Mordechai Rubenstein of Mister Mort recently visited the beach house of Doug Bihlmaier, who works in vintage for Ralph Lauren (essentially he is vintage Ralph Lauren; he’s also notably photogenic). When I asked Mordechai what brought him there, he told me “Doug’s [Land Rover] Defender.” Although it was not a business trip, Mordechai took some snapshots and has over 20 up on his blog, so you can visualize what it would be like to live in a beachfront RRL store, surrounded by an archive of attractively shabby textiles and artifacts of Americana. Doug has more interesting fabrics patching up one sleeve than most of us have in our entire closets. I’m sure there’s more there than even shown on Mister Mort; according to Mordechai, “The most interesting things I saw were captured solely by my eyes and heart.”
A Popover for Summer
The spate of hot weather recently had me thinking about what kind of shirts I might like to get this summer. High on the list are popovers. A popover is a woven shirt with a placket that only goes partially down the chest. I suspect they’re a holdover from when sport shirts weren’t all made with coat fronts (an early version of such a design can be seen here). They’re less common now, but I think they can look quite good on men with slim stomachs. They’re more relaxed than a traditional shirt, but more dressed up than a polo shirt, and this in-between-ness makes them just right for when you want to look smart on casual days.
I bought this one from Gant two years ago, but sadly the cut didn’t work out for me, so now I’m on the market for another. The nicest one I’ve seen is by Isaia, which is pictured above. My friend Agyesh, who actually took the image shown, works for Isaia and tells me that the brand still makes these. They should be available at Saks Fifth Avenue (especially the one in New York City), but if not, any store that offers Isaia’s made-to-measure program will be able to custom make one up for you. You can get the model above, or one with a button-down collar and mitered placket.
In addition, Sid Mashburn has some very handsome ones with a deep, long placket. Epaulet, New England Shirt Company, and Wharf also look promising.
For something a bit more fashion forward, there’s a small selection at Need Supply, and a few designs by Engineered Garments this season at French Garment Cleaners and Oi Polloi. Steven Alan happens to have one of them on sale, which you can knock another 15% off by signing up for their newsletter. For something a bit more workwear-ish, check out Thoroughstitch and Levis Vintage Clothing.
All the aforementioned companies make really nice shirts, but they can be a bit expensive. If you want something more affordable, and don’t mind short-sleeves, J Crew has a bunch on sale right now. You can take 30% off the listed price by punching in the code SUMMER at checkout.
And finally, for people who need a special size, there are a number of options for custom. In addition to the Isaia you see above, Individualized Shirts and Mercer & Sons have made-to-order programs. They’re not exactly made-to-measure, meaning you can’t get things made to your exact measurements, but you can choose from different cuts and patterns to get the shirt you need (for Individualized, you’ll have to go to their factory, however). Luxire also makes them through an online made-to-measure service, and I can recommend my shirtmaker Ascot Chang for bespoke. Ascot Chang is actually running a promotion right now where you can get one shirt free for every six you order. Granted, they’re not cheap – so buying six at a time is pretty expensive – but they do fantastic work and offer tremendous value at their price tier. You can visit them at one of their stores, or catch them on their US tour this month.
(Photo credit: Mad House, Inc)
( for those that have asked recently, the Panama is from Stetson )
Ikire Jones Pocket Squares
Our friend Wale Oyejide recently started a new clothing line called Ikire Jones. I’ve actually been in touch with Wale about his project for the last year and a half or so, as we used to trade emails about clothing production, design, and distribution. For a time, I was thinking about starting a small accessories company, but work got too busy for me. Wale, on the other hand, has been working hard to make his company happen, and his first collection of jackets and pocket squares were released a month or so ago.
Wale sent me a few of his pocket squares to check out and I’m rather impressed with what he put together. The squares are made from a 70/ 30 wool-silk blend and the edges have nice plump rolls. Each square is also generously sized at 45cm x 45cm. It’s harder and harder to find pocket squares this size nowadays, as many manufacturers need to cut down on their costs, so they skimp on material, but a bigger square means getting something that won’t slip down in your breast pocket throughout the day.
What I like most is the artwork, which are inspired by Wale’s Nigerian heritage and hand printed in Macclesfield, England (where much of the world’s best printing is done). As a matter of practicality, it’s easier to wear pocket squares like these since you never want your squares to match too closely with your ties. Thus, when you have a big, bold pattern – as opposed to a small repeating one such as pin dots – you can always be assured that they’ll stand on their own, but still harmonize through a complementary color. And, with a little turning here and there, you can show off which colors you want most. I’ve taken my favorite of Wale’s five designs, the darker red “Iya Ni Wun” square, which celebrates the relationship between a mother and her child, and put it in one of my pockets to demonstrate. With a little turning, the square can be a dark mottled green, a light celery green, or a pumpkin orange.
