Aaron Pultz looks sharp outside of Sambar in Ballard. This air force transport pilot gets around the globe, and likes the way men dress in more-fashionable cities. At work he has to wear a green fire-retardant jumpsuit. "The military is usually not one of the better-dressed organizations," he laments. But out on the town in Seattle, he prefers pinstriped suits lined in silk and shoes from Verona.
SHOES, $150 from a small vendor in a market in Verona, Italy.
Verona, readers of Shakespeare will know, is where Romeo and Juliet fell in love, were crossed by the stars, and died the most romantic death in the Western canon. It is also where Pultz fell in love with these red leather shoes, hand stitched by some guy named Franceschetti. Does this make Pultz gay? "I'm actually not," he says. "But I get that a lot. I think it's for fashion reasons." It usually is.
SUIT by Oliver Spencer, $450 from Blackbird (5410 22nd Ave NW, 547-2524).
It takes a special straight man to wear a wool suit with light-blue pinstripes and lined in paisley-patterned silk. It takes an even more special straight man to wear said paisley-lined suit over a shirt fit for the dandiest of dandies, along with a tie that would make Sandra Bernhard drool, all while serving in the U.S. Air Force. Pultz is that even more special man.
SHIRT by Glenaden Shirts Ltd., $150 from Nuvo Moda (1307 First Ave, 684-6886).
This cotton shirt is one of only 500 in circulation, which considerably lowers Pultz's odds of having to cut some bitch for showing up at Sambar wearing his outfit. The fabric is flecked with little blue dashes and stitched with pretty little flowers, making this shirt clearly the star of his ensemble. But the star of the shirt is the underside of its collar, which has a different pattern and texture from the rest of the shirt (and, of course, more flowers). Does wearing this shirt guarantee that, at the end of the night, Pultz has someone who wants to lift up his collar and gasp with pleasure at its surprising underside while she takes off his tie? "Hopefully," he says.
TIE by XMI Platinum, $100 from Nordstrom in Portland (701 SW Broadway, Portland, Oregon, 97205, 503-224-6666).
Though neckties have long been associated with Brits, Europeans, and Americans in higher-income brackets—"suits" or "office drones," as their wearers are derisively called—the fashion of tying fabric around one's neck originated with a China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, in 221 B.C., according to the results of an exhaustive Google search (results in .08 seconds), and quickly spread to the lowest of earners. Movie-theater employees, for example, are often forced to wear ties, usually stained by oil and butter. Some movie-theater employees take their ties seriously, but most often choose deliberately kitschy ties as a lazy, half-assed gesture of rebellion, a subtle "fuck you" to management from those toiling away for minimum wage. With office dress codes having been relaxed over the years, the necktie is slowly becoming a sort of economic bracket for work-related attire. On one end, you commonly find ties on those making ample money; on the other end, those barely eking out a living. The midsection, those squarely within the bracket (plumbers, writers, schoolteachers, hookers), get off tie-free. One perk to wearing a tie: If your girlfriend suddenly announces a desire to experiment with bondage, you're all geared up. One drawback: People are often choked to death with their ties, and doctors' ties have been found to be an alarmingly efficient mode of disease transmission, carrying germs among desperately ill patients.