Sunday, December 30, 2012

Crackin' Nuts

One of the pleasures of the winter holidays, Reggie's believes, is cracking open nuts and consuming them.  It is a most satisfying activity, Dear Reader, and one that brings to mind pleasant memories of many cozy winter afternoons spent with family and friends.  Accompanied by a cup of hot tea or a cocktail (Reggie's preferred companion beverage), nuts are a most tasty and satisfying comestible.

I've written before that I am fond of clementines, too.  Nuts and clementines, which are both at their peak this time of year, go together wonderfully, I think.  A bowl of the little citrus is usually to be found within reaching distance of a bowl of nuts at Darlington House during the holidays.  In fact, a clementine was sitting in the bowl of nuts I'm featuring in this post only a few minutes before these photographs were taken.  I ate it.

This Christmas we filled an antique Bennington bowl with an assortment of nuts, and we have another, smaller, Bennington bowl nearby for the spent shells.  In other years we've filled a large silver bowl with nuts, but this year it seemed more appropriate—given our overall woodsy Christmas theme—to use a more quotidian Bennington bowl.

I'm not too picky about where I buy my nuts.  I bought the ones I'm showing here in a bag at a supermarket.  They're delicious.

Once I've filled the smaller bowl with the spent shells I enjoy tossing them on the fire, where they make a pleasing snapping and cracking sound as they burst into flames.

Our nutcracker and pick set, fashioned of horn and steel, were made in Germany in the first half of the twentieth century.  I inherited them from my Darling grandparents.  Their handles are carved to show the likenesses of a hound, a hare, and a boar.  I have a collection of nutcrackers, but these are my favorite—for both sentimental and aesthetic reasons.

I think the nutcracker and pick look particularly good sitting among the nuts.  Tan-and-brown horn handles, tan-and-brown nuts, and tan-and-brown bowls.  They all go together perfectly.

There is little more satisfying than hearing the crack! of a nut when it opens to reveal its treasure.

And what a delicious treasure it is, indeed!  So sweet, so tasty, and so nutty!

If you haven't done it yet this season, Dear Reader, I urge you to buy yourself a bag of nuts, dig into it, and crack open and eat some of the little darlings.  I'll be doing exactly that over the next several days myself.  Won't you join me, please?

Photographs by Boy Fenwick

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Tree Wishes to You and Yours

Every year, when we put up our Christmas tree at Darlington House, I'm convinced it is the prettiest, most magical one ever.  This year is no exception.

As I've written before, I long ago surrendered decorating our Christmas trees to Boy.  He's so much better at it than I am.  Also, I tend to get in the way when I try and be helpful in such things as decorating trees or arranging flowers.  I'm very happy to be Boy's cheering section, where I am joined by our dear little Pompey.

Every year Boy comes up with a different theme for his Christmas tree decoration.  This year's theme is "Silver and Pine Cone Wonderland."

He has covered the tree with vintage silver ornaments and with pine cones harvested from the trees on our property.

Boy has collected silver pine cone shaped ornaments for years.  I like the juxtaposition of them with the  real ones he's added to the tree.

He also added a flock of little birds to the tree, perched on the tips of its limbs.

Doesn't it look lovely?

Boy further decorated the room with bowls and urns filled with silver ornaments.

He covered the mantel with a forest of little frosted bottle-brush trees.  He also nestled loads of pine boughs atop all of the picture frames in the room.  It's really quite enchanting.

But the magic really comes out at night, Dear Reader, when the tree's tiny white fairy lights are illuminated, and the room glows like a winter solstice fire.

I have a lot of admiration for people, like Boy, who can photograph a lit Christmas tree.  It's not as easy as you'd think.

I like the way the ornaments and tinsel icicles glitter in the light.

Don't the pine cones look marvelous?  So woodsy, I think.

I count at least six vintage silver pine cone shaped ornaments in the preceding photograph.  Do you think I've missed any?

Here's the little silver barrel ornament we found last year on our travels.  I've become intensely fond of it.

