Castle Dracula, Transylvania, September, 23, 2015
My dear inferiors,
Today I want to talk to you about style, class and graciousness. Why? Because I feel like it. Coco Chanel once famously stated that “fashion changes, but style endures.” I agree, sort of. The problem being: style is dying a sluggish and agonizing death nowadays. Please remember: while it is true that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, style is only in the eye of stylish people. Talking about tasteful folks, the day before yesterday, for example, I was invited to the country mansion of a dear friend of mine. His name is Count Dracula. Anyways, we were forced to drive our coach through a small Transylvanian town in order to get to his castle and that was not pleasurable at all, I can assure you, dear inferiors. It was like going through what you might call an inferno of style. I’ve… seen things… you people wouldn’t believe. Men wearing colorful baseball hats and plastic sandals, off the shoulder of Predelut; I watched T-shirts glitter in the dark near the Castle Bran Gate… All those… moments… will be lost, in time, like [chokes up] tears… in… rain. Time… to die.
Actually, I really wish that those moments could be lost in time… you must believe me! Arrogantly crowding the streets, people in their thirties and forties were wearing shorts, T-shirts and tennis shoes during the evening leisure stroll! I mean, can you believe it? They all looked like a bunch of rascals that were escaping from their moms’ dinner calls to me. Let’s establish one clear rule: you cannot wear a T-shirt if you are not a kid anymore. That means, if you are older than 13 years old. Especially if the T-shirt says something, or it has more than two colors. Let alone tennis shoes or shorts! I would tolerate a wisely chosen Polo, of course, but only if you are going to play some Golf.
Listen, gentlemen: is there anybody out there? I mean, granted I was hibernated during the last century, but for the sake of all that is holy, what ever happened to manhood?! My friend explained to me that there is a thing called “adolescence” now. I couldn’t understand what he was talking about so I reached for a vocabulary: it says that adolescence is supposed to be “the period of life from puberty to maturity terminating legally at the age of majority”. That didn’t make things clearer for me. So, “Count Dracula,” I asked, “could you please clarify what this means?” He took a deep breath first. “It’s complicated,” he then answered “and dawn is approaching… may we talk about this another time?” “Sure,” I answered, “as you wish.” And then he left the table, took a bow and disappeared. What a stylish man! I figured it was time for him to take a morning stroll and read the newspapers. He was still wearing the black tuxedo from the night before, but I bet you six hundred and sixty-six Dutch Thalers that he would have changed into a lightly colored morning suit before hitting the streets of his beloved town. I can picture him wearing a light-gray, striped suit with peaked lapels and jetted pocket over a micro-checkered blue shirt. The black captoe bluchers shoes that I was wearing that night would have been perfect for such a suit. Or one could wear brown shoes instead. The controversy regarding black or brown shoes over gray is still ongoing. It’s probably just a matter of taste, but to my eyes, brown looks better than black on light-gray, blue and even green. Opt for the black varnish shoes if you are wearing a tuxedo, of course. And do also opt for black when wearing dark-gray suits, especially at night or during more formal occasions.
Just be aware that if you are wearing brown shoes, you must change your belt too. In addition, I would wear a black (or brown) bowler hat with such a suit, off white gloves and an umbrella (the color of the umbrella doesn’t matter, but make sure it’s not retractable and it has a wooden handle). Oh, and don’t forget a nice printed pocket square, or – like my Italian friends call it – “fazzoletto da taschino”, pocket handkerchief. One word about this: make sure the fazzoletto does not match the color of the suit, the shirt or any other color that you are already wearing: the handkerchief must go well with the color of the outfit without actually matching it. Last, but obviously not least, it’s the necktie. With such a suit and for a similar occasion, a casual morning stroll, I would not be much preoccupied with the necktie. You could actually skip it for an Ascot (go for paisley patterns, blue or brown or even red, if you wish to stand out from the crowd). Otherwise, try a bow tie, same colors. If you really wish to wear a traditional necktie (nothing wrong with it) opt for a light one, as opposed to a seven folds necktie, it would look more casual and less formal (you are not going to the office, remember?). Opt for light, solid colors as well. I would say blue, brown, or even green would look good on a light-gray suit. I would not dare wearing anything more complex than that because you already have chalk stripes on the suit and a checkered shirt, let’s not complicate things. Everything clear? Anyways, if you have questions, comments or suggestions regarding this topic, do please feel free to keep them for yourself. For death threats and insults, please use the following address: firstname.lastname@example.org
So, Count Dracula disappeared as soon as the dawn arrived. I wonder why. But what didn’t disappear was my doubt regarding adolescence. Let me tell you: when I was growing up there was no such thing as a period of life from puberty to maturity. It was either you were a boy or a man; no middle ground, no shades of gray. Boys wore shorts, men wore pants. T-shirts were for farmers, tennis shoes were for tennis players. What was wrong with that?
Yours, despicably, John “The Wampire” Cravatta