Not sure if you should wear that Tommy Bahama shirt out tonight? The magnificent bastard is here to help. Go ahead. Ask away.
Q: I'll be traveling across the pond to see Wimbledon next month and I'd like to strike a balance between artful dishevelment and weather preparedness. What would you suggest in the way of light outerwear that would be appropriate for Centre Court and/or tea with William and Kate?
A: An obvious choice is the classic and almost entirely logo-free "Made in England" Baracuta Harrington G9. It's got a touch of Teflon to repel the inevitable rain delay, and it has long been the choice of stylish Yanks (McQueen, Sinatra) adept at adding a note of elegance to even the most casual look. But it doesn't offer much in the way of artful dishevelment or surprise. Kate will be bored.
Instead, we recommend this bonded blouson, a collaboration between iconic British brand Barbour and Japanese designer Tokihito Yoshida. Barbour's almost as old as Wimbledon itself, and holds three royal warrants for its waterproof and protective clothing. (What, you don't know what a royal warrant is? Brush up on your Anglophilia.)
Tokihito infuses Barbour's classic style with some 21st century urban streamlining. With their traditional abundance of pockets, buckles, and heavy waxed cotton, much of Barbour's stock is a little too busy for us. But this collaboration is strikingly pared down, retaining just enough flaps and buttons and zipper pulls to provide some texture for the artful dishevelment you seek.
Note: Prices on this range from $245 to $450, so shop around.
Earlier: Rafael Nadal: A weird combination of Menudo and Rambo.
Earlier: Umbrella recommendations.
Q: Boast USA; I think their polos are pretty MB. Yay or nay?
A: In Pulaski, Wisconsin, circa 1985, the closest thing we had to a country club was the dart board at the American Legion. So we were unfamiliar with Boast until we started see it showing up on other websites last fall.
At first we figured J. Peterman was trying to outdo himself by inventing the backstory for an entire brand rather than a single piece of apparel. A brand named after a squash shot, started by a Greenwich, Connecticut tennis pro in the 1970s, worn by John Updike, Roscoe Tanner, and a young, crackhead-skinny G.W. Bush? And bearing a logo that looks like a marijuana leaf but is in fact a leaf from one of our favorite trees, the japanese maple? It all sounded a little too good to be true. Especially since when you look at the logos on various vintage shots of the shirts, they all seem to have been harvested at different times — that's a lot of variation in the size of that leaf.
So we did what all serious investigative journalists do when trying to nail down the facts. We poured ourselves some Macallan 18* and started watching Risky Business, which was said to feature a Boast shirt in it. A dozen or so ounces later, there it was, at 1:08:20. Case closed. The brand and its history appear to be as real as Teri Hatcher's breasts.
Anyway. Onward to your question. We like the brand and we especially like their tipped polo. We'd like it even better if it came with no logo whatsoever, but even as is, we still think it's sharp enough for darts at the American Legion. And if there were a tennis court anywhere within ten miles of here, we'd be wearing it there too.
* Why weren't we drinkings MBs? Because we were working, and we save MBs strictly for our leisure hours.
Your shorts are draining the lifeblood from Tom Ford
Q: Dear MB: How does an MB rock shorts? I know, I know, a real MB shouldn't wear shorts, but in some parts of the country summer gets too hot for pants. 115 degrees. Looking back at your earlier posts about shorts, the MB short has an 8"-8.5" inseam. Thanks for the help.
A: In the S/S issue of Another Man, Tom Ford offers five easy lessons on how to become a modern gentleman. Fifth on his list: "A man should never wear shorts in the city. Flip-flops and shorts in the city are never appropriate. Shorts should only be worn on the tennis court or on the beach."
We would add "golf course." Except if you play with glow-in-the-dark golf balls: Never wear shorts after the sun goes down.
As for inseam, we definitely prefer shorter over longer, lest you veer into over-the-knee toolbag territory. Unfortunately, this season designers have adopted longer inseams with small leg openings, in what look like skinny pants amputated at the knee. But there are still sensible, comfortable shorts out there that don't require cuff rolling, like Raf Simons/Fred Perry for tennis, Lightning Bolt for the beach, and Fred Perry (solo) for the course.
Earlier: For women, we endorse even shorter shorts.
John McEnroe winning his first Wimbledon in 1981
Q: My wife and I have a disagreement. We joined a "walk for charity" the other day. Most of the men were wearing ankle socks with their tennis shoes. I have always preferred the calf-high athletic sock pushed down just slightly to give it a disheveled look whenever I run or work out. My wife is trying to tell me that the calf high sock is out of style and the ankle sock is the new style. I think ankle socks are for women tennis players. While a real man wears calf-high athletic socks. Will you please set her straight?
