Monday, August 30, 2010

It was a very good vest.

Previously I mentioned that one of my packs of blazer patterns contained one for a vest. I toyed with idea of making one just for the sake of it. Well, I recently got an issue of LIFE magazine from '95 that was dedicated to Frank Sinatra with several photos of the crooner throughout his (then 80 year old) career. One photos that really caught my eye was form 1966 of him and his wife at the time, Mia Farrow. He was 50, she was 21....what a fantastic letch. Anyways, Frank is looking fantastic in a blue suit, with light blue shirt, regimental tie, glasses, a pipe and what appears to be a tattersall vest. I had never really given vests a real chance, but after this, I am willing to give them a second chance.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Classic East meets West

As we all know, one of the many American contributions the sartorial world is the Ivy League look. Born of a W.A.S.P.y nature in the east coast and ingrained itself into our society. It's as American as cars and baseball. And like many other American items (like cars and baseball), it's been taken and made into their own by the Japanese. The Japanese are a great lover of all things US, and this includes the Ivy League look. The VAN Jac Company started shortly after the second world war and eventually found itself making uniquely "American" clothing. Hop sack jackets, knitted ties, gingham shirts, chino's, as well as a slew of other garments. One of the many items that VAN does is a great blazer with patch pockets and high three button closure. The cost is a bit prohibitive at the moment, but I can wait. The VAN site is a bit hard to find, and even then, a real bear to read as it's mostly in Japanese (go figure), but if you get a chance I would check them out and see the wonderful clothes they have. For now, I am going to brush up on my foreign languages and start saving my Yen. Sayonara suckers.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Levi's 101

Me and my lady decided to go out tonight to have a few tasty cocktails at a bar we frequent. So I opted for Levi's, a Ben Sherman shirt (go figure) and bowling shoes. I know, not at all what you expected, and really quite lazy for me, but it happened, it's done, and I have to live with it. If it helps at all, this is really bizarre for me. I was born many moons ago (let's say in the first half of the seventies), not exactly ‘Nam veteran old, but old enough. It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I even entertained the idea of buying jeans. As a child, you couldn't put them on me as I would scream bloody murder. I mean, come on, I was the kid wearing button downs and knitted ties to school in the fifth grade! Anyway, I bought a pair and that snowballed, as best if could, to today, in which I own, wait for it, FOUR pairs of jeans. All 501's; three blue and one white. I actually had none for a good while there and then bought a pair about two or three years ago. Then I bought to more to get the sizing down...apparently they shrink?? The white pair was because they were white. If you have a problem with that, you know where to find me. Anyways, even with the huge amount of jeans I have ,I only really wear two. And to tell the truth, I am OK with this. I view them as a necessary evil. One; I am getting older and lazy. Two; I realize they are not only an accepted part of modern wardrobe, but also an almost expected staple. Here's my point (much too late in the story)'s work wear, not proper dress. In my opinion, jeans are cliché. How often have you heard the term, "I'm a jeans and t-shirt kinda (girl/guy)"? This translates to; 'I don't care about my appearance". I realize that times change and opinions evolve, but, times change and opinions evolve. What's my obviously repetitive meaning? How many of you appreciate a person who looks good in their appearance and who are NOT a jeans and t-shirt kinda person? I am completely ass-raping Gandhi's ghost with this correlation, but you have to be the change you envision. I honestly feel like I am letting myself down if I were jeans past six o'clock. Here's my new promise; no more jeans in the evening. I said it, it's done, now I have to live up to it. If you live in Austin, and you run into me after that time in jeans, free drink to you. The only reason why manners and class are disappearing in America these days is because we are all to busy digging the grave and burying them. Do you want to fit in, or do you want to look good? Is evening wear an outdated concept? lines are open.

Monday, August 23, 2010

I love a good jerk.

