Thursday, June 23, 2005

This is the look you want.

It's summer, but it's also summer 2005. This means that when going to a "smart occasion" (as our Britpals might say) you need to be a bit more pulled-together. An excellent way to do so and still be the raffish, Continental rake you've always envisioned is with the tan linen suit.

This needn't be worn with a tie, but it could be, I s'pose. Here's the recipe:

1 single-breasted tan* linen** suit
1 straight- or spread-collared light blue shirt, barrel cuffed. Pinpoint is ideal, as is end-on-end. Broadcloth could also work, provided the blue doesn't look like buttercream on a cake. NO, no buttondowns, no tabcollars, no French Blue, no French Cuffs. VARIATION: white/blue stripes, provided the blue in the stripes is no darker than a French Blue.

This being summer, the silhouette really ought be relaxed and drapey. Keep the "that-is-so-5-minutes-ago" trim, high-gorge look away.

You can see the intended effect--spoiled, alas, in execution--at the Polo site, in their feture on the "tan Congressman suit." (If the link doesn't work, sorry...you'll just have to go there and search. It'll reveal itself soon enough.)

Any tie should be along the taupe or green or MA-A-AYBE blue axes. For keeping your trousers on, a simple "ranger" belt (in alligator or crocodile with sterling buckle***/keeper(s)/tip, should you feel plush...but a quality braided leather will suffice) in a medium sort of mahogany will prove quite stylish, but the rakiest among us will opt for one of Trafalgar's assorted brown leather suspenders, like these.

As for shoes...while oxfords are eminently suitable, I kind of like tasseled loafers, lowish in the vamp and not too, y'know, busy, tassel-wise. Suede is an interesting look, and not half-bad sockless if you're thus inclined. No lug soles, no boat-moc grommets...remember, the intention is sleekness. Something along these lines.

For such a casual suit, you may want to seek out not only the big names like Polo (or, better yet, Purple Label), Brooks Brothers or Oxxford, but also look to the better value purveyors, Jos. A Bank's, Lands' End (where these are conveniently sold as separates...the whole thing running no more than $200!), and if you'd like a bit of both, Ben Silver.

Now, all you need is a vintage Alfa Romeo convertible, a waiting bottle of prosecco and an eager ragazza longing for your affections.
* Anything along the stone-sand-khaki spectrum will do
** Cotton/linen blends are OK, if you simply must.
*** Keep it discreet, you're NOT a touring member of either the PGA or PBR

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