30 September 2011

Fall Mix - Old & New

UK Vogue 1971

Hard to believe Fall is finally here. Hard to believe this image from UK Vogue is from the early '70s. Tweed jacket and vest are Turnbull & Asser -- I like classic mixed with fashion of the time. The large belt & buckle reminds you when this picture was taken, but it's not an anachronism. It looked good then and better now.

That's the great thing about dressing for yourself. While the designer wants you to look like a store window -- Understand, it's his store window. But trust me on this. Even designers don't want to look like their windows. I've met a bunch of 'em and they never wear their own stuff. Not unless they're with their PR agency.

Take a classic piece out of your closet and throw it in with something intelligent from today. Something unique like a Jay Kos tie or green suede Trickers from Grahame Fowler. Like mixing late 18th and mid 20th century furniture in a living room. It's not supposed to go together but it does. Search out today's unique and there's a good chance it becomes the classic your son wears 40 years from now.

29 September 2011

Tommy Hilfiger's Army

I think these guys were in my unit

Close up of Tommy Commendation Lapel Pin

Close up up of Army Commendation Lapel Pin

28 September 2011

Happy New Year

The necklace

The hero

The music

A big, 'L'Shanah Tovah' to all my Heebros out there. I didn't meet many Jewish folk growing up on US Army posts so my first Rosh HaShanah in NYC was something of a surprise. I walked outta my apartment on West 18th Street -- pushed my way past some high school kids on my stoop smoking pot and drinking Heineken at 7AM -- and headed toward the IRT with a big resentment already bubbling. 'How can a fucking high school kid afford Heineken and I can barely pay for a quart of Blatz on a park ranger's salary?'

I get to the subway platform and see three other people. I wonder. It's a weekday. It's rush hour. Where is everybody? I'd get that same feeling driving the desolate stretch from Palatka to St Augustine at 3:00 AM listening to Fleetwood Mac's, Rumors over and over and suddenly wondering, after seeing no cars, if there had been a nuclear exchange and I was the sole survivor left in St Johns County.

I get to the Ranger Boat and see a bunch of people. Relieved, I walk up to an Irish Catholic ranger eating a potato knish with mustard and ask him what's going on and, "where is everyone?" He laughs, a mouth full of white potato with French's yellow streaked across his lips and tells me it's Rosh HaShanah or, what I later learn in Chicago is, "Rush Ah Home Ha."

I was 19 and a paratrooper at Ft Bragg when I bought a Star of David necklace and told anyone who would listen I was Jewish. I did this for two reasons. One, Ft Bragg was overflowing with bible thumping NCOs who found the Lord after all the killing in Vietnam and wanted to take you to church. Two, the Entebbe Raid that Summer had turned all of us at Bragg into huge fans of the Israeli Army. A ballsy operation whose only fatality was the officer in charge, Lt. Col. Yoni Netanyahu. A hero of mine to this day.

A young woman struck up a conversation at a party. She noticed my Star of David and asked if I was Jewish. I told her I was and she asked what I thought about the Torah. "What's that?" I asked. It took years for me to regret that one. Happy 5772.

27 September 2011

Decanting New Ideas

Let her rip - The Blender Decant

A reader sent a heads up yesterday from Business Week on decanting with a blender (seen here). Simply pour a bottle in a blender and let it rip on high for 30-60 seconds. The 'foam' subsides PDQ and you're ready to pour and enjoy. My first thought on this version of a "Spank" decant? It can't be done with an old wine. Where's all that sediment go? I assume every damned where.

But with a young California Cab or Spanish Monstant - - Well, it would seem to make sense. With my favorite, the little known Italian tannin howitzer from Umbria, Sagrantino di Montefalco, (six - eight hour decant - I kid you not), this hyper-spank makes huge sense.

Decanters are a pain. A pain to wash and a pain to dry -- although a close friend with a wine addiction in London suggested a blow dryer for those hard to reach places to dry in my favorite ship's decanter. It really works. Also, much of the aerate product out there looks pretty dodgy so what's the risk with a blender?

My tweak is to use an immersion blender -- in a large glass pitcher. It's gonna do what the blender does, but without the horror of pouring a bottle into something the Foxtrot uses for her frozen margaritas. Food nerd and ex Microsoft CTO, Nathan Myhrvold is grabbing all the credit he can find for the idea, but it looks like it's been around a while. Early 'wine expert' naysayers deal with the newbie idea here in a fascinating forum discussion right out of Moneyball. Cheers, to the Newbie.

26 September 2011

1965's Medicine Cabinet

Esquire: December 1965

Double click images to enlarge and return to long lost names as well as brands and packaging that remain unchanged to this day. Can you spot those still around and are any in your cabinet?

23 September 2011

Trad Rule # 9

Trad Rule #9: You can never have too many sweaters. Have a happy and natural fiber filled Fall.

