Easy and Elegant Life

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

First and Last Days


The children began school today (September 2nd.) Which means that Mrs. E. and I were summoned to meet with teachers and handed out books of information that are required reading, especially in order that we be prepared for tomorrow.

As many of you know, I work from home. But my public persona has wavered very little since I began working “real jobs.”

Well, there was a brief period of wearing espadrilles and pastel shades to the State Department that raised a few eyebrows. Ah, the Miami Vice aesthetic… or lack thereof.

In general, however, I tend to dress as well as I know how. When, inevitably, I am asked what I do, I reply that I write. A blog, mostly, with some other marketing and advertising work thrown in when strictly necessary. I call it “TheOverDressedWriter.com.” I hope that it lessens the disappointment when it is discovered that I am neither famous novelist nor corporate Master of the Universe. Dressing up, you see, tends to grant you attributes which you may not possess.

I’m sure that some of it is competitive at this point. In that Machiavelliankind of way. Which will explain part of reason that I chose the combination you see above. Navy chalk stripes and bright yellow accents are a powerful combination. The shirt is custom made glen plaid with a yellow windowpane overlay. The shoes are a gleaming designer brand with a ridiculously elongated toe and tight waist and are unlikely to be seen within a hundred miles of me so foreign do they seem. I hope the message I’m sending is that I may work from home, but I take it seriously and I’m good at what I do.

But that’s half the story. It’s what you don’t see — the braces that ensure my trousers maintain an elegant line, the working button holes on the surgeon’s cuffs, the monogram that hides in the hollow of my rib cage opposite the sixth button on my shirt, the leather jotter and engraved business cards, the bright yellow socks — that flesh out my internal dialogue. Those things I alone know about. And they are there strictly to please me.

Like that yellow tie. It’s a summer classic and its days are numbered as Labor Day approaches. It leaps out that yellow, a joyful flash of bright summer against a dark business suit.

And today, as my daughter begins schooling in earnest and cannnot wait for the day to begin and my son wants to skip breakfast and leave immediately for his preschool, I am as proud as a peacock.

13 thoughts on “First and Last Days

  1. Really a beautiful outfit. I would not change a thing. Well, maybe the shoes…but it is such a great point that the details only we know about are what give that feeling of confidence which stems from secret weapons in the struggle with daily tedium.

    By the way, I think your point about working from home and people’s perceptions in that regard are very good. I am always amazed when an office-working woman says to my wife “of course you have all sorts of time, you’re at home”….not always the best lead with an Irish Redhead.


  2. Very nice! Congratulations to your children, on to new adventures! It’s such an exciting process to be a part of.

    I am actually considering quitting my “real job” and working from home. We’ll see. If it happens, I hope to dress “as well as I know how,” inspired by you.

  3. Clothes do make (th) the man. You look tres elegant, and I agree, being dressed this way sings a multitude about who you are, or how you should be considered. It’s staggering, the effect. I too “work” from home, but unless I’m “receiving”, I don’t dress in such formality; the acknowledgement in this country comes de rigeur, and I certainly do not have to attempt it in front of my (domestic) staff. But I never ever go “out” improperly dressed. Ever. And I am so dismayed at tourists, (or “terrorists” in the Bush vernacular), who do not respect these niceties.

  4. Your capture and mix the colours impeccably like no-one! I absolutely adore the yellow tie. It would stand out on a sunny day. I’ve always loved the colour, yellow – it’s such an optimistic colour. But this is one of those colours that so few of us can pull off without looking like jaundice! I particularly like a Nancy Lancaster-yellow, the colour well-liked by artists and refined gentlemen. Derry Moore (A famous British Photographer. He photographed The Princess of Wales, Prince William and Prince Harry), my idol, is one of the most well dressed English gentlemen and here is a photograph of him, looking so effortlessly elegant in his yellow sweater. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/23/garden/23derry.html

  5. I remember reading an article in some finance magazine about working from home. The first thing they recommended was to get up, bathe (sad people need to be told this) and dress as if you were going to the office. Makes the day more productive.

    And, I agree with M. Lane. Not sure about the shoes. Otherwise, spectacular. And, damn, I still love those shelves.

  6. Thank you very much, Mr. E. Once again you have provided an excellent example for untold numbers of “I don’t need to impress anyone today” types who continue to degrade our collective experience while out in public. Your comments about the details of your wardrobe which only you can know about help to illustrate further that one must dress for oneself. Adding such “inconsequential/unimportant” items has a direct impact on your own self-esteem and deportment.
    My salutations and best wishes to your family. They too have someone to be proud of.

  7. Great outfit. I was kind of surprised, though, to see that your tie & pocket square were the same shade. Isn’t that a little too “match-y match-y”?

  8. Great photograph and what a happy day for the family. We delivered our baby to college this fall, and it was as exciting as the very first day of school. I love September!

    I was struck by your phrase of ‘working at home.’ I realized that for the past 18 years I have been telling enquiring minds that ‘I don’t work outside the home.’ What a difference rearranging a sentence makes! Starting today, I work at home.

  9. P.S. to the Columnist: If you are going to bust President Bush on his flawed speech pattern, you should know the following–

    No e in acknowledgment;

    Correct spelling of French term is de rigueur;

    No comma after the word tourist;

    The use of quotation marks around work, receiving, and out is inappropriate. Indirect quotations require no quotation marks;

    And I must correct my use of single quotation marks above. They are unnecessary and incorrect. I should have simply used italics.

    I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. “Eats, Shoots & Leaves” sits next to the Bible at our house. 🙂

  10. Brent, sort of… the pocket square has a bunch of boxes formed of blue dots and a blue patterned edge to it. It didn’t come across in the photo. A better choice would have been a light blue with some yellow in it, but I don’t have one in that colourway.

    Paula, I’m inclined to agree with Columnist that poorly turned out tourists should be relabeled.

    Turling and M. Lane, that’s why the shoes rarely leave the house! But I do have certain very wide legged trousers which they take to nicely. I do like a slim and longer shoe given the choice.

    A Super Dilletante, thanks for the link. What a great article (and gracious subject.) I’ve ordered a copy of the book.

    CL, it helps me to take working at home seriously. And I’m always ready to duck out in public, etc. . Good luck!

    M. Lane, I empathize with your wife. There’s not enough time in the day to get everything done that I would like. But maybe because I really love my work and I also deal with the domestic side of things. Desperately seeking staff (and funds to pay same.)

  11. Looking good – I actually think you have better men’s shops in your neck of the woods than we do here in DC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.