Friday, October 29, 2010

Punctilios: Formal Cufflinks

I wore these yesterday with the gray herringbone suit and no tie.  (Those aren't diamonds around the edges, just texture on the chrome.)  Black, square, and diamondesque nearly screams "black tie!" but they weren't sold as a set with shirt studs, so I feel relatively safe deploying them in businesswear settings.

As I've indicated before, my jury is still out on whether it's Generally Okay to wear cufflinks without a tie.  It's definitely not going to work if you're not wearing a suit.  (I know, because I've seen it done with an extremely nice pair of pants and an even-nicer shirt, and it still looked...trying-too-hard.  Can someone give me a German agglutinative translation of "trying-too-hard"?)  But I love the black-on-gray-near-white contrast here.  Looks very sharp with a gold, textured tie.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Speaking of Bow Ties

The evening of the day when I wore the bow tie in the previous post, I had tickets for the Belle & Sebastian show at DAR Constitution Hall.  I've been a huge fan since my freshman year of college--a stretch of time which I'm starting to have to measure in geologic eras.  (Oh, my, what a horrible website redesign!) 

Anyway, I loved the bow tie so much that I came home, swapped my suit pants for a pair of jeans, traded my suit jacket for a white cotton buttondown from the Gap, and stuck a blue checked pocket square in the shirt pocket.  Suitably festive for such an historical occasion, I think.  Wish I had a navy blazer.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Necessity Is the Mother of...Bow Ties

The necktie I prefer to wear with this suit and shirt went missing the other morning.  My tie rack is a bit light at the moment, for several reasons, and none of the ties went.  This one was too hot; this one was too cold.  Time was running out, as I had to be in Fairfax County Circuit Court that morning (though only a scheduling conference, nothing Serious).

Again, it will come as a surprise to none of you (particularly regular readers) that I was at the Seven Corners Syms the other day.  In addition to those pink socks, I bought a nice necktie in gold with two shades of blue and a touch of white.  Versatile, I figured.

I think it was a good investment.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Timely Guest Column: Pattern, Baseball, and the Presumption of Innocence

My dad lives and practices law in Dallas, Texas and is no mean clotheshorse himself.  (Some things--including, as you will see, writing style--are obviously hereditary.)  He provides the following dispatch from the American League playoffs and, in so doing, seamlessly weaves contrast and constitutional law while reminding us that Dallas and D.C. are not so far apart.


The Washington Senators—lately the Texas Rangers—won game 5 in an American League playoff series a few nights ago.  Nolan Ryan wept.  All the Rangers have to do now is beat the Yankees several times, and the nee Senators will be, for the first time ever, in the World Series of North America. 
It was an important game, as baseball goes, but not a very exciting one.  Inspired by the spectacle, however, my mind went to teamwork.  Then, of course, to shirts and ties.
I am asked, stripes with checks, solids with solids, foulards with paisley?  Which tie befits which outfit with which shirt?  This is among the first important decisions we make each day. I answer thusly: teamwork.
Does the tie complement the shirt?  Does the shirt provide a proper context for the tie?  Do they work together, blending to a whole greater than their parts?  Conversely, is there a tension, an inappropriate one, one that might kill a double play?
Nowhere in this test is there anything about stripes and checks.  Stripes versus checks is not the point.  Try this.  Assume, as I do, that every shirt-tie possibility in your closet is innocent until proven guilty.  You’ll be surprised at what you learn.  Of course this assumption is wrong most of the time.  It’s still worth making.
Do the colors, the textures, the patterns or the plains combine to enhance what each, the shirt and the tie, has to offer?  Or do they distract, destruct, or despoil a fine sport coat?  Does each shine in its setting, or should it take one for the team, and spend the day in the closet?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Color Is Hard: Pink

In a turn of events that will surprise perhaps none of you, I was at the Syms Clothing at Seven Corners over the weekend.  Now, you may know that I only wear over-the-calf socks anymore (mid-calf socks slide down my shins in minutes).  Syms doesn't often have OTC socks, but this time, they did, and they had some that  $12.  $12 is more than I like to pay for a pair of socks (my go-to is Paul Fredrick), but did I mention the fact that this particular pair was pink?

In fact, they're even more pink than the picture shows.  (Poor sensor couldn't make heads or tails out of the color.)  They still feel a bit loose around the ankles, but that's to be expected on the first wearing.  We'll see how they hold up.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Necessaries: Pocket Swatches

I keep a small collection of usefully colored pocket squares in my closet.  Most are a lightweight satin that doesn't hold its shape especially well, but that's only an impediment if you are trying for a large, sumptuous tuck that reaches way up from your jacket pocket. 

I got each of these at Filene's for about $10.  Look for squares with a bit of heft or texture to them so that they keep their folded shape a little bit better.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Little Pleasures: Sockless Chucks

A late-discovered life pleasure: wearing Chuck Taylors without socks.  I've always thought that gym socks looked too much like underwear, so I tend to wear the shortest ankle socks I can find, but no socks is better still.  The canvas breathes surprisingly well and airs out quickly, and if they take on an odor, you can just throw them in the washing machine.

The pair shown are perhaps eight months old and starting to break in nicely.  My only regret is that the stripes around the sole are red and blue--just blue would make these absolutely perfect for wear with jeans no matter what kind of shirt accompanied them.  As it is, the red can sometimes intrude if the shirt is more muted or in a different family.

And a green shirt makes it look like you're ready for Christmas.