by Borderstan.com June 26, 2013 at 4:00 pm 0

Khelan offers up some summer suit options that work in the DC summer heat.

Khelan offers up some summer suit options that work in the DC summer heat.

Above: Thomas Pink Shirt, J.Crew’s Ludlow Summer Suit and Ralph Lauren Tie by khelan on polyvore.com.

From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB or email him at khelan[AT]borderstan.com. 

Today, I have some options for suits that work in the DC summer heat (and address the issue of seersucker, once a DC uniform in the summertime).

First, let’s address some do-not-do fashions on the subject of (ill-placed) patriotism on Independence Day. I was in Penn Quarter the other day, and I saw a fashion atrocity that I hope was perpetrated by a tourist and not a resident. This guy was wearing… get this… American flag slacks. As in white stars on a blue background on the right leg and alternating red-and-white stripes on the left leg. Cannot make this sh*t up. It almost made me yearn for a constitutional amendment banning the desecration of Old Glory… or mandating a sense of style. Relax, ACLU’ers, I believe that free speech is a fundamental, inalienable right. However, fashion is most definitely a privilege.

The Loss of Seersucker Thursday

Anyhow, down to business at hand. Not sure if you read Dana Milbank’s Dana Milbank’s Washington Post column last Tuesday, but it was an interesting piece intertwining two of my passions: politics and style.

The article’s intent was clearly to lament the loss of a frivolous, yet important, tradition in the halls of Congress: Seersucker Thursday, which was started by former GOP Senator Trent Lott to create a sense of bipartisan camaraderie and, well, fun in an often humorless institution. And, hey, I’m all for tastefully pushing the sartorial envelope in the workplace.

But the column got me thinking about seersucker in general and I came to this conclusion: Very few guys actually look good in the summer fabric. In fact, it looks downright costumey and (dare I say it?) Colonel Sandersesque on most guys. Don’t get me wrong; I fully appreciate that everyone from Thom Browne to Club Monaco has attempted to make the seersucker suit look cool… no pun intended. But it so rarely does. Am I right?

However, that doesn’t change the fact that many of us have to still wear business formal to the workplace even as the thermostat inches closer, and sometimes past, 100 degrees. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, this column isn’t just my little corner to bitch and moan about the heinous crimes against style. I pose solutions to the problems I often bring up (unless you’re wearing American Flag trousers — there’s no fix, outside of shock therapy, I can think of).

The Perfect Summer Suit

J.Crew’s Ludlow fine-striped suit is quite literally the perfect summer suit (well, at least, the best one I’ve ever worn). It’s cotton, so it breathes better than tropical wool, and doesn’t wrinkle quite as easily as linen. Plus, it’s just this side of off-white (sometimes slate, depending on the light), so it doesn’t look too stark, as pure white suits often can (look, this is still the District, not Miami. Let’s not get too crazy). And the stripes are so wonderfully subtle that you can pair it with literally any color or pattern dress shirt.

Here’s an idea: let’s try a red-striped shirt…maybe this one from Thomas Pink. And a blue knit tie from Polo. Red, (sort-of) white, and blue. Oh hey, I just found a solution for Mr. America, too.

This column first ran July 4, 2012.

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by Borderstan.com July 11, 2012 at 1:30 pm 1,160 0

"Bars"

Looking for a cool spot at a local sports bar?(Luis Gomez Photos)

From Scott Leibowitz. Find Scott on Twitter @Lebodome. Email him at scott[AT]borderstan.com.

Modern man has invented some remarkable products to better help us deal with one of the things we can’t control in life: the weather. Advance materials and ways of sewing have brought forth concepts like dry-fit for both hot and cold climates. While I enjoy that and many others, there is only one thing that brings me immense joy and comfort: central air conditioning. And in DC, can you imagine summers without AC?

I shudder to think of a world where people went from place to place, sweating everywhere with no relief except hoping it got dark or a storm would come. Honestly, we praise Henry Ford and Eli Whitney for innovations to the world, but why isn’t the man who invented AC a household name?

If you haven’t noticed the heat recently, maybe you’re a cactus. For the rest of us, it has literally been the hottest (worst) summer in DC ever on record, making doing just about anything outside awful. The idea of even walking to Bethesda Bagel on Connecticut Avenue over the weekend was a serious discussion of “Is there enough shade on the walk?” and “We need enough water for there and back.” One of the only ways to beat the heat (stupid Lebron) is to not go outside and enjoy your AC. It’s like having a car in DC. If you don’t have it, make friends with people who do and never leave their nicely cooled living rooms. I am fortunate enough to have mine cranking as you read this post, but I understand it is a luxury.

Get Out for a Beer and Watch Some Sports

We can’t stay inside forever (as much as we may want to) and sometimes you need a beer or a place to watch a sporting event. So here is just a handful of places in Borderstan with excellent air conditioning. They may not be as good as some other bars as sport watching venues, but if the aim is to stop sweating, stop in these places.

