All posts in Men’s Clothing Reviews

Who Gets It? Ben Silver Does.

Ben Silver

When people learn that I have a blog it often leads to a discussion about the style that I blog about. Generally, I will say something like, “It is about traditional American style. They look at me puzzled. I say, think boring preppy. They get a better idea.” The conversation almost always ends up with me providing a few examples of companies that I think “get it.” Lately I have tried to find the best example of a company that not only understands the traditional American audience, but that can style the clothes for this audience as well. So who does get it?
Ben Silver Styling

Companies that Get it

  1. O’Connell’s Clothing
  2. J.Press
  3. Ben Silver
  4. The Andover Shop
  5. Brooks Brothers

As you can see from my who’s who llist of the Trad world above there are quite a few companies that cater to this audience, but that’s only one part of this challenge. Next, the company must have a website that is reflective of their offerings (this knocks out the Andover Shop). Then, the website has to feature real people in the clothes. Just laying a tie over a shirt is not going to cut it (There goes O’Connell’s and J.Press).
Ben Silver Harris Tweed Multi Color Broken Bone JacketBen Silver VestThe last two standing are Brooks Brothers and Ben Silver. You would think that Brooks Brothers might be the favorite, or at least make it competitive, but they don’t. Their audience is too wide and their offerings too vast. The result is a vast array of styles worn in primarily ill-fitting fashion. This is most likely due to the sheer volume of styling that was required.
Ben Silver Russet and Wheat Herringbone Harris Tweed Sport CoatBen Silver Harris Tweed Multi Color Broken Bone JacketBen Silver wins. They get it. The clothing here is presented in a way that is authentic to the style and the day. From now on Ben Silver is where I will send a friend or acquaintance when they want to see a current example of the look. For more, 7ou can browse through the Ben Silver Fall 2014 online catalog here: Ben Silver Fall 2014 and visit the Ben Silver website.

The Patchwork Repp Tie

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We are all familiar with patchwork ties, sport coats, trousers, and shirts that are made up of Madras and even though it is not as common we have all seen patchwork items made from tweed and tartans as well. There is another patchwork item that I have only seen a handful of times.

The first time that I saw a patchwork Repp tie (pictured below) it took me a few moments to figure out what it was that I was looking at. It was difficult to recognize the striped Repp ties when the stripes were arranged in random patchwork fashion. Once I was able to make out what I was looking at I was intrigued.
Patchwork Repp Tie YRR

Fast forward to last week when I spotted a patchwork Repp tie over at Polo Ralph Lauren (see here). Uncle Ralph’s patchwork Repp tie is not strictly made of striped ties. It also includes a few pieces of an emblematic tie. The tie is a bit slim, but it is still wearable at 3” (I find 3.25” perfect for myself). It is also a bit expensive. This patchwork tie sports a price tag of $165.
PRL Patchwork Repp Tie  2014

I know that patchwork items are not for everyone. They fall into the category of clothing coined by Tom Wolfe in his 1976 article for Esquire entitled “Mauve Gloves & Madmen, Clutter & Vine,” as “go to hell” or simply GTH. GTH clothing can be polarizing and this tie is no different, but when I saw a version being offered up by Polo Ralph Lauren this season I thought that it was well worth discussing. Now comes the question, would you wear it?

Another Menswear Shop Closes: Roger Stevens

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A few weeks ago veteran Ask Andy Trad member CMDC posted about another independent menswear shop closing its doors. I have been doing some research on various menswear shops of the past so his post really resonated with me. I followed up with CMDC about this post and he was kind enough to provide a write for us about his.

Roger Stevens is located in the lobby of the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. The Pfister is Milwaukee’s finest hotel and is one of those old, historic, elegant gems that each major city has but that aren’t being built anymore. When I was an undergrad in Milwaukee during the early ’90s, I had neither the sensibility nor the cash to shop there. So, I never visited the store in its heyday. Milwaukee is, as most would guess, a very blue collar town so I’ve never associated it with fine dressing although there obviously is a clientele that has kept the store doing well over the years. The patrons of the Pfister have also been a key element of the store’s success.
Roger Stevens Store Front

I get back to Milwaukee a couple of times per year and, as I’ve become more dedicated to dressing well, I’ve always intended to stop in. With the announcement of the store’s impending closing–and the significant markdowns–I made it a point to visit when I was in Milwaukee a few weeks back. Roger Stevens is–and clearly was–the type of store we clothing enthusiasts wish was still the standard. Even though their stock has been getting cleared out and everything was 50% off, the staff approached me and the other customers in the store as if it was business as usual. To give a sense of their offerings, the main brands were Samuelsohn, Southwick, Bills, Seaward and Stearn, Gitman Bros, and Zanella. They used to offer Allen Edmonds as well, which one would expect. So, mostly TNSIL favorites with a tiny smattering of the more fashion forward.
Roger Stevens StoreRoger Stevens TiesWhile there was much to tempt me, I didn’t want to totally break the bank. In the end, there was a Southwick 3/2 sack tweed sportcoat that I simply couldn’t leave behind. The price was very good and I’m always a sucker for bold tweed patterns. I rounded out my purchase with a really nice Ancient Madder tie. I had a really nice conversation with the saleswoman who helped me about the store, its closing, and the Milwaukee menswear scene. The honest truth is that there’s not much left in Milwaukee, especially downtown. There is a Brooks Brothers at one of the suburban malls as well as Harley’s on Milwaukee’s east side which offers a much more fashion forward, heavily Italian, line.
Made for Roger StevensSo, another fine menswear store is no more. While Roger Stevens’ closing isn’t attributable to the rise of business casual or the economic downturn, it is gone nonetheless. I really wish I had been able to make more than one visit. You can read more about Roger Stevens and its closing here: Menswear store Roger Stevens closing after 37 years

