Saturday, July 30, 2011

Game Recognise Game

The wonderful people at identified Perfect Gentleman SA in their Best of the Web series. This week I find myself in the sage and influential company of Image Granted and Man of Style, and other blogs authored by stylish and fashionable women. This can only mean that this blog is reaching far and wide, and is making a positive impact. My consistency in this recognition is that, I am once again surprised at the love this blog gets. This invariably inspires and motivates me to do more and better with Perfect Gentleman SA.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Five Items Not Readily Available In S.A.

I have always loved Nike's Air Force One's. I recall a spread in SLAM magazine, back in the late 90s, that chronicled the evolution and rise of Nike's basketball trainers. At the time I was hip to Air Force One's, even though they weren't readily available in South Africa. This was in 1997. My recollection is vivid because at the time a young and tractible Rasheed Wallace, a rookie with the then Washington Bullets, adorned his feet in the shoes. In my view, he brought them back to prominence and mainstream acceptance. Today, Air Force One's are the quintessential shoe of hip-hop artists. All the way in South Africa, I yearned for a pair of Force's, but they were nowhere to be found. Until 7 years later, in 2003, they debuted in S.A. My love of Force's had not waned, so I went out a got myself a pair. The high model, in all white with a blue sole, complete with a velcro strap. As I've alluded before, in South Africa we lag behind in a myriad of trends, fashonsand styles. What may be current to us is most probably so two or three seasons ago to the rest of the world. It's frustrating at times. I was thinking about this list, of items pertaining to men's style and dress, I wish were readily available but are not. Not that the funds to acquire them are available. However the guarantee that they are readily available would be most comforting. Especially at a time when the funds are abundant.

1. Quilted Jacket

I see myself incorporating a quilted jacket into my autumn wardrobe with ease. However not even major clothing retail outlets have caught on. I've heard and seen so much of the Barbour quilted jacket that I wish Stone Harbour could come out with their own version. It is a garment I could carry with effortless aplomb. I surmise because it isn't trendy or fashionable, that is why it hasn't caught on to the mainstream market. But then again even if it were available I don't think the mainstream would be aware of its value.

2. Mackintosh Coat

I have searched everywhere, in Durban, for a mackintosh, to no avail. To me it seems like the simpler in design it is, the more elusive it's bound to be. Visit any men's clothing store and you will find trench coats, 3/4 long coats, double breasted coats, etc. The one coat conspicuous by absence is a mackintosh. Even my favourite coat and thrift stores don't carry it. I have not given up, however, I wonder why though it hasn't hit our shores in a mainstream kind of way.

3. Shoe Trees

Not even exclusively, high end shoe stores sell their shoes inclusive of shoe trees. Maybe it's a way to get people to keep coming back to buy shoes as opposed to them taking care of their shoes for a long time. That's just conjecture by the way. I wouldn't know why shoe trees are not available in S.A, but it is frustrating that such a seemingly simple item, pertinent to shoe care is virutally unknown. I've even tried an internet search and that turned up nothing. I'll leave it to you to guess what measures I have employed in order to preserve the shape of my shoes.

4.  Velvet Slippers

Maybe the quirkiness of this shoe lends itself to an esoteric consumer. I used to think velvet slippers were for a particular kind of gentleman, however, after witnessing a plethora of aesthetics the slippers have been applied to, I am more than convinced that this shoe is for the style conscious gent. It's nothing short of impressive how velvet slippers can go from formal to casual wear in an instant. I once saw, when I was in Johannesburg, what resembled velvet slippers, complete with the skull and bones motif on the upper. Alas, they were in satin, and therefore were not the authentic thing. Needless to say, before they go mainstream, I expect our fine men's stores to get with the programme.

