Life Off the Red Carpet.

(Pitch Perfect Sandra Bullock Oscar Night 2011. But look closely at the “Vans” worn by the guy in the background… Really?)

Oscar fashion. The red carpet pix! The hits! The misses…. Apparently that all happened last night. I caught a glimpse of Kevin Spacey talking to a camera on a morning news show. He looked perfectly respectable and well-turned out. Good! Tom Hanks, comedian that he is, commented that he would just as soon be at home in sweat pants instead of at an after party. He is a riot, that guy.

It got me thinking; it should be very easy to look good on the red carpet. Designers create and/or loan gowns and suits for the stars. Jewelry is layered on like so much pirate’s booty. Of course, you have to know what looks good on you despite what the stylists might say. Which is why there are some mistakes made. I’ve just reviewed some red carpet shots. In general the women looked very good and the men didn’t look too bad. That’s about as much as anyone can hope for.

But what about those in-between times? Life off the red carpet?

I’m about to go out on a limb here. I’ve always stressed looking as good as possible. And for me, that has almost always meant wearing beautifully cut suits, sport coats and odd trousers. I’m starting to think that I may actually belong to the Pleistocene era of sartorial awareness. Outside of a major metropolitan area — those great cities of the world like New York, Paris, London, and the like — I wonder if there is any call at all to “dress up?” (A quick aside. My son accidentally turned on the today Show this weekend and I caught a glimpse of Lester Holt, who was very well dressed indeed. He was a master class in colour theory, wearing clothing so suitable to his skin tone that I couldn’t help looking at his face even while trying to study his costume.)

And that leaves me with a conundrum. How relevant is my advice, my commitment to “dress clothing”, to the world at large?

So, in an effort to modernise, I want to begin to explore “smart casual,” the way the world (hopefully) dresses off the red carpet, but still in the public eye. Think of it as the “Easy” part of the Easy and Elegant Lifestyle.

Step One: a firm grounding for your style: Shoes.

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10 Responses to Life Off the Red Carpet.

  1. Wisco says:

    Hmmm, where to start. It’s certainly true that we no longer have a strong set of style icons to emulate. Other than Hugh Jackman and Jake Glyllenhall (sp?), I didn’t find that many really well fit movie stars on the Oscars. These guys have essentially unlimited funds, but buy/use OTR designer duds and think they are automatically elegant. Sigh, with no role models behaviors will slowly die off like the dodo.

    Which brings me to the second question: Should we give up and just focus on smart casual? It all depends on your goal: If you wish to gain a larger audience that might learn something… anything about elegance, the answer is yes. This won’t please the purists, but frankly may cause us to rethink the basic question, “What is elegance?” Your recent guest post on 10 Essentials was one to cause people to think… why not smart casual.

  2. Wisco, we’re on the same wavelength. I hope to start tomorrow.

  3. Mr. Geezer says:

    Smart casual is fine, and I will read with interest what you have to say, but don’t give up on “dress clothing”. Your blog, and others in similar vein, helped lead me in the direction I’m going–to return to more stylish dress at work–and I’ll bet there are others. Keep on gently pushing by example. The nation needs a bit of a turnaround back to more elegant times and this is one way to make it happen. Besides, it feels so good, and as many men as possible should be encouraged to give it a try.

  4. hobac says:

    Please don’t. It is an oxymoron that exists only in the minds of people who have no concept of what it means to be well dressed. Let alone have an affinity for fashion.

  5. hobac! As ever a delight. I’m going to try and skate a middle ground. I’ve seen some evidence that a modern wardrobe can exist and I’m hoping that dressing well, if “casually” will spark an interest in dressing smartly all the time (the logical conclusion in my mind? Dress up a bit!) Let’s see. And don’t pull punches. If I’m headed for disaster with the posts, leave a comment. I value your opinion as a tastemaker and international man of the Brotherhood of the Belgian Shoe (in comfortable standing.)

    Mr. Geezer, I will never give up fighting the good fight. The smart casual wardrobe is something that needs to be addressed, in my opinion. We have the leeway to wear any sort of costume these days, so let’s hope that there’s a way to look good without being very formal. I think there is!

  6. Sir,
    Only rarely should you dabble into the casual outerlands. Your place is in elegance… not inelegance. Your readers come here for your steady helm, the course for which is set safely towards delightful assemblies of garment and sensibly particular contrasts. The world is already awash in recipes and encouragements for avoiding sartorial effort, and so long as you tirelessly guard the monument, normally timid men will be emboldened to ensilk their necks, jacket their trunks, and spatter their communities with door holdings, written thank-yous, and daily extensions of lost custom. Do not feel discouraged by the dictated momentum of your past work, because you are now a fixture. You are on the Periodic Table of Elegance (Elegantium 113). Your audience will brace-up for longer vacuums between your written offerings, unwrapping them with all the more enthusiasm that anticipation incubates. Stay steady, Elegantologist.

  7. DocP says:

    There are two separate scales here – formal vs. informal and elegant vs. inelegant. White tie can be done inelegantly. The world is clearly moving toward the less formal – much to my dismay. I tend by nature to be a somewhat reserved, formal person. There is no reason one couldn’t dress in a casually elegant manner, and I believe there is room for posts about how to do that well.

  8. Y-W-P, don’t worry too much. And many thanks for the encouragement and outrageous compliments.

    DocP, that’s it. precisely.

  9. Wisco says:

    One of the things I have learned from the blog is that elegance is an attitude. It’s not fancy clothes, food or other material things.

    As those who value elegance, our duty is to bring as many people into the fold as possible. Why? Because we all agree that an elegant society is better for all… especially in today’s coarse political and social climate.

  10. Paula says:

    This is all exciting, and I look forward to more posts! ‘Everyday elegance’ will make an impact in everyday lives–Please continue to include advice and direction for the ladies, too!

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