Monday, December 30, 2013
Fan though I am of minimal socks, the leather around the mouth is emphatically not yet supple. I therefore wear my soccer socks under them to protect my delicate shins. Plus, those socks are tres comfortable for wet winters. It's been since I was in the Boy Scouts since I appreciated the joys of warm, dry feet.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
And more of it. I once read that crewneck sweaters are more preppy than v-neck sweaters because crewneck sweaters only incidentally show the necktie, as compared to v-neck sweaters, which are designed to show it. The thinking goes that only the nouveau riche feel the need to go out of their way to show off how fancily they dress. Me, I have them in both styles and like them for different reasons. V-neck is more appropriate for wearing with a suit anymore as it's pretty much bog standard among lawyers and probably bankers, so much so that wearing a crewneck with a suit and tie would possibly look like an error to someone who didn't know you. There be dragons.
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Several years ago, Mater got me a pair of APC New Standard raw selvedge jeans for Christmas. I really enjoyed the process of wearing them constantly to get them to adapt to my body. They ended up fitting snugly but certainly not uncomfortably. I put them in a drawer during the summer and recently pulled them back out.
In the meantime, thanks to my brother in law and his partners at 5 Rings Fitness shameless plug in Falls Church and their obsession with squats and deadlifts, my thighs have gotten so big that I can barely get the jeans to pull up to my hips. Dapper Spouse loves this because it's what women have to go through with all of their jeans. I suspect they still have some stretch in them, though.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Saturday, November 9, 2013
This is the MISTER.duvall fox tie I referenced last post. h/t my phone camera for accurately detecting the colors. The piping has a velveteen look to it, basically the same color as the fox's eyes, or close enough that nobody at an appropriate distance will be able to differentiate. Anyone at an inappropriate distance will probably be about to kiss you and will not, one hopes, be looking at your bow tie at that point.
It's far too easy to run aground when printing little animal images on your neckwear. For example, my alma mater offers this rather than a nice repp-stripe tie in the school colors (one that does NOT include the logo in 1.5" letters at the bottom of the front of the polyester tie like this I mean seriously polyester for a necktie? I clearly need to go back and sort some things out in Norman).
Anyway. The fox is in low enough resolution that it's sort of impressionistic. It's got nice colors. It's a piece that demands to be used in fun and interesting ways. I am thinking I would build up a winter ensemble of dark denim and gray coat, white shirt--standard neutral palette--but stick some green in it somewhere subtle: maybe socks or shoelaces. Then stick the tie up top. Bam. Step 3 is walking out the door and smiling, as usual.
Thanks to MISTER.duvall for giving me the chance to review this stuff. I may post on some of their other samples in the future if inspiration strikes.
Saturday, November 2, 2013
A friend of a friend is affiliated with a newish bow-tie company called "MISTER. duvall." (Don't worry; their typography is sufficiently well-chosen to carry such a brand name. I doubt the Virginia Corporation Commission would be able to register it properly, though.) They bill themselves as specializing in weddings and other special events. They sent me a few samples to have a look at, and to the surprise of no one, I have many opinions, which I will try to string out into several posts.
The fabric is 100% silk and comes in a huge variety of weaves--twill, corduroy, and more standard options. The silk is substantial and has a lot of internal structure compared to what you'd find at a department store (I have a question in to them about their interfacing and will update you); knotted, they make for a reasonable-sized bow but can get plenty big if you futz with the tying process. They have both pre-tied and adjustable self-tied options; you know which to choose. List price is $120, which is not outlandish for a small business. JAB sells their noticeably lower-quality, lower-weight, smaller, and un-piped product for $60 list (still very wearable, nothing shabby).
As you can see, this is definitely a special-event bow tie. Contrast piping is a "sartorial power move" as the #menswear people call it. A magenta bow tie is not out of the question in court (for oral argument, at least), but the black piping will make it look equally startling next to a gray or navy suit, which would otherwise be its natural and fetching home. It might work with a black suit, but then, you'd be wearing a black suit. Compare the navy and orange/rust/brown? tie with matched piping; this could be worn in front of a jury of one's peers or drinking buddies with equal aplomb.
