Archive for September, 2011


The Measure of A Man by J J Lee

Mr. J.J. Lee is a Vancouver based fashion journalist and media expert on topics sartorial. He can be heard on CBC Radio every Monday afternoon discussing themes as diverse as Play-off Hockey beards, Harris Tweed and Fashion Week. His own tale is interesting and inspirational; I hope to pick up a copy of his newly released memoir/social history of suits called The Measure of a Man: The Story of a Father, a Son, and a Suit.

Publisher McClelland describes the book this way:

Taking as its starting point a son’s decision to alter his late father’s last remaining suit for himself, this is a deeply moving and brilliantly crafted story of fathers and sons, of fitting in and standing out — and discovering what it means to be your own man.

For years, journalist and amateur tailor JJ Lee tried to ignore the navy suit that hung at the back of his closet — his late father’s last suit. When he decides to finally make the suit his own, little does he know he is about to embark on a journey into his own past.

As JJ moves across the surface of the suit, he reveals the heartbreaking tale of his father, a charismatic but luckless restaurateur whose demons brought tumult upon his family. He also recounts the year he spent as an apprentice tailor at Modernize Tailors, the last of Vancouver’s legendary Chinatown tailors, where he learns invaluable lessons about life from his octogenarian master tailor. Woven throughout these two personal strands are entertaining stories from the social history of the man’s suit, the surprising battleground where the war between generations has long been fought.With wit, bracing honesty, and great narrative verve, JJ takes us from the French Revolution to the Zoot Suit Riots, from the Japanese Salaryman to Mad Men, from Oscar Wilde in short pants to Marlon Brando in a T-shirt, and from the rareified rooms of Savile Row to a rundown shop in Chinatown. A book that will forever change the way you think about the maxim “the clothes make the man,” this is a universal story of love and forgiveness and breaking with the past. 


Personal Space Lost in Translation

In North America, we have a concept of what we consider to be appropriate contact and the proper distance to maintain from others in a professional setting. Personal space may vary slightly depending on familiarity and gender but we generally subscribe to a certain set of norms that are considered acceptable to most. However, in other cultures, personal-space thresholds may be completely different, and awareness of those differences can help international businesspeople and politicians avoid making their clients or associates feel uncomfortable.

Indonesian Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring experienced an awkward moment when shaking the hand of visiting U.S. first lady Michelle Obama last fall. What was so embarrassing about the handshake to inspire one U.S. journalist to jokingly label it “the cutest political sex scandal ever?”

Sembiring is a proud conservative Muslim who avoids physical contact with women who are not family members, even when it has previously meant risking offense by refusing to shake the hand of a female journalist.

Unfortunately, the Internet erupted with negative chatter after video of the encounter showed the minister smiling graciously during the encounter. He defended himself on Twitter by saying “I tried to prevent (being touched) with my hands but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me (so) we touched.”

Sembiring later reiterated his original conservative Muslim stance to avoid touching the opposite sex but explained, “there are times when I have been caught off-guard or I have had to meet people who were not aware of my stance.”

Based on his quick acceptance of Mrs. Obama’s hand, he apparently weighed the risk of making her feel uncomfortable and decided beforehand to accept her gesture in the spirit in which it was intended. Though his religious standards mean he must draw the line somewhere, he was kind to put someone else’s comfort above his own. At least he was not caught off guard with a female European diplomat offering a customary kiss – that would have been decidedly more uncomfortable.

What could the first lady have done differently? She could adopt a cautious standard of keeping her hands at her side until someone else offers to shake but doing so might not only make her appear cold to her own country but also could offend those from international contacts who greet more warmly than North Americans. If we all kept our hands at our sides waiting for others to make the first move, nothing would ever happen.

Similarly, a few eyebrows were raised in the United States when former President George W. Bush held hands and even shared a kiss with a Saudi Prince. However, Bush’s flexibility and willingness to forfeit a bit of personal space showed respect and solidarity without any sexual connotations. Unfortunately, in another case, Bush was the one pushing the personal space boundaries; he caused many to feel uncomfortable when he seemingly affectionately squeezed the shoulder of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Even world leaders who have entire teams dedicated to protocol do not get it right every time.

So many physical gestures and greetings become instinctive and impromptu to us that we may inadvertently err now and then. However, a conscious determination to be flexible and considerate of others’ cultural expectations will greatly improve the odds that you will put others at ease in the international business world.

(excerpts from “Don’t Touch Me” by Adam Wooten)


There are times …


Your Fall Shopping List

It may not feel like Fall, but the calendar warns, “Don’t be fooled, it’s here!”

Wonder what pieces you need to add to your wardrobe this season? We’ve put together a list of essentials for you to consider this fall. However, before heading out to the mall, make sure you audit your closet and eliminate any items that are dated, worn out or that haven’t been used in a year.

After the wardrobe clean-up, it’s time to fill in the gaps with new items that reflect your personal style, your body type, your skintone colour and your lifestyle.


  • Little Black Dress
  • Jersey Wrap Dress
  • Turtleneck, v-neck + cardigan sweater
  • White shirt, silk blouse
  • Boot-cut black pants
  • Flat-front wool trousers
  • Chinos or cords
  • 1 dressy, 1 casual pair of jeans
  • A-line or pleated skirt
  • Pencil or straight skirt
  • 2 wool blazers
  • All seasons wool pantsuit
  • Classic long winter coat
  • Casual all-weather winter jacket
  • Black pumps + kitten heels
  • Knee boots + ankle boots
  • Roomy work tote or hobo
  • Structured bag
  • Evening clutch