Here’s a beautiful example of spalla camicia on a Sartoria Formosa suit by No Man Walks Alone, taken at the NYC Styleforum Trunk Show. Greg Lellouche has found some pretty amazing items for his online store - full story coming next week.
Last week I stopped by the Beckett & Robb showroom in San Francisco to say hello and check out their newest items - a small run or ready-to-wear blazers. As my readers may recall, Beckett & Robb specializes in made-to-measure tailored clothing; you can read about the suit I purchased here. This run of blazers is made to the same standards as their MTM offerings, but are available in standard sizes (38R-44R). The pricepoint is good, considering the material and construction quality - $595, except for one made of Loro Piana fabric that is priced at $695. The rest are made of Vitale Barberis Canonico fabric.
The four offerings in the San Francisco shop are all great Fall/Winter jackets - a brown/tan herringbone, navy brushed donegal tweed, navy flannel windowpane, and a Loro Piana grey flannel. The latter two are unstructured and feature patch pockets, while the first two feature a more traditional half-canvas construction. They are all fabricated at their made-to-measure facility in Portugal. I tried a few on, and they look quite nice. They do run on the slim side; I found that a 38R would probably work well for me with just a small amount of tailoring.
One Year Later: Howard Yount Flannel Trousers
As I’ve mentioned before, men’s clothing enthusiasts often tout the importance of buying high-quality products, an ideal that I generally agree with. Of course, few of us have the funds to buy the best of the best of everything, so the process of finding and purchasing clothing and accessories becomes more of a decision of when to save and when to splurge. Even then, cost does not inherently imply quality, so determining where money is well spent can be difficult. This is a series of posts that show some of my purchases (both expensive and affordable) after a year or more of hard wear in order to display how they have held up over time. Only you can decide what is worth spending on and what isn’t, but the more information you have the better-informed your decision will be.
Finding nice trousers can be a challenge. There are endless options for casual chinos, but things get trickier when you’re looking for something a bit more dressed up. Moreover, they can get expensive very quickly - with made-in-China wool trousers from J. Crew going as high as $250, it’s hard to figure out what a reasonable price for a good pair of odd trousers is.
It’s reasons like this that have made Howard Yount’s trousers the celebrated choice for many bloggers, including myself. Although they are not cheap, they are honestly priced and carry less brand markup than a similar item from other brands like Ralph Lauren or Incotex. Howard Yount’s wool trousers are made in Italy or the USA out of high-end fabrics (Vitale Barberis Canonico, in this case), and feature all the great details you would hope for. I had been eyeing a pair of flannels for a long time, and eventually bit when the sale price hit $165. To this day, that remains the most that I have ever spent on pants. Add on $35 in tailoring (hem, cuff, and waistband adjustment), and it was by no means a cheap purchase. Nonetheless, I enjoy them immensely and have no regrets whatsoever.
First off, the fabric on these is as nice as any other wool garment I own. This pair is a mid-weight flannel, but I believe Howard Yount now has trousers is several weights. Flannel is often praised for its soft, fuzzy hand, and although I enjoy that aspect of it, I particularly love the incredible depth of its color. These may be simple gray pants, but they look much more rich and complex with their lovely marled fabric.
In terms of durability, I have not seen any signs of wear or tear over the past two winters. It is true that flannels are a bit more fragile then some of their woolen counterparts (and woolen flannels moreso than worsted), but as long as you don’t wear them continuously for a whole season I don’t expect there will be a problem. I wear mine about once per week when the weather is appropriate, which could happen at any point in the year in San Francisco. Will Boehlke recommends giving flannels at least two days of “rest” before wearing again, and I think his advice is sound (as usual). I also try to minimize dry cleaning, both to increase longevity and save money. Once or twice per year is usually plenty.
As I mentioned, Howard Yount’s trousers are not inexpensive, but I feel that they offer a good bargain nonetheless. They are made in Italy of high-end materials from mills like VBC and Angelico, and feature signs of high quality like a split waistband (for ease of waist adjustment), hand stitching, knee-length liner, and belt buckle loop (like Incotex). I’m confident that these trousers are very similar to other great pairs out there, but without the brand affiliation and at a much lower price.