The fox tie on the far right merits its own study.
Saturday, October 19, 2013
I like to peacock a bit from time to time, meaning the hours of the day when I am awake and not in the house, especially as the weather turns and the darker suits come out of the storage closet. Not-really-hidden red at the neck and ankles makes a great pop and acts as an in-joke between you and yourself and which you are constantly telling to relative strangers at parties.
Scarlet socks from Dapper Classics, a Christmas gift from Dapper-in-Law, a professional scrapbooker. Bowtie by Cinabre, a gift from Dapper Spouse, nice muted almost-olive color on the front, crimson on the back.
N.B. The socks also coordinate with the red highlights in our VW GTI's upholstery and steering-wheel thread. Are you detecting a pattern?
(Shameless plug: if you or someone you know likes scrapbooking with top-notch production values, this scrapbooking retreat at the Hyatt Dulles next year, organized by Dapper-in-Law and other scrappers, should be, well, epic.)
Sunday, October 13, 2013
Had a recent run of good luck finding knitted silk ties at JAB. Found another one at Nordstrom Rack at Potomac Mills, a few times more expensive than JAB clearance, but you figure store-brand at Nordstrom, must be pretty good, right, so you buy it on the spot.
Get home, discover that it's 100% polyester.
Books, covers, etc. To Goodwill!
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Burgundy briefcase: $20 on ebay, shipped. Real leather. Functional locks. Multiple pockets. Suede lining.
Black briefcase: gift from many years ago. Clasp stopped working. Emailed the manufacturer, Aaron Irvin, who sent me a replacement clasp free of charge.
Belt at top of image: the rats (pet rats...) chewed on the leather at the end, which caused the fabric underneath to start to unravel a bit. I tuck or fold it so it doesn't show.
Shred of dry-cleaners tag on the left edge: laundering and ironing my own shirts for the time being. Got tired of how fast they shrink, stain, improperly flatten, and otherwise wear out at the dry cleaners.
Entire image: meant to just photograph the briefcases. Accidentally photographed belt and tag. Rather than re-take photograph, used it as is. Money saved: $0. Still, it's the principle!
Do your part!
Sunday, September 22, 2013
Styles come and go in watches as in everything--how else could we move product without building things to break down in a year or two?--but the median size, adjusted for time, appears to be much smaller and thinner than at present. 40mm is quite rather big. We may well be living in the wristwatch equivalent of 1980s shoulder pads or 1970s lapels.
Pater has a bigger bone structure than I do, so a large watch-face might look more correctly proportional on him, whereas a watch that would look normal on me might look comically small on him.
Anyway, blah blah, how about practical advice?
1. Go to the store to pick one out. This is the only way to get proportion right.
2. If you can't be bothered, timeless styles are better. Obviously, we can't all solve the problem by throwing money at it, so how about a Timex Weekender for wearing with odd jackets and an Invicta Pro Diver for suits?
3. You've decided to ignore my advice. Congratulations--you're smarter than you look! May I convince you to go with something simple like this (42mm diameter...! must you?) rather than a mess of complications like this?
*Legolas, not Keebler.
Monday, September 2, 2013
My very favorite collar shape is a spread collar with a bit of an s-curve to it. Not all shirts will do it properly, and not at every stage of their life cycle. Here, on a Charles Tyrwhitt shirt. On my right shoulder, from the front, it looks like the calculus symbol for taking an integral. The pocket for the collar stay still leaves about 3/8" for the tip to bend.
There are way too many cheap opportunities to pun or riff on the word "integral" here, so instead, I'll name-check the Heisenberg principle and go to bed early before I make any such mistakes.
Or is that too derivative?
Saturday, August 17, 2013
"Everybody knows you never go full Euro." -Kirk Lazarus, Tropic Thunder (2008) (paraphrased).
