The year was 1992. I was about to enter my senior year of high school and, thanks to the recommendation from a friend, I was able to score a huge discount on my senior portraits. There was a photo studio in a nearby town, she told me, that would offer a discount if you had your photos taken early and then helped spread the word about the studio. As a kid on a budget, I signed up immediately. My impossible vanity might have helped in that decision as well.
I remember it being hot on the day in early June when I went in to the photo studio. I spent more than an hour on my hair that morning and then realized that with the car windows down on the way to the studio, it would hardly matter. Of course, it didn't really matter anyway. I had a mullet for Pete's sake! Whether my hair was windswept or perfectly coiffed, I was still going to look back at the mullet in horror.
OK, so I guess we do need to keep in mind the time and place for this photo. In 1992, Billy Ray Cyrus was singing about his achy breaky heart while proudly wearing a long, wavy mullet. Although the mullet had started dying out in the late 80's, it was still quite popular with country singers. Yeah, OK, so even at the time I should have known that it didn't look good but, hey, I was a sixteen years old kid in rural Ohio. Cut me some slack!
Coming of age in rural Ohio, with the nearest sizable city more than an hour away, most of my shopping options involved Wal-mart and rural mall stores. While the options were limited, it didn't help that I had yet to learn that oversized clothes just made me look skinnier. The t-shirt I'm wearing under that vest? It was probably a large or an extra large. At 115 pounds, I could have fit two of me in it. I don't know why I was wearing clothes that that were two and three times too big, it was just the thing that kids did in rural Ohio. Well, it's the thing that teenage boys did.
A few months after sitting for the photographer, I began a slow evolution that would eventually lead to this. I cut off the mullet, dyed my hair black and started shopping in thrift stores. I discovered vintage clothes and started dressing in pieces that not only fit but worked with my body type. By the time I was passing out my senior pictures to classmates and relatives, I looked nothing like the kid in them. I would pass the picture to a classmate with the suggestion that they also have their photos taken at the studio I used. They would look down at the picture, of the blond kid they had known for the past few years, and then back up at the new me, with my jet black hair and thrift store flannel shirts. They must have thought, "What? So they can do to me what they did to you?!"
So what's the point of telling you all of this? I don't know. I came across this photo and it made me chuckle. I guess if there's any point, it's this: although I'd like the world to think that I've always been the stylish and sophisticated man I am today, it actually involved a great deal of evolution. I started out as a humble and naive kid in baggy clothes and bad hair and, although I hit a lot of other fashion mishaps along the way, I eventually grew into Captain Dapper. I experimented with styles and had fun with hair colors, all in the process of learning more about myself and my aesthetic. I eventually settled into a classic (albeit colorful) wardrobe sometime in my early thirties and I've been settled there ever since. I'm sure my "look" will continue to evolve and I'll probably look back the photos of me today and mock my fashion choices. But, hey, life and style are all about evolution. And if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?
Image: Jason Loper
Captain Dapper does not wait in line for many things. A good shoe sale? Maybe. An especially delicious doughnut? Occasionally. A chance to have my copy of the new Bright Bazaar book signed by Will Taylor himself? Definitely!
I've been following the colorful Mr. Taylor for years. I first discovered him through social media and then I got hooked on his blog Bright Bazaar. Will's love of color is absolutely addicting. It's the kind of site that just makes you happy. Whether posting photos of beautiful interiors or snapshots from his travels, Will imbues every thing he does with a stylish charm. Oh, the English! Style and charm seem to come so easily to them!
As part of the promotional tour for his new book, Will has traveled from his native England to the States. He's hopscotching across the country, hitting West Elm stores for book signings, sightseeing and generally spreading cheer.
The folks at West Elm Chicago created a perfectly fitting backdrop for the book signing. It was like a page had been ripped from the Bright Bazaar book and brought to life. A plain white Parsons desk was dressed up with washi tape (and signed by Will at the end of the night!). A patterned wall festooned with colorful flags acted as backdrop for snapshots with Mr. Bazaar.
Will is as charming in person as a faithful reader of his blog would think he'd be. During the book signing he took the time to personally chat with every person to learn a little about them and personalize the inscription in their book.
Will's book tour takes him to the West Elm store in Los Angeles on May 8th. If you're on the west coast, pick up a copy of the new book - Bright Bazaar: Embracing Color for Make-You-Smile Style - and meet the blogger in person. Even if you're not on the west coast, buy this book and, as Will encouraged me in the inscription in my copy, GET HIGH ON HUE!
