Menswear Thrifting: a Smart, Ethical Way to Shop

My menswear journey is much more recent than most people. I caught on to the #menswear pretty late and soon realized my tiny wardrobe was not going to leave me satisfied.

There’s nothing wrong with being a minimalist (in fact, I am jealous of those who are able to keep essentials only), but I knew that it wasn’t for me. Instead of buying fast fashion for the easy way out, I decided to build my wardrobe by buying through eBay and thrift stores. A lot of menswear guys don’t like the idea of buying old or second hand, but I still think it’s one of the best ways to fill out a wardrobe. Whether you’re a newbie who wants to dip his toes into high rise or a seasoned guy looking for something new, the thrift store always delivers.

IT’S EASIER TO FIND GOOD QUALITY ITEMS AT A THRIFT STORE THAN AT THE MALL

Firstly, there’s the aspect of vintage. I briefly talked about it on in my brief guide on thrifting, but the fact remains that a large part of clothing made in the 1960s and earlier were made with much more quality than most stuff made today.  Jackets (unless they were completely unstructured) contained canvassing and fabrics were almost always made of natural fibers like wool and cotton. Obviously, there are some designs that are more “dated” than others, but I’m certain that many posters on Styleforum will be able to judge a classic garment from one that looks too vintage. Stuff like ivy style sack-jackets from the 1960s-1970s are extremely versatile in classic menswear no matter the style and can be found pretty easily in thrift stores or eBay. Trousers are probably the best bet, as most stuff pre-1990 will have a high rise and/or pleats. Just make sure your finds don’t contain synthetics!

While it can be possible to thrift contemporary pieces from big name brands, it’s also important to remember that there were also small tailors that made some great garments. For example, not all of my sack jackets are old Brooks Brothers; it appears that local California haberdasheries caught on to the ivy trend and made their own suits and sportcoats. This even extends on to the early iterations of modern designers, as I’ve seen old J. Crew, Banana Republic, and GAP pieces that had pretty classic designs, made of decent fabrics. This doesn’t’ just apply to suiting and jackets; long collar OCBDs and even classic foulard ties can be found at Goodwill, all lacking that desired brand name. In any case, I always think it’s worth it to actually try on any garment that has a great design rather than just hunt for a label.

THRIFTING AS A WAY TO EXPERIMENT WITH YOUR STYLE

One other aspect of thrifting that I’ve really enjoyed is that it lets you experiment with different styles in an affordable way. I distinctly remember coming across pleated trousers from Ambrosi and B&Tailor online and wishing that I could try my hand at incorporating them into my wardrobe. At the time, all I had was skinny, flat front J. Crew pants, and I wasn’t about to spend hundreds on something I wasn’t sure about. Instead, I looked through my local thrift stores and used my honed skills to find quality pleated trousers for a cheap price. I brought them to my trusted tailor, where he was able to slim them down enough to make for a classic look. My latest experiment took the form of pleated brown cords. I’ve never worn cords before, but now that I’ve had the opportunity to try, it opens myself up to experiment further.

This use of thrifting for experimentation even applies to jackets!  As Simon Crompton said, wider lapels and a 3-roll-2 stance have been “a trend” for classic menswear. While it may be easy to get these details on something from a brand like Ring Jacket or customizing them on MTM, it’s still a little aspirational for younger guys. Thankfully, most classic menswear trends aren’t anything new, and you can find these details on garments found in thrift stores or online. Like with the trousers, the money you save on the purchase price can be used to alter the garment to fit you!

Thrifting also allows you to find statement pieces for a great price.  Obviously, while everyone should have a navy blazer and grey flannels (which are pretty easy to find), I think it’s important to have a few garments that are interesting and one-of-a-kind to spice up your attire. Most old garments have fabrics and patterns that you simply can’t find anymore, especially not at the mall. It’s much easier to try out a colorful checked tweed from Goodwill rather than go straight to bespoke for something you may not wear often.

THRIFTING IS A SUSTAINABLE AND ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY CHOICE

Lastly, I think it’s important to keep the cycle going. As I move forward in my journey and career, I’ve been able to afford quality items in a “slow fashion” rather than having an exclusively thrifted wardrobe. Instead of throwing away my old clothes, I end up giving them to my friends and acquaintances who were also getting into classic menswear. The only difference is that these thrifted pieces have now been cleaned and altered from their found state so that they can be added confidently into someone’s closet. I’ve already given some of my old thrifted suits to my friends as I graduate onto different pieces, and they accept them knowing that they will one day pass them on as well.

I know that classic menswear is “slow” when compared to other sects of fashion, but we aren’t immune to the impact on the environment. Countless suits, shirts, and trousers, flood thrift stores and eBay, waiting for their new owners to save them from the landfills. You should pass on things that are damaged or really dated (1980s fashion suits, yuck) but it’s always worth looking at your local thrift store, whether you want to build your wardrobe economically or experiment with something new. Although Classic Menswear has that odd stigma against buying things that are old or pre-worn, I hope more people will start considering thrifting an acceptable avenue to take in their menswear journey.

 

A Focus on Evan Kinori and Fashion Revolution

The Rana Plaza building in Bangladesh was home to five factories, part of the country’s famed garment industry; it was the second largest factory in the world. Zara, H&M, Gap, Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and numerous other brands were being made by 3.6 million people in Bangladesh, to the tune of $21 billion in exports in 2012, nearly 12% of the GCP.  Roughly 90% of those exports landed in the United States, because producing in Bangladesh was so cheap: minimum wage there was $37 a month, four times less than that of China. No wonder everyone wanted their clothes made there.  Business was booming, and everything was humming along smoothly.
And then the roof caved in. Literally.
On April 24, 2013, the building collapsed, killing 1,100 people and injuring another 2,438. Most of these were garment workers, and most of those were young women.
All accidents are tragic, but this one is especially so because it could have been avoided; it almost was.
The morning before the collapse, an engineer deemed the building unsafe and recommended its evacuation. A government official hurried to the site, had a meeting with the engineer, and changed the verdict, declaring the building safe. The bank in the building sent its workers home, but garment worker management told them to come back to work the next day or risk losing their jobs. They did, and some of them never returned home to their families.  The engineer tried to escape the country but was caught and arrested at the border.
 
