Clothes make the man

You may have noticed in this morning's New York Times the in which it's asserted that men in their twenties and thirties are actually more dapperly dressed than our boomer parents. As one bit of evidence the author selected Prof. Samuel Rascoff of NYU Law School. Quoth he:

“The fashion gene skipped a generation,” said Samuel Rascoff, 36, a law professor at New York University who specializes in national security law and who, being a fastidious dresser, has given serious thought to the trend, which he sees reflected in his students.

“There’s a sense that this return to style, or to a consciousness of how you look, is an attempt by young men to recover a set of values that were at one point very much present in American society and then lost,” he said. “It strikes me as being of a piece with the way young people buy their coffee or their food: paying attention to authenticity or quality, and to whether something is organic or local. They stand for a rejection of the idea that all consumer goods are ephemeral and inevitably made in China and bought at Wal-Mart.”

Here is Prof. Rascoff:

Prof. Samuel Rascoff, redhead, lawyer, wearer of clothes

Now, it so happens that I knew Sam Rascoff when he was a wee law student (not that I was a law student—I was not), and he did have a way with clothes. But unless his style sense has taken a major leap forward, he is at best the fourth-best-dressed man I know. In ascending order, I nominate these men as better dressed still:

3. George Raine, my old college classmate, now an associate at Ropes & Gray, the Boston law firm. George puts the white shoe in "white shoe." Consider:

George Braxton Raine, Esq.

2. Prof. Willard Spiegelman, the editor of Southwest Review and a teacher of English literature at Southern Methodist University. So well dressed that he appeared in a fashion spread in the New York Times Magazine. Consider:

Prof. Willard "Billy" Spiegelman, of S&MU

1. D. Graham Burnett. This guy is a sartorial legend. He teaches the history of science at Princeton. I have only met him twice, but sweet Jesus does he have threads. In fact, he may violate the old principle (which I have heard attributed to Diana Vreeland, late of Vogue, and generally late) that if you dress elegantly they notice the person, not the clothes. (Or was it Coco Chanel?) He dresses so well I can't for the life of me remember his face. These pictures don't quite capture the texture of the fabric, the warp and woof, the weave, the whoo-whoo of his how-de-do. And one of the pictures is weirdly gay (Burnett is a married man). But they will have to suffice:

Prof. D. Graham Burnett, dressed

Prof. D. Graham Burnett, undressing

While I am at it, may I say how much that second Burnett photo, the rent-boy pose, reminds me of the author photo the late Yale historian John Boswell used?

Prof. John Boswell, undermining the authority of his scholarship

Don Draper, eat your heart out.