Friday, April 30, 2010

Sartorial Boston

It’s that time again. I’m blessed to be busy and this week the task at hand manifests in Boston. I love Boston and it’s almost the perfect time of the year to be here. I say almost only because this week the Boston temperature one day was 45 degrees. No biggie since I’ve been indoors all day running a meeting but still, it’s difficult to pack the proper duds for these gigs. Just as soon as I thought it was an unequivocal no brainer to stow away the moleskins and corduroys for the season, I’m wearing both here in Beantown. I'll skip the "guess the airport carpet" game as it's fairly obvious that I'm flying out of Heathrow this week.
Most of my recent Boston visits have limited me to Wellesley and precluded any free time to play downtown. I’m gratified to be working up here in one of the sweet spots for the Biotech industry but am more gratified this time to be downtown. I rolled in early enough on Monday to make my usual rounds along Newbury and adjacent streets but also to hang out with my boy Giuseppe from An Affordable Wardrobe. I couldn’t show up empty handed so on Sunday afternoon I rolled over to Target and grabbed some goods for the little G People. I also pounced on Liberty of London boxer shorts as well. $2.99 a throw and no-I’m not proud. It’s the new me…procurer or sartorial elements that roll down a checkout conveyor belt.
Heathrow saw me with an old pair of Lucky Brand Jeans and my timeless Ralph Navy D.B.. Suede monks and a monogrammed shirt of no consequence round it out for me. Anyone else discovered Clif bars?
Horizontalia never looked so funny. Suede Monks...not quite as versatile as a loafer but pretty darn close. Post security screening-refractory period...I haven't worked up the juice yet to buckle my babies again. Matter of fact I don't think I did till I landed at Logan.
I drop my bags at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel and grab a cab over to the North End. Amazing the crispness of this iPhone photo. Meg.
Check out the G-Trio...makes me long for my old Slingerlands. 
The G-String and I’ve been trying to connect in Boston for a while but I haven’t been able to make it work. .  I’ve usually had to do a quick in and out because my juju was required the next day in another part of the contiguous 48. I’m glad we made it happen on Monday…Lunch with G and his two precious little kids. G was correct when he assumed that I’d love to have lunch and hang out with his little ones. I was born to be a dad and let me tell you-his kids are beautiful.
The G Family meet me in Boston’s North End. Quintessentially Italian. Old World…authentic…the real deal. SunTzu in The Art of War teaches devotees to “make use of local guides” and this is G-Man’s home turf. 
We meet up at a place that according to the G, hasn’t changed since his grandmother used to take him and his brother there when they were little kids. It’s obvious that the prices haven’t changed much at Galleria Umberto Rosticceria either.
The Italy mural...G remembers it from his childhood trips to this joint. He also remembers these two guys...suspended in time...same place in the queue...ordering the same slice.
I find it hard to not enjoy this combination...cheese, dough, sauce, toys and little people. 
Oh, and a paper cup of chilled red wine.
Caffe Vittoria for espresso and gelati...and milk and napkins and toddling around and cajoling and ...just engaging with little people. I loved it.
Little Miss G is a show stopper. It's been a while since I've had a little gal toddle over to me and smile that little person's smile that communicates a few distinct things. It says "My diaper is fairly dry-my belly is reasonably full...let me charm the world...I dare anyone to not adore me". The smile of a one year old is also fueled by a light that shines within-a light that hasn't yet been dimmed by the realities of an adult world. Bliss.
You can tell a lot about a man’s character by observing how he engages with his kids. Giuseppe is a fully engaged dad and his kids reflect it. His little man is polite, articulate and just an all around good lookin’ boy. Little Miss G is LFG incarnate…with only a little bit more hair. I hadn’t held a one year old in ages and this little gal is a heart breaker…big blue eyes and personality galore. Bottom line…the two hours I spent with the G Family was the highlight of my week. 

