Who’s The Dandy?

Who’s The Dandy? Gieves & Hawkes Party Edition

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The blog of Gieves & Hawkes has posted a write-up on its party last week for Callahan & Adams, but even more interesting is a Pinterest page, a virtual rogues gallery of sartorial mug shots, of the event’s attendees.

What better opportunity, we thought, to revive one of our most notorious regular features, the “Who’s The Dandy?” sartorial showdowns.

We’ve narrowed the contestants down to eight. At the bottom of this post you’ll find polling software to cast your vote (and even more enticing, monitor the results as they come in). There is no specific criteria for this contest (such as the unanswerable riddle what does 21st-century dandyism look like). You could say we’re simply courting the popular vote. Who’s outfit do you like best? (more…)

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Who’s the Dandy?: Oscars Edition

You can’t watch the Academy awards. Not in person, in any case, unless you’re a seat-filler. It’s by invitation only, to Academy members, and the Academy determines the guest list. So how do you get to be a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences? Why, your name is endorsed by your Academy branch’s executive committee, then you are sponsored by two existing Academy members, and membership is by invitation of the Board of Governors. So when it seems like the judging criterion is a bit biased, that’s because it is, thank you very much. And if you don’t like it, well, we’ll just pass you over for membership this year.

But they do throw a heck of an awards show. Actually, they throw four, but only one is televised; because who wants to see overweight, balding technicians get Oscars for Science and Technology?

The Oscars is supposed to be a classically formal affair. Dinner dress has been the norm, but full dress has not been unheard of. (On the Awards Parade Formality Continuum, the Academy Awards fits in somewhere between the snooty Tonys and the extravagant Golden Globes.) Before we go further, let’s set the bar high with Kirk Douglas at the Oscars in 1950. That’s how it’s done.

No one opted for dress suits at this year’s Oscars. Well, host Billy Crystal tried. (No, Zach Galifianakis and Will Farrell, presenters in all-white dress suits and cymbals, don’t count.) Billy Crystal’s suit was just awful. The jacket was cut well enough, but everything under it was four shades of wrong. White tie is an exacting mistress who will not tolerate tepid commitment. Crystal could tell something was wrong, too; he seemed uncertain and ill at ease wearing it. It seemed as if the clothes themselves shamed him into dressing down into a less-distracting dinner suit for the second half of the show. That’s too bad, really; Crystal’s age and gravitas have grown him into the role of Oscars host, one who should be able to confidently wear proper white tie. The brash young outsider joking his way through the show has matured into a latter-day Bob Hope, who gives the Oscars the self-deprication it so desperately needs to be accessible to Joe America, and keep it from sinking into a self-congratulatory event for Hollywood insiders who take themselves far too seriously.

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Who’s the Dandy?: Super Bowl Edition

Last Sunday, February 5, the people of the United States over-indulged in their annual ritual of rough spectacle, the Super Bowl. American football, which somehow split from its English parent, Rugby Football, in the 19th century, has become the American institution nonpareil, as much a religion as a sport. As a game, it combines brute force, military-style battlefield strategy and, occasionally, physical poetry.

But the Super Bowl is more than the ultimate season-ending championship game. It’s America’s “barbaric yawp,” an over-the-top, overtly commercial, Roman-style imperial pageant (as Madonna’s show at half-time more than casually suggested).

Even those Americans who don’t like football watch the Super Bowl. Why? The commercials. Since Apple’s famed “1984” spot first burst onto the scene during Super Bowl XVII, the game has been used as a canvas one which the world’s top advertising agencies and brands show off their finest “art.”

Among this year’s Super Bowl ads was this one from Gillette, maker of shaving apparatus.

The ad, called “Masters of Style” features:

Adrien Brody, the Hollywood man about town and star of the triple Oscar award-winning film, The Pianist.”

Gael García Bernal, steamy Latin lover and lead in such romantic comedies as “A Little Bit of Heaven.”

André 3000, singer-songwriter, member of the hip-hop duo “OutKast,” and creator of the “Benjamin Bixby” line of 1930s, college-inspired clothing.  (You’ve seen him here before.)

Well, what about it? Who’s the Super Bowl dandy? One? None? All? Or should there be a flag on this play? Let us know in the comments.

