Thursday, December 27, 2012

Why Does Everyone Joke About Getting Socks For Christmas?

Dapper Fiancee's sister and BIL got me some Dapper Classics over-the-calf socks in sky blue (shown), scarlet, and lavender.  They are properly lightweight with a faint ribbed pattern to them.  (Thick weaves with deep clefts look, to my eye, a bit casual.)  Unlike some Paul Fredrick OTC, they go all the way up over my calves; unlike some Jos. A. Bank OTC, the heel pockets actually sit at my heels rather than halfway up my Achilles tendon.

I suppose at some point I'll start buying sized dress socks--all the menswear bloggers swear by them--but that seems like a remote event indeed, like being able to afford bespoke cordovan shoes made from a beloved horse from my childhood.

Was that joke in bad taste?  If it helps your feelings, I didn't have a childhood horse.  In fact, horses and I have never gotten along.  Maybe that's part of why I love cordovan.

Shown with brown Church's oxfords made from a beloved cow from someone's childhood.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Patch-Flap Pockets

Been meaning to talk about how much I love them on odd jackets, such as the tweed seen here.  Patch pockets are pockets that sit on the outside of the jacket rather than the inside.  Flap pockets have a flap. 

Perfect for those days when you're hunting pheasant and your beaters are doing their work some yards ahead of you.  You can't be seen wearing a bandolier of shotgun shells; that sort of affectation is for people like Pancho Villa, people who are forced to use even their clothing as a political statement.  Instead, shove as many rounds as you can carry into these pockets.  Let them bulge.  Use them.

A bit too casual for court around here, although there's at least one extremely dapper lawyer in the Tidewater area who wears, with chinos, a three-roll-two navy odd jacket made out of a heavier wool material with two patch-flap pockets and a patch pocket on the chest.  I find it epic.  Just goes to show that a person wearing well-tailored pants, shone shoes, an appropriate tie, and an obviously well-designed and well-loved jacket has the capacity to outdress a person wearing a suit.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fours In Hand? Four In Hands? Four Ins Hand?

These days, I only wear four-in-hand knots unless I'm wearing a tie that's too skinny to support anything smaller than a Windsor.  This day reminded me of why: A good one bows out to the right before swinging back to respectability.  Note also that this particular tie (had for free as part of an introductory offer from Charles Tyrrwhit, sort of a tight faux-grenadine texture) has a rear blade that bows outward even further to peek around the big trunk on the front.  Quite mischievous. 

Obviously, between the tattersall shirt and the tweed jacket, I'm not going to court in this outfit unless it's an emergency.  But if I have to, the judge won't be offended, and at least I'll be warm back in lockup if they step me back for contempt.  I sure wish this jacket had a throat latch.

Mothers-in-law, attorneys general...

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Sales

Put This On • Thanksgiving sale roundup

Courtesy of the semi-pros at Put This On. Check out J. Press, Tyrrwhit, and Lands End, if nothing else. Club Monaco also has a good reputation for quality:price.


The ONC area got only about three weeks of autumn temperatures before winter set in. I follow temperatures when it comes to suit weight but calendars when it comes to color, hence the orange tie (autumnal) with a herringbone navy suit (wintry). In context, the blue-checked shirt is fairly conservative.

Tie from Paul Fredrick, shirt Charles Tyrrwhit, suit and coat JAB.

Oh, and happy Thanksgiving and safe travels.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Paul Fredrick vs. Charles Tyrrwhit

Two great online/catalog off-the-rack shirtmakers.  I've gone through over a dozen PF shirts in my day and have another five or six in the closet.  I recently took advantage of CT's 4-for-$150 deal for new customers.  Thoughts:

Material: When it comes to patterned materials, CT tends to have an edge.  The fabric feels more substantial.  However, their white oxford is actually a bit less substantial than PF's although also somewhat softer.  It definitely feels nicer on the skin but doesn't necessarily look more luxe until you get up close.

Neck fit: I wear a 15.5 neck, and PF fits better out of the box without a doubt.  CT is a little baggy at this point.  However, after enough dry-cleanings, the PF collars shrink to the point that they're no longer comfortable; I assume the CT shirts will do the same after some use and fit well until they no longer fit. 

Arm fit: I have skinny wrists, and that means PF's shirts (whether barrel or French cuff) tend to swallow my hands, especially out of the box before the dry-cleaning process has shrunk them a bit.  As if this were possible, CT's sleevehole is even larger than PF's, so I find myself twisting my wrists a bit so that the widest part of the sleevehole is at an angle to my hand and doesn't fall as far down.  Be interesting to see whether the shirts wear out before dry cleaning shrinks the cuffs enough.  This problem, more than any other, makes me consider made-to-measure shirts and the attendant expense.

CT shirts don't have a gauntlet button, but the gauntlet opening is a lot shorter, so it doesn't seem to cause any problems.  Also, CT mostly only offers sleeve sizes in odd numbers, so if you're a 34 sleeve like me, you have to pay extra per shirt for alterations to get the desired length. 

