Monday, December 29, 2008

What I Wore Yesterday

I hope everyone had a good Christmas, if a bit crazy.

Yesterday I went for a 1930s "working casual"
*1930s Adams fedora (Christmas)
*GAP leather jacket
*modern "fitted" Van Heusen shirt
*1930s wool tie
*Ralph Lauren trousers
*GAP socks (Christmas)
*AE shoes

click to enlarge

I'm playing with four patterns here. ;)

The trousers are amazingly long and high-waisted.

The shirt has small horizontal ribs throughout. A truly marvelous thing to behold. From a distance the shirt looks like a regular white one, but up close the ribbing pops out at the viewer and plays with the light.

This shot shows the sock and trouser patterns to good effect.

There's something about pairing a handsome '30s/'40s (style) jacket with trousers and a fedora that looks ruggedly manly yet elegant at the same time.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Five Things

There are five things (well, there are more but we'll stick with five) that I'd really like to see come back from obscurity. These five items were commonplace a mere 60 years ago but have disappeared because of changing trends: a move toward the casual and away from anything formal or considered snobbish.

1. Suspenders
Or braces, if you will. And I don't mean the cheesy clip-on suspenders either, though those did exist back in the day. I also don't mean boring black or tan button suspenders (though they have their place when the right occasion calls for them).
I'm talking about colorful button suspenders we never see today apart from the occasional eccentric dandy. Like many of the other items on my list, these bright pant-holders appear too 'costume-ish' to the modern eye.

2. Walking Stick
Not your grandpa's cane nor that of the inner city pimp. A bamboo walking stick is great for walking downtown on a warm summer night, just as long as you are dressed accordingly. But again, society has rejected this once common article as something for the snob with his nose high in the air.
Of course, a walking stick with a sword is preferred since a gentleman needs a stylish form of personal protection. Also comes in handy if you feel like breaking into a dance number.

3. The Boater
Also known as the "42nd Street Skimmer". A difficult hat to pull off, it was a summer favorite of the common man as well as the FBI for a short time. Long stares and open mouths follow this hat wherever it is worn, so be prepared for the fanfare.
And while Jeeves disapprovingly points out that "gentlemen do not wear straw hats in the metropolis, sir", at times I can find him a bit stuffy. Wear it wherever you wish in the warm months.

4. Spats
Need I say more?

5. The Ascot
Or as our English friends like to refer to it, the Cravat. This article, above all else, is considered today to be the sure sign of a foolhardy snob with more money than brains. However, this casual look was popular with men of the middle and high classes back in vintage times, especially in the 1930s. While still a necktie, the loose and flowing ascot provided a flowing cascade of cloth that added a dash of adventurism to any safari jacket or partially open button-down shirt.
A favorite of Fred Astaire who often wore it with a scarf tied around his waist as a belt. Now that is style.

Let's hear what obscure and now scorned items you would like to see make a return.

Monday, December 15, 2008

WIW yesterday

Yesterday was strange. Warm early in the morning, no need for a jacket. Then after church it was snowing and the weather turned nasty.

Went for an early 1950s 'hepcat' look today. Not wearing a tie for once was a little strange but I kinda liked it, just so I don't like it too much.

-green Whippet
-early '50s 'atomic fleck' jacket
-'40s flannel trousers
-modern Florsheim shoes
-vintage lighter

click to enlarge
As you can see, the jacket is not form fitting like some jackets from the '30s and '40s. Remember, this was the time of the "Bold Look" when things were a little baggy and loose. However, even while things were loose, guys still wore their trousers up around their waists and in general did not look like slobs.
This is how dress casual should look today. Rather than pairing low-riding jeans with a jacket and tie (for that ironic look) why not wear classic garments (jacket, shirt, dress trousers) that are tastefully loose and comfortable but still sit up where they are supposed to, giving the wearer that stylish 'devil may care' attitude?

