Embrace White Pants

The reluctance to wear white past Labor Day has long been debunked in the United States. But for many men, when to wear white isn’t an issue because, save for the white business shirt, they never wear it. Which is a shame, because alongside navy blue, wearing white pants (or off-white) is just about the easiest yet most stylish things a man can do.

Why the reticence to wear white outside the realm of the dress shirt? I think for many guys, there is a deep-seated disposition toward rugged, hard-wearing clothes that they don’t have to “baby.” A very practical co-worker of mine once allowed that spending a few hundred dollars on a suit might be worth it, “if it’s going to last for 10 years.” I didn’t tell him that sometimes, the more expensive the suit, the less durable the fabric. Many men wear tailoring only when required, changing into something else as soon as they can, and I believe a large part of it has to do not just with comfort, but with this mindset. It’s the same line of thinking that I think stops many guys from considering white pants.

Antonio Ciongoli via roseborn.com

Antonio Ciongoli via roseborn.com

Another complementary reason is that if you do venture into wearing them, you signal to everybody else that you care about clothes. I’m reminded of a How I Met Your Mother episode where Marshall asks whether he is pulling off the white pants he’s wearing, to which Ted enthusiastically affirms that he’s indeed rocking them. It was a leap for him to make, and he needed affirmation from a friend.

Sid Mashburn has said that his first sale to a lot of guys just getting into dressing well is a pair of white Levi’s. From there, their interest in clothing grows, but it starts with white pants. I can’t recall what first drew me to want to dress well, but I do remember that white jeans were one of the very early things I bought. My first pair were pure white denim from Banana Republic. Once I grew out of them, I replaced them with an off-white pair from J.Crew that I’m still wearing 3-4 times per week, 5 years later. They are my year-round staples because they go with literally everything I own.

Sid Mashburn

Overcoming the barrier to being seen as a dandy for wearing white pants is probably the biggest challenge. After all, lots of guys have no problem wearing white sneakers—but that doesn’t signal the same things that white pants do. Yet once you do jump the hurdle, you wonder why you thought it was a big deal at all.

It turns out white pants are the easiest things in the world to wear, because they go with literally everything. Swap out your gray trousers for white and your outfit becomes a lot more fun with no additional work. They can be worn very casually—white jeans paired with a navy polo, for instance—or more dressed up—white cotton twills pressed with a crease, paired with a navy blazer and pale blue shirt.

I’ve gotten many comments from both men and women who wonder how I can keep my white pants so clean. It honestly isn’t that hard. I’ve found that even sitting on the grass won’t stain them—unless it’s very wet or I’m moving around on the ground a lot. Of course, stains do happen, whether it be from carelessness on my part, sitting on a dirty chair, or any other number of reasons. And when they do, I have had almost 100 percent success removing them if the pants are machine washable. I’ve stashed Tide pens in my car, briefcase, desk drawers—everywhere—and they often solve the problem immediately. When that’s not the case, Tide detergent works wonders, as does Oxy-Clean and Clorox color-safe bleach when needed.

This is where I must make a caveat to my enthusiastic embrace of white pants—I only buy pairs I know I can wash myself. Which can potentially put a limit on dress trousers, because even if they are made from fibers you would normally not give a second thought about washing (like cotton or linen), they are usually marked as dry clean only. The reason is usually due to the irregular results the rigors of a washing machine will produce on waistband construction or the lining (if they’re lined).

That said, if they’re made from cotton or linen (or a blend of both), unlined, and the waistband is made from the same or similar fibers to the trousers themselves, you can probably wash them. Unlike with a tailored jacket, which has been put through a lot of steaming to get a specific shape out of the cloth, trousers can be pressed back into shape. I recently bought a pair of cotton-linen trousers from Spier & Mackay and washed them right away with no ill effect. I’d suggest doing so with a new, un-hemmed pair before you get them altered, in case of any shrinkage (of course, wash on cold in a delicate cycle).

If you’re not sure if you can pull off white pants, I think the Sid Mashburn introduction of white Levi’s is a great way to try them. With their multitude of fits and low price, it’s a good way to dip your toe in and see how you feel. I’m guessing you’ll love them and will wonder how you ever lived without them.

If that happens, welcome to the other side.

Casual


Dress

Pitti Uomo 94 – Get the Pitti Look

Another summer, another edition of Pitti Uomo. With the excellent coverage by Charlie (@sebastianmcfox) at this summer’s Pitti Uomo 94, we’ve got a Styleforum guy’s eye for style to show us the looks that other street photographers might overlook. Out of the “best of” pics from his time there, I’ve chosen three of dudes outfits I liked in particular, with the intent to find similar products if I wanted to assemble a similar fit for myself.

