30 July 2012

Last Chance!

Just a reminder that I'll be judging the entries for Thrift Store Runway this month. Last chance to enter for the July cycle!

The rules are simple: send in some pictures of yourself in an outfit that cost $50 or less. Details here. I'll pick five lucky winners, each of which will receive a prize of $500. Good luck!

24 July 2012


It's just what it looks like: an entire L.L.Bean "Boat n Tote" filled to the brim with excellent quality neckties and bow ties, over a hundred in all, from our favorite consigner here at AAW. All top quality from brands such as Polo, RL Purple Label, Robert Talbott and Facconable, to name a few. We've also got some barely worn shoes by Alden and Leffot. Available at the Davis Flea this Sunday, 29 July, 10-4.

In other news...

I am honored to announce that I have been selected as the July judge for Thrift Store Runway, as non-profit website whose mission is to promote recycling through thrift shopping. There's still plenty of time to enter, and the rules are simple:  show them an outfit that exhibits great style for $50 or less. I'll be choosing five winners, each will receive a $500 prize! Time to let all that thrifty living pay off a little. Enter here.

23 July 2012

The Ghost of Fred, Again

The ghost of our man Fred Astaire is perhaps an ever looming presence when one is writing about menswear. Occasionally, he manifests himself especially clearly. I can't help but think of him any time white tie and tails is mentioned.

On 8 May, I posted an album of photos of a vintage 1930s full suit of evening wear, tailcoat and trousers. I also said that it would be posted here for auction in the coming week. Well, two and a half months later here it is:

A beautifully cut piece in excellent condition for its age. My best educated guess puts this garment in the late 1930s/ early 1940s, back when there were still a fair number of men who had occasion to wear full evening dress. The chest measures just over 20 inches across, and will fit a man who normally wears a 40 long, with the tails falling just to the knee on a man of about 6 feet. Sleeves measure 26 inches, shoulders 19 across.

Beautifully constructed with a nipped waist, curved back seams and pleated tails. This is the most complicated piece of menswear outside of military dress uniforms to see any regular use in the last hundred years or so, and truly an excellent example of the category.

Note the hooked vent, a traditional detail on such a coat and an indicator of it's age.

Complex darting and seam work typical of a close fitting "body jacket", expertly executed.

Broad peaked lapels faced in old fashioned thickly corded grosgrain silk. The wool is jet black and fairly thick, almost the weight of a smooth flannel. Not a piece to buy now and wear tomorrow, but a real stunner come New Year's Eve, or just for the opera and theatre season.

The trousers measure 16 inches across the waist, fitting a 33/34 inch waist. They have a very high 15 inch rise, which keeps them in line with the short waist of the jackets front. Double pleated, elegantly full cut through the legs, plain hems (of course), 32 inch inseam with up to 2 inches to let down.  Held up by braces attached to the outside of the waist band.

Button fly closure,

About an inch of fabric to be had in waist,

Matching grosgrain silk stripe down the outseam,
From Richman Brothers, a long gone shop formerly located on Madison Avenue that specialized in formal wear.

I'll be accepting bids on this suit via email at anaffordablewardrobe@yahoo.com throughout the week. So if you're tall and thin, and you have any reason at all to wear such a thing, make me an offer. The last time I had such a thing for sale, it came to a showdown between a concert pianist and a professional tap dancer. Maybe this time we can get a violin player and a magician...or at least someone clothes mad with enough dash to pull it off. Happy bidding!
This could be you.....

24 July 2012 : SOLD That one went up quick, and the bidding is now closed. Thank you one and all for your interest. Congratulations, Mr. D.N. Wear it in good health.

p.s. for a full range of much easier to wear items in a range of sizes, don't forget to visit our booth at the Davis Flea this Sunday, 29 July, 10a.m.-4 p.m.

20 July 2012

Worth Every Penny: Marimekko Ties at the Andover Shop

Before we begin, allow me to give some credit where credit is due. My friend Zach has been working at the Andover Shop for a few weeks now. He put me wise to these Marimekko ties recently, and beat me to the punch in mentioning them first. I can't help but add my two cents.
Readers may note that our man Tin Tin recently had a pair of fully fabulous trousers made of the same cloth, slevedge and all. When I heard that the rest of the bolt, and a number of other knock-out Marimekko bolts, ahd been hand made into ties in New York especially, and only, for the Andover Shop, I was sold. I went down to see them in person.

