men like myself likely horrify, if not offend, better men such as Mark Fonseca.
Mark is handsome, reputedly a great Dad, hockey coach, and damn good at what he does professionally (make sure you don’t judge him by my style of dress, mind you). I think Herman Cain will need mark with his best hopes of securing the GOP nomination.
and, it’s ironic, risky and unusual that you are reading me having an opinion about something very fashion-oriented. but, I walk, and daily, with men who change the world, affect it in uncounted ways, and need to dress different than me. just so we are clear, that’s the backdrop for this post.
meanwhile… over the course of a recent covert trip I espied a gentleman rolling his shoulders into a stiff cool wind sporting a topcoat (this is clearly different than a trench coat). first of all, it was cool enough for a topcoat that day, and I was wearing a wool sweater. but, what caught my eye was a silk square in the breast pocket (a red carnation would have done the trick, but this is me guessing none were handy) of his coat.
so… I did some research, outside of my own experience. pocket squares in outercoat pockets are mildly controversial of course. probably along the lines of wearing seersucker (they fall somewhere in between when it comes down to [sport] coats, blazers and jackets) with a pocket square and khaki shorts (I freely admit doing so – especially at Polo events). what I know for certain is that the arguably eccentric HRH the Prince of Wales, diligent pocket square in suit jacket person that he is, leaves his outercoat breast pockets empty. on the other hand, he often has a flower or ribbon in his left lapel, and that serves the same purpose of adding some visual interest to the upper chest area.
by the way… I wore a suit five times in college ( a blazer more often). two of those times my Mom was involved. I would do anything for my Mom. my girlfriend (who could be very convincing) did not have that kind of influence over me. but, it was not uncommon to spot me wearing a blazer, of sorts, (sometimes even a jacket) with khaki shorts in school. it wasn’t just a fraternity thing (I took fraternity rather seriously). it was a me thing. and, often this involved one of my Grandad’s custom made handerkerchiefs rakishly stuffed in the breat pocket.
there is still a school of thought (this is across town from the school of hard knocks) that holds a man should never wear a handkerchief in the breast pocket of a city suit, let alone an outercoat, reserving them for the country (I believe this is a holdover from the frock coat era when city jackets had no breast pockets).
other men (presumably enlightened fellows that may or may not write about such things) argue that where there is a breast pocket, there should always be a handkerchief.
however, men whom find controversy a thing to be avoided can obtain a ready supply of red carnations and ignore the handkerchief question of course, thereby securing all the style without any of the disputation. but, given the effort associated with a greenhouse in winter, I will stick with silk, especially around horses and women in large-brimmed hats. and, weddings. and, boats.
all that said, it used to be, maybe two or three years ago, that the sight of a pocket square in a mans jacket was remarkable. after decades of abuse at the hands of dandies and fogies, it’d (note: it’s not often you can find an appropriate place and way to use “it’d”) been resurrected, brought back into the mainstream by legions of young men who decided that caring about style wasn’t some kind of mortal sin. panache might be another story. that comes from the eyes. it’s true.
then Mad Men happened, and the pocket square became popular. so popular, in fact, that the sight of one in a man’s jacket (from New York to Los Angeles, including Charleston) is no longer remarkable at all. it’s commonplace (not with khaki shorts, mind you) and at times even expected, and what began two or three years ago as a collective act of reclamation – or rebellion, has become just another thing that guys are supposed to wear.
to be sure, there are worse things in the world, but the fizzle and pop of a pocket square has gone flat. but, that’s because people that think that way (and watch Mad Men) see it as a fad, and less so a statement with the trend surviving a century. so, the unenlightened probably believe that the surest way a man can show his independent-mindedness – the very thing that he once did with a pocket square – is to go without one altogether.
that’s fine by me, my Grandad (I sure as hell miss him), the Prince of Wales, many of my fraternity brothers, and all of the Prudent Society of Optimistic Gentlemen. me, I’m sticking with Panache. but, just so we remain, and, always clear, I often wear weathered Doc Martens with no socks (or low socks) to work with khaki shorts (more often than not they are Polo).
however, there is good news, if not hope, for everyone [else]. as Esquire fashion director Nick Sullivan recommends in his new Style Manifesto for 2009, cool socks, or at least a little cuff, might be a good move these days.
me? I use unique cufflinks with shirts built by Fonseca.
peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.
brian patrick cork