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.

Peter Nappi Review: The Julius Basso Boot


Back at Pitti 91, Arianna and I had the pleasure of running into Phillip Nappi, who’s the head of Tennessee-based footwear brand Peter Nappi. I can remember reading about the brand in its early days, and coming back to it occasionally over the years due to what I thought was a pretty handsome offering of un-fussy workboots. It fell off the Styleforum radar for a bit, but there’s always been off-and-on interest in the boots, and the brand’s been reinvigorated with a new push, a new adventure to Pitti, and even a new brick and mortar location to support its Nashville flagship store. I’ve circled back continuously, which made it particularly fun to talk to the owner.

As is the case with most brands I end up liking, part of my interest came because I liked Phillip a good deal – he’s earnest, straightforward, and very evidently in love with what he does. That last part encompasses a bit more than just overseeing a shoemaking company, since Peter Nappi is part of what I think is a pretty interesting Southern-US garment and craft movement (along with other brands like the underrated Shockoe Atelier), and their store in Nashville is as much a community space as it is a showroom for shows and events.

You might not be surprised to hear that, after all of this, I was pretty happy to have the chance to take an extended look at a pair of Phillip’s wares, in the form of a some extended wear and review of the Julius boot, which is their flagship model. Specifically, I looked at the “Julius basso” boot in Snuff. I happen to be a fan of lightweight work boots, and of light, versatile boots in general. I’ve owned many different brands in many different styles, and boots that can more or less stand in for sneakers have always had a place in my wardrobe. These fit that bill, both in the way they look and the way they feel.

Silhouette and Style

In the case of the Julius basso, the larger, rounded toe, tapered waist, and short heel give the boot a very handsome silhouette – the toe isn’t so upturned as to resemble Carpe Diem and its descendants, but it’s also enough to make the boot noticeable. According to Phillip, it’s based on a 20th century Italian work boot model, and I think it strikes a really nice balance between being handsome, eye-catching (I’ve been wearing this pair for a little over a month, and for whatever reason they seem to get noticed more than my other footwear), and easily wearable.  As is, I think it’s a good alternative to a more standard chukka boot, while not demanding heavy workwear styling – it’s more at home with light jeans or fatigues than, say, a pair of Redwings, while also feeling a bit less precious (and a bit more versatile) than the Styleforum favorite that is the sleek side-zip boot (think Margiela).

They wear very similarly to sneakers as well. This model is unlined (though others are), but it’s also due to the low heel that wearing the boot doesn’t feel any more, well, taxing than wearing a pair of sneakers, aside from the lack of rubber sole. However, in this particular case the thinness and flexibility of that sole (more on this later) makes the boot what it is, and the unlined upper that this particular model features makes it a good option for summer. I often get very sick of wearing sneakers, but heavy boots are, well, heavy, and the low height and breezy construction mean that I feel pretty good about wearing these in the 80 degree heat.

This year, Peter Nappi has introduced a “Julius Due” model that is, according to Phillip, very similar to the standard flagship but with a slightly narrower toebox. Phillip told me via email that the Due model “Was really a test to see how the market responded to it,” which I take to mean that the standard Julius isn’t going anywhere any time soon.


This particular boot is constructed with a Blake-stitch, which I understand will concern some of our readers who are concerned about potential quality trade-offs. However, this is at its heart a lightweight workboot, and the slimmer sole looks very nice with the silhouette of the shoe. I’ll point you to Permanent Style’s dismissal of concerns over Blake stitching, but I’ll also say that if the thinner sole concerns you from a comfort perspective – this is not an issue in my experience – the addition of a rubber sticker sole will solve all your problems (and is something I do to all my boots anyway).

When I asked Phillip why he opted for Blake as opposed to Blake rapid, he told me that the brand originally began using the Blake stitch, and that last year they experimented with Blake rapid to make the boots look more “Beefy,” but that in the end, the brand is known for its lightweight, Blake-stitched construction, and that’s the route they’ll be going.

I find the sole and construction very comfortable, and there’s enough room in the boot for an insole should you choose. In fact, I think they’re very comfortable – it’s nice not to have to worry about crowded toes, but the silhouette from the top down really is well thought-out. I imagine that it would be nice to have a more cushioned insole, but that’s a  very personal preference and there’s plenty of room in the boot for an insole.

I should note that Peter Nappi also sells a completely hand-stitched Julius model that also sports a hand-stitched Goodyear welt (yes, you read that correctly).

Price, Quality, and Final Thoughts

First, I should offer a disclaimer that, except at the far ends of the bell curve, ‘quality’ is not generally a metric I pay much attention to. I have never had a pair of shoes fall apart on me (with the exception of a rubber heel coming off), and I am not easy on my belongings. In this particular case, I think it’s more important to note that some will no doubt find the thinner leather sole less comfortable than a more rigid sole would be, but it’s equally important to note that this is purely personal preference. If you’re used to wearing lightweight Italian shoes, Peter Nappi boots will feel very familiar. This is, I think, a big part of the charm – the boots are flexible enough to be “shoe-like,” which makes them feel versatile and wearable, especially in the summer as an alternative to sneakers.

