28 February 2011

Club Casual

The club color, especially in contrast white on a striped shirt, often carries and extra pinch of dressiness. But, if you play your cards just right, it can add just the right bit of elevation to a casual outfit:
Unbuttoned, and just peaking out of a crew neck pull over, it hints at the fact that you like to dress well, even when you're only going to the grocery store for saltines and ginger ale for your sick children, wife and mother (cripes...what a weekend).
Bean boots and dungarees almost bring this get-up into urban lumberjack territory. Good thing I don't have a beard, or a gourmet axe.

More substantial posting to follow, when the family's well and the house nurse can finally get a full nights sleep. (Yikes).

26 February 2011


Disclaimer: I beg forgiveness for the very low qaulity of the the following photos. What can I tell ya? I'm neither a photographer nor a journalist.

So...how the cripes does a grown man wear a pair of embroidered corduroy pants?

I suppose the answer lies in pretending there is nothing at all ridiculous in wearing such a thing...and so pairing them with an otherwise consercative combination of brown Harris tweed, blue oxford, and a repp stripe in burgundy, navy and gold.

Brown corduroy with mallards all over, a recent acquisition from L.L.Bean. Snappy, but lacking in the quality department. At $34, cuffs included and free shipping, I suppose I oughtn't complain. I do like the way they look, but I doubt they'll hold for long...(sigh).

In any case, when finished with old penny loafers, pale orange tube socks, and a close proximity to some good books, I guess they do the trick.

Quack, quack.

24 February 2011

A Nod to Spring

With warmer temperatures creeping up fast, its time to put some "sunshine" in the daily ensemble:
A yellow cotton crew neck sweater (Polo, $4.99. Note: the sweater is actually quite pastel, it is only my inadequate photography that makes it appear quite electric), with a vintage button down navy stripe oxford from (long gone) Sero and an Italian silk ascot ($1.99).

Below, classic charcoal flannels by J.Press ($5.49) keep me warm, while pale lavender hose and brown suede Italian bit loafers by Salvatore Ferragamo ($6.00) remind us of balmier times to come.
All this simply for a brief trip to the city on a sunny and warm day, as February goes here in the Northeast. The boy even got in the spirit (by his own choice, I might proudly add):
My son keeps it classic in a navy blazer (Nordstrom's, $4.99) and a blue and burgundy tattersall button down (Polo, $1.00), all set off by his very first pocket square, proudly bestowed by dear old Dad himself.

Below, some khakis provide a neutral background to black penny loafers (Nordstrom's, $3.99) set off by bright blue socks (Old Navy...cheap).

Nod to Spring, harken it's arrival and by all means dip a toe in. Just don't get on the diving board while the waters still cold.


Time to make room for the new Spring/Summer items at the Affordable Wardrobe Shop.
All suits and outerwear coats are now on sale. Tons of deals, so check it out.

p.s. please pardon my occasional shamelessness. I promise not to turn this blog into an ad for the shop, but sometimes it helps to drum up some action.

p.p.s. tall men, stay tuned. I recently uncovered a stash of un-worn Italian sports jackets in long sizes from the likes of Brioni, Luciano Barbera and Giancarlo Isaia. They will be available for sale some time over the coming weekend.

22 February 2011

Pendleton Patches

We talk about keeping cool, we talk about keeping warm. Such is the mania that is the "shoulder season".

Today, it's about keeping warm:
This glorious patchwork quilt currently adorns our bed. Handmade a long time ago by someones grandmother (I like to think). Found by Mrs. G at a local thrift, for cheap. I suspect it's all vintage Pendleton fabric. Vintage because it's backed in very old sharkskin gabardine (stupid cool), Pendleton because I recognize many of the patterns. I had a bathrobe in one of those plaids, a shirt in the bright red, and a few of the other plaids, and I've seen many of the others out there.

Few things are as warm to sleep beneath as three dozen real Pendleton shirts.

20 February 2011

A Fun Shirt, but not "The" Fun Shirt

Looking forward to the warmer months, this number recently joined the ranks at An Affordable Wardrobe:
A multi-striped shirt by Nautica, $ 2.50.

I've been looking forever for the iconic "fun shirt" by Brooks Brothers. For those that don't know, the "fun shirt" was a Brooks Brothers button down oxford where every panel was a different color stripe: blue, yellow, pink, green. Kinda wacky, but otherwise assembled like any other classic Brooks Brothers oxford.

