July 4, 2013

Dressing for the Occasion: Independence Day

Let’s start off by clarifying that I mean the 4th of July and not the Will Smith movie (that would be a very different Dressing for the Occasion post). Most people I know don’t get decked out for the 4th, and those that do usually throw on anything and everything within reach that has an American flag on it. Needless to say this never turns out well, but there are certainly ways to be festive without looking like the living embodiment of a Francis Scott Key poem.

What I like to do is distill it down and use the basic colors red, white, and blue to build a stylish but festive ensemble. Since this is a celebration of American Independence, I tried to keep the majority of the outfit limited to American companies. It may not be something anyone will notice, but a nice sentiment nonetheless.

In this instance, the striped oxford shirt establishes the color palette but the washed look tones things down so it isn’t as in your face. Any pattern would work equally well, and I’ve actually seen a lot of really nice red, white, and blue gingham shirts out there lately. I chose to anchor the look with some classic royal blue chinos. Red pants are a lot to pull off, but white is always a good option for summer (as long as you are prepared for the maintenance and know that they are heavy enough to not be see-thru).

As with any outfit, your accessories are a great place to have fun. I chose to keep things relatively simple with a navy shadow plaid tie, but you could wear a tie with just about any combination of reds, whites, and/or blues and it would come off as celebratory on the 4th of July. Just don’t wear a flag tie. In fact, unless it is subtle like a handkerchief, lapel pin, or tie bar, just avoid any item of clothing with an actual American flag on it.

On that note, unless you’re running for public office, an American flag pin probably doesn’t make it’s way into your wardrobe too often, but the 4th is as good a time as any. To be honest, my intention was to use this as a tie pin, but I just couldn’t go through with it. I have a strong aversion to tie pins unless the tie is a very loose weave because I can’t imagine putting a hole in my tie. My solution was to put it through the point of my shirt collar, which I actually really like the asymmetrical look of.

Where I really had fun was with the belt. It may not be an American company, but I just couldn't resist adding it into this post. Woven belts are a fantastic seasonal accessory for summer, and I love the look of blue leather because it goes with basically everything but is still something different. I kept the rest of the look subdued since the belt is so vibrant and you don’t want to have too many bright pops of the same colors happening together.

As always, I never go anywhere without a handkerchief and it definitely comes in handy when you’re out watching a parade or fireworks (especially with the temperature so far this summer).

Nothing says summer like boat shoes, and I choose to embrace them. They are perfect for a picnic, a day on the water, or just about any other Independence Day activity that you may have planned. If I happen to be going somewhere that is a little dressier where boat shoes aren’t appropriate, I like to wear spats over my dress shoes as a sartorial nod to our Founding Fathers (I’m also a bit of a history geek, especially when it pertains to fashion). They are also a great conversation starter.

Shirt and chinos by Gant Rugger; Shoes by Sebago; Belt by Uniqlo;
Tie by Band of Outsiders; Tie clip by Link Up; Watch by Bulova;
Flag pin from Kaufman's (I think); Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs;
Vintage handkerchief and handmade bracelet

The nice thing about a holiday like July 4th, is that there are countless combinations of patterns that can keep you looking both patriotic and stylish. It can be as simple as a red pocket square with your blue tie or go as far as tying the flag’s colors into each piece that you wear like I did in this post. Go with whatever you are feeling and wear it with confidence. I will leave you with some parting advice – if you want to be festive but have to wear a suit, try to keep it light. Dark suits with a red or blue tie looks very politician-y, so unless you are one, you probably want to avoid it.

Stay stylish and remember that fireworks and alcohol don’t mix,
- JJ

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