"When in Vienna..." -Saint Ambrose (paraphrased)
We honeymooned in Austria. European guys are known for being more fashion forward than American guys, and the reality matches the reputation. It was the hottest summer on record in Austria since the 1500s, so everyone was sweating and equally miserable, but we made do.
The alley to my left leads to the Bierhof, a fabulous little biergarten where the servers wear stylish lederhosen. Take the Herrengasse exit from the Herrengasse U-bahn station and just keep walking forward when you come off the staircase.
Sunglasses by asos.com, $20
French boater shirt by J. Crew, $40 or so
Blue suede rubber-sole bluchers by Florsheim, $60 from Nordstrom Rack (!)
Timex Weekender, gift ($34 list or so)
Mustard chinos, Gap outlet
Monday, August 12, 2013
I found your blog this morning when looking to see how long a tie should be. I am likely going to be moving into a Superintendency position here in rural Montana. Not exactly the fashion capital of the world. My question is what is the best way to go about buying a new suit. Should I go to a tailor what material is best, most comfortable, what type of suit etc. I am not looking to spend $3,000 dollars but would like a nice one. Thanks in advance.
This is a great time to state my current (and frequently evolving) view on value/material/intangibles.
You absolutely must find a dedicated alterations tailor with menswear experience. One Weird Old Tip: google ["ask andy" alterations _______ montana"] filling in a place near you. If that doesn't work, [styleforum alterations _______ montana]. Or Yelp.
I've written on alterations before:
A Brief Guide: A Suit That Fits
When you're just starting out re suits, I remain convinced that Jos. A. Bank is the way to go, with caveats. Never pay full price for anything--effective 66% discount or better. Scrounge in the clearance stuff. Never have them do your alterations.
Material? 100% wool, no question. You should have one suit for each day of the week on which you regularly wear a suit. Obtain in this order: mid gray, navy, charcoal. Not black.
Social considerations as well. If you're a superintendent of schools with a lot of public-facing time, you have the same problem that politicians have: they can't look way richer than their clients (the parents, the teachers) do. Until you get a better feel for your constituency, you may want to stick with the Signature line. Signature Gold is a huge step up in quality by various measures, but it stands out in a way you might not want.
Grab an Atlantic magazine with the buy 4 for $80 deal (full-page coupon somewhere in there) on shirts at Paul Fredrick. They have some good ties as well (only buy on sale), but it's hard to tell from online. JAB also has some good ties. Go to the store if possible so you can feel the material. The more texture it has, generally speaking, the better. Shoes--Allen Edmonds, from eBay.
Finally: You cannot ever buy anything from Van Heusen ever again. Sorry.
Let me know if you have other questions.
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
I like a lot of what Will at A Suitable Wardrobe has to say. One thing he does is use his jacket pockets instead of his pants pockets. Several months ago, I experimented with this approach as well.
I am a convert. Nothing is there to interfere with my pants' relatively finicky silhouette, whereas jackets are much more forgiving in this regard. Everything is closer at hand. No more moving my keys to a front pocket when I sit.
Finally, it allows me to leave my rear pockets permanently buttoned, which causes the seat of the pants to fit better--or at least closer to the artist's original intent.
Give it a try.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Brown suede Neumoks, a wingtip balmoral, from Allen Edmonds. (The names they give their quirky or strangely colored models always sound like Pokemon to me. Banchory, cast Goodyear Welt!) This is the second pair I've owned. A gash opened up in the instep of the first pair. I sent them to AE, who promptly sent me a new pair. I'm not convinced that they were convinced that the gash was structural rather than wearer-induced, but my heart would've been broken otherwise.
Worn with no-show socks in the summer, they are just about perfect at everything except for standing up to a daily Virginia monsoon. I wore them on Saturday only after determining that I would be in a bar during the entire period for which rain was predicted. I admit I was in the bar both before and after the precipitation but will not admit for how long on either side.
Tan linen pants from Old Navy for $30, green Gap camp shirt for about $5. I got them quite a while ago and have been trying to wean myself off of Bangladeshi labor in the meantime, with limited success.
