Thursday, March 31, 2011

Punctilios: Dressed-Down French Cuffs


I've dug myself a fine hole, buying only French-cuff shirts as my old barrel-cuff shirts have slowly gone out of commission (stains, mostly).  That's when these white knot cufflinks from Brooks Brothers come in handy.  $9, cheap! They do a 4-for-$20 sale from time to time (which Mater took advantage of last Christmas to get me several), which is a great deal if you ever see it on.

People can still tell that you're wearing French cuffs if they're paying attention, but there's something much less showy about them when the occasion calls for it--occasions where you want to look your best without coming across as blingy.  Some such occasions: court hearings; any time you feel like it; and any occasion when you're wearing a dress shirt without a tie.  Don't let me catch you wearing big metal cufflinks with your neck showing.  It makes you look really unbalanced, like you're wearing those wrist-weights that power walkers wear.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Guest Post: Know Your Knots

Pater sends this dispatch from Dallas.


My command and celebration of all three tie knots adds pleasure and poise to my life. The half-Windsor is my workhorse: symmetrical, not overly large. It requires only that I buy ties with a bit more length. Not a bad idea anyway, considering my 17 inch neck.

Longer ties also allow me, occasionally, to adorn one of my spread-collar shirts with a full Windsor, worthy of the collar. Those are special days.

But the real jewel of my clothing Nile is the four-in-hand, your standard, judging by the photos you post. For decades, before longer ties became so available, I tied a four-in-hand every day to economize on valuable longitude: my ties still had a long way to go around my big neck. I hated the lack of symmetry, pushed back on it every morning in the mirror.

Now that I am a three-knot-guy, the four-in-hand is a total celebration. It's my Friday-is-here knot. If I go out on Thursday evening, I am a four-in-hand Friday Sooner. A little out-of-square, the four-in-hand says to the world, it's Friday (Saturday maybe), I got your casual.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A Country Lawyer Goes to the City

I got interviewed for an AU publication!  I met the MBA candidate/reporter at Tryst, which was nice.  I had the Chaucer's Cup infusion because I'm a total pushover when it comes to caffeine after 4pm.  It was tasty.

Luckily, my $80-on-eBay fabulous tweed suit had just come back from the tailor in amazing shape, so we embarked on its maiden voyage.  I spruced it up with cufflinks and a satin pocket square, both of which picked up on the blue in the diamonds on the necktie.

Tweed was all too appropriate a fabric--historically, worn in the country, for sport, on nature hikes, while hunting, that sort of thing.  Since I now live in Falls Church a/k/a the Outer Hebrides (at least as far as my DC friends are concerned) and work in Fairfax a/k/a the moon, I might as well be a bumpkin. 

Anyway, this is just more proof that if you give enough fabric to a good tailor, the result will always be a sharp-looking suit.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

By Way Of Comparison

Same shoes as the St. Patty's Day edition, but gray suit with red striped tie. 

When it comes to color, context is everything, as I am still learning.  A pair of shorts that looks gray in normal light may look downright, well, purple when you wear them with a purple shirt.  This effect can bode well or ill depending on how you make use of it.  As it pertains to the photo, I think the hint of purplish red in burgundy is too different from noisy green but just noisy enough to stand out from quiet gray.

As with the previous outfit, JAB Signature suit had for 66% off, OTC socks from Paul Fredrick, tie from Filene's Basement, Allen-Edmonds wingtips had from eBay for $40.  I do not plan to ever stop bragging about that particular score.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Color: St. Patrick's Day Edition

So, dark green Jos. A. Bank Signature suit (buy one, get two free--never pay more than 66% off list for a JAB suit), green over-the-calf socks from Filene's ($10), and orange tie from Paul Fredrick (clearance, $20).  Oh, and the burgundy wingtips again, $40 on eBay.  Again, they look brown here.

Anyway, I think my enthusiasm for these wingtips caused me to overdo it here.  Green is already a somewhat non-standard color for a suit, and an orange tie is definitely relatively unusual, even though it goes smashingly with the green.  I think I crossed the "astray" line at the moment I chose non-brown shoes. It's just a little bit too much.

Happy St. Patrick's Day, gentle readers.

(I'm not wearing this outfit today, or any green, for that matter, but because my firm represents a lot of employees in employment-law cases, we all know the rules, and getting pinched is not a danger.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Getting Braces Put On: Fractals Edition

Braces, folks. Here are some benefits:

One. Pants drape substantially better.

Two. When jacket bottom edge opens slightly during movement, exposure of more suiting (pants), rather than belt, looks flipping awesome.

Three. No more "uh oh, my waist size is exactly between two holes on my belt" mornings.

Here are some problems, which develop fractally from the central premise of wearing braces, in a perpetual cycle of problems begetting problems:

One. Shirt pocket looks funny and no longer makes sense.  Most dress shirts have shirt pocket.  Custom shirts possibly required.

Two. Belt loops are vestigial.  Should be removed.  But then can't wear belt anymore.  Belt-loop-removal operation is one-way street.

Three. White portion at back of braces is sub-optimal.  All inexpensive braces have this.  Future braces will have to be pricey.

Four. Yet another color to have to incorporate into outfit.  (On the other hand, yet another color to get the opportunity to incorporate into outfit!)

I just do not know.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

At The Washingtonian: The Dapper District Workout

In which I give tips on how to develop refined tastes.

Tie Texture: Changing-Horses-Midstream Edition

View this one at full-size so you can see the discrete textures on the tie.  The pink is totally smooth, whereas the white is actually textured like grenadine (and, as you can see here, not quite white, unfortunately). 

Now that I think about it, the more important point here is how white isn't always white.  This is a white Paul Fredrick dress shirt and a white pocket square and a white-striped tie, and they are all different colors of white.  It looked fine in the mirror and under natural light, but as I stare at it now, the whiteness-proximity (German translation, anyone?) feels dangerous.  Maybe I'm being paranoid.  Maybe I should just blame the camera like I always do.

I do like the jaunty angle this four-in-hand came out at, though.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Perfectly Arranged Collar

I don't know what I did on this particular day that caused my collar and necktie to look exactly like my mental image of what I always wish they looked like, but it happened.

1. Pert, slightly imperfect tie knot, arched away from the chest
2. Wide, yet vertically suggestive, collar, with a nearly imperceptible arch away from the chest
3. Tie riding high up the collar
4. A natural dimple (this is one of those ties that doesn't dimple unless it's in the mood to; best not to force it)
5. Bottom edge of the dimple reaches about as low as the bottom edge of the collar

Friday, March 4, 2011


This right here, a vista greeting one who opens my closet, is a glorious thing. Black Justin dress boots; brown Lucchese 1883 chip-toes.  You can see that the Luccheses are older from 1) wear and tear on the toe and 2) sag of the rise. I need to wear the Justins more, but black is a hard color to incorporate into a casual outfit unless you have a lot of other blacks and grays.

Life is difficult.