J.Crew Does Chore Ivy?

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I received J.Crew’s June catalog this week and it contained a bit of Ivy or workwear… or both. If you are confused by that statement don’t be concerned as you are not alone. From the catalog,

Our new unstructured blazer comes with a bit of workwear cool, combining the refinement of suiting with a design inspired by vintage chore jackets.
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The item in question is an unstructured 3-button triple-patch pocket sack cut sport coat with dual vents and no lining (see it here). As soon as I saw this jacket I was trying to figure it out. “Are there darts? I don’t see any, but it there could be one closer to lapel like a chore coat. Is that a 3/2? No, it looks like a true 3-button stance. What’s the vent like? Dual. Interesting. Any lining? Not sure, but I can’t tell.”

Now let me go on to say that I like this jacket. It’s hard to find affordable ($168) natural shouldered sport coats with 3-patch pockets especially ones that are not alpha sized. It is also unstructured which I think is a great direction as it makes sport coats less formal and a little more casual cool. Maybe that will help keep the young guys interested in the look.

There are a few downsides to the jacket. Unstructured jackets are definitely cool (like a Keydge), but they way that they can pull around the front of the shoulder is not. Also, it does not appear to have lining which may keep you cool, but it makes putting on and taking off a jacket a lot more work. Last is the 3-button stance. It will work for some, but not others. It would probably look better on a taller person than a shorter one. It may ending up rolling. It may not.

So there you have it. If you can get over the 3-button stance, narrow lapels, and dual vents there is pretty sack sport coat J.Crew for under $200. It may not work for everyone, but if it works for you it is a pretty good deal. To me it feels like one of those items that everyone kicks themselves for picking up at the time ala PRL Rugby.

Mother’s Day with Muffy

Mothers day

Happy Mother’s day to all you moms out there. If you your sons are reading this blog you have done a great job! All joking aside, I will speak for everyone and say that we appreciate you all more than you will ever know. That is especially true for my own mom!
Mummy Knows BestIf you won’t be able to spend time with your mom (call her!!!) this Mother’s day you might peruse the pages of Salt Water New England for some preppy mom time.

For My Trads on a Budget

When I went full on Trad it was a pretty affordable style. Outside of the 3/2 sack blazer, sport coat, and suit you could find the essentials with all of the desired details moderately priced everywhere from Lands End to L.L. BeanĀ  to J.Crew and beyond. Even Brooks Brothers OCBD, the gold standard of OCBDs was $50 cheaper only 2 years ago and even cheaper than that on discount. However, with the proliferation of non-iron clothing, shrinking collars, and skin-tight fits has made finding the essentials with the correct details at a moderate price difficult if not impossible.

I wanted to offer my help to Trads on a budget by putting together a small list of more affordable essential pieces. While these offerings may have some shortcomings such as non-iron finishes and smaller collars they can still help to create the look and can serve as an gateway to higher priced items. I have started with the OCBD, chinos, and penny loafers.
The Perfect Chinos

OCBD
There is no better place to start than the OCBD. The blue OCBD is the classic piece of trad wear that is most well known for helping to create the ever desirable collar roll (read more about collar roll here). Collar roll will be the hardest thing to get in an OCBD for under $100. Even of the OCBDs that I posted below I am hesitant to suggest that you may be able to achieve a nice collar roll. I have heard others say that it is possible from the L.L. Bean and the Stafford oxford. I know from experience the current Lands End OCBD will not produce a great roll, but it does not have a no-iron finish like the other 2. However, most people don’t need to wear ties which so wearing one of the OCBDs is not a big deal and even if you do wear a tie they will work until you can save up (or find thriting) one that does.

