Archive for October, 2015

Going Green Part 1

When it comes to green in the Trad world we usually think Olive. This could be olive moleskin trousers, the classic cord sport coat in olive, or even outside of the olive spectrum there is iconic soft green OCBD sported by Miles. This post is not about any of the green items above, but about green ties.

Miles Knows about green.

My first green tie was the same as many of my readers and by far the most popular green tie, the Argyll & Sutherland repp. My next green tie was a more solemn repp that has served me well in both ultra conservative settings and on cool overcast days, but still has a nice pop of color (1st picture below). Next, I picked up this bright green repp that has become one of my very favorites (2nd picture below). These three ties got me hooked on green.
tumblr_ntnu6cfFy11ttpazyo1_1280Bright Green TieThis week Ask Andian Dr. D put up a whole lot of ties for sale and there were a fair number of green ones. The most exciting of these to me was the American version of the Malaya Regiment tie that I have been fawning over at Ben Silver for at least a year (1st tie below), but I could not stop there. As you can see by the ties that I selected (All featured below) there is a type of stripe that I love. I would describe this type of ties as bold yet conservative.
Malaya Regiment tieGreen RegimentalGreen Red Blue RegimentGreen Yellow Red Repp TieThe color green provides a great back drop for stripes (and foulards, but that’s  a whole other another post). Colors such as red, yellow, and purple stand out when set against it. If you don’t have a green tie in your collection I suggest that you add one. I suspect that it won’t be the last. I will share more on going green next week when I will reveal a few of my more predictable green purchases.

A quick side note. I paid under $20 for my Dr.D ties shown above. If you have never visited the Ask Andy Trad forum I will tell you that the Trad Exchange is a true gem. It alone is worth being a member.

The Myth of the Bass Weejun

Myth of the Weejun

It is no secret that I am a big fan of the Bass Weejun. Even when I try to step up my footwear game I end up coming right back to the it (All About that Bass). That is why when I read Arnie’s comment about the myth of the Weejun over at Ivy Style (See the article here) I thought that it deserved to be highlighted.

In this comment Arnie explains how the Weejun that we all think of as a very casual shoe was derived from the shoe that Norwegians would wear to formal events. When I was re-reading this comment it reminded me of the ‘Plausible History of the 3/2 Roll‘ post and how the true origin of things are often altered by time…and marketing. I am not sure if this version of the Weejun story is true, but it is certainly worth thinking about.

Arnie | October 23, 2015 at 2:30 am |

The myth around the Norwegian origin of weejuns deserves a comment. Here in Norway similar looking shoes called “Aurland sko” have never been used by so called poor peasants. On the contrary – the Aurland shoe is used by Norwegians when we wear our national costume “bunad” (a very formal dress that can replace white tie ensemble e.g. at royal banquets and other events that call for formal wear). But when Americans discovered the shoe in Norway back in the early midst of last century they modified it by removing the silver buckle and created what is known as the loafer or penny loafer. As in so many cases we should be thankful for American modification and invention. But in Norway, the traditional loafer with a silver or metal buckle, was an expensive shoe back in the old days. And it is not suitable for wear in a tough, cold and harsh climate. Most people wore boots or sturdy shoes year round in the late 1800’s and early twentieth century. Only the ones with money (and remember that Norway was, together with Ireland, the poorest country in Europe) could afford an Aurland shoe. I had to get this of my chest, or off my foot… That said – the American penny loafer is popular in modern Norway. We owe a grateful thought to the Americans who made them affordable and available in modern, wealthy Norway. CC, keep up the great work on Ivy Style. Greetings from the far northern corner of Europe where we only wear the original weejun at formal occasions, but the penny loafer all other days when we aren’t snowed down!

Michael Spencer OCBD Review

This week on the OCBD blog we have a Michael Spencer OCBD review from occasional commenter Steve. Michael Spencer is an advertiser here, but this post was neither paid for or promised, but comes from the truest place. Steve told me that he is not associated with Michael-Spencer, paid for his own shirt, and that the reason he wanted to review this shirt is to, “preserve an option that works for me so I’d like to see this business survive, and if my comments can help achieve that I’ll have been rewarded.” You can check out the Michael Spencer website here: Michael Spencer

Not all that long ago it was easy to keep a stock of well made, traditionally-styled OCBDs on hand.  If one wore out, became irremediably stained, or sustained a catastrophic accident at the laundry, it could readily be replaced.  Those days appear to be gone.