Boston needed my sartorial review so the balance of the afternoon had me haunting the Back Bay posh spots.
Hermes...the home of five hundred dollar beach towels and other reasonably priced goods. I'm still thinking that the Target beach towels look just as nice. 
My cousin AllievonSummersverb now sports the "H" belt. I've got a bit of an affinity for it-mainly because the H emblazons the first letter of my college nickname.
La Perla...just around the corner from Hermes. I couldn't for the life of me contrive a reason to go in. I did though, spend about an hour standing on the street-admiring this miracle of...whatever. Shut up.
Camo Espadrilles? The dichotomy is perplexing. I'm holding out for the Dale Earnhardt slippers.
The Brethren of Boston looks typical...with a bit of Whistleresque blue porcelain accompanying the made in somewhere else dress shirts. Whistler-Rossetti and Wilde collected Chinese Porcelain simultaneously in London. Probably fought over a piece or two.
I need to re-send the Patch Madras Memo to the Brethren...at least to Boston. Banned in Boston...too.
It's only for a nanosecond that I wish I could carry off the straw hat look. Baseball hats and tweed caps define my range. Probably all in my head but I'll leave the straw versions to my pal Toad.
One of the few things left at the Brethren that still satisfies me. Probably because most of their shoes are still made in America. The Brooks spectators look pretty good this year.
Polo-Boston. The most impressive Ralph store is in Chicago...the Gotham Mansion is certainly a sight-site to behold. But come to think of it I've never been on one that I didn't find pleasing. The Charleston and Georgetown store are a bit cramped but the aesthetics remain.
Men at work. Sinatra, Cooper and Dean. All well dressed.
My Boston clients were dressed "casually" for our three day meeting. Sloppy would be my characterization. Look at Sinatra...hat-tie-vest...at work. Come back sartorial discipline...my clients look like Boy Band or reality television candidates.
Ok...so it looks like Ralph and company did commission some bleeding madras for 2010. My money is still on the O'Connell's cache of bleeders.
 
I love marketing parlance...I contrive it for a living. But I worry these days when I see words like "handcrafted" and "artisanal" associated with booze-food-clothing. It just means you are gonna pay triple for the goods. 
Those exact words aren't manifest in the Polo Madras value prop but they are intimated.
Upstairs in Purple Label Land. The odds are good but the goods are odd. And there isn't anyone in Polo's employ who can articulate why one should pay Purple Prices. Ok, I'm gonna relent and actually get a haircut from a trained professional...you've convinced me that my artisanal efforts are dodgy at best. Shut up.
An afternoon of sartorial observations sees me back at the hotel girding my constitution with a Martini and braised Brussels Sprouts.
Cleaned up for a three day strategy journey and then an LFG weekend awaits me.

Onward-ADG


33 comments:

J.P. said...

Damn- I am such a fan of your blog and living in Boston. Would have love to have bought you a beer.

Summer said...

ADG, I think you are being too hard on madras. Yes, I agree that it has taken on an omnipresent character right on down to the surf shops. However, I vividly remember the dearth of madras up until a few years ago. For me its decades long unavailability, but for a handful of shops that are true to the classics, was frustrating. I'm not crazy that John and Jane Q. Public are wearing patch madras just because they can. But I like madras be it bleeding, patch or otherwise enough to overlook the wearing of it en masse. I am appreciative of its availability because I know that in time its popularity will fade and it will become that rare commodity once again.

Toad said...

The beauty of mad this year will be the ability to separate the old from the new. New mad is vile, old soft, faded madras is a gift from the gods.

Why is it that men like old clothes so much, and women don't?

ADG said...

JP...I'll be back up next month. Maybe then.

Summer...you are probably correct.

Toad...maybe we are trying to hold on to something. I don't know.

LPC said...

So many questions?
1. Why are there holes in your jeans? On purpose?
2. How long do you think before you start on a straw hat bender?
3. So was your nickname "Howie?"
4. Were the sprouts and martini your entire dinner? There's a diet book in that somewhere.
5. When do you plan your trip to India to pick up some of the real stuff in Chennai?
Over and out.

ADG said...

LPC....
1. Why are there holes in your jeans? On purpose? LONG STORY ABOUT THE JEANS. I'M GONNA DO A POST ABOUT IT SOON.