L.L. Bean OCBD – $44.95

JCPenney Stafford OCBD – $40 (on sale for $19.99)

Lands End Hyde Park OCBD – $49.95
The Ivy Look Slim ChinosChinos
I don’t have any specific recommendations here. What I suggest that you look for are chinos that are not no-iron, are not pleated (flat-front), and either have a cuff or have enough material to be cuffed. The reason that I suggest the above is that the casual looking chino is very much apart of the Ivy League and trad look. Chinos with a no-iron finish can often look shiny or dressy which does work as well it appears too polished. Don’t worry though with a good pressing your must-iron chinos will look great with a blazer or tweed. I wear J.Crew 1040 Essential chinos, but you can find other like them at the Gap, Old Navy, and even Lands’ End (their non-iron chinos aren’t too shiny). Most important is that your chinos fit and are not puddled up at your shoe and stuck at your shin.
Penny Loafer in PrintPenny Loafer
This is the easiest category for me to make suggestions. I narrowed it down to 2. First, is the Bass Outlet. You can even access this online. Bass penny loafers have a great shape so much so that I wear them to this day. They are also very light which works well for my feet. On the downside they are not made up of the best materials. My second suggestion is to occasionally scour Allen Edmond’s Shoe Bank website. This where they sell their seconds and discontinued items. There are often great deals to be had.

Bass Outlet Penny Loafers – $79-89

Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank

This post should be read in conjunction with last week’s post on fit, proportion, and silhouette. Together these posts will help those on a budget put together a very trad looking thread without maxing out their credit cards. I thought this was an important subject to cover as one of the reasons that favored this style of dress was its availability and affordability. Some of that has changed over time, but my recommendation of the style has not. If you have any affordable items that you would like to suggest please do as I know many readers are eager to hear and learn from you all!

Fit is important, but…

When it comes to clothing fit is important, but fit alone will not make an outfit look good. Even if it is a good outfit. There are two other factors that I always take into consideration which are proportions and silhouette. I believe that these three elements fit, proportions, and silhouette are what separates good outfits from great outfits.
FullSizeRender(20)I was writing to a reader about this very subject earlier this week. Now don’t get me wrong fit is critical. If your clothes don’t fit well the other two are off the table. Fit can even take into account proportions and silhouette. For example, a shirt should fit well around the neck, the shoulders, but also in sleeve length. All of these items correlate to silhouette. An example of how you would consider proportions for you shirt could be deciding between slim, classic, or a baggier fit. Your weight and build need to be taken into consideration, but also your legs and pants. You don’t want a slim shirt and baggy trousers or vice versa. You need to take into consideration the whole picture thinking about how these proportions effect the overall silhouette.

It is also important to note that there are several silhouettes within the trad cannon. I think that office, formal, casual, suits, sportcoats, etc., etc. all have slightly different silhouettes. There is also some personal preference such as wanting a narrower pant leg or slimmer shirt while others like myself prefer little to no break in our trousers while others want a little more break. When thinking of the classic trad silhouette I think of how items like soft shouldered jackets and flat front chinos help to shape this silhouette.

I shared the pic above because it is one of my better efforts of illustrating fit, proportions, and silhouette. I like that my pants are not baggy or slim and the length is neither too short or too long. The tie appears a touch wide, but it’s not bad. The jacket length is pretty good and the amount of cuff showing under the blazer is within the acceptable range. Overall the fit and proportions make for a halfway decent silhouette.

Camp Moc Overview

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Since posting about my Sperry Camp mocs I have received quite a few questions surrounding camp mocs from, “Can I pull them off?” to ,”Where do you find them?”. The answer to these questions is, yes and everywhere.
IMG_4061Let’s start with the pulling them off question. If you can pull off boat shoes you can easily pull off camp mocs. I see camp mocs as the less preppy cousin to the boat shoe. It’s a little more rugged than its cousin and doesn’t carry the country club connotation that some connect with boat shoes, but it offers all of the advantages of the boat shoe. It also looks fine with socks which makes camp mocs wearable year round.

Everywhere may have been a bit of a stretch, but you can easily find them. The L.L. Bean’s handsewn Camp moc is the quintessential camp moc. It has a great shape, price, and is always available. I opted for their Signature version which for only $10 more dollars features much nicer leather. If you are looking for something a little nicer you can choose from Quoddy (Canoe Moc) or Rancourt (Gilman Camp Moc). These options are both priced right around $250. Last, but not least are the Sperry’s gold cup mocs. They don’t have the best shape, but their comfort level and fit made up for that.

Basically, camp mocs are awesome. These low-key mocs allow you to go sock-less in the summer and look great with chunky wool socks in the winter. They also won’t break the bank (unless you go top of the line) and with their tradder than prep appearance they may be just what you are looking for this summer.