m4mw: My Style Crush. Tell Me What to Do About It.

Lately I’ve been questioning the etiquette of acknowledging complete strangers with great senses of style.  On the one hand, it seems completely insane to walk up to someone you’ve never met to tell them that you like their shoes, or their jacket, or their three-piece brown tweed suit with coordinated wool cap.  Silent admiration from a distance is the most appropriate response, probably.  On the other hand, people always like to be complimented on their taste, and personally my day is always brightened a little when someone has something nice to say about what I’m wearing.

I’ve been pondering these things lately because I have a new local crush.  Two new local crushes, actually, although they are a couple and so in my head I think of them as one entity.

The man was wearing a very nice brown three-piece tweed suit with coordinated wool cap when I first saw him a few weeks ago, wandering the bakery aisle at Whole Foods.  He’s maybe in his mid-to-late fifties; old enough that he can casually pull off a three-piece suit in Whole Foods without seeming like he’s trying too hard, but young enough that I wouldn’t call him an old man.  I wish I could show you a photo of him, but I can’t, so instead here is a very nice song about having a crush on someone at the supermarket:

The man’s wife is pale with red hair, and she looks vaguely like one of my second cousins.  Her eyes are big and brown and she wears cream-colored berets with matching shawls.  Actually, she has the air of someone transported intact from the last century, like one of those people that fell through the Rift in early episodes of Torchwood.  There is indeed something quite British-looking about the couple.

If ever anyone deserved to have a Whole Foods missed connection written about them, this is that couple.  And last night I saw them again!

In Providence, where I live, the city itself was celebrating its 375th birthday with a concert featuring some of the city’s most famous musicians (Deer Tick and Jeffrey Osborne).  There was also a big ostentatious fireworks display which, oddly, partygoers could hear but not see without walking several blocks away from downtown.

After leaving the city’s birthday, my boyfriend and I stopped into a rather fabulous new restaurant, located in a former federal bank building.  We only had time for one cocktail, but as we were leaving, lo and behold!  The couple!  Of course they were going to have dinner in a former federal bank building!  Probably that’s what they do every Tuesday.

[photo via Flickr]

As we made our way past, the man—again in all tweed, although this time it was more of a sage color—remarked to someone else in their party that he was thrilled to have fireworks on his birthday.  It was his birthday!  I wanted to shake his hand.

Is there a proper etiquette for this?  I mean, realistically I know that the sensible thing would be to admire from a distance, particularly since the items I like—his suits and her wraps—aren’t things I would actually want to wear myself.  But where did they get them? I want to know more! I want to know their story!  I wonder what their Thanksgiving plans are!

Instead, I suppose the best thing might be to just cruise Whole Foods in hopes of finding them again.


About Matthew Lawrence

Probably I am taller than you. I am not good with children. I publish a magazine called Headmaster. I could go on. www.gloomypharmacy.com is my website.


  1. Michael von Braithwaite

    I always tell people when I like their style or some element of their style. I wholeheartedly endorse walking up to strangers to say something positive about them!

  2. Liz

    I agree with Michael. I do it all the time and you will probably make their day! 🙂

  3. Matthew Lawrence

    When I worked in retail we had the slowest possible credit card processing machine, and so during the awkward “is my card actually going to be declined” panic moments one of my co-workers used to make it a point to compliment the customers on one thing. But that was easy, because they were already standing right in front of you waiting for you to say something.

    • meg

      I’m actually pretty sure I know exactly who you’re talking about. I’m sure I could find some contact info if you wanted to send some sort of a “Nice suit” greeting card?

  4. Kat

    I frequently feel the same dilemma. Whether or not I act on the impulse seems to depend solely on my mood at the moment.

    I also always want to know the stories of people I see whose style catches my eye, especially if it’s particularly unique. Riding the subway in New York when I’m visiting my brother always presents a certain delicious tension as I literally crave to interview the people who intrigue me, while biting my tongue because I know they’d see me as crazy. It’s against all rules of city etiquette, and it kills me.

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