Trad Rule #88

Vogue October 15, 1936

Trad Rule #88: Never date a woman who is proficient with firearms.

22 September 2011

Why Not? Cheerful Socks

M Magazine November 1983

This sock thing or lack of. With me it goes back to 2002 or 2003. I saw a Polo salesman in Chicago -- navy chalk stripe suit, black monk shoes and bare ankles. It was Winter. He was hairy. I imagine he had his back shaved every other week. It didn't look good then. It doesn't look good now.

I'm not saying you can't go sockless in Summer. It's what you do. Boat shoes, espadrilles (better you than me) or just a simple canvas deck shoe. You're on the beach, you're in shorts and you're relaxed. OK, I never relax on a beach but you probably do. Time, place and occasion.

Not sure the same idea works -- in a suit -- selling on Michigan Avenue -- in the Winter. If that is style then my trouser cuff square can't be far behind. How can a man's naked ankles between black calf leather and Dormeuil chalk stripe wool look good? I suppose it's because the fashion boys say so. But are you gonna listen to those humps? Next they'll tell you to wear a tie, shirt and suit all from the same material.

Nothing looks better between gray flannel and brown suede than yellow cabled cashmere. It's perfect. It's contrast. It speaks to a classic aesthetic that isn't trying too hard. It's an elegant step forward, and -- you mark my words -- like laser surgeons removing tattoos for the next ten years -- a correction is due.

21 September 2011

It's Time...

The frantic-manic-mania of 'Prep Summer' is finally over. All that color and critter crap goes out the bare ankle door while crisp Autumnal skies speak to languid hosiery and relaxed maturity. Cotton madras becomes tartan wool. White linen turns to black & gray hues of Harris tweed. Calm is restored by burning leaves and only the grown ups are allowed matches... Which means, little ones, it's time to put on your fucking socks.

20 September 2011

Mil Speak: #2 Pencil in a #10 Can

At around $5 a bottle, Military Special (Cheap) Rum is available to active & retired service members through the Class VI (Booze) Store. Class VI is a category for luxury items in the Army although there are those who would argue hooch is a necessity.

As a dependent (Kid), I grew up on generic food from the commissary (Grocery Store). Cans came without labels but with simple descriptions. "Coffee, 16 ounces, ground" or "Beans, Green." We were ahead of Costco with food items coming in huge #10 cans (Six Pound Can).

Today, 'BOHICA' (Bend Over Here It Comes Again) is popular with today's infantry. The same frustration was expressed in my day with, 'The Army's screwed me so many times my ass resembles a #2 pencil in a #10 can.' (Poetry)

19 September 2011

Tab Hunter

Not this Tab.

Is this Tab getting harder to find?

16 September 2011


The Trad in '72

My Inspiration: Soul Train...

and my cousin's Esquire Magazine Oct 1970

I got a Nehru jacket the same year, man. Smoking cigarettes with Friday Shinnaberry in the junior high parking lot -- Mary Willersdorf comes over and asks for a Hampton Police Cadet Corps t shirt. The one with the short sleeves. Mary has the biggest breasts of any girl in 9th grade, but her face is a little smushed in. You know? Like one of those little dogs, her nose almost meets her chin. Not that it matters.

At home I find an extra t shirt. Size small. I laugh to myself. Mary calls and I take the kitchen wall phone receiver into the bathroom and close the door. She asks if I'll bring the t shirt to her house now since her parents are gone and won't be back for a couple hours. She'll try it on for me. I tell her it's a small. She tells me that's okay. It should fit. I tell her I'm on my way. I walk outta the bathroom. I'm dizzy. I'm scared. I'm so happy. I'm putting the receiver back and there's my mother.

"Yeah, well... I'm just heading over to Scott's house. He wanted a police cadet t shirt..." "You're not going anywhere. I heard you and you are not going to that girl's house." "You were...eaves dropping ?!" I turn it around and am pretty proud of myself and my vocabulary. After all, there's a lot at stake here. I add, "Can't I have any privacy in my own house?" That's good. I actually sound like a grown up. She snaps back, "No, you can't have any privacy and this is my house."

It's slipping away. What was there in the palm of my hand is turning into another fantasy for the palm. I can see Mary Willersdorf in that small t shirt running towards me while screaming her parents are gone. A lawn sprinkler comes on and 'Police Cadet' lettering folds into wet cleavage and dark areola while an early Fall chill marks the exclamation points. I wish my parents were gone, but there's always at least one of 'em hanging around. Minding my business.

15 September 2011

Pinning Fashion's Lapel

My ARCOM Lapel Pin

Tommy (close up here) Hilfiger's Lapel Pin

At the Bastian show Monday I shouted out to Mordechai Rubenstein (Mr Mort) from the photo section. Mordechai is a helluva lot of fun and I've missed him since he left New York for San Francisco a year or so ago. He has a great eye and a lot going on style wise, but I think his success stems from his personality. He's a genuinely nice guy. Unlike me.

