Elegant Survival

Stylish Living on a Shoestring
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Le Boulevardier, Exclusively at Elegant Survival


Elegant Survival Presents

Le Boulevardier

Le 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.


The Gentleman's Ten Essentials

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 Cashmere Sweater: because winter need not be dull, and, should danger strike, to cushion your hip flask, while you use your umbrella as a rapier.

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 Pittsburgh; less to do with much-maligned Pittsburgh, than with my own inability to simultaneously walk and drink. Now I know that the Brits lost the empire, but do not hold this momentary lapse against them. I heartily recommend that you purchase a British trench coat. After all, who knows foul weather better than they?

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!


Copyright Elegant Survival, 2008 All Rights Reserved. Copyright Violators and Internet Thieves Will Be Persecuted AND Prosecuted.


Le Boulevardier on Men's Style

Elegant Survival Presents

Le Boulevardier

Le Boulevardier, Paris, 1990 copyright M-J de Mesterton
Westerners are fortunate to live in free societies: wear what you want, but know how you look…. I loathe the new trend that forces men of all shapes into slim-fitting jackets and trousers made for tall, lean mannequins who do not resemble you and me. Blame Tom Ford, the influential designer who revived the warring House of Gucci with his slim, “sexy” styles. Ford has good taste and a trim body that looks good in the things he creates. But his clothes leave no room for expression, since the average fellow cannot sausage himself into the stuff without gut-crushing discomfort. I am somewhere between fifty and death, weigh 190 pounds, at a dizzying height of 5 feet 9 inches. And though I was once a soldier with a reputation for fitness and durability, like all men in their middle years, I have slightly expanded through the mid-section—and this despite a regular training regimen. My friends and acquaintances suffer the same development. And yet among these, several insist on cramming themselves into clothes designed for twenty-two-year-old amazons. There are few sights more depressing than middle-aged men bulging above the hips, in the new low-waist trousers; and when a fellow adds an idiotically tight jacket to the mix, the visible expanse of shirt below whatever button is fastened contributes pathos where none is wanted. When I think of persons admired for their skinny style, Mick Jagger always comes to mind. Good old Mick, with his huge head and tiny body--a rock icon whose band hired the Hell’s Angels to provide security at Altamont Raceway in December of ’69, the moral equivalent of bringing aboard the Imperial Wizard of the Mississippi Klan to provide counseling for persons unsure of their racial attitudes. Now, contrast the likes of Big-Head-Tiny-Body-Skinny-Suit-Wearing-Mick with the tweedy opulence of Gary Cooper or Cary Grant: would you prefer to be shrink-wrapped or draped? Time has come to dial back the madness. Gentlemen wear clothes that fit without constriction. Modern life is undignified enough without adding another layer of absurdity—airline travel provides all the absurdity you will ever need. I propose a happy medium, where trousers loosely follow the lines of the body, are worn on the natural waist, to avoid shirt coming-out parties at every turn, and where jackets sit comfortably on the shoulders, instead of bunching from a paucity of cloth in chest and back. The degree of waist suppression is up to the individual, of course, but too-short jackets are the work of the devil. Why rob yourself of precious inches to expose your posterior? Thom Browne, the cutting-edge New York fashion designer, has inspired Brooks Brothers to launch a new line of skimpy suits and separates modeled on his own. And though Thom certainly believes in the value of his high-water pants and boy’s department jackets for adults, the passage of time will ultimately rob his delusional customers, because dopey confections fade away, while true style endures. Think back to the 1980s and those ghastly football pad shoulders worn with narrow lapels…. The slim orthodoxy championed by magazines like GQ and Men’s Vogue is tomorrow’s laughable excess. Be different: wear elegantly-shaped clothes that follow the lines of your body with unrestrictive fluidity. Life is too short to be small.
~~Le Boulevardier 
©J. de Mesterton 1999
Article Copyright October 26th, 2007 All Rights Reserved. Copyright Violators and Internet Thieves Will Be Persecuted AND Prosecuted.


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