Easy and Elegant Life

The Search for Everyday Elegance and the Art of Living Well.

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 Grant.net 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.”

13 thoughts on “In Mufti

  1. I never “throw something on.” I always give consideration to fashion and design. But I like jeans and casual shorts or skirts for the weekend, with a pressed well-fitting t-shirt or button front. Sometimes I like to wear my white Converse Chuck Taylors or Birkenstocks, if it fits the mood of my outfit and depending on what my plans for the day are.

  2. Even for the farmers market at the crack of dawn on sundays, i try and look like i didn’t just roll out of bed, even though i usually did. a nice pair of khaki pants and a sweater, or linen in the summer and a clean pressed t-shirt. rarely wear sweats, unless taking the dog out for his long evening walk. i feel like i have an obligation to look decent.

  3. So how often a day do you change clothes?

    I usually wear khakis and a nice sports shirt on the weekends, with either brogues or well-maintained classic sneakers.

    I have been thinking lately of one night a week, dressing for dinner. Get out my dinner jacket, set the table nicely, light a candle.

    I am a bachelor, so it would be for my own enjoyment and amusement.

  4. Hello Tucker. Twice a day; sometimes there is a third change if the occasion warrants it. Mrs. E. and I used to dress for dinner quite often. After children, the hours are more pressed.

    Hello CL and Fairfax, Interesting responses, thank you. I suspect I am right when I say that women have more options. T-shirts are relegated to the exercise drawer in the bureau and I can’t really bring myself to wear sneakers with anything other than gym clothes. Although I think a pair of PF Flyers, Chucks or Stan Smiths are about as good as it gets for non-technical options.

  5. I like the idea of dressing for dinner at home but I can’t say I do it very often. Again, I still make an effort to appear somewhat pulled-together for my poor husband’s sake.

  6. I am terrible when it comes to night wear when we are at home. I will, normally, take off my dress shirt, leave on my undershirt and wear either shorts or chino’s while I deal with family life at home. Going out for errands, I will put on another shirt; however, if we are home alone, I put in very little effort. That is something I have been meaning to change. Perhaps, I shall attempt for the next week put in as much thought and effort with my at home wear, as I do with my going out wear. (I will draw the line at shoes, though. Once I’m home, I’m barefoot. Period. Maybe that will be “round 2”.)

    Funny, though, that I will put effort into my weekend workwear. I, recently, had suspender buttons put into my workpants to save the neighborhood from anything unsightly when I’m pulling weeds. Button down shirts, work pants (normally cotton, however, I have a pair of flannel lined chinos for the winter), and heavy boots are the norm. I like to think I look quite stylish compared to the oversized t-shirt and jeans crowd.

  7. One always wonders about the nicely dressed lady with a lout in a too-large, faded logoed t-shirt and a wrinkled pair of baggy shorts. The cynic in me says she is waiting until she gets a ring, and then she will rectify the situation.

    Turling, I’m like you–I take off my dress shirt, and put on slippers when I get home. If I go out again, I’ll usually slip on a sporty shirt or a polo. Of course, now that the weather’s turning colder, I have a very warm thick robe that I wear around the house in the mornings and at night.

  8. I think the elegance is in the details. The well cut & shiney hair, healthy and glowing skin, groomed & clean nails, polished shoes or boots. A wristwatch…analog of course! (Digital watches should be banned) I’m spending my weekends on a horse farm these days and while I may be wearing my “cowboys jeans and boots,” I feel very elegant.

  9. I am so relieved, that at least on one occasion, you looked untidy in public. I shall live on this for weeks. I do think that is it not more work to try a bit – it’s a top and a bottom any way you look at it. I have found in the last year or so that I wear blouses more than t-shirts, but I cannot abandon blue jeans as they are like home to me. So, on weekends, jeans, a blouse, good belt, good shoes, shooting stick to the games, all in all, a fair effort.

  10. Seasonally, there is a change in the air and it is far easier in the fall to appear dressed with classic coverings, ie, a Trench or a long Jacket which can cover a “just worked out on my way home” or a more dressed appearance to take the long haul of the day, a fresh top, trousers and classic shoes. Removal of shoes to slippers along with removal of accessories….this does sound as if we were at the airport, about to go through the security check. One suddenly feels underdressed and
    “mussed” on the way to mufti-

  11. It’s good to know that there are people out there who take the time and make the effort, and maybe enjoy being elegant even in “down time.” I especially like to hear that there are people who change a couple of times a day. Dinner clothes? Can I really begin to believe that some people still do this at home? I think that’s fantastic!

    Don’t forget night wear or early morning wear. Wool robes, and elegant Pj’s are a great way to bring breakfast in bed to your lady on a Sunday morning.

    Those elegant robes in regimental patterns, or blackwatch, or solids, are a great way to dress down in the evening. Slacks, and fresh button down shirt, with the robe. Slippers work, but I’ve dedicated a pair of Alden tan suede loafers as my indoor shoes. They never leave the house. If I’ve had a rough day, changing into this scene from a 1930’s film just lifts my spirits and relaxes me.

  12. Mrs. PvE, with the change in the weather, I often throw a tennis/cricket sweater over my gym clothes and it does help my mood! I purchased a cotton jersey scarf from American Apparel and it sees duty with the sweater when the cold is a bit much. Since it’s cotton, I just chuck it in the wash after I perspire into it too much.

    Mrs. B, I think you and Robin are on the same page! Even a bit of effort is always noticed!

    CG, yes! I should do a post on night clothes. The right ones can really elevate your spirits, I agree! I once bought Mrs. E. a pair of navy silk pyjamas that were piped in white. The cut was pure 1930’s beach and they were her house clothes for awhile. All good things…. like to find another pair of those!

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