Saturday, February 27, 2010

Winter Wonderland Runway

Just after a few days of sunshine, a massive snowstorm hit and I'm actually happy again that winter has not yet departed. The acquisition of a brown corduroy sport coat by Ralph (to be seen in my next post) may have urged this sentiment. In the mean time, from my recent archival research are some of my favorite winter outfits. I could see myself mixing any of these pieces to my own styling.

Though not a hunter, this hunting jacket would be a great addition. The driver's cap would be welcome in my collection.

The muted fair isle looks incredibly warm and cozy.

A traditional duffel coat works in any wardrobe. I absolutely love these corduroy pants.

The traditional vest fills in nicely when a topcoat is just too much.

The scarf and blue corduroys add a bold pop to dark winter days.

These boots are an elegant upgrade from the every-day Bean variety.

This look says traditional English country to me more than anything.

Winter just isn't complete without the quintessential red corduroys.

This patch cardigan is just incredible.

Make time for the moment.

Photos: courtesy of Polo Ralph Lauren

Comfort and Motivation

It's been more than a week since my last post and to my few frequent readers, I apologize. I'm so grateful for the small following I've already built, and I hope that following grows into the future. School has been overwhelming lately and I've had to set my priorities accordingly.

Though I don't support this entire look (nothing formal about shorts), I am the proud owner of the shawl-collar sweater featured here. I just placed mine in storage, hence the runway shot. This wonderful piece came out from Ralph in fall 2008 and entered my wardrobe as a Christmas present. Everybody has his or her favorite, cozy sweater for those cold, dismal days. This is mine. What's yours?

Don't preach. Teach.

Photo: courtesy of Polo Ralph Lauren

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Right on Target

Everybody has a guilty shopping pleasure. There's always that one clothing shop you wouldn't want to be seen in - for me, it was Abercrombie and Fitch. No true prepster at my school would walk in. Nevertheless, sartorial curiosity must be quenched.

Last summer, I was walking through Target in search of standard Hanes sport socks. I'd never bought clothing and such here before, let alone stepped into the Men's Department. I walked away with an array of argyle and striped socks, a navy gingham button-front, and a madras driver's cap similar to the one seen below. Since that time, I've purchased a number of wardrobe staples at very affordable prices from the Merona line.

Merona offers classic pieces each season of considerable quality (for given price-point). Merona suits, available in separates at a total of no more than $150, have even been commended by GQ and Details. Available now are a variety of argyle and solid merino wool sweaters on clearance for only $14.98. Cashmere - yes cashmere - scarves have been available in store and might still be on the clearance racks for under $10. My favorite acquisitions for the upcoming season have been Merona's collection of fine-knit (practically pima) cotton v-neck sweaters, available in-store only for $20. I still prefer my Ralph pima, but the value can't be beat.

Here's the season's new Merona madras driving cap - only $14.99.

This cashmere scarf, along with one in near-buffalo plaid, cost only $6.48 on final clearance.

There's no Merona here, just another look to reflect my desire for springtime. My thanks go out to the Natural Aristocrat for a recent reference. Please check out this insightful blog!

Indefensibly invincible.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Fresh from the Spring

Traditional menswear continues to hit the runways of numerous designers for the Spring/Summer season. The winter weather is finally getting to me after so many snowstorms and near-literal street fights with black ice. I've been in duffel coat, shetland wool and cavalry twill every day, so I'm certainly ready for springtime to come. Several of my perspective pick-ups are seen below.

Madras and seersucker can hinge on costume if not complimented well, but I enjoy these pieces individually.

Seersucker, like madras, is great in moderation. A double-breasted seersucker blazer? Not happening. Though, these pants are a deep enough madras to wear into fall.

These yellow pants are just the right, bright update for the season.

The words Easter elegance come to mind.

I've never seen tweed with such soft yet refined appeal. I just found a similar silk cable knit sweater on eBay.

This Nantucket red cotton jacket is soon to be my go-to item for the months ahead. I'll be saving up for this one, but it will be worth every penny. Warm weather is no reason to take a style hiatus.

Photos: courtesy of Polo Ralph Lauren

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fine Lines and Fine Finds

You never know what a bargain you'll find on eBay until you take a long, hard look for what you're hoping to find. I'm often on the search for cable knit and pima sweaters. Not every seller knows what to properly call an item, so unfortunate word choice leads to low or no bidding. The cable knit cotton sweater vest below was listed as "chunky ribbed sweater," and the pima cotton sweater as "classic crew sweater shirt." Taking the extra moment to examine the photos led me win these great pieces on minimum bids.

Sweater vest: cable knit cotton Polo ($8.55)

Sweater: pima cotton Polo ($13.95)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Taking on Tattersall

Over the last two centuries since its inception as a pattern for horse blankets at Tattersall's London horse market around 1766, tattersall has grown to be a classic shirting pattern. The pattern traditionally consists of evenly spaced and alternating thin, vertical warp stripes, repeated horizontally in the weft. This is not to be confused with gingham or plaid.

