Hidden socks

Hidden socks

It’s summer. And for the elegantly-dressed, hot weather is accompanied by delicate conundrums. Compared to displaying one’s own bare skin, cloth is a relatively uncomplicated affair.

Until recently this question hardly arose as the body was expected to remain covered in polite society from ankle to wrist to neck, and above the crown of the head. With the unwinding of society’s fixation with and disapproval of the public human body these convenient coverings have steadily receded. Today, we are less burdened in summer with devising how to wear all this fabric without resembling a perspiring water fountain. Rather we are doubly vexed by how to present geographically more skin, accompanied here and there by appealingly fashioned scraps of cotton, linen, silk and other cool plant materials.

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My Father’s Fashion Tips

“Here—rub a little baby oil into your kisser. If you want to stay young, you have to keep well lubricated.”

“Baby oil? What happened to Nivea?”

“Too greasy. Baby oil soaks right in. It’s the best thing for a man’s face.

“Isn’t baby oil just as greasy?”

My father raised a thick eyebrow. “Listen to me,” he said. “Learn my secrets.”

__________

The funniest writing on dressing that I’ve ever read. Tom Junod’s article My Father’s Fashion Tips appeared in the December 1996 edition of the magazine GQ. Read the entire article at gq.com

Shoes

At the gravitational centre of the parallel universes of dancing and dressing are one’s shoes. They are practically essential for the former; the sartorial fifth dimension similarly collapses without genuine footwear. I’m referring here to what could be called ‘classic’ footwear. It’s usually leather, goes well with a sports coat, requires polishing and all that. The fourth dimension, by the way, is time.

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Café parisien

Entering a café in Paris recently, searching for coffee, the waiter greeted me:

“On a du très bon café monsieur” (We make excellent coffee here sir).

“Ah bon?” (Oh really?) I thought, doubtfully.

The milk was delicious. The coffee part of my café however is best left undescribed; despite the waiter’s good intentions I’m sure.

Coffee for me is integral to a dance festival, notably for sustaining on the dance floor and for summoning the weekend visitor’s joie de vivre that Europe’s wondrous array of regional capitals deserve. Budapest, Krakow, Madrid, Vilnius, Brussels, London, Lisbon, Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Bucharest, Stockholm: each are more pleasurable after visiting a reputable café. In the event that you visit Paris, I thought that you might appreciate a guide to the haunts of its few baristas.

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And though you look so cute

Mia and Sebastian’s exchange will resonate with those in pursuit of dressing well. For many, though, their particular experience may have unfolded rather along these lines:

Mia: And though you look so cute in your—what’s it made from by the way?—suit…

Sebastian: Uh, I’m not sure. I think that it’s wool. Let me check the label… It says ‘Wool/poly…’ uh poly-something (I can’t pronounce that word) ‘blend’.

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Wisdom from the inimitable Will Boehlke

It’s not acceptable to be insecure about when it’s OK to wear one. It’s always OK. If [you’re] wearing a jacket with an open breast pocket, the pocket should have a square in it.

—Will Boehlke, founder & writer (from 2006–2015) of A Suitable Wardrobe

Le Charleston

La Fête du timbre (‘the festival of the stamp’) is an annual event involving the release of souvenir stamps organised by the French philatelists’ federation. Among the 2016 stamps is depicted ‘le Charleston’. The theme ‘la danse’ features again following salsa in 2014, hip-hop and tango the following year, and ballet, also in 2016. The waltz will feature among the stamps issued for the next edition of the fête. Continue reading “Le Charleston”

Over-the-calf socks

Integral to taking an interest in style is maintaining the minutiae of one’s appearance: an ironed shirt, polished shoes… and erect socks.

Socks count among the usually invisible elements of the well-dressed formula. Crumpled around the ankles or in whichever state, socks are unlikely to be noticed unless your legs are crossed, and the fabric is particularly bright in colour, or a photograph captures you in an acrobatic dance move. Introducing refinement to the conversation, a glance to the past and to classic dressing will reward the curious with an effortless and elegant means of displaying an ankle pleasingly and evenly covered by hosiery.

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Braces

Trousers present two significant conundrums for dancers: they slip down, and shirts untuck from them.

Much of this impracticality is attributable to ill-fit. A bespoke shirt that fits properly will remain tucked while trousers that rest above the waist will remain up. Universally-sized, ready to wear shirts cannot accommodate an individual’s upper arm lifting without pulling the shirt’s body with it.

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Buying trousers

Someone recently sought my advice on where to buy trousers for dancing (or pants, in American English). Reflecting on this question I realised that there are, for the curious, numerous angles to consider: style, fabric, manufacturer, historical context, and dance suitability. That which follows is my (entirely unqualified) views and advice on trousers for dancing.

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