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Matter of Opinion: The simple gastronome

February 10th, 2010

If ever you need, or want, to cook for another individual I feel every man should be able to offer something of quality.  What I mean is that every man should have a handful of dishes that they can cook by memory or close to it.julia-child

There are few things that can impress or satisfy people more than quality food.  As I have never met someone who doesn’t enjoy eating, having a small catalog of recipes that you can draw from provides you with the ability to satiate your guests or guest in a variety of scenarios. roast chicken

If throughout your life you have consistently failed in your culinary endeavors I still say, “push on”.  There are dishes that require very little skill and those that cannot be learned without a little trial and error.

As far as what sort of dishes you should learn, try and learn some dishes in different categories.  For example: a few things I pride myself on being able to cook are barbecued ribs and pork shoulder, German pretzels, a great piece of salmon, a roast chicken, and molten chocolate cake.  Knowing a variety of dishes allows you to provide for a more diverse collection of situations and people.pretzel

It is also important to note that I have learned all of these recipes and techniques myself by simply doing some research and practicing them.  Some great resources to find and learn recipes and techniques are the Internet and cooking shows.  Much can be gained through the collection of cookbooks but I recommend exhausting what you don’t have to pay for first.

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Fortify your defences

February 5th, 2010

Most readers of Classic Timeless most likely know that I view a man’s wardrobe as an investment in himself.  Just as a man must protect himself he must protect the investments that support him.  All too often items in wardrobes are found with holes, off smells, dust, etc.  These outcomes, while usually only occurring during poorly conceived offseason storage, should also be considered a threat when clothes are in use and stored in a closet.closet

It isn’t necessarily hard to prevent any of these from happening if you just take some simple precautions.

Insects: For most, moths will be the worst of your worries when it comes to protecting your clothes.  They will eat the all too familiar holes out of wool and generally will feed on any natural fibers with animal origins.  Aside from the various types of wool this includes hair/fur and silks.  In order to prevent an attack first keep the area where you store your clothing clean.  Vacuuming regularly will help remove larvae and eggs that may be present and what is collected should be bagged and removed from your home immediately .  You should also incorporate deterrents such as mothballs, cedar, or herbal repellents.  I prefer to use cedar because I find it easy to incorporate into my closet, in hangers for example, and because I find its smell pleasant.  When storing clothes for the offseason, do so in airtight containers and with the addition of a little bit of a repellent.  Keep in mind that insects are attracted to food stains and may target these areas if so have everything cleaned before storage.

Moisture: Depending on where you live you may find that you are dealing with either extreme humidity or dryness.  In a humid climate I recommend purchasing a closet dehumidifier.  Here is a link with reviews of a number of different types of dehumidifiers.

By controlling humidity level you will also prevent the growth of molds and other sources of off odors that can occur in such a musty environment.  Leather is also very susceptible to high levels of moisture and will benefit from a dehumidifier.

For very dry environments make sure that leathers are properly cleaned and conditioned on a regular basis (see: Maintaining your shoes) .  This will prevent these items from drying and cracking.

Further precautions you can take are to store suits, which are not on a constant rotation, in suit bags as well as keep shoes in felt bags.  This has the double effect of keeping them clean of dust and helping to keep them bug free.

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Send the right message

February 3rd, 2010

I’m sure that most (if not all) of you own a cell phone and almost as many of you that use a cell are avid users of texts, email, web browsing, etc.  Today it is common to see people totally engrossed in their phones.  They will be clicking away oblivious to the world around them.  I have even experienced people walk right into me because they were too busy with their phone to look ahead of them.  These habits, while not auspicious, pale in comparison to the committing of these acts while conversing or interacting with others.

I’m sure many of you have been in a conversation with someone and there is a ring, beep or buzz that has caused the other side to inadvertently remove their phone and click away in response to whatever form of communication they just received.

This may not seem like much of a transgression, and to many it may not be, but done habitually only shows those around you that they are not important to you and/or you have little interest in the interaction.