Shortly after this, Fashion Revolution began. For one week in April, they urge consumers who buy clothes – basically everybody – to participate in their #whomademyclothes campaign, building awareness of the many hands that produce the garments we wear. At the same time, brands, producers, and stores are encouraged to be transparent and honor those workers. Part of the point is to encourage ethical production through changing consumer practices. 
 
San Francisco has a long history in the garment industry (think Levi’s), and there are events April 22-29 throughout the city. In an effort to promote American-designed and American-made clothes, and in the spirit of a movement that demands transparency in this oversaturated and poorly regulated industry, I wanted to chat with local designer Evan Kinori, so I made an appointment to stop by his studio in Hayes Valley.

I first met Evan at a maker event in SOMA about six years ago. Nestled in between a leather specialist and candle maker, Evan had his wares that I had seen on his Tumblr, back when Tumblr was a thing. One of them was a reversible jacket that was one of the coolest things I’d seen, and it continues to be one of my favorite pieces of outerwear. A testament to Evan’s sense of style is the fact that it appeals to practically everyone; through the years, I’ve been asked about it on the street and the job site. 
Evan recalls: “This was the third jacket I had come up with while in school. I was studying pattern making and was really eager to bring my ideas to life but the curriculum only taught womenswear. Even so, I was very anxious to make the garments I was envisioning. The thing that I really began to fixate on was how when most elements are removed, a garment can be much more transcendent and speak to more people. 
“I had found this amazing British brand, SEH Kelly, that had made a reversible shirt and it had really sparked my brain. I loved the idea of giving people options. From there, I just came up with the shapes I like and the way I wanted it to look and feel: timeless, smooth, but wearable on a daily basis. To me, the design retains the simple essentials of a men’s jacket but doesn’t appear too rigid or utilitarian, nor too dressy or blazer-esque.
“The denim is nice weight, 12 oz Japanese selvedge that I thought was the right shade of indigo to be paired with the greenish grey cavalry twill wool that I had got a bolt of at an estate sale. I love the idea of wool and denim, one side being the more rugged and tolerant side for messing about, and the other being a little more dressy for when the time calls for it. they are complimentary weights, not overly rigid, but enough to make the jacket feel substantial.”

Of the many things that stand out about this garment is the fabrication – after years of abuse, the jacket shows no signs of ever falling apart. Evan explains: “The entire jacket was sewn on a single needle Juki DDL 555 lockstitch industrial machine, with the buttonholes being sewn with a Reece keyhole machine. Lockstitch construction is just unbreakable. When you pair it with tight stitch counts, that garment will surely last long enough for your grandchildren to fight over it.”  When the buttons started to crack or the button stitching began to unravel, Evan added buttonholes to the other side and kick press buttons, which will never break or come loose, on both sides, for free.

The belief that clothes are meant to last and can be repaired, instead of tossed and replaced, is one that the Fashion Revolution is trying to instill in the mind of modern customers. The fact that Evan himself took care of my jacket, free of charge, is an almost radical concept if we think of the current state of the fashion industry, where we hardly ever get to interact with the designers or the makers of the pieces we wear. 
 
Currently, Evan’s stock can be found in a handful of shops in New York, LA, Antwerp, Belgium, Japan, and South Korea. In San Francisco, you can find his stuff at Reliquary or make an appointment to visit his studio. 
It’s nice to see Evan’s growth from that booth six years ago, but he’s in no rush.
“I’m pretty particular about where my stuff goes,” he says. “I have to fit in, not just with the other brands, but the shop itself. When I go in, I listen to the music, talk to the owners, and see if we think along the same lines. It’s not just about selling the product.”

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When asked about his clothing style, Evan shrugs and says, “I like to make garments people don’t have to worry about styling. I don’t want people to feel like they have to buy everything, even though all the pieces go together.”
His Instagram feed has a certain feel to it – I’d call it relaxed menswear –  with models showcasing his garments head-to-toe. Similar to Kapital and Engineered Garments, but without the randomness.
Quality is high, with taped seams and leather backed kick press buttons. Details are thoughtfully executed, such as lower chest pockets to facilitate use and flaps with hidden button closures. Personally, I’ve found his garments easy to pair with what I currently have in my closet. Silhouettes are easy and familiar, with focus on practicality and texture.
I ended up purchasing another three-pocket jacket in an amazing cotton/linen/wool/hemp yarn dyed blanket cloth tweed. While mostly black, it has white and grey vertical broken stripes that pairs perfectly with a white button-down, black jeans, and white sneakers for when I don’t feel like thinking about color.
He’s got something in the pipeline that I’m really excited about, including the three-pocket jacket in a casentino cloth (!) and a longer coat in a large gray herringbone.

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Time was that Evan himself made every garment himself, like my reversible jacket from six years ago. Nowadays Evan outsources the sewing either to LA or San Francisco, depending on the garment, so he can focus on designing.
For the guy into classic menswear, you can’t do much better with Evan’s garments; they are all California designed and made, which means you can do your part in supporting local talent and industry.

Evan Kinori’s clothing can be purchased online or at these stockists.

