Q: So, spring and summer are both in the air. And that means sunny days and sunglasses. Randolph Engineering hasn't had a lot of options as of late... do you have any suggestions for other, MB-approved shades? —Will
A: With sunglasses, we prefer to gaze backwards, into the past. A few recommendations:
Allyn Scura We always start at Allyn Scura and usually find something old, obscure, and interesting, like these deadstock Giorgio Sant'Angelos in brown tortoise. Yes, there is a high degree of difficulty here. But we can also imagine anyone from Kurt Cobain to Cary Grant looking good in these — they're versatile. So if you think you have what it takes, here's a little more info. Made in NYC in the '80s, they were designed by Mr. Sant'Angelo, born a nobleman in Florence Italy and, according to Wikipedia, an influencer to John Galliano and Marc Jacobs. At just 49 bucks the style/dollar ratio is higher than AMZN's P/E ratio. (WARNING: Pairing these with either Springtime in Italy or Roman Holiday will result in you actually becoming an Italian nobleman.)
Magnificent Bastard Finally, you can't ask us about sunglasses and not expect us to mention the Girard 3700s, as worn by Bradley Cooper in American Hustle. We're down to two pairs in our shop, and for all we know, they may be the last two mint-condition deadstock pairs left in the universe. Or maybe not. But do you really want to take that chance?
Once Google Glass hit the streets, we knew it was only a matter of time before monocles experienced a resurgence. It's Newton's Third Law of Fashion: For every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.
So when some people start wearing computers on their faces, others will move in the opposite direction, donning crippled glasses. Inevitably, the monocle is having a moment. According to the New York Times, the one-lensed eyepiece is a certified "mini-trend."
Is this particular fashion moment one you should take part in? On the one hand, the monocle is archaic, Anglophilic, and even when providing vision correction, characterized by a senseless lack of utility. On the other hand, it's an extreme affectation, a facial prop for men who don't think bow ties are fussy enough.
To help clarify where we ultimately come down on the issue, we've created a new decider.
Where are all the thirsty plutocrats? Six months ago, the Dalmore issued the Paterson Collection — twelve bottles of single malt Scotch whisky crafted by Master Distiller Richard Paterson and packaged in crystal decanters with sterling silver collars. The price, as set by British retailer Harrod's: $1.6 million, or roughly $5,695 per shot.
Liquid gold? Hardly. These whiskies are actually about about 4.5 times more expensive per ounce than Glenn Beck's favorite hedge against communism. And about 2 times more expensive per ounce than cocaine.
For $1.6 million, we reckon you could buy at least twelve of Pulaski's finest taverns. But think how hard it would be to wrap and ship Jen’s Knaughty Pine or Woz's Polish Pickle to your loved ones?
The Paterson Collection makes for a much more convenient Christmas gift. Or at least it would if Harrod's realized who the target market for a $1.6 million twelve-pack is. Amazingly, the retailer insists that "this product cannot be purchased online." If you want it, you've got to pick it up in person or at least talk to someone on the phone.
Don't get us wrong — we love that kind of archaic 20th century thinking. We also love that the Paterson Collection is so top-shelf it comes in its own rosewood wardrobe.
But we're pretty sure the demographic for $1.6 million hangovers consists almost entirely of 23-year-old Internet broguls. I.E., people who've never seen a shopping cart outside of an iPhone app. Once the Paterson Collection can be ordered with a single click, it will sell faster than a thousand shares of Twitter on its IPO.
Q: The ascot....I am wearing it. It does have a HDD (High Degree of Difficulty —Ed.) but a real MB can pull it off. Your thoughts on this? —Jason
A: The ascot meets at least four core MB principles:
1. Anglophilia. They were first introduced in England. 2. Archaism. In the late 19th century. 3. Exclusivity. It's nearly impossible to find a good one. 4. Senseless Lack of Utility. They are even more useless than a necktie (i.e. they're too short to double as a belt or decent tourniquet in a pinch).
In other words, we love them.
But can you really pull it off? To answer that question we've created an ascot-wearing "decider" flowchart below to help guide you.
A: In the June 2011 GQ creative director Jim Moore stops just short of endorsing them but recognizes their popularity saying they're "a big trend this summer," and that they're best "anytime you'd wear your flip-flops." [page 58]
Even though they were invented in the 14th century (principle of archaism), and are usually made of canvas and rope (principle of organic materials), for us they fall into the footwear no-mans land between a shoe and a sandal, currently occupied by MB bête noires Sanuks and Crocs.
However, if your preferred pedicurist is booked — June is Pedicure Awareness Month, BTW — we say go for it, as long as they're a. less than 20 bucks, and b. gingham.
A: Well, it's pretty magnificent to be heir to the throne of the fading empire that gave us the Magna Carta and golf, and wearing hats like the one Prince William was wearing this weekend is part of the job description.
As for anyone else? William's bearskin hat is certainly characterized by a senseless lack of utility, and scores high on archaism, organic materials, and Anglophilia as well. But its primary historical purpose — to make a soldier look bigger and more imposing in battle — violates the principle of understatement and essentially establishes the garment as elevator shoes for your head.
As you allude to, the standard hat of the British Foot Gaurds is made out of an entire bearskin. It weighs 1.5 lbs. and, most consequentially, stands 18.5 inches high. Getting in and out of limos and taxis would be a huge hassle while wearing one of these things, so until horseback reemerges as the predominant form of travel, we say "pass."
2 parts Hayman's Old Tom Gin
1 part sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula or Dolin Rouge)
1/4 part Luxardo Maraschino liqueur
2 dashes Fee Brothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters
Shake or swirl lightly, garnish with a lemon twist.