Until fairly recently, I was deathly afraid of the white oxford. Unless I was pairing it up with a jacket and tie in more formal settings, it reminded me of those creepy family photos we’ve all seen where everyone is wearing identical shirts--95 percent of the time, white oxfords. (I have a similarly irrational reason for not wearing blue oxfords, but that is another, more incendiary story).
|Image from Heavy Tweed Jacket.|
Context is everything, of course, and in my particular case, that by which I was surrounded during my formative years is always going to win. But such are the tribulations of this age of “business casual.” Because the basic profile of the polos, oxfords, and khakis once loved by Handbook readers far and wide has been liberally borrowed from to comprise the meaningless, sterile uniform of the service economy, trendsetters would have us believe we must cease and desist en masse.
Contemporary women have been particularly victimized by this phenomenon, painted as they already are into a corner where even a single component of a traditional, casual ensemble is vilified as "frumpy," "boxy," "bulky," or otherwise suspect. It's quite possible the real reason even women with attractive waistlines seldom tuck their shirts in is not because it’s a bad look, but because post-modern circumstances force them to answer questions about where they wait tables. Personally, I find it a sad state of affairs. From those halcyon days of Etienne Aigner mania thirty years ago to the present day, a stylish belt around a trim waist has always gotten my attention.
|A rare contemporary example of an old-school approach, demonstrated by SCE of Summer Wind.|
No, Toto, we're not in 1980 anymore. But no one of any gender should ever be made afraid of the classics. They were here before those weird portraits, and they will still be here after the word “tunic” is no longer in the Lands’ End catalog. Let us reclaim them with pride. We'll never look back and say, "What was I thinking?"
|Oxford, khakis, and a boxy blazer? Quelle dommage!|