Waist fit: CT offers an Extra Slim fit that PF just doesn't match, and it's worth it--PF's Trim Fit still has an extra several inches of material that I don't need, whereas CT has perhaps 1/2" extra.  PF's skirts are a little longer, which is nice, but I haven't had a CT shirt come untucked on me, either.

Price: CT is between 1.5 and 2 times more expensive than PF.

For now, I'm not sure whether the price premium is worth it, though I suspect that it is.  Once I see how the CT shirts age, I will have a better answer.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

How To Pull It Off

1. Put it on.
2. Smile faintly to yourself at a joke you heard the other day.
3. Leave the house.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

What Is Our Ivy?

Milieu.  Zeitgeist.  Why do the words for this concept--the way things are right now, in a sort of cultural sense--all come from other languages?

Watched a little video from A Suitable Wardrobe about a display at the FIT Museum in NYC on Ivy style.  It's hard to say how widespread such trends were without consulting the clothing-aware who lived it.  We are all living the right now.  What is the current Ivy?  What do the stylemakers do?

In high menswear, the sort of thing that businesspeople wear, the zeitgeist is less about a certain look than about material and, more importantly, tailoring.*  These trends reflect movement away from manufactured look and toward artisans, whether they be custom bootmakers or the Korean grandmother at my dry cleaners.  It's almost a move toward relationships. Mass-produced clothing is, after all, a relatively new phenomenon. 

In low menswear, what you might call streetwear, there is no unanimity.  Among style bloggers, the current obsession is heritage brands, especially Made in America-type brands.  There are some unusual results: witness the artisanal axe.    But this trend does not propagate through 95% of the population of male-presenting people.  Raw denim does not intrigue the vast majority.  As far back as I can remember, at least, comfort has been the watchword for weekendwear.  I suspect that it has been this way ever since clothing self-democratized and largely lost its function as a connoter of social status.

* To the extent that we have a "look" among suits, it would be narrower lapels and higher button stance, but these are slight variations on a very old framework.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jos. A. Bank 70% Off Everything

Through October 27. Apparently online only. Solid deal if, say, you're looking to pick up just one Signature Gold suit.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dapper District Sews A Button

Amateurish, no? But an important first step toward competence. Next, I will try to hem my own chinos. Dusting off the sewing machine.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Persol still sells the sunglasses that Steve McQueen made iconic. I saw them online for about $300.

I tend to wear my sunglasses pretty rough. I got some Revos in high school and kept them for almost 10 years, regluing the frame screw that kept stripping. They went in and out of their case, occasionally fell off my nose, jostled around in the console of two different Mustangs. I only abandoned them when there was too much super glue on there to do another gluing.

So I bought these $12 knockoffs from Asos. They're polarized and UV-hardened. They get the job done. And if I sit on them, no big deal.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

No-Show Socks

All of the putatively invisible socks I have tried failed in their essential purpose: they were not invisible. Selling such socks seems to me like advertising oneself as an expert in maritime law without having ever seen the ocean or read anything about maritime law. Then again, the attorney ethics rules restrict us in ways that normal commerce avoids.

However, the helpful clerk at Journeys, which is a street-style mall-based shoe store useful mainly for its enormous selection of Chuck Taylors, convinced me to drop $10 for six pair of these beauties. They keep your shoes safe from foot sweat without advertising to the world that you are very concerned about foot sweat. Studied nonchalance. Sprezzatura is so rarely sold at the mall.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

More On That Tweed Jacket

Feast your eyes upon the leather-wrapped buttons. This shot isn't so much about color, my relentless focus, as it is about texture. Country wear really has the better of city suiting in this regard.

These buttons are aspirational even though they are more casual. They say: I want to own a country home in Northumberland (Virginia, if necessary) and smoke a pipe and have one of those globe-tables where the globe opens up to reveal a bunch of scotch bottles. I want to have enough money that I don't have to put on a worsted suit to convince other people to pay me for my services. I want a hunting dog with a Kevlar vest for when we go after boar.

Clothing and class: a pairing we imported from England, democratized, then reinstated to suit our own society.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Another Embarrassment Of Riches

I don't know what the rule of thumb is for polishing one's shoes, but I know I don't do it often enough. I had a polishing party for myself the other weekend.

This revealed one key problem with owning a bunch of wingtips with perforation. The polish tends to get stuck in the little holes and along the feathered edges where the vamp and uppers meet. It takes a very thorough scrubbing to break this loose. I have tried using a toothbrush to address this with limited effect.

I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

eBay Miracles

This tweed jacket comes from an Albuquerque department store that closed its doors decades ago. To borrow a term from Giuseppi at An Affordable Wardrobe, it's bulletproof and oh-so-warm.  Folks, ditch the Snuggie and buy a tweed suit. You have no excuse. Do avoid bidding on the 40Rs, though.

