Archive for October, 2011

Thrifted: Wool Tartan Ties

Wool Tie Close-up

Thrifting is one of my favorite activities. I like to spend a few hours on Saturday mornings looking through racks of clothing in dingy little stores hoping for the perfect find. It is part hunt and part research. I search for bargains and get a chance to see a lot of clothing that I would probably never otherwise come across. For instance, this morning I saw a really interesting Gant suit. I had to pass as it was not my size, but it was fun to check it out. I am going to start featuring some of  my thrift store finds here from time to time. I thought a good place to start would be with ties.

Ties are something that I always look for when I am thrifting. The main reason for this is that they only come in one size (ok, there are long, children’s, and clip-ons too). The other reason is that ties with traditional patterns are very mainstream. Both of these reasons center around availability. Simply put, there are more of them.

The ties I decided to feature first are my Wool tartan ties. Actually, I am not sure if the tie on the left is a tartan. I am going to have to do a little research ( I have been looking for a good book on tartans). I like all of these ties a lot. I didn’t pay more than $3 for the most expensive one. All of them are in very good condition(the middle one is almost dead stock) and are  all 100% wool.

Wool Tartan Ties

Wool Tie Close-up

One of my favorite parts of thrifting is looking at labels.

Windsor shirt label on the back of tie

Pnedleton label on the back of tie

label on the back of tie

These ties were great finds. I have to think that they are such good finds because I stuck to the rules of thrifting. There are only three rules, but following them really helps to improve the quality of your purchases. Here is a quick overview of the rules.

  1. Never buy anything that doesn’t fit. This sounds easy, but controlling the urge toe “make it work” is hard.
  2. Never buy anything that is stained, worn, or tore beyond repair. This rule might be more for me ( I have bought these type items and never used them).
  3. This rule is just for me. Only buy articles of clothing that are 100% natural fiber. Again, this rule is just for me. It is not only my preference, but helps me get a sense of the item’s quality

Follow these rules and you will end up with some great new additions to your wardrobe (like my ties!). Another thing to remember is that time and patience are key. In order to be successful you must spend time thrifting and be able to continue on even after multiple unsuccessful trips. If you can stick to these rules, are a patient person and have more time then money, then I would give thrifting a try. It is fun and can be very rewarding.

The Authentic Wallabee Clark

Authentic Wallabee Clark

I have been a fan of Wallabees for almost 15 years now. They are a classic casual shoe, both comfortable and stylish. It is a moccasin or chukka styled shoe that is produced in a boot version as well as a low top version (I prefer the boot). It also comes in a variety of leather, suede, and other finishes (I prefer the beeswax).  The Wallabee’s most well-known feature is the crepe outsole.  This is what sets the Clarks’ Wallabee apart from any other chukka or wallabee out there.Authentic Wallabee Clark

Clarks of England fits well within the traditional clothing aesthetic.  The company got its start making sheepskin rugs and slippers in England in 1825. They changeda direction over time and began to focus solely on footwear. They released their most iconic shoe the Desert Boot in 1950. The Desert Boot is a chukka boot modeled after a boot the British Army wore during WWII in Egypt. In 1965 Clarks of England introduced the Wallabee. Currently the brand produces a lot of footwear that I would never wear. However, they continue to produce their classics which is allows me to ignore this behavior.

I have had several pairs of Wallabees over the years. I got my first pair in 1997 they were suede. They were so comfortable, simple and cool that I have almost always had a pair since. However, a few years ago when I needed a new pair I tried to replace them with a Clarks’ book that looks exactly like the Wallabee., but was not the “Wallabee”. It was priced significantly less and I thought I was being frugal.

Wallabees are on the premium side of pricing. They retail for around $140 dollars. The replacement Clark chukka* that I bought I got at the outlet for $30 (though it retails at $90). I can’t remember the name of the shoe and it isn’t on the shoe either, but it took very few wears to know they were not what I wanted.

*This is the Clark Padmore

The shoe started to fall apart after 6-8 months. The most frustrating part is the sole cracked in two places and started to not only fall apart, but began to squeak whenever I walked. The sole on this shoe was very different from the Wallabee and doesn’t have the natural crepe sole. Instead of being constructed of one solid piece like the Wallabee it is made up of at least two pieces. I also attribute this lower quality sole to the fact that they were noticeably less comfortable than Wallabees.

Chipping outsole

multiple piece construction

On the other hand I still have and wear the last pair of Wallabees that I purchased in 2004. They definitely show wear and tear, but are still very comfortable and do not squeak. I wore them heavily as I was attending college at the time. I lived on campus ad walked every wear that I went. So, which shoe was the deal?

Wallabee Clark 2004

The take away from this experience is authenticity. I tried to substitute a product (Clark Padmore) that I knew and trusted for a lesser version. In this case the savings were really good ($110!), but it did not play out so well. The shoes became basically unwearable in 8 months. I still have an authentic pair of Wallabees that I purchased in 2004 for $120. They are worn, but are still very comfortable and most importantly they do not squeak! What I learned from this experience is that spending more money on the authentic product is often a better investment than saving on a lower priced similar product.

Putting Summer Away

Summer Madras Shirts

This week when I was getting ready for work, I noticed that my summer madras shirts were still hanging in the closet. Lately, I have been focusing on fall and though I haven’t worn one in a while, I have neglected to put them away. In general, I am not a very colorful dresser. I wear a blue oxford shirt almost everyday.

These madras shirts are outside of  my normal routine. However, that is exactly why I chose them. It is always nice to have a seasonal garment to look forward to and these shirts fill that role well. The madras cotton is light and helps to keep you a few degrees cooler in the summer heat.  They really help to break up my predictability with a lot of color and are fun to wear.

Summer Madras Shirts

I thought that I should mention this sweater before I put it up as well. I have never really been a big fan of  horizontal stripes. There has been an occasional rugby or polo shirt in my wardrobe, but to me it has to have a great color scheme to work well. Plus, I have always found stripes to be much more flattering on females. With all that being said.

This Lands End sweater was on sale for $19.99 and I couldn’t resist. I really like navy and wanted a summer item. It turned out to be a great purchase.I wore it in the office all summer long. It is holding up well, it has retained its shape and the wear is minimal for the amount of times it was worn and washed. It probably only has one more season of  work wears, but there will be a lot of casual use after that. This is one of the few purchases that I look back on as wise.

Navy Striped Summer Sweater

I also purchased the same sweater, but in the reverse color scheme. I did not care for this color nearly as well, but I cannot blame the sweater. My dissatisfaction with this sweater is more about me not feeling to comfortable in a white sweater. I am not quite sure if it is just the white (it is actually slightly off white), it could be the stripes or the combination of the two. All I do know is that I wore this sweater maybe twice this summer. I have also learned that if I don’t feel comfortable in something it will not look good. I am not too disappointed as I only paid $19.99 for this sweater as well. Hopefully in the future it will I get some good use out of it.

White Striped Summer Sweater