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Showing posts from September, 2014

The Finer Points of Wearing a Suit for College Men in 2014. . .

Let's make sure we look our absolute best in a suit by paying attention to those tiny details guys.
While I waited to meet my wife outside of her building on campus early this afternoon, for our semi-regular lunchtime cafe visit together, I noticed quite a few male undergrads dressed in suits.  Excellent!  Now, they might have been a new crop of fraternity pledges, or perhaps business students, attending some kind of future business leaders something or other.  I'm sure most were not dressing that way because they truly wanted to.  

Whatever the reason was, however, a few of the guys who crossed my field of vision looked quite good from a distance.  The rest, while I certainly appreciate their effort, didn't quite nail the intended look for one reason or another.  So, here are a few tips for younger men to keep in mind when wearing a suit in the form of a short Q&A.  Are you ready, Freddy?  Here we go!

1)  What's a good choice if a college guy can only afford one sui…

Some young men out there get it. . .

An old Laurence Fellows illustration, showing, I believe, what male undergrads wore in the mid-1930s.
Mornings like this do a man's heart good.  Very early today, about 7:40am, while I was in the dining commons on campus enjoying a cup of fresh, black coffee before my first class of the day, a young man approached me to compliment what I had on.  Even more important and noteworthy was his own ensemble: a charcoal two-button sports jacket, a blue OCBD shirt with diagonal striped tie, creased khakis with a belt, and black bit loafers.  

Everything seemed to fit him pretty well and was worn where it should be worn rather than down around his knees.  I'm sure the student in question had a presentation or something for one of his classes today, but he looked damned nice at a glance as we spoke, which I let him know, and he had clearly made some effort to look not just presentable but actually good in a traditional, non-hipsterish way.  Nice to see a young man dressing without ironic…

Shoulder Season Monday. . .

Yours truly at midday on Shoulder Season Monday.
A bright, crisp final day of Summer, and Autumn is definitely in the air today with temperatures hovering in the upper 60s Fahrenheit (about 20 Celsius).  Time then to pull out a slightly warmer, medium weight jacket, an oxford cloth button-down shirt, and a recently acquired pair of new brogue/wingtip shoes early this morning!  Here's the breakdown of the above items, most of which were thrifted, or, in the case of the jacket, purchased for a song on Ebay.  They are:

* Canali Wool Flannel Glen Plaid Sports Jacket -- Ebay
* Brooks Brothers OCBD Shirt -- Ebay
* Land's End Italian Silk Knit Tie -- Purchased on Sale
* Land's End Dark Tan Leather Belt -- Purchased on Sale
* Italian Silk Pocket Square (a bit wild here)-- Thrifted
* Mid-gray Worsted Wool Pants -- Thrifted
* Charcoal Marino Wool to-the-knee Dress Socks-- Free from Allen Edmonds
* Dark Reddish Tan Vintage J.C. Penney Goodyear Welted Leather Shoes  -- Thrifted

There we are.  A…

Look forward to Time Alone. . .

There is nothing like fly-fishing in a lazy river or burbling creek for quiet contemplation, relaxation, and mental restoration.  This particular hobby is not my thing as an adult, but I certainly enjoyed doing it with my father 35-40 years ago.
Time alone is not something to avoid or fear.  Indeed, average guys working to kick up their everyday style several notches should consider having more time to themselves than has become typical in our over-connected, wired age when too many people seem to feel as though they are missing out on something if they are not always busy, busy, busy. . .  and social, social, social.  I'm hardly suggesting that anyone shun family and friends to become a complete hermit.  Let's not take my observation, or suggestions below, to extremes.  But downtime spent by oneself allows for vital recharging of the mental batteries, self-reflection, and the opportunity to enjoy those activities you enjoy, but probably don't have enough time to indulge as…

Dressing Nicely vs. Not Standing Out?

The late Fred Astaire, looking very natty in a double-breasted suit and hat.
I have no good answers for this one.  It seems generally accepted that the most elegant and tasteful approach to being what we'll call 'well-dressed' is the most subtle.  In other words, keep things fairly understated.  There's not too much going on visually  speaking.  Very much in keeping with the remark attributed to Beau Brummel that runs something along these lines.  If people stop and turn to look at you in the street, then you are not well-dressed.

The problem with this way of thinking is that it is difficult to dress well in the early 21st century without standing out and drawing attention since so many men leave the house looking like complete slobs.  Combine that with the fact that the mess, also known as business casual, that now holds sway in so many sectors and fields during normal business hours, and you see the dilemma.  Unless one is in the menswear industry where, presumably, ot…

Shoulder Season. . .

"Take the picture!"  Clowning around on the way back to campus after lunch.
Today was one of those brilliant mid-September day that we never get enough of.  Bright, blue skies and cool temperatures without being chilly.  The perfect day for combining a few summer and fall items for an attempt at a shoulder season look.  Here's a breakdown of everything pictured above:

* Canali Houndstooth Wool/Silk Jacket -- From An Affordable Wardrobe
* Zanella Charcoal Wool Pants -- Ebay
* Orange and Brown Italian Silk Pocket Square -- Thrifted
* Green Bachrach Wool Tie -- Thrifted
* Land's End Shirt -- Purchased on Sale  
* Land's End Chocolate Brown Leather Belt -- Purchased New
* Allen Edmonds Chocolate Brown Suede Brogues -- Purchased New 
* Von Mauer Crazy Green and Blue Striped Socks -- Purchased on Sale

The jackets is a 40 Long and, accordingly, slightly long, but then my torso is slightly longer than average. It does not look too bad to my eyes, fitting neatly across the upper …

Dress like you mean business when you head to school. . .

