30 August 2013


The AAW live Shop (perhaps "Showroom" is a better word) is now keeping regular, if scant, hours. If you're a Boston area local, print this coupon and receive 15% off your purchase. See you soon.

29 August 2013

Late to the Party (or, just in time)

I used to have a great pair of perfectly dirty white bucks, but they got destroyed. I spent a few Summers without a pair. Not that I didn't look. New versions were either too expensive, or not worth the trouble, and white bucks are sadly elusive through my usual cheapskate, thrift shop channels. But then these turned up. No discernible brand name, but made well of quality white buck, with the requisite brick red rubber soles, and built in dirtiness. At $5.49 they were more than double the cost of my last pair, but still worth it (snark).

True, Labor Day weekend is upon us, the official "end" of white shoe season. However, one of the ruling tenets of thrift shopping is a rejection of shopping seasonally and taking what one finds when one finds it. Besides, I happen to think white bucks are at their best into the Fall, with flannel and tweed. I've said it before, to some minor wailing and gnashing of teeth from the purists. Let's not forget, it's a concept that dates back to the 1940s or sooner, a style that hails from the campi of American colleges, "preppy" (gross) before we felt the need to call it that, and I can dig it.
Our man James pulled it off well. As a bonus, note what appears to be a peaked lapel single breasted tweed jacket, and a tie that is tied with the rear blade longer that the front..."sprezzatura" before that was an awful, played out cliche.

White bucks in late August...late to the party? or just in time?

27 August 2013


Recently, some bikes were stolen from my garage. I was home when it happened, and ran outside just in time to see the lousy punks taking off down the driveway. Very upsetting. I won't dwell on the low aspects of the event here. Instead, I've managed to find a bright side in all this.
The bikes they took were Mrs. G's daily commuter, a birthday gift from me some few years ago, and my old fixed gear, a bike I'd had for longer then we'd lived together, never mind been married and had kids. What they left behind were these two old Raleigh Sports English three speed bikes. I bought this matched set of his and hers bikes years ago. Mrs. G never much cared for hers beyond aesthetic reasons. Mine saw plenty active duty [see here(yes, those are boat shoes with socks, despite my ravings here)]. When our second child came along, mine was put away as it couldn't accommodate the trailer I needed to tote both kids. Tires went flat, rust formed and dust gathered.

So, the other day I disassembled both of them, and cleaned up all the parts. Some parts were usable, others in pretty rough shape. But fortunately, between the two bikes I managed to collect enough pieces to make one. 
A frame, stem and crank from the men's bike. Wheels, fenders, and almost everything else from the ladies bike. This may seem like a lot of work to some of you, but I actually enjoy these kind of projects. Besides, not only do I not have the money for any kind of new bike, thrift shopping has made me feel as though its cheating when I don't have to refurbish something just in order to use it. Call it reverse spoiling, I guess.
A little more than $40 for odds and ends at the local bike shop, and the old battle bike rides again. It's a "penny loafer" bike, in that one can actually ride it in a jacket and tie. I may even start riding it to work, since it's the only bike I've had that can be ridden in shoes. 
The old leather Brooks saddle gets a rub down with some mineral oil, and it's got another life in it. 
Sturmey Archer three speed mechanism gets a new cable, and it too is good as new.
Nothing like a Nottingham Raleigh. It may not be as "sexy", or garner as much "street cred", or however the kids call it, as the old fixed gear, but I'm not one of those kids anymore anyway, and this old beast is better suited to life as I live it now.  So the bright side is that this wonderful thing which has suffered such awful neglect for too many years is once again alive and strong. I feel as though I accomplished something, and the Boy helped out, learning some useful bicycle maintenance in the process. I also saved a lot of money, and kept something out of the trash. People who don't buy and use old things tend not to understand the good feeling that comes with that.

Still, if I ever catch the punks who took our bikes.....

p.s. I have had a lot of emails regarding hours in the Shop. You may notice there is an icon in the sidebar with this information. They are as follows:

I look forward to seeing you there sometime. I have a lot of great tweeds in stock now, with more to come as the Autumn approaches.