Life After Eidos: Fully Canvassed Suits That Won’t Break the Bank

As the desire for quality, authenticity, and longevity in men’s clothing once again became more appreciated, Styleforum has been here for guys to share their knowledge on the questions that inevitably cropped up.

Who made these shoes?—Look at the nail patterns.” “Who made this private label suit?—Look at the manufacturer tag.” “Is this line of suiting full canvas or half canvas?—Here is the history of that maker’s quality for the past 25 years.

It is this last point—full canvassing in suits and sport coats—that remains a worthy benchmark for determining a garment’s quality and value. I’d say cut, fit and design are more important in deciding whether a suit or jacket “works” on someone, all other things being equal. But thanks to the resurgence of interest in tailored clothing in the last 10 years (however long it may yet last…), there are a lot of good options for full canvas tailoring.

One of the original value propositions of my favorite menswear brand, Eidos, was that it offered full canvas, made in Italy tailoring, at an almost unbelievable price point (I believe sport coats started at $895, suits at $995). Prices crept up over time, and with Simon Spurr’s first collection, suits will begin at $1395 (no word on sport coats). That is definitely an increase over the years, but it’s well within the norm for what you’ll find from other brands of similar quality (and limited handwork). No Man Walks Alone will continue to carry Eidos in their own signature cut from the brand at least through fall, so it’s business as usual at least through 2018 for customers of Greg’s.

As for the new aesthetic direction Mr. Spurr is taking the brand, I like to keep an open mind about things, and who knows – maybe it’ll be great. However, I’ve cultivated a list of other contenders for my tailoring wants if that doesn’t turn out to be the case. Here are five I’ve got my eye on.

 

Berg & Berg

Only two seasons into their tailoring offerings, this Scandinavian company has expanded from men’s accessories into a nearly complete collection. Their tailoring is made in southern Italy (Puglia, the region at the heel of Italy’s boot). The collection is small, with only four suits and four odd jackets this Spring (one being double breasted in each category) but it is exceptionally well priced. For those outside the EU, without VAT, the price for a jacket is as low as $656 and a suit $852. The cut hits all the notes you’d expect this day and age—soft shoulder, lightweight canvas for a soft structure—with some departures from the mainstream, namely a longer jacket length and slightly wider than average lapels.

Check out: Berg & Berg Dan II Single Breasted Fresco Suit


SuitSupply Jort collection

SuitSupply is pretty much the king of half-canvas, contemporary, European-centric tailoring. Being made in China and having a vertically integrated retail presence, their prices are very competitive. Their Jort line—named after the company’s “sartorial historian” Jort Kelder—is fully canvassed. Each season, they produce a tightly curated Jort collection, using better fabrics that feature a slightly more elevated design compared to the main line. It takes the same cues as the rest of the company’s tailoring—soft-shouldered with a bit of grinze, lightweight canvas, open patch pockets if the fabric and design calls for it—but adds some design flourishes that most Styleforum guys would appreciate: a lower buttoning point as well as a slightly lower breast pocket, both of which lean on the more classic side. Jackets start at around $600, and suits are priced at a solid $1,000.

Check out: Suit Supply Jort Brown Check


Proper Cloth

Even though they’re known best for their made to measure shirts, Proper Cloth has offered other clothing items for a long time—accessories, sweaters, outerwear and even tailored jackets. Recently, they upgraded their tailored offerings from simply off-the-rack to made-to-order. It isn’t quite to the same level of customization as their shirts, but with sizes ranging from 32 all the way to 64 (at single intervals), with short, regular, and long lengths, as well as three fits (classic, slim and extra slim), there’s a pretty good chance you can hit the mark in fit, or at least get pretty close before alterations. Their Hudson jackets and Mercer suits are fully canvassed, while the Allen suits and Bedford jackets are half-canvas, coming in at about 2/3 the price. The design details on them check all the standard boxes—soft shoulder, open patch hip pockets, unlined, etc.

Check out: Hudson Navy Performance Wool Hopsack Jacket


Anglo-Italian 

I quickly took notice of this new shop from Jake Grantham and Alex Pirounis (both formerly from The Armoury). Just like Berg & Berg or SuitSupply, they are a self-branded store, which means they don’t carry products under other labels. As the name clearly communicates, their product is meant to fuse the best of British and Italian menswear traditions: soft tailoring and design from Italy, and English fabrics. I stopped by the shop when I was in London last October, and really liked what I saw and felt. Their biggest focus is on made-to-measure, but they do stock a small collection of tailoring off the rack each season, as well as a full range of other products—ties, trousers, shirts, outerwear, etc.). Everything is made in southern Italy. For those outside the UK, a sportcoat runs about $1,350 (with the current exchange rate of about $1.41 per Pound Sterling). Trousers are about $350.

Check out: Anglo-Italian Sport Jacket Brown Broken Twill Wool


Sid Mashburn

Much has been written about Sid Mashburn. His personal charm is legendary, and his business has grown immensely since its opening, so he must be doing something right. At this point, there are enough cuts in the American-Italian spectrum to please most customers. His full-canvas sportcoats start at around $700 and suits start around $1,000.

Check out: Sid Mashburn Kincaid No. 3 Ticket Pocket Suit


Ring Jacket

Although it’s made in Japan, Ring Jacket designs along southern Italian lines—a curved barchetta pocket, open patch pockets, soft construction and soft shoulders. Part of this is because the company, which specialized in making suits and jackets for brands in Japan over the years, had a factory manager that studied tailoring in Naples, learning from them. He helped to recreate Ring Jacket so it features smaller armholes and larger sleeveheads. Their products were only available from only a couple retailers in North America for a long time, but despite their slow and deliberate expansion, it’s now a bit easier to find. They have their own e-commerce for some products, and a list of stockists you can find here: https://ringjacket.com/stockists

Check out: Ring Jacket New Balloon Wool 256 Double Breasted Sport Coat 

How To Mirror Shine Shoes in Less Than an Hour – By Kirby Allison

The peak of traditional fashion for men might just well be a proper mirror shine on a fine pair of dress shoes. It sets you apart from other well-dressed individuals by demonstrating the dedication and effort you put into your daily appearance. It is no secret that a proper mirror shine can be, unfortunately, rather time-consuming. You may be looking at a day-long project between applying layer upon layer of polish while waiting for each one to dry.

