The Styleforum Portmanteau–April 19

Expert Shoe Care With Nick V.

Nick with some very nice shoes (although I spy a stray Ugg)

Nick V., owner of esteemed shoe repair outfit B. Nelson Shoes, NYC, knows his stitch. And his welts, and his vamps from his throats. He knows shoes. He takes abused, worn-out kicks and recrafts and resoles them–rehabilitates them. In an ongoing series, Nick will be answering some of my questions to help you treat your footwear better.

Pete asks: What’s the number one most important step a guy can take to keep his shoes looking better, longer?

Nick answers:

Actually, there’s two equally important steps, waterproof/polish and use shoes trees:

WATERPROOF AND POLISH: Apply two light coats of waterproofing to your shoes. Meltonian Water and Stain Protector is an easy product to find and very effective. It’s essential to use a non-silicone waterproof treatment on dress-wear, because silicone is oil-based. The oil can darken leathers. It tends to pick up dust and dirt. It also might not mix well with conditioners and polishes you may want to use in the future.

Polish and condition your shoes regularly.

USE SHOE TREES: Make sure that you have a pair of cedar shoe trees, AND USE THEM REGULARLY! Regardless of whether or not you think your feet perspire… they do. Cedar is a dry wood that absorbs even the slightest moisture. Insert them when the shoes are new and immediately after each wear. This will prevent any moisture from settling into the lining of your shoes. Moisture will cause decay of the leather.

In addition to keeping the liners dry, shoe trees help to maintain the original shape of the shoe. They also reduce the prospect of deep creases forming on the uppers caused by normal wear. The split-toe, claw-back style offers even tension vertically and horizontally. They are easy to install and remove. Leave the trees in the shoes until you are ready to wear them again.

The Styleforum Occasional Intelligencer–April 17

In the U.S., today is the last day to file your taxes. So, you know, get on that.

The Styleforum Reader–April 16

Lapo Elkann wearing Rubinacci in L’Uomo Vogue, via Rubinacci Club. Lapo is touching the ground in exactly half of the photos.

Hipsterpalooza: Mister Mort’s been posting Coachella style shots on his tumblr. Ladies in vintage Air Jordan teeshirts = HYFR.

Simply Refined’s Stephen Pulvirent talks ordering butterfly loafers from Ed Et Al shoes, a Singaporean custom shoemaker.

Wax/Wane gives some history on Mackintosh rainwear. Fun fact: The “k” actually stands for KFC; founder Charles Macintosh was a big original recipe fan (10).

The Corner is offering free express shipping through April 23. Get your Dsquared bathing suit in time for next weekend.

Men’s clothing classified of the day: Edward Green Dovers, tan scotch grain, recrafted, UK9.5.

Streetwear and Denim classified of the day: Alden/Steven Alan plain toe boots in suede, size 12D.

New arrivals from Cucinelli and Dries Van Noten at yoox.

The Styleforum Daily Collar–April 11.

Rough & Tumble from Nepenthes

The Nepenthes NY store in New York’s garment district stocks a lot of Engineered Garments, the company’s best-known brand in the United States (and often the easiest to wear). But EG has a lot of stockists, while some of the lines in Nepenthes stable are much more limited in distribution. Rough & Tumble, billed as “nontraditional shirtmakers,” complements EG’s established rumpledness with unexpected design touches (last year I picked up an oxford shirt with a bandanna-print pocket) and less dedication to Americana. This spring Rough & Tumble via Nepenthes NY is offering a couple of linen jackets, Bermuda shorts, and summer shirts with charmingly goofy details–including cruiser pockets, built-in (?) pocket squares, zips and snaps, and batik prints. We only have some teaser shots; visit Nepenthes for a better look.


The Styleforum Mirror—April 10.

Tuesday, April 10th.

Washington, D.C. shopping guide, part II.

Guest post by Grant Harris of Image Granted.

