208-874-4345 (informational recording)

the cause is himself

Anytime my father wears a turtleneck, he is advancing a cause, and the cause is himself. That is what he means when he says that an article of clothing is “flattering.” That is where his maxim extolling the turtleneck acquires its Euclidean certainty. The turtleneck is the most flattering thing a man can wear because it strips a man down to himself—because it forces a man to project himself. The turtleneck does not decorate, like at tie, or augment, like a sport coat, or in any way distract from what my father calls a man’s “presentation”; rather, it fits a man in sharp relief and puts his face on a pedestal—first literally, then figuratively. It is about isolation, the turtleneck is; it is about essences and first causes; it is about the body and the face, and that’s all it’s about… The turtleneck is the most flattering thing a man can wear, then, because it establishes the very standard for flattery in fashion, which is that nothing you wear should ever hide what you want to reveal, or reveal what you want to hide. This is the certainty from which all the other certainties proceed; this is why my father, never a religious man—indeed, a true and irrepressible pagan, literal in his worship of the sun—believes in turtlenecks more than he believes in God.

Tom Junod, My Father’s Fashion Tips, GQ, 1996

HT: the incomparable Put This On