Thankfully, a great mirror shine doesn’t have to be that exhaustive. With the right tips and know-how, you can achieve a stunning mirror shine on any pair of shoes in less than an hour. Here’s what you will need:

 

Water

Saphir Mirror Gloss Wax Polish

High Shine Chamois or old cotton dress shirt

Fan or blow dryer

Saphir Pate de Luxe Wax Polish

 

 

how to get mirror shine shoes quickly

Using a High-Shine Cotton Chamois, apply Saphir’s Mirror Gloss Polish to your toe caps. Make sure you avoid cracking in the future by not applying any waxes on parts of your shoes that bend or move. Saphir’s Mirror Gloss contains a higher concentration of hard waxes than regular polish, making it indispensable for quick mirror shines. The High Shine Chamois or cotton shirt smoothly applies the polish without any lint or loose threads getting in the way. The high count threading effortlessly glides across the surface of the leather, vastly reducing the amount of effort required to buff it later. Apply a very small amount of water to your chamois whenever you start to feel resistance.

 

how to mirror shine shoes leather

Set your blow-dryer to medium heat and use it on the toe caps of your shoes. This will serve two purposes: it will speed up the drying process and will slightly melt the waxes. Melting the waxes will help the clear up, bringing them closer to that glossy finish. Once your shoes are dry, use a clean portion of your High Shine Chamois or dress shirt to buff the waxes off. Once the waxes are buffed, you are ready for the Pate de Luxe Wax Polish.

 

how to achieve mirror shine shoes hour

Apply Saphir’s Pate de Luxe Wax Polish to your shoes’ toe caps. The Pate de Luxe contains solvents which help further soften the Mirror Gloss, elevating its shine. This will further reduce the number of times you need to apply wax and buff. After applying it, blow dry the toe caps and buff it off with your High Shine Chamois like you did with the mirror gloss.

 

how to mirror shine leather saphir

You are all done! In a short amount of time, with significantly less effort, your shoes will have a stunning shine that elevates your appearance.

 


 

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5 accessories that will make you look like a million bucks

Accessories can make or break an outfit. A perfect fit can be elevated simply by having one additional element of interest introduced by a well-chosen accessory. But on the other hand, accessories can ruin an otherwise fine fit by being overdone, ostentatious or in conflict with one another. “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and take one thing off.” Keep that advice from Coco Chanel in mind as I share five accessories that will, in the right contexts and done tastefully, make you look like a million bucks.

Okay, it doesn’t necessarily have to be Swiss, but it should be tastefully designed, and small. Giant diameters ruin what might be otherwise great watches these days. And unless you have Chris Hemsworth’s arms, they don’t really look at home on your wrist (though if you’ve got Chris Hemsworth arms, by all means, wear something proportionally small on your wrist!). When you’re wearing coat and tie, and want to look refined—whether it’s for a wedding, evening out with your significant other, or even just at the office—a small watch looks far more elegant. My personal favorites are Omega’s from the 1960s. My brother generously bought me a 1966 DeVille for my 30th birthday last year, with an off-white face that comes in at 34.5mm across. It’s magnificent.

I realize calling a product meaningful sounds like the worst marketing language, but I only say that because the guys wearing bracelets well are those doing it for a reason and not just because it’s the cool thing to do. When done well, a bracelet communicates a sense of refinement that no other accessory does in exactly the same way (when done poorly, it usually communicates that the wearer is trying too hard).

The ideal bracelet can lend style to an outfit because it’s carefully chosen, and the wearer knows when to wear it. I don’t typically wear a bracelet, but my dad does—and he absolutely nails it. He owns a couple, though one is far and away my favorite; it’s a heavy, solid sterling silver piece with decorative Navajo carvings made by Darin Bill. My dad has loved New Mexico since he was a boy, and Navajo blankets, art, and jewelry have been mainstays for decades in my family. I’d borrow it from time to time, but my wrists are much smaller than his.

Years ago I got a fairly inexpensive belt in snuff suede from Meermin and it changed my life. It sounds like a hyperbole, but seriously, suede as a belt material was a revelation to me. I wear that belt 90% of the time to this day. It looks particularly great with white pants and denim, but I’ll wear it with wool trousers as well. It doesn’t have to be suede, but a belt in a subtly different texture can bring your outfit together in a way you might not immediately think of. Something like alligator leather can improve a dressier fit, while canvas looks great with madras in the summer.

Brooks BrothersGustav Von Aschenbach

Besides just the belt material itself, you can also look for a cool buckle. For instance, I’ve always liked machined flat plaque buckles on a narrow dress belt—they feel very mid-century, and they make me think of my grandpa. I have no meaningful memories of him because he died when I was young, but I know, from what my dad has told me, that he was a very skilled craftsman. He had a fine attention to detail as well as a penchant for design, which he put to use making all kinds of things, usually with a strong mid-century aesthetic. A narrow belt with a machined buckle feels like something he’d have worn—and possibly even made himself.

Sid Mashburn – Tiffany&Co.