But it is the little birds that really make the tree quite magical, I think.  I love them.

See all of the birds in a flock, perched on the top of the tree?  I think they may be hiding there so they won't frighten Pompey.

But, then again, Pompey seems to have his mind on other things than the little birds.  I suspect he's more interested in hastening the delivery of his next yummy treat, particularly since he was such a good and obedient model for this photograph.  We make sure that our little Pompey joins in the fun here at Darlington House during the Christmas holiday, too.  And why not, since he's part of our family?

And with that, Dear Reader, we in our family—Boy, Pompey, and I—wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Photographs by Boy Fenwick and Reggie Darling

Friday, December 21, 2012

Mother Lode!

We've had rather better luck in our never-ending hunt for vintage ornaments, Dear Reader.

White Whale Limited, our favorite antiques shoppe in Hudson, New York, is a treasure trove of vintage ornaments this December.  The dealers there stocked up on them throughout the year, and their store is laden with them.  Over the last two weekends Boy and I visited the shop several times in our quest for ornaments, as the dealers brought them out in stages to replenish their stock as needed.

The photograph in today's post shows but a fraction of the vintage ornaments we bought at White Whale this Yuletide season.  Boy has arranged them prettily in a gilt Paris Porcelain reticulated basket on stand, circa 1820.  It now sits on a cocktail table in our drawing room.

In addition to the colorful ornaments shown here, we also found lots of silver ones at White Whale that Boy has already hung on our Christmas tree.  Our tree is the subject of my next post, Dear Reader.

Now, I'm off to do my final Christmas shopping!

Photograph by Boy Fenwick

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Reggie's (Not) Holiday Sweater

Reggie has what some people refer to as a Holiday Sweater.  No, Dear Reader, he doesn't own one of those awful, lurid acrylic ones—covered with images of cheery Santas, candy canes, wrapped packages, and reindeer—favored by mittelklassen women of a certain age or worn ironically by post-collegians to Ugly Christmas Sweater parties.

Reggie's sweater, made by Dale of Norway

Reggie's sweater is an authentic, classic wool Norwegian one made by Dale of Norway.  It is not a holiday sweater at all, but rather a sweater made to be worn during the winter, ideally while the wearer is engaged in an athletic outdoor activity, such as skiing.

A vintage poster for the Norwegian America Line
Image courtesy of

Dale has been making sweaters and other knitted garments since 1879 and is the best source today for traditional Norwegian sweaters, as far as Reggie knows.

A full view of Reggie's traditional Norwegian sweater

Dale is named after Norway's Dale River, where the company's factory sits and where it still makes its sweaters to this day.  Dale takes great pride, and rightfully so, that its sweaters are—and always will be—Norwegian-made, versus farmed out to a factory in China.

A family of skiers, entirely outfitted in Norwegian sweaters, ca. 1960s
Photograph courtesy of Vintage Ski World

Dale is correctly pronounced Dah-leh, and not Dail, as Reggie used to pronounce it until he was corrected by a Norwegian woman who laughed out loud when she heard him bungle the pronunciation of the company's name.  Needless to say, he never made that mistake again.

A ski sweater knitting-pattern-book cover from the 1950s
Image courtesy of Etsy

Reggie has been a fan of Norwegian sweaters for many years.  He got his first one—the classic Norwegian fisherman's sweater from L.L. Bean—when he was a student at Saint Grottlesex.

While not necessarily made in Norway, Reggie
is generally fond of traditional ski sweaters,
such as the one shown here
Photograph courtesy of LIFE Images

Reggie always hankered after a traditional Norwegian ski sweater with a knitted design spread across the shoulders.  He admired similar sweaters worn by his classmates at Saint Grottlesex and at Yale.

Gary Cooper and Claudette Cobert
in Sun Valley, Idaho, in the 1940s
Image courtesy of Sun Valley Guide
(and thanks to Slim Paley!)

