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Dusting Off: The Portrait Sitting

As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off the portrait sitting.

If you’re plugged into the modern world, it’s a safe bet there are at least a hundred pictures of you floating around—and most of them probably don’t look too good. (We blame point-and-shoots, Facebook and dimly lit bars, but that’s another story.)

The good news is, we’ve got a nostalgic affectation that will take care of that in one fell swoop.

It’s time to commission a portrait.

It’s the perfect status symbol for an age of street style photos, and most importantly, it takes a good deal of taste and patience to pull off. You have to decide on style—a moody Rembrandt oil painting or a poppy Warhol riff?—and, if you’re really doing it, you’ll want to sit for at least a few hours while your hired artisan captures the passionate intensity in your eyes. Imagine the unparalleled power trip of conducting a meeting while a paint-spattered artist silently creates your likeness in the corner. It’s the stuff legends are made of.

When it’s over, you’ll have a lovingly realized work of art that’s entirely devoted to how cool you are. If you have a favorite suit in your closet, you’ll never have a better chance to show it off.

Honestly, we’re not sure why it hasn’t caught on already. Kehinde Wiley is doing his part, and it’s certainly not for lack of starving artists. But if you see a trend piece popping up in the Times Style section a few months from now, you’ll know who to blame.