Due to an ongoing health crisis in the family, blogging will be 'on and off' as time and circumstances permit for the foreseeable future. I also beg your indulgence if I am slow in responding to emails. New posts will appear below this notice.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The latest in retro fashion from the 90's... the 1890's


Living in California it's been a while since I have been in the city (for those not from the east coast "the city" unless otherwise specified refers to New York). So I will admit that I have not kept up on the fashion trends too much. For most of the last couple of decades my observation has been, at least among men, a steady downward trend to the point where it is no longer unusual to see males in shopping malls wearing their pajamas or lounge-wear. That is certainly the case here on the left coast where the standards of dress have become so casual that I am frequently embarrassed for my gender. So one may imagine my surprise when I stumbled on this piece in the New York Times.
Not long ago, big brass-buttoned military coats looked a bit extreme. So did high-button, high-lapel vests and slim tweed trousers. And so did guys who tucked said trousers into high, old-fashioned hunting boots. Now these clothes (along with those ever-present beards and mustaches) look like downtown defaults compared with fall runway looks like cardinal-red tailcoats at Ralph Lauren, capes and bowlers at Alexander McQueen and knee breeches at Robert Geller.

As with home design, where curio cases, taxidermy and other stylish clutter of the Victorian era have been taken up by young hipsters, many of today’s popular men’s styles have their roots in the late 19th century. There are the three-piece suits once favored by mustachioed Gilded Age bankers; the military greatcoats and boots of Union officers; and the henley undershirts, suspenders, plaid flannel shirts and stout drill trousers worn by plain, honest farmers.

Just ask Taavo Somer, whose restaurant Freemans, with its mounted animal heads and antique oil landscapes, has been one of the trend’s most active petri dishes (and who lives the fantasy sufficiently to enjoy shooting skeet on weekends upstate). Even his eyebrows went up recently when he saw a young man dressed in a bowler, cape, breeches and knee socks on the Lower East Side.
Read the rest here.

It was enough to warm my reactionary heart. That was until I saw the money they are charging for some of this which was nearly enough to induce cardiac arrest. Still, if there is indeed some sort of trend toward more formal dress among men taking hold, then I am all for it (even if it is carrying retro to new lengths). ANYTHING to restore some sense of self respect among the male of the species in our deportment and appearance. But please, if your going to go 1890's, get the rules right. A bowler is a casual form of head gear. The cape (full length) on the other hand is strictly formal. Hollywood movies notwithstanding the two do not go together.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

A recent dinner on the east bay featured a table with a 50ish man in shorts. I'm talking a decent restaurant here. I have gotten somewhat immune to the California man-boy attire, but shorts? To be frank, I wanted to vomit.

John (Ad Orientem) said...

If I had a nickel for every time I have been in a place or at an event where people (almost always men) showed up inappropriately dressed I could retire. This includes funerals and weddings. I actually saw a guy show up at a wedding wearing jeans work boots and a flannel shirt. On another occasion I saw a young man make an appearance at a wake/viewing wearing cargo shorts and flip flops.

In the latter case the deceased was the father of a close friend of mine. I was so offended by the absolutely shocking disrespect that I had to step outside in order to restrain myself from doing something that would have caused a scene.

In ICXC
John