Fashion snark for the New Journalist

July 16, 2009

Via The Daily Dish, legendary nonfiction writer Gay Talese discusses his craft with The Paris Review magazine.

It turns out that Tom Wolfe isn’t the only fashion plate among the big names of literary journalism. Talese is asked how his writing day begins:

I get dressed as if I’m going to an office. I wear a tie.

Cuff links?

Yes. I dress as if I’m going to an office in midtown or on Wall Street or at a law firm, even though what I am really doing is going downstairs to my bunker. In the bunker there’s a little refrigerator, and I have orange juice and muffins and coffee. Then I change my clothes.


That’s right. I have an ascot and sweaters. I have a scarf.

Well, whatever works …

Talese adds that he takes notes on shirt boards — those thin pieces of cardboard that are folded inside a dress shirt when you buy it from a store. He likes to tear them in quarters and use them like index cards. It seems his dad was a tailor, and so there they were, just lying aroud. He also uses the full shirt board for outlining, like so:

"I don't like the way you're dressed," Sinatra said.

Is it just me, or does that look like a mind map to you? If so, it’s a highly recommended brainstorming technique. I can’t speak for ascots or cuff links, but who am I to judge?

After all, this is the guy who wrote “Frank Sinatra Has A Cold,” in which we see The Chairman picking a fight with sci-fi legend Harlan Ellison. It’s probably the most awesome moment of celebrity journalism ever. Go read it.

Also, from the junk e-mail files: Make way for the boot of legend, the boot that brooks no obstacle, the boot that refuses to take “No Through Path” for an answer. All bow thy knee to the mighty Pennine:

Viddy this, my droogs

Viddy this, my droogs

Named after a Yorkshire mountain range and handmade for $375 from Shipton and Heneage of London. Pretty sharp-looking if I do say so myself … but that wasn’t what caught my eye:

Calf-high, water-resistant and commando-soled, you are the boot that would have been worn by the toughest heroes of British culture, from Beowulf to Bulldog Drummond to Alex the Droog if only they had been on our mailing list.

Alex the Droog, from A Clockwork Orange? If the ad copywriter who came up with that is reading this: go ask the folks at Dr. Martens about the importance of maintaining a positive brand image … and lay off the milk-plus …


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