Aloha shirts—also commonly called Hawaiian shirts—are huge right now, and the Pitti crowd proved no exception to that trend. A lot of the times I’m seeing them with the collar—often a camp collar—worn over the jacket collar and lapel. It’s a look that harkens back to casual ensembles in old Apparel Arts illustrations. Whether you want to wear the collar over the jacket lapel or not, bringing the formality of your jacket or suit down with a Hawaiian print shirt might be a fun way to expand your horizons this summer. Just make sure your tailoring is made from an already somewhat “casual” fabric—think linens, cottons, blends, or textured wool.

Some options for Hawaiian print shirts

Levi’s • Brooks Brothers navy shirt • Brooks Brothers navy shirt 2

[edit: the actual shirt worn in the picture is by the brand Two Palms, available here.]

 

Tan and brown suit options

Drake’s brown linen suit jacket and trousers • Drake’s tan ramie suit jacket and trousers • Berg & Berg tobacco fresco (also comes in tan, which would work well, too)

Camoshita chocolate brown suit separates Jacket and Trousers • Ring Jacket brown balloon jacket


 

This guy’s clearly there to work, but while his clothes are obviously comfortable, I still like the accessible, layered style he’s done here. First of all, he’s wearing canoe mocs and off-white pants (he must read my blogs) in a loose fit that I’m sure helped beat the heat. Since he’s got a camera in hand (the excellent Canon 6D, which I use and highly recommend at the price point), the untucked chambray shirt makes perfect sense because moving around to get the shot, it would probably just come untucked anyhow. The loose olive linen safari jacket makes the fit feel a bit more put together and has the benefit of giving him extra storage for camera gear (and probably hides sweat—a major benefit of wearing an outer layer when it’s warm out that people just don’t think of). And he’s rounded out the fit with a Coke-bezel Rolex GMT-Master and a straw panama hat.

Off-white/stone chinos

Polo • Fujito • Brooks Brothers

 

Canoe mocs / boat shoes

Oak Street bootmakers • Sperry

 

Chambray shirt

RRL • J.Crew • Polo

 

Safari / field jacket options

Anderson and Sheppard • RRL shirt jacket • Sartoria Formosa “Sahariana”

 

Drakes linen field jacket • Ring Jacket 1 • Ring Jacket 2

 

Panama hat • Rolex GMT-Master “coke” bezel

 


This is my favorite photo of Charlie’s from Pitti, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody. I like what all four guys are wearing (though white bucks on the second from the right guy wouldn’t have been my choice). Of the four, I love the casual simplicity of Andreas Weinas (far right) the most (though Maxim Lundh, far left, is wearing an Eidos Ciro suit, which I love). Andreas appears to be wearing a grayish-greenish sport coat (looks to be Orazio Luciano to my eyes), pale blue washed chambray shirt, off-white possibly single-pleat summer trousers and a pair of chocolate brown Belgian loafers. It’s exactly the kind of thing I’d wear.

 

Similar jackets

Drakes 1 • Drakes 2 • Suitsupply • Polo • Anglo-Italian green linen

 

Chambray shirts

Suitsupply • Rubinacci • Purple Label • Polo • Anglo-Italian

 

Off-white trousers

Boglioli • Eidos • Rota • Berg & Berg • Suitsupply 1 • Suitsupply 2

 

Belgian loafers

Velasca • Baudoin & Lange

Hoffman Watches – Racing 40 and Diver 40 REVIEW

By Nathan Flowers

These days, it feels like most watchmakers are following the “bigger is better” theme, with both divers and chronographs seeming to start at 42mm, and getting larger from there. With that in mind, newcomer Hoffman Watches is bucking the trend by introducing two 40mm models, which they have been kind enough to loan us for this review.

hoffman watches review

Their Racing 40 model is very handsome and feels solid, but not heavy. It has a 316L stainless case that is polished on the sides, and lugs that are machined satin on the front/back. The black leather strap measures 20mm wide, and has a machined stainless buckle. It fits well on my 7” wrist– not too large, and not too small. The Racing 40 echoes a Daytona or Speedmaster in both looks and proportions.

hoffman watches kickstarter

That said, it is handsome in its own right, and our test model stands out with a reverse panda dial in a lighter navy blue background with white under the sub-registers for the chronograph minutes and 24-hour time. Under an AR-coated sapphire crystal, hour indexes are noted by very precise dots of hand-applied lume that give off a greenish Seiko-like glow. This lume is also applied to the high-polished hour and minute hands.

hoffman watches diver

The chronograph is easy to use, and sweeps at 5 beats per second, faster than a typical quartz second hand. The pushers feel nice and mechanical, and the chronograph instantly resets to zero when you hit the bottom pusher. It’s powered by a Seiko VK64 movement, so you know it’s going to be accurate (and it has been during my testing.) Though Hoffman also offers a mechanical chronograph movement (Seagull TY2901) for an additional $199.

