Archive for January, 2012

J.CREW: A Brief Overview

J.Crew Shirts - 2

J.Crew- some people love them and some people hate them; I am somewhere in the middle. I think that they do a lot of things really well. At the same time, I often cringe at the models’ outfits when I am looking through the men’s section of their catalog. However, almost everyone has something J.Crew in their closet, especially me.

Though J.Crew is not regarded as a producer of traditional menswear (see Muffy’s post Why J.Crew is not preppy) they do tend to lean in that direction. I think of their clothing as a mix between Polo Ralph Lauren without logos (I hate logos) and the Gap for adults. What I mean is that their clothes are primarily made for wearing outside of the office. I have noticed that they do a much better job with their women’s professional clothing. I think that they are now trying to improve in the men’s department.

J. Crew recently released a dress shirt that comes in different neck sizes and sleeve lengths. I often use this sizing feature to help me understand what demographic a company is targeting. If a company does not offer a shirt that comes in specific neck sizes and sleeve lengths, then they are not targeting professionals.This used to be one of J.Crew’s faults. They only offered shirts in small, medium, and large. In short, these are sports shirts. Even the shirts that they sold as “dress shirts”  featured a collar that was far too small to accommodate a tie let alone attain a respectable collar roll. I don’t know if they have enlarged the collars on their new shirts, but I would not count on it. One last comment on their shirts. They run small. I am a true small (5’7″ 137 lbs) and I wear a medium in their shirts.

J.Crew ShirtsMore J. Crew shirts than I remembered having.

J.Crew Shirts

J.Crew Shirts - 3

J.Crew Pink Universoty Stripe OCBD

The pink university stripe is my favorite. I think it looks good popping out of a crew neck.

Before you start thinking that I hate J.Crew, let me tell you what I think that they do well. They regularly offer a few articles of essential clothing  at affordable prices. This is truly what I look for in a company. The essential items that I am referring to are crew neck wool sweaters and chinos. You can also safely pick-up socks, sweatshirts, watch straps, belts, narrow ties and other accessories from them.

J.Crew has been my supplier of chinos for about 5 yrs now and I have been happy with their performance. The number one reason why I turn to them for chinos is that they offer a size 29 waist (I get the essential fit chinos in classic fit). A lot of companies such as L.L. Bean, Lands’ End, Brooks Brothers and countless others do not provide this size. The other reasons why I like their chinos are that they offer cuffs, length to the half inch, they have a regular/natural rise, and they do not have a no-iron finish. Also, British khaki is a nice color (please make olive).

J.Crew British Khaki Chinos British Khaki Essential Chino in Classic Fit

Navy ChinosNavy (currently unavailable) Essential Chino in Classic Fit

J.Crew Brown ChinosBrown (currently unavailable)  Essential Chino in Classic Fit

J. Crew Brown Corduroys Brown Corduroys in Classic Fit (These are great)

Besides chinos I have quite a few of their lambswool sweaters. For the past 3 years I have picked up one crew neck sweater from them per year. They usually retail for $59.99, which is reasonable in my opinion, but you can generally pick one up for less at the outlet postseason. Another instance of their reliability is that they almost always offer navy, flannel grey and charcoal grey (What more do you need?). In my experience they fit true to size and hold up well for the price.

J.Crew Lambswool SweatersMarled Flannel Grey Crew Neck| Navy Shawl Collar  | Flannel Grey Crew Neck | Navy Crew Neck

J.Crew Shawl CollarNavy Lambswool Shawl Collar Sweater (4 yrs old)

J.Crew Marled Flannel SweaterMarled Flannel Grey Lambswool Sweater (current season)

No company is perfect and J.Crew is no exception. They make chinos I like and suits that I think look like costumes. I have quite a few of their sweaters and shirts (I bought them for casual wear). As a matter of fact almost every pair of pants on this blog are J.Crew. Perhaps I like them more than I know, but if another company came in and started producing a chino in my size they might lose me. If you are on the slender side or just need a sweater to get you through J.Crew is there for you. However, if you are looking for a dress shirt, I don’t think that J.Crew can compete with Brooks Brothers, J.Press, or even Lands’ End.

