Archive for January, 2014

Cuff, No Break by Billax

This post is a reprinting of a post on a forum that is frequented 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.

A few days ago, I responded to a member of the Talk Ivy forum, who asked about the details he should seek in a pair of trousers. I Whipcords with AE loafersthought I’d cross-post it here,

I’m on a fairly steep learning curve regarding the finer details of Ivy garb and am struggling to find information regarding trousers (of the slightly more formal variety such as flannels, tweeds, gabardines etc. as opposed to khakis or jeans).


The poster continued, noting that he knew flat front trousers were a requirement, then asked for the next most important feature. I responded as follows:

A friend, who is an Architecture Professor, asserted that the most important class he taught to Architecture students was Joints, Intersections, and Edges. When things go awry in those areas, the building fails – both functionally and aesthetically. In mens apparel, the two areas most likely to fail are at the top and at the bottom.

I believe the importance of joints, intersections, and edges at the top is pretty well understood: the importance of the relationships between shirt, tie, jacket, lapel, notch shape, gorge height, and collar roll is a focal point of men who care about their appearance. It is, after all, what they see in the mirror every morning.

Not one man in a thousand has a mirror to see the equally important bottom of one’s outfit. Yet, those bottom elements – trouser length, crease, cuff, socks, and shoes – are easily seen by everyone who looks at you. It’s often said – and it’s true for me – that when one business or professional man is introduced to another, the first thing looked at is the other man’s shoes. Style, condition, edge dressed, polished – check, check, check, check. But if the joints, intersections, and edges of the bottom aren’t “right,” well, that’s noted and filed away. In the Ivy League Look, the gold standard has remained unchanged for a long, long time. To wit:

In 1954, Life Magazine had an article about the Ivy League Look sweeping the country. The following photograph appeared therein:

Salesman at J.Press New HavenThis picture is of a Salesman at J. Press New Haven.

 When I went to college (Fall of 1959 to Winter of 1964), I was lucky enough to work part-time in the Campus Ivy shop at my Midwestern University. Mr. Ross, the proprietor, was as fastidious a dresser as I’ve ever met – and he wanted me to represent the same style and values he had. Though I didn’t wear braces –then or now – when he saw me come in to work, he’d give me a once over, particularly checking to see that I had no break in my trousers. If he spotted anything other than a knife blade crease, he’d gently say, “Adjust your braces, Bill,” knowing full well I wore a belt. I must have disappointed him one time too many, for he once said to me, “It is better to endure the occasional flood than to live in a perpetual puddle.” It was then that I took the words of this diminutive and dapper Scotsman to heart!

A little more than a year ago, my youngest son entered college. I went with him for a couple of days to help him move into his dorm and to buy him a few items of clothing I thought he was missing. We stopped at J. Press, where Tony, the alterations tailor who has worked there since 1968, fitted him for a couple of pairs of trousers. As he bent down to chalk the hems, he asked, “Cuff, no break?” While posed as a question, it was really a suggestion. I smiled slightly, then nodded. The words were so familiar, it seemed as though I was back in college.

So, for sixty years now, there has been a set of men who are keepers of that flame. I am content to live in the flickering light of that flame. Plenty of others will disagree….

Thanks for asking!

I have included a few examples below of “Cuff, no break.”
White Linens with Rancourt buckle loafers

Poplins with AE loafers Covert cloth with AE CaptoesDonegal odd trousers with AE loafersFine donegal with AE CaptoesFlannel Chalk Stripe with AE whole cuts

An Entry Level Tassel Loafer: The Bass Eddington

I am a big fan of tassel loafers, but I know that they are not for everyone. Some people think that they look too ornate which directly conflicts with the Trad ethos of utilitarian simplicity much like the always controversial horse bit loafer(Just read through the commments). However, to me the Alden or Allen Edmonds (AE) tassel is a shoe that says you have arrived. Unfortunately, I have yet to arrive and these sleek tassels are still out of my price range, but I did find an affordable alternative that I think is a good fit for me. This tassel is the Bass Eddington.
Allen Edmond Grayson Loafer                                  The more sophisticated and sleek AE Grayson Tassel Moc for comparison.

