Dressing for Dinner
When you get your tax rebate check from the Federal Government, I hope you do the right thing and spend it. You're not going to help jump-start a stalled economy if you just save that $600 to $1200. Besides, that would be so boring. This is free money! Keep it moving! It's not going to get this country moving again if you use it to pay down your credit card debt. No, the patriotic thing is to go out and spend it, and for me the American way requires that it be spent on conspicuous consumption. That's really the engine that drives the economy, let's face it. What killed the middle class was that nobody wanted to be middle class any more. That's the only possible explanation for a majority of Americans going along with policies designed to help the rich. They all plan to be rich.
I haven't gotten my check yet, but I have done my part to help the country out of the blahs by buying something absolutely unnecessary: a pair of evening shoes from Barker Black. I have a theory that if we all dressed for dinner everything would be okay, and these shoes have really perked up my black-tie look. For several years I have considered getting a pair of calf opera pumps and I could have sworn I'd seen them at Brooks Brothers recently, but on my last visit there all the so-called evening shoes looked like something a tap-dancing troupe would wear. I'm not a patent leather type of guy.
Paul Stuart does have a very beautiful, simple black calf pump without a bow, and I would have bought it but they didn't have my size. But recently my walks around the neighborhood have taken me past the Barker Black boutique on Elizabeth Street, and I've found myself wandering in to consider their wares. This old British shoe company has been relaunched in recent years, offering beautifully made shoes that give traditional styles some edge. Sometimes a little more edge than I require, as with their loafers with crossbones. I know that skulls and bones are very popular today, but I can't help but agree with my wife that the skull and bones is the 21st-century equivalent of the happy face.
I did have my eye on a very swell pair of paddock boots, but then something happened. I was on my way to L.A. for the black-tie opening of the Eli Broad Collection at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. I had my kit already, but one look at my black calf Belgian shoes told me that they needed soles, so I took them to my local on Bleecker Street and said I needed them in a few hours. And then came the call. I was being picked up in an hour. I knew what to do. I ran to Barker Black and picked up their take on the opera pump, probably exceeding my refund considerably. Their version of the classic is slightly racy, with that striped piping and the perforations on the toe. Just the thing for a haute boheme type soiree in LALA land.
I have no doubt that I had the best-dressed feet at this over-the-top opening, and I found that striped piping went perfectly with a pair of black-and-white horizontal-striped Paul Smith socks. I tend to go with the classic black-tie look, foregoing such Oscar-wear as the long tie or the notch lapel, but these slightly fashion-forward shoes were the perfect punctuation for a classic tux.
So I encourage all you fellows to take that Federal check and go out and pick up some new studs or a white dinner jacket or maybe a few bottles of Pol Roger Cuvee Sir Winston Churchill and join me in a celebration of economic recovery. I'm sure Barack Obama would agree that few things give one more hope than freshly pressed evening clothes.