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Curious Yellow

yellow gloves

This gentleman in Milan is doing so many things right, it’s hard to know where to begin.  There are his narrow, short trousers which show off the sensational antiqued shoes (Berluti?).  And it’s not every day one sees a pocket square in an overcoat.  But the gloves, cradling a cigar, are really what set the outfit apart.  If there’s one accessory any dandy must absolutely possess, it is a pair of canary yellow gloves.

The Man in the White Hat

Spike Lee in white hat

With his thick, nearly-octagonal eyeglasses, Obama-for-President button, and bowtie-less tuxedo shirt, Spike Lee had a lot going on at the Oscar’s, but thanks to that dashing white trilby, he proved himself one of the good guys.

Pocket-Sized Tom Cruise

folding Wayfarer sunglassesTom Cruise in Risky Business

Possibly the most popular sunglasses frame of all time, the Ray-Ban Wayfarer has been worn by Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Cary Grant in North by Northwest, and, most famously, Tom Cruise in Risky Business—the latter the result of a shrewd product-placement deal.

First sold in 1952, the plastic model has been described by one commentator as being at first a “sculpture of genuine originality…a mid-century classic to rival Eames chairs and Cadillac tail fins. The distinctive trapezoidal frame spoke a non-verbal language that hinted at unstable dangerousness, but one nicely tempered by the sturdy arms which, according to the advertising, gave the frames a ‘masculine look.’”

To capitalize on the recent resurgence of the Wayfarer, Ray-Ban is now offering a limited-edition folding version that can fit in your pocket, as well as the glovebox of your Porsche.

In Tatters, Y’All

TI in tattersall

Named after a British horse auctioneer from the 1700s, the tattersall pattern originated on horse blankets, something it is still used for.  It has long been the classic design for flannel shirts meant to be worn with tweeds in the countryside, but Izzy has noticed that a few hip-hop stars, such as TI above, have been donning the conservative pattern, in the same way that many have been borrowing from preppy attire (note TI’s sherbert sweater). With all due respect to 50 Cent, perhap this style should be called “In da Country Club.”

Robot Teddy

Karl Lagerfeld with noose

The fine folks at Kempt pointed Izzy to a story in WWD about a teddy bear being modelled after Karl Lagerfeld:

FUZZY WUZZY: It’s a bear market out there — at least where Karl Lagerfeld is concerned. The famous German teddy bear maker Steiff plans to immortalize the indefatigable couturier in stuffed-animal form. The fuzzy Karl comes complete with dark glasses, a dark suit, high collar and logo belt buckle — nuclear-powered design prowess not included.

Izzy can’t help thinking that the teddy bear ought to be a creepy robot like the one featured in Steven Speilberg’s A.I. (which was originally a project of Stanley Kubrick’s, a director with a far darker sensibility).

Teddy supertoy

The plot, including the character of Teddy, was inspired by Brian Aldiss’ short story “Supertoys Last All Summer Long,” which contains a passage that could well describe any ursine automaton based on Lagerfeld:

“Come down here, Teddy!”

She stood impassively, watching the little furry figure as it climbed down from step to step on its stubby limbs. When it reached the bottom, she picked it up and carried it into the living room. It lay unmoving in her arms, staring up at her. She could feel just the slightest vibration from its motor.

Angular Momentum

Wesley Snipes with angled collar

As a celebrity, it’s part of Wesley Snipes’ job to a draw attention to himself, which he easily accomplished with an oddly angled collar. The non-traditional collar didn’t offend Izzy as much as he would have expected, but the extra-long dimple in the tie had the opposite effect. Is it possible for a necktie to be too silky?

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The Angel’s in the Details

Taye Diggs with pocket square

Taye Diggs deftly uses a cutaway collar and pocket square to spruce up what would have otherwise been a boring outfit.

Freakshow

Lagerfeld with gloves

Just in time for Halloween, a horror-show of a documentary about Karl Lagerfeld has opened in New York.  According to one review:

Mr. Lagerfeld claims to be “a complete improvisation.”

“I don’t want to be real in other people’s minds,” he declares. “I want to be an apparition.”

[...]

As a child, he admits, he was “unbearable and spoiled” and compares himself to Shirley Temple. Even now, he cannot go to sleep without a pillow clutched to his stomach.