Because the scale of the Marimekko prints is so large, even ties cut from the same cloth are all completely unique. 3 inches wide, untipped, handsewn...because old Charlie knows whats good and whats hip. He's the ultimate designer...because he is not a designer.

Note the yellow thread at the edges...knockout punch. Available in a variety of prints, each tie is one of a kind. So mod, so jazz, so Andover Shop.

These ties are priced $85 each, $42.50 in the 1/2 price Sumer sale. Perhaps a pinch pricey for any old cotton tie, but wirth every penny for a limited run piece of art like this.

p.s. while it is true that I think this tie is worth every penny of $85, and a deal at $42.50, in the interest of full disclosure, I inform you that this was the generous gift of Mr. Charlie Davidson himself. So flattered.

p.p.s I put it on right there in the store, a perfect match with yesterdays ensemble.:

19 July 2012

The Other Navy Blue Jacket

No doubt about it, dressing well, and fully, in the high heat of Summer poses the biggest challenges to the most well dressed men out there. It's true that the colors and patterns of Summer dress are nothing but fun for the confident dresser, but keeping it in check is the real challenge. This year, I find myself drawn more and more to simple pallette of navy, white and tan for dress clothes. Even when rendered in rumpled fabircs, and even when wilted with sweat, such combinations posess a clean elegance. As much as I love my gossamer jacket and my double breasted, I can only wear them so much. Enter the other essential navy jacket:
Navy and white all around, with yellow socks, clean and simple. This jacket is a comfortably constructed linen blazer by Polo, made in Italy, found at a thrift shop for $7.99. Seen here with Polo white drill trousers with top pockets ($3.99), a J. Mac Laughlin shirt found new in package ($4.99) and a Bert Pulitzer striped tie ($1.99).
The linen fabric here really is top notch. Affectation comes in the form of an undone button down collar.

Brown horn buttons, as opposed to the brass of my other coats, make this one a quiet stand-out.

Worn fairly frequently, it's wrinkling wonderfully.It's fully lined, which is a bummer. But I plan to give it the strip down alterations treatment ala HTJ soon.

A jacket like this is really thrift shop gold. Summer fabrics, being thin and delicate, simply don't hold up forever like big old tweed and the like. I found this one in new, likely unworn condition.I know I was lucky, but I would say that linen is best bought new anyway. Like good denim, it will take your shape in its own way, the wrinkles being unique to the wearer the same way whiskering is on jeans. Clean it as little as possible.

Can't wait to see this thing five Summers from now.

18 July 2012

Dearest StyleSeek(ers)

Mr. Ryan Plett, of such fame as You Have Broken The Internet, etc., has been hard at work on a new web thing called StyleSeek. You sign up, take a silly test where you choose from a set of pictures, and a profile is created whereby you are directed to buy a bunch of expensive things from the people with whom he is affilated. The problem? StyleSeek has lifted an extensive amount of complete blog posts wholesale from not only me, but other bloggers as well. Nobody there thinks they need to ask anybody anything. After all, the internet is a Wild West free for all, right?

My email to them:
Mr. Plett,

I am the owner and sole author of An Affordable Wardrobe (http://www.anaffordablewardrobe.com/) a menswear blog dealing with tips and advice for men of lesser means with a sense of style to find ways of living well on a tight budget. As my masthead states, penury is not an excuse.

It has recently been brought to my attention by a handful of my readers that a number of my articles, photos and titles included, have been included wholesale on your new site StyleSeeker. While I suppose I should feel flattered or something that you and other big shot New York bloggers have deemed me fit to include, it escapes me how none of you will put a link to my blog in your blogroll, but have no problem using my content to help your affiliates sell their goods. The fact that I was never contacted prior to use and had to find out "through the grapevine" as it were I find more than a little irksome. The fact that you are using my content, pulled from a blog that deals specifically with thrift shopping and bargain hunting, to help sell expensive luxury goods flies in the face of my work. The fact that someone else is profiting by all this....well, lets just say that as a working Dad with a night job and a home business who does his best to do right by his kids, I am feeling somewhat violated. If my content is going to be used to sell things, I should be getting paid. My boss pays me to help him sell things, and I see little difference here.

