Easy and Elegant Life

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

Evolving Tastes: Middle Age or Middle Way?

I find my tastes are changing. I’d like to say “evolving”, but I think that is giving myself too much credit. Perhaps it is just this middle age thing.

Walking into Corporate Creature and The Architect’s home is to drift in luxury — the luxury of an elegantly appointed home that is at once serene and stately. The Manse is anything but. We are awash in colour, texture, collections, books, magazines and plastic toys. It’s starting to bug me.

Sort of like the combination — the bottom, wide-legged, half of which is shown — above. Nubuck and leather (spectators, Peal by B²), cotton, linen and, above the waist, silk (a short-sleeved camp shirt in textured black). Even though the outfit is made of perfectly acceptable summer components, it is more costume-y, more tarted up than allows for the desired elegant effect.

The ascot would be hard to pull off in the USA these days. I know, I’ve tried (though it did work outside the Negresco in Nice.) That strip of silk also gets very warm in summer, these days you would see a linen scarf. But the rest? Timeless.

The t-shirt and trouser look sounds more contemporary, but we rarely see all-white being worn by men these days. I’m not sure why. It is very flattering to a tanned face and high contrast colouring.For a weekend on a boat, perhaps, but this wouldn’t fly almost anywhere else, or on anyone else. White jeans and a polo shirt might. In both cases shown, note the loafers. Summer is the time to loosen up your footwear, too. (By the way, I believe that the photo immediately above was taken at San Simeon.)

A colour print of the scene inside the hotel. I’m always astounded that Mr. Grant buttons that lower button. But really, he could get away with anything, unlike the gentleman to the right of the photo who needs more sun or proper trousers.

As summer is the time to lighten up your footwear, it is also time to lighten up the palette. Khaki, white, tan, worn with lighter brown shoes all look good. Now look closely at that blazer. A contemporary take might include a chambray model with minimal lining. Smart and unexpected. (Ms. Kelly is equally smart and unexpected. If someone were to show up at the pool looking like this, I might fall right in!)

So what is my point with all this? Lighten up, don’t take anything too seriously, except the way you present yourself. I should have stuck with the old dictum to take one thing off before leaving the house. As I adjust to middle age, I am more drawn to the middle way. Or perhaps it is quiet that I crave in all things. In fifteen years, however, I’ll do whatever I damn well please. Which means that now is the time to lay the proper foundation.

3 thoughts on “Evolving Tastes: Middle Age or Middle Way?

  1. I know what you mean about wearing pieces that end up too costume-y. Sometimes that hat and tie just have to go…but NOT the pocket square. As for the interiors, don’t be bullied into minimalism and dull, silver monochromatic room decor…too many shops and residences are going that way, and it starts to look bland and generic.

    There is a movement towards “anti decorating” in which one embraces those scattered toys, the crooked lampshade, stacks of shabby books, and an unmade bed…more natural and human.

    As for Grace Kelly in that summer ensemble, after going to some chic summer parties and watching various royal weddings (Monaco, England), I’ve come to the conclusion that for women, the bigger the hat, the chicer the hat.

  2. Personally, I don’t care for white jeans on men. To me, they are a feminine look and best worn very trim, but not skin tight. Also, like all jeans, they are simply not a good look unless one is slim. I think it was Bill Blass who said that a woman must be thin to look chic in jeans. Men of all body types seem to be able to wear blue jeans and look sporty, but please–no white jeans for the guys. ‘Sea salt’ color linen/cotton trousers as above, yes!

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