If High WASP women have Grandes Dames, Sturdy Gals, and Artsy Cousins as style archetypes, who then are their male counterparts? Let me pull these from unconscious memory, dinner the other night, and the works of Tom Wolfe, Richard Ford, and John Updike. Not a rational process.
First, and most commonly understood, is the Master Of The Universe. He channels our forefathers early urge to make it big. Doesn’t care how much money was made then. Focused on now. He doesn’t think much about style, in truth. Has a uniform. A uniform of dominance. Square jaw, intellect so sharp you bleed at its touch, attention span short. In fact, however, he is rare, among actual High WASPs. The required level of aggression hasn’t, for the most part, survived years of genetic and social evolution. Or perhaps, with that level of intelligence, if you sit still for too long, questions crowd in like shrill goblins in a cave. Doubt is the enemy, a gray suit his friend.
Second, High WASP men have Artsy Cousins too. My brother somewhat among them. (Crossed with Master of the Universe in his case, but I digress.) And, having interviewed him on his clothes choices, it appears that Artsy Cousins, of the male variety, buy their clothes from Italian vendors who don’t make women’s clothes.* Who knew? Artsy Cousins fish, they show up at Burning Man with Art Bicycles, they open themselves to answers. Have hobbies. Involving nature, or something obscure, requiring gear. They play chess. And pretend it’s not important.
Finally, The Professor. In reality. This is my father, seated. With signet ring. (esb, it took me forever, but here you go. A signet ring that doesn’t bring Mickey Rourke to mind.) The Professor is known by his words – “as it were,” “one might say,” – his erudition, his slippers, the shapelessness of his sweaters. By his love for family, expressed or not. Oh, and his dog. Do not forget his dog.
Let me say now, disclaiming, I am no expert on men’s style. Not modern, I leave that to secret forts. Not “trad,” I leave that to Maxminimus, The Trad, and Toad. Wonderful writers all. I hope they might comment, or perhaps set me to rights. I write this because we like to be fair in my family. The boys should have their turn.
Men are mysterious beings. One day they are little boys with baby flesh and the next the Incredible Hulk bursts out of their being leaving mothers with shards of boy childhood outright breaking their hearts.
*Unless of course this is a West Coast mutation only.