The Buckleys: A Gifted American Family

Buckleys Featured Picture2

Not only do I like thrifting, but I like to go to antique stores too. I have been going to antique stores more regularly since I started to decorate my apartment (still working on it). During a trip a couple weeks ago I noticed a booth full of old magazines. I didn’t look through them, but I thought about them all week. I went back the next weekend, and found a few cool Life magazines about American families. I am going to start my historic image posts with the Buckleys of Great Elm. This Life is from 1970, but it contains lots of the details that we all love, including 3/2 suits and blazers, button-down collars, dogs, and more.

First, a brief background of the Buckleys. William F. Buckley Sr. was born in 1881 and practiced law in Mexico at the beginning of his career. He provided counsel for major oil companies, before getting involved in the oil industry himself. His son James L. Buckley went on to be a  US senator from New York and then to hold various other offices including being a Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Jim’s oldest brother John ran a family business involving oil exploration and development. The most familiar family name is probably William F. Buckley who was an author and editor for the National Review which his sister, Priscilla, was managing editor. On to the pictures.

BuckleysI said that there would be dogs.

Jim BuckleyGreat haircut

William F. Buckley SrAnother dog.

Family Football

Buckley Family portraitA little 1970’s, but still there are still some good looks in there.

Yale and Vassar Marriage You have to love the caption. I think I would call this picture, “It is an Ivy life.”

I am going to hold off on posting pictures from the other two for a while. I think that posting them all at once would make it too hard to appreciate each picture. I have a few more ideas about how to get some other cool older pictures. I will keep working on it. I am also looking into a way to display bigger pictures on my blog. The other two Life magazines that I have feature the Lowells and the DuPonts. I hope that you enjoy these picture as much as I do.

Brooks Brothers: Shetland Sweater Update

BB Shetland Sweater

It has been a few months since I purchased this sweater and I thought it was time for an update. The Brooks Brothers sweater was actually my second choice. My first choice, because it was cheaper and it was brushed lambswool, was an LL Bean Signature sweater. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out (see post here). This shetland sweater was ordered shortly after. When I first got it I had a lot of concerns. I was worried that the blue was too light, I thought that it might look weird with a blue ocbd, and the list went on, and on.

BB hetland sweater outside

Shetland Sweater with Tartan Scarf

I have now worn the sweater around 5-8 times. It was a good purchase. The color is lighter than I generally prefer, but I was trying to step outside of my blue comfort zone, which is navy. I am glad that I did. It  doesn’t look weird with a blue ocbd and it is nice to have a blue alternative to navy. I am still debating how well it works with a blue university stripe ocbd (it looks nice with pink). I also, really like the way it looks with my dark brown corduroys. Not only do I like the color, but the fit is great, too.

Shetland Sweater and Brown Corduroys

Shetland Sweater and Watchband

I am not sure that I would like this sweater as much as I do if it did not fit so well. First off, the crewneck is perfect. A crewneck should lightly hug your collar, or at the very least touch your collar. In my opinion, nothing looks worse than a baggy or stretched out crewneck. It looks sloppy. This sweater hugs my collar just right. I haven’t worn it very much, but so far it has lost no elasticity, and I take my sweater on and off through out day. Also, the length is spot-on. It falls just past my waist and hugs my body nicely. Just as the crewneck should hug your collar, the bottom should hug your waist. When a sweater has no elasticity at the bottom it falls straight down and is not flattering.

shetland sweaterSnug crewneck

Shetland sweater waistHugs the waist

Overall, I am very pleased with my purchase. I would not hesitate to buy another Brooks Brothers sweater. The material, color, and fit are all impressive. I am not letting myself get to attached it as it still has a lot to prove. However, if it stays in wear-to- work condition for two years, I will be very pleased. It does have me thinking about making a trip to the Brooks Brothers outlet nearby to look for another sweater. I think that is a good sign.

Patagonia: Repair Process

patagonia tag

It is cold outside and I need to run a few errands. I pull out my down Patagonia jacket and all too quickly remember that I never got it repaired over the summer. It has a medium sized hole in the front that it suffered during a move last winter. I quickly take care of the hole with a little electrical tape and head out. This will work for a while, but I need to get it fixed. I have never returned an item to Patagonia before and for anyone who has not this will be a chance to get a preview of the process.

patagonia  jacket with ripIt doesn’t look bad to me, but I should not neglect it any longer.

Patagonia close-up

Patagonia quick fix

I like to buy clothing from companies that offer to repair or replace their products. It makes me feel more confident in my purchase if they are confident in their product. This is one of the reasons that I like Patagonia. The other reason that I like Patagonia is performance. Their clothes have yet to disappoint me.

