26 February 2010

Off My Back: Primary Colors & Attitude

David Chu LINCS - Yellow (Gold) University Stripe Oxford

Class bow tie from El Paso Community College

Yellow university stripe oxford is a tough fabric to find. I've told you about this before. In fact, everyone who had it two months ago seems to be out of it. Nelson Mui of David Chu Design surprised me with this shirt last week while generously offering a venue for my interview with Robert Bryan. I gotta read my horoscope 'cause stuff like this never happens to me.

It's a beauty of a shirt. At 11 ounces (I weigh shirts as well as wear them) it's in the ball park of MTM but shy of the 13 1/2 ounces you get at Mercer & Sons (we'll get to Mercer next week). While the pattern matching yoke to sleeve isn't dead on --it's pretty darned close. That's amazing.

That's the great news. Bad news. It's made in China and you have to go to Dillard's. Whatever that is. Swear to God, never been to one. The shirt comes in a profusion of bright colors like Lime Green but it's still an oxford.

Primary colors. Blue, yellow and red. The Trad hallmark as far as I'm concerned. And it is with this observation that I pass along some advice. Never forget how you look to others. Got that? It may save your life.

I know a lot of you don't give a hoot about what other people think of you. And that's fine. But I'm talking about something else. When you're strolling around in a cardigan sweater, a bow tie and a yellow stripe oxford - you're sending a message. Robert Bryan does a brilliant job defining this in his book. He writes, "Because menswear is so precise, the smallest selections, such as bow tie, work boots, round glasses, or a fedora, can speak volumes about the character of the man who wears them."

I often forget what I'm wearing. Or driving. And that can spell trouble.

There's a lotta baggage that comes with this car. Never mind it's a 2002 model with over 100,000 miles on it and worth less than a Hyundai. I moved to New York City in this car and parked it in a midtown garage for a couple of months. Just before Christmas, the Golf Foxtrot and I headed south on the NJ Turnpike. I pulled into one of the first gas stations and when I got out of the car to fill up a young kid comes running over to me, "Full service, full service!"

I give him a credit card and he swipes it, sticks the hose in my tank and runs off to another car. I'm a quart low of oil (always) and I grab a quart I carry in the car (always), pop the hood and top off my oil. The windows are caked thick in some frozen kind of dirt from the parking garage. I'm looking for a squeegee but all the windshield wiper buckets are dry and there's not a squeegee anywhere.

The attendant comes back again, yanks the hose outta the tank and I ask, "Do you have any squeegees?" "No," he says handing me my credit card and receipt and off he goes. As he's leaving I say, "You call this full fucking service?" He stops and turns and says, "What did you say?" And I say, "You call this full fucking service." And he replies, "Yeah, well fuck you!" And I reply, for lack of any better words, "Fuck you!"

I hear laughing and turn to see the other attendants who appear to be enjoying this immensely. As I walk to the car, my attendant shouts out, "Merry Fucking Christmas!" At which point I try to be more personal and shout back, "Happy Fucking Three Kings! I get in the car and drive off. The Golf Foxtrot, who is not happy with my behaviour, lets me have it. That's another post unto itself. After she stops we ride in silence for two and a half hours.

Why did he go off? I dunno. Maybe the car and the Florida tags could have something to do with it. He was busting his ass in the freezing cold two nights before Christmas and I'm sure I was asshole number 37 that night. The Shaggy Dog Shetland, hi water chinos, pink socks and Bean Moccasins could have also added hi test to the fire. He was Hispanic. I'm Nordic. We both end in 'icks.' I'd probably go off on myself that night given the right circumstances--of which there were many.

Sometimes I forget how I appear to others. I also know I'm not how other people see me. Yet, I can barely see myself which may be part of the problem. So, tread easy in bow ties and cardigans and shirts of primary colors. Just because we're well dressed doesn't mean we have to be assholes about it.


Brummagem Joe said...

All this expletive deleted stuff and the WTF! reaction (below) of Laguna Trad to the idea that Robert Bryan loathed Hermes put me in mind of all those 80's WTF! jokes....examples......Heavy Showers? WTF!(Ray Nagin)......WTF was that noise?(Mayor of Hiroshima)....you get the idea...anyone care to add to the list?

