Madison Avenue Does Main Street Ivy

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Last week I broke out a tweed that I don’t think that I have posted before. It is probably the most ivy looking jacket that I own. It is also not as ivy you might think.
Varsity Town Madisonaire JacketI rarely thrift or buy second-hand clothes these days. It is not because I am too good for it and have all my clothes MTM, but rather it almost never works out for me. I am currently batting about 10%. This jacket however i purchased on a second-had site and (drum roll!) it worked out. The jacket is Varsity Town’s Madisionaire. If this name rings a bell it is probably because Christian at Ivy Style wrote an article about it (Varsity Town’s Madisonaire, 1966).
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The Madisonaire is a perfect example of heyday Ivy. It has a 3/2 roll, natural shoulders, narrow lapels, swelled edges, and a hook vent. The lapel rolls the way they do in the old movies. It just looks ivy, and while it looks ivy it wasn’t made for the Brooks Brothers or J.Press crowd, but instead was intended for mainstream America. To quote the Ivy Style article, “Either way it’s still Main Street, a wonderful example of commerce at work and the flourishing of the Ivy League Look to men across the nation, who, if they couldn’t get the real deal, could at least get a replica.”
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IMG_5614A few things to take away from this post. One, is that authenticity is tricky. Is this item ivy league or is it a cheap replica? Two, even though your vintage item may have been mid-market in its day its quality may be closer to today’s high-end tailored clothing. Three, repp ties are great, but don’t forget about foulards. They are perfect for tweed.

It’s Routine

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I am a person of routine. For the most part I do the same things at the same times. Implementing routine and structure into my life has been overwhelmingly positive. However, when my routine is interrupted things tend to fall apart.

Take today for example. I write my blog post from my office every Sunday morning, but today there is no heat in my office. My whole day is now in disarray. Well, not that extreme, but it is interfering with this post. Instead of abandoning my weekly post all together I am fighting back and will leave a few pics from the past several weeks. I hope there is some inspiration in there somewhere.

And do know that I am working on my home office. It is freshly painted. Now I just need some furniture.
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Winter White Shetland
Sweater and Repp Tie
Rugged Preppy
Red Universit Stripe OCBD
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Do as I say

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I got a question the other day and I thought it was worth reflecting on. They asked me why I recommend basic solid colors sweaters for others when I occasionally wear sweaters that are bright pink.
IMG_3252First, let me say that I do recommend basic solid color sweaters. The people that generally ask for these type of recommendations are usually new to wearing Shetlands and trad dress in general. The reason I suggest these colors is because it makes it harder for those around you to remember when you last wore it. This is great for those that are just starting out as they may be dependent on wearing the same sweater more than once a week.  If you wear a bright pink sweater twice in one week it will be really easy to tell versus if the sweater is grey.
IMG_2835 (1)There are other reasons as well. I don’t recommend someone who is just getting into this style to start with a kelly green or cotton-candy pink sweater. If they have never worn these types of colors before there are few things that can happen. The first is that it will draw a lot of attention from others. Some good, some bad. The second is that if they are not comfortable in these bright sweaters their lack of confidence combined with all of the attention from others can lead to a bad experience. By contrast a grey or navy sweater is going to draw minimal attention.

The above not only goes for sweaters, but for shirt and trousers as well. I would recommend khaki chinos over madras trousers or a blue OCBD over a fun shirt for all of the same reasons above. Now once you have mastered the basics aka being comfortable in them and understanding what works for you then you are ready to take some risks. However, I am only giving advice and I don’t expect everyone to follow it. This advice is based on my personal experience and what I have observed it is never the authoritative word on trad style.

The Suede Jacket Crisis

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I think that there comes a time in every man’s life when he wants a suede jacket and I am at that point. I have found myself staring longingly at suede jackets online for about 3 months now. I have yet to make a purchase and I think the biggest reason is that I question if I will wear it which relies heavily on the, can-I-make-it-look-cool question.
Suede Field Jacket BrownI have identified two types of suede jacket that may work for me. One is a safari style jacket and the other a baracuta jacket. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, primarily around length. I think that length is important here, because of how I intend to use my suede jacket which is casual. Yes I will wear it to work, but I am more excited to wear it out casually on the weekend.

If you are wondering I am leaning towards the baracuta style. I have one now (not suede) and I get a lot of wear out of it so I know that it will work well both casually and at work. Where as I think the safari jacket will work well at the office, but I think it may come off a little to 70’s funky casually (especially if I paired it with my Wallabees). This segues to another question about footwear. Again, not an issue at the office. Luckily for us penny loafer work with everything, but what do I pair it with when I am not at the office?
O'Connell's Goatskin Suede Baracuta - BuckThe big question I keep coming back to, is are suede jackets cool? I am not asking in the, “Are they trad?,” sense of the question, but rather can they be pulled off well. I harp on this because I struggle to recall a single time that I have seen man in a suede jacket and thought, “Wow, that looks great!” Most of the time I tend to focus on the jacket. So it is more like, “Wow, what a great suede jacket!

This another post where I could use reader feedback. Have you ever bought a suede or even leather jacket?  Do you wear it a lot? What do you pair it with? Was it worth the investment? Any buyers remorse?

My Two Scents

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Not that long ago I was shopping around for a new cologne. I was using Brooks Brothers classic, but at the time I wanted something else. The gist of it is that I wanted something that wore longer and better. It turns out it was not the cologne that was the problem.

The truth of the matter is a little embarrassing. What I learned in my search for a new scent was that I was wearing cologne all wrong. My routine consisted of spraying it on after I was fully dressed. I can hear a few of you laughing now, but I promise that I did not know any better.

It turns out that you are supposed to apply cologne directly to your skin. Most people suggest a single spray to the chest. This was a game changer for me. After I started to wear my Brooks Brothers cologne correctly I noticed how much longer it lasted and the scent was much more interesting. I was a happy man.

I did not change colognes, but I did make one other change. I added Brooks Brothers aftershave to my routine. Again, this change helped me carry the scent longer and more noticeably, but not in an overwhelming in your face way. I hope that someone out there can learn from my ignorance or at least have a little chuckle at my expense.