Water resistance is a standard 50M, though since it’s sporting a leather strap with a lizard pattern, it wouldn’t be your first choice to take on your fishing boat. However, it would be right at home when going out for beers with jeans and a button-down, or maybe a blazer in the evening. It’s a bit too much of a tool watch for me to wear with a suit, though as a forum admin and IT nerd, my suit-wearing occasions are sadly lacking these days.

hoffman watches price

Let me get this out of the way now. I am a sucker for diving watches. I dive several times a year and always take 2-3 watches out with me if I’m going to be diving for more than a few days. I also religiously visit Styleforum’s Poor Man’s Watch Thread, and consequently, I own too many Seiko/Citizen divers, like the SKX and the SRP-reissues. The Hoffman Diver 40 is right up my alley.

hoffman watches affordable sports watches

Our review model is really striking, mainly because of how understated it is– black case riding a black NATO with a black bezel and a black dial. This thing is a Stealth Diver on your wrist. The hands and the indexes both are coated in a blue-tinted Super-LumiNova that glows well for hours after charging with light. The quartz movement is silent to my ear, and Hoffman also offers an automatic option for $99. Both offer 100M water resistance, which is more than enough for most diving.

hoffman watches styleforum

The uni-directional bezel rotates smoothly, but with a solidity that you don’t regularly see on watches below $1000. Each click passes with a gentle yet firm snap. On the review model, the bezel is marked with black indexes, and arabic numerals at the 15, 30, and 45 minute spots. The zero index is the source of my only qualm with the Diver 40– it’s a glossy black diamond that doesn’t contain any lume, making it less likely to be seen well in deeper or murky water. This fits in with the darker style of our review model, so it’s definitely a stylistic choice. Hoffman also does have models with a white zero index, which I feel would be more suitable for diving. On land, the Diver 40 definitely wears well on the wrist, feeling less bulky and having a lower profile than your typical SKX/SRP.  It draws the eye without being obnoxious.

hoffman watches color options kickstarter

Hoffman Watches’ Affiliate Thread shows many color combinations to choose from (I’m seriously considering a rose gold navy diver for myself), and with a shockingly low Kickstarter 24-hour super early bird pre-order price of $169 for the Hoffman Watches quartz models, you are getting a lot of watch for the money. Frankly, both of these watches feel like they’re worth much more than you’re paying for, and even at their ultimate retail price of $425, I think you’re getting a great piece of kit at a good price.


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

Pitti Uomo 94: The Best Outfits

Pitti Uomo 94 didn’t disappoint: slim fit suits are (finally) disappearing in favor of roomier fits and lots of pleating. Many people ditched sport coats and chose to wear field jackets, a solid #menswear trend in 2018. Aloha shirts were a hit as well, and the pairing with tailored clothing, albeit bold, looks surprisingly sharp. Are you going to be rocking this look this summer?

For the time being, enjoy a selection of the best outfits spotted at Pitti Uomo 94, captured by the lens of our talented photographer @sebastianmcfox.

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pitti uomo 94 streetstyle suit best outfit menswear

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pitti uomo 94 streetstyle suit best outfit men look

We would like to thank our correspondents from Pitti Uomo, @sebastianmcfox and @stingwersen (owner of @vecchioanseatico).

Check out the complete streetswear galleries of Pitti Uomo 94 Day 1,  Day 2, and  Day 3 & 4.

Join the conversation on the Pitti Uomo 94 thread on the forum.

Pitti Uomo 94 Streetstyle – Day 3 & 4

pitti uomo 94 streetstyle florence suits menswear

Pitti Uomo Streetstyle 94 – DAY 3 & 4

Pitti Uomo 94 is coming to an end; these are some streetstyle pictures of the best outfits spotted in Florence during day 3 & 4 of the fair.

To comment the outfits, head over to the Pitti Uomo 94 thread on Styleforum.

If you’re in Florence, take a look at our guide to menswear shopping in town here.

All photos by @sebastianmcfox

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Pitti Uomo 94 Streetstyle – DAY 2

pitti uomo 94 streetstyle best style photography suit

Floral patterns and aloha shirts are a big hit this season.

Pitti Uomo Streetstyle 94 – DAY 2

Here are some Pitti Uomo streetstyle pictures of the best outfits spotted outside of the Fortezza da Basso – as well as at some cool events hosted by brands and makers in Florence.

To comment the outfits, head over to the Pitti Uomo 94 thread on Styleforum.

