I have mentioned that I enjoy sports here and there on the blog before, but I don’t think that I have been clear about just how important athletics are in my life. I almost always do something physical every single day (It is such a great stress reliever and makes for a happier healthier me.) whether that is running, cycling, free weights, racquetball, golf, tennis, etc., but a lot of the time it is simply a trip to the gym. I don’t think much about what I wear to the gym (I have a gym uniform just like I have a work uniform), but when my go to sweatshirt fell apart I decided that it was time to upgrade my gym gear.
The death of my hooded sweatshirt presented the perfect opportunity to get the Barbarian hooded rugby (Barbarian) that I had been eyeing ever since Muffy Aldrich brought the brand to my attention. I was drawn to the Barbarian hoodie, because of its heavy weight cotton, sturdy construction, and simple style. I debated on purchasing a traditional rugby instead of the hooded version, but I really do like having the hood available when working out. It makes a drizzle endurable, helps to keep you warm in-between activity, and there is something about donning a hood that makes an early morning trek to the gym tolerable.
I planned on wearing my new rugby strictly for athletic pursuits, but that is not how it turned out. I was about to leave the house a few Saturdays ago to run errands when it decided to start sprinkling. Not only did it rain, but the rain really cooled down the temperature. I threw on my Barbarian hoodie and headed out. It ended up being the perfect layer and it added a nice causal element to my rig which kept the guy at the coffee shop from asking me if I had to work like he does when I wear a Shetland on Saturday mornings.
I liked the look of my hooded rugby so much that I have worn it outside of the gym a few more times since that first rainy morning. I also like the feel and fit of the rugby so much that I am considering buying another. I got a small the first time which fits like a large small or a small medium. This was perfect as I wanted to be able to wear layers underneath it (they also offer XS). I see myself purchasing a traditional rugby in green/blue stripes in the near future similar to the one pictured above which influenced my interest in the color. This time I know full well that my rugby will function as more than just gym gear.
Bonus pic of the cutest rugby sporting dog that I have ever seen:
I have been purchasing staples such as OCBDs, chinos, and cords from Lands’ End for years, but it seems that times are changing. No longer can I turn to Lands’ End for OCBDs, or any button-down shirt for that matter that isn’t destined for weekend wear, because of their small collars (Not like the collar roll pictured above which is from Lands’ End.). Now I have to add chinos to this list of items that I cannot depend on them for. These changes didn’t happen overnight, but I have finally realized that a lot of what I loved about Lands’ End is gone and it isn’t coming back anytime soon.
The first change that caught me by surprise is when they discontinued the Lands’ End Original Oxford (See label below.). This was my go to shirt. This change happened back in 2012. At first I thought that they were just out of stock. No big deal. However, a Lands’ End employees commented on my blog confirming that the the shirts were gone and that they had no plans to bring them back. They also said that the no-iron version would remain available, but you and I both know that just won’t do.
Luckily, they still produced the Hyde Park OCBD in the must-iron variety. I purchased a few Hyde Park OCBDs (See packaged below) and was pleased with them. The material was stiffer than the material they used for the Original Oxfords and they cost about $20 more, but it was still a good value when I compared them to my other options (Brooks Brothers, J.Press, Mercer, etc.). Then things took a turn for the worse.
A couple months later I picked up a few more Hyde Park OCBDs. It was not the same shirt. The collar length was now extremely short (from 3 1/4” to 2 3/4”). So short that the wonderful collar roll that I had once been able to obtain with their shirts like the one in the top picture was no more. This impact of this change was huge. Much bigger than just discontinuing the shirt I preferred (Which I am still very upset about.). They had now officially removed themselves from the you-can-buy-OCBDS-from-these-stores list and ended up on the avoid-these-OCBDs list. You can read some of the discontent in my comments section here:Lands’ End: The Original OCBD & The Hyde Park OCBD
If you don’t follow my blog regularly you may not know that I have been searching for a pair of collegiate fit chinos. The important part to know is that I need chinos that are readily available so that I can easily repeat the alteration process. Lands’ Ends tailored fit plain front chinos fit the bill…or so I thought, but a few weeks ago they decided to discontinue these and replace them with Lighthouse Chinos. Are these the same pants with a different name? Who could know? It is this type of disregard for their customer base that liked that model that concerns me the most.
The writing has been on the wall for a few years, but what it says is now coming true. What is says, is that Lands’ End is not a company that values tradition, reliability, and consistency. They will change fit, proportions, color names, or simply discontinue a product with no notice. If they currently carry an item that you like I encourage you to stock up before it is too late. You can always make a return. At least their customer service is still excellent.
I am still in pursuit of a pair of collegiate fit chinos (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3). I recently picked up a pair of vintage chinos from Newton Street Vintage with the perfect taper (or so I thought) and I set out to reproduce them. This seemed like a pretty straight forward task and I thought that it would be the answer to all of my chino problems. Spoiler alert: They were not the cure-all. However, I did learn quite a bit about tailoring and myself in the process.
I brought 4 pair of Lands’ End Tailored fit chinos (Which have suddenly disappeared from the website…discontinued?) to my tailor along with the vintage chinos that would serve as the pattern. This was mistake number one. I should have started by altering one pair of chinos and if that was successful then brought in the other pairs. However, my desire for a wardrobe full of perfectly fitting chinos and the fact that my tailor is an hour haul from my house prevented me from seeing the flaw in my plan.
