Archive for June, 2013

Summer Cycling Shoes

Featured Image

I was about to head over to my friend’s house and I was looking for the appropriate footwear. I am sure that you are wondering if I am over thinking it. I mean, one of my favorite qualities of classic style is that there is very little to think and fuss about. However, I was traveling by bicycle and I knew that I was going to have a hard time riding leisurely (I am never satisfied until I leave my lungs gasping for air at some point during my ride.).

This means two things in regards to the footwear. One, I did not want to wear my athletic cycling shoes (Not casual enough.) and two, I did not want to wear my Topsiders (They would get ruined too quickly.). I found the answer in the back of my closet.

New Cycling Shoes

In the back of my closet is a trash bag full of items that do not fit. As I dug through this bag I discovered a pair of shoes that I had completely forgotten about. They are an odd looking pair of Johnston & Murphy shoes, part boat shoe, part moccasin, with just a touch of contemporary mixed in (The part I don’t like). I never would have purchased them if they were not $20. I couldn’t resist at that price point and I was positive that I would find a use for them. I was wrong and they soon made their way to the “to be donated” pile. I snagged them just in time.

The shoes fulfilled their duty well. This was their first trip out of the house and they were a bit stiff. I wore them sans socks and suffered a little irritation to one of my ankles. I am s pretty sure that they will break in over time. Hopefully this will eliminate the ankle irritation.

In Action

The shoe still looks very off to me. It looks like someone just stopped for the day before completing a boat shoe and never finished them. The eyelets are really close together and it would take six eyelets instead of the normal four to complete this shoe. The toe box is also a lot longer than your average boat shoe. They are a weird hybrid.

ComparisonComparison 2

I am thankful that I found these shoes. Traveling by bicycle is one of my favorite things about summer and these shoes will allow me to do more of it. Plus, I did not have to spend a dime. I am however starting to think that these shoes might even be my next project.  How hard could it be to add another eyelet?  The moral of this story is do not overlook what you already have.

A Simple Alteration

As I mentioned in my Summer Prep post I have been strongly considering adding a short sleeve button front shirt to my summer wardrobe. As I was sifting through my closet my PRL madras fun shirt jumped out to me. I rarely ever wear this shirt and it has something to do with the sleeves. I hate the way they look unless they are rolled up and then it clicked, this shirt will be my first short sleeve button front shirt.

PRL Fun ShirtThe shirt to be altered.

My alteration skills are almost non-existent. My list of accomplishments consists of altering one surcingle belt. However, I knew that I could rely on the tutelage of my mom. Plus, this is a skill that will be very handy to have as it can be applied to hemming almost anything and it is always good to learn new things.

Me SewingConcentrating

The process was easier than I had imagined*. The most important thing to remember is to leave enough cloth to for the double-turn hem which is an additional 1 ½”. This formula does not take into consideration the extra material needed to add cuffs which may be part of my next on project.

*Remember, while I say it was easy my mom was there to answer any question and to help me operate the sewing machine which is still very foreign to me.

FabricConcentrating harder

I did make one error. While nervously sewing I attached the sleeves together. This mistake is directly correlated with my lack of foot control on the pedal. I think that I will get the hang of this with practice. For now I will just slow down.

MistakeI sewed the sleeves together, oops!

The shirt project went so fast that I got to tackle a second project. I brought a pair of chambray shorts along with me that are just too long. I took off 2 inches and I think that they look much better.

Before AlterationBefore (shirt has full length sleeves and short are longer)

After Alteration

After (removed half the sleeve, cut 2″ off the shorts, and added sunglasses in celebration of my accomplishment)

This was a really productive Sunday (Yep, I did all this today.). I crossed an item off my summer wish list (short sleeve shirt), checked an item off my summer chore list (hem shorts), and gained the confidence to try some more projects in the future. I also got to spend time with my family which is something that gets to be more fun the older that you get.

Ivy League Lessons: David Nelson

This is a reprinting of a post by Billax. Billax is not only one of my style role models, but a friend and a man that was Trad back when it was called Ivy League.

In 1958-9, when I first became interested in what guys were wearing, television was a source of both information and inspiration. There was no internet and I wasn’t aware of Esquire Magazine at the time. The Milwaukee Journal, the local rag, didn’t cover menswear. David Nelson of the – very popular – Ozzie and Harriet show was one of the guys I watched on TV and learned from.

David Nelson

At that time, he was attending the University of Southern California (USC) and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He provided a window into campus fashion for me. My two cousins, about whom I’ve written before, made the look tangible but, as they were away at college, I didn’t see them all that often. David Nelson? I saw him once a week on the Ozzie and Harriet Show. It was a sitcom, I guess. Mostly, it was about what the Nelson family was doing. In that sense, it was the original Seinfeld – “a show about nothing.” David would often show up with some of his fraternity brothers and I’d get a weekly dose of What Are They Wearing Right Now!

David Nelson

The shirts were Button Downs, or tab collars, or forward point collars with a collar pin. Tweed and Corduroy sport coats, white socks with Venetian loafers. Skinny ties. Ricky became more famous, but David Nelson was the guy whose clothes I admired when I was seventeen.

