Tuesday, September 29, 2015

On The Return Of Filene's Basement

Filene's Basement on Connecticut downtown was one of my most favorite places of all time to go on a lunch break.  Then the company went bankrupt and sold all its stuff and closed all its stores and took a long nap.  Now it's back, solely online.  I don't have my own PACER account, so I can't look at the bankruptcy filings, but I betcha what happened is somebody bought the marks and trade dress to relaunch it without the retail-space rent overhead. 

The website is an honest reflection of what Filene's always was.  Random stock, only gently curated, not well-presented, but with value everywhere--like TJ Maxx without the vertigo.  The shoe brands are in the same market level as always: Italianate names with prices at long last reflecting their actual value instead of a brand-based markup.  The selection of suits is completely random.  Some poor sod is having to take pictures of the suit jackets on a mannequin and use the lasso tool in Photoshop to make a cutout.  It's very eBay at the moment.  Greater things to come, I'm sure, if they can capitalize on the goodwill.  Meanwhile, the inability to try things on is a drag.

And they only have a few dozen ties.  In my day, they had millions of ties.  Millions, I tell you!  Kids these days.  No respect.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

To The Members Of My Fantasy Football League

These socks are lavender colored.

For the rest of you: Socks from Dapper Classics, white bucs from Johnston & Murphy; blue seersucker suit from JAB for one seventh of list price.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015


Pater, shown here.  When you are the groom, you get to wear whatever you want.  Dark gray chalkstripe single-breasted, two buttons with one to button, black tassel loafers, blue-gray shirt, necktie right down the middle of the shirt and suit colors, and boutonniere. Classic.

Dapper District was on hand to rumble with any of the bride's brothers who might object to the wedding.  Fortunately, there were only sisters, and they were on board.

Sunday, May 10, 2015


I don't usually go negative here, but
1. I was an English major,
2. I was a copy editor, and
3. I read The Book of the Courtier in the course of my studies.

So I winced a bit when I read "Natural Sprezz" by the generally very smart guys at Put This On, itself probably the most widely followed #menswear blog around.  Sprezzatura gets used a lot in describing menswear, but when Baldassare Castiglione coined the term, it basically meant apparently (but affectedly) effortless nonchalance.  That is, going to great lengths to appear not to have gone to great lengths.  You see this every World Cup from the Italian team coaches--they tend to, say, tie their neckties so that the narrower blade hangs several inches below the wider blade.  We are to believe that this was accidentally done for international television.  So sprezzatura is a squishy concept, difficult to measure because measuring fixes it in spacetime.

Wearing a linen suit is not, as PTO has it, sprezzatura.  You cannot wear a linen suit in a way that makes it seem like you put on a linen suit by accident, especially in the summer.  Linen suits are nonchalant and effortless, but there is an element of irony in the use of sprezzatura.  Wearing a linen suit on purpose because it's effortless and nonchalant is a great idea, but anything worn in earnest is not sprezzatura. 

Likewise, Beau Brummell's extraordinary attention to the tying of his cravat was not sprezzatura.  Sprezzatura is like Fight Club: rules #1 and #2 are that if you are talking about it, you are doing it wrong.  Sprezzatura is futzing with your pocket square for five minutes (or hours), when you are alone, to get it to look like you just grabbed it off the shelf and stuffed it into your breast pocket without thinking.

Sprezzatura is a fun, precise word!  Let's keep it that way.