2. How long do you think before you start on a straw hat bender? I DON'T SEE IT IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

3. So was your nickname "Howie?" NOPE. BUT CLOSE.

4. Were the sprouts and martini your entire dinner? There's a diet book in that somewhere. NOPE. I HAD A SUPERB LITTLE HANGAR STEAK. I'M GONNA TRY DOING THE SPROUTS TOMORROW NIGHT AT HOME.

5. When do you plan your trip to India to pick up some of the real stuff in Chennai? NEXT TUESDAY.

James said...

A very interesting post, as always. You just knew Giuseppe had to be one of the good guys. Thanks for sharing your trip.

Barima said...

I've an urge to begin Googling La Perla campaigns now

Thank you for this photopost; I'm always one for learning of places I've yet to visit

B

ilovelimegreen said...

"Why is it that men like old clothes so much, and women don't?" should be a sequel to "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus"...or perhaps a chapter title?

DAG said...

I've always thought the G man was a good guy.

Love the Mad jacket - I agree with Toad - there's Mad and there's Mad.

Sprouts almost anyway are great but braised and broiled are my favorite.

Anonymous said...

do you mean Logan or Heathrow?

Suburban Princess said...

Did you order only the sprouts? Or did the come with something? I find it surprising how many people hate them because they have never had them cooked properly - my 2 year old will eat his weight in roasted sprouts!

Slappy said...

WTF is with the jeans dude?

In The Littoral said...

If not Howie, Hounddog? Love old mad, unfortunately my ex got rid of a lot of mine years ago when I wasn't looking. Really miss my bleeding patch mad trousers. DGW

K.S. Anthony said...

1) The Polo store in Chicago is a magical wonderland. The last time I was there, they had a marvelous little case of vintage watches downstairs that they were kind enough to let me into. The shame of it was most were your basic old Hamiltons that they were charging three or four times too much for. Beyond that, the store looks and feels like an old club house.

2) That martini looks filthy, but perhaps it's the lighting.

3) The only thing a man should buy from Hermes is a tie, tack, or something for his wife. The rest is almost too obvious.

4) Is that monogram embroidered near your waistband? (applause)

5) Patch madras spotted in...Abercrombie and Fitch....I think that should be good enough to extend the ban through Fall.

Anonymous said...

Agree that RLPL price-wise is indeed a real rip. And they are way too delicate unless the most vigorous thing you do in your day is get on and off your G5. A 100% cashmere suit?

However, I too am a sucker for the look and furnishings of all of Ralph's joints. No one does that combo of deco/modern and classicism better than RL (or the architects/designers he chooses to hire).

Giuseppe said...

It was a pleasure showing you around my favorite old part of town, and the kids had a great time with "daddy's friend from really far away".

The G family needs to plan a trip to d.c. so I can buy you and LFG lunch next time out.

For the rest of you:

I am not by any means a ripped jeans kind of guy, but as you can well imagine, of anyone can make it work, it's our boy ADG.

p.s. he also had on a blue and white mtm shirt with a contrast button down collar....se, I'm not the only one.

Lisa said...

So glad to see that you do eat something other than a Hungry Man meal (an oxymoron if ever there was one). The martini looked properly chilled and the brussel sprouts heavenly.

Your bleeding madras post had me going down memory lane: I sew and back in 1980 all I asked for for Christmas was yards of specific madras plaids (they bled like crazy). I had ideas of how they would be transformed. I got yards of the madras (mom was shaking her head the whole time) and I created some really cool dresses and skirts. Sadly, I don't have them anymore.

Since you haven't offered me any sartorial advice I can use, 'ceptin the hat post, I'm crossing the pond to view(drool) over the Grace Kelly exhibit.

~Tessa~Scoffs said...

Great post. I feel like I've seen a great city, a great friend, had a family reunion and a great dinner. Just a word of warning, Max, Clif bars give my children horrible gas.

ADG said...

James….thanks. G-Man is a fine fella.

Barima...How’s it going in Ghana?

limegreengal...Nahhh…it should just read…”Men are Stupid”

DAG...G-Man is the real deal. So are sprouts.

AnonymousAirport...oh shit, I meant Gatwick.

Suburban Princess...Good on your 2 year old! And yes, I had a nice little piece of hangar steak.

Slappy...WTF is the WTF about? Dude.

