Michael Spencer OCBD Review

Michael Spencer OCBD

This week on the OCBD blog we have a Michael Spencer OCBD review from occasional commenter Steve. Michael Spencer is an advertiser here, but this post was neither paid for or promised, but comes from the truest place. Steve told me that he is not associated with Michael-Spencer, paid for his own shirt, and that the reason he wanted to review this shirt is to, “preserve an option that works for me so I’d like to see this business survive, and if my comments can help achieve that I’ll have been rewarded.” You can check out the Michael Spencer website here: Michael Spencer

Not all that long ago it was easy to keep a stock of well made, traditionally-styled OCBDs on hand.  If one wore out, became irremediably stained, or sustained a catastrophic accident at the laundry, it could readily be replaced.  Those days appear to be gone.

Taste is subjective so it’s a matter of opinion whether the changes Brooks Brothers have made to their OCBD, perhaps their single most iconic product, are for better or worse.  But changes there have surely been, changes that render the shirt less distinctive and desirable for many men.  Nowadays, a man wanting an OCBD made of quality fabric and featuring historically stylish collar points (and, even better, an unlined and unfused collar) must look elsewhere.  And pay a premium price into the bargain.  One source for for such shirts — with many satisfied customers — features a self-described “generous cut” that unfortunately isn’t for every taste or body type.
Michael Spencer & Brooks Brothers OCBDThat’s where Michael-Spencer, a recently launched enterprise, comes in.  M-S offers traditionally-styled Oxford cloth shirts made in North Carolina (by the same factory that makes BB shirts).  What makes the M-S shirts different is that they can be customized in a wealth of different ways, none of which incur additional cost.  For example, the shirts are available in three different fits ranging from a semi-slim cut to truly copious.  Assuming that the chosen fit accurately complements the wearer’s actual physiognomy, none of them can be called “tight.”  On a personal note: I am 6’ tall, 165 lbs., size 39, and the “Modern” fit, 15-1/2” x 34” shirts I’ve acquired are comfortable and tailored in appearance but still present an appropriate touch of rumpling.  All that’s missing is the wad of excess fabric at the back of my waist that is present in shirts that seem fashioned for huskier builds.

The M-S collars are 100% traditional: they are described on the company’s website as featuring “3-1/2” of cascading cloth,” and that’s perfectly accurate.  (Current production BB collar points are 3-1/4” long — down from 3-3/8” just a couple of years ago — and while 1/4” sounds insignificant, in fact it makes a pretty big difference.)  The unfused, unlined versions are not just stylish but soft and relaxed as well.  Other no-charge options include accoutrements such as locker loops, split yokes, flap pockets, and several cuff configurations.  Moreover, hard to fit individuals can select personalized sizing (neck and separate sleeves) in 1/4” increments.

All this comes at a cost, of course.  The financial blow is softened somewhat by the fact that shipping is included in the price and no sales tax is incurred.  An additional, and not unimportant, bonus is the exemplary customer service that accompanies a purchase.  Something about my first order got lost in translation (at the factory): sizing was way off.  The problems were personally and expeditiously addressed by Spencer Bennett, owner of the company.  If my own experience is any indication, he will spend as much time as needed guiding a customer to the right choices.

It’s not a question of “can,” but rather “would” the world want to go without the traditional OCBDs that have been around for as long as anyone reading this has been buying clothes?  Many of the historical makers have given up; it’s nice to see that the baton is being passed, not simply dropped.