It was only ten or so years ago, though, that Reggie stepped up and bought the beautifully made, intricately knitted Norwegian sweater shown in the photographs at the outset of this essay.  He bought his from Gorsuch, which has stores in Vail and Aspen, Colorado.

A vintage ski poster for Aspen, Colorado
Image courtesy of Swann Galleries

Reggie is a fan of traditional, "native" clothing, especially garb from Scandinavia and Germany.  When he was a little boy in the 1960s, Reggie owned and wore a set of lederhosen that his father bought for him (along with a set for his brother, Frecky) on a trip to Germany.   

Another vintage ski-sweater knitting-pattern-book cover
Image courtesy of Handmade by Mother

One of Reggie's most treasured possessions is a Tyrolean hat, complete with all the trimmings, that he bought on a ski vacation in Cortina, Italy, a decade ago.  He plans on featuring it in an upcoming post.

A vintage ski poster for Cortina, Italy
Image courtesy of Vintage Ski World

One of Reggie's regrets is that he no longer owns an authentic, vintage Loden jacket that he bought twenty or so years ago, only to give it away shortly thereafter in a fit of temporary insanity when purging his wardrobe.  Ah, well.

A vintage postcard of the Mormon Temple
Image courtesy of The Postcards Project

Reggie's Norwegian sweater was made by Dale to commemorate the 2002 Olympic Games held in Salt Lake City, Utah.  Dale has been making sweaters for Olympic teams since the 1940s.  It was only in writing this post that Reggie realized that his sweater features an image of the Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City in its knitted design, right below the sweater's zipper!

At first it made Reggie somewhat uncomfortable that his sweater incorporated an image of the Mormon Temple.  But once he thought about it for a while, he actually liked it.  He now appreciates the somewhat bizarre humor of owning a traditional, classic Norwegian sweater that incorporates such an image; the fact that it does so does not detract from his pleasure in owning the sweater one bit.

Tell me, Dear Reader, do you have any traditional "native" clothing in your wardrobe?  If so, what kind?

Photographs of Reggie's sweater by himself

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Christmas Tree for Darlington

This past weekend a Christmas tree arrived at Darlington.  Well, it didn't just arrive, Dear Reader, it took some effort to make it happen.

Our freshly cut Christmas tree
in the back of our handyman Rich's pickup truck

When we put up a Christmas tree at Darlington House we go to a tree farm and we cut the tree down ourselves.  We are fortunate to live in an area where there are half a dozen such farms within an easy drive.  Walking through the farm's fields, searching for, and then deciding upon a tree, cutting it down, and bringing it home is a pleasant and evocative annual ritual.  It stirs up memories of similar expeditions in years past, and one is conscious of undertaking an activity similarly engaged in by millions of others, both in the present day and ever since the first man cut the first tree down one winter's solstice many, many thousands of years ago.

Rich holding the tree on the walkway
leading to Darlington House

This year the ritual was somewhat complicated for us.  First of all, our Rover—which we typically use for such expeditions—was in the shop for an extended (and expensive) stay.  And I wasn't up to engaging in the task, having been waylaid by a nasty, persistent cold.  Fortunately, our trustworthy and exceptionally helpful handyman, Rich, was agreeable and took Boy to the tree farm in his red pickup truck and helped him find and bring home a tree to Darlington House.  It was rather an undertaking, though, since the farm they visited is a very old and overgrown one.  It no longer has fields of trees, but rather forests of them.  The noble tree that Boy and Rich ultimately selected stood over forty feet tall, and it required calculations and a chain saw to fell and shorten for the trip home.

The lower part of the tree is cut off—we will
use the branches to decorate the house

Not only that, but Rich assisted Boy in readying the tree to bring into the house.  That takes some doing, Dear Reader, because it wouldn't do to merely bring a tree into Darlington House without first grooming it.  Grooming it, you ask?  Yes, you read that correctly!  Our tree needed to be (further) cut down in order to fit the ceiling height of our house, and it also required pruning of extraneous branches so that there was sufficient space to artfully hang ornaments.  But such administrations were not unique to this particular tree—almost every Christmas tree we've ever had at Darlington House has required (well, at least benefited from) such attention before it is deemed ready by Boy to be decorated.