There’s a New Loafer in Town

Weejuns

I made my foray into the world of respectable penny loafers last week when I purchased a pair of Allen Edmonds Cavanaugh penny loafers. This loafer is not one of their classic models. In fact, it has only been around for a few months, but it does pay tribute to what I consider the most classic penny loafer which is the Bass Weejun. Cavanaugh Penny Loafers                                               Allen Edmonds Cavanaugh Penny Loafer (above)

I have been in need of a decent pair of penny loafers for a while now. Decent meaning something other than Bass Weejuns which are not very high quality, but they do make up for their lackluster construction with a great silhouette at a great price. Plus, they fit me like a glove (You can never overlook fit!). Weejun

There are three features that the Weejun has taught me to look for in a loafer:

  • The Pinch – I am not a fan of beef rolls, I think they look too bulky and I think that full straps look too sleek, but the pinch strap closure looks just right to me.
  • A Boxy Toe – The boxy shape is why they work so well with chinos. It is a casual loafer.
  • The Strap and the Cutout on the Strap –  The Weejun has almost a crescent moon shape cutout and bottom of the strap comes to a point in the middle. I am not that picky about the strap and cutout, but I do pay attention to it.

The Allen Edmonds Cavanaugh ($275, but currently on sale for $195) has all of these features. It also comes in burnished brown. I reach for my tan loafers more often than my burgundy ones. I think that by selecting dark brown I will get a lot of day-to-day use out of them like I do my tan loafers, but unlike my tan loafers I can pair these with grey wool trousers. This is important, because they will be my nicest loafers. My only critique is that I could do without the stitching on the toe box on either side of the cutout and yes, I wish it had the crescent moon cutout.

The Alternatives: More Pinch Penny Loafers:

Alden LHSAlden Leisure Handsewn Moccasin (LHS)  ($518) – Great shape and amazing quality. I would love to have this loafer, but it is outside of my price range. My only critique is that I wish the strap extended a touch further down the side. Patriot Penny LoafersAllen Edmonds Patriot ($385, but currently on sale for $327.25) – I almost purchased the Patriot, but that was before the Cavanaugh was released. The Patriot is a bit too sleek for me which is why I was on the fence about it for so long. It might just be the slightly elongated toe box combined with the more refined stitching, but it just looks a little off (especially with chinos). I do think that the Patriot makes an excellent loafer to pair with grey wool slacks. Cole Han Pinch PennyCole Han Pinch Penny ($198) – This shoe has a great silhouette, but the wrinkling or pulling around the toe box is a “moccasin-ish” for this type of loafer. I liked the price point, but I was concerned that they would be lacking in quality.

Rancourt ($300-$400?)- I have seen a pair of  Rancourt pinch pennies, but they don’t have a pair on their website. I am ashamed to say that I have yet to get to give them a try. It is long overdue. Price is the only reason that I selected the Cavanaughs instead of approaching Rancourt.

I must not be the only one interested in the Cavanaugh. I ordered my pair the first day of the Rediscover America sale and when I went to check out online it said that they would be ready in four weeks. I called the closest store hoping that they would have them in stock, but no such luck. For now I will just impatiently await their arrival hoping that that they fit and fit well.

Long Live Heavy Tweed Jacket

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It has been a long week. I am sure that I am not the only one feeling worn down from the work week and that many of you can relate. However, I am sure that many of you are wondering, “What does this mean to me?” It means that I slacked off this week and do not have anything truly new to share, but what I do have is some classic material to pass along.

I am sure that most of you are familiar with the other blogs that fill the traditional American clothing niche such as Ivy Style, The Daily Prep, MaxminimusThe Weejun, The Trad , and a few others. However, there is one blog that in my opinion stands head and shoulders above the rest and that is Heavy Tweed Jacket (better known as HTJ).HTJ Featured

HTJ has a wealth knowledge about all things trad and writes about it at a depth that is unrivaled in the blogosphere. Not only can he school you on the evolution of the Brooks Brothers OCBD, but he can also delve into the finer the points of what makes for a good Grateful Dead set. There is one hitch to his blog. He frequently abandons it only to return months (or years) later.

Currently HTJ is retired again and his blog is nowhere to found on the internet (and we teach kids that the internet is forever!). Will he pop again and leave me looking foolish for posting about his absence? If I were a gambling man I would say yes, but this won’t stop me.

For your reading pleasure here is a link to an RSS feed for Heavy Tweed Jacket. This link does not provide access to the entire HTJ archive (it contains about two years worth of posts), but hopefully it will be accompanied by a long drink and provide a little well deserved R&R to all of my readers who are still recovering from their week at work like me.

If anyone has a copy of the full website or other RSS feeds I would be grateful if you would send them to me. I would love to have a complete archive of the site. I hope to see HTJ return in the near future, but if not at least I have this link…for now. The most important lesson to learn from this post is that nothing lasts forever. Not even the internet.