This is a super basic pick, but it’s an impeccable choice that really does improve a navy or gray suit. As pocket squares have gone mainstream, many men have been led astray into thinking the more gaudy, loud, bright and matchy, the better. In response, stylish men and forum members have sworn off squares all together. But even those most grieved by the over-saturation of pocket square culture still wear the white TV fold. It’s because it’s a stylish detail that’s not ostentatious. Mine is from J.Crew; it was a gift, and it is monogrammed.

If you’re looking at ways to fold your pocket square perfectly, check out Peter’s guide to folding a pocket square.

J. CrewKent Wang

Not a visible accessory most of the time, but when it is, it ups your class factor by a zillion. The things most men carry around to house their cards and cash are abysmal, awful, ugly, and thick. Don’t be like that. When you pull your wallet out of your breast pocket, a slim card case (or I suppose, a breast pocket wallet if you use bills regularly) makes for a nice indication of your appreciation for elegance—even if it’s not seen by most. It is slim enough that it doesn’t show if your jacket is more fitted in the chest. And even if you don’t have a jacket on it won’t make too big a bulge in your front pants pocket.

La Portegna – Salvatore FerragamoWant Les Essentiel

Style Icons: Jimmy Stewart

I love vintage style, but there are a lot of things that set me apart from other enthusiasts. While many enjoy period hobbies, I definitely don’t swing dance and I don’t watch a lot of old movies. It comes as a shock to some, as the latter is how most people I know came to be involved with vintage menswear. Sure, I may have seen a few of the big name classics, but it’s not something I consider monumental in my personal style journey; that doesn’t mean I haven’t been influenced by them, nor that I’m unfamiliar with them. Screenshots of films, promo shots, and candids of Golden Era actors used to fill my Tumblr. So with that, it’s no surprise that Jimmy Stewart was someone I saw often.

As you may know, Jimmy Stewart was a movie star during the “Golden Age” of Hollywood. Initially, he had attended Princeton studying architecture, but he soon found himself acting in small performers troupes. Eventually, he moved to Los Angeles, encouraged by Henry Fonda, and began his career in Hollywood, starring in almost 30 films until he enlisted in the Air Force during WWII. Stewart currently holds the distinction of holding the highest rank of any other actor who served in the U.S. Military.

For me, the appeal of Jimmy Stewart stems from how natural he makes everything look. I was never a fan of the prim and proper Cary Grant photos (who is loved for his 1950s-1960s style) or the “badass” look of Humphrey Bogart; I always felt more drawn to the candid and lifestyle shots of Stewart. Admittedly, Rear Window and It’s a Wonderful Life are the only Jimmy Stewart films I’ve seen, but I am familiar with his work (and style) through the countless images I see.

One thing in particular that I appreciate is that he had a very classic style. With flannel suits, striped shirts, and the occasional foulard tie, his style is a preview of some of the stuff you can see today. While the suits are cut in the classic Golden Era style (broad shoulders and wide leg pants), it’s not done in a costumey way. The fit is always on point, with a tapered waist and trousers that seldom break, which is a hard contrast to what most people think of when it comes to vintage style. He was sharp for the times without subscribing too much to the trends that we covered before.


During the 1930s and 40s, many actors would wear their own clothes in films. Because of this, men like Stewart were perpetually well dressed, both on and off the camera. One of my favorite outfits of his appears in a photo where Jimmy is sitting on a white fence, in which he wears a wide peak lapel houndstooth tweed jacket with navy trousers and white bucks. It really goes against the common style rules that we abide by today, like combining tweed and summer shoes. He does employ the “sprezza-tie,” with blatant disregard for its length and whether or not the back blade is showing. The entire outfit seems to be slightly ivy in its execution, as other pictures show that he was, in fact, wearing a striped cloth belt.

Another outfit that comes right in time for spring-summer, is Jimmy wearing a gaucho style polo shirt with the same peak lapel jacket. Not only is this cool because it showed that he reused a lot of the same pieces, but it also shows a little bit of the unique, trendy items of the 1930s. Gaucho shirts are largely similar to polo shirts but they featured a deep loop button placket and spearpoint collars; the hems were usually all ribbed. They grew in popularity among Golden Era actors during the late 1930s, and were seen on many stars, including Jimmy Stewart.

Gaucho-style polo and a tweed peak lapel jacket.

Gaucho-style polo and a tweed peak lapel jacket.

This image speaks wonders about Stewart’s style, though it might be a costumer’s idea. In a huge contrast to the well put together Cary Grant, Jimmy wears an unfastened chalkstripe DB suit, with a striped shirt and striped tie. Talk about sprezzatura, right? I remember seeing this years ago being inspired to experiment with triple pattern mixing–even if it’s all stripes. It’s hard to see people do that today, let alone make it look so natural, which made vintage style appeal to me even more today.

Jimmy Stewart in Philadelphia Story

Obviously, there are more great looks from Jimmy Stewart than the three I’ve examined here. It’s all very indicative of classic 1930s-1940s style without getting into the bold or flashy styles of Fred Astaire or George Raft (both of which are inspirations nonetheless). I’ve included a small album of my favorite looks from Jimmy Stewart for you to look at. I think that he was pretty consistent with his look, which you can definitely see in his later years. He may not have the spearpoint collars, but he still rocked the collar bar and the runaway collar until his death in 1997. Honestly, I think a lot of his attire can be used as inspiration today, whether you’re going for a true vintage look or something more contemporary. I certainly look to him quite a bit.

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Tartan Fabrics: History, Tradition, and Holiday Prison

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic about all things Scotland lately. Chalk it up to all the ‘Outlander’ my wife and I have been watching, and our having returned from a holiday there in October. The mention of Scotland conjures up images of the beautiful highlands and wind-swept isles. Its history is one of a charming people who nonetheless possessed rugged, grim resolve, rising in the face of the mighty British Empire time and time again, only to finally be defeated at the Battle of Culloden.

