When I profiled Alan Flusser for The Rake back in 2011, he made a big impression on me with his remarks on the concept of “chic.” One of his points, no surprise, is that men who are into “gentlemanly” or “sartorial” dressing are very rarely into “chic.” For one thing, the term is almost always associated with women, at least in the English-speaking world.
But because of my lifelong interest in style theory, particularly dandyism, I found myself pondering the word and concept. Chic is even more difficult to define than dandyism, which the great theorists have said is based entirely on a “je ne sais quoi,” that mysterious certain something. It’s guided me ever since, and helped more firmly fuse the part of me that values tradition and the part that values a subtle and elegant audacity. Chic is also traditionally WASPy, though more so for the high society set rather than the New England upper middle class. You can even convey the sense of chic in Weejuns, though it helps to be a “swan.”
Still pondering chic in the back of my head, a couple of years later I was in a meeting with a book editor pitching some ideas. At the very end I blurted out a vague concept with just the right combination of words to pique his interest. I went home to do some work on it, and it gradually morphed from an extended essay to a full-fledged novel. It’s been on hold for a while, but I do plan to get back to it in the next few years. There’s an Ivy angle you guys will enjoy.
Returning to Flusser, he released a summer lookbook last week, and it happens to contain some shots that make a nice follow-up to Seersucker Thursday. If you find yourself at a swank event this summer, consider pairing an ivory dinner jacket with seersucker trousers. From there you can make whatever adjustments suit your trad, preppy or Ivy tastes, from a rumpled pink buttondown to black penny loafers. And then the following morning wear the jacket and trousers by the pool with a navy polo shirt.