Handy Tips

Last Monday, I began to feel a little off. By Tuesday, I had the flu, as in the real flu, not an Irish flu after New Year’s Eve. When I called the office on Wednesday, I’m sure everyone was convinced I was simply extending my holiday break. I wish that were true. I haven’t had the flu for twenty years. It’s awful, and a huge time suck. Not only does being sick interfere with work, it precludes even simple organizing at home. As a side note, if I’m out sick and we move a meeting, nobody will lose his or her mind and run screaming in front of a speeding bus. Fortunately, I was productive earlier during the holiday break. Here is a project that can save money, and another that moves you away from the "hoarder" category.

Handkerchief Creation

Issue 1: My grandmother said, “A proper gentleman never leaves the house without a handkerchief.” I prefer the madras handkerchiefs, and typically buy mine from J. Press in Cambridge.

Issue 2: I have a plastic bin labeled “fat shirts.” These are the shirts I love, but really are too large and fit like maternity clothes. Most of the shirts are madras. When I wear them, I look like a table.

Solution: I took all the gigantic madras shirts to the dry cleaner and asked them to cut them up and make handkerchiefs. I gave them a sample of a J. Press one as a guide. The following week, I had 24 new madras handkerchiefs. Each one cost $6.00 to make. The J. Press handkerchiefs are $13.00 each. Now I can use any old shirt I no longer wear to create handkerchiefs. I am, however, concerned that the next step is heading toward Little House on the Prairie and making my own clothes from old blankets, and shoes from bits of leftover canvas.

Messy Linen Closet

I know everyone has his or her own method to organizing a linen closet. I hate finding the standard sized pillowcases for the twin beds mixed in with the California King sheets. I hate finding a top sheet that has no mate. I moved my sheets into individual plastic bins. Each bin has a bottom and top sheet, two pillow covers, and four pillowcases. I made labels for each bin and threw away any orphan pieces. I also threw out all the colored, patterned, or striped towels. Now all the towels are white and match. Easy peasy.

In Praise of Madras

Today it finally warmed up. It’s been awhile since the temperature was in the mid 80s, and it gave me the chance to break out the madras shirts. Some of you know how great this feels, others think I should be more adventurous, and others may be asking, “Just what is madras?” Madras is a soft and lightweight fabric with a plaid design. The fabric is named after Chennai, India (Madras under British rule). This is where madras was born as a fabric to breathe in the hot and humid Indian climate. Madras is not just a plaid pattern. It gets softer and fades with each wash. I can’t imagine wearing anything different when it’s warm.

I will draw the line at madras shorts and blazers. The blazer is fine if your 12, but adult men wearing them just look desperate. And the shorts are fine if you are under 25 and shop at Abercrombie. Otherwise, no, it looks dumb. Yes, I have many rules. It makes my life work. However, feel free to buy madras shirts, ties, or if you are female, dresses.

I have one problem that is my boxer shorts. This may be revealing, but I prefer plaid. Unfortunately, this makes changing in the gym problematic when I’m wearing a madras shirt. The combination of shirt and boxers gives the impression that I’m somehow obsessed or trying to match. When I throw in the madras handkerchiefs, I’m inclined to lean toward obsession. What kind of psycho would try and match all of his or her madras?

Madras blazer, Rogues Gallery, no if over 12

Change is Bad

There's no such thing as too much madras

Many of you have written or called and asked me, “Sean, how do you stay trapped in 1962? Where do you find those clothes?” or “Sean, I’d be more than happy to take you shopping, I’m sure I could help you be more up to date.” The answer is that it’s not easy to stay trapped in 1962. The clothes I buy come in and out of fashion every 20-25 years. So I’m quite hip for a few months every two decades. Since the fashion industry insists on change, if I find an item I like, I buy several and store them. Some items such as Sperry Topsider canvas sneakers have never been out of production, thankfully. The secret is J. Press. They have the same ethos about change (it’s bad) that I do. J. Press is in Cambridge, New Haven, Manhattan, and Washington D.C. and is exactly the right place to find madras shirts and handkerchiefs, whale or anchor motif belts, and good school color repp ties. Of course, I have other sources for non-groovy 1962-wear. But the best advice I can give is to buy multiples. It’s possible that the next time you go to buy classic khakis, they will have been replaced with a cut that some might call “European.”

This is how hanging out on campus should be

J. Press catalogue 1962

Good ties, but you need to order through the time machine

American Graffiti, Ron Howard, good fashion tips

You never know when someone may say, "Sailing?"

Notice how well groomed and neat these students are