More summer must-haves
Some fashion tips for the well-dressed male Daily Caller reader:
Hats are back!
They’re back. Formal hats — which every man in America wore until the early 1960s, when they went out of fashion partly because the dashing John F. Kennedy eschewed them — are back. You’ll see them everywhere this summer, especially the straw trilby. Think E. Howard Hunt, Jack Ruby, Frank Sinatra, Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars. Formerly the choice of hipsters and musicians, the stingy-brimmed trilby and its cousin the pork pie (usually worn with a soul patch and a toothpick) will be seen in black, brown, tan, rust and plaid. Look for a felt version to come into fashion this fall.
Briefcase or manbag?
Nothing ruins the lines of a suit or blazer and makes you look more like a doofus than when your pockets are crammed with stuff — a wallet, a cell phone, keys, a calculator, a calendar, pens, etc. Unless you are a lawyer or Fortune 500 CEO, carrying a briefcase is, well, nerdy. George Wallace got it right when he said that briefcases are for “pointy-headed bureaucrats to carry their baloney sandwiches.” Also out of the question: the manbag — essentially a leather purse for men. Manbags are only acceptable if you are Italian, French or gay. The alternative? A simple canvas tote that is large enough to fit a newspaper, a laptop, a calendar, a book, keys and a baloney sandwich. Louis Vuitton makes a great one in its signature canvas. I took mine to a bridle-maker to lengthen the straps so that I can sling it over my shoulder. That’ll make traveling much easier.
The straps that suspend a man’s trousers from his shoulders — known in the U.S. as “suspenders” and in Britain as “braces” — are always correct with a summer suit made of seersucker, linen or silk. They’ll make your trousers hang straight down, and they’ll give you more freedom of movement because, unlike belts, they don’t cinch your waist. In terms of design, regimental stripes always work. Solids with club figures of dogs, birds or tennis rackets are fine, too. The endings that you button to your trousers used to be made of catgut. Today, they are made of leather or woven silk cord. It goes without saying that “clip-on” suspenders are always a fashion faux pas.
When American penny loafers, a staple of the Ivy League, were first introduced in the 1930s, they were called “Norwegian Loafers” because of their design’s Norwegian origins. This is why they are nicknamed “Weejuns,” although the Connecticut-based shoemaker Bass Weejuns remains the maker of the real penny loafer. Penny loafers can be worn with or without socks, depending on the season — although in the summer, it’s de riguer to wear them without socks. They can be worn with a blazer, khakis, cords or jeans, but never with a suit, unless you’re a college student. (The loafer-suit combination is just too formal.) Penny loafers look best in brown or cordovan; you should never wear black ones. Replace the soles and heels as they wear out. Clean them with saddle soap and polish them regularly with a wax-based polish until the leather has a gleaming, cracked patina that says you’ve owned them forever.
Below are photos of some of the items discussed in this article. Clockwise, from top left: a straw trilby; a canvas tote; penny loafers; and suspenders.
Roger Stone is a well-known Republican political consultant and is a veteran of eight national Republican presidential campaigns. He’s also the men’s fashion correspondent for The Daily Caller and editor of Stonezone.com.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article included a picture of a bag that is not a canvas tote.