What I wore in New York, day three.
I’m leaving for NYC tomorrow. I’m counting it as a vacation, but I’ll definitely be doing a lot blog work while there - meeting with vendors, trying on awesome clothes, taking pictures, writing - sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Oh, and since I always get so many questions about where each item comes from in these posts, I’ve included product links when available. Keep in mind, though, that none of these items were bought at full price and many were bought used.
Here’s what’s going with me:
- Two wool blazers - one brown, one navy
- Trench coat for inclement weather
- Two blue striped spread collar shirts
- Three button-down shirts - two blue oxfords, one blue chambray
- Gray flannel trousers (I’ll bring a second pair if I have room)
- Raw denim
- Navy knit tie
- Unassuming pocket square
- A simple cashmere scarf
- Two crewneck sweaters - one shetland, one cable-knit cashmere
- Suede oxfords
- Suede chukkas
- A great brown belt
Hopefully I’ll get to meet some of you all while I’m there! You can find my other packing posts here.
Fall Favorites - 10 of my go-to Autumn Items
It’s been difficult for me to start thinking about fall because San Francisco is just now leaving its second winter (“Fogust”) and things are finally getting warm here. Nonetheless, most of us are entering a period of sartorial transition by slowly trading in linens and loafers for tweed and suede. To me, Autumn is about casual comfort. Items that are approachable, comfortable, and reflect the changing temperature end up getting the most use from me.
I will refrain from saying that this is a list of “essentials”; what you might need depends very much on how you like to dress, where you live, and the formality of your lifestyle. That being said, here are some of my favorite items for the coming months.
1. Trench Coat. - I’ve spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest, so in my mind Autumn means rain. Glorious, glorious rain. The classic trench coat style is a double breasted khaki number, made famous by Burberry. I like the styling there, but I’ve always preferred single-breasted coats on my body, and navy to khaki. The trench above (from Club Monaco) was exactly what I wanted - except for the buttons, which I upgraded.
2. Boots. Boots come in many forms - hearty work boots, sleek balmorals, wingtips, chukkas, jodphurs, chelseas, and more. I thoroughly enjoy chukka boots, especially in suede. These Loake Pimlicos have treated me well, but I’ve recently had my eye on Alden’s 1493. There’s also the nearly identical Allen Edmonds Amok on sale for $110, which is a screaming deal. I would have absolutely gotten one in snuff suede if they were available in my size. I also love wingtip boots, but have yet to acquire any. If you’ve got some serious coin then get a pair of these and make me super jealous. Consider getting something with a Dainite sole to stand up to wet sidewalks and soggy leaf piles.
3. Grey flannel trousers. I’ve mentioned previously that grey trousers play a large role in my wardrobe, and grey flannels are probably my favorite. I highly recommend Howard Yount, but I’ve also been keeping an eye on Luxire’s offerings.
4. Patterned Sportcoat. Fall is a great season for sportcoats because the weather is finally cool enough to wear a hearty jacket without overheating. A nice wool blazer can take on infinite forms, but try a simple pattern if you’ve already got a classic navy blazer. Try out herringbone, houndstooth, Prince of Wales check, or windowpane. Get one in a simple neutral colorway and find out for yourself how easy they are to wear. The sportcoat above is from Suitsupply’s F/W ‘12 line.
5. Textured Tie. Wooly ties are great things. There are a million variations of seasonal ties, including wool challis, flannel, ancient madder, tartan, and more. I love this vintage tartan tie, but any reputable tie maker should have a good selection of seasonal ties.
6. Sturdy chinos/trousers in a dark hue. Lightweight chinos are great, but I find that most of mine are in the khaki/off white colorway and get worn heavily during the warmer months. For the cooler seasons I turn to heartier fabrics - moleskins, corduroy, and heavy twill, for example. I also like more saturated, overdyed earth tones like brown, burgundy, and forest green. Shown above are a pair of Bonobos' garment-dyed denim from a few years back. J. Crew and Club Monaco have solid options, and Howard Yount is usually a good source for dressier trousers.
7. Raw Denim. Breaking in raw denim takes dedication, and nobody wants to wrangle in a pair of 16 oz. jeans in the heat of summer. Now is the perfect time to start, since we have months of cool weather ahead of us. My personal favorites are 3Sixteen SL-100x and Gustin straight leg - I own a pair of each.
8. A crewneck sweater. - A couple of years ago I used to hate on the crewneck sweater; I found the dressy shape of V-necks much more appealing. As I’ve started to settle in to my own style, though, I’ve found the crewneck to be much more approachable, especially in the fall. Its athletic background gives it a much more casual feel, and it looks especially great in rougher materials like shetland wool or rough cotton. It can be made a bit more luxe in the form of a cable-knit cashmere. I own this shetland from Gant and a cashmere cable-knit by Polo. Save the fine-gauge merino and cashmere V-necks for later.
