Wednesday, January 19, 2005

On the Diplomatic Battlefront

Those who haven't done so yet should check out the Daily Demarche, a blog run by underground conservative diplomats who have that pricelss extra, a self-deprecating sense of humor. From them and the Diplomad, we discover such terms as the "Far Abroad". One of the more hilarious entries is by Smiley, who describes the dangers of living in a fashion time capsule in the Far Abroad.

We are not well-dressed. At all. There are two main problems with the dress tastes of male FSOs. First, many of them, while really nice people and competent at their jobs, simply lack dress sense. Even the Land’s End catalogue, a perennial foreign service favorite, cannot rescue them -- simply because a shirt, tie, and coat appear in the same catalogue does not mean that they can be worn at the same time.  ...

... there are some FSOs out there who are capable of being trendy. The problem, however, occurs when they leave for the Far Abroad. Even if they are au courant when they leave Washington DC, and they arrive at post at the leading edge of fashion, style will change, as it always does, and they will return to DC from some far away place some years later, failing to comprehend that the fashion scene in the US just may have moved on, while the scene in, say, Niamey (Niger) may not have quite kept the pace. This is true of diplomats who have been abroad for any number of years; when returning to the Department one begins to believe that some people must have been overseas since the mid-seventies – this is the only possible way to account for all the polyester grape smugglers and weird suits (plaid, linen, anyone?) one sees swishing through Foggy Bottom’s halls.

Is there a savior for our sartorially cursed consuls and second secretaries? Yes. There is. Behold Manolo.

If for nothing else, the link to Manolo is worth the visit to the Daily Demarche. He must be the equivalent of the Onion or Scrappelface for the fashion industry. Consider Manolo's advice on shoes, which every diplomat, even those posted in the Far Abroad, may at one time or another wear. His lavishly illustrated page discusses the merits, or lack thereof, of such classic footwear as Uggs, Birkenstock, Earth Shoes and Betsy Johnsons. A sample:

The Earth Shoe it has the famous, "negative sole" which puts the toes of the wearer higher then the heels...perfect for making every girl look like she has the kegs for calves. Also, this it is another of the favorite shoe of the hippies.

Query: why do the hippies and the crunchy bohemians insist on displaying their solidarity with the peasants by wearing the peasant shoes that cost $100 the pair? Manolo asks, if they are indeed serious about wearing the comfortable footwear of the peasant should they not be sporting the shoes made out of the recycled treads of the steel-belted tires?

And I thought bloggers had it bad with their pajamas.