Obviously, brown dominates, but there is a blue-gray hint in there that is just enough to connect it to a pair of dark jeans.

Caveat emptor as usual; some of the photos online made it look downright green, which would have been equally wonderful. The seller had also pinned it rather severely in the back of the mannequin, which gave the jacket the appearance of being far more tailored in the waist than it actually is. That's probably a net Good Thing because overly suppressed jackets start to look a bit odd and pull away from one's chest.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Black Tie, Part 2

And a perfect home for these cuff links, which have been on bildungsroman ever since I bought them. Their burnished finish doesn't go with chromed belt hardware. In this context, though, their colors fit so well with the tie that their colorality outshines their...unshininess.

Never let it be said that Dapper District failed to attempt to add to the menswear lexicon.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Black Tie

This necktie was a gift from a friend's grandfather some Christmases ago. He had been a state legislator in his day and dressed up even in old age. A black tie can be hard to find a home for, but this tan linen double-breasted has black pinstripes which pick up the tie nicely. I know I usually say to avoid tan and black together, but as part of this combination, I think it's bold enough to work well.

White shirt and square are staid enough to keep people from getting too uncomfortable with my excesses.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Irresponsible Socks

Socks are your chance to be mischievous when wearing a suit. Most people who don't know you very well will never see them, so there's little risk of offending a stranger. I would never wear a square-pattern tie with a suit with this many stripes; the stakes are too high. But here, with colors still coordinated, these socks are about as close as I come to sprezzatura in workwear.

Might I suggest a pair of over-the-calf Pantherella socks in crimson?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Collapsed Waveforms

In a parallel universe very close to ours, I am working on my Ph.D. in English and aspiring to be a professor. Given the influence of genetics, I'm sure I would still be wearing a jacket and tie to work every day, like this Welsh wool tie and "microsuede" jacket from JAB. I would pin the tie for a touch of formality. Pants, a sort of moleskin cotton in green; shoes, brown suede half-wings from Allen Edmonds.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Managed Decline, Part II

This beloved workhorse of a necktie, manufacturer forgotten but had from defunct Filene's, keeps the most luxurious dimple of any of my neckties. The navy accent makes it the perfect tie for court in a navy suit.

But I am not from a stratum of society where everyone else already knows how much family money I have. So the luxury of wearing shirts and other clothes until they are ragged is not mine to enjoy. Best to retire a piece just past its prime than to fall into the complacency of "just one more wear."

After all, that way lies, "But it's so comfortable!"

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Perils Of Waist Suppression

I am very particular about how my suits fit. Sleeves must show a quarter inch of shirt cuff. Pants need a slight break only. Less room in the seat by far than one finds in the usual off-the-rack suit. But most important is that the jacket's waist fit reasonably close to my actual waist.

Of course, a tailor can't really futz with the jacket's front panels, so material must be taken out of the back. This leads to interesting results on suits with lots of vertical stripes.

Ah, well. Better than wearing a baggy jacket.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sartorial Virginia

A friend of mine just got back from the Virginia Bar Association annual convention, which they held at the Homestead resort this year.  He wanted me to explain what gave with all the pastels on display down there.  Now, I wasn't at that convention--I usually just go to the Labor & Employment section conventions--but I can just imagine what it looked like.

You see, Virginia is a special place.  Exhibit 1: the Governor wears morning dress during his swearing-in ceremony.  Other people who regularly wear morning dress anymore: the Solicitor General's office when they're arguing in the Supreme Court; very rarely, groomspersons at daytime weddings; and nobody else.

Maybe it's Virginia's very old, very British history, replete with transplanted aristocracy and the sort of traditions that develop from the life of plantation ease enabled by centuries of slave labor.  Maybe it's the genteel mindset that prevails in polite society and even among some lawyers who understand that the best litigators are not the ones who make life difficult for each other.  At any rate, the male-presenting people who show up in Virginia's courthouses, north or south of the Rappahannock, are almost invariably better dressed and better tailored than the male-presenting people who show up at the D.C. Superior Court.  (Notable exceptions can be found, for example, at my old firm.)

Combine a bunch of smart dressers with a slightly more casual event where they still want to impress each other--a convention of other lawyers, for example, where there are no clients and the judges aren't wearing robes but may be wearing bowties--and then host it at at 250-year-old resort, and you have a recipe for dandyism.  Pastels, yellows, reds, blues--expect these on pants, jackets, shoes, hats--embroidered ducks and sailboats on your chinos--Southern Preppie Gothic.  Flannery O'Connor would have been proud if she'd ever owned a yacht.  Had I gone, I would certainly have worn my turquoise shantung odd jacket to cocktail hour.  Maxmaximus would fit in perfectly.

Autumn will bring back more sedate behavior, but for now, an it harm none, do what ye will, at least sartorially speaking.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Seasonal Wardrobe

Now that my linen and cotton eBay acquisitions have returned from the...alteror, I have a good set of suits in lightweight fabrics. I have a summer wardrobe, in other words, instead of a bunch of all-weather suits. I feel like an aristocrat.

