Easy and Elegant Life

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

Cool (Weather) Dressing

Off to a cocktail party celebration of the Fan District Association’s 50th anniversary. Canali DB navy nailhead suit, Leviner Wood Custom cocktail cuff shirt, Drake’s tie, worn with black Venetian loafers. The loafers and tie dressed things down a bit. Click through for more detail.

I don’t understand something. Why have we given up?

Is it that we have, as a society, made so much money at every level of the socio-economic scale as to only want to wear “comfortable clothing”? Clothing defined by inadequate construction, constricting cuts (or no-cut-at-all denim bags and sweat suits) and all-around sameness as to be indestinguishable from the man next to you? Is this the 1950’s taken to its logical extreme? Whatever you do, don’t stand out. Even in a good way?

Or are we trying to look cool?

Because cool looks different at 40 than it does at 20.

Pat Boone autographing his signature white bucks.

Boone trading in the boy next door for the rebel without a cause look.

And finally… the rebel without a clue.

When do we decide that we want to grow up and present ourselves as adults? The folks at the cocktail party got it (well the vast majority did) with the men mostly in lounge suits and the women always doing us one better in cocktail length dresses or satin trousers and miles of heels.

I hope with the change of weather that we’ll see more grown-ups dressing well. Even if you’re in a casual environment, you can step up your game. Here are a few key pieces to keep on hand for the coming months:

A pair of loafers or moccasins without lug soles. Bonus points for those of you who choose brown suede. Or a pair of sleek chukka boots. Anything beyond the boat shoe. Unless you actually sail, in which case wear your boat shoes, nautical flag ribbon belt and foul weather jacket with pride of ownership.

Corduroy trousers. Not five-pocket “cords”, but real trousers. Flat front and hemmed, pleated and cuffed, it doesn’t matter. Four, six or eight wale (the number of ribs per inch), I like wide-wales, but choose what suits you. Good colours are olive green, brown or gold. For those of you who play with your look: red, kelly green, even white are fair game. Moleskins, if you can find them, are also comfortable and good-looking alternatives to worsteds.

Cashmere sweaters: one in a conservative navy blue, grey, or black, the other in a brighter, lighter or jewel-toned colour.

Tattersall shirts. Or checked shirts. You own enough white and blue button downs. Lightweight flannels and Viyella are fine choices this time of year.

Tweed. A car coat, a sportcoat, a driving cap, scarves… It’s rugged and practically indestructible, but dresses up or down.

Regardless, as tempting as it is to wrap up in jeans, sweatshirts and sneakers with a ball cap over the uncombed hair, please keep fighting the good fight.

Thanks for reading. Thus endeth the screed.

10 thoughts on “Cool (Weather) Dressing

  1. When people say that they just want to be comfortable I think what they really are saying is that they want dressing to be easy. They don’t want to put any thought into about what to wear.

  2. David, one of the best arguments I’ve heard for editing a closet. My goal is to have a wardrobe so in tune with what looks good on me that I could reach in blindfolded and pull out a great look.

  3. No, I am not in love with you; just wanted to tell you that you look fabulous. Hope all is well, I enjoy your blog.
    BYW, I asked for your chicken recipe a while back and have prepared it many times since – delicious.
    Joy-Marie aka Mrs Snell

  4. I agree with all your points. Dressing in a way that looks too young seems to proclaim “middle age crisis”. If carefully chosen to fit slightly roomy, suits, jackets, and shirts with neckties can be perfectly comfortable. This means one has to avoid some of the very narrow fitting suits and jackets that are currently the fashion.

    I also find that athletic wear, now usually made of synthetics or cotton, looks very cheap compared with woolen jackets or trousers, and for situations where others will see you (even at the mall), it lacks the “substance” that gives distinction and taste.

    I think one problem as to why people look careless is that few are good at co-ordinating. The answer is monochromatic dressing. It isn’t always exciting, but it is the easiest way to foolproof, easy elegance. And monochromatic dressing also makes everyone look taller.

  5. And, to top it off, regardless of one’s position on the material means spectrum, the simple fact remains that people treat a well-dressed man differently…in a good way. The presence of grooming and dress done well gives any wealthy slob wake-up slap. All others grant deference. And two well-appointed people crossing each others’ paths simply nod to each other in recognition, much the same as the motorcycle rider left-hand-downward wave minus the bikes. LIfe is a game; anyone can play well, even those with limited means. The Canali looks great.

  6. George, I agree. In fact with Uniqlo, J Crew, Topman, etc all doing dressier things, nice looking clothing is available at all prices. How right about that nod!

    SWF, Great point about the technical fabrics. However, I will say that the slimmer cuts are good for casual dressing as they can be very elegant. Monochromatic doesn’t have to be boring — pattern and texture can still play a part! Great ideas.

    Joy-Marie, You are very welcome and thank you.

  7. Oh dear, and you didn’t even mention flying. These days everyone looks like refugees- sweats, velour track suits, flannel pajama pants and things you would never dream of as “carry on luggage.” When I see the rare gentleman traveller in a suit and tie with a proper bag and polished shoes, it is all that I can do to restrain myself from running up and kissing him.

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