Follow your Sartorial White Rabbit

By Film Noir Buff

…when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

There was nothing so VERY remarkable in that; nor did Alice think it so VERY much out of the way to hear the Rabbit say to itself, `Oh dear! Oh dear! I shall be late!’ (when she thought it over afterwards, it occurred to her that she ought to have wondered at this, but at the time it all seemed quite natural); but when the Rabbit actually TOOK A WATCH OUT OF ITS WAISTCOAT- POCKET, and looked at it, and then hurried on, Alice started to her feet, for it flashed across her mind that she had never before see a rabbit with either a waistcoat-pocket, or a watch to take out of it, and burning with curiosity, she ran across the field after it, and fortunately was just in time to see it pop down a large rabbit-hole under the hedge.

In another moment down went Alice after it, never once considering how in the world she was to get out again.

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass are two stories out of thousands of other classics I have read and forgotten that remain in my mind. As a child one cannot be but drawn by the fanciful characters and the candy coated fugue of Wonderland and as an adult we are impressed both at the author’s scathing social satire and with his self aware pathos. He was brilliant, he was playful and his stories are rich with nuance. For example the books supposedly operate like a giant game of chess and can be plotted as such. Complexity in a child’s book is undoubtedly part of the reason that as we mature we are all drawn back to Wonderland, where there is always something new for our minds to resolve, consider or delight in.

Many of the literary discussions revolve around Alice’s relationship with the mystical Cheshire cat. Its lingering grin and somnambulistic suggestions turn Alice’s Anglo-Saxon logic on its head. Perhaps the maddest of Wonderland’s creatures it is nevertheless the only one which has control over its arrivals and departures and whose reasoning is as air tight as it is bafflingly useless. However eternal its smile may be, for me the more enduring image is not Alice and the Cheshire cat but her relationship with the white rabbit.

If the analysts are to be believed, then the white rabbit represents adult male worry. Worries about punctuality, worries about propriety and ultimately, worries without reason. The worries themselves might seem very real but Carroll’s rabbit underlines the absurd fact that when boys become men they fritter their lives away on perceived social obligations. Apparently this theoretically normal behavior is odd enough to cause a child like Alice to want to follow the rabbit.

Oblivious to the rabbit’s inner pressures which cause it to act as it does, Alice’s pursuit of him represents curiosity about something rare and wonderful (even magical) and a willingness to experiment without fear. The rabbit merely acts the way he should or must act but to Alice he is a distinct curiosity which must be observed and studied. Alice’s approach, as crafted by Carroll, is a good allegorical lesson in the way to pursue your own style, which should be through experimentation sans trepidation, trial and error and a willingness to constantly move forward or retrace your steps as the need calls for.

Although it is important for you to follow your own path to sartorial enlightenment, it will be easier for you to accomplish this if I tell you a little about my own journey. We are one now, my white rabbit and I. But there was a time before I was aware and when I would catch unappreciated glimpses of what I was yet to become. He was elusive and though (often through blind curiousity) I strained to engage him he would vanish always like vapor in a frost.

Style Develops both Naturally and Gradually

Understand that I was not a natural candidate for a man who loves stylish clothes. Although both my parents liked clothing and mom was especially good with colors and pattern mixing, I displayed zero appetite for clothing beyond what was cool for my age and status. I was more of a “smash mouth” athlete who liked to motivate others on his teams. It is true that nice clothes were always provided for me but they usually weren’t my choice and I usually acted like it was a chore dealing with the buying of them.

However, I became a military history enthusiast from an early age and this lead to a fascination with military costumes which eventually lead to the research of military uniforms. In turn this blossomed into painting lead soldiers which I would enter in competitions at hobbyist shows. As a boy, I often won awards against men with much more experience and it dawned on me rather immodestly that I actually had skill as a painter. Why this is I cannot tell you, I suppose I just wanted to be good at it and spent the time.

Three great model soldier painting artists took me under their respective wings and I learned something different from each of them, one taught me to paint with a hat pin which gave me a sense of crispness of line, one taught me to mix these acrylic colors from Germany called Pelican-Plaka into new colors and also to layer shades of the same colors on top of each other (almost like an architect’s gradient map) for depth and the third taught me to shadow and highlight to create a sense of richness and reality. English military history and their uniforms always seemed to fascinate me most of all. Theirs were so often the battles of the small defying the mighty, and tell me what school boy who hated bullies wouldn’t be drawn to that message of fortitude? After a while, I started paying attention to which colors “worked” with my blazer and tweed jacket and which did not, realizing that what worked wasn’t always the obvious color grouping.

