The hundreds of billions of dollars the U.S. government has earmarked for infrastructure repair may not start truly flowing until 2010, but look around the high-end clothing boutiques and upscale department stores of America, and you can see we’re plenty ready for the challenges that lay ahead. Head to toe, from their Engineered Garments railroad conductor caps to their APC leather work boots, our hardest-dressing clotheshorses are tightening their hand-oiled Billy Kirk No. 109 skinny belts and preparing to rebuild America’s rusty bridges, its flimsy levees, its technologically obsolete sewer systems.

Of course, anyone who is willing and able to plunk down half a grand on work boots with meticulously top-stitched vamps — anyone, in fact, who knows what a top-stitched vamp is — isn’t likely to be messing up his manicure any time soon. Metaphorically, however,… More…