Reggie is not a fan of most farmed Christmas trees that are available these days.  Too many of them have been aggressively pruned during their growth to achieve a form that Reggie considers to be too fat and too bushy, and too perfectly conical.  One cannot hang ornaments on such a tree, Dear Reader, one can only drape them.  No, Reggie prefers an old-fashioned, naturally formed Christmas tree, one that hasn't been managed during its growth.  But even such natural trees need a little help to achieve the spindly perfection they require (at least at Darlington House) for optimal ornament display.  One must carefully and judiciously prune them of at least a few extra branches in order to ensure perfection.

The tree, now cut down to size, is shown standing
in the brown painted galvinized wash tub
we use to hold it

It took Boy and Rich half an hour or so of careful grooming in order for the tree to be ready to be placed in our dining room.  Dining room, you ask?  Who puts up their tree in their dining room, instead of their living room?  Well, Dear Reader, we put our tree in our dining room instead of our drawing room (which is what we call our living room for reasons that are too complicated to explain in this essay) or our Snuggery (which is what we call our sitting room/den/study/library, also for reasons that are too complicated to explain here).  We do so because it is the one room at Darlington House that has a sufficient amount of empty space for one to fit!  

Once the tree has been cut down to size
the process of thinning out the branches
for optimal ornament display begins

Our drawing room is a symphony of symmetry, Dear Reader, and it would be highly disruptive to the room's carefully balanced arrangement if we were to introduce a tree into it.  I shudder at the very thought of it!  Our Snuggery, on the other hand, is so jam-packed with furniture and decorations that we would either have to cart much of it away in order to squeeze a tree into the room, or it would need to be a very tiny tree, indeed.

The now-groomed tree, placed in our dining room
and ready to be decorated

So, into the dining room our Christmas tree went.  And Reggie didn't have to lift a finger once during the process, as Boy and Rich did it entirely themselves.  Not only that, but Boy decorated the tree by himself, too, without any assistance from Reggie.  As I've explained here before, Reggie long-ago learned that it is best to leave such tasks as decorating Christmas trees or arranging flowers to Boy, since he does a much better job at such things than Reggie does (or can).  Besides, why should I get in the way of such activity when Boy is a high-toned, fancy New York decorator and I'm not?  People pay him to do this kind of thing!

This year, Boy's Christmas tree theme (and there is a different theme every year) is "Silver and Pinecone Woodland."  He decorated it solely with vintage silver ornaments, pine cones gathered from our property, white fairy lights, and a flock of little gray and white birds perched on its upper branches.  It is really rather beautiful.

Stay tuned . . .

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Paperwhites, A Darlington House Tradition

Last weekend I attended the local Farmers Market in the nearby town to Darlington House.  It is held this time of year in the meeting hall of the Episcopal church where I am a sometime parishioner.  Leading up to Christmas the market is a bustle of activity, and a shopper's paradise.  So much bounty and beauty to choose from.

I went to the market to stock up on paperwhites from the good ladies of Cedar Farm, who have pots and pots of them for sale in December.  I came away with five pots of paperwhites, in varying sizes.  Cedar Farm does a beautiful job of them, planting them with moss.  They are lovely.  I also bought a wreath and a spray of bay leaves from them to decorate Darlington House.

I've adored paperwhites for as long as I can remember.  When I was a boy my mother, MD, bought bulbs from White Flower Farm, for forcing.  I think of her every time I see paperwhites, one of her favorite flowers.  They are a Christmas tradition for me, and one that I shall honor for as long as I am able to.

Photograph by Reggie Darling

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Swept Away

No, Dear Reader, this is not a photograph of a sandy seashore covered with seashells.