Whether worn as an undershirt, paired with a pair of jeans or topped off with a slim fitting blazer, white t-shirts should be a part of every man's wardrobe. Like the old fashioned chap that I am, I wear a white v-neck t-shirt under all my dress shirts. The t-shirt acts a sweat absorbing layer between me and my dress shirts, helping to prevent the dreaded "yellow pits" and making my more expensive shirts last longer. Come summertime, however, the white t-shirt takes center stage in my wardrobe. With the arrival of spring, it's time to replace last season's old white T's with some crisp new ones. Check out some of my favorite basic white t-shirts below.
- Basic V-Neck from Alternative Apparel ($26) 100% cotton t-shirt with a vintage-soft wash for a worn-in look.
- Throwback Crewneck from Flint and Tinder ($10) Made in USA from 100% American-grown cotton.
- Curve U-Neck Shirt from John Elliott + Co. ($68) Made from 50% Supima cotton / 50% Micro Modal fabric. The big scoop neck makes this a perfect casual shirt.
- The Essential Crewneck T from Gap ($16.95) 100% cotton shirt available in sizes XS (hooray for my size!) to XXXL.
- Classics 3-Pack Crew Neck from Calvin Klein ($37.50) This 100% cotton shirt comes in the classic 3-pack for added value.
- Nano-T from Hanes $4.99 Of course, a t-shirt doesn't have to cost a lot. This 100% cotton option from Hanes is just about as basic as it gets.
- Bamboo Organic Cotton Tee from Royal Apparel ($17.24) American-made t-shirt with bamboo organic jersey.
MORE WHITE T-SHIRTS FROM AROUND THE WEB:
- A Man’s Guide to Undershirts: History, Styles, and Which to Wear from The Art of Manliness
- Style Guide: The Best White T-Shirts for Every Occasion from Complex
- My Ultimate Style Icon? The Plain T-shirt from The Telegraph
- Ode to a Man in a (Correctly Fitting) Plain White T-Shirt from Jezebel
Images: Credited and linked above
Over the weekend, I scored myself a pair of vintage spats for $6. Now, one thing you should know about Captain Dapper is that I love me some old fashioned fashion! From pork pie hats to spats, I've always been fascinated by clothing and accessories that were once de rigeuer but are no longer prominent. So the second I saw the spats languishing on a shelf at the antique mall, I had to make them mine.
If you're not familiar with spats, let me educate you. Spats is actually short for spatterdashes. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, spats were a piece of practical footwear. Worn mainly by men, spats would be worn over the shoe to protect shoes and socks from rain, mud and (presumably) all the horseshit that littered the streets back then.
You probably know spats from 1920's gangster lore. Or maybe you've seen them on Scrooge McDuck or Rich Uncle Pennybags, the iconic, rich old man from the Monopoly game. Although spats were worn by most men back in the day, they have since become shorthand for wealth in popular culture.
The vintage spats I purchased over the weekend are light gray wool felt, which was the standard material used for the footwear accessory. They button up one side and buckle on the bottom of the shoe by the heel. The spats seem to be one size fits all - that is, they fit on my size 9 boots, as well as The Mister's size 8 shoes.
So what will I do with my new spats? I'll wear them of course! And I'm not talking about a costume for some roaring 20's theme party. (Side note: Can we all admit that the roaring 20's party has been a bit overdone? Please?) I'm planning to work the spats into my fashion rotation. I think they look pretty snazzy with my brown boots.
Images: Jason Loper
I picked up Lucius' album Wildewoman on a lark over the weekend. I had heard one of their songs on satellite radio the week prior and it got my toes a'tappin'. I've given the entire album a few spins since I bought it and I'm kinda digging it. (Of course, it's not an album and it doesn't spin. It's a digital download. So I guess it would be more accurate to say that I've given the download a few streams since I bought it but that just sounds stupid. So I'm going to stick with give it a spin.)
While I'm enjoying the album, I wish it captured more of the joie de vivre present in this NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert. Lead vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, guitarists Dan Molad and Peter Lalish and drummer Andrew Burri pack a lot of sound into this mini concert. The final song of the set (starting at 14:05) incorporates a can of almonds as an impromptu drum. And even though the song is all about telling some girl named Genevieve to shut her mouth, I defy you to not smile while watching the band crank out the infectious tune.
I only came upon this concert after already listening to the album for a few days. When I searched the band's name on YouTube last night, finally curious about the band's appearance, this Tiny Desk Concert was one of the first things to pop up. If I hadn't already bought Wildewoman, I definitely would have picked it up after watching the video.
Having first heard the band before seeing them, I was actually a little surprised by their charming instrumentation. Perhaps it's because the album comes across as so polished that I expected them to employ a drum machine and a iPad.
At any rate, watch the concert, buy the album and go see Lucius live if they're in your part of the world.