I have written these things about myself to demonstrate that to be able to see one’s white rabbit is something that takes many levels of eye opening and detail noticing. It didn’t happen completely by chance and definitely not overnight, no not even for me. What I am saying is without the effort and maybe some circumstantial good fortune you might be putting off the revelation of your sartorial epiphany. Furthermore, personal styles are developed and naturalized on a person over time, they are not created all at once, and if they are, they aren’t stylish.

This all brings me to that mild spring when my mother took me with her to London for two weeks and I became fully aware that I liked clothes. I came face to face with the future; or rather my white rabbit unveiled himself to me with a “How do you do?” I think it is fitting for me that my sartorial doppelganger was met in England because in many ways and for the following reasons my heart has always resided there.

Why English Style Should be Admired

Let’s take a step back, before the London trip. I grew up devouring old movies populated by English people. English voices were the voices of sophisticated evil in horror movies. Somehow it was more horrible watching insane English aristocrats (who had no real reason to be so angry) unleash demonic schemes whilst hardly moving a muscle. At the other end of the social scale, in war movies for example there were rascally “other ranks” that drank, shirked and swindled but turned out to be true-blue chaps when the chips were down. To me, the pith helmet was the symbol of adventure and the English always had that “sporting style” never losing their cool under fire. Unflinchingly phlegmatic, it was all about form. And concerning form, the English beauty when it was apparent, was the ultimate in refinement. England turned out unique lovelies like Merle Oberon, Angela Lansberry and Jean Simmons who tantalized the imagination, suggesting that the perfect woman existed in our past and in my future.

Even the Roman Empire seemed more real when populated with English voices. Maybe that’s the key to all of this. Like the Roman Empire, England’s is the one we all want to get back to. In some ways it’s the Ralph Lauren of Empires, greater than it ever was in our minds, more stable and longer lasting. With its public school lads pouring down the stone steps of their schools in droves while spinning their capped and gowned professors about and then going on to do great deeds in parliament, fight in great battles in remote locales, returning to public life without so much as a mention of their heroic deeds. Noblesse oblige and the Crown, of young ensigns waving the colors in a crimson square surrounded by French cavalry shouting “Think of England.” And in the movie “A Bridge too Far” we see Sir Anthony Hopkins packing a dinner jacket before careening into the vainglorious battle for Arnhem. His second in command brings a fox hunting horn which sent that enjoyable message to me that to be part of English culture was to live a game, an adventure, prep school camaraderie extended. I suppose in some ways it’s not unlike the prep school experience here.

That’s the England of my daydreams and I am a dreaming creature. Perhaps I idolize it but they remain an interesting people the English (the British) and yet so dichotomous. A small island, possessing no strategic importance and yet it shaped the modern world. A verdant landscape and moderate climate which astonishingly yielded few natural resources came within an inch of owning everything. Rejected and yet remembered fondly by every colony they ever had, and lost. The people are stiff and proper but able to laugh at themselves as Americans never could do. Comfortable in their class system, in control of their language, admired and hated by outsiders. My father, who is from a place that plays cat to England’s dog, freely admits that the English are a remarkable people who sacrificed everything for freedom. He drinks Scotch and eats roast beef and acknowledges Winston Churchill as an incredible man. Courage, it seems, has a face but does style? Yes, I think it does.

The symbols of the sailing ship, the bulldog and the Spitfire are enduring ones of eternal optimism and determination to keep a balance of power and a democratic viewpoint going in the world. To accomplish this has demanded great risk, sacrifice, creativity, courage and national pride. I now believe to all be reflected in what is considered an outfit to be taken seriously in. The next time you put on a navy suit with white stripes, a pink gingham shirt, navy tie with pink spots and black lace ups remember you are the sartorial inheritor of a rich legacy of being well bred, powerful, serious, educated and mercantile whilst saving the world from tyrants.

Back to the London trip. When I saw the shirts in the Jermyn street shop windows, I was hooked. Mom bought me two brightly striped Turnbull and Asser shirts and a necktie which was heavier and richer than I had ever owned before. I wore them with my navy blazer and flannels or khakis and I had to buy a decent pair of sterling cufflinks which I would enjoy flashing “accidentally” with the lads while reclining in a chair (although I stopped this affectation when a girlfriend named Tinker asked me if I was having a wrist spasm attack). Little did I know that the bold color combinations that seemed to go with my aggressive persona would trigger the dandy within. The result was to realize that to have something handsome that excited wonder but also admiration was an end to achieve. No one else I knew at my age had Turnbull shirts or a marvelously lush woven tie in a large scaled geometric.

