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Outerwear | Manolo for the Men - Part 2
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The Making of a Cowboy

Ronald Reagan in cowboy hat

The accusation, now frequently heard, of “cowboy politics” stems from the iconic image of Ronald Reagan as an all-American denim-clad horseman.   But it turns out that, while Reagan had long enjoyed riding horses, his cowboy attire originated as a bit of showmanship:

In 1966, a local reporter from KTIX in San Francisco wanted to do a segment on horseback with the candidate for governor of California. Lyn Nofziger, Mr. Reagan’s press secretary, accompanied the reporter and was shocked to see his candidate in jaspers [jodphurs?] and English riding boots.

“When he changed into his riding clothes, he came out. And I looked at him—and he was not yet the governor—and I said, ‘You can’t do that,'” Mr. Nofziger recalled. “He said, ‘This is the way I always ride.’ I said, ‘This is not the purpose of that. It’s to get votes. They’re going to think you look like a sissy!’ He’s a great cowboy, looking at him. He played a cowboy in movies.

You can find photos of Reagan in his more aristocratic, English riding-wear here.

The Dude’s a Biden

Joe Biden

Regardless of one’s politics, it’s hard to deny that in choosing Joseph Biden as his running mate, Barack Obama picked the best-dressed man in the Senate.  Admittedly, there’s not much competition for that title, but Biden stands out due to his willingness to wear form-fitting suits in a shade other than blue or gray, fun suspenders, pocket squares, casual shirts with the top two buttons undone, and, in the winter, a chesterfield coat with a velvet collar.   And in what is perhaps a bold statement about his foreign policy, he often wears shirts with French freedom cuffs.

Rubbers

Prada latex jacketPrada latex trench coat

Perfect for any biohazard emergency, Prada recently unsheathed what appears to be a jacket and trenchcoat made of latex rubber.  A big downside of the “fabric” is that it will make you sweat like a wrestler cutting weight, but Izzy also worried that these raincoats are bit too reminiscent of the full-body condoms in the love scene in The Naked Gun.

Naked Gun condom scene

Leaping Lizards

Andre Leon Talley in alligator coat

Andre Leon Talley, the eccentric editor-at-large (no pun intended) of Vogue, arrived at a fashion show wearing an alligator (?) coat that looks suspiciously, and embarrassingly, familiar.  Izzy never forgets a hide.

The Well-Polished Gumshoe

detectives in suits

Although Izzy had heard of gangsters getting suits customized to conceal weaponry, he had long wondered whether detectives do the same.  According to this fascinating New York Times story, they do.  But the most interesting part of the article is the discussion of the psychological benefits of having a clean and neat appearance in what can be a dirty line of work:

“A suit and tie is our uniform,” said Joel E. Potter, 64, a veteran homicide detective who retired in 2000. “A lot of times you’re set up in a car at 3 in the morning, or there are two dead bodies on the sidewalk. And when you step out of the car, you look like a professional. They know the man is there. They know the suits mean business.”

[…]

The ability to go from interrogation rooms to living rooms is so essential that some psychologists lecture detectives on both the influence of suit attire on suspects and the need to tip tailors to ensure that alterations hide the appearance of guns and handcuffs.

“I suggest they bring along every piece of equipment when they go buy it,” said Richard E. Ovens, who has given lectures to detectives in New York and other places. “You want the weapon to disappear.”

Dressing in a suit can set a boundary against what Guy O. Seymour, who has worked as a psychologist for the Atlanta police, called “crime-scene corruption.”

“Because they are all well dressed it establishes a barrier between them and the messiness,” Dr. Seymour said.

That was the case in some instances for Vernon J. Geberth, who wore two- or three-piece suits on the job before he retired as a detective commander in 1987.

“I looked like a banker,” said Commander Geberth. “It put me in a different mode. It slowed me down: ‘Look at this guy. He is all dressed up and he is in an abandoned building.’ I am here to put things back together.”

“I was above the fray,” he added. “My psychological armor.”

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.

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.”

For the Supermarine, Spitfire

RAF, submarine turtleneck sweater

To Izzy’s mind, cream-colored wool turtleneck sweaters conjure up iconic images from World War II, of RAF flyboys in their sheepskin jackets and Spitfires, or of a submarine captain standing on the sail in the middle of the North Atlantic—pipe in mouth, binoculars in hand.  Izzy is clearly not alone in such fantasizing, given that at least three different vendors have attempted to reproduce the period sweater.

A Different Kind of Aeronaut

human cannonball

For the fashionable human cannonball.

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.

Piste Off

Dsquared2 ski pants
The top’s all business, while the bottom’s all set for the ski slopes—circa 1985. Could DSquared² be targeting the undervalued Swiss newscaster demographic?

Incidentally, shouldn’t DSquared² be pronounced “DSquared squared”? Just sayin’…

Furry Beast

furry beast

While taking in the rarefied atmosphere of St. Moritz, Switzerland, one of Izzy’s friends encountered this well-to-do caveman. Someone tried to  dump a bucket of red paint on him, but he was saved by was a representative of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of A-holes). 

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