MEXICO INSIGHTS: LIVING AT LAKE CHAPALA
FROM HEAD TO TOE: A GUIDE TO MEN'S FASHION
By Harriet Hart
April 2009

[Jim: embroidered shirt]

Jim Lloyd cuts a fine figure wearing a stylish embroidered white shirt and soft
denim slacks with suede espadrilles that pick up the color in his shirt.

Sir Sean Connery at 79 looks terrific dressed simply in a white straw fedora, navy turtle neck and beige cotton trousers. Make him your role model.

Sixty can be sexy for the male of our species. A recent poll listing the 50 sexiest men over 50 includes politicians Bill Clinton and Mitt Romney, actors Harrison Ford, Richard Gere, Denzel Washington, Morgan Freeman and Bruce Willis and rock legend Eric Clapton.

Many women prefer older men. Why is that? Candace Bergen says: "Older men have always been the sexiest to me. Far more than Leonardo or Brad. I saw Ben Bradley the other night and at 87 he is still one of the most attractive, intelligent, fascinating, and sexy men alive."

American-born writer, performer, social critic and former Vogue editor Joan Juliet Beck, agrees that older is better. "The dream is a mature man who knows what he likes, knows himself, has seen what life does, but can still laugh and has kept up his hope and is not bitter, who is curious, enterprising and strong."

While these inner qualities are admirable, I think that a man's outer self can and should reflect his inner identity. Let's face it—we all have to get dressed in the morning so why not make fashion choices that tell people who you are and how you feel about yourself? Self confidence and a positive outlook can be reflected in your apparel.

Unfortunately many men who knew how to dress for work can't seem to figure it out in retirement. If you are one of the old geezers who forget to shave and walk around town wearing a baseball cap, sloppy T-shirt, baggy shorts, socks and sandals, I'm here to assist you (with the help of some friends and fashionistas).

Retired men here at Lakeside lead active lives. Whether you play golf or tennis, Scrabble or bridge, sing in a choir or act in plays, bird watch or ball room dance, you need appropriate attire. Before we look at what to put on in the morning, let me tell you what not to don.

Men's Fashion Faux Pas

Men's Fashion Dos

[Robin & Jim: tuxedos]

Jim Lloyd and Robin Lawrason don tuxedos for a formal fundraiser. Notice the red and blue
coordinating ties and shoes that give the traditional look a new twist.

A Local Expert

Jim Lloyd has a reputation around town as a sharp dresser so I decided to pay him a call.

He greeted me at the door wearing a beautiful long-sleeved white shirt with panels of embroidery, soft denim jeans and brown suede espadrilles. He looked marvelous. Jim's primary profession in the working world was not in clothing; he was an Anglican priest. However, he told me, he always had a keen interest in the world of fashion. In college he majored in theatre but worked part time at Ray Bolger's—Portland's answer to Brooks Brothers. "I worked there summers all the way through college except for the year I studied in Los Angeles and worked at the real Brooks Brothers." Jim's mother was a fashion model. "She was the kind of woman who wouldn't answer the door without her makeup on," Jim remembered. I suppose a sense of fashion rubbed off on me."

As a priest Jim didn't have the opportunity to indulge his fashion sense. "I was limited to basic black with white accents," he said, smiling. With his retirement and move to Lakeside in 1998, he finally had the chance for new experiences. He threw himself into retirement here with fervor, starting the Ajijic Film Festival which he ran for four years until problems with funding and the fact it was killing him finally made him quit. "The film festival is on permanent hold," he told me. He is currently vice-president of the School for the Deaf and is active in Lakeside Little Theatre.

"I'm not the kind of man who arrives in Mexico and announces 'I'm through with suits and ties'," said Jim, who relishes the chance to don his tuxedo or one of his dinner jackets. He owns several suits and likes dressing for special occasions.

When I asked Robin if he has a fashion philosophy, he said, "I can't tell others how to dress. I don't pattern myself on the men in Ajijic, or anywhere. I buy most of my clothes in Buenos Aires where I've visited annually for the past five years.