Here, tan linen with black stripes in a 2x2, my first double breasted and an unconventional one at that. N.B. the peak lapels with a buttonhole in each.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


These are Allen Edmonds short-wings in brown suede, and they are glorious. They came with standard brown laces but also these, which are a kind of earth-toned green. I give you visual evidence of the problem of wearing several colors which are too close together. The same pants and socks, with brown laces, would be just fine.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Managed Decline

As a person of not-unlimited means, I have had to become a student of clothing's decay. I see now why fin de siecle gentlemen wore removable collars and cuffs: they simply wear out faster than everything else.

Take the cuffs on this Brooks Brothers shirt, which fits admirably elsewhere. With French cuffs, the inner facing seems to take the brunt of dry cleaning and puckers with time. As a result, the cuffs tighten, the leading edge holds a poorer fold, and the trailing corners splay outward.

The other problem with shirts, at least for me, is that the sleeves tend to shorten. I love showing a bit of cuff outside my jacket sleeve, so even a beloved old shirt will eventually give up the ghost in that regard.

The piggy bank is being repurposed toward down payments and other such adult outlays, so for now, there will be no custom shirts. Paul Frederick remains adequate for my needs.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Unexpected Interstices

I like video games--big, long, epic ones.  It's an increasingly rare hobby among my cohort.  (I don't know anyone else who has finished Mass Effect 3, for example.)  Maybe that's why it never occurred to me to start a lookbook blog with outfits inspired by video game characters.

There are even outfits for male-presenting people.  Garrus Vakarian (Mass Effect).  Gordon Freeman (Half-Life).  I like useful lookbook blogs because they really help to engage the "outfit-generating" part of your brain that says, "Wait, you should wear THAT tie!"

h/t Karl for the link.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


Still no electricity at Dapper Homestead, which led to the devil-may-care attitude necessary for white-on-white seersucker. It's wonderfully cool and breathable. I had it at JAB for a song.

And therein lies the cloud. Despite radical surgery by my tailor, the seat is just too low. The leg openings are just too big. No matter what I do, they fit like your grandfather's pants.

I think it may be time for a custom suit.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


If you are watching the Euro 2012 final, you will notice that Italy's coach, Cesare Prandelli, has tied his necktie so that the rear (skinnier) blade is longer than the front one.  I suppose this is what Baldassare Castiglione, in his Book of the Courtier, called "sprezzatura", or "a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it."  The Italians are famous for it.  The most common version is wearing surgeon's cuffs and leaving some of the buttons undone.  Necktie blade shenanigans are also frequent.  Sprezzatura is a fine line, and as usual, the most important thing is being confidently blase about it, but when you're on international television, it starts to seem suspiciously contrived.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


There is no time when I am more conservative in my dress than when I am presenting a case to a jury. Some lawyers wear the exact same suit and tie every day of a trial on the theory that wardrobe changes would distract the jurors. I have more faith than that but nevertheless wear a dark suit, subdued tie, and oxford shoes. It is a matter not only of respect for the jury but also of self-confidence.

Shameless plug for the legal system: other than voting and giving unlimited sums of cash to political candidates, jury service is one of the few ways we can participate directly in the political system. Smart jurors are essential to justice. If you think juries are out of control (and I assure you that they are not), the best thing you can do is to appear when summoned for jury service.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Maybe I'm being silly, but this necktie knot strikes me as too small for these lapels. The tie is unusually thin, and the lapels are unusually wide, and the knot-collar assemblage seems overpowered by the lapels.

There are worse problems to have, I suppose. Food for thought, though. The same thing happens with trendy suits with skinny lapels when worn with a necktie of normal width. The tie seems huge in context.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Colors

When the weather is just right and I don't have court, out come the new knit tie (25% off at JAB the other day) and veteran coordinating cuff knots. They aren't exactly the same shade of gold, but nobody is going to notice. Naturally, the blue dots pick up the dominant color in the shirt (from Brooks Brothers).

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Summer Breeze Casual

Khaki shorts from an outlet somewhere, Soludos espadrilles, and a J. Crew Breton-style T-shirt. It's hard to work around the mass of khaki and cream, but I felt like the shoes brought it all together well enough to leave the house.

But seriously, you need a pair of espadrilles for the summer. They are cheap, durable, and not flip flops. I now own another pair in a cream color.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Shirt Retirement

Observe the wrinkling/unevenness/ whatever you want to call it on the collar of this shirt, which I've had for a while. I assume this is the result of day after day of being folded up and down and being steamed to hell and back every ten days or so. The French cuffs show similar distortion. It is time to retire this old friend.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

When Consumerism Gets The Better Of You

An old friend from high school shared this 2010 piece with me.  It's about dandies in the Congo.