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Who’s the Dandy? — Gatsby Edition

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Yesterday was the 25th annual Gatsby Summer Afternoon in the San Francisco Bay Area. The many duded-up gents give us the chance to revisit our “Who’s the Dandy?” series with our first-ever costume edition. Leave a comment to cast your vote on your favorite outfit. Above are John Akridge and Benny Reese. Below, Slimm Buick: (more…)

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Who’s The Dandy? — The Boys of Summer

Shortly after his arrival in Africa, the narrator of Conrad’s “The Heart of Darkness” meets an accountant wearing a spotless white suit in the middle of the jungle. Although he’s but a colonial numbers-cruncher, the image is an arresting one: Might such a triumph of elegance over environment be the ultimate dandyish gesture?

Dandies of the Brummellian ilk delight in the sober shades of fall and winter, but d’Orsay-type butterfly dandies shine best in summer, delighting in suit fabrics such as gabardine, seersucker, linen, dupioni silk and fresco, and shirtings made of gossamer cloths like voile and batiste.

Although the dandy can dress with panache in the most sweltering of climes without relying on a suit and tie, as our own Nick Willard has demonstrated, when it comes to formal dressing, the dandy faces two divergent paths: He can show his disregard for the mercury and remain sharply tailored, or he can embrace the lazy days of summer with a softer silhouette and a rumpled sprezzatura.

And so we submit for your encomium or disapprobation the following gents, which include two new faces and four notorious ones. Which one best expresses summertime elegance?

Candidate number one (below left) is a newcomer from the pages of the New York Times. He is dressed up from head-to-toe, making no visible concession to the heat and even donning a waistcoat as an extra layer (or two layers, since it’s double-breasted.)

On the right is Will, who previously faced off against manton in the WTD gladiatorial arena. He’s stylishly dressed in seersucker, but what about the dark tie and pocket square?

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Candidate number three, socialite Geoffrey Bradfield, is still wearing his forced smile, though his trademark double-cuff-shoot is sadly absent. Is the pink suit a daring statement, or is he only channeling John Dodelande? And the bit loafers with no socks — summer staple or gauche gesture?

On the right, Andrea Sperelli, another previous WTD contender, expresses everything about summer except the joy. Does he resemble a Bright Young Thing at Oxford, or a Wimbledon linesman dressed by Ralph Lauren?

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Candidate number five is James Jimenez, a decadent impresario who, as you can probably tell, is a close friend of Lord Whimsy. A fan is certainly one way of staying cool. Next to him is Dandy of the Year Lapo Elkann. Does the ventilating open neck and the three mismatched shades of white epitomize sprezzatura or merely slovenliness?

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Who’s The Dandy? Manton vs. Will

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Recently a reader left a comment suggesting that no one should be allowed to dispense sartorial criticism without first offering himself up for scrutiny.Since he couldn’t possibly have been referring to us, we hereby present for your edification, entertainment and target-practice, two of the most exacting and opinionated micro-celebrities of the Internet men’s clothing world: manton and Will.

Writing under the username “manton,” former Republican speechwriter Michael Anton has posted over 10,000 times on the minutiae of men’s dress on the sites Style Forum, Ask Andy About Clothes and The London Lounge. His obsession with precise measurements led us to dub him “the quarter-inch dandy.”Under the pseudonym Nicholas Antongiavanni, Anton authored “The Suit,” in which he presumes to tell the world what dandies like and don’t like:

Because of its smartness and rarity, a single-breasted jacket with peak lapels is greatly favored by dandies.

Dandies like ticket pockets for the extra panache they impart.

Dandies enjoy silk, but only the the rough, matte-finished weave known as dupioni.

Dandies take great care in selecting their socks.

Above all, no dandy wears solid socks, for that is stylistic surrender. The dandy’s favorite sock pattern has always been the clock.

For the record, Anton uses the term “dandy” far more broadly than we do. Furthermore, speaking authoritatively on behalf of all dandies is something that only the Junta is entitled to do, and then only when we speak ex cathedra. We’ve given our imprimatur, though, to a few of Anton’s better pronouncements.

More avuncular in advice and modest in ambition is Will, who writes the blog A Suitable Wardrobe. Will has offered his opinion a mere 7,000 times on the three main men’s clothing sites. A professional consultant and public speaker, his blog is a fond discourse on classic clothing, heavily annotated with splendid illustrations from Apparel Arts and Esquire of the 1930s. He is one of D.net’s competitors in the Fabby Awards.

Both Anton and Will are certainly masters of the basics — the grammar, if you will — of how to dress. But just as a sentence can be grammatically correct but ineloquent, so to a man can be correctly dressed and inelegant.

And so we ask you: Who’s The Dandy?

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