Thursday, December 24, 2015

Happy Holidays

Here's to you and yours having a beautiful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, Solstice, Voodoo Man Day, or whatever you celebrate this time of year.

I'll be spending this Christmas Eve at home with the Anthony Cumia Christmas Show and the Bryan & Vinny Christmas Show.

But here is my outfit for Christmas with my family tomorrow:
  • Gray flannel Southwick chalk-striped suit   
  • New navy Chaps tie with Christmas dogs motif (I'm hoping to pick up the green one too on after-Christmas clearance)
  • Light blue Stafford shirt with white collar and white French cuffs, linked with red and green silk knots 
  • Red cotton ribbed over-the-calf socks from Viccel 
  • Brown suede Allen-Edmonds brogues
  • Dark green Brooks Brothers Tyrolean hat
  • Tan Glen Eagles trench coat 
  • Red plaid faux cashmere scarf

Friday, December 4, 2015

Knowledge: Christmas Ties

I love a festive Christmas tie this time of the year. 

However, to be tasteful, the motif should be discreet, in the vein of "club" ties with small, repeating patterns of things like dogs or tennis rackets that can be worn all year. 

This Tommy Hilfiger tie from my own wardrobe is a good example:


Here's another good example from Brooks Brothers, although a little smaller would be better:

Of course, you can always go with a more generic plaid; these can always be silk, but for Christmas they work better in a winter fabric like wool or cashmere:

Avoid ties that are too gaudy. Sometimes this is a gray area, like this tie from Alynn (which also makes some good Christmas ties):

I probably wouldn't wear this one; the motif is just this side of too large for my taste. 

Whatever you do, don't wear something like this (except as a joke to an Ugly Christmas Clothing party or something); there's no gray area here:

This kind of tie is what John T. Molloy warned against in his 1975 book (and revised 1988 edition), Dress for Success:

"Never wear ties with large symbols. Never wear 'storybook' or 'big picture' ties, I don't care what the prevailing fashion is."

It's also the type Paul Fussell addressed in his 1983 book, Class:

"The principle that clothing moves lower in status the more legible it becomes applies to neckties with a vengeance . . .  At the bottom of the middle class, just before it turns to high prole, we encounter ties depicting large flowers in brilliant colors, or simply bright 'artistic' splotches." 

 Probably around five is a good collection.

If you're one of the dwindling few who still wears a tie to work, I wouldn't wear a Christmas tie every work day between Thanksgiving and Christmas; it's overkill. People will probably get tired of seeing the same five (or fewer) ties over and over -- but, if you have 20 or 30 and can wear a different one every day, that's probably worse because it's just weird. 

I would wear a Christmas tie in that situation once or twice a week, just for a change of pace. 

Or, if you don't wear a tie to work but are a church person, you could wear a different one every week for a month. 

You could also wear a different one to each Christmas party, etc. that you attend. 

In any of these cases, about five Christmas ties should be sufficient to get you through the holidays in fine style.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving 2015

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

My wardrobe for today:

  • Brown Polo Ralph Lauren suit  
  • Light-blue Stafford pinpoint oxford button-down shirt 
  • Brown Brooks Brothers tie with small blue autumn leaf motif 
  • Navy silk Polo Ralph Lauren pocket square with white dots 
  • Navy over-the-calf ribbed cotton socks 
  • Brown suede Allen-Edmonds wing-tips or dark brown calf Johnston & Murphy calf quarter-brogues (waiting to see of the forecast for rain pans out this afternoon)
  • Tan London Fog balmacaan raincoat with faux fur lining 
  • Brown plaid unbranded faux cashmere scarf 
  • Dark green Brooks Brothers tyrolean hat
I hope everyone has a great -- and stylish -- day.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thoughts and Prayers

If you've been on Facebook in the past day or so, you've seen people all over the place adding a semi-transparent French flag over their profile pictures.

Here's the message with the invitation to do the same to my profile:

How does changing your profile picture on Facebook "support France and the people of Paris?!" 

This "thoughts and prayers" BS is just a way for people to show off to others about how much they "care" and how "aware" they are without having to actually DO ANYTHING to help anyone affected by a given tragedy. If people had to, say, donate a minimum of just $5 to the Red Cross to add this French flag to their profiles, then I wouldn't be seeing 99% of them.*

*My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone who was offended by this post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Link: New G. Bruce Boyer Interview

There's a new interview with G. Bruce Boyer on StyleForum. I could read anything by him or look at pictures of him all day. He has stated before that he doesn't intend to start a blog because he's a professional and wants to get paid for his writing. I understand, but I wish he would at least start a "what I wore today"-type blog.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Gordon Jump in Making the Grade

Tonight I watched the 1984 prep-school comedy movie "Making the Grade" for the first time. 

