I have a friend who, with his wife and two children, just touched down in a foreign country, where they will live for a few years. It was a ten hour direct flight which they rode out in economy plus, despite Mr. O’s height. When they disembarked, or deplaned (a far less elegant word), Mr. O strode down the stairs in a highly wrinkled linen suit. He wasn’t in the least disheveled, just naturally wrinkled and prepared for the blast of heat that is common in that area of the world. I don’t know if he wore a tie. Mrs. O will, I’m sure, have been clad in dark tailored trousers and a well-cut silk blouse. Regardless, Mr and Mrs. O are there to represent the United States and did so from the moment they stepped in country.
I like to think of them arriving. They choose to bring something like the old world element of travel to the modern era despite today’s often appalling travel conditions. After all, you’d be hard-pressed to be well-pressed after a journey of that magnitude.
(Yup. bamfstyle.com. Look up keyword summer.)
Would you choose to travel in linen and risk the wrinkles? If you could change before a big meeting? Would that matter? Especially considering the ghastly temperatures under which we’ve labored recently?
Why not embrace a fabric that is supposed to wrinkle and arrive looking a little bit more elegant and a lot less rumpled.
This is sort of another “Middle Ground” post.
The other day I wrote that I felt like dressing up again. And then the temperatures started to reach into the 90’s with a humiture of over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It is hard to keep up standards in these conditions.
However, dressing up doesn’t have to mean what you think. Choosing the right clothing can make you feel more put together than the next guy. That and a lot of Gold Bond Powder.
I realize that the color of my trousers is a bit of a stretch for some of you. In a creative industry, I can get away with things that the average businessman wouldn’t dream of attempting. But you get the idea. I think the thing that sets this sort of look apart is the formally very formal white collared shirt, worn casually. I hate to perspire through nice silk neckties. I tied it in with white slip-on shoes, but a pair of snuff suede would work just as well. On days I don’t dare wear even my lightest unconstructed sport coat, this is my fall-back for business meetings.
Khakis and polo shirts are reserved for the weekends and after work.
Those are the exact words I used with my tailor as soon as I slipped on my new sportcoat.
You see, it’s been miserably hot and humid here in Virginia. That isn’t surprising. But the heat and humidity make me want to loaf about in Bermuda shorts and a t-shirt.
That’s the problem with trying to find a casual middle ground. You begin to strip away ornamentation (your tie will be the first thing to go, socks next….) and suddenly you find yourself thinking that the sport coat or blazer isn’t really necessary in this sort of environment… And, before you know it, BOOM! Shorts and a t-shirt.
Relaxed grooming standards are the next step. Stubble, long hair. Then a bit of fun. A little color helps. Wrist raff begins to creep in. Paisley shirts may make an appearance for those on the hip path. Aloha shirts, for those who aren’t.
And, as long as we’re sort of all casual and flowy, we can hide a bit of beer belly without all the effort of breaking a work-out sweat.
You see where this is going. And I fell for it, like an egg from a tall chicken (James Coburn, “Charade.”)
But with the severe deconstruction of the sportcoat and the lightweight, open weave, and quarter-lined fabric, this coat is breezy-cool. It weighs next to nothing and lets in a draught.
All of which makes me want to dress up, again.