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.