For My Trads on a Budget

When I went full on Trad it was a pretty affordable style. Outside of the 3/2 sack blazer, sport coat, and suit you could find the essentials with all of the desired details moderately priced everywhere from Lands End to L.L. BeanĀ  to J.Crew and beyond. Even Brooks Brothers OCBD, the gold standard of OCBDs was $50 cheaper only 2 years ago and even cheaper than that on discount. However, with the proliferation of non-iron clothing, shrinking collars, and skin-tight fits has made finding the essentials with the correct details at a moderate price difficult if not impossible.

I wanted to offer my help to Trads on a budget by putting together a small list of more affordable essential pieces. While these offerings may have some shortcomings such as non-iron finishes and smaller collars they can still help to create the look and can serve as an gateway to higher priced items. I have started with the OCBD, chinos, and penny loafers.
The Perfect Chinos

OCBD
There is no better place to start than the OCBD. The blue OCBD is the classic piece of trad wear that is most well known for helping to create the ever desirable collar roll (read more about collar roll here). Collar roll will be the hardest thing to get in an OCBD for under $100. Even of the OCBDs that I posted below I am hesitant to suggest that you may be able to achieve a nice collar roll. I have heard others say that it is possible from the L.L. Bean and the Stafford oxford. I know from experience the current Lands End OCBD will not produce a great roll, but it does not have a no-iron finish like the other 2. However, most people don’t need to wear ties which so wearing one of the OCBDs is not a big deal and even if you do wear a tie they will work until you can save up (or find thriting) one that does.

L.L. Bean OCBD – $44.95

JCPenney Stafford OCBD – $40 (on sale for $19.99)

Lands End Hyde Park OCBD – $49.95
The Ivy Look Slim ChinosChinos
I don’t have any specific recommendations here. What I suggest that you look for are chinos that are not no-iron, are not pleated (flat-front), and either have a cuff or have enough material to be cuffed. The reason that I suggest the above is that the casual looking chino is very much apart of the Ivy League and trad look. Chinos with a no-iron finish can often look shiny or dressy which does work as well it appears too polished. Don’t worry though with a good pressing your must-iron chinos will look great with a blazer or tweed. I wear J.Crew 1040 Essential chinos, but you can find other like them at the Gap, Old Navy, and even Lands’ End (their non-iron chinos aren’t too shiny). Most important is that your chinos fit and are not puddled up at your shoe and stuck at your shin.
Penny Loafer in PrintPenny Loafer
This is the easiest category for me to make suggestions. I narrowed it down to 2. First, is the Bass Outlet. You can even access this online. Bass penny loafers have a great shape so much so that I wear them to this day. They are also very light which works well for my feet. On the downside they are not made up of the best materials. My second suggestion is to occasionally scour Allen Edmond’s Shoe Bank website. This where they sell their seconds and discontinued items. There are often great deals to be had.

Bass Outlet Penny Loafers – $79-89

Allen Edmonds Shoe Bank

This post should be read in conjunction with last week’s post on fit, proportion, and silhouette. Together these posts will help those on a budget put together a very trad looking thread without maxing out their credit cards. I thought this was an important subject to cover as one of the reasons that favored this style of dress was its availability and affordability. Some of that has changed over time, but my recommendation of the style has not. If you have any affordable items that you would like to suggest please do as I know many readers are eager to hear and learn from you all!

Fit is important, but…

When it comes to clothing fit is important, but fit alone will not make an outfit look good. Even if it is a good outfit. There are two other factors that I always take into consideration which are proportions and silhouette. I believe that these three elements fit, proportions, and silhouette are what separates good outfits from great outfits.
FullSizeRender(20)I was writing to a reader about this very subject earlier this week. Now don’t get me wrong fit is critical. If your clothes don’t fit well the other two are off the table. Fit can even take into account proportions and silhouette. For example, a shirt should fit well around the neck, the shoulders, but also in sleeve length. All of these items correlate to silhouette. An example of how you would consider proportions for you shirt could be deciding between slim, classic, or a baggier fit. Your weight and build need to be taken into consideration, but also your legs and pants. You don’t want a slim shirt and baggy trousers or vice versa. You need to take into consideration the whole picture thinking about how these proportions effect the overall silhouette.

It is also important to note that there are several silhouettes within the trad cannon. I think that office, formal, casual, suits, sportcoats, etc., etc. all have slightly different silhouettes. There is also some personal preference such as wanting a narrower pant leg or slimmer shirt while others like myself prefer little to no break in our trousers while others want a little more break. When thinking of the classic trad silhouette I think of how items like soft shouldered jackets and flat front chinos help to shape this silhouette.

I shared the pic above because it is one of my better efforts of illustrating fit, proportions, and silhouette. I like that my pants are not baggy or slim and the length is neither too short or too long. The tie appears a touch wide, but it’s not bad. The jacket length is pretty good and the amount of cuff showing under the blazer is within the acceptable range. Overall the fit and proportions make for a halfway decent silhouette.

