Out Of The Past 1

Titfers

November 14, 2008
8:45 AM CDT

Oh gawd, here he goes agaln, banging on about the decline of civilization…

I know, I know. And yet, this piece by Tom Utley struck home:

The more I have thought about it, the more I believe that the urban male’s decision to abandon the hat — taken en masse on both sides of the Atlantic in the middle of the last century — is one of the most inexplicable phenomena of modern history.

I could have understood it if neckties had disappeared. They are a perfectly absurd adornment, serving no practical purpose but to attract egg stains and keep us feeling uncomfortable around the neck at the height of summer. Oh, and a lot of them are a great deal more expensive than the average hat. But the tie remains with us and it’s the hat that’s gone. Why?

Actually, I think that the disappearance of men’s hats is quite simple: JFK refused to wear them—who knows, maybe he knew that he looked like a total dweeb compared to other politicians of his day, most of whom, like Ike, looked as though they’d been born wearing them.

My beloved grandfather wore one all his life—I think he’d have gone out without a shirt before leaving off his hat—and had, as I recall, at least four: a selection (black, grey and brown) for “dress” (i.e. work, to match his suit of the day, and the black only for funerals), and one or two for “casual” outings (to work in the garden or to take fishing). Of course, he also always wore a jacket and tie when he went out, even if he was just going to visit friends, or going to the supermarket. Utley again:

There’s also something about hats — perhaps because they remind us of a past and gentler age — that seems to encourage courtesy and civility. The rituals of removing them indoors and raising them in greeting or deference to a woman seem to shape their wearers’ general conduct throughout the day.

Yup. That’s as good a reason as any why men today are slobs, and especially so towards women. The net result is boorishness, in appearance, speech and behavior. (Richard Littlejohn hates that, too. He’s talking about Britain, but we’re not far from that in this side of the Pond, either.)

In the pic which accompanies his article, Utley looks quite debonair in his new hat, although he could have tightened his tie, to avoid the Mike Hammer/Damon Runyon disheveled look. (And I understand his comment about ties being useless and impractical—I just don’t agree with it.)

I think, as I get older, I’m going to start wearing a jacket and tie every so often. I know I’d look better than I do now, and most of all, I’d feel better. (It’s the same reason why soldiers have “dress” uniforms: it’s impossible not to feel proud about yourself when you’re smartly dressed.)

I bet that if we all did that, the national civility level would improve—and that, my friends, would not be a Bad Thing in these, the waning days of our republic.

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For my Murkin Readers, the title of this piece is Cockney slang for a hat: “tit for tat”, ergo “titfer”.

Red Trousers

One photograph from last week’s event at Cheltenham stood out for me:

Now at first, my Murkin Readers could be forgiven in thinking that this is simply an example of the weird and crazy clothing tastes that abound Over There.  However, close scrutiny of the pic will show that the group does not consist of hipsters, actors, yobs and chavs [some overlap].  In fact, they seem to be rather a normal-looking bunch, other than in their choice of trousers.

And so they are.

You see, men who wear red trousers are generally of what I like to call The Polite Class:  men of substance, men of taste, men of class, and men who, secure in their position in society, do not care a fig for what other people may think of their color choices.  Here’s an article which explains the thing, in rising to the defense (defence) of red trousers and the men who wear them.  To whit:

Red trousers have become standard wear for the country gentleman—the type who drives up in a superannuated Land Rover Defender, two flatulent labradors fogging up the windows— both at home and in town. They are seen in the London SW postcodes along the District Line, on dear old things at Lord’s and at Cheltenham, in Stewards’ at Henley, at High Mass in Brompton Oratory and the debentures’ seating at Twickenham (although it’s always ‘Twickers’).

They’re worn by decent, upstanding chaps with names such as Giles or Henry, the sort whose heads are hard-wired to leap to their feet when a lady enters the room.

‘A naturalborn sporter of le pantalon rouge wears them as he does his deeply ingrained good manners—lightly.’

