Monday, October 23, 2006

It's all in the details, really.

[If you are reading this post on a site other than Basic Civilization, or reading this with in the address, you are reading scraped and stolen content.]

If you look carefully, you will see that current thought on matters of menswear is pendulating* back in the direction of unaffected elegance. Mark you, this doesn't mean men are dressing that way in appreciably greater numbers, but it's a twinkle of optimism which bodes well for the very long term. At dead worst, it can't hurt.

When discussing the matter of unaffected elegance, what we really mean is the conjunction of simplicity and perfection (of fit, construction, etc.) and suitability (flattering color or cut, and so forth). Of course, the more simply elegant things get, the more scope there is for the man whose mind can work in subtle ways to express himself.

As I march inexorably towards senescence, I am beginning to look at different things when glancing at the pages of (what passes for) fashion magazines or noticing the aspect of my fellow man. 10 years ago I would have focused on his lapel or the cut of his trouser cuff. Today I notice things like the jetting of the pockets and the shape and finish of the buttonholes.

Which brings us to the topic of today lads (and those unfortunate lasses stuck with lads who ought be absorbing evcery word on this blog but aren't) which is the matter of bringing a subtle frisson of elegance to your array. Part of the "subtle" thing is to make sure that a) all the elements are individually subtle, and b) the aggregate of all these subtle elements is likewise subtle. That is to say, if you wear a discreet pair of cufflinks, with a discreet pocket watch chain and discreet fob, and a discreet collar pin, and a discreet signet ring, and a discreet tie clip/bar...well, a metric ton o' subtle is hardly subtle, is it?

The goal is for those who know to notice, and those who don't to not notice.

Here are some of my favorite gentlemanly fillips, fortunately in broader availability** these days:

1- Silk knot cufflinks. You may wear them in your school colors, to match your tie or pocket square, etc. It fairly elevated the wearer to the ionosphere of cognoscenti.

2- A proper timepiece. It takes nothing--beyond a net worth which outstrips one's sense of taste--to wear a diamond-encrusted Rolex. If one is keen to wear the cost-equivalent of a midsize sedan on one's wrist, one could choose from umpteen elegant Patek Philippe or Breguet or Blancpain watches. But even that is unnecessary. Just avoid too much gold (solid gold bracelets ought be approached with the greatest caution, as they can very easily fall into pimp or The Sopranos territory) and all precious stones except a cabochon at the crown. Leather straps are preferable with suits and sports jackets, steel bracelets are acceptable with more sporting apparel or any time your wrist is likely to get all perspirant. Oh, and avoid the modern tendency for watches with cases the size of bagels. Lastly, one needn't spend beyond the mid 100s for an elegant, quality timepiece. Brands such as Tourneau (although those can get very pricy very fast) and Tissot and Frederique Constant are quite reasonably priced, excellent quality and more often than not, supremely elegant. The less said about replicas, the better.

3- Collar pins. I know, I screams "1980s." The trick is to find the plain barbell (where one ball unscrews) and, ideally, a shirt with the proper pinholes sewn in. If you cannot find such a shirt, find an old one destined to polish furniture and practice affixing the bar without scarring the collar. If push came to shove, tab collars are also natty and very understressed these days.

4- Monk strap shoes. A touch of glint around your Antarctic circle is a good idea. Also, their construction, unencumbered by broguing or caps is sleek and cool. (The buckle only being revealed when you walk; in the above picture the trousers are hiked up a scoche to show off the whole shoe.)

And there you have it. Go perform a benefit for the eyeballs of the human race.


* If that's not a word, it damned well ought to be.
** Make hay while the sun shines, says I.


Blogger S said...

Very true...I wear an unobtrusive 1962 Rolex 18kt YG Oyster Perpetual Day-Date 'President' w/leather band, given to me by my father, and I have been wearing the double-buckle monk shoes of late (John Lobb). I also wear the gusset-sided loafer and the ankle-straped jodhpur boot, goes well with tweeds, etc. What do you think of the double-buckle and jodhpur and/or Chelsea boot?

12:01 PM  
Blogger Joke said...

The double-buckle or jodhpur I particularly like for "country" wear (whatever THAT means these days) but the Chelsea boot has taken on an unsavory connotation--through no fault of its own, admittedly--that I tend to eschew it.


8:03 AM  
Blogger Poppy Buxom said...

I love monk straps. Personally, I'd prefer a full-on lace-up dress shoe with trousers in the picture, and monk straps with something more casual. My husband, on the other hand, has been known to sneak out of the house in monk straps when he's wearing a dinner jacket. So I guess you can tell who wears the pants around here.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Joke said...


I can live with monk strap shoes and suits if the context is more "dressy" than "office."

Of late I've been pondering the matter of "wholecut" shoes, maybey with a teeny bit of broguing but no caps or seams, just lissome sleekness.


9:04 PM  

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