9. Blue oxford shirts. I sincerely hope you have already given oxford shirts a try, but if you haven’t yet then now is the time to start. They’re appropriate all year round, but I especially like them in the fall; their comfortable aesthetic and association with academia make them particularly appropriate this time of year. Wear them under just about everything. There are tons of places to find a nice OCBD but Brooks Brothers is a staple (especially when on sale). Kamakura shirts have been getting a lot of good press recently, too.
10. Scarf. You can make scarves complicated if you’d like, but I prefer to keep mine simple. This caramel-colored cashmere number I bought from Last Call is hard to mess up. I’ve also had good luck with Sierra Trading Post - look for Johnstons of Elgin or Moon of England.
BONUS: A nice flavorful beer. It pairs well with rain puddles and dark skies. Grab a Black Butte Porter (or maybe a Shipyard Pumpkinhead if you want to get in to the whole seasonal thing) and get cozy.
Business Casual Basics, Part III: Shoes
If you’ve spent any time learning about men’s clothing (be it from family, friends, or the internet) you’ve probably heard a disproportional amount of talk about shoes. Shoes are a huge part of what dressing well is about (both in cost and importance), even though they take up a fairly small amount of space on your body. It can’t be stressed enough; shoes are often what separate the men from the boys, and business casual workplaces are notorious for bad shoe choices. A little bit of knowledge here will go a long way. Shoes are also the foundation of your outfit in stylistic and structural terms; if you buy well and take care of your purchases they will in turn keep you comfortable and stylish for decades.
1. Save up some money.
This one has the potential to get expensive. Accept the fact that high-quality shoes will be expensive if bought new, and can even be pricey when bought secondhand. Thrifting can be a good option here as well.
2. Learn the differences between “real shoes” and bad shoes.
High-quality shoes are expensive for many reasons, but the biggest two are material quality and construction. These qualities are much more important with shoes than they are in a shirt or pair of pants because shoes need to stand up to a tremendous amount of wear. Read Kiyoshi’s post and Put This On’s article to get a sense for what I’m talking about. If you buy a high-quality welted shoe that fits well and is well taken care of it will last for decades. Trust me.
Need some help finding out which brands can be trusted for high quality shoes and which can’t? I’ve included a short list at the bottom of this post, but my rule of thumb (toe?) is this: don’t buy shoes from any manufacturer that can’t tell you what last their shoes are made on. Any respectable shoe maker will have products on a range of last choices and will be able to tell you about them.
3. Understand the different styles and their applications.
Ready for some shoe terminology? This should be enough to get you started.
Completing the Seven-Shoe Wardrobe: Loake Pimlico Chukka Boots
When I arrived home from my recent trip to New England, I was met with a welcome surprise: a large box from Pediwear containing a pair of Loake Pimlico chukkas. It is not often that I buy “investment items” like shoes brand new, so getting a nice item in its original box is quite exciting for me.
I have been hunting for an in-between shoe for some time now. I have enough oxfords, loafers, and sneakers for most occasions, but I’ve been looking for a shoe that can go on double duty. I felt that my options were in the category of bluchers, boots, and chukkas, and began a wide search. I ruled out bluchers quickly; I find many of the more affordable options less attractive than their closed-laced counterparts, and, although attractive, the nicer options weren’t in my price range. The same went for boots. There were models that I would love to own, but it was hard to find an affordable option that had the same amount of class (although it is worth noting that Pepe of Meermin fame is preparing a sample balmoral boot that will hopefully be available MTO soon).
I quickly realized that chukka boots were the best way to have a do-everything shoe without dropping a large amount of cash. I’ve been hearing positive things about them for years, but was never that interested as they seemed to lack the sex appeal of sleek, shiny dress shoes. However, I was more than willing to sacrifice that for versatility. I was attracted to the Loake Pimlico because of its slim shape (without being overly so like the C&J equivalent on the 348 last) and accessible price. I spoke with Aliotsy, and he assured me that sizing down a full size was the way to go. He was absolutely right.
I bought my pair from Pediwear, which worked out well; not only were they able to offer me the most competitive price, but they also included a shoe horn, suede eraser, and inducted me into the “Loake Pediwear Club,” which allows me 15% off all future Loake purchases. Shipping was quick and painless. Although there are those that believe Loake pales in comparison with the other Northampton companies (as they probably do), I believe that a chukka boot does not require a heavy investment like some other styles might. The shoe is well-constructed, made of solid materials, and a pleasure to wear. I’m sure you all will be seeing more of these in the coming months.