About Jasper Lipton

Jasper likes indigo, flight jackets, and boots - but he likes his dogs even more. He dreams of buried cities and the spaces between the stars.

Mixing Menswear Textures with Poszetka

mixing menswear textures

I don’t often feature cell phone pictures, but this week I found myself really enjoying @Poszetka’s mixed textures. Tweed, denim, and denim is a great look, especially for something a bit more casual. Like Peter, I’m not a fan of ties with denim, but in this case I’ll allow it both because hey, do what you like, and because the color and texture of the tie in question works with the rest of the outfit. Indigo and tweed is a combination that always works (two heavy, interesting textures), and a Harris Tweed sport coat is one step more dressed up than a wool hunting jacket while connoting some of the same country-ready style. Grey sport coats can prove surprisingly difficult to work into your wardrobe, and tweed – or other, heavier fabrics – makes the piece a bit more versatile. Tweed works with lots of trouser fabrics, from tightly-woven cotton twills to wool or – as seen here – even denim, and if you remove the tie and put on a pair of boots, this is an outfit that’s perfect for autumn anywhere.

Although we can’t see the shoes in question, I tend to avoid leather-soled shoes (that aren’t boots) with denim. However, since there’s a tie in the mix, I think something like this Vass Budapester on a commando sole from affiliate No Man Walks Alone might work well. Other easy options would be chukkas or heavier (think Tricker’s) brogued shoes or boots. One final note is that, if you’re going to opt for thicker cuffs on your denim, I’d definitely suggest removing the tie, as I find that cuffed denim and a tie tends to either look sloppy or too much like the hipster bartender outfit du jour.


Get Out and Enjoy a Romantic Evening Picnic

At least once a week, my fiancée and I head to the Botanic Gardens for a dinner free from distraction, and it’s a pastime I recommend everyone reading this embrace. It’s fun, it’s super romantic, and the best part about it is that it’s incredibly easy.

I’ve mentioned in the past – on numerous occasions – how much I enjoy dining outside, as well as how much I enjoy picnics. All you need is a cooler (or a fancy picnic hamper), a few tasty dishes, and a bottle of something equally delicious. In addition, I recommend taking the time to look at least a little bit nicer than you normally do, but I also recommend dressing in a way that suits the occasion. By that I mean leave both the tie and the tennis shoes at home. This is your chance to dress like a stylish gardener, or an exiled novelist, or whatever your own fantasies may entail. It’s like going out to dinner – only more celebratory. Here’s what I recommend, both in terms of wearing and eating.

1. Food

Really, as long as you can make your dish of choice portable, anything goes. Just avoid ‘heavy’ foods, since they’re largely at odds with the setting. Some of my favorite options include:

  • Baguette, cheese, olives, charcuterie (never forget to bring your baguette)
  • Caprese salad (we grow our own tomatoes and basil, and only use a bit of good oil and some salt)
  • Cold Soup – gazpacho or leek
  • Chilled soba noodles with steamed vegetables (use a vegetable peeler to slice zucchini and carrot into ribbons, steam very briefly, then stir into soba noodles with a peanut vinaigrette) or stir-fried mushrooms
  • Seared tuna bites (Sear, slice, wrap in individual packets of butter lettuce if you choose, top with thin-sliced jalapeno and a ponzo sauce)
  • Pre-grilled chicken skewers (chicken and green onion)
  • Tiramisu or creme brulée in individual ramekins – this gets you points, and both are very easy to make.

2. Drink

Recently, I had the very good idea of pre-mixing a pitcher of Mojito ‘concentrate’ (2 cups rum, 1 cup sugar, as much mint as you can find; blended) and bringing a bottle of sparkling water along with me. If you have access to a cheap rose you’ll love it, especially as the evenings become cooler. I tend not to bring ‘nicer’ bottles with me on picnics, just because everything tastes better when you’re outside anyway, and you also limit the chances of being disappointed if your plastic cup spills in the grass. Speaking of, a plastic cup is great to have, since it won’t shatter if you drop it. Plus, it’s not hard to can find clear plastic cups that are an elegant alternative to a wine glass (I always favor stemless) – just look for something that doesn’t have a pronounced lip. Oh, and if you’re bringing wine, don’t forget a corkscrew – and remember that something bubbly is always fun.

3. Where to Go

I’m a big fan of botanical gardens. We’re members at the one in Denver, and we tend to visit them when we travel. Of course, the nearest nice park (or beach) is also a great choice (just be surreptitious with your alcohol), and if you can drive 15 minutes out of the city to a pretty spot that’s also great. Just be sure that you’re not going to get stuck in traffic for more than 20 minutes – nothing kills romance and spontaneity like staring at the back of the same minivan for hours. If you do have a botanic garden near you – go! Especially if you’ve never been before. Strolling through beautiful gardens is a fantastic activity by itself.

4. What to Wear

As I said, if you’re picnicking with your significant other, this is a chance to look nice in a way you don’t look nice while at the office. It’s not really the time for ‘weekend’ clothes, and while you can certainly wear an odd jacket and trousers I recommend you give in to the weather and wear something more at home in the sun. I tend to favor floral prints, lightweight outerwear to fight the evening chill (which is a reality now that we’ve passed Labor Day), and loose or cropped pants that are comfortable for lounging, strolling, as well as sitting around when the sun starts to go down.

Here’s some of my recent picnic-wear:


5. Why You Should Picnic in the First Place

Because it’s fun. No, seriously: taking the time – during the week, no less – to consciously disconnect yourself from all the stress and distractions you probably don’t even know you have while you’re at home (phones, shows, computers, errands, etc.) results in a sense of profound relief, both mental and physical. The kind of relief that results in you feeling the stress leave your shoulders. Not only is the cooking and meal preparation cathartic (at least, it should be), but choosing an outfit based on no one’s expectations on your own is way more entertaining than choosing what you’ll wear to work or even to a restaurant. The older I get, the more I’ve come to cherish slow moments, especially with loved ones. A picnic – and the slight sense of celebration that goes with it – is a fantastic and intimate way to liven up your weekly grind and, I hope, start a new tradition.


Why I’ll Never Stop Loving The Big Shirt

I cherish my weekends. During the work week, my fiancée is gone early and returns late, and outside of our daily dog walks and once-weekly picnics (if you’re not picnicking once weekly with your significant other, reconsider your life), Saturday and – sometimes – Sunday are the only days we have to relax with a cup of coffee, our dogs, and a breakfast that isn’t a granola bar.

Every weekend, once I’ve had my coffee (decaf now, sadly) and am ready to start cooking, I invariably reach for the same garments: a comfy pair of shorts (or pants, if the morning is chilly), my Birkenstocks (say what you will), and a Big Shirt. And by Big Shirt I don’t mean an oversized gym tee. I mean a loose, oversized button-up shirt that I wear with the sleeves rolled halfway up my forearm. You may remember these from glorious 90’s moments such as this one:

Conversely, for a few years while I was in college, slim-fit shirts were the Holy Grail of menswear. At the same time that brands such as Band of Outsiders and Gitman Vintage were just getting popular on Styleforum, all my friends and I were constantly lamenting the unsightly ‘pooching’ effect you’d get around your middle when you tucked a ‘dress shirt’ from Express, or J Crew, or wherever into your ‘dress pants.’ Many things have changed since then, among them my own style, the relative tightness of your average shirt, and the knowledge of how the latter should fit.