If you’re in Florence, take a look at our guide to menswear shopping in town here.

All photos by @sebastianmcfox

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The Best Menswear Stores for Shopping in Florence during Pitti Uomo

By Cristina Ferro

Florence is the city where the Italian fashion system was founded. In Florence you can find a world made of highly skilled artisans and their expertise: In fact, its history and traditions made it possible to create the perfect network for an emerging fashion market.
Florence is still a great place for menswear shopping. We have great boutiques and workshops where tradition is at its best. Here’s a selection of menswear boutiques for menswear shopping to visit during Pitti Uomo:

Eredi Chiarini

Let’s start with the most iconic and famous boutique: Eredi Chiarini is a must-visit place for menswear shopping in Florence. As far as I can remember, It’s always been a landmark for gentlemen as well as for young professionals. I remember our dad and older brothers used to buy their garments from Eredi Chiarini when I was a little girl in the 80’s!
This amazing clothing store opened in 1970; shortly after, they began to manufacture jackets, pants, shirts, and suits in line with the style of Italian and British accessories such as ties, bags, umbrellas, hats and shoes that they carry in store.
You can get your tailored garments done at Eredi Chiarini, as they collaborate with the most prestigious Italian tailors and offer a great selection of fabrics.

Address: Via Porta Rossa 33/R Firenze

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Tie Your Tie

Many of you may be familiar with Franco Minucci. He started working in menswear as an agent for some of the most important brands in the early 80’s. Through the years, he developed a personal fashion aesthetic that came to fulfillment with the opening of his own menswear shop, which offers the highest quality merchandise, in 1984.
After Mr. Franco Minucci founded the Tie your Tie Shop in Florence, he established its factory of marvelous artisanal ties. His inspiration for the shop comes from the concept of “beauty and simplicity”, and his values can be found in the details of these gorgeous creations, as well as in the highest quality items selected for his menswear boutique.
Ties are definitely the key player here, especially the “Sette Pieghe”, the original sevenfold ties.
Mr. Minucci says that the inspiration for the Sette Pieghe comes from the colors and designs from mid 19th century fashion. The Sette Pieghe ties were a great success as soon as they were released and still are made by hand using fine cloths provided by world-famous suppliers.

Address: Piazza de’ Rucellai 8r Firenze


Liverano & Liverano

Liverano & Liverano is one of the most important tailoring houses in Florence, as well as one of the few remaining from an era where dressing well was not considered a flair, but rather a requirement for any respectable man. The Liverano brothers’ business started at the end of the 1960’s in Florence, in Santa Maria Novella. Twenty years later, they moved the business to Via de’ Fossi, where it is still located today.
It’s not uncommon to walk inside and find Antonio Liverano in the house, at work at the cutting table. This is what made him one of the most respectful and admired personalities in the modern Florentine tailoring scene.
The Florentine tailoring style is all about slightly extended, soft, and generous shoulder, short jacket bottom, wide chest, low positioned pocket to create a V-shaped jacket whose bottom borders are cut away. This is still Liverano’s signature style.
The Florentine tradition requires a three-button configuration, and in the tailoring house they always remind their clients of the golden rule: with a cutaway style, you need to close only the central button!
In Via de’ Fossi you will find tailors who have worked with Liverano for over 40 years as well as some young, equally skilled ones.

Address: Via de’ Fossi, 43 Firenze


Piero Puliti


Piero Puliti started his career in fashion in Florence, working in the trendiest menswear shops if the 1970’s. After a few years, he started his business as a fashion designer, creating his own prêt-a-porter collections.
Later on, his love for menswear brought him to open a shop of his own in the heart of downtown Florence, not far from the Duomo and Piazza Della Signoria. He still runs a small, marvelous boutique where his creations and his taste and style in decorating spaces are manifest to the visitors; in this small boutique, his vision and creations are crystal clear. Piero is known to be one of the best tiemakers in town.

Address: Via Del Corso 51/R Firenze


Dimitri Villoresi

The leather industry is one of the most important ones in Tuscany; we are very proud of our leather artisans, and some of them stand out for being of a kind in terms of quality and style. Dimitri Villoresi is one of those.
Dimitri runs his workshop in Oltrarno, where he personally stitches his creations. Dimitri’s workshop, DV Bags, is a charming place that is hidden away from the main touristic areas and guided tours.
Dimitri Villoresi can be considered a visionary poet and an artist. He is one of the pioneers in the movement that looks back to true craftsmanship: he only uses the traditional tools of a by-gone era, and none of his creations ever see a sewing machine. His instruments are the cobblers’ knives, awls, scissors, needles, and thread.

