While political corruption is a dog-bites-man story, according to the New York Times the mayor of Birmingham, Alabama has been “charged in [an] 101-count indictment with taking over $230,000 in cash, clothing, and jewelry.” Could this be an alleged crooked pol Izzy can sympathize with? Not if the mayor’s ill-gotten gains include that painfully loud Burberry-esque shirt. He does have great hair, though.
From the delightfully named Happy Socks come, well, socks that will cheer up anyone’s mood. The huge selection includes bold argyle socks, which are perfect for your inner harlequin (romantic or not), and “high heel” socks that make for a fun surprise. The company is based in Sweden, and its socks are, happily, Ikea-priced at $10 each.
While recently reading Piers Brendon’s excellent new book The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, Izzy came across this fascinating digression on how the imperial British moustache largely originated in India:
Also reflecting the customs of [India] was the growth of “the Moustache movement.” Some British officers had begun to sport hair on their top lip during the Napoleonic Wars. They did so, largely, it seems, in dashing imitation of coxcombical Frenchmen, who took the Spanish view that an “an hombre de bigote” was a man of resolution, their whiskers evidently being “appurtenences of Terror.” The mode became imperative in India, where beards were deemed sacred but the moustache was a symbol of virility. . . . So in 1831 the 16th Lancers hailed with delight an order permitting them to wear moustaches. . . . In 1854 moustaches were made compulsory for European troops of the Company’s Bombay army and they were enthusiastically adopted elsewhere. . . .
Moustaches were clipped and trimmed until they curved like sabers and bristled like bayonets. Their ends were waxed and given a soldierly erection. Imitating warriors, civilians too stiffened their upper lips: Frederich Engels mocked Anglo-Irish aristocrats with “enormous moustaches under colossal noses.” . . . For different reasons sailors and parsons eschewed the fashion but it was jealously guarded by the beau monde. Edwardian tuskers rebuked servants who aped the “fancy hairdressing” of their betters. Nothing would be permitted to devalue these military insignia, which achieved their apotheosis in the crossed scimitars of Lord Kitchener and gained iconic status in the famous Great War recruiting poster. So the moustache became the emblem of empire, roughly coterminous with the Raj but largely derived from it—much as the Romans derived the habit of wearing trousers from the barbarians.
The tradition of warriors choosing to be proudly hirsute lives on in the U.S. Special Forces, whose soldiers are the only American troops permitted to wear facial hair (and not just so they can blend in with locals abroad). It’s hard to quantify such things, but sometimes it appears that an outright majority of Navy SEALs wear mustaches. Of course, such facial hair is also a badge of honor, allowing the elite to stand out from the ordinary rank-and-file.
The Los Angeles Times has a long but excellent article on the new wardrobe 007 in Quantum of Solace, the latest James Bond movie. Ditching Brioni, Bond now has Tom Ford as his custom tailor. That helps to explain the above three-piece suit, a style Ford has tried to re-popularize in recent years. While a three-piece is appropriate now that the franchise is looking back to its early years (e.g., Sean Connery wore one in Goldfinger), it’s a shame that the vest was cut so voluminously and short. Also, Connery’s Bond knew not to fasten the bottom button.
In any case, Ford, acting like a sartorial Q, at least gave Bond some tricks up his pants:
one of Bond’s coolest secret weapons this time around is a small button tab inside the cuff of each trouser leg that never has a second of screen time, and whose sole purpose is to keep 007′s pant legs precisely where they should be
Izzy has never before heard of such a thing, and is curious how it works. Another interesting tidbit from the article is that the costume designer
desperately wanted to source a very specific, very expensive suiting fabric known as “mohair tonic,” a wool-cashmere blend with a subtle sheen not unlike that of a subdued sharkskin suit. “It was extremely popular in the ’60s; all the Mods and all the wannabe Bonds wore it,” she said. “I’m sure Sean Connery would have worn it at least once.” According to a Ford rep, when a sufficient quantity could not be found, the Tom Ford team developed the proprietary fabric to specification in its Italian mills (and cloaked in Bond-worthy industrial secrecy, she declined to identify the specific mill).
Note that the costume designer does not say that Bond himself ever wore such shiny fabric, which, whatever its merits, has never been considered high class.
