All week I've been getting menswear catalogs; not unusual I suppose, given the imminent change of season, but it seems an interesting coincidence given my recent reflections concerning my grandfather.
The problem with menswear catalogs is that all the stuff in them that I really want, I'll never in a million years actually buy. Take a look at this page to pull out a representative sample at random. Does anything strike you about it? It's chock full of stuff that I would gladly be caught dead in, or even alive in. But I can never, ever dress this way, except perhaps for two weeks in the middle of February. Why? Because it's TOO. DAMN. HOT.
mammallamadevil frequently pummels me with this, because it's one of those topics upon which there's just no way to agree. Her conclusion is that I must have lava in my veins instead of blood, and she may be on to something there. My idea of a nice day is one that never goes above 69°, and a beautiful day as one that barely breaks 60. Those are the days when I can actually wear my beloved turtlenecks, wool vests, or even (dare I think it) leather jacket without sweating from every pore -- but only while I'm outside.
Inside, of course, some whiny officemate (who, like everybody who works in any office anywhere I have ever worked, was apparently raised on the equator) has protested "OMG it's freeeezing in here!" and cranked the thermostat up to 95 in the shade. And if I so much as hint that I think this may be a bit on the warm side, well obviously I'm the jerk. So even in the aforementioned two weeks in February, I still wear short sleeves to work in order to avoid passing out from heat stroke.
Thus, every autumn I sigh wistfully at the endless parade of Harris tweed sportcoats, suede vests, and wonderfully dark-colored long sleeve dress shirts, knowing that in the morning I'm going to put on another bloody pastel blue because of course they don't make short sleeve shirts in anything darker than hot pink.
I don't see how my old grandfather did it! For that matter, I don't see how level_head, who is the single most well-dressed man living I personally know today, does it. Whenever I see him, he's wearing a monogrammed red turtleneck and a black blazer -- even at Scott and Kathy's June wedding I seem to recall he outdressed everyone other than the bride and groom. LH dresses very much the way I'd like to, but never do because it makes me so sweaty that I'd need a shower every 20 minutes.
Hmm ... perhaps that's his secret?
Thing is, it wasn't that long ago that a suit, tie, and hat (e.g., a grey fedora) was de rigueur for even a middle class working Joe. So people must have been used to it once upon a time! My grandfather's dapperness was a product of his generation as much as any personal sense of style, I'm sure. How did they cope? And how did we get from that to girls headed out to the mall in pyjama bottoms? The only answer I have found seems to be "the 1960s," which is neither informative nor useful. I mean, a decade in which the Beatles could go from four well-dressed lads in matching charcoal suits, to four garishly-multicolored haystacks with peace symbols dangling out the bottom and the smell of marijuana cloying the air, must have been a pretty rotten decade, I admit ... but I can't help but think that's confusing the symptom for the cause.
Anyway, I don't really know where I'm going with this rant ... I'm just sort of ranting, really. But here's the thing of it: on my business cards, I thought it would be amusing and at least vaguely appropriate to list myself as "cartoonist/artist, writer/editor, web programmer, dapper gent" because those are pretty much the things I like to think of myself as being. But the truth of it is, I'm not dapper, or at least, not very dapper, because it's always too damn hot to be dapper. I look absolutely awful in a t-shirt and shorts, but that's what I've found myself wearing with alarming frequency lately ... partially because my jeans are all wearing out and need to be replaced, but mostly because a t-shirt and shorts are less unpleasantly warm than clothes that actually look halfway decent.
I have until now been coming up with a kind of compromise by jokingly telling myself that I was dapper on the inside ... but the joke's wearing thin and very soon my self isn't going to swallow it any more. I don't know what's going to happen at that stage, but I imagine it's not going to be pretty.
Maybe I should carry a turtleneck around with me a la Linus's security blanket. Or just move to the Orkneys.