20 August 2013

Dungarees, Short Pants, and Ball Caps

The family and I are now back from Maine, and settling into the world of noise and technology that we vacated for the last eight days. That means I'll be back to wearing needlessly dressy clothes, and yammering about them here. But don;t be fooled. As much as I may rail against the excessive acceptance of the sort of attire mentioned in the title of this post, I am not above wearing any of that. In fact, I lived in such clothing the last week....because, you know, I was on Summer vacation, not in an office or something.
Levi's 501s, L.L.Bean blucher mocs, modern (gasp!) L.L.Bean pullover windbreaker, and a plain orange ball cap. Perfectly suitable for a chilly evening stroll on Lincolnville Beach with my Girl in tow.
The same pullover and ball cap, with shorts, white tennis shirt, and Quoddy boat shoes at the dock at Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse, with the Boy and the Girl. It is in fact possible to be casual and comfortable and not be dressed like a five year \old. Leave the cut-offs and ironic graphic tees behind. Here's to the return of the casual grown up.
It has become tradition for the Boy to insist we all dress for dinner on our last evening. We dine at the Whale's Tooth Pub. Its not fancy in the least. In fact, its the kind of place that an old lady would have considered "fancy" in the 1970s. But the Boy wears a coat and tie to eat his French fries and chicken fingers, and we all dress in kind. How can I discourage his sense of occasion? It makes me proud. 

p.s. Tweed and flannel arriving in the online Shop.

p.p.s live Shop now open every Saturday, 10-2. Extended hours coming soon. 249 Elm Street, Somerville, MA, 02144. So much tweed...

15 August 2013

Maine Shoes, part 2

...or you could just plunge your bare feet in the invigorating, icy waters of the great Atlantic. The third suitable footwear option in mid-coast Maine.

This would have been a Twitter "tweet" (dag, I really don't care for the modern lingo), but cell service is practically non-existent up here....which is really quite wonderful once the initial shock wears off...kinda like icy cold ocean water.

14 August 2013

Sponsored Post: Camping Gear from Millets

The Gentleman's Guide to Camping

It’s one thing to pull off suave and stylish in the bustling urban setting; it’s another thing completely to brave the mud, marshes and pitching gear, and still come out a fashionable man. It doesn’t help that, while cheap tents for camping are in abundance, staying thrifty in terms of the outfits you’ll be sporting is seriously taxing.

Just look at North Face. Their profit margins are fantastically high because of the fact that offer ‘speciality’ gear. It’s pricey stuff, and as soon as your budgeting belt tightens up, the options are slim and, frankly, often hideous.

But have no fear.

Let’s start with dispelling some myths; you don’t need to go after the specialised gear to enjoy a comfortable camping experience. Start from the bottom up.

Wellington boots - or galoshes, or whatever you like to call them - have had a recent surge in popularity, thanks to the Hunters phenomenon, which has given fashionistas free reign to incorporate the old wellies into some chic ensembles. Thrift shop for something in your size, and be ready to tailor your palette to them. If the only kind you can find are fluorescent yellow, work around that; sport an array of bright colours.

Hiking boots are also a nice option, especially if you know you’ll be heading to some more mountainous zones, and often old hiking boots come cheap, with the added bonus of an authentic road-worn look. They’re not as waterproof as galoshes, though, so check out the weather and the area before you arrive so you can make an informed decision.

Trousers need to be comfortable and durable, and, since they are likely to get dirty at some point, either a dark brown or blue. Check your existing wardrobe; are their any old jeans that you wouldn’t mind staining? If so, save up those Benjamins and put them towards some decent stools or a cooler.

Finally, the overcoat. You might have assumed a blasé dismissal of employing raincoats since it’s summertime, but do not make this mistake. The only thing predictable about weather is that it is unpredictable. Prepare thyself. No matter how stupid you may feel wearing a hand-me-down macintosh, you’ll look far more laughable soaked to the bone sporting a scraggly mess of hair.

If you do go for the raincoat, go all out. Get it in a bright colour, get something that will fit nicely with a decent lapel, wear it with pride. Vintage large-buttoned raincoats are a fantastic choice, available in light oak browns and creams, and if you’re lucky, you could find one in a thrift shop.

The best way to make something enviable is to exude confidence while you sport it. Style is not a trend; style is an attitude.

-Jenny Crompton
sponsored by millets.co.uk

12 August 2013

Maine Shoes

I'm on vacation this week with the wife and children at our usual favorite spot in Mid-Coast Maine. Despite how overly concerned I may be with clothing, when travelling I am a fan of packing light. I take simple clothing that all matches and try to keep it to one bag. Two pair of shoes are a necessity, and this being Maine I figure the best two would be L.L. Bean blucher mocs and Quoddy boat shoes. Here we see them "in the wild", on some weathered decking.

