Vanity Fare: Pocket Guide For The Rake

From the vanity files, for the latest issue of The Rake I was asked to empty my pockets for a section called Pocket Guide, which profiles what the world’s most irrepressibly elegant men [sic] carry in their pockets and on their person. Click here for a PDF of the layout.

I donned duds by Haspel, Brooks Brothers, O’Connell’s and Alden. Forgive the Deco-inspired, un-trad necktie; I was pandering to my audience.

Now here’s an anecdote about the only item I really do carry in my pockets, a handkerchief. I was on assignment once with a photographer who needed to shoot three businessmen I was writing about. We were outdoors and some issue of dirt or something came up, and I took care of whatever it was (something on a guy’s shoe? Something on the chair so he couldn’t sit down? I don’t remember), and the businessmen and photographer were all amazed that I carried a handkerchief with me, with one of them remarking “how gentlemanly.”

To me the remark could hardly have been more ironic. A handkerchief is just about the most utilitarian item a man can carry, used for wiping smudged iPhones, sneezing into, and as a breathing apparatus when passing a smog-spewing vehicle. How in the world that passes as something gentlemanly these days is beyond me. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

41 Comments on "Vanity Fare: Pocket Guide For The Rake"

  1. Michael Mattis | June 27, 2012 at 8:48 am |

    That is a terrific photo, my friend. What a difference a professional photographer makes.

    So polka-dots are un-trad? Shows how much I know. I’ll continue wearing them if it gets the Tradzis’ (Tradcists?) panties in a bunch.

  2. Ha! I have carried a handkerchief for as long as I could remember (maybe age 12) and it is amazing how often I need to use it for things I would not have considered.

    On several occasions I have heard comments about it being gentlemanly as well as “old” and “stodgy”.

  3. Christian | June 27, 2012 at 9:05 am |

    Those aren’t polka dots, Mattis, but little geometric things.

    Square shapes aren’t trad: only round or amoeba shapes.

    BTW, last night I dreamt I was dying. Nevertheless I had a terrific night’s sleep.

    In the dream I asked you to write my obituary in advance so I could proof-read it.

  4. Michael Mattis | June 27, 2012 at 9:11 am |

    Ah, it wasn’t evident from the initial photo but is clear in the .pdf detail. Still, I think it’s a nice necktie.

  5. I just purchased my first two Haspel blazers. I had no idea they were such a historic brand or that I would enjoy them as much as I do. They are the absolute perfect summer jacket.

  6. Jim Kelleth | June 27, 2012 at 10:05 am |

    As far as the handkerchief goes, my father used to ask, “What does a rich man put in his pocket that a poor man throws away?”

  7. NaturalShoulder | June 27, 2012 at 11:12 am |

    Great picture Christian. I have always carried a handkerchief with me and sometimes two in the summer. They come in very handy with two young children. My four year old daughter often asks for my towel after she spills something.

  8. I used to carry handkerchiefs, one in the front right pants pocket, and the other in the jacket breast pocket. Still carry the one for show or emergency. I’ve found that 4 Kleenex sheets in the pants pocket work nicely for daily use. Not Ivy, but certainly more sanitary and convenient. Most ladies will refuse to launder handkerchiefs, if they’ll do any laundry at all. Of course, throwing soiled handkerchiefs away is another option. They’re cheap enough to go that route.

    The Lorraine-Haspel brand has been around for a long time. Somewhere in my house, I have a trifold advertising item, which has swatches of summer weight suit materials. The cover has drawings of two 1930’s era gentlemen walking down the street wearing the Haspel suits (double breasted), one man wearing a boater and the other a Panama, while a little terrier (Benji type) follows adoringly. One man is smoking a pipe, and the other a cigarette. The flyer lists the prices of all suit models at $ 12.75.

    The swatch materials look like they’d be extremely comfortable, especially in the non A/C
    1930’s. The suits are also advertised to be as easy to wash as a handkerchief. Kinda ironic to this Ivy article regarding handkerchiefs. Cheers!

  9. Of all your items, I like your pipe the best. The Dublin shape certainly is classic, and has a manly, 1950s vibe to it. I’m almost tempted to take up smoking one myself!

  10. What are Haspel’s shoulders like? Being from Tennessee, I’m somewhat familiar with the brand, but it’s been a few years since I’ve handled one.

  11. You mean Americans blow there nose on their sleeves? Now I know why olive is popular as a colour (correct spelling your abusers of the English language).

  12. Danny
    I’ve owned many Haspel poplin suits and different sport coats over the years. I believe like many manufactures it depends on what models the retailers orders.

