Don’t Sweat the Technique

Hiroshi Watatani Upper Pajamas & Polo Coat

Before you get too far into this post please note that if you are the type to shake your fists at the sky bemoaning the lack of sartorial standards in the world today this post may be a bridge too far for you. Take a a little time to compose yourself and see if you can go on. If not that’s ok. If so, I am now going to talk about how the sweatpants and OCBD with a big coat look that we have been seeing a lot of lately is old news. So old even Ronald Reagan was doing it.

9/20/1984 President Reagan wearing sweatpants talking to staff aboard Air Force One on a trip to Iowa

This all may feel a bit too Aime Leon Dore for you (ALD ad above if you don’t know them). Before you dismiss as it some new fangled invention and you need some historical context you can look above to see Ronald Reagan rocking the look on Air Force One. For you ivy style purists students have been doing this since day one. If you’ve been around the ivy internet for a while this post might conjure up images of Hiroshi Watatani’s pajamas and duffle coat illustration above. I think of the old guys that I’d see leaving the YMCA in their sweat suits paired with the same coat they came in wearing over their suits. I used to work in an office building that with quite a few law offices inside. Sadly we’d often all be in our offices early Saturday morning and I saw type of fit there as well. I should have been taking more pics. Hindsight, eh?

Sweatpants & Shetland

Sure this is just another form of athleisure. Is it lazy? I don’t think so. Is it stylish? I think so. I do know that it comes in handy in my toddler-centric lifestyle. I find that it works almost any time where comfort may trump formality ( and a host of other reasons) like walking the dog, meeting friends for early morning coffee, wfh, travel days, most aspects of student life, just sitting around your house, and more occasions in 2024 than I can type. In these situations this style is a go for me. If you follow me on IG you’ve seen me do it a lot.

Here’s how I do it and what I’ve learned. Sweatpants are the central building block. It is best if they are a little baggy. Grey sweatpants are easier to style than navy for me. OCBDs looks great with sweatpants, but don’t tuck them in. Shetlands work over an OCBD or over a long sleeve t-shirt (here’s my long sleeve t-shirt post). Rugby shirts also work well. As far as footwear goes grey New Balance are great, but adding camp mocs, blucher mocs, or loafers is very cool. The baseball cap or beanie (I still call them tobaggaons like a true Midwesterner) is not required and while it is stylish it is key when your hair is a mess. A shortcut is if you have a big coat you can also simply throw it over a full sweat suit and add a scarf.

This post is more solid proof that the old adage “There is nothing new under the sun.” is accurate. However like Nas said on No Idea’s is Original, “It never what your do, but how it’s done.” If you have just scored a big coat this year like a tweed balmalcan, duffle coat, or the current champion of big coats, the polo coat and it’s not getting enough wear, here you go. If you want to one up everyone in their pajamas at Target at 8am on Saturday mornings, done. Me, I’ll be throwing this type of fit on before an early Saturday morning walk with my daughter where I also intend to score a croissant from the French bakery down the street. Maybe this is what they mean by French Ivy?

500 wears, 150 washes, & Time Flies

I was doing some laundry when I noticed some fraying on a pair of chinos, then saw the start of a hole, and I thought to myself, “That happens quicker than you’d think.”. I took a look at the tag to see exactly when it was that I got them. The answer was spring 2017. Wow, time flies.

I have 2 pairs of these J.Crew 770 chinos that I wear casually. They are a bit slimmer than my go to 1040 J.Crew pants that I wear or rather wore to the office. These casual khakis see action several times a week and especially on the weekend. I would guess that I wash one pair every week on hot and dry hot. I am hard on them. I do this with a lot of my casual gear ala Seinfeld. Cue the quote,

JERRY: But see, look at the collar. It’s fraying. Golden Boy is slowly dying. Each wash brings him one step closer. That’s what makes the t-shirt such a tragic figure.

JERRY: Elaine, see this t-shirt? Six years I’ve had this t-shirt. It’s my best one. I call him… Golden Boy.

ELAINE: Yeah, I’m on the phone here.

JERRY: Golden Boy’s always the first shirt I wear out of the laundry. Here. Touch Golden Boy.

ELAINE: No thanks. [to phone] Yeah, yeah, I’ll hold.

JERRY: But see, look at the collar. It’s fraying. Golden Boy is slowly dying. Each wash brings him one step closer. That’s what makes the t-shirt such a tragic figure.

ELAINE: Why don’t you just let Golden Boy soak in the sink with some Woolite?

JERRY: No! The reason he’s the iron man is because he goes out there and he plays every game. Wash! Spin! Rinse! Spin! You take that away from him, you break his spirit!

Back to the chinos. Doing some bad math I have had them for a little over 6 years. Continuing with my quick and dirty math that’s somewhere around 500 wears and 150 or so washes. In actuality probably more than that, but I will let the numbers stand. The wear and tear is in all the typical places that you’d expect. The cuffs are fraying and there are some holes developing around the back pockets. Despite the onset deterioration they still have quite a bit of life left in them.

I think I paid around $50 per pair for these khakis. In my opinion that’s money well spent. I might try my hand at some mending down the road. Before I head out I thought I’d ask, “With a wider silhouette being the norm these days are these pants too slim?” See pics below. Sometimes I think yes, and other times I think not really. I appreciate the input.