I was not just seeing me, in those shirts and ties, I was seeing my vision of England somehow tucked deeply inside my mind and of a style that spoke of a pose I wanted to strike. When I wore them, I felt like I was part of a tradition and that somehow I was headed to make great statements on the floor of parliament. Of course, I never will make a grand speech, nor do I want to but it is always fun to imbue oneself with a dash of importance, elegance or courage whether it’s an Astaire like spring in one’s step or the belief that you are in step with those who believe in the balance of power and saving the world for democracy.

A few years after my London trip I saw a man walking down Madison Avenue wearing a bowler hat with a blue and yellow striped shirt, double breasted chalk stripe suit, black shoes, full length umbrella and a snap in his mustachioed gait. The metamorphosis accelerated. Brooks Brothers became Paul Stuart and Paul Stuart incorporated Turnbull and Asser. Thus sack suit in grey solid became two button darted suit in Prince of Wales check which gave way to the double breasted navy chalk stripe.

And all the while I just enjoyed this awakening that clothes could somehow grant you status, big chunks of status, lots and lots of status. I began to pay attention to the same details that I had painted on my leaden soldiers. Pocket squares, dimples, shoe shines. Maybe it had always been there, maybe it hadn’t but I was making up for lost time. And others began to take notice. The first time I was asked by a man much older than me to choose his clothes, I think I must have thought he was making fun of me. Just a few years later at my first post school job, I was choosing wardrobes as a favor, first for one admirer, then two, then an entire company’s senior execs. And no one ever thought I was pretentious, it seemed so natural on me. All the while I was again hardly the natural candidate. Perhaps that’s the secret, perhaps I am so mainstream and unfussy that it legitimizes fastidiousness for men along the lines of “If that lunk can wear them well then it must be OK.” Over time I have simply accepted this without discussing clothes much. In fact, I make it a point to never bring clothes up even when around a third party conversation about it. However I never seem to fool anyone and it isn’t long before I am being asked, out of the blue, for tips on style.

What are the author’s motives in all of this?

I have spent too much time assuming that I knew enough about my style without paying enough attention to its component parts or how they evolved. I have enjoyed clothes and spent a lot of time thinking about their messages but never why they send these messages. Further I never wrote the thoughts down or really discussed clothes at all except with people in the clothes industry. In short too much of it has been instinctive and not enough based on social archaeology.

Although to a certain extent my philosophy is to not dismantle something too empirically especially if it’s a hobby because you might find you’ve eliminated some of the intangible enjoyment you derive from it. In other words, continuing mystery plays a part in continuing titillation. Therefore, while I haven’t hunted down every historical and technical reason for why items or traditions evolved the way they have, I did find some of both to be helpful for what men in England and, as a result, in other places find as acceptable choices when they get dressed for work and for play in tailored clothes.

I realize that while I employ many elements of English style; I am not English and never will be completely not simply by upbringing but also by choice. I do not think it is wise for me to dress exactly as the English dress because I will perform the double disservice of not being true to my own style and bring the contempt of the English down on my head for being a poseur. To be sure, I will continue to borrow heavily from the English look, much of which is now also mine but with definite American-New York City nuances which those in England will admire on me as much as I admire their style on them.

It has been interesting to find on my journey that my tastes often parallel English ones which I think speaks volumes about men’s clothes as they originally developed in this country and particularly in the tri-state area of our eastern seaboard.

Likewise, it is interesting that elevated American tastes often choose something different than the English to express the same idea. For example, the English choose the darkest suits because a man of quality must possess a certain solidity and gravitas. In America, the medium colored grey suit is the mark of the easy going upper middle class man. Partially because life is a game from office to club, partially because of our Great Depression changing the choices (aristocrats cannot look too powerful). An original species isolated from each other by an ocean will begin to develop genetic differences over time, Darwinism at it’s best.

I find that the active mind must continue to question and explore and to keep taking suggestions and recommendations from others in order to grow and to improve, even if that growth is asymptotic. In my opinion the mind that assumes it knows everything and finds contributions from others as a threat to its own authority or imagined expertise is the path of fear, ignorance and ultimately intellectual bankruptcy. I have no issues with starting from scratch under the assumption that I know nothing in order to either recheck my learning with my prior knowledge or to discover better information and better means which might cause me to jettison the old, the tired the dead wrong. I approached this project without ego, the better to grow personally and the better to reward the outside observer.