  13. Very tasty Christian, nothing looks crisper than a seersucker jacket in the warmer seasons.

    FYI, I wore a Haspel three piece cotton seersucker suit at my wedding in the early 70s. I was going full bore ice cream salesman, but my brides mother thew a fit when I broke out the white bucks, settled on the British tan cap toes.

  14. Button-down Mind Strikes back | June 27, 2012 at 2:38 pm |

    @GI Zhou

    Weak trolling attempt there sparky.

    BTW, speaking of abusing the English language, I believe you meant “their” not “there”. Glass houses and all that.

  15. oobopshbam | June 27, 2012 at 3:46 pm |

    @Gi Zhou

    You can’t troll, and then make your own grammatical error. You fell at the first hurdle. *shakes head*

  16. oobopshbam | June 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm |

    I really like the monogrammed belt-buckle, some people might say it’s pretty tasteless, but I think it goes really well with the alligator skin. Seems like a perfect match.

  17. @button-down. Damn a joke is now weak trolling. I guess you need a special pocket for all the tickets you have on yourself boy.

  18. Love it all, with the exception of the shoes. Weejuns or BB’s tassels with darker socks, would look nicer in my humble opinion.

  19. This is a great warm-weather outfit. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    I like how you made it dressy with the black shoes. I could also see this outfit working, albeit slightly more casually, with burgundy-colored shoes. Do you ever wear navy trousers? I think they would also work with the seersucker jacket—after all, some folks pair seersucker trousers with their navy blazers.

    A simple white pocket square is often best, and it works especially well with seersucker.

    Pinky rings? You’re in good company: Fred Astaire wore one, too.

    And despite your protestations otherwise, your smile is not goofy—you look nice.

  20. Thanks, Henry. And the shoes are actually dark brown. It’s just the sunglasses that are black as I’d just lost my brown P3 shades.

    Oh, and I have an aversion to navy trousers.

  21. Henry
    I thought those Alden dress pennys were burgundy, but I’m old and blind.

    I wear my seersucker with navy poplin, ink tropicals, charcoal trops, OD, khaki and when appropriate white, in chino, linen and trop gaberdine. One of my favorite with navy or seersucker blazer is officer pink gaberdines, but most can get in trouble with that color. I guess it all depends what one is comfortable with.

  22. Vittorio Affanculo | June 28, 2012 at 2:59 pm |

    The sleeves of your sports jacket are half an inch too long which completely ruins the look.

  23. Christian | June 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm |

    I’ve been waiting two days for someone to say that!

  24. Christian

    Tell the truth, the shirt, it’s short sleeved right?

  25. @Cheddar

    There may be a very large grain of truth in what you say:

    It was Americans, not purist Brits, who invented polyester “Oxford” cloth shirts and…

    plastic–yes, plastic–Weejuns:

  26. Oxbridge

    Nice find, I’ve know people that wore poly-cotton permanent press oxford BDs and seen them in department stores. they usually are shinny under lights and the hand sucks.

    I’ve heard and seen different Corfam shoes, usually plain oxfords for police and military. Evidently, they keep a shine and are water proof. But, Jesus! Weejuns! This is a first for me. Shocked!

    PS, and some complain about the quality now.

  27. Oh, those polyester shirts. Terrible, always uncomfortably hot. They always looked like some disco guy should be wearing them unbuttoned down to the navel. I only had one, a white button down with an enormous collar. One Corfam pair of shoes was enough too. They came apart after a few months, just glued, nothing sewn. Also, I had a beautiful summer weight tan pinstriped suit in all polyester. It was the most uncomfortable creation I ever had. Horrible stuff. The last I knew, Haband still sold that all polyester junk.

    Whatever you do, never smoke that pipe while wearing polyester. A bit of ash dropped means a huge hole in the garment, and possibly a nasty burn.

    @ Christian

    At least I’m not alone in my aversion to navy pants. They seem to attract lint and debris like a clothing brush.

  28. Averse to navy trousers? I have a gray herringbone tweed jacket (with navy prominently in the mix, and brown flecks, but it looks gray), and navy trousers work better with it than gray ones do. Brown pants also work, but navy is best.

    For those who are averse to navy trousers: what do you wear with your gray jackets?

  29. I suppose I’m like Fred Astaire in that I believe you just can’t top gray trousers, so that’s pretty much all I have (except for casual pants). I got some brown flannels last season but never felt quite as sharp when I wore them.

    If your sportcoat is gray, then you just use trousers that are darker or lighter. Charcoal jacket gets an oxford or cambridge grey trouser, light gray jacket gets a charcoal trouser.