The Atholl Highlanders parade, Blair Castle. Photo: VisitScotland.com

My wife and I walked the grounds of that battlefield. It is a solemn, quiet place for introspection. The subsequent Act of Proscription in 1746 made it illegal to wear “highland clothing,” and so wearing kilts and tartans could have landed you in prison—or worse. The proud clan system was destroyed, and tartans all but disappeared, save for in the lowlands and in the uniforms of the Highland regiments. One of the most popular tartans, Blackwatch, originates from one of those regiments.

Several decades later, after the repeal of the 1746 Dress Act, tartans became officially cataloged and the romanticizing of Highland culture began. While kilts worn as a man’s everyday garment never regained widespread traction, tartans can be found everywhere today. Corporations and individuals can and do design their own signature tartan—think Barbour, Burberry, and even Brooks Brothers.

When my wife and I were planning our trip there, I did a lot of research to make sure we didn’t accidentally offend anybody by wearing a tartan that was off limits to the general public. I learned that as they spread in popularity throughout the world, strict clan associations relaxed. I’d still recommend sticking with universal tartans—of which there are many—out of respect. If you have a true historical connection to a clan which has its own sett (the technical term for the specific pattern of intersecting plaids that make up a tartan), wear it with pride. But like so many other cultural traditions, tartans have become mainstream enough that it is acceptable today to wear any tartan you want for no other reason than that you like the way it looks.

There are different hues of tartan: ancient, modern, and weathered. Photo: VisitScotland.com

Tartan trousers, shirts, tuxedo jackets and ties are front and center in clothing ads everywhere, especially during the holiday season. Why? Why is December and the “holiday season” the only time tartans—outside of accessories like scarves and ties—are so dominant?

Cultural researcher Brenna Barks speculated that perhaps because tartans were only worn for special occasions in Scotland post-Proscription, here in America descendants of Scottish émigrés forgot it was traditional dress and wore it simply because it was festive. Over time, as those people’s descendants became more American and less Scottish, that just became the norm. Whatever the case, given the democratized nature of tartans today, I find it unfortunate that wearing them except as accessories is so closely linked to holiday attire.

In the same way as madras—said to be the local’s interpretation of regimental tartans worn by Scottish soldiers posted in India using their own colors, and in fabrics appropriate for the climate—is freely worn all summer when the weather calls for it, so I think traditional wool tartan deserves to be worn all autumn and winter.

So I will keep wearing my Blackwatch flannel as long as it’s cold enough out to do so.

Won’t you join me?

Rethinking Undershirts: A Review of GIIN’s Undershirt

Day 1: I wonder when I’m going to launder this shirt… Maybe I should wash it in the sink as I’m traveling…

I had the genuine pleasure of meeting Francis and Jennifer at the Styleforum Maker Space this year during Pitti. The two minds behind GIIN are–without a doubt–a pleasure to speak with about many things, including their products. It is genuinely a pleasure when you meet people who are passionate about their work; on account of shared interests in menswear, the satisfaction is multiplied. Speaking with them about their materials, manufacturing, the ideas that went into the design, and their brand goals, therefore, was a remarkable experience.

GIIN’s slogan is Elevated Essentials, which precisely sums up their products. Between the boutonniere (see my review here) and their undergarments, you get the sense that Frank is striving to do things differently with his products. The products have been imbued with Frank’s desire to improve and innovate, and are in many ways his attempt to elevate something as humble as an undershirt into something that transcends the norm. 

Day 2: Why not wear it again… it doesn’t smell?

Over dinner at Berberè, I recollect both of them speaking about how much waste they find in the clothing industry. The prime example for them were generic cotton undershirts, designed–more or less–to be disposable. These undershirts serve their purpose, being worn a few times, then they disappear into landfills when they no longer are in pristine condition. Following them from a commodity chain perspective, everything becomes an afterthought: the quality of the cotton; the rapid production; the cheap mistreated labor. Every aspect of what is ethical or warrants quality is ignored to streamline prices.

Instead of approaching their products as if they were disposable, GIIN chose to approach their clients with sincerity and a desire to show their products quality and refinement. I’ll provide an example of this sincerity–if you were not aware, GIIN had a giveaway and a Styleforum member won the contest but was outside of the sizes that they made. Rather than turn the winner away with an apology, they custom made the product for the client, because they felt everyone should be entitled to quality products.

As such, quality to Frank is in the details and life cycle of the object. The products that Frank is creating and has created, he won’t bring to market unless he’s more than satisfied; he tests all of his products repeatedly before they are made for the market. Each shirt he wears and washes around 100 times, in order to ensure that they maintain quality. As such, the life of wear that the shirt receives is accelerated in order to witness first hand how well the product will hold up.

Day 5: I’m surprised by how comfortable this shirt has been as a base layer under the Texas sun… I thought I would be sweating to death…

When talking to Francis, I mentioned to him that I never wear undershirts except when I’m wearing something like a turtleneck sweater. I know that there are two schools of thought concerning this: one that extra layers make you sweat more and overheating; the other that extra layers help prevent you from showing sweat stains and protect your shirt. Having lived in humid Houston, I fell into the school of thought that more layers == bad sweating. Of course, that is only true when outside, because after wandering indoors from the summer heat, you feel trapped inside an icebox.

Frank offered to change my mind by offering me a shirt and a pair of underwear to see how I liked them. He firmly believed that I would come around to his mentality after I would have tried his engineered undergarments. Just so you understand, this was pure generosity-nothing was expected in return except that I provide my honest feedback to him. I told him sure, and decided to start wearing the garments the next day or two so I could provide him feedback immediately.