Image courtesy Rue 14.Rue 14
1803A 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Owned and operated by a husband and wife tag team, Rue14 has been a fixture of D.C. shopping since it opened in late 2008.  Husband Andrew brings his experience as a buyer at Brooks Brothers, while Jiwon relies on her expertise gained from her time working in production for Ralph Lauren. The idea for Rue 14 was to bring the look and feel of a SoHo boutique to D.C. without the NYC price tags. The store carries a progressive lineup of modern offerings including Gant, Happy Socks, Nudie Jeans, Penfield, and Will Leather Goods, among others.

Image courtesy Georgetown Patch.

Image courtesy Georgetown Patch.

Sky Valet
1800 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20007

You could be forgiven for passing by Sky Valet’s modest Wisconsin Ave. storefront, which barely hints at the selection of men’s shoes within. Sky carries some of the highest quality, most world-renowned (and most expensive) footwear brands around. Including bluchers, oxfords, monks, loafers, and boots, the lineup includes cordovan models from Alden, Edward Green whole cuts and cap toes; Loake suede oxfords and desert boots; Crockett & Jones double monks and slip ons; and Bowhill & Elliot evening slippers.  From American-made to bench-made in Britain, Sky Valet can suit footwear needs from casual to formal. Sky also does a brisk business in shoe repair.

1525 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC

One of the newest thrift and consignment shops in the District is Tari.  Another gem located in the Georgetown neighborhood, Tari offers consignors and consumers a place to find luxury brand names at lower prices. Zegna blazers, Borrelli and Canali shirts, Burberry and Brioni trench coats and vintage Charvet ties are prevalent throughout the store.  You’ll have to become a regular to catch the best stuff, but that’s the idea.

1802 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20007

Louis Everard has dressed everyone in D.C. from presidents to business owners, to bloggers.  Everard’s has two locations in the District but the most recognized is the Georgetown location, just a couple doors up from Sky Valet.  Louis sells American heritage suiting brands such as Hickey Freeman, but also carries the best of non-U.S. brands, like Marcoliani socks, Tino Cosma ties, and Martegani shoes.  Everard’s prides itself on its made to measure service and will gladly create something to your personal taste.

1961 Chain Bridge Rd.
Mclean, VA 22102

Monita Italian Leather is a shoe shop and walk-in made-to-order footwear boutique.  The Tysons Corner shop is the only boutique located in a residential shopping mall on our list.  Monita offers its customers ready-to-wear as well as custom footwear from several of a dozen little known, but well-established Italian brands the average American consumer may not be familiar with (like Doucal’s and Maurizi).  Customers have manyoptions from suede oxfords to calfskin Beatle boots to penny loafers.  For MTO, the customer’s measurements are taken on site and then are allowed to select from upwards of 50 different shoe styles including leathers, brogueing, laces, etc.  Weeks later you’ll enjoy a hand-lasted, hand-finished pair of custom shoes.

Other worthwhile stops:

J. Press
1801 L St. NW
Washington, DC 20036

The venerable trad-ing post only has four locations, so it’s always worth a stop for university stripe OCBDs (with flap pocket), ribbon belts, and sack jackets that remain much same as they were 30 years ago or more (some of the salesmen are the same, too, and can share some good stories).

Field English Custom Tailors
2134 Wisconsin Ave NW
Washington, DC 20007

As close as D.C. comes to Savile Row, Field Tailors has been creating bespoke men’s clothing for decades. William Field II took over the business from his father a few years ago and still offers English cut suits in fabrics from Dormeuil and others. Appointments preferred.

See also part I of our D.C. shopping guide.

Catching up with Jesse Thorn and Put This On.

Jesse Thorn didn’t set out to be a menswear authority—but through happy accidents and hard work, he finds himself as the main dude of Put This On, a video series and blog about “dressing like a grownup.” Jesse and the PTO crew, including directors Adam Lisagor and Ben Harrison, comedy-type-person Dave Hill, and blogger Derek Guy, have tackled topics like choosing denim, caring for shoes, and developing personal style. In the sometimes impenetrable realms of tailors and industry insiders, PTO’s content is refreshingly forthright and accessible. Rigorous research and respect for tradition inform the series and blog, but the content is leavened with recognition of the silliness of unchecked clothing nerdery. Constantly updating the PTO blog, Jesse and Derek amplify original voices in men’s clothing, and also give readers the heads up on choice sales or eBay auctions. They also write for Styleforum on occasion, and Put This On is sponsoring Styleforum’s 10-year anniversary event coming up May 4-5, 2012.