When I got home, I went to their website and looked over their policy on repairs and returns. It appears to be from my limited knowledge of repair policies, relatively standard. There were a couple parts of the policy that I found interesting.

First it states, “If this is a repair request, note any special requests or notes on a separate piece of paper. “ This is pretty nice. If I ran a company I very much doubt that I would invite people to make special requests. I am not exactly sure what type of requests they are referring, but I am going to attempt to take advantage of this offer. I am requesting that if they cannot fix my jacket and have to replace it, that I would prefer it to be replaced with a blue jacket. I am still rooting for them to simply fix my current jacket. I like it. It is a bit shiny (I thought it would be flat brown), but I have gotten used to it.

Patagonia jacket zipped

The second line that I found interesting is not as positive. This policy is about pricing and states, “We pay for repairs that we’re responsible for and charge a fair price for repairs due to normal wear and tear.” The hole in my jacket is from a snag. That is wear and tear, but should the material have snagged so easily? I am perfectly comfortable paying for the entire repair, but that last statement gives you an idea of how tricky that question can get. I am still interested in how much they will charge for the repair. Will they pay for any of the repair? I am not excited as excited about finding out the answer to this question. However, I believe that if they charge me that it will be a reasonable rate.

 (Here are a few extra pics from my trip running errands)

Patagonia Jacket | Lands' End Flannel Shirt | J. Crew ChinosPatagonia Jacket | Lands’ End Flannel Shirt | J. Crew Essential Chinos Classic Fit

Lands' End flannel shirtLands’ End flannel shirt | J.Crew Essential Chinos Classic Fit

I am motivated to get my jacket repaired. I am going to ship it out this week. I will do a follow-up post when I get it back. Hopefully, I will be able to write about what a great experience I had. I am going to miss the warmth of this jacket.  I probably should not have worn it today. It is tempting to wait until the summer to get it fixed again. I am going to fight the urge and send it off. I just hope that this experiment allows me to continue to recommend Patagonia as a brand.

Thrifted: More Ties

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I went out thrifting on Saturday morning and came home empty handed. Lamenting over my failure, I opened up my tie drawer and decided to take a trip down memory lane. Actually, Before I get to the ties let me do a quick recap. As I mentioned in a previous post ties are one item that you should always look for when thrfiting. Why? Well, there are only ties and long ties in terms of sizing. Long ties being the exception. This is why finding a tie is more probable than finding any other clothing article. Okay, on to the ties.

I selected three ties that I had thrifted in the past and loved. Each one of these ties has a brilliant pop of color set against a neutral backdrop. The Don Lopper has red on a pale yellow, the Reis of New haven sets red against green, and the Giacomo tie features red (,blue, and yellow) on brown (maybe this post should have been about “red accents”?). I remember finding each of these ties and it was the colors that drew me to them. They are all different from one another (I know that two are paisley, but they are different). However, they all live together in my tie drawer away from the solid and regimental/repp stripe ties.

Don Lopper paisley tieDon Lopper Beverly Hills

close upA very nice paisley

Don Lopper paisley tie tag

Reis of New Haven tieReis of New Haven

Reis of New Haven tie close upThis is a beautiful tie. It has a wonderful feel as well

Reis of New Haven Tag

 

Giacomo tieGiacomo

Giacomo tie close upAn absolutely great flower pattern

Giacoma tie tag

Alright, I know that I said that long ties are the exception and that you should only buy things items that fit, but here area two long Rooster ties that I just couldn’t pass up. The colors of the plaid and the worn texture of the cotton got me. I had to have them. I only paid a $1, but I still don’t know what I am going to do with them. I guess this is what happens when you don’t stick to the rules.

Rooster plaid tie

plaid rooster tie close upClassic

plaid rooster tie tag

Rooster blue tie

rooster blue tie close upBrilliant blue

Rooster tie tag

I am not going to let last Saturday discourage me from thrifting. Writing this post and taking pictures of these ties has restored my faith.The thrifting gods have been good to me. Plus, I need to find a tweed or corduroy jacket so that I can wear that brown Giacomo tie. It is too bad that 36 shorts are such an evasive species. To all my fellow thrifters, I wish you the best of luck out there. To everyone else, I hope that you have enjoyed the pictures.