Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Jermyn Street Fightin' Man

A while back, during an e-meeting of's Ruling Junta, the following comment about one of the Chosen Four wafted across the summer breezes:

“He [some unnamed member] would seem to be, based on the website, someone upon whose shoes I would gladly vomit, preferably after having drunk very, very cheap vodka.”

As both a shoe fetishist and vodka-absorption mechanism (i.e. former professional magazine writer), Mattis was hurt, wounded, appalled and offended. His succinct riposte: “After which he would find said shoes lodged between his teeth.” While his (Mattis’) heart is in the right place, whether he is correct is not so simple a matter to determine, as we’ll examine shortly. However, he is correct in his general outlook on the matter.

As the dandy saunters insouciantly through life, he often exacerbates the baser passions of his fellows and his lessers, and this—particularly in the case of the latter group, as evidenced by the comment above—often manifests itself in the form of belligerent provocation. The stereotype of a dandy is such that it assumes dandies are a diffident lot, shrinking back in cowardice because a bloodstained shirt would unflatteringly wash out his skin tones. Which isn’t true. Dandies may not be men of violence, but we are men of action.

Here is where Mattis’ answer becomes a springboard for discussion. A dandy intent on placing, with great celerity and no little force, his footwear against the teeth of his foe must be particularly mindful that not all shoes are ideal for this task. Spectators between the teeth? Sure. But captoes? The captoe is more of a groin-kicking shoe, whereas the brogue is better suited to cracking a couple of slats on a supine--or possibly prone--opponent. The monkstrap, of course, is the ideal footwear to lodge up someone's lower digestive tract, since the buckle rewards the user with additional bit of frisson. The penny-loafer is singularly useless for any pugilistic endeavor, as any kicking motion will surely launch them. Yes, of course, these would seem to have merit as projectiles, but the bitter truth is these shoes are inadequate, lacking both distance and accuracy.

If the aggressor seems the type who is easily suffused with blood, a dandy would be wise to avoid footwear made (wholly or partly) of suede, “reverse calf” or buckskin. Shell cordovan is the ideal leather, but simple calf will suffice. These along with the slightly pedestrian cowhide will prove more resilient against the hematological onslaught of any lout in the process of being taught simple etiquette. A dandy must equally beware of the shape of the toe of a given shoe. Too rounded and one’s kicks are likely to glance off ineffectually, too chiseled and one misses the mark in a most awkward fashion. Tassels and “kilties” only complicate matters.

A dandy will not speak of square toed shoes in mixed company.

There is much debate among scholars as to whether the matter ought rest here, with shoes, or proceed onwards. As the official arbiters of all that is best and finest, it behooves us to showcase all possibilities, allowing the reader to decide on his own. Following is a brief overview, with apologies to those among the readership who have already applied forcible physical correction to unprovoked antagonism.

One’s hosiery should provide cushioning for the foot inside the shoe, as it will be subjected to no small amount of force as it metes out Dandy Justice. It should also allow the shod foot to move, fully and without undue friction, throughout all its planes of motion. If a dandy wishes to attempt the Penny Loafer Launcher gambit, he should array himself with the finest cotton lisle socks, in a delicate interlock knit such as Pantherella's, as this will provide for the best possible trajectory. (So-called "experts" on this technique assure the Junta the most advisable thing is to launch the LEFT shoe—if one is right-footed—to test for windage, aim, etc. prior to launching one’s “prime” shoe.)

Trousers ought have a gentle taper from knee to ankle. If the taper is too severe or “pegged” it could restrict the full extension of the leg and inhibit hip flexion. This, needless to say, would greatly nullify the benefits of any footwear in the course of addressing aggression against one’s person or any provocation to same. Well, possibly not in the case of cap-toes, as its signature move (i.e., The Nut Cracker Sweet) is optimally suited for a lower target. In the case of a man whose physical defense plan hinges on the already risky Penny Loafer Launch, he is almost certainly doomed to meet a grave humiliation at the hands of a drinker of cheap vodka. Therefore, a man who is attired in such trousers is almost certain to be confined to stamping his feet at one’s foe and, if he is of Mediterranean extraction, being mistaken for a flamenco dancer.

However, trousers of insufficient taper are aerodynamically inefficient. These suffer from unacceptable drag coefficients and may be readily seized by the great unwashed with whom one is altercating. The result? Being upended in an unseemly way and additional cleaning bills. The trousers ought be inward-pleated, as well. This maximizes torso rotation and hip flexion and is, quite literally, the master pivot point for a dandy man of action. There is some controversy on this, but onseam pockets seem to help.

Shirts should be cut full—but not voluminous—again, for the sake of torso rotation. The shirting ought be a tight, solid weave such as cambric or pinpoint. These offer near-frictionless movement inside a jacket, always an important consideration. The choice of shoulder pleats or a central box pleat is up to the individual dandy, depending on his propensity for jabs (box pleats) or uppercuts (shoulder pleats). Pockets are to be eschewed as too easy to grasp by an opponent, especially one saturated by very, very cheap vodka. As a point of personal preference, I will interject my predilection for buttondown collars, also to minimize the opportunity for said opponent to seize any part of my person. I believe a great deal of merit has also been ascribed to the cutaway in this regard.

The necktie ought be secured to the placket via a strong tie bar and, if one can pull off the look, a bow tie is ideal.

The jacket is a source of much misinformation for the dandy compelled by circumstances to engage in a combative redress of grievances. Many dandies, once it becomes apparent that provocation or aggression must be repulsed, jettison the jacket. This is unwise because the jacket may suffer some damage while comeuppance is being administered to the layabout in question, and also because the jacket provides a measure of protection against both the drunken flailing of the impudent vodka-swiller, as well as against any debris such as E-Z Pour Shatterproof vodka bottles, screw caps, swivel-backed cufflinks or teeth. The mistaken notion is that whatever function as armor a jacket may provide, is outweighed by its cumbersome nature, which restricts movement and unnecessarily protracts the proceedings.

This needn’t be so. A jacket featuring a “blade cut” or a “drape cut” and egg-shaped scyes will astound users with its functionality and, if one is of a mind to wear sports jackets, a bi-swing back may be added to further enhance movement even beyond the capability of its wearer. If such a back is not compatible with a man’s physique, he may opt for a double-breasted model, making sure he buttons it at the bottom row of buttons. This will loose the torso from any restrictions while still keeping one’s necktie and waistband out of reach. In any case, side vents are to be avoided, as they are easily grasped.

Lastly, a signet ring on the dominant hand is strongly suggested. If a man prefers a “karate chop,” as do most adherents of Issey Mikaye and of Hong Kong tailors, the rign ought be on the pinky. Men who prefer a more Queensberry-ish blow (with apologies to Oscar Wilde) which is especially the case with those who go in for natural shoulder stuff, really should have it in the ring finger.

We trust this primer has been of use to our readers who are compelled by circumstances to sharply correct the lesser, coarser elements of society.



Blogger M2 said...

Damned funny, J. Damned funny.


4:18 PM  

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