After wearing the garments for one day, I decided I would write a review, because I actually liked the garments. I will point out that–in the end–I’m still not a wearer of undershirts all that often, but I see that they are useful, and even when worn in warm/hot environments they actually serve a use to prevent odors and staining.

I provided Frank my feedback regarding the undergarments. One note is that I actually put them on inside out the first day, seeing as how there are no stitches or sewn in labels. Instead, the fabric pieces are bonded together using a high-end seamless bonding method. The raglan sleeve adds for ease of movement, and the laser cut ends without seams lie invisibly under shirts or other layers. Frank is especially proud of his boxers because they have a three-dimensional aspect to them which help support the male package, rather than squeeze it flush against the body or leg. Of course, in so doing this, there is no fly, which might be a deal breaker for some men.

For me, however, while I will sing praises about the undershirt (hence the title of review), I will note that I’m not the biggest fan of the boxers. I enjoy the support that they provide and I don’t mind the lack of a fly opening, but rather, the biggest complaint that I have is that the underwear is a low/medium rise; I personally prefer higher rise, but this is a personal preference. It isn’t as if the boxers are even unreasonably low rise: it more is just that this cut of underwear is not something that I would normally gravitate toward. However, there is a benefit here for some men: the lower rise works well with lower rise pants or jeans.

giin elevated garments undergarments shirt undershirt review

Day 8: They do not know… No one has said anything… Perhaps undershirts really do work well at preventing body odor?

Frank told me that I could reuse the undershirt when traveling by washing it in the sink/shower, then hang dry so it would be ready the next morning, stating that odors would disappear. I tried that at first, but came to realize that just by hanging the undershirt, the smells took care of themselves without added washing. As such, when I was embarking and packing for an almost two-week trip, I decided to take both the boxers and the undershirt to put it through its paces, seeing how it holds up in a wide variety of environments, temperatures, and under various garments.

In the end, I spent close to two weeks (thirteen days total) wearing the same undershirt. Of course, yes, it took on some odors over that time, but after hanging it up every night it rid itself of any scents, leaving barely perceptible–if any–noticeable odors.

Day 10: I mentioned casually in conversation to some of the others with whom I was traveling that I‘m testing an undershirt for someone, that I’ve been wearing it repeatedly… since we were in Texas, DC and Iowa…

As I’ve said before, normally I don’t wear undershirts since I sweat a lot; I find them stuffy, I find that I sweat more than normal with the extra layers, and I find them not helpful. But this might actually be not a function of the undershirt, but a function of the terrible quality cotton that goes into cheap undershirts. However, the GIIN undershirt works exceptionally well at preventing excessive sweating because of the wicking nature of the fabric (the fabric is a combination of high twist cotton, polyester and lycra). When I’m stuck in a middle seat on a plane, I normally smell terrible by the end of the flight because I’m sweating since I can’t spread out my arms. However, coming off the plane each time, I wasn’t scolded and avoided by anyone (including those I work with). I noticed changing at the hotel that my shirts did not smell bad; if anything the undershirt acted as a shield to prevent further sweating. Because the shirt is seamless and form-fitting, it is not noticeable that you are wearing an undershirt either.

Day 13: I’m coming home to my spouse… I wonder if she–with her sensitive nose–will put an end to this experiment as delusion…

At thirty dollars a piece, before trying one, I would have said the undershirts were pricey. However, after seeing what they can do, putting it through the paces, experiencing the quality and construction first hand and hearing about went into designing and manufacturing the product, I feel the price is completely fair.

For sizing, I got a small, which in reality might be a touch tight when it began being worn. I probably should have gone with a medium; however, they are fairly forgiving seeing as how the fabric has a lot of stretch. As such, order either true to size, or if you order a size smaller, you will feel just more support from the tighter fabric. I think that the tighter fit also helped improve my posture, seeing as how the tighter fit on the raglan shoulders made me more conscious of how I was sitting, and that I should sit up straighter. That, however, is another story, and for each person to decide.

Day 14: Although it doesn’t smell… Maybe I should put an end to this experiment for the sake of my wife. I also have a bunch of other clothes I can wear again…

For those that were curious-or just plain repulsed-yes, I did wash my other clothes as I was traveling. 

giin elevated garments undergarments shirt undershirt review

You can purchase GIIN undergarments on the official website.

If you have questions regarding the product, you can ask them on GIIN’s Official Thread on the forum.


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

What to Wear on a 24 Hour trip

The other day I found myself in a familiar stressful situation: I arrived home from work at 6:30 PM and had a plane to catch in less than two hours. And I hadn’t packed yet.  
Crazy, I know; packing procrastination does that to you.  For a dizzying moment, I felt overwhelmed, trying to visualize outfits with my closet content revolving in my mind like a tie organizer.  And then I thought: what if my choices were limited?
My trip wasn’t long – just a little over 24 hours from the time I board the plane to the moment I touch down from my return flight – and it wasn’t as I had to pack for a vacation. I just needed to be comfortable enough for the flight down, an all-day assembly the next day, and the return flight home.
Why waste time fretting over different outfits if I could make one outfit last 24 hours? 
Can one outfit last 24 hours?  