Tropical Ivy & Rainforest Trad

I have been MIA from the blog the last two weeks on vacation. I was down in Costa Rica with the family and it was glorious. I don’t get many trad fits off on my vacations. Most of the time we are enjoying the great outdoors, but I do have a few tips for this kind of weather. The type of tropical weather that I am talking about is hot, often humid, and with a good amount of on again/off again rain in the mix. As I said we hike and explore so this is more rainforest trad than your typical resort style tropical ivy.

JPress Madras and Patagonia Baggies

Let’s start with fit. Bigger is better when it comes to hot weather. Baggy clothes or a more refined word might be billowy, allows for a layer of air to get in between you and your clothes. This will help keep you cool. This is one of the reasons why I often size up in my madras shirts especially my popovers. That and it makes my popovers easier to get on and off. If you wear popovers you will relate. Baggier isn’t just better for shirts, but shorts and pants as well.

Sizing is important, but so is fabric. You want a fabric that breathes. Natural fibers are the natural chaoice. It also helps if it can dry quickly. I have mentioned in the past that linen isn’t my thing, but I do have a cheap linen/cotton popover from Target that I like and brought along (see below). I may be coming around on linen. I like it when I can make it look more rugged than refined. More on that later. The fabrics I stuck with are madras, lightweight cotton, and some synthetics which are my Patagonia baggies.

It is going to rain. This is one thing that you have to accept in a rainforest climate. I think my biggest takeaway is that no matter how light your rain jacket is it’s going to be too hot. You have a few choices. You can use an umbrella (a popular local option), wear a ball cap, or just accept being wet. I typically go with a ball cap for light rain or I will put on a long sleeve shirt to soak up the misty rain and remove it after it stops (see my pic with my Costa Rican friend below for an example). The locals all seem to favor PFG gear for this very reason which makes a lot of sense. I may have to give this a go next time around.

Who were the winners on this trip? My Patagonia baggies, J.Press Madras, old Merona brand cotton/linen popover, and green cut off cargo pants were my most worn items. Runners up were my old LE Original Oxford and Jcrew cotton henley which both served as rain jackets on a few occasions. I can’t forget to mention my Ralph Lauren madras cap and much beloved grey t-shirts. My Patagonia web belt also came in handy because it’s light to wear and because it matches nothing it works with everything.

I love visiting Costa Rica. This was my second time there. There will definitely be a third and a fourth. There are volcanoes, beaches, jungles, fresh fruit/juice, gallo pinto, wild life, sweet plantains, friendly people, amazing coffee, and I can’t forget to mention all the cool 4×4’s! Enjoy the bonus pics below!

Collar Roll Roll Up

We are always talking about collar roll over here at the OCBD blog. Today is no different. This week I pulled together a few posts that dive into the nitty gritty details that effect collar roll. Let’s get right to it.

  1. First up, renowned UK ivyist The Weejun has been back blogging. Not too long ago he went on a long rant ( his words, not mine) about button placements where he named names and pulled no punches. Here is an excerpt below, head on over to The Weejun for the full post: The Weejun Rants On Collar Buttons

But who really stops and thinks about where those buttons should be placed on a collar? Aside from us freaks of course. Well, people surely don’t because they (and we) assume the makers of such fine wares know what they’re doing and where the buttons should be placed on the collar of a shirt.

You see where I might be going with this?

It’s all about the ‘tips’, ladies and gentlemen.

That’s right. The buttons are supposed to be on the TIP of the collar points.


2. Next up I talked briefly about the collar band, collar band types, and how they can influence collar roll in my COLLAR ROLL VARIABLES: THE TOP BUTTON post.

I had never given much thought to the collar band on my shirts before. However, when I started to search for a new OCBD provider it jumped out at me pretty quick. The first OCBD that I tried was from Brooks Brothers. When I put it on I immediately noticed that the collar band…

Collar Roll Example

3. Finally, I address the two biggest reasons that collars don’t roll in the “Why Won’t my Collar Roll” post. Before I sign off I do have a question that’s been in the back of mind which is, do Adam’s apples influence collar roll? That’s all for this week. May your collars always roll, your ties always dimple, and your eBay purchases always work out.

Shetland & a Long Sleeve T-Shirt

The world keeps getting more casual while us trad’s try to remain the same. I’ve always struggled with casual outfits. When I say casual I don’t mean business casual. I am talking about Saturday type casual. I’ve had some success with switching out my chinos for green fatigue styled pants, wearing flannel shirts, and by leaving my shirts untucked. Lately I decided to branch out even further.

The trad’s instinct is to always wear an OCBD under a sweater. This is a great instinct because the shirt keeps wool off your skin and the OCBD collar gently protruding from under the sweater just looks fantastic. The problem is that this is my go to office look so it doesn’t look all that casual when I do it. Even if I swap my penny loafers for blucher mocs it doesn’t quite get there. Sneakers help, but this has been my casual Friday look. My current solution has been wearing a long sleeve t-shirt under my sweaters.

As I was writing this post I realized that this is a look that I have done done in the past. However back then I typically used a turtleneck. This is a nice way to dress this look up a touch and it still looks more casual than wearing an OCBD underneath. I am currently a big fan of the long sleeve-t though. It’s even more casual looking especially when paired with jeans, fatigues, or even our beloved chinos.

I can’t leave without mentioning how this look really helps with one specific type of sweater. The tennis sweaters or cricket sweater (depending on which side of the pond you live on) can have some 80’s movie spoiled/evil rich kid baggage. The t-shirt underneath seems to help kill a lot of that vibe. I hope this helps any of you that are struggling with those weekend casual looks. Before you ask, I just wear Hanes or Fruit of Loom long sleeve t’s!