courtesy of www.miss-charming.com
31 December 2008
30 December 2008
The replacement half soles were made in Italy. They're almost nicer than the shoes themselves.I like to keep my shoes polished, but there's no substitute for a professional cobblers shine. Like new, only better, because they're not.I brought these to a little shop near my house marked only with a small sign thatread "Shoes Repaired". Inside, I find a talkative older man, Armenian I think. He's proud of his craft, and won't hesitate to explain to you the importance of proper shoe care or a good cobbler. At great length. The chemical smell of shoe polish mixed with the smell of leather is enough to make you pass out in this tiny place. It was great. I almost wished I had more shoes to fix just so I could have an excuse to visit this place more often. This kind of thing restores my faith in humanity.
Which is good, as my faith in humanity needed a bit of restoration today. This week, the help checks from old Uncle Sam dried up and I had to go to the unemployment office to file for an extension. When I got there, I had to navigate past a bunch of drunks right outside the front door on the verge of a fist fight, through a metal detector and into a room full of men who reeked of cigarettes and booze, swearing loudly into their cellphones. Now I know that unemployment is something I pay taxes for and that there's no shame in a hard working family man collecting it in hard times(at least that's what everyone keeps telling me), but it can be hard to rise above it when you're met with a scene like that, instead of a long line of men in suits:
Not to romanticize the past too much, I'm sure plenty of these guys also reeked of booze, despite prohibition.
On the bright side, the staff at the unemployment office were excessively nice to me, despite their reputation. It was busy in there today, and I think I may have been the only person they spoke to who showered, shaved , put on a tie and was polite with them, and they repaid me in kind. My hats off to them for dealing with surly characters all day long. Having worked in liquor stores for years, I know how that can be.
But I digress. Back to the shoes. $20 Florsheim penny loafers+ 2 years of hard wear+ $38 repair + more years of hard wearing= a pretty sound footwear investment. If you don't have a cobbler in your town, move to one that does. For the man who wishes to build an affordable wardrobe, good repair is paramount, and in this regard the cobbler is second only to the tailor in importance. If you're lucky enough to find a good one as I have, stick with him and don't p*ss him off.
29 December 2008
Recently I posted about my new red sweater and its faint scent of mothballs.
When I took the sweater off that day, I found my shirt, tie and undershirt, as well as the inside of my jacket, all reeked faintly of mothballs. Then I put the shirt in the laundry, and all the laundry smelled of it. Then I washed the sweater alone in cold water on the gentle cycle and laid it out to dry. Wetting the sweater only intensified the stench, and the next day the whole house reeked of Naphthalene (apparently that's the chemical that stinks so much). Fortunately it was unseasonably warm and we were able to open a few windows and air the place out. I put the sweater in a plastic bag and left it on the back porch until I could take it to the dry cleaners.
I live in the apartment where my grandparents lived when I was growing up. I can remember the closet smelling like this all the time. I'm all for bringing back certain elements of a bygone era, but this I can do without. How did the old folks stand the smell? Must have been masked by all that cigarette smoke, I guess.
27 December 2008
Ain't nothing like jazz on vinyl.
I do love this red sweater, but I have a confession to make. It smells of moth balls, and as a result so did I by the time I came home. The funny thing is that having spent the entire afternoon scouring dusty second hand record shops, I didn't notice it until I returned home. My shirt, undershirt and possibly even my chest hair all smelled of it. Gross. I better go take a shower.
Dry cleaning is needed post haste.
26 December 2008
Who doesn't need a bright red v-neck pullover?I've never heard of Braemar International, but the wool this thing is made from is some of the softest I've felt.
A 1960s vintage 3/2 natural shouldered sport coat with 2 button cuffs. The fabric is what really got me on this one, and this photo just doesn't do it justice. At first glance, it's grey with an olive green cast, but a closer look reveals a soft box weave tweed with grey, green, navy, brown and black threads. Gorgeous.
from the Rogers Peet Company.complete with the elusive hook vent.And a couple of nice shirts.
Admittedly, aside from the jacket, there's a fair amount of sweatshop labor represented here. But until we tank out far enough to start producing our own stuff again with an eye toward hard-wearing, affordable quality, I think it would be wasteful not to give these things a second life.
Not a bad haul for $12.98 total.
p.s. thanks everybody for your kind words of encouragement following the 'Finding an Excuse' post of a few days ago. I needed that.
24 December 2008
23 December 2008
21 December 2008
Every year after the first big snow, all the local channels devote their entire broadcast to people complaining about the snow. Usually its people who, like me, have lived here all of their lives and seem surprised by the fact that it snowed a lot in Boston in late December, as though its never happened before. I feel like this may have intensified since the Red Sox broke the curse, leaving the local townies bereft of one of their favorite points of complaint, and they may be trying to compensate for that.