There are two threads here, and they are both extremely important and two sides of the same coin.
1) These folks are dressing up as a way to transcend their environment.
2) Some of them would rather spend money on clothing than real estate.

Lest we get about the messy business of shaming people who do what we do but do it to a more extreme extent, best to remember that everyone makes a judgment call about where clothing fits in their priorities.  (On one end, you have tracksuits and cross-trainers.)  Before you decide that spending so great a percentage of your income on clothes is "crazy" or something, put yourself in the shoes of someone born to Congolese poverty.  Ah, but you can't, really, can you, since you weren't born to Congolese poverty?

Just another helpful reminder from the DDSJC.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Cuff Volume

Your average off-the-rack suit coat has to accommodate many different potential body shapes. Some people have wrists with a diameter greater than two inches. I wish these people nothing but the best. However, they lead to the problem pictured above. Call it Sleeve Gap.

It is a fairly straightforward alteration to have done and should be done on all suits. The question is by exactly how much to reduce the volume. I say give yourself about half an inch, tops, from the tip of your French cuff to the inside of the sleeve. That should leave enough room for sliding while solving the problem of flopping.

This suit has been fixed since I took this photo, and the result is delightful.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Have You Considered A Panama Hat?

I think you could pull it off once summer hits in full force.  Christopher Kim's at 20th and M had a great selection when I was there last summer.  Be sure to ask for help before trying them on--straw hats are very finicky about where you can and cannot touch them.

I know you're thinking that Panama hats are for golfing and old men, but you are selling yourself short.  I've seen you rock different pieces which less sturdy souls would never combine.  You are no mere clotheshorse--you are a clotheslion.

Free it from its stereotypical context and see what happens.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

eBay Vintage Watches

About a year into my foray into buying classic Omegas on eBay, none of the watches are functional anymore.  I declare the experiment a failure.

eBay is good for good shoes: good shoes last a long time and can always be resoled or polished with commonly available tools.  eBay is perhaps not good for items, such as wristwatches, which contain a variety of complex, tiny moving parts and which require specialized expertise in order to repair.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Some Thoughts On Alden

I went to the Alden store at 921 F Street NW near Gallery Place a few weeks ago looking to convince myself to buy a pair of their legendary black cordovan oxfords. It was a Saturday, and the little storefront was full of fellow shoe-lovers. An excellent salesperson named Che helped me figure out my actual shoe size and brought out a 9.5E pair.  They fit perfectly and were very comfortable.

They were also nearly $600, which is part of the reason I didn't buy them. But beyond that, I just failed to fall in love with the silhouette. It seemed too loose somehow, too disconnected from the shape of the foot within, especially since my feet are kind of small for my height. I didn't pull the trigger.

The leather and craftspersonship are fantastic, and the silhouette may be perfect for you, so check 'em out.  At that level of quality (and price, for that matter), you can be picky about your tastes.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Moar Oxfords

Another pair of Church's oxfords had on eBay for a very reasonable price. They are in excellent shape. The wingtip embellishments make them slightly less formal than an oxford without, but they are still more than formal enough for a court appearance.

In other news, my office is apparently out of coffee.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Also: A JAB Sale

Buy one, get two free of everything on the website, just about, through Saturday.  I'm going to get a pair of white braces and maybe a belt and a necktie.

If you decide to get some suits, don't settle for less than Signature Gold if you can afford it.

Exercise And Privilege

I may have stumbled upon/duh-ed my way into a gender privilege situation with my post on exercisewear.  Generally speaking, at the gym, female-presenting people are more likely to wear coordinated outfits, while male-presenting people are more likely to wear Umbros and muscle shirts.  The disparity tells us something about the messages each group receives. 

I feel a desire to dress up most days.  Now imagine a feeling like that but an order of magnitude more intense and overbearing--more a mandate than a desire--which drives women to dress up for the gym (and pretty much everywhere else to boot) and leads men to think, "What? Why are they doing that?" because men are not expected to dress up for the gym.  The idea is called femininity as performance (link may be NSFW depending on your employer) in social justice settings.

So wear whatever you want to the gym and, in keeping with the Dapper District Social Justice Committee's strictures, refrain from judging anyone, of any gender, race, religion, ethnicity, etc, for what they wear.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

What To Wear When You Exercise

It doesn't matter.  Focus on pushing your body, not the fashion envelope.

[Ed. Revised here.]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Didactic District: Class Warfare

Recent events have forced my hand.  I feel compelled to remind you all to stop judging strangers based on their appearance.

You, discerning and dear reader, have an eye for dressing well.  However, like everyone else on the planet, you do not have an eye for the reasons other people do not dress well.  The kid wearing the square-toe slip-on loafers does not deserve to be publicly shamed for wearing them.  For all you know, ze is eating ramen noodles for every meal to save up dosh to buy a pair of John Lobbs and is two days away from success.  Or ze is caring for an ailing family member and simply cannot afford to buy anything new because of mounting medical expenses.