I should note that the fit of the trousers has changed slightly since I last ordered - it looks like there is a bit more taper below the knee. I have no direct experience with this new fit, and although I like the fit of the ones I have, the new measurements don’t look too different. I’m planning on picking up a second pair soon, because these tend to disappear quickly. I’ll report back if the fit seems drastically changed but I imagine that they will still look and feel pretty dang good.
The rest of the “One Year Later” series can be found here.
It’s On Sale: J. Crew “Bowery” trousers
I’m putting the finishing touches on a review of my Howard Yount flannel trousers (expect it tomorrow), and in this review I complain a bit about how hard it can be to find nice wool trousers at a reasonable price. I was doing a bit of research to back up my claim, and in doing so I noticed that J. Crew’s “Bowery” Classic trousers are on sale for $82 +$5 shipping with the code “PRESENTS”. Not cheap, but reasonably affordable, given the alternatives. I have no experience with this exact model, but I’ve found that J. Crew’s pants are a fair deal when on deep discount. Moreover, my good friend La Casuarina is known to be fond of them, and he has access to some of the best brands in the world.
As of now, almost all sizes are available in all four colors. I appreciate that the color options are shades of gray and navy; J. Crew has a bad habit of taking a nice item and only making it in colors reminicent of sherbet. It should come as no surprise that I recommend gray trousers to start with.
Now, if you can manage to put $150+ down for wool trousers, I strongly recommend Howard Yount. They are much better, but they do have the disadvantage of requiring tailoring for hemming (and possibly waist alterations, since they are only available in even sizes). If you want to keep this purchase under $100, though, J. Crew could be a good deal.
This sale ends at midnight, but these 30% off codes appear almost weekly so there’s no need to rush the decision.
Last evening I had the pleasure of attending a Styleforum meetup at the new John Allan’s JA Razor Club in San Francisco. The club is a place where men can come to relax and get a haircut, shave, shoeshine, cocktail, or any other number of luxurious services. They already have a large following on the East Coast, but this club marks the first of several stores out West. The Razor Club crew were kind enough to give out many complimentary shines, trims, and more, and I think that all the guests left looking a bit better and feeling a bit lighter.
I’ll be stopping in to check out their full service firsthand in the coming weeks, so I’ll talk more about their company at that time. In the meantime, I’d like to thank the whole team for being such generous hosts - anyone that can make the Styleforum crew look even better is a friend in my book.
Good-looking folks in good-looking hats!
My thanks to the kind folks at Goorin Bros. for hosting a wonderful event last night - hats have always been a bit of a mystery to me, and I was thankful to have an army of experts to give me information and advice on how to find the right one. This event was at Goorin’s North Beach flagship in San Francisco, a lovely store with head-toppers stacked right up to the ceiling. If you’re in the market for a classic and well-made hat then I would recommend stopping by and taking a look around.
Two San Francisco Events Tomorrow (12/5)
If you are a Bay Area native with some free time tomorrow evening, it’s worth noting that there are two interesting events taking place.
The first is a Styleforum meetup at the new John Allan’s Razor Club, located in Union Square on Geary St, right next to Britex. Beverages, appetizers, and complementary services will be provided. There is only a limited amount of space left, so RSVP in this Styleforum thread if you’re interested. The event begins at 6pm.
The second is an event at the San Francisco Goorin Bros. flagship in North Beach. The party is a celebration of Repeal of Prohibition Day, and will be accented with classic cocktails, 1930’s fashion, and lots of vintage-style hats. The event is from 6-9pm.
I’ll be making an appearance at both - I hope to see some of you out there!
Natural, tan, oak, black - which leather color do you like best?
Tanner Goods, Portland OR (more coming soon)
A Holiday Gift Guide for the Menswear-Inclined
The holiday season is once again upon us, and now that we’re done spending too much on ourselves during Thanksgiving sales it’s time to think about the other people in our lives that deserve our gratitude. This list is for the #menswear among us - maybe it’s a brother, a father, a friend, a husband, or something else entirely; no matter what relation, here’s your unequivocal menswear gift guide for this holiday season.
