Warning. This is long and you may regard it as a load of dingo’s kidneys. Mpcsb’s post on the trad gentleman got me thinking quite a bit about what this trad business is all about. I asserted, and still maintain, that a great deal of trad clothing is entirely unelegant and much of it is, by most people’s lights, odd and inappropriate. The notion struck me that dressing in Trad clothing is really like dressing like a child. It’s about being in play clothes all of the time, even when suited at work. As with a child, leisure and comfort are the paramount concerns. I’d be willing to bet that if you let loose an 8 year old in a closet full of clothes and told him to play at dressing like a grown-up, you’d likely get a very trad effect. I should probably point out that I don’t consider myself to be a trad. Nonetheless, I have and routinely wear all of the stuff. My casual wardrobe would not meet with much criticism on this board. My business wardrobe is distinctly not trad. I don’t like the child-like casualness of trad in that environment except on very casual days. I’d also like to point out that I’m attempting to make descriptive rather than normative observations. With those disclosures and disclaimers in place, I’d better try to support my assertion. Trad clothes, even at their dressiest, downplay male secondary sexual characteristics. By this, I mean that they radically de-emphasize the physical model of masculinity characterized by broad shoulders and chest with a narrow waist. Let’s compare a Huntsman style jacket to a sack suit. The Hunstman will have constructed shoulders, harder construction and a very narrow waist. It is designed to convey the message that the wearer is most certainly a grown, athletic man. The sack, in contrast, moves to eliminate any suggestion of shoulder. While the waist on a sack jacket can be nipped in, it often is not and it omits the darts which give the impression of shape. The overall effect is not the triangular, masculine Huntsman, but rather a shape straight from shoulder through hip that is more child-like and less masculine. It is the shape of a boy in the nursery. Let’s look at the furnishings that are paired with the sack suit. First, the OCBD. In just about no other place in the world than the US is this considered a shirt appropriate for the suited workplace. This is no particular surprise. At its best, it is made of relatively coarse cloth with fairly heavy stitching and wholly gratuitous buttons on its collar that are designed to keep it flapping about on horseback. None of these qualities is particularly desirable or important in the office. They do, however, suggest that the wearer is at play rather than doing stuffy drudge-work in a stuffy office. The impression of being a child dressed up for grown-up play is reinforced by the popular choices of trad neckwear. All of the Vineyard Vines cartoonery aside, trads generally like their ties in relative cheerful crayon colors. Note the extreme fondness for regimental ties in general and the Argyl and Sutherland in particular. The effect is compounded when a bow tie is worn as it is distinctly less blatantly masculine and more child-like, more fun-loving as though it’s wearer is enjoying a joke. br> The nursery aspect of trad footwear is immediately obvious. Our theoretical child playing dress up would certainly opt for loafers over lace-ups. So does the trad in defiance of the conventions of the rest of the suit-wearing world. Even his preferred lace-ups, the gunboat longwing brogue, are generally thought too inelegant for business dress elsewhere. Both are wonderful shoes with their place in any wardrobe, but with business dress, they may suggest that commercial activity is play rather than serious business. It is to be done when one pleases but it’s a diversion among many diversions rather than a matter of truly keeping body and soul together. If we depart from business dress and look at casual clothes, well, the trad dresses in just about the same way from the cradle to the grave. Chinos, his OCBD and a sweater will see him through life. If he outgrows any item, Brooks will sell him an identical one in the next size up. There’s an almost Garanimal-like quality to it. The trad has the comfort of going through life knowing that his stuff always matches. Unless, of course, he doesn’t want it to and that brings us to the whole panoply of items that to one degree or another shout, “Go to Hell!” We run into things relatively innocuous such as argyle socks and seersucker suits. Many, if not most men would not wear them, though they probably wouldn’t condemn them either. Then we hit all of those pants. What is it about a trad and his trousers? How on earth did they become a venue for extravagant display? Nonetheless, they get hauled out in bright red, patch madras, patch tartan, four panels, embroidered flora and fauna of every description and, just occasionally, some or all of the foregoing list combined simultaneously! Surely not even the most devout trad could claim that any of it is tasteful. However, it is all fun. Very fun, indeed. There is a most child-like innocence in wearing this stuff as an adult. Which brings me to my wrap-up. How did these clothes come to be? Perhaps they are the necessary adjuncts to a semi-leisured class who had to go into New York to make ends meet but wanted to be at play. The notion of playfulness was probably central to them. Where does that leave us now with trad? It ought to embrace its child-like playfulness. At its very best, it is playful and a bit naïve. There is a tendency here and in the Forum That Is Not To Be Named to take it seriously, to obsess over the details and their deep meaning. That’s a shame as trad is not a serious style. It is not a correct or elegant style. It is not the style of great and proper gentlemen. It is simply fun.