Outfit Inspiration: The Patchwork Blazer

patchwork blazer styleforum

There are a few members on Styleforum who do the “Whimsical CM Casual” look pretty well. One is Gerry Nelson, who you’ve heard from on this very Journal, and whose style we’ve already covered. The other two are @Cotton Dockers and @ManofKent, two paragons of Styleforum virtue that excel at putting together relaxed, whimsical outfits. We can easily imagine either of them wearing something similar to what we’ve put together here.

This outfit, as you’ve probably gathered, is centered around a Barena patchwork blazer, a brand which has long enjoyed an enthusiastic, if muted, fanbase on the forum – it’s friendly to both casual outfits and streetwear getups alike, and is generally both comfortable to wear and individual enough to stand out. To emphasize it’s not-quite-classic features, we’ve combined it with a few other playful pieces.

The first is this pair of relaxed trousers from Marni. Loose through the thigh, they’re tapered and then cropped at the ankle for a breezy spring-and-summer weight and silhouette. A linen shirt from Lanieri is our one nod to convention, and depending on how you choose to order yours, can be worn tucked or untucked. At the bottom, we’ve gone with the endearing Paraboot “Michael” shoe, a classic of country-wear if there ever was one, to balance out the tapered trousers and add some bulk to the look. We want to nurture Barena’s innate pagan magic, and a pair of shoes perfect for tromping through the woods achieves just that.

To round things off, a pair of retro-inspired sunglasses from The Bespoke Dudes keeps your eyes safe from harmful UV rays (always important), and a charming bandana-slash-pocket square from Blue Blue Japan is always a nice touch.

However, the most important aspect of any outfit is how you wear it, and we suggest you channel the three members who’ve inspired this particular look: wear it while wandering the countryside, wear it will cruising in your vintage sports car, or wear it as a comfortable airport outfit – whatever you do, wear it with a little bit of spring in your step and embrace a bit of whimsy along with the warm weather.


Outfit Inspiration from Gerry Nelson

how to dress like gerry nelson styleforum

It’s no secret that Gerry Nelson posts some of the better-liked outfits on Styleforum. He dresses in a very approachable mix of tailored and casual clothing, and has a great eye for colors. In particular, he often pairs an indigo, work-style jacket with either jeans or trousers, which, though simple, is a fantastically good look if you get the fit and shade of your clothing right. With that in mind, here’s an example of an outfit that at touches on some of Gerry’s sensibilities.

First, our outerwear is casual but neither sloppy nor boring. A deep indigo, such as you’ll find on this Blue Blue Japan gown coat, goes with just about anything, including the Eidos pullover we’ve chosen. A Drake’s shirt with a button-down collar is a good casual accompaniment, and will look just as good on its own with the medium-wash Orslow jeans. Finally, a pair of tassel loafers in a rich brown suede means you can easily wear this outfit into springtime, and the addition of a giant robot on your pocket square is the kind of detail that keeps your wardrobe from boring you to tears.

Now, I’ve never had the opportunity to smell Gerry Nelson in person, but I am a fan of Tom Ford’s Plum Japonais, which is a pleasantly soft and alluring blend of plum, oud, and incense. It seems a perfect fit for the deep colors shown above, and is sensual without being overbearing.

Altogether, this outfit is the very definition of comfortable, just likemost of Gerry’s looks. It’s the kind of combination of sharp and relaxed that’s perfect for most of today’s offices, as well as for most of the weekend. Gerry may have perfected his own particular style, but that doesn’t mean you can’t experiment with similar ideas, and embrace a palette of deep, rich colors this spring.


Blue Blue Japan SS2017

The Blue Blue Japan SS2017 lookbook has just been released, and we’re pleased to share it with you. For the spring season, Okura’s house brand has gone slightly punk, with Western-style patchwork jeans, souvenir jackets, Doc Marten-style 10-hole boots, and even braces – all dyed indigo, of course.  Even the boots, which look aIn addition, they’ve showcased some beautiful gradient dye-work, which is really a house specialty. While you can still expect to find all your favorite Blue Blue Japan standbys – such as beautiful patchwork garments and hefty sashiko – it’s nice to see the brand take a more directional approach for their seasonal lookbook. As usual, there are some stellar women’s garments, and the full breadth of Blue Blue Japan’s offering really deserves a look, if only for the sheer intensity of their dye work. A slideshow selection is below, but you can see the full catalog, and even order directly via email, here.