His mother, he says, was “the polar opposite of a typical German mother.” She “exuded frivolity” and “made slaves of everyone.” Mr. Lagerfeld displays a similar mixture of eccentricity and severity. With his white ponytail, high white collars, sunglasses, fingerless gloves (his hands are festooned with rings) and preference for black, he resembles a man of the cloth, “a defrocked one,” he says matter-of-factly.

[...]

His most unsettling remarks concern friendship. Hanging over every close relationship, he asserts, is a sword of Damocles. And he implies that many have been permanently exiled from his court. “Forgiveness isn’t something I’m preoccupied with,” he says. “Turning the other cheek is not my trip. The curtain falls: an iron curtain.”

Izzy thinks that Lagerfeld needs a hug.

Born-Again Cardigan

Jeremy Piven in cardigan sweater

The cardigan sweater, named after the 7th Earl of Cardigan, has a deserved reputation for old fogeyness—think of Mister Rogers changing into a zip-up model at the beginning of each episode. But it’s making a comeback among hipsters, and as Jeremy Piven shows, if cut slim, it can be a flattering on a young-ish man. Among the cardigan’s other, if lesser known, benefits is that a thick model can protect you from poison-tipped umbrellas.

Self-Portrait in Tyvek(TM) Windbreaker

James Merrill

Pulitzer-prize-winning poet James Merrill was raised in a highly privileged setting (his father was a co-founder of Merrill Lynch), which should be kept in mind when reading his “Self-Portrait in Tyvek™ Windbreaker,” a meditation on the effects of dressing down. Here’s an excerpt, but Izzy encourages you to read the whole thing:

The windbreaker is white with a world map.
DuPont contributed the seeming-frail,
Unrippable stuff first used for Priority Mail.
Weightless as shoes reflected in deep water,
The countries are violet, orange, yellow, green;
Names of the principal towns and rivers, black.
A zipper’s hiss, and the Atlantic Ocean closes
Over my blood-red T-shirt from the Gap.

I found it in one of those vaguely imbecile
Emporia catering to the collective unconscious
Of our time and place. This one featured crystals,
Cassettes of whalesong and rain-forest whistles,
Barometers, herbal cosmetics, pillows like puffins,
Recycled notebooks, mechanized lucite coffins
For sapphire waves that creast, break, and recede,
As they presumably do in nature still.

Sweat-panted and Reeboked, I wear it to the gym.
My terry-cloth headband is green as laurel.
A yellow plastic Walkman at my hip
Sends shiny yellow tendrils to either ear.

[...]

Americans, blithe as the last straw,
Shrug off accountability by dressing
Younger than their kids—jeans, ski-pants, sneakers,
A baseball cap, a happy-face T-shirt . . .
Like first-graders we “love” our mother Earth,
Know she’s been sick, and mean to care for her
When we grown up. Seeing my windbreaker,
People hail me with nostalgic awe.

“Great jacket!” strangers on streetcorners impart.
The Albanian doorman pats it: “Where you buy?”
Over his ear-splitting drill a hunky guy
Yells, “Hey, you’ll always know where you are, right?”
“Ever the fashionable cosmopolite,”
Beams Ray. And “Voilà mon pays”—the carrot-haired
Girl in the bakery, touching with her finger
The little orange France above my heart.

Everyman, c’est moi, the whole world’s pal!
The pity is how soon such feelings sour.
As I leave the gym a smiling-as-if-I-should-know-her
Teenager—oh but I mean, she’s wearing “our”
Windbreaker, and assumes . . . Yet I return her wave
Like an accomplice. For while all humans aren’t
Countable as equals, we must behave
As if they were, or the spirit dies (Pascal).

[...]

Yes Men

The Sartorialist took some great photos at Pitti Uomo, the famous men’s ready-to-wear show in Milan. 

This distinguished-looking, no doubt Italian gentleman is casual but debonair in an unconstructed jacket that appears to be made of linen and/or cotton.

unconstructed brown jacket

Accoutered in a peak-lapelled suit of sumptuous cloth, Valentino CEO Matteo Marzotto looks like the merchant prince he is.  (Note how the color of his pocket square pops out.)

Valentino CEO Matteo Marzotto

And GQ deputy editor Michael Hainey show you can get away with a too-tight jacket when it’s clearly intentional.  (The hair helps, too.)

GQ deputy editor Michael Hainey

Leviathan

Gianfranco Ferre in white

Gianfranco Ferre, the Italian “Architect of Fashion,” has died. Captain Ahab must have finally caught up with him.

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