Pictured here is an outfit from Polo's upcoming fall collection. I'm especially looking forward to this Fair Isle sweater becoming available for purchase, but I'm totally into this look as a whole. Honestly, I'd dress like this every day, were weather never an issue. I know this setup says British country and not West Virginian suburbs, but dressing well is dressing well.
But back to Fair Isle and the stigma surrounding this ornate and endless collection of patterns. What makes a Fair Isle sweater a Fair Isle sweater? A true sweater should be hand-knitted on Fair Isle, the island of northern Scotland where this style of sweater originates. Another thing about the real thing - it should be wool. Like cricket sweaters and fisherman sweaters as well, most classic knitwear is made of sturdy, super-warm wool. However, one of the best things about the pieces produced by Polo each year (and the enormous selection from designers following the preppy trend of the past two years) is fabric variety. I have around twenty sweaters and vests, most of which are composed of blends of linen, silk and cotton. These relatively modern pieces allow a wearer to embrace his inner dandy while not sweating his ass off. I call it tradition meeting inspired practicality.
I once, while wearing a Fair Isle sweater, was asked if I planned on attending a costume party later in the evening. This was a serious question asked by a thirty-something guy in a grocery store. Oh, and it was nowhere close to Halloween. I responded, "This is justmy sweater." Fair Isle will come and go from trendy to atrocious by standards of the fashion masses, but this is one classic that has earned its way into my wardrobe - permanently.
I recently interviewed Tom, high school senior, trad/prep/ivy/WASP/whatever enthusiast and author of Ivy Inspired, who recently opened an online shop just the other day. The Ivy Inspired shop at Storenvy is currently offering gingham bow ties and pocket squares made by Tom, himself. Always one to support quality, handmade goods, I thought I'd find out more about Tom's venture.
Well, I started making bow ties about a year ago, just for fun since I
had some ugly old ties laying around and I though I'd experiment. At the
time I was doing everything by hand (a total pain in the ass). For
months I dissected old bow ties to see their construction, and developed
my own templates/design. The part that took the longest to develop was
the adjustment system in which I uniquely use a button and button holes
along the neckband. For Christmas my parents gave me a sewing
machine because I enjoyed making the bows and I wanted to further
improve my skills. At the time I had only been cranking out creations
for my brother and I, but as popularity grew I decided to finally open a
little online shop.
In the shop I carry all of my handmade bow ties (mostly
gingham as of the moment), hand-rolled pocket squares (also gingham),
and later I hope to branch out to selling vintage ties and also small
antiques. For this first run, I decided I would keep everything simple
(fabrics, prices, etc.) just to see the response I get back. In the
future I also hope to open a custom section in the shop where people can
send me fabric/shirts/ties to make into a bow for them. Hopefully in
this first run people will like my product and I will be able to keep up
production with new collections for Fall and Winter.
In the initial run everything will be gingham (red, navy, green, orange).
For each color I have 4 bows (2 regular, 2 diamond point), and I'll have 3 or 4 pocket squares each for the colors. The bows will
be $25 and the pocket squares will be $15, however for the grand opening
I am offering a 20% off coupon code that will be posted along with the
link to my store that day. I'm starting small, so I will have around 16
bows, and a couple pocket squares. The pocket squares are 13"x13". I can accommodate neck sizes 13 3/4" - 18", however the customer must
give me their neck size at the time of their order. My custom adjustment
system is different from anyone else's - I use a button and buttonhole.
This adjustment not only insures a person's perfect fit, but allows for
a 1/2" increase and decrease in size as needed.
Bow ties are fun - they're different. You see a guy walking down the
street in a tie and it's whatever, but if he has a bow tie on, you'll
notice him. An outfit is never complete without a pocket square. The
pocket is there for a reason! It helps to connect everything your
wearing. Even if it's just a simple white pocket square, it just adds a
I urge you all to check out these oxford shorts. If I didn't already own every color, I'd be picking them up today. Like Polo's oxford shirts, these shorts are very durable and only get softer with each washing. Dillard's is offering an additional 30-40% off clearance items today, and it's the perfect time to stock up on essentials.
And no, I'm not being endorsed to share this. It's just a damn good sale.
Fair Isle at its finest. I'm hoping this will see another markdown before I pick up. I've not seen any other stores carry this particular vest.
Although this sport coat isn't available in my size, I just had to share. I've been warming up to double-breasted jackets lately, and this would be a great summer option in linen.
Also available at RalphLauren.com, this reversible windbreaker is nothing short of awesome. Everybody has a khaki windbreaker, but who has one in this plaid? Me... soon.
There are plenty of great things to pick up from Nordstrom Rack right now, as the company runs its anniversary sale and is offering extra discounts. I might also recommend checking out the Brooks Brothers and Polo socks available around $5.
In the past three weeks, I've lost two relatives, found a new advertising client, lost my mind and found a bunch of new clothing. When I've not been developing my client's campaign, I've been organizing the CKC Shoppe. Although I'm not exactly sure when new items will be up, I promise you'll be amazed by what's available. Honestly, I'd forgotten most of what I purchased in the past year, until recently sorting bag after bag of thrift shop finds stacked in my office.
Now, back to where I left off - the Affordable Essentials. I'd say that what I have yet to cover for dresswear is rather self-explanatory. When building a wardrobe on a very limited budget, finding a single item appropriate for multiple situations is crucial. Therefore, in coming days I'll move to casual wear and what items successfully bridge the gap between dress and casual, depending on occasion. I believe the fulfillment of any blog is based upon reader interaction, so please feel free to add to the guidelines I share or question additional wardrobe options.
In the mean time, here's my latest acquisition. I received a mailer from Gilt yesterday, offering $20 off a $40 purchase. Not looking for anything in particular, I began browsing the entire site and was quite pleased to come upon these P.F. Flyers. For awhile now, I've wanted a pair of either navy or green suede chukkas. To see that these Flyers had been reduced from the original $90 to a Gilt price of $60 and reduced yet again to $45 meant I could pick these up for $25. Throw in shipping and $30.95 later, I'm waiting for these chukkas to show up at my doorstep.
I'm certainly not a loyalist to P.F. Flyers or any other sneaker brand but with a great price, I found just what I'd been looking for. The rubber sole should tread well in bad weather, and the suede will be just fine with some help from Kiwi. My only change might be to switch out the green laces for something brighter from the Knottery.
On December 31, 2011, I made a promise to myself to blog every day in 2012. Until Monday, I kept that promise. Only a natural disaster has kept me from posting. For those in the mid-Atlantic enduring this craziness, I wish you well. I'm quite fortunate to have regained electricity at my home Sunday. However, I've been without internet until now. I hope to return to regular posts in the next few days, but a funeral and subsequent family matters are keeping me busy for now. Until that time, enjoy all the wonderful bloggers on my blogroll.