I want to be clear, I wrote this and the essays to follow for myself, and only for myself. Readers take note that you are reading nothing more than a refined version of my own inner monologue. I had questions and I sought answers. I do not want to choose your clothes for you, nor do I expect you to let me become your style guru. If anything, I merely want to point you in the direction of handsome things and to demonstrate how a single thought or image can unlock a sensibility in yourself that you never knew existed.

To develop your own style you must be open to the new as well. It is, after all, a development and a journey. It is not an easy fence to straddle, it is not an easy journey to walk but this is a sliver of what it is to develop your personal style. It would be more comfortable if we could really decide at the outset which articles define us and stick with them but ultimately a dogma without reflection will doom the issuer to unhappiness.

Although most men achieve their style on their own without reflection, I assure you the ones who do it best think deeply on it. Most of them would not admit it and thus would never attempt to set it down for others to read. Some concepts are excruciatingly difficult to express; sometimes language is just inadequate. And I admit I would like to help those interested in stylish clothes learn and save time and money from my experiences. I may not always have time to write therefore I hope that this series sparks others to likewise set their experiences down.

What is the author’s target group in terms of sampling?

I am not canvassing every cross section of English society, nor, oddly, am I always looking at the very top of it either. I am looking at the Mandarins of the Civil Service, the public school graduates, the military elite, Oxbridge dons, the City lads, the country gents, the club land idlers of the West End, and the peerage, but sometimes also the East End. Sometimes dressing well is, but just as often it isn’t, about class. And although the English seem to have a keen eye for identifying a person’s class whether they are well dressed or not, it is not as important here. Further, we have different class standards. I consider myself from a good background but my attention to precision and cleanliness might score me many points lower in England than here. I simply try too hard for them.

Bear in mind that many of the aforementioned social circles overlap (Venn diagram like) but few of them wear all of the choices that I will be exploring. However, I did keep in mind a level of taste that all of them would recognize in each other and find inoffensive, acceptable and even admirable as choices within the broader group level, even if they would not wear the item themselves. I have when possible tried to find what the average member of this broader group would choose or wear and also what the rarified but nevertheless acceptable flaneur or dandy might choose and likewise still be considered acceptable or admirable by his peers.

The components of the Englishman’s panoply developed over time to represent a man with gravitas, authoritas, and dignitas. To a certain extent the smothering conformity has given rise to some idiosyncratic riots of color and pattern at the edges of the outfit. For example, the London barristers have a tradition of bright shirts which would never do in a U.S. courtroom. Their suits are heavy, they are dull but the shirts seem to be a continuing competition of how many colors one can load on without clashing.

At the moment, style in England for men is set by the “City lads” who set their own sartorial rules, some of which are, like the barristers, astonishingly restrictive and others of which are bold beyond comprehension. The rest of the country follows their lead both because they are the ones spending the money on the clothes and because people like emulating the money men. However the mandarins of the conservative party, the upper levels of the civil service and the settled money inhabitants of London’s “Club-land” in the West End all have different styles. Why do these groups retain separate stylish identities? The City lads, though nicely dressed, may own England but they do not run it. They are after all just lads and are not taken seriously by those who wield political power. They are thus an elite somewhat at odds with another elite, the latter of whom dress in a less flamboyant manner which declares power, insulation and solemnity.

General Stylistic Differences between the English and the Americans

One universal English trait is that one should buy nice things and take care of them but make sure you do not look like you spent any time caring. Looking too prepackaged or too fussy comes across as a loss of caste or face amongst one’s peers. An interesting duality is at work here in a country that makes beautiful things for men and yet strives to make sure it looks as if they do not notice.

Another current and seemingly at odds with the follow-the-City-boys trend is the fact that while wanting to fit in the English man wants desperately to look different. He does this in ways that do not occur to the Americans. Therefore in England, there is a race to subtle detailing that will be caught on closer inspection and impress an onlooker. But you need to splice this with the fact that the British man isn’t as afraid of color as I think the American is, at least for certain items. As long as it is “well done” individuality within the shirt and tie set is a consummation devoutly to be wished.

It seems sometimes it is easier to say what items no Englishman with taste will select vs. trying to record a litany of what he will select. As with Americans, it seems defining the national character, at least for men’s clothes, is about exclusion. Think I am kidding? Go ask an American what defines being American and see how crazy it drives him.

