How to Choose a Trad Sweater?

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I get a lot of questions about sweaters which is cool, because I love sweaters. The question I get asked most often is what type of sweater to get.

Before I get started I want to let you know that I will not be answering the why Shetland sweaters are trad question, because I don’t actually know. I believe Brooks started selling them in 1905, but I don’t think that is the answer. I am guessing it was a mix of warmth and availability. Here we go.
Shetland sweater with vestFirst and foremost you should look for sweaters that are 100% wool. This is an easy way to sort out inferior products in terms of construction and performance. I am sure there are good poly mixes like the old Bean Norwegians, but this the exception. Stick with 100% wool.

Above I said to stick with wool, but I really do recommend Shetland wool. I like Shetland wool because it is substantial enough that the shirt underneath does not show through. Not in a see through way, but in that it shapes the sweater. Shetland also has enough texture to be interesting. If you want something finer Lambswool can work just pay attention to how it looks over an OCBD.

Always go with the crew neck. Crew necks were one of things I was most drawn to when I started to learn more about trad clothing. It just plain looks cool. It looks especially cool with a button-down collar underneath. Always where a button-down collar underneath. However a long sleeve tee may work on the weekend. If you want to wear a v-neck I suggest pairing it with a tie and sport coat.

My last piece of advice is to get a sweater with saddle sleeves. Essentially this means that there is no shoulder seam. The saddle sleeve looks a little more refined than a set-in sleeve. It is what helps Shetlands work so well in an office environment. It also gives them a nice natural shoulder.

In terms of colors start with the basics. I recommend mid-grey, charcoal, and navy as a foundation. Then add a green or burgundy to the mix. You can wear these sweaters a lot without people noticing that you are wearing the same sweaters.  After you have the basics in place you can go crazy.

When it comes to picking out trad sweaters this is the foundation. Just remember to look for 100% Shetland wool sweaters with crew necks and saddle shoulders.

Sid Mocs

Sid Mashburn

I have written about my adoration of camp mocs on more than one occasion. I currently own 2 pair, but I still have a gap to fill. While making my rounds on the web last week there was a pair from Sid Mashburn that caught my eye.

First let’s cover why I love camp mocs. You can wear them year-round while their cousins the boat shoe are generally relegated to warmer months (Not that I always adhere to this. See Boat shoes with socks). They are also a little more rugged than their cousin. I would call boat shoes the blue blazer with gold buttons with a little more prep connotation while camp mocs are the slightly more trad tweed jacket. Also, they look cool. Real cool.
Sid Mashburn Camp MocWhy do I need another pair? As I said, I have 2 pair. One pair are Sperry gold cup 1-eye boat shoes. The other are L.L. Bean Signature camp mocs. The Sperry’s are great without socks, but a little too tight with socks while the Bean mocs run big one me and I can only wear them with heavy duty wool socks. You see where I am going. I something in between. Here is where the Sid mocs enter the scene.
Sid MocsSince I don’t have any experience with this shoe I will let Sid tell it,

Somewhere between Native Americana and New England… and handsewn in Portugal? Go figure. A higher vamp and a slimmer shape make these a little more polished than your average camp moc. They’ve still got the traditional leather lacing and rubber sole. The harder you wear them, the better they get. (Especially sans socks.)

Overall I think the Sid mocs ($150 – see here) look like contenders. Like the shape. I like color. What I also like about them is that the price is high enough that I will expect decent quality, but does not venture into Rancourt or Quoddy territory. Not that I don’t eventually want to head that way.

Fall = Flannel


Since the weather has turned cooler I have consistently reached for a flannel shirt during the weekend. I have specifically reached for my Lands’ End Black Watch shirt, but any flannel will do when because when it’s cold and wet outside these soft warm shirts are where it’s at.
Black Watch Flannel Shirt
I already know the first question that you are going to ask. Why didn’t I buy the L.L. Bean Scotch Plaid Flannel shirt? It’s the trad classic. It’s Inexpensive ($49.95), available, and there are lots of great Tartan options. Good question and great points! It all comes down to fit and L.L. Bean does not fit me well. I find it to run large. If they fit you I am envious. They are a good deal.
Lands End Buchanan TartanI was excited to find an alternative for those of us that can’t make Bean’s fit work. Lands’ End has been doing a great job of bringing the Tartans this year (see my Sail Rigger post) and it is appreciated! I purchased the Black Watch a few weeks back and have worn it every week since.

I like it so much that I am thinking of grabbing another. Usually I would go Dress Campbell, but it looks a bit off to me. Luckily the Dress Stewart is close to perfect and the Bucahanan Tartan is speaking to my inner outdoors man.
Dress Stewart Flannel Shirt
If you don’t have a Tartan flannel shirt this might be the time. If Bean fits you there are options over that way (See here)and if not LE might have you covered (See here). Either way they are a nice way to add a little color in the mix while staying completely comfortable.

When to Say When


This week I put my old Weejuns out to pasture. This is not easy for me as I don’t always know when to say when. I mean almost never. I am pretty sure that a lot of you out there can relate. There is a fine line between well-worn and over-due, but I seem to miss it quite often.
Old Weejuns I have been wearing my current pair of Weejuns for right around 3 years (see above). To some of you this may sound like no time at all and others an eternity. For the most part I am desk jockey so they don’t see much action outside of the walk from the parking lot to the office and back. I will be honest. While I don’t walk in them a ton I am very hard on my shoes. Monday through Thursday I rotate between two pair of Weejuns, but I end up wearing my brown pair 75% of the time. I also do not use shoe trees. I told you that I was going to be honest.
New WeejunsAfter reading the paragraph above I am sure it is clear to you that I needed new loafers (and better shoe-care habits!). It was clear to me that I probably needed new shoes, but if I had not found a new pair of Weejuns in my closet I doubt I would have made the leap.

This is actually where I could use some advice. What measurement if any do you use to know when a clothing item needs to be moved out of the starting line-up? This does not have to be limited to shoes. It could be for shirts, sweaters, trousers, sport coats, suits, etc. Please help a trad out!

Tweed Sport Coats as Outerwear


In this post I hope to help you get that great looking tweed sport coat out of your closet and into your life. Whether it’s sitting there because its a touch too big or because your office is a no-sport coat zone this will help. I previously mentioned wearing Shetland sweaters as outerwear. I do the same with sport coats, and often with the help of a sweater.
Tweed Sport Coat with Shetland SweaterI don’t remember when I acquired it, but I have a great 3/2 sack herringbone tweed sport coat from Brooks Brothers that just sits in my closet. It is the most perfect color of brown and has all of the right details. It is an ideal jacket for me, but…it doesn’t fit. Its just too big That’s not the jackets fault by the way. I got the, “I can make those measurements work” mentality when I pulled the trigger. Hindsight, right!
FullSizeRLast week we had a few days that started between 35-40 degrees. As I was getting dressed on one of these mornings I thought, “What if I try to wear that brown tweed over this Shetland?” I threw it on and even though it did not look perfect I thought it looked good. I also knew that I would only we wearing from my parking lot to the office and back so perfect was not nearly as necessary as something that I would be wearing all day. Good enough would suffice.
IMG_3356At the end of the day (literally) I was happy with my decision. This sport coat will definitely be paired with a Shetland and used as outerwear again. Odds are if you are reading this blog you have taken similar sizing risks with vintage jackets and have one that fits this description just hanging in your closet. This is a good way for them to see the light of day. Also, if your office is not tweed friendly pairing it with a sweater can help it become a piece of outerwear.