Izzy recently popped into H. Herzfeld, possibly New York’s last true habedasher. Inside the cozy store, which has been in business since 1890, it is easy to imagine one is on Jermyn Street in London, not E. 57th Street in Manhattan. It probably the only place in New York city that sells shirts by Hilditch & Key and Harvie & Hudson, among with many other rarities in America, such as sock garters. Browsing toward the back of the shop, Izzy felt a pair of gloves from Dents, the leather of which was so surprisingly soft that it truly sent a shiver up his spine. The salesman said that the British glovemaker was the best in the world, which, Izzy had to agree, was not a hyperbolic claim.
Excluding saddle shoes and a few other exceptions, Izzy is averse to two-toned footwear. And were you to ask him to imagine blue-and-white boots, he would start to gag mentally. And yet there are these highly unusual boots from Grenson, the storied British cordwainer, which, despite consisting of off-white canvas and light-blue leather infill, somehow work wonderfully. They are not exactly meant for everyday wear, but if you find your self running a tropical colony while wearing a pith helmet…
Izzy recently acquired this unusual vintage necktie made by Chipp, the old-school haberdasher, headquartered in New Haven, that sadly closed shop years ago. Izzy was able to determine that half of the chemical formula stands for urea, the other for acetic acid. In other words, the tie is delightfully full of piss and vinegar.
Wearing a patterned suit and a shirt with contrasting collar, Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso is attired far differently than most American politicians. It itself, that is not such a bad thing. But Aso’s necktie is knotted lamely, and the acutely angled collar, which appears to be curved, is unflattering, especially when paired with his low and relatively substantial lapels.
Izzy is almost certain that that light-blue shirt, with its two unusual pocket flaps, is the same one Bush wore when engaging in diplomacy with Vladimir Putin. As Izzy pointed out at the time, that quasi-militaristic style has also been favored by fellow Texan Charlie Wilson. Clearly, Bush’s choice of shirt and pose—bent over, sitting on a couch while smiling—was intended to give an air of casualness and familiarity. Unfortunately, given how the shirt’s cuffs ride up due to bent arms, Izzy mainly sees poor tailoring. (The pleats adjacent to the cuffs are a further sign that the shirt was not custom-made.)
Artistically, Izzy thinks that the official portrait pales next to one by the same painter, Robert Alexander Anderson, which was created for the Yale Club of New York City.
Here, Bush actually looks somewhat presidential, though it’s amusing that he crosses his leg in the European style that some American yahoos consider effete. (Also, what’s with Barney’s demon eyes?) It’s a shame that even this portrait contains a sartorial blunder: loafers with a suit. W simply can’t escape informality, which, admittedly, is a very American peccadillo. It even looks like his right French cuff is undone.
And is it Izzy, or does that sofa bring to mind a Rorschach test?
A serious danger in wearing a bow tie is to come off as a fuddy-duddy or even a sartorial prig. If that’s not the impression you’re going for, the trick is to choose a bow tie with an interesting texture. As Izzy previously noted, raw silk works wonderfully, but so too does velvet, like this gunmetal number from Band of Outsiders. Its small size, seen in action here, also helps makes it anything but stodgy. Other excellent textilian (Izzy’s coinage) choices include pinwale corduroy and wool.
The author of books such as My Life Among the Deathworks and The Triumph of the Therapeutic, Philip Rieff was a formidable conservative cultural critic and a formidable conservative dresser. Here he is in a custom pinstriped peak-lapelled single-breasted suit, pocket square, fawn waistcoat, watch fob, and homburg hat. They don’t make professors like that anymore—for which lazy, fearful students should be thankful.
Izzy was blissfully unaware of the trend of men wearing pantyhose, until a reader sent him this article:
The trend for straight men to invade female fashion territory is seemingly unstoppable. Even before manscara and guyliner there were man bras, or manzieres. Now there are umpteen websites for male nylons. One, e-MANcipate!, describes itself as “a project to accelerate the acceptance of male pantyhose as a regular clothing item” with tips on how to deal with snagging (a dab of clear nail varnish, I find, fellas, and do watch those shoe buckles).
Surely you don’t need Izzy to tell you that “mantyhose,” even with a special “male comfort panel,” is stretching things too far. They only time a gentleman should ever be caught with hose on is when he has pulled a pair over his head to rob a grocery store for diapers.
Izzy never would have thought that suede paisley loafers could be done tastefully, but this pair from Cole Haan—not Etro, as one might expect—proved him wrong. Almost a pair of slippers, they are just the thing for reposing at home in a smoking jacket.
While in elementary school, Izzy and his classmates used to titter that “Adidas” stood for “All Day I Dream About Sex”—not that we had any idea what that meant. Thus, when Izzy saw the juxtaposition of that brand name with the Cuban flag, he had to wonder whether Castro had in mind “All Day I Dream About Socialism.” Though, really, Fidel ought to create his own logo: “Adidats,” for “All Day I Dream About Track Suits.”