And truthfully there is no one English look any more than there is one American look. A black or navy suit with an all over woven white pin dot pattern might make an old Etonian cringe but may make a young Scot cut quite a dashing figure. Thus, while I have endeavored to isolate the “English look”, I have concentrated more on some circles than on others and tried to look at trends far more than individual specifics (though at times I will address individual specifics). We together as writer and reader have a unique opportunity to interact in that I can go into details or follow on stories or even write spin offs of things touched on in earlier essays. Unlike an old fashioned paper book which once printed is essentially un-editable, I can add topics or detail I hadn’t originally considered.

Additionally the answers are not always what one thinks they should be. During my research I found surprising answers to my questions which when applied to my hitherto assumed observations and conclusions sometimes turned out to be correct but for the wrong reasons. For instance the answer to the question why in a nation of men who want to fit in with their peers and do not believe in buying a lot of clothes, whether they have the dash or not, is there such a huge variation in color and texture and pattern? Apparently, at the same time that they don’t want to stand out they all want to look different! Sometimes it’s enough to drive you to wear synthetics.

And looking a little bit different is a recurring theme with English men. Different but still chosen from within a set parameter of what’s acceptable and what is not. This is no doubt a descendent of the Brummell phenomenon that details should only be noticed by the initiated and should be almost miniscule in their differences. Thus the handmade buttonhole or the cut of a lapel or the type of suit shoulder can speak volumes to someone in the know while everyone else will glance over it.

The English tend to wear their things more often and in the same combinations which makes for or perhaps adds to a sense of personal identity. Those combinations themselves seem to be more colorful but less perfect with no insecurity about whether something “goes” with some other item in the wardrobe. I will not make a lot of judgments in this series but this one I will compare with the recent American propensity for needing to look different every day rather like our women. It is not all men’s fault, I think women here do comment if a man wears the same thing too often as if it’s a character flaw and the rest of us have been infected by this. This is an unfortunate direction.

The English also are not as afraid of color in accessories as Americans can be. It seems that the British fear symbols while we dread color, they embrace pattern and we try to match everything. The English also like hidden messages in their clothes like an alternating shadow stripe which is simply a different weave in the cloth. A stripe like this is unnoticeable until you stand in a certain light at a certain angle. And even when you finally see it, only those in the know realize it marks a fabric only available for custom clothes. Americans prefer the cloth either looks exactly like one off the rack or a pattern that immediately announces the article’s custom heritage.

In the USA people dress in what one friend of mine referred to as “expensive conformity”. As a nation we seem to spend a lot of money to fit in and look like we are doing the right thing. We also seem to worry a lot about doing it wrong; comfortable that paying a certain amount makes it all very exclusive.

I think if you ask most Americans if they want to be an individualist or part of the herd, they will tell you almost every time they want to stand out. However, the supposed drive to be individual is belied by everyone heading for the same pre-packaged goods. Everything from clothes, to cars to girls has to look the same. To a certain extent Americans can get away with this, after all we have a country with 5 times the population and 50 times the land mass of Britain. In some ways, the British have no choice but to attempt to stand out because they see each other all the time, whereas the USA is still a place where you will rarely bump into someone and in some remote parts you can travel for days without seeing another person.

Money is not as ready nor is it as important in England. You will find a grandee buying a pair of sterling cufflinks for £20 while a much simpler person will save up to get a pair for 50 times the price. Status has two tiers; items must pass the initial stage of acceptability, and then choose anything that strikes your fancy. At a deeper level this may indicate the British belief in the separation of money and power. Some have the money but it in no way follows that they will wield any power.

Here in the States it seems men are attracted to things they think will impress others, sometimes whether they themselves like the item or not. We are controlled by our status, which is why a man who can afford $5,000 cufflinks will rarely be caught wearing a $25 pair, people might think he’s fallen on hard times. It may be a sign that as a nation we think of power residing in the hands of those with money. A comfortable thought for those who at least believe no “Breeding” or “Education” is involved in the Horatio Alger lottery which seems to attend so many of our cultural daydreams.

What I Hope the Reader Takes Away From This

But what should the reader take away from all of this and why will it be helpful to them? This is an excellent question and I am very relieved you have asked it, bravo! I am afraid the answer itself could be the theme of it’s own essay but here are a few of the more salient hints I hope the reader derives from what will be an ongoing series of articles on the English style and how they go about picking it all for themselves.

When you try to define the parameters of someone else’s style whether it is an individual or a group you will begin to understand what works for yourself more clearly. This is a more natural and stronger path than amassing a list from the beginning of all the things you think are elegant and will make you stand out only to find that you rarely wear them. Instead, if you figure out the message(s) an item sends to others, you can decide whether it is the type you also want to be associated with. If you want to be associated with something, I would imagine that makes you more comfortable wearing it.

