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The Sport Jacket

What is the well-dressed man wearing today?

On the streets of New York today, increasingly you see men wearing something different from a worsted wool, tailored two-button coat with well-turned lapel. Instead you find weather-resistant jackets deriving inspiration from diverse sources – military, mountaineering, and cycling.

First, the urbane man lost the necktie. Next, he shed the sport coat. The well-dressed man’s windproof zippered jacket speaks not of adherence to royal and ancient country club rules, but of working-class insouciance, big-city nonchalance, and no-nonsense practicality, men’s simple fashion Instead of a suit coat, the modern man chooses technical outerwear.

To those interested in the history of fashion, mention must be made that, like so may other fashions originating as actual sportswear, the modern suit jacket originated as a hunting coat for riding to the hounds. The seat vent allows the jacket to drape elegantly astride the saddle.

Most sport jackets today appear to have devolved from military uniforms, specifically the flight jacket and the motorcycle jacket.

Even on beautiful autumn days when air is crisp and leaves are turning, Mr. Henry does not ride motorcycles. Consequently he finds the motorcycle jacket to be an unnecessary accoutrement.

With extra zippers, extra belts, and metal studs, the motorcycle jacket strikes an aggressive, predatory pose. Its ethos of violence is sartorial overkill.

Though the wearer may think he is saying, “I am Marlon Brando as Johnny in The Wild One.”

In fact he says, “I flunked the entrance exam for the Highway Patrol.”

Rahm Emanuel

Monday’s Man of Mystery is none other than the probable future mayor of Chicago.

Do you know this man?

Mr. Henry asks, “How good is your eye for famous men?”

Do you know this man?

Mr Henry asks, “How good is your eye for famous men?”

Jeff Bridges

This week’s Man of Mystery is the Dude himself, abiding in a younger incarnation.

Who is the real wimp, Amy Chua or her husband?

In today’s New York Times, David Brooks makes a great point about Amy Chua’s wrong-headed parenting choices.

When the Tiger Mother starts chewing her cubs, the larger question is why doesn’t the father of the house step in to restore sanity? What sort of father today cedes all child-rearing authority to his wife?

“Extreme parenting” is tyranny and madness. Crushed under the regime of an Amy Chua, a smart child who is well-grounded and self-protective would run away from home.

Even in a happy household, it is every husband’s sacred obligation to protect his children from momentary mood swings of the motherly variety.

Just before dinner when everyone including the dog seems to need a stiff one, Mr. Henry will on rare occasions hear Mrs. Henry carping at Little Henry about some minor transgression normally involving a small sin of omission like not putting something away in its proper place.

In order to reestablish family harmony at these critical junctures, Mr. Henry steps into the breach. First he tells Little Henry to run upstairs and hide until dinner is ready. Then he suggest to Mrs. Henry that a little bite of hors d’oeuvres might hit the spot. Then – and this is key – he refuses to engage in a fight with her no matter what.

Once dinner has begun to work its magic and conversation begins to wander merrily, all will be well.

Do you know this man?

Mr. Henry asks, “How good is your eye for famous men shirtless?”

Dwight Eisenhower

Congratulations to Rick who guessed this week’s Man of Mystery, the great strategic and political general.

The Comb-Over


Major Ames replaced his hat rather hastily, after a swift manoeuvre with regard to his hair which Mrs Evans did not accurately follow. The fact was (though he believed the fact not to be generally known) that the top of Major Ames’ head was entirely destitute of hair, and that the smooth crop which covered it was the produce of the side of his head – just above the ear – grown long, and brushed across the cranium so as to adorn it with seemingly local wealth and sleekness. The rough and unexpected removal of his hat by the bough of the mulberry tree had caused a considerable portion of it to fall back nearly to the shoulder of the side on which it naturally grew, and his hasty manoeuvre with his gathered tresses was designed to replace them. Necessarily he put back his hat again quickly, in the manner of a boy capturing a butterfly.

– p. 59

Mrs. Ames, by E. F. Benson, Bloomsbury ©1912

Do you know this man?

Mr. Henry asks, “How good is your eye for famous men?”

Mitt Romney

Monday’s Man of Mystery is that rara avis, a Republican from Massachusetts.


Do you know this man?

Mr. Henry asks, “How good is your eye for famous men?”

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