For this list I tried to select items that add a lot to a complete wardrobe but often get overlooked. I also tried to steer clear of items that rely heavily on sizing, since that can make gift-giving difficult. He may not think of getting these for himself, but he’ll sure be glad that you did.
1. A nice umbrella. Nothing destroys the powerful look of a nice suit like the plastic sheen of a cheap umbrella stick. Any guy walking down the street with a solid stick umbrella automatically goes from “Person in the rain” to “Person too important for the rain.” A chestnut-stick umbrella with a subtle canopy (think dark, subdued colors like black, navy, and burgundy) will always help elevate professional attire. These options from Howard Yount and Kent Wang are essentially identical - take your pick. If you’re looking for something a bit more luxe, buy your guy this Talarico from No Man Walks Alone and he’ll never lose his umbrella again.
2. Socks. Yeah, socks used to be a lame gift, but not anymore. A couple of pairs of over-the-calf merino or cashmere socks will do wonders. Pantherella on Sierra Trading Post is always a good bet - wait for 35% off.
3. Nice hangers. We often talk about the beauty of an article of clothing, but rarely do we reflect on the even greater visual impact of a well-organized closet. A though-out wardrobe on display is greater than the sum of the parts. Keep your guy’s too-expensive sportcoats in tip-top shape by giving him a few high-quality hangers. It’s something he’ll never get for himself but will use every day. The Hanger Project makes the best stuff, but there are more affordable options at Sierra Trading Post and Wooden Hangers USA (the latter two come in one size only, though).
4. Gordy’s camera strap. You don’t want your guy out there bloggin’ with his nylon Canon strap on, do you? Set everything right with the best place to get a hand-made, high-quality, and affordable strap. It’ll go much better with his Alden tassel loafers - trust me.
5. A really nice tie. Ties can feel a bit played out, so if you go down this route make sure that it is very high quality and not too loud; something that he can wear every week for the next decade. There are lots of good places making great handmade ties right now; Vanda, Panta, Yellow Hook Neckties, Viola Milano, and Conrad Wu come to mind, but there are plenty more.
6. A new belt. Yeah, I know he’s spent $2k on shoes this year, but have you seen his ripped-to-shreds split leather belt? It’s terrible. I highly recommend Equus Leather for classic bridle belts; Narragansett Leathers is also a good bet, and if you don’t have time for a custom option then Allen Edmonds and Brooks Brothers are solid choices as well.
7. Shoe care accessories. Speaking of shoes, make sure that he has all the necessary tools to keep his prized possessions in great shape. The Hanger Project has the whole range of Saphir products, and you can get shoe trees at Sierra Trading Post for cheap. This shoe valet from Brooks Brothers is also a great kit for the real shoe fanatic.
8. A dope dopp. Are you shopping for a guy that geeks out over selvage denim and American construction? Get him this dopp kit from Black House Project (made in San Francisco) and let him get his toothbrush fades on. Ernest Alexander has great dopp kits as well - made in the USA from waxed canvas, and 25% off today.
9. A cashmere scarf. If the weather warrants it, a nice cashmere scarf can be a way to wear a luxe material without spending too much. My cost-effective favorites are these at Sierra Trading Post, from Moon Mills. I mean, check out that houndstooth one! What a winner. With the inevitable 35% off code these clock in at under $40.
10. A night out. Your menswear loved one probably spends too much time on the internet, anyway. Give him a reason to dress up. Get him out of the house, for a change.
(photo by Gerald Waller for LIFE magazine)
After my recent WIWT post I’ve gotten a couple of questions about what I do with the belt on my trench coat. They answer is simple - it’s tied behind me. I use the above method (taken from an old GiltMANual post that no longer seems to exist), which essentially uses a four-in-hand tie knot to cinch the back of the coat. This has the advantage of making the waist of the jacket somewhat adjustable, so it can appear slim whether you have a jacket on underneath or not. On the rare occasion, I will belt the jacket on the front if the weather really calls for it. If I do this I will usually tie it like a bathrobe rather than use the buckle, but that’s just my preference.