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All photos courtesy Blue Blue Japan/ Seilin & Co.

What to Wear When It’s Sunny and Cold

What to wear when it's sunny and cold
It can be tough to know what to wear when it’s sunny and cold. Too many layers, and you’ll end up sweaty and then freezing. Too few, and you might as well spend the whole day inside. Since sunny winter days are best spent in the great outdoors (or at least out of the house), let’s go over an outfit that will keep you happy no matter what you’re up to.

First, you don’t want anything to be too tight. That kills your insulation, and you end up, well, sweaty and freezing. In this case, that slouchy streetwear look has a temperature-regulating benefit. So the outerwear – this beautiful cracked pepper slouch coat from De Bonne Facture – isn’t too heavy, which means that even if you pop into a coffee shop you don’t instantly overheat. Most of the warmth comes from a hefty rollneck, and cream is a great choice for wintry days when the sun’s out.

Since we’re going for a look that’s light but still tailored, we’ve opted for slim trousers from Styleforum favorite Blue Blue Japan as opposed to denim. The rich indigo hues are more compelling than a faded blue when worn with sharper clothing, and let’s face it – they’ll be more comfortable than your heavy jeans. On the feet, a leather sneaker with a robust sole will keep your feet happy while you’re moving around, and the details on this pair from Lanvin will keep you from looking like a slob when you’re too lazy to wear lace-up boots.

Finally, don’t forget the details.  We’re big fans of oversized scarves that can be wrapped around the neck or draped over the shoulders, like this beauty from Suzusan. Cashmere-lined gloves offer a good compromise between weight and warmth, and are perfectly suited for days when you don’t have to do any shoveling. Finally, the winter is no time to ignore protective eyewear, and Dries van Noten’s ongoing collaborations with Linda Farrow are stylish and versatile.

To top it all off, try a winter scent that’s as bright and chilly as the weather. De Bachmakov, from The Different Company, smells of snowmelt, icy streams, and frozen sunlight; cedar, coriander, and white freesia combine to form a foundation that’s rich, compelling, and perfect for a sunny winter’s day. You’ll look great, you’ll smell great, and you’ll be ready to spend the day enjoying all the sunlight you can.

1. De Bonnie Facture slouch coat from Unionmade

2. Turtleneck from Maison Margiela

3. Blue Blue Japan trousers from Matches Fashion

4. Lanvin cap-toe sneakers from Browns

5. Suzusan stole from No Man Walks Alone

6. Tod’s cashmere-lined gloves from Mr. Porter

7. Dries van Noten sunglasses from Oki-Ni

8. De Bachmakov perfume from Luckyscent

Black Friday: Jasper’s Picks

Wow, sales season really came in like Miley Cyrus this year. At this point in my life, I have a pretty short list of clothing I want, and a lot of it doesn’t go on sale that often. That said, this Black Friday has kind of thrown me for a loop, and I’ve managed to grab some pieces I wasn’t expecting to see (I’m not complaining. Your tastes may certainly differ, but here are a few pieces I think are worth capitalizing on this year. Don’t forget to look at our list of all the Black Friday Sales worth your time to see sales codes for the below webshops.


 

  1. Kapital Century Denim at Blue Button Shopjasper's black friday top picks styleforumBlue Button came in YUGE this year. I almost feel bad. They’ve got 30% off of all stock with code THANK30, which means you can pick up a pair of Kapital’s incredible Century Denim for 265 USD shipped, which is about the same as it would cost you to proxy the same pair from Kapital in Japan. If you’ve ever wanted a pair, I’m not sure I can remember seeing a better deal.

  2. Viberg Boots at Blue Button Shop

    jasper's black friday picks sales styleforumDid I mention that Blue Button came up big time? When’s the last time you saw Viberg Boots for 30% off? That puts several models just under 500$ shipped with code THANK30, which is nuts, even if the models on offer are pretty basic. Jump on this, people.