The thing is, I’ve always been a t-shirt guy. I’m wearing one even now, although there’s a blazer over it, and a body-hugging button-up shirt just isn’t and never will be as comfortable. But a t-shirt just isn’t always appropriate, and when you want something with a collar, your recourse is the Big Shirt.

I have been, in many ways, groomed since birth to favor the Big Shirt. My mother is a painter, and many of my childhood memories involve seeing her in her own Big Shirt – either stolen from my father or purchased for herself – covered in paint, charcoal and wood chips. Similarly, my father chronically finds all clothing intensely uncomfortable, except for his selection of ancient and heavily-worn oxford cloth button downs. He wears them all the time, with everything – including under a sweater when skiing. As neither of them have ever been particularly interested in fashion or clothing, I never saw anything else. It should come as no surprise that the comfort I take in wearing a Big Shirt is both physical and mental.

My first Big Shirts were hand-me-downs from my father, and I still have them: pastel pink and pastel yellow oxfords from Polo by Ralph Lauren; even years after he gave them to me the shoulders are too big and the sleeves too long. They are, however, loose enough to be comfortable in the summertime, and offer just barely enough in the way of decorum so that if a friend comes over for brunch on the patio I don’t feel the need to change. I’ve also snuck them into the occasional casual outfit, usually secreted beneath a casual blazer or a heavy cardigan and paired with an equally casual pair of jeans or trousers.

I have a few other shirts I consider Big Shirts: one is a hand-me-down from my mother, one is a relatively new chambray workshirt from RRL, and the last is, similarly, a workshirt from Yellow Hook. The latter two are just about fitted in the shoulders, but cut loose enough through the waist to trick the wearer into forgetting they’re wearing a shirt. I’ve even tried to incorporate Big-Shirtness into the other aspects of my wardrobe, and one of my favorite shirts that isn’t for casual outfits is a Haider Ackermann women’s blouse in gold silk that is truly Big.

Speaking of, part of my love for the Big Shirt is due to its androgynous appeal – women and men alike look great in Big Shirts. Old Ralph Lauren ads are a truly great source of inspiration for oversized silhouettes, and the women’s suits of the 80’s are still fantastic. 80’s Armani and Versace advertisements are equally great, and all three brands showcase the elegance of billowy clothing – and of the Big Shirt in particuarly. I still love the look of billowing fabric and a cinched waist, and although trim-cut shirts are certainly still – and likely will be for the foreseeable future – very popular, there’s nothing better for a relaxed outfit than a Big Shirt.

You can, of course, head to your local Ralph Lauren outlet and buy an oxford a few sizes too big if this is an itch you’re interested in scratching, but 1) that lacks magic and 2) going to malls and outlets is a terrible experience. Instead, I’d recommend shopping Ebay or Etsy for old shirts. The key is really to find a shirt with a giant armhole and a pleated sleeve, because as much as we like to say that high armholes improve mobility – and they do – you’re much more mobile in a shirt that fits like a sack.

There are more than a few brands playing with bigness these days – popular names on Styleforum being Christophe Lemaire and Kapital – but if you’re sitting on the more classic side of the style spectrum, I’d suggest trying the vintage route first. Start with a plain white or blue oxford. Get yourself a narrow, over-long belt, then tuck your shirt into a pair of soft, pleated trousers; or wear it with comfy, worn denim; or be like me and wear it over a pair of beat-up hiking shorts. You just might find that what your wardrobe needs is a little bit of Big Shirtness.

Buying Jeans for a Tailored Wardrobe

The ‘blazer and jeans’ look is as common today as it ever has been, championed by retailers and social media accounts of all sorts. Most commonly, you’ll see narrow black blazers paired with narrow black denim or torn jeans, or you’ll find true dad-wear diehards wearing stonewashed Levi’s with too-big sport coats. On the other side of the spectrum are Styleforum’s SW&D posters, who have long been sharing less rigid and rule-bound takes on the same combination.

However, if you fall more on the Classic Menswear side of things, don’t lose heart. There is certainly – perhaps more so now than ever – a segment of the denim market in which you can find some very versatile jeans for a tailored wardrobe. If that sounds like you, here are several considerations you’ll want to keep in mind when you’re shopping for denim, along with some tips from Styleforum members to send you on your way.

1. What to Consider

Remember that Jeans are Jeans

First and foremost: jeans are not trousers. The key to wearing them with tailored clothing is understanding that they don’t need to be forced into a role as stand-ins for trousers, but that they offer new and different styling possibilities for your wardrobe. If you think that jeans are too casual to be worn with tailored clothing, then you’ll likely be happier if you stick with trousers than you would be trying to force denim into your wardrobe.

Consider the cut

Before you consider the hem width or color of your jeans, make sure that you’re keeping an eye on the rise. Are you planning to tuck in your shirt? If so, you’ll want to stay away from low-rise jeans, which will result in untucked shirts and unsightly bulges at the crotch and belt line. If your tastes tend toward the classic, you’ll probably want to look for a ‘medium rise,’ as most men’s jeans won’t be marked as a ‘high rise’ (if you’re looking for explicitly high-rise denim, your best bet is to search Western and Cowboy supply stores for brands such as Lee and Wrangler). This has the added benefit of making your jeans resemble trousers more closely in silhouette, which means that if you’re sticking with your classic clothing, it will be easier to work denim into your wardrobe.

Determining hem width

Do you plan to wear your jeans with espadrilles and camp collar shirts? With loafers and a polo? With chunky, English footwear and a sport coat? This will help you do decide on the inseam length and hem width that you prefer. I suggest not going wider than 8-8.5″, as denim has its own characteristics and quickly starts to look sloppy when overly wide.

For example, you’re looking for a pair of jeans to wear in the summertime, consider a cream fabric hemmed to no break, as these will pair well with loafers. If you plan to wear them with chukkas in the fall and winter seasons, a longer inseam and some tasteful stacking will look nice.

Similarly, too-narrow jeans may look at home in a streetwear context, but be out of place in a more traditional getup.


Texture is as important in denim as it is when choosing trousers. Wearing thin, uninteresting denim that doesn’t stand out won’t necessarily elevate your look – however, pronounced slubbiness or neppiness may not be what you want either. The latter fabrics can be difficult to dissociate from their rugged, workcloth origins, and don’t necessarily pair well with tailored clothing, while the former can read as bland and unconsidered.

There’s no specific ‘best’ denim for wearing with tailored clothing, but I prefer to err on the side of textured. This limits the chances that you’ll look like a boring office drone.

What about the color?

My personal opinion is that very dark jeans look silly with sport coats and a tucked-in shirt, as they go too far in aping the look of trousers and instead ignore the characteristics of denim. Jeans are not a formal garment, even in this informal world, and that’s not changed by pairing them with more formal clothing. A highly-textured denim can alleviate this effect somewhat.

Obviously, you may choose to go the raw route, and wear your jeans until they’re distressed to your tastes. Otherwise I’d suggest looking for a light to medium-dark blue, depending on the look you’re after. Faded indigo is a lovely color, and works very nicely with tailored jackets in a way that navy trousers can’t.

There are also more and more makers offering tasteful washes, should you prefer your jeans pre-washed.

To cuff or not to cuff

There’s no right answer here. Generally, I recommend avoiding thick, heavy cuffs – a single cuff or micro-cuff can look nice, but this depends greatly on the width of the hem and the shoe you’re wearing. Here are some examples that I think look good, followed by others that I think miss the mark. Ultimately, the choice is up to you.