  • Buffalo Billiards: Tons of TVs, tons of space and always pumping AC. Also because it is underground it is not being blasted with rays of sun, which helps.
  • Nellie’s Sports Bar: Great sports bar with fully functioning 21st century central air. Also, there is the option of the outdoors with Nellie’s large rooftop deck — that is, if it is not 105 degrees.
  • Solly’s U St Tavern: Brick building insulates well and blocks heat. Also their AC and HDTVs are in fantastic working order.
  • Your Own Apartment: Stay home. No wait time, always a seat and you can control the temperature.

Beware of any places with large glass windows, huge patios and a constant swinging of the front door. Yes, atmosphere, drink selection and price are important for choosing a bar. But, this time of year only go to places with temperatures similar to a fridge.

In the Hopper

Links! Links! Ice Cold Links!

  • Inventor of the first “electronic‘ football game has passed away.
  • The History of Rock, in 100 cords. Worth watching all 12 minutes.
  • Cookie Monster’s version of “Call Me Maybe”.

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by Borderstan.com July 4, 2012 at 11:40 am 1,097 3 Comments

Khelan offers up some summer suit options that work in the DC summer heat.

Above: Thomas Pink Shirt, J.Crew’s Ludlow Summer Suit and Ralph Lauren Tie by khelan on polyvore.com.

From Khelan Bhatia. Follow Khelan on Twitter @KhelanB or email him at khelan[AT]borderstan.com.

Happy 4th of July, Borderstanis! Hope you have some wonderful plans to celebrate our country’s independence. Today, I have some options for suits that work in the DC summer heat (and address the issue of seersucker, once a DC uniform in the summertime).

First, let’s address some do-not-do fashions on the subject of (ill-placed) patriotism on Independence Day. I was in Penn Quarter the other day, and I saw a fashion atrocity that I hope was perpetrated by a tourist and not a resident. This guy was wearing… get this… American flag slacks. As in white stars on a blue background on the right leg and alternating red-and-white stripes on the left leg. Cannot make this sh*t up. It almost made me yearn for a constitutional amendment banning the desecration of Old Glory… or mandating a sense of style. Relax, ACLU’ers, I believe that free speech is a fundamental, inalienable right. However, fashion is most definitely a privilege.

The Loss of Seersucker Thursday

Anyhow, down to business at hand. Not sure if you read Dana Milbank’s Dana Milbank’s Washington Post column last Tuesday, but it was an interesting piece intertwining two of my passions: politics and style. The article’s intent was clearly to lament the loss of a frivolous, yet important, tradition in the halls of Congress: Seersucker Thursday, which was started by former GOP Senator Trent Lott to create a sense of bipartisan camaraderie and, well, fun in an often humorless institution. And, hey, I’m all for tastefully pushing the sartorial envelope in the workplace.

But the column got me thinking about seersucker in general and I came to this conclusion: Very few guys actually look good in the summer fabric. In fact, it looks downright costumey and (dare I say it?) Colonel Sandersesque on most guys. Don’t get me wrong; I fully appreciate that everyone from Thom Browne to Club Monaco has attempted to make the seersucker suit look cool… no pun intended. But it so rarely does. Am I right?

However, that doesn’t change the fact that many of us have to still wear business formal to the workplace even as the thermostat inches closer, and sometimes past, 100 degrees. And, as I’ve said repeatedly, this column isn’t just my little corner to bitch and moan about the heinous crimes against style. I pose solutions to the problems I often bring up (unless you’re wearing American Flag trousers — there’s no fix, outside of shock therapy, I can think of).

The Perfect Summer Suit

J.Crew’s Ludlow fine-striped suit is quite literally the perfect summer suit (well, at least, the best one I’ve ever worn). It’s cotton, so it breathes better than tropical wool, and doesn’t wrinkle quite as easily as linen. Plus, it’s just this side of off-white (sometimes slate, depending on the light), so it doesn’t look too stark, as pure white suits often can (look, this is still the District, not Miami. Let’s not get too crazy). And the stripes are so wonderfully subtle that you can pair it with literally any color or pattern dress shirt.

Here’s an idea: let’s try a red-striped shirt…maybe this one from Thomas Pink. And a blue knit tie from Polo. Red, (sort-of) white, and blue. Oh hey, I just found a solution for Mr. America, too.

That’s it for me this week, patriots. Enjoy your 4th!

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by Borderstan.com June 29, 2012 at 12:00 pm 0

From Candida Mannozzi. You can reach her at candida[AT]borderstan.com.

Featured image of Dupont Circle Fountain by Candida Mannozzi.

Borderstan, we’ve been lucky with the heat, so far, this summer — until now, it appears. In fact, with the more typical DC temps and humidity suddenly upon us, I’m reminded of how good we’ve really had it. The Mallard Duck I recently spotted bathing in the Dupont Circle fountain instantly evoked a number of memories from my summers growing up in Italy.