It is with shame that I have to report that Mr. Free Market — who fits into the above as though the category were designed for him — does not own a pair of said trousers.  Why not?  Well, there’s this, for starters:

 

…which has led to a backlash:

Overexposure has done for the red trouser, harrumphs the royal historian and commentator Rafe Heydel-Mankoo (six pairs), over drinks at the Carlton Club. Since both hipsters and social climbers— ‘akin to the Sebastian Flyte wannabes of the 1980s, carrying teddy bears around Oxford’—have appropriated them, he’s put his red trousers at the back of the wardrobe ‘until they become unfashionable again’.

…and the last sentence encapsulates the whole thing quite succinctly.

I can’t wear red trousers, of course — as much as I yearn to — because I am, in Mr. FM’s words, “One of those colonial chappies from America.”  Not even the Old School Tie can overcome this appalling nativism.

And I’m okay with that.  One does not go where one isn’t welcome, after all.


The website coyly referred to (and not linked) in the Country Life article is this one — whose name says it all — where I got the other two pics.

Final Comment: Cheltenham 2019

As always when it comes to this topic, I fall on the side of the conservative.  So let’s compare, for a change, how the men looked at Cheltenham this year.

First up is former England rugby captain Mike Tindall, with his wife, former GB Olympian  Zara Phillips (a.k.a. Princess Anne’s daughter).

At first, I looked askance at his shoes;  but then I realized that the oxblood on the shoes matched his tie.  Bravo.  (And Zara always looks elegant — quite royal, in fact.)

We’ve already seen Richard Hammond and wife Mindy, this time accompanied by his daughters:

Excellent.  For a Brummie (Birmingham yob), Hamster has good taste in clothes, and all the girls look lovely.

Actors Digby Edgley and Liv Bentley:

Things are starting to slip away, here.  When a man has super-skinny legs, he needs to wear fuller-cut trousers.  Young Digby’s trousers and boots make him look like the Third Urchin From The Left in the musical Oliver!   But he’s positively Beau Brummel compared to this idiot:

We’ve gone from Test matches (in pic 1) to test patterns… I think I’d better stop here.

Eucalyptus Now

Can anyone else hear the hoofbeats?  No?  Then read this appalling news:

They were the must-have accessory of the eighties and nineties but quickly fell out of fashion.
And now the humble bum bag, also known in the US as the fanny pack, has made a surprising comeback with top designers and celebrities championing the once wildly-mocked accessory.
Fashion houses such as Gucci, Prada and Louis Vuitton have all showcased bum bags on the catwalk.
And unlike the garish bright, polyester styles of the eighties and nighties, designers have given the accessory a sophisticated makeover with smart leather styles often called ‘belt bags’.

And if that isn’t enough to turn your stomach:

Style-savvy models and celebrities have been spotted donning this sought-after accessory, including Taylor swift who was spotted sporting the ‘Ophidia’ bag by Gucci over the weekend.

Oy vey.  (No pics, because I refuse to be responsible for mass projectile vomiting.)

All that said, I have to confess to owning one of these horrible things.  It’s made of polyester, it’s in my SHTF bin, and it holds five 10-round 1911 magazines.  For emergency use only, when I don’t care what I look like and there are multiple goblins to be shot.

Descending To The Common

As Longtime Readers know well, I am somewhat old-fashioned when it comes to pretty much everything matters of clothing and grooming, and I see with alarm that sartorial standards are falling — or being encouraged to fall — among people who should never let them do so.

I speak here of the British Royal Family — of which institution I have been a longtime fan — and of whom I, and everyone, should expect some kind of respect for good grooming.

However, it appears that of late, the younger members of said family have been dressing down to that horrible “smart casual” look.  Actually, there’s nothing “smart” about it;  a suit just looks sloppy without a tie, but apparently this makes princes George and William seem more “approachable” to the crowd (Latin: vulgus, from where we get the word “vulgar”).  So people can now relate better to these scions of a family once known as the Royal Family of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, and more recently as the Windsors.

Ugh.