Friday, July 5, 2013
I waxed overly poetic and insufficiently practical last time. "What the hell is he talking about?" you may have mused. Exhibit 1: Cotton suit with an almost denim weave, next to a red linen tie (Nieman Marcus outlet, $40! and it knots so exquisitely), says, "Yeah, I'm wearing a cotton suit. But I'm doing it on purpose. Everything I put on this morning, I put on on purpose. If you hadn't made an appointment to see me today, I probably would have stayed home and worked in a Snuggie*. But, here we are, so let me tell you how committed Virginia is to the doctrine of employment at will..."
Also, it was the day before the 4th of July, though I wasn't thinking of that when I put it on. Just wait until Halloween, when I break out my black suit and orange shirt and tie. Just kidding! It's a black shirt with an orange suit. I have standards, you know.
*Dapper District actually feels very strongly that Snuggies ought to be illegal.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Ahh, the swamp. D.C. is like no other in this regard. I wish I could tell you that textile science has solved the problem once and for all, but to my knowledge, sorry. The thing about summer is that the homogenization of men's suits works against us. Fabrics best suited for summer (cotton, linen, poplin) look more casual and tend to come in more-casual colors like tan or very light grey (or seersucker's narrow stripes). Would that we all had the wealth to decamp to the country in the summer, where such suits would be at home.
The question becomes how to dress up inherently casual fabrics. The answer is, as usual, razor-sharp tailoring, or tailoring at least sharp enough to convey the fact that you have employed it. The next is consistency with your tie. Wear something in knit silk, as shown, for example, to show that you recognize that you are wearing a somewhat casual suit, rather than that you only had one suit clean, it was this one, and you wore it out of necessity, then tried to dress it up with ancient madder. Pocket squares are a must, using either white with the TV fold, as shown, or something that coordinates extremely well with the rest of the outfit. And wear your best shoes. Suede if you have them and it's not raining. Calf otherwise. Bluchers would best fit our idea of consistency, but then, who these days recognizes their pastoral nature compared to the oxford?
I am convinced that dressing respectfully for the occasion is more a matter of communicating that you have amply prepared for it than of wearing the most formal outfit that the occasion will support. Exceptions made for black tie, of course.
Friday, June 14, 2013
It may be a symptom of the raising of button stance. My bog-standard JAB suits button about two inches above my navel. My fashion-forward (at the time) Hickey buttons about three inches above, and my shirtwaist and tie tip are constantly peeking out. If the fit and material weren't otherwise excellent, I'd be bothered. Cary Grant was a tall bastard but still often wore jackets which buttoned right at his navel.
But I was ruminating on skirt length. I think, and history and the more timeless elements of men's style suggest, that the proper length is just enough to completely cover the bottom of your butt and/or so that if you dangle your arms at your sides and make a cup of your hands, the bottom edge will just brush the inside of your lowest knuckle. In a few years, after skirt lines have made the gradual return to normalcy, the short jackets will look quite odd. Or so I predict.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Back before it was 90 degrees in the shade (why did I wear a navy suit today?), I wore this on a sun-dappled plaza. Irish wool cable-knit sweater (LL Bean, clearance); green chinos (BR outlet); ...shoes (DSW, no idea the brand, they're so old); Timex Weekender (a gift; can be had now for $35 or less, a very versatile face with easily swappable bands).
I think that was the day I was looking around in the bike shop when the guy came in with a rusted-out bike and a brown paper sack from the liquor store across the street. The moral of the story is: wipe the snow salt off your bike when you get home. Come to think of it, the same is true for shoes. Fret not, my dears; we'll be freezing to death and trudging through snow again before you know it. At least you're not in Norman, OK, home of my alma mater, tonight. Apart from that random earthquake a while ago, DC really doesn't get much in the way of natural disasters, and certainly not serious tornadoes.