This shirt, while not nearly the same, hints at the same vibe, and serves in the same warm weather situations. I'm thinking stone khakis and a blazer, orange Quoddy's, no socks,  top two buttons open, by the pool, ice cold Tom Collins, and so forth.

p.s. before one of you says it, Brooks Brothers no longer offers the Fun Shirt. However, last time they did, it was made in Malaysia and had a logo on the chest.

p.p.s. this plaid Fun Shirt from the Black Fleece line is both fantastic and available. But at $74.00 on sale, it's an un-reconcilable extravagance.

17 February 2011

Sartorial Soul Mates?

Your humble author:
The hapless farmer from British cartoon Shaun the Sheep:

He might have me beat with those big Wellington boots, but I've got better hair. I'm not about to tell him that, so long as he's holding the pitchfork.

Shaun the Sheep is a cute show. If you've got small kids, it's worth digging up on Netflix.

15 February 2011


Gentlemen (most especially the married ones), a friendly reminder:
Excessive drinking of beer, or time spent playing cards or golfing with "the boys" are likely to land you squarely in the doghouse.

Should you be caught consorting with the likes of this young lady, forget about it.

"The Doghouse Tie", made in England for Trimingham's of Bermuda, generous gift of a friend.

A belated Happy Valentine's Day to you all.

14 February 2011

All In The Details

I like to stretch out and get flamboyant sometimes (frequently?) in my dress, but I know full well that nothing hits it out of the park like a well executed combination of basics. In today's case, a navy blazer, striped tie and grey flannel slacks:
Menswear tends not to change that much, which can be both a blessing and a curse. It's a blessing in that certain things can last you a lifetime, like this combo here, if you buy quality to start with. It's a curse because things can get drab real quick if you let them. Such clothing can easily wear like a uniform. Throw a patch on the jacket, it's a school uniform. Throw a different patch on it and you're the hotel concierge. The best way to avoid this is, I think, to use tiny details to give it some style, without losing that classic edge.

I'll frequently use a plain white or blue oxford button shirt with a jacket and tie combo like this, but a contrast club collar worn pinned pushes the dressiness level up a notch, without getting out of hand. (Shirt by Brooks Brothers, Italian fabric, made in USA, $4.99)
The very conservative two button cuff of this 3/2 undarted blazer is given some punch by the less conservative two button shirt cuff.

The die hards are gonna twist and turn, but the reverse pleats on these pants break the conservatism another pinch, even though this is an old way of styling pants. I'm generally a flat front guy, but the more time goes by, the more I find myself digging the double reverse pleat. In a year or two these will be fashionable, mark my words. After so many years of being told to avoid pleats like the plague, the fashion industry is bound to tell us the exact opposite anytime now. Never mind all that, it's a styling detail that hails form the 1930s, and it is at home in any tasteful mans wardrobe. (Wool flannel pants by Polo, made in USA,  $7.99)
Nothing could be more conservative than brown Florsheim longwings ($20). Striped socks (Target, $5.99 in a package with two other pair) act like navy socks, only more fun.

Classics are classics for a reason, and they're best worn with an understanding of tradition...only, don't be afraid to tweak 'em. The difference between a stylish take on the old rules and rigid conformity is all in the details.

13 February 2011

Separated At Birth

Your humble author:
and this fashion fella in Milan, via Italian GQ:

He's got me beat on the yellow socks, but that's only becasue mine were in the wash. And yes, I've probably got a good 40 pounds on this guy, but I was skinny once, back in the old days.

It even looks like he washes his jeans, just like I do. Another Italian guy in a combo of American and British clothing.


11 February 2011

Cold Weather Quartet

The four trustiest things in the closet when the chill sets in:

l-r: 80 % wool/ 20% nylon snowflake sweater, L.L. Bean, made in USA, $5.99 ; 100% wool oatmeal ragg sweater, L.L.Bean, made in USA, $4.99 ; 80% wool/20% nylon wine/oatmeal heather ragg sweater, L.L.Bean, not made in USA, gift of Mrs. G (assuredly cheap) ; 100% wool Norwegian style sweater, Boston Traders, not L.L.Bean, not made in USA, close enough for a few bucks.

While it's true I do enjoy my finery, the fact is that I spend the great bulk of my time minding the children and going about the mundane tasks of everyday life. These sweaters, paired with oxford shirts, khakis, wide wale cords or even jeans comprise my Winter uniform in those times.

