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.

The Streets of Manhattan

Bill Cunningham in NYC

Bill Cunningham, the famed New York Times street-fashion photographer, has created a new audio slideshow, in which he notes that pocket squares seem to be making a comeback, especially on men who aren’t wearing neckties. As a proponent of judiciously chosen ornament, Izzy thinks this is happy news.

Speaking of the joys of people-watching, as the weather is increasingly conducive to walks in the city, it’s worth remembering some lines from Walt Whitman:

Keep your splendid, silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!

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Jumpers

The Times of London is reporting the sad demise of the cricket sweater:

The woollen V-necked jumper — baggy and bearing mysterious stains — has been a part of cricket at all levels since the early days but when adidas, the new England kit supplier, unveiled its 2008 collection at the home of cricket, cable-knit had been replaced by the figure-hugging ClimaCool, a man-made fibre said to push sweat away from cricketers’ skin.

“England will be cooler, drier and more comfortable than ever before,” Hugh Morris, the managing director of the England and Wales Cricket Board, said. “With this kit, England will be the best-equipped team in the world.” The innovation was warmly greeted by Michael Vaughan, England’s Test captain. “The cricket sweater has been my bugbear for many a year,” he said. “This new fabric will give us a lighter feel. Even if it’s a little cold, I am delighted to see the end of the last woolly sweater.”

However, Bob Willis, the former England captain, said that the old sweater was “a very important piece of kit” for fast bowlers. “In cold weather, when you’d finished bowling ten overs and were dripping with perspiration it would keep you cool,” he said.

Willis is alluding to the fact that wool, unlike many other fabrics, maintains its warmth even when wet.

But perhaps the best argument for retaining the cricket sweater is its potential for off-field use, here demonstrated in Matthew Bourne’s dance piece “Play Without Words.”

Play Without Words cricket sweater

Who’s Tommy?

Tommy Hilfiger in pinstripes

Despite being a designer and having all the money in the world, Tommy Hilfiger’s jacket is clearly too tight in the middle (note how the fabric pinches and the tie peeks through below the button). Maybe he’s spent too much time lifting weights at the gym. Indeed, his whole appearance gives the impression that he’s trying too hard: the gangster-bold pinstripes, the flashy tie in a color that’s “off,” the helmet hair, the steroidal neck, chest, and face. Hilfiger simply does not look comfortable in his own skin.

Vat Is Dis, Velvet?

Paul Smith velvet oxfords

These blue velvet oxfords from Paul Smith are as much of a head trip as, well, Blue Velvet.   And they’re just the thing for the love child of Oscar Wilde and Elvis.

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.

Merman

Speedo LZR Racer

Izzy missed it at the time, but not too long ago Speedo unveiled the LZR Racer, its new, super hi-tech swimsuits that will be worn by the American team at the Beijing Olympics.   Gold medalist Michael Phelps showed the suit off while posed like Leonardo da Vinci’s Vetruvian Man.  In traditional Speedo fashion, the Saran-wrap like suit leaves little to the imagination.

The Art of Leisure

Real Men Read t-shirt

Now here’s a t-shirt message Izzy can subscribe to: a gentleman in a tweed suit, high collar,  and spats demonstrating civilization to an attentive boy, dressed with restraint.  And the slogan is both perfect and true.  The artist is Edward Gorey, who was famed for his vaguely ominous illustrations of Victorian and Edwardian subjects.  But there’s nothing discomfiting here, except maybe the boy’s stiff collar.

On Making a Splashy Entrance

Simon Michael Bessie

While reading the obituary for publisher Simon Michael Bessie—who edited writers including Daniel J. Boorstin, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Kenneth Tynan, and Elie Wiesel—Izzy came across this passage about Bessie’s attempt to track down John Cheever, the novelist and chronicler of a vanishing WASP world:

As Susan Cheever recounts it in a memoir of her father, “Home Before Dark” (1984), Mr. Cheever had offered the novel to Random House in 1954, but the publisher turned it down. In despair, he rented a house that summer on Nantucket Island, took his family there and continued working on the novel. One day, as Cheever was staring out the window, a sailing yacht appeared in the harbor and dropped anchor. A man in white flannels and a double-breasted blazer was rowed ashore in a dinghy and announced in the voice of a literate aristocrat to the small crowd that had gathered to greet him, “I’m looking for John Cheever.”

“It was Simon Michael Bessie,” Ms. Cheever writes, “a senior editor at Harper & Row, and he had come to buy ‘The Wapshot Chronicle.’ ”

It’s worth noting that although Bessie was not himself a WASP, he clearly knew how to dress the part.

Mark of Polo Goes to China

Ralph Lauren Olympics outfitThe Wall Street Journal is reporting that Polo Ralph Lauren will be outfitting the U.S. Team at the upcoming Beijing Olympics:

“Norman Bellingham, chief operating officer of the [U.S. Olympic Committee] and a former Olympic kayaker, says that he wanted the athletes to be attired in a ‘classic and more formal manner.’”

[...]

“At a meeting at Polo’s headquarters on Madison Avenue in New York, Mr. Bellingham told Mr. Lauren that his inspiration was ‘Chariots of Fire,’ the 1981 movie about British athletes competing in the 1924 Summer Olympics in Paris. Upon hearing that, [Ralph] Lauren smiled, Mr. Bellingham recalls. ‘He knew precisely what we were going for.’”

[...]

“At the Olympic Village and at the Closing Ceremonies, athletes’ wardrobes will include V-neck tennis sweaters and ties, classic Polo mesh shirts with ‘Beijing’ written in big Chinese characters across the front and cargo pants — all in a patriotic palette of red, white and blue. The Olympic logo featured on the new uniforms may include a replica of a crest with stars and stripes used by the 1932 U.S. Olympic team at the Los Angeles Games. Polo ponies of varying sizes will also make an appearance on the garments.”

Izzy thinks that the sketch offers some great white hope.

Chain Gang

Hugo Boss chain shoes

Chink. Chink. Chink. These otherwise normal Hugo Boss dress shoes should make quite the aural statement. Izzy, however, doesn’t recommend trying to get through airport security with them.

Wearing Headgear with Relish

hot dog hat

Wisconsin cheeseheads be damned, there is nothing more American than wearing a hot dog cap at a baseball game.   That is, until someone invents an apple pie hat.



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