Glenn Reynolds links to a photo of Josh Marshall in action in Iowa, and suggests a grooming tip. I’d also recommend that Josh ditch the hat. The only guys who can pull off a backwards baseball cap are MLB catchers, rap stars, SWAT snipers and 12 year old kids, and last time I checked, Josh was none of the above.
I was invited to dinner Saturday night at Piatti’s, a somewhat upscale restaurant in Palo Alto, which serves a sort of fusion of Italian and California Cuisine. I knew I’d be one of the few guys wearing a dark suit and tie there, but I’m always surprised at just how shabby people dress for a Saturday dinner out in one of Northern California’s richest suburbs. Pony-tailed middle-aged men wearing leather jackets, cheap collarless shirts, sweats, and lots of other items that Tom Wolfe would probably describe as prole gear were the order of the night.
In The Substance of Style, Virginia Postrel argues that America’s aesthetics have never been better. And in terms of design–cars, buildings, appliances, household goods, etc., I agree. But somehow, after the sleek 1980s, men reverted back to dressing like the worst of ’60s and ’70s.
And yet, ironically, this nation has to spend more per capita for clothes than any other on the planet. And money isn’t the issue–An hour and a half drive away from Palo Alto is the Gilroy Outlet Mall, where names such as Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Hugo Boss, Perry Ellis, and many, many others sell extremely nice clothes at deeply discounted prices. And there are certainly plenty of books on the subject as well. Not to mention wives who are probably sick of their men looking like their gardeners.
It just seems odd to see men who own imported European cars that cost somewhere in the vicinity of $52,391, and living on some of the most expensive real estate on the planet to be dressing worse than their gardener or mechanic probably does when he goes out on the town.
Update: In July of 2004, I spun this post into an extended essay in The New Partisan.