If you see people dressed slovenly, you can do many things, like
1) blog about how to dress otherwise,
2) dress otherwise to lead by example,
3) offer judgment-free advice to your friends and strangers, when they ask for it,
4) compliment people whose apparel you appreciate,

and so on.

Dapper District's Social Justice Committee, which comprises me, will not tolerate muttered derision, much less open mockery, of people whom you do not know.  There are simply too many variables for you to even make an educated guess about whether you are observing laziness or desperation or a medical condition, so just don't do it.

All previous posts not in keeping with this attitude of siblingly love are hereby rescinded, and the DDSJC admonishes itself for such misbehavior.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Nettlesome Problems: Over-The-Calf-Socks Pants Ride-Up

Dapper District occasionally happens upon problems which its meager intellect cannot overcome.  In these situations, as with the problem of baggy shirts, I turn to my expert readers.

The problem is: When I wear over-the-calf socks--and I wear no other kind with a suit--the suiting catches on my calves.  When I sit, I have to tug the pants up a bit, and when I stand, they snag on my calves and have to be shaken out, which I am certain looks odd.  The problem is better or worse depending on the coefficients of friction of the sock and suiting, but it is always present to some degree.

Creative solutions?

Another nettlesome problem: overly hyphenated headlines born of possibly unnecessary adjective-ification of nouns.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Church's Oxfords, Part 1

Lovely brown oxfords made by British cobbler Church's. Had on eBay for perhaps an eighth of retail. Minor scuffs. Absolutely perfect for this green suit.

By "oxford" we refer to the shoes' construction on top. The top flaps or "quarters" fold under the vamp rather than resting atop it, as on the less formal derby style.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I Don't Understand Where I Went Wrong

I am working on a Grand Unified Theory of necktie knots, but it has proven elusive.

Obviously, I retied it before sallying forth.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Dapper District Braves The Metro

My dislike of the Metro is well documented, but it does provide many opportunities for self-portraits while one sits around doing nothing.  A casual night out on a typical spring swamp-night: shorts from Banana Republic outlet, shirt from Paul Fredrick, hand-rolled Irish linen pocket square (thanks, Mater!), white bucs from Johnston & Murphy outlet (thanks, Mater!).

My one regret is that I wore ankle socks.  Better to powder one's feet.  I still haven't found any ankle socks that stay low enough to hide below the shoe line.

Friday, March 23, 2012

On eBay For Shoes

I've been regularly outbid on fancy shoes (Church's, Alden) on eBay lately.  I'm learning several things:

1. Top-quality shoes hold their value surprisingly well.
2. The people shopping for men's shoes on eBay know the value of what's available.

The second point holds true for shoes far more than, say, suits.  I've gotten some absolute steals on suits on eBay.  But there are so many more variables in buying suits on eBay: exact fit, drape, and most importantly, hand.  Those are things you just can't tell from a picture, whereas if you buy an Alden cap toe in a 9.5E, you know exactly what you are getting, and particularly if it's cordovan, you know it'll still be in great shape.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Thirteen Ways Of Looking At A Half-Madras/Half-Seersucker Bow Tie, With Apologies To Wallace Stevens

1. The propeller of the universe.

2. The essence of dandy versatility.

3. The wings of a mutant butterfly.

4. A night out in Falls Church drinking Coors Light at the State Theatre.

5. You spent too much time futzing with your bow tie knot to make it perfect.  It is now dark.  You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

6. Some of the best things in life, most especially clothes, are a 10-degree angle from perfect.

7. The blues are blue and turquoise and navy and scratched-up denim and everything else.

8. Honestly, who's going to do it if you don't?

9. The stripes go in every direction and every size except the stripes in the shirt, but they are members of the same family.

10. Be forewarned: Strangers will approach you to compliment it.  Depending on your disposition, maybe this is not what you are after.  But even if you don't want to talk, you can always just smile and say, "Thank you."

11. Order meets chaos.

12. Mu.

13. Can a piece of clothing make someone else feel the way you feel?  Can a series of choices about which pants, shirt, tie, and shoes to wear be art?  Regardless, shouldn't you be trying to find out?

Had from The Cordial Churchman.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Khaki And Black Attack

In my rush this morning, I thought to grab my black overcoat but opted for camelish brown instead. Black is Too late did I realize that I had escaped only the frying pan and was now wearing khaki and black adjacent.

How will I show my face at the courthouse?

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Sport Shirts: Beware

Dapper District has been sought by a friend to perform a consultation on this brown sport shirt.  What can be done with it? he asks.

Dark khaki and brown can be difficult to work with.  They keep you from wearing black shoes, but wearing brown shoes with a brown shirt tends to look kind of...brown.  You could try wearing sneakers, but sneakers will look dissonantly casual against a sport shirt.

But fear not!  There is a solution: my favorite color for pants, stone.  Stone is that kind of off-white-but-not-tan color of gray/brown you can get with ease at the Gap or J. Crew.  Not as limiting as the brown/denim combination.  Roll the sleeves up.  Now, you are definitely earthtoned but not in a really dark and dreary way.