Don't read too much into that. Please. I was on a different forum recently that I visit and the subject of flowers in the lapel came up. There were plenty of nay-sayers giving it the no vote, and a handful of people giving it the yes. I was a "yes man", in the best of terms. I am a firm believer in the idea of attitude being as important as the clothes. If you look unsure in what you are wearing, it's ruined. But if you look like you own the situation, and the clothes are not a concern for you, then it works wonders. You have to be the person you want to be, not pretend to be. My argument was that if you did it right and acted like the flower wasn't even there, then its doable. Here's my example; how many of you have seen Animal House? It's a great movie with one of the best movie jerks of all time, Neidermeyer. The very first scene that he is in, he's wearing a flower in his lapel. anyone remember this? Of course not, his personality made him, not that flower. I mean, he was wearing a madras blazer, flower, button down and cravat!! But he worked it and nobody thought twice. Now, I am not saying you have to be an asshole to wear something, but you have to buy your clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forget all about them (to paraphrase Mr Amies). You want your clothes to be an expression of yourself that you don't need to justify, not a paint by numbers with a disclaimer. Great, I want a madras blazer.

For Sher,man!

Ok, so on my way to visit my dear parents, I stopped off at Nordstroms Rack to have a gander and anything new they might have. Normally I find great socks, some blazers, shoes, and the occasional Ben Sherman items. I found a nice Benny polo with the script logo (not that crappy shield one they have been using lately) and I rather liked the color. Here's my gripe, how many sizes is Ben Sherman going to have??? I have honestly bought three shirts there in one day, in three different sizes to find the same fit. The have given them cute little names like Carnaby cut, mod cut, even's silly. Maybe it was the booze in me, but I had no tolerance for it that day and walked out. Obviously I like Ben Sherman, but recently they seem to be trying to re-invent themselves and I am not having it. I understand trying to expand and reach newer shoppers, but don't piss off your fan base that has been with you for 50 years. Back in the day, when I listened to my Victrola and rode my bicycle with the one big wheel, one size from a tailor would fit across the board, but now I can buy three mediums from the same brand and have them fit drastically different. No sir, don't care for that one bit.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Britac review

Going over to a friends this evening for a game of cards, as this was an informal gathering among friends and only a few blocks away, I went tres' casual. As I was looking through my closet for a shirt, I saw a shirt I had purchased a while back and thought it might be a good idea to perhaps do a review. The brand is Britac, a shirt company out of Spain I believe. I had seen their stuff before and thought it looked good, so I ordered one and had a go. I would have to say that I was a little disappointed. I opted for a white with light green and lilac check in a short sleeve. They offer a fairly good variety of shirts with some great checks and colors, however, the fit and finish left much to be desired. The material used was a poly cotton blend, and usually I wouldn't really have a problem with this, but for the money paid I felt that it could have been a little better. Now, I went off of their chart to determining the sizing, and to be honest the parts I was concerned with were not an issue, it was actually the sleeves. The waist and chest were just right, but the short sleeves were too tight. Now, I am not trying to sound like the shirt couldn't handle the Guns of Navarone, i.e. my biceps, but it's really made for men with tubular arms like spaghetti. Normally I welcome a slim fit shirt with narrow sleeves, but this was way too much in that end of the spectrum. Now, I would have been willing to give them a second chance, as I understand variance in manufacturing, but I have a friend who ordered a long sleeve from the same outfit, only to have the cuff on one sleeve completely wrong, as in backwards! It seemed like such a good item online, but in person, not so great. I liked their checks, their contrasting collar and cuff long sleeves, and even their shirts with matching pocket squares, but when it came to the follow through, it just didn't make the grade. As of current currency rates, these shirts come out to around $70 a pop for a simple short sleeve, and I just don't see the justification for this. I really liked the idea behind Britac, what they offered style wise, and even their small business stature, but a repeat customer I will not be. It's a shame really, but what's one to do? If you are interested in looking at their wares, try . Your experience may vary from mine, and I welcome emails of better experiences from them, but for now, I was not too terribly impressed.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More to come....