A note on alterations

Don’t be afraid to hem or taper your jeans, the way you would alter any other garment. They’re still an off-the-rack garment, so the chances that anything you find will fit you or your tastes perfectly are as slim as they are in any other case. For example, Levi’s had so many customers request that the legs of their 501 jeans be tapered that they introduced a new fit, the 501 CT. Keep that in mind if you’re looking through thrift stores for the perfect, already-broken-in wash.

However, don’t get too precious – remember, jeans aren’t trousers, and part of what makes denim pleasant is its innately unkempt, casual feel.

2. Brands to try

The following are brands that offer denim in cuts amenable to tailoring or to a more classic wardrobe. Keep in mind that there are many, many others – a cruise through most of the Italian RTW brands on Yoox will net endless results. Levi’s offers numerous budget options, and would be my choice if you’re looking to keep costs down, but if you have the cash to spare there are far nicer options available.


Japan Blue Jeans



The Armoury

3. Member Tips

Lots of people have already figured out what works for them. Like other members, I happen to think that dark denim worn with a dark, office-ready blazer is a strange look. Here are some selected tips and impressions. For more, check out the Sport Coats and Jeans thread. I’d also direct you to our contributor Mitch, who nails the blazer-and-jeans look.

“I think the best way is to just throw it on and think no more of it. A very casual jacket helps of course.”

– E.F.V.

“I don’t do the denim+SC look often – I generally prefer chinos – but I do think it can work. When I’ve done it in the past I’ve usually reached for gray tweed, brown flannel, tan linen, things like that (depending on the weather). I’ve never tried the navy on navy, I just haven’t felt good about it whenever I looked in the mirror.”

– Brillopad

“It helps to have awesome hair. Or some interesting detail so it doesn’t feel like ‘I just got home from the office but only had time to change half of my outfit before going out to dinner.'”

– ChetB

“I’ve debated this with folks here before, but I think for all but the tallest of dudes, jackets worn with odd pants generally and jeans particularly should be shorter than a standard suit jacket. If this isn’t done, the jacket makes the look top-heavy and dumpy. One inch minimum, probably no more than two.”

– Sugarbutch

What James Bond Would Buy on Mr. Porter

Mr. Porter has, apparently, worked with the costume designer and wardrobe supervisor of the ‘Kingsman’ movie franchise to put together one of those capsule collections we all love so much. Mr. P’s always been, in my mind, the go-to e-store for dudes who want to look like James Bond, so I guess I’m not surprised. Still, I say bollocks, because I frankly couldn’t believe the one trailer I saw for the upcoming Kingsman film wasn’t a joke. I guess there’s only room in my heart for one secret agent (hint: it’s Kim Possible).

Even so, you (and I, I guess) are in luck, because if you want to dress like Bond MP’s still got your back. There’s probably no better time to do so, especially since there’s supposedly going to be another film in 2019, even if we don’t know who’ll be in it. Hell, maybe I have a shot. If I had to guess, here’s what Bond would buy on Mr. Porter:

1. Nothing says Bond like a Dinner suit, and apparently Jeffrey Deaver (who writes books) dressed Jim in Canali in a recent novel. No complaints from me – that’s a nice tux. Black tie season is coming, and a real secret agent would be prepared in advance.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Canali Tux, $1,975


2. Okay, so maybe the other garment that really screams BOND is a dressing gown, because it totally makes sense that a secret agent dude has time to wear one of those when hunting down baddies. Anyway, this one’s got a nice pattern on it, which is probably good for distracting people who barge in on you, guns drawn, while your tongue is halfway down a supermodel’s throat. It’s like dazzle camo, but for a gentleman.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Derek Rose cotton-jacquard robe, $525


3. I’m pretty sure it’s written somewhere in the top secret James Bond contract that you must wear a turtleneck at some point. And, frankly, this one’s pretty badass. Heavy wool, a trim fit, and a solid rollneck make this a sweater for a rough ‘n ready Bond. Wear it the next time you get thrown into the ocean.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Inis Meain merino/cashmere rollneck, $595


4. Similarly, the white cotton shirt is a Bond staple. Given film Bond’s predilection for Turnbull and Asser, it seems only fitting to suggest one of the London house’s staple staples: white cotton, and nothing else. Bring extras, because bloodstains.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Turnbull & Asser white cotton shirt, $365


5. Every Bond worth his liquor needs a good ski vacation. That means you need a wardrobe worthy of après-ski celebrations (and libations), and that means you need ridiculous leather hiking boots like these ones.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Ralph Lauren Purple Label Hiking Boots, $1,500


6. All joking aside, a black captoe oxford really is a wardrobe staple. You can even wear them with your tux if you’ve got nothing else. Smart shoes such as these showcase the best of Bond: quality, no-nonsense, generally ready to kick some ass, get drunk, or do both in the same afternoon.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Church’s oxford shoes, $595


7. After you’ve been to the Alps, you may as well head to the beach for a well-deserved rest, along with a taste of local delights with a side of murder. Connery’s Bond has always been a good source of swimspiration (hashtag #swimspiration) [note: I just googled ‘swimspiration’ and apparently it’s a thing], and this Orlebar Brown terrycloth polo is the perfect option to showcase your chest hair.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Orlebar Brown terrycloth polo, $165


8. On that note, short, light-blue swim trunks are definitely in order. Just make sure they’re tight, and that you haven’t been skipping leg day.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Frescobol Carioca swim shorts, $250


9. Oh, and don’t even think about trying to vacation Bond-style without a camp-collar shirt. Sean Connery loved these, and lucky for you, they’re having a moment. Pick one with long sleeves so you can wear it as the days start to grow shorter. This one also gestures, idly, to Connery’s predilection for safari shirts.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Camoshita striped camp-collar shirt, $430


10. Sometimes Bond (or, more accurately, Daniel Craig) does in fact wear jeans, and when he does, he usually wears chukkas. Not a bad choice – they’re comfy, and go with most things you’ll find in a tailored wardrobe. In fact, if you read Styleforum you probably have some, Bond fan or otherwise. Perhaps you’re James Bond already.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Brunello Cucinelli chukka boots, $1,075


11. Bond. Grey flannel. The two go together like sex and guns, and we at Styleforum (read: Peter Zottolo) are huge fans of suits such as this. Even if you don’t want to be like Bond, you do want to be like Peter. Trust me on this one.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Alexander McQueen POW suit, $2,855


12. At home with jeans, slacks, or full nudity, nothing says “I’m rugged, refined, and ready for anything as long as it doesn’t rain” like a suede blouson. Even if you’re tragically uncool and un-dashing, you can drape this over the back of a fancy chair and just look at it for a while if you want.

what james bond would buy on mr. porter james bond mr. porter styleforum

Valstar Valstarino suede jacket, $995


A Review of Baudoin and Lange’s Sagan Loafer

You have probably seen, just as I have, innumerable photographs of Very Stylish Men wearing Baudoin and Lange’s “Sagan” loafer. In the last year, the shoe has become the shoe of the menswear cognoscenti, the shoe worn by the men at Pitti who obviously know what they are doing and know that they are doing it – the men you actually care to see photos of. If you’ve somehow managed to miss them, take a look at @baudoinlange on Instagram for an endless reel of drool-worthy shoes, and then come back and read the rest of this.