Saturday, April 27, 2013
Pater and I got into a discussion about this recently. He remarked that any popped collar seemed an affectation. This especially so in current times, when online made-to-measure shops allow you to pick from twenty different felt colors for the material underneath your jacket collar. I agree. However, the whole reason that there is a buttonhole on your jacket's lapel is that, once upon a time, there was a button on the other side so that you could latch your collar shut when skulking around in the cold, rainy Scottish highlands. The popped collar was, originally, a sporting invention. In fact, given that the suit jacket derived from old military jackets which had unfolded collars, to pop one's collar in legitimately cold weather today is almost a sort of nostalgia.
If it's cold, pop your collar. If you really are trying to keep the sun off your neck, pop your collar. If you can justify it in any functional way, by all means, pop.
*Not too quickly, I might add, for our student-produced follies show, the Law Revue, to cast me as an undergraduate/dancer in a number based on "Unbelievable" by the band EMF. The reworked title was "Undergraduate," and it sang of some law students' practice of picking up GW undergrads when they were either unable to connect with any other law students or felt that the pickings were too slim. If memory serves, and there's a video somewhere of this, I wore all four polo shirts I owned at the time, with collars popped, and danced provocatively near the law student who was singing.
Thursday, April 4, 2013
After I went to the Nats' home opener on Monday and basked in the glorious sunshine (not to mention April showers), I came home and moved these items--tweeds and browns--to the hall closet where my clothes take their seasonal vacations.
Of course, this morning saw sub-freezing temperatures in the suburbs, so I had to reverse course and put the lightweight suiting back into storage.
I love tweed dearly, but I'm ready for a change of pace.
Friday, March 29, 2013
French cuffs seem to be magnets for this kind of mishap--some sort of dirt or grime or something that won't come out, even at the dry cleaners. It happened on both sides, actually, and I've had this shirt just a few months. No fancy solution to offer here. You have to decide whether it looks bad enough. I'm still on the fence (and lacking a bit of depth on my dress-shirt bench at the moment). If I were giving objective advice to myself, I'd say, "Goodwill this immediately." Maybe I should take my own advice.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Wore this to an Irish pub in Dallas, for kicks, a few winters ago. While I waited for my friends to arrive, one of the guys at the next table over kind of scooted over and said, "Bow ties are cool!" I immediately knew what he was talking about, but it hadn't occurred to me that I was channelling Matt Smith. I told him I'd forgotten my fez.
Madras bowtie from The Cordial Churchman (can't recommend her enough). White linen shirt from Gap outlet. Sweater and pocket square were gifts. The jacket came, by way of eBay, from an old menswear store in Albuquerque, NM that closed in the 1970s when the big-name department stores started dominating the market. I'd rate this outfit, wearing gloves and with the jacket collar turned up, at 30 degrees with no need for an overcoat. I'm going to miss tweed when spring finally reaches D.C., if ever.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Wild pocket square (Brooks Brothers, clearance (can you imagine why?)) with hints of navy (necktie, Charles Tyrwhitt) in the turquoise, hints of pink (shirt, also Charles Tyrwhitt) in the magenta. I couldn't decide whether the square was too outre or too matchy. The colors are so friggin' rich--why haven't they made me President yet?
That's the nice thing about being thrifty + an eBay dry spell. You eventually get tired of wearing the same white linen pocket square every time with an outfit and grab something random out of the back of the closet just to see if it goes. I would do this more often, but I don't usually lay out my clothes the night before, and I dress in the morning before I have any caffeine, so my creative brain isn't engaged yet.
I would get a valet stand--something like this--and lay out everything the night before, but I think Dapper Fiancee would give me no end of ribbing about it.
I just put down a bid on a double-breasted 2x2-keystone Hickey Freeman suit on eBay. Keep your fingers crossed for me. Need a little new blood in the closet.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
So these are from Banana Republic, on sale, 34" inseam. That's longer than I usually take, but the 32" pair I had gotten in green shrank after one washing to the point that they never quite reached the tops of my shoes. That look becomes trendy once in a blue moon, but it always goes away in a few months. When I bought the 34s, the salesperson assured me that the pants were pre-shrunk and couldn't imagine how the 32s had, in fact, shrunk.