5. Galoshes

This week has evinced 3 days and nights of torrential rain. Now, how do you keep the rain off and out of your shoes? You use rubber covers or overshoes called galoshes. They seem like a sure fire way to keep your shoes dry. Now rubber boots, Wellingtons, etc, may be prevalent, but their low cut cousins are nowhere to be found. And, there is a definite practicality to them, those cracks to the leather brought on by water seepage can be avoided by wearing galoshes thus protecting and preserving your shoes for a longer period. South Africa is a country full of innovative individuals, I'm surprised no one has come out with make shift galoshes fashioned from gum boots.

I think it's important to note that what also precludes me from such acquisitions is the rate of foreign exchange between the South African rand and other major currencies, specifically the dollar and pound. Therefore purchasing on the internet is just as much a futile exercise as when I traverse the streets searching for them.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

One And The Same Thing...

Since I am inclined to be politically correct when it comes to the names of things, I thought it necessary to distinguish the difference between a turtleneck and a poloneck. The difference is, there is no difference; except for the provenance of both the names.

Turtleneck - US

Poloneck - UK

There's no special reason, I just thought you should know.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Indispensable Details

I love these trousers. They have become an immense boon to my whole wardrobe. Particularly the trouser and pants section. For the longest time I had a challenge with the length, thigh, knee and the bottom opening. After graduating into the fit and proportion ranks I lost all affinity for baggy clothes. It's rather serendipitous how this particular pair of trousers came to be in my possession, and how they came to be the perfect fit and the model for all my trousers, pants and those I will acquire in the future. I bought them when I was in Johannesburg last year, taking a stroll with a very good friend of mine through a taxi rank called Noord Street. I paid a lowly R20 for them. Now, let's get to the details.

I'm not new to narrow belt loops therefore dealing with this trouser was not a challenge. I have a sufficient supply of slim belts that fit mellifluously into the loops. Something of an anomaly, in my view, are the side pockets. They are slanted as convention would have them, however there is a slight curve to the slant. Something I have not seen before, which makes pocketing my hands all the more comfortable. Particularly because they are flat front. I am not a fan of flat front trousers and therefore because of the dimensions of these pants, I have somewhat loosened up when it comes to flat fronts. As long as the waist, thighs and pockets don't feel fettered, I will continue giving flat fronts a nod.

More of the details reveal some rubbery suede tabs on the inside of the waistline. These tabs, sown all around the waist, I surmise, function as fetters in order to prevent anything tucked to be untucked. The veracity of this claim I can't really corroborate because I've worn the trousers a few times with a shirt and a v-neck jersey or a jacket, but never realy really took note whether my shirts were spilling out.

Fast forward to what I will be wearing in summer. A pair of black golf shorts I found at Meltz last year for below R50. I had them altered at the length only. Moving them well above the knee. The shorts evince double pleats, a feature loved and appreciated by myself. I think I may just take them back to the tailor to have a turn-up inserted. They look too plain right now. Now, to the details:

The wearing of a belt here has been precluded even before the first wearing of these shorts. Instead of the usual waistband, this one has an elastic band running right round inside the waistband. Of course, this helps with fitting, as well as adjusting the shorts at the waist. This minor detail contrasts starkly with other tailored shorts I have because if I ever gain weight around my mid section, I can be sure that these shorts will fit because of the elastic band accommodating extra girth. This is not so with the rest of my shorts, as evinced last year, with a pair of above the knee Dockers. After putting on a little weight, I couldn't fasten them anymore. With my weight now in check, I'm eagerly anticipating summer.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Velvet Waistcoat

Pursuant to Saturday's post about the velvet suit, I promised to showcase the only component of the suit to avoid the travails of the other components. So many things worked out serendipitously with this ensemble. This black pinstripe suit, I haven't worn in a long time. When I put the pants on, the waist fit perfectly, so much so, the use of a belt was precluded.