As listed, the price for the model shown is $595, which puts it firmly in the “mid-market designer” category. That’s not cheap, but it is competitive with many of the many other brands in the price range, and Phillip told me that they’ve managed to lower prices (when’s the last time you heard that?) based on increased production, reduced fuel costs (the boots are still manufactured in Italy), and the relative strength of the dollar. As a result, the new Julius Due retails for $100 less. “We always aimed to be as approachable as possible,” Phillip told me.  “We want everyone to be able to experience what we’re so passionate about. After seven years, the tide is finally turning in our favor.”

That seems to me a better conclusion than any I could write: Peter Nappi’s boots are, in my eyes, defined by their accessibility. They’re easy to style, easy to wear, and they look damn good on the foot.

Photos by Ian Lipton

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

Alternative Outfit Inspiration from Pitti Uomo

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Do you know how difficult it is to find a purple blazer that doesn’t come with a picture of Prince on its accompanying costume box? It’s certainly not easy, and that’s one of the reasons I really love this photo for a bit of alternative summer inspiration. Combined with the grey band-collar popover, it’s a really nice, washed-out color combination that’s eye-catching in a good way – and a far cry from the garish neon colors that are no doubt on display on the wall just out of sight. It’s interesting – to me – how much of Pitti has inflitrated Styleforum and is now seen as normal, and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. In the USA, men’s tailoring gets more relaxed every year, and it’s nice to see an outfit that makes you excited about tailored wear, rather than bored. This is relaxed, it’s worn well, and even the lilac straw hat doesn’t look out of place – because come on, it’s Pitti.

I’ve said it before a million times, but there are countless well-dressed men at Pitti, and that includes those who dress well outside the confines of the very real Styleforum Groupthink. It’s a pity that the only ones who get the press continue to be the peacocks, especially as the shift in the last few seasons has been towards streetwear peacocks – a different subspecies, I suppose, but an equally boring one.

Perhaps what I like best about the photo, though, is that it shows one of style’s real truths: it’s more about how you wear the clothes than what you’re wearing, and less about centimeter-perfect fit from top to bottom. When you meet stylish people at Pitti, they come across as stylish not across the main plaza of the Fortezza, but in conversation. This man’s at home in his clothing, and you should be too.

Outfit Inspiration from Mossrockss

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One of the aspects of @mossrockss’ outfit photos that I most appreciate is how comfortable he looks in everything he’s wearing. Of course, he could be fooling me by just being very good at standing in front of a camera, but I’ll choose instead to trust in the truth of the images. I’m not entirely sure how he’d describe his own style, but in my eyes it’s a mix of Ivy and some relaxed Italian basics, a combination favored by well-dressed men and instagram stars worldwide.

There are two things he does particularly well. The first, as he himself noted, is pairing blazers with jeans, an example of which you can see here. The second is getting a lot of use out of the pieces he owns. That means that most of the items in his wardrobe are versatile, and easy to mix and match. For example, polos and popovers have been showing up under jackets more and more regularly in Styleforum’s WAYWT threads these days, and for good reason. They look nice on their own, and they add a welcome panache when worn with a sport coat. Especially when they have buttoned cuffs, they can be worn much like any other shirt, or rolled up when your jacket comes off, whether you’re wearing jeans or trousers.

Denim doesn’t need any introduction in terms of its versatility, but lately I’ve been particularly drawn to this pair of Orslow ‘Ivy Fit’ jeans, which have a relaxed fit that’s still flattering, as well as an entirely acceptable factory wash. Of course, you don’t have to wear them with a brown blazer – navy and green will work just as well.

Finally, it’s @mossrockss’ opinion that canoe mocs go with everything, and while that’s probably not true for me, or necessarily for you, dear reader, I felt I had to include them here. The whole look is a little bit more American than Italian,but I think it’s important to note that Mr. Moss never looks, well, boring – rather, he looks put together in a way that ensures he’ll be well-dressed whether he’s sitting on the porch of a colonial-style house in Massachusetts or in the garden of a Tuscan villa.

What to Wear to a Beach Wedding

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The chances of you being asked to wear a suit to a beach wedding are, I admit, slim. However, beach weddings do happen, and beyond that, you may find yourself in a setting – a vacation, a dinner at a seaside restaurant – that demands, or at least encourages, a suit on the beach. Of course, this advice will probably work for most informal, warm-weather weddings. Remember, though – always follow the dress code on the wedding invitation to the best of your abilities out of respect for the occasion.

Let’s say you do get invited to a beach wedding. First, the smart play is to not wear leather-soled shoes.  The problem is that leather shoes are not only hot, but that the salt in the sand (and the sand itself) is not exactly friendly to the longevity of your footwear. However, unless the wedding is actually in the surf zone, you’ll probably want shoes, because sweet mercy does the sand get hot. Unless you want to go barefoot and risk reenacting the end of Terminator 2, or you plan to wear flip flops or Tevas (or my favorite foam Birkenstocks), your best bet is probably a pair of espadrilles. They’re a bit more sand-and-salt capable, and they’re also more summer-friendly in general. The pair above is a rather stunning set of handmade Basque espadrilles from De Bonne Facture, which in this case acquire their gorgeous blue from Dyer’s Woad.