Wale’s squares sell for $ 65, which is a great price for what these are. You can check out everything at his webstore and follow him on his blog Less Gentlemen. We wish him the best of luck with his new venture.
I’ve recently become obsessed with Heinrich Dinkelacker Budapesters. These are the classic triple-soled Hungarian s**t kickers… they’ve gotta weigh ten pounds each, but what could be better when you’re slogging your way through the cobblestone streets of Central Europe? Seriously, these shoes are amazing. And a little ridiculous. I love them.
Derek mentioned Markkt recently on the blog. They’re a UK-based sample sale site with a very cool collection of brands. At the moment, they’re offering both one of my favorite brands in the world, Nigel Cabourn, and Common Projects, the ultra-premium sneaker brand. CPs are very, very expensive (and rarely on sale), but if you’ve got the dough, they’re pretty much the perfect sneaker. I bought a pair last year at a very high price, but I’m happy I did. And I’m a real miser. Markkt is running them at £170, which is about $ 250, around a 35% significant discount from their sticker price.
The Chunky Turtleneck
A friend of mine recently asked me if I knew of a good source for chunky turtlenecks, which reminded of how much I like wearing mine. The one I bought is a cream-colored cable knit with a thickly ribbed, fold down collar. I think it pairs well with heavy outerwear pieces, such as duffle coats, waxed cotton jackets, and pea coats. Ideally, you would wear it when it’s bitterly cold outside, so that it’s more of a functional garment than just a fashion piece.
The best chunky turtleneck I know of is made by Inis Meain, a traditional knitwear maker based on one of the Aran Islands outside the coast of Ireland. Their sweaters are exceptional, but admittedly also very expensive. You can purchase one of their Aran turtleneck designs from Axel’s. For other options in this price tier, consider the offerings by Malo, Sandro, and E. Tautz. Note that Barney’s and Mr. Porter will hold 75%+ off sales at the end of the season (though, that’ll still leave many of those pieces in the “very-expensive” range).
For something more affordable, there’s S.E.H. Kelly’s moss-stitch knit and Ralph Lauren’s cable knit (the latter of the two is having a pretty big sale right now, incidentally, but unfortunately not on that sweater). Fisherman Out of Ireland also has a cabled and ribbed turtleneck available for $ 150, which you can buy from them through email. I’ve never handled any of their products, but reviews online seem to be good.
Finally, for lack of a better descriptor, there are slightly more rugged options that stay true to the sweater’s workwear origins. Orvis, North Sea Clothing Company, Nigel Cabourn, Aero Leathers, What Price Glory, and Freeman’s Sporting Club may have better bets if you’re likely to wear your turtleneck with things such as jeans and workwear jackets.
A word of caution before you proceed: though Tom Junod once had a great article in GQ about how his father religiously believed that turtlenecks were the most flattering thing a man can wear, I think they really should only be worn by men with defined jawlines. It doesn’t have to be model-esque, but a man with a weak jawline or flabby chin will only look worse when a turtleneck covers up whatever little definition he has. Best to be honest with yourself before you splurge on an expensive sweater.
The Second Best Color for Flannel Trousers
I recently picked up a new pair of flannel trousers, despite having promised myself that I wouldn’t buy any more dress pants for the rest of the year. I have too many pairs as is, and I’ve come to realize that one only needs five or six odd trousers per season, each in that season’s appropriate fabrics (e.g. heavy flannels and cavalry twill for fall/ winter; tropical wools and linen for spring/ summer). Maybe a few year-rounders such as chinos and jeans to boot, but any more than that, and things just collect dust.
However, I couldn’t resist these these tan flannel trousers from Howard Yount. I’ve been looking for this fabric for months, and being that Howard Yount makes pants that fit me better than most, I figured I could break my promise just this once.
Turns out I’ve been wearing these just as often as my grey flannels, which I’ve always considered to be the most versatile and useful trousers in my closet. The pale, tan color here goes very well with dark blue or brown odd jackets, as well as antique tan or dark brown shoes. They’re easy to wear once you realize they’re about the same color as khaki chinos, but with the added texture of worsted flannel.
Tan flannel used to be more common before men only wore grey. Today, one can hardly find them. I know Barney’s has a version, though I’m unsure of how they fit. Ralph Lauren and Orvis used to as well last season, but not anymore. That leaves Howard Yount, which I can say is now stocking the second best color for flannel trousers: tan.
No worries. I would recommend sizing down for a trim-ish fit. It does have a regular cut, which is…