Due to the growing importance of staying connected to those in our lives it is inevitable that at some point you will receive a message while conversing with someone.

For those moments I recommend the following:

Set it to vibrate: If neither you or the person you are talking to hear the alert and only the person the message was intended for is aware of it then there is no harm done.  If your ringer has been left on then quickly silence it and then apologize.

Ask Permission: If you are expecting some sort of important news (loved one in surgery, oncology test results, call from potential employer, etc.) then ask the person you are talking to if they mind if you answer/respond.  Any reasonable person will not be insulted with a quick and general explanation.  I feel that this should be done before the fact and not as a sheepish apology after.

The flip side to being courteous and respectful of other peoples time is that in a world where interruptions such as these come more and more frequently it becomes a powerful statement to those you interact with that your time currently belongs to them.

These few points may seem obvious to many but it still is such a common occurrence.

By doing little things to show that you value those around you shows good style and from good style comes class.

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The Value of Tweed

February 1st, 2010

Tweed sport coats have in the past been associated with academics or old men but today I feel they are ready for their due redemption.  Tweed was first produced in Scotland and Ireland and its durable and warm nature makes it ideal for country wear while shooting or hunting.  The best tweeds are Harris and Donegal manufactured in Scotland and Ireland respectively.  The ability of tweed  to add true character to any mans wardrobe makes it invaluable and no man should consider theirs complete until it includes at least one piece of tweed.  These days good tweeds can be a little harder to find off the peg, requiring some searching or some tailoring. tweed jacket One British clothier known for their country wear is Cordings.  There catalog includes numerous tweeds in addition to other fine items.  I personally prefer a tweed jacket with leather buttons as I feel this adds additional character to the jacket.

Best worn during the fall and winter and when paired with cords your tweed will help seal out the biting wind.

Because tweed tends to have a considerable amount of visual texture, consider how busy the other articles of clothing you are wearing are in order to achieve a proper balance.

While tweed is not appropriate for a formal occasion it will always work well on the weekend or during a casual encounter.

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CT’s Triumphant Return

January 30th, 2010

After an extended hiatus I will be posting again to Classic Timeless.  I apologize to my readers for the absence of posts over the previous months.

To those of you who have emailed ideas, questions and comments – Thank you and keep them coming.DeserveVictoryChurchill

In order to prevent future interruptions I am looking to incorporate some guest writers.  If this interests you send me an email and we can see what can be arranged.

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A look into the business of hand crafted shoes.

October 29th, 2009

Carré Ducker is a very young company when  compared to other comparable brands but this fact is very promising for the future of the craft.
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The joys of a traditional Barber shop

October 27th, 2009

For many man a haircut is nothing more than a menial, unimportant chore that must be completed periodically.  For these men it is generally acceptable to simply stop in the local Supercuts or  similar fast food hair cutter to get it over with.  The result of a visit to one of these hair cutters is usually a bad experience and a worse result.

Similar to shoes, a haircut is a part of your look that can help bring it all together and it says a lot about a man’s view of himself and style.  Hair like clothes can be trendy, timeless, carefully crafted, or impulsive.  For this reason I feel for a man to get a quality result they must immediately rule out chain assembly line hair cutters.  With this option out of the way, one might then move on to salons.  It is possible for a man to get a decent haircut at a salon but there is something lost in the experience as they are generally targeted to women.  The final reason to look for a barber shop is that as in so many professions, the best at something do it all the time and take pride in what they do.  Those who cut hair at a salon cut primarily women’s hair and usually charge a similarly high price to cut a man’s hair.  Barbers, especially barbers who cut hair at exclusively men’s shops, are second to none at this skill.

I myself use a traditional barber shop in Boston and have always been very pleased with the results, but it is the experience that has helped turn my periodic visit into something that I look forward too.  My barbershop has walls of stained hardwood, comfortable chairs and an accommodating hostess that always greets visitors with a smile.  Notice I said “my barbershop”.  It isn’t just somewhere I get my hair cut it is somewhere I visit with friends receive a great service.

