All posts in Men’s Clothing Reviews

Bills’ Two Button Sack in Harris Tweed

Brown Check

Bills Khakis’ latest offerings include the rare triple patch pocket sack sport coat in Harris Tweed. What makes this jacket even more unique than all the other 3 patch pocket sposrt coats our there is that this is a 2-button sack. This is not an unheard configuration (It is actually a feature that is synonymous with the Andover Shop), but is less common that the 3/2 sack if that tells you anything.

This jacket comes in at just under $1,000 and is offered in two different Harris Tweeds. While not cheap the price is in line with competitors offering Harris Tweed (these are probably from Southwick) in a sack cut. I was encouraged when I saw these jackets. It gives me hope that the sack jacket will be around as long as I am. Take a closer look here: http://www.billskhakis.com/harris-tweed
Bills Brown Check 2 button sackBills Herringbone 2 button tweed sack

Size Matters: Collar Points & Tie Widths

The difference between a full size healthy collar that produces a wonderful roll and a collar that can barely accommodate a tie is minimal. I am talking less than 1 inch. In fact, most of my collars that produce a standard roll have collar points that measure 3.25”, but I do have a few shirts (new-ish LE Hyde Parks) that have 3” collar points, but produce zero roll. While a collar this size does not lend itself to wearing ties. It can be done. It just requires a little more thought.

The key is to match the proportions of your collar to your tie. This is no different from the consideration that you would give to tie width and lapel width. Getting the proportions right between these three elements (Collar length, tie width, and lapel width) will allow you to wear some of the skinnier or wider items in your closet with a little more ease.

3” Collar

Tie Width Range: 2.75″ – 3.25”
Optimal: 3”

A shirt with 3” collar points works best with ties that range from 2.75″-3”. A skinnier tie has a smaller knot which works to keep the proportions in check. You may be able to get away with a 3.25” tie, but I don’t recommend it. There will be no collar roll to speak of.
3 inch collar                                                                         3″ collar with a 2.75″ tie.

3.25” Collar

Tie Width Range: 3″ – 3.50”
Optimal: 3.25″

3.25” is the current standard for collar points. I say this because it is the size of the current Brooks Brothers OCBD which has always defined collar roll.  It is also the size of current J.Press OCBDs as well as the size of my older Land’s End Original Oxfords.
3.25 inch collar                                                                      3.25″ collar points with a 3″ tie.

3.5” Collar

Tie Width Range: 3.25″ – 3.75”
Optimal: 3.5″

Although the 3.5” collar is a rarity it does still exist primarily due to the demand of collar roll enthusiast. These shirts are usually vintage, bespoke or MTM. For example, Mercer and Son’s collars points measure 3.4375 inches. A collar this size will produce a full collar roll, but can still accommodate a 3.25” tie (with a sturdy knot). For those of you that have found that 3.5 – .3.75” ties work best for you (and collar roll fanatics!) may want to seek collar points of this length.
3.5 collar                                                                          3.5″ collar with a 3.25″ tie.

For many of us having a closet full of collar roll producing button-down shirts is the goal, but most if not all closets have a few underachievers. Hopefully this post can help you get some use out of your button-down shirts with shorter collar points as well as a way to wear that skinny tie that you just couldn’t resist.

Uncle Ralph’s Striped Sweater

Argyll and Sutherland

It is no secret that I have an affinity for regimental striped garments. It is also no secret that I enjoy a good sweater. So when I saw this Argyll and Sutherland inspired regimental sweater from Ralph Lauren it was love at first sight.
Ralph Lauren Striped Sweater                                                                    PRL Striped Wool Sweater – $185

I am not alone in my admiration for a striped sweater. The moment I saw the Ralph Lauren Sweater I was reminded of this picture (see here) of American lawyer, diplomat, and soon to be subject of the United States Trad series (Past subjects include: George Bush, RFK, Ted Sorensen, and Daniel Patrick Moynihan) John Bolton. I am not sure that this sweater is the perfect striped sweater for me, but I definitely thought it was worth highlighting. I also wanted to give Uncle Ralph (word to Trip English) a shout out for keeping it logo free. We appreciate that Ralph.