So here’s how Prince William, heir to the throne, should  be dressing for his daytime engagements, compared with how “Wills” now dresses:

 

As for his brother, Prince Harry… well, he’s not exactly heir to the throne anymore, and he married some Hollywood harridan;  but even so:

  

And for both of them, I should point out that there’s a special part of Hell designated for people who wear suede shoes in the city (as opposed to out in the country, where they are perfectly acceptable).  And as a cautionary note to Harry:  blue suede shoes should remain an Elvis song and not a dress choice.

My point, in all this, is that if you’re going to have a Royal Family — i.e. one that is special and not part of the common herd, then one should strive to keep them above  said plebeians and not part of them.  And dress is as much a part of that distinction as anything.  Here’s their dad, who has always understood the thing:

  

…and I should point out that the second pic was taken after Prince Charles had just played a polo match, i.e. he was dressed for the occasion.

Now I must caution everyone not to go off on some anti-royal diatribe in Comments, because that isn’t the point of this post.  This is.

If you are special (in the eyes of society), you should always look special.  Here in Murka, no less a person than President Ronald Reagan (PBUH) understood this better than anyone.  He always dressed presidentially, except when working on his ranch:

  

The standard:  dress well at all times, except when you shouldn’t (e.g. when doing manual labor or playing a sport).  That goes for everyone, but most especially for people in high social standing.  Like the Royals.

NFC Whatsoever

Here we go again.  In this, Chapter Eleventy-Eleven of my rants about grooming comes a fresh atrocity.  At a stupid awards show [some redundancy]  in Britishland recently, we were greeted by the following appearances.

Of course, Carol Vorderman looked lovely, as always:

…as did perennial hottie Nicola Roberts:

Then we have this totty, who was clearly in the back of the “Class” handout line:

But mostly, it seems, the other ladies got the picture (names, mostly, are irrelevant from here on):

Her date, on the other hand, looked like this:

Are you kidding me?  A formal affair, but without a tie and no socks?  Brace yourselves, folks, because it gets worse.  Much worse, because the “she lovely, he unspeakable” trend is going to continue.

For an afternoon garden party, his outfit might do (apart from the “dress shoes but no socks” thing, again), but for a formal evening occasion?

Then there’s this moron:

Ummm… light-brown shoes with a dark-blue suit, in the evening?  (Although he does get some kudos for the belt-shoes match, which seems to be all but forgotten nowadays.) But he’s positively sartorial compared to these three twits:

  
A shiny light-blue suit, a suit of menstrual-red hue (neither with socks), along with a snot-green outfit (with a collarless shirt, and We Will Not Discuss The Shoes)… I bet their mothers are all very proud of them.  

It gets worse.  Try this pimp outfit:

Now we’re reduced to wearing our bedroom slippers to formal occasions, are we?

The parade of foulness goes on and on, but nothing — repeat nothing — can prepare us for Simon Cowell’s appearance at this glittering occasion:

And lest you think that I took that pic from somewhere else, herewith the proof that I didn’t:

It’s not enough that some day (during the reign of World-Emperor Kim), Cowell will be tried and executed for Crimes Against Music, without having Terminal Fashion Rudeness added to the charges.  I don’t care how much money he has, he’ll always be a bloody peasant.

I’m sick of it, this ongoing display of No Fucking Class (see title for acronym).  It’s high time that these events instituted a dress code, and enforced it.  If people like the ones below got the memo (more or less), there’s no excuse for dressing like utter boors and slobs.

(I know, Robbie Williams needs a suit that’s a size or two larger, but he’s a former pop idol, so we make allowances, yes?)

And of course, Holly Willough-Boobies looked lovely, as always:

…although she needs to find another hair stylist.

I’m never going to quit banging on about this stuff, because it just gets up my nose.  All  the above men can afford to have tailored suits made — and proper suits for formal occasions, especially — which makes their slobbery all the less excusable.  And women need to stop enabling this behavior, and must refuse to go out with them dressed like that.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to stick pins into that Simon Cowell doll.