Thursday, March 24, 2011

Dressing Like a Boy

Sometimes it's acceptable.  Mostly not.

Reliving, emulating, or paying tribute to school uniforms is one of the acceptable ways to dress as a child... for men at least (the female version is usually only trotted out in sickening pedi-fetish-form and usually on Halloween.)
Gray flannel pants (khakis in fall/spring), stiff Anglo-made shoes, Bengal-stripe or white shirt, striped or crested tie, and the requisite durable blazer.

The infantile writer of this blog tries to live out lost years

The young school-lad look is so etched into the DNA that even eighty year-olds will appear in what is likely a version of their uniform or dress code  from seventy years prior.

What was easy for a six-to-seventeen year old to master is understandably comfortable and effortless for an adult.  It requires very little thought, is generally acceptable in non-business settings, and is remarkably comfortable.  I recently walked to lunch with a elderly pillar or Boston who still wears his boarding school scarf, decimated by moths and repaired endlessly, but still around his neck seventy five years later.

The knit tie is popular in boy's schools because it hides blemish, stain, and general damage VERY well.  School-issued ties to boys are almost always (still) polyester because they are durable and washable.  The daily clothing of the uniformed boys-school lad is wholly unlike the images the catalogs show (silk ties, polished shoes, and belts with nouns embroidered on them).  The truth is that every inch of fabric on the young sprouts (day and boarders alike) will be utterly disgusting, and possibly ineligible for hand-me-down to the next younger brother by virtue of its mosaic of stains and thread-bare victimhood.

Brooks Brothers keeps sending me their catalogs depicting modeling-agency children in their miniature finery.

Brooks Bros. "Prep Blazer"... naively offered at $228

Like all images, they fail to address the likely state of school-mandated blazers amongst young boys:
     -buttons replaced a thousand times
     -forgotten on the athletic field overnight
     -buffet of petrified and putrefied crumbs in the side pockets
     -covered in multiple layers of varying filth
     -yards of pen marks
     -sleeves shellacked in mucus
     -too long/short and too baggy/tight
     -shined and crumbling elbows
     -snags from orthodontia (including someone else's)

For adults, avoid mimic and caricature by swapping here and there, avoid school crests on the jacket (club patches are acceptable), and keep the ballcaps away unless you're watching little Arlie Jr. get trampled on the soccer field.  Extra points for a heavily darned and uncleanable v-neck (school crest is acceptable here).


  1. Oh, you're so spot on. Trouble is, kids aren't wearing this stuff at school anymore, so where will that leave them when they're all grown up and wanting comfort? In a tracksuit, I fear. Here are my thoughts from some time ago on this very subject: Being Manly: School Uniform

  2. My son attends a boy's prep boarding school in New England and, when he returns home, despite the best efforts of the mandatory laundry service, I can easily attest to the accuracy of your list for his clothing. Thanks so much for your witty and informative blog; throughout the week it provides me many opportunities to smile.

  3. Heh heh. We wore this when I was a kid and the jackets were disgusting by the end of the week. So true!

  4. Excellent piece, as always.

    I avoid navy blazers (at least SB variety) for this very reason.

    Something I don't understand about Anglos and Anglo-wannabes is the lingering attachment to schooldays.

    American males, as I've written elsewhere, remain very boyish even into much later years, and I don't intend the observation as a compliment. It requires further analysis.

  5. Our (wool, dry clean only) uniform kilts doubled as field hockey uniforms - beyond gross.

  6. Nick in RotherhitheApril 28, 2012 at 5:45 AM

    Almost every English and Scottish schoolboy still dresses this way, as did I -- and very smart it looks too.


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