I took three important lessons away from this exercise. Firstly, a waistcoat layers better with a suit. Better than a v-neck/ crewneck jersey or cardigan. A waistcoat with a lower button stance allows for greater congruency when mixed and matched with a jacket with a similarly lower button stance. It also goes without saying that your tie will have enough space to flourish. Secondly, for a cleaner line between waistcoat and pants, avoid wearing a belt. A belt will break, in an eye sore kind of way, the seamless line running from your waistcoat through your waist through the points of the waistcoat and onto your pants. The 'bulge' caused by the belt will be visible and distracting. Lastly, for an added touch of savvy elegance, when wearing a suit your best option of footwear is closed-laced oxfords or brogues.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

It's Official, The Prodigal Suit Has Come Home

Finally, I've been reunited with my long lost velvet suit. The story of this suit has more twist and turns than the toilet saga involving the Democratic Alliance and the African National Congress. And a storyline that spans...five years. I feel like using the word 'commissioned', however that's a misnomer as this suit was hastily put together in November 2006, thus negating any positivity the word 'commisioned' is supposed to invoke. When I first had it made, in 2006, the final product was a three-piece velvet suit. Look, if I knew then what I know know about sartorialism then I would've had the jacket constructed in the mould of a dinner jacket. The pants and waistcoat would've come out a lot sleeker and fitted. All three pieces would've been interchangeable, and functional as separates. However, that's not the case. I digress.

When I first realised that I wasn't too happy with the final product, I decided to take it to a seamstress, who had done extensive work for my mother. I went to her with a list of all the things I wanted altered. The pants hemmed and tapered. The jacket buttons reduced from 3 to 2. The jacket was not constructed therefore it wasn't lined and, although padded on the shoulders it was not in proportion. In hind sight I was wrong to think I was the man the first time I wore it. And compliments from people, saying I looked like P-Diddy, didn't help in paring my big head which was gradually expanding.

On October 27, 2007, I took this suit to the aforementioned seamstress for all the alterations I mentioned above. Initially it was meant to be done in two weeks because I needed it for a function I was due to attend. I ended up not getting it back in time, however. I wore something different and, I largely forgot about it. Throughout 2008 anytime I would call the seamstress I would get a response that she was still busy with it. A few months passed. Then one day, on a visit to my parents, I decided to take a turn at the seamtresses shop to enquire about the suit. When I enquired from the sales lady where the suit was and if it was ready, she retorted that the seamstresses business had moved out of the building and that she was now working from home. She proffered her new number and a couple of days later I called to enquire as to the progress of the suit. I was incredulous at what my ears heard.

The seamstress claimed that since she had moved shop from the mall to another area, a block of flats instead, all her work implements and sewing jobs were put away into storage. The problem was that she had misplaced the key to the storage and therefore wouldn't be able to retrieve the suit for me. Unless I came by and helped her to break the door down, and then get my suit. I politely declined this suggestion because it seemed odd and, where do I start in breaking down a door? I remember, I was at work when I made that call. From 2009 through 2010 I never called to enquire about the suit. Nor did I make any trips to the old shop to enquire about the whereabouts of the seamstress. I also misplaced her number, so that put a stop to any attempts at making contact. I somewhat resigned myself to never getting it back, especially because after my sartorial awakening, I knew it had been a bad investment.

So much of this suit evinces my sartorial inexperience and immaturity. This is moreso evident the second time around when I assessed that the suit needed major changes. I mean, for reasons that are beyond me, I cannot fathom why the button holes on the jacket are sown shut. All three of them. Or why I even requested such an alteration, or if I really did request it.

I've been visiting with my parents this week and on a recent jog I went through a section of area that I suspected might be where the seamstress resides. A few months ago I was on the phone with her and she stated that my sister knows where she stays. So, I asked my sister to take me there. When I got there, it was as if she knew I was coming because the suit was out. Dogs hair and all. When I told the shop assistant that I was there to pick up the suit, she couldn't believe it. The suit was checked in before she was employed there.

