I may have written about them before, but I've had excellent experiences with J.C. Penney's Stafford oxford cloth button-down shirts. They're not the best in the world, but they're hard to beat for the price (currently $17).
Purists may turn their noses up at these shirts because they're a blend of 60% cotton with 40% polyester, as opposed to 100% cotton.
The other day, I came across two blue and white university striped OCBDs (neither in my size) hanging close to each other at a thrift store. One was a Polo Ralph Lauren 100% cotton; the other was a 60-40 Stafford. I felt them both, and guess what? You're probably thinking I'm going to report not feeling a difference, but it's more than that -- the Stafford felt softer.
Blends may be less than ideal, but they need not be deal-breakers. If it looks like cotton, feels like cotton, and the price is right, why not try it?
Most clotheshorses seem to agree that fall and winter are the best clothing seasons. It's when you get to wear the best stuff, like tweed and flannel -- and, when it gets cold enough, you get to layer and wear as much of it as possible at once.
Even apart from clothing and weather, my favorite time of year is Christmas, followed closely by fall.
I'm generally sorry to see spring come, if for no other reasons than I hate hot weather, yard work and insects. But there are advantages too: by then I'm usually tired of my winter clothes, and I'm ready for a wardrobe change. I'm also usually sick of the bitter cold of winter by then, and I'm ready for some warmer weather.
But now, after weeks of temperatures over 100-degrees, and five months without the best season's clothes, I'm definitely ready for fall. Hopefully it comes early this year.
I ordered a package of watered silk miniature carnations from Will Boehlke's A Suitable Wardrobe store last week.
I received them yesterday and they're terrific. They're the perfect size (much smaller than traditional faux flowers), and they're much more real-looking than the silk flowers found in a typical store. To see them in action, do a search on Will's site for "Andre Churchwell," a Nashville doctor who's been featured several times on Will's blog. He seems to have taken to wearing a red one all of the time.
They're only available in a three-pack for $25. That comes out to $8.33 each (okay, $8.34 for the third one), so they're a little pricey, but that includes shipping from San Francisco to anywhere in the continental U.S. (Before ordering, I did an internet search for something cheaper, and had no luck.) They're available in dark red, white, pink, or one of each, which is what I ordered.
As I've written before, no matter how much you know about something, there's always more to learn.
I recently purchased on eBay a Black Watch (navy with subtle, dark green plaid) odd jacket by Huntington, a defunct Ivy-style clothier about which blogger Heavy Tweed Jacket has often written. The lapel's buttonhole is closed, so I did a Google search about the feasibility of opening it.
I came across a thread on Ask Andy about it; according to some people, the origin of the buttonhole was that there used to be a button on the underside of the other lapel, and a man could pop up the back of his lapel, then pull the lapels across and button them closed to cover the chest. That seems logical, as it would explain why there's only one hole, instead of one on each side.
The lounge suit (what we now call the business suit) originated as casual wear in the late-19th Century. If this story about the buttonhole's origin is correct, I wonder why men didn't just wear overcoats in cold weather? I believe the only overcoats in existence then were frock-style; maybe wearing something so formal over something then considered more casual was considered a faux pas?
I knew that was the purpose of the throat latch, which is the little strip of fabric sometimes attached near the top of an odd jacket's lapel. I wonder how it originated, if its purpose was already served by the jacket's lapel?
I also wonder why the buttonhole didn't disappear when the button under the other lapel did? Maybe because the boutonniere arrived just in time?
(Here's another of my signature, photo-less posts for this blog, which I'm shocked that anyone reads.)
Yesterday I scored three pairs of (tame, as these things go) Brooks Brothers "Go to Hell" pants -- one red, one green, one light blue, at the same thrift store for $2.48 each. They're the "Hudson" model in lightweight cotton, perfect for summer, and I found them during the first week of June! All of them are in excellent condition and they fit perfectly, with no tailoring needed; they obviously all came from the same person. I couldn't find the exact "Hudson" model I bought, but other versions called "Hudson" on Brooks Brothers' site average about $100 a pair.
Thrift shopping is one of my favorite hobbies; I enjoy the hunt almost as much as the kill, even when I don't find a "kill," so that definitely gives me an advantage over people who don't like it.
But, for such people: remember the possibility of a score like this, because it'll definitely make your drudgery worthwhile.
Happy Memorial Day, the unofficial start of summer.
I belong to a Bing Crosby fan page on Facebook, which often posts "on this day" trivia about his life.
