How We Are Surviving Lockdown - Style After 50
Andrew Poupart, AKA, Style After 50 to his legion of followers on Instagram has been a Budd customer for many years. A software engineering manager at Apple and based in San Francisco, he belies the stereotype of Silicon Valley casual and instead, alongside his equally stylish wife, Michèle Free, delights in the elegant tailoring and panache of yesteryear and the joy of dressing with a sense of occasion. We asked him to reflect on his time in lockdown and threw in a few questions whilst we were about it!
First and foremost, we recognize every day that we are among the very fortunate. We are healthy, we are safe, and we are able to work. Our jobs and, therefore, our incomes are secure, certainly for the foreseeable future. We are all too well aware that millions of people in the United States and millions more around the world are not nearly so fortunate.
So, most of our days are spent doing what we would do in more normal times. I get up, make my coffee, eat my berries and yoghurt for breakfast, shave and shower, and get dressed. Then we commute to work, which now consists of walking back downstairs to sit at our makeshift workstations. In-person meetings have been replaced by virtual ones. Lunchtimes pass unnoticed. At the end of the day, we commute to the kitchen for dinner and a glass of wine. Or two.
Virtual meetings present an interesting choice. If we so choose, we can disable the video camera and be represented by an avatar. This gives us the option to hide that we got dressed in the dark that day. But for the most part, we do appear on camera and present a more casual version of how we would be in real life. These days, I rarely wear a tie, but I always wear a collared shirt. Sometimes I’ll wear a jacket. The dirty little secret of video meetings is that even if I appear in a jacket and tie, I could still opt not to wear trousers. I do, of course, wear trousers. So I am tending to wear my casual shirts much more than usual. I haven’t worn a suit in weeks. I miss it.
We go out to buy groceries about once a week and for that outing we do make an effort. I have worn a suit one time, in fact, but usually wear a jacket and tailored trousers. Even that thinnest of reasons to make an effort to get dressed has become something to look forward to.
Our employers make a considerable effort to provide virtual social opportunities and themes have developed. There are virtual happy hours or cocktail hours. I’ve demonstrated how I make a few cocktails in some of these meetings. My wife and I have also participated in “formal Fridays” by putting on a dinner jacket and a cocktail dress for these late afternoon get-togethers.
So we stay home, to stay safe and to help prevent the spread of Covid-19. We work and we’ve become accustomed to this new normal. We have adjusted the way we dress and work to this reality, but we don’t sit around in our pajamas (unless it’s the pajama shirt that James MacAuslen cut for me!). It does make a difference to get dressed.
But above all, we always realize that we are part of a lucky and privileged group, able to work from home. For that we are grateful and our hearts go out to those whom this pandemic has touched in profound and terrible ways.
A few questions from the Budd team:
What is your guilty pleasure article of clothing?
Guilty pleasure? Well, I have a number of overcoats that I truly enjoy wearing. However, they are not particularly practical for where I live, in California, where it is rarely overcoat weather. Other than that, I’d have to say my ivory dinner jacket that I modeled after Humphrey Bogart’s jacket in Casablanca.
Do you have a favourite piece of clothing for slobbing around?
No, not really. If I’m at home on the weekends I will usually wear shorts and a v-neck t-shirt, but other than that, no. I’ve been meaning to buy some Budd pajamas and a robe, but I’m not sure those things would actually fit my habits.
You can only have eight pieces of clothing in your wardrobe, what will they be?
A dinner jacket ensemble; a navy blue suit; a tan or ivory suit; a tweed jacket; grey flannel trousers; 2 white shirts (from Budd, of course); a Burberry trench coat.
Item you would save in a fire?
I’ve never had to face this question in reality and I hope I never do. There are so many artifacts in my home that have special meaning that it would be impossible, in the moment, to save them all or even save one. But objects are just things and things can be replaced or let go. But people can not. In such an event, I would strive to ensure that everyone in the house was safe, and then I would leave myself. That’s all that matters.
Biggest misconceptions about Silicon Valley style?
Probably that everyone wears a t-shirt and jeans.
What have you been binge watching on lockdown?
We’ve been working our way through all the James Bond movies. We are now in the Pierce Brosnan years. We’ve also watched Westworld (although not binged) and that’s about it.
What will be your first port of call when lockdown lifts?
Apart from reuniting with Michèle’s family locally, our first port of call will probably be London. I have family near there and we have many friends in and around the city. After that, Florence and Venice, perhaps.