Fitzgerald, DiCaprio and Luhrmann – The Great Gatsby is Coming! (In 3D!!)

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Few film events excite the sartorially inclined for reasons solely of style and clothing. But when they do… Bammo!

The buzz about Baz Luhrmann‘s 3D film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald‘s The Great Gatsby has been steadily growing among the dandy set since the project was announced and is expected to only grow until it’s release. Starring as the titular Gatsby is Leonardo DiCaprio, along side Carey MulliganIsla Fisher and Tobey Maguire among others.

American Dandy, Author and Poster Boy for the Lost Generation - F. Scott Fitzgerald

American Dandy, Author and Poster Boy for the Lost Generation – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald’s story is many things, and in Luhrmann’s lush, ocular hands, is expected to be the style experience of the season. The few photos from the production that have been released teasingly promise a treasure trove of well dressed gentlemen in fine dandy style.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Looking Sharp as He Walks Past a Duesenberg

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby Looking Sharp as He Walks Past a Duesenberg

There is also a full length trailer that is even more alluring, much like the stories of Fitzgerald himself.

And keep in mind you’ll be able to experience all this gentlemen dress and style in 3D. I’m off to mix a batch of mint juleps in anticipation! I suspect the only thing that could make this movie even more amazing would be a surprise cameo by Ryan Gosling

Ryan Gosling as Imagined in a Surprise Cameo in The Great Gatsby

Ryan Gosling as Imagined in a Surprise Cameo in The Great Gatsby

Why T-shirts Are the Slippery Edge of the Slope For a Gentleman

It  is a common site on the streets, in the cafe, nightclubs, banks, and even weddings and funerals to see men dressed in a T-shirt as their only uppermost garb. Time was that you only saw a man in his T-shirt when he had removed his actual shirt to do some heavy labour or in preparation for intimate times.

Don Draper Working in a T-shirt

Don Draper in a T-shirt (Work)

Fast forward to today and the T-shirt has become ubiquitous for the male look, regardless of age. It certainly no longer signifies a man about to do anything strenuous. Remember this guy from South Park

Computer Nerd Wearing a T-shirt (South Park)

Computer Nerd Wearing a T-shirt and Playing Warcraft (Not Work)

Why bring this up?

The other day as I was off to my favourite breakfast place out-of-town when a man wearing no shirt, cigarette dangling from his mouth drove his pickup truck ahead of me. After I recovered from this awesome display it occurred to me that the only thing that separates most men from straying into that heinous look is one bad decision. They look down and instead of picking one of their T-shirts to wear they think, “Screw it,” and leave the house without a shirt. A gentleman has his jacket and his shirt to remove before he’s down to only his undershirt. This provides him plenty of time to think about why he is disrobing and to consider the ramifications along the way. The guy who insists on dressing like he did in grade school does not have this style fail-safe.

Oh, and before you start thinking about how a guy driving his vehicle sans shirt is sexy, like this:

Fantasy Shirtless Man in a Truck Smoking a Cigarette

Fantasy Shirtless Man in a Truck Smoking a Cigarette

remember that this is pure fantasy like the seductive nurse or sex-crazed librarian. Reality looks more like this:

Real Shirtless Man in a Truck

Real Shirtless Man in a Truck

I am the last person to pass judgement on what one may find sexually stimulating. That is not the point. What is the point is that a gentleman does not inflict his nakedness on the general public, and certainly never in such a crass manner. In order to avoid this colossal mistake, a gentleman restricts his T-shirt wearing to a minimum and to the select purposes to which they are  best suited. If you’re not sure a T-shirt is appropriate for a situation then don’t. Just don’t.

You’ve been warned.

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Gentlemens Boots – The Paddock

In keeping with my series on gentlemens boots I present to you the Paddock!

Paddock Boots in Two Tone Leather by Hope

Paddock Boots in Two Tone Leather by Hope

Horse riders of the nineteenth century needed something less cumbersome than the standard riding boot. Bookmakers responded to this need by developing the lace-up Paddock boot.  As the name indicates, this lace up ankle-height leather boot was ideal for Victorian gentlemen to wear around the paddock when training horses and seducing the fair maidens riding them. It stand to reason that the Paddock boot descend to us from the English riding tradition.

Paddock boots are still worn for equestrian work and Ariat makes athletic grade pairs. These are not the kind for a gentleman to wear in his regular wardrobe. I am using the term Paddock boot to apply to the ankle boot for men that fastens by laces (as opposed to the buckle of the Jodhpur and the rubber sides of the Chelsea) and where the boot’s collar is no more than a few inches above the ankle. It should go without saying only Paddock  boots made with both leather sole and vamp are appropriate for a gentleman. (I’m speaking to you, Michael.)

Fancy Footwear -The Fendi Take on the Classic Paddock Boot

Fancy Footwear - The Fendi Take on the Classic Paddock Boot

There are other styles of lace-up ankle boots for men. The elegance and lightness of the Paddock set it apart from the other types. The light and durable design of the Paddock boot proved very popular and they became the alternative footwear used with horses instead of  the knee-high ‘tall’ riding boots of the time. Tall boots are now usually only worn in very formal riding settings. They are also sometimes appropriate for a gentleman to wear outside of riding, but more of that later.