The first image was literally a transposition of the duck-bathing-in-Dupont-fountain: I remembered the many tourists literally cooling their heels in Italian marble fountains (or worse, stepping over the ledge to soak in them completely).

"Tomatoes and Lemons"

Dining al fresco on the appropriate summer foods was important as a child in Italy. (dracisk in the Borderstan Flickr pool)

While this may be a welcome relief to the tourists, we Italians, by and large, really don’t appreciate the spectacle, nor do we enjoy this misuse and disrespect for what are, in many cases, historic sculptures. We locals usually go past such scenes thinking or even muttering: “I’d like to try that in your main piazza’s fountain back in Switzerland, Germany, fill-in-the-blank… and not be hauled off by the municipal police!”

But back to the cooling memories: another is of the delicious “granite” (pronounced: grah-KNEE-tay), called sno-cones here. Some of the favorite flavors among Italian children are lemon, mint, sour cherry and coconut. I remember the ambulating vendors, their call as they pushed an umbrella-shaded cart: “Eccole! Le graniiiiiteeeeee!” working their way up and down the seaside promenades. They would stop whenever a flock of children or families gathered around them.

The ice was shaved into a little pyramid off a huge block, the syrup poured over it liberally. Then, it was all scooped up and served in a pointy cup made of twisted wax paper. Often mothers cautioned the vendor not to give the kids too much sugar by going easy on the syrup (try putting any bambini down for their afternoon nap after a dose of THAT!).

Grownups found refreshment in various aperitivi, like the bittersweet “Campari e soda,” or the citrus-flavored “Aperol.” White wine (the cheaper table wine variety, mind you!) was sometimes lengthened with sparkling mineral water. Ice cubes were rare (they are gaining some traction now), so most drinks were just fridge-cold or cellar-cool.

During the summertime, dinners started much later in the evening, to allow an appetite to really build. Who wants to eat in the blistering heat, after all? It was not uncommon to sit down to dinner around 9 pm or later, having also slept for a few hours during the hottest part of the afternoon in a shaded room or hallway, with a cross-breeze blowing over cooling tile or marble floors.

Summertime meals started with slices of prosciutto and chilled “melone” (cantaloupe) or figs, or with a helping of the famous Caprese salad made of  alternate mozzarella and tomato slices, dressed in basil leaves, salt, pepper and olive oil (if I hear you pouring vinegar on this, I am coming after you!). What a great way to rehydrate and also replenish the sodium that the summer heat had sapped from us, as we played and perspired outside in the sun!

A favorite seaside breakfast was yesterday’s not-so-fresh bread, sliced, toasted, rubbed with the open face of a halved garlic clove, and then covered in the dark red, meaty, sweet diced tomatoes that abounded in the summer. Basil leaves, a pinch of salt and a light circle of olive oil topped the whole thing off: viva la bruschetta! The moisture from the tomatoes and olive oil softened the bread, though we could still feel the crunch of the toasted crust, the oil and tomato juices would go running down our cheeks and chins with each bite. We gobbled down kilos!

Washing-up? We just hit the sea.

But the most fun came from eating watermelon. We held a variety of contests with the seeds, either measuring spitting distance, or target accuracy, or pinching their pointy end to make them flip up in the air and (hopefully) plink rewardingly into a bowl or glass. On some occasions, the competition was about volume of seed-volleys: a few kids (and dads!) were true pros at conjuring almost machine-gun like effects with a mouthful of seeds. Don’t come near me with those seedless watermelons, they may be organic, but they’re sad, genetically modified freaks to me! Not to mention witnessing the hilarious effect of people arguing over a disputed target hit or other disagreement through a mouthful of juicy, oozing watermelon…

Most summertime dishes were served cold or at room temperature, and had been prepared that morning, sparing the cooks any work over heated ovens or stoves in the hotter hours. Some favorites were the stuffed tomatoes or peppers (pomodori ripieni, peperoni ripieni) filled with rice salad, or rice-and-mincemeat, or tuna salad), meatballs (tiny, rolled in bread crumbs for a lovely crisp finish, flavored with herbs, garlic and some hot pepper flakes… some even had melted mozzarella in their center), capponata (a vegetable medley similar to the French ratatouille — though, forgive me, way better!), and of course myriad pasta salad variations.

I remember the excitement of being able to play with the other kids late into the night, feeling the cool nighttime breeze as we found our way around in the darker shadows and splashes of moonlight, guided by the scent of a jasmine hedge or a lavender bush, tip-toeing or running, crackling over the rough needles of the fragrant Mediterranean Pines, while the grownups remained within earshot at the table, chatting, laughing, sharing the last bit of cellar-cool wine.

Borderstan, my nostalgia aside, what are some of your favorite summer cooling-off activities or recipes? Share, will you?

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