Littoral...Nope. But close. Sorry about your ex and the madras. Mine took everything.

K.S. Anthony...Yep. I lusted years ago for a Rolex Prince duo-dial at Polo NYC. It was 10k twenty years ago. The martini wasn’t real dirty but the olives dirtied it up really fast. They were smoked kalamata(sp?) stuffed with feta. I had two of them. I’ve never bought anything for myself in Hermes. Yes, the monogram is what I call “Oppo-Five”. It’s opposite the 5th button.
Patch Mad…Prolly gonna have to enact something through about 2012 so that people get the message.

Anonymous...Yep…I admire the intent of RLPL but that’s about it.

Giuseppe...Thanks man. Ripped/patched jeans and all.

Lisa...Great story. It reminds me of Gary Cooper’s daughter telling Alan Flusser about how Cooper would take cloth out to their beach house in Malibu and let it fade in the sun before having clothes made from it.

Tessa…thanks for the heads up re Clif bars. LFG and I might now have a contest this weekend.

Brian said...

Look like you had a great trip. It's always nice when you can have a local for a tour guide. It's all too true what you said about the character of a man by the way he interacts with his children. Hope you have a good weekend!

Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - My guess at your college nickname? -Hornie.

Will said...

Sinatra-man of much depth. Have you read The Way You Wear Your Hat????

Not much on Clif Bars, although they're one of the better ones. Partial to Larabars. (umlaut on the first 'A')

Why do guys like old clothes, and women don't??? Women are nuts? (sorry, mid-divorce snarkiness alert!!!) Guys like monuments. We like old, well built things. We like comfort. We favor function over form. Women buy poodles: cute, fashionable dogs with nary a brain cell in sight. Guys buy labs: big, goofy dogs with no common sense...but a hell of a sense for fun.

ADG said...

Will...you are a funny man. Godspeed with the....D-I-V-O-R-C-E

AnonEngFem...close.

Brian...indeed.

TRVS said...

The photo of Little Miss G's chubby hand is priceless~~I met her a few weeks ago at the Pre~Flea kick~off meeting & have to agree with everything you said...makes me miss my own at that tender age. Too bad you won't be in Beantown for the Top Shelf Flea, we could have advertised you as "Our Sartorially~ Interesting Honorary Guest".

Anonymous said...

Great and entertaining post, as usual. Nice to see two of my favorite bloggers meeting up and enjoying each other's company.

The world needs more places like that Galleria Umberto restaurant (and the North End in general). It looks like unpretentious, good food. Whatever happened to carafes, house wines, or even paper cups of wine in restaurants. Why does every restaurant now have to cater to TinTin's expensive tastes ;)

Anonymous English Female said...

ilovelimegreen and Will - some women DO like old clothes. A lot. About the only things I buy new are underwear and Acne jeans. And some shoes. All my Hermes is at lest 25 years old. I shop anywhere from Christies to the British Red Cross charity store, but never in department stores.

ADG said...

AnonEng....What ARE Acne jeans?

TRVS...Good luck at the Flea!

Will said...

AEF- Pshaw...you're English. You folks across the pond have a whole different definition of old from us colonists. ;)

Anonymous English Female said...

ADG - Acne jeans - the only brand I've found that make my skinny ass look even vaguely sort of pertish. £185 a pop but they're worth every penny. (I think).
Will - Fair point. The oldest thing is my wardrobe is a little embroidered coat from Persia c. 1800; which come to think of it, pre-dates most buildings in America.

ilovelimegreen said...

Anonymous English Female - Don't begin to think I don't like old clothes - I buy from clothes from auction houses and charity shops myself.
ADG- Would your college nicknames have been Hotstuff or Hogwash? And next time you are near Polo or Brooks Brothers in Chevy Chase, head around the corner from Brooks Brothers to Sylene to get your next La Perla fix.

Pigtown-Design said...

ILLG and AEF, I am part of your club, too! But you gals already knew that.

ADG... Great pix hon. I knew you could do it.

Patsy said...

The authentic places in the North End are sadly few and far between, now. It's going the way of boutiques and very expensive restaurants. The old red sauce joints are closing. I don't recognize some of the streets and I've only been gone about 15ish years.

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