Money Well Spent

I am in the process of trying to find a pair of jeans that I like and in that struggle I found a belt that I had forgot about. It’s a simple leather belt that I had made 10 plus years ago in the middle of a mall.

I had this belt made before I started to a work for an insurance company. I wanted a simple leather belt. I was struggling to find one that I liked and that fit me. Then I remembered this kiosk in the middle of the mall where I had purchased a few belt buckles. You know the kind of place. Ran by a mountain looking man in leather. He sold buckles of all kind large and small, NASCAR leather jackets, leather goods, maybe knives, and now important to me leather belts.

I wish I remembered the man’s name, but I don’t. The mall is still there, but empty. I do remember him saying that he had a small place on Mackinaw island that he ran in the summer. He did the kiosk off-season. The short of it is that he was a great guy and could help me out. When we started to talk about the belt he guided me to a few hundred leather straps to look through. I picked my buckle and leather. He then measured me, asked me about width, and told me to come back the next day. I did and it was perfect. He made and sold this belt for around $20. It was money well spent.

There are still places where you can get belts made. For example,
Narragansett Leathers is still around offering moderately priced leather goods. I am sure there are others out there as as well along with people making other stuff like shirts and moccasins. Enjoy it while it is here and get while the getting is good.

Trad Shorts

Spring is right around the corner and while it is hard to imagine today you will be reaching for a pair of shorts before you know it. If you are anything like me you have already started to assess your spring clothing needs. If this list contains a pair of shorts I wanted to be sure to get this post out in time for it to be helpful.

When it comes to shorts the leg opening is key. Of course I learned this the hard way. I have a few pair of shorts, but I kept leaning towards one pair even though they were a bit big in the waist. I even liked them better than a pair of old work chinos that I modified into shorts. I was at a loss as to why.

Polo in Casual Setting

It didn’t hit until I was at the mall trying on pair after pair of shorts. I remember putting on a pair and thinking, I hate the way that these fit. Why are the legs so narrow? Boom. I had figured it out.

Not only did I dislike the silhouette of the skinny shorts, but they weren’t comfortable either. If I am going to be slumming around in shorts I at least want them to comfortable and for them to help keep me cool. This is exactly what my wider legged shorts accomplished. Oh, and I think that they look better too.

When it comes to finding these shorts don’t over complicate it. While I like J.Crew 1040 chinos I stay away from their short offerings for this very reason. My favorite pair of shorts are from Chaps, I also picked up a pair of Ralph Lauren shorts at TJ Maxx for cheap, and my Patagonia shorts work out just fine.

Mercer Says

Everyone in the trad/ivy world is readily familiar with Mercer & Sons shirts. They are renowned for their distinctive soft collars…and roll. Not only do they do collar roll right, but they also nail it when it comes to web copy.

I don’t own a Mercer shirt yet. I do However visit their site on occasion to gaze at fabric and to read their descriptions of the fabric. I love their descriptions as they are informative, knowledgeable, fun, and funny. A rarity in today’s world of fast fashion and loose facts. I have shared a few m of my favorites below, but do yourself a favor and visit Mercer & Son’s site to read more. Maybe even treat yourself to a new shirt.!

Twice to Work

How many times can you wear your chinos between washes? My personal opinion is that you can wear them to work twice between washes. I will share my chino care routine below along with a little tip with how to use your chinos that have been work to work twice.

My chinos get worn to work twice before washing them. Let me walk you through my routine. I wash my chinos on cold and hang dry. At first I kind of hated how stiff this made the cotton, but now I see it as a benefit in addition to the fact that washing on cold and hang drying extends their life. The stiffness also works as a starch especially because I hang them to try with the crease in place. This way I am not trying to iron out any creases. It’s always easier to work with mother nature than against her.

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I iron my clothes every morning before work. I don’t actually use starch on my pants. I use a sizing spray (only on my chinos) which makes them crisp, but not as hard as starch. After their first trip to the office I hang them up in the closet in my work section. Then I iron them the next time that I wear them. During the second wear the crease is a little sharper and they are a little softer. I think that my rule only wearing them to work twice has a lot to do with ironing and not that the pants are actually dirty. Ironing my chinos a third time would be too much. You risk a stressing the fabric, creating a sheen, and ironing in dirt/stains.

My little trick is that I said you can wear them twice to work without washing. I didn’t say anything about casual wear. I hang my work chinos that I have worn twice in the casual section of my closet. I then wear them in the evening or on the weekend. I don’t iron them again, but they still look pretty good from all of the the previous ironing. They can be dressed up or down at this point. Both images in this post are chinos on round 3.

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That sums up my chino wear and care routine. I think that my casual tip is a good one. It saves time and energy which is what you want during your downtime. Other than that, wash on cold and hang dry is all that you need to know when it comes to washing work clothes.

CPO Season

I will be honest with you. I really didn’t know what a CPO shirt was. I kinda knew what they looked like, but that was about it. I couldn’t for instance tell you the difference between a CPO and a shirt jacket. Not only did I not know that much about the origin of  CPO shirts. I wasn’t a big fan either.

Now I do know a little about the CPO shirt. The CPO shirt was developed by the Navy in the 1930s as a layering piece for cold-weather work. While CPO stands for Chief Petty Officer these shirt-jackets were not widely worn throughout the Navy. While most of my CPO shirts are chamois the originals were wool-flannel. The original also had a single scalloped flap pocket on the breast, but there have been multiple iterations of the CPO shirt with the double front pocket being the most common.

Like most things trad and ivy these shirts became popular post WWII. I am not saying that they were not a popular during the heyday,but I always associate them with late 70’s/early 80’s rugged prep look similar to 60/40 parkas. This could be because I can remember that era and was not around for the heyday.

You can count me as a fan of the CPO shirt these days. I have learned the value of the CPO shirt this past year. I now have 4 different CPO shirts. I have a red chamois version from J.Crew, a vintage navy wool-cotton one from Brooks Brothers (with a button-down collar), a navy chamois from Woolrich, and natural colored chamois from J.Crew.

My current favorite is the vintage Brooks shirt and it even got its own blog post. It is a lot thinner than my others but being a wool blend it offers a great warmth to weight ratio. However I love them all and each has there time and place.

I wear CPO shirts pretty frequently now. How do I wear them? I like to wear them over a tucked in OCBD  on casual Friday. On a Saturday or Sunday I might just throw it over a tee or a henley. Sometimes I wear them buttoned but most of the time I don’t. They have been great for me during the winter adding a layer of warmth while offering up a little texture and color. Its also nice to have mid-layer option other than sweaters and sweatshirts. And as to what is the difference between most shirt jackets and CPO shirts? The answer is nothing.

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