Taste is subjective so it’s a matter of opinion whether the changes Brooks Brothers have made to their OCBD, perhaps their single most iconic product, are for better or worse.  But changes there have surely been, changes that render the shirt less distinctive and desirable for many men.  Nowadays, a man wanting an OCBD made of quality fabric and featuring historically stylish collar points (and, even better, an unlined and unfused collar) must look elsewhere.  And pay a premium price into the bargain.  One source for for such shirts — with many satisfied customers — features a self-described “generous cut” that unfortunately isn’t for every taste or body type.
Michael Spencer & Brooks Brothers OCBDThat’s where Michael-Spencer, a recently launched enterprise, comes in.  M-S offers traditionally-styled Oxford cloth shirts made in North Carolina (by the same factory that makes BB shirts).  What makes the M-S shirts different is that they can be customized in a wealth of different ways, none of which incur additional cost.  For example, the shirts are available in three different fits ranging from a semi-slim cut to truly copious.  Assuming that the chosen fit accurately complements the wearer’s actual physiognomy, none of them can be called “tight.”  On a personal note: I am 6’ tall, 165 lbs., size 39, and the “Modern” fit, 15-1/2” x 34” shirts I’ve acquired are comfortable and tailored in appearance but still present an appropriate touch of rumpling.  All that’s missing is the wad of excess fabric at the back of my waist that is present in shirts that seem fashioned for huskier builds.

The M-S collars are 100% traditional: they are described on the company’s website as featuring “3-1/2” of cascading cloth,” and that’s perfectly accurate.  (Current production BB collar points are 3-1/4” long — down from 3-3/8” just a couple of years ago — and while 1/4” sounds insignificant, in fact it makes a pretty big difference.)  The unfused, unlined versions are not just stylish but soft and relaxed as well.  Other no-charge options include accoutrements such as locker loops, split yokes, flap pockets, and several cuff configurations.  Moreover, hard to fit individuals can select personalized sizing (neck and separate sleeves) in 1/4” increments.

All this comes at a cost, of course.  The financial blow is softened somewhat by the fact that shipping is included in the price and no sales tax is incurred.  An additional, and not unimportant, bonus is the exemplary customer service that accompanies a purchase.  Something about my first order got lost in translation (at the factory): sizing was way off.  The problems were personally and expeditiously addressed by Spencer Bennett, owner of the company.  If my own experience is any indication, he will spend as much time as needed guiding a customer to the right choices.

It’s not a question of “can,” but rather “would” the world want to go without the traditional OCBDs that have been around for as long as anyone reading this has been buying clothes?  Many of the historical makers have given up; it’s nice to see that the baton is being passed, not simply dropped.

Know Your Tartan Type

Dress Gordon Tartan

Tartan shirts are great for casual Fridays and weekends like Saturday Style), but do you know your tartan type? Now I am not suggesting that you spend hours and hours researching what tartan that you can possibly link to your heritage. I probably wouldn’t have much luck there, and if I did I probably wouldn’t like the tartan that was assigned to me.
Dress Gordon ShirtWhat I am talking about is finding a tartan that works for you. For example, I primarily wear one tartan. That tartan is Dress Gordon. I do this because I have found that it works well with my look and it looks pretty good on me (in my humble opinion).
Dress Gordon 1Once you find the tartan that you like best the next consideration is scale. I know that I mention scale a lot and there is a good reason for that. It is extremely important. In my case, I have found that smaller scales look best on me. Knowing this keeps me from purchasing shirts that I think I want, but know won’t work.
Dress gordon 2This post is another example of the type of simplicity that I promote. I limit myself to one or two tartans, because it helps me to create a cohesive look while allowing for a certain amount of variety as there are so many variations of each tartan. The same goes for scale. Keeping things similar reduces peoples ability to notice change. This in my opinion is a good thing.

Duck Hunting

Commenter Fred Johnson got me thinking about all things ducks after last week’s tie post. So, I geared up, ventured out on the internet and went hunting. I know a place that almost always comes through, and this time was no exception.

I ventured over to a piece of PRL property with high hopes. I was not disappointed as our Uncle Ralph knows that we like our casual clobber covered in critters and he usually keeps his land stocked with a few. This season is no different. There are actually three different trousers that fit the bill. There are a pair of chinos with mallards (see here), a pair of slim jean style cords (see here) with pheasants (and hunters), and last, but not least a tasty pair of brown cords with both pheasants and mallards (see here).

All of these pants are priced between $145-165, but every hunter knows that a successful hunt is about understanding the virtue of patience and opportunity. For us this would be waiting for the perfect sale (they are all currently 25% off), but never forgetting that sometimes you only get one shot and you have to take it when it appears.

Mallard ChinosHunters on cords
More Brown Mallard CordsI can’t think of a better way to welcome fall than by breaking out a pair of these on a Saturday afternoon. Some must have pumpkin flavored something to feel the full effect of fall, but for us trads a piece of clothing embroidered with mallards is more our cup of tea.