what to wear on 24 hour trip menswear sport coat tailored

Sport Coat: Spier & MacKay

Shirt: Finamore

Pants: Rubinacci

Shoes: Alden

Belt: W. Kleinberg

Pocket Square: Drake’s

Tie: Drake’s

Scarf: Drake’s


Here’s what I chose: 
For sheer flexibility, nothing beats good old gray flannel trousers – mid-grey to be precise. You could wear them from the boardroom to the bedroom and no one would bat an eye. They’re like dress sweats, with a crease and a fly. I grabbed an alligator belt to cinch them up.
A jacket, of course, is a no-brainer. You want to have easily-accessible pockets to stash your boarding pass & ID that you’ll be taking out a million times to show every TSA agent in the airport. Get yourself the right sport coat, one that you can dress up or down, and you can take it anywhere, from meetings to martinis. The all-purpose navy blazer is the obvious choice, but it’s not the only one. I really like this classic tan gunclub from Spier & MacKay. The houndstooth pattern is casual without being crazy, and being a shetland wool tweed, its looser weave makes it feel more like a cozy sweater than a rigid jacket. 
Instead of a blue oxford cloth button-down shirt, which is the fail-safe option, I chose its slightly more stylish cousin, the dark chambray spread collar shirt from Finamore. I like how the darker color and twill weave pair particularly well with tweed jackets. Plus, it’s a fantastic fabric. My wife says it’s denim, but I can’t say that I agree, because then I’d have to explain why I’m recommending a denim shirt to meetings. Just say “chambray” and you’ll stay above reproach.
Everyone always says loafers are a good choice for airports, and for good reason: you can easily slip them on and off at security and in the plane, and they go equally well with dressy or casual outfits. If you have a high instep though, the band on the vamp of traditional penny loafers may cause a bit of discomfort when worn for an extended period of time. That’s why I chose tassel loafers – they generally have no band.  And while I do have cordovan tassels, I grabbed my suede pair from Alden. For sheer shoe comfort, suede tassels are tough to beat, and I find they go well with flannel trousers and tweed jackets.
 
Leaving to catch the plane, 7 PM Friday evening
peter 24 hours same clothes
I wore this on the plane knowing I’d be wearing this not only on the flight down, but at the assembly as well, which meant I had to choose accessories. For ties, you’d be hard pressed to find a one more versatile than a dark solid silk knit. The crunchy, nubby, slightly shiny texture plays well with everything from plain worsted suits to busy sport coats. As I recently gave my navy one away (as a hint to a bro who painfully tries to mix patterns), I opted for a dark green one instead. That, as well as the matte silk/wool square with a large pattern I grabbed to complement it, are both from Drake’s.
 
At the assembly, noon Saturday
After the assembly, I would get rid of the tie and square and exchange them for a scarf. Of course, I could’ve just loosened the tie, but I’m not one of those guys that wear a tie just because. Ties signal a recognition of seriousness or solemnity; don’t dilute their meaning by just wearing them willy-nilly. When the situation calls for it, by all means, tie up and show respect. Otherwise, adorn your neck with a scarf.
For those of you with a penchant for crazy ties but know better, this is your opportunity to give in – a little –  to your ornamentation fixation. This one is from forum member X of Pentacles, and is the perfect pattern and color for a casual scarf; it stuffed easily in my briefcase, along with my tie, square, and an extra pair of unmentionables.  

 

Getting ready to fly home, Saturday evening

 

In retrospect, I think the experiment went well.  I was never uncomfortable in my clothes, and I had everything I needed to be presentable; that much I expected. However, what I didn’t expect was the weightlessness of it all.
All the familiar stresses of travel were gone. Having everything in my briefcase meant there was no luggage to lug around to the check-in counter; not even a carryon to heave and stow in the overhead bin. When I arrived, there was no need to wait by the baggage claim; I just left the terminal and got an Uber. The next morning there was no time spent deciding what to wear because I had packed only one choice. And after the assembly I didn’t need to organize my belongings; I simply picked up my briefcase and left for the airport. In the end, I realized that eliminating options wasn’t restricting – it was liberating. 
Maybe there is something to living a simple life after all.  I should think about that when I order my next suit.

The Absolute Worst of Yoox End of Season Sale

April is indeed the cruelest month; not only does it make our beloved tweeds & flannels disappear – swept to the most recondite corner of our wardrobe – but it also plagues us with atrocious “end of season” sales. If you’ve ever shopped for bargains during this time of the year, you’ll know that, despite dirt-cheap prices, there is hardly anything worth even considering. A quick look at Yoox’s infamous 90% off sale confirmed this tendency hasn’t changed in 2018. In fact, it might just be even worse.

As a propitiatory act to welcome spring, here I present you the very worst (and I mean bottom-of-the-barrel, atrocious, borderline grotesque) of Yoox’s last sale of the season. Hide your credit cards, everyone!

 

Caruso sweater

I feel like the only way this design could be improved would be adding random typos and grammar mistakes. Could you picture an Italian grandma knitting it for you and threatening to hit you with a rolling pin if you don’t wear it at the family dinner?

 

Isaia polo shirt

yoox

Sadly the logo trend doesn’t seem to be just a fad, and we have to accept that even the most respected fashion and tailoring houses embraced it. Take this polo shirt by Isaia, featuring a menacing coral branch creeping up your pecs – and think that this is as classy as this can get.

 

PAURA 5 pocket pants

I don’t know if I’m more amused by the fact the name of the brand translates into “Terror” in Italian, or by the tomato color of these pants, which, as if they weren’t terrifying enough for cut and shade, are also cropped above the ankle to give you a delightful high waters effect. Can you believe they’re down to $16 from over $150?

 

Beauty & The Beast Forever Rose

I’m not sure what would prompt a mentally stable adult to shell out $425 (on sale!) for an accurate representation of Bella’s rose from Beauty and the Beast, but here we have it.

 

Dolce & Gabbana Sneakers

Because what screams badass more than a pair of bulky kicks made out of genuine Targaryen dragon skin?


Naturally, there are some real gems you can buy during the sale – you just have to be really good at finding them. If I were you, I’d try getting a pair of Castaner espadrilles before summer comes and you’ll likely not find them at such good price for a while.

Please share with us your #atrociousyooxfinds under this post or on the forum.