When I transitioned from student life to the working world my wardrobe transitioned along with me. One of the first things that changed is that I no longer had a pressing need for casual clothes. Now when I went shopping if I saw a pair of broken-in chinos with distressing or a pre-faded OCBD it garnered a reaction of superiority from me. I would think to myslef, “I will wear out a pair of regular chinos and an OCBD soon enough. I do not need to wear pretend clothes or invest in worn-out clothes to look cool.” At least this is what I thought I at the time.
Fast forward a decade and I am not so sure that any of the above the above is true. A few months ago I was reading about the history of the 3/2 roll when I saw my self perceived ability to withstand the fashion industry’s attempts to influence me crumble before my eyes.
There are two schools of thoughts about the origin of the 3/2 roll. One school claims that the 3/2 roll was created to mimic the roll 3-button jackets often developed over time. The other school claims that the 3/2 roll was a unique feature that was not created to mimic a broken-in 3-button jacket. I won’t dive any deeper into the history at this point. The important part is to remember that one school sees the 3/2 roll as inauthentic as I see prefabricated broken-in chinos or distressed OCBD.
The next item to shake my convictions was the brushed Shetland (pictured above). I have heard many people claim that the brushed Shetlands were not created (and sought after) because it makes the rustic Shetland wool softer, but because the result looks similar to an old worn sweater. I have no proof of this either, but again it is a plausible argument.
What does all this mean? For me it means that I need to remember to be humble. While I want to think that I have transcended the reach of marketing and fashion I have not. The desire to look cool is still very much alive within me (and always will be) even if my idea of cool is very very square.
I love wearing cords. They come in great colors for fall and winter, they drape well, and to top it all off they are comfortable. Sounds just about perfect, right? I would have to agree, but lately I have been experiencing a little difficulty preserving the life of my cords which is concerning to say the least.
I was getting ready for work the other day when I noticed a worn out patch of wale on my cords. My immediate reaction was panic as I pictured a swarm of wild moths devouring my closet. Moments later I came to my senses when I remembered that cords are not moth food (they only eat animal fiber).
After ruling out moths and other cord lusting creatures as the cause of the wear to my cords I took a closer more studious look. After careful examination I came to the conclusion that there were only two patches of worn out cord on the trousers. Each patch is located one on the back of the leg about ¾ the way up the calf. Clearly rubbing is the culprit.
Now that I know the cause of the problem I have a new question: Is it my cords or is it cords? My Lands’ End cords that are over two years old look pretty bad (pictured above). My newest pair which only have about 1 year under their belt are showing wear as well. On the flip side, I have a pair of 18 wale cords that are 10 years old that do not have any of this wear. What gives?
Here are the questions that I am left with. Is the problem with my cords quality? Are wide wale cords more susceptible to wearing out than finer wale cords? Do I wear my cords exceptionally hard? Am I expecting too much life out of a pair of wide wale cords?
If you are a regular reader of Oxford Cloth Button Down I am sure that you are wondering why I am talking about Bass right now. You are probably thinking, “What happened to the Allen Edmonds Cavanaughs?” after my “There’s a new loafer in town” post.
Sadly the Allen Edmonds Cavanaugh Penny Loafers did not work out for me. It is not that I did not like them. They are a great looking shoe and I wanted to keep them, but they just didn’t fit (too narrow in the forefoot and too wide in the heel). After trying three different sizes I called it a day. It wasn’t meant to be (, but don’t worry I am still on the hunt for a nicer loafer).
This concession of defeat left me with an immediate void to fill. My current pairs of Weejuns are now well over 4 years old and as a result they are beginning to show their age. I needed to get another pair of loafers in the mix quickly. This loafer needs to fit, be versatile, and be available now. The only shoe that I knew that could count on is the Weejun.
I remember Billax commenting on the Cavanaugh post and saying that he will always have a pair of Weejuns in his closet. I have to say that I am in the same boat even though I know that the quality of shoe leaves a lot to desired. However, the near perfect design combined with the fact that they fit me like a glove allow me easily overlook all of their shortcomings. Until I find a higher quality loafer that fits me well I am still all about that bass.
After years of lust and months of anticipation I finally own my first O’Connell’s Shetland. With the temps still unseasonably (read unreasonably) cold I have had the chance to put my new sweater to good use. Here are my overall thoughts.
I will start with the pros. First things first this sweater has all the right details. When talking about Shetlands this means two things. One, the sweater is made in Scotland. Two, it has saddle shoulders. Check and check.
Where this sweater really shines is in the quality of the wool from which it was made. When I opened the package I was immediately reminded of a Woolrich sweater that I owned well over a decade ago. First, it was the smell of the wool that took me back. Then it was the feel. When I picked up the sweater it had a rustic feel that I used to associate with Shetlands. For comparison, only my Spirit of Shetland sweater has this same texture while my modern Brooks Brothers Shetlands are much softer. The smell and feel of the O’Connell’s Shetland reminded my that I was wearing a Shetland in a good way.
Now for the downside. Which is the sizing simply, because it is confusing. The sweater comes in chest sizes (38, 40, etc.). O’Connell’s ask that you order up from your chest size. This is where I find that it gets confusing. I range from a 36-38 depending on the maker/cut. At O’Connell’s I wear a 36 and at Brooks Brothers a 37/38 depending on the cut. So what size do I order?
After much debate I ordered a size 38. I would call it a true small. After my first wear I was concerned that it was a little snug especially in the armhole. The worst kind of too small. The kind where if I ordered a size larger it would be too big. I remembered feeling similarly about one of my Brooks sweaters when I first purchased it and that it stretched out after a couple wears. I was patient and now it feels just about perfect.
Did the O’Connell’s Shetland live up to its hype? It did. It has all of the right details that I wanted and none of the extras that I didn’t want. However, at $165 it is not a cheap sweater, but my other two options (Brooks Brothers and Polo Ralph Lauren) were both $125 and both of these Shetlands had add-ons that I did not want (logos or elbow patches). In short, this is the Shetland for those who know what they want and know what that is worth to them. The only real question is which color do I get next year?