PSA: Allend Edmonds Shoe Bank Website

The once mythical Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank where deals were rumored to be unparalleled has now transcended trad lore and manifested itself as a website (Shoebank.com). I first became aware of the Shoe Bank from an employee at the Allen Edmonds factor outlet not too far from my home. I was looking for a discontinued style and the employee said they would look at the Shoe Bank for it. While they didn’t Allen Edmonds Shoe Bankhave the shoe the employee had the Shoe Bank send me a list of everything that they had in my size. My eyes where opened.

The original Shoe Bank was a retail store located in Wisconsin where factory seconds, discontinued, and closeout styles were sold. This is where the legend originated. Visiting the physical store in Wisconsin was not the only to get access to this stock. Prior to the new website emailing the Shoe Bank was how us trads accessed the stock from afar.

The new Shoe Bank site also functions as online factory outlet.  I have always felt lucky to have Allen Edmonds factory store near me. They primarily sell seconds with the occasional closeouts and discontinued styles mixed in. 99% of the time I have not been able to identify why the shoes are labeled seconds which speaks to the standards that Allen Edmonds has in place.
My Allen Edmonds Shoes                                                                    A pair of my Allen Edmonds seconds

At first I was a bit unconcerned that this new website would lead to a depletion of stock. However, the fact the new site is not an e-commerce site made me feel a little better. This means that there is still some leg work that is required customers which may deter a few would-be customers. If you see something in your size that you want I would encourage to act quickly before someone else does.

Critter Crazy

SSEW Clothing

Sometime fun needs to be had and when you are in fun mode sometimes you need clothes to communicate that to others. There are few better ways to do this then by wearing a pair of pants or shorts emblazoned with critters. I am sure that most of you are familiar with these items and where to get them (pretty much anywhere). You can find them at Brooks Brothers, Lands’ End, J.Crew, and of course Castaway Clothing, but I found a new source the other day.

SSEW formerly known as English Sportswear has been producing clothing for over 50 years. What made them stand out from the sources that I mentioned above is that not only do they offer a wide range of fabrics such as seersucker, twill, poplin, and cords, but they also have a few critters to choose and while the selection could be larger the fact that they can be embroidered with your choice of thread color helps increase the options. The icing on the cake is that they will do custom critters (Basically they are to critter pants what Leather Man is to critter belts). You can send in your own artwork and they will turn it into stitches for a onetime fee of $30 (4-6 week turnaround). Their prices are very reasonable, too. Pants cost $90 and shorts $75. Shorts receive up to 24 embroideries and pants 48. Pants are also available in slim fit.
SSEW Emroidery ChoicesI have been trying to think up a few fun combos. I know that I would get the most use out of a pair of shorts, but a pair of seersucker pants in say lime green or pink seersucker with contrasting embroidery could be really really fun, especially on vacation. I am trying to push myself out of my comfort zone, but even blue seersucker pants would get me there.

One last thing, the site is a little dated looking, and while I have never ordered from them I have heard positive things from those who have. Let your imagination run wild and go critter crazy.

Shantung Summer

Shantung Summer

As the weather changes so does our wardrobe and many of us look forward to these transitions, but. “look forward to” may be an understatement when it comes to warm weather wear. Clothes horses everywhere begin salivating over madras, seersucker, and linen as Memorial Day (The official first day for these fabrics) draws near. However, there is one summer fabric that doesn’t get nearly as much attention as the others. This fabric is Shantung Silk.
Shantung tie                                                                   My one and only Shantung Tie.

What is Shantung?
Shantung ties get their name from, yep, you guessed it: The Shantung Province of China. Shantung silk is made from raw silk and was traditionally woven from uneven pieces of yarn. The result is a very textured slubby silk that is perfect for warm weather tie wear. Learn more over at Gentleman’s Gazette.

Who sells them?
Sometimes I think that I drop the same names again and again (J.Press, Brooks Brothers, O”Connell’s, etc) when I am guiding readers to products. This time I tried to switch it up a little bit (, just a little bit.).
PRL Shantung Silk Tie PRL Argyll & Sutherland Shantung TieThe first Shantung ties that caught my eye are over at Ralph Lauren (above and here). While RL is no stranger to those interested in traditional American clothing they are often overlooked by the Trad crowd, because of their use of logos and their image as a bastion of all things preppy. However, I suggest keeping tabs on them. Especially for ties. Uncle Ralph’s Shantungs come in at 3” (A tad slim for some.) and they only offer 3 striped variations, but two of them were so well executed that they are definitely worth a look.
Drakes Shantung Regimental Tie Drakes Shantung Regimental TiesMy Second recommendation for sourcing Shantung ties is Drake’s of London (above and here). Drake’s has an impressive number of attractive Shantung offerings such as regimentals, dots, and solids. These ties are 8cm (or 3.14962 inches) which a touch wider than the PRL ties, but they are also about $70 more expensive than the PRL ties. What I like most about their selection is the number of muted colors (like tie #1) that say summer without yelling it.

