Monday, August 15, 2011
Somewhat orthogonal to the usual topics, we gave a party the other day and, leaving the host out of the discussion, the pizza maker was the best dressed male in the group. An interesting man who in typical California fashion cooks to support his life of wind surfing, he has over the years learned that while he is working he is the center of attraction, and dressing the part earns him more new and return engagements than does blending into the crowd.
This economic reward for standing out is the principal force behind the changed dress at most major awards ceremonies and other high visibility events in recent years. Instead of dressing to fit in, men are attempting to stand out and, unlike the ladies, have had a difficult time figuring out how to go about it. Tom Ford's classic approach keeps him visible in an attractive way, but his success is due to the general lack of competition - if the other men were doing exactly the same thing none of them would be magazine material.
That defines the dilemma of course, as since sometime after Brummel the accepted protocol for dealing with obvious attempts to be different has been to disparage the attempter (and who knows how we got there, as Brummel hardly adopted a radically new approach to dress in order to blend in). The society of the time was established. Dukes do not need to compete for attention since they are, after all, Dukes. It is only the poor writers and comedians that must be noticed if they are to eat. And that brings us back to the lesson of the pizza maker, which is apparently to dress well and serve food.