Rather, it is a photograph of a towel, spread out on our dining room table at Darlington House, covered with the shells that once occupied our Shell Mania mantel display, the subject of an earlier post of mine.

Now that Christmas is fast approaching, we are beginning to ready Darlington House for the holiday.  That meant that this summer's Shell Mania decoration needed to be, well, swept away to make room for more seasonal embellishments.

Which reminds me of one of my favorite films, Lina Wertmüller's Travolti da un Insolito nell' Azurro Mare s'Agosto, which loosely translates into English as "Destiny in the Blue Sea of August" (it was distributed in this country as Swept Away).  It is a marvelously amusing and sexy movie about an insufferable, spoiled, rich Italian woman (played to perfection by Mariangela Melato) whose Mediterranean yachting vacation takes an unexpected turn when she and one of the boat's crew become stranded on a desert island, and their roles are deliciously and hilariously reversed.  Do yourself a favor, Dear Reader, and rent it (or download it) in the original Italian language version with subtitles, and not a dubbed version (and certainly not Madonna's disastrous remake thirty years later).  Ms. Melato's performance in Swept Away is absolutely divine, and much of the pleasure of watching the film is listening to her non-stop complaining, snarling, shrieking, and—ultimately—purring as she first reviles and then falls helplessly in love with the character played by Giancarlo Giannini.

For those of Reggie's readers who may now be longing more for sandy shores than sleigh bells, he highly recommends it.  He is confident that you, too, will be swept away . . .

Photograph of shells by Boy Fenwick

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Floss Among the Dross

The day after Thanksgiving, Boy and I drove across the Hudson River in search of vintage Christmas ornaments to add to our collection.  Our destination was a large and rather seedy group shoppe in one of the near-forgotton, near-abandoned towns that line the river's western banks.

We've had good luck finding pretty, old-fashioned ornaments at the shoppe in the past.  The first time we visited it, a dozen or so years ago, we came away with an avalanche of attractive and unusually shaped vintage ornaments.  Over the years, though, the shoppe's ornament pickings have become increasingly slim, with fewer and fewer attractive vintage ones to be found among the ugly, modern plastic Christmas junk that appears in the shoppe's booths from Thanksgiving onwards.

This visit, however, we despaired that we would find any vintage ornaments worth buying at all.  Although there were some plain round vintage ones to be found, we weren't interested in adding any more of them to our collection, since we already have more plain round ones than we could ever use.  No, we were on the hunt for interestingly shaped vintage blown-glass ornaments.

It was only in the final minute of our troll through the shoppe that Boy found two ornaments—shown in this essay's photograph—that met our collecting standards.  That one of them was shaped like a pine-cone was a particular joy, as Boy specifically collects that form.  He scooped them both up and we happily brought them back to Darlington House where they will most assuredly soon hang on the Christmas tree we plan on putting up this weekend.

Tell me, Dear Reader, do you also collect vintage Christmas ornaments?  If so, is there a particular shape or type that you focus on?

Photograph by Boy Fenwick

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Reggie's Alden Slip-Ons, and Why He Wears Them

Last week, Dear Reader, I treated myself to a new pair of Alden shell cordovan, full strap slip-on loafers.  Doing so triggered a rush of memories of when I first started my career in finance in New York City, thirty years ago.  It also prompted me to consider the social and—dare I say it—tribal significance of one's chosen footwear, at least in the dwindling world of those of us over the age of forty who are still employed in the city's beleaguered financial services industries.

Reggie's new Alden slip-ons
sitting on a horse hair covered dining chair
at Darlington House on Thanksgiving Day

Photograph by Boy Fenwick

I slipped away from the Investment Bank where I work the day before Thanksgiving for a much-needed wardrobe replenishment shopping trip on Madison Avenue.  My journey started at J. Press and concluded at the Brooks Brothers flagship store.  Imagine that.

