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Four to the Three Roll from RRL

Four-Button Linen Jacket Featured 2

Ivy Style’s recent post (See here) on the ivy-ish offerings currently available from everyone’s favorite uncle reminded me to write about the four-button jackets that I saw being sold at RRL. The first time that I saw a 4/3 roll jacket in an ivy setting it was being offered by York Street and I thought it looked odd (, but in all fairness many things at York Street look odd.). I mentioned it on Ivy Style only to later find out (from Ivy Style) that J.Press offered the 4/3 roll back in the 1950’s as pictured below.
Vintage jpress 4/3Just like the sport coats in the Ivy Style post these jackets are not pure Ivy either, but they are interesting. All of these jackets are inspired by the early 20th century which is no doubt why they have some ivyness in them. 2 of the 3 four-button sport coats currently on the site (there was a cord sport coat that I was interested in that is now gone) are dartless and the linen jacket (1st image) has quite the lapel roll. The downside is that some are very shaped, have ticket pockets, and are overall more English than ivy. The most interesting detail to note is the wider lapels.
RRL Four-Button WindowpaneThe most trad of the bunch is the plaid sport coat (below). Sporting 3 patch and two flap pockets this four-button sack is the definition of casual. Unfortunately, it is only available in alpha sizing, but it was designed as outerwear.
4button SCI was pleasantly surprised to see this type of tailored being offered by RRL. I have little experience with the brand. Previously I had only associated RRL with $1000 plus cardigans featuring Native American inspired designs. While they still carry plenty of the Southwestern influenced items knowing that they occasionally cross into areas of my interest I will be checking back with them from time to time.

All About That Bass

Bass

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.Vintage Bass Ad

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.

O’Connell’s Shetland Review

O'Connell's Shetland Review

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.
OC Shetland 2Where 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?
OConnells ShetlandAfter 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?

Terrible Weather & Horrible Protestant Hats

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I started this week off having lots of ideas for this today’s post, but it seems that Mother Nature had her own ideas. A combination of single digit temperatures, me not being ready to brave such temps yet, and being sick for the last two days resulted in me taking zero pictures (On a positive note, I did get to wear cords ad a Shetland every day.) this week. One morning this week as I was gearing up to face the morning’s frigid air with my hat, gloves, and scarf I thought back to P.J. O’Rourke’s essay “Horrible Protestant Hats.” I have included the essay below. I hope that you enjoy it.

 Horrible Protestant Hats by P.J. O’Rourke

Getting ready to go outdoors on a drizzly afternoon, I donned a trench coat, picked up an umbrella and deposited a canvas rain hat on my head. My girlfriend, a Roman Catholic, began to laugh and point. “Oh!” she said. “What a horrible Protestant hat!” I looked in the mirror. True, the porkpie-style Brooks Brothers rain hat with the brim turned down on all sides does give one the look of . . . well, a poorly matched part sticking out of a recalled American car. It set me thinking.

Protestants do wear terrible hats, especially well-off, adult male Protestants whom we usually call WASPs. They wear woven-vegetable-matter summer hats with madras hatbands. These look like hospital gifts that died at the florist’s. They wear “Irish” tweed hats no self-respecting Irishman would put on his plow horse. They wear herringbone wool caps that can give a bank president the semblance of a rioting English coal miner. Old artsy WASPs wear embarrassing berets. Middle-aged WASPs who’ve just gotten a divorce and a sports car wear dopey suede touring caps with a snap on the brim. Then there are the fur astrakhans worn by lawyers who, I guess, want their clients to think they run a gulag on the side.

Beyond city limits the situation is worse. Where I live in New England, the summer people give evidence that slouch hats cause feeblemindedness in adults. Panama hats produce a different effect — imbecility combined with moral turpitude. And there is no polite phrase in English for what a vacationing executive from Boston looks like in a Greek fisherman’s cap.