The next time you are stocking up on summer staples think about picking up a Shantung silk tie. These slubby ties pick up where your tweeds left off adding texture to your summer rigs. Whether you go with my suggestions above or hit up the usual suspects a Shantung tie is a great way to bring a piece of summer into the office without screaming GTH.

A Blazer for All Seasons

I was recently asked by a reader how many blazers I had in my rotation. I thought that this was a great question that deserved its own blog post. I used to think that I only needed one blue blazer. Those were the days. I currently have 3 blue blazers and I have noticed that I still have a few holes to fill. Let me give you a quick run-down.
1818 Blazer1818 Blazer and grey wool trousersThe first blazer up is my Madison fit Brooks Brothers 1818 3/2 sack blazer (pictured above). This blazer is my go-to-year-round blue blazer. It looks polished with grey flannels and at home with a pair of chinos. If I was going to recommend a first blazer it would be this one (or O’Connell’s worsted wool blazer). This is the type of blazer that is the cornerstone of a traditional business wardrobe. Also, this is the only blazer that I have purchased new and consequently it is the best fitting jacket that I have. There is a lesson in there.
Poplin Blazer 1Poplin BlazerNext, is my vintage Brooks Brothers wash-n-wear poplin blazer (above). This is a lightweight summer blazer with a relaxed look. Generally, you see wash-n-wear items sold as suits and similarly you will hear many people (mostly on clothing forums) advising you not to wear them as separates. This blazer helps to illustrate that it can be done. I love throwing this jacket on in the summer.
Deansgate Hopsack BlazerDeansgate Lapel RollMy newest blazer is a Deansgate blazer that was made for the Princeton University Store (above). This is another blazer made for warmer weather. Here it is not the material like the poplin blazer above that makes it suitable for warm weather, but the hopsack weave. Hopsack is a loose weave that allows for breathing. I actually had this blazer shortened about .75” (which deserves its own post). It is still a little big in the skirt area, but it has a fantastic lapel roll and drape to make up for it.
J.Press Flannel Blazer

The three blazers above make up my rotation, but as I mentioned I do see a few gaps that will need to be filled at some point. The next blazer that I would like to add to my wardrobe is a fall/winter weight doeskin or flannel blazer. Doeskin and flannel are very similar in weight, but doeskin has less nap which may give it a hair of an edge in terms of formality. Both J.Press (pictured above) and O’Connell’s offerings are high on my list.
Tropical Weight Blazer Although I already have two summer blazers I want another one. This blazer will be made from tropical weight wool. It is lighter than the hopsack blazer and more formal than my poplin blazer. Summer is a casual season, but business still happens and with this blazer you will be prepared. This one from J.Press looks great.

The blue blazer is one of the most iconic pieces of traditional American clothing. It is a workhorse. It can take you almost anywhere. If you are just starting out down this path I would start with a year round weight and add on from there, because as you can see the more you get the more you need.

The Differences between Trad, Ivy League and Preppy Chart

Trad Per

I am always interested in how people take on the task of defining Trad, Ivy, and Preppy styles in relation to one another. These articles generally end with lots of back and forth in the comment section which usually highlights how different schools of thought view this topic (Like this article: Same Or Different?: Ivy Versus Preppy). Some use time periods, others the age of the wearer, and others construct their arguments around a combination of clothing details and intent.

Still working on my own post where I attempt to define Trad (If I think that there is anything that I can add.) I have been reading and re-reading a lot of what is out there on the subject. I came across a recent post entitled “The Complete Guide to Preppy, Trad and Ivy Style” on Manligheter.se. This post caught my attention, because of its “Differences between Trad, Ivy League and Preppy” chart.

Here author Per Nilsson (The well dressed man pictured above) works to define these styles by providing their stance on various pieces of clothing, clothing details, and other lifestyle questions. While I did not find myself agreeing with every answer I found the chart to be very entertaining and definitely worth sharing. What changes would you make? What Questions would you add?
Differences Between trad, Ivy Preppy 1.1Trad Ivy 2.1Trad Ivy 3.1Trad Ivy 4.1