Archive for March, 2012

Baracuta G9 “Harrington” Jacket

Baracuta-Brown Chinos

We all have “Holy Grail” items on our lists; whether they be cars, homes, or destinations. In this case, the list is my clothing to be acquired list, and the “grail” is a Baracuta G9 Harrington jacket. Throughout my life I have had a few Harrington jackets, but my hunger for authenticity was never satisfied with them and I wanted the real thing, a Baracuta G9.

Baracuta LabelThe authentic makers of the Harrington jacket

Tartan LinerThe famous Fraser Tartan lining

Baracuta, a British menswear company created the G9 jacket in 1937. However, the G9 is commonly referred to as a Harrington which as it was worn on the 60’s TV show Peyton Place by the character Rodney Harrington (Ryan O’Neal). In the 1950’s Baracuta started to sell their products in the United States. Not long after being introduced in the States the jacket made its way onto the silver screen. Elvis was perhaps the first to popularize this jacket wearing it in the 1958 movie  ”Kid Creole” and  Frank Sinatra donned a G9 in “Assault on a Queen.” Although these style heavyweights may have contributed to the G9 trend, the jacket remains synonymous with the king of cool, Mr. Steve McQueen. The jacket continues to remain popular and is still a standard in the world of traditional menswear.

 

Baracuta close-up

baracuta-Blue Sweater

It was an Saturday morning thrift two summers ago when I found this jacket. I was browsing the coat section when I paused to check out what I imagined was just another Harrington styled jacket. When I noticed the Baraucta tag on the jacket my heart rate immediately increased. The tag read 40R and being a 36-38S, I was ready to be dissapointed. However, I tried it on and the fit was perfect! The color is Kelly green and while that would not be my first choice (a navy version is still on my list), I was in a thrifters’ paradise. With my head spinning I made my way to the cashiers and dropped a $1.50 on the jacket. For a quick comparison, you can get a brand new G9 for around $225-$300. So, yeah, I got a deal. The lesson to be learned is that patience and persistence are the key to successful a successful thrift. As I am finishing up this post, I am re-energized by this find, and I am heading out to do a quick round of thrifting.

 

Ask Andy’s Trad Community: The Tie Swap Box

Regimnetal and Repp ties

I have been lurking on Ask Andy’s Trad Forum since 2006. I have learned so much about traditional clothing from the gentlemen over there simply by watching and listening. However, this December I decided to take the plunge and register as a member so that I could participate, instead of just lurking in the background. I have to say that I have had a great time participating in this forum. I have yet to see or experience any overt negativity or nastiness simply for the sake of being nasty– which is so common on other forums. In this post, I am going to highlight an amazing accomplishment of the Trad Forum, the Trad Tie Swap Box.

Trad Tie Box

BowtiesThe contents of the box.

What I gaveWhat I added

Leatherman beltI also added this belt

Trad Tie Swap Box-Took

What I took

The Trad Tie Swap box is a simple concept. Here are the guidelines:

“You’ve been given a great gift, George: A chance to see what the world would be like without you.”

You’re not George Bailey, and this isn’t necessarily a wonderful life, but you have been given a great gift: A box filled with ties. Take as many as you like, then send the box along to the next lucky recipient. Our hope is to keep this box circulating indefinitely, sprinkling sartorial splendor throughout the nation. This will take require some dedication, perhaps a little luck and, by necessity, a few rules that have already been posted on the Ask Andy website, where this all began, and are repeated here as a gentle reminder.

Leave as many ties as you take, and if you take a bow, leave a bow. If you are just starting out with your wardrobe and don’t have many ties on the rack, it’s OK to take without leaving—there are many here among us whose closets groan and can easily make up the difference. It is better to leave nothing than pass on a J. Garcia or Cocktail Collection or some other monstrosity that will only add to shipping charges and end up being culled by the Keepers Of The Box.

