All posts in Clothing and History

What are Polo Belts?

Polo Belt

I want to get a leather belt that is thinner than 1.25″. The reason why is that I have grown very accustomed to the thinner front of surcingle belts. I don’t want it to be a dress belt as I plan on wearing it with my 5-pocket cords. This search led me to Sid Mashburn. While looking at their selection of 1″ leather belts I noticed a belt (pictured above) that they referred to as a “polo” belt. I had never heard the term and thought nothing of until I saw a post on polo belts on Red Clay Soul.

I’ve been digging on the polo belts lately.  I love the idea, as well as the culture from which the polo belts originate.  Born in Argentina, they are typically leather belts with color-specific designs woven in to represent a team or a location.  While they’ve been around forever, they were made popular, maybe even mainstream, by royalty:
Polo Belts

Head over to Red Clay Soul for more examples of the polo belt, where to find them, and a few ideas on how to wear them. Read the full post here: Polo Belts by Red Clay Soul

The Past & The Future of the L.L. Bean Anorak

The anorak made its way into the Trad cannon via Ivy Style as documented in the famed book Take Ivy. It was one of the lucky items to transcend the Ivy era and found itself perhaps even more popular among the 70’s prep crowd (The Late 70s Prep Look) . The anorak continues to weave in and out of mainstream popularity, but it has found a home for itself in the world of traditional American clothing. That about sums what I know about the anorak, but luckily for us we have a guest poster Kel Rhoads who knows his stuff and is going to give us a history lesson on the L.L. Bean Anorak (and a sneak peak at their 2017 anorak).

anorak-ivy-style-3LL Bean, established purveyor of traditional clothing, has offered an anorak for over 70 years—although not continuously. For the past several years, if you wanted a traditional Bean anorak, you had to scour the used market. Fortunately, that’s about to change. A new Bean anorak will be released in early 2017. Given our interest in the garment, an LL Bean employee sent us an exclusive photograph of the upcoming model. We’ll show it to you in a bit, but first, let’s put the new anorak in its historical context.

The original “annoraaq” was designed by the Inuit as a heavy, fur-lined, hooded pullover jacket. No openings to the front, with drawstrings at hood, cuffs, and waist, helped the jacket ward off wind, water, and freezing temperatures encountered by polar hunters. The garment was strictly and efficiently functional. As is often the case, the garment’s spartan practicality provided the foundation for its evolution into versatile, and sometimes even fashionable, outerwear—for even the non-polar inclined.
To our knowledge, there have been four previous generations of the Bean anorak, with the 2017 model ushering in the fifth. The first generation served soldiers in WWII and was available into the 1960s as “Bean’s Labrador Parka,” either cotton or 60/40, with a distinctively alien, two-pocketed, low-hem cut. Today these are valued by collectors.
LL Bean Labrador AnorakLL Bean Labrador ParkaThe second generation ushered in “Bean’s Anorak,” which had the familiar modern windbreaker look we recognize today. We suspect the second generation was offered throughout the 1970s and 1980s. They were made of slick, lightweight (2.5 oz./yard) nylon and had parallel seams on the chest. The elastic wrist bands on most of these vintage ‘raks have relaxed and need replacement, but otherwise they are still durable, functional garments—and still the lightest and most packable of any Bean anorak.
Bean’s third generation was produced in the 1990s and was broadly popular, even earning its own advertising spreads in outdoor magazines. These anoraks were redesigned in softer Supplex nylon with a cotton-y feel, and the seams on the chest evolved into a slenderizing keystone shape. That, along with an elastic waist drawstring, meant wearers could advertise a trim, athletic figure beneath. These were known as the “Mountain Classic Anorak” in solid colors, and the “Alpine Classic” or “Aztec” in flamboyant color-block variants. We aren’t certain if the third generation made it into the 21st century, but there was a many-years-long hiatus where Bean anoraks were no longer offered.
mountain-classic-anorakPopular demand caught up with Bean in 2012, when they reintroduced a fourth variant for just two years. They again called it the “Mountain Classic Anorak,” made of an even softer Supplex than previously. In many ways, however, the 2012 reissued Mountain Classic was more like the second-generation Bean’s Anorak with straight chest seams and vintage leather cord keepers at the hood. Bean also cut the fourth generation model considerably larger in the trunk, yielding a less athletic but comfortably drapey (some say tent-like) shape.
That brings us to the just-introduced fifth generation Bean anorak, called the “Mountain Classic Color Block Anorak” — although we’ve been assured one color scheme will be a sober black-on-black. Studying the photograph, it appears the anorak has gone back to a slimmer cut, possibly longer, and with a longer chest zipper. Its color-block style harkens back to the “Alpine” and “Aztec” designs of the 1990s, but less rambunctiously so. Bean has also revived their “Sunrise over Katahdin” label (which appeared in 1987) and placed it prominently on the chest. We have no idea how long Bean will offer the new 5th-gen, but we’re told they’ll debut in the Spring of 2017.
ll-bean-anorak-2017Modern windbreaker-style anoraks are favorites of travelers. There’s a cost of having to wriggle into a pullover that gives half the ventilation of a zip-up jacket. But the benefits are many: a streamlined front that doesn’t snag on pack straps, superior weather resistance, a long and lightweight barrier that wards off the grime of public transportation. And then there’s that magnificent kangaroo pocket. For the urban traveler, its great advantage is rapid deployment and concealment of valuables. While others are fumbling with wallets, packs and purses, the anorak’d traveler faces the vending machine, unzips, pays, and stashes change and receipt back into the pocket in seconds. By the time he or she turns away, everything’s zipped and secure, to be sorted out later. Pick-pockets hate anoraks!