Similarly, I would advise against wearing your finest suit to a beach wedding. Not only is there a good chance that you’ll want to roll your trousers up and stand in the waves (which will inevitably splash you much further up the leg/body), but the sea breeze is equally full of salt and sand, which, you know, abrades things. Of course, I’m always a proponent of wearing the clothing you have, but a beach wedding is an opportunity to branch out into something new, by which I mean it’s a good excuse to buy a linen suit. Whether or not SuitSupply is to your taste, they do offer very good value, and this patch pocket number is perfect for post-nuptial daquiris. The relatively low buy-in means you don’t have to worry about spilling slushy umbrella drinks on it, and you can romp in the sand with impunity.

Finally, keep things light in color. Not only will you probably appreciate the relief from the heat, but light colors just look nice when they’re sun-washed. I can’t imagine wearing anything but a linen or cotton-linen shirt on the beach, and while a white linen square is appropriate for any wedding, this beautiful abstract floral print from Vanda Fine Clothing deserves to be seen.

And that’s it. Or rather, almost. Because you’re definitely going to want two more things: the first is proper eyewear, which means (ideally polarized) sunglasses, because if someone asks you to not wear sunglasses at their beach wedding they’re probably not your friend, and staring a the glare off the waves for an hour is liable to blind you. Second, don’t forget your sunscreen.

Oh, and if the happy couple suggests, as I once witnessed from a distance, that they make their way down the sand-aisle to the dulcet tones of Lil Jon’s Turn Down For What, consider steering them in a different direction.

Invisible Acts Workwear Jacket Review

Although this review is unfortunately a bit late for our Fashion Revolution feature, I was still very happy to have the chance to discuss the venture that is the Invisible Acts workwear jacket, which is a one-off (for now) project from Nina Aganovich and Brooke Taylor, the duo responsible for the brand Aganovich. As opposed to a runway garment, Invisible Acts is the name for a Kickstarter-led production run of a high-quality, “Ethical” chore jacket (as Invisible Acts terms it), which “[Embraces] the slow fashion/co-op movement to tackle issues of quality, ethics and sustainability” in the fashion world. the resulting chore jacket is made entirely of organic, non-GM cotton woven in Italy on narrow shuttle loom machines (which should be familiar to fans of selvage denim), which is then constructed at a co-op factory in France.

It’s no secret that the world of fashion – and of fast fashion in particular – is the scene of some pretty damning abuses of both the environment and of human rights. That’s why, in addition to considering what you buy and why you’re buying it, I think it’s important to draw some attention to projects that are making an attempt to better the system. Of course, I think that it’s easy to be (understandably) dismissive of projects such as these, which have popped up occasionally in the world of fashion and menswear as attention- and marketing-grabs void of any real intent or meaning. Many companies have marketed new ‘lines’ of organic or fair-trade goods, which leaves more skeptical consumers wondering what’s happening with the rest of the main product. It’s a good question, and one worth asking. However, in this case Aganovich – a small design studio attempting, as we speak, to make the push into the couture schedule – are both nimble and hands-on enough that I thought the idea was worth another look.

It’s not surprising that initiatives such as these tend to come from smaller, more mobile companies – Aganovich, in this case, is intimately familiar with the labor-hours required for garment production in the way that a massive fast fashion chain simply cannot be. The company, and by extension the customer, is simply too far removed from the product. It’s equally unsurprising that there’s joy to be had from participating in what is, essentially, a GMTO project (a process with which I’m sure many Styleforum members will be familiar). I’ve never minded the idea, because it forces you to slow down and consider whether the product is ordering is actually one you want (need, in the world of clothing, being a relative term) and whether you’re willing to wait for it – overconsumption being, of course, one of the issues of which we as consumers both responsible and otherwise are now more aware.

You can read more about what and who, exactly, is behind the Invisible Acts project on their website, but the gist of it is that sustainable fabric and sustainable production result in a garment that’s both desirable and ethically responsible. Unfortunately, due to some hardware and scheduling issues, I wasn’t able to get my own photos ready in time for this article, and have used Invisible Acts’ proprietary photos instead. However, I find them accurate in their depiction of the product. 

The Jacket

The Invisible Acts jacket is based on a traditional French bleu de travail, although the pattern is mercifully more modern and the product is notably cleaner in finish than what you’d find from both vintage and (most) contemporary version of similar pieces. It’s available for both men and women, and instead of being a purely unisex piece there are some minor pattern adjustments between the two models. All of the seams are well-finished, the reinforced buttons well-attached, and the details well-thought-out: pockets are reinforced, an oft-overlooked interior pocket is present, there’s nothing about it that to me (who has owned and seen countless chore jackets) screams of wasted opportunity or wasted material. It’s also very much not a fashion product, which is particularly notable due to fashion’s current (and ongoing) obsession with workwear silhouettes and styles. It is, conversely, a decidedly functional – though well-designed – jacket. As Brooke Taylor, one of the duo behind the project says:

“As a design house, we could have added a few twirls, some conceptual weirdness – tried to make the jacket more ‘hip,’ to render a fashion interpretation of a workwear garment. We talked long and hard about this and decided ‘No, the starting point has to be simple solid and straightforward,’ it has to pass muster at being what it actually is.”

