Thursday, April 16, 2009

Jean Pool

I guess when it’s been proven that he can’t write a column about climate change without getting into fact-checking trouble and all the good pirate jokes have been taken, George F. Will turns to something he knows something about: fashion; specifically denim. As in the material Levi’s are made of.

Turns out he’s quite the a snob about it.

Denim is the carefully calculated costume of people eager to communicate indifference to appearances. But the appearances that people choose to present in public are cues from which we make inferences about their maturity and respect for those to whom they are presenting themselves.


This is not complicated. For men, sartorial good taste can be reduced to one rule: If Fred Astaire would not have worn it, don’t wear it. For women, substitute Grace Kelly.

I’ve read the article several times and I’m convinced he’s serious, so I guess my suspicions are confirmed: Mr. Will was born with a big stick up his butt and has never deigned to have it removed. In fact, he probably likes having it there. He’s like the teacher I had when I was at boarding school who never had a hair out of place and was aghast at someone who treated bacon as finger food. The house can be burning down, but you dare not run out of the house unless you’re wearing the perfectly monogrammed silk robe with matching slippers.

In a way, though, I will give him credit for at least being true to his country-club-Republican patrician bearing. You won’t see him trying to patronize the base of the party by eating pork rinds, listening to Loretta Lynn, wearing a feed-store cap, or taking on a faux-Texas accent. When he advocates for tax cuts for the rich, it’s not so he can trickle down the wealth; it’s so he can up the limit on his Brooks Brothers card.

I’m also glad to know where he stands on sartorial matters. I don’t mind dressing up every so often, and I have a fairly decent collection of nice clothes, including a few shirts and trousers from stores that sell nothing but clothes (as opposed to the menswear aisle next to auto parts). But I have always been a jeans and t-shirt kind of guy (polos for dress-up), and for years they were the only pants I wore to work or anywhere else. I was thinking about getting some new khakis to wear to work; you know, something nice like the kind that would be acceptable at a casual Georgetown backyard cocktail party or an evening on the patio at Ocean Reef or Boca Raton. But thanks to Mr. Will’s advice, on my next shopping trip it will nothing but 501’s.