Category Archives: Fashion

There must have been a law that men had to wear mustaches

my greats

Remember this bit of narration at the start of Johnny Dangerously?

Immigrants poured in from all over the world, looking for a better life. Over 97 percent of them settled in a two-block area of New York City. There was a law that said that immigrants who wanted citizenship… had to stay out of their apartments and walk around the streets, with hats on.

Well, apparently at about that same time or a little earlier — say, the 1890s — there was a law even more strictly enforced than the one about hats, and it didn’t just cover immigrants.

It just struck me the other day that all four of my great-grandfathers had rather prominent mustaches (above). There was a serious lack of variety in approaches to grooming at that time. None of them had beards, none were clean-shaven — just big, sometimes carefully waxed, mustaches. I conclude that that was the heighth of fashion in South Carolina and Maryland.stache

But wait — it was the case in Tennessee, as well, as I see from the three out of four of my wife’s great-grandfathers that I have pictures of (below). Maybe it was a federal law.

For a time — throughout the ’70s — I followed my forebears’ fashion lead, as you can see at right.

It’s a silly little detail, but I wonder — was there ever another time in which men’s look was that standardized?

Js greats




Another Democrat who apparently can’t afford a razor



I had to smile at this.

Remember I told you about that OZY profile of Jaime Harrison, in which I was quoted again noting that I’ll believe Democrats are serious about winning a congressional seat when they recruit a candidate willing to shave for the campaign?

Well, the writer of that piece sent me this today:

This website made me laugh and think of you — Dem running in a R-leaning Georgia seat formerly repped by centrist John Barrow.

Whoa! That boy’s taking the whole facial-hair thing and squeezing it until it hollers!

He’s a little different from the hirsute ones who have run in South Carolina. Arik Bjorn and Archie Parnell, both being graybeards, had a sort of professorial look — they looked like they wouldn’t be out of place teaching a graduate-level course called “Marxist Perspectives on Shifting Gender Roles in Patriarchal Societies.”

Trent Nesmith, by contrast, has more of a hipster look going, and not just because of his youth. He seems to be saying, “Call that a beard? Check out this waterfall of fur!” Fortunately, his smile prevents you from thinking “Rasputin.”

Watch: I’ll get a lecture from Bud about focusing on style instead of substance. But that would be missing the point. The point isn’t the beard. The point is, how committed is the candidate? And when’s the last time you saw someone with a beard elected to high office in this country? And how big a deal is it to shave?

Yeah, you’re right — a beard is a stupid reason not to vote for somebody. But knowing how few bearded men (and even fewer bearded women, I’ll add for those who think I’m failing to be inclusive) get elected, you really have to wonder about the commitment of a candidate who won’t take the minimal step needed to remove a possible obstacle…

Thoughts about the ‘fashy’ haircut?


One morning this week — probably Monday — I made my way to my usual table for breakfast, and just before sitting noticed the two young men at the table behind me.

I had noticed them before, for one reason only — their haircuts. One of them is more noticeable than the other, because his hair is blond, which makes the cut pop out more. His hair is always the same — cut almost down to the skin on the sides and back, longer but cut and shaped with obsessive care on the top, and plastered down. Not a hair is out of place.

Again, I successfully resisted the temptation to ask, “How often do you get your hair cut?” Because it always looks like he rose from the barber’s chair in the last five minutes, if not more recently. What kind of commitment to one’s appearance must that take?

As a guy who likes to get his hair cut really short so I don’t have to go back for a couple of months, maybe three — saving time and money — I idly wondered how much it would cost for me to maintain a look like that, all the time. And then I immediately thought, no one wants to see me with that haircut, ever, even for a moment — because I’d look like a colonel in the Waffen-SS. No, let’s be precise: I’d look kind of like Reinhard Heydrich, who may well be the scariest-looking man to have lived in the past century. Not an image I’m going for.

