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It's New Year's Eve at Classic Style. . .

For your perusal, entertainment, and perhaps erudition. . .  An old New Year's Eve illustration from purportedly from December 1932.

Well, the Christmas holidays are just about over for another year, but if you are headed out this evening, or perhaps on New Year's Day, there is one more chance to celebrate before we return to life as usual on Monday, January 6th.

The Grand Duchess and I, much to my sartorial chagrin, will be dressed much more casually this evening after dinner and following The Young Master's bedtime.  We'll be staying in for a game or two of Scrabble in our pajamas by the fireside with maybe some binging on a TV series or movie via Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon afterwards, interrupted by a glass of wine at Midnight.  

Not exactly high society, but understated and calm, which is fine by me.  Happy New Year's a few hours early then.

Heinz-Ulrich

Merry Christmas from Classic Style. . .

No admonishing reminders this morning, everyone.  Simply a number of cheerful and wondrous old images of Santa Claus/Father Christmas for you to peruse and enjoy.  For an added aural treat, I've also included a link to BBC Radio 4's 2019 broadcast of The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's College Cambridge.  My best wishes to you all for a happy, warm, and joyous season.  Merry Christmas!

-- Heinz-Ulrich

�� Weekend Jazz - Christmas Carol Coffee Jazz Mix - Winter Cafe Music

Winter Night Jazz Music - Stress relief - Relaxing Cafe Jazz Music For S...

Mitten Style. . .

Not my photograph, but it makes the point nicely.

Cold with occasional light snow here in Mid-Michigan this morning.  Since classes for the semester ended last Friday, I am home in the early mornings now and giving The Grand Duchess a break by getting our 10-year old son up and ready for school between now and the first week of January.  A few minutes before the school bus arrived today, The Young Master and I bundled up in our winter coats, scarves, hats, and mittens for the walk down the driveway to the mailbox where we wait a few minutes until the big yellow bus with its blinking red and yellow lights arrives.  

Although now at an age where he asserts his independence more and more where food, clothes, shoes, and other things are concerned, he slipped his hand into mine as we made covered the short distance from the front door to the end of the driveway.  I asked him if he remembered when he was younger and held my hand all of the time, to which he replied yes, yes he did.  I then to…

Ghosts of Decembers Past. . .

A snowy section of Antietam Creek in Berks County, Pennsylvania (my old home turf) by Joel Styer Fine Art Photography.  The woods surrounding my maternal grandparents' place not far away look exactly like this during the winters.


Ho, ho, ho. . .  And not the hoochie mama kind, either!
Online shopping is such a wonderful thing.  I spent about 60 minutes late this morning taking care of most of my Christmas shopping for the year -- Thank you, Mr. Bezos! -- and all without having to brave a shopping mall.  Online shopping is a wonderful thing for the misanthropes among us. 
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Almost finished with final grading for the semester just ended, and naturally my thoughts turn simultaneously ahead to Christmas 2019 and the ghosts of Christmas long past.  Growing up in southeastern Pennsylvania -- District Township in Berks County outside Philadelphia -- in my maternal grandparents' house has left my sister, mother, and I with many happy and amusing memories that we periodically …

Charles Tyrwhitt Shirts: A Review. . .

The three shirts I purchased recently from Charles Tyrwhitt.  They come with their own metal collar stays, which keep the points straight and resting, more or less, at your collarbone.  By comparison, Land's End shirts, which used to be very good value for the money spent, are skimpy in the body and collars with inconsistent sizing.  Even their top of the line ironing still required Hyde Park Oxfords have fallen prey to this annoying tendency in recent years.  My suspicion is that the company has cut corners to save money on production costs, resulting over time in skimpier shirts, poor quality control, and (now) substandard product.  Enough said?

Attractive, high quality shirts.  Consistent sizing with a comfortable cut without veering into spinnaker sail territory (I opted for the Traditional Fit), generous cuffs and collars, plus tails that are long enough to stay tucked in all day.  The three shirts I purchased above integrate well with my existing suits, sports jackets, blaze…

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…