One of Styleforum’s best-known and longest-serving members, Upr_Crust can often be found in 3-piece suits, looking about as elegant as a man can look. Here, he talks about the reasons behind his interest in menswear, and what led to the development of his own style.
I cannot remember a time in my life when I was not interested in clothing, perhaps first inspired by my father, who was fearless in what he wore, though perhaps at times he rushed in where proper sartorialists feared to tread (the 1960’s and 1970’s have much to answer for in such matters).
My tastes were refined by my exposure to New York (I moved to New York, poor as a church mouse, when I was 24), and by my first husband, a stock broker by profession, and a sharp dresser, with more means than my schoolteacher father to express himself sartorially. It was his taste that informed mine, certainly exposing me to better sources for menswear, and changing my perception of what constituted proper attire.
As I established myself in my professional career, my wardrobe benefited from greater means, and from international travel – London was my first overseas destination, and is still one of my favorite foreign haunts. There is a strong Anglophilic element to my sense of style, the byproduct of over 30 years of visits to the UK.
Like many who develop an interest in menswear, part of the impetus for dressing well was visual defense – I was, at one time, about 35 to 40 pounds heavier than I am now. I needed all the means at my disposal to best disguise my excess avoirdupois. Conversely, when I began to lose weight, and particularly after the death of my first husband eight years ago, I had to un-learn a view of myself as an overweight person, which had a beneficial effect on both my appearance, and on my self-regard.
I started posting photos of myself on Styleforum on a regular basis shortly after the death of my first husband, which was both a form of therapy, and a source of some initial shock, as I was informed, at times in no uncertain terms, that I was not quite the well-dressed person I imagined myself to be. I learned from the criticisms (at least those with which I agreed), and have continued to post here, with perhaps unnerving regularity, to this very day.
The process of photographing oneself on a regular basis does make one more acutely aware of the details of one’s appearance. The mirror can be a shameless flatterer; a photograph (or a set of them) can be more truthful. I have enjoyed the dialogue between my inner self and my appearance; the daily act of snapping shots of myself has helped me focus on the details of my attire (and has cost me much in both alteration fees, and in new suits).
My style is, for this day and age, very formal. I like the visual vocabulary of wearing a suit and tie, and all of the detailing that can accompany it. Perhaps I am like the ermine, at my visual best in the winter, when it is cold, rather than the summer, when the ermine is just another long-haired rodent, and I am just another New Yorker, attempting to survive bouts of boiling heat waiting for a subway car, wearing as little as possible.
A very long time ago, when I was a painting major at the Rhode Island School of Design (until I woke up), I learned that you have to have respect for the material with which you make art – to appreciate the qualities of a piece of wood or stone from which one would make art, and to work with those qualities. I think that I have done the same with my personal style, working with my natural rather professorial mien (both of my parents were schoolteachers – there was no escape from that).
I have taken great pleasure from posting on Styleforum, and have had the pleasure of meeting a number of other regular posters. I look forward to continuing with this for as long as I something to contribute to these forums.