Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Name is Tweed. Harris Tweed.

In response to the New York Times Styles column that triumphantly claims "Late 19th-Century Dress is Back in Fashion," I can only say-- it's about time. I write today only to quote the authoritative article, and perhaps to modestly suggest that I was a little ahead of the curve on this one:

Not long ago, big brass-buttoned military coats looked a bit extreme. So did high-button, high-lapel vests and slim tweed trousers. And so did guys who tucked said trousers into high, old-fashioned hunting boots. Now these clothes (along with those ever-present beards and mustaches) look like downtown defaults compared with fall runway looks like cardinal-red tailcoats at Ralph Lauren, capes and bowlers at Alexander McQueen and knee breeches at Robert Geller.

As with home design, where curio cases, taxidermy and other stylish clutter of the Victorian era have been taken up by young hipsters, many of today’s popular men’s styles have their roots in the late 19th century. There are the three-piece suits once favored by mustachioed Gilded Age bankers; the military greatcoats and boots of Union officers; and the henley undershirts, suspenders, plaid flannel shirts and stout drill trousers worn by plain, honest farmers.

and then
“There are all kinds of societies that are about dressing up in period costume and then going back to your oversize jeans the next day,” he said. “This is about style as a way of being.” (You can’t help imagining a kind of upside-down remake of “The Wild Ones,” in which a gang of elegant men in knee breeches riding old Raleigh three-speeds descend on an unsuspecting town and freak everyone out with their impeccable manners.)

Even so, tweed states its own case surprisingly well.

“I haven’t worn tweed in a while, but I’m rediscovering it,” Mr. Brewer said. “The Victorian era was about a very trim silhouette and form, and I’m seeing tweeds that are cut that way. The thing is, tweed looks very elegant, but it’s a very sturdy fabric, so you can be dapper and still appear manly and rugged.”
I hope you'll join me this weekend for a tweed ride!

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Millennial Multitasking - Matchless Mannerism?

My (our?) generation is known for many things-- elder social commentators look aghast at our binge drinking, our abandonment of romanticism, and our brash refusal to get flu shots. But perhaps more than anything else, we're known for our dizzying multitasking-- our unparalleled ability to carry on simultaneous conversations via text, phone, e-mail, and seven different chat windows, all whilst engaging the friend actually sharing the couch and, at least theoretically, writing up a report, too.

It's baldly apparent that our forbears don't share this skill. If they're reading the newspaper, they're reading the newspaper, and a ringing Blackberry is not an expected-- even welcome-- diversion, it's a distraction. So my wondering-out-loud question of the day is if this unique skill is a product of growing up in the age of 28.8 kbps dial-up modems.

I remember the day when it took 30 seconds to load, and a solid three minutes to see a page with lots of pictures. In that era, I and my millions of peers, with our 12 year-old attention spans, had little choice but to find alternative entertainment while Jeeves went in search of the answer to our questions. Whether it was AIM, or an offline game, or something not even computer-related, anything was better than watching a graphic load, one line at a time.

But my question is: Will younger generations (say, those in their toddling years today) also be monotaskers? Will they grow up pampered with high-speed web connections that obviate the need to learn this art? Or is it just the nature of modern technology that encourages our behavior?