19 April 2010


In the comments to a recent post, my old buddy Keohane made an interesting point regarding that thing we refer to affectionately as "go to hell" clothing. He said:

"Here's a point worth examining. At what point do 'go to hell' pants cease to be 'go to hell' pants? J.Crew and Polo (among many others) are selling them this season. Several variations, in fact. I'd say at this point they've gone from go-to-hell to full-bore '80s preppy revival. Time to stow those suckers away until the trend passes and their FU is restored. The streets this Spring are going to be teeming with red pants, oxford shirts, oversized Wayfarers and yellow sweaters slung over shoulders. Avoiding pastels is the new go to hell."
I must admit he makes a valid point for several reasons. Still, even after having read that, i could not keep hold of the $5.00 it cost me to become the proud owner of these bright red shorts:

flat front, creased, and with a nearly scandalous 7 1/2 inch inseam.

Because, c'mon, how can I resist a label like that? Royal poplin? English Sports Shop? Bermuda? All the ducks are in a row on this one. I promise not to wear them with high socks, shirt and tie and a blazer. Though this was undoubtedly the way they were made to be worn, a man has to draw the line somewhere. But I digress...

I agree with Keohane completely...except for the part about putting away my brightly hued trews. None of this stuff has the shock value it once did. True, there was a time when garments like these proclaimed a certain degree of wealth, even a certain kind of wealth. And they were shocking. It was a way to give the world the finger, as it were, for men who couldn't or weren't allowed to with outright speech. We all know it, but that's just not the case anymore.

True, Ralph Lauren is an "outsider" who made his fortune by having a keen eye for this stuff, but we all know that too. Besides, he has been at it since 1967. One might ask when complaining about the way he co-opted this stuff ceases to make any sense, given the countless customers of his wares who simply don't know, or care to know, the history from which these garments derive.

Shock value is a strong thing. But it's strength is only good for so long. This is true of everything. When is the last time punk rock was shocking? Or mini-skirts? Or even swearing. When I was a kid, the f-word had a way of silencing a room. Now it's every third word out of most peoples mouths. Shock value fizzles, simply because it must.

Everyone likes to be cool. It's fun to be in on some hip secret. But when that secret gets out and it starts to become normal, the people who were there in the first place always get irked. But really, its' kind of unfair to exclude people from liking something only because the got around to it later, isn't it? Back in the punk rock days, I hated it when the things I liked got to be popular, and I took an instant dislike to anything that was popular. That kind of thinking made a lot of sense to me when I was 21, but the older I get the less it does.

So J.Crew and the like are selling pastel pants and RayBans this year. Is it really such a bad thing for young men to start wearing button front shirts and well fitting clothes? For years now, men have been dressing like slobs. Drives me crazy. So how can I complain if they all start dressing a little more like I do this Summer? Can't have it both ways, you know. Besides, trends like this tend to leave behind people who dress better generally even after the trend has passed. Where's the harm in it?

The WASPy types and the older crew will no doubt wail and scream about it, but it's because they're losing their once exclusive grasp on a cultural marker. But the fact is, clothing-as-signifier always trickles down to the masses. Is every guy you see in khakis a former military man? Is every man in a navy blazer with brass button ex-navy? Does it really matter? You catch my drift.

I, for one, will continue to wear my peacock colors all Summer long. I will also continue to avoid shopping at the mall at all costs. I like having a warm weather wardrobe that is starkly different form my cold weather wardrobe. It's fun. And when the trend is over, I'll still be the same guy, wearing the same pants. I suggest others do the same. Just embrace your sudden new found "coolness" for the Summer. If you still want to feel smug about, you'll always know that you have the "real stuff" and those damn kids don't. But don't give yourself an ulcer over it. Stressing too much about your red pants is kind of antithetical to owning them.

Maybe the name "go-to-hell" is the problem, maybe it just doesn't apply anymore, because maybe we're already there? Cripes, I don't know. None of this makes me like my pink pants any less.

Special thanks to Keohane, for opening a juicy can of worms.


Mason said...

Spot on, G.

Scott Alexander said...

Brilliant, humble, all too true.

"None of this makes me like my pink pants any less."


L.A.S said...

Supremely well done as per usual, but let's not act like this is J. Crew's first foray into he GTH market. Pre Frank Muytjens J. Crew (aka lame ass mall preppy) was selling this stuff years ago. That "heritage", or lack thereof, seems shallow compared to shorts like these reds, or even Polo, but I think we should all be clear on who is really JUST hoping on the bandwagon.

Young Fogey said...

"I like having a warm weather wardrobe that is starkly different form my cold weather wardrobe."

