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