Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Snap

Photo courtesy Flickr

A man who performs living history at the relocated Fort Nisqually in Tacoma shared generous hours of his time and expertise over lunch last week. He pulled a detachable starched collar out of a leather case to discuss the fine points of that clothing technology, casually mentioning that he knew the case was made after 1905 (hope I got that right), because the metal snap was presented to the world at an exposition around then. Detachable collars and cuffs saved labor when clothing was washed by hand. Now and then industry produces a men's shirt with contrasting white collar and cuffs, a reference to the original "white collar", as opposed to the indigo-dyed blue work shirt.

Preppy style faded away in the Eighties, but it’s tiptoeing back into the current economy. The Old Line Loafer Company is producing classic footgear, Deck Shoe is mainstream, and NBC broadcast a story about the Stingy Yankee Country Store’s core inventory. Perhaps it won’t be long before the mainstream looks like the original hippies, before their hair grew out.

If you're willing to consider traditional American dress, preppy will carry you from trailhead to high-rise office building without a hiccup and cost you the least per wearing of any style strategy. The Preppy Handbook and Cheap Chic are useful working manuals. Preppy mixes very well with punk. It's basically invisible and low-maintenance, so it's easy to mix with other expressions.

Facilities generate traffic, as the engineers say, and the automatic washer and dryer set us up to generate mindless bushels of laundry. Utility bills are a household vital sign and an easy vein to mine for dollars. It will be a while, I expect, before the detachable collar and cuff reappear, but controlling what goes into the pipeline is a good way to start. Simply wearing things an extra day will halve labor and expense.

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