As promised, here's the second pattern I bought that arrived today. The previous one was from earlier in the decade, say around '64 or '65, and the second just coming in at the tail end at '69. I like them both for different reasons, as the styles are similar, but with a few differences. The details I like about this second set is the slanted pockets, the slight shaping, and the option of top stitching. Now, normally I am not a fan of top stitching, as it's a fairly dated (and not in a good way) detail, but it's doable. Of course, the material the artist chose for the sketch on the front isn't my choice, but definitely fun to look at. Also looks as though they used a young George Hamilton for a model. Another little bit of awesomeness is in the suggestion of materials to use printed on the back. Among them is "sharkskin". I am assuming this is back when sharkskin was a halfway obtainable fabric. I am not a fan of the vest, but might do one for the sake of having one. I am thinking that a nice black or dark blue corduroy is needed for the patch pocket design. As it's also just short of a million degrees here in Texas for most of the year, linen will be thrown into the mix as well. Just because it's hot outside, doesn't mean you can't look cool. (yeah, I thought I was clever for that one). As always, will keep you posted as progress is made.

Monday, August 16, 2010

ABC of Mens Fashion

Many many years ago, clothing designer Hardy Amies put out a book called ABC of Men's Fashion. If you get a chance, I recommend picking up a copy and thumbing through. It's not exactly an exhaustive tome on the subject, but more of a dictionary of terms as written by the man himself. It's amusing to see how he rates certain materials and fashions, as well as his unique way of describing everything from Alpaca to Zippers. Shortly after getting this book I had the opportunity to pick up a period Hardy Amies piece and couldn't have been more pleased with it. It's a genuine 1969 sports coat, ventless, in a nice silvery, bluish lilac tone. It's tag says it's made of worsted wool and mohair (which I can't get enough of) and that it's "Made in England". It's little touches like the tag inside, the lack of vents, and the ever popular ticket pocket that make this one of my favorites. I usually like to pair this with a sky blue textured DNA Groove shirt and a pair of my dark blue English mohair trousers I had made up some time ago. Of course, since the outfit is then tones of blue, I opt for a pair of brown chisel toes and matching belt. I will wear this in other combo's, but as for now, that's my favorite. It's all fairly lightweight and makes for good evening wear during the week.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I really can explain.....

I know your interest is piqued. What do I need to explain? What guilty deed have I done that needs to be atoned for? Well, to be honest, I have four pairs of bowling shoes. To make matters worse, I barely ever bowl. I think it's best to start at the beginning to help understand how I arrived at my four shoe status. So, obviously, at one point I had no bowling shoes. I think I was in Los Angeles, and I went into a shop and saw the two tone blue suede Merc bowling shoes. I thought they looked good and they were purely for fashion and not bowling. They had a small smudge in the leather and the lady who owned the shop was practically giving them away, so I got them. There's one. a few years later I was thinking about shoes (as you do) and thought about all the stories of the kids from the 60's wanting bowling shoes and just going to the local alley and renting them, then walking out with them. In an effort (at the time) to be true to my lifestyle, I went on the hunt. I went to a local alley with the intent of actually bowling, when the counter guy gave me a brand new pair of shoes, in the iconic blue and red leather. There was my chance to follow in the footsteps of mods everywhere, so I stole them. There's two. Fast forward a couple more years, ebay for a pair of Merc cord bowling shoes. No cute story there, already had two, what's one more? besides, they are corduroy bowling shoes! How cool is that? So get off my back, Hitler. There's three. And lastly, the final pair came by accident, honestly. My parents are avid garage sale shoppers. My request was for them to keep and eye out for a vintage bowling bag for the few times I actually went bowling (without my three pairs of bowling shoes, I might add). Next visit to their house they had shown me the sweet bag they found for a $1! it gets better, there was a ball inside, already drilled to my finger size!! but wait, there's more!! Under the ball in the bag was a brand new pair of white bowling shoes (in my exact size none the less). Apparently the elderly gentleman who they belonged to previously was a bowling, got this new ball and shoes, and never used them. Bonus for me. So, there's four. The recap? I wear the blue suede and cord ones the most, the ones I nicked from the alley almost never get worn (more of a trophy than footwear), and the white ones only get worn when I bowl (imagine that). So there you have it, there's my explanation. And before you think that I am in someway asking for forgiveness or understanding for having them all, I am not. I wanted them, I got them. Screw you, I have four pairs of bowling shoes.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


