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Dumpy Old Men

Lieberman and McCain in suits and sweaters

On the same day that Joseph Lieberman endorsed John McCain for president, both politicians wore crew-neck sweaters under their suits.   To Izzy, this makes them look like emasculated fuddyduddy-ish professors and certainly nothing like a potential Commander-in-Chief.  Also, given that both men are height-challenged, itself a handicap in politics, the sweaters cover up their ties, which would have otherwise emphasized verticality.

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.

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.

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.

Valenti, not Valent-ino

Jack Valenti with LBJ

Jack Valenti, the big macher who for 38 years headed the Motion Picture Association of America, was Napoleonic (or, more positively, Churchillian) in stature, but, like many diminutive but ultimately powerful men, he skillfully used his attire to make the most of what nature gave him. Sartorialists everywhere will miss him.

Jack Valenti in shirt and tie

Shrinky Dink

Lance Armstrong

At 5’9″ and 165 lbs., Lance Armstrong is not that small. But this tie makes it seem like he’s a jockey, not a cyclist.

Booming Thom Thom

Thom Browne's ankles

The New York Times is touting Thom Browne, the notorious proponent of ankle cleavage, as “today the most envied and influential American men’s wear designer.” Though the article contains much of interest, including the observation that Browne’s suits “caught on with an underserved customer: the businessman who wants to look both conservative and cool,” one claim in particular caught Izzy’s attention. The paper reports that to gain attention for his style, Browne “started eating breakfast—black coffee and white toast—every morning …at Pastis, neatly dressed in a Thom Browne suit-slash-sandwich board.”

It just so happens that one day this past summer, Izzy, apeing the idle rich, himself breakfasted at Pastis, a pretentious French bistro in New York’s meatpacking district. And whom did he behold sitting at his regular table just next to the entrance? Thom Browne, clad in extremely short seersucker pants with massive cuffs, and going sockless in black wingtips, just like in the above photo. The sight of his get-up did make an indelible impression. Little did Izzy know at the time that he was witnessing a highly effective self-advertisement. Mr. Browne deserves a belated hat tip.

Sleeves Fit for Ishtar

Dustin Hoffman's sleeves

With his jacket sleeves extending all the way to his knuckles, Dustin Hoffman not only makes it look like he has nothing but hand-me-downs in his wardrobe, but draws attention to his height, or rather lack thereof.

Save Lipshitz

Ralph Lauren at CFDA

First he wore this. And now here is how Ralph Lauren (né Lipshitz) recently showed up to a black-tie event. Is that the same turquoise (?) on his jeans as on his earlier giant belt?

Dear readers, Izzy believes we must stage an intervention.

Tips and Purveyors for the Not Tall Man

Yesterday the Today show featured a segment on clothing advice for short men. The advice, most of which was fine, was delivered by Alan Au of Jimmy Au’s, one of only ten stores in the U.S. that cater to men under 5’8″ tall, even though one-third of the male population falls into that category. Izzy must admit that he did not even know that such stores existed. By contrast, there are about 1,000 stores for big and tall men.

To any entrepreneurs out there, there is a huge, er, small market out there waiting to be tapped.

Polio by Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren in leather pants

Merchant prince Ralph Lauren here helpfully teaches us three lessons: 1) Black and brown tend to clash, 2) Men of a certain age ought to avoid leather trousers, 3) Texas-sized belt buckles do not belong on a Lichtenstein-sized man.

Neapolitan Napoleons

The May issue of Travel + Leisure features an article on Naples that highlights the sartoria Napoletana, the meticulous men’s style made possible by the finest tailors in Italy.

Oddly, one of the accompanying photos is of a leggy, high-heeled model with some local taxi drivers who most definitely do not exemplify that style.

Neapolitan taxi drivers

As Izzy can attest, it is no shame to be short in stature, but such men run an extra risk of looking like overgrown children. And wearing baggy jeans, sneakers (which are not just childish but add no height), and an untucked shirt only make things worse.

But perhaps Izzy is foolish to think that men today don’t wish to look like overgrown children.

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