Gump said...

This actually sounds like a cultural misunderstanding more than anything else, with those cultures being New Jersey and the rest of the world.

NJ is (proudly) one of two states in which it is illegal to pump your own gas. So when the young attendant ran up to you as you were reaching for the nozzle, his shouts of "Full Service!" actually meant, "It's illegal for you to pump your own gas here, stupid out-of-stater." Full service in NJ means that an attendant pumps your gas for you, and nothing else.

That said, everything from "Merry Fucking Christmas!" onwards still applies.

Simon said...

There's something trad about station wagons, or estate cars, as the Brits call them. I love that in Britain, my car is a Subaru Legacy Estate. I can't think of two words that sound classier together. My dad had wagons when I was young. I loved them then and haven't had a single regret about buying one.

As for yellow, I was so desperate to get my hands on a yellow oxford that I drove all the way across town last week, to no avail. Don't know how much you remember about Edmonton, tintin, but it certainly is a fashion wasteland.

DAM said...

I dig the bow tie being from El Paso CC and the story is pretty awesome to boot.

Anonymous said...


Love the MB E320. I've thought about buying a used one, since they are a relative bargain, but can't get past the abysmal repair records and costs of repair. Maybe I'll stick with my Honda Accord wagon for another 100K miles.It's virtually bulletproof.

Anonymous said...

Random and sundry comments-

Gump's translation of "Full Service" from the NJ vernacular was exactly what I first thought as well- "Keep your fucking hands off the nozzle."

The yellow uni stripe is more of a twill than oxford cloth to my eye, but still handsome. As I've lately become a fan of Mercer shirts, I eagerly await your analysis here as well.

While the SUV seems to have gained much greater favor over the past decade, the Mercedes wagon I think at one time accounted for about half the cars on the Philly Main Line.

LPC said...

"Just because we're well dressed doesn't mean we have to be assholes about it." Ain't that the damn truth.

The People's Business said...

The shirt looks a lot more broadcloth and a lot less oxford in the pic...usually an oxford university stripe will be less bright and bold.

Anonymous said...

TinTin; I guess some behaviors never change...ie: X19 on the Bridge...remember?
To the lovely Gulf Foxtrot: "Good luck! I did all I could" ME

M.Lane said...

What a great post. "Just because we're well dressed.." could be an alternative motto for The Trad.


tintin said...

Joe- Those are new to me.

Gump- Many posts ago, I commented that fast food restaurants in NC are akin to full service gas stations in NJ.

Simon- I was at Griesbach Barracks most of the time but managed to get into Edmonton one night with a Lance Cpl from the 22nd SAS and a couple PPCLI's (Princess Patrica's Canadian Light Infantry). We had fun. I'll leave it that.

You may have to go to BC for yellow Uni stripes, eh.

DAM - Yeah, I think EPCC was the only CC with its own bow tie.

Anon 16:53- The 100K was a major tab but otherwise I've been lucky. Just keep changing the oil every 3K.

Anon 16:59 - It feels like an oxford. I'll check with LINCS. I loathe SUVs as much as REB hates Hermes ties.

LPC- In all its glory.

People's Biz- Man, there's a lot of fabric sniping going on. I'm fairly familiar with Uni stripe oxfords since I've been wearing 'em for 35 years. It looks like an oxford to me but in a much brighter stripe not to mention the orange stripe inside the shirt. I guess you're supposed to roll up your sleeves to get the full effect of that.

ME- Yes, I remember. That was a very long time ago. And even though I feel the same on the inside...I don't look the same on the outside. The good thing is people in NY and NJ don't carry guns like they do down south. Otherwise, I would a been shot a long time ago.

M Lane- That's an idea. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

We're not trying to snipe at all. But if you look closely at the pics in high-resolution the yellow stripe clearly seems to have a twill-like texture. And twill is not a bad thing, especially if the fabric has heft and substance, two words you have used in the past to good effect.

The shirts seem to have been a success, as the Dillards.com website is selling the dregs of these Lincs shirts for $15-17, down from $88-90.

Tin Tin's phred/dad said...

