Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Ascot

"Dear Yankee-Whiskey-Papa,
I was visiting with my grandfather who is one of the best dressed men I know, and he gave me an ascot of his.  My question is will I look like a jerk wearing it?"


Dear Joshua,
Yes, you will look like a bit of a jerk wearing it, but that is exactly why you should immediately put it on.  It is excellent tribute to the generosity of your grandfather and his style, and it will sharply reduce the number of high-fives offered you.  The majority of people will likely think that you look like a dandy, but the majority of people abhor wearing actual clothing out of doors anyway.  I wouldn't make it a trademark of yours, but certainly put it on at parties, evenings to restaurants, or any other time you please.  You can always start slowly, by keeping it tightly tucked  under the shirt and not billowing up, looking as if your clavicles have vomited silk.

Most come in pointed ends, with pleats around the neck-portion.  These fit very well, but make themselves limited in their application.  If you have a sweater, they can also be used as a tie if you're in a pinch.

I mostly use long silk scarves, rolled or folded, because they can be taken off and given to someone if it's cold, and they tend to be warmer and fuller. 

The patterns on the pre-formed ones are generally conservative.  Avoid solids when possible, and contrary to what many say, stripes are very pleasant.

The open neck looks a bit odd, and reminds everyone that you may likely be someone who speaks loudly on a cellphone before berating the gate-agent about your delayed flight.

A silk scarf can start between the jacket and the sweater or shirt, letting people know that you are stylishly preparing for the evening to cool down.

Between jacket and sweater

Inside the party or during your stroll, the scarf can be worn between sweater and shirt for a more elegant look that is still uncommon enough to be interesting but without all the stereotypical baggage associated.

Between sweater and shirt

Now, there is no turning back.  Once the silk goes between shirt and neck, every hockey high-fiver, blood-thirsty shut-in, 'roid-raging goon, methed-out hayseed, and management-speak spanky will cross the room to make a Thurston Howell joke.  You should have thought of this before you went into Bucky's Sports Bar and Grill dressed in an ascot.

Between shirt and skin

The ascot has been unfairly railroaded into it's stereotype for decades.  It works just as well with jeans, pajamas, or a vest, but always with a jacket.  I say wear it, and nevermind caring what people think of it.  An evening party in the cooler months with a dark velvet jacket and silk ascot somehow makes gin taste better, and a scarf between sweater and shirt is just right for a ride in the convertible or a trip to the library peddling the English three-speed.
Leaving it untucked is far beyond the limits of sensible, and advisable only if you are the Amherst-modeled driver of the Mystery Machine.  Zoiks!


  1. I think 'tween shirt and skin is the only appropriate set up....never seen the other presentation..???? Also, agree solids do not work.

  2. I think Main Line may have skipped over the spot where YWP mentions that he prefers full scarves to pre-formed ascots. Obviously a scarf can be worn at any of the points mentioned. A preformed ascot, not so much.

    One question this leads me to is to wonder whether we should regard the pre-formed ascot as a separate accessory from the scarf to facilitate under-shirt wear, or the scarf equivalent of the premade bow-tie, or prefolded pocket square, or now-disappeared dickey. I tend to lean towards the former definition, though certainly there are similarities with the latter.


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