Tanks a Lot
As the undershirt known as a "wife-beater" becomes the unofficial summer uniform of the city's most stylish men, its partisans are arguing over which brand is best. "I always buy two or three packs of Fruit of the Loom -- by August, they're sold out," says an East Village writer. "I'm fanatical about my Marks & Spencers because they last forever," says a bar owner who has friends pick up shirts for him in London. "The armholes on Helmut Lang's tanks are cut small, so they're better for slim people," says a Burberry window designer, who then confides that his real favorite is a Martin Margiela women's tank. But even those armholes aren't small enough for a 360hiphop.com employee who goes all the way to Korea for his Jockey shirts: "The ones they sell in America," he insists, "have openings down to your lower ribs."
The Foot Patrol
The legs lined up at the city's pedicure stations are a bit hairier than usual this summer. "Men are paying a lot more attention to grooming," says Ji Baek of Rescue Beauty Lounge (8 Centre Market Place; 212-431-0449), whose clients include Simon Doonan. Victor Alfaro has a standing appointment at Eve (400 Bleecker Street; 212-807-8054); Vincent Gallo visits Bliss SoHo (568 Broadway; 212-219-8970). But is this level of male vanity really necessary? "I look at men's feet in the subway and cringe," says Baek. "If I saw those toes in a beautiful Gucci thong, I'd cry."
Inspired by the introduction of sarongs for men by Malatesta and Emporio Armani, as well as Julian Schnabel's saronged appearance at a party celebrating Jeff Koons's topiary puppy, I thought a garnet-striped one by Malatesta ($82) might make the perfect weekend beach-to-town-to-barbecue wear. But if they've heard the sarong song in East Hampton, it hasn't reached Westport, Connecticut, where Compo Beach was teeming with every type of sarong -- flowered, long, short, sheer, matching -- worn exclusively by women. While I fetched breakfast at the deli, two polo-shirts-and-cutoffs types stared at me slack-jawed, one whispering, "You know, the difference between European and American men is . . ." On the pre-beach coffee line, I tried to make a friend by complimenting a woman on her yellow sarong, but received only curt recognition that we might both be suitably dressed for a carefree summer Sunday. There was at least one fringe benefit of wearing a skirt in decorous Volvoland: I didn't have to open a door for myself all weekend.
A new salvo has been fired in the casual-Friday backlash: Some dressed-up dudes, not satisfied with simply buttoning their collars, are insisting on two buttons. "A higher collar is more flattering," says GQ staff writer Adam Sachs, who picked up his shirts in Rome. Turnbull and Asser custom-made Sean Connery's shirts for the James Bond films (42 East 57th Street; 212-752-5700). Here in the States, Bergdorf Goodman stocks versions by Gucci, Etro, and Gianluca Isaia ($225, pictured). But not every dandy has decided in favor of the design: "It's a foppish detail," sniffs the Post's Jared Paul Stern, "for the English and old folks."