In Mufti

(photo via the excellent blog: The Hollywood Art and used without permission. If there are objections, please let me know and I will take it down immediately.)

I’m just curious. Do you dress on your off hours? Those hours when you are “out of uniform” and in civilian clothes? Or what should be civilian clothes, in my opinion. “Casual” I guess it’s called.

I think that the cultivation of elegance must extend to every conscious hour. Meaning, like courage, it is there when no one is looking. That’s it… to be truly elegant, one must be elegant even when no one is looking.

I wonder that because, not long ago, I had to drop by Target before my workout. That means that I was negotiating the aisles before 8:30 am, unshaven, in warm-up pants, a dri-release shirt and running shoes.

And I felt a complete fraud.

I’m not that guy who lives in workout gear. I wear trainers/running shoes only to … well … exercise. When forced to “camp,” (for example in the hospital awaiting a birth, etc.) I tend to wear a good pair of oxblood penny loafers, starched khakis and a Brooks Brothers button down oxford cloth shirt. The clothes are heavy enough to withstand several days wear without significant wrinkling. The shoes are the closest things to slippers (aside from my Belgian slippers, which are black and so look funny with khakis, at least to my eyes) that I own. Not an elegant look, but functional enough without being slovenly.

The old standby of khaki trousers and a knit polo/tennis shirt is one that I try to avoid. Elegance may be understated, but should never be dull.

My casual weekend evening uniform is easier to pull off: flat front worsted grey slacks, shirt and black cable knit silk sweater, for example. But I tend to reserve it for the evening hours and spend my days in corduroys or moleskin trousers and a heavier shirt or a cashmere sweater and shirt; at least during the cooler months. Flannel trousers get a lot of wear during the winter. Otherwise, it’s a lot of linen and cotton; much to the delight of my cleaners.

(WWCGD? For a few ideas have a look at Cary They frown on borrowing images from the site. There is such a wealth of imagery here, it is easy to see why.)

I think that women have it a bit easier here. Many women of my acquaintance manage to go beyond “put -together” and achieve that casual, everyday elegance that I find so elusive. Perhaps it is the variety of styles available to them; everything from skirts to shorts to slacks can be called into play.

Or maybe I’m delusional and they are actually dressed more formally than I think.

Elegance extends beyond one’s wardrobe, of course. It enters the realm of “thought, word and deed” as well. There are those who are elegant even in jeans. (Having just watched “Lagerfeld Confidential”, Giorgio Armani springs to mind.)

So my question is this: As we approach the week’s end, what will you wear when you’re in mufti? And how could you be more comfortable in casual clothing and remain elegant?

Maybe it all boils down to good tailoring/fit, good fabrics, good shoes and an easy manner. Something that is just that much bit more than “the old college try.”

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