A week later I picked up my chinos and once again experienced the thrill of holding what I thought to be the perfect chinos in my hands. I rushed home and tried them on. They looked great! I could not wait to wear them the next day.
I left my house with my collegiate fit chinos creased up and looking very sharp. I took a picture (Picture above). I reviewed it. I was very pleased. Unfortunately this feeling did not last long.
After a few hours of sitting at my desk the once sharp looking trousers with a sleek silhouette now looked much different. The area from my knee to my ankle had completely lost its shape and the trousers that had looked perfect on me only a few hours ago now looked way too small and ill fitting (Picture above). This is when I realized my 2nd mistake. I should have asked the seamstress to leave some extra material so that I could let the chinos out a little if the experiment did not work. I will be doing this going forward.
I don’t want to let the negative outcomes of this portion of my journey overshadow the good that came from it, as I learned quite a bit. Here are a few things that I learned:
(Know Yourself) I have muscular legs and I will have to take this into consideration when tapering trousers. I used to think that my chinos flared out below the knees because the leg opening was too small. It turns out that they did this because my calf muscle was pulling them one way and my knee/thigh the other.
(Be Patient) Don’t get all of your clothes altered at once unless you are certain that will like the result.
(Be Cautious) If you are not certain that you will like the result of your alterations ask the seamstress to leave some material so that the operation can be reversed.
I also learned a little bit more about collegiate fit chinos specifically. The percentages that I gave in my first post (Collegiate Cut Chinos Part 1) seem to hold true. In this post, I attempted to go slimmer than the numbers recommended and I learned my lesson. The leg opening on these trousers is 7.25” (Picture at top of page), but the trousers that I had tapered to 7.45” in the previous collegiate fit chinos post worked a lot better for me (Picture above). However, the skinnier thigh on the new pairs fit better.
The biggest lesson I learned from this experiment is that what I want and what looks best on me are not always going to be the same thing. My hunt for collegiate fit chinos appears to be merging with my pursuit of the perfect chinos. I now have more questions to answer such as, “Would a heavier chinos help reduce the knee bulge?” , “Would a poly/cotton (Yeah I said poly) help?”, and “Is this just the nature of chinos?”. If anyone has any thought I would love to here them.
I am a big fan of tassel loafers, but I know that they are not for everyone. Some people think that they look too ornate which directly conflicts with the Trad ethos of utilitarian simplicity much like the always controversial horse bit loafer(Just read through the commments). However, to me the Alden or Allen Edmonds (AE) tassel is a shoe that says you have arrived. Unfortunately, I have yet to arrive and these sleek tassels are still out of my price range, but I did find an affordable alternative that I think is a good fit for me. This tassel is the Bass Eddington.
The more sophisticated and sleek AE Grayson Tassel Moc for comparison.
The Bass Eddington has a different shape than the Alden or AE tassel. It is much more of a casual loafer. They feature contrast stitching and are only available in a rich brown color. They wouldn’t look appropriate with grey flannel trousers and a blazer like the other two, but they look right at home with a tweed sport coat, cords, or even chinos and a sweater which is exactly where my wardrobe lives.
Bass is not known for producing high quality footwear, but I really like these tassels. The leather is supple and they are comfortable right out of the box. I think that the fact that Bass uses a Blake welt stitching construction is a big part of why they are so comfortable. To top it off, I picked them at the Bass outlet for around $75. If you are in need of an introductory tassel the Bass Eddington may be worth checking out.
I was looking for a tie like the man in Hiroshi Watatani illustration above. I thought that a purple tie would be a nice addition to my collection. I liked the way the purple looked with the blue blazer. Plus, I do aspire to look like the man in the picture so the tie will be a must…one day. I found the tie much quicker than I had anticipated. I decided to challenge myself by trying to locate the rest of the items that he is wearing which turned into a trad version of what Nerd Boyfriend does.
I started with the easiest items first. The shoes weren’t hard to find at all as they look like Alden’s Cape Cod bit loafers, the trousers could easily be white ducks from O’Connell’s, and the shirt a J.Press blue and white butcher stripe. The blazer was harder to find than I had imagined especially because price was not an issue in this exercise. It is sad that the three patch and two flap pocket sack blazer is a dying breed (perhaps like J.Press itself). I did find one, but I had to go with a trim fit version which will not please many of the trads out there.
The hardest item of all to locate was the coat. I blame the artist for this. I can’t make out if the jacket is a wool overcoat or a raincoat. The yellow color of the jacket threw me off, but because of the cut of the coat, the fact that he is not wearing socks and I saw that his lady friend had the sunroof open so I guessed rain coat. Unfortunately, I could not find a perfect match. I ended up settling on a cotton gabardine raincoat from J.Press. It is good to know that I can still get my hands on this rig, but it would not be cheap as the total of these items for just under $3k. Like all goals in life this one will be approached one step at time.
Glastonbury Cricket Club – Ben Silver $105
Alden Horse Bit Loafer – $325
O’Connell’s White Ducks – $99.95
J.Press Butcher Stripe Shirt – $98
J.Press Patch Pocket Sack Blazer - $980
J.Press Raincoat – $1,295
And the end result is…