For some time now, I've wanted a patch tattersall shirt. Just like a patch madras shirt, it embodies the preppy twist on traditional style I love to pursue. When someone sees you wearing patch tattersall, they have to take a second glance to make sure they've not gone color blind.

Here's my newest acquisition - a Macy's clearance bargain.

A patch job

Close up

And now, featuring a few fine fellows in traditional tattersall.

Tattersall, English country style

Tattersall, modern dandy style

Tattersall, summer casual style

Photos: courtesy of Polo Ralph Lauren

Saturday, February 6, 2010

More for the Money

I've continued to be very fortunate in my thrift store finds this past week. Two stops at less visited locales provided another few pieces to my collection of polos. As always, patience is key to thrifting. Beyond this, I've realized a number of methods to always finding the hidden gems on the next rack over.

Most of the thrift stores I visit sort by color, not size. This makes me look even more thoroughly through absurd pieces of polyester and acrylic to find the thing for me. When I happen to find a classic item, more often than not, a few more are waiting to be discovered. It seems when people donate things like Polo and Brooks, they clean out their closets for the tax write-off. Also, most thrift stores have far more items in stock than displayed on the floor, and items donated at the same time don't always make the floor at the same time. For example, I'm almost positive the two groups of polos I've found in the past two weeks were donated by the same person, making it worth the effort to return to a store soon after a good find.

Here's my haul from Thursday.

Sweater: green cotton Polo ($2.99)

Shirts: Brooks Brothers, Polo ($16.14/6)

Tie: silk Jacobs Roberts Ltd. ($0.99)
Tie: cotton seersucker Polo ($0.99)

Sweater: pima cotton Polo ($2.99)

Grant Total $24.10

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What We Will Learn

I was blessed to go through an incredible line of public schools. My high school is admired for its academic and athletic accolades but has long been infamous for its snobbishness. The resentment is unfortunate, but I admit, some of it has been earned. We were always the rich and preppy kids, the true tale of the Preppy Handbook (though I hadn't heard if it at the time). If you've read my first post, you'll know I wasn't among the collar-popping masses.

I tried to be as time went on, but I never quite felt like them. I had no car, no trust fund, no membership at the country club and no lodge at the ski resort. My father always had that classic, traditional substance without the accompanying bank account. I learned it all from him and have continued to grow.

My friends, the ones I was formerly so envious of, have stopped growing. They play it safe. They stick to the daily - a Ralph Lauren polo and chinos/jeans and boat shoes. These guys haven't heard of Brooks Brothers, and they certainly haven't heard of Paul Stuart, Gant or J.Press. Their days consist of some school and a lot of sleeping and drinking.

Obviously, I'm a fan of Ralph but I go beyond that. And obviously life isn't about fashion, it's about substance - the substance that resonates from my father. From my father I learned what true class is.

Christmas: circa 1993

A litte, dandy me in 1993.

All life should be a meritocracy.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Thrift Finds and Style Truth

Eight thrift shops exist within a twenty minute drive from my house. I'm grateful to have so many places to visit, but it's not often that I find more than an item or two. Yesterday, I was happy to find myself limiting my selections. I came upon ten pieces by Polo - the sweater and polos pictured below but also two button-downs and three more polos.

It's easy to go ahead and purchase every item that looks good or somewhat fits. But the ability to thrift well links directly to one's ability to manage personal style. Obviously, style isn't about the money put into a wardrobe. I've found wonderful items under five dollars at the thrifts.

Most importantly, style is about quality and proportion. I passed on the other five items I found because, though made by Polo, these pieces were too worn out and stretched out. Most men think they know their sizes, and that sizing is the same for any brand.

Even superstores like Walmart install fitting rooms for good reason. Style (though quality is lacking here) begins with proper proportion, and most men are long overdue for a visit to the fitting room, whether at Goodwill or Neiman-Marcus!

Sweater: french-rib half-zip Polo ($2.99)

Shirts: s/s Polo ($10.76/4)

Grand Total: $13.75

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fair Day, Fair Isle

The crazy weather continues. Yesterday brought several inches of snow and ice, but today I awoke to wonderful sunlight and blue sky. I've found that I'm always more inspired to dress well in such weather. Does anyone else do the same? Therefore, as my friends put it, I "went British" today. Though I didn't put much thought into this look, there was probably some subconscious inspiration from the D of W. I finally started reading Flusser's Dressing the Man, and it might as well be a sartorial memoir to the Windsor Warrior.

I'm always up for the challenge of pattern mixing. This outfit made me realize I'm in desperate need of a plain or herringbone driver's cap.

The shirt and sweater vest are Polo. The tie has no brand tag, but materials tag reads "Ancient Madder Handmade All Silk, G. J. AHN." British, eh? I looked up the RN number, which turned up the name Glengyle Mfg. Co. Another search turned up no results on the maker of this great tie. Has anyone heard of this company?

These are my go-to brogues. I love my array of Allen Edmonds, but these Aldens are the gem of my collection. I've found only three pairs of Aldens in thrifting. Though this is the only pair that fit, this is hopefully the only pair I'll ever need.