It’s easy for me to do, given my penchant for that period ‘between the wars’ when men could rely on the Fred Astaires, Dukes of Windsor, et al. to lead the sartorial way. A few years ago we had L’Avvocato and maybe even a Bond or a President thrown into the mix to whom we could turn in times of sartorial crisis. Nowadays, I’m sometimes at a loss to find someone whose style bears examination, let alone emulation.
Sure, I’ve got my own style. And I hope it’s relatively quiet. I suspect it isn’t. I’m noticibly absent from the international best dressed lists. It might be because I wear a hat and coat on rainy days. Or, sometimes, a neck scarf with an open collar.
I don’t know.
I’m not a dandy as most people think of the word. The artist Richard Merkin might qualify, and I think he looks great. Not the kind of tie I would choose — well, on a daily basis anyway.
Today, as I went to my local coffee shop to buy a pound of espresso, I met Happy the Artist. He stopped me to pet my dog (who promptly attacked his mild mannered and very pleasant beagle) and to “look at me.” I was in a suit and tie — nothing unusual there. But as it’s a little chilly, I wore a hat, scarf and gloves.
There we were, the artist and the blogger, the only two people in sight wearing hats. Happy wore a curly brimmed felt bowler. Mine was a brown Borsalino waterproof trilby. Which of us was more absurd, you might ask? Most would probably say I was the odder of the two. Happy, is an artist, after all. As conservatively as I am dressed, I stood out. That’s why he stopped me.
So what is it that keeps me from crossing over into full blown 1930s splendor? The same thing that keeps most people from trying at all. The fear of being seen as foolish.
It is important to develop your own inner editor, as important as developing your eye and aesthetic. And the best way to do that is to start small. In The Man’s Book: The Indispensable Guide for the Modern Man, author Thomas Fink writes:
“First learn to wear with ease a plain navy suit, white shirt and solid navy tie, which is not as easy as it sounds.” (p. 53)
The sentence appears in a section on buying a suit and Mr. Fink goes on to stress the importance of fit. And, I will add by way of paraphrasing, of fitting in.
After all, Halloween is over. But there is always our local Easter parade to look forward to — among all the funny hats and costumed dogs, spectator shoes don’t seem so out of place. So keep ever vigilent, reign in that impulse to don a cloak and deerstalker until a more appropriate time. (I’m still working at it.) Stick with clothes that are appropriate for your build, tailored to fit, nicely appointed and well-kept.
Or wait until you become famous and let loose. Then they’ll call you “colorful.”