Proper Dressing - God Saved The Children!

Teach Your Children To Dress Properly!

God Saved The Children!

A Hopefully Entertaining Lesson on Properly Dressing Your Children

By Alexander S. Kabbaz, Bespoke Clothier

Dressed To Kill. Possum, that is! Is This Your Life?

What the heck does being a bespoke clothier have to do with God; much less with Saving the Children? It has this ... for you see, I am also a son and I am also a father (the latter too darn many times - but that's a story for another day). Something set me to reflecting a while back. One does this often over the age of 60. Why? The reflecting tool tends to work better than the remembering tool. And I reflected that one of the more notable aspects of the various online menswear fora is the virtually predictable response of a certain group of "noobs". The majority group who, infallibly, post a forum topic which goes something like "I've been reading this forum for a while. All of a sudden I realize I don't know squat about clothes!"

"I've been reading this forum for a while. All of a sudden I realize that I don't know squat about clothes!"

They prattle on ... "Before I got here, Men's Warehouse was the ultimate clothier. Now I know it's really the Men's Bargain Basement and I've thrown every article of wearing apparel I owned in the trash. Thank God I found this place!"

And I wondered, "How did we become this sartorially-ignorant society? It certainly wasn't that way when I was young." But alas ... it really was. Remembering back to when I was 7-8-9 ... Yes, that remembering tool works fine. It's trying to remember what color underwear I put on this morning which causes the difficulties. And so I remembered back to 7-8-9 and what did I come up with?

There was Grandad. Usually in a three-piece suit, even on Sunday mornings for the reading of The Times while Grandma went to church. For casual and Summer events he would occasionally forego the vest and I once saw him without his tie! That was rare. But hey! He was, even to his adoring grandson, a total anachronism. A barrelchested, tea-drinking Welshman with an office in the Cunard building at 25 Broadway where he did - stuff - with papers. What kinda stuff? Hadn't a clue.

And then there was Dad. Brown cords, some kinda rumpled shirt, and that tattered maroon sleeveless cardigan sweater. The one with the big brown crosscut genuine leather buttons and the holes. Dad wore it ... always! I don't even remember if he wore a tie I was so focused on the Holes.

Dad wore it ... always.

I don't even remember if he wore a tie I was so focused on the Holes.

Inevitably, I was the recipient of his "I'm a shrink and I know better than you what you're thinking" look. He didn't. The cardigan. With Holes. Lotsa holes. A veritable museum masterpiece of mothwork.

So those were the minor influences in my sartorial life. And then there were the major influences: Bozo the Clown was one. Howdy Doody was another. Mr Rogers and his tattered maroon cardigan hadn't yet even seen the light of day.

And then there was the overriding influence: Penny! You know, Penny. From Sky King and Penny of course.

Grandad and Mom

Grandad, in his rarely seen
linen two-piece at a Summer event with Mom

Whatever does this have to do with God and Saving Children? That was the first childhood style knowledge I could remember. My own. No suits ... sack or otherwise ... except for the British influence of Grandad. Yes - we all wore leather shoes but that's just because Michael Jordan hadn't yet been invented.

If I were pressed to remember, I would recall the general attire of the youth of the 1950's to be collarless t-shirts and short coveralls for all waking hours except church. For church there was the itchy shirt with a collar and the rest remained the same. So that was the first part of the Children. Me as the son. Bozo. Doody. And Sky King.

Fast-forward to the 1980's and the birth of my first son. Casual Fridays was a phrase just beginning to be heard. A movement underway. And coupled with it the beginning of the Reign of the Sports Kings.

By the time Damien was 7-8-9 in the early 1990s, the puke-green glory of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was all the rage. Think black leather double bandoliers and hands full of nunchucks. The standard attire of Children was sheeny (No, I have no idea if that's a word. But you get the drift.) polyester satin basketball shorts, loudly logo-ed polyester satin sports jerseys, and sneakers which rivalled today's cost of a pair of bespoke shoes. Preferably with the word Jordan emblazoned across the collarless shirt back in six inch high block letters.