Sitting down to my breakfast, I immediately forgot about the guys behind me and their hair. For about one minute. Then, reading about what happened in Charlottesville, I ran across this:

Yes, there were swastika-tattooed, Ku Klux Klan-hooded 50-somethings on the streets of Charlottesville. The most chilling photos, however, show hordes of torch-bearing, fresh-faced, “fashy”-coiffed white men in their teens and 20s.

And immediately, without following the link, and in spite of my bottomless ignorance about current fashion, I knew exactly what sort of coif she meant. Here’s how the story at that link, from 2016, describes it:

We need to talk about a haircut. Also about identity, and hatred, and maybe about the total end of American civilization — but first about a haircut.

You have seen it. It is short on the sides and long on the top. It is clean and tidy, with a military sheen. It’s been popular among young people for several years. But now this haircut is making us ask ourselves, with seriousness that seems unthinkable in 2016: hipster or Nazi?

Young city-dwelling men leaving their SoulCycle classes in leftover “I’m With Her” T-shirts.

Young white-nationalism enthusiasts leaving a recent conference in Washington, D.C., where several of them performed a Nazi salute.

The same haircut. The exact same haircut….

By the way, about those two young fellows sitting behind me: I’m quite certain that they are not neo-Nazis, or white supremacists. Why? Because I keep seeing them at the Capital City Club, which was founded for reasons that are the precise opposite of white supremacy. If you want to be a white supremacist, there are other clubs you can join. I’m assuming they’re just go-getter young businessmen who want to look sharp.

John Dillinger, hipster?

John Dillinger, hipster?

And it’s a time-honored way of looking sharp. It was popular a century ago, and continued to be fashionable into the 1930s, based on old photos. You see that cut on everyone from actors on “Boardwalk Empire” (set right after the Great War) to John Dillinger. OK, maybe Dillinger’s another bad example. But the fact is, about 20 or 30 years before I was born, lots of guys wore their hair that way, and not all of them were fascists or gangsters.

I wonder if those two guys I keep seeing know some people are calling it a “fashy” cut, or that hipsters have for some time ironically called it a “Hitler Youth?

I suppose I could give them a heads-up (sorry), but I don’t think that’s the best way to start a conversation with someone you don’t know…



Change has slowed down so much in the meat world

What people allegedly looked like in 1994. How are they different, except that they're not looking at their phones?

What people allegedly looked like in 1994. How are they different, except that they’re not looking at their phones?

I was looking at the pictures with my post about “Hoosiers,” and something hit me.

Do you realize that the 1980s — when the movie came out — are now as far in the past as the 1950s were when it was released?

That blows my mind. (Although not as much as when I reflect that the ’70s are now further back than the First World War was when I was born!) The early ’50s were ancient history, a different universe, a time hard to place yourself in, when the film was made. But the ’80s don’t seem long ago at all.

Yeah, some of that is age, and you younger folks won’t get it. The time in which the film was set was before I was born, but in the ’80s I was an adult and, by the end of the decade, the father of five kids.

But there’s more to it than that. It goes to my running theme about how much less dynamic our culture is today than it was within living memory.

In the world in which we Boomers grew up, popular culture — fashions, music, film, slang, the whole look and feel of living in America — changed markedly from year to year.

Yeah, the ’80s look different from now, so there’s a definite feeling of that decade being “past” — just not distant past. And I think that’s because if you look at pictures from the ’90s or the ’00s, things look pretty much the way they do now — except that now everybody’s walking around looking down at their phones.

Clothes, hair, cars may be slightly different from the early ’90s — but not as different as they tended to be from year to year in the ’60s.

It’s weird, to me, the way change has slowed down in the meat world, even as it has changed rapidly online. It’s like all of our dynamism, energy and creativity have poured into the virtual, abandoning the real…

Carnaby Street in London in the '60s, when change was what was happening.

Carnaby Street in London in the ’60s, when change was what was happening.

Is Heroin Chic back? Oh, I really hope not…

heroin chic

So I was doing this blog post for ADCO about a design group that recently redesigned Vogue’s website, and ran across the above image.


