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For Never in Blue Jeans

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Rick Berry’s grandmother once imparted this advice on her young grandson: “A man is not fully dressed until he has a hat on.”

Decades later, Berry holds true to those words. “And when I wear my hats,” Berry says, holding a suave chapeau with a chocolate stripe that anchors a feisty sprig of feathers, “I wear it with a little slide, like this.”

With a flick of his wrist, he dips his hat due South, conjuring images of those roarin’ ’20s.

“When I was growing up in Chester, Third Street was the place to be on Saturday afternoons and evenings,” the 69-year-old explains. “And if you weren’t dressed, you’d get laughed at.”

The old-school notion of the art of dress is tops in Berry’s book.

“As a teenager, tailor-made shirts and pants were all the rage, but that’s falling out of favor,” he laments. “I can’t find a good tailor nowadays.”

A sensei at Wilmington Aikido who has trained since 1965, Berry takes his clothing as seriously as his teachings.

“When I walk out of here, everybody is in jeans, but I have on nice pants with a crease, spit-shined shoes—something I picked up from the military—and my hat,” he says.

Student Andrew Furst says even Berry’s choice of footwear for class impresses. Most students opt for flip-flops or fuzzy slippers. “But the things he wears? I’d go out to dinner in them,” Furst says.

“My theory is that shoes are most important because if your feet hurt, everything hurts,” Berry says.

He’s confirmed this theory with myriad pairs of Johnson & Murphy and Stacy Adams, but no sneakers. “I don’t even wear sneakers to the gym,” he says.

Another Berry no-go is jeans. “I might wear them for yard work—might,” he says. “You can only make one first impression. Doing so with jeans hanging halfway down your backside is not the way to go. That is one of my rules for students: Wear your pants correctly.”

Berry scours the racks at Men’s Warehouse and Joseph A. Bank for his threads. Along with being a snappy dresser, Berry is a noted author. His book, “Stepping off the Mat,” takes a philosophical look at how to apply the principles of martial arts to everyday life. In fashion speak, “To be a black belt is to look like a black belt.”

One accomplishes this, Berry says, by having “a meticulous attention to detail.”

Taking a nod from his grandmother, he leaves us with his best advice: “Dare to dream, and dare to dream big.”

Just don’t do it in blue jeans.

—Amy Kates 

Made in the Shade

 Outdoor furnishings step up their games. Now fashion follows function.
by Amy Kates

 Lawn and patio furniture are two things I’m not used to bringing home in my shopping bags. But that won’t stop me from getting the scoop for you, dear readers. And if you think there’s not a stylish side to outdoor furniture, you’re looking in all the wrong places.

If only I had a backyard worthy of the Lloyd/Flander’s Mandalay collection right-arm chaise lounge, fit for Cleopatra herself. Pop a grape or two into your mouth and languish in the sun on this leopard-print cushion with available matching table—fanners not included. You can find the black wicker chaise at Oceanside Casual Furniture (17 Midway Shopping Center, Rehoboth Beach, 645-8710).

Also check out Lloyd/Flander’s collection of fun accents, like the shirt pillow. Snuggle with this fun piece, which is available in different colors and comes complete with buttons. If wrought iron is more your bag, peruse Oceanside’s Mimosa collection. The iron chairs have a sweet flower-inspired design. Up your backyard elegance with a wheeled cart that’s perfect for serving tea at high noon.

Of course, it’s not all about what you’re sitting in. Sometimes the best outdoor accents are what you’re swayin’ in. For the ultimate in outdoor relaxation, head to Casual Marketplace (400 Hockessin Corner, Hockessin, 234-4800; U.S. 9 West, Lewes, 684-4500) and swing through the collection of Hatteras Hammocks.

You can choose from rich-colored stripes or jacquard prints. They’re anything but your typical tie-it-between-two-trees standard. You can even take a ride on the hammock bed. In lieu of the traditional hammock, this swing incorporates a cypress wood frame and fabric bed. It’s so serene and inviting, we don’t think waking up on the wrong side is an option.

If it’s choices you want, you’ve come to the right place. The Summer Classics collection at Casual Marketplace is enough to please any personality when it comes to fabric for your custom furniture. Indulge your nautical jones with a sailboat theme in beige or navy, or kick up the hip factor with polka dot or houndstooth patterns.

And of course, what patio spread is complete without an umbrella? Treasure Garden has tapped into the instant gratification sector with its stylish umbrellas: no cords, no crank, no worries. Just push one button, and you’ve got it made in the shade. For some European style, go with an Octagon Cantilever umbrella. The free-standing, sleek structure will give your outdoor oasis a chic update.

Then there’s the reason why the outdoor patio industry is what it is—the grill, of course. If you get your animal print chaise and matching chairs, he should be able to whip himself into a Weber grill frenzy.

Go huge with the Weber Grill Summit E650 at Sears—six burners, a mounted side burner and rear-mounted infrared rotisserie burners. (I don’t know what any of that means, but it sure sounds like one juicy burger at the end.)

If you’re grilling goals aren’t quite as lofty, the Weber Q-300 has you covered at Kitchen and Company (1307 New Churchman’s Road, Christiana, 283-0655). Sleek and shiny, you might even be able to convince the lady in your life that it’s a welcome addition to her carefully chosen outdoor decor.

Hey, it could happen.

 

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