Each week, the Open Thread newsletter will offer a look from across The New York Times at the forces that shape the dress codes we share, with Vanessa Friedman as your personal shopper. The latest newsletter appears here. To receive it in your inbox, register here.
Greetings! I know it’s that day that once upon a time was known as “Casual Friday,” but can we pause for a moment to talk about the tie? Specifically, the red tie. It has been much on my mind of late (and maybe on yours, too).
Not just because Father’s Day is looming — and most of us have some sort of Pavlovian response to that phrase, sending us straight to the tie section of many stores — but because of our recent must-watch TV.
I am talking, of course, about the riveting Senate committee hearings of both James Comey last week and Jeff Sessions this week.
Though each man’s testimony stands almost in opposition to the other’s, in one way at least they were practically identical: their look. Dark suits, white shirts, red ties. The red tie has, as it happens, become rather omnipresent in the current administration, thanks largely to President Trump, who himself tends to favor a tie of that hue, in part because of its historical associations with the Masters of the Universe as well as with Ronald Reagan.
As a result, however, it’s almost as if the accessory has become a flag representing the current tensions and controversies besetting Washington; or perhaps a protective talisman. Either way, it has complicated the item’s meaning for everyone else.
I’m not saying red ties are off the table for the civilian male, you understand, but rather that this is one of those fashion items that has recently taken on a host of broader associations.
So if you were thinking of wearing a red tie, or giving a red tie, it’s worth considering the implications. Just sayin’.
(Personally, I opted for socks this Father’s Day. And a plant.)
If you’re experiencing some last-minute panic, we’ve got a whole host of other ideas at a range of price points. But if you want to avoid the whole hallmark holiday, or are feeling very pleased with yourself for having planned ahead, take a moment to read a powerful Op-Ed from former model Paulina Porizkova, or the piece on the recent Goop conference. (You’ll laugh out loud; I did). Or check out what men’s wear designers have in mind for your future. London and Pitti are down, Milan and Paris to go. Have a good weekend!
Q: I detest travel irons and the act of ironing but I have a job that requires 80-percent travel to diverse capitals throughout the world. Weather can range from the steamy tropics to sub-Arctic cold. Attire must conform to the more formal end of business casual and be conservative. I would like a simple, professional but stylish work “uniform” that will look good right out of the suitcase, be practical in a variety of climates and stand up to hotel laundering practices. I would also like to minimize the number of shoes I bring. The ideal would be three pairs: work shoes, athletic shoes and sandals. Can you recommend a wardrobe that meets all of these criteria? – Melissa, American posted in Moscow
A: I’m leery of handing out specific brand recommendations as they are determined by access and taste, but since I am on the road for at least eight weeks a year for shows plus assorted other travel, what I can do is tell you my five basic rules for solving the packing problem. Especially because my criteria don’t sound that different from yours: I do not iron, so everything I take has to be nonwrinkle; I walk a lot, so the shoes have to be comfortable; and I don’t want my clothes to distract in a work setting. Also, I hate garment bags.
1. My miracle fiber is stretch knit jersey. You can fold it neatly in a bag and it does not wrinkle. Precrinkled silk is also good, for obvious reasons.
2. Generally I tend to monochrome — black, white, gray, silver, navy — and to sleeveless dresses, skirts and jackets/cardigans. Then I bring a few bodysuits (they are great investments; I like Wolford) to layer underneath because they keep you warm and covered, and you can take them off for cocktails and wear the same dress. Cardigans can double as suit jackets and then be paired with dresses.
3. For trousers, any jersey or shantung silk style with a permanent crease down the front is good, because it will fold neatly along the prepressed lines and then be ready to go.
4. Coats: An unstructured double face style will keep you warm but be light enough to carry or even fold into a suitcase.
5. As for shoes: Ballet flats take up almost no room and work for both casual and work settings. I bring ankle boots with stacked heels so they can handle cobblestones, or in the summer, wedges. (Cork are most comfortable). Nike’s basic Flyknit sneaker, which has a thin sole and is easy to pack, can handle a wide variety of exercise you may do on the road. — VANESSA FRIEDMAN