Know Your Tartan Type

Dress Gordon Tartan

Tartan shirts are great for casual Fridays and weekends like Saturday Style), but do you know your tartan type? Now I am not suggesting that you spend hours and hours researching what tartan that you can possibly link to your heritage. I probably wouldn’t have much luck there, and if I did I probably wouldn’t like the tartan that was assigned to me.
Dress Gordon ShirtWhat I am talking about is finding a tartan that works for you. For example, I primarily wear one tartan. That tartan is Dress Gordon. I do this because I have found that it works well with my look and it looks pretty good on me (in my humble opinion).
Dress Gordon 1Once you find the tartan that you like best the next consideration is scale. I know that I mention scale a lot and there is a good reason for that. It is extremely important. In my case, I have found that smaller scales look best on me. Knowing this keeps me from purchasing shirts that I think I want, but know won’t work.
Dress gordon 2This post is another example of the type of simplicity that I promote. I limit myself to one or two tartans, because it helps me to create a cohesive look while allowing for a certain amount of variety as there are so many variations of each tartan. The same goes for scale. Keeping things similar reduces peoples ability to notice change. This in my opinion is a good thing.

Duck Hunting

Mallard Cords

Commenter Fred Johnson got me thinking about all things ducks after last week’s tie post. So, I geared up, ventured out on the internet and went hunting. I know a place that almost always comes through, and this time was no exception.

I ventured over to a piece of PRL property with high hopes. I was not disappointed as our Uncle Ralph knows that we like our casual clobber covered in critters and he usually keeps his land stocked with a few. This season is no different. There are actually three different trousers that fit the bill. There are a pair of chinos with mallards (see here), a pair of slim jean style cords (see here) with pheasants (and hunters), and last, but not least a tasty pair of brown cords with both pheasants and mallards (see here).

All of these pants are priced between $145-165, but every hunter knows that a successful hunt is about understanding the virtue of patience and opportunity. For us this would be waiting for the perfect sale (they are all currently 25% off), but never forgetting that sometimes you only get one shot and you have to take it when it appears.

Mallard ChinosHunters on cords
More Brown Mallard CordsI can’t think of a better way to welcome fall than by breaking out a pair of these on a Saturday afternoon. Some must have pumpkin flavored something to feel the full effect of fall, but for us trads a piece of clothing embroidered with mallards is more our cup of tea.

For the Love of Ties


I can’t get enough of ties. I can spend hours online looking through page after page of regimentals, foulards, and ancient madders. I find the colors, patterns, and textures intoxicating. They are the only item that I continue to thrift for because of the high ROI. They are how I express myself. Long live the tie.
tumblr_nvapc4kYLh1ttpazyo1_1280Tie (4)tumblr_nv7lvoSkJF1ttpazyo1_1280003 (2)Repp Tietumblr_nt94et03vn1ttpazyo1_1280Batwing bow tieGreen Brown Tietumblr_nsxk8bRKwH1ttpazyo1_1280RedBlue Tie
Neats and BlazerThursday TieDiamond Point Bow tieTie (2)029Blackwatch TieNeats and Tweedtumblr_nu2rhnwuY01ttpazyo1_1280Duck Tietumblr_nqkazdVSdJ1ttpazyo1_1280tumblr_ntnu6cfFy11ttpazyo1_1280tumblr_nrchj7ty9y1ttpazyo1_1280


J.Press Gets Modern

Press Featured

As you can tell from my last few posts I have been keeping a watchful eye on F/W 15 releases. This is something that you must do when your size is either produced in limited numbers or is very common. Mine is the former, and I am in the market for a sport coat.
J.Press Modern Fit
I was browsing the Press site when I noticed a new fit name called, “modern.” The name was appended to a nice looking rust colored Donegal sport coat featured above (link to sport coat). At first I imagined that modern simply meant slimmer and shorter. While I am sure that this is true the most interesting aspect of the modern fit is that there is no vent.

Why no vent? I have seen many jackets without a vent so it is not a complete shock. I personally associate vent-less jackets with the ‘80s, but they have been around long before that and are probably more commonly associated with formal coats such as dinner jackets. However, neither of these associations are particularly modern, but the vent-less jacket does have one association that could be viewed as modern and that is the Continental look. Perhaps this was their inspiration.

I doubt that any one reading this was shocked by the title. If anything, they were probably wondering which modern move it is that I was referring. It will be interesting to see if this fit stays around or if it will be gone next season. Maybe this is part of the new J.Press Blue Line (see here)?