From Hamper to Horse

Written by Guest Writer: Bo Brummel

With the dog days of summer upon us, all we can seem to think about is the cooler weather and college football season, but we are not there yet. We still have two months of hot and balmy weather with numerous cocktail parties and functions to attend. Luckily for us gents, we can dig deep into the closet, press or in extreme cases, the hamper, and create a unique look out of rather pedestrian garments.

When it comes to fashion and men, Washington, DC, Georgetown in particular, is behind the curve, a curve behind which I plan on staying for eternity. It has taken me some time to realize the true meaning of the word sartorial—it can summed up as any garment that was in style fifty years ago, is in style today and will be in style fifty years from now. My father has dressed the same for the better part of 40 years, and I used to look at his perpetual prep school style of khakis, button down shirt, blue blazer and Gucci’s as dated, but have since realized that look is timeless, and when subtly tweaked goes from ordinary to extraordinary. Here are some sartorial ideas on how to ramp up your current wardrobe and create a look unique to you for the rest of the summer.

First and foremost, remember that the biggest complement that you can receive is when someone tells you that you look good—this means that no one part of your look stands out and that everything is balanced. Understanding that balance is what we require, we will start from the ground up.

Shoes are one of the most important elements of any gentleman’s wardrobe. For most summer cocktail events, a slip-on loafer worn sans socks is a must—preferably one with a thin leather sole. Black or brown, the color is not the important part, nor is the maker, but rather that they have been freshly conditioned. Make sure before you attend a party to clean your shoes and darken the heels and edge of the soles to give them that crisp and clean look. Boating shoes are, well, for boating, so unless you planning on being top side, leave them at home.

Trousers are where most people tend to go a little overboard, a-la critter pants. The goal of dressing well is not to appear as if you just fell out of a shop window on Wisconsin Ave. If you choose pastel colored trousers, madras or critter pants, realize that you will need to balance out the rest of the look, so your belt with the names of the beaches that are now sandwiches, might be a bit too much—stick with a simple leather belt that matches your shoes. Also, wearing said “loud” pants means that you have limited shirting options. Seersucker, light colored linen or silk trousers as well as khakis can accept a more whimsical belt and will allow you to have more shirting and jacket choices. Your trousers always need to be properly tailored and freshly laundered, wrinkle free with a crisp crease.

So if you have chosen the route of the “loud” pants, make sure you balance it out with a more subtle shirt. For pastel colored trousers, the standard white and blue dress shirt will work, but you can also mix in a gingham check or narrow stripe shirt. Try to avoid contrasting pastels—pink pants with a lime green shirt and you will look like an Easter egg. Madras and critter pants are best worn with a simple solid polo or long sleeve shirt. Going light on the trousers (i.e. khakis, seersucker, linen or silk) allows you to go with pastel, checked, striped (except with seersucker) or patterned shirts. Pink and other soft pastels are always go-to colors that add a lot to a somewhat dull outfit. If you are wearing a belt that is pastel or patterned, make sure that it plays off the colors in the shirt and makes a transition into the trousers. It’s also fine to wear a plain leather belt.

One word—blazer. It will go with anything and looks great. If the party is indoors then I would recommend wearing one, but the key to accent it correctly with a pocket square. Now most people do not have an arsenal of squares, but thinking that less is more, a simple white linen pocket square will set off your blazer and complete the look—just make sure that your square is peaked in the pocket.

Oh, and the last thing, not to sound cliché, but wear your clothing with confidence, as the clothes do not make the man, but they sure make the man look better—especially in the eyes of a young lass. Remember, if it looks like you are trying too hard, chances are, you are, so keep it simple. Happy hunting gentlemen…