I’m always intrigued by declarations such as this, and in this case what the jacket actually is, is a very competent and surprisingly effective garment. The cotton drill used for the jacket is a 520g/m weight, which means it’s quite heavy but not oppressively so. For example, a good friend of mine who spends most of his free time in his basement machine shop in front of lathes and CNC machines was very impressed by the weight and mobility when he tried it on, and said that he’d be happy to wear it every day while working. If you’re attempting to make a manufacturer’s jacket, it’s a good thing if an actual manufacturer is happy to endorse it.

I have seen and owned many chore jackets, and most of them – including some of my favorites – don’t pass that test. In this case, the only deviation from a rigorous lack of extraneous detail is the visible selvage line that runs down the center seam of the jacket. It’s a detail I’m neither attracted to nor repulsed by, and somehow it feels unforced despite the ongoing preponderance of selvage-detailed-everything in the denim world.

The heft of the fabric also means that the garment will require some time to break in. I’ve only been wearing mine for a week or so, but it hasn’t shown much sign of softening yet – which is also just fine with me, as I’ve always enjoyed the process of wearing clothing into shape. Another plus is that the jacket is pre-washed, so you don’t have to worry about compensating for shrinkage. It’s also almost a mercy that the jacket isn’t made in indigo, since just about every other chore jacket these days is – the color on the grey model I received is very nice, and the coal black looks equally good. I should note that, according to Invisible Acts, the white model is a slightly lighter weight (250g/m) than the other two fabrics, if you’re after a jacket that drapes more easily out of the box.

I also happen to think that the jacket looks pretty damn good. The pattern is more flattering than it would be from a repro or purely workwear-focused company, and as already mentioned the details are well-considered. Fit-wise, a manufacturer’s bleu de travail was designed to sit close to the body, so that fabric did not catch in moving machinery. The Invisible Acts jacket is not tight, but rather slim and slightly boxy without much waist suppression. If you’re familiar with workwear, it will fit familiarly. 

It fits well, and it’s also a handsome piece, but it’s a two-and-a-half season garment that won’t see much use over the summer or in the depths of winter, unlike other options that might be made from linen blends or lined with sherpa fleece. That said, there’s plenty of room even in your proper size to layer, and you also have some leeway in terms of sizing – you can size up for a boxier fit, or down for a trimmer cut. In effect, it’s an obviously well-designed piece that’s not cutting corners for the sake of a marketing opportunity. Invisible Acts is also not a reproduction of a vintage blue de travail, so you should not expect it to be – it’s a modernized take on the same, which I think has its own charms.

Image via @Invisibleacts on Instagram

I could personally do without the iconography – the oversized brand logo on the interior of the jacket is the combination of a raised fist and a factory – which is also available on buttons that you can purchase separately. I’ve nothing against it per se, but it smacks a little bit of an undergraduate’s first reading of Marx. So does some of the campaign imagery, which I think is slightly misleading, and perhaps to the projects’ detriment. This is a very versatile garment, that I’ve been wearing both with wider twill trousers and with slim Japanese denim. Thanks to the color and inspiration (a chore jacket, rather than a Type 1 or 3 jacket), it doesn’t feel like wearing a denim tuxedo – it’s a garment that would be at home with either ripstop fatigues or faded jeans.

On the other hand, the more forgiving side of me – and, perhaps, the part that still remembers what it’s like to read Marx as an undergrad – thinks it’s just fine to let the imagination run a little bit, the way Aganovich obviously does when crafting its runway collections. After all, part of fashion’s charm is to take us to places we might not go, and part of the magic is that garments can become more than the sum of their parts.

Final Thoughts

The Invisible Acts jacket in Slate grey

At approximately 200$ (the Kickstarter price – the predicted future retail price is 518EUR), the Invisible Acts jacket falls within the same price range as some of the more affordable workwear and repro brands (think Sugar Cane or Rogue Territory), while the retail price would see it in line with a brand such as Mr. Freedom or Iron Heart), although it’s obviously dissimilar in looks. To me, that’s more than fair, and not out of line with what I’d expect. The jacket is available in Coal (black), Slate (grey), and Snow (white), and if you are interested in one, take note because the Kickstarter campaign ends this Sunday, June 4th, after which point the early backer price disappears.

As for the jacket itself, I’m a fan. It is, admittedly, not pushing any boundaries – although that was not the intention. Instead, it’s a quality version of a garment that most of us have or will have owned at least once. I’ll be interested to see if Invisible Acts goes anywhere after this Kickstarter, and Mr. Taylor says that, now that the project “Has established a base…it can go in all sorts of directions.” I don’t know if there’s room for a high fashion brand’s experiments in ethical workwear, but I suppose the market will let us know. At the very least I can say that there’s room in my closet for more projects such as this.

As is always the case with clothing, the question of whether or not you should buy the garment comes down to whether or not you yourself like it. For me, a person who likes chore jackets but has no real desire to wear denim jackets or look like a 20th century rail worker, it’s one of the relatively few options that’s both aesthetically appealing and, well, functional. And importantly, the fact that this is an ethically-made jacket doesn’t take away from either its form or its function – you’re not sacrificing quality or design by purchasing a garment made this way, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that instead, you’re gaining from it.

