All posts in Style

OCBD Memories

The Lands’ End Original Oxford was the shirt that got me in the OCBD game. It was affordable at $29.99, 100% cotton, must-iron, and had collar roll that was supported by its 3 1/4″ collar point length. I got my first one in 2008. I scored a bunch more when they were discontinued around 2010. These shirts hold a lot of memories for me.

Sure I had OCBDs before the LE Orginal Oxford. The difference is that back then I wasn’t all that concerned with the details. The truth is that not only was I unconcerned with the details, I was unaware of them at that time. These shirts on the other hand were purchased because they had the right details. I got these as I was leaving college and entering the workforce. These were my first adult OCBDs.

While I was new to OCBDs, I was not new to clothes. So when I saw the price drop to $12 I knew that something was up and whatever it was was most likely was not good. Thanks to my Spidy-senses I bought a few and asked for more for Christmas. I can remember how funny my family thought it was when I opened gift after gift from my grandma and they were all the same blue shirt. I had to assure them that this was exactly what I wanted and not a running joke.

My stock of these shirts is dwindling. I have two that are still fighting the good fight and could be worn in an office setting. I have 5 more with collars and cuffs that are in varying stages of deterioration. Before everyone chimes in, I know about flipping collars. I may flip 1 or 2, but I have a good amount of OCBDs and don’t need these to look especially presentable. I like wearing my well worn OCBDs with blown out collars casually. I know that I am not the only one.

A couple years ago I took a step to preserve one of the shirts. I didn’t flip the collar, but I did have some repair work done. I asked my mom to sew the collar back together in a rustic way using contrasting red thread. Many of you that follow me on Instagram have seen this shirt. It is one of my favorites. I may even do a few more. Thanks, mom!

At times when I wear these shirts memories come flooding back. I think about my first post-college job, I think about my grandmother who has since passed, and when I wear the one with the red collar repair I think about my mom. When these OCBDs are not sending my down memory lane they are comfortable and familiar like an old friend. I will continue to wear them until they are truly unwearable.

If you have clothes memories, whether that’s a fond a memory of a piece of clothing or a piece of clothing that brings back a fond memoryv I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Patchwork Madras Shorts

Patchwork Madras Shorts

I love madras. There’s nothing like a nice light madras in the summer. I own quite a few madras shirts, but when it comes to madras shorts I don’t own a single pair. It’s time to change that.

I definitely have a type when it comes to madras. I tend to avoid brightly colored madras preferring more muted tones. I have used the term muddy madras to describe my type before. I couldn’t remember where I got that term, but it came to me the other day. It turns out that I was standing on the shoulders of giants. The term originated from the trad legend Heavy Tweed Jacket (HTJ).

When it comes to shorts (or pants for that matter) I have a different madras preference. That preference is patchwork. I don’t quite know why, but I find patchwork madras shorts a lot easier to wear than a single madras pattern. I am not saying a single pattern can’t be pulled off well, but it has a much greater chance of looking dated in my opinion.

I recently scored a backup pair of my favorite Ralph Lauren chino shorts on Ebay for pennies on the dollar. I am not a huge fan of clothes shopping on Ebay in general, but riding high off my recent shorts purchase I went looking on Ebay for a pair of patchwork madras shorts. There were lots to choose from. I probably viewed 20-30 pair before I settled on a pair. In the end I didn’t go with Ralph, Brooks, or even Castaway clothing, but Old Navy. Yes, you heard that right, Old Navy.

Old Navy Patchwork Madras Shorts
Old Navy Patchwork Madras Shorts

When picking out a patchwork I have one tip. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This is especially true for patchwork madras. Don’t get caught up evaluating if you like each individual panel. Instead, take a step back or zoom out if your shopping online and look at it as one pattern. Whether you like how it looks from this perspective is far more important than each panel since this is how it will be seen both by others and by you in your full length mirror.

In the end it all worked out well. My shorts came in from Ebay and they were great. They were long. Probably close to 12 inches, but I knew that when I bought them. That’s an easy fix. I paid $15 for the shorts and $10 more to have them hemmed. I dropped them off at the dry cleaner down the street and a few days later I field tested them on the golf course. All in all not bad for $25!

Things That I Would Buy at Brooks Brothers RN

Last week I bad mouthed Brooks Brothers offerings here in the USA. This week I am going to switch it up. While I wish they brought some of what they are doing in Japan over here there are still a few things that I would buy over at the Brethren. Especially when they are on sale.