A: Congratulations, Eamon, on being a lot less wrong than your wife. We see where you're going with the artfully disheveled tube sock look, but would like it better if they've got a stripe or two, as worn by male tennis players. As for your wife's current thinking on men's socks, ankle socks suck. They offer none of the disheveled/vintage benefits of quarter or crew-length, and leave tan lines that trash the exposed ankle look.
Our suggestion is no-show socks. Wigwam, based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin -- a town so completely Wisconsin we invented and then named a cocktail after it -- makes a good no-show athletic sock that's primarily cotton, an organic materials rarity in the age of Dri-release®, Lumiza™, Coolmax®, or other new-fangled synthetics that only serve to make our feet sweat.
Juan Martin del Potro (top) and Ralph Macchio
Q: Is Roger Federer a Magnificent Bastard?
A: In the past there's been a lot to place Federer firmly in MB territory. He doesn't sweat, he doesn't grunt like an animal on every groundstroke, and even when he gets destroyed (see 2008 French vs. Nadal) he's so graceful it looks like he's actually winning.
But the last year has given us pause. He cried like a baby at the Australian, looked like a waiter at Wimbledon, and last night whined about the foolproof electronic line calling system after losing to a Slam finals rookie who dresses like The Karate Kid.
Q: No question, I just want to nominate Janko Tipsarevic for a Toolbag award. How one can manage to pollute tennis whites is beyond me, but this guy figured out how by adding the perfect toolbag sunglasses. I'm guessing they're Oakleys, but if not, they may as well be.
A: It is indeed difficult to turn the Wimbledon Whites into toolbag, though Rafa Nadal did it last year in the finals. Even the typically MB Roger Federer raised several of our eyebrows with his warmup vest in this year's first round. In between sets, does he moonlight as a waiter? We'll take a round of gin and tonics. Hendrick's.
Anyhow, like Nadal, Janko just has TB in him. Look at him at the French, with tank top and matching blades (bottom). And that tattoo, which we're pretty sure says "No fat chicks!" in kanji. Wimbledon's rules can only tamp the TB down. The good news: he's out after the 2nd round.
After Rafael Nadal won Wimbledon last summer, we chastised his sleeveless, collarless look as being "some kind of weird combination of Menudo and Rambo." At the Australian earlier this year he added sleeves (top). At the French he added a collar (bottom) and promptly lost in the 4th round to Robin Soderling, the 25th-ranked player in the world. To thine own toolbag self, be true.
Something just ain't right about seeing the completely unstylish Rafael Nadal triumph on the completely stylish lawns of Wimbledon. Nadal's match with Roger Federer may be an instant classic, but neither that dreadful sleeveless top nor those long shorts will stand the test of time. Poor fella looks like some weird combination of Menudo and Rambo.
via Neiman Marcus. $135.00.
Q: I follow your blog religiously and I love the amount of fashion knowledge I gain. However I have a couple of questions, I have a very classy white linen suit that I am planning on wearing in a couple of weeks. I would like to wear it with some tennis shoes to complete my "laid back" look rather than some hard shoes. First, is this appropriate? Secondly, if so, what shoes do you suggest to piece along with an all white linen suit? Do you suggest some all white tennis shoes or something with color in it? I was looking for some shoes along the lines of some Vans or something similar like the Lacoste L34 tennis shoes. Please advise. Thanks!
A: You sure you follow this site religiously? You've clearly missed our missive on linen. Noop, your proposed suit is a ticking time bomb. Within seconds you can go from artfully disheveled to looking like some homeless guy who got dressed outside the dumpster at Goodwill. Regardless, you will explode at some point.
At least minimize the bomb's collateral damage by not wearing Vans. Too '90s LA. Plain white tennis shoes can work, as demonstrated by Paul Smith (top). Your best bet though is a pair of sandals, like this option from John Varvatos, and a pedicure. June is pedicure awareness month, after all.
via Neiman Marcus. $200.00.
And to think we'd really recommend white tennies with jeans...
Whoh! Whohhh. White sneakers? In 2008, really? What about the Frankenclyde's you so recently praised? And white socks w/ jeans? Am I twelve or am I Greg Brady?
New Balance shoes? Seriously, WTF? Anybody that even resembles an MB can tell you that, barring engaging in serious physical activity, wearing running shoes with white athletic socks is a one-way ticket to Toolbagtown. You would actually have to carry around a bag of hammers, screwdrivers, and pliers to match the toolbag-level quality of your outfit.
You have to be kidding me about wearing the white sneakers. Those New Balance look corrective. You guys just lost 10 cool points.
Last night world #6 James Blake (bottom) survived a 5-set scare from 34 year-old Fabrice Santoro. However, the Frenchman destroyed Blake in straight sets in the style department, with his handsome Lacoste collared shirt and short white shorts. Blake, meanwhile, returned serve with an ugly-ass Nike tank top (not even allowed at some tennis clubs) and shorts veering towards slacks.
Umpire's call: OUT!