Friday, June 25, 2010

Presidential Collars

Watching the World Cup on a business trip to Little Rock, Arkansas had me double-take when I saw what my host-city's famous son wore while he was in South Africa rooting for the US men. President Clinton's collar forced me to post a few images of it.
There stood our former President, in an uncharacteristically excellent shirt of purple "gingham-check" (we often call it a small butcher check), with a fantastic cut-away collar. This looks a lot like a T.M. Lewin St. James collar (they call it "lilac"). Judging by the photo above, it may not be of the tapered variety.

Appearing at the World Cup in so pleasant a shirt, with a tie equally well played was impressive. Discovering this while I was actually in Little Rock was all too strange, and I was immediately moved to broadcast his handsome choice in collar. This also means that I have to either partially retract, or at least modify, my earlier claims about Pols and collars. Well played, Mr. President.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Socks the life out of you...

The rebirth of the sock seems to be here. Several readers have asked about socks lately, so I am putting this in. What do socks mean? Generally, something beyond keeping chiggers off the ankle bone, but not as far as a semaphore code of the clubby cognoscenti. Purveyors of fine gent-clothing are filling their sock display cases with vivid and relatively heroic sock patterns, to the delight of many, and to the horror of most. The preceding-described ratio gives the trend a better-than-average chance of being good, but with a shelf-life (drawer life?). Is this a trend? Yes. Is it new? Absolutely not. The English pioneered the gentleman's ankle-hose chance glance as a template for dash just as the neck, breast-pocket, and wrist were all developed into fully legitimate and explorable areas of statement.

Conservative suit? The socks take the sting out... or perhaps add it in... either way, you transform the look. Do you regularly meet after work in a venue surrounded by men with the off-the-rack-cut suits? Have the lawyers or fancies begun to add the pocket-square after several of your handsomely bedecked appearances? Simply steady the helm right for the rocky shore, and watch the others peel away to safety as your spreaders brush the branches on your daring tack, in and out of territory unfriendly to most.

BTC Contributor at the Speakeasy
Double breasted suit or blazer? Why not deliver that Lord Byron lecture in ribbed pink socks? The timid will gasp, and the ladies will cross the room to compliment you.

If bold stripes are too flash, soften the ankle/shin reveal with a more plain green, blue, or maroon.

YWP in Green Socks
If you see a man in a conservative suit wearing red socks, there is a very good chance that he is involved in the London arts scene, and is familiar with where one gets genuine lacquered pieces at fair prices. Mismatched socks? Probably a good writer or a bad graduate student. White socks? This one depends: If they are tube socks, you are interviewing an impostor, and you are about to be shaken down for what money you can pull together from pockets and wallets.

If the socks are thick and heavily cabled, and can be pulled over the knee, you have a man wearing kilt-hose with his suit during the winter, and you should treat him like the visionary he is. Make no mistake... tall ribbed black socks are perfect, and always acceptable. Gold Toe makes great ones that last forever, and have nice ribbing and snap. The best? For my money, and for universality, I like tall ribbed over-the-calf charcoal flecked socks. However, the trend back toward ankle-flash is welcome, and I hope it continues. Thomas Pink, Turnbull & Asser, T.M. Lewin, and the rest, all have vast new inventories of more daring socks.

I am happy to see these little ankle beacons flickering around sidewalks, halls, and offices. I like it with black-tie on occasion, and one can't go wrong with thinner models worn with summer suits. If you are expected as a guest at a house or culture which generally requires shoe-removal at entry, show the host that you don't screw around, and reveal polka dots ("spots" to the English) or a candy-stripe from within the shoe which they assume with defile their floors. The perfect time to try out a particularly loud pattern is during air-travel... TSA and the white-sneakered air patrons will get an eyefull as you remove (for inspection) the hardest working element of your wardrobe.