At the moment, New England is receiving an historic amount of snow that is compromising just about everything: safety, public transportation, education, business, general daily life, and, alas, Perfect Propriety. Beth Teitell of The Boston Globe has written an interesting article about how Bostonians are dressing to accommodate both professionalism and the weather. Etiquetteer must bow in admiration to Professor Rictor Noren of the Boston Conservatory, who defiantly commutes on foot dressed as a gentleman in this dreadful weather. His omission of a hat - any hat - is certainly too imprudent for Etiquetteer, and Etiquetteer trembles for the fate of his dress shoes in the absence of boots (Ms. Teitell doesn't indicate if Professor Noren wore rubbers over them; Etiquetteer certainly hopes he did). But one must admit the professor sallies forth with complete confidence, and that is how one projects Style. Etiquetteer steadfastly believes that one does not have to compromise one's professional appearance for the sake of warmth or, indeed, preservation of one's wardrobe from destruction. One need not confine oneself to choosing between looking like a slob and looking like Carly Fiorina. What Ms. Teitell calls "storm chic" Etiquetteer has often referred to as "Yankee chic," which at a minimum is a substitution of good sturdy boots for dress shoes, and can be expanded to include the substitution of more durable materials, if not forms, for business clothes. For instance, Etiquetteer wore this to the office between snowstorms last week:
Instead of a typical tropical-weight wool suit with leather shoes, Etiquetteer's "Yankee chic" uniform is corduroy trousers, a thick wool sweater, and an oversize (to accommodate the sweater) khaki jacket. Barely visible is the wool necktie (one of the rare occasions you'll see Etiquetteer without a bow tie). Author Paul Fussell deplored the middle-class nature of the V-neck sweater, which he claimed middle-class men wore to prove that they were wearing a tie. Etiquetteer can't remember if that was in Class or BAD, and will have to look it up later. (That said, Etiquetteer doesn't really agree with that hypothesis; there's nothing wrong with the Perfectly Proper V-neck sweater.)
So, please be strong and dress warmly with Perfect Propriety. You'll project hope for the swift coming of Spring . . . or, if not Spring, at least the swifter elimination of the snow.