26 March 2014

Free Stuff : Passaggio Cravatte

A while back, I was graciously offered a tie to review by Gianni Cerutti of Passaggio Cravatte. I had heard so many good things about them, and never having owned an Italian seven fold tie, I accepted. Besides, the broken English of whatever translator he used in his emails, all of which began "Hello, Dear", was something I couldn't refuse.

His process was in depth and friendly. After we agreed to work together, he sent me over 200 high resolution photos of vintage fabrics he has on hand, silks, grenadines, knits in wool and cashmere,you name it. In many cases, each fabric is only enough for a few ties. After some deliberation, I settled on a soft cashmere in burgundy, brown, and tan tic weave. I gave him the length and width of a favorite tie of mine and waited excitedly for my tie to arrive.
In a matter of only two short weeks, my tie had arrived. The cashmere was softer than I could have imagined, and the construction is indeed superb. All Gianni's ties are made to order, completely by hand, in his small studio in Naples. The tie is unlined, with a rolled tip and seven fold construction, which gives it a nice heft yet lets it hang very softly when tied. I hate to sound maudlin, but it really is something of a work of art. In person, there is no denying the superior quality this tie has in relation to nearly all of my others, that there is something special about this one is obvious from a distance (that is, to a clothing nerd who thinks too much about these things anyway). The only other tie I have that comes close is a wool and cashmere blend made in Italy by Paul Stuart.
As you can imagine, these things do not come cheap. This tie would have sold for 195 Euro, or roughly $235. No small chunk of change, and frankly a hard thing for me to justify endorsing on a blog about being cheap. But we need to consider it in context I suppose. Ralph Lauren Purple Label sells ties for upwards of $220, but there are a lot of each of them. The tie I ordered is the only like it in existence, and that's at least worth something. If you're reading this blog, chances are you probably won't be ordering one of these any time soon, but it is worth knowing that in very rare cases, things are expensive for a very real reason. My Nonna would have loved this tie, for it's Italian-ness as well as the beauty of it's construction and material. She was like that.

Grazie, Gianni.

p.s. Speaking of ties, look for a follow up to this story soon. It's been really interesting the way this has developed, and I look forward to sharing the results with you.

p.p.s. In the Shameless Self Promotion Department, Spring Clearance Sale is happening now in the AAW Shop.

19 March 2014

The S.P.C.P.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of pairs of innocent, high quality trousers are passed over and cast aside, simply for having a pleated front. Don't wait for the fashion media to tell you pleats are o.k., that comfort and style come in many forms. Won't you please help?

-Brought to you by The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Pleats

p.s. don't forget to send a tie to show support for Mayor Rivera

15 March 2014

One For the Good Guys

Mayor Dan Rivera of Lawrence, Mass.

Recently, Dan Rivera, the newly elected Mayor of Lawrence Massachusetts, has instituted a dress code for City Hall employees. Read the story here.

Basically, he's only asking grown-ups who work in an office to dress like grown-ups who work in an office, which of course has some of those same grown-ups in a lather. He's banned jeans, sweatpants, spandex, and pyjamas. To me, the only thing shocking here is that we need to have rules in place to get people to do this. Adults used to just know these things.

The rule that seems to have garnered the most negative reaction is the one requiring men to wear a tie. It's been called everything from sexist to elitist. A lot of guys are citing the cost of these clothes as their primary complaint. I'm sure you all can guess how I feel about that. Of the more than one hundred ties currently in my own collection, I'm sure none of them cost more that five dollars at thrift shops.

Lawrence has been known for years as something of a "rough town", one of poverty and crime. Mayor Rivera is trying to clean up the city's image, and he believes that City Hall, effectively his own back yard, is the place to start. I for one would like to show my support of his efforts. As such, I'd like to take up a collection of ties and donate them to the Mayor to give out to his male employees. An Affordable Wardrobe will be donating a dozen or so of its own ties to this cause. I'm sure many of you have at least one tie you don't really need. Find that tie, and send it to me by the end of the week. I'll drive them up to Mayor Rivera's office myself with support on behalf of all the readers of this blog. I guarantee that after a week of wearing ties regularly, most of the complainers will begin to feel better about themselves in the morning.