Camp Moc Overview

IMG_4058

Since posting about my Sperry Camp mocs I have received quite a few questions surrounding camp mocs from, “Can I pull them off?” to ,”Where do you find them?”. The answer to these questions is, yes and everywhere.
IMG_4061Let’s start with the pulling them off question. If you can pull off boat shoes you can easily pull off camp mocs. I see camp mocs as the less preppy cousin to the boat shoe. It’s a little more rugged than its cousin and doesn’t carry the country club connotation that some connect with boat shoes, but it offers all of the advantages of the boat shoe. It also looks fine with socks which makes camp mocs wearable year round.

Everywhere may have been a bit of a stretch, but you can easily find them. The L.L. Bean’s handsewn Camp moc is the quintessential camp moc. It has a great shape, price, and is always available. I opted for their Signature version which for only $10 more dollars features much nicer leather. If you are looking for something a little nicer you can choose from Quoddy (Canoe Moc) or Rancourt (Gilman Camp Moc). These options are both priced right around $250. Last, but not least are the Sperry’s gold cup mocs. They don’t have the best shape, but their comfort level and fit made up for that.

Basically, camp mocs are awesome. These low-key mocs allow you to go sock-less in the summer and look great with chunky wool socks in the winter. They also won’t break the bank (unless you go top of the line) and with their tradder than prep appearance they may be just what you are looking for this summer.

My Michael Spencer OCBDs

IMG_2326

I have now had my Michael Spencer OCBDs for two months. This has given me the chance to wear them each shirt several times. I wanted to do this because too often I am still in the honeymoon phase of a purchase. However, I will not you hold you in suspense any longer. I love them.

I had heard a lot about Michael Spencer before I ever tried one of their shirts. Opening up shop around the time that all of the sub-$100 OCBDs with any type of legitimate collar roll began to disappear these shirts were a natural-fit for the trad market. Forgive the pun, but with the unlined 3.5″ collar the buzz in the trad world was strong.
IMG_2329IMG_2326

Lined collar at top and Unlined collar underneath

Michael Spencer offers multiple fits and multiple collar types. The fits are Vintage, Classic, Modern Slim, and Extra Slim. There are also multiple collar types available, but for this post the only one that matter is the Legacy Button Down Collar which can be made lined or unlined. The Legacy collar has 3.5″ collar points, a 3.25″ spread, and 0.5″ tie space.

Of course I went with the Legacy collar, but I selected one lined collar and the other unlined in the Classic fit. I have never owned an unlined collar before. My knowledge of them was all second hand and it is primarily from the waxing poetics of Ivy Style purists that I learned of their fetished uncontrollable rolls and unmatched comfort. After wearing the unlined collar a few times I soon understood the appeal. The comfort was unmatched. The collar was not uncontrollable, but I could not always get the collar roll that I wanted to stick like I could with the lined shirt. This may be one area where I am not a purist. I actually preferred the lined collar, because it provided a more structured roll.

IMG_3296FullSizeRender (1)The pros far outweighed the cons for me. The only two cons that I could come up with are price and the wait. The shirts are $135, but at this time this is market price. I may not love it, but the fact that it is consistent among Brooks Brothers, Mercer, and J.Press makes me okay with it. As far as the wait goes I learned that I have been conditioned with OTR (off the rack) clothing to expect instant gratification. Ordering a shirt takes a little longer, but the wait was worth it and since the need for a shirt is seldom an emergency this is not a big deal.

If you have been holding out on trying a Michael Spencer I say give it a go. They have a great product, they are great to deal with, and you can count on a great roll. On top of that you can deck it out with all of the bells (locker loops) and whistles (flap pockets) that you want. It is great to have add another trustworthy source for OCBDs to the list.

Spring Sniffles

008

Spring is in full effect here in Ohio. Plants are poisoning the air with their pollen, there are 40 degree swings in temperatures, and I am suffering from cold. All joking aside, I do enjoy spring, but my cold has made things such as writing this week’s blog post a challenge. Lucky for me my Patagonia Snap-T has stepped up to the challenge of making me feel comfortable in a time of discomfort.
008You may have heard people say something to the effect of, “A Shetland sweater is a trad’s sweatshirt.” I am not going to dispute this as it holds true for the most part, but sometimes even trads need something even more comfortable than a Shetland (like when you are laying on your couch sick). This is where my Patagonia Snap-T fleece comes into play. It is warm and soft, but offers an advantage over something like a cream colored sweatshirt (see here), because it can provide more shelter from the wind and rain than a typical sweatshirt. It also has a cool late 70s prep vibe to it.

I am wearing my Snap-T as I write this blog, but I don’t only wear when not feeling well. Snap-T’s come in handy for any outdoor activity or even for just signalling that you are truly dressed down. For example, I have worn mine over an OCBD on a casual Friday where it was well received. These are just a few reasons that this versatile piece of active wear has found a home in the trad cannon.