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Shoes | Manolo for the Men - Part 5
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Pre-Gifting

Thanksgiving is here, which means that the collective madness known as holiday shopping has already begun. In no particular order, here are some gift ideas for inspiration. Of course, it’s the thought that counts, but some thoughts are more valuable and stylish than others.

Up first, some simple, classic Brooks Brothers ties.

Brooks Brothers bar stripe tieBrooks Brothers silk repp dot tie

On the formal bow tie front, there’s nothing blacker than velvet, which isn’t seen much nowadays.

Thomas Pink velvet bow tie

And for a change from the usual cufflinks, how about silk knots, which, unlike ordinary cufflinks, are never stuffy? They’re so inexpensive that you can collect them in every color. Also, they’re easy to put on, even if you don’t have a manservant.

Thomas Pink woven silk cuff knots

Another interesting alternative are these woven cufflinks from Thomas Pink, which have a delightful feel.

Thomas Pink woven cufflinks

Speaking of formal wear, it might be worth experimenting with these Frenchback boxers, which look like just the thing to wear under white tie and tails. They’re perhaps the only undergarments that deserve to be starched.

Brooks Brothers Frenchback boxer

Not exactly the tallest man in the world, Izzy, like Tom Cruise, is a sucker for dressy boots.

Peal & Co. Chelsea bootsPeal & Co. wingtip Chelsea boots

And as for boots that will keep your feet warm and dry on an Arctic expedition or merely a schlep to the mailbox, Sorel is one of the brands to count on. The company was founded in Canada, after all.
Sorel Mounty II boots

These are totally off-season, Izzy knows, but why where white bucks when you can wear white buck wingstips?

Peal & Co. white buck wingtips

For that special someone who thinks he has everything, surprise him with this Brooks Brothers sportcoat made from “Coarsehair,” a custom Loro Piana blend of cashmere and goat hair.

Brooks Brothers Coarsehair sportcoat

Happy hunting.

Another great gift idea is getting the latest 4g phones as a gift, where you can find some great discounts.

Sieg Wale!

Corduroy Appreciation Club membership cardCorduroy Appreciation Club membership card - reverse

As promised, Izzy attended the Corduroy Appreciation Club’s 11|11 meeting yesterday in Brooklyn, and is delighted to report that he had an excellent time. The secret rites lived up to their reputation, the corduroy-themed foods were crunchy, and the crowd was simply drop-dead cord-geous. (Apologies…) Izzy had never seen so much ridged fustian in one place in his entire life. These people take their silliness extremely seriously.

Izzy was surprised to discover that there was an open bar (which, he imagines, would serve anything but a velvet hammer—that textile is anathema to the Club, which derides it as the fabric of Leprechauns), thanks to the sponsorship of the naturally supple people at Cotton Inc. (“The Fabric of Our Lives,” etc.), though Izzy couldn’t help remembering that corduroy can in fact be made from wool or cashmere, however rare that may be. (Random aside: Izzy doesn’t want to encourage any conspiracy theories, but doesn’t Cotton’s logo eerily resemble a mushroom cloud?)

Never one do things by halves, every visible item Izzy wore, except for his socks, was corduroy: a brown medium-wale sportcoat, an indigo pin-wale shirt, blue and green medium-wale Converse All-Stars, and outrageously pink medium-wale trousers (pictured in the background above). Izzy thought that the latter would be the piece de resistance, but he was, alas, one-upped by a gentleman in an entirely pink corduroy suit. Izzy consoled himself considering that although that gentleman may have won the day (and also the best-dressed prize), his suit was made in Vietnam (where the labor is cheap, and so is the workmanship), whereas Izzy’s trousers were made with the utmost care in Italy, and hence should last a lifetime. Also, while Izzy may have appeared to be merely ridiculous, that gentleman looked like the Pink Panther.

Among the best parts of the evening was the hilarious, arch homage to corduroy delivered by Lord Whimsy, who excels at mock erudition. Izzy even had the pleasure of (briefly) meeting him, as well as with Duncan Quinn, a rock-star haberdasher who was by far the sharpest-dressed gentleman in the room.

But of all the highlights, Izzy’s favorite was when he received his membership card, which is comfortingly backed with brown corduroy. All in all, the event deserves a hearty “Zip, Zip, Hooray.”

Foot Fungus

KlompenBirkenstocks

New York magazine has published a brief history of fads for ugly shoes, from Birkenstocks to Klompens to the appropriately named Uggs. The common cause seems to be that the heinous-looking footwear catches on in the name of “comfort” (obviously of the physical, not visual kind), to which all other values—e.g., beauty, basic dignity—are sacrificed. Also, most of the culprits appear to be of foreign origin, making Izzy wonder whether border control ought to shift the focus of its energies.

