Monkey See Monkey Do

Socks, like a tie or pocket square, can express one’s individuality no matter the clothes one’s wearing—bespoke suits (believe me, you’re not the only one), or selvedge jeans (again, you and a million other men). Fred Astaire, with his impeccably tailored suits and what can only be described as perfect style, can be seen in classic films wearing bright blue or red socks with an otherwise conservative outfit. Today there are many choices for colorful or patterned socks, but sometimes the old standbys work just fine (or actually better).
Original Rockford red-heeled socks, in continuous production in the US for decades and known as the “sock monkey” socks, now come in a rather nice pink, as well as light blue, and although they work perfectly with jeans, I also wear them with less casual outfits. You can’t, after all, see the heels until you take your shoes off, but they do make a good conversation piece at homes where shoe removal at the door is obligatory. And when they wear a bit thin, yes, you can actually still make an original sock monkey from them, which just might amuse—for a moment at least—a kid being raised on iPads and electronic games.

Sacks & Saddles

Sometimes you’re walking on the sidewalk and something catches your eye—something particularly stylish (or sometimes particularly hideous). Bicycles are as plentiful as rats in The Big Apple, although fortuitously, these days, one sees bicycles a little more often than those much-maligned creatures (unless one is trekking along subway tracks, of course). There are beautiful bikes, ugly bikes, custom bikes and vintage bikes in various states of disrepair, but this one, a vintage bike not quite restored to perfection, but with the obligatory and now ubiquitous Brooks saddle and an American saddle bag, was just perfect. The gentleman (or lady) who rode and parked this has to be particularly stylish, I imagine.

Black Tie

For some reason Black Tie invitations today seem to mean that one can wear anything approximating black, or anything approximating a tie. (The tie means bow tie, by the way, not a black necktie.) It’s a shame, really, and the parade of celebrities wearing atrociously ugly versions of tuxedos at award ceremonies serves to only encourage men to take liberties with their dress that they shouldn’t. Of course certain liberties can show a sense of style, even whimsy, without offending the sensibilities of the style police.
My father’s tux, which I’ve inherited, is an early 1970′s Aquascutum, but the style is as fresh today as it was forty years ago (well, my father was pretty conservative in his dress, which meant his suits could outlast most trends). A single button peak lapel jacket and straight leg, no pleats trousers, is pretty straightforward, except the fabric has a black-on-black paisley pattern, almost invisible until either light shines on it, or you get really close. The paisley is a classically Persian design—and my father was happy to advertise his heritage, however subtly. And yes, it comes with a cummerbund, which just happens to be the Persian word for belt.


Handkerchief tied around the neck is as old a style as wearing clothes themselves–and used to be about practicality. This is Dastmal Yazdi, handkerchiefs from the central Iranian city of Yazd, in either cotton or silk. Warm in the winter, to absorb perspiration or wipe your brow in the summer. A vintage Lee denim jacket and a Saville Row suit might be an odd combination, all the more so with an Iranian scarf, but who cares?

Cabrales, Cabron!

Yeah, traditional Mexican shoes. Here, updated stylishly by Industry of All Nations— about as elegant a loafer you can buy, for a fraction of the price of Italian or French shoes, and just as well-made. A wool blend upper, a rubber sole for trekking the canyons of the city. Plus, lined in that wool felt, which means you can wear with or without socks. The plaids work with jeans or a suit, the solid is a staple…or heck, maybe get both for less than a Benjamin.

Keys, etc.

There is a trend these days, it appears, to accessorize one’s keys. A large number of fancy and not so fancy keychains, key holders, and key fobs are on the market, providing men with one more accessory item to show off their style (or wealth) with. Although some have argued that the popularity of key chains or holders is due to men’s lack of jewelry options, I’d suggest that finding a good way to deal with the inevitable jumble of keys we must carry has always been a struggle; well before men cast their envious eyes at the female species’ plentiful options for jewelry or accessories.

I have always carried my keys on a chain, in this case an antique watch chain (to which I added a clasp to attach to a belt loop), but a nice, and small, leather holder prevents them from jangling in the pocket or scratching that nice phone screen that could be sharing its space. This simple and inexpensive holder, from the folks at Studio Gorm, comes in a thick, natural leather, which ages beautifully to a dark brown, and will last longer than the apartment whose keys it holds.