The Party Sport Coat: Batik

Party

Summer means vacation and that means it is time for fun. Clothing used to be one of the main ways that was used to communicate to others that you were not working. However, times have changed. With today’s dress codes being so relaxed the ability to distinguish office wear from casual wear is difficult. I am not going to go down that rabbit hole in this post, but instead focus on a classic piece of resort wear the Batik sport coat.

Batik sport coats were popular party jackets. They are loud. They are colorful. They are fun. They are not for the timid and no they will not work in the office not even on GTH Friday.

The exact origin of Batik fabric is unknown. What is known is that it is ancient art form has existed in Egypt, India, the Middle East, China, and West Africa for over 2,000 years. Traditional Batik is made using a wax resist dye process which gives it its distinct look and it has a very distinct look.
Club Monaco Batik                                    Club Monaco 3/2 Batik Sack Sport Coat (Southwick Cambridge Model?)

While the demand for Batik jackets is close to non-existent they are still being produced. The inspiration for this post was not a vintage image of a man on vacation, but rather the Batik jacket that I found on the site of the often overlooked (and under remembered) member of the Ralph Lauren family Club Monaco. It is a great looking jacket. They do offer pants, but I would not go whole hog. I would do one or the other.
O'Connell's batik-ish                                                    O’Connell’s Navy and White Batik-ish Sport Coat

Club Monaco was not the only brand with a Batik offering.  I also saw a great looking Batik-ish jacket offered on O’Connell’s website that was not new old stock. Last, but not least I spotted a Batik pocket square on Sid Mashburn’s site for those who aren’t ready to dive right into a sport coat.
Batik Pocket Square                                                                 Sid Mashburn Batik Pocket Square

Batik may never again experience the popularity that it did in its heyday, but it is not gone yet. It can still be comfortably worn in a party or vacation setting, but be warned that  it will draw attention. I have aspirations to wear one at some point. I think that I will wait until I reach senior citizen status and don’t have to worry about getting too much attention. At that point in my life I will be most likely be ignored by almost everyone and those that do notice my fancy jacket will just chalk it up as something that was popular back in my day.

To Crease or not to Crease?

To Crease or not to Crease

I used to never crease my chinos. It seemed too fussy. Not that it looked overly fussy, but rather that it said to others that I spend an excessive amount of time thinking about and prepping clothing which is exactly the opposite reason that I am attracted to a classic American style. However, in pursuit of the perfect pair of chinos I began experimenting with the crease…and liked it.
Creased Chinos & Blazer
Creased chinos with madrasFar and away the biggest reason that I liked the crease is the tapered silhouette that it creates. This makes perfect sense when I started to think about it. Ironing pants without a crease actually increases the amount of chino visible from the front presenting the viewer with the widest possible leg. By ironing a crease down the middle of the pants the amount of visible chino is reduced and instead of a flattened chino the viewer is presented with the edge of a diamond shape. The tradeoff is that profile of a creased chino is wider which is more than a fair exchange in my book.

No Crease     For comparison, here is a picture of the same pair of chinos featured above, but without a crease.

There is another reason that I am growing fond of the crease and that reason is formality. A crisp pair of chinos ironed with a knife blade crease is better suited for a blazer than those without. The crease takes the chinos from casual to business casual (see blazer picture above). This can be a double edged sword as it can make a casual rig look off. When wearing a pair of chinos on the weekend I would avoid a knife blade crease (or any crease).

I now tend to crease more chinos than not. It helps to create the tapered silhouette that I have been in search of without having to go through round after round of alteration. It also communicates a more professional image especially when worn with a blazer or sport coat. I am still learning when to crease and when not to crease, but the biggest lesson that I learned is that I need to be flexible and not live by absolutes.