  3. Comme des Garçons Parfum at Notre Shopjasper's top black friday sales picksAgain, 30% off what is (in my opinion) a great fragrance that doesn’t often see discounts. CDG’s incense series is a fantastic blend of natural and synthetic aromas; meant to invoke human spirituality in a way that is both immediately recognizable and undeniably otherworldly. My favorite is Ouarzazate, but Kyoto is great as well – heck, at 67$ a bottle after the coupon code, you might as well buy all four.

  4. Sashiko Shop Coat from Blue Blue Japan at No Man Walks Alonejasper's top black friday sales picks
    How could I make a list of any kind without at least one indigo-dyed item? This shop coat from Blue Blue Japan was a stand out piece from this fall’s collection, and the sashiko fabric with natural indigo dye makes for an incredible color and texture. Did I mention that No Man has it for 371$, which is a must-buy price? No Man’s entire sales list is slightly bonkers, but these pieces are beautiful and unique, which will go a long way this winter – and well into springtime.


  5. Marimekko “Nimikko Mikko” bathrobejasper's black top black friday sales picks styleforumHailing from the land of the Moomins, Marimekko has long offered pop-inspired prints to households that skew towards the nouveau Scandinavian. I have a soft spot for the loud stuff, but these simpler bathrobes are equally fun. Do as Marimekko suggests and wear yours after a long, relaxing sauna.

Loving Linen: Charm for All Seasons

Woven from the fibers of the flax plant, linen textiles have been in use for millennia. The use and sale of linen fabrics is attested in many Egyptian papyri, and Egyptian mummies were wrapped in linen; ancient Mesopotamians used linen to make fine garments; and the Greeks even produce a type of linen breastplate armor called a linothorax.  Early human civilizations flourished in warm climates, and linen was used for everything from sailcloth to bags to garments. Although the weight and fineness of linen fabrics has been historically variable, we now usually associate linen with a loosely-woven “homespun” material. Contemporary linen is usually used as a lightweight textile with a plain weave, which is tellingly also called a “linen weave.”

Although the linen industry had its origins in Northern Africa and the Fertile Crescent, the fabric and the plant eventually made their way north. Today, most commercial linen is produced across Europe, and Ireland has been the metaphorical and physical capital of linen production for several centuries. Debate continues as to who introduced flax to Ireland – likely Phoenician traders – but the plant took to the climate and linen production became commonplace during the Middle Ages. Flax thrived in the Irish climate in particular, and the Emerald Isle has long been a source of quality linen, as well as wools. However, Irish wool manufacture was subject to a series of oppressive laws throughout the 17th century, aimed at preventing Ireland’s wool exports from competing with the wool coming from England, and it suffered further due to the advancement of the linen industry.

Throughout Victorian times, Belfast was the capital of European linen production, and contemporary Irish Linen is the best-known linen brand in the fashion industry. However, the flax used in Irish Linen is no longer (mostly) grown in Ireland, but is imported from elsewhere in the world for spinning and weaving – primarily from France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. The branding of “Irish Linen” refers solely to the production of flax into fiber.

Linen is a characterful fabric. Flax fibers are stiffer and scratchier than cottons, and woven linen is also more prone to wrinkling. Any consumer should certainly take the feel of linen fabrics into consideration before a purchase, because while the fibers do often grow softer with wear and washing, linen shirts will largely retain an airy crispness that some people find scratchy and uncomfortable. However, this same crispness helps with air circulation and warm-weather comfort, and it means a linen shirt is less likely to stick to you when the temperature rises.

That said, heavy linen and linen blends are very much an option for fall and spring. Although autumn nights are cool, the direct sun means that wearing thick wools or flannels is often a poor idea. Heavy woven linen offers weight and warmth, as well as breathability. These fabrics tend to be harder to find, but if you can get your hands on them they’ll provide a welcome change from your usual digs.

In particular, a knit linen sweater or jacket can offer perfect transition-weather comfort. These tend to be knit more loosely than your standard cotton or wool knit, which I find very pleasant when the weather is capricious. A loose knit can go under an outer layer without causing you to overheat, and it can be worn alone over a shirt just as easily.