Isn't that the crux of the biscuit? Even where I live, with barely-noticeable "seasons," I dress for the season, which means that right now, my wool and cashmere ties are absent from the line-up, while the madras, gingham, and cotton ones are in. I can't wait for Memorial Day, so I can whip out the white pants and straw hat that I put away last Labor Day.

So Giuseppe has a different notion of what's appropriate for summer than I. Isn't that one of the beauties of regional differences?

Lots of good things become popular; so do lots of crappy ones (the Marxist tear-jerkoff Titanic is one that pops to mind). It's up to us to figure out which is which, regardless of what "the masses" are doing.

CLG said...

ive had the same introspective conversation with myself regarding another interest. At the end of the day do what makes you happy. Trends fade, people change, life goes on...

Anonymous said...

Mr. G: An addendum. The post below from Ivy Style discusses Sidney Winston's comment about all the clothing stores for the WASP establishment being owned by Jews:


Sir Cingle

Zach said...

Gray is the new GTH. And you're right about GTH being pretty meaningless. When people see someone in Nantucket reds or lime green pants, their thoughts most like are not "hey look at that guy, messing with the aesthetics of the WASP establishment." More likely they think "wow. loud pants" or at the very least "how European."

Thornproof said...

Actually for me, the worse time is while the style you love is fashionable but shortly after, when you look like the loser that did not get the memo about the fad having passed.

Then again, those who are well-dressed will always stand out against the mob of fashionistas.

Anonymous said...

Just because places like J. Crew are selling pants in GTH colors, doesn't mean people are buying them. Perhaps in the East Coast and South, GTH colors don't have the same effect they once had, but they will still shock on the left coast and in-between.

Seth said...

Holy cow, those are RED!

JKeohane said...

Anyway, if you want real go-to-hell, you have to go all the way to Kyrgystan. Check this guy out: leather scally, cool sweater, cuffed jeans, sharp glasses, shined shoes, grenade launcher, riot police shield, and a look of supreme accomplishment.


Thad said...

Nice shorts!

DY said...

New "Reader" of your blog, first time commenting... I just had to, this was by far one of the best takes on style and anything remotely "Cool" for the in-the-know crowd I've read in a long time. Dig.

Jho78 said...

Where's the action shot of the shorts? Can't wait to see what the next installment in the GTH color series will be.

lisagh said...

Five words: Norwegian Men's Olympic Curling Team

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

GTH clothing--victim of its own success? I don't think these clothes will prove half as popular as some believe.

Anonymous said...

If you aren't going to put up my original post, by all means remove the addendum. I certainly didn't mean to offend, but, as it is now, my "addendum" makes absolutely no sense.

Giuseppe said...


Sorry for the accidental deletion of the first part.

Giuseppe said...


Damn, I never would have thought of that, but what could be cooler?

Anonymous said...

sigh.....the purpose of GTH clothing is/was
to take the item, blend it in to the remaining
3/4 of your day's outfit, and demonstrate
to the smug observer"THAT- won't/can't
coordinate with anything!"oh yes it can.
THAT- is the "fu" appeal if you insist
or "need" to have one to begin with......

The majority do not have the fashion talent
to do this, so this stupid "let's laugh at
ourselves, and admit it's stupid,cause I
really do like to wear these colors but too
many don't get it, including myself,so
let's create a disclaimer where we can all
feel the same, such a fashion sin,
giggle,giggle ,,,,we'll call it GTH!!"

And then there's this stupid "Is The New"...
How can there be a" new" of something
that one is claiming was never a trend
to begin with?

Not a trend,never meant to be a trend.
Does not matter how readily available
it is this summer to the masses,the
majority never get it right.

Sorry but Keohane doesn't know WTH
he's talking about. ALOHA.


The Viceroy said...

If you are worried about whether your kit is in or out of fashion, you haven't understood the essence of the WASP aesthetic.

Giuseppe said...


I'm sorry, but I just don't buy this anti-trend business from the WASPy types. It seems pretty clear to me that they've always paid very close attention to exactly what they wear, and work harder than most people to appear as though they couldn't care less.

Firstly, if none of this stuff was meant to be a trend, no one would have come up with it. The problem is that the trend was meant to be exclusive, and now it's not, so the oldsters are feeling threatened. And don't tell me they aren't. The internet is full of smug "you outsiders will never understand" b.s. from guys who aren't supposed to care about it.

Secondly, they're only pants. They are no longer a memebrship card to a club that only allows rich white Christian men anymore.

Thirdly, bright colors look nice in the sun. That's really all I need from them. Weather they say FU to anybody is more irrelevant than anything, I think.


This swarthy Catholic has never been concerned with in-ness or out-ness of fashion. That kind of thinking makes it impossible to keep your clothes for years on end until they fall threadbare off your back.

Anonymous said...