For your information, I frequently turn down requests for ad space for products or companies that I don't wish to support.In the old days, we called that integrity. I do run ads on my site, ocassionally, but I am very choosy about what gets through. It's nice to get paid by the internet, but it's nicer to be able to sleep at night. How do you know I care to support the companies and products linked out at the end of the articles you've chosen to take from me? If Sid Mashburn wants me to write copy for his bow ties, he can pay me. If Barney's needs help selling seersucker, I'm open to a conversation. I'm sorry, but the pictures I took of myself, in my own clothes, are not "freebies" for you or them to use to sell things. If you had asked first, or given me any say at all in the matter of how my own work was to be used, I'd be open to discussion. This, however, is a huge turn-off. An Affordable Wardrobe, as I think you know, is all about how to successfully avoid this kind of thing and still come out on top, and you seem to have subverted my writing something fierce.

Or, maybe I'm just not getting this, being a 35+ year old provincial from Boston, and I need a young, hip, New York big shot to explain this to me. If I'm wrong, I'm glad to hear it as long as you can explain this to me. For now, I'm pretty angry.

I will certainly publish Mr. Plett's response, and I look forward with great relish to it. True, money and recognition are nice, but they are far from the goal:

Update, 19 July 2012:

 It seems that my efforts combined with those of Jesse Thorn of Put This On, another blog from which content was plucked wholesale, have resulted in quick response, of a sort. Mr. Plett has apologized in his way, feigning innocence, and claiming that his intent was only to help poor little me and other small time bloggers. Apparently, the money to be made by him and his affiliates had nothing at all to do with his actions. To wit, his response in the comments, and this:

Mr. Timore,

I am sorry to hear that you were unhappy with StyleSeek using four of your blog posts. We of course respect your desire for us to not post content from your blog and as such, we have removed the posts from the StyleSeek site. We had, in fact, provided attribution to your blog for each of the four posts, just as we do for all postings on StyleSeek.

 Sincerely, Ryan Plett

 I never said you didn't attribute the posts, I said I found it reprehensible that you were using them in an effort to generate revenue. Sounds a bit more like damage control than an apology, Mr. Plett. I have small kids. I know the difference between a sincere apology and being told what someone thinks I want to hear. Boo, Mr. Plett.

I will consider the matter officially closed, so my readers and I can move on to enjoying our discussions here again.

Thanks to all my readers who commented and wrote kind emails to me. I greatly appreciate your continued support in my owrk here at An Affordable Wardrobe.

20 July 2012:

That's more like it. Apology accepted, Mr. Spalding.

16 July 2012

The Past Goes Best with a Grain of Salt

photo: Citizen in Downtown Havana, Havana, Cuba, 1933
by Walker Evans

The white linen suit may well be the pinnacle of classic Summer style, but good luck pulling it off. Even if I found one for a pittance at a thrift shop, I'd probably think twice. In a world where something as simple as a navy blazer and khakis is so often seen as overblown and pretentious, a white suit will mark you immediately as an insufferable dandy. Besides this dude in the photograph, our man Toad is the only person I can readily think of who gets a pass. Even ADG might have a hard time with this one.

And in case you're still on the fence about that straw boater hat you've been considering, think twice. This dude may be proof that the boater is not only acceptable but perhaps even bad-ass. But you are not this dude.

Don't get me wrong, I love the past. I understand it in a way that I'll never be able to grasp my present. I surround myself with old things, live with them, wear them, breathe them and learn about them.  I'll even admit to  having what most people may consider a bit too much nostalgia and fondness for the people and things that existed well before my birth. But despite all this, I don't really want to live in the past. I only wish people dressed better and had better manners, really. That,  and I like a good bow tie.

I'm all for playing with the past, but a man has to be careful. No one wants to wear a costume all day.

13 July 2012

AAW x NSV...Again

Once again, the unstoppable partnership of An Affordable Wardrobe and Newton Street Vintage makes a live appearance:
An Affordable Wardrobe...

and Newton Street Vintage.