Put This On recently debuted episode 1 of its second season, and I talked with Jesse about how far PTO has come and where it’s headed this season.

Photo taken at Don Ville shoes by Gordon De Los Santos.


Pete Anderson: Put This On debuted with an episode on denim more than 2 years ago. Your first season had seven episodes of about 10 minutes each, plus some short followup videos, leading up to season two. And you have a Tumblr that’s on the dashboard of everyone seriously interested in men’s clothing. When you first started filming, how much of this was part of the plan?

Jesse Thorn: When we started, the plan was just to shoot one episode. The blog was just a way to engage the audience a bit before that episode came out, but it took off right away. To our surprise, frankly. We set a more ambitious fundraising goal for the rest of our first season, and met it handily, and while we were producing that, Adam was getting busier and busier with outside directing work. I was working on the blog to keep our audience engaged, and it was growing to the point where it was the most popular thing I was working on. At that point, the series and the blog felt like they were feeding each other.

My background is radio and television host, and I wanted to get some on-camera experience working on a subject that I really love, and one that really wouldn’t work in audio. I had a friend who was a brilliant director. Then we sort of discovered accidentally this audience for the blog.

PA: In a teaser for season two, PTO featured writer G. Bruce Boyer, who said in the piece “Real dressing is about understanding yourself and your clothing and the relationship between them.” I think that sums up pretty well what PTO aims for–how accurate is that?

JT: That’s very fair. Derek and I both have our own personal aesthetics, which we’ll give voice to on the blog, but we also both try to make clear that our goal is to encourage people to make thoughtful choices about how they present themselves in the world. Not just because they should always be the best-dressed guy, but because dressing well is a way to show respect to those around you, whatever your aesthetic or cultural context might be.

PA: I thought Jason Marshall (a Styleforum regular) expressed that very well in his piece in episode one, which also includes a segment on Lo-Heads with Dallas Penn, and one on Worth and Worth hats. Why did you choose the topics and interview subjects for season two? How much time did you spend with Penn and the Polo crew?

JT: Before the season started, we did a bracket on our site to find out what our audience thought were the three greatest men’s style cities in the world, and the winners were New York, London, and Milan. We didn’t think we could encapsulate those cities in 20 minutes apiece, so we decided to focus in on a few subjects for each one. In every episode, there’s one man, one place, one feature and one Q&A or how-it’s-made segment. We didn’t really think that we could perfectly represent some truth about the cities with those few segments, but we thought we could offer a few different ways of looking at each one, and tell some interesting stories.

In episode one, we were thinking about what’s really special about New York, and in larger part about the US. It’s a nation of immigrants, and a nation of subcultures, and we wanted to look at the ways that class, race, culture and identity intersect in a way that they only could in New York. I’ve written a little about why we chose the Lo Heads’ story to lead off the season, but in short, I think they’re recombining and reinterpreting the meanings of clothes at an extraordinarily high level. Jason’s a more traditional case—but he’s an elegant and eloquent guy who we met at a screening of O’Mast and were just struck by. Worth and Worth is another place that we liked because it got at that theme—what Orlando and company do there has a very sincere respect for tradition and a very sincere interest in creating something new. And, you know, we just threw Rob Corddry in there because he loves Put This On, and if you’re friends with Rob Corddry, you get him in your show, right? The next New York episode, I go thrifting with the guys from Street Etiquette – who are also StyleForum members – and we talk with Len Logsdail about what’s inside a suit, among other things.

PA: Looking forward to seeing that footage! Presumably you traveled a lot for season two—can you share any good stories about your globetrotting? What good stuff did you bring home, sartorially speaking?