The Dimitri Villoresi workshop is also a training center: here, the old art of leatherworking is passed on to the new generations through individual, personalized courses.

My favorite bag is La Sporta, a traditional “shopping bag” suitable for daily use. As Dimitri says, “it is an open container where you just put your things straight in and they stay there”. Such a pure and essential design for men and women alike!

Address: Via dell’Ardiglione 22 Firenze


Marina Calamai

Here’s another designer from team Oltrarno! Marina is an artist who runs a beautiful studio in Oltrarno, in Palazzo Guicciardini, in the heart of the coolest district in Florence. Her handiwork focuses mainly on painting and the creation of amazing pieces of furniture and homeware objects. Through the years, she has taken inspirations from the most diverse fields: food, science, and nature.
Marina also is a skilled goldsmith. If you get to know her, you’ll love her jewelry. And her men’s collections are just as inspiring and creative as the rest of the items you’ll see visiting her atelier.
Her cufflinks remind me of a shackle (perfect for sailing lovers!), physics and its formulas (Quantum teleportation formula), the shape of Santo Spirito church, Nautilus fossils, champagne corks, musical notes (specifically the Chroma), and finally the latest creation: the Bond-inspired shape of a Martini cocktail.
You should visit her studio and experience this connection between fashion, arts, and science!

Address: Via Santo Spirito, 14 Firenze

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Bernardo

If you lived in Florence and you were looking for high quality, timeless, and classic pieces for your wardrobe, you would likely be a regular customer of Bernardo’s, and an acquaintance of Andrea, the owner. I know more than a man who has made of this tiny menswear boutique their #1 choice when it comes to menswear shopping.
Bernardo is a small, charming boutique in Via Porta Rossa, exquisitely piled in 23 square meters or less. In such a tiny space, they manage to carry so many great clothes! The store has existed for over thirty years and it’s known for the excellent selection of brands and the great customer service: clients are cared of and advised by Andrea and his employees.
Bernardo also offers an excellent custom-made tailoring service. Indeed, the most peculiar trait of this boutique is the precision they have when helping a client. This is why gentlemen in Florence have always considered it one of the best places for menswear finds and true Made-in-Italy classic pieces.

Address: Via Porta Rossa 87/r Firenze

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Tacs Casentino

Not far from Bernardo, walking through the streets around via Tornabuoni (the luxury goods shopping street in Florence) you might take a turn and find yourself in a totally different universe. It’s a colorful place that reminds me of wildlife, history, and traditions: it’s the world of TACS Casentino.
You may know that Casentino is a valley located in Eastern Tuscany north of Arezzo. It is famous for its naturalistic beauty, wild forests, Etruscan sites, Romanesque churches, and Medieval castles, as well as for the traditional fabric that takes its name.
The production of the panno casentino started in the mid 19th century, and with time, its manufacturers developed the techniques to give the Casentino fabric its peculiar characteristics: the traditional ricciolo (curl), and the soft hand with an irregular surface.
Originally, Casentino fabric was often dyed in colors we wouldn’t expect to see today; the most typical color was a very bold red. Today, we all know its most iconic colors are bright orange and green, but maybe not everyone knows that these tones were the result of a mistake occurred in the dyeing process!
In this small boutique, you will find every model and color of coats and accessories in Casentino, as well as collections in fustian and cashmere.

Address: Borgo Santi Apostoli 43 R Firenze

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Cristina Ferro is an image consultant based in Florence, Italy. You can visit her official website here.

100 Hands Shirts Review

As soon as Fok saw me, he told me to turn around.
“Drop your bags off, we’ve got an appointment.”
A three-hour flight delay in San Francisco caused me to miss my connecting flight in London, forcing me to spend the night at a local generic Double Hilton Marri-Stay and take the next flight to Milan at 7am the next morning. From there I hopped on a train to Florence, and by the time I arrived at the StyleForum Maker Space, I had been traveling for over 24 hours. All I wanted was a cold drink and a warm bed, but as we were already late to our appointment, off we went.
“Did you bring a camera?” Fok asked as we wove through the cobblestone streets. “We should take pictures. I’m really excited about it. Is this the right street? I thought it was right around the corner…”. Around and around we went until we found ourselves in front of a modern-looking palazzo in a narrow alley. On the doorbell was the name 100 HANDS, written in fine cursive.
“You’re going to like Varvara,” Fok said as he pressed the doorbell. “She’s the sweetest person ever.” And then she opened the door, a petite young woman, with light brown hair parted to one side, greeting us with a kind smile. “Please come in.  We’ve been expecting you.”
Up to this point, I had only seen pictures of 100 Hands’ shirts online, accompanied with interesting, if unclear, descriptions of their construction: threadless and invisible stitching mechanics? What does that even mean?  
Once inside, Varvara introduced us to her husband Akshat, a tall young man from India with curly dark hair and gracious manners. “I’m so sorry,” he began as he shook my hand, “but I’m presently with another client. Please, have a coffee, and Varvara will show you one of our shirts.”
And what shirts they were.
Varvara pulled out what seemed to be an ordinary shirt with a box check pattern, but a closer inspection would reveal much. As an example, the box checks of the shirts line up practically everywhere – collar points, sleeves, shoulders, under the arm, and 360 degrees around the body. There is no way this can be done by a machine, and the result is a marvel to see. 
 