Finally, linen offers a wonderful counterpoint to the Super wools and fine cottons that still dominate the contemporary RTW tailoring market, particularly in America. Although the most common linen product (outside “linens,” or bedsheets and the like) remains the linen shirt, linen suits and separates have become an increasingly prevalent warm-weather choice thanks to growing awareness and interest in men’s tailoring, as well as the success of online made-to-order suits and accessible suiting brands such as SuitSupply that offer rotating, seasonal options. 

Linen fabrics, especially wovens, do have a tendency to wrinkle.  They are often seen as more casual fabrics than wool, particularly when not blended with wool or silk. The yarns tend to be slubbier and less matte than cotton or wool yarns, but even so, fine linen shirts are anything but slobbish. And while linen suits are inevitably wrinkly the effect is one of casual elegance rather than disregard, and have been the choice of well-dressed men the world over.

Sashiko Fabric: The Elegant Heavyweight

“Sashiko” is translated from the Japanese as “little stabs,” and refers to a traditional form of needlework often used for decorative mending. The technique gained emerged within Japanese peasant classes in the mid-1800’s as a way to increase the longevity of the heavily-used hemp and cotton garments they relied on. Running stitches were used to decorate as well as reinforce layers of fabric, most of which were cut from older garments or scraps and reused in a quilting technique called boro, or “tattered rags;” at least one example of which is now a necessary staple in every Styleforum member’s closet

Sashiko fabric, however, is a much more recent development (and is the product, almost universally, of mechanical looms). It refers to a tightly-woven cotton fabric reinforced with a equally tight running stitch of embroidery-weight thread that imitates traditional sashiko needlework.

The weaving technique ensures that objects made from sashiko fabric will be able to take a beating – both literal and figurative. Sashiko gi are the traditional garb for aikido, judo and kendo practitioners, and act as an added layer of (light) protection for the wearer. Although many garments used for gi are bleached and left white, sashiko fabrics are also commonly dyed in indigo. Folk wisdom holds that naturally-derived indigo is an anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial agent (and that it keeps snakes away). I’ve yet to see clinical proof, but being covered in blue dye can’t hurt. Right?

Although they come in various weights, most sashiko fabrics are heavy and utilitarian, and its use in contemporary garments generally reflects that fact. Outerwear and the occasional heavy pant are where you’ll most often find it, and a handful of companies offer street clothing made from the hard-wearing fabric.

It’s a characterful fabric to be sure. Not only is the texture very distinctive, but the fade patterns (oh, yes – we must talk about those) result in beautiful contrast after some heavy wear. But more than that, one of the things that I like the most about the sashiko chesterfield I own (it’s from Blue Blue Japan) is that it’s a good stand-in for a leather jacket. Like a hide, it’s tough at first, but with use will soften up and mold to your body. It’s not as restrictive, either, which depending on who you are I suppose could be either a good or a bad thing. Plus, you can wash sashiko garments in cold water the way you would a pair of denim. Here’s how mine looks after a couple of years of wear:

img_0508

Speaking of Blue Blue Japan, they’re a favorite of the Styleforum editorial team (and carried at affiliate No Man Walks Alone), and they offer several sashiko garments, including chesterfields and a great hunting jacket for this season (you can read about our visit to their showroom here). So does Gaijin Made, another Seilin brand. Kapital makes a range of sashiko-reinforced denim that they refer to as the “Century” line.  Luxire, another Styleforum affiliate, now offers a sashiko jacket as well. Newer brands, such as Nine Lives, attempt to marry American heritage with Japanese workwear traditions, which results in clothing such as a sashiko-gusseted yak leather rider’s jacket.

The point is that, if you’re interested in giving sashiko a shot, there’s probably a piece of clothing out there that will appeal to you, whether it’s one of Blue Blue Japan’s more elegant pieces, or a rock ‘n roll indigo leather from Nine Lives.