I'll save further gory details. Another generation lost.

The Author with cousin Rachel Kretser - a few years ago

My shorts did at least feature suspenders. Cousin Rachel, a year older, wore the pants.

Moving on, then came Conrad and Daniel, children of the 1990's. Just think Elmo's World, Spongebob, and especially Teletubbies .... genderless furry things with no clothes ... and the entire picture will snap into focus. The generation where clothes weren't secondary; weren't even tertiary to the important matter of the decade: How fast your thumbs could move on a videogame controller in order that your steel-clad robot could kill his titanium terminator before the world ended.

So on that day some thirteen years ago that is what this then 56 year-old parent and allegedly decent maker of fine bespoke clothing found cause to reflect upon after reading the umpteenth post by a thirty-somethingth men's style online forum newbie declaring that he had just achieved his first clothing orgasm on arrival at the Temple of Style. And I whispered to myself, probably more loudly than I'm willing to admit, "God Save the Children".
But the tale doesn't end there. Because God answered. Yeah, you got that right. God actually answered! No kidding. And I had only whispered aloud. Didn't even have my hands folded. In the form of our not-so-small two year-old named Tucker (yes, enough, we're done now) who came up to me and said, "Dad. Will you watch Thomas The Tank Train with me?" "Sure", I replied, picturing 45 minutes of pretending to stare at a blue talking train chugging merrily around the Island of Sodor bantering all the way with water towers, tunnels, trucks, and other inanimate objects.

And then I saw him! Sir Topham Hatt

Literally, my jaw dropped. "Damn" I must have uttered out loud, for Tucker shook his finger at me, "the guy's dressed to kill. I mean, he's actually showing cuff. On both sleeves no less!" "Look", I thought. "Spectators. Pocket square. Watch chain. And a shirt with a collar. What is going on here?"

And as I watched, fearing the worst: that Hatt, like my anachronism of a grandfather, was the sole defender of days long gone ... I simply marveled for I was never more wrong. Throughout the entire 45 minutes, in-between talking trains, babbling water towers, muttering tunnels and bantering trucks, was a parade of tailored clothing the likes of which would make a 1920's Esquire Apparel Arts afficionado jealous.

Sir Hatt

Sir Topham Hatt.
Everyone in the entire animated cast, from Sir Topham Hatt all the way down the pecking order to the track maintenance crew, is properly dressed. From the man waving at the train whilst waiting at the railroad crossing, to the school children staring down from the bridges, to the commuters awaiting transport at the train stations, the influence which is being brought to bear on my youngest child during his formative years ain't no Bozo. No Doody for Tucker!

In 2006, that was where we stood. The Reverend W. Awdry's Thomas and Friends series was the most popular series among young boys of the day. Sponge Bob was dead, the Mutant Turtles long gone, video games set in their proper place ... and my two year-old was receiving a sartorial education the likes of which took me a lifetime to acquire. As I look forward to the future I am pleased. For the generation of today comes with knowledge in hand and with certainty that proper dressing is exactly that. Proper.

And without further ado, a short but pleasurable trip through the world of Thomas the Train, sent by God to Save the Children.

Proper Dressing

Proper Dressing


Proper Dressing

Proper Dressing

Proper Dressing

Proper Dressing

And so the Children were Saved.

A quick 2019 update ... the "Thomas Effect" seems to have been long-lasting.

Then two-year-old Tucker is now 16. He prefers our custom trousers with bespoke shirts for daily school wear, with the addition of a tie for assemblies and award ceremonies.
Sea Island polo shirts remain his choice for weekend and casual wear.

Sir Topham Hatt's lasting influence may yet put Joelle and me in the poorhouse!

Thanks for reading. I would be really interested to hear of other examples of this phenomenon you may have observed.

Copyright © 2006-2019 Alexander S. Kabbaz. All rights reserved. No reproduction of any kind permitted without written permission of the copyright holder.