Got a parent-teacher evening coming up on your calendar?  It's time to give serious thought to how you want to come across.
Buck the current trend among parents -- especially the fathers -- of dressing like complete slobs by at least taking the time to tuck your shirt into actual pants with a crease, put on a belt and some real shoes, and toss on a blazer or sports jacket before you either head to the car for a quick drop-off or pick-up of little Tyler and Taylor, or, alternately, before you walk them down the street and around the corner to the front door of their school.  Making sure you look presentable as a parent is just a good habit to cultivate whenever you head to school.  

"Why?" you might ask in protest, countering, "I don't have the time.  Who really cares anyway?"  My short reply would be, how can you think like that?  Why in the world don't you care?  You've got to get dressed anyway.  Have a little self-respect.  How is tucking in your s…

Let's Stop Dressing Like Slobs When We Travel. . .

How it used to be. . .  When commercial air travel was, in general, still a special and comfortable experience, and your fellow passengers did not look (or smell) like they had just crawled out of a big, green, slimy garbage bin behind a restaurant somewhere.
Imagine my surprise, when I stumbled on this piece about NOT dressing like a complete slob when you travel.  Enough said?

-- Heinz-Ulrich 

Get a Grip on Yourself!

Tapping or drumming one's fingers on the table is just one common (and irritating) type of fidgeting.
If you'll pardon the blatant Seinfeld reference, are you master of your domain?  Ok, ok. . .  Settle down class.  Class?  Class?  Class!  Kidding aside, I'm talking about your ability to sit still whether you are alone or with others.  An inability to do so is as annoying in adults as it is in children, and fidgeting instantly betrays intense nervousness and uncertainty on your part.  

Besides learning how to dress and conduct himself more nicely, an average guy working to kick up his everyday style should also ask himself, "Am I able to sit still?"  If, after careful reflection, the honest answer is no, then here is a short list of typical nervous behaviors that you'll want to get under control:

1) Tapping or drumming your fingers incessantly on tabletops.

2) Biting or picking at your nails or cuticles.

3) Sniffing or clearing your throat constantly

4) Playing wit…

Don't Dominate Party Conversation. . .

One of Miss Holly Golightly's cocktail parties in the Truman Capote novel (and later a Blake Edwards film) Breakfast at Tiffany's.
When you find yourself in a social situation, say for example a cocktail or dinner party, or even a less formal backyard picnic in the summertime, don't be the guy who dominates any conversation of which he is a part.  Usually these guys are louder than everyone else too.  It's far better to get a grip on those jitters -- nervousness is usually the root cause -- calm down, and listen.  Wait until you can contribute something pertinent to the general chat around you, or until a question or remark is directed to you.  And, of course, if you can be wryly witty and amusing when your turn to speak arrives, so much the better.  

While you certainly do not want to sit there like a mossy bump on a log next to your spouse or significant other all evening, neither do you want to be that obnoxious blowhard, who takes over the room with vacuous talk that…

Cultivate a C-L-E-V-E-R Sense of Humor. . .

Past masters of more clever humor and actual conversation: the late Steve Allen, Johnny Carson, and Jack Parr.  And dig Jack Parr's pocket handkerchief too while you're at it!
In our current era of stupid humor, based more on bodily noises, contrived pratfalls, and Macauley Culkin-esque "Agggghhhhh!!!" screams than anything else, it's worth pointing out that stylish men cultivate a quieter type of humor.  It is wry, witty, informed, and clever. . .  rather than stupid, puerile, and just plain gross.  Be sure you know the difference, and work hard to cultivate the former while avoiding the latter in those efforts to kick up your everyday style several notches.  Remember, guys, you're not 10 years old anymore.

-- Heinz-Ulrich.

A Wee Bit Dandy?

The ensemble for yesterday (Friday).  Maybe a wee bit foppish now that I look at everything again, but I still felt pretty good given the heat index yesterday.  Of course, the centrally air-conditioned buildings and classrooms on campus helped as the day wore on.
Ahhhhh. . .  Feel that?  Yep.  The hot temperatures have broken at last following thunderstorms early yesterday evening in my neck of the woods.  Time to break out some double-breasted jackets and even a few suits for the coming week.  While our summer has been extremely pleasant this year, of course the second half of August heated up right before it was time to return to campus, with its teaching and service duties, and leave behind the usual summer attire of Sperry top-siders, khaki camp shorts, and short-sleeved Madras or knit polo shirts.  

Not that we are required to dress in three-piece suits and neckties by any means.  You ought to see how terrible some of the other male faculty look throughout the academic year.  And n…

Of Tan Suits and Shoulders. . .

Isn't there more serious stuff in the world to talk about at the moment than whether or not President Obama should, or should not have worn this tan suit the other day?
Looking around the menswear blogosphere, social media, and the online versions of the press the last several days, a few points have come up about President Obama's tan and presumably Brooks Brothers suit the other day that warrant some balanced response.

One, tan is a summertime suit color, and Washington, D.C. is still oppressively hot and humid at this time of year, late August-early September.   Good Lord, the man was dressed, wore decent looking shoes, and a necktie.  It's not as though he had an Italian silk paisley pocket square bursting forth from his outer chest pocket like some kind of silly popinjay.  The President actually looks kind of nondescript in his attire here, and isn't that what we should strive for, to some degree, with a suit?  Beau Brummel supposedly once remarked that the mark of …