The Brooks Brothers flagship store at 346 Madison Avenue,
where Reggie bought his shoes last week
Image courtesy of Brooks Brothers

I came away with half a dozen shirts, two pairs of trousers, a sweater, a jacket, and the shoes shown in the photograph at the outset of this post.  As readers of this blog may recall, the topic of shoes is one that Reggie has returned to more than once or twice.  In previous posts I've written about my affection for Belgian Shoes, white bucks, and classic Gucci loafers.  I've even written about a much-loved pair of shoes that I wore as a toddler and that I still own (but have long since ceased wearing).  Now, Dear Reader, I turn my attention to another favored shoe in my wardrobe—Alden slip-ons.

The original Alden Shoe Company factory
in Middleborough, Massachusetts, 1880s
Image courtesy of same

I bought my first pair of Alden slip-ons the year I graduated from Yale, more than thirty years ago.  They were brown calfskin and had tassels, and I loved them.  I charged them to my father's account at the Brooks Brothers store in Washington, D.C., to wear at my first job in New York at an old line  commercial bank that has long since been absorbed into what is today Bank of America.  I had been accepted into the bank's corporate lending officer training program, and I wanted to be sure to dress the part correctly.  My father graciously underwrote the purchase of my initial post-college work wardrobe, including the Alden slip-ons, several suits, an overcoat, and assorted shirts and ties.

44 Wall Street,
the building where I began my career in finance
Photograph courtesy of ABS Partners

In those days (the early 1980s), young men in New York's bank officer training programs—such as Reggie—wore Alden (or similar) slip-on tassel loafers to the office.  While older bankers wore conservative lace-up oxfords, by the time I appeared on the scene most of the younger bankers had adopted tassel loafers as their preferred shoe.  What I didn't realize before I started at the bank, though, was that one was expected to wear only black tassel loafers.  I was dismayed to learn on my first day that I had blown my pre-employment shoe allowance on brown shoes, and that all the other young men in the training program were wearing black shoes.

Reggie mistakenly wore Alden brown tassel slip-ons
to his first day at the bank, all those years ago
Image courtesy of Harrison Limited

In those days, men didn't wear brown shoes on Wall Street (yes, the bank I worked in was actually located on that famous financial thoroughfare), but only black shoes.  Brown shoes were considered "un-bankerly" (a withering criticism), and only appropriate for weekend wear.  My father, who was a lawyer and regularly wore brown shoes to his office (where they were perfectly acceptable), thought it "poppycock" (a word he used with some frequency in my presence) that I felt uncomfortable wearing brown shoes to my office, instead of black ones.  Clearly, he didn't understand the cultural and sartorial differences between a bank and a law firm.

The Brooks Brothers store at One Liberty Plaza,
where Reggie bought his first pair of black Alden tassel slip-ons

Needless to say, once I received my first paycheck I high-tailed it over to the Brooks Brothers on Liberty Plaza and bought myself a pair of Alden slip-on tassel loafers in the desired and approved black.  My brown tassel loafers got pushed to the back of my closet, and didn't get much wear thereafter, except on weekends.  I held on to them for many years, though, stored in their original box.  I gave them away ten or so years ago, since by then I was no longer able to wear them, as my feet had grown in my forties and the shoes no longer fit.  It was a bittersweet moment when I finally decided to donate them to charity, as their significance still resonated with me.

Reggie's own well-worn
black Alden tassel slip-ons
sitting on a chair at Darlington House
Photograph by Reggie Darling

By then, though, I had pretty much ceased wearing Alden tassel loafers, having moved on to tassel-free Alden slip-ons in my later thirties.  For those of my readers who may not be familiar with Alden slip-ons, be they tasseled or not, they are a mainstay of a certain group of grown men who work in the lofty office towers of Manhattan.  They are a particular favorite of those of us employed in the worlds of finance, be it investment banking, private equity, or commercial banking.  Most of the investment bankers over the age of forty where I work have at least one or two pairs in regular rotation.  Alden slip-ons are probably the most popular shoe seen on such men walking the halls in the Investment Bank where I work, followed closely by Gucci loafers.  Shoes worn by the younger men at my firm tend to be sleeker, and are usually Italian.  I suspect that Alden slip-ons are to them what lace-up oxfords were to my generation when I started out in banking—the favored shoe of the older generation.