The Sagan loafer is the first RTW project from Allan Baudoin, a product he felt deserved to have its own brand to support it. It began its life as a shoe to wear in the atelier where his bespoke shoes are made, and gained its own momentum when bespoke clients – along with other shoemakers and bespoke cutters and tailors – began asking after them. Now, it’s sold both directly through the Baudoin and Lange website, and has been stocked at a handful of retailers such as BnTailor and The Armoury.

Belgian-style shoes have been experiencing (thanks in part to Rubinacci’s mainstream “Marphy” loafer, often worn by the Instagram star Luca Rubinacci) something of a resurgence across the internet’s various men’s style communities – Styleforum being no exception. It’s not that hard to see why: when you can wear a shoe that’s as comfortable as a slipper, and that is in this case as buttery and supple as anything you could imagine, it makes sense to wear it every chance you can get.

baudoin and lange sagan loafer review styleforum

The “classic” Sagan loafer sports an unadorned apron; it is also available in a penny, string, or tassel makeup. The pair I received is of the tassel variety, made up in dark brown suede. This makeup was suggested by Bo, whose last name contributes the “Lange” to the brand, as perhaps the definitive Sagan iteration. He also suggested I order a size 45, which I did – I generally wear a 12-12.5 US, which lines up nicely with the recommendation on their website. All that was left was to wait.

Each pair of Sagan loafers ordered from the Baudoin and Lange website is made to order. The site declares that they are working on a backlog of common sizes to reduce the waiting time, but also says to expect a wait time of up to three weeks (note: at the time of publishing, that window had been increased to four weeks). An old member-written review on Styleforum noted that the early packaging (back in 2016) was sub-par; this is certainly not the case now. The shoes arrived in a slim, handsome box, packaged with little fanfare but entirely ready for wear.

They are, in a word, gorgeous. New, the suede has a luster that connotes (if you are me) a stirring combination of Savile Row smarts alongside raw, animalistic luxury; as if the shoes should be worn with a fur cloak on the set of Game of Thrones and then to the Louvre that same evening, being of course perfectly at home on the plane that would transport you between venues. I opened the box that held them in an unlit room; I imagine that, had you seen me from the outside, my face would have been illuminated as though in a Renaissance painting.

Forgive the hyperbole.

Comfort and Style

baudoin and lange sagan loafer review styleforum

In addition to looking not-too-shabby, the Sagan loafer is bizarrely comfortable. I should instead say that it’s cleverly designed, because the cork-and-foam padded insole offers ample cushioning for long periods of wear, and the way that the shoes are built means that they can accommodate a range of foot widths (I am a fairly standard D width) as the suede ‘stretches’ around the foot very nicely. 

They are made of unlined suede lambskin, which Justin of The Shoe Snob called “The cashmere of suede.” Similarly, Simon Crompton called the Sagan “The best Belgian-style loafers I have ever worn.” They’ve been featured in The Rake, they’re seen on the best-dressed men on the Internet, and, well, you get the idea. So it was no surprise that the Sagan looks beautifully at home with tailored clothing. What did surprise me was the shoe’s surprising versatility. Shorts? Success. Denim? Check. Wide-legged trousers? You got it. In fact, some of the best looks I’ve seen featuring the Sagan loafer come courtesy of Styleforum member Beepbop, who wears them with a host of streetwear-friendly names.

After a series of daily experiments I decided, in the name of Styleforum and science, to wear them just about wherever I could. I didn’t expect universal success: after all, this is a shoe that is closely related to a house slipper. Besides, the Sagans are so supple and so downright beautiful that it felt more than a little sacrilegious to treat them like just another pair of shoes, and I was reluctant to see them brought to harm – but for your sake, dear reader, I carried on. The following is a short list of activities for which I can fully recommend the Sagan loafer:

  1. Driving a car with an automatic transition (sadly, a standard transmission was not available for testing by the time of publication – I suspect these would not be ideal for heel-toe shifts, although since Bo van Langeveld is a former competitive driver, perhaps he can chime in)
  2. Riding a bicycle (with toe clips) to the coffee shop; working all day
  3. Strolling through the botanic gardens
  4. Picnicking in said gardens
  5. Grilling dinner for visiting family members (managed to avoid splattering oil on them somehow)
  6. Walking the dogs (on pavement) for 1+ hour
  7. Standing for long periods of time
  8. General puttering, both inside and out, and lounging around looking cool all day long

And the following are activities for which I do not recommend wearing the Sagan loafer:

  1. Juggling a soccer ball (I couldn’t bring myself to do it)
  2. Walking on dirt roads (the stones get in, though not so much as you’d think – what really got to me was the rising panic I felt as I watched them grow dustier and dustier)
  3. Plyometrics (due to a lack of lateral support)

That’s a lot of activities. Throughout them all, the Sagan performed beautifully – they’re comfortable enough to be worn for long periods of time, good-looking in a way that makes you want to spend a lot of time staring at your own feet, and versatile enough to be worn with a range of garments in a range of situations.

Price, Quality and Final Thoughts

baudoin and lange sagan loafer review styleforum

As shown here, the Sagan tassel loafer costs 325 GBP, or about $425. For that price, you’re buying a handcrafted loafer made of the finest, softest, most supple suede I’ve ever seen on a shoe. The quality is what you would expect from a RTW project with bespoke roots: superb. These are, quite simply, stunning shoes. Considering how versatile and comfortable they are, I think that the amount of wear you’ll end up getting from them makes the price well worth it, even if you’re not spending every day in high-waisted trousers and patch-pocket jackets.

I can see these being the perfect travel shoe for a tailored wardrobe, especially on overseas trips when you want a shoe that’s easy to slip on and off and that won’t restrict your feet as they swell like balloons. They’re so slim that they’ll pack easily in a suitcase as well. Add the fact that they’re comfortable enough for a day on your feet and you’ve got a shoe that performs as beautifully as it looks.

Recently I have tried to shy away from outright “Buy/Don’t Buy” recommendations, but for anyone who is on the fence about ordering these, I can heartily recommend you do so. They’re a pleasure to look at, and a pleasure to wear. Others seem to like them as well – I don’t normally hear “I like your shoes” from strangers, but I think it goes to show that they look something special.

Men are, largely, still collectors when it comes to clothing, and this is an ideal shoe to collect. Every time I load up the website I’m struck with the urge to order a second color, and I imagine that when (and it’s probably a when, not if) I do that a third order won’t be far behind.

Baudoin and Lange ‘Sagan’ tassel loafers in dark brown, shown here with cotton trousers from De Bonne Facture, a denim shirt that has lost its tags, and a La Portegna portfolio.

Photos by Ian Lipton

This is not sponsored content. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.


Do Your Hair Like Jasper (If You Want)

I get a lot of hair-related questions. Most of them are only half-serious, and many of them are mocking. Even so, Arianna has asked me to write about the proteins extruded from my scalp, and I told her that I would try.

I generally keep my hair at a short or medium length, although I did try to grow it out once, to which my girlfriend put a stop before I achieved the princely locks I had envisioned. That means that all of these recommendations are for hair of a similar length – I really have no idea how to deal with rockstar curls or anything like that. I also have very thick hair, so keep that in mind. 