You'll have to break out of the ordinary with your footwear.  Now would be the perfect time to experiment with some Soludos

Wear it with an unstructured odd jacket.  (You have a well-tailored white linen jacket, don't you?)  Excessively loud pocket square.  No neckties.  Consider leaving the shirt's top two buttons open, but not if you're wearing a round-neck undershirt.

Basically, you have to dress the outfit down somehow.  Successfully dressing up a brown sport shirt up is nearly impossible. 

And whatever you do, tuck it in.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Importance Of

The always-entertaining love child of David Foster Wallace and Hunter F. Thompson--I refer, of course, to ADG of Maxmaximus--has a meditation on gabardine.  Check out the last photo there.  Can you imagine anyone wearing pants like that today anywhere except the streets outside Milan Fashion Week trying to get shot by Sartorialist?  The moral of the story is: Do whatever you want with your clothes.  In the space of two generations, you will be venerated.

By the way, if you still read Sart, you should stop out of solidarity with your fellow humans who don't look like runway models.

On a totally unrelated note, listening to Adele in serious stereo is so much better than listening on the radio in the car.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Contrasting Textures

Texture is almost as important as color when putting together an outfit.  Here, a conservative navy blue JAB herringbone suit really pops with a bright orange PF necktie.  But the difference in texture adds an extra dimension.  The tie has a satin sheen to it and reflects light, while the suit has a no finish and absorbs light. 

You might also pair a cotton suit with a linen tie or a smooth gabardine suit with a grenadine tie.  Or a smooth white dress shirt with raw denim.  Or shiny burgundy shoes with raw denim.  Or a wool necktie with a linen shirt.  I could go on.  My point is, once you start playing with texture and color, you can have a lot more fun.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Bow Ties

I feel like I'm always writing about something I did or something that happened to me.  Today, let's talk about you.

You don't wear bow ties often enough.  When you do wear them, you are usually a groomsperson in a wedding, and your bow tie is, all too often, pre-tied and the same color as the flowers.  Alas, you have no control over these circumstances, and you have started to associate the bow tie with only such circumstances.  You are missing out on so much.

Bow ties occupy several discrete spots on the formality spectrum.  If you are wearing jeans and a button-down (as pictured) and you want to dress it up a bit, bow tie!  If you are wearing a suit and you want to dress it down a bit, for the country-lawyer look, bow tie!  If you are wearing a tuxedo, a grosgrain black bow tie is the default--you only wear a straight tie if you are disdainful of tuxedo formality, which you shouldn't be.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Do I Have To Explain Everything To You People?

Gray "dress" sweatpants

No, no, no, a thousand times, no.

Whence the idea that creative people simply cannot be cabined by the strictures of clothing styles refined to perfection over the course of more than a century?

Also: You can pay $90 at Macy's or Nordstrom for a real pair of nice gray dress pants that, wow, are also comfortable!

h/t Alan for the link.

Unexpected Modifications

I didn't want to change shirts the other day after work, so I swapped my suit pants for jeans and my jacket for a sweater.  The sweater sleeves were too long, and I wanted to show off the French cuffs, so I rolled the sweater sleeves up, just one roll, about three inches.

Why not?  This sort of thing is the heart of dandyism.  Obviously, I wouldn't do it in court.  And I guess I could get the sweater sleeves shortened.  But it's a $20 Banana Republic outlet sweater; why bother?

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Too Cool For Court

Of the many magenta-oriented colors in the pocket square (Brooks Brothers on clearance), one is the spitting image of the pink in the necktie (Paul Fredrick), and the square has a touch of white for the shirt and tie and of black for the charcoal suit (Jos. A. Bank Signature line in herringbone; buy one, get two free).  Absolutely delightful and challenging.

Unfortunately, also a bit too outre for the deference I show to members of the bench while they are sitting on the dais, and I had court that day.  I snapped the photo for educational purposes and swapped out this pocket square for a plain white linen one (thanks, Mater).

Monday, January 30, 2012

If You Learn Nothing Else From Dapper District, Part Two: Tailored Pants Cuffs

You don't have to get the waist of your jacket suppressed. You don't have to get your pants waist perfect. Dapper District does not require that you get your pants legs on sleeves tapered.

These are all excellent but optional ideas. Not optional is having your dress pants tailored at the cuff. If you don't have them tailored, they will puddle at your ankles and make you look like you are wearing your older sibling's hand-me-downs.

This is the kind of alteration that you can trust to your dry cleaners. No need to even visit your proper tailor if you know the length you want.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

If You Learn Nothing Else From Dapper District, Part 1: The Bottom Button

Never button the bottom button on 1) single-breasted suit jackets, blazers, odd jackets, etc.; 2) vests; 3) overcoats.