Wikipedia says Heroin Chic went away in 1999 with the arrival of the über-healthy Gisele Bündchen. As Jake Barnes said to Lady Brett Ashley, it would be pretty to think so. Very pretty, in this case.

But that girl in the middle of the picture above looks way, way worse than the illustration of Heroin Chic that Wikipedia provides.

Maybe this is something else. Walker Chic, perhaps, in the “Walking Dead” sense? In any case, this is a terrible thing for the world, especially for girls who see such images held up as something to emulate. (Not that it’s all that great for them to be expected to look like Gisele Bündchen, either. But at least she looks alive…)

Really, Trey? THAT’s the look you’re going with?

gowdy_surfs_up  download (3) 596-trey-gowdy-610 FILE - This file June 28, 2013 file photo shows House Oversight Committee member Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., during a hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington. House Speaker John Boehner on Friday declared he’d schedule a vote to create a select committee to investigate the Benghazi attack, escalating a political battle that has raged since the final days of President Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. A senior Republican aide said Boehner was considering Gowdy to chair the select committee. The aide wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter and demanded anonymity. It’s unclear when Boehner will schedule the vote.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

I was out of pocket yesterday playing in a charity golf tournament (to benefit Healthy Learners) out at Fort Jackson, which means I probably had a better time than you did. (How did I do? Well, the official score was 70, which sounds great until you learn that it was captain’s choice — which, for the uninitiated, means that we had four tries at every shot — and that was the team score. When I left, the leading team had come in with a 56, and we were tied for last place. But it was a beautiful day, and we had a good time.)

But while I didn’t blog exactly, I did mini-blog and bit, and this was my most popular Tweet of the day, garnering a number of reTweets and favorites:

You may have noticed that South Carolina’s own Rep. Gowdy has made almost as many attempts to do different things with his hair as Eric Clapton, only with less success. I am not the only one to compare the above look to Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. The Penquin, on “Gotham:”

Others have mentioned Draco Malfoy, possibly after seeing this particular do.

You might be tempted to say that he’d look better if he just grew it out some, particularly on the sides. But then you would take that back upon seeing this. And let’s not even get started on this one

The most normal he has ever looked was when he went with the neoclassical Brutus cut, as they called it when it came into fashion in the early 19th century. Or perhaps we should call it the Cassius look, as in:

Let me have men about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed men and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look.
He thinks too much. Such men are dangerous.

Maybe that’s why he abandoned it. He didn’t want Kevin McCarthy talking about how “yond Trey hath dim’d the star of Hillary Macbeth…”

But when the big day came, what did he do? He whipped out the Butch Wax and went with the kewpie doll look:

Gowdy look

That’s a trilby, not a fedora. And that’s not charcoal gray


Yes, I know I’m being absurdly pedantic — after all, the cutline doesn’t claim, specifically, that the picture shows what is being described.

But I like to find fault with the people who still get paid to work for newspapers (especially prestige publications such as the NYT), and don’t do the job as well as I would in their place. Which is not a trait I’m proud of, but what are you gonna do?…

Also, did Don Draper ever wear a fedora? Seems like he’s more of a trilby man all the way, although he could have worn a broad-brimmed hat some time, and I’ve just forgotten…

What’s WRONG with these poor young women?


I mentioned earlier about going to the mall today.

While there, I puzzled over this poster in the Victoria’s Secret window: What’s wrong with this young woman? Is she ill? She looks peaked. Does her stomach hurt? Is she wasting away? Is this supposed to be a come-hither look? It seems rather off-putting instead. Has she been bitten by a “walker“? I want to offer her a blanket, and then step away in case it’s catching. It’s not exactly heroin chic, but it’s off in that direction. Are they trying to sell that bra? If so, this is no way to do it. It seems to be a burden to her, causing her shoulders to slump in defeat.

Poor thing…

But wow, she’s not nearly as strange as the one below, from a window a few yards away. What’s her thing? More like Devo chic, or wind-up doll chic?

