Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Punctilios: Pick-Stitching

Look closely at the lapel of my latest Signature suit from Jos. A. Bank.  Not too closely.  See those dimples about 4mm from the edge, with about 3mm between them?  It's matched thread, and it runs the length of the lapel, and it's called pick-stitching.  Pick-stitching is only necessary on suits that are canvased (i.e., the padding between the fabric is actual canvas, which is more expensive than using fusible material, which does not require thread to hold the suit's faces together).

Fortunately for those of us on a budget, aesthetic, non-functional pick-stitching can be had on good-quality suits as well as top-quality suits.  The distinction isn't well known, so a crap suit with pick-stitching isn't worth the false economy.  But if you find a good-quality suit you like that aspires to real pick-stitching, so much the better.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Speaking of Boots

Picked me up some new boots when I was down in Austin a few weekends ago.  I'd been wanting a black pair for the better part of two years.

They're Justins, and after just one day of wear, the soles are already starting to scuff pleasantly:

I wasn't crazy about the white stitching detail at first, but I like how it pops with the white in a pair of faded jeans.  The boots worked as well with a gray chambray shirt as they did with a gray-blue t-shirt with black accents.  Now, to get a gray suit with a full enough break that I don't look like I'm waiting for a flood.

Friday, May 21, 2010


Some days, a man's just gotta wear boots.

These are Luccheses, from the 1883 collection, purchased four years ago at the now-defunct Western Warehouse on Central Expressway at about Walnut Hill in Dallas, Texas.  Thanks, Pater.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Necessaries: A Geek's Umbrella

(nicked from this page. Look how young Harrison Ford is!)

A month or so ago, I recommended that one always have handy a good umbrella.  A lovely site called ThinkGeek offers an excellent way to do this while also flying one's geek flag: the Blade Runner Umbrella.  Mine finally arrived (they were sold out for a painfully long time), and it rests in the corner of my office, waiting for a time when it gets dark before 9:00pm.

Or until that damned volcano's ash cloud covers D.C.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Essentials: A Chrome Cufflink

I believe this pair went for $15 at Filene's Basement.  One quality, simple pair of mirrored cufflinks with some minor embellishment (such as the grooves shown here, which I need to clean out) will get you through those odd days where your tie and shirt don't quite go together how you wanted them to.  They'll also tide you over until you find the perfect pair.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Avoiding the Dry Cleaners

The more venerable men's dress fashion writers advocate going to the dry cleaners as infrequently as possible.  As in, never, unless your suit pants take on an odor.  After my dry cleaners shrank several shirts, I started laundering them myself and only having them pressed at the cleaners (missing an hour of work costs more than not having to do an hour of ironing).

Well, that's not enough, apparently.  My favorite Paul Fredrick Imperial 100s French blue dress shirt came back with a permanent stain on the front of the collar.  From pressing.  The cleaners did the same thing to my other two shirts in the same style.  I do not understand.  But I know that I am done, done, done with dry cleaners.

Thus, gentlemen, to clean a suit from head to toe, without any interference from the outside world:

1. Hang the jacket to air out.
2. Use a steamer to get the wrinkles out of the jacket (30 sec).
3. Hang the pants to air out.
4. Use a steamer to get the wrinkles out of the pants (30 sec).
5. Put the shirt in the washing machine in cold water.
6. Tumble dry the shirt.
7. Iron the shirt your bloody, bloody, bloody self (5 min).
8. Wash and dry your socks and underwear the same as the shirt.

At least this way, you own your stains.

Expect future updates about the bad-ass iron I plan to buy myself.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Secret Weapons: Good Shoe Trees

Every pair of your dress shoes deserves a good set of shoe trees, spring-loaded and made of cedar or some other suitable unvarnished wood, like those shown above.  They run in the $20 neighborhood.

Their virtues are numerous: the cedar rapidly eliminates foot odor; the springs help restore your shoes' shape while they rest between wearings; and they provide a fuller support for your shoes because they expand to take the shoes' shape.

Collapse the two toe-leaves together and insert the piece into your shoe.  Compress the spring in the handle and ease it into place against the shoe's inside heel.  Then, give the shoe a couple of firm strikes on either side of the ball and on the heel.  This will ensure that the shoe tree expands fully.