It may seem that these shoes are merely slightly different versions of the same thing, so why these two? I do have a well considered reason, the kind of well considered reason that seems anything but sensible to most "normal" people (by "normal" I mean people not overly bothered  by clothing). You see, it may be August, but Maine can get cold and chilly, especially at night. While both of these shoes are favorite worn sockless, only the bluchers can be worn with socks. Boat shoes should never, NEVER, be worn with socks, ever. That's a rule. A meaningless, self-imposed rule, but still.......

p.s. the 20% Sale in the Shop has been extended to midnight Thursday, 16 August. Use discount code SUMMER2013 at checkout. Scoop up the deals while you can, Fall restock happening soon.

08 August 2013

Freedom in the Restrictions

Having written this blog some five years or so now, I sense a pattern of writers block that occurs each year just about now. Regular readers will no doubt have noticed it here recently. I suppose the paucity of posts can be attributed to a few things. No doubt setting up my "secret shop" has been very time consuming, and besides, the inherent laziness of Summer can't help  but creep in, especially when it comes to performing unpaid work. But there is one reason above all that slows the gears to a grind.

This is, as you know, a blog primarily about men's clothing. I use my own clothes almost exclusively as topics of discussion. While it's true that I have a penchant for the brightly colored so-called "go-to-hell" aestethic, clothing like that will get you only so far. It may make for good photos and fun discussion, but even I can't wear it as often as you might think I do. The fact is, from July until the weather changes to tweed, you will find me in some combination of navy jacket and tan trousers upwards of five days a week. I've written about this "sometimes uniform" before. There's really only so much you can write about it. ADG did a pretty good job recently, as is his wont, and his post caused me to shelve this one. However, a week later with little else to talk  about and not wanting so cram to much business info down the gullet, I've decided to run it anyway.

Pictured above is the line-up that is my Summer dress clothes. Three blazers probably seems like a lot to any sensible person who isn't needlessly obsessed with unnecessary clothing (ask my wife), but I need them all for different reasons. There's the linen one with white buttons, on the left, for the hottest days. There's the gossamer wool hopsack by Southwick, in the center, an indefatigable classic that is actually the lynch pin of my entire wardrobe, and there's the double-breasted, side vented number on the right, the most dashing of the group, for when a bit more formality is desired.  And then there's the tan trousers: classic flat fronts from Brooks Brothers, a very lightweight pair by Alan Rouleau of Boston, a real pair of military surplus, a fuller cut pair with forward pleats in a linen and cotton herringbone, another forward pleated pair in cotton and silk, and on, and on. Why do I need all these different versions of the same thing? Probably no good reason, but here is my justification.

Variety is a good thing, but too much of a good thing can be bad. There is a certain freedom to be found in restrictions. It's a common theory among artists of all kinds that the more limited the parameters, the more there is for expression. By removing all superfluous choice, one is free to hone in on all the little minute details that differentiate dressing well from merely dressing. A combination like a navy jacket and tan trousers is right for so many occasions, and works well with numerous combinations of shirt and tie, from very plain and formal, to bold stripes, plaids, or anything else. You can concentrate more on cut and style, opting for easy American tailoring for one occasion, with flat front trousers and soft shoulders, and more aggressive tailoring for another, opting for pleats, side vents and a stronger shoulder. You can wear this combo as easily with sharply creased slacks and a white shirt as with soft old trousers and a polo. It is all purpose, so much so that even a clotheshorse like me will continue to resort to it with great frequency and little compunction.

There is freedom min the restrictions....even if does lead to boring blogging sometimes.

p.s. don't forget about the 20% off Summer sale in the online Shop this week. 20% off everything through midnight Saturday using discount code SUMMER2013 at checkout. Locals can take advantage of 25% savings in person at the live Shop Saturday, 10 August, from 11am-2pm. 249 Elm Street, 2nd Floor, Somerville, MA (Davis Square)

05 August 2013

Ad (non)Sense

Dear Google,

I signed up for Google Adsense recently. It was not a decision I made easily. However, I do work very hard writing this blog, and I see nothing wrong in making a few extra dollars for my efforts, so long as the advertising is relevant.

So why do you keep giving me nail polish ads?

Dear readers,

Sorry about that.

03 August 2013


An Affordable Wardrobe Summer Sale!!

Take 20% off everything in the online shop,
now through midnight, 10 August 2013
Use discount code SUMMER2013 at checkout.