Together again at the Davis Flea, Sunday 29 July, 10am till 4 pm. Be there or be a hippie.

11 July 2012

Calling It: Paisley Ties

 Designer Valentino Garavani, stylish Italian guy,

Journalist Vittorio Feltri, stylish Italian guy,

Mr. De Luca, of Newton Street Vintage and recently, the Andover Shop, stylish Italian guy,
A current personal favorite, 1990s Polo,
 and the Brooks Brothers shirt I like to wear with it.

Nostalgia fashion, or the trend of reviving clothing styles from the past, follows the same cycles as current fashion, on a thirty year delay. This is largely because thrift shops tend to be full of things that go back thirty years or so, generally speaking, and the hip, young and iconoclastic like to find beauty and irony in the detritus of the past. In the 1970s, thrift shops were full of clothes from the 1940s, wide legs, striped suits, wide lapels, and dramatic cuts. Current fashions of the times co-opted the basic ideas. In the eighties, when the thrift shops were bursting with the kind of 1950s American clothes that fetch high ticket "antique" prices these days, we had the Stray Cats and Happy Days, and so on and so forth. While it's true that I may have been harping on the impending 1990s fashion nostalgia trend, the 1990s were thirty years ago, and I can see what kind of stuff is flooding the thrift shops these days.

The young and hip will take it to the hilt, embracing not only the trend itself but its very ugliest underbelly, in an effort to be "new". The old will scoff and moan, wail and gnash their teeth, and resist as hard as they can. Those in the middle will take it apace, accept the best of it, like the return of pleated plants and paisley, especially big, saturated, boldly printed paisley, and allow drops of it to infiltrate their wardrobe, thereby adding new life to the old pieces with...new old pieces.

Stylish Italian guys everywhere said so. We called it. Shotgun!

10 July 2012

The Business of No Business

On a really hot day, when only the most die hard among us would be wearing a suit in the first place, I like a yellow tie. A grey striped suit and white shirt, a business dress combination second in staidness only to navy blue with white, gets placed firmly in July with the simple addition of a yellow tie in a small neat pattern.

I've said it before, so forgive me if I'm beating a dead horse. Yellow ties are a tough nut, but they're great when you hit it right. Grey suits and navy blazers work perfectly, but keep them away from navy suits at all costs. An inexplicable but deep rooted unreasonable bias leads to me to find the navy suit/yellow tie combination unforgivably amateur. We've discussed this before.

True, a yellow tie, even more so a yellow bow tie, is not appropriate for many situations in which a grey striped suit is de riguer. Keep it out of the boardroom, unless you own the company. Keep it out of lower jobs, unless your father owns the company.

But if you're wearing the suit for your own pleasure, and not from requirement, go for it. I wore this simply to visit the city for lunch with a friend before working a night shift at the wine shop. The fact that my job, or any other part of my life, requires merely  that I be clothed in anything at all means I did it for my own pleasure. The fact that it was over 90 degrees with near 100% humidity proves that I am clearly disturbed, and you'd do well not to take my advice anyway.

07 July 2012

An Affordable Cocktail

More ways to drink brown liquor on a hot night. Meet Rob Roy:
The Rob Roy is a cocktail that could stand to enjoy a revival, so I'm doing my part. Basically, it's the same as a Manhattan, but with Scotch, rather than rye, as its liquor base. Rye whiskey is enjoying a giant surge in popularity these days, which is all well and good. I suppose we have Don Draper to thank for that. And while it's true people still drink plenty of good Scotch, its use as a base ingredient for cocktails, as it was in the High Holy 1930s, remains largely ignored.

Recently, I've discovered Lombard Old Blend Scotch Whisky. $14.99 in the Boston area, if you can find it. It tastes a lot like Johnny Walker Red Label, albeit a bit thinner in texture, but for a full ten dollars less. It's unquestionably better than Dewar's. And it makes a great cocktail.

There are plenty of schmancy vermouth out there these days, chief among them Dolin, Punt e Mes, and Carpano Antico, but for this drink, I think good ole Martini & Rossi will do just fine. Bitters have gotten trendy and gone off the charts too, but I find good ole Angustora does me just fine.