Then I suggest you address your comments
towards Keohane trying to declare what the

They're only pants......NO KIDDING.
In fact I was knocking the entire psychology
of this GTH labeling across the board,
not just pants.

Whatever brightness it brings,what ever
attention due to an unfamiliar pattern,
yes a shirt is just a shirt, a pant is just
a pant......as time goes by.

WASPY TYPES......the type who had the
luxury of hand me downs, along with
learning from day one from their older
siblings, parents, extended family,
it did come a lot easier, to the point
of almost taken for granted.

No kidding, again, about "fu" appeal.
I did say -IF -one "insists" or "needs"
to have one ,directed at Keohane's
apparent embracing of the concept.

NOW -whether you work at it,or
inherited it, "outsider" or "insider",
YOU JUST WEAR IT, because you want to
and can MR GIUSEPPE.

Your compadre, Keohane is the one
suggesting some type of nonsensical
revolt. HE- is the one feeling "threatened".
HE- is the one suggesting some alternative
strategy to "stand out from the rest".......

WASP style,heritage, way of life does not
change no matter how many adapt
to it in any area whether fashion or not,
therefore it doesn't feel threatened
you know that yourself.

Fine. So it catches on with a new wave
of support this summer.
It neither deserves a salute, nor a thumbs
down, but just a simple shrug of the
shoulders...........what else is new?

Anonymous said...

Totally agree with you -- anything that encourages men not to dress like 8-year-olds can't be all bad. For some, J. Crew could be a gateway drug to better things.

By the way, I also was a punk rocker back in the day, and I recall that short-lived feeling of exclusivity that comes with being part of a subculture, just before it gets swallowed up and turned into a mass-market parody of itself. Fortunately age brings the perspective of seeing that this is the way of things, all things must pass, everything old becomes new again, etc. etc.... (limping away to refresh my Depenzs...)

JKeohane said...


I'm quite clearly not suggesting any sort of revolt, nor am I arguing for the necessity of having pants that instruct people to go to hell, nor do I have any problem with colorful pants, nor am I threatened in the least by anything involving someone's clothing. I've known G for 20 years, and he's been the best dressed man I know since high school, so if he wants bright red shorts, more power to him. I'm simply taking issue with the (very widely used) GTH nomenclature. As such, I'd prefer you not put words in my mouth. Or, if you must, at least use proper spelling, capitalization and grammar, and format your comments in a way that doesn't suggest crazy person.



Anonymous said...

Let's take this from the top shall we.

"Here's a point worth examining,at what point
do gth pants cease to be gth pants?"

The Answer- Who Cares.

"Time to stow those suckers away until the
trend passes and their FU is restored."
So declareth the mighty Keohane.
You-are-arguing-for -the fu appeal.

Proper spelling,capitalization,grammar
formating the comments...please.

Taking issue with the nomenclature,RIght.
By sympathizing with the overall idiocy
of it to begin with and suggesting an
alternative course of action.

If he wants to wear bright red shorts...
hmmmmm.....according to you,"time to
stow those suckers away till the trend
passes and the FU is restored!!"

Selah Vie , Keohane. You're too easy.

Jho78 said...

Quick, G, post something so we can end this!

Giuseppe said...

I'm on it.

The Red Velvet Shoe said...

Wow, I thought the women were petty & pretentious about clothing & fashion, this place is getting scary.

Anonymous said...

No need to "scream" about it - those of us who know how to do it, look it.
Those who buy from the showroom floor will look it.

Like furniture - good sticks collected over generations (or foraged from old houses works, too....)
VERSUS fill 'er up via shiny showroom floor

Followers will be on to the next thing, next season.......in the meantime let' em try to dress the part and next season dress another.......

tintin said...

Not to throw gas on any lingering embers but these shorts are not GTH. They're not even shorts. They're Bermudas and the English Shop is still on Front Street in Hamilton in all it's glory.

Bermuda's are worn by business men on the island with knee socks, blazer, button down and tie and usually a pair of Ray Bans. I always wore tassel loafers but some wear lace ups.

There is a large glass counter in the shop and behind it are rows in a dark stained wood (Bermuda Cypress?)of shelves with every color there is. Royal Blue, Yellow, Green (bright and regular), Pink, Salmon, white, khaki, etc.

Close by are the knee socks in every color there is. So, Royal Blue Bermuda Shorts? Bright Yellow knee socks. Red shorts like these? Navy Knee socks (w/Blue blazer, white shirt and rep tie,it is the uniform of Bermuda). Salmon Bermudas - Royal Blue Socks. Yellow Bermudas - Bright Green socks.

No GTH here. Bermuda here.

Giuseppe said...

And with that, Tin Tin officially closes the discussion.