This box is for folks who favor the so-called Trad, or Ivy League, look, and so no ties wider than 3.5 inches, and no ties made in China. Except for emblematic ties, synthetic materials are no-no’s. Try to leave ties that are the same approximate value as the ties you take—i.e., it isn’t cool to take all the J. Press and Brooks Brothers and leave Croft and Barrow (and you shouldn’t be leaving CB no matter what). It should go without saying, but no damaged or stained ties. If you wouldn’t wear it yourself, it has no business being in this box. The faster the box moves the better, so please forward it to the next person post haste.

Finally, post photos of what you took and what you left on the website and, ideally, of what arrived. This part is absolutely critical. If you don’t know how to post photos, it’s easy to learn, and folks on the site are happy to help if you have any questions. So post photos.

And that’s about it. Enjoy the box.

PaisleyPaisleys

Regimnetal and Repp ties

Repp and Stripe tiesRegimental, Repp and Stripes

A few close-up pics of some emblematics (below)

Fox emblematicFox

Bull & BearBull & Bear

Chipp EmblemaitcMoney bags (you have to love the Chipp’s sense of humor)

Chipp TagWe all know and cherish Chipp

I just received the box on Saturday. I spent at least an hour, if not two, lost in a world ties. I especially enjoyed looking at all of the labels that referenced both current and defunct men’s shops. I added 4 ties and 1 belt to the box. The ties I added were a kelly green/navy Nautica repp tie, a yellow foulard PRL tie, a 100% wool tartan tie by Pendleton, and 100% wool plaid tie by the Windsor Shirt Company. The belt I added was a Leatherman web belt with a nautical theme. I took three ties: A beautiful vintage YSL foulard tie, a navy/yellow 346 repp tie, and a green/burgundy/ yellow striped Ferrell Reed for Harold’s tie. It was so cool to be a part of the Trad Tie Swap Box project. On Monday, I will be sending the box to its next stop and it will continue to make its way through the Midwest and East Coast. I have included a few pictures in this post that highlight the contents of the box.

Lands’ End: The Original OCBD & The Hyde Park OCBD

Hyde Park OCBDs

*Updated 1/11/16 – I can no longer recommend this shirt as Lands’ End has reduced the size of its collar significantly (under 3″).

As you may have guessed from the title of my blog and the references that I have made to my “uniform” I am a huge fan of must-iron 100% cotton oxford cloth button-down (OCBD) shirts. What I like most about them is the level of comfort that they provide, which in my opinion is t-shirt level comfort and their ability to transcend time and setting, as you will seldom feel over or underdressed when wearing one – whether it be 50 years ago or 50 years from now. While I like to experiment with all sorts of ocbd’s from different brands, Lands’ End’s Original Oxford Dress Shirt used to be my go-to shirt. Sadly this is no longer true.

Hyde Park OCBDs

Lands’ End’s Original oxford cloth button-down shirt was my favorite as it was reasonably priced at $29.99 and was always available. However, that has changed over the course of the past year due to a few changes that they have made. The first change was that they discontinued my favorite color of blue. I prefer the standard blue to the light blue (which is actually more bright than light) as do most people who are interested in traditional clothing. Lands’ End reasons for discontinuing the standard blue are unbeknownst to me. Now here is where I might be off-base. It now appears that they have renamed the light blue, “blue.” It is hard for me to understand this decision as it is very confusing to long-time customers as well as upsetting for those of us who who only care for the standard blue. If I am wrong and the regular blue has returned, I sincerely apologize and would love to be contacted about this.

*As I am writing this post, I did a quick check on Lands’ End website and do not even see this shirt anymore. They are currently only available in the non-iron variety or must-iron, but with sizing that is limited to  small, medium, and large. What is going on over there!

Lands'-End-OCBDsThe picture above features the variation of LE’s blue oxfords starting with LE’s Original Oxford light blue (now blue), LE’s Original Oxford blue (discontinued), and finally the Hyde Park blue (formerly lake blue).