None of us are perfect. That’s something that Mr. Taylor is quick to point out: “Anyone that says they can get it all perfect is lying. Because no matter how ethical your garment may be, you’re going to deliver it burning jet fuel. As a former deckhand I have a dream of one day delivering by sailboat, but…well, I’m sure our customers would be overjoyed.” Even so, Mr. Taylor is also happy to declare that the project itself has been an educational experience, and that he hopes that by “Asking the questions, keeping up the conversation, challenging [our]selves, that it influences others to do the same.” We’ve seen, the past few years alone, a massive shift in awareness towards ethical manufacturing, and while it’s always difficult to get consumers to think beyond the pocketbook – and to keep that momentum going – and projects such as these are perhaps more important than any of us think.

For both Aganovich the brand as well as readers of Styleforum, we’re somewhat – somewhat – insulated from these concerns. However, during Fashion Revolution week we suggested that you ask both yourself and your favorite brands: “Who made my clothes?” In this case, it’s nice to know that the answer won’t keep you up at night.

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

The Perils of Being Intentionally Underdressed

A couple years back, I flew to L.A., ostensibly to let Stanley van Buren tour me around the city, write about vintage clothing and denim stores, and attend some kind of Epaulet trunk show that Mr. and Mrs. van Buren were throwing in their loft apartment. Some of that happened, but mostly I remember sitting in the pool at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs at one in the morning wondering where our pitcher of sangria had gone – which is, incidentally, where I first met Eric, who’s gone on to do some of Styleforum’s photography. The lesson here is to never say no to anything.

One of the things that Stanley had been adamant about during the planning of said trip to L.A. was that he was going to take me to some sort of very cool whiskey bar that was really awesome but at which you weren’t allowed to wear denim. That seemed great and all, so I decided I wasn’t going to pack any trousers and to hell with stuck-up whiskey bars. Instead, I brought a pair of black jeans and forgot all about Stanley’s fancy whiskey bar until the morning of the trunk show.

Naturally, at about ten A.M., I started panicking due to the fact that I hadn’t brought any trousers to wear so that I wouldn’t get turned away at a cool bar. Completely irrational, I know; but this was one of those occasions when you start fixating on something stupid and your mind digs in with a kind of sadistic glee and refuses to let go. It’s been two years, and I can still distinctly remember pacing back and forth in the weirdly charming patchouli-smelling basement studio/room I had AirBnB’d in The Brewery, which is a kind of rambling, gated artist’s colony somewhere in L.A., wondering what the hell I was going to do about these pants.

There are many ways I could have resolved this situation. I could have stopped caring completely, gone outside, and spent the morning scratching the really soft nose of the giant rabbit that my hosts had in a cage by the front door. I could have sat and read a book and watched the chickens in the sprawling coop across from the rabbit. I could have told Stanley that I didn’t care about going to a whiskey bar at all. I could have even gone out and bought a goddamn pair of trousers. Instead, I wrote an email to Mike Kuhle of Epaulet and asked him for a pair of pants.

Mike is a pretty cool dude. The kind of cool dude that makes you maybe try to act a little cooler than you are, the way we all claim we never did in middle school, which made wording the email even harder. How do you ask to borrow a pair of pants while sounding both professional and nonchalant? I still have no idea. I guess I wrote something in a kind of blind panic, which I sent along to Mike, and never heard back.

I think the best way I can communicate the combined embarrassment of a) realizing I hadn’t brought trousers – by choice, mind you, b) freaking out for no reason over said lack of trousers (which is, I think we can all agree, not something to freak out over), and c) writing an email to a near-stranger to ask for trousers is to describe it as watching a Ben Stiller movie that you yourself are starring in. Once I’d written the damn thing I felt even more horrified, because the whole affair had snowballed so massively around me that I couldn’t extricate myself without losing a limb or my mind in the process. To this day, I haven’t a clue why I was so fixated on the absolute, howling necessity of having a pair of trousers to wear to a whiskey bar I’d never heard of.

Do you ever look back on things you’ve done or said or written, and feel yourself cringing away inwardly? I even tried to look up the email just now, just to see what I’d said, but I had to squint at the text out of the corner of my eye and I closed my mail client without reading it so I guess I’ll never know. Then I had to walk around my living room and drink a glass of water before sitting back down.


I was too mortified to ask Mike if he’d seen my email for most of the the trunk show, which involved looking at Mike’s wares, talking to Epaulet customers, and taking dumb pictures. At some point I mentioned to Stanley that I didn’t have any trousers – I may have mentioned it to him several times, in fact – and he, like a completely rational, well-balanced person, didn’t seem to think that this was a big deal. And so the evening passed, the trunk show ended, and we reached the hour at which it was time to consider our next steps – whiskey bars included – and I had to re-summon the courage to ask Mike if I could borrow a pair of pants. Middle school me was appalled.

“Pants? Sure,” he said.

