Sunday, November 28, 2010

Special Ed

Shopping is generally a hit-or-miss pastime. You'll miss more than you'll hit if your tastes are particular, and since I'm picky as all hell, I actually find myself passing over more items than I buy. Sometimes, though, I see something spectacularly ugly, and it's worth blogging about.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ed Hardy, it's a line put out by Christian Audigier, who's had a lot of success outfitting men who may not actually be douchebags but dress like them in real life. Up until when I took this photo, I figured that Ed Hardy's whole thing was limited to ultra-casualwear: t-shirts, jeans, baseball caps, and the like. I never had any idea that the brand would venture into neckties, and by doing so, it's compromised its brand identity, breached good taste even further, and managed to make me throw up in my mouth a little.

Here's the thing: I can't stand Ed Hardy. I've only witnessed one person (a woman) look good in it, but in general I think the whole line looks foolish, immature, and profoundly douchey. However, none of what I've seen of the line is obscene or unhealthy, so though I may bitch about it until I'm blue in the face, I can't say a guy is dressed "incorrectly" when he puts on a t-shirt with a bunch of skulls and flames on it with "Life, Lust, and Lollipops" or whatever scribbled on the front.

This tie, on the other hand? This is more of an affront to the senses than the stupid t-shirts, because this is trying to be something it isn't. Even with trendy men wearing ultra-skinny ties today with skinny jeans, there's still a certain elegance that a tie lends to an outfit. "Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier" is not at all elegant, and wearing it will make you look like you belong on Jersey Shore. If you actually dress like you want to be on Jersey Shore, please e-mail me to set up a consultation.

What does this say about the style of the man who chooses to wear it? I think it comes down to a lack of sartorial confidence, i.e. "I don't really know what looks good, so if I put on this obviously designer tie, people will think I look good, or at least that I'm trendy." This man doesn't know how to get attention without screaming and is willing to be a walking billboard, used by the company he's financially supporting. Avoid this at all costs, and think of it this way: if someone digs the way you're dressed, it should be in such a way that they ask you who makes your clothes; they shouldn't know right off the bat.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ace Hardware, or Happy Thanksgiving To All

After 17 years of living there, my parents will be the last of my family to move out of the house in which I grew up. I have positive feelings about it; my parents will be happy in their retirement and I'll be happy for them, and it's a normal part of the life cycle. It's not like I've lived there anytime recently, so no big deal, right?

Well, it is kind of a big deal. Not only is a significant chapter of my life coming to a very tangible end, it's happening around a major holiday, amplifying the strangeness of the fact that I'll likely never set foot in that house again. It naturally calls for some reminiscing, almost as if to honor the memory of where I came from and also to think about where I'm going. I'm truly thankful for the childhood I had in that house, but being a clotheshorse, I attach these memories to some pretty exceptional hardware I received from my grandfathers, which is pictured above.

Zadie had a thing for cufflinks back in the 60's. Any photo I have of him as a young man indicates that he was a very well-dressed young professional. I don't share his taste at all; big red and gold stones set inside gold links is loud in a way I don't particularly care for. You can, however, tell that he was a man with a strong, singular sense of style. In fact, nearly every piece of man-jewelry I inherited from him is just as exaggerated, with the exception of the silver pair you see above. They go with anything and are a very cool shape. I've worn them with great success. They still make the occasional cameo, and they're a hit when they do.

Papa, on the other hand, seems to have had a thing for rings. My dad, the man who taught me how to dress like a man (God dammit) has a few rings he likes, one of which he gave to me years ago. It's the one on the far right, though he had the stone replaced with an aquamarine, my birthstone. The ring to its left was Papa's, a simple gold and silver combination. While I appreciate the former's opulence and the latter's simplicity, I simply didn't get the ring memo and never wear them. I DID, however, inherit an incredible tie clip from him that I used to wear constantly, though it's not pictured here because I lost it a year ago like a damned fool. It was masculine elegance in action; brushed silver with a line of X's on it (looking like: xxxxxxxxx) on a black background, and a perfect two-and-a-half inches wide. I got compliments on it all the time, and I loved telling anyone who asked me "Where did you get that?" that I paid nothing for some designer tie clip, but rather inherited it from my grandfather.

For me, no better patrimony could possibly exist.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The New Odd Jacket and Trousers

There are times in your life when you're in a nondescript hotel room in northern Virginia without a damned thing to do because the only thing around is a Bertucci's and a Borders book store. You're tired, your legs hurt, you need to shave, and you're looking forward to a time when you can return to civilization. At the very least, you can't wait to go back to a place where there are delicious tacos in walking distance.

Interestingly enough for me, this is one of those times. Hence, this blog entry.

I've been more excited than a fat kid in a Hostess factory for the past week and a half because I finally got my new sport coat (pictured above) back from the tailor, who shortened the sleeves and took in the waist for me. I'd been on the lookout for something like this for months; a wool sport coat that dresses up or down, something I can wear with a shirt and tie or a casual sweater. I own a couple of corduroy sport coats, but they've never fit quite right and I don't wear them as a result. This coat remedied my situation.

Last week I went out wearing the outfit pictured above, but the component you can't see in the picture are the jeans I was wearing. Dark and slim, they work with the heavy wool coat because denim is also a heavy fabric and serves as a good aesthetic complement as a result.

Then it hit me: I was essentially wearing what is known in stodgy sartorial circles as an odd jacket and trousers. You know what it is because you've seen the basic uniform a million times: khaki pants, navy blazer, white dress shirt, and a red or blue tie. In my younger days I disliked this look because I felt it was trying to be a suit but inherently failing, but I was mistaken. The options for color and pattern coordination multiply exponentially when you don this outfit (as opposed to a traditional suit), and the potential for dandification follows suit. Pairing my sport coat with jeans instead of, say, flannel pants (which would be an equally baller option), lent a more youthful feel to the whole getup.

I certainly can't take credit for inventing the look, but I can sure as hell suggest that you give it a try. If your execution is on point, you'll be blown away by the compliments.