THE BOULEVARDIER: Dare you

Every week, our Boulevardier, Marq Frerichs, considers matters related to men’s style. This week: Having fun with fashion (like Mr. Tom Wolfe, above) in a ghost town.

Toronto empties out come August: We have no world leaders to block our streets, no rainbow-waving bears to hug, or bejewelled Mas bands to follow. Every week, by Thursday at 11 a.m., the fashionable set have left town. The first string (so the Hogtown hierarchy goes) has migrated north to Lake Joe, the Muskokas, the Kawarthas and Honey Harbour.

So, what should one be seen wearing at the cottage? Unless you’re wearing a buckskin-beaded jacket  à la Pierre Trudeau, I don’t really care. You’re not here, so I don’t have to see you wearing that Tilley hat, those floral Bermudas and ‘dem Crocs. By the way, a stubby isn’t an accessory. Really, you’re most likely not even close to roughing it. Once I stayed at a cottage where the boathouse had more rooms than a Parkdale tenement.

And thus we—the royal “we” that is—have the city to ourselves.

It seems to me like a perfect opportunity to be bold and adventurous. Last week, I went the opera sporting white loafers, three-quarter white shorts, a wife-beater and a white dinner jacket. Plus an opera scarf, of course. Did I feel out of place? Maybe a little, but it was fun to mash-up a few styles and buck the humidity. Much to my chagrin, I hadn’t been to the Royal Conservatory since the renovations, and wow! What a gorgeous building.

Next weekend, a group of us will be going to High Park to watch Romeo and Juliet and I have every intention of upping the ante with a dress code, or at least a theme. Certainly, there will be a few picnics in the park before September. Seersucker suiting comes to mind, perhaps with a classic boater hat and walking stick. Hmm…straw boater hats. I wonder if Centre Island still has swan shaped paddle-boats?

Ah, picnics and garden parties. You’re following me—right to linen suits! Nothing, and I mean nothing, is more classic than a gentleman in a linen suit. You’ll probably swoon at your own image of sartorial splendor. And if you can find a pair of spats…

(I’m going on a little with this Merchant Ivory, A Room With A View vibe, but this will be a good precursor to the Edwardian references coming to you this fall. We will be seeing a lot of the English gentleman/Moby Dick seafarer very soon.)

You may think that it’s too hot to be playing dress-up, but the truth is that it’s too hot to do anything but be naked. Not always an option. I’m quite sure that I’m here in town for the duration so I might as well be playful and adventuresome in my clothes and entertainments.

Read more from Marq here, and follow him on Twitter: @aboulevardier

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