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Miami Vice

In honor of the Miami Vice movie (which, in Izzy’s opinion, makes the terrible mistake of not being set in the ’80s), the New York Times’ Guy Trebay penned an interesting article about the original TV show’s influence on fashion:

When he orchestrated the look of the original show, [the director Michael] Mann was venturing into stylistic territory already staked out by Italian designers, people like Gianni Versace, Gianfranco Ferre, or Giorgio Armani, the man generally credited with introducing the world to the unconstructed suit ? that is, without padding, a lining or internal stiffening. This might be as good a time as any to amend the old canard about Mr. Armani being the inventor of the floppy suit. It was long a staple of Neapolitan haberdashery, developed by tailors sent to London by wealthy patrons to apprentice on Savile Row.

Oddly, Trebay’s otherwise detailed account of the show’s style fails to mention footwear. How can one think of Crockett except in a pair of Espadrilles, like those you’d find at Pretty Green from Red Square Clothing?

Espardilles

The American

In “The American,” George Clooney’s clothes are understated. He carries himself with confidence and alertness, but without macho swagger. He looks like a thoroughly decent guy.

This is a problem because he plays the role of an expert in assassination.

Aren’t bad guys supposed to be dandies? Where are the lilac pocket square, shiny suit cloth, and gaudy finger ring?

No matter how despicable his actions, Clooney wins you over by his clothes, his forthright demeanor, and his chiseled, grizzled, but charming American visage. (Is this an implicit comment about American foreign policy?)

The American” is a post-modern gunfighter western. It even has a hooker with a heart of gold.

So, what does the modern American cowboy look like?

For most of the film Clooney wears a grey-green canvas jacket. It may provide less than adequate protection from wet Italian weather, but like most every other article of clothing the jacket looks very good on George. Underneath he layers a sedate sweater vest or plain gray tee shirt – practical and unostentatious. After all, he is supposed to be lying low.

In the final scenes he wears a dark suit of impeccable cloth and cut, a funeral suit for himself and others.

In the modern western, bad guys look good. More confusing still, in “The American” the real killers are Swedes!

Chronic shortage of trousers

Mr. Henry appreciates the best of everything. However, fortune, or rather its absence, does not permit him to have the best of everything he appreciates.

Because he prefers to wear the finest suits, his closet holds but three that fit the changing fashions as well as his changing frame: a dark navy for serious functions, a medium charcoal grey for daytime business, and a tuxedo. For other occasions he saves the suits and wears a jacket and trousers.

Consequently, because of the normal five-pound weight spread between his winter and summer body, he is chronically short of appropriate trousers.

Ten years ago “super-120” wool, what Armani uses it for their Black Label, was the best suit cloth you could buy. A pair of trousers would cost upwards of $650.

Now J. Crew offers Loro Piana super-120 wool trousers for a mere $175. How can this be?

New technology in looms permits Loro Piana to spin a light, strong, soft fabric from the best Australian and New Zealand wools, so-called “Tasmanian,” the most comfortable and durable suit cloth yet invented.

If you order online, J. Crew will hem and cuff them to your length.

Eexamsheets – http://www.examsheets.com/exam/220-801.htm
Realtests – http://www.realtests.com/exam/VCP-510.htm
Test-inside – http://www.test-inside.com/200-001.htm
Passguide – http://www.passguide.com/70-410.html
Selftestengine – http://www.selftestengine.com/642-902.html

The Butterfly Effect

OUTSOURCING

Although the recently deceased Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Samuelson never won a medal for his attire, his bow tie here is one for the record books.  While such neckwear has often been described as resembling a butterfly, Samuelson, probably through carelessness, somehow managed to make it look like it was about to flutter off his chest.

How, one might wonder, could a self-respecting economist justify wearing a self-tie bow tie, which takes so much more effort to don than the pre-fabricated variety? To quote the prodigious professor, “Every good cause is worth some inefficiency.”

Glambassador

mutassim-qaddafi-in-shiny-suit

In his memorable essay “The Secret Vice,” Tom Wolfe writes:

one day in December, 1960 . . . Lyndon Johnson, the salt of the good earth of Austin, Texas, turned up on Savile Row in London, England, and walked into the firm of Carr, Son & Woor. He said he wanted six suits, and the instructions he gave were: “I want to look like a British diplomat.” Lyndon Johnson! Like a British diplomat! You can look it up.

Note well: Never ask your tailor to make you look like a Libyan diplomat, or else you’ll get the shiniest suit known to man.  Apparently, what happens in Vegas does not stay in Vegas, sartorially speaking.

But at least Libya’s National Security Advisor, Mutassim Qaddafi (son of Muammar Qaddafi), is carrying on the family tradition of eccentric flamboyance.

