Friday, June 8, 2012

Summer Style: Dos, Don'ts, Don't Even Think Abouts

G.B. Shaw famously said, "Youth is wasted on the young." My general advice is to prove him wrong every day. BTW, Shaw lived to be ninety-four. A colossal waste of his time, one presumes. You'll do much better, I'm sure, and with style.

With the passing of Memorial Day Weekend, unofficial summer has begun. This brings to mind several seasonal style tips:

* Fashion statement? If you think it’s making a statement, leave it at home. Style becomes you; statements are a distraction.

* Guys, thinking of wearing a tee shirt under your polo? Think again. A collared, short-sleeved polo shirt can appropriately replace the formality of a dress shirt and the total informality of a tee shirt. Not only is there no need to wear both a polo and a tee, doing so makes you look silly, at best, and, worse,  may indicate questionable bathing habits. Drop the tee, please.

* Since it's June, we can safely wear our tan poplin, linen, or blended (we do not mean poly)-fabric suits. If you've been looking at menswear ads or GQ editorial pages and the like, you might be tempted to wear a white shirt with the tan suit. Do not do it. Wear a solid light blue or a stripe, or another color that "suits" you. Save whitey for the seersuckers. 

* You don't have one seersucker suit for summer? Shame. Get one or two. As a rule, the narrower the stripes and the puffier the cloth, the more expensive the suit may be. But, as long as you stick with 100% cotton, you'll find a good one. Wear the jacket as an extra sport coat with solid light-weight trouser or shorts. Just don’t do that in the city.

* While we’re on the subject of dressing for the city. Unless you are a fashion model, a recently retired stud-hockey player, a major upside participant in the Facebook IPO, or are attending a script meeting do not even think about wearing one of those short-panted suits without socks to a job or anywhere else. You will look ridiculous, especially if you wear those thick brogues. The men’s designer, Thom Browne, started the whole thing a few years ago to make a splash. Splash made. Now that we're all dried-off and grown up, let's dress like it.

* If a lady you know happens to slip and ask you to carry her cosmetics in your jacket pocket for her, perhaps even a single small tube, just tell her your pockets have holes in them. If she questions the veracity of that, tell her you’ve decided to leave your jacket at home and drape a light sweater, merino will or cotton/silk will do, around your shoulders. If she persists, and if she's really THE one, you'll have to tell her that it's simply not possible for you to do this and retain her true respect. Gentlemen do not carry cosmetics for ladies, at least without a really good fight. And, Ladies shouldn’t ask.

* Men, if a woman you know begins a sentence, "Does this dress make me look...," you might try a) falling  on the floor with sudden convulsions; b) telling the truth, whatever the consequences; c) lying, whatever the consequences; d) agreeing, gulp, to carry her lipstick, if you don't have to answer; e) trying to recall how Lincoln handled this in the TV ads; f) Thinking, "Youth is wasted on the young."

* Headed for the city wearing shorts? No, you are not. Do you want to be mistaken for someone visiting from Peoria, IL or Raleigh, NC?  Of course not. Those are fine places where people can wear shorts anywhere and eat 3,000-calorie lunches and drink sweet tea. Gentlemen of any age do not wear shorts in the city (Manhattan), unless they are playing tennis in Riverside or Central Parks, exercising outside for short periods, or attending a baseball game or US Open in the Bronx or Queens, which, technically, are on Long Island and more or less upstate.

* Our summers are much warmer on average than they used to be just a few years ago. In order to keep your face covered, it’s a good idea to wear a hat while walking the city streets. A “cap” is not a hat, and a baseball style “hat” is definitely a cap. We are talking about a straw hat of some kind with a brim wide enough to shade your face, but not so wide as to give you the “farmer-gone-to-town” look. Choose a natural straw model whose weave leaves room for some air to circulate. Too tightly-woven straws do for your head what polyester socks do for your feet. Burn Baby, Burn. If you can, buy two hats, because you’re going to leave one on the train, same as your umbrella.

* A serious message for young men and women. Why do you think they are called gym shorts?

Ed Note: Lady Burghers, tired of having to leave your mules home when attending an outdoor party so you won't sink into the lawn, take a tumble, and generally embarrass yourself or worse? You have been rescued!

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