I have mentioned my “uniform’ in the past. It consists of a blue OCBD, British khaki chinos, penny loafers, and one other item. Now I will admit that I have a strong preference for blue OCBDs, but I don’t think that it is any stronger than my preference for this item. The other item is a surcingle belt. Not just any surcingle belt, but an olive green belt.
I remember picking out this olive green belt thinking how versatile it would be. It did not dissapoint. I wear this belt with my everyday uniform, my blue blazer and ties, and tweeds as well. It works so well that I wear it 99% of the time. I often have to force myself to wear another belt. Even other solid surcingle belts.
I recently had to replace this belt. It was starting to look rough. I re-purchased the same belt. An olive green surcingle from Leather Man LTD. I did make one change. This time I went with the feathered edge with brown stitch instead of the standard tab. I am glad that I did. It adds a little more sophistication.
The olive surcingle may not become everyone’s “signature,” but it is definitely a surcingle color to invest in. I have tried other colors including navy and tan both of which are both solid options, but navy can be challenging with a navy blazer and tan can cause monochromatic concerns. Olive has proven itself again and again. There are lots of places to get an olive surcingle. I went with Leather Man, but also check out Barrons-Hunter, J.Press, or O’Connell’s.
As warmer weather draws near our thoughts turn to colorful madras, cool wearing seersucker, and of course the eschewing of socks. Today marks the first day of spring, but the weather has a mind of its own and has decided that we will have to put our warm weather gear away for at least 1 more week. If you have already been sporting your boat shoes without socks you may need to add a pair for the upcoming chilly mornings.
If you are still reading after I suggested that you wear a pair of socks with boat shoes let me explain. I am not suggesting that you add a pair of dress socks or white athletic socks. I am suggesting a rustic pair of socks with texture that will turn your warm weather friend into a cool cold weather shoe.
Ragg wool socks are an Ivy/Trad staple. They have all of the traits that Trads value. They are simple, well crafted items that work well, but unlike many Trad items they are also affordable. Ragg wool socks can be had for around $10-$15 a pair. My go-to brands are L.L. Bean (Bean Ragg Sock) and Wigwam (Wigwam El-Pine), but there are lots of other companies manufacturing ragg wool socks so be sure to look around. I also recommend stopping by your local TJ Maxx/Marshalls as these are great places to find ragg wool socks for cheap.
Soon the weather will be too warm to even consider wearing socks with boat shoes. Yes, that statement means that I am strongly against the wearing of socks with boat shoes outside of what I have described above. Even no-show socks. The sock-less look (and feel!) is not for everyone, but neither are boat shoes. For those of you that want to wear socks with your boat shoes I suggest a pair of Camp Mocs (like the ones on the left). These will not look out of place with socks just don’t wear them with socks and shorts!
I have been holding this secret in for a while now. From time to time I have thought about writing about it, but feared that it was beyond forgiveness. Two things made me change my mind. First, commenter Hollywood Argyle asked me how I make a four-in-hand knot work being 5’8″. The second was a comment made by Paul Winston of Winston Tailors and Chipp Neckwear fame.
Hollywood Argyle is correct in that when I tie a four-in-hand knot at the correct length (example of the correct length above) that it will often result in the tail hanging far beyond the blade. My shameful secret is that I have addressed this issue on countless occasions by simply taking a pair of scissors, cutting the tail to a length that works, and crudely sewing it back together. I wanted to share this technique as I am sure that others have had the same problem, but I held my tongue.
Last week there was a thread about shortening ties in which Mr. Winston said that he offered to shorten his customers ties for free with a blunt cut. As soon as I read that phrase I had a feeling that he was referring to the same technique that I described above. A message from him confirmed this to be true.
Blunt cut is exactly what you are doing. I cut it straight across and then bind the end. If one wants me to re-cut the end to a point, there is a $15 charge – it takes about 1/2 hour to re-cut and fold the edges and tipping under and finish the “point”. Almost all my customers who request shortening choose the “free blunt” – when you feed the narrow end through the label and pin it to your shirt no one can see how it is finished. You can tell your followers they need not worry about the “clothing police” if they do what you do.”
There you have it. The blunt cut is a quick and easy way to shorten a tie. It is also free when done at home (or if you are a lucky enough to be a customer of Paul Winston’s!). You can also re-cut the end to a point as Mr. Winston noted. It feels good to get this one off my chest.
I couldn’t do a post on ties with help from Paul Winston without highlighting his wonderful selection of ties that won’t break the bank (everything’s under $60) over at Chipp Neckwear. He makes a great product at fantastic price point. They are also my preferred width of 3.25″. I have been thinking about this Teal & French Blue Shantung tie one for the summer.
This summer is looking to be all about moccasins. I added a pair of LL Bean Signature camp mocs to my line up a last month, but it didn’t stop there. This time I turned to something even more casual.
What could be more casual than a pair of camp mocs you might ask. The answer is, probably nothing. What I meant to say is that I was looking for additional pair of camp mocs that are closer to traditional moccasins than shoes. My requirements were simple. I want a moccasin that is unstructured, flexible, and has a sole that allows for outdoor wear.
After some quick research I got my list of options together. I could purchase from Quoddy, Arrow, Russell, or Minnetonka. The prices ranged from $50-$300. I was leaning closer to the $50 side. The soles also ranged from a boat shoe style to double leather bottoms. I stayed away from boat style soles, because I wan’t looking for another shoe, but at the same time I was concerned that leather soled mocs wouldn’t last long with all of the abuse I was planning on giving them.
In the end I landed on a pair of classic drivers from Minnetonka (see here). This moccasin fit the bill perfectly. First and foremost, it had a great moccasin shape. Exactly what I was imagining. It also had a nub bottom s0le that will allow for me to wear them outdoors. I know that this will shorten their life span drastically, but I went into this purchase knowing that I was looking for a disposable shoe . The $58.95 price tag makes it manageable. If these mocs become the love of my life I may look into a more expensive version in the future. Until then these should do the trick.
I have often been described as consistent, dependable, and reliable. I am proud of these traits as they are a big part of who I am, but…yes, there is a but. Often these characteristics translate as predictable. While I myself am a big fan of predictable I also aim to please. Cue the tie.
I purchased the tie above over a year ago and it has hung on my tie rack ever since waiting for the day it gets to see some action. When I first saw the tie I was enamored with the playful pattern presented in a deep rich red made of wool challis. I knew that it was a little outside of my comfort zone, but I was drawn to it and it cost me around $10 on the second hand market if I remember correctly.
Last month I woke up with the intent of wearing it. I just wasn’t sure how. I tried a solid blue OCBD first. Something didn’t look quite right. I thought that a white OCBD would work, but I have an aversion to white shirts outside of formal settings where they are required. My trusty blue university striped OCBD was just right. It provided the right mix of pattern and color to serve as a backdrop for this bold tie.
I learned a few things about this tie during its first outing. The first is that it is a beautiful tie. I admired it all day long. I also learned that it would look best with my navy blazer and grey flannels. There is something about it that is a little too something for chinos. I also thought that if I had that camel hair sport coat (or any tan colored sport coat) that I have been lusting after that they would look terrific together.
The moral of this story is to not be afraid to wear something that you would not normally wear. You could surprise yourself and find a new look to add to your repertoire. At the same time, remember that you are creating your look so look the way that you want to look. I am often known for wearing the same thing day in and day out. I am more than okay with that. I know that it is one of my strengths.