Pattern matching awesomeness (click below to start videos):

Another detail that sets their shirts apart is that instead of simply folding over the bottom of the shirt and running it through a sewing machine, the hem is hand rolled and stitched. The result is not unlike the edges of similarly crafted pocket squares, except the rolls are smaller and the stitching is more dense, making the stitching comparatively discreet; thus the term invisible stitching.
Indeed, the amount of hand stitching per inch is incredible – roughly 25 per inch, about three times than what you’d normally see on a shirt – but what is more striking is the way in which it’s done.  “When a thread breaks, we don’t simply tie a knot and continue,” Varvara explained.  “We pull it out and start all over. This is what we mean when we say threadless stitching. It’s just a single thread along a seam. That way, when you wash your shirt over and over, there is less chance of the shirt coming apart.”
Over a later email conversation, Varvara admitted the market speech can muddy the method. “But we feel the most important aspect of our work is the patience and precision of it.  We do use machines for some steps, but the majority of the undertaking is done by hand, and doing so takes time.” The time-intensive shirtmaking process passes through no less than 50 pairs of hands (thus the name). Simon Crompton of A Permanent Style has written extensively of the superb craftsmanship and exceptional working conditions of the over 100 people who work there. Although the atelier has existed for over 20 years and had made shirts for Savile Row tailors and haute couture maisons in France, the brand itself was established in 2014 and has enjoyed quite a bit of success since then, outgrowing the factory in the city of Amritsar and relocating to the neighboring countryside.
Photos courtesy of 100 Hands

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Another peculiar adornment found on each shirt are what Varvara calls their “one-of-a-kind” buttonholes. Put simply, they are not sewn, but embroidered: fine silk thread is worked around and up to the slice. In contrast, traditionally a slice is made in the fabric and then thread is brought around the cut edges to form a buttonhole. 100 Hands’ decorative method, which takes about 45 minutes per buttonhole, is borrowed from India’s own textile culture. Compared to other makers, the results are much cleaner and far less bulky. Here’s a few pics, plus a link to a 100MB picture Varvara sent me that you can zoom in on for full menswear geek gawking:
Besides being able to choose the collar, fabric, and finishes for a shirt, some may benefit from a custom shirt for a better fit.  For example, most OTR shirts are cut with higher, square shoulders; doing so can accommodate more body types.  The downside to this “democratic fit” is when you have more sloped shoulders, as the excess fabric can bunch in sloppy folds around the chest. Customization and fittings can adjust the pattern for these and other individual peculiarities for a cleaner fit while still being comfortable.
Speaking of customization: in addition to seasonal offerings, 100 Hands has access to nearly 400 fabrics from Italy and Japan, such as Canclini, Monti, Loro Piana, SicTess, Albiata and Albini. There are five different interlinings options for the collar, 12 different types of buttons, and the embroidery initials – sewn by hand – can be done in three different fonts.  Moreover, there are two levels of handwork, the Black and Gold Line. Both have the pattern drawn and cut by hand, handfusing and pattern matching, but the Gold Line contains far more: hand-embroidered buttonholes, handsewn side and bottom seams, shoulder, and sleeve placket.
After describing the work involved in making a shirt, Akshat fit Fok and me for a shirt each. I chose a plain white oxford cloth to go with light tans and blues that I’ll be wearing come warmer weather. Fok chose a denim shirt to wear, I assume, in the rough factory environment of his home office.
After taking our measurements, Akshat brought out prototypes for casual outerwear they have in store for the future, including a field and shirt jacket in slubby navy linen. No word on when these will be available, but I’m excited for the shirt jacket in particular – with a barchetta breast pocket, flapped patch hip pockets, and buttoned sleeves, it makes for a compelling choice when a sport coat might be considered too dressy. Meaning, I’ll probably be wearing it everywhere in California.
L’ora di aperitivo was upon us, so we said our goodbyes to Akshat and Varvara to meet up with Arianna at the StyleForum Makers’ Space. While making a wrong turn or two, Fok reflected on our visit with 100 Hands.
“I never wear dress shirts,” he mused. “I mean, look at me. I’m wearing beat up 18oz denim, a  worn in leather Type 3 jacket over a dirty tee shirt, and old sneakers.”  He paused for a beat, then chuckled to himself. “Those are some amazing shirts. I’m going to find an occasion to wear that shirt,” he vowed.
“Does that mean we’re coming to Pitti next year?” I asked. Fok stopped. “You never take pictures; how are you going to prove you ever wore the shirt?”  
“You make a valid point,” Fok conceded as he began walking again. “I could just buy a camera, but I’d miss the cobblestones and pasta. And cheese. And salame. And…I keep getting lost. Just wait till you see your apartment, it overlooks the Arno. Is this our street? I need a glass of wine…”
Later on, in San Francisco, the shirt arrived neatly packed in a box within a green canvas “suitcase” with a wooden button. I chose a Capri collar, unique in that both the collar and points are constructed in one piece so that it can be worn either buttoned with a tie or casually open. The result is not only one of the best fitting shirts I own (despite all the cannoli and gelato I’d been eating) but also one of the most versatile. For all those times you go from meetings to dining or vice versa, the collar handles both with ease and looks great doing so.  
Unboxing video: 