Are these images supposed to be appealing? If so, to whom? Men? Women? Robots?

The popular aesthetic has taken a strange turn. Again.


I enjoy serendipitous juxtapositions


I enjoyed this juxtaposition of headlines on the business page of The State today. The headlines go to this story, and this story.

For a split second, I thought maybe the stories actually were related. And in a global, trend-tracking sense, I suppose they are. Except, of course, that the larger posteriors some women seek are more of the muscular variety. Doughnuts alone won’t give you that…

I’d hate to see this guy trip and hurt himself


And now that my temper is up, I may as well go on and abuse every body I can think of.
– Mark Twain, Innocents Abroad

Yeah, I know I used that same quote just a month or two ago, but it’s one of my all-time favorites.

And it’s perfect for a post in which, having ranted about one of my chief peeves just moments ago, I let loose on another one.

Look at the photo above, from the Washington Post iPad app. (Here’s the story it goes with.) See anything wrong with it?

Yeah, it’s a good action photo, the player seeming to float in the air as he runs the bases.

But I can’t enjoy it because I can’t stop thinking, When he lands, he’s liable to trip on his pants.

Yeah, I know — ballplayers have been wearing their pants like this for a long time. Rather than wear proper knicker-length pants, with the team-color stirrup showing over their socks, their pants legs go all the way to the tops of their shoes, and too often, beyond.

And it just looks stupid. Almost as stupid as wearing a ballcap with the brim artificially flat as a mathematical plane, instead of curled like a hyperbola, the way God and Abner Doubleday intended. It’s so unbelievably uncool. Like some clueless alien trying to dress like a ballplayer to pass as an earthling, and failing miserably. Players who do that look like dorks. It makes them look, well, like this. It makes me wonder, What are these people’s heads shaped like? (And yeah, I know it comes from hip-hop culture, but I don’t care — it’s definitively uncool.)

But there’s something especially awful about this particular photo, something that justifies my bringing this up again: That’s Bryce Harper, No. 34 for the Washington Nationals. Bryce Harper is known for being one of the few present-day ballplayers who still wears knickers and stirrups!

So this is a particular betrayal of tradition, and all that is right and true about the game.

Maybe it’s temporary, maybe it’s some playoff superstition thing; I don’t know. But I’m deeply disappointed. I mean, this was supposed to be a guy who gets it….

I know it won’t do any good, but I had to say something. Again. I just hate to see it.

Now, all of you kids — get offa my infield!

These guys got it.

These guys got it.

Bryan Caskey’s shotgun tie

Caskey tie

I had lunch today with Bryan Caskey at his club.

We’d had drinks at my club recently, so it was his turn.tie closeup

We talked about the kinds of things gentlemen talk about at real gentlemen’s clubs (as opposed to the trashy kind) — politics, whether one can actually travel ’round the world in 80 days, shooting for sport, etc. Then in the middle of the shooting part, I noticed his shotgun-shell tie.

So I thought it only right to share it here.

Then we went back to harrumphing about those political chaps, most of them vile Whigs and Jacobins, don’t you know…

Graham grills Moniz on MOX

Lindsey Graham put out this video so voters could see him being tough, curt, and impatient with a member of the Obama administration on a matter of concern to South Carolina.

But the main thing I came away from it with was, Have you gotten a load of this Moniz guy? What century does he think this is?

He and Richland County Councilman Jim Manning should form a club or something…


James Taylor now wearing LBJ’s cowboy hat?

James Taylor

Yeah, I know he lost his hair and no longer looks like this. And guys who lose their hair often wear hats, even in this post-JFK era.

I still found it disconcerting to see him wearing LBJ’s cowboy hat, in a promo picture with a Groupon offer for tickets to a concert in Charlotte.

Or was it Ike’s hat? Or Harry Truman’s? Or FDR’s? Or W’s?

For whatever reason — maybe it was the suit and tie, which also seemed weird for James Taylor — he didn’t look like a cowboy, but like a politician trying to look like a cowboy…