First of all, make sure that you’re nurturing said extruded proteins by following a proper hair-care routine. Mine is as follows:

  • Shower, sometimes (usually at night).
  • Wash my hair, if I remember.
    • Shampoos and conditioners that contain Tea Tree Oil or Eucalyptus smell nice.
  • Go to sleep.
    • Drool on pillow.
  • If sleeping on wet hair, hair may or may not need styling in AM. Sometimes I rub product in wet hair before going to bed, because #iwokeuplikethis. Perhaps it’s the pillow drool that really does the trick.

If styling hair, follow one of two steps:

  • If blow-drying: add warmed-up product to towel-dried hair, then style and blow-dry to the best of my meager abilities if I have the time or inclination. I almost use a penny-sized amount of product, and heat it either by rubbing my hands together or by pointing the blow-dryer at it for a bit. 
  • If not showered: dampen product with a drop of hot water, work it into a paste, and apply directly to dry hair – gives it a different texture, but it works.

I’ve played with a lot of different products, and most of the ones I’ve ended up liking have been recommendations from my hairdresser, who has been cutting my hair since I was 8. I’ve had poor luck with just about everything I’ve ever purchased from your standard Target/Walgreens/whatever, and at this point I’m not going to keep trying, because let’s face it: American Crew just kind of sucks. However, a few products have stood out to me over the years, and I’ll go over them here.

1. Fatboy

kevin murphy fatboy sumotech styleforum hair style tips styleforum hair products styleforum do your hair like jasper

Fatboy’s perfect putty in medium-length hair

Right now, I’m pretty enamored with fatboy hair products, and specifically with the perfect putty. I have a used a lot of different products of this type, and I think it’s my favorite, especially considering the price (21$ for 2.6oz). There’s no grease to it, it gives a matte finish, and it is really, really lightweight – and it smells nice. If you’re trying to use various ‘clay’ products and they’re not what you wanted, give this a shot.

I’ve also sampled the water wax, as a kind of finisher to dry blow-dried hair that adds some nice texture and a bit of shine. I’ve never used it by itself, however, and it doesn’t feel like a ‘necessary’ product in my life.

Based on how much I’ve liked the fatboy products I’ve tried, I’d definitely be interested in experimenting with their other offerings, but the perfect putty is more or less everything I need.

2. Bumble and Bumble Sumotech

kevin murphy fatboy sumotech styleforum hair style tips styleforum hair products styleforum do your hair like jasper

Bumble & Bumble’s Sumotech in short hair

Another wax-putty, Sumotech is very similar to fatboy’s perfect putty, with a slightly different, slightly waxier texture, though it also gives a matte finish (with perhaps a touch more shine to it). This was my favorite product until I started using fatboy, and I can definitely recommend it. However, it costs 29$ for a 1.6oz jar, which definitely tips the scales in fatboy’s favor. Even so, it smells great, works great, and generally feels great in the hair, so have at it.

Similarly, I went through a period during which I was using B&B’s Sumowax, which is, well, a wax. Hard-hold, and all that; I think it works well for shorter hair, and gives some hold and separation without making you look like you’re in 8th grade – if you follow. Again, I can recommend it, either on its own or as a finishing product.

The cheapest place I know of to buy Sumotech is Amazon, but both of these products are also sold at Sephora.

3. Kevin Murphy Gritty Business

kevin murphy fatboy sumotech styleforum hair style tips styleforum hair products styleforum do your hair like jasper

Kevin Murphy’s Gritty Business in long(er) hair

Kevin Murphy has a whole line of apparently well-regarded styling products, but the only one I’ve ever used is Gritty Business. This is a clay/wax blend, so it behaves differently from the options above. You can either apply it the same way as the two above (put in damp hair, rub around, profit), or you can apply it to completely dry hair as well. It gives a much messier look than the putties above, and according to their website is good for thinner hair.

I ended up really liking this, but doubt I’ll buy it again for my personal uses – it’s heavier than a pure wax or putty, which I don’t need. The easiest way to get it is via Amazon, and at 31$ for 3.4oz it’s not a bad deal.

4. Bumble & Bumble Surf Spray

This is one of the only – I don’t know what you’d call it – ‘additional’ hair products I’ve ever liked. A ton of companies make something like this – look like you were just at the beach! – but this is the only one I’ve ever thought did anything. It adds a little salty texture, but it’s dry instead of waxy. You can apply to damp or dry hair, but in my case I’ve used it in tandem with Sumotech/putty once my hair is mostly dry, or on days when I get up and my hair is dry and I don’t feel like getting it wet and re-styling. Spray it, work it around and let it air dry – B&B recommends using a diffuser on your blow-dryer if you go that route, but I don’t have one of those.

Surf Spray is nice because it’s really lightweight, so if you’re not looking for a firm hold or a lot of shape, it’s a good way to add texture without your hair feeling greasy or weighed-down.

Oh, and if you’re ever in Boulder, CO, you can give West End Salon a call and ask for Meg.

Kneecaps on Parade: The Season’s Best Shorts

If you spend all your days in an over-air-conditioned office, you’re probably not that concerned about the summer heat – it’s more likely that you’re wearing a coat to work to deal with hyperactive air conditioning. But if you find the chance to put away your linen and fresco trousers and spend some time outside, you may want to consider the heresy of shorts.

Now, those of you who are still complaining that men don’t wear shorts, can’t wear shorts, shouldn’t wear shorts – it’s time to give it up. Yes, if you’re in Europe, you’ll still be the outlier – but that’s why we left England, right? For the freedom to bare our tender little kneecaps which, thanks to the magic of sunscreen, can now escape the anger of the sun largely unscathed.

The thing is, for years the only reliable option available for a man looking for a pair of shorts was The Shorts; essentially chinos hemmed to fall just above the knee. They look fine with a button-up shirt, and if you wear your slightly ratty race tee from last year, no one really bats an eye. But you might be happy to know that you have more options. And you may also be happy to know that cargo shorts are now a thing again – if they ever went away. 

Change the Fabric

The easiest way to find summer relief is to look for a short pant in a lightweight fabric. Making a short in linen might not exactly be a revelation, but if you dread the summer months because your shorts are all thick cotton or (gasp!) denim, you might find solace in lighter-weight fabrics. Linen is certainly one option, but fabrics such as cotton gabardines or lightweight nylon blends can go a long way in helping you maintain some semblance of comfort. I’ve never understood the idea of a “heavy-duty short,” which seems to have come into being as a part of the lumberjack-manliness revival thing of the earlier 00’s, but I would avoid any product that tends that direction if I were you. If you need heavy-duty clothing, you probably need to wear something other than shorts. And if you need to wear shorts, you probably don’t want them to be heavy duty.

Thankfully, it’s not hard to find a brand offering a lighter-weight fabric. My perennial favorite, Blue Blue Japan, offers shorts made of linen or gauzy cotton in the same beautiful indigo hues as all their goods; but everyone from H+M to Cuccinelli is making them. They often tend towards Bermuda styles, but there are plenty of other shapes out there for a consumer who’s willing to browse the internet for an hour or two, such as this fun pair from Margaret Howell.

Bermuda styles are certainly an easy option if you favor a more conservative style of dress – wearing a short with a pair of loafers or espadrilles is definitely an acceptable way to keep both leg and foot cool while maintaining a semblance of propriety. My only word of warning is that once you cross the threshold of the upper kneecap, a Bermuda short can start to look a bit dated – and also start to restrict mobility in an uncomfortable way.