RE: Brummagem Joe Comment:
Where the fuck did all those Indians come from -- George Custer, 1876 at the Little Big Horn.
Sitting Bull at a campfire just after the Battle at Little Big Horn. "All together now, let's sing -- Chet's nuts roasting on an open fire...."
Doom Forecast. "What's that strange odor I smell?"
Lone Ranger being shown horses at an Indian Corral. "Careful, Lone Ranger, don't step in the Kimosabe."
Don Rumsfeld at the Pentagon 9/11. "What the fuck was that?"
Al Gore after the FL election was certified in 2000. "What the ....?"
G.W. Bush after same election results "No shit?"
Comment from a person at a social gathering attended by noted philosopher George Bernard Shaw, "We don't talk about sex, religion or politics." Reply by Shaw, "What the fuck else is there to talk about?"

Anonymous said...

"O wad some Power the giftie he gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae monie a blunder free us,
An' foolish notion:
What airs in dress and gait wad lea'e us,
And ev'n devotion!"

To A Louse (1786)
Wee Rabbie Burns
Bard Of Ayrshire


Anonymous said...

Perception is reality...

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

I would wear it on a Friday.

As for the incident you recount...I'm glad you spoke up and said something. I could prattle on about the decline of civility in this culture, the death of customer service culture, the lack of trust and community in American life...but I will spare you.

Keep in mind, too, when speaking out in the presence of Golf Foxtrot or Widget, that expressing anger is good for us. Don't let it simmer. Don't bottle it up. Let it out. As I always say.

Anonymous said...

The only misunderstandings is that you didnt realize you were being an asshole to this poor guy. He obviously didn't own the gas station, so there's no reason to curse at him b/c he couldn't produce a squeegee..

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Maybe your new moniker should be EBM = Epic Bowtie Man. ;)

Brummagem Joe said...

"Tin Tin's phred/dad said..."

.....Thanks for the contributions some of which are very good....each decade seems to produce a genre of jokes...in the seventies you had the Commandant jokes.....the 80's the WTF jokes

.....on the wider issue.....let's not get too sanctimonious about this....sometimes a little bullying is both necessary and appropriate....when being bumped from planes for example!

tintin said...

Anon 21:27- I don't need to look at the pic when I'm holding the shirt but you may be right. You are not right about the Dillards site.

I went to it before posting with the intention of linking the shirt to the site but couldn't find it. I contacted LINCS and they advised since this shirt is in the new Spring 2010 collection (see the link I did post) Dillards had not put it up yet.

Dad- What you didn't give me in sartorial advice as a kid was more than made up for in other areas. Humor being way up there.

Tater- I feel like I'm back in a senior level Chaucer course.

Anon 6:31 - Always.

LBT- I agree. About the shirt and expressing an opinion. But I was outta line. If I was to do it over I would ask simply for something to clean off my windows. And then if he told me they didn't have anything - - I would have asked him how they could call themselves full fucking service.

Anon- That's kinda the whole point of the post.

Brummagem Joe said...

"Lone Ranger being shown horses at an Indian Corral. "Careful, Lone Ranger, don't step in the Kimosabe."

...I remember seeing a variant of this joke in a New Yorker cartoon....Lone Ranger is old geezer in retirement home reading dictionary of indian words....looks up definition of Kimosabe....old indian word meaning asshole.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Isn't kimosabe that stuff they serve in sushi restaurants? My friends keep telling me it tastes just like guacamole.

ADG said...

The Shaggy Dog Shetland, hi water chinos, pink socks and Bean Moccasins.

Tinfriend...if you ever forget again how you appear to others-call me. I'll shoot it to you straight.

The Blushing Hostess said...

Weighing in late and thinking enough has already been written on perception... I would add only...

Dillards? Not if it was the last shirt on earth and I were the only overweight pear-shaped lumpy dolt on the planet still naked. Nope. Ya couldn't pay me, Tintin.

tintin said...

ADG- Fashion advice from Fuzzy Dice?

Blushing- Best you stick with Duckie Brown.

Anonymous said...

THE Lone Ranger story > http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhB4kDwZu7M (Charlotte, NC circa 1973)


tintin said...

Tater- I left Huntersville in '70. Just missed Jay. That is one of the funniest stories ever. And it helps to know Charlotte.