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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 no one bats an eye or says anything.  Were I in charge, there would be a minimum standard of decent dress expected for faculty and staff, but sadly I am not.  Still, I just cannot bring myself to turn up on campus during the fall or winter semesters in frayed khakis, an old t-shirt (invariably with faint food stains of some kind down the front), a pair of beaten to death comfort sole shoes, and/or cheap imitation leather jackets one the weather cools.  After all, how can you expect students, to say nothing of colleagues and administration, to sit up, shut up, and take what you have to say seriously when you look like a homeless person?  Know what I mean?

Nope.  I'm one of those irritating types who feels that work is work, and you dress differently for work, assuming it is in the white collar sphere to begin with, than you do for leisure.  Now, that's not to say that you can't have a bit of fun with your work attire along the way even if that fun is slightly unintended.  We can't take ourselves too seriously after all.  Which leads us to yesterday's combination of items pictured above.  

Now, I just can't bring myself to do a selfie with my digital camera, so you'll have to take my word that everything shown fits my 5' 11", 175 lbs. frame pretty well.  The Hickey-Freeman sports jacket, in particular, is one of my best -fitting odd jackets with nice waist suppression and a very clean fit along the shoulders and upper back.  On reflection, I might have toned things down somewhat with fewer patterns.  Maybe some charcoal socks and a white linen pocket handkerchief?  It was awfully early when I dressed yesterday morning, and I simply grabbed what was in the sock drawer and the silk pocket square jar atop my dresser.  A plain light blue shirt would also have helped tone things down a bit.  Ah, well.  Live and learn.

Keep in mind, during the journey to kick up your own everyday style a few notches, that some days will be hits and others (like yesterday) will be misses, but the fun comes in trying out different combinations without worrying about it too much.  Put on your clothes, go forth into your day, and rest confident in the fact that you will be dressed better that 95% of the other men you'll encounter in 2014.  Unless you're in Northern Italy or Paris of course.  The point is, you can't become so afraid of getting it wrong that you feel self-conscious about being dressed in adult clothes.  Trust me, that self-consciousness will show in how you move and your facial expression, which is hardly the effect you wish to convey

On a related note, I received a compliment from a student the other day, who remained for a couple of minutes after his class to ask a few questions about an upcoming paper assignment.  As he and a classmate left, he said, "Oh, and by the way, it's really nice to see a man who likes to dress up here on campus.  All of my other male professors dress kinda blah.  I've liked everything you've worn so far this semester."  Nice to know that there are still some young men out there who get it.

While I dress more for myself more than anyone else at this point in my life, it's still nice to hear occasional positive feedback from others.  Keep in mind, the attire on that particular day included the decidedly less dandy combination of a navy blazer, light khaki chinos, a poplin button-down shirt, silk knit tie, and a pair of dark brown penny loafers with a matching braided belt.  Nevertheless, those two or three days a year when a student, staff member, or fellow faculty member pays me a small compliment like the one above always stand out as better than average days.  Yes, extremely shallow of me I know.

-- Heinz-Ulrich

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