The term "Ivy League" is rumored to have had started with the original four schools in a certain sports division; Yale, Harvard, Princeton, and Columbia. It's was thought to be a play on the roman numerals, IV, i.e. "ivy". There are also several other theories on the origin of the term, but for some reason, I like this one the best, as I also like the classic Ivy League style. As I previously mentioned, i am on the prowl for new sports coats and blazers for the fall/winter season. And as the adage goes, "if you want something done right, you do it yourself", or possibly have trained professionals do it for you. So I bought a couple of patterns of the Internet recently and the first one arrived today. I was very pleased to notice that the pattern was called the "Ivy League" jacket. The idea of picking out the materials and linings for these will be a treat as well as wearing a custom coat in the fall that I know will literally be one in a billion. I am open to ideas and suggestions on materials or patterns for a couple of these unless, of course, they conflict with my own. I plan on having a few of these made up with only a few minor changes. But that is always subject to change. Perhaps two or three classics with a couple of whimsical patterns or materials thrown in for good measure? I'll post as soon as I receive the second. Until then, ta-ta for now old bean, off to lay the old noggin down on the fliff fluff.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Feel me...

Went out for a bit tonight, small six hour session of cards, and I feel pretty good. So good, in fact, that when this played on my CD in my auto in my car, I thought it worth mentioning. I think as far as theme songs go, this is pretty much a song that everyone should start their day to. I could wax poetic about rebirth and starting anew, but it's been done. Listen to the lyrics and have this as your mantra for everything you do. 'Nuff said.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ahoy Polloi!

Cliched as bowling shoes, parkas, and scooters, the boating blazer still has a place in my heart as far as mod clothing is concerned. This previous winter I had made a list of "things to get" clothing wise and decided to add a decent boating blazer to the list. Like a lion in the grass, I patiently waited for the right one to come along and I pounced. The first one I obtained was the blue and black multi striped number on the left from Ben Sherman. I had actually got it off eBay for a reasonable price and gambled on the fit, well when it arrive it fit like a glove. I was very pleased and the picture doesn't do it justice. I had scratched the blazer off the list of items and was content. But recently I went to visit a friend who owned a vintage store locally, Blue Velvet Vintage, and as I was making small talk, my eyes focused in on the second one on a far away rack in a way that can only be likened to the Terminators computer vision. I went and had a look but noticed small holes on the sleeve that showed the white lining underneath. I was gutted. As we talked more, I kept looking back at it...eventually I had another look and realized they weren't hole, but stitching left over from the original tag on the sleeve. This beauty was dead stock! Even the pockets were still sewn shut. I obviously bought it that moment. The sleeves were a tad too short and it was lacking a third button on this two button job, but a quick trip to the lady who does my alterations and viola', a new boater! (I still have to replace the buttons, but not a big deal considering) Never discount vintage stores or eBay as I picked up both of these for under $100 total (including alterations). Now, to work on that list a bit more. Fall is coming and I am keen to have some decent sports coats and blazers for the evenings when I go out rather that just rely on suits. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Operation Grandslam

If it's good enough for Auric Goldfinger, then it's good enough for me. The lost, but not forgotten, cabana set. I bought the materials today and here's a sneak preview of what to expect. Green striped material for a swimsuit and matching shirt. The summer is on here in Texas, and I am not going to look like every other schlump at the pool. Yeah, you could be like everyone else, but why not strut down to the swimming pool looking like a million bucks (in gold bullion), for quite less than that.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Body Double