Comfort, stress,the children and a lack of time in the morning tend to be the favorite excuses made by so many parents for leaving the house in clothing that amounts to little more than pyjamas, but these things are no excuse. In these clothes, I am plenty comfortable, and yet I fell like I am dressed like an adult. Dignity and respect for both myself and others motivate me to put on proper clothing for even the most mundane of tasks.

In the long run it's still only a pullover and jeans we're talking about here, and these clothes don't take any more effort to don than sweatpants and cross trainers. A little effort goes a long way.

With that, I think I'll just tie the old high horse to the hitching post and retire for the evening.

09 February 2011

Quotable Quotes

I've never been one to "re-blog", but today I find I can't help it.

This kid Barima really knows what he's talking about. That's why, when discussing revoutionary British Saville Row rock 'n roll tailor Tommy Nutter, as seen here:
he comes up with this shining gem:

  The sobriety of thought and craft that went into this gleefully insensible ensemble makes an interesting counterpoint to the visual histrionics of Luca Rubinacci, Lapo Elkann and the Pitti crowd, who often strike me as throwing stuff against the wall to see if it sprezzes.

"See if it sprezzes"?!?! I love this kid.

06 February 2011

Worth Every Penny : A Brand New Barbour (with a twist)

One of the most important rules of dressing well is to wear clothing that fits properly. As one ages, this may come to mean admitting that one is, ahem, not the skinny gent he once may have been. So, some things get sent to the tailor for a tweak, while others require replacement.
On the left, my old Barbour Moorland jacket, battle scarred, patched and faded, like the warhorse that it is. Alas, one size smaller than its owner fits into these days. Purchased with tags still on at a thrift store for just $9.99, it remains one of the top bargains of my life as a cheapskate. On the right, a brand new Beaufort, the Moorlands lighter and more popular cousin. Purchased brand new at the Barbour outlet store in Kittery, Maine. Plenty of room inside to wear over a quilted vest, just like I used to wear the old one. The first order of business is to wear this thing,a lot, so as to knock the "new" off of it.
$150 is as expensive as anything gets in the outlet shop. Being a cheapskate and spoiled by the quality of goods available in Boston's thrift stores,  I spent the better part of two months talking myself into this purchase. However, given how much I wore my old one and how much I plan to wear this one, that's pretty short change, and worth every penny.

The Barbour outlet in Kittery is worth the trip, but as with any outlet, you've got to pay close attention to labels and quality to make sure you're not getting the outlet store only junk. Just up the road is a Brooks Brothers outlet not even worth a visit, all of it being non-iron weird fitting Malaysian crap. A lot of what's in this Barbour store is outsourced, of dubious quality and unreliably sized. But if you're diligent, you will find some real deal made in England pieces, such as this one. I'll go so far as to say that a Barbour not made in England isn't a Barbour anyway.
I'm none too thrilled that Barbour now bears a logo on the outside, but at least this is relatively discreet.

But you won't catch me dead wearing that silly pin that came with it.

So I'm happy with this coat, and I must admit to having really enjoyed the rare feeling of a brand new purchase. The corker?

This thing is lined with  this outrageous fishing scene. Honestly, how could I say no to this? I wish I could wear it inside out. Apparently, this coat was a sample from the new line, but won't be available in the USA, only England and Europe. Stop drooling for a minute and tell me that isn't fantastic.

should you happen to be in the position of forcing two small kids to make an hour long car trip to go out and buy such a thing, at the far end of the strip is this little place:

Narrow aisles packed floor to ceiling (literally) with more candy than you can possibly conceive. I'm not above bribing my children, and those dark chocolate cashew turtles I bought "for the grown ups" were pretty damn good too. Of course, if it weren't for my sweet tooth, I wouldn't have needed a bigger jacket in the first place. Circle of life, and all that jazz I guess.

05 February 2011

The Accidental Mascot

Anyone remember the Polo teddy bear?
I have only the vaguest memory of these things, but I do remember that they were at one time indeed a "thing". Teddy was everywhere, on t-shirts, sweaters, neck ties, pillows, towels, sheets, and of course, in person. Recently, I found a tie with a pattern of Polo teddies and American flags. Mrs. G was shocked that I bought it. I explained that it was collectible and I'd have it sold in no time. She scoffed, but the tie was gone within hours.

Two days later, we were in a thrift shop together when I found this bear. This time she was all for my purchase. But my little two year old girl picked him up, hugged him close, looked right at me and said "Love him". Guess we won't be selling that one...at least not right away.

You gotta admit, he is kinda cute.