He walks over and compliments me on a canvas blazer and points to the Army Commendation Medal lapel pin (seen here earlier). "What is that? Is it real?" I look at him and say, "Of course it's fucking real. It's an Army Commendation medal." Mordechai backs away, "Well, I knew it was real. I mean you wouldn't..." and his voice trails off as he returns to his seat.

I don't hear the rest but I can't help but wonder -- as anyone in the Army will tell you -- why anyone would fake an ARCOM lapel pin. That's like saying you made it through Basic. And then I see these runway shots from GQ and lapel pins are everywhere. Amazing. The one piece of understated Army cool known to the few - gone. But I have an idea...

14 September 2011

If You Weren't A Model You'd Be...

A Gay idea of what it's like to be straight.

13 September 2011

Michael Bastian - James Dean For A Day

It has to be hard to follow the 10 year anniversary of 9/11 with a fashion show. Not to mention the earthquake, the hurricane and a new terror threat. No wonder Fashion Week is the talk of this city. Sometimes all you wanna do is nothing.

Michael Bastian's, James Dean For A Day, was a welcome break from weeks of siege on our fort. Looking out the embrasure, it seemed to be one enemy after another until today when we all marched off the gun deck and down into the courtyard where we saw a show.

And this time there was a runway. With loud music. And models and some surprises.

Things start off with James Dean.

While the look is an icon -- the take home was, where do I get these glasses? The entire show was that eyeglass section in the back of a Ben Silver catalog. A collection of tasteful frames that I hope helps end the small rectangle, Anal-Swiss-Accountant, look that's been going on far too long.

What I didn't know: These glasses were jointly reproduced with Bastian by Randolph Engineering from an actual pair worn by James Dean and include clip on sun glasses.

Yeah, that's a pocket watch. I don't get it either, but I do get the Fair Isle sweater that is tweaked with respect. Understated with an 80's preppy elegance. Bastian beats Bean but then he always did as you see here.

What I didn't know: The pocket watch is a reference to Dean's own watch worn in East of Eden

I have had an age old prejudice against red and black. Perhaps because I love blue and orange. As we used to say down south, "It's darned hard to wear red and black without it being from those two designer sisters, Poly and Esther." Nice tie though.

I don't think there was a collar in this show that was not popped. This model is a dead ringer for a guy in college who had an affair with my steady girlfriend -- Lets just move on.

80's board trunks with a California, Hang Ten aesthetic that was inspired from Gant in the 60's. Funny how this all comes full circle.

I hung out with the photographers this time. The place to be. They get to yell, "Uncross your legs!" and "Lean Back!"

And the risers are a perfect vantage point for this wonderful western pearl snap shirt and James Dean glasses.

My favorite shirt of the show.

Anorak and bow tie. Did James Dean work for a car park service in LA?

A better bow tie and jacket. I wish it were mohair. Something light and cool but impossible to find anymore. Again, the glasses are wonderful but I'd skip the hat.

I like it but not together.

A lotta flash.

Window pane frock coat. Dramatic with echos of Favourbrook and late 19th century London. Lunch at Foxtrot Oscar. Dancing at the Roof Gardens. "Who towed my DB7?"

This looks like it walked out of 'M' Magazine -circa 1986- which ripped it out of Apparel Arts Magazine in 1936. Can't get too much window pane or patch pockets. I don't wear my sleeves like that but neither does anybody else.

The denim-calico-John Denver-Country Roads-Christmas Special didn't look good in 1974. Almost 40 years later it hasn't aged well. But I think the kids will latch onto it in a big way.

"When I grow up I wanna pump gas." The Americana, 'Gas Station Attendant' look was happily out of place. The shirt is US Navy chambray but I'm at a loss when it comes to his cover.

I've never known a man with legs like this - Someone let me know about the other shoe.

What I didn't know: The other Stubbs shoe says, "Bastard" in honor of Dean's Porsche.

Somethin' the kids can get jiggy wit - But men are gonna need major stones.

Why hasn't this gone away?

Hip enough for a Buddy Holly, three day beard, Pabst swillin', blogger but I like it too.


What I didn't know: Stubbs.

Red was everywhere.

Under 40 with a 30" waist? Own this '60s inspired shawl collar DJ.

Over 40 with a 34" waist? Own this double breasted DJ with ticket pocket...

with tartan trousers and patent leather Belgians. Sockless with evening wear is vulgar but this is a runway and you are not.

Bastian's Bastion- It's more than a fort. There's a moat as well. In the insipid world of, "RugHilfigCrew" Michael Bastian drags slow match across a cannon vent hole and fires off solid shot. Young, to be sure, but the grown ups are in the room. Williamsburg loaded but an element of Sutton Place with gray at the temples and walking a Wire Fox Terrier on east 57th Street.

Afterwards- Bob Buffoonery & Tom Foolery...

from the folks...

who tell us what to wear.