“Class” includes an entire chapter devoted to the semiotics of dress, and he aims his wry wit at his own class as much as those above and below. Here’s an excerpt:
Upper-middle clothes… lean to the soft, textured, wooly, nubby. Ultimately, the difference implies a difference between city and country, or labor and leisure, where country betokens not decrepit dairy farms and bad schools but estates and horse-leisure. Thus the popularity among the upper-middle class (and the would-be upper-middle class, like members of Ivy university faculties) of the tweed jacket. Country leisure is what it implies, not daily wage slavery in the city.
The tweed jacket is indispensable to the upper-middle-class trick of layering. A man signals that he’s classy if, outdoors, he comes on in a tweed jacket, with vest or sweater (or two), shirt, tie, long wool scarf, and overcoat or raincoat. An analogy is with the upper-class house, which has lots of different rooms for different purposes. Wearing one shirt over another — Oxford-cloth button-down over a turtleneck, for example — is upper-middle-class, and the shirt worn underneath can ever be a dress shirt (solid color is best) with its own collar, a usage I’ve seen in warm weather on Madison Avenue in the upper eighties.
RIP, Professor Fussell, you were a sharp critic and delightful entertainer. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD