Archive for February, 2016

Switching it up

I have often been described as consistent, dependable, and reliable. I am proud of these traits as they are a big part of who I am, but…yes, there is a but. Often these characteristics translate as predictable. While I  myself am a big fan of predictable I also aim to please. Cue the tie.
Fox Tie 2I purchased the tie above over a year ago and it has hung on my tie rack ever since waiting for the day it gets to see some action. When I first saw the tie I was enamored with the playful pattern presented in a deep rich red made of wool challis. I knew that it was a little outside of my comfort zone, but I was drawn to it and it cost me around $10 on the second hand market if I remember correctly.

Last month I woke up with the intent of wearing it. I just wasn’t sure how. I tried a solid blue OCBD first. Something didn’t look quite right. I thought that a white OCBD would work, but I have an aversion to white shirts outside of formal settings where they are required. My trusty blue university striped OCBD was just right. It provided the right mix of pattern and color to serve as a backdrop for this bold tie.

I learned a few things about this tie during its first outing. The first is that it is a beautiful tie. I admired it all day long. I also learned that it would look best with my navy blazer and grey flannels. There is something about it that is a little too something for chinos. I also thought that if I had that camel hair sport coat (or any tan colored sport coat) that I have been lusting after that they would look terrific together.

The moral of this story is to not be afraid to wear something that you would not normally wear. You could surprise yourself and find a new look to add to your repertoire. At the same time, remember that you are creating your look so look the way that you want to look. I am often known for wearing the same thing day in and day out. I am more than okay with that. I know that it is one of my strengths.

Warm Weather Patterns

The weather was beautiful here this weekend and it reminded me that summer is not too far off (and spring is practically here!). With this in mind I realized that I need to shift my thinking in terms of new acquisitions. I quickly took stock of my warm weather gear. This biggest hole in my wardrobe is patterned warm weather work shirts to wear on casual Friday. Below are the patterns that are on my short list.
Navy GinghamGingham – Gingham is a great pattern to wear in spring and summer. Some will argue that it is perfectly suitable for year round wear, but the association with the classic picnic table cover makes it a summertime classic. You can find gingham in almost any color and scale. I prefer navy  gingham in a smaller scale.
Muddy MadrasMadras – For trads Madras means summer. You can find Madras in psychedelic, bright colors or muted muddy earth tones (like the one above from O’Connells). While Madras is decisively casual it can easily work in business casual environments, but if you are like me you can always break it out on casual Friday.
Seersucker ShirtSeersucker – I am pushing the boundaries of business casual again by adding seersucker to the list. Again, since I am looking for something to wear on casual Friday I think that seersucker is a potential option. While it is not a pattern on its own it is rarely found on any non-striped shirts, but the classic striped seersucker is the one on my list. Blue, red, or pink are the best, but yellow or green can look cool as well.

There you have it. My short list of potential patterns to put into play this spring and summer. I focused on casual Friday, because dressing a little more casual on these days is something that I am working on (and no I don’t mean jeans…at least not yet!). I have not put together a list of top contenders yet, but I will have a lot more options to choose from if I keep in mind that this shirt is casual. This means that I do not have to focus as much on collar length or other dress shirt details. Now let the warm weather commence!


America’s Japanese Ivy?

I was perusing the Unionmade website last week when I noticed what I thought was another Japanese Ivy brand that had been flying under my radar. The jacket that caught my eye was camel colored sack with a 3-button closure. When I took a closer look at the sport coat I saw that this was not a Japanese brand at all, but rather a USA brand located in San Francisco.
Golden Bear Camelhair sport coat

I don’t know much about the company Golden Bear except for the blurb below:

Golden Bear varsity jackets and seasonal outerwear made exclusively for Unionmade.

Started in 1922 on the waterfronts of San Francisco, Golden Bear first created tough, durable leather jackets for longshoremen, who carried cargo, literally, on their backs. Golden Bear gained fame during World War II, when pilots of the Flying Tigers, The P-38′s, Hellcats and the Flying Fortresses, wore their jackets. Sixty years later, they remain stylish and practical. A family-owned enterprise, Golden Bear is one of the few companies that virtually manufacture almost everything by hand.

So Why did I think that this was a Japanese Brand? I am by no means an expert in Japanese Ivy, but I have seen quite a bit of it in my time and what I have noticed is that there are a few common characteristics of Japanese Ivy.

It’s all in the details. A few of the traits of Japanese Ivy are pieces that have all of the Ivy details including patch pockets (often triple patch), swelled edges, and hooked vents, but these details are often exaggerated. This exaggeration can be seen in pocket shape and placement as well as button placement. Often the sport coats have no padding and are designed for casual wear. The final characteristic is fit. These garments are generally trimmer and shorter than the traditional fit that many have come to expect.

None of this is meant to chastise Japanese Ivy. You have both Caid and Kamakura shirts doing very cool things. I frequently check out the offering from Beams+ for weekend wear. I also have a thing for their Ivy illustrations (Ivy Illustrations & A (Calendar) Year in Japanese Trad).

Well this time I was wrong. Golden Bear is not a Japanese Ivy brand at all, but are they producing an American version of Japanese Ivy?

A Visit to L.L. Bean

Usually a trip to L.L. Bean means a trip to Freeport, Maine, but thanks to Bean’s retail expansion I only had to travel an hour down the road to Columbus, Ohio. I had never been to an L.L. Bean store so I was interested to take in the new store in first hand.
Columbus Ohio Bean BootI was a little concerned that the store would look like a shopping mall version of L.L.Bean. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was not actually in the mall, but had its own free standing building near a mall. Bean also stayed true to its outdoorsy roots by offering quite a bit of their outdoor gear at the fatality not just their clothing.

My other concern was stock. Often when I enter a brick and mortar store I know exactly what I am looking for as I have previously scoped it out online. When I ask for that particular item the salesperson often hits me with, “We don’t carry the in-store, but I can order it for you.” No offense to the salesperson, but I am a competent e-shopper and need no help in ordering something online. The other issue is often sizing. Many brick and mortar stores with a strong e-commerce presence don’t stock many sizes. Once again I was impressed as I found 90% of what I was interested in and they had a full range of sizes in store.
Bean MocsI know that you all are wondering if I made any purchases. I did. I ended walking away with a pair of camp mocs and bluchers mocs. I went with the Signature line models as they had both versions for me to compare and the Signature line was noticeably nicer. I haven’t had a chance to break them in yet, but you can expect a full review in the future.

When I first heard about Bean’s plans to increase their physical presence I was wary. My concern was that they would increase their overhead so much that if and when Bean boots are not the hottest trend of the season that Bean will have to meet current trends to keep its doors open. For all of my trad readers I will call this the Brooks Brother effect. My visit set me at ease, at least for the time being. I just hope that in another 100 years that I will still be able to recognize the brand.