This was posted today:
"May 28, 1951: Bing Crosby, unshaven after a week of fishing and wearing
blue jeans, is booted from the lobby of a Vancouver, BC, hotel for his
unkempt appearance. Levi Strauss & Company later outfit him with a
denim tuxedo so he'll always be suitably attired. The tux is now at Gonzaga University."
I wish things like that still happened. Today, at best, he'd be allowed to stay with no one batting an eye; at worst, he'd be asked why he's "all dressed up." I mean, seriously, who wears long pants in late May? It's too hot, even in Vancouver.
There seems to be an epidemic (prominently, but not limited to, Giuseppe, ADG, and Conor) of socklessness among men's style bloggers this time of year. And it's not just a minor aspect of their summer looks that's visible only at close glance at their pictures; they highlight it proudly. One wrote once that he tries to completely avoid socks between June-September; another wrote that he has considered getting a "Summer is Sockless" tattoo. Some even go sockless with suits.
Stop it. It looks like crap. It's on the level of clip-on collar bars or braces, short "dress" socks, or short-sleeved "dress shirts."
I also cannot for the life of me imagine how it's comfortable. I have never, ever, EVER, in my entire life, been outside on a really hot day and thought, "Boy, my feet and ankles sure are hot. I'd be a lot more comfortable if they were uncovered." (This is the same "comfort" argument I've often seen for sandals and flip-flops -- they supposedly make your feet cooler. How does leaving your skin exposed to the hot sun make them cooler than covering them, especially if it's with something breathable?! And, even if it does, it's HIDEOUS -- suck it up and stop being such an eyesore.)
And I don't even want to think about what the insides of their shoes smell like at the end of the day.
The only time I can imagine socklessness being passable style-wise is with shorts, and basically the only time I see shorts as passable style-wise is in a backyard or at the beach. But then you'd be wearing canvas sneakers or something, not leather dress or casual shoes, which is what I'm referring to here.
Pants, ties, jackets of any sort, and especially suits should always be worn with socks.
No matter how much you know about something, you never stop learning.
I've always liked the little row of stitching, about 1/2" in from the outer edge of the lapel, that's often seen on odd jackets and blazers and on casual suits like poplin. But, until the other day, I never knew what this feature was called. Now I do: such lapels are said to have swelled edges, I guess because the section on the outside of the stitching tends to look swollen or "puffy" compared the the rest of the lapel on the inside, although this is probably an optical illusion.
A Google search didn't turn up an explanation for how this feature originated.
This is an example of how something looks "right" or "wrong" based on past experience, even if it's subconscious and you can't explain what's "right" or "wrong" about it. But odd jackets without swelled edges have usually looked "off" somehow to me, I guess because they look too plain, even though I couldn't articulate why -- and, even if I could, I didn't know what the missing feature was called.
But, by the same token, most suits would look "off" with swelled edges, I guess because an article of clothing is generally dressier the plainer it is.
are few eyesores that are worse than a man in a wife-beater. I saw two
tonight -- and it was like 20 degrees outside. So apparently the answer
to the question of how cold it has to get for someone to put on a whole
shirt is: for some men, it never gets cold enough.
I think I'm going to
open my own online store, selling wife-beaters with "It's Never Too Cold
to Look Like Shit" written across the front.
You may remember that I ordered my first-ever pair of Viccel socks on Nov. 30 -- a red pair, to wear at Christmas.
Unfortunately, they didn't arrive in time -- or at all. I emailed Viccel's proprietor a few days before Christmas; he informed me that my socks had been mailed on Dec. 2, and asked me to keep him updated.
I emailed him again shortly after New Year's, telling him they still hadn't arrived. He apologized, and wrote that he would send a replacement pair.
They arrived last week, about when I expected. Then, the next day, another pair arrived.
I still had the previous day's empty package on my desk; when I checked the postmark, it was Dec. 2. I have no idea why the first package took two months to arrive. But, thanks to Kamal's generous replacement of the first pair -- which I thought were lost forever, I'm now the proud owner of two pair of scarlet red over-the-calf dress socks.
I haven't worn either yet; I intended for red socks to be for Christmas only, but I'll have to take one pair out for a spin long before then, to see how they feel. Maybe I'll wear them on Valentine's Day; that seems as good a day as Christmas to wear red socks. After that, I suspect that they'll live in a drawer until December. I'll report back after the first wearing. If the fit and feel of Viccel's socks are as good as their customer service, I expect to order more socks from them soon.