About Peter Zottolo

Peter works in construction, but has an extensive collection of custom suits which he gets so that he can wear suits on the weekend. Even though he lives in San Francisco, he has never used the word "impact" as a verb. He writes about classic menswear and is one fedora away from being a complete dork.

If You Could Actually Summer 2020

The year started so well, didn’t it?  Or maybe our recent nostalgia is especially heartbreaking because we had so many plans, just to have them melt away like so many ice caps.  But even if the only sunshine you can get is on your way to pick up essentials, dust off and don those summer togs for a little thread therapy.  If nothing else, imagining yourself actually enjoying festival activities can transport you to warmer thoughts for a bit of safe escapism.  Need some inspiration?  Try the following…

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How to Spend Hours at Home Without Going Crazy

The entire state of California was the first to have been told to stay at home, by order of the governor. In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the nation’s most populous state — almost 40 million residents — must now practice shelter-at-home protocol (click here to see what that entails).

“Home isolation is not my preferred choice,” Gavin Newsom admitted, “but it’s a necessary one.”

Since then, other states have followed suit, with more to come. Have you always wanted to work from home and management said no? Well hallelujah brother, because by government decree, you’re following orders, and your commute time shrinks to zero, as does your use of body wash.  Are you searching for the right way to reply to that email, or looking at coronavirus memes?  Who knows?  At last you can microwave fish leftovers in your dirty pajamas without your pesky co-workers complaining, the sensitive freaks.

Work at home life
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The Negroni Tweed Jacket by 100 Hands

My first experience with the negroni was on my honeymoon, long ago in 1999, in Riomaggiore, the southernmost town of the Cinque Terre in the Italian Riviera.  The town is squashed in a precipitous, narrow valley that pours into the sea, like a confetti-colored shovel diving into the blue, and the main street is right in the middle, cutting the town in half, terracing downward.  On this street, in a random bar, we asked the man behind the counter for an Italian cocktail.  The man replied there was only one, and poured us each a negroni.  It was the first of several that night, and countless since then. To this day it remains my favorite drink. 

For years only a handful of bartenders knew what a negroni was, which stupefied me at first, and I was forced to order a Godfather, which like the movie was about as close to the Italian experience as you could get in America at the time.  With the launch of Negroni Week in 2013 by none other than the Campari company itself, however, the ruddy libation was suddenly thrust into the zeitgeist, to the point that nowadays it seems like everyone has one in hand, which is perfectly fine by me.

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Black Tie at the SF Ballet Gala

Watching ballet is like watching embodied calligraphy set to music.  Nowhere else can you see the most precise movements so elegantly executed, with technical feats appearing as effortless as water swirling in a vacuum.  The opening gala for the San Francisco ballet is a special occasion celebrating all of the choreography, set design, and more that goes into each production, a taste of the many talented artists in the city’s gorgeous opera house.  But in addition, it provides an opportunity for those who support it to dust off their finery, and they did not disappoint. 

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How Do You Black Tie?

Back in the glory days of StyleForum a self-proclaimed n00b started a thread for an urgent matter: he had a formal party to attend and had no time to buy a tuxedo.  All he had was a black suit and a pair of black shoes, and although he knew he had a long way to go before he had decent formal attire, he only had time for a quick upgrade before the party.

From what I’ve read, I need to get a “Formal Dress Shirt” and a black satin tie. Am I close?

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What to Wear When It’s Still Warm

The best time to visit San Francisco is now.  Arriving at the chilly heels of “Fogust”, fortune favors those who visit during mid-September to mid-October, when you are all but guaranteed plenty of daylight, clear skies, and warm sunshine.  Not surprisingly, it’s also the most popular time for weddings in the Bay Area, including my own twenty years ago.  I remember being a bit incredulous when my wife scheduled our wedding for early October, but her confidence was rewarded with wonderfully mild temperatures, perfectly suited for an outdoor garden wedding.  I should have never doubted her.

Fortuitously, it’s also the ideal weather for transitional clothes, those baby-bear pieces that are too airy for the dead of winter and too oppressive for the peak of summer, but just right for right now.  Think breathable linen sweaters, gauzy cotton trousers, and lightweight tops that can be layered.  Never mind that you can only practically wear them a couple months of the year; when that time comes, you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without them.

Inis Meain linen tunic, Eidos cotton boucle trousers

There are a few designers that offer choices for this kind of weather, but none stands out as much as Steve Calder.  Hailing from Melbourne, Australia, Steve’s line Informale includes clothes for all seasons, both tailored and casual, but his mid-season clothes are the most compelling to me personally, particularly the double-pleated trouser in 280 gram linen (about 10 ounces).  With a hidden elastic waistband, high rise, relaxed and slightly tapered leg, they have been my go-to trousers practically every moment I wasn’t working or in bed, and look good with everything from loafers and a sport coat to sneakers and a t-shirt, on the streets or the beach.

Eidos jacket in linen/cotton, 18Waits polo shirt in double-faced linen/cotton gauze, Informale trousers in linen, Kilim and Shoes slippers

This aesthetic seems to permeate most of Steve’s Instagram, which is how I got to know of him (and a great source of inspiration for transitional clothes in general).  His feed is full of outfits that interpret classic clothes for a casual environment, and while all of the items are familiar to menswear, it’s not strictly menswear, and neither is it streetwear.  The overall impression is sophisticated but not ceremonial, unstudied but not sloppy.  Or as Steve calls it: sartorial casualwear.

Informale is essentially born out of my own personal style,” Steve relates.  “I wouldn’t say it fills a void or is super unique, but I do want to make sure it has our own signature, a small detail or fabric which can’t be found anywhere else.  When I started seeking out casual pieces to mix in with my tailoring, I noticed that there weren’t many casual options that mix well with the kind of classic, soft tailoring that I was making.  Everything started with the dream of making a pair of drawstring linen trousers with a tailored cut that I just couldn’t find anywhere. I figured, how hard could it be to find someone local in Melbourne who can make me a pair of pants?  And that was what drove me to seek out someone who could make my dream a reality.”

When it comes to styling, Steve says Informale can work piecemeal or wholesale.  “Don’t worry about buying into the entire look; pick and choose the pieces that will work best for you and your own personal style.  I like to believe our designs are simple and easy enough to work seamlessly into our clients’ existing wardrobe.” 

I love flannel as much as the next guy, but before you go all tweedy for winter, ease your way out of summer with transitional clothes while it’s still warm.

pictures mine and courtesy of Steve calder of informale