Monday, December 27, 2010

A Very Merry, Slightly Belated Christmas To All

Even Jews like me have Christmas traditions. Mine used to be ordering Chinese and re-watching The Godfather parts I and II (I leave out part III because it's weird and awful and even Francis Ford Coppola himself will tell you that it was a waste of time, but that's a different entry altogether), but that's been moved back to Christmas Eve. Instead, for the past few years I've been spending the day out in the 'burbs at my buddy Chase's parents' place: The Beaumont Estate.

The Beaumonts are a warm, accommodating, fun, smart, and laid-back bunch. I mean laid-back in the sartorial sense as well, and although I overdress for pretty much everything from a day at work to going to the bathroom, I was killing the game on December 25th, as you can see from this photo. And now, to drop science:

1. You may remember this sport coat from a post I did back in November. I still love the hell out of it and wear it all the time.
2. I nearly always wear jeans, so I decided to switch things up a little and go the khaki route. Not the J.Crew rumpled, wearing-the-same-ones-I-wore-to-bed-last-night-because-I-got-way-too-hammered-to-get-them-off-before-passing-out look, but pressed and tailored instead.
3. The shirt is white with alternating brown/light blue check and is paired with a blue/grey wool plaid tie. Note that the large-scale tie pattern and small-scale shirt pattern.
4. The blue lambswool cardigan ties back to both the shirt and tie.
5. Finally, the whole jawn is finished off with a tie bar and a simple white pocket square.

The beauty of this outfit is that it involves many layers and can keep you decently warm and looking good at the same time. This is a particularly good idea for New Year's Eve, when a lot of us are bar-hopping as opposed to hanging out in the house. Feel free to bite anything here, just make sure I get the royalties.

Finally, to the Beaumonts: Your warmth, hospitality, and graciousness has meant a lot to me over the years. Thank you a million times over.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Quick Scribble About Formalwear

DISCLAIMER: Though the term "formal" in the men's sartorial tradition technically refers only to white-tie attire (cravate blanche, for the fustier of you), for the purposes of this entry it will also refer to semi-formalwear, also known as cravate noire, black-tie, dinner jacket and pants, or a tuxedo.

Dressing for a formal occasion isn't nearly as daunting or difficult as most men think; if you do it correctly, you don't have many options. Your jacket is black (or midnight blue, which can look blacker than black under artificial light). It's peak lapeled or shawl-collared, double-breasted or single-breasted with a one or two-button stance, side or no vents, and lapels and buttons are faced with either silk or grosgrain. Your tie-it-yourself bowtie is black. Your shirt and pocket square are white, you wear either a vest or a cummerbund (never both), and your pants have one solid strip of either silk or grosgrain running down the outseam of each leg. Your shoes are black patent leather oxfords or formal slipons, and the only exception to this rule is to wear incredibly well-polished black captoe oxfords.

That is all.

All too often, though, you can walk past any number of "formalwear" rental joints and the salesmen there will do their best to convince you that the four-button single-breasted, center-vented, notch-lapeled clown suit with coordinating teal vest and pre-tied necktie is "formal."

This is bull. The whole point of dressing formally is to adhere to a strict code of the rules of dress, and to break these rules is to dilute the formality of your outfit. This is why terms like "creative black-tie" are completely meaningless. There's nothing creative about formalwear! That's the beauty of it! You play by the rules, and you have no choice but to look dashing as hell as a result. If you break the rules but still try to pass yourself off as wearing a tux, you're actually wearing something that isn't quite a tux, but still not quite the typical business suit; you're now wearing a monkey suit. Or perhaps pajamas.

To any guys who plan to go formal on their wedding day or who are simply looking to buy a tux, please don't stray from the formula. It's worked for well over a hundred years, and you risk looking like an overdressed clown. Instead, take a cue from my main man from the Philadelphia Zoo. He's got the right idea.