Some structure is useful in achieving a sense of self and some reference to another culture helps to sound out the dimensions of one’s own style, sonar like. You would not want to plan a wardrobe too perfectly but keeping all things that you already own in the fore of your mind might help avoid amassing a haphazard one. I hope that a reader will appreciate the art of wearing clothes in England and develop a fondness for its aesthetic as I have. Further that it might make people think a bit more about messages they are sending when they choose a shirt or a tie combination as more than simply looking good. Therefore, here are some reasons to study another culture’s style:

First, to demonstrate that genre of style is a living, evolving thing, partly historical and partly experimental. We do not; we should not copy the mode of dress from the departed except for costume parties.

Second, that it may work only in the location it was designed in and only on the people it was designed for (Bowler hats are an extreme example) or it may indeed be pan global (I always wanted to use that term) like the black cap-toe lace up shoe.

Third, what the business aesthetic looks like when it is shaped solely by a culture dominated by the mainstream man without what may be termed outside or fringe influences. Purity is not superiority but it is origins and sometimes to understand evolution one needs to first understand origins.

Fourth, that what one culture sees as effeminate a similar culture sees as a badge of manhood. In England color is not a problem, rather too much preening is; looking pretty is a disaster.

Fifth, that a person can develop a very definite style within a seemingly tight set of parameters. In fact, the English seem to develop more eccentric dressers within their specific dimensions of style than do Americans who ironically have comparatively unlimited choices in clothes.

Sixth, that clothes carry messages that should protect you, assert you and otherwise identify you with something solid. In the USA if we forget reasons for why something “was as it was” we now feel obligated to toss the tradition aside, while in England they remember and hold tradition still in high esteem.

Seventh, male day attire is not costume but rather part of being a man. In England, being a man is important, there isn’t this endless state of high school that we have developed here nor do they have a layer of baby boomers hanging on and gorging themselves holding the generations under them from advancing.

Eighth, that there may be clothing combinations hideous to outsiders but which have developed a class elegance within a given society. This includes those symbols, patterns, colors and combinations of them all which identify you as a member of the club. For instance, the Fleur-de-Lys pattern is a very common symbol in England for men’s accessories but virtually nonexistent here. Meanwhile the stylized flower symbol is used but goes unrecognized by Americans as a decoration developed for neckties by a civilization which adores flowers. Sometimes outsiders will find native items attractive, and sometimes they will not ever choose them which serves the native group well, after all picking these things properly identifies a wearer as “one of us”.

I realize that one’s style is never perfected and that we jeopardize individuality once we cease to question it and the ossification of complacency sets in. Perhaps the journey should never end or one will never realize their style the best it can be. Maybe I’ve idled too long, maybe I myself am as far away from completion as anyone starting out. I never did treat my white rabbit as an equal but rather as a something to chase but never catch, and I think now I regret that. But it is not too late. Now I can ask him for explanations of why he is what he is. I have grown up and the rabbit while still exciting wonder, can now give me answers, even if they are at times inchoate ones.

The English, like the white rabbit, operate under a set of social norms which are difficult for me to identify and appreciate. I only see the superficial results and wonder about why they behave like this in their land. I am like Alice because their pressures to be accepted generate a sartorial interest for me as an observer and I must follow them and watch for the next odd behavior which will delight me. I will never become like the white rabbit but the pursuit of him forces me to explore and that promotes growth and ultimately change.

I thought the journey was over, it seems it is not. It is therefore a brave new world that hand in paw my white rabbit and I will endeavor to guide you through a tour of the English aesthetic. It is but a sampling because, as in a large zoo during a day trip, we’ll only have time for a fraction of the exhibits. Over the next few months, through a series of articles I will set down some of my thoughts about how the English choose clothes and the reasons behind their decisions. Through my research, I have learned a lot about a topic I believed I already understood. I can only hope that this series helps you to understand what choices to make when your white rabbit finally introduces himself to you.

  1. — Tony Peacock    Aug 12, 06:21    #

    Finely written article. You show yourself, by any measure to be a true Englishman, it was never the accident of geography at birth, but always an aspiration (at it’s best), a world you choose to inhabit , thank you fnb, for this and your always interesting forum.

  2. — FNB    Oct 20, 23:47    #


    Actually, I think this is a disorganized essay which could stand a lot of rewriting. It was a theory I set out to prove before I had done much research. Useful as a brainstorming exercise.

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