One final note is that most sashiko garments, by virtue of the fabric weight and thickness, are relatively heavy and structured. They’re also often backed with another layer of cotton canvas, so don’t expect a great deal of “drape.” Instead, you get some nice creasing effects that really come to life as you wear the garment in. Do note that the weight of these fabrics varies depending on what the maker has in mind, so I recommend inquiring with a retailer before you buy. For example, Blue Blue Japan is offering a lighter-weight sashiko fabric this year that appears as a beautiful women’s robe-style overcoat, and some of Gaijin Made’s outerwear is designed to be lightweight.

Regardless of the garment, sashiko fabric is made to last. It’s abrasion-resistant, and despite being a cotton weave it’s tight and thick enough to use as a winter layer in many climates, especially when worn on top of a heavy knit. If you’d like to make a sashiko garment part of your wardrobe – and I recommend it – expect it to last a long time. And wear it hard, because that’s the point.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

I’ve been sitting on the photos from the Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016 presentation since back in January, when we saw the collection in Paris. It is, in short, beautiful; showcasing the same brilliant tones of indigo we’ve come to expect, but introducing some new fabrics and silhouettes. Happily, we’re finally allowed to share what’s new.

We saw Blue Blue Japan at the Marziano Bello showroom, alongside brands such as Camo and Simon Miller (itself doing some very nice things with indigo and sashiko fabrics this fall). We were their first appointment, which meant that everyone was barely awake – especially me, but including Sunjin, the bubbly woman who was our contact and the self-described “Korean Hostess” of the showroom, with whom I am 100% in love.

Although there are familiar items – quilted vests, sashiko chore coats and jackets, thick cotton knits – there are also some new shapes that are a bit more elegant than the workwear that tends to make it to domestic stockists. Knit blazers and quilted vests verge into the realm of what is offered by modern workwear brands such as ts(s), but retain the playfulness and ease-of-wear that defines Blue Blue Japan. Shirts continue to be excellent, and act as showcases for the masterful dye variations the company can achieve.

My favorite offering from the showroom is a new, softer-weight sashiko fabric, which Sunjin showed off in the form of a shawl-collared robe/coat hybrid. Weight-wise, it falls between the heavy work fabric used for BBJ’s chore coats and the very light fabric used in the women’s quilted pieces. As opposed to the stiff, hard wearing sashiko we’re used to in the men’s jackets, this fabric is thick but supple, and the robe doesn’t feature a heavy canvas backing. She told us the fabric was chosen specifically with women’s pieces in mind, but I hope that the robe-coat makes an appearance in a size big enough for me to wear.

Blue Blue Japan is interesting in that it offers such a wide range of clothing, which I assume comes from Seilin Co.’s manufacturing reach. The flagship store in Tokyo, Okura (which I’ve written about before), shows the full range of products, but hidden within the azure racks on display in Paris were the occasional pieces made from duck canvas; hunting-style jackets and some other shirts and pants. Admittedly, much of the clothing is overpowered by the indigo theme of the collection, especially when you’re not looking at it with the intent to stock a store. It’s hard to get excited about beige when the indigo is so exceptional. Nevertheless, there is variation in both color and tone, and the collection is, as usual, very wearable from head to toe even if just about everything is bright blue.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Lovely depth of color on the new sashiko fabric, which Sunjin models below.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

The soft sashiko robe, my favorite piece from the collection. Behind Sunjin you can see the stunning range of blues, quilts, and sashiko fabrics on display for F/W 2016.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Here, Sunjin shows off a plaid coat featuring faded indigo overstitching, which is how the embroidered blazer on the table will eventually appear. The cotton threads fade at a different rate to the rest of the fabric, resulting in contrasting shades of blue.

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016 Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016 Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

A men’s sashiko coat, made of a slightly stiffer – but still soft – fabric than the women’s shawl-collar version I loved so much.

 

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Denim has long been a standby of the Seilin brands

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Definitely want this piece – a heavy sashiko hunting jacket.

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

While the collection is comprised of many well-done earth tones, it’s the indigo pieces that steal the show.

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Shades of blue – shirts, sweatshirts, and a jacket.

 

Blue Blue Japan F/W 2016

Shirts and sweaters on display alongside the outerwear.