Linking the Past to Present: 90’s Fraternity Style

90s Prep

The style known as Trad owes a lot to the Ivy League style for its heritage. However, this traditional American style was shaped by not only heyday Ivyist, but by each generation after that was interested in the traditional American look.

Just this week I read an interesting post that covered late 90’s fraternity style. This post featured Wallabee Clarks and polo shirts. Two items that were also included in the, “Definitive Late 70s Prep Checklist” post. This post on the 90’s in conjunction with the late 70’s Prep post helps to illustrate the path from Ivy style to Preppy to Trad.

I encourage you to head over to Red Clay Soul to read the article: LATE 90’S – EARLY 00’S FRATERNITY STYLE

Summer Wheat: The Denim Post

Featured 3

Rarely do you read about jeans on Trad & Ivy forums or blogs. It is a taboo topic. Just to provide a little context around the complex relationship between Trad and jeans, Christian from Ivy Style’s denim post was called “The End is Here: An Ivy Style Jeans Post.” Wheat jeans on the other hand have managed to escape the stigma of their blue brothers and have gained acceptance into the the world of Trad & Ivy.
California Cool1966 World Surfing Team Wheat jeans get their credibility primarily from being a part of the 1960’s west coast prep look. From what I can put together wheat jeans gained popularity sometime in the early 60’s as part of the west coast prep/Beach Boy/surfer look. Wheat jeans were worn right along with Pendletons, Purcells, and all of the other west coast classics that have worked their way into Ivy League closets

There are currently two great threads about wheat denim that touch on their history and where you can find a pair now. AAAT member Gamma68, started the  “The Trad Wheat Jeans Thread.” One of the gems of this thread is member Reuben’s suggestion of getting a pair of wheat jeans from Wrangler. He recommends the Wrangler Cowboy Cut in tan (See here) and others seem to agree. Another great read is Talk Ivy’s, “Surf Ivy/The West Coast Look,” started by Member Tommy. There are a ton of great west cost prep pictures to check out (Like the ones I used above) in this thread.

Wheat jeans are no longer just for surfers on the west coast. Though they still have their California cool vibe they are also worn by the crowd that just doesn’t really like jeans. For this crowd wheat jeans allows them to add a casual denim fabric into the mix without having to give up tan color in which they are so comfortable. I don’t have a pair of wheat jeans myself, but I am contemplating getting a pair.

Measurements of Brooks Brothers OCBDs over the Years

1960 Brooks Brothers OCBD

Ivy Style enthusiast Farrago has put together a great post over at Talk Ivy providing measurements of Brooks Brothers OCBDs ranging from the 1960s up to the recently updated 2016 OCBD. These are the types of posts that keep forums going. He was kind enough to allow me to repost this great information over here.

As promised, I got around to combing through the museum. I took measurements on the collars, chest, and length (back and front). I weighed the shirts as well. Apologies for my usual poor photos.
1960 Brooks Brothers OCBD

1960’s Brooks Brothers White OCBD

No pocket. Purple label without care instructions. 6 button front . Gussets on the sides. Note the collar length of this shirt.
Collar: 3 ”
Weight: 10.51 oz.
Chest: 24 1/4″
Front: 30 ”
Back: 32 ”
1970 Brooks Brothers OCBD

1970’s Brooks Brothers Yellow OCBD

Pocket. Red label without care instructions. 6 button front.
Collar: 3 7/16″
Weight: 12.28 oz.
Chest: 25 1/4″
Front: 28 1/4 ”
Back: 31 1/2 ”
1980 Brooks Brothers OCBD

Late 1980’s Brooks Brothers Blue Blazer Stripe OCBD

7 button front.
Collar: 3 3/8″
Weight: 11.96 oz.
Chest: 25 ”
Front: 30 1/2 ”
Back: 31 1/2 ”
Early 1990s Brooks Brothers OCBD

Early 1990’s Brooks Brothers Yellow w/ Blue Track Stripe OCBD

7 button front.
Collar: 3 1/4″
Weight: 11.22 oz.
Chest: 24 3/4 ”
Front: 28 3/4 ”
Back: 30  ”

Mid 1990s Brooks Brothers OCBD

Mid 1990’s Brooks Brothers Ecru OCBD

7 button front.
Collar: 3 3/8″
Weight: 12.10 oz.
Chest: 24 1/4 ”
Front: 28 1/4 ”
Back: 30 1/2  ”
2008 Brooks Brothers OCBD

2008 Brooks Brothers Pink OCBD

7 button front. Lined. Note the weight.
Collar: 3 3/8″
Weight: 13.76 oz.
Chest: 24 1/2 ”
Front: 29 1/2 ”
Back: 31 1/4  ”

2016 Brooks Brothers OCBD

2016 Brooks Brothers Helio Stripe OCBD

7 button front. Gussets. No pocket. The Madison cut is the nearest to the now discontinued Traditional cut.
Collar: 3 7/16″
Weight: 12.14 oz.
Chest: 23 1/2 ”
Front: 28  ”
Back: 30 1/4  “