastening braces/suspenders to the pants, secured.  He was very busy, but took the time to check all of the buttons and fix those that were loose all the while chatting happily with me about the news in Vietnamese that he was listening to online in the background.  And all without charging me for his time.  

On a similar note, earlier in the week, as I made my way into a classroom building on campus, a colleague of about 55 or 60 stopped me to compliment whatever it was that I was wearing that day.  We chatted for a couple of minutes, and she finished by saying how much she enjoyed seeing men "nicely attired" (her words).  I thanked her and wished her a good day with an added spring to my step.

It is the occasional small acts of kindness …

Music For the Festive Season. . .

The cover of one of our three favorite "traditional" Christmas collections that we enjoy every year here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold.

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent, and the Christmas festival follows not far behind.  While I prefer not to rush into things, it's hard not to begin thinking about the celebration and enjoying the small flourishes that go along with it like, for example, the music related to Christmas.  

While I also enjoy traditional English carols along with more recent seasonal tunes by The Kinks, Greg Lake, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, and Andy Williams (along with holiday cheese by Dean Martin, Paul McCartney, and, yes, even WHAM!), in my view, you simply cannot go wrong with traditional German Christmas music.  It provides a quiet and calm antidote to the overplayed schlock that clogs the airwaves at this time of year.  

Three of our favorite collections (on CD. . .  How 20th century of us!) include:

1) Weihnachten: A German Christmas
2) Christmas in Vie…

Happy Thanksgiving 2019!!!

A suitably natty Tom Turkey for your impending feast.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us here at Classic Style!  Remember everyone.  Attire that's a little nicer than the average for dinner and related festivities, and let's be especially mindful of our table manners.  Good sense and good manners make others more comfortable and add to the special nature of the day.  We also want to ensure that our hosts and fellow guests might, just might recall later how pleasant we are to have around for holiday occasions.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

The table all set here at Totleigh-in-the-Wold while everything either roasts in the oven or cooks atop the stove.

Learn to Let It Go. . .

 I'm not normally one for platitudes, but this one is a useful life lesson.

Here's another small tip for those of us interested in acquiring greater layers of polish and sophistication through an ongoing program of self-improvement.  

When, in the face of overwhelming evidence that indicates otherwise, it it sometimes far better to own up to things rather than continue the elaborate facade.  It's much better to concede than it is to enter into bizarre denials, worthy of theater of the absurd.  People aren't that stupid, you see. 

Gesticulations of one kind or another, intended more to obfuscate than clear the air, might be humorous were it not so pathetic.  And it really should be something that is just not done.  Not by our kind of people, dear.

At some point, we all must learn to Let It Go, back away, and accept the consequences of our actions for better or worse.  Learning to to do so is a highly useful tool to have in the style-in-the-broadest-sense toolbox. 

-- Heinz…

An Annual Classic Style Reminder. . .

Most of us may not quite dress like this anymore for a special occasion, but there is no reason why we cannot routinely conduct ourselves with a little polish and sophistication when it comes to eating pleasantly in the company of others at a holiday table.
The holiday season is once more almost upon us, and with it the annual lead-up to the rather frenetic Thanksgiving through New Year's period.  While I naturally hope that regular and occasional visitors to Classic Style will have the good graces NOT to show up to any special holiday dinners or other events dressed in pilled earthtone fleeces, hoodies, sweatpants, sagging jeans, and flip-flops or sneakers -- or, frankly, any other common attire of the sort -- this post is not about that.

Nope.  Instead, it's a yearly reminder to average guys everywhere to remember and practice polite table manners.  Not just on special occasions either, but everyday.  With that idea in mind, here is a reprise of a post from November of 2012 (…

The Potential of Time Abroad. . .

Eurocentric, sure.  But it's nevertheless a neat illustration to include with this post.

While time spent living abroad -- not as a short term tourist but as a long term resident -- does not necessarily make one a more stylish person in the classic sense, it can't hurt.  At the very least, time studying, working, and living in another part of our still, in some ways at least, vast globe OUGHT to provide a broader perspective about oneself and the world.

Time spent living elsewhere, Norway in my case, provided me with a different view of US society, as well as a more realistic, somewhat less idealized version of Scandinavian society and culture. More important, after a year away I was able to perceive the more favorable aspects of my home culture as well as its less than savory features in ways that I had not noticed before.  While there is much that is admirable about the United States -- our fabled can-do attitude for one -- relative to much of the rest of the world, many…

Take Responsibility. . .