Corduroy Conclave

corduroy tattoo

Having drawn attention to the Corduory Appreciation Club once before, Izzy would like to notify his loyal readers of the society’s next get-together, which will be held in Brooklyn on 11|11 (for obvious reasons). Lord Whimsy, courageous dandy and author of The Affected Provincial’s Companion, Vol. I (which Izzy thoroughly recommends), will be the keynote speaker. Given that “adoxography” is a fancy word for elegant praise of the trivial (something which Izzy might know a thing or two about), the Club should be considered an organized exercise in adoxophilia. (Shockingly, Izzy could not find “adoxography” in the Oxford English Dictionary. He’s going to write an angry, erudite letter to Jesse Sheidlower, the immaculately dressed editor-at-large.)

In any case, only an unnatural disaster will keep Izzy from attending the event. Where else is he supposed to wear his corduroy shoes?

Advertisement for Myself

Never a fan of false humility, Izzy is proud to report that he was recently quoted in a Denver Post article about Nordstrom, the department store famed for its customer service.  Alas, although Izzy gave good quote, the reporter chose to go with the relatively humdrum.  Still, the article is worth reading.  Izzy would add to it that Nordstrom has one of the best men’s shoe departments in the business, with a wide variety of high quality brands, and the store also carries an extensive selection of clothing sizes, which makes it a good choice for the big, small, or unusually-sized gentleman.  It’s reputation for superior service is well-deserved, but while many people know of its generous return-policy (e.g., purchases can be returned without receipts as long as Nordstrom carries the items), its low-price guarantee also deserves a huzzah.

Pirate Bootee

skull wing tip shoes

Perfect for the corporate raider, these wing tips from Barker Black feature a skull and crossbones on their toes.  And of course you could wear them for Walk Like a Pirate Day.

Burnish, Baby, Burnish

Joseph Abboud Bergamo shoes

Izzy wasn’t aware that Joseph Abboud was in the shoe business, but he was pleased to see that they offer a model with antiqued leather, a finish that creates visual depth.

Disco Inferno in the Groin

JC Penny 1975 catalogue

Behold this page from the 1975 J.C. Penny catalog, which deserves to be seen fully blown up to get the full effect.  While it’s easy to knock disco-pimp fashion, whether it’s the butch decolletage or the high-waisted polyester trousers with crotches cut too close to home, at least the clogs benefitted the shorter manimal (like the model on the right).  As bad as these outfits are, truly beyond the pale are those cuffed bell-bottoms, something Izzy had never seen even in his worst disco nightmare.  The only way this advertisement could have been any worse were if it had been scratch-and-sniff.

Ardor for Barbour

Barbour Beaufort jacket

Jeremy Hackett, the man behind Hackett—a brand that, by copying and improving upon English classics, is in many ways the British equivalent of Ralph Lauren—waxes eloquent about the time he discovered the virtues of a Barbour jacket:

When I opened my first shop in London in 1983, I sold — as one magazine kindly put it — dead men’s clothes. Today they are known as vintage, and some items can fetch exorbitant prices. Once, on one of my frequent forays to Portobello Market, I chanced upon an ancient, patched-up Barbour jacket. I bought it and put it in the window, where it sold within minutes at a price not far from what it cost new. The attraction, I realized, was precisely that it was worn. In no time at all, no self-respecting Sloane Ranger would be seen without this distinctive olive green coat. Young army officers wore them as part of their mufti, teamed with straw-colored corduroys, suede shoes and red socks. Aspiring bankers adopted the Barbour, and it also became de rigueur over black tie. It was a way of airing your country pedigree, though you may have actually lived in a two-up, two-down in Fulham.

It spoke of damp dogs sleeping on tartan coat linings in the back of battered Land Rovers, of point-to-points and Badminton Horse Trials, all things dear to an Englishman. I recently retrieved my old Beaufort Barbour — with its oily texture, brown corduroy collar and brass zipper as strong as a railway line — from the attic, where it had lain neglected for nearly 20 years. Suddenly, I was filled with nostalgia for the countryside. So, despite not owning a large pile in the shires, I shall wear my shabby Barbour the next time I go shopping on Sloane Street — but I think I’ll leave my green wellies in the Land Rover.

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 Tyvekâ„¢ 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).

[…]

Put on the Map

To Boot Damien shoes

Izzy just acquired these Italian-made suede To Boot “brogues,” which will come in useful when he must pretend to be cooler than he is.

To Boot Damien map soles

With a map of Manhattan on their soles, they are the perfect accompaniment to this jacket.

Walking on Egghead Shells

Adlai Stevenson with a hole in his shoe

While recently discussing the footwear of politicians, little did Izzy know of this once-famous photo of Adlai Stevenson showing a hole in his shoe.  Taken during the 1952 Presidential campaign, the Pulitzer Prize-winning photo was embraced by the eggheaded* politician (the model for the feckless President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove), who saw this image of thriftyness as a way to escape his reputation as an aristocratic intellectual. “Better a hole in the shoe than a hole in the head,” he would say.  His campaign even sold silver lapel pins to memorialize the symbol of everyman frugality.

Adlai Stevenson silver shoe lapel pin

*Showing a wit all-too-lacking in American politics today, Stevenson would later retort at a 1954 Harvard lecture, “Via ovicipitum dura est, or, for the benefit of the engineers among you: The way of the egghead is hard.” 

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