"In Buenos Aires there are as many men's shops as women's and the look is European." In Guadalajara," Jim says, "the businessmen wear dark suits or blue blazers and they look good."

There are plenty of occasions at Lakeside when dressing up is appropriate, but Jim also loves casual clothes. Again, his look is European—he favors soft cotton trousers, shirts with scarves. He buys his scarves at the tiangus and demonstrated for me how he uses them to accent an outfit using one. He also commented on the importance of accessories—bracelets, rings, watches, scarves, and belts. "I have a number of watches from which to choose, depending on the clothes I'm wearing. I have dress watches, sport watches and everyday watches. I buy them at the tiangus and they work very well. Most people can't tell them from the real thing, and of course, I don't tell."

Jim isn't a hat person but he loves shirts and owns over 400. "Sometimes I'll buy an expensive shirt at Nordstrom's in Houston and then go down the street to this excellent men's consignment store and pick up a Versace one for $12." He also hunts for bargain shirts in the local markets with great success. His favorite shirts have three-quarter length sleeves.

"I often have things made by Sofia at Fiaga. She has my measurements and can copy anything." To prove his point he disappeared into his closet and returned with two outfits she had made for him with pants copied from Greek fishermen's trousers and with beautiful cotton shirts to match. Jim also shops in Guadalajara; he likes the Liverpool Department Store (in Galería's, the mall near Sam's Club and Costco) where he can get clothes by American designers such as Perry Ellis and Nautica.

[Jim: fisherman's pants]

Jim's Greek fisherman's trousers and coordinating cotton shirt were made by Sofia
at Fiaga in Ajijic. Jim is convinced that custom-made clothes are an excellent option.

Jim's message to the men at Lakeside is easy for men to remember and do. "Dress in a way that makes you feel good," Jim said, "and be creative." Before I left he showed me two smashing vests made from needlepoint which he did himself. "It's very relaxing," he said. Sofia at Fiaga turned the needlepoint pieces into lined vests which are works of art.

[Jim's Vests]

Vests are a wonderful way to express your own style and keep warm on chilly evenings.

Mr. Big and Tall

Gary Voegtle is 6'6" tall and wears size 15 shoes. I wondered if a guy his size could actually buy clothes here in Mexico. The answer is yes. Gary lives here full time and doesn't get many opportunities to go north of the border to shop.

Necessity, as they say, is the mother of invention. He buys some of his shirts at the Monday market in Chapala but has to go to Guadalajara for most of his clothing. "The Suburbia department chain in Guadalajara has a Big & Tall section. Their store in the Plaza Mexico mall has the best selection of slacks and shirts for large men and they're cheaper than Sears. Suburbia also sells suits in tall sizes."

Gary doesn't like to drive into Guadalajara so he takes advantage of the Red Cross monthly shopping trip to the mall. "It's a deal at $100 pesos and you can grab a taxi if you want to hit a second mall or area." The Red Cross trip leaves from the Auditorio del Lago in La Floresta around 9 a.m. and returns around 3 or 4 p.m. You sign up in advance at the Lake Chapala Society." Gary went on to tell me that Wal-Mart carries Lee Rider jeans in larger sizes for around $200 pesos a pair.

Athletic shoes are even trickier. Gary actually found a pair of running shoes in the New Balance Store in the outlet mall on the west end of Guadalajara. The stalls in the Libertad Market in the center of Guadalajara stock a few shoes up to a man's size 14. Gary confessed that when he moved to Mexico, he hauled five suitcases full of clothes down with him. Now he is discovering that he is having more success than he expected when it is necessary to replace items.