Change the Shape:

If you’re a streetwear die-hard, you’ll know that the wide, wool short look has been around for more than a few seasons, but it feels as though it’s really hit the mainstream now. There are a lot of brands experimenting with this silhouette: Rick Owens has, of course, been producing variations on his Swinger shorts for a decade now, and a host of brands like Acne, Comme des Garçons, Weekday, Philip Lim and E.Tautz have made it a standby as well. They often (but not always) hit below the knee, and the color of choice seems to be black – which is not the first option my mind runs to in summer.

However, you don’t have to go full-force to embrace a more interesting shape, and you don’t have to limit yourself to black wool. Dries van Noten has been playing with wide shorts, both short and long, in a host of fabrics for years. You can find cottons, satins, and wools, some with prints and some without, and he’s one of the only designers who can take such a long-derided item of clothing and make it look both chic and flattering without resorting to Gucci resort-level sleaziness. However, I think the relative newcomer Ddugoff also makes a nice-looking pair.  

In addition, for the more #menswear-focused, we’ve seen a few companies offering belted, pleated, ‘Gurkha’-style shorts this season, such as this Pitti-ready pair from Rubinacci. Wear with loafers, etc.

The beauty of wide shorts is that they do a half-decent job of keeping you cool. Airflow stays constant, and you don’t get the unpleasant feeling of tight fabric sticking to your thighs or – god forbid – chafing you when you walk. I also find that a slightly wider leg and leg opening – I’m just talking even just a couple of inches of breathing room – can balance out a looser top, and offer you more possibilities for styling – a topic we’ll cover next week.

Change Your Whole Lifestyle, Man

The rise of athleisure has made it possible for lazy oafs like me to claim we’re dressing fashionably while staying comfortable in our hiking and running shorts. I, for one, am not complaining, and since techwear is now officially a Thing, there are more brands than I can count that are now playing with takes on the “day-hiker in the big city” look. I tend to favor this over the “urban ninja cyborg” look – although if we’re talking utility, I suggest you follow your heart.

The best thing about this movement is that you can just wear your comfy hiking or trail shoes and feel fine about it. Well, with restrictions – those wide-toed Merrell things are always going to be ugly as sin, but Salomon trail shoes are firmly established in all the hippest streetwear stores, and they’ve got decent arch support to boot.

Of course, if you’re looking for the perfect complement to your Tevas, you can still find Gramicci’s original G short for about thirty bucks. There are also no end of hiking – and military-inspired cargo shorts, which will go largely unnoticed but will be useful. Brands like Battenwear and Snow Peak will have neat options, as will Nonnative. My only recommendation is that you stay clear of the “sweat short” unless you’re actually using them pre- or post-workout. Not for any aesthetic reason; just because wearing sweat shorts during the summertime is truly miserable.


Regardless of what you choose this summer, breaking up the monotony of your usual backyard wear can be a good way to keep yourself from mentally dreading the month you have to wait for cooler temperatures to come around again. I know it’s hard not to salivate at the upcoming fall collections, but taking some interest in the shorts you’re wearing can also help you feel like less of an utter child whenever you put them on.

A Talk with Allan Baudoin of Baudoin and Lange

Allan Baudoin is a London-based bespoke shoemaker. He is also one half of the team behind Baudoin and Lange, the ready-to-wear offshoot of his bespoke atelier which focuses on production of the “Sagan” loafer. Baudoin and Lange is led by Allan Baudoin and Bo van Langeveld. In this article, Allan answered our questions about what led him to shoemaking as a young man, what he loves about it, and about his work at large – both as a bespoke shoemaker and with the Baudoin and Lange brand.

This article has been edited for length and clarity.

allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview

Styleforum: On the Baudoin and Lange website, you go out of your way to mention that both of you come from backgrounds not related to shoemaking or even to menswear. How have these diverse perspectives influenced the growth of Allan Baudoin Bespoke and Baudoin & Lange?

Allan Baudoin: My “background” is in computer science and business. I did not train in shoemaking formally, but had to learn everything on the spot under the pressure of building a name and an income for me in the early days – this means that mistakes are only made once, and you get to touch a lot more of shoemaking than under an apprenticeship.
I had to quickly learn to manage artisans and make decision that went beyond my formal knowledge. In the end, intuition plays a great part in making shoes – that and experience – and luckily I instantly “clicked” with the craft and everything around it. For the first time, I was working on something that felt very natural for me, and I got better at the craft with each iteration to reach the level of knowledge required to launch into RTW with Baudoin & Lange.
Bespoke and RTW use different parts of the brain; a lot more planning is involved as volumes grow, but you always need that bespoke “practicality” to come up with innovative elements and ways of doing beautiful work with nothing. I think one important factor in the growth of B&L is the complementarity of the skills I have with Bo. We are the inverse of each other, and that works very well for running a business. Bo comes from a finance background, having worked in private equity, and is an ex-competitive driver. I don’t have a license, so that tells you a lot about how different we are. In the end, the best decisions are reached by compromise between our two mentalities.

SF: Are there aspects of bespoke shoemaking that you were intent on keeping in your RTW line, or that lended themselves particularly well to your project? Similarly, were there aspects of the bespoke process that you knew would not translate – or even be detrimental – to an RTW line?

AB: I think the lines and aesthetics of my RTW work are very similar to my bespoke, and I did transfer (and improved) on some bespoke shoemaking techniques from the latter to the former – such as brass nail decoration which is now on every pair we make as our logo.allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview
Of course, some aspects of bespoke have to be systematized to become viable for a RTW line. We still hand-last each pair entirely and close the shoes entirely by hand, but obviously some aspects – like blocking insoles by hand – make no sense in RTW. However, our insoles are still blocked and shaped to the last before lasting, so they do curve around the last – which is rare in RTW.
Many techniques that I learned in bespoke I removed on purpose from the RTW project of Baudoin and Lange. For example, a bespoke shoe has hard counters and toe puffs, uses calf and lining – our Sagan loafers are unlined and unconstructed,  which means they are very easy to fit compared to a normally constructed shoe. This translates into extreme comfort from the first use – by removing something akin to traditional bespoke shoemaking, you end up with the exact same result, and a very large part of our clients are bespoke shoe buyers.

SF: I’ve heard that before starting your shoemaking line you briefly worked at Apple, and referred to your time as “disillusioning.” Even so, are there aspects of working with a large company that you miss, or lessons you learned during your time there that you think are applicable to your current life as a shoemaker?

AB: That’s indeed true, you must have heard this from an early interview probably quite soon after I had left the corporate life and was working from a tiny 10-square-meter workshop out of east-London. I think I was really not wired to work in the kind of spaces and environment that most large companies offer. As a shoemaker, I probably did not take away anything from working in an office, but as a designer and new company owner I do owe a lot to my previous background in computer science and business school.
allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview
I’ve always been inspired by Apple design and manufacturing principles. The amount of design work and lack of compromise that the ideas go through from inception to execution without being dropped is hugee, because at Apple only great design ideas make it to the finished product. The vision comes from the user experience designers and hardware designers first; the manufacturing team is there to make it happen no matter how hard or how much work has to be put in. It makes everything easier when the product is perfected beyond the competitions’ standards. I think that’s something we try to emulate at B&L – some features our customers need to have in their shoes – and we find ways to incorporate them, sometimes by going very different routes than what a standard shoe company would do.

SF: What was it about shoemaking in particular that appealed to you? Were there other crafts you found equally enjoyable?