For nearly 100 years, men's businesswear has been cut based on the specific assumption that you will not button the bottom button.  What started as a fad now undergirds our entire enterprise.

You may consider buttoning the overcoat's bottom button if it's really damn cold and precipitating, but your scarf had better coordinate immaculately.

If you decide to button the bottom button on a suit jacket, I'll be expecting a 1,000-word essay from you 24 hours in advance explaining why.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

ASOS's Crowdsourced Lookbook

ASOS Fashion Finder

These "look collages" are turning into a staple of style writing.  I think most of the outfits are way too thematic for real consumption, but part of the point is to get you thinking about individual pieces in new contexts.  I tend to just scan the collections for pieces which look interesting.  It's like a mildly curated version of the incredible variety of clothing available on the Internet.  Spot something you like; save it in your memory; try to find it in meatspace for a decent price.

I do wish they had a section that was "ASOS-brand only" looks for those days when I'm itching for something fun that won't last for very long and is inexpensive.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

This Suit Is Really Green

Also, notice the excess material near the knee on the left leg--a clear sign that my pants are too baggy.  When you buy an off-the-rack suit, this tends to happen.  I always have my tailor seriously taper pants, but he is too timid, like a mouse afraid to come out of its hole to...alter someone's pants.  So, 1) beware suits in bold, solid colors, though don't avoid them entirely; 2) have your pants seriously tapered; 3) be assertive when dealing with your tailor.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Netflix For Neckties

You can rent neckties now.  I don't think it would be a good value for me since I tend to have shirt/tie/suit combinations that mate for life and always feel funny the first several times I wear a new tie as my brain slowly convinces itself that this was a good idea after all.  On the other hand, it is through taking risks that we learn what works and what doesn't.  More to the point, it's probably cheaper to get designer ties on clearance, especially since you can easily get several years out of the life of a necktie.

h/t Rachael for the link.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

NYT on Male Style Bloggers

I will have you know that the Times chose not to interview me for this piece for reasons unknown.

h/t Rob for the link!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Too Much Purple

I like this combination of shirt and tie.  In fact, I love it.  And I love my burgundy belt and various burgundy shoes.  Why not combine them? 

Unfortunately, it turns out you really can have too much purple/pink/associated hues.  The assemblage on display here really brings out the purple in the burgundy and makes everything else look even more purple, even the slacks.

Much more pleasing to wear black leather with this outfit.  That way, the gray pants coordinate with the black belt and shoes, but also with the gray in the tie, which in turn uses its pinkish purple to commune with the shirt.

Perhaps burgundy is more appropriate as a "pop" color when wearing otherwise drab tones--white, gray, and light blue, for example.  Burgundy leather is also my favorite way to wear a navy suit.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Don't Stop Inspecting

You can't really see it in this photo, but there was a really obvious yellowish stain on the collar of my beloved Gap linen/cotton casual button-down.  It's currently marinating in a second round of Stain Stick goodness before I wash it.

It's hard to find the proper balance between having unstained clothes and enjoying hobbies other than inspecting your clothes every night, but a little diligence goes a long way.  Best to focus on the parts of the clothing you don't usually see--collars, shirt-backs, seats and backs of pants, undersides of French cuffs.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

APC New Standard: Year One

You may recall that Mater got me some APC New Standard jeans for Christmas last year.  After one year of regular wear, I can wholeheartedly recommend them.  First, they fit so well that I don't need a belt.  Second, there's something appealing about self-induced "destruction" of denim through regular wear:

Third, like I said, they fit incredibly well.  They started out tight (see the Internet for sizing advice--if I recall correctly, I ordered two sizes smaller than my waist as measured) but have relaxed just enough to be perfectly snug around the hip and thigh areas. 

And they have all the standard benefits of dark denim: durable, dressy with a button-down and odd jacket, casual with a Ford Mustang T-shirt and Chuck Taylors, a classic American look despite being made in Japan.  But then, when you need curated fabric made with an obsessive attention to detail, whom else would you trust before the Japanese?

At $180 or so, they're extravagant up front, but think of them like a suit: they'll last for years and fit you like a glove.  You won't need or want to wear another pair of jeans unless you wear boots from time to time, in which case hang on to one pair of boot-cut jeans.  I've slowly but surely Goodwilled most of my older denim.

Long live the New Standard.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

WaPo on Menswear

The Post has a decent article about a surge in menswear buying.  The takeaways are 1) men want to dress better because jobs are scarce, 2) wow, I need to get into the style consulting business.  $250 an hour to select outfits?  $600 for a style consultation? You do not need to pay these prices to have someone tell you what to buy.  Consumer culture is expensive enough as it is.  Spend a few hours at the mall feeling fabrics.  Watch Daniel Craig's casual outfits in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.  Flip through Esquire at the bookstore.  Men's fashion, especially suiting, stays within certain parameters at all times, and you can have a decent tailor adjust older clothes to fit those parameters if you feel the urge to be a trend-follower.

h/t Rachael for the link.