He claimed he hadn’t read my email, which I assume was his way of saying that he had but that he’d tried to forget it immediately. He did let me borrow some pants, though – a shirt, too. Unfortunately, by this point I’d reached a point of exhaustion no doubt brought on by twelve straight hours of intense, trouser-based panic, and it turned out that no one else was that keen on going to the whiskey bar either. We left Stanley’s loft, intending to see where the night took us, only to end up under the harsh fluorescents of a corner taco joint where we ordered burritos approximately the size of a compact vehicle. I was wearing my borrowed shirt and trousers, feeling even dumber than I had that morning, wishing for my abandoned jeans and tee with a quiet, crushing desperation. There is no feeling worse than feeling uncomfortable in your own skin, and it seemed that evening as though my entire existence revolved around a kind of spindle of existential distress resulting entirely from an intentional packing oversight.

The next day, I returned the clothes, and I never spoke of the episode again. The rest of my time in L.A. was focused on, I think, negronis. During the enjoyment of one of these – atop the roof of a different Ace Hotel – I found myself talking to a middle school classmate who I’d forgotten existed and who I hadn’t seen since age whatever you are in 8th grade. That should give you some idea of how the trip unfolded.

Stanley did chauffeur me to some stores, which he also dutifully photographed, and he also took me to his favorite crepe restaurant, because of course he has a favorite crepe restaurant. Mike, Stanley, and Karen van Buren were kind enough to sit through my attempts at karaoke, and Stanley and I got a flat tire. Then we (Stanley, Karen, Eric, and Eric’s then-girlfriend) drove through the desert, stopping in Joshua Tree to win that week’s white jacket challenge, before landing in Palm Springs, where we drank a lot of sangria and decided it would be smart to spend the next day wandering around in the sun on top of a mountain. On our way back to L.A., we stopped at some kind of old west LARPing haven called Pioneertown, which someone must have thought would be a good idea.


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I’d intended to tie this all back to clothing and personal style somehow; perhaps offer a poetic conclusion or philosophical observation on the state of American dress codes and how it is, even now, possible to feel underdressed. Unfortunately, reliving the experience has been traumatic enough to require a glass and a half of red wine, and now I’m doubly determined to forget it ever happened. I think the moral of the story is to be comfortable in the pants you have. Or to be careful what you wish for. Or, perhaps, that the pants are always greener. Regardless, I’ll be damned if I’m ever going back to L.A.

Our Picks for Versatile Summer Loafers

It seems as though everyone who’s interested in menswear is currently obsessed with loafers. That makes sense, for a few reasons. First, it’s no secret that for most menswear enthusiasts, their hobby is far from a necessity – we don’t live in a world that demands formal dress, and loafers come in enough shapes and sizes that, despite being a more casual option than a laced shoe it’s fairly easy to find something that suits your needs. Second, and more simply, they’re a good summer shoe. Third, and maybe this is just me, there’s something to be said for never having to worry about your laces.

Whatever the reason, spring is a great time to pick up a pair of loafers. You’ll be able to wear them straight through summer the autumn, and going sockless (don’t actually go sockless – wear loafer socks) with the breeze around your ankles feels great. You can wear them casually or with tailored clothing, with loose or slim silhouettes. In essence, you’ve got a lot of options. Loafers come in many shapes and silhouettes, from the soft and slipper-like to the robust and chunky, and most are ready for a loving place in your wardrobe. I could probably lay out a list of twenty pairs, but I’ll try to keep things simple and break them down into categories.  Enjoy, and remember – you can still join the Streetwear Loafer Challenge, which ends this weekend.


Minimally lined or unlined, these are soft and forgiving. They tend to look good with more casual outfits, though certainly there are exceptions – unlined tailoring, especially in light, summer colors, being one such.

1. Christian Kimber Positano

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Unfortunately, these are already almost entirely sold out, but you can still the navy version. They’re sleek and unlined, and easy to slip on and off – perfect for neighborhood use or your travel needs.

2. Res Ipsa Kilim

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

Although these might not be the easiest to wear with tailored clothing, I can see them looking very nice both with odd trousers and a polo under a lightweight jacket, or with faded denim. They also come in plain suede, if you’re afraid of color.

3. La Portegna Travel Slippers

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While these might seem too unstructured for daily wear, I have often seen José Urrutia, the brand’s founder, wearing them with white or neutral chinos at Pitti Uomo and they look great – relaxed and supple, with a great depth of color. Plus, they roll up so you can stuff them in your carry-on. Brilliant.


These have been popular for a long time, and the late Glenn O’Brien was a well-known fan. Several companies make the style, at varying prices.

1. Belgian Shoes ‘Henri’

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The classic version, favored by well-dressed men worldwide.

2. Baudoin & Lange ‘Sagan’ Tassel

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A relative newcomer, and the ready-to-wear line offered by bespoke shoemaker Allan Baudoin. Again, available in many colors, with or without tassels.

3. Rubinacci ‘Marphy’ (available at Mr. Porter)

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

Rubinacci offers these in a wide variety of fabrics, some not offered by the two brands above, so if you’re after a more adventurous color you may want to take a gander despite the higher price tag.


Don’t google that – I just made up generic, catch-all term for the ‘category’ in which most loafers will fall. Here, I’ll include Penny loafers, Venetians, and most things with straps and a stacked leather sole. These are the sort that, depending on the style, may be better suited for your tailored wares.

1. J. Fitzpatrick Laurelhurst

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

J. Fitzpatrick makes a variety of loafers, all of which are quite handsome, but I particularly like this ‘Laurelhurst’ model. The wholecut silhouette with a toe medallion and a stacked leather sole make it a slipper that can go anywhere.