AB: I’ve always wanted to know how shoes were made. I think that for me, this is the craft that uses the most of my strengths – touch and the eye. Touch, because it all starts with leathers, and to use the proper kind in the right application takes a lot of gauging, of imagining the properties of the piece you’re holding and figuring out how best to use it for this or this other purpose. The eye, because everything is always in progress while making shoes, and your eyes guide you through the many steps. There is so much checking involved when making shoes, and nothing works faster and better than a trained eye. Being observant is something one is born with, and for some reason I think I’ve unintentionally or intentionally scanned every person’s shoe I have ever seen since I can remember. It is so incredibly rare to see someone with beautiful shoes that fit them – it’s about knowing what works for you.allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview
Now that I know shoemaking (to a satisfying level, in my opinion), I start to see other crafts as more attainable – and now I want to make too many things! I got to know tailoring a bit from how close our industries are related, but I’ve never been fond of working with soft fabrics. I don’t know why, but how fragile and flimsy they seem to be to work with is something I can’t cope with.
I really like sanding and finishing things at the moment, and so the things I d like to learn for myself one day would probably be watch case making and knife making. I love both watches and knives so that would be useful things to make for myself and I same as for shoes, there are no watches design that I really crave in the market so perhaps I could do something there. For me, all crafts have become more and more fascinating and they all connect at some level. I feel really at home with makers; we have a common language I think.

SF:Can you tell us about the process by which you became involved with the London shoemaking scene? What drew you to the art? How long did it take you to think: “This is what I want to do?”
AB: It took me approximately one week to decide that I wanted to do this. I really just came out of nowhere, I knew nothing about shoemaking or making anything actually – but when I visited a shoemaker close to my apartment in East London everything changed. I was in a mental place at that time where I felt I could do anything, and that anything goes as long as you enjoy it (I had just come back from going to Burning Man in the desert of Nevada, so that did leave an impression on me, the way everybody there was sharing their “trip” to the fullest with absolutely no regard to judgment about it. There, anything goes; everybody comes to share what they are about and in such a beautiful and generous way that it is hard to describe in words what the experience is like.
allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview I knew absolutely no one in the industry or even in anything related to it, I was introduced to makers by going from workshop to workshop thanks to my laster, and I went on to discover every aspect of the craft by myself by spending time with artisans.
Then, the shoes that I had made at first for me, then my friends and my 1st and 2nd degree network, found their way to a wider audience thanks to social networks.  I did get to talk and meet people who really knew a lot of industry people – first in mind is meeting with Simon Crompton [of Permanent Style] – a guy I had no idea I’d get along with so well. I was not even a reader of any blogs before I met him for lunch one day with no other purpose than to say hi and talk shoes and craft (which seems the way we connect with anyone in this little world of ours). I really have to thank Simon for his help in getting the word out, he introduced my work to everybody he knew. Mark Cho [of The Armoury] has also been incredibly helpful and supportive from the first day he ordered shoes from us.

SF: It appears that the Sagan loafer began as a bespoke or MTO project. How did that come about? 
AB : The Sagan indeed came from the atelier, when I was in the need for a pair of easy to slip-on, all-day comfortable pair to wear around the workshop while making bespoke shoes. My clients and some industry people around me soon took notice and started buying them.
Actually, a lot of tailors and cutters on Savile Row were among my first customers because of how comfortable they are to wear in the workshop while standing, and how well they served and looked in front of customers – perhaps their patronage helped put them on the feet of the right people at the beginning. I still get emails from people telling me that their tailor has recommended them. Today we are stocked in a lot of specialized shops that carry great tailoring brands.

SF: Why did you want this to be your first RTW shoe, and why build an entire brand behind it? How do you see it being worn?

allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview AB: The idea is of a versatile, extremely comfortable loafer that can go with as many environments as possible in one pair of shoes; from evening wear to summer wear, home use, travel and every day use at the office.
I felt the Sagan really deserved to have an entire brand built around it, because the concept is a new and innovative one – it just needs explanation and focus. At B&L we only make Sagans, and that is how much we believe in the concept. This laser-focus on one product translates to quality of craft and service.
I think the product is very innovative for the industry and for the luxury shoe market in general. I think we’re creating our own space instead of finding a gap in the market. It takes time, but I don’t see other brand or makers as competition – I never have. Every pair is different in use, and I feel no other shoe can replace the Sagan.

SF:Baudoin and Lange is a very accessible brand. Many shoemakers go the other direction – why choose accessibility over exclusivity?

AB: Bespoke shoemakers choose exclusivity by default, because the way a bespoke shoe is made is simply not focused on price sensitivity or lead times. That makes the product very expensive and hard to get which is the definition of exclusivity. I do like the idea of a very small number of aficionados enjoying and recognizing the work that goes into my bespoke shoes – it is a passion that connects us.
However, I really don’t think a great product like the Sagan would benefit from such an approach. Our goal is to put as many great looking, comfortable shoes on the feet of people as possible, not just for a select few who can afford it. Many retailers have told us we could charge double what we do but that’s simply restricting ourselves to a smaller market for no real reason.

SF: Can you describe a bit of the “flow” of the creation and production process? I’m aware that you have several partners in the pattern-making and construction processes – can you walk us through the creation and production of a new shoe for the Allan Baudoin line? Does this differ for the Baudoin and Lange line?

AB: I have a pattern maker, a clicker, a closer, two lasters, and a finisher and we all work really well together. I’d say an AB and a BL shoe start exactly the same way and go through the exact same initial process, but the AB goes to only one customer and uses only one skin of leather, whereas the BLs have to made for a lot more people, which requires many more steps.

It all starts with the last. I usually make lasts myself from “unturned toe” wooden lasts, meaning the toe is left wide and rough, while the heel to the joint area are made to the specific measures I give my last “factory” in France.

A first last is made to do the pattern making. This last and pattern will most certainly be modified a few times to accommodate changes I want to make, which happen constantly – I think the Sagan pattern was remade at least 50 times to accommodate changes in leathers, lasts, insoles, and other tweaks.

allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview Parallel to that is the work in sourcing and tanning the leathers we use for soles, insoles, uppers, fitting, bindings, and other pieces – they are all made to our specification and color ways that I have chosen over time. I never use ready-made colors or articles (leathers have countless specs) – you just can’t ask a tannery to have the best taste in color or substance and texture.

I will usually spend a lot of time with my pattern maker and closer when making Sagans (a lot of the work is in the stitching of the upper and the fine design details of each variation), and with my lasters for MTM/Bespoke, as these are always made with different sole types and construction methods. I always quality check every shoe, bespoke and Sagan alike, that comes out of the atelier, to make sure they are made as well as possible. This also allows me to spot problems and constantly perfect the shoes.

Every batch we make is always better than the last one, as I tend to always spot new “imperfections” we can improve upon. I think the Sagan range is now very close to perfection, but we always come up with new things, so it is a never ending process. Perfection does not exist, only the perception of perfection – for a trained eye nothing is perfect. I’m pretty sure you could ask any bespoke shoemaker if they are happy with their last work, and they will say “No” regardless of how perfect it looks to the outside world. We know exactly how good the shoes are, and that’s just never good enough. This is, I believe, the drive (and the curse) of the shoemaker.

SF: You’re still very young – do you feel, now, that you’ve found your niche in shoemaking? Or do you still have a bit of the restlessness in you that took you away from your first career path?

