Sunday, August 27, 2017

Seen on the boulevard

     Not everything is for everybody. I know that. 
     So when confronted with something new and, to my perspective, horrific, I try to pause and wonder if the new thing being considered is indeed unacceptable, or merely new. Maybe it is just ridiculous to me, but others think it is swell. 
     Particularly with fashion. The way fashion works is that designers toss all manner of novel weirdness out at the public, and sees what sticks. It is a mistake to take something seriously that isn't intended to be taken seriously at all.
     So it might have been a lapse in me, a man in his later 50s, an old standard that stopped me dead in my tracks, gaping in horror at this ensemble of men's clothing spied in the window of the Paul Stuart shop on LaSalle Street in downtown Chicago recent. 
    It looked ... so ... clownish. I thought immediately of Ed Wynn, a largely forgotten comic, half a century dead.  The high narrow waist, the thick blue fabric, the red pants, the big white buttons, whatever is going on with the collar and perhaps a tie, I can't quite tell.
    Would someone see that, think, "Cool!" and run in and buy it? Someone must. They sell the thing. Paul Stuart is, I believe, a mainstream clothier, not some hip trendy place catering to the fringes.
Ed Wynn
      Still. Even the idea of suits, regular boxy suits, with two or three buttons, feels almost arcane. Suits themselves have slid from favor. I used to wear them almost daily to the paper, so as to be ready for any occasion. But such occasions became increasingly rare, and lately I've been eyeing the row of jackets in my closet, wondering whether I should bag them up and relocate them to the guest room closet. I think I've worn one jacket, once, since Memorial Day—meeting Chris Kennedy for breakfast a few weeks back for breakfast at Chicago Cut, a high end, see-and-be-seen kind of place. But then it was the standard blue blazer. 
    I used to loan my neckties grudgingly to my boys, for interviews and such, with stern admonitions. "This is my favorite tie; try to bring it back." Now I don't bother: they can take what they want, return it, not return it. It isn't as if I'm wearing neckties anymore.
    So given that suits themselves are becoming an oddity, who would wear this particularly odd rig? A young man, I imagine, with more money than taste, to pass judgment, someone hoping to look ... not clownish, certainly, but well-tailored. I was hurrying to a train, or I would have stopped in and seen what the outfit cost. A grand, I imagine, or more. High fashion is not only quixotic but pricy. That's the point. To tell people you laid out for this look.
     Perhaps it is something that a young man in his 20s might pull off, at the opera or among circles I just don't travel in. And if you have it hanging in your closet, forgive me, the fault is mine, no doubt. And in truth I don't feel burdened and out-of-sorts so much as liberated. I would hate to be burdened with a perspective that would put me in such a get-up. Or am I missing something? Maybe someone can explain it to me. I just don't understand. I once went to work in a kilt and jacket, so am not completely averse to standing out. But this? To me, I would die a thousand deaths if I had to wear it to the most formal occasion. But others must feel differently. 

10 comments:

  1. Nope. Wouldn't wear that, and I'm a man around your age. Maybe younger men? But I don't see any younger guys wearing stuff like that, either.

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  2. was in DC for a wedding last week. for the first time in my life I didn't wear a suit and tie. at least half the men there didn't either. sadly headed to the one circumstance where its still feels required. bought my charcoal suit so long ago its been in an out of style a couple times while I've owned it. my wife and I were at target last month and she tried to convince me to by a blue sear sucker jacket. just not going that far off the rails. just turned 59 , last stylish suit I wore was in the disco era

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  3. I think Johnny Depp wore that getup in Alice in Wonderland.

    What's really funny about that window display is the garish green shirt on the chair, left there as a suggestive option.

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  4. I'd have to surmise that that outfit is not intended for gents in the, shall we say, newspaper-reading demographic.

    On the other hand, I bet this guy, if he's got the cash, would snap it up in a second! ; )

    http://www.everygoddamnday.com/2015/05/saturday-fun-activity-where-is-this_16.html

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  5. One time I wrote a profile of a man who had worked as a model, and he showed me some shots he had done for Playboy.

    I asked, "Tom, don't take this the wrong way, but why do you never see anyone on the street actually wearing this stuff?"

    He snorted. "Are you kidding? Look at how overpriced this shit is. Who's gonna pay $600 for a jacket?"

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  6. To me it's simply apparel art designed to draw attention and get people inside the store. Who would purchase that type of ensemble is another matter. Definitely a Johnny Depp type of vibe.

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  7. We watch Johnny Carson reruns from the sixties and seventies and wonder that we ever went about with those broad lapels and exaggerated shoulders.

    But nothing in that line should surprise one. As the inimitable Cole had it.

    "In olden days a glimpse of stocking
    Was looked on as something shocking,
    but now, God knows:
    Anything goes."

    In the mall the other day, I wondered at all the attractive ladies stylishly turned out above the waste but with lower limbs arrayed in raggedy jeans. In Italy last year I saw such a pair in a Gucci window display on offer for a hundred forty Euros. Will some future generations find such displays of faux poverty odd?

    Ed Wynn goes way back, but I do remember him looking with puzzlement at an object in his hand and proclaiming: "I've either lost a house or found a house key." Like most Thurber cartoons, not easy to explain why it's funny.

    Tom

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    Replies
    1. I remember Ed Wynn not so much for his vaudevillian shtick, but for his role as the dentist in The Diary of Anne Frank. He acted the part to perfection, I think.

      john

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  8. Raggedy jeans, loud suits, hot pants, mini skirts...all fad fashions The "rule" is, if you wore them the first time they were around, do not wear them the second. Classic style is called that for a reason. Only the youngest, hippest wannabe could pull off this...suit?...the cut of the jacket is hideous. Chaplin's Tramp jacket. Colored pants no big deal. The jacket, though. Somewhere, a designer is laughing at us.

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  9. Raggedy jeans, loud suits, hot pants, mini skirts...all fad fashions The "rule" is, if you wore them the first time they were around, do not wear them the second. Classic style is called that for a reason. Only the youngest, hippest wannabe could pull off this...suit?...the cut of the jacket is hideous. Chaplin's Tramp jacket. Colored pants no big deal. The jacket, though. Somewhere, a designer is laughing at us.

    ReplyDelete