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surprised to see me in your swell joint?
Having watched way too many films from the 30s/40s and having become a fan of the show "Boardwalk Empire", I've found myself wishing men still dressed the way they did 70 years ago. I thought to myself, you know, there's no reason why I can't. So after years of being a T-shirt & jeans slacker, I've begun the process of dressing as a gentleman should.

It began simple enough. I had a flat cap I had bought several years ago and wore from time to time when I was home. I began taking it on the road with me and soon bought a cheap pair of suspenders to go along with my flea market works shirts.

The suspenders began to wear-out fairly quickly. Rather than buckling down on the elastic, the clasps used to adjust the length of them had fairly unforgiving teeth which constantly slipped, and chewed into the fabric with the constant adjustment, causing unsightly strings to appear all over it. I soon acquired some nice suspenders and began adding ties and a variety of long-sleeve colored shirts.

Next came a waistcoat, a nice grey pinstripe one that would go with just about any color pants/shirt/tie. I've since added two more, one brown/twill and one charcoal/herringbone.

Now that I was wearing waistcoats, I needed to accessorize, like a pocket chain (which my keys are on) and...


Since it's winter, I began investing in outer-wear as well as a couple of blazers. The first was a pea coat, to be my primary work coat during the winter months.

I also found a great, full length overcoat at Goodwill, as well as a trenchcoat. Over Christmas, I acquired a vintage full-size fedora from my mother in-law's stash of antiques in PA. Put all together with a blazer, I could've walked right out of a 40s noir flick.

I've also begun delving into the toiletries of this by-gone era. Several years ago I had toyed with the idea of getting a safety razor, mostly because I've always felt that disposable razors and/or cartridges were a bit of a scam, not to mention wasteful. I decided to get one, and complemented it with shaving soap, a boar's hair brush, old-school after shave and hair tonic. It's curious... after years of being the most laid-back, low-maintenance person on the planet... now I just don't feel right until I've had a chance to shave and get cleaned-up in the morning.

I'm largely done with the basics of creating this wardrobe... and basically did it all on about $200-$250. Most of these garments being dry-clean only, the toughest thing I'm finding is keeping them neat and clean since due to my profession, I'm only home once a month or so to take them to the cleaners. Ideally, I need to build a wardrobe that contains a dozen or so waistcoats, with half of them at home cleaned and waiting for my return then swap them out. They're expensive though, at a regular price of $60-$70 each. I've been lucky so far and gotten my current 3 on-sale and haven't paid more than $35 for any of them. I'm going to try and be patient and get more when I can find them on sale. In the meantime, I'm going to conentrate on some additional accessories. Another pocket chain, or a double Albert chain, and put a pocket watch in the other pocket. I'm also going to explore tie chains and stick pins. I'm debating whether or not I want to add bow ties, but that may be a bit too poindexter for the look i'm trying to cultivate.

It's been a lot of fun. I get comments almost daily, especially since I've never seen another truck driver dressed in this manner. But I'm also enjoying the ritual of putting myself together every day. I find that the attention to detail required of this appearnce bleeds over into my attention to everything else, which is a good thing. The real test of this will be when summer gets here and the temperatures start to go up. Currently I'm wearing an undershirt, a long-sleeve shirt buttoned at the neck with a tie, suspenders, and a waistcoat. That's a lot and at the moment I'm having a hard time imagining wearing all this when it's 90+ degrees outside. If it's too unbearble I may have to revert to modern shorts/T-shirt for a couple of months in the year, or figure out some other "look" for the summer months.

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I should hope that you've added the appropriate vocabulary to go along with all of this - if "gams", "dollface" and "how's tricks" aren't coming out of your mouth regularly, I'm going to be very disappointed in you.

Heh, I haven't been able to bring myself to that point yet. The entire vocabulary for the ladies from that era in our PC world probably wouldn't go over too well: broads, dames, dolls, skirts. I've tried to use "swell" a little more and sometimes I try to throw in "see?" at the end of a sentence when trying to get a point across, a la Edward G Robinson.

Some other things I've thought of doing that might make me insufferable: referring to cars as carriages and the restroom as the water closet or "wc".

Pshaw, I say. I've been doing so for years. 'Course, I'm a chick so I can probably get away with it better, but I've never had anyone get mad it me for calling 'em "dollface". We're all third wave (or even post-third wave) feminists these days, which means it's only the truly annoying chiquitas that should get all twitchy about such things. Of course, that's just MY opinion, and plenty of 'em do anyway, but I think that's just dumb.

I see it being VERY confusing for the other truckers if you pull up blaring early 80s punk and then step out looking like that. You're messing with their minds :)

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