Wall Street today,
the old Manufacturer's Hanover Trust on the right,
US Trust beyond, and Trinity Church in the distance
Photography courtesy of Picasa

When I first started my career in finance, in 1980, those of us in the training program at the bank were handed a sheet of paper on the first day outlining what clothes we were expected to wear, and what clothes we were not to wear.  I wish I still had it, Dear Reader, as I would dearly love to post it here.  However, I don't, so I can't.

A Brooks Brothers window display, ca. 1960s
Photograph courtesy of Esquire

I can summarize it, though, for you.  We were expected to wear suits of a conservative cut in "somber" colors (gray or navy) every day of the week (no Casual Fridays back then).  Shirts were to be either white (preferred) or light blue.  Ties (mandatory) were to be a discreet foulard, club, or rep stripe.  Shoes were to be black, although dark cordovan was acceptable.  Should we need to come into the office on weekends (a regular occurrence, I might add), we were expected to wear a jacket and a tie, and tailored trousers such as gray flannels (winter) or khakis (summer).  No blue jeans or sneakers were allowed under any circumstances.  Ever.

J. Press was (and remains) Reggie's
"go-to" source for smart sport jackets
Photograph courtesy of LIFE Images

As all of us are well aware, these days clothing restrictions have loosened considerably.  At the Investment Bank where I work, suits and ties are no longer required, unless one is meeting with clients.  On an average day I'd say half the men do wear suits, and the rest are in blazers and gray flannels, or some variant.  At least half are tieless, regardless of whether they are wearing suits or not.  Most of us keep several ties in the office should we unexpectedly need one.  While black is still the preferred shoe color, brown is now entirely acceptable.  Long gone are the days when a man would be sent home to change his shirt if he had the audacity to show up at the office wearing one in any color other than white or blue.

The approved shirt as seen in a Brooks Brothers
catalogue from the 1980s.  White or blue.  Only.
Image courtesy of the Trad

So, Dear Reader, you may ask: What is it about Alden slip-ons that resonates with me?  Why have I kept buying them for the past thirty years?  Why did I buy yet another pair last week?

The same shoe Reggie bought, except in calfskin
Photograph courtesy of Harrison Limited

I like the way they look, Dear Reader, and they are one of the favored shoes of the men of my profession and background.  They are flattering to a grown man's foot, they have an easy elegance to them, and they are popular with the well-dressed Ivy League-educated men I have coexisted with my entire adult life.  In other words, they are one of the shoes of the Tribe.  I've bought more than a dozen pairs over the years, both with and without tassels, and I think they look just as good worn sockless with khakis on a summer weekend afternoon as they do wearing Pantherellas and a suit to one's office on Park Avenue during the week, as I do.  I bought last week's new pair to replace an identical pair that had become worn beyond redemption and that could no longer support yet another reconditioning.

The box my new shoes came home in . . .
Photograph by Boy Fenwick

At $650 a pair, Brooks Brothers' Alden cordovan slip-ons are not inexpensive.  However, they are well worth the cost, I believe, because they are beautifully made.  I like the fact that they are also made here in the United States by one of the few remaining American shoe manufacturers.  When the shoes are well cared for (which, in Reggie's book, includes the use of properly fitted wood shoe trees), they last for many years, and Alden does a terrific job of reconditioning its shoes if asked (they have a handy mail-order business for doing so).

The cover of an Alden catalogue
Image courtesy of same

And for all of these reasons, Dear Reader, Alden's shell cordovan, full strap slip-ons will always be part of Reggie's shoe wardrobe.

Please note:  Reggie has not received, nor does he expect to receive, anything in return for this post.  He is posting it solely in the interest of entertaining his readers, which is why he writes this blog in the first place.
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