Now that my standard shirt has disappeared I have ventured out and purchased a few of Lands’ End’s high-end ocbd, the Hyde Park. I was weary of making this purchase do to the fact that it’s blue color had recently undergone a name change as well. What was once called lake blue is now simply called blue. This name change along with some image tweaking on the website made the blue appear to be much brighter than the lake blue used to appear. This prevented me from making my purchase sooner. However, after visiting a few style forums it was confirmed that the “new” blue was simply the lake blue renamed. I still don’t understand the reason behind renaming colors without providing a note on the website. Alright, enough complaining for now and on to the review.

I purchased two blue and one pink Hyde Park ocbd ( you get a discount when you purchase 3). I am very satisfied my purchases. The Hyde Park retails for $50 which is moderately priced when compared to Brooks Brothers or J.Press (with whom I believe it would like to compete). When I first tried these shirts on I immediately noticed that the collar roll on these shirts is excellent. I have even been asked if they are Brooks Brothers shirts which to me is the highest compliment a ocbd can get, next to being asked if it is a Mercer ocbd.

Hyde-Park-Pink-OCBDHyde Park Pink

The next  feature that I noticed was the weight of the fabric. The Hyde Park is substantially heavier than the LE Original Oxford. It is close to but not quite as heavy as my J.Press or Brooks Brothers ocbd. On a side note, unlike many others, I like the weight of the LE Original Oxford shirt. They are great for hot weather. The only downside to the weight of the Hyde Park ocbd when compared to Original Oxford is that the collar is a little more stiff. The Original Oxford has a collar which appears to be almost unlined.

The colors of the Hyde Park shirts are almost perfect. The blue is spot-on and is even better than the old blue of the Original Oxford. I was pleased with the color of the pink as it is much lighter and less”hot” than that of Brooks Brothers.

 

I have included three more pictures to illustrates the difference in the blues (See Below).

Hyde Park-Blue-OCBDHyde Park Blue (Formerly Lake Blue)

LE Original Oxford Ligth BlueLE Original Oxford Light Blue (Now Blue)

LE Original Oxford BlueLE Original Oxford Blue (Discontinued)

I may have erred in sizing when ordering the Hyde Park shirts, but this is my own fault. My LE Original Oxford’s have seen some shrinkage due to me accidentally leaving them in my outgoing laundry. Now they cannot comfortably accommodate a tie. I purchased a size up, from a 14.5 to a 15 in the neck which may have not been the best decision. I always launder my shirts in cold water and air-dry, but because I sized-up they may need 1 hot wash and dry to shrink them up a bit.

Overall, I am very pleased with my purchases. I have added three ocbds to my wardrobe. Now, I can remove the older shirts that either can no longer accommodate a tie or have accumulated too much pilling for a business setting. The shirts that I removed from my work selection will get plenty of action in casual settings before being demoted any further down the line.

I would however, like to reinforce my dissatisfaction with LE’s decision to rename or simply remove the standard blue color completely. If they have completely removed the must-iron Original Oxford from their offering, it leaves me truly wondering about the competence of LE. All of these decisions together signal to me that LE is re-evaluating their position in the market and are moving away from catering to their long-time customers and core-audience which I find disheartening. I will continue to monitor and report on LE as they are my favorite low-to-mid-end supplier of traditional clothing, I am hoping for better decisions in the future.

A Few Outfits: Preppy, Ivy, Trad, or Americana?

Irish Fisherman Sweater

Since my last post did not touch on clothing or style, I thought that I would include a few images of what I have wore in the not so distant past. Some of these looks fall into one or more of the genres that are often referred to as Preppy, Ivy, Trad and Americana. If you follow any of the other style blogs or forums out there I am sure that have heard these terms before and the heated arguments that they inspire. I personally do not take them that seriously, but I do look forward to discussing them in future posts. If I were to describe my personal style, I would define it as being  traditionally American with a strong focus on the simple, classic, and boring.

