30 June 2008

Gucci In Silentium

Southwick Chalk Stripe in Focus

A close-up of my favourite suit, a single-breasted, two-button navy chalk stripe number by Southwick. As you know, I have a thing for Southwick. This is the undarted Plymouth model. I acquired it more than ten years ago at Van Driver, a men's store in Greenwich that sadly is now closed. It is too heavy for all but the coldest months in Southern California. I pair it with shirts with spread collar, foulard ties, and black half brogues or tassel loafers. Deservedly or not, this is the standard by which I measure the other items in my collection.

29 June 2008

¡Viva España!

Congratulations to the Spanish team for the Euro 2008 Championship.

Wine Appreciation Society

Is wine-drinking an art or a calling? In my case, the latter, decidedly so. After all I have spent more than twenty-two years pursuing it. Although I have taken innumerable wine courses and as a result can explain the difference between claret and burgundy with ease, I would much rather drink wine than study it, or even talk about it. "Ought we to be drunk every night?", asks Charles. It is a question I have answered in the affirmative, like Sebastian, for the last several years. Currently I am sampling the wines from Argentina, having exhausted South Africa and Chile. As I have mentioned previously, my drinking days are nearing an end.

Quiet Life (Japan)

On the Tea Table

27 June 2008

Madras Friday

On these gloomy mornings, when a spot of colour is required, I turn to madras. Pride of place in my portfolio belongs to a pair of Berle flat-front shorts. Easily the most comfortable shorts I own. The rare candid photograph (above) depicts the madras shorts, a pink Brooks Brothers slim-fit OCBD, and a battered pair of Sperry Topsiders. I don't know about you, but I typically do not tuck in my shirt whilst wearing madras shorts; in fact I usually just don a white polo. The weather today should clear up well before lunch time, at which point I should be somewhere in downtown Laguna Beach, FT and G&T in hand, watching the tourists. If you happen to be in the area, do join me for a drink and we can discuss the important matters of the day. Suffice it to say, I do not have any client meetings today.

25 June 2008

Southwick Houndstooth

A photo of a black and white houndstooth Southwick sport jacket from Culwell & Son. I acquired it during a visit to Dallas in 1996 to see a girlfriend studying at the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University. The jacket was one of two significant souvenirs from that trip, the other being a wrecked heart that has long since mended. Young love can be capricious and so my affections quickly moved on, yet the jacket remains. Even today, I can not part with it. I wear it rarely, to be frank, and only rediscovered it last year lurking at the back of my closet like a red-headed stepchild. But when I do, I pair it with a white dress shirt, charcoal flannels, and black Alden tassel loafers. I realise this is an unimaginative look, so I am open to suggestions.

Somali Love-Poem

If I set myself to write
Of the love that holds my heart
A wondrous great kitab
Could not contain it all.

I long for thee as one
Whose dhow in the kherif
Is blown adrift and lost
In the grey and empty sea.

The curving of my breasts
Like apples sweet and small
Are thine to caress
When night turns dusk to dawn.

Then lay between these breasts
And call thy life fulfilled.
And never be denied
This well of happiness.

Poem written by young Somali woman to her English lover (1940s)

The Transvaal, South Africa

In the course of my wanderings around Southern Africa in the late '90s, I met a young man who lived with his family at the foot of the Soutpansberg mountains in the Transvaal in South Africa. Jannie was 21, with long blonde hair, and managed the family farm. Discovering I was from London, he said he wanted to immigrate there for work. He grew up on his uncle's farm. His uncle was an eccentric who liked to hide in the bushes and take pot shots at the black farm workers with a homemade slingshot. The family kept as a pet a tame warthog which they had raised from a piglet. The warthog behaved just like a dog, chewing on an old tire hanging from a tree and swinging from it by its teeth. It also chased cars, the sound of which would cause it to run clickety-clack into the kitchen, its little hooves invariably slipping out from under it as it slid on its back across the smooth wooden floor. It was eventually run over by one of the big 18-wheeler trucks rolling north towards Zimbabwe.