Wally Cleaver (played by Tony Dow) and his little brother Theodore 'Beaver' Cleaver (Jerry Mathers) in the middle of a stern fatherly lecture on Leave It to Beaver, a family situation comedy that ran on television here in the United States during the late 1950s-early 1960s.  Typical themes included poor choices on the part of the boys, related behaviors, and learning to accept responsibility for one's actions by the end of many epsiodes.

With our ongoing quest for self-improvement in mind, here's another quality for thinking men (and women) to cultivate to much greater degrees than seems to be the case for too many in 2019.  A large part of becoming and behaving like an adult is learning how to accept responsibility for yourself and your actions, whether those have been commendable, or less than savory.

We are currently going through a stage with the 10-year old Young Master where he blames every upset, every misfortune, or every poorly informed choice on someone or some…

Where do we go from here?

'Man in Fog.'

During a brief chat after class yesterday, which was really about course material and the last few weeks of the semester, a Chinese student of mine mentioned in passing how sloppy Americans look in general to outsiders.  Having lived outside of our culture for a period myself once upon a time, I cannot help but agree with that observation. 

Regardless of income bracket, the vast majority of people send all kinds of (probably unintended) messages that don't help them via their haphazard, "Pardon me, but my dirty laundry hamper just vomited on me" appearance.  Is it any wonder that so many have difficulty getting ahead when they cannot be bothered to put even a little effort into their attire, or into much else if we are brutally honest about it? 

Self-defeating habits and a pervasive, complacent, everything-happens-to-me mindset combined with a belligerent attitude are three of the largest millstones people carry around on their backs when it comes t…

"You lie when the truth would sound better!"

Continuing to fly the flag of self-improvement this cold November Friday.  Goodness knows, there is plenty of room for that among humanity.  With that aim in mind, I am occasionally reminded of a saying my late maternal grandmother -- from Asheville, North Carolina -- used routinely when my sister and I were children.  

Sometimes, simple honesty and telling the truth about things, however unpleasant that might be, would sound more believable than continuing to insist on the veracity of the farcical and convoluted story we have woven.  You know?   People aren't that stupid, so being truthful might just win you more credibility than the alternative.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

Harris Tweed Tuesday. . .

 The upper half for today. . .

Continuing to have fun with dressing up in my day-to-day life here in Mid-Michigan where it has at last turned cool enough for corduroy, tweed, and wool flannel. 

Of course, that was helped by, at long last, bringing the heavier fall and winter items up from the basement cedar closet and placing them into the wardrobe in our bedroom with the oveflow going to the closet in the TV room across the hall.  I know, I know. . .  Until mid-April next year, the spring and summer weight items have gone downstairs to the same closet adjacent to our family room and office spaces.  It's always fun to rediscover forgotten items during this twice yearly rotation.  

On a related note, I took the opportunity to filter out a number of things that never fit quite right or simply don't get worn anymore.  These went to the Goodwill and The Salvation Army stores where they might help someone after a few dressier items at very reasonable prices.

Occasional sifting, win…

Early November Tae Kwon Do Style. . .

The Young Master (left), sparring with a more advanced opponent (right) at last night's 90-minute belt test.

Our son The Young Master, who wrestles with Autism Spectrum Disorder, earned his yellow belt in Tae Kwon Do during a grueling belt test early Friday evening.  I am so proud of him that I can hardly speak without getting all teary.  See?  The are those times when yours truly can -- for all of my scornful elitism -- behave like a normal individual. 

-- Heinz-Ulrich   

The Young Master, in his Halloween grizzly bear costume, getting his new yellow belt tied by The Grand Duchess during today's belt ceremony.

Our Biggest Self-Defeating Habits?

How do you feel about yourself and your abilities?  Your answer can exert considerable influence over the kinds of opportunities presented to you.

Continuing with our theme of self-improvement, there are many internal ways of thinking that can and do prevent people from realizing and reaching their full potential.  To my mind, two of the most crippling stumbling blocks around are an apparent complete and utter lack of self-confidence and the closely related lack of mental agility.  While many who suffer here will go to great lengths to make it look like this isn't the case, lack of self-confidence is usually pretty clear when interacting with people who struggle with this particular habit of thought. 

