Nothing like the old 1920's football look, especially if (like me) you neither play nor enjoy the sport:This outfit here serves as the example for the opening of two very big cans of worms.
1) Polo Ralph Lauren, and its proper place in the lexicon of American menswear
2) The wearing of numbers and/or crests which are not really yours to wear
For those of us who waste far too much time thinking about these things and then scouring the the Beastly Internet to hear what others think, these are touchy subjects indeed.
Polo Ralph Lauren
It seems that recently the webs have been all atwitter about old Ralph. Maybe its the recent anniversary of the company. Everywhere, you find people who hate the brand and all it stands for, people who claim that it is the province of sissy boy poseurs, or something. But for everyone of those, there's a guy who will wear anything with a pony on it, who feels that department store clothing can make him into something he is not. Both are silly ways of thinking.
I mention it because in the outfit I wore today, my blue university striped oxford, flannel slacks and bright yellow socks were all Polo. Not the right brand you say? Poseur, you say? I say what difference does it make? It's an oxford shirt made of heavy cloth with a really warm pair of grey pants made of very soft wool. Is there a more classic combination? Would you have known if I didn't tell you? Besides, I find that most of the people who launch vitriol at the brand will be the first to tell you that obsession with a brand name is very ungentlemanly. I agree. So then why are they all so obsessed? (I'm making the broad assumption here that readers of this blog likely read the other blogs that I frequent, and know what I am talking about.) Boy, that's a lot of questions.
If you ask me, Polo does a great job of re-introducing a sort of idealised version of the American past( Ironically, the most "Polo" thing about this outfit, the varsity sweater, is actually vintage).And they make a pretty good oxford in a cut that suits me. Mass produced sweatshop goods? Certainly, but if I find one at thrift shop for a few bucks, a shirts a shirt, and who am I to waste it on loosely based principles.
Guys who dress head to toe in Polo and try to ape the distinct style in which thier mannequins and models are dressed look silly, but so do guys who follow any brand so closely. It's because this way of dressing is evidence of a lack of style and confidence. Any chump can just buy the whole outfit. That takes no thought.The brand itself is not to blame. Men of style should know how to see past all that. I think taken piece by piece, Polo items mix perfectly well with things from Brooks Brothers, J. Press or whatever.
Ralph is a kid from the Bronx who understands men's fashion, particularly American men's fashion, in a very profound and unique way. The arguement could even be made (by someone other than me) that if it weren't for Ralph, far fewer American would even be wearing tweed and flannel at all. The stuff looks nice. I only wish it were made here.
Besides, isn't part of the trick to appear as though you don't pay attention to such things (even though, of course, you do) ?
Numbers and Crests
These days fake numbers and crests are all over the place. It is out of control.
Legitimately, such a thing is something to be earned. I mentioned this in a previous post, when I bought the sweater I wore today. A while ago, I had a long scarf from Harvard that I found at a thrift. You know the ones; crimson with white stripes running the length of it, the kind of thing you still see at the Harvard /Yale football game. The thing was warm as hell. But after a while I got rid of it. Why? Because I didn't go to Harvard.
So the how do I explain this sweater? I don't know what school its from, and I don't care. I'm not trying to pass it off as my number, or say it was my grandfathers. Frankly, I generally don't like this sort of thing, butI just think this particular sweater is cool, end of story. Usually, that's the best way to make a sartorial decision anyway.
I invite your comments on these two matters dear readers. Haters welcome.
p.s. sometimes in the summer, I wear a Boston Red Sox cap. I've never played for them.
p.p.s. I purposely avoided linking out to examples from other blogs of what I'm talking about. I suspect some of you know what I mean. How's that for passive aggression?
p.p.p.s. look! my shoes! amazing how "designers" are basically just creative copycats, isn't it? but, who am I too judge.