It feels like there is one thing that Brooks Brothers is still doing well. That thing is sport shirts. While not the most exciting and for those of us that generally transition worn-out work shirts to sport shits they may be a bit self defeating, but they do have their place. That place for me is the weekend, but could also include weeknight activities, casual Friday’s, and and any other time that you want to look nice, but not like you came from or are going to the office.

Below are my top sport shirt picks from Brooks Brothers sales section. There are a lot of nice tradly fabrics such as pinwale cord, broadcloth, poplin, Portuguese flannel, and no stretch or non-iron in sight. I picked the colors and patterns that I liked even if I can’t pull them all off like the foulard print which is gorgeous. There is more where this came from on the site including a lot of fun shirts, madras, and linen. Plus different colors and patterns of my picks below. While Brooks may not always give us what we want they still have a few gems here and there. As the saying goes, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater.

The Brooks Brothers We Need

A few weeks ago I was singing praises for J.Press for keeping American Trad style alive. I will admit that I was throwing a little bit of shade at Brooks Brothers in the process. It’s wasn’t because of what they become, but rather who they’ve become to us here in the USA. I say it all the time, but the last time that I wrote about it was 10 years ago (here’s that post). I just checked and it’s still true. The Brooks Brothers that we want and need is Brooks Brothers japan.

Do yourself a favor and checkout the Brooks Brothers Japan website. I will help you out with a link, Brooks Brothers Japan. If you’re using Chrome browser just use the translate feature (I’m sure other browsers have translate) to make navigating the site easier. Now that you are there go to the sport coat section.

Now this is the Brooks Brothers we need. Notice all the 3/2 rolls. It’s like a trip down memory lane. A couple pieces stood out to me. One, is the corduroy sport coat. The other is the linen herringbone sport coat. The shape on these is just so nice. They remind me of the illustrations that Brooks once used in their old catalogs. These pieces aren’t the only good ones either. There is also a nice pincord, camel hair, and so, so many 3/2 blazers.

3/2 Corduroy Sport Coat
3/2 Herringbone Linen Jacket

It’s not all good at Brooks Brothers Japan. Yes, I did see quite a few darts, alpha sized jackets, and even a few suit pants with drawstrings. Brooks Brothers Japan’s dress shirt selection is as non-iron and stretch infested as America’s. However, here in the US it feels like the “not all good” is almost all we get. They do throw us a bone here and there to remind us of who they were, but it’s really more a reminder of who they aren’t now.

The Brooks Brothers that we knew and loved is still alive and well in Japan. While J.Press would disagree (I know, I know, they are much smaller), Brooks Brothers has decided that trad style is no longer marketable here. This is what stings. It’s not that they can’t make natural shouldered sack jackets. It’s not even that they’ve moved on from that style. What they have done is simply decided that it’s not for us. Off to find a proxy…

Beams Plus Sack Blazer at J.Crew

Beams Plus 3/2 Blazer

I just saw this 3-button (plausibly 3/2 roll), triple patch pocket, sack blazer by Beams Plus over at J.Crew (see here). It looks good. Seemed like it was worth a post. It’s always good to see ivy and trad pieces slipping into the mainstream.

If you don’t know Beams Plus (aka Beams+) they are Japanese brand that always puts out some good looking Americana inspired clothing. Even though I’ve never owned any I am a fan. They often put a slight twist on the classics. At other times the slight twist is you trying to get the clothes on. This is my warning that Japanese sizing can be wonky. This blazer is alpha sized and come in just south of $398. It also has working cuffs so adding all the variables together and doing some bad math, it will probably only fit 1/1000 of us.

There are a few other Beams Plus pieces over at J.Crew as well. This ranges from a (now sold out) patchwork corduroy chore coat ala Hunter S. Thompson’s Abercrombie jacket to some milsurp inspired shirts (I like the adventure shirt below, but not the price). None of it is inexpensive, but some of it is pretty good…if it fits. The point of this post if that the clothes we wear might pop-up anywhere. As I always recommend, get while the getting is good.

Beams Plus 3/2 Blazer
Beams Plus 3/2 Blazer on Person
Beams Patchwork Cord Hunter Jacket
Beams Ripstop Adventure Shirt