Monday, November 16

Who Says Ironing Is Dead?

Dan Zak, "Tweed ride comes to the District: Freewheeling dandies bike through town". November 16

"He used to dress like Jumpin' Jack Flash; now he dresses like Jack Nicklaus."

--my Poor Wife's friend Nadine, on the evolution of her husband's style

ORDINARILY I'd give these people

Washington Post photos: Evy Mages

a pass, conditional upon them staying the hell off my lawn; I myself have heard the sirens' song of elegance gone by. I used to dress like the Stu Sutcliff of Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks. I own three fedoras, two porkpies, and both light and dark hat brushes, and have been known to threaten to affect a boater only half-jokingly. I'm an opponent of school dress codes precisely because I believe the youthful fantasy that the way one is turned out may initiate some cosmic behavioral shift should be encouraged, if only because it keeps them occupied.

But look: when this sort of thing turns out to be a Facebook-generated Chinese fire drill of the Trendies, aping something that happened in London ten months before, it's time to 'fees up. Y'know, kids, it's okay. We all wanna get laid.
The chap in charge is District resident Eric Brewer, 41, a longtime cyclist who espouses a modern dandy's lifestyle: the fashion (skinny ties and porkpie hats) and the ethos (socially mobile, culturally savvy).

"I think dandyism could build bridges from different crowds through attire," says Brewer, who works in video production and is a partner in the H Street art gallery Dissident Display. "You dress to find your social clique in D.C., from Georgetown preppy to hipster central along 14th Street and H Street. And I think dandyism can sort of unify people, where you don't stay within the confines of an accepted appearance."

I'm sorry, I forgot to add "Don't copy the mannerisms of Londoners commenting on their own culture", "Don't ever imagine Americans can affect Anglophilia and be taken seriously", and "Don't follow anyone who 'espouses a lifestyle', or who can be described as both 'trendy' and '41' ".

These guys do get a pass, since they're willing to risk their necks for the cause.

It leads, children, to this:
Heather Guichard, 24, sits astride her silver '71 or '72 Gitane cruiser, wearing a cardigan, tweed knickers and a flapperish hat. She says our hyper, sloppy, postmodern society has begotten a longing for the classic elements of any era, for purposeful fashion and polished behavior.

"I miss the style," she says wistfully, then catches herself. "Well, I can't say I miss it because I wasn't alive then."

Look, lady: you wanna dress like a Gibson Girl every day, be my guest; my money's on the Under. But spare us the wistful paeans to a bygone Era you just hallucinated, even if you did catch yourself at it. If you're going to ride a '72 Gitane, wear bell-bottoms with an elastic band on your chain side, and a white tee-shirt, or hike up a sun-dress you made from an India-print bedspread, and ditch the bra. Now that was style. Then you can ride up and down my yard all you want, especially if it's raining. Plus you might actually learn something. You aren't reaching out to a world desperate for a Return to Style. You're staying inside to keep your skin as pale as possible, because all the peasants are sunburned from fieldwork. I won't spoil your fun, if you'll quit trying to spoil my digestion.


Uncle Omar said...

What the heck, if you're going to dress like a twit you might as well ride like a twit. When I was in DC a month or so ago the cyclists best trick seemed to be to take the Metro up to the Woodley Park station, carry their bikes up the escalators, then go screaming Rock Creek/Potomac Parkway at twice the speed limit until they got to the Smithsonian Station, dismount their bikes, get on the train and do the whole thing over again. It was the road bike version of buying a day pass at Vail and riding the lift to the top fifteen times a day with your mountain bike then screaming down the mountain until you end up at the Vail Valley Medical Center with a bunch of broken bones. That's how youth should be riding bicycles. And my qualifying word is "wreak." As, I assume, in "havoc."

Harl Delos said...

What a dandy idea!

Kia said...

Jesus, this is why I don't read the Post if I can help it. And also why I do my very best to stay out of Georgetown. But mostly what it reminds me of is those people who show up in Sedona, AZ, because they are reincarnated princesses or generals or emperors. There is a blissfully unempirical assumption among these historical nostalgics--medieval, egyptian, hobbit-world, Victorian England, that back in those good old days they would not be the living breathing human embarrassments they are today. This latest period fad--rendering the streets of DC unsafe for people of a nervous and irritable and temper and some capacity for irony--does nothing to convince me otherwise. I believe these people were appalling through every one of their reincarnations. It must be some sort of supernatural curse, honestly.

My mystery word is "slope."

Keifus said...

In my previous life, I dodged hungrily through the coal-filthy streets of London, 'assled by the bobbies and so forth, gaining a ha'penny here and there as encouragement to not cough so miserably close to my betters, and occasionally throwing rocks at the well-carroted top of corpulent rich blokes. Eventually they rounded me and stuffed me into jail--er, gaol I mean--wherein I died of an absess.

Or something like that.

God, what insult do you hurl at these people with "dandy" off the table?

Keifus said...

("Get thee to a foppery"?)

Vivek said...

Notice how his example of the "range" of people dressing to find their social clique goes from preppies to hipsters?

mac said...

SNIP: God, what insult do you hurl at these people with "dandy" off the table?

I was thinking a warm can of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

KathyR said...

I dunno. My kid's school's dress code has prompted more ingenious thought and creativity from him than most of the regular educational fare.

Buttermilk Sky said...

You had my attention with "porkpie hats," but I can't see any in the pictures no matter how much I squint. Buster Keaton's was a porkpie hat. These people are dressed like Benny Hill. Feh.

LeatherPorkpie4Me said...

I'm someone who was born in the 80s and I love the popular image of 20s clothing. Were it not for sheer poverty I would love to wear three piece suits and fedoras everywhere.

No I don't care whether it's hip with a scene nor do I care that I would look a fool. If that style came back as the dominant one for men to wear I would be delighted.

I enjoy it and damn it I'm just barely enough of an individual to do it.

Frankly I don't understand the hostility directed toward "hipsters" (here defined as anyone who dresses funny as that's the most consistent definition I can find). So what if that guy you've never met is wearing a pink shirt covered in rusty FDR campaign buttons? Why does that lead you to bellow out your disapproval in terms of moral superiority. Just don't fucking let at the man! Remove the beam from your own wardrobe and leave your brother's alone.