All posts in Men’s Clothing Reviews

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



I am probably getting a little ahead of myself, but I could not help it. I pulled these OCBDs out of their packaging and I knew that I had to share them. If you remember a few months back I posted about blowing out the collar on one of my OCBDs (The Ragged, Tattered, and Torn OCBD). Fast forward and I have two new OCBDs from Michael Spencer.
IMG_2329If you aren’t aware of Michael Spencer it is a newer source for Trad approved OCBDs (and an appreciated sponsor of the blog!). This means that there is plenty of collar for roll in their OCBDs and you can choose from other features such as the much beloved flap pocket and locker loop. I chose a Red Candy striped OCBD with a lined collar, flap pocket, and locker loop. Michael Spencer graciously offered to  match me a Blue OCBD with an unlined collar, flap pocket, and locker loop as they really wanted me to be able to compare the collar types.

I have not had the chance to launder my shirts let alone wear them which is why I said that I was getting ahead of myself. I will hold off on reviewing them until I get a few to wear each shirt a few times. Until then you can revisit reader Steve’s review of Michael Spencer here:

PSA: JPress Shaggy Dogs for $147


Our beloved shaggy friends from J.Press are currently on sale (see here). At $147 this is still in the upper echelon of sweater pricing, but when you consider that full retail is now a staggering $245 the sale price is looks a lot more attractive as this is just south of a $165 Shetland from O’Connell’s. While I don’t find my Shaggy Dog as versatile as my plain Shetland sweaters it is still in a league of its own in when it comes to warmth.
J.Press Shaggy DogIf you do not have a Shaggy Dog let me warn you that they are very very warm. This can be a bad thing. For instance, it is a challenge to wear one in the office without immediately over heating, but this week it was a savior. With a cold spell keeping the temperatures in the single digits my Shaggy Dog helped keep me warm as I trekked from the parking lot to the office which was great. What was even better is that when I lost heat on Friday the Shaggy Dog allowed me to fend off the cold until the furnace was repaired Saturday evening. It is times like this when the Shaggy Dog really shines.

When you head over to J.Press to check out the Shaggies keep in mind that both the J.Press mainline (traditional fit) and J.Press Blue (slim fit) are on sale. Outside of the slim fit difference the Blue line sweaters have raglan sleeves while the Mainline version have set in sleeves. The Blue line sweaters are also lighter and less brushed than the mainline versions which is not necessarily a bad thing. If you have been wanting a Shaggy Dog in your life this may be the time for one to follow you home.

Full Confidence


Although I do not know what 2017 will bring I am excited for it and as you can infer from the title of this post I am feeling confident. I am confident that 2017 will be filled with OCBDs, Shetland sweaters, plain front khakis, and 3/2 sack blazers.

In a niche where the sky is always falling and things are never as good as they used to be it is nice when you get a bit of encouraging news. I was doing some post-Christmas shopping for myself and noticed that O’Connell’s has a full-size run of 3/2 sack blazers (see here). While this may not fill others with the sense of hope that it gave let me tell you that seeing so many sizes in such a trad cut is not common. It is not common at all. It is a sign. 2017 is going to be a good year. Happy New Year!

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!