Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Postcards from the Thorzine mist

Normally, before I write these etiquette posts, I consult several references, look around, take stock, ruminate. This is by way of advising you that I did not consult a Vanderbilt, Post, Tiffany, Rosamond, or the like before saying... people are going to do what they are going to do and no amount of precedent will fence them in; not even an attorney.

How does one say this about a guy they like, who is full of elegance in many ways, and walking around with the staggering mantle of a nations collective hopes and needs on his shoulders, that technically, his formal attire could have used a bit of wrench-turning in the old etiquette department? Really, when things get this unwieldy, who cares about your coat, lapels, and tie anymore? And for that matter, the mans wife could show up in burlap: I am so far past worrying about that nonsense and I made my livelihood hocking that nonsense, so that is saying something.

I have these emails here. I don't know, I feel like they might be from trad republicans? Or angry Alaskans? People who rode - with distinction- at Badminton? Gosh. I don't know. But they are about the mechanics of a gentleman's formal wardrobe; becoming something of an oxymoron these days anyhow in my humble estimation.... But, the question is generally this: If one is to wear "white tie" then, what is the style of the jacket (length and lapel) and the correct tie?

Okay. You've got him there. Technically, white tie is a peaked lapel jacket with tails, a waistcoat, black patent dress pumps, and a white cotton hand-tied bow tie, among other dandy pieces of apparel. Lovely. More common in the UK than here and now, unfortunately. And if you own this suit, you will use it as often as I do my curtsy.

We're not going down the discussion-road of what happened or why because it is blindingly simple and well below us. I will sum up: One day, the world got up, decided to wear velour track suits and old stained golf shirts with jeans. And that, Cher, is the top of this slope.

On that same day, the Hostess was kidnapped by what I can only surmise were slovenly ruffians, and placed in a Thorazine mist for a while. When I awoke, I was in Casual Land and the evil denium wearing sloths had conquered all. Boo. Hiss. Boo.

I have been banging on the walls in this torture chamber for ten years at least but there is no release from this prison of rayon and acrylic and. "you have something on your shirt." I just have to make the best of it in order to preserve my delicate, anxious sanity.

They pipe in MSNBC to my hell hole here in Casual Land. It was from one of those broadcasts I learned President Obama has done away with the gentlemen-will-wear-jackets rule in the Oval Office (I conclude from this information that the declaration about no torture is not true, at least where yours truly is concerned). Initially, I was stunned senseless, like a bird who just face-planted in a slider door. Then I was hopping mad. Now, I have returned, with zen-like calm, to my pulpit from which I continue to rail on about manners, correctness, and suitability. That is my role in this fine Thorazine mist and I do it with both pride, and I like to think, aplomb. Guest speakers on my pulpit will kindly don a coat a tie, however.


Sharon Crute said...


No more "jackets required" within the absolute highest of offices?

Even a perpetually paint-spotted jeans and t-shirt wearer as myself understand the psychological implications of a basic dress code.

Geesh, sir.

columnist said...

The NMJR rule I'm overlooking right now. There will be apoplexies in some quarters, I've no doubt, but I did raise a slight eyebrow at the emsemble Mr President wore to the white tie balls. Either get rid of the somewhat out-of-date dress code, or observe it. Yes, "White Tie", involves evening dress, with tails, and wing collars. I have not heard or known of any other way of wearing it. Well, till now.