Not me. I say keep it coming until March, like when I was a kid, and we'll see the Sox next October.
p.s. A few days ago I made a big stink over removing A Suitable Wardrobe's link to this blog. While I still stand my feelings on the matter of the "Dress Set", I now realize in looking back that my way of stating it may have been a bit childish and, dare I say, snarky. For that, I apologize. I don't want this blog to become an argument forum, and I wish to avoid politics here at all costs. Sartorial trivialities are a much more wholesome internet diversion, after all.
20 December 2008
What with the semester finally over, I decide over the last few days that going to sleep at a reasonable hour was preferable to silly blog posting in the wee smalls of the morning. Plus, my camera needs a new memory card.
Anyway, feeling relaxed and refreshed, here's a little update.
Filson Tin Cloth
Our friend and commenter Pitboss12 informed me a while back that he had purchased a Filson tincloth coat from Ebay which never quite fit him. He sent the coat to me in hopes that it would find I good home, which it has. The thing feels like its made of steel, and smells a bit like the forest. I may have to find an excuse to chop some wood just to do it justice.
Thanks Pitboss. Random acts of kindness like this restore my faith in humanity.
My final presentation was a ripping success. The reviewers, both professional architects, said they really wish the place could be built. I've been thinking of firing up another blog devoted to architecture, so I may feature a complete rundown of the project there. Living in Boston, there are plenty of stunning buildings to talk about. Anyone have any good ideas for a name?
I went to a Christmas show that my old band was playing on Thursday night after the presentation. I wore Black Watch slacks with a Brooks Brothers oxford and bow tie, a thick white cardigan (I changed the buttons for braided leather ones) and suede shoes. Holiday-tastic!
It was great to see old friends and be out drinking beer at night time like a normal person. I had almost forgotten what that was like.
A Little Rant/Announcement
As of today, I am removing the link to A Suitable Wardrobe.
My friends and I would read this blog everyday and become infuriated, because people like to seek out that which infuriates them, I guess. In joking, my friend Dave once said "You should write a blog called 'An Affordable Wardrobe' just to show people how it really is." And so here we are.
I never wanted this blog to become a b*tch fest, so after this we'll here no more about it. I think it's childish to post complaints abut other people online all day long. However, this drove me off a cliff. With the country in the state it's in right now, it is downright disgusting to be talking about a useless set of cuff links for $5200. To me and my family that nearly a year's (!!!) worth of food. For others, that 1/4 of a years pay. I don't want to sound like a socialist or anything, but I think its about time that the more fortunate start doing their part to fix this mess we're in. Many of us have lost our jobs. You can do without that tacky 'dress set'. I'm sure it will look great at a dinner party at the 'club', as you sip a $50 ounce of booze and smoke a $30 cigar and laugh with the captains of industry about the plight of the unwashed savages.
Calling that blog a "suitable" wardrobe also implies that anything less would be unsuitable, which is also disgusting. Shame on you. I won't support you anymore.
Enough said. Let us never speak of it again.
Fluffy White Stuff
There's a ton of snow on the ground outside. I'm going to go get a new memory card so I can take some pictures.
Hopefully I'll be back to bragging about my thrift store finds tomorrow. In the meantime, I think I'll cook a batch of baked beans in the crock pot and build a snow man with the boy.
16 December 2008
"I'm only one person. What can I do to help."
Here's a short list:
1) Practice the "Thank You Wave"
If you're driving, or waiting to cross the street, and another driver politely stops to let you pass, give a little 'Thank You" wave as you pass. Or at least acknowledge this small kindness on the part of a stranger in some way.
2) Let Others Go First
When boarding the subway or bus, let others go first, particularly the elderly and those with small children. Also, do not engage in actively stealing seats from these people.
3) Don't Smoke Around Children
If you can't find the will power to quit altogether, at least have the decency to refrain from smoking in the presence of children.
4) Don't Wear Bedclothes in Public
Pajamas belong in the house, except when putting out the garbage or retrieving the newspaper. Wearing them in public marks you as a person who has reached a disgusting level of laziness.
5) Take Your Hat Off When Eating
In a quick lunch situation, keeping your coat on may be perfectly acceptable, but removal of the hat is a must. As I always tell my son when we go out for lunch 'Nice guys don't wear hats at the table'.
6) Get Your Damn Phone Off of Your Face For One F**kin Minute Already
Stop screaming into your stupid toy phone. Step back and realize that there are living , breathing people all around you. Pay some attention to them, show them some common courtesy, and don't be afraid to be alone with your own thoughts occasionally.