Tweed in Chair

16 June 2008

A Beautiful Heaven

"The average age for a man in the Bronze Age was eighteen. In the Roman era, twenty-two. Heaven must have been beautiful then. Today it must look dreadful. When a man reaches forty, he has no chance to die beautifully. No matter how he tries, he will die of decay. He must compel himself to live."

A Life In Four Chapters, Yukio Mishima

Flemish Nationalist Style

A snaphot of Gerolf Annemans, an officer of the Vlaams Belang party in Belgium, wearing a bow tie, checked shirt, and navy blazer. Unlike Mr. Annemanns, I am not partial to bow ties; indeed I have been specifically requested not to wear one. Exhibiting a bow tie, one could argue, can be construed as a controversial, even radical, act in today's sartorial environment. However, it is images such as this one that cause me to reconsider.

15 June 2008

Out Of The Blue (Roxy Music)

13 June 2008

Gucci Snaffle-Bit Sensations

Whenever I hear the phrase light in the loafers, I can only assume the speaker is referring to my Gucci snaffle-bit loafers. These shoes are a true friend. I have been wearing Gucci loafers in one form or another since I was a very young man.

During my Sloane Ranger years in London, they were a mainstay of my weekend uniform. My chums and I wore them to pubs and clubs. Gucci snaffle-bit loafers, I think, have a certain brand distinction and jet-set reputation, but they are also renowned for being the footwear of choice for Eurotrash. Whatever the case, they certainly have their admirers. Several years ago I donned Gucci snaffle-bit loafers for a jaunt to the Upper East Side of Manhattan with a university friend to pick up a Raoul Millais painting for an art collector client. The sight of my shoes apparently so moved the owner, a fashionable Middle Eastern woman, that we negotiated a significantly lower price.

The classic Gucci snaffle-bit loafer features red-and-green webbing under the hardware, as the photo (above) illustrates. The Gucci loafers in my shoe portfolio are black suede with a lug sole. They are still going strong after almost ten years. Last night, I can report, I wore my Gucci loafers to a photo shoot in Laguna Beach. And this morning, I am still cleaning the sand out of them.

06 June 2008

Riding Boot Porn

05 June 2008

Bruce Chatwin Preppy Chic

The English writer Bruce Chatwin (1940-1989) was a devotee of OCBD shirts, which numerous photos can verify. I include just two here, including one featuring him in an OCBD and tick-weave jacket with a 3/2 roll. The other shows him in a white OCBD and boat shoes. A masterful writer and engaging character, he is missed.

A Thing For Pink

Pink is my signature colour. If you consult my family and associates, you will discover I am known for my pink shirts. Brooks Brothers OCBDs, to be exact. I own three in the non-non-iron, slim fit style. In certain circles, these shirts are a veritable icon. For me, they are like a second skin.

Pink has long featured in my portfolio. As a young man I wore pink OCBDs and polo shirts from Lacoste and Polo until they fell apart. In fact, I still do. In the banking world of London and New York, I often wore pink dress shirts, usually with a spread collar and double cuffs, as did many of my colleagues.

I find pink striking and conservative at the same time. It complements my blue eyes and skin tone, especially in the summer when I develop a dark tan. My shirts generally receive a positive reception, particularly from women who seem to appreciate pink the most. The women in my life, I have found, actively encourage me to wear pastel colours such as pink, and to grow my hair long. For some men, however, pink is a controversial choice, especially on the West Coast where dark, somber tones such as black and grey predominate in business settings. I occasionally receive curious glances from them when I wear my pink shirts. But, outright hostility is rare. Recently, while queuing for a cup of tea at a local tea shop, I was bemused to overhear a confused little girl ask her mother why a boy was wearing a pink shirt.

In my closet, pink is not limited to just shirts. I occasionally don a well-worn pair of pink twill shorts from Vineyard Vines. And should you rummage round my wardrobe, you will uncover a pair of pink cashmere socks from Paul Stuart. In addition, I will admit, I also have two pairs of pink boxer shorts, whose colour is a result of a laundry mishap.

I wear the pink if not with pride, then with an insouciance borne of experience and trial.