Back Pak

munib-nawaz-pakistan-jacket

Pakistani designer Munib Nawaz shows his national pride by placing an outline of his homeland on the back of a tailcoat.  

The only major brand Izzy can think of that puts a country’s map on its products is the British label Hackett, which every now and then stamps the outline of the United Kingdom across a shirt or and tie.  Izzy himself has been known to don such a shirt—he likes to wear his anglophilia on his sleeve.

21 Goes Bust

21club-newyork

Izzy somehow missed it, but a few weeks ago The New York Times reported that the economic downturn has led to a true casual-ty: 21, the famed Manhattan restaurant, is no longer requiring that male diners wear ties, as it had for the prior 79 years:

The power-dining oasis, where Manhattan’s surviving masters of the universe daily attempt critical mass, announced last Thursday that the restaurant, virtually the last in town with a neckwear rule, had abandoned its tie requirement at dinner in its two dining rooms, the Bar Room and Upstairs at 21.

Ties are “preferred,” it said — indeed, “greatly appreciated.” And mind you, gentlemen, your jackets must stay on.

Actually, “21” instituted the policy “after Labor Day, a soft opening if you will,” said Bryan McGuire, the manager for the last, yes, 21 years. “We wanted to be on a more level playing field with our competitors,” he said, adding, “We didn’t think it was that big a deal.” Especially since, during lunch, the tie policy was ixnayed in 1996, he said.

The restaurant’s publicist, Diana Biederman, said she issued the release so people could “know about the policy in these challenging times.”

Mr. McGuire, though, insisted that the decision was not recession-driven.

But he allowed that the policy “could help the restaurant greatly in a time of difficulty.” Revenue, $18.5 million last year, is off by “double digits,” he said.

The restaurant has made other concessions to the economy, including free parking for all dinner patrons.

(For the record, he noted, ties are required in the 20-seat private dining room, the Wine Cellar.)

The Zagat 2009 New York City Restaurant guide has starred the Rainbow Room (which offers dinner on “selected” Friday and Saturday nights even as its landlord seeks to terminate its lease for nonpayment of rent) as the only other public restaurant requiring a tie among 13 that demand jackets.

“It is the final victory of Los Angeles,” Tim Zagat said.

As Woody Allen said of that city in Annie Hall, “I don’t want to live in a city where the only cultural advantage is that you can make a right turn on a red light.”

The ultra-formal should know that there are still a few New York holdouts when it comes to the ties-required rule.  You’ll just need to know someone who can get you into the likes of the Harvard Club.

His House, His Rules

obama-without-jacket

The new president has, it would seem, brought a new sartorial informality to the White House:

The capital flew into a bit of a tizzy when, on his first full day in the White House, President Obama was photographed in the Oval Office without his suit jacket. There was, however, a logical explanation: Mr. Obama, who hates the cold, had cranked up the thermostat.

“He’s from Hawaii, O.K.?” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod, who occupies the small but strategically located office next door to his boss. “He likes it warm. You could grow orchids in there.”

Thus did an ironclad rule of the George W. Bush administration — coat and tie in the Oval Office at all times . . . .

In cranking up the heat and ditching his jacket, Obama is showing himself to be anything but Jimmy Carter in a malaise-colored cardigan sweater, which he wore in an intentionally cold but more energy efficient White House.

Obama has explicitly changed the rules from the prior administration:

Over the weekend, Mr. Obama’s first in office, his aides did not quite know how to dress. Some showed up in the West Wing in jeans (another no-no under Mr. Bush), some in coats and ties.

So the president issued an informal edict for “business casual” on weekends — and set his own example. He showed up Saturday for a briefing with his chief economic adviser, Lawrence H. Summers, dressed in slacks and a gray sweater over a white buttoned-down shirt. Workers from the Bush White House are shocked.

“I’ll never forget going to work on a Saturday morning, getting called down to the Oval Office because there was something he was mad about,” said Dan Bartlett, who was counselor to Mr. Bush. “I had on khakis and a buttoned-down shirt, and I had to stand by the door and get chewed out for about 15 minutes. He wouldn’t even let me cross the threshold.”

Izzy finds it amusing that the Bush was such a stickler for decorum, when he otherwise tried to represent himself as an ordinary Joe. Indeed, were his official portrait hung in the Oval Office, it would appear to violate his own office dress code.

No, Minister

prime-minister-taro-aso

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.

A Portait of the President on Casual Friday

The National Portrait Gallery just unveiled the official portrait of President George W. Bush, which should look familiar to Izzy’s most faithful readers.

official-george-w-bush-portrait

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.

george-w-bush-portrait-for-the-yale-club

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?

Hauteur Theory

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.

Bondage by Tom Ford

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.

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