02 February 2011

Off Season: Warm Weather Togs

I'm not one to complain about the Winter, but we have had quite a time of it here in the Northeast these past few weeks. What better time to discuss Summer clothes? You've heard me say before that a willingness to buy items far out of season is a secret weapon in the thrift shoppers arsenal. Not only do you get the pick of the litter, but if you keep a positive outlook, it'll help you survive the cold in the hope of balmier times to come.
An olive poplin suit by Brooks Brothers, three button sack with patch pockets, acquired through a trade at the Top Shelf Flea Market II back in October, been in the back of the closet since. Haven't even taken the tags off. Poplin suits are a funny thing, especially the "wash and wear" variety. True, a suit in mostly polyester with wash instructions should be against everything I stand for, but I think this number will work out fine with a blue shirt and necktie with a burgundy ground.
Another visit from the Brothers, this time in a classic blue and white seersucker jacket, 3/2, patch pockets. I picked this one up in the late Autumn, also been in the back of the closet since. Should work great with a lightweight pair of slacks in charcoal grey, a white shirt and a bow tie.
Yet another Harrington jacket, this time in classic tan with a red tartan lining. Another strike for the polyester based fabric, but who can argue with a Harrington jacket?
Not made in England, but a real Baracuta brand piece none the less. Couple of bucks.
A cotton plaid driving cap, newly arrived from Orvis, $8.40 in their "tent sale". Have you seen the Orvis tent sale? Check it out, they're giving stuff away. Orvis called this madras, but it's far from it. Still, it should look snappy with Chuck Taylor's in natural canvas, khakis and a clean white tennis shirt.
And speaking of madras, here's a pair of vintage patchwork pants, no brand name, in real bleeding Indian madras, circa 1960s, acquired for a dollar on a really cold day. That means I now have two pairs of patch madras pants, which is at least one, and probably two, more pairs than decency would allow.

Looking at all these fun items I have to look forward to in the warmer months helps me forget, even if only for a moment, that we're running out of places to put the many feet of snow that continue to blanket my hometown.
A plate of homemade cinnamon doughnuts for breakfast with Mrs. G. and the kids helps ease the pain as well.

01 February 2011

All Steamed Up

By now, I suspect most of you have heard of Steampunk, the latest fringe element fashion movement. It's sort of like adding a nineteenth century affectation to everything, but still being into computers and stuff. Go ask a 22 year old, they'll explain it to you better than I can.

British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel and his boys defining the Steampunk aesthetic.

First, it was the computer keyboards that are made of old typewriter bits, then it was the iPod dock that plays through a Victrola style horn speaker, then it was a full fledged topic on NPR's On Point with Tom Ashbrook. Fringe as it may be, there's got to be something to it.

Why would I bring this all up, anyway?

Over the weekend, I saw a young Steampunk couple walking the street outside of my job. I looked through the window and couldn't help but stare, because the guy was wearing a top hat. Not a silly new one, an antique shiny silk top hat, 1920s or 30s from the looks of it. In my thrift shopping travels, I come across these occasionally, always wrecked nearly beyond recognition. Bu this one was near mint. As I considered this archaic piece of head gear, they disappeared into the coffee house across the street.

Later, they entered my shop. Upon entering the store, the young gent removed his hat, collapsed it, and tucked it under his arm. Yikes! A collapsible silk top hat. When he came to pay, I asked him "that hat of yours, it's a real antique, isn't it?" He replied "It belonged to my great grandfather." A family heirloom no less. He wore a self tied bow tie, worn loose, and French cuffs. His lady friend looked sharp, despite her silly pseudo-Victorian goggles perched atop her head, in a well tailored brocade coat in burgundy velvet. A bit silly, perhaps, but much more lady like than the pyjamas/Uggs/sweatshirt trifecta seen too often on young ladies these days. They seemed like nice kids.

Those of us who like to dress in a classic way tend to get judgemental. We like to lament the loss of decorum and complain about the savage state of peoples manners, and on, and on. Yet we revel in gossip and criticism. We can get equally judgemental of kids like this for dressing "silly". I'm as much to blame as anyone in this regard. But really, these kids live to dress, clearly, and they probably always will. They pay close attention to detail, making sure every little thing is just right. They enjoy history, and have some kind of appreciation for bygone deportment. Once they outgrow being kids, they're more likely to wind up well dressed than many people. Oddly enough, this applies to a fair amount of punk rock kids and tack sharp hip hop fans, too.

Let's not forget, though we'd like to believe that a well appointed gent is at home anywhere, in any situation,  most people think a guy in a blazer and tie that he isn't required to wear is (more than) a little strange.