JT: When we were at G. Lorenzi in Milan, I asked Sr. Lorenzi about which scissor I should use to trim my moustache, and he and his salesman guided me through a panoply of options. It was really remarkable. In the end, they wouldn’t let me pay, and I tried to force the issue for journalistic ethics reasons, but I could only go so far. So I took it and resolved to send him one of our pocket squares as a thank you in return. I put it in my dopp kit, which was in my carry-on bag… and when we left Milan, I had to check my other bag, which was big and had gear in it. And the moustache scissors set off the security X-ray (apparently no scissor is small enough to go on a plane these days) and I ended up having to pay a $75 baggage fee to keep the scissors Sr. Lorenzi so kindly gave me for free. On the plus side, the security guard in Milan was exceptionally nice. He said to me, in Super Mario-like English, “These… these are-a very a-special-a scissor.” And I agreed.

PA: Put This On is sort of moonlighting for you, since your day job is hosting Bullseye (formerly the Sound of Young America) a long-running public radio show that focuses on conversations with cultural figures. Describing it that way is honest doesn’t do justice to the thoughtful, often funny, in-depth pieces Bullseye does with people who are genuinely doing original work in comedy, music, film, TV, writing, etc. Do PTO and Bullseye cross paths often? The Rob Corddry cameo in season two was amusing.

JT: Well, our interview with Paul Feig from last season is a good example of the two paths crossing. Paul has been a guest of mine on the radio several times—for his books, and for his first film. It was in the old days, when I did interviews by phone, but we were friendly via email. Then 2 or 3 years ago, Jenna Fischer came over to do an interview, and she said she thought it was sweet that I dressed nicely for work, and said Paul Feig wore a suit to the set every day. When we were thinking of ideas for the show, I remembered that about Paul, and emailed him. He got us special permission to visit the set of Bridesmaids and did that interview while he was on his lunch break. The only rule from the studio was that we couldn’t say the name of the film we were on. But it was exceptionally kind of Paul to finagle us into his schedule—and we still email about clothes nerd stuff. He just had his first Savile Row suits made.

Rob’s been a guest on my comedy podcast Jordan Jesse Go several times, and he was nice enough to invite me and my co-host Jordan to help with a table-read and punchup of a script he was working on a couple years ago at HBO. He loves clothes and I helped him get a tuxedo for The Comedy Awards once, so he recorded that bit for us. There are a couple of other LA comedy people who have PTO connections—when Donald Glover was on tour people kept sending me pictures of him in a PTO t-shirt. He’s obviously a very well-dressed guy. I keep thinking we’ll find a way to work my friend and colleague John Hodgman into an episode sometime. He wrote a great thing about dressing like a deranged millionaire in his new book that we excerpted. Many comedians I know still dress like total slobs, but a surprisingly large number are taking an interest, and some, like Don or Aziz Ansari, are genuinely well-dressed. And I’m always surprised at the people who’ll say something nice about PTO to me when we’re talking about showbiz stuff.

PA: Can you tease any of the upcoming episodes of season two?

JT: My colleague Ben got to spend a day with Luciano Barbera at the Carlo Barbera mill after I lost my passport and got stuck in Brooklyn. We shot some amazing stuff with Guy Hills, the founder of Dashing Tweeds, who is just a phenomenon of a man. And at W. Bill, on the other side of the tweed spectrum. We went to 10 Corso Como in Milan, which will probably be the fashion-iest thing we’ve ever done, but Milan is the world’s fashion capital, after all. The trip to G. Lorenzi that I alluded to nearly left me in tears I was so inspired. We met two men who identified themselves as dandy-artist-pornographers. It was quite an adventure.

PA: You’d said Adam was getting busier and I’m sure you have been to–is season three yet a possibility? How about PutThisOnCon?

JT: Ben Harrison has been doing an amazing job as director in season two, and Dave Hill is stepping into Adam’s on-camera roll in the Rudiments segments. Adam’s still an executive producer, he created the template, aesthetically, and he’s advising Ben, but at this point, it’s really me and Ben’s project. My schedule’s been getting tighter and tighter, but the good news is that our audience has paid us a reasonable wage to make these things, and has demonstrated a willingness to do so again. We’ll see how we’re feeling in a few months when season two wraps up, but I’m excited about the possibilities for more videos.