I was especially taken with the wardrobe of Gordon Jump, who played the headmaster (and is best remembered, of course, as the inept but lovable Mr. Carlson on WKRP in Cincinnati). 

Natural-shouldered tweed jackets and navy blazers, oxford cloth button-downs and repp ties -- the stereotypical (and sadly dying) Eastern Establishment uniform -- with some silk pocket squares thrown in for an extra touch of flamboyant elegance. 

I was so impressed that I took some screen-grabs. (Unfortunately the on-screen displays apparently don't disappear on YouTube videos when they're paused, so I had to grab these while the movie was playing, which produced some less than flattering facial expressions. Oh, well -- the point is the clothes.) 

I wish I regularly saw men this well-dressed today! 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Link: The Big Sartorialist

I'm always on the lookout for style blogs I've never seen before.

Last week I came across one from an M.D. who calls himself "The Big Sartorialist." (I think one of the Tumblr blogs I already followed posted something on theirs that he had posted on his, but I've already forgotten which one.)

For my taste, he looks a little too stiff, neat and uncomfortable, as well as often too "matchy" (as you'll see, he often matches the background color of his tie, pocket square and socks -- and sometimes even integrates them with the color of his suit's pinstripes) and a little too flashy.

But he still looks good overall, and certainly a lot better than the average person. He also obviously puts a lot of money into his wardrobe, and he's confident in what he likes. Good for him -- there's no reason that his style has to be the same as mine.

However, what struck me most about his blog was not his style, but the apparently near-daily harassment he gets from other people about his clothes; his blog is largely a "What I wore today" blog, and he often posts a quote of something someone said to him that day about what he was wearing, frequently followed by the quote of his snarky come-back.

Why do some people feel the need to comment on other people's clothes? People like him don't normally go up to strangers and say, "Why are you dressed like s--t?", so why is the reverse acceptable?

I'll try to write a follow-up post soon, exploring this phenomenon in more detail. In the meantime, congratulations to The Big Sartorialist for continuing to fight the good fight.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Happy Fathers Day

I didn't receive any gifts today because I'm not a father. Well, as far as I know. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Link: G. Bruce Boyer Articles has graciously cataloged some of the articles that G. Bruce Boyer wrote in the 1990s for Cigar Aficionado magazine.

G. Bruce Boyer in New York City, March 2015

Monday, March 16, 2015

Link: Ric Flair Esquire Interview

Esquire magazine has a new, brief interview with Ric Flair about men's style. 

The two best, most timeless pieces of advice from The Man himself:

"You gotta have a pocket square."

"A guy can have a phenomenal body, but if the suit doesn't fit him, forget it."

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

New Boyer Interview

G. Bruce Boyer is profiled in the Feb. 2015 issue of Lehigh Valley Style. 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Knowledge: Picture Rails

It never ceases to amaze me how much information is available on the internet about virtually any conceivable topic, and how quick and easy it is to find it. 

People who aren't old enough to remember the world before the internet have no idea how much the world has improved in the past 20 years. 

I can't even begin to list the things I know about because of the internet -- things I never would've bothered to drive to a library to look up years ago (not to mention that many of those things I wouldn't have even known how to find in a library, because I wouldn't have known what to search for). 

Anyway, here's Exhibit 4,218:

Christian Chensvold's "Masculine Interiors" blog has an entry today about Harvard dorm rooms in 1899. 

It reminded me of something I've wondered about for a long time, but had never bothered to look up: why so many interiors in the Victorian and Edwardian eras had pictures hung with visible strings, and why some of them were also hung slanted downward. 

Apparently this was to avoid nailing into the plaster (anyone who has lived in a house with plaster walls knows how badly it chips when driving a nail, instead of making the easy, neat nail holes that occur with drywall), and presumably to also avoid marring wallpaper (when that was more common). 

Evidently it was wooden, crown-type moulding, affixed at the top of the wall or close to it. Then hooks were inserted into the moulding, and pictures, mirrors, etc. could be hung from it by strings, wires or chains, which were often also decorative. 

Pictures were also sometimes hung slanted downward to be more visible, especially when they were hung high on the wall (as in some of the pictures in the photo above), which I guess was more common then.

Apparently they fell out of favor around the 1920s, which coincides with the emergence of drywall. 

So, there you go: picture rails.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Super Bowl Sunday

On this, one of our society's holiest of days, here is a recent article by Frank Fitzpatrick of the Philadelphia Inquirer on the fashion sense of NFL coaches. He makes the same point I frequently do, that style and comportment have much more to do with taste than they do with money. 

