Sunday, August 30, 2015

Bruce Boyer and True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear

I love picture books. But I think I love words even more than pictures and God knows I’m a visual guy. My sartorial sensei’s volumes have always thrilled me and to this day I’ll pull one of them off the shelf—any one of them—and grab a bolus dose of Flusstaciousness. The fare’s quite rich and I never tire of the visual treats. And let me not give Alan short shrift. Daddy Flusser is pretty damned skilled with the written word too. 

Oh, and shut up in advance about me heading a story about Boyer's new book with a photo of Alan's classic. Either read-on or get off of my blog. 
I said long ago that I thought Bruce Boyer’s book, Elegance might have been slightly thwarted by the sartorial picture books that appeared at about the same time. And it’s a damn shame. Let’s admit it; photos are the MSG (Monosodium glutamate for you South Carolinians. Oh hell, that didn’t clarify anything for the Sandlappers. Let me go at it another way. It’s the secret ingredient that makes all of the slop on the country buffet trough taste like something, last longer and look prettier. It's an enhancer and intensifier. Kind of a bullhorn for your country-ass taste buds.)  of sensory processing and we’ve been on an ever faster slide towards less reading and more pictures. Do you people read? I wonder because if you are reading my scrivening, you’re only a half-step away from the country buffet. Shut up.
Used without permission but with thanks from Daddy Flusser's site.
I’ll pull Elegance off the shelf from time to time for a different reason than when I feel the need to scratch my Flusser itch. There are some writers whose grocery lists would be on my to-read roster simply because of the way they write. Hitchens was one and Bruce Boyer is another. So Boyer’s a winning combination for me: Stories sartorial, but also nicely strung together. I swear I wish that I could write with the flourish of Flusser and the stylish discipline of Boyer. Here’s what I’m talking about. From page 101 in Boyer's Elegance, on the subject of double-breasted suits. "...this all sounds very Sherlock Holmes, but nonetheless and to move quickly to the denouement of this classic tale of crime and detection, when the police finally tracked down and captured George Metesky, we was indeed wearing a double breasted suit."  Most of the young I-Gents, who by the way, love Bruce and Bruce them, would throw in the towel upon getting all tangled up in the word denouement. Not me. Hell, I even save all of G. The Bruce's emails because even his most casually dashed-off missives sing.
One of the highlights of the past four years has been my growing acquaintance with Mister Boyer. 
Mathew Bruccoli in his forward to Charles Fountain’s biography of George Frazier wrote that there were "various Georges, depending on the company and setting". Well I’ve only discovered one Bruce so far. He’s authentic and consistent as hell. Whether he’s speaking about Miles Davis from the F.I.T. podium, at a book signing amidst admirers, debating and dickering one-on-one with tailors and shoe makers about crucial details, or sitting with you at lunch; he’s the same guy.
Used without permission but with thanks from Lehigh Valley Style 
Boyer offers no pretense, no bluster, and zero swagger. He doesn’t need any of those protective wrappers that the less confident are prone to rely upon.  The man knows who he is. Come to think of it, the concept of swagger seems vulgar when correlated with Bruce. But don’t get me wrong. The man is no pushover and like I’ve said before; nobody shit talks Bruce Boyer.
Thanks, Rose.
Here’s a resolute Boyer from a 2011 Wall Street Journal interview…“It is both delusional and stupid to think that clothes don't really matter and we should all wear whatever we want. Most people don't take clothing seriously enough, but whether we should or not, clothes do talk to us and we make decisions based on people's appearances”. There's probably no better tribute to Boyer than what Dr. Andre Churchwell would offer about the man. Andre, one of the best dressed mammals in the universe will essentially tell you that the greatest sartorial lessons he ever learned and the best bespoke clothing guidance he got came from GeeBruce. 
And he’s the same fella back home in Bethlehem as he is in Gotham City. I met Bruce at the Hotel Bethlehem for lunch back in the winter and his “I’m in my office at home writing so don’t expect a dressed to the nines lunch mate” sartorial ensemble intrigued me. He’s one of those guys who could get dressed in the dark and still nail the hell out of it. Boyer was sitting there in a cardigan sweater over one of his ever present neat-check tattersall shirts. Just so.

But it was the day's sneak peek of his ascot that got me. I wish I'd taken a picture of it. I say peek "of" instead of "at" for a reason. And it wasn’t really an ascot per se as much as it was a well-worn scarf, knotted loosely and set in a way that just the right amount of it showed. And what really got me was the most harmonious color play between the cardigan, the mini-tattersall, and the scarf. There was evidence of these things having been paid attention to during assemblage but not too much. That’s Boyer.
Used without permission but with thanks from Lehigh Valley Style 
You’ll also get the same Boyer should he invite you into his home. His digs are as well appointed as his clothes...well, but not over-done. And since he’s not one to brag  I’ll do it for him. Bruce’s wife is a stunner inside and out. She’s just as genuine as the Mister and to say that Bruce married way above his pay grade is an understatement. Sorry, Bruce but it’s true.
There’s lots of middling schmatta stuff to read on the internet but when was the last time you read really well written sartorial prose?  I’m happy that Bruce is offering us an oasis of tailored writing amidst all the run-on over-egged drivel like the sh_t you’re reading right now. True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear is ready and waiting for you at or wherever else you pick up your books. And like all the rest of my Boyer books, I’m looking forward to having the true north, the voice of reason and well cadenced sartorial sensibility sign my copy in a week or two.

And finally, this from G. The Bruce…
From The Sartorialist
“My dress is so conservative compared to some. You look at some of the guys in there, they are ready for Mardi Gras.” When Bruce said this during an interview for Lehigh Valley Style, I know he was talking about the book I am Dandy but he was probably also taking a shot at me.
Onward. To Boston this week for a rare these days billable.

ADG-2, Mister Mardi Gras. “Throw me sumpin Mistah!”


Anonymous said...

Max is back and our long national nightmare is over! So terrific to read your words again.

ADG said...

Thanks, D. You left a comment and now I did too. I'm batting a thousand tonight!

Anonymous said...

You have been gone way too long Max. When are you publishing that book? You are too talented to deprive the masses.

MOVS said...

Nice review. Got a copy on the way. Glad this blog hasn't reached it's denouement.


M.Lane said...

Great to see the post and I'm glad you are back. Very interesting man. The Mardi Gras quote is perfect.


Pigtown*Design said...

Did I give you that Elegance book?

ADG said...

Thanks everyone. I'm going to try and post something at least once each week--even if it's just a brief pile.

MegTown...You might have given me a copy of Elegance. But I had a copy already from years ago. I've got about 200 books for the Book Thing.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

Let's hear it for 2 day delivery! Looking forward to a fine read.

Donald said...

"Peek," not "peak."
Thanks for more fun reading!

ADG said...

Chris...nice to hear from you.

Donald...good catch, man. Thanks.

Patsy said...

You picked a great week to come to Boston, billable or otherwise!

Anonymous said...

So glad you are back! I look forward to more posts.

yoga teacher said...

Just letting you know my esp is still working!

ADG said...

Thanks again everyone. It's nice to be back. And YogaTeach, I hope that you got our thank you card! I'm still humbled by everyone's generosity.

yoga teacher said...

Yes, and I loved that it was as colorful as your prose.

Anonymous said...

Dustin, I agree with the gist of your comments about Boyer's writing. Before reading True Style I bought/read Elegance and looked again at my copy of Eminently Suitable. Now mostly finished with True Style his ability to blend history, advice and especially humor is nothing but enjoyable.

Randy Ventgen
Vancouver WA