Here's how its done:

Fill a small cocktail shaker with ice. Add 3 parts Scotch and 1 part red 9sweet) vermouth and a few drops of bitters. Stir until chilled. DO NOT SHAKE. This will only make the drink frothy. Strain into a cocktail glass. I like a Champagne saucer, or "cocktail coupe". Martini glasses are acceptable too. Just keep it small. I've told you why before.

Garnish with a real Maraschino cherry. This is the one place where it simply will not to to be cheap.

If you live in or near a major city, do your utmost to seek out Luxardo maraschino cherries. These are actual candied marasca cherries (hence the name) from Italy. Once you've had them you will never accept those awful bright red things again. If you can't find these, garnish with a lemon twist instead.

Named for Scottish folk hero Robert Roy Mac Gregor, the Rob Roy proves that Scotch ain't just for warming you up on a cold damp day. It also proves that despite the recent years of single malt only snobbery we've endured, blended Scotch has it's place in the cabinet too. Great before a big meal of steak and red wine, especially if that steak was cooked outside on a grill.

06 July 2012


Richie's Super Premium Italian Ice of Everett, Massachusetts. Used to be called Richie's Slush (which we all still call it). A local Summer classic.
Richie's All Natural Italian Ice, the "organic" equivalent. Never had it, ain't interested.

As you know, I am a native son of the Greater Boston area. In fact, I am what the old locals might call a Townie. You may read me in my written voice, but you ought to hear my accent. There's no mistaking it. I've been eating what used to be known as Richie's Slush every Summer my whole life. Lemon is the only flavor for me, because, ya' know, I'm a traditionalist. Townie kids, like my own, tend to prefer watermelon (pink) or the blue varieties (vanilla or raspberry). Every convenience store in Eastern Massachusetts has a freezer chest full of this stuff, especially those located near playgrounds or Little League ballparks.

The following took place last Summer.

In recent years, my home town has seen a fairly dramatic shift in the sort of people who live there. The old timers may bemoan the fact that, as they see it, "the yuppies are taking over", though few of them have a problem with the rising value of their old family homes. I, for one, am happy to see the old town doing ever better, but I will admit that the yuppie/fake hippie/self righteous organic bullsh*t crowd can be more than a little pretentious and out of touch at times. Case in point:

I was at the local playground with my kids on a hot day. Just across the street is a little store that sells slush in the Summer time. It's pretty much a given that if we're going to that park there will be a round of slush afterwards, barring situations of extreme bad behavior, in which case t he suspension of slush privileges is a punishment. I was involved deeply in sand box play with my children. I couldn't help but overhear the conversation of some particularly annoying and self righteous neo-hippie trust fund parents bemoaning the fact that the local shop won't carry the organic slush. They would never let there kids eat the regular slush...and it's so hard, because all the other kids get to have slush...but I won't let my kids eat that junk....(hint:because I'm better than the other parents).

I could feel the fury rising within me as I thought to myself how pointless it is, perhaps even needlessly cruel, to deny a child an occasional treat of brightly colored frozen junk food on a hot Summer afternoon. I want as much as anyone for my kids to eat healthy foods, but Jesus, it's July. And I couldn't help but feel that this conversation was being had loudly over on the benches so that the Townie parents, who were all in the sand box actively playing with their kids, couldn't help but overhear.

I was about ready to blow my stack when an older woman came into the park with a young boy, about four years old. She approached the yuppie group and asked "is he one of your kids?" "yes, he's my son" said the lead obnoxious dad, "who are you?"

"I found him up the street wandering alone", said the older woman. The boy had wandered out of the park a block away to the store that sells the slush. No one had noticed, but at least he wasn't being fed that awful regular slush.

If you have kids, play with them. Or at least look after them at the playground. If you live near Boston, treat them to a slush now and then.

Priorities are still important.

02 July 2012

Pitti Uomo 2012

from Judge magazine, 1923

This may look like an old cartoon, but it's actually a drwing of a bunch of third rate mens fashion bloggers chasing after the last train to Pitti Uomo 2012. The Sartorialist, Scott Schuman, is the one seated behind Garance Dore on the back of the train.

p.s. the Shop is full to capacity with plenty of new items. Stop by and browse.