As for PTO-con—that’s a fun idea, but not one we’ve pursued. We’re really proud to be a sponsor of the upcoming 10th Anniversary of StyleForum. We’re going to show something before Gianluca’s film O’Mast, and I’ll be on-hand in person. A couple years ago at MaxFunCon, Will Boehlke did a great seminar on dressing for men, and I’ve thought about doing something like that myself some year. Frankly, I already do a show at MaxFunCon, and between that and logistics, adding a seminar might be a bit much, so maybe that’s a pipe dream, who knows? People have certainly asked me to, though.

PA: Thanks Jesse—see you in San Francisco.

Washington, D.C. shopping guide, part I.

Guest post by Grant Harris of Image Granted.

Streets of Georgetown is the local outpost of Hart Schaffner Marx's dandy chain.

Streets of Georgetown
1254 Wisconsin Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20007

When Joseph Abboud sold his namesake label to become chief designer for HMX Group, the largest manufacturer of tailored menswear in the country, he worked with HMX CEO Doug Williams to open Streets concept stores in select cities. The Streets concept capitalizes on major cities’ top-drawer  shopping neighborhoods or streets—in DC’s case, Georgetown. The boutique is stocked with some of the elder statesmen of American suiting, including Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx, which is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. Streets offers off-the-rack suiting as well as a truly tailored experience with made-to-measure services offering several hundred fabric choices. Bobby Jones, Coppley, Palm Beach, Austin Reed, and Filson round out suiting, casual, and sportswear offerings.

2216 14th St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

A recent addition to the DC shopping scene, Federal may sound like it caters to the politicians and lobbyists of Washington, but it’s far from what you might think. Located on 14th St. corridor, it’s part of a restructured and converted skate shop. Its street-oriented history is reflected in on-trend offerings from a range of heritage-based Americana and workwear lines like Tellason, Pendleton, Red Wing, Danner, Dickies, Filson, Converse, Clarks, Herschel Supply, and others. D.C. has a rep for being short on this sort of gear and Federal is changing that.

The good doctor.

Dr. K’s Vintage
1534 U St. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Dr. K’s is a vintage shop on the U street corridor that stocks the best edited stock of vintage men’s apparel in the city—leather jackets, militaria, cowboy boots, varsity jackets, and original cinchback denim from Levi’s. A native of Thailand, Dr. K has brought some of his personal collection to the shop, and can be seen showing off his latest finds from Brimfield or the Rose Bowl or more clandestine sources. Dr. K is often open late, but keeps strange hours so it’s best to call ahead.

Sette Neckwear
Suite 300
1701 Pennsylvania Ave. NW

Washington, DC 20006

Sette means “seven” in Italian. Given how much attention is given to Neapolitan menswear, it’s a breath of fresh air to have the presence of Sette in D.C. A collaboration between a former Robert Talbott designer and a White House staffer, Sette offers a lineup of made-in-Italy woven or printed silk ties for power players inside the beltway and beyond. Sette seven folds come in a versatile 3-inch width and are constructed with the exacting standards of old world Italian tie makers. Silks are sourced from the hills of Como, then folded, slip stitched and packaged. Each tie is a unique creation and is part of a limited run of no more than 21. Each is individually numbered, and owners can register them online with Sette. Sette ties don’t come cheap, but the customer service, presentation, and product are arguably worth it.

Other worthwhile stops:

1781 Florida Ave. NW
Washington, DC 20009

Sharing an address with Stüssy, Commonwealth is D.C.’s outpost of the Virginia Beach streetwear king. Source for limited edition footwear, high-end hype like Maiden Noir, and wildcards like Gitman Vintage and Creep by Hiroshi Awai.

Hugh and Crye
3212 O St. NW #5 (between Potomac and Wisconsin)
Washington, DC 20007

DC-based brands fits shirts differently–by body type rather than measurements. Trim, darted cuts and strong colors and patterns dominate. Their bright Georgetown space is shop, laboratory, stockroom, and office all in one.

More recommendations to come in part II.