No, I don't smoke. I just needed a reason to show off my 'new' lighter. Yogi?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tommy Udo and the Joker

I watched an old movie called "Kiss of Death" (1947) a couple months ago and saw many parallels between the performance by Richard Widmark as deranged killer Tommy Udo in "Kiss of Death" and Heath Ledger's Joker in the recent "The Dark Knight".

Tommy Udo's black shirt and suit foretold of villainy in "Kiss of Death" and Widmark made the most of it, smiling and chuckling all the way as he left a path of death and destruction. Pushing a wheelchair-bound old woman down the stairs? Brutal.

After doing some research I discovered that Richard Widmark was a big fan of the Batman comics and was actually inspired by the Joker for his role as Tommy Udo.

With the release of "The Dark Knight" and Ledger's great performance in it as the Joker, I would not be surprised if Widmark's performance was examined in the development of Ledger's performance as the Joker.
Watch these two clips from "Kiss of Death" and you will see the similarities between the characters of Tommy Udo and the Joker.
clip 1

So, did Widmark's Joker-inspired portrayal of Tommy Udo help inspire Ledger's Joker? I like to think so.
Richard Widmark was ahead of his time and probably would have made an excellent Joker today, similar to Ledger's portrayal I would think. Both are great movies and make for interesting character studies.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

A Touch of Crash



July 28, 2008
The duds say it all - and it's depressing.

Taking a cue from the grim economy, this fall's fashions at Banana Republic, Gap and H&M are featuring a distinctly Depression-era trend of cloche hats, pencil skirts, conductor caps and baggy, vintage-style dresses.

One of the most popular styles appears to hark back to the impish, newsboy getup of the 1930s: baggy trousers, caps, pinstriped vests, oxford lace-up shoes and utilitarian handbags.

"We associate the newsboy look with urban poverty - street kids of the 1930s," said Daniel James Cole, a professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

"Given that we're in an unstable economy and an uncertain political landscape, it's possible that a retro style has come back as a way to connect with our heritage."

Fashion historian Heather Vaughan of the Western Region Costume Society of America said the new look may make economic sense, too.

"Even though we're in a recession, people still want interesting clothing," she said. "They're looking for more classic styles and subdued tones that will last a few seasons instead of one."

One newsboy-style outfit from The Gap drew mixed reviews from Wall Streeters last week.
"It looks manly," said Philipp Sielfeld, 29, of Goldman Sachs. "It reminds me of the little guys selling the newspapers during the Great Depression."

Adrien Vanderlinden, 41, loved the look-as-social-commentary.

"It's totally appropriate given the pessimistic mood of the economy," the Upper West Side project manager said. "The vest references the three-piece Wall Street suit, the loose pants are like the dropped hemlines of the late '30s, and there's no bling."

Al Thompson, 40, a senior employee at a recruiting company, hates the look - it covers far too much for his taste. He also predicts it won't last.

"Everything in fashion and economics is cyclical," he said. "This fashion has returned just as we're hitting a point in our economy much like what we faced in the '30s."

"Everything goes away and comes back."
While this article mainly deals with female fashion, it can also cross over into the area of male fashion.

It was nice being ahead of the trend for once. I welcome this swing toward the 'depression chic' look as long as it is done well: no low rise trousers worn with short vests, no 'pimpish' Wal-Mart newsboy caps or fedoras and please, no cheaply made clothing that fits badly and will fall apart the first time it is worn.

Though, that last wish is a little too high a standard for modern manufacturers, it would seem...

Monday, December 1, 2008


Had company yesterday so I wanted to look nice. I was leaning toward an early 1950s 'hepcat' look but decided on this late-1930s/early-1940s look instead.
A nice, gentle snow Saturday and Sunday. Perfect tweed and overcoat weather.

*broke out the brown overcoat for the first time this winter
*1940s Dobbs fedora
*1930s tie
*September 1940-dated Kaufmann suit
*AE shoes

click to enlarge photos


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