As befits a president, Barack Obama has finally gone custom. Izzy missed this at the time, but Obama wore a custom navy blue worsted Hartmarx suit for his acceptance speech.
Obama, who wears a 40 long with a 33-inch waist, has worn Hart Schaffner Marx suits in the past but always off the rack, said an inside source. He favors the Gold Trumpeter collection. This time, he made appointments with Hartmarx tailors for his nomination-night suit.
The fabric is 97 percent merino wool and 3 percent cashmere.
The pants are pleated and have an inch and a quarter cuff.
A similar suit off the rack would retail for about $1,500.
Pleated pants? Isn’t Obama supposed to bring change and vigor to the White House? Is this a sartorial bait-and-switch? After all, TV pundit Chris Matthews got all excited before the election:
“Think of the Kennedys,” Mr. Matthews said, when asked the impact on Washington if Obama wins. “A mixed administration. Pragmatic. Some liberal tendencies, not overwhelming. Very tough. Very smart. Thin ties — are you looking at this?”
While it’s nice to see that Obama’s custom suit has some waist suppression, unlike the superconservative sack cut a la J. Press or (traditional) Brooks Brothers, it doesn’t come close to achieving the flair of JFK’s narrow ties and lapels. Going with flat-fronted pants would give a sleeker look and would also be more flattering for a thin man such as Obama. SAnd speaking of his gangliness, unless he gains some weight in office, he should start wearing higher collars to hide his long, scrawny neck.
Ralph Lauren has probably done more than any other designer to romanticize the Southwestern U.S., and, as witnessed here, he even found a way to put a wool Indian-blanket pattern on a trail boot. You won’t find a more colorful way of kicking up sand in the Mojave desert.
The New York Times is reporting that, due to the high violent crime rate, a shop in Mexico City is specializing in bulletproof armor disguised as ordinary clothing:
There are bulletproof leather jackets and bulletproof polo shirts. Armored guayabera shirts hang next to protective windbreakers, parkas and even white ruffled tuxedo shirts. Every member of the sales staff has had to take a turn being shot while wearing one of the products, which range from a few hundred dollars to as much as $7,000, so they can attest to the efficacy of the secret fabric.
Izzy wonders if the store sells Kevlar socks—for when he shoots himself in the foot.
While the Moncler parka continues to have its defenders, Izzy remains adamant that at best it makes you look like a gorilla puffing his chest out, at worst the Michelin Man. Bulk is never elegant.
While the the sober have been taking advantage of the drunk since time immemorial, only in recent years have entire businesses been based on that model—e.g., the smutty Girls Gone Wild franchise. Happily, it looks like these businesses would be illegal in Britain for being unchivalrous. According to the BBC:
A man who took a photograph of an ill woman outside an Edinburgh bar has been fined £100 after being branded “unchivalrous” by a sheriff.
The woman had been drinking with friends in an Omni Centre bar when she felt unwell and went outside for air.
Sebastian Przygodzki took a photograph with his camera, which upset Rebecca Smith and her friends called police.
He was arrested and charged with breach of the peace, and pleaded guilty to the offence at Edinburgh Sheriff Court.
Przygodzki, 28, who moved to Scotland two years ago from Krakow, told police he had spent the day taking photographs of performers at the Edinburgh festival, which was in full swing at the time.
When he came across the woman, he considered it “taking a photo of another view of Edinburgh”, said his lawyer, Andy Houston.
But Sheriff Kenneth Hogg said the matter “could be best described as exceptionally unchivalrous”.
“The lady concerned was entitled to her privacy and not to have a passing stranger take a photograph,” said the sheriff.
“I’m going to impose a fine to remind him chivalry is not dead and when somebody is in distress you leave them to it.”
Of all the items on eBay Izzy has missed bidding on, this Hackett necktie is truly the one that got away. Featuring a bowler hat and umbrellas arranged like a skull and crossbones, it is the ultimate accoutrement of the Anglophile dandy.
You might never have consciously noticed it, but buttons covered in matching fabric are the norm on a tuxedo. On suits, however, they’re either the sign of a dandy or a mafioso—or both. If either applies to you, and you can’t afford bespoke tailoring, check out this Tom James suit now selling on eBay.