I am always restless. I have found a passion and obsession in shoemaking, and I have built a lot around it both personally and professionally. I intend to keep evolving and see where that takes me. I am always interested in all kinds of crafts and topics related to our industry, so you never what will come out of this!

allan baudoin interview stylefourm baudoin lange styleforum interview

Yellow Hook Shirts Review

My grandfather grew up in New Jersey, the son of Ukrainian Jews who’d emigrated to escape prosecution and worse and found a new life running a grocery store in the city. Until he died and my grandmother moved to a smaller house, my family and our collected relations would converge upon my father’s rambling ancestral home with a sort of semi-irregularity dictated by holidays and the globe-hopping travel schedules of my always-moving grandparents.

My grandfather, a man of whom I have fond but few distinct memories, had a study that I found fascinating, decorated with objects he’d collected from innumerable journeys abroad, smelling of  – retrospectively, at least – a combination of cologne, pipe smoke, and mothballs. It’s that smell – as indistinct and hazy as it may be now, sixteen years after his death – that I most associate with him. It followed him when he came to visit our family, followed him when we joined my grandparents for a family reunion in the South of France one year, and was as much a part of him as anything else he was.

Strangely, I also remember his shirts. One shirt, in particular: white, with plain black stripes, a buttoned collar, and a mighty roll. In my mind’s eye he’s either wearing that shirt or he’s lounging in a chair in a pair of faded navy blue shorts in the Provençal sun; not quite Picasso but not that far removed in the mind of a ten year-old.

Perhaps that’s why I find the shirts that Yellow Hook makes so compelling. They put me back in a mindset where I’m just a child, face buried in my grandfather’s shirt, wondering when I’ll be big enough to wear one like it. The smell is a part of it – out of the box, Yellow Hook shirts smell like a tailor’s shop in New York or New Jersey, like my grandfather’s study; but the cut is a part of it too. At almost thirty years old, I’ve finally gotten big enough to wear shirts like these. They’re roomy across the back with a very handsome taper through the waist, and a collar that looks like the collar on my grandfather’s old shirts. They fit well. They fit like a shirt should fit.

review of yellow hook shirts review yellow hook review styleforum

The Shirts

As you may have gathered from what I’ve written about Pitti and about other brands, it can be hard for me to separate people from product. That’s as true for Yellow Hook as it is for many of my favorite brands. Rob Rossicone, one half of the husband and wife team who run Yellow Hook, is a man I’ve only met twice, but one whose heart I can firmly say is in the right place. Of particular pride is his Italian ancestry, which he’s keen to share through the pieces he makes with Yellow Hook, but in conversation with him he comes across as equally invested in America’s multicultural heritage. He and his wife are both public school teachers, and in my eyes bring a similar earnestness to what is really their chosen labor of love.

Rob sent me two shirts to look at: one of his Napoli spread collar shirts in summer-weight pinpoint oxford, and a red chambray button-down collar. Fit, as Yellow Hook is keen to point out, is subjective, but the shirts are both slim (no darts), comfortable, and far from tight but very flattering. Rob cites various makers as benchmarks: Borelli, Finamore, Turnbull & Asser, Charvet RTW – but the fit is not as skinny as most of the Neapolitan RTW shirts I have tried, and are much more ‘American’ in style: the pinpoint oxford spread features side pleats, the chambray a single box pleat and locker loop, and the style is both comfortable and comforting. That was the goal from the beginning: provide an American-made product to compete with imported luxury.

review of yellow hook shirts review yellow hook review styleforum

And it’s all made in America, too: the shirts are all single-needle stitched in the New York metro area, as are the ties – Yellow Hook’s first product, originally sewn by Courtney Rossicone herself. Full details of individual shirts can be read on the Yellow Hook website, but single-needle stitching is standard, and Yellow Hook produces limited seasonal runs in selected fabrics, which means that stock is always limited and rotating.

It’s hard to claim that anything in 2017 is honest, but Yellow Hook shirts feel honest in a way that so much clothing – even nice clothing, even clothing I love – doesn’t. Part of that is because Yellow Hook is itself a celebration of American multiculturalism; the shirts showcasing the founder’s Italian ancestry as seen through the the melting pot that is the New York area. These aren’t shirts that are pretending to be something else. They’re American in the best way; inspired by global heritage and traditions and made for everyone.

How they Look

Yellow Hook has become most known for their collar roll, which is the exact kind of collar roll you could have found on my grandfather’s shirts: soft, buxom; a size and shape that’s as psychologically comforting as it is physically, and is large without being overwhelming. Similarly, the cuffs are minimally and tightly lined, making them both comfortable and easy to roll (messily, like me). I also like the the signature yellow contrast gusset, which lends a workwear bent to the product – even if it’s not a detail that will often see the light of day.


The fabric choices for these two shirts are also well-considered for the summer months. Pinpoint oxford makes excellent warm-weather shirting, but I’m particularly taken with the hand on the red chambray button-down, which is lightweight and breathable with a texture that has really grown on me the more I’ve worn it. I’m showing it here with the sleeves rolled up, but it also looks right at home under a jacket.

I’d like to note that the red chambray shirt is shown on the Yellow Hook website with yellow contrast stitching; the stitching on mine is tone-on-tone. Additionally, the neck on my pinpoint oxford was enlarged slightly at my request, and these are both details that could be requested via Yellow Hook’s not-really-advertised MTO program for a $50 surcharge and a lead time of 6-8 weeks. For the time being, I’m not sure how focused Yellow Hook is on their MTO program, nor do I know the extent of what’s on offer, but if you need a special size that’s a very modest price increase given the product you get in return.

To return to the issue of fit: subjectivity aside, these aren’t the only Yellow Hook shirts I’ve seen, and I do think that the fit really nails that “sharp, but comfortable” line. I mentioned the American-ness of the style, and these are shirts that work with a tie and a jacket or at a barbecue with the sleeves rolled up.

Final Thoughts

If you’re looking for shirts that give good value – and who isn’t – it’s hard to argue with Yellow Hook’s offerings. New, the summer pinpoint spread collar runs $200 (although it’s currently on sale for $135, and Yellow Hook’s retail prices have now dropped to $135-$155), and the chambray button down retails for $135. Given the single-needle stitching, limited production runs, and entirely human-driven construction, I feel that’s a great price, although it also means that the number of options available at any one time is limited. However, when you add in the intangible qualities I’ve tried to describe above, which will certainly vary in relevance from person to person, I think that you’re left with a product that is, again, honest both in how it what it advertises and in how it wears. That’s hard to come by, and in my mind makes Yellow Hook a very attractive purchase.

I don’t get excited by brands that tout “American Made” as their only selling point, and I don’t come from a school of thought in which the only measure of a garment is the fineness and perfection of the cloth and stitching. In the case of Yellow Hook, being American Made isn’t so much a feature as a backbone – and it supports a product that’s American not by exclusion of outside traditions, but by the inclusion of histories both foreign and domestic. That these are nice shirts is not in question, but as is so often the case, it’s the abstract qualities that, to me, make clothes worth wearing.

Update 7/7/2017: the article has been edited to reflect Yellow Hook’s updated pricing.


Yellow Hook is a Styleforum affiliate. If you’re interested in learning more about the brand, you can do so here.

Photos by Ian Lipton

This is not sponsored content. To read Styleforum’s review policy, please click here.