Read through the comments yesterday, and while this is throwing the editorial calendar a little bit out of whack, it got so interesting I thought the conversation should continue. If you disagree, go back to the Andover Shop post, and apply for a job. They are really hiring, fyi. To submit your candidacy, please contact Tucker Mscisz at (508) 922-8546 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some readers think Alan Flusser is funny. I don’t see it. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t. I used to belong to the cigar club at The Greenwich Tabaconnist. It was a crazy time, I think I told one story from there about how we were sitting around on a Friday night and some lady knocks on the door, we open it and she asks if anyone has a plane that can fly her groundskeeper to North Carolina where there was a hospital that could reattach his arm that he lost falling through the roof of her greenhouse. And somebody had one.
Anyway, when the cigar club met (every Friday, EVERY Friday at 6:00) the shop would close. So Jimmy (owner) is closing the door and this young man and his girlfriend come through. We are groaning because you can’t break out the whiskey until the store is closed. And the kid is holding hands with his girlfriend and they are poking around (NEVER hold hands with anyone in a cigar store unless you are begging to be eye-rolled when you leave). There are about 10 of us, all in suits and Trafalgar braces and we all lean back on leather couches and watch this kid stick his beak in one box after another. No one is talking, because we don’t want the kid comfortable. God forbid he sit down with his girlfriend. Finally he turns to Jimmy and asks what cigars are good. Jimmy says, “Kid, a good cigar is one you like.”
If you think Flusser is funny, you have my support. I am the same about humor as I am about love, unless it impacts someone else’s dignity, I don’t care where you get it from.
There were some references to Flusser’s own taste, and how the levity and joy are reflected there. Agreed, too. Funny dresser, not a funny writer.
Which isn’t to say there isn’t style there. In fact, I think Flusser is a man of great style.
Here is what style is, as it pertains to clothing. Three things. First, it is a reflection of you. Your vertebrae. Your jelly. If your clothes don’t reflect that, you are at a masquerade ball. When people write about me wearing an earring AND a repp tie, they often say, “it’s fine but it is just not me.” PERFECT. If you know who you are, then you can have a style. Second, style is a transaction. After all, other people see your style more than you do. Right? So style is an exchange between your impressions of yourself and others’ impressions of you. It is a dialogue of I-care-or-I-don’t/You-care-or-you-don’t. The heft and product of that dialogue is style. Thirdly, style is aesthetic, which is quantifiable. By effort. Style is effort. Slapping things together, nice things even, isn’t style as much as it is doing a jigsaw puzzle. Sure, everything fits, but did you make a statement or solve a problem? Style is quantifiable as good or not-so-good by answering (1) is it you? (2) does it engage other people in a positive way and (3) did you work at it or just Garanimal it?
My point about Flusser’s book is that unlike Boyer’s it presumes to tell me what proper style is. What looks good, what does not. Based on what he likes. That’s not a guide, it is a manifesto. And because Flusser markets with photos of himself (so do I to be fair) and breaks his own rules, it comes off as a disingenuous manifesto. But because he labels everything, the book has technical merit.
Think of it this way. You can (and MUST) read Boyer’s book and walk away knowing everything you need to know about how to dress well in Western Civilization in 2022, then you can look at a Dashiki and say, “Now THAT is style. You read Flusser’s book and walk away with knowing what Flusser thinks is proper, then you can look at a Dashiki and say, “Now THAT is called a Dashiki.”
Tomorrow, the Andover WOCBD.