Archive - April, 2008

How Not to Succeed Without Really Trying

Matthew Broderick in clashing patternsMatthew Broderick all washed up.

If Jay-Z is a mixmaster at combining patterns, Matthew Broderick is totally whack.  Not only do the dimensions of the stripes and checks clash, but the colors create a big stew of ugly.  Even more shabbily, Broderick’s thinning hair is unkempt, his jacket is too wide at the shoulders (note the pucker), and his saggy taupe corduroys ensure that he looks all washed up.  How could Sarah Jessica Parker let him go out in public like this?

Check, Baby, Check, Baby 1-2-3

Jay Z in checks

Like the pro he is, Jay-Z managed to successfully combine checks with checks plus a third pattern on his sweater.  Certainly his monochrome color choice helped prevent the appearance of too much busyness.

Krazee-Eyez Killa

Christopher Walken in askew bow tie

As if it wasn’t enough to have a reputation for playing imbalanced, crazy characters, Christopher Walken let his bow tie rest at a disturbing angle.  That lack of left-right symmetry is all the worse for someone, like himself, born with heterochromia.

Ramble On

Keith Richards’ skeleton

In an interview with the Times of London, The Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards offered his profound, mature thoughts on fashion and other aspects of life.  He also unwittingly created a Public Service Announcement about the dangers of permanent adolescence.

The Stones weren’t competitive about what they wore. The tailor Andrew Oldham had worked with the Beatles – he gave them those suits with no collars. We got uniforms to begin with. We threw them out in a week.

Bill Wyman is the biggest dandy. But Charlie Watts is the most stylish member. He spends his time on the beauty and the cut of clothing. There he is on Savile Row, and I’m the fashion icon? When I got older I wore my old lady’s clothes. If you notice, all the buttons are the other side.

I wore whatever my mother put me in when I was little. Boring shorts and wee T-shirts. I wore school uniforms. I hated brown shoes. I started dressing up when I had to find what fitted. Fashion thinks more about me than what I think about it. I just wore what I wore and people noticed.

[...]

Show me a woman who is faithful, and I won’t believe you.

I don’t do underwear. I never do the washing. How would I know whether my clothes stink? I throw them away.

[...]

Skulls remind us that underneath it all, we are all the same. Beauty is only skin-deep.

I can’t say I’m bothered about the fate of the planet. I got a guitar case out of Louis Vuitton. They paid me a lot of money and it’s all going to charity. I’m going to charity.

Dauntlessly Downhill

Prada yellow corduroy ski pants

Sure they’re not in season, but when you come across a pair of golden yellow corduroy ski pants from Prada, you go for them.   Assuming you have the guts to wear them on the slopes, that is.

The Streets of Manhattan

Bill Cunningham in NYC

Bill Cunningham, the famed New York Times street-fashion photographer, has created a new audio slideshow, in which he notes that pocket squares seem to be making a comeback, especially on men who aren’t wearing neckties. As a proponent of judiciously chosen ornament, Izzy thinks this is happy news.

Speaking of the joys of people-watching, as the weather is increasingly conducive to walks in the city, it’s worth remembering some lines from Walt Whitman:

Keep your splendid, silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!

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Jumpers

The Times of London is reporting the sad demise of the cricket sweater:

The woollen V-necked jumper — baggy and bearing mysterious stains — has been a part of cricket at all levels since the early days but when adidas, the new England kit supplier, unveiled its 2008 collection at the home of cricket, cable-knit had been replaced by the figure-hugging ClimaCool, a man-made fibre said to push sweat away from cricketers’ skin.

“England will be cooler, drier and more comfortable than ever before,” Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said. “With this kit, England will be the best-equipped team in the world.” The innovation was warmly greeted by Michael Vaughan, England’s Test captain. “The cricket sweater has been my bugbear for many a year,” he said. “This new fabric will give us a lighter feel. Even if it’s a little cold, I am delighted to see the end of the last woolly sweater.”

However, Bob Willis, the former England captain, said that the old sweater was “a very important piece of kit” for fast bowlers. “In cold weather, when you’d finished bowling ten overs and were dripping with perspiration it would keep you cool,” he said.

Willis is alluding to the fact that wool, unlike many other fabrics, maintains its warmth even when wet.

But perhaps the best argument for retaining the cricket sweater is its potential for off-field use, here demonstrated in Matthew Bourne’s dance piece “Play Without Words.”

Play Without Words cricket sweater

Who’s Tommy?

Tommy Hilfiger in pinstripes

Despite being a designer and having all the money in the world, Tommy Hilfiger’s jacket is clearly too tight in the middle (note how the fabric pinches and the tie peeks through below the button). Maybe he’s spent too much time lifting weights at the gym. Indeed, his whole appearance gives the impression that he’s trying too hard: the gangster-bold pinstripes, the flashy tie in a color that’s “off,” the helmet hair, the steroidal neck, chest, and face. Hilfiger simply does not look comfortable in his own skin.

Vat Is Dis, Velvet?

Paul Smith velvet oxfords

These blue velvet oxfords from Paul Smith are as much of a head trip as, well, Blue Velvet.   And they’re just the thing for the love child of Oscar Wilde and Elvis.

War by Other Means

Bush and Putin in diplomatic wear

Presidents Bush and Putin recently met in Russia for some tense, and ultimately failed, talks on security issues including NATO expansion and Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  Unlike in former, happier times, the two came suited for battle, if subtly.  Bush wore a Texas-style Don’t-Tread-on-Me belt and a dress shirt with two front flapped pockets (just like Soviet-slayer Charlie Wilson), while Putin chose to wear an outright military jacket, complete with ammo pockets, epaulets, and belting.  Looking at the two’s cheerful faces, the cynic in Izzy recalls a line from Will Rogers: Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘Nice doggie’ until you can find a rock.

Merman

Speedo LZR Racer

Izzy missed it at the time, but not too long ago Speedo unveiled the LZR Racer, its new, super hi-tech swimsuits that will be worn by the American team at the Beijing Olympics.   Gold medalist Michael Phelps showed the suit off while posed like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vetruvian Man.  In traditional Speedo fashion, the Saran-wrap like suit leaves little to the imagination.

The Art of Leisure

Real Men Read t-shirt

Now here’s a t-shirt message Izzy can subscribe to: a gentleman in a tweed suit, high collar,  and spats demonstrating civilization to an attentive boy, dressed with restraint.  And the slogan is both perfect and true.  The artist is Edward Gorey, who was famed for his vaguely ominous illustrations of Victorian and Edwardian subjects.  But there’s nothing discomfiting here, except maybe the boy’s stiff collar.

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