So much handwork does come at a price – $350 and up – but you’ll be getting more than similarly priced options from better known brands, such as Kiton and Charvet. All three do have a measure of hand stitching, but the sheer amount of intricate, precise handwork of a 100 Hands shirt frankly dwarfs most others and is one of, if not the defining characteristic, something Varvara and Akshat are very proud of. And then there’s longevity.
Mark Boutilier of San Francisco, who wears dress shirts far more often than I do, has had his shirts from 100 Hands for over a year. “I have shirts from various high-end makers,” he says, “and the Black Line not only has finer stitching and finishing, but has held up better after wearing and washing. Others have had stitching come loose, buttons unravelling, but not 100 Hands. I’m really impressed, and would highly recommend anyone to give them a try.” He did lament, however, the lack of availability for their MTM program in the US, which wasn’t available at the time. But that has recently changed.
“People have been requesting our MTM service via Instagram and email,” Varvara relates, “So we decided to begin to tap the US market that way.” My friend Tom was one of the first.
“I contacted Akshat, and he was very accommodating,” he began. “He offered for me to simply send in a good fitting shirt, but I decided that would be too much hassle, and sent him measurements instead. I also sent him photographs, and he was able to diagnose my biggest fit issues stemming from a forward posture.”
And the results? “Quite good for a first attempt,” Tom reports. “They hit the measurement specs perfectly and adjusted for my stance. My guess is that with one more iteration, we’ll be golden.”
Maiden voyage of Tom’s shirt from 100 Hands

Maiden voyage of Tom’s shirt from 100 Hands

While my own shirt seemed fine by my eye, Varvara was able to detect a few problems. “The upper front placket under the collar could use some attention,” she noted. Otherwise, maybe the biceps need slimming? I guess my guns are more like pea shooters.
Currently their showroom is in Amsterdam and while they do trunk shows in various cities (London, Hannover, and Stockholm, to name a few) and their shirts can be found in several shops online and in-store (the Rake and Linnégatan in Sweden, for example), there is presently just one place to see 100 Hands shirts in person in the US, and that is at Carroll & Co in Beverly Hills. Tom and others have had success with the remote MTM program, but since Ill be going back to Florence for Pitti next January, I think I’ll make an appointment to see them in person to catch up. Maybe get another shirt or two.
To contact 100 Hands, email them at info@100hands.nl or varvara@100hands.nl

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Chore Coat: the one jacket you’ll be bringing into summer

Even though summer is looked forward to by many menswear enthusiasts (who doesn’t enjoy cotton suits and linen trousers?), I always find myself a little disappointed every time the weather starts to heat up. The main appeal of menswear for me was always the ability to layer, which I heartily enjoy with sweaters, coats, and even “casual outerwear”.  This past fall/winter, I was able to put on vintage leathers and varsity jackets in order to go for a more “rugged” casual look, which isn’t always something you can do in the warmer months, where men opt for something a bit cleaner and “vacation” oriented. However, I think the cotton chore coat helps bridge that gap.

The chore coat really isn’t anything new in men’s fashion. Under different names like the “engineer sack coat” or known globally as the “french chore coat”, this piece of simple outerwear has been always been a big part in workwear, during the 1900s-1950s as much as today. chore coats history tradition workwear

Originally, chore coats were worn mainly by laborers and artisans alike, as a layer to protect the clothes from dirt or paint, featuring big pockets just begging to carry tools. The fit was loose and boxy, as it was conceived as a utility garment, not something that required drape or excessive tailoring. Blue was the most common color, but I’ve seen them in light browns, denim, and even grey; the variations are probably due to the fact that almost every country has their own version of this heritage piece of workwear. As a result, you can find a plethora of inspiration images, from Diego Rivera, the late Bill Cunningham, to almost any Japanese workwear enthusiast.

