Manolo for the Men Fashion and Lifestyle Advice for Men

September 6, 2007

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).


September 4, 2007

Black, White, and Crinkly

Filed under: Celebrity,Men's Fashion,Shirts,Suits — Izzy @ 6:50 pm

close-up of Diddy in seersuckerDiddy in black-and-white seersucker

Sean “Diddy” Combs shows some inventiveness in a custom-made peak-lapeled suit made of a material Izzy has never seen before, black and white seersucker (a word, incidentally, that derives from the Hindi “shir shakkar,” meaning “milk and sugar”; like the fabric’s alternating stripes, milk is smooth, while sugar is rough).  While Izzy can tolerate such flamboyance in an entertainer, Diddy’s untucked t-shirt, by sloppily peeking out below the jacket, ruins the whole outfit.

September 3, 2007

The International Screen Actors Garment Workers Union (ISAGWU)

Filed under: Celebrity,Men's Fashion,Sweaters,Tailoring — Izzy @ 6:38 pm

Cary Grant knitting in Mr Lucky

In honor of Labor Day, Izzy wishes to remind his readers of the travails of the working man. After all, even Cary Grant nearly burst a blood vessel in his forehead while knitting his own sweaters.

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