Bootmakers design Paddock boots in a variety of styles, given their qualities of lightness and durability. This variety of styles in turn makes them acceptable for wear in formal and casual settings where, say, a hiking or motorcycle boot would be extremely wrong. Cowboy boots require very special handling and are not for the faint of heart! (I’ll look at these types of boots soon enough!)

Traditional Paddock Boot from the Gentleman's Emporium

Traditional Paddock Boot from the Gentleman's Emporium

As I am in the warning mood, I would like to take a moment to caution against the use of ankle boots, or any boots for that matter, that make use of side zippers. One of the chief statements a quality leather boot makes is that its wearer has taken the time to dress and dress well. convenience is never a gentleman’s consideration, and should never be confused with functionality. Hurrying is not part of a gentleman’s appearance.

Paddock Boot Tricked Out in Brogue by Trickers, UK

Paddock Boot Tricked Out in Brogue by Trickers, UK

If you wear zipped boots you might as well wear a belt that fastens with Velcro! A Dandy steers clear of anything that might pull his attire into the realm of costume, and nothing indicates a costume in footwear faster than an unsightly zipper.

Article first published as Gentlemens Boots – The Paddock on Technorati.

Victrolacore – Satirical Music for the Sartorial Gentleman

Doctor Steel - OV (Original Villain)

Doctor Steel – OV (Original Villain)

A musical phenomenon of interest to the Kingpin gentleman is one that is emerging from genres being called ‘chap hop‘, ‘modern burlesque’, ‘steampunk‘, even ‘industrial hip-hop opera‘ all of which I put under the broader category of what I have termed Victrolacore. You heard it here first!

The key elements of this branch of the punk bush are the reuse of previous cultural expressions now considered quaint and old-fashioned. Samples taken from recordings of the 20s and 30s; use of antiquated instruments like the banjolele or the harmonium and lyrics peppered with out-of-date colloquialisms are commonly combined with a modern musical approach, like hip hop or industrial structures and then viewed through the gin-soaked lens of satire.

Frisky and Mannish - Chained Heat Prison Edition!

Frisky and Mannish – Chained Heat Prison Edition!

These grafted together with a Kurt Weill sensibility the evokes the music halls of Berlin and London in the period between the world wars. The pervasive decadent burlesque mood hangs from the music. Clever wit (including a stage persona that amplifies the musician’s over-all intent) fuse these disparate elements together.

Mr. B and Professor Elemental - Chap Hop Rivals

Mr. B and Professor Elemental – Chap Hop Rivals

To get an idea of the artists covered by my Victrolacore label I would direct you to listening to Doctor Steel, Mr. B. the Gentleman Rhymer, and Professor Elemental. I would also include the work of Richard Cheese and Frisky and Mannish, as their work utilizes the same devices, only in reverse; they apply antiquated musical styling to current pop music, and produce the music live as opposed to using samples.

Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine

Richard Cheese & Lounge Against The Machine

Key to all of these artists is being elegant ladies and gentlemen their work exudes, each with deeply satisfying satirical effect. Especially enjoyable is how the unrelentingly evil Doctor Steel is careful to observe proper social etiquette in his quest for world domination.

Buried deep in the whole experience of these artists is, I believe, the central tenet also found in dandyism, and one I’ve written about before. The  Worker-Dandyist International says it best:

“…define our Dandyism, in essence, as simply making as much of an effort as possible with the limited resources available.  An effort in sartorial flair and individuality, an effort in civility, social responsibility and courtesy, and an effort in communal culture, welfare and hedonism.”

and Charles Baudelaire puts it best, that,

“Dandyism is not even an excessive delight in clothes and material elegance. For the perfect dandy, these things are no more than the symbol of the aristocratic superiority of his mind.”

Victrolacore musically expresses this same flare. Rage on, good chums, rage on.

Article first published as Victrolacore – Satirical Music for the Sartorial Gentleman on Technorati.

Style Watch – Late Night French Cuffs

I have friends that have many excuses for not wearing proper shirts, let alone ones with French cuffs. This style of cuff is the one that lets you choose the style of cuff links that demonstrate you are a gentleman to those around you.

Oh, you say, that’s not cool. Really. I guess you’re too cool for Jon Stewart

Jon Stewart in French Cuffs

Jon Stewart in French Cuffs

Still not cool? Then how about Stephen Colbert, a regular cuff link wearing guy:

Stephen Colbert in French Cuff, Colbert Report April 13, 2011

Stephen Colbert in French Cuff, Colbert Report April 13, 2011

Just to make sure, here’ s the hippest of the late night crowd, Jimmy Fallon literally rocking his French cuffs:

Jimmy Fallon Rocking French Cuffs

Jimmy Fallon Rocking French Cuffs

and in case there are still some holdouts that think French Cuff is not masculine enough, I present two killers from Mad Men infamy, Don Draper (played by Jon Hamm) and Roger Sterling (played by John Slattery):

Don Draper with French Cuff

Don Draper with French Cuff

Roger Sterling in French Cuff

Roger Sterling in French Cuff

The style necessary to dress as a the gentleman you are lies in the details. One detail you must not leave out is adding French cuff to your wardrobe. So much so, in fact, that the days you do not wear them, you will feel as if you are only half-dressed. At least, that’s how Duke Ellington felt… and everyone knows he is cool personified.