Background: Vince Lombardi, who usually coached in a jacket and tie with a camel hair overcoat and fedora. Foreground: the New England Patriot's current coach, Bill Belichick, whom Mr. Fitzpatrick writes normally "shows up to work looking as if he's ready to shovel the parking lot."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Rand Paul and the Button-Down Collar

It occurred to me today that, if Rand Paul wins the presidency next year, it could do a lot to re-popularize the button-down dress shirt (much the same way that I wish every incumbent president would regularly wear hats). While he doesn't wear them exclusively, he seems to wear them more often than not -- and, as can be seen here and below, he not only wears them, but he doesn't even stick to just white, wearing them also in light blue, stripes and even in pink.

We haven't had a president in my lifetime that favored the button-down, and I'm not sure we ever had one before my lifetime either. George H.W. Bush, probably the preppiest president ever, favored them earlier in his life, but seemed to largely abandon them around the time he ran for president in 1980. (It has long been rumored that his campaign advisers suggested that he ditch them because of the elitist connotations the button-down had at the time.)

G. Bruce Boyer has opined that the Ivy look may have come into disrepute among the general public at least partially because of Vietnam and Watergate; many high-ranking government officials in that era wore it, but it went into a decline among people in those positions around the mid-late 70s. 

I suspect that such a connotation for the button-down is lost now; I don't think the hyper-casual general public of 2015 stops to differentiate much between different collar styles being more or less elitist. (At this point, most "dressing up" in general is probably seen as elitist, but thankfully it's still expected of the president.)

It'll be interesting to see what happens, and it'll definitely be fun sartorially to see a major presidential candidate stray from the generic white point-collared shirt with stiff collar stays.

NB: This post is only about Senator Paul's clothes; no comments about his politics -- either for or against -- will be published.

Monday, January 26, 2015

House and Home: Post-Christmas Winter Decorating

(Yes, Giuseppe, I'm stealing your home decor title. I couldn't think of anything better; it's perfect.) 

It's odd how something that's obvious in hindsight doesn't occur to you until someone else points it out.

I suppose it's even more odd when such a thing spontaneously occurs to you on your own, without anyone else pointing it out. That's what happened to me the past few days.

I've written before about how my favorite time of year is Christmas, and how I'm always sad every January when it passes. If we were re-doing things, it'd make more sense to celebrate Christmas on January 25 -- and even to return New Year's to March 1 (although that would cause other problems that might not be worth spacing holidays more evenly). The holiday season is packed too tightly, especially since it's followed by a long, cold, boring January.

Anyway, one of the things I hate most about Christmas passing is how barren my house looks after all of the decorations are removed.

But I finally figured out the past few days that my problem isn't only removing the Christmas decorations; it's that I've always replaced them with decorations that look too much like spring, and too out-of-season for January, when winter has just begun.

I think I knew this sub-consciously for some time, as evidenced by my toying with the idea the past few years of leaving the Christmas decorations up at least until the end of January, or probably until Candlemas on February 2. But I always rejected that, primarily because I knew that doing so would make the decorations less special, and their specialness is part of why I love them so. You may love the day, but you also know it means nothing without the night.

So I would take them down on time, and replace them with connotations of spring -- silk flowers in the living room and on the dining room table, which would also get a tablecloth in a color like yellow or pink.

Finally it dawned on me the other day: I need to ease the transition from Christmas to spring with decorations that look like winter, but not like Christmas. No nativity scenes, Santas, poinsettias, wreaths, red ribbons, or anything that literally has the word "Christmas" printed anywhere on it. But plenty of things like snowmen or arrangements made of things like evergreen branches, sticks and pinecones. 

So here is the seasonally-appropriate, winter-but-not-Christmas decor I've enjoyed this month:

  • Silver damask tablecloth from Bed, Bath and Beyond, which gives the dining room a snowy/icy connotation (purchased on after-Christmas clearance for about $8.00)
  •  Evergreen arrangement with sticks, pine cones and red berries, connected at the bottom to bundled sticks, in the crystal vase in the living room where I previously put silk flowers in January (purchased on after-Christmas clearance at Gordman's for $7.00; it included three small poinsettias, which I removed but saved, and a red velvet ribbon around the sticks near the bottom, which I cut off)
  • Evergreen and pine cone arrangements on the dining room table and coffee table, along with a couple of snowmen and a wooden "snow" sign on various other tables, all left over from Christmas (this Christmas, I'll save this generic winter stuff for January, and I'll be on the lookout during this year for more overtly Christmas arrangements for the dining and coffee tables; with the other tables, the snowmen, etc. won't need to be replaced, because I have so much Christmas stuff that I was having a hard time fitting them in with it anyway)
This winter decor has been a massive success for coping with the post-Christmas let-down, and for decorating the house for winter in a way that's seasonally-appropriate, but still doesn't look too much like Christmas. I highly recommend it.