Suggestions on Where to Shop

Don't rule out the local markets. The Chapala tianguis (street market) on Mondays (near the Pemex station at the north edge of town) has a section at the far end with stalls full of clothing. The Ajijic tiangus doesn't have as many clothing stalls, but every Wednesday a tent is erected across from Lloyd's and colorful bathing suits, t-shirts and fleece pieces swing merrily in the summer breeze. My husband and I checked out the men's department at the west side of the tent. Sure enough there were dozens of cotton long-sleeved shirts with labels like Cherokee, Old Navy, Gap, American Eagle and Van Huesen.

Most of them were striped; some were plaid and some plain. There were shirts with short sleeves in a variety of patterns and labels. Across the back of the tent we found trousers made by Dockers, Chaps, Banana Republic and Ralph Lauren. Paul found a nice pair of kakis in his size priced very reasonably at $150 pesos (currently about $10 US). We noticed there were large sizes, too—40 and 42-inch waists. There were lots of jeans as well as well as an abundance of brightly colored shorts, some of which could double as swim suits.

Leather Gallery
The Leather Gallery in Plaza Bugambilias in Ajijic offers a selection of belts, boots, shoes and leather jackets. They also carry top quality Mexican-made men's straw hats. If you need a nice pair of ankle boots, they carry the La Barca line. The shop is open Mondays to Fridays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. The cell phone number is: 045 (33) 1354-8803.

Zapatos y Mas
This tiny shop at Marcos Castellanos # 16A (just up the hill from the church in Ajijic) has men's sandals and hand-stitched leather sandals and casual shoes ranging in price from $378 to $450 pesos (about $26-$31 US). The shoes are made in nearby Zapotlanejo and come in the equivalent of US sizes 8 to 12. The shop is open Monday to Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday to Saturday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The cell phone number is: 045 (33) 3440-2572.

La Pulguita
This shop is next door to Edith's Beauty Salon on Constitución in Ajijic. It is the equivalent of an old-fashioned department store carrying men's, ladies and children's clothing and shoes. The men's department offers everything you need: underwear, socks, long and short-sleeved cotton shirts, t-shirts, jeans, dress slacks, socks, shoes and boots. They also sell some athletic clothing and lots of colorful shorts (that my over 60-year-old readers will avoid!) While I suspect most of the merchandise is geared to the younger man, you could definitely buy jeans and trousers here and even Bermuda shorts. The shop is open daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and again from 4 p.m. until 9 p.m.

Fiaga
Sisters Sofia and Raquel Marquez Ramos design and make quality cotton Mexican-style fashions for both sexes. Sofia showed me the two styles of men's trousers they make in black, white, unbleached cotton, brown and khaki. The resort style has an elasticized waistband and pockets and the other slacks are a more classic style. They sell for $340 and $380 pesos (about $23 to $26 US) respectively. You can buy long or short-sleeved cotton shirts, some hand embroidered, to match, for $260 to $390 pesos ($18 to $27 US). These clothes are perfect for beach trips and hot summer nights. You can also have them custom made to fit you whatever size you are. Fiaga is at Morelos #7 in Ajijic (Morelos is the lower section of Colón, towards the lake). The shop is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Call: (376) 766-1816.

Zapotlanejo
The Z town is about 45 minutes away, just on the other side of Tonalá. Take the highway to Guadalajara, pass Tonalá and then follow the big green signs to Zapotlanejo. There's one toll en route-just $39 pesos. On your right just as you reach town there's a new US style strip mall where you can stop to get a taste of what is available. To find the real bargains it's necessary to drive into town and wander the streets. There's a large parking lot on the main street.

Warning: This shopping experience is not for the faint of heart. The town has dozens of small shops carrying clothing for men, women and children.

On a March Saturday we visited Zapotlanejo to see for ourselves. In less than two hours and for under $1,000 pesos ($69 US) my husband purchased three cotton shirts, two cotton knit golf-style shirts, a pair of olive green cargo pants and two pairs of Adidas tennis shorts. There is an excellent selection of men's casual wear: jeans, Bermuda shorts, shirts (long and short-sleeved) and casual cotton slacks and the prices are very reasonable.

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