2. Rancourt Venetian Loafer (available at Brooks Bros.)

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

Still a common sight on the East Coast, the Venetian Loafer is a bit stubbier and more casual than some of its ornamented counterparts, making it easy to wear on the weekends.

3. JM Weston 180 Loafer (available at Mr. Porter)

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

Ah, the iconically French shoe, still worn all over l’Hexagone. Wear them with anything, of any weight and any color, at any time of the year.

Good for Suits

Just what it says – loafers that play well with tailored clothing, and less so with jeans or other casual outfits.

1. Ralph Lauren “Shanley” Tassel Loafer

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

A very classic American tassel, at home with a wide range of tailored outfits.

2. St. Crispin’s 539 Loafer (available at Leffot NYC)

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

As sleek and elegant as you could hope for, and fully endorsed by one of our contributors.

3. Alden Full Strap Slip-on (available at The Shoe Mart)

versatile summer loafers styleforum loafer buyer's guide

Alden is one of the most renowned brands on the forum, and this pair of loafers will be right at home with your business suits.

What My Mother Taught Me About Style

When I was growing up, my mother was never interested in fashion. She had a silk scarf or two, which I enjoyed waving behind me as I ran around the kitchen island, but aside from that I remember very little about her wardrobe aside from the paint splatters that covered her work clothes. She was – is – an artist, at that point a painter, and her basement studio in the house where I grew up was always a riot of half-mixed colors that covered walls and floors and clothes and everything she was working on. 

She didn’t teach me how to dress, or anything like that. I remember asking her to take me to the Gap for jeans while I was in elementary school, because I’d shown up on the first day of the new year and I was the only person still wearing sweatpants – lime green, the same pair that I continued to wear to gymnastics class, and which once fell down when I was on the trampoline, scarring me forever.

Generally, I wouldn’t be shocked if she’s the font of some of my own stylistic influences, both in the way of embracing the a bit of artist’s dishevelment and in rebelling against it. I wear a combination of messy, slightly disarranged clothing and some easier tailored pieces, although I think I tend to make all of it look about the same when it goes on, and if I covered it all in paint I think I’d cut a figure that the childhood me would recognize with ease. My father hates shopping – hates clothing, generally – and will only occasionally go to thrift stores or malls (grudgingly, mind you) to try to find, with limited success, clothes that are soft and comfortable enough for him to wear without complaint.

Neither of my parents ever told that I should look a certain way. On occasion I was made to tuck in my shirt or, even more rarely, comb my hair, but that ended by middle school. My father never wore a suit or tie to work (in fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him wear a tie), so I didn’t grow up admiring tailoring, nor was I forced to join groups or attend events that would have demanded that I change out of baggy jeans and oversized skate shoes. There were no classes on manners, no Sunday School; instead I went to places like the art gallery where my mother showed, and of my father’s co-workers that I did meet, 90% of them were, like everyone else in Boulder, wearing Birkenstocks.

For better or worse, I’ve never been taught to baby anything I own. Or, if I was, I suppose I’ve always been determined to ignore the advice. Instead, I was taught that experiences are a more valuable currency than cash, and that most objects can be replaced. I try to take care of my belongings, but I don’t fret over the state of my clothes. In fact, I don’t really think I own them until I’ve cooked in them or worn them to a deserving occasion. Of course, one of the side effects of this is that I rarely look pristine, but I find that preferable to spending my time worrying about scuffs on my shoes, pulls on my sweaters, or tears in pants and shirts. My mother has always shown an impressive ability to destroy things, so perhaps in some ways I’ve rebelled by not dressing entirely in tatters.

Only in the last few years has she embraced a little bit of the fashion world, no doubt partly due to my damning influence, and she now owns a handful of pieces from brands like By Walid and Yohji Yamamoto. One of my old Silent by Damir Doma hoodies remains a favorite workout sweater. Even so, she’s still most often found in the slightly random collection of items I remember from my youth. Instead, her interest in fabric and fiber has led to a fascination with quilting and hand-stitching inspired in part by American quilts, Middle-Eastern rug designs, and Japanese boro techniques.

Her hands have always been busy, and patching, stitching, and quilting was a natural draw for her. She used to – and still does – repair all my jeans, but she’s moved on to other projects now. If you’ve been on the forum for a while – or if you’ve been to our yearly Proper Kit trunk shows – you may have seen a few of them already. I’ve claimed a handful of her completed pieces for my own, and they’re by far the most special garments I have in my wardrobe. Sometimes I’m tempted to baby these items, both because of the sheer amount of work that went into creating them, and because of the obvious sentimental value. Then I remember everything she taught me, and I go out of my way to wear them to whatever it is I have to do.

I took a boro jacket she made with me when we visited Japan, brought a full-length many-colored cloak with me to Pitti, and one of my most-worn garments is a Banana Republic shirt she bought for herself back in the 80’s, and which is more patchwork than shirt at this point. It’s tissue-thin, and in the places where it’s not covered in stitching, doodles, or scraps of fabric, you can almost see through it. Even so, I don’t spend my time worrying about keeping them clean, or even in ensuring they stay intact – instead, all of those experiences have been made sweeter because I’ve been wearing an emotional connection on my shoulders, and I attach even more value to those garments because of the places they’ve gone along with me. Besides, whenever I do inevitably damage one of these garments, I know exactly where I can take it for repairs – and then the story will continue.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that, at almost thirty years old, I’m still wearing clothes my mother has made for me – and I couldn’t be more proud of it.