Don't get excited, I'm not referring to the Melanie Griffith movie. I am referring, however, to my newest stand in. I have been wanting to display clothes on this site, whether they are my own creation or not. Since I am not very photogenic, I felt that a display mannequin would be the best idea. I stopped off at a auto parts store to get something for my vehicle and behind the store across a very small field was a new and used fixture store for shops. I decided to have a look after looking online for a form for a little while. As soon as I walked in I saw this gem tucked away behind the counter. After seeing what else the man had (in his very hot, non-air conditioned warehouse) I went back to this and felt it was the best one. I bought it and did the awkward walk back to my truck while carrying this in my arms across the previously mentioned field (which was right next to a highway I might add). So, I am pleased to introduce my body double for future posts. Perhaps a "name that mannequin" contest will be had?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Turn on, Toon on, drop out

English premier league starts in less than two weeks. I will be welcoming my Magpies back into the league and hope for the best. Not only is this the start of EPL games to come, but also the cooler weather that will (hopefully) follow in the upcoming fall. Even though it's hard to imagine now, as I live about 4 inches from the sun, I am considering purchasing a new Newcastle scarf. As the old adage goes, anything that's worth doing, is worth doing right, and I found the right scarf. Savile Rogue is an English company selling football scarves in luxurious cashmere. Wear your teams colors with not just pride, but with style. Please visit their site and have a look.

How's it hangin'?

I was going to call this one, "no more wire hangers!", but I think there is younger generation afoot that would have completely missed the reference. Anyways, I cannot express enough the value of taking proper care of your clothes. There's no reason for laying out any money, whether is be a lot or a little, on clothes and then ruining them after the fact by poorly storing them while not wearing. Wire hangers are only good for makeshift antenna's on crappy cars. Plastic hangers on only slightly better, but not much. I am a wood hanger preacher. I know they can be expensive, but not always. Enter Ikea. Many of you may already be familiar with this deal, but in case you are not, let me enlighten you. Ikea sells an 8pk of solid wood hangers for $4, which breaks down to 50 cents a hanger (for you mathematically challenged). I am lucky enough to have an Ikea store nearby and can pick these up whenever and I often do. I can safely (and smugly) say that it's the only hangers I have. There are stores all over the world and if you don't live near one, perhaps someone you know does, and I even think they do online ordering, so there's no reason for not getting in on this deal.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Well, that's just peachy!

So, recently, my girlfriend took a beginner sewing class. She ended up making a nice apron for herself that turned out just fantastic. But before the end product was made, the instructor had her do some experiments to get used to the machine, the procedures, the materials, etc, etc. She received a piece of cheapish material to practice on before moving on the the actual class piece. While putting away clothes I came across her practice piece and was hit with an idea. As you can see, it's a simple piece of peach/orange gingham that she had sewn together, but I thought to myself that it would make a great pocket square (see previous entry). THEN the little cogs in my brain started turning a little bit more and had the idea of a pseudo suedehead number...a peach gingham beagle collared shirt with a pocket square made of the same material. Turn an ordinary black suit into a warmer weather streetwise outfit. So, the next step is to locate more of the material and then have the shirt and square made. Will update as this progresses!

Hip to be Square

Once again, you never know. Found this three pack of pocket squares marked down to less than $2 for the whole set. At first I was ready to discount them as junk, BUT even though they are a cotton Target house brand (Merona), I saw potential in them. Obviously the blue gingham is my favorite, followed by the tattersall and then the solid blue with white. I have been on a pocket square journey for about two or three years after finally seeing the light and have been trying to build my collection. I don't need to tell you, but the pocket square can change an outfit as drastically as the shirt or tie. I saw these and thought "wait a minute, these would work wonders for a spring/summer ensemble." Not to sound like a food critic, but I think they could be "light and playful", fantastic for day wear. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not ever going to forgo my more expensive silk pocket squares, but I do like to break up day and evening wear, with day being a bit less formal (at least for leisure time). I hope to obtain a modeling form soon so that I can display my ideas a bit clearer, but for now, here's the squares.