The experience for me starts with a short conversation with the barber about what I want.  This conversation usually evolves into “the usual” or some slight variation of this.  After a few minutes and a good conversations,  the barber washes, dries and combs my hair leaving me ready for anything.  Another option offered includes a proper wet shave, which I would recommend.  I think this, to a man, is what a day at the spa is to a women. One of the best parts is is the price which almost anyone could argue is too low for what they provide.

To those of you who have not experienced the joys of a traditional barber, start searching.  A great way to do a little research and read some reviews to help you find a great barber is though Yelp, if it is available for your area.

For those who don’t use a traditional barbershop I can only recommend you at least give it a try.

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The Mad Men Suit?

October 22nd, 2009

Brooks Brothers is the well known retailer that has been regarded for years as a fine American clothier.  For the last two years it has supplied the wardrobe to AMC’s hit show Mad Men.  With Mad Men’s  success has come its influence on current styles and trends.  It’s characters conform closely to a style that is very much timeless and today it is becoming trendy to dress in a more classic way.  This I feel is a good thing as more young men will learn how to dress well.

mad-men-2

In response to this Brooks Brothers has unveiled their new Mad Men Edition suits.  These suits sport a “60′s” style in the form of narrow lapels, slanted pockets and a more fitted cut.MMSuit

I feel that this shows poor form on the part of Brooks Brothers.  I feel that any fine clothier should place itself above trends especially when they call for a partnership marketing campaign such as this.  A  Brooks Brothers suit should be just that, a Brooks Brothers suit.  It should not need to lean on anything else for its reputation.  This said, I enjoy the fact that Mad Men is showing influence in what its viewers think a well dressed man looks like and I feel that this trend will have an overall positive effect on men’s style.

I do think it is fitting that Brooks Brothers chose to make a Mad Men suit, a show about advertising.

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Over the back and under the shirt

October 20th, 2009

Lots of men consistently wear undershirts as they serve a valuable purpose.  Undershirts provide an additional layer that, when cold, helps to keep you warm and, when hot, helps keep perspiration from passing to shirt where it can be seen.

Because an undershirt is essentially underwear there are some guidelines that one should follow in order to avoid an embarrassing display.undershirt showing

First, your undershirt should never be visible to people around you.  If you are wearing a tie this wont be a problem, as all undershirt styles will be well hidden.  If you choose to unbutton a button or two on your shirt then I recommend choosing your undershirt accordingly.  For this situation I recommend a v-neck or a-shirt.

V-neck

V-neck

A-shirt

A-shirt

These shirts have wide and low neckline that allows the undershirt to stay hidden.  One disadvantages of the a-shirt is that the fact that it is sleeveless limits its absorption of sweat from your underarms, in part removing its function.
A shirt that is new to me is the U-Shirt.  This shirt has a wide and low neckline similar to the a-shirt but with sleeve, keeping it a functional sweat absorber.

U-Shirt

U-Shirt

Whatever undershirt you choose to wear, if you choose to wear one at all, just make sure it stays as it’s name suggests, under and unseen.

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Shirts for fall

October 16th, 2009

Originally English country wear, tattersall (a check resembling tartan), is a classic casual/weekend check.  Most commonly it consists of a light beige or cream field with widely spaced colored checks.tattersall

Tattersall is best paired with other items that lean to the more casual.  Trousers such as chinos, cords or moleskin do well.  More traditional, and a touch more formal, would be pairing with a tweed suit.  Traditionally, gentlemen would wear a tweed suit and tattersall when out shooting and in the country.tattersall with tweed

English tattersall shirts usually wont have button down collars but with the influence of this American trait many have adopted them.  This I see as a fitting feature as the tattersall is a bit more casual than other shirts in your wardrobe.

As for ties, I especially enjoy the pairing of a bold country inspired tie with tattersall.

mallard tie

Classic tattersall is a great way to embrace the coming of fall while still holding true to a classic men’s style.
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