7) Pay Cash For Small Purchases
This is a treat for both the cashier, and the people in line behind you at the local convenience store.
8) Please, Thank You, Excuse Me, and occasionally, I'm Sorry
Magic words. Use them with great frequency.
9) S.O.S. : Save Our Swears
If you use swear words all the time, they stop being swear words. We need these words for extreme situations, when a room-silencing 'F-bomb' is called for. Leave them alone unless the situation really calls for it.
10) Have Fun
Following these simple rules does not make you a stiff. In fact it makes you and everyone near you feel and act better. Find enjoyment in not conducting yourself like a t.v. savage.
While you're at it, ride a bike, recycle, mend things, prepare food from scratch, tuck your shirt in and call your mother. You'll be glad you did. I promise.
15 December 2008
and it's accompanying mess:
My apologies to those of you who look here for pictures and anecdotes involving my cheap clothes, but the markers in the photo contain xylene based ink, which is now illegal. Staying up too late and playing with those things can make a man lose interest in bow ties and flannels, at least temporarily. Tune in at the end of the week for more sartorial trivialities.
p.s. we all think of architecture today as a computers game, which of course it is. But a great teacher I had last semester once said "If you ask a designer for a pen and he doesn't pull a dozen different kinds out of his pockets, he's not a designer. Don't trust him."
13 December 2008
Dark green and tan Cole Haan saddles, with an unusual third color in the back piece. Slightly banged up( as they should be), a pefect fit, comfortable as anything, and bearing the magic words: made in U.S.A.
Sent to me free of charge, by our man in Missouri, Toad, whose foot is bigger than mine. What a guy!
Thanks, Toad. I really owe you one.
12 December 2008
No doubt about it, times are tough, and conceivably getting tougher. So I ask you, as the cheapskate I admittedly am:
Three weeks worth of food for myself, my wife and the boy, or a couple of these and a pair of these.
Which is the better use of $300?
(if these are just the stocking stuffers, whats in the big boxes under the tree? yikes!)
11 December 2008
'71' by Parrish of Park Ridge, Illinois, an official 'Sand Knit'
Not one wear another man's school colors, I immediately removed the 'N' from the cardigan, and found a pocket underneath.This thing weighs a ton. After it gets a fresh dry cleaning, I think I'll change the buttons for some brown leather ones, and use it like a sports jacket. '71' is too cool to mess with and will remain as is. In your face, Rugby Ralph Lauren! $150 my foot!
And what to wear to the spring semi-formal? We all know nothing impresses the young ladies quite like cotton madras:What's that? Spilled your drink? No need to worry, the Palm Beach 'Zephyr Weight' is machine washable:
All this, plus a sweater and a fleece blanket for the boy, a 1960's vintage glass and gilt serving dish for the wife, and an unworn Brooks Brothers U.S.A. made white oxford button down for just shy of 30 clams. Not a bad haul.
p.s. Who can even imagine a teenager dressed like this? How far we've fallen (world's smallest violin)
And talk about great graphic design! This album cover manages to be sophisticated and hippie at the same time.
This picture should be titled "Sack Suits and Switchblades", or something like that.
10 December 2008
This is an old J.Press (I know, you all knew it by the flapped pocket) pink Oxford. The older this shirt gets, the better it looks and the less I iron it.
As for professional laundering and starching, I personally find it a pinch antithetical to the Oxford Cloth Button Down's inherent relaxed and casual appeal. I wash them and iron them myself, and they remain soft as a baby's a**. Save the heavy starch for spread collars and French cuffs.
p.s. this one has a third button at the back of the collar. Anyone know the origin or point of this superfluous third button?
09 December 2008
The mixture of bare trees and evergreens
Bean Boots in "the wild"
The boy in a red toggle coat with a plaid lining. I'm jealous of that coat.
1 Million Daddy points for me.
Since this blog was intended to be about my cheap clothes, let me mention the $29.50 down vest from Lands End, the perfect under layer to the trusty Barbour jacket.
I wear my Barbour jacket pretty much everyday this time of year. Inside it has a row of snaps that accept a winter lining. When I went to purchase the lining to go with this coat, I discovered that Barbour had switched to a zip out lining years ago, and that the snap version was no longer available. This cheap down vest is light weight and comfortable. It fits well beneath the coat and keeps me warm, besides providing me with a pair of extra deep pockets, big enough to hold a pair of gloves or a digital camera. It gets the "Affordable Wardrobe New Clothes Seal of Approval".
But I digress. The weather, the trees and my boy were a perfectly wonderful combination today. Unemployment definitely has its moments.