In September of 1959, when I went to college, I pledged Kappa Sigma. As I was looking for these photos, I recalled that he, too, was a Kappa Sig. Interesting coincidence, I thought! Upon reflection, maybe it wasn’t coincidence at all.Here are some photographs of David Nelson at USC:

D Nelson

David Nelson





Porches and Plants

One of the main reasons that I moved into my apartment was because I wanted some outdoor space. The house that I moved into (almost 3 yrs ago!) has a great second story porch, but right now it is a sad and empty place. I thought that I would change that this summer and unfortunately life has given me some extra free time as me and my girlfriend have recently parted ways. It is time to take on my porch project.

Empty PorchVery sad and empty. Yes, I do use that chair.

I knew that this project would not happen overnight primarily because of my budget. I decided to start with items that were affordable and that would have the most impact which I determined were plants. I wanted to create a privacy wall by using flowers and plants. I purchased 3 ferns, two majesty palms, and 2 Yuccas. I also used existing plants which really helped to keep my cost down. It was so helpful to have my mom around for this project. She provided moral support, plant advice, and even donated a few extra planters.

Porch with plantsI was excited at this point. The plants helped me to be able to see my progress.

As you can see from the picture above that even with the plants in place there is still lots of empty space. Because the porch is so large I envisioned breaking it up into two separate sitting areas. In order to create these two distinct areas I used rugs. I really wanted two nice oriental outdoor rugs, but with a starting price of around $80 it would have been a big chunk of my budget. I found an indoor/outdoor rug at Home Depot for $19.99. I didn’t love it, but it had a pattern and it was 6ft. x 8ft., the dimensions that I needed. Once I laid down the rugs I could really see it all coming together.

Rug for Porch

The carpet/rugs helps to define the space of the pseudo room.

I put off purchasing furniture until the very end. I did this for two reasons. One, it is very expensive. Two, my fabulous co-worker had some wicker style furniture that she was willing to sell me for a great price. The catch was that I had to wait until she was sure she that she was moving. I waited and it was well worth it. The wicker furniture was the perfect choice. I added two plastic Adirondack chairs ($17 per chair) to fill in the other end of the porch. The porch is now ready to be fully enjoyed!

Wicker furniture

West End of Porch

I don’t think that my porch will ever truly be complete which is why I decided that I should write this post now. In fact, I have already added another hanging basket of flowers since I started writing this post. Overall, I have spent about $350 in total and the project has taken about 6 weeks. I have a few more ideas, such as adding cushions/pillows to the furniture as well as a few small tables and flowers. I am sure that I will be continuously tweaking the place all summer.


This has been a great project.  It has kept my mind occupied during a tough time. It has also helped me reconnect with myself and nature. There is something fulfilling about gardening, watering plants, and watching them grow. Plus, I now have a relaxing place with a tropical paradise feel to spend my evenings.

Bonus Pics

Plants Close-up Plants Close-up

Yucca DecoratedFlower Close-up

Summer Prep

Last week I was prompted to take inventory of my summer wardrobe by a question about my summer attire. I already knew that I was lacking summer jackets which is why I tried the Uniqlo jacket, but this question was about casual wear. So, what am I missing? As it would turn out, I am missing more than I thought. Enough to make me sit down and write a list. My personal list is much longer than the one below, but I picked my top five to share.

1. White Canvas Shoes – I currently have zero athletic sneakers for casual wear. I think that a pair of white canvas sneakers will be very versatile in the summer months. I am leaning towards a pair of Sperry CVO’s, but there are a lot of other options such as Keds Champion, Converse Jack Purcell, Vans Authentic, etc. For more on white canvas sneakers read this great post by Billax.

College Kid in Keds 1960

2. Polo Shirts – A polo shirt is the perfect Saturday shirt. It is the adult version of the t-shirt, treat it as such. I am not picky about my polo shirts. Almost any brand will do for me as long as they do not have a logo. I need one in navy and one in white.
Casual weekend3. Button front Short Sleeve Shirt – I used to be dead set against them, but I used to be dead set against a lot of things that I now embrace.  So, maybe I was wrong about short sleeve button front shirt, too? Time will tell. My first choice would be a white/blue seersucker, with a madras and a blue OCBD  fighting for second place. I will probably buy a Lands’ End version of this shirt.

Short Sleeve Shirt

4. Short Sleeve Popover – The popover shirt seems to be getting more and more attention these days. I used to have a madras short sleeve popover from PRL as a teenager and I loved it. It is hard to tell if I will love them now, but I just saw some on the J.Crew website (see pic $69.50) and I could see it being a very useful shirt, especially on vacation. I could wear it to lunch and I think that it would look great on the beach or by the pool.

J.Crew Popover

5. Motif Belt – Summer means fun and nothing is more fun than a motif belt. I am still going back and forth on which motif, but there is no doubt that I will be going to Eliza B for this purchase.

Eliza B Belts