The only piece to make it out safe before all this business is the waist coat. I've had it since the beginning and apart from a minor alteration, it's gotten some play from time to time. It's going to get some play tomorrow, and I will be sure to showcase it. At this point the jacket cannot be redeemed, except for, maybe, the buttons on the cuff. The pants need a little more work. Taking in the waist, the hem and tapering. And with the right kind of shoes, such as velvet slippers, I'm sure that'll be their saving grace.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Old Habits Die Hard

If there is one item of clothing I have an intemperance for, it's fleece pants. Yes, fleece pants. Those track suit pants commonly made from cotton, that come in a two piece comprising a bottom and a top. In the sporting fraternity they are ubiquitous, and the standard colour they are mass produced in is grey. However they are also produced in a plethora of colours and, in equally the same amount of fabrics and materials. What prompted this posit, however, is the fact that I have been thinking about stylishly and aesthetically incorporating fleece pants into casual wear. For now I have it in theory. I hope next autumn and winter I can bring it to life. Recently, I 'm spending a lot of time at home and I find that I hardly get out. And if I do get out, it's to hang up clothes on the washing line or to buy bread or other daily dietary staples. And I do all this in, mostly, fleece pants, a t-shirt and some slides or old driving mocs that have supplanted my fluffy, old slippers as house shoes. Sometimes this combination doesn't make for a stylish appearance, which is why I think that these two pieces of casual knitwear befit the laid back milieu I currently find myself in and, am trying to project.

This wool/ cashmere blend, cable-knit hoodie by Energie, is exactly what I'm talking about. For me, it is the perfect complement to fleece pants in black or charcoal and a v-neck t-shirt. The cardinal rule, with this kind of ensemble, is fit. As much as baggy fleece pants and a hoody have been legally married for the longest time, it would behoove any gent who strays into such sartorial territory, to adhere to the right fit and proportion. Believe me, a pair of fitted fleece pants and a hoody works. I've thought about the right shoe for this ensemble and, I can only focus on a pair of boat shoes. In suede, no less. Boat shoes, in a bright hue, would bring a dash of sobriety to an otherwise "sloppy" presentation.

This cable knit, shawl collar cardigan by GANT, espouses exactly the same characteristics regarding the cable knit hoody. Navy is a colour that opens one up to a plethora of colour schemes and combinations, and therefore, a stylish presentation would not be a hurdle. A navy on navy combination tempered with a grey t-shirt and some boat shoes. Remember this combination is kept within the bounds of laid-back Sunday newspaper reading, when one is lounging around the house.

I feel that before this explication I should've prefaced this post with a caveat, that: this post is mainly a sporty one and therefore is not everyone's cup of tea. I say this because my brother, our circle of friends and sporting activity buddies, all believe in the importance of fleece pants as part of our ever evolving wardrobes. Whenever we come from basketball pickup games or practice, after a shower the obligatory dress code is a t-shirt, sneakers and fleece pants. When it comes to fleece pants each and everyone of us is given to excess.

PG: Man to man, generation to generation.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Why Are You So Dressed Up?

I encountered this question, from my wife, for the third time today on our way to see a medical practitioner. My first two encounters when people posed this question was a few months ago on another visit to a medical practitioner. First my wife’s sister thought I’d been to a job interview and then, incredulously, the doctor himself, wondered why I was so dressed up. Now, I don’t want to get sucked into a vortex of an interminable argument because, on the surface, dressing up is superficial and subjective. Therefore people can invariably argue for and against the topic everyday, all day.

My response to this question is a question in itself, “why not get dressed up?” As superficial and subjective dressing up can be, there is no doubt that it has a purpose in today’s society. People’s perception is important in this process because it has a direct effect on how you perceive yourself. And how you perceive yourself has a direct relation on how you interact with other people. I try my best to dress well whenever I go out in public, even if I’m just going to my local mall. It fuels my confidence and energy levels. I am most proud of people who dress well and, in the face of multitudinous stares, proceed to eschew any vainglorious display of their attire. In other words, put it on, and forget about it.

I unequivocally challenge anyone that pays scant regard to their appearance and the way they dress, to try dressing up, even if it’s for one day. Either way your appearance will redound.