How to Wear Sneakers with a Sport Coat This Summer

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Picture this: you’re packing for your summer vacation. You’re trying to pick the ideal shoe – something you can wear sockless while carrying your towel bag down the rocks to the beach, but something that also works in the evening when you put on a jacket and trousers – or even a suit.

What you want is a white canvas sneaker.

Before you accuse me of telling you lies, let me assure you that wearing sneakers with a sport coat is a fine thing to do, and it’s pretty common in places that aren’t the USA. Arianna tells me that she can remember seeing Fiat managers wearing sneakers with their charcoal and navy suits, and of course sneakers are all over Pitti Uomo. You don’t have to go full-on captain of industry or Pitti peacock-hashtag-menswear to make the sneakers work, though – you just have to avoid the pitfalls of looking like a Disney star or a child playing dress-up.

Let’s talk about those pitfalls first. If you’re going to wear sneakers with a sport coat or a suit, and you’re after inspiration on how to do it, the first images you’ll find on the internet will probably be of either actor-slash-model types standing on the red carpet wearing really tight clothes and designer high-tops, or waifish Scandinavian dudes wearing black suits with white leather slip-ons inside their million-dollar Youtube-content-creator-slash-graphic-design-influencer offices.

Not that I’m jealous.

The point is, a lot of people try really hard to build their tailored outfits around the sneakers they’ve chosen. Along the way, they often pick up a few more trends – really tight trousers, gingham shirts, skinny ties – and this has the effect of making them look, well, childish. Like they’re playing dress-up. That’s not what you want! What you want is to wear sneakers with a jacket and trousers and look like a well-dressed adult.

So, instead of sizing down on everything you own, treat a pair of canvas plimsolls the same way you would a pair of loafers or espadrilles. Wear them sockless, with a lightweight trouser that’s hemmed at the ankle (or even just above, if you’re really feeling the warm weather look). If you’re wearing a suit, it’s probably safest to go with one that’s obviously made for the warmer weather – say, a cotton number in khaki or even green, or natural linen if that’s what you’re after, but an odd jacket and trousers will work just as easily.

There’s no need to buy something fancy, either. In fact, that sort of goes against the intent. White canvas plimsolls from brands such as Vans or Superga will look great, but if you’re really wanting to branch out you could try a leather slip on from Common Projects or Buttero. In all cases, stick to low-tops. Once you’ve picked your sneakers, the next and final step is to put them on your feet and never think about them again. After all, you’ve a life to enjoy.

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Inspiration and The Pleasure of Unexpected Menswear Combinations

Sometimes, despite having lived with the contents of our wardrobes for years (or months, for some of our more enthusiastic members), we happen to stumble upon a combination of garments we’ve never worn together before. Sometimes, if the stars have truly aligned, that combination may even be a great combination. I’m not just talking about this constant, social-media-fueled drive to separate ourselves from other, lesser wearers of clothing by sporting nonsensical mixes of stuff. Rather, I’m talking about considered combinations that you just haven’t considered before.

Some of these may come to you as real “Duh” moments – such as realizing that the green grenadine tie you rarely wear actually goes quite well with your brown suit, or what the plain white oxford you forgot you owned goes with just about everything you wear. Other combinations may come from randomly putting a jacket over a shirt and deciding you like the way you look. Still other types of inspiration may smack you in the face while you’re getting into bed, and you’ll think something like, as I recently did, “How come I never wear those beautiful loafers on my shoe shelf?” and pretty soon you’re running over possible combinations in your head.

My fear, as both a reader and writer interested in men’s clothing, is that we very easily get conditioned into safe clothing combinations. This can happen in many ways. On Styleforum, for example, we see it happen when a well-regarded poster shares an outfit in a WAYWT thread, and soon after other posters are attempting something similar until we reach a point when we all think we desperately need the same pair of linen socks for summer.

In the same way, certain combinations are so over-shared by other menswear outlets – every man “needs” a pair of snuff-suede double-monks to wear with worn jeans and a tailored jacket – that pretty soon every item in our wardrobes become part of a set that can’t be broken up. We start to think things such as “I wear these trousers with this jacket and this tie and this shirt, and these jeans with these boots and this jacket and sweater.” Of course, this isn’t always a bad thing. Over time, we all develop favorite combinations that we return to over and over again. However, it can still be a relief to break out of a habit and stumble upon some inspiration.

Many of the people I think of as stylish, both on the forum and in real life, not only dress very well, but dress in a way that makes me think “huh.” Sometimes this comes from unexpected color combinations, sometimes from unexpected or well-done silhouettes I’ve never tried, and sometimes for well-considered details. Especially since this is the time of year when we’re all going through our closets, wondering what we can get rid of, I’d encourage you to take another look at what’s actually hanging inside. If you’re feeling really plucky, you might even lay out some garments on the kitchen table. If you’re lucky, you might even stumble upon a new favorite.