We all have our low points from time to time, but it is important to remember that we can't let the unexpected derail us and prevent us from moving forward.  My advice, whatever one's education, career, financial, or other aspirations might be is have a serious internal conver…

Late October Lawn Style. . .

Said fleece, a Christmas gift last year from m y wife, The Grand Duchess.

While the now ubiquitous fleece is hardly 'classic' in the same sense as a jaunty tweed sports jacket, a well-tailored suit, or high quality leather dress shoes, it does have its uses.

First, they are great as a top layer for any sort of outdoor winter sport when a sweater would be too bulky.  We are avid cross-country (Nordic) skiers in the winter, weather permitting here in Mid-Michigan, and a fleece worn over some long silk underwear and a wicking middle layer will be all you need on the upper half for all but the coldest days.  Second, fleeces are ideal wear during a chilly fall day like today whether your outdoor activities include preparing the lawn and garden beds for the coming winter, or a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

The fleece pictured above features the logo of my alma mater, the might University of Wisconsin-Madison, where I completed two degree programs before moving onto a third just u…

Addendum: Quit Playing the Victim!

As an addendum to my observations and remarks here the other day on conducting oneself with a bit more classic style and tasteful restraint, one more thing occurs to me.  And it's really a subset of the whole drama queen point I made a day or three ago.  Ready?  Here it is.  It's really time for everyone to stop playing the victim whenever things don't go your way.  

The tendency to play the victim and engage in what I'll call attempted victim bullying -- trying to use your perceived victim status to ram your self-deluding visions through the system and down everyone else's throats at any cost -- is rampant on U.S. college and university campuses, and indeed throughout American society in 2019.  

Tell me I'm wrong.  

For starters, I see it on a daily basis among university undergraduates, aged roughly 18-23, too many of whom pay little to no attention to course requirements, expectations, policies, reading/viewing assignments,  projects, and deadlines.  The rules …

Led Zeppelin - How Many More Times (Danmarks Radio 1969)

Make a Favorable Impression. . .

 Whether in your personal or professional life, it pays to make (and leave  behind) a favorable impression regardless of the setting or situation.

I've written about this point before in many ways over the years here at Classic Style, but it occurs to me that a concise list of reminders might be in order for any men (or women) of any age reading this.  Keep in mind, this is not a comprehensive list of tips for making and maintaining a favorable impression with those around you, but it is a start toward ensuring that you are a pleasant person to be around.  Off the top of my head, here are half a dozen points to keep in mind as you move through daily life with all of its interpersonal complexities and interactions:

1) Be conscious of and vigilant about how you present yourself.
Not simply in how you look, but in how you speak and behave.  You've got one chance to make a favorable impression with new acquaintances, and you want to maintain that impression with others over time.  Of…

Men in Suits: What Women Think

Like Shooting Fish in Barrel. . .

The childhood home of singer Taylor Swift outside Reading, Pennsylvania (very near my old stomping grounds).  If memory serves, Ms. Swift took quite a bit of flack several years back, in the early flush of success, when it became more generally known that she came from a relatively comfortable background.  Oh, how dare she!

Caricatures.  Stereotypes.  Formulaic cliches.  How many times have we seen the well off portrayed as superficial jerks in popular entertainment?  

In the context of a new Netflix series entitled The Politician, can you imagine the righteous indignation, social media uproar, and unfettered rage that would result if a series mocking and deriding the working class actually were to make it online or to television?  


Linen & Coffee Tuesday. . .

The upper half early today while working through the first student projects delivered this semester/term in one of the dormitory 'neighborhoods' where I teach a course on Henrik Ibsen and social problem dramas.  Not visible are a mid-blue and dark red striped cotton poplin button-down collar shirt and a silk herringbone necktie also in a shade approximating dark red, maroon, or perhaps bergundy.

And the lower half.

Can you believe that it is already October 1st?  Where in the world did September go?  Lest you think Autumn has arrived here in Mid-Michigan, the temperature is quite warm right now (mid-80s Fahrenheit), and it is, to say the least, sticky.  A perfect excuse to trot out my linen suit one final time this season along with the Panama hat and spectator shoes.  Breezy and cool to wear, which is a good thing because even with air-conditioning and ceiling fans on high, classrooms become rather close with 40+ student bodies writhing within.

What's that?  Linen and a Pan…