While it might be easier to work it in with a fall outfit (think flannels, a fair isle, and wool tie), I think that chore coats can have life in the spring and summer; it helps if you avoid the heavy moleskins or rigid duck canvas and instead go for cotton drill (that will break in more easily).

chore coats blue workwear casual tailoredThe traditional rich blue color ensures that it will go with pretty much anything, almost like a navy blazer, but you can definitely find some in olive or khaki. For an extremely casual look, the chore pairs well with a simple tee (or cotton crew neck sweater) and chinos. Some guys are hesitant about putting it with tailoring due to how casual and rugged it looks, however, whether you go with something vintage or brand-new, don’t think that the fit needs to be tailored in order to work with classic menswear. It’s a great shirt-jacket due to its ease (think of it as your go-to cardigan for summer) and works as a casual piece over a patterned shirt and pair of trousers. It’s honestly become a joke of sorts for my close friends, since I’m almost always wearing one after work. It definitely helps “dress down” a shirt and tie!

I will always appreciate the vintage chore coats, not just for the added “personality” but because you can usually find them at extremely affordable prices with the personality already mixed in. My first chore coat (I have two, blue and grey) was purchased at the Rose Bowl Flea Market and it has been my go-to since then. It’s a rich blue color with old plastic buttons and a roomy body that ends slightly past the waist. Like most pieces of vintage workwear, mine has a few holes and stains that add some character.

For those of you who don’t have time to peruse your local vintage store, here are some online recommendations. And if you’re not completely sold, here are some inspiration pictures.

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Broadway and sons – $50+

CHORE COATS SUMMER

Broadway & Sons is a Swedish vintage store that specializes in military and workwear pieces. Because they are a vintage dealer, nothing is ever the same; as a result, you can find different chore coats in different sizes and with different details. I prefer the classic blue with triple patch pockets, but you can always experiment with the olive ones (for a military look) or any of the more unique pieces. Even though they are vintage and can have some wear, these pieces are curated and seldom have any serious damage to make them unwearable.


Le Laboureur Chore Coats – $110

If you want an affordable way to try out a new chore coat, check out Le Laboureur. The design is pretty classic, featuring a short collar, 5 buttons, and 3 patch pockets. They also make the coat in different colors and fabrics, if you want the same design in something more suitable for fall/winter. It’s honestly pretty damn close to the vintage chore coat I own, just without the stains, tears, and holes!


Tellason Denim Chore Coat – $149

If you want to lean into the workwear look, I suggest looking at the Tellason denim coverall jacket. It’s a 14.5oz denim which can be tough to wear with summer tailoring but it still can be done for the more milder days; a break-in period can be expected too. A striped tee and trousers would be my choice if it was really hot. My pal Spencer tends to wear his with either linens or chinos, with a nice sport shirt or an unbuttoned oxford when he’s off work. The biggest draw to me is the cool slanted newspaper pocket on the left side that is perfect for sunglasses. They also make it in hefty 16.5 selvedge, for you trueblue workwear guys.


Rogue Collective Men’s Shop Coat – $178

I got to see the Rogue Collective shop coat in person during the Gooch Collective events in LA. Available in colors other than blue, this MiUSA chore coat is a more minimal take on the classic garment. The collar has rounded edges and the buttons are quite large, making it almost like a cropped mac overcoat. As you can see on their website, the fit is actually quite slim; I actually found it to be slightly longer, which can be a plus if you want something that is more of a traditional jacket dimensions instead of a shirt-jacket. Another interesting design choice the rather high placement of the side pockets.  It also lacks a breast pocket, adding to the cleaner look which can work better with tailored attire. It’s probably my favorite out of all the contemporary options.


Drake’s Chore Coats – $315

Drake’s has been killing it with their product diversity, moving far beyond just a tie brand.  In keeping with their easy approach to tailoring, they’ve developed a line of overshirts in linen. These will probably serve the tailored guys much better, as the linen will mesh better with more traditional fabrics. Some of their models have pleated flap pockets, which actually makes them more like a safari jacket, but I think the effect is the same. In addition to the plain blues, I actually really like the navy pinstripe since it calls to mind the vintage striped canvas that old chore coats were made out of. The price for these are pretty high, but if you’ve got a handle on your style, it can be quite worth it. You can literally just hop on to the Drake’s instagram for ideas on how to wear it.