  30. Unless you are Fred Astaire, in my opinion, one’s socks should be darker than one’s trousers. Nevertheless, Christian, for a California guy, you do look spiffy.

  31. Christian | June 29, 2012 at 5:01 pm |

    Thanks for the kind words, Bob, and alas I often do think I’m Fred Astaire. My parents put me in tap dancing class at age five, and I did it for 8 years before deciding it wasn’t cool. And I took up ballroom dancing years later and still steal Fred’s moves.

    As for sock darkness, check out this post from the earliest days of the site:

  32. “[Fred Astaire] was not just the best ballroom dancer, or tap dancer, he was simply the greatest, most imaginative, dancer of our time.”
    —Rudolph Nureyev

    “[Fred Astaire]’s the greatest dancer who ever lived–greater than Nijinsky.”
    —Noel Coward

    Any dancer who can steal an Astaire move, should.

  33. Henry
    Astaire was the greatest, but Ginger had to do it backwards.

    Christian was short sited deciding tap was uncool, what girl’s parents wouldn’t be impressed by a Bojangle’s inspired tap dance up and down their staircase. Although, he redeemed himself taking up ballroom later.

    All kidding aside, one of the things I learned from my five sisters, women love a man that can dance. Just a heads up for you younger gentlemen.

  34. @Mac

    I agree that women just love a man that can dance. At 6′ 3″, and for the last 40 years around 220 pounds, I never could be considered nimble by anyone’s standards. It’s a wonder I could gather enough ability to play golf reasonably well. When younger, and the wife used to drag me to weddings and other social functions, I used to tell people that dancing with the wife was like dragging the Statue of Liberty around the dance floor. (Every true Ivy will know where that comment came from.)

    The wife never thought it was funny, but soon she gave up on my dancing. A funny story, when I was in college, I signed up for a course called “Modern Dance”. Thought I might learn ballroom dancing. When I came out of the fog, I found out that the course was really ballet. After showing up for one class, and no more, the lady instructor gave me an A at the end of the semester. She must have given me credit for having the courage to even attend one class. Cheers!

  35. Wiggles
    In college, had the same kind of experience, only it was choir. The first day, the professor told me to lip sinc for the rest of the year and he’d give me a A.

    In the mid 60s, my older sisters helped me learn to dance. The week before the first jr high school dance, I arrived home from school to find all the furniture removed from my parents living room, exposing the oak floors. With my sisters, there were about ten of their high school girlfriends. They taught me a lot, mostly when slow dancing, don’t just rock back and forth, take the girl on an adventure, chicks dig it. A star was born.

    Yes, some of you thought this was going to be some kind of Penthouse letter about older women, I’m lucky, but not that lucky.

  36. Christian, I agree. Of course, it’s OK if you are Cary Grant. And I still wear white socks with khakis and shorts. But with wool trousers, since I am neither Astaire nor Grant, I prefer my socks to be darker than my trou.

  37. MAC,

    I find the “Ginger had to do it backwards and in heels” comment both inappropriate and wrong. In couples dancing, men lead and women follow; men therefore have more work to do than women. As a (former) instructor in a form of couples dancing (not ballroom, but traditional/”ethnic”), who has danced both parts, I can tell you that the man’s part is significantly more difficult, not least because he is responsible for two people: himself and his partner. Guiding a woman safely through a crowded dance floor is not easy! Once a woman learns to follow the man’s lead, dancing is easy for her, but the man still has to think of his partner, and be aware of his surroundings, at all times. This is much harder than non-dancers imagine.

    For the specific case of Fred and his partners, Fred and his choreographer would work for months before the woman came; when she did, all she had to do was learn her part and follow Fred.

    So the “Ginger backwards” comment? Not so much.

  38. Henry
    I agree totally with you where we civilians are concerned, but most of Fred and Ginger’s was tap infused in a sort of ballroom dancing. Granted when they are in each others’ arms Fred obviously takes control to an extent. On another point, they never navigated a crowded dance floor, like we civilians, in their “performances” on film.

    This is an example, it’s relatively short and I like it because Ginger isn’t wearing the usual floor length formal evening dress, you can better see her dance steps and her beautiful legs.

    I never meant to imply Ginger equaled Fred, but few partners he had were equal to Ginger, they were magic.

  39. mitch McDonald | July 2, 2012 at 9:48 am |

    Love the belt.

  40. I used to hate wearing pinky rings, but if I can find one like the one you have CC, especially with a monogram written in script, I would definitely embrace it…everyday

  41. Dickey Greenleaf | July 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm |

    Chris, nice suit.

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