Afternoons With Sid

We cap off this week of Asia-themed posts with a little anecdote about Prince Siddhartha, who became known as the Buddha, or Awakened One. I’ve been reading about Buddhism lately, and went twice this week to the Metropolitan Museum to contemplate the dozens of statues of Buddha and other bodhisattva, or persons on the path of buddhahood.

But first, a shout-out encore to Joe Hemrajani of My Tailor, who made the double-breasted odd waistcoat pictured above. I wanted something flagrantly anachronistic, but given that I almost always wear blazers and sportcoats, I knew it would be a challenge to pull off. I eventually settled on a concept inspired by Alexander Kraft, whom I’d met last fall. He’s a CEO at Sotheby’s realty in the South of France, and has been featured many times in The Rake, and has been known to wear double-breasted odd waistcoats.

And since I planned to wear it with a blazer, the image came to mind of Beau Brummell, with his navy coat and buff-colored trousers:

So I settled on a Holland & Sherry tan fabric, a kind of subtle corduroy. In the outfit above I skipped my Brummell severity and ended up looking more like these guys from the LIFE archives:

The rest of my outfit consists of herringbone sportcoat by Polo RL, Bengal-striped club-collar shirt by Ratio, charcoal flannels by Brooks Brothers, paisley square by Drake’s, argyle socks from Paul Stuart, cordovan lace-ups from Allen Edmonds. As for the tie, it’s RL Purple Label and features a shield (many obvious symbolic meanings) and a cross, which, in my sartorial cosmology, if you’ll permit such an indulgence, symbolizes the world of becoming on the horizontal axis, and being on the vertical. Or in Buddhist terms, samsara and nirvana.

Last summer, you may recall, was my “hippie summer.” I hadn’t delved into Buddhism yet, but I read The Upanishads, the sacred Vedic text of India, the Tao te Ching of China, and was on my way to discovering the concept of the “perennial philosophy” underlying all the world’s religions. I spent a lot of time sitting in Central Park, soaking up sunshine and lost in contemplation. Over the winter, I experienced states of consciousness and excavations of the psyche that would have sent a lesser man — that is, an earlier version of me — into the psychiatric unit. I’m taking yoga seriously now, quit the gym and do all my workouts outdoors, which seems to stimulate the muscles and endocrine system much more effectively, and have started what is fast becoming a collection of incense.

Some of the Buddhist texts are a bit puzzling, however. Take this passage from one of my books, regarding the man who takes “pleasure in renunciation, pleasure in solitude, pleasure in clam, pleasure in awakening… ” Either you must force yourself to eat mollusks, or the proofreader had not yet awakened.

But I think the studies are already starting to pay off. Buddhism goes well with dandyism, whose sages preached the cultivation of sober elegance and imperturbable calm. And there’s something in the relaxed drape of a natural-shouldered jacket that facilitates a state of ease. As I strode up Fifth Avenue to the museum, two kids referred to me as “your majesty.” Thanks for showing the way, Prince Sid. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

28 Comments on "Afternoons With Sid"

  1. Dan Burgess | April 12, 2019 at 12:22 pm |

    Re: “the “perennial philosophy” of the common underlying threads within all the world’s religions.”
    Exactly: One need not search for peace of mind in non-Western religions, one can find it in the religions that constitute the basis of our culture: Christianity and Judaism. Take your choıce.

  2. My point is that, for some of us, it need not be a question of choice. No man can ever have too much wisdom.

  3. Hardbopper | April 12, 2019 at 1:12 pm |

    I notice that in the top photo, your breast pocket is welted, if that is the correct term, a feature which I have understood and experienced to be consistent with swelled edges, etc. I also noticed a welted breast pocket was not included in some of the featured items this week. Thoughts?

  4. What a genuinely lovely and inspiring article. Cheers Christian

  5. “No man can ever have too much wisdom” Yea, where would ya apply it all. 😉

    Excellent post, and way to cap off the week here. A fun weekend to ass!

  6. I wich C would add an edit feature to the comment section. Happy fingers here meant to type, A fun weekend to all!

    Better typing skills helpful along with greater wisdom.

  7. Evan Everhart | April 12, 2019 at 3:26 pm |

    Here, here! To double-breasted vests! I often used to wear one of my old dove gray ones in linen hopsack with a navy blue suit in the Spring months, a pleasantly cool vested option, and always looked handsome with a club collar. I wish the old thing still fit, but am also grateful that I no longer have a 37″ chest with a 27.5″ waist. I looked much too flimsy. 😉

    Which reminds me, I should have my vintage Japanese ivory woolen broadcloth DB vest for evening wear let out so that I can enjoy it again!

  8. I strongly recommend the book The Shape of Ancient Thought by Thomas McEvilley if you’re at all interested in the back and forth of influence between ancient Greek and Indian philosophy, and the sources of the Madhyamaka school of Mahayana Buddhism.

  9. Evan Everhart | April 12, 2019 at 4:37 pm |

    On a side note: when I make my own vests from pattern to final stitching, my typical rule of thumb is shortest possible drop to lowest fastening for DB models, even better when the buttons are every so slightly flared outwards from the bottom to the top, it gives an effect of a narrowed waist and a broadened chest. the breadth of the shoulder of the vest should be no wider than four of the wearer’s fingers’ breadth for proportionality on the wearer. Vests are the most difficult garment to pattern and to make well, especially if darts are not used.

  10. Nothing is permanent
    Everything changes
    Suffering is inevitable.
    You don’t see many Edwardian vests in So. Calif.
    In New York you are what you wear
    In LA you are what you drive.

  11. James Justinian | April 13, 2019 at 1:02 am |

    @Evan Everhart

    It’s Hear, hear!
    Not Here, here!

    Like style, spelling is a matter of rules and details.

  12. Old School Tie | April 13, 2019 at 4:31 am |

    @James Justinian – and it’s not the first time by any stretch of the imagination.

  13. @”OldSchool”

    Might I suggest that you choose another nom de plume.
    I’ve been using “Old School” (and before that, “OldSchool”) for my comments on this site for donkey’s years.

  14. So it looks like Christian has become a shill. He got that charcoal suit for free in exchange for “editorial coverage,” which means shilling. And now I guess, since that post presumably didn’t bring enough customers, he has to mention MyTailor again and again in multiple posts. Soon we’ll see posts about Ivy Style, then the second paragraph will start: “BUT FIRST, let me tell you about 24/7 Energy Drinks. I’ve been enjoying 24/ 7 Energ-“

  15. Frederick Lanack | April 13, 2019 at 11:02 am |

    Nobody forces us to follow this blog.
    If Christian is to be criticized for anything, it’s not for mentioning “My Tailor”; I can easily ignore that.
    What I wish is that he would spare us photos of that unsightly vest.

  16. Frederick, actually shilling is against the law in the US. The FCC requires bloggers to disclose when they get things for free in exchange for editorial coverage. Maybe you don’t care about transparency and honesty in editorial coverage or reviews, but some people do.

  17. Matthew,

    It all seems like good old capitalism to me.


  18. Unrelated,

    Is anybody familiar with Berle khakis from the Charleston Khaki line?


  19. Philip Forman | April 13, 2019 at 11:56 am |

    Shilling is the American Way of Life.

  20. NaturalShoulder | April 13, 2019 at 12:05 pm |

    @ Matthew – curious to know if you are a Patreon supporter?

  21. The next post will include a shout-out to my cannabis supplier.

  22. Marc Chevalier | April 13, 2019 at 10:06 pm |

    @Frederick Lanack, could you kindly share which details you find unsightly in Christian’s vest? Thanks!

  23. whiskeydent | April 13, 2019 at 10:14 pm |

    Here in Texas, I have friends who describe themselves as “Southern Buddhists.” If that seems a tad bit odd (and it should), just imagine Buddha wearing cowboy boots and an illegal smile. One told me he’s into the Tao of Cow.

  24. Frederick Lanack | April 14, 2019 at 1:03 pm |

    M. Chevalier,
    À Chacun Son Goût

  25. Evan Everhart | April 15, 2019 at 10:07 am |

    @ James Justinian; Thank you for yr clerical correction, if gracelessly given.

    @ Old School Tie; Graceless, indeed.

    It is amusing when online lurkers have nothing to say about either the substance of what is said, let alone the actual method of delivery, but instead choose to quibble about spelling, and contribute nothing to the actual topics of discussion. Of course that says more about the critic than it does about the person being criticized.

    Have a great day! 😉

  26. Evan Everhart | April 15, 2019 at 10:25 am |

    @ Frederick Lanack:

    Lorsque vous avez ressenti le besoin de critiquer, alors votre propre goût ou votre problème avec le goût de Christian devrait être clarifié. Votre accusation de dénigrement suscite mon intérêt.

    Mostly it’s just fun to write a bit in French again after so long, apologies if there are any errors in grammar or spelling, it’s been a few years. But seriously, I’d be interested if yr distaste for Christian’s vest is purely because it’s not within the narrow confines of the Ivy League style, or if it is rather about the details of the style of the cut of vest; as per drop, lapel shape, gorge, or breadth or angle of buttons & etc.. 🙂

  27. Lexicologue | April 17, 2019 at 1:24 am |

    Thank you, James Justinian, for drawing this to our attention.
    Quibbling about spelling?
    The difference between here and hear is not a mere matter of orthography, it’s a matter of misunderstanding and miscommunication, if I might be permitted to say.

  28. Michael Brady | April 23, 2019 at 12:32 pm |

    “And since I planned to wear it with a blazer, the image came to mind of Beau Brummell, with his navy coat and buff-colored trousers”:

    or, Roger Stone, who will find that it is tough to combine with the kind of striped suit he will be soon wearing.

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