Le BoulevardierLe Boulevardier, Paris, 1990 copyright M-J de Mesterton
A distinguished fellow and published author who has always been known as an elegant dresser, Le Boulevardier will be writing a column here at Elegant Survival. An English-speaker and Francophone who has lived all over the world, Le Boulevardier will contribute his views on the current state of menswear.
Have you ever asked yourself, what do I really need to get through life in style? Allow me to make ten highly personal recommendations, along with the reasons why you should consider them worthwhile.
1) The Proper Umbrella: in case it rains, but more to the point, because a well-made umbrella is a splendid defensive weapon. Not only does the gentleman's umbrella make it possible for you to remain dry in a downpour, it serves as a warning to would-be assailants--mess with me, dirt-bag, it declares, and I'll run you through with this beautifully crafted, dual-use object shaped like a sword. This is an accessory to seriously consider. Also, it is important to note that anything worth owning should have a minimum of two uses; less and you're throwing your hard-earned money out the window.
2) The Tasteful Hip Flask: never has such a small thing provided so much comfort to so few enlightened persons. It is no longer fashionable to wander about piss-drunk, but a drop or two of glorious warmth from a stylishly designed flask can make the difference between life and death. (Well, maybe not, but a small supply of your favorite Scotch or Cognac can nicely lighten an evening of drudgery at your mother-in-law's sister's cousin's daughter's house--you get the picture....) And, in keeping with my rule about a minimum of two uses for each selected item, a stainless steel hip flask makes one hell of a good projectile.
3) The Yellow
4) The Stylish Lighter: an indispensable tool of chivalry 101, the gentleman's lighter allows him to show good taste, and to frequently use the wonderfully open-ended query, may I? It is essential to add that good lighters are solidly constructed. They make excellent projectiles.
5) Cap-Toe Brogues: a supremely useful style that easily crosses from the city to the country (if chosen in black, or a tasteful shade of brown). Appropriate with business attire, cap-toe brogues look equally right with corduroys and jeans. What's more, the brogue, an oxford with perforations on the tip and border seams, started out as a heavy country shoe. This pedigree remains. Brogues are, at least they ought to be,of heavier construction than most dress shoes. This feature will serve you well, should you be forced to kick the stuffing out of some boorish swine.
6) The Grey Flannel Suit: if it was good enough for Fred Astaire, it's good enough for you and me. This is a suit that will take you from weddings to funerals with aplomb. For the ultimate in understated chic, wear it with a white shirt and a luminous silver tie. Because flannel is surprisingly resilient in spite of its softness, this is one cloth that will stylishly endure the occasional drunken brawl.
7) The Trench Coat: mine has traveled around the world. There is no garment more highly flexible. I've slept in the poor thing, and fallen down two flights of stairs while wearing it in
8) The Fur-Felt Fedora: The sun's just plain lousy for you; it rains all over the world; those of us who do not live in the tropics must contend with winter's cold bite. A fine hat will keep you comfortably protected, and it will give you an air of sophistication that you may not deserve. Oh yeah, and women like men who wear hats.
9) The Really Expensive Humidor: Okay, so I lied, this is not a list of absolute essentials, as evidenced by this frivolous choice. But my mother once told me that there is nothing like pure luxury to dramatically improve one's state of mind. (The French version has something to do with food.) A beautifully crafted box can easily set you back one thousand dollars or more. In my estimation, this qualifies as pure luxury: something that costs much less will adequately do the job. The precious wood humidor, with its perfectly mitered joints and tight-sealing lid, is the one thing on my list that you can certainly live without, though it does have at least two uses: it will keep your cigars in perfect condition, and the beautiful finish will bring you joy for the rest of your natural life.
10) The Love of a Good Woman: even the most apparently irredeemable wretch can be saved by a woman of substance--believe me, I speak from experience.
In conclusion, I will remind you that material considerations are trite when compared to love, honor, and true friendship. Life is sometimes rough...so many tough choices. Be prepared; equip yourself for the road ahead!
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