So I toiled in the 34s for several months with the cuffs rolled once. Dapper Fiancee gave me a hard time about this, but my alterations person said that if we hemmed them higher, it would never look right due to the material used.
Now, having washed them a few times more than necessary and perhaps on higher temperatures than were called for by the situation, they have a full break rather than puddling at my ankles. Not ideal for chinos, but such are the perils of having a leg height which is somewhere between the standard sizes. This is another good reason not to spend $200 on a pair of cotton pants.
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Pink and light blue seemed sensible enough as I put on my shirt. After all, mid-gray is a nice, neutral base, no? But I hadn't had any coffee or gone for a run, so my brain wasn't fully engaged. So much color was making me happy, and in much the same way that the first shot of tequila makes the second one seem like an even better idea, I put on this blue tie.
Shirt and tie, Charles Tyrwhitt [introductory sale]
Socks, Dapper Classics [Christmas]
Suit, Hickey (now defunct) [Filene's Basement (now defunct)]
Shoes, Church's [eBay]
Sunday, February 3, 2013
I don't know where Dapper Fiancee got this apron, but it sure works well when I appropriate it. I suppose something like this would be more practical, but the advantage of a two-tone pattern like this is that it doesn't show grease stains as easily as a vast cream-colored surface or a standard black "Kiss the Cook" apron which is de rigeur for grillmasters. The wild pattern interrupts the eye's attempts to go, "Oh, is that bacon grease mixed with steak juice and Jose Cuervo? Just what exactly were you making?" If you must know, I find cooking less stressful when accompanied by a cocktail.
The t-shirt came from the Saturday-morning confab of local craftspeople who gather in the courtyard outside the Potbelly near the Ballston Metro station. It has octopus tentacles up and down the front--and the back as well, which you almost never get from Internet t-shirt sites. Extremely well printed. Unfortunately, the craftsperson didn't include any information to identify zirself, so I can't offer a plug. However, ze may still frequent that market and would be worth a visit if so.
Thursday, January 24, 2013
If you're careful and thorough, and you make sure to wipe/shake/knock the snow off your calfskin shoes, they should be able to hold up. Dry them off at your earliest opportunity. Overshoes or galoshes aren't a bad idea, but make sure they go up high enough, or you'll just end up with snow inside your shoes.
The real problem, though, is the dry air and attendant static electricity. My heavy wool coat actually stuck to my pants leg yesterday (granted, they were tweed pants). Really messes with the "drape" we all prize. A spray bottle of water is a useful fix, but it never works for me past about 15 minutes. I hear hairspray works well, but I hesitate to touch my suits with that.
Anyway, here's to dressing up even when the weather disagrees.
Monday, January 14, 2013
It might be fair to accuse me of chasing cheap thrills. However, compared to bungee jumping, red socks with an otherwise conservative gray suit, black shoes, and subdued tie are downright safe. If you want more "my pants, socks, and shoes" posts, you'll have to visit Will at A Suitable Wardrobe, as his vastly larger supply of shoes, mostly bespoke, is simply more photogenic.
This is also a good time of year to catch up on your major menswear bloggers as they reblog photos of themselves, taken by others, at the Pitti Uomo menswear trade show. See, e.g., Simon Crompton. If I only had a beard and the dosh for a round-trip ticket to Italy.
Saturday, January 5, 2013
Very straightforward pima cotton v-neck sleeved sweater from JAB. (Thanks, Mater!) Mid-gray color means it coordinates well with the darker grays one usually finds in suiting. Suit is a JAB Signature Gold; necktie from a random brand at Davelle; Calvin Klein hidden-placket car coat from Filene's (requiescat in pace); Charles Tyrwhitt shirt with a great roll to the collar. For those cold, cold walks from the parking garage to the courthouse.
The only nettlesome thing about wearing a sweater with a tie is what to do with the bit of the tie that extends past the top of your belt. I have the best luck with just tucking it into my pants. It comes out a bit wrinkled at the end of the day, but it's, net, better than having your necktie peek out from the bottom of your sweater.