December 9th, 2008

Kero asleep

Fictionlet

"Erf," said Greg as he stretched from the couch to the washcloth that had fallen just out of his reach on the floor. "Could you pass me that?"

"Why should I?" Brigid asked. "You've got arms."

"Yes, two in fact," said Greg. "But as Ozymandias seems to consider a day wherein he's not lying across my torso to be a day of his life wasted, I am also wearing a cat. And I'm loathe to shift him for the purely selfish motive of respite from a headache."

Brigid craned her neck to look over and see that in the ten minutes Greg had been lying on the couch, Ozymandias had indeed made himself at home on Greg's stomach and was in a very deep sleep. "You should be more careful to avoid dropping washcloths when wearing a cat," she said. "Now how will you make your headache go away?"

"Well I had a cunning plan that hinged on asking you to pass me the washcloth," Greg said. "But it doesn't seem to be panning out all that well."

"You should have known that was a mistake," Brigid said. "I am a cruel, cruel person and would rather torment you."

"Apparently," said Greg. "But it hardly seems fair for you to take it out on Ozymandias."

"How am I taking it out on Ozymandias?"

"Well, if you don't hand me the washcloth, I'm going to have to roll over to reach it, spilling him to the floor, at which point he will undoubtedly get very huffy and hide under a chair."

"You think he'd go that far?"

"I'm convinced of it. He's a cat of principle. He might even give you a dirty look."

Brigid weighed this. "That would be bad," she said.

"It's in your power to prevent it," Greg told her.

"Welllll ... all right," said Brigid, getting up and walking the two steps required to get to the washcloth and hand it to him. "In recognition of all those breakfasts you've made, I'll do it this time. But I'm not doing it for you. I'm doing it for the cat."

"Your noble sacrifice in time of hardship is an inspiration to us all," said Greg, refolding the washcloth and putting it over his eyes.

-The Gneech

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Classic Style

In-Vestments (or, How to Wear a Waistcoat)

While I'm largely known for my signature grey fedora, another item of clothing I'm often seen in, particularly as my interest in personal fashion has gone up, is my beloved brown wool vest. Unfortunately, it's going on something like ten years old now and getting quite threadbare in spots, so I've been shopping, without much success, for a replacement.

Problem is, the only vests to be readily found are either cheapy ones for skinny teenagers (which I am not), knit sweater-vests (not what I'm looking for), or the third piece of a three-piece suit (also not what I'm looking for). Along with all the other ways men have forgotten how to dress in the past ~50 years, they've largely forgotten about the vest, at least in the US. I don't know if the same is true of the UK, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Like most items of clothing, the vest has a specific purpose — i.e., it's intended to unify the lines of the body, while being cooler than a complete coat. Originally, the vest was simply a sleeveless coat, you see. The "three piece suit" was actually trousers plus vest with an overcoat, but when the suit became its own entity, people would then start putting an overcoat on over their coat and vest, and then wondering why they bothered to have a vest. (The answer was, "because yer doin' it wrong, dumbass," but education in such matters got lost somewhere along the line.)

If you look at a two-piece suit that's tailored properly and worn buttoned, it creates a unified effect (which is why coat and trousers are either the same or compatible colors and textures). But before the days of air conditioning, it could be awfully warm in the summertime to be minding the store (or the office) in a full coat, so the vest was invented. If you look at the earliest vests, you'll notice that they had collars just like suit coats do today. Unless you were really freezing, you wouldn't wear a vest and a coat and an overcoat. It'd be like wearing a hat over another hat. If you expected to be cold at work, you'd wear a coat and an overcoat. If you expected to be warm at work, you'd wear a vest and an overcoat. (This is where the three-piece suit ended up causing so much trouble — people didn't realize that the coat of a three piece suit is an overcoat, it's just one designed to coordinate with the vest and trousers.)

Anyway!

These days, the movement in trendy fashions is to a carefully-crafted shabbiness, and has been for decades. This is nothing new, and is actually not that bad a style really, when done right. The whole "open-collar shirt, maybe V-neck, jeans pooled at the feet, unbuttoned blazer" thing is an easy look to pull off and for most guys that's all they really care about. Whatever dandies like myself may think about that, it's the way things are and there's no point in wishing it was still 1930. Given the way a lot of people dress, we have to be grateful for crafted shabbiness. ;)

But in the spirit of "be the change you want to see in the world," I make an effort to go the extra mile and actually dress better than I have to. Who knows, maybe it's my way of compensating for the permanent spare tire that no amount of exercise will ever get rid of, but as it is the major part of my appearance that I actually can control, and I am terribly vain, I'm going for it. And in the case of vests, that means special ordering, because a guy with a 52" chest just plain cannot buy vests off the rack in 2008. Ain't gonna happen.

But in a way, that's almost a blessing in disguise; because to find a proper vest, I ended up scouring the internet until I found a company that sells honest-to-goodness waistcoats. And from them I ordered one of these, one of these, and, because I've wanted one since I was a kid, one of these. (I also tried to order one of these, but was crushed to be informed that they were out of stock. I may order one of these in dark brown instead.)

"Um ... Gneech?" you may be saying (assuming you're still reading). "You're not, like, gonna start wearing a Buffalo Bill Cody costume to work, are you?" The answer is no, I'm not. For one thing, I wouldn't look good in a cravat. For another, even my dandification has limits. I'm sticking with contemporary shirts (no starched collars, thank you), necktie, and so on. As much as I would like to go around town dressed like a Time Lord, I don't think I'd be able to do it without it being a complete affectation, which is antithetical to having real style.

-The Gneech