Do as I say

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I got a question the other day and I thought it was worth reflecting on. They asked me why I recommend basic solid colors sweaters for others when I occasionally wear sweaters that are bright pink.
IMG_3252First, let me say that I do recommend basic solid color sweaters. The people that generally ask for these type of recommendations are usually new to wearing Shetlands and trad dress in general. The reason I suggest these colors is because it makes it harder for those around you to remember when you last wore it. This is great for those that are just starting out as they may be dependent on wearing the same sweater more than once a week.  If you wear a bright pink sweater twice in one week it will be really easy to tell versus if the sweater is grey.
IMG_2835 (1)There are other reasons as well. I don’t recommend someone who is just getting into this style to start with a kelly green or cotton-candy pink sweater. If they have never worn these types of colors before there are few things that can happen. The first is that it will draw a lot of attention from others. Some good, some bad. The second is that if they are not comfortable in these bright sweaters their lack of confidence combined with all of the attention from others can lead to a bad experience. By contrast a grey or navy sweater is going to draw minimal attention.

The above not only goes for sweaters, but for shirt and trousers as well. I would recommend khaki chinos over madras trousers or a blue OCBD over a fun shirt for all of the same reasons above. Now once you have mastered the basics aka being comfortable in them and understanding what works for you then you are ready to take some risks. However, I am only giving advice and I don’t expect everyone to follow it. This advice is based on my personal experience and what I have observed it is never the authoritative word on trad style.

The Suede Jacket Crisis

Suede jacket

I think that there comes a time in every man’s life when he wants a suede jacket and I am at that point. I have found myself staring longingly at suede jackets online for about 3 months now. I have yet to make a purchase and I think the biggest reason is that I question if I will wear it which relies heavily on the, can-I-make-it-look-cool question.
Suede Field Jacket BrownI have identified two types of suede jacket that may work for me. One is a safari style jacket and the other a baracuta jacket. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, primarily around length. I think that length is important here, because of how I intend to use my suede jacket which is casual. Yes I will wear it to work, but I am more excited to wear it out casually on the weekend.

If you are wondering I am leaning towards the baracuta style. I have one now (not suede) and I get a lot of wear out of it so I know that it will work well both casually and at work. Where as I think the safari jacket will work well at the office, but I think it may come off a little to 70’s funky casually (especially if I paired it with my Wallabees). This segues to another question about footwear. Again, not an issue at the office. Luckily for us penny loafer work with everything, but what do I pair it with when I am not at the office?
O'Connell's Goatskin Suede Baracuta - BuckThe big question I keep coming back to, is are suede jackets cool? I am not asking in the, “Are they trad?,” sense of the question, but rather can they be pulled off well. I harp on this because I struggle to recall a single time that I have seen man in a suede jacket and thought, “Wow, that looks great!” Most of the time I tend to focus on the jacket. So it is more like, “Wow, what a great suede jacket!

This another post where I could use reader feedback. Have you ever bought a suede or even leather jacket?  Do you wear it a lot? What do you pair it with? Was it worth the investment? Any buyers remorse?

My Two Scents

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Not that long ago I was shopping around for a new cologne. I was using Brooks Brothers classic, but at the time I wanted something else. The gist of it is that I wanted something that wore longer and better. It turns out it was not the cologne that was the problem.

The truth of the matter is a little embarrassing. What I learned in my search for a new scent was that I was wearing cologne all wrong. My routine consisted of spraying it on after I was fully dressed. I can hear a few of you laughing now, but I promise that I did not know any better.

It turns out that you are supposed to apply cologne directly to your skin. Most people suggest a single spray to the chest. This was a game changer for me. After I started to wear my Brooks Brothers cologne correctly I noticed how much longer it lasted and the scent was much more interesting. I was a happy man.

I did not change colognes, but I did make one other change. I added Brooks Brothers aftershave to my routine. Again, this change helped me carry the scent longer and more noticeably, but not in an overwhelming in your face way. I hope that someone out there can learn from my ignorance or at least have a little chuckle at my expense.

How to Choose a Trad Sweater?

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I get a lot of questions about sweaters which is cool, because I love sweaters. The question I get asked most often is what type of sweater to get.

Before I get started I want to let you know that I will not be answering the why Shetland sweaters are trad question, because I don’t actually know. I believe Brooks started selling them in 1905, but I don’t think that is the answer. I am guessing it was a mix of warmth and availability. Here we go.
Shetland sweater with vestFirst and foremost you should look for sweaters that are 100% wool. This is an easy way to sort out inferior products in terms of construction and performance. I am sure there are good poly mixes like the old Bean Norwegians, but this the exception. Stick with 100% wool.

Above I said to stick with wool, but I really do recommend Shetland wool. I like Shetland wool because it is substantial enough that the shirt underneath does not show through. Not in a see through way, but in that it shapes the sweater. Shetland also has enough texture to be interesting. If you want something finer Lambswool can work just pay attention to how it looks over an OCBD.

Always go with the crew neck. Crew necks were one of things I was most drawn to when I started to learn more about trad clothing. It just plain looks cool. It looks especially cool with a button-down collar underneath. Always where a button-down collar underneath. However a long sleeve tee may work on the weekend. If you want to wear a v-neck I suggest pairing it with a tie and sport coat.

My last piece of advice is to get a sweater with saddle sleeves. Essentially this means that there is no shoulder seam. The saddle sleeve looks a little more refined than a set-in sleeve. It is what helps Shetlands work so well in an office environment. It also gives them a nice natural shoulder.

In terms of colors start with the basics. I recommend mid-grey, charcoal, and navy as a foundation. Then add a green or burgundy to the mix. You can wear these sweaters a lot without people noticing that you are wearing the same sweaters.  After you have the basics in place you can go crazy.

When it comes to picking out trad sweaters this is the foundation. Just remember to look for 100% Shetland wool sweaters with crew necks and saddle shoulders.

Sid Mocs

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I have written about my adoration of camp mocs on more than one occasion. I currently own 2 pair, but I still have a gap to fill. While making my rounds on the web last week there was a pair from Sid Mashburn that caught my eye.

First let’s cover why I love camp mocs. You can wear them year-round while their cousins the boat shoe are generally relegated to warmer months (Not that I always adhere to this. See Boat shoes with socks). They are also a little more rugged than their cousin. I would call boat shoes the blue blazer with gold buttons with a little more prep connotation while camp mocs are the slightly more trad tweed jacket. Also, they look cool. Real cool.
Sid Mashburn Camp MocWhy do I need another pair? As I said, I have 2 pair. One pair are Sperry gold cup 1-eye boat shoes. The other are L.L. Bean Signature camp mocs. The Sperry’s are great without socks, but a little too tight with socks while the Bean mocs run big one me and I can only wear them with heavy duty wool socks. You see where I am going. I something in between. Here is where the Sid mocs enter the scene.
Sid MocsSince I don’t have any experience with this shoe I will let Sid tell it,

Somewhere between Native Americana and New England… and handsewn in Portugal? Go figure. A higher vamp and a slimmer shape make these a little more polished than your average camp moc. They’ve still got the traditional leather lacing and rubber sole. The harder you wear them, the better they get. (Especially sans socks.)

Overall I think the Sid mocs ($150 – see here) look like contenders. Like the shape. I like color. What I also like about them is that the price is high enough that I will expect decent quality, but does not venture into Rancourt or Quoddy territory. Not that I don’t eventually want to head that way.