The Bass Eddington has a different shape than the Alden or AE tassel. It is much more of a casual loafer. They feature contrast stitching and are only available in a rich brown color. They wouldn’t look appropriate with grey flannel trousers and a blazer like the other two, but they look right at home with a tweed sport coat, cords, or even chinos and a sweater which is exactly where my wardrobe lives.
Bass Eddington Tassel w Argyle SocksBass is not known for producing high quality footwear, but I really like these tassels. The leather is supple and they are comfortable right out of the box. I think that the fact that Bass uses a Blake welt stitching construction is a big part of why they are so comfortable. To top it off, I picked them at the Bass outlet for around $75. If you are in need of an introductory tassel the Bass Eddington may be worth checking out.

Replicating a Look

I was looking for a tie like the man in Hiroshi Watatani illustration above. I thought that a purple tie would be a nice addition to my collection. I liked the way the purple looked with the blue blazer. Plus, I do aspire to look like the man in the picture so the tie will be a must…one day. I found the tie much quicker than I had anticipated. I decided to challenge myself by trying to locate the rest of the items that he is wearing which turned into a trad version of what Nerd Boyfriend does.

I started with the easiest items first. The shoes weren’t hard to find at all as they look like Alden’s Cape Cod bit loafers, the trousers could easily be white ducks from O’Connell’s, and the shirt a J.Press blue and white butcher stripe. The blazer was harder to find than I had imagined especially because price was not an issue in this exercise. It is sad that the three patch and two flap pocket sack blazer is a dying breed (perhaps like J.Press itself). I did find one, but I had to go with a trim fit version which will not please many of the trads out there.

The hardest item of all to locate was the coat. I blame the artist for this. I can’t make out if the jacket is a wool overcoat or a raincoat. The yellow color of the jacket threw me off, but because of the cut of the coat, the fact that he is not wearing socks and I saw that his lady friend had the sunroof open so I guessed rain coat. Unfortunately, I could not find a perfect match. I ended up settling on a cotton gabardine raincoat from J.Press. It is good to know that I can still get my hands on this rig, but it would not be cheap as the total of these items for just under $3k. Like all goals in life this one will be approached one step at time.

Glastonberry Cricket Club

Glastonbury Cricket Club – Ben Silver $105

Alden Horse Bit LoafersAlden Horse Bit Loafer – $325

O'Connell's White DucksO’Connell’s White Ducks – $99.95

J.Press Blutcher Stripe ShirtJ.Press Butcher Stripe Shirt – $98

J.Press Patch Pocket Sack BlazerJ.Press Patch Pocket Sack Blazer – $980

J.Press RaincoatJ.Press Raincoat – $1,295

And the end result is…


What I Wore Lately

I take pictures almost every single day. I use these pictures to get a better look at color, contrast, and fit. I also use them to co-narrate my blog, but the majority of these pictures never make my blog. I thought that I should change that, because looking at pictures of others and getting inspiration from their rigs is one of my favorite things to do. I imagine that the people that visit this blog feel pretty similar in this regard. Below are a few of my favorite more recent pictures and a couple sneak pics of future posts.

Cords, Sweater and Vest

Cords and Fox BeltGrey Sweater and ChinosGrey Sweater and Pink OCBDBlazer and waistcoatWinter ShoesGreen Sweater and Tan CordsGreen Shaggy ShetlandTweed JacketMore Duck TiesDetailsOatmeal Shetland and Tartan ShirtArgyle Socks and TasselsWinter Time

Collegiate Cut Chinos Part 3: The Vintage Route

I haven’t given up on finding the perfect pair of collegiate cut chinos. I just haven’t had much to post since the Jack Donnelly khakis. However, I am now closer than ever to obtaining what is turning out to be an elusive chino. As a matter of fact, I have in my possession a pair of chinos with the perfect collegiate cut. In order to get them I had to go straight to the source: the 1960s.
Vintage Collegiate Cut TrousersNo, I did not travel back in time to the ’60s, but rather I accessed them through the source for vintage mid-century clothing, Newton Street Vintage. Billax gave me a heads up that he had spotted a pair of collegiate cut chinos on Zach’s site that were not only my size, but were also new with tags. The rest is history.
Aqueduct Vintage Collegiate Cut ChinosThis is where it gets tricky. I have one pair of these chinos. I need to have many. I am hoping that my tailor can easily replicate the taper of the vintage chinos, but after my first attempt at tapering I think it may take a few tries to get it just right. Ultimately, I think that these pants will provide me with the ability to replicate the collegiate cut chino which is priceless and is also why I was able to look past the permanent press finish so easily! To Be Continued…


Bonus pic

Yellow tie with university striped shirtExcuse the lax knot, but I really liked this tie/shirt combination and wanted to share it.