Irish Fisherman SweaterHandmade Fisherman’s Sweater | Lands’ End blue ocbd| J.Crew  Essential chinos in classic fit

J. Crew Shawl Collar SweaterJ.CREW Lambwool Shawl Collar | Lands’ End Blue ocbd | Same Chinos as above

J. Crew Shawl Collar Close-upI Like the way the shawl collar it displays the my oxford.

bbcableBrooks Brothers Saxxon Merino Wool Cable Sweater | J.Press Hairline button-down | Same Chinos

BB cable Close-upMy favorite merino sweater.

Leather Man BeltLavender & olive. A variation of the preppy standard, pink & green.

dress gordonRelaxing in a J.Crew brushed cotton button-down in Dress Gordon.

Sweater Tartan WatchSleeve shot

Great American Family: The Lowells of Massachusetts

Elmwood

This is the last of the “Great American Family” Life magazines that I have. This edition is from March 18, 1957 and covers the Lowells of Massachusetts focusing on the sixth through the tenth generations.The Lowells of Massachusetts came to America over two centuries ago. The most notable of the Lowells started with the sixth generation and the Reverend John Lowell. The Lowell family has produced notable poets, federal judges, a famous college president, and has had a strong role in the shaping of Harvard and MIT.

Reverend John LowellReverend John Lowell

The family really began to flourish under the guidance of Reverend John Lowell’s son John Lowell. Known as the “Old Judge,” John Lowell made his fortune as a lawyer sorting out prize claims in the 1770s, was a member of Continental Congress, and founded the first U.S bank in Boston. The Old Judge married three times and had three children. The most notable of these children is Francis Cabot who went to England, studied cotton mills, and brought these techniques back to New England making it the industrial power that it became.

 The Old JudgeStarting with the tenth generation the Lowells began to venture into the arts, science and education. Amy Lowell (1874-1925) never attended college because her family did not believe that it was proper for a young woman. However, she did not let this stop her from becoming a famous poet and a leader of the Imagists poetry movement. She died at the age of 51 from a cerebral hemorrhage and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for her book of poetry Whats O’Clock a year later.

Poetess Amy LowellPercival Lowell (1855-1916) Amy’s brother was a businessman, author, and mathematician, but is best known for his efforts as astronomer. He traveled to the Far East and wrote several books on the Orient pertaining to Japanese behavior, psychology, and religion. He founded  the Flagstaff observatory and contributed to the discovery of Pluto which was discovered 14 years after his death The name Pluto was influenced by his initials PL.

Pericival LowellAbbot Lawrence Lowell (1856-1943), brother to Percival and Amy followed in the footsteps of the Old Judge choosing a career in letters and law. Abbot became president of Harvard at 52. He was the first Lowell to hold this position, although Harvard had been without a Lowell on its faculty or board in only one out of the 13 decades before him. A. Lawrence Lowell served Harvard for 24 years and raised the endowment from $22.5 to $128 million. However, his tenure was not served without its controversies due to his his views surrounding race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation.

A.Lawrence LowellA.Lawrence Lowell

The Lowell House at HarvardThe Lowell House at Harvard

Other Notable Lowells (below)

The Rebel

Robert Spence

Francis CabotReverend CharlesJohn AmoryJohn JRAugustusBeau Sabreur

The Lowells of today often trace their family line back to one of three loyalties. First, the are he descendants of the Rebel who later married an Amory are known as the Higginson-Amory. Second, are those who trace their roots back to Francis Cabot and are referred to as the Cabot-Jackson’s, as he married a Jackson. The third line is that of Reverend Charles, who married a Spence, and are called the Russell-Spence line. All three of these line are descendants of the Old Judge. Ralph Lowell explained that the descendants of the Old Judge had remained so prominent by marrying very carefully, although they often kept to themselves and married cousins. The Lowells are not as concentrated as they used to be, but still have a strong representation in the New England area sticking to professions in the arts, education, banking, law and other general good work.