Getting anywhere near the water seems to produce WASP hat lunacy. Fly fishermen wear astonishing things on their heads and always decorate them with dozens of dry flies as though at any minute they might dip their very skulls into the torrent and land giant trout with their necks. It’s hard to look more stupid than a deep-sea fisherman does in his swordbill cap. Hard, but not impossible. This is accomplished by the ordinary Kennebunk cruiser hat, which is nothing but the cap from a child’s sailor suit with its brim yanked down over eyes, ears and sometimes nose. Worn thus it resembles nothing so much as a white cotton condom for the brain. Boat hats, indeed, run the gamut of foolery starting with the simple watch cap, making its wearers seem only unlettered, and winding up with the enormous yellow rubber sou’wester foul-weather chapeau, in which even George Bush would look like a drunk cartoon character doing a tuna-fish ad.

Snow and other frozen forms of water produce no improvement. If there is anything — vassalage, Bolshevism, purdah — more deleterious to the spirit of human dignity than the knit ski cap, I have not heard of it. Professional circus clowns, medieval court jesters, Trans-Carpathian village idiots, any one of them would balk at wearing a five-foot-long purple, green, red, pink and orange cranial sock with a pom-pon on the end. And even this is not so bad as what a WASP will wear in the winter when not on the ski slopes. Then, he shovels the walk in a vinyl-brimmed plaid cap with earflaps that tie up over the head — what must be the worst hat on earth.

I am only half Protestant, but my closet shelf reveals a disgusting Moose River canoeing hat, an idiotic Florida Keys bonefishing hat with brims at both ends, several crownless tennis visors that make me look like an Olympic contestant in double-entry bookkeeping and a plethora of the ubiquitous ad-emblazoned baseball caps that show I have been renting out frontal lobe space to Purolator, Firestone and the Kittery, Maine, 1978 Jubilee Days. And let’s not discuss the International Signal orange dunce cap I wear to go bird shooting.

Now it’s true, other ethnic groups also wear unusual headgear. Blacks, Orthodox Jews, Irish archbishops and Italian steelworkers are just a few. But the Stetsons of Harlem’s 125th Street are intentionally outrageous, yarmulkes are items of religious faith, and so forth. WASPs wear their hats in all seriousness, without spiritual reasons or historical traditions for doing so, and not a single one of their bizarre toppers would be any help if an I-beam fell on it. Nonetheless, a WASP will tell you his hat is functional. I believe that whenever anyone uses the word “functional” he’s in the first sentence of a lame excuse. The real reason WASPs wear goofy hats is that goofy-hat wearing satisfies a deep-seated need. In gin-and-tonic veritas, give a WASP six drinks and he’ll always put something silly on his head — a lamp shade, ladies’ underwear, an L.L. Bean dog bed, you name it. In more sober and inhibited moments he’ll make do with an Australian bush hat, a tam-o’-shanter or the Texan monstrosity all WASPs affect when they get within telexing distance of a cow.

Until the end of the Eisenhower era, WASPs wore wonderful haberdashery. They went about in perfectly blocked and creased homburgs, jaunty straw boaters, majestic opera hats and substantial bowlers. A gentleman would sooner wear two-tone shoes to a diplomatic reception than appear in public without a proper hat. Then something happened.

Adult male Protestants of the better-off kind are a prominent social group. They make up a large percentage of our business executives, politicians and educators. Maybe it’s no accident that the rise of the silly hat has coincided with the decline of business ethics, the rise of functional illiteracy and the general decline of the U.S. as a world power. The head is symbolic of reason, discipline, good sense and self-mastery. Putting on the back of it a fuzzy green Tyrolean hat decorated with a tuft of deer means trouble. Our native aristocracy, those among us with greatest advantages, the best resources and the broadest opportunities to do good have decided to abrogate all civilized responsibilities, give free play to the id and run around acting like a bunch of. . . .

Wait a minute! Down by the dock — I just saw a WASP with a pitcher of martinis trying to put a fedora on his dog!

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.