Let's get behind Mayor Rivera. This really is one point we can chalk up for the good guys.

You can send your ties here:

An Affordable Wardrobe
249 Elm Street 2nd Floor
Somerville, MA, 02144

p.s. the last time I visited a thrift shop in Lawrence, I came away with half a dozen shirts from the Andover Shop. Penury is not an excuse.

12 March 2014

Trending (ugh) now (?) : The Short Quiff (?!?!)

I don't rightly remember how, but I recently stumbled across an article on a mens fashion site about the current (apparently) "it" haircut for men, referred to as the "short quiff". Highlights from this article include the following:

This year, the short quiff hairstyle has evolved from being a runway haircut seen on male models to the trending haircut. Perhaps its the enduring appeal of shows like Mad Men, but it seems men’s hairstyle trends for 2013 are focused on a refined look, channeling a modern urban gentleman. 


The short quiff requires more hair on the top than the sides and back. The key to a good short quiff hairstyle is to strike a balance between the volume at the top and the shortness on the side and back.


The short quiff hairstyle demands the sides and back of your hair be cut short. Whether they are clipped or shaved depends entirely on your desires – it’s best to discuss this with your hairstylist because they’ll know what works for you.

Funny, for over twenty years I've been visiting the same barber shop. I leave my hair longer on top, short at the sides, parted on the left. Guess I've been "trending now" for a long time after all. The conversation goes something like this:

Barber "How you doing? The Usual?"
Me "Yeah, just clean up the back and sides, a little off the top."

If Don Draper were a real person, I bet his instructions to the barber would have been much the same.

---Hair stylist?!?!

07 March 2014

Rules of Thrifting : Get It While You Can

I'm not one to complain about the weather, but it sure as hell has been one long, cold Winter. Dare I say it, I'm getting tired of all my Shetland, flannel, and tweed. So to lighten the mood, I thought I'd offer a little preview of the upcoming Summer wardrobe.
Pictured left to right: a Brooks Brothers tan poplin suit, inexplicably tailored with a darted jacket and forward pleated trousers; a no name, made in USA seersucker suit in classic blue and white; a knockout vintage cotton blend navy and white gingham check jacket from the Andover Shop; a vintage 1980s real Madras jacket from J. Press; and an unusual jacket in grey and blue seersucker tattersall check, also from J.Press

Also, a pair of grey and white forward pleat seersucker trousers from Bill's Khakis and a pair of pale yellow silk and linen forward pleated trousers made in Italy for Polo. These items ought to supplement my usual warm weather uniform of navy jackets and tan trousers quite nicely.

All of these items were picked up at thrift stores over the course of the last four months or so,  with the exception of the Andover Shop jacket which was acquired through buddy Zach. Outside, Mother Nature continued to batter us with cold winds and piles of snow relentlessly, leaving everyone in a search for all the sweaters and blankets they could gather. But thrift stores are wonderfully chaotic and random places, and the most successfully thrifters know that you have to get what you find when you find it. If you wait for summer to look for thing alike this, there may not be much left.

Get it while you can.

04 March 2014

Rules of Thirfting : Accept Heartbreak

Yesterday I found this pair of pants, 90% wool/10% cashmere, navy blue chalk stripe, with forward pleats, a high waist, and brace buttons. Made in Italy for Paul Stuart, the tag showed that they were the bottom half of a suit (obviously) in my size. It's no rare occurrence for a suit to become separated in a thrift shop, so I searched for the jacket in the sports coats with no luck. Determined, I hunted through the outerwear, still no luck. Undaunted, I rifled through both the ladies jackets and outerwear. I even put Mrs. G on the task. Still, nothing.

Once, I managed to reunite a suit from two different Salvation Army stores. I considered taking a gamble and buying the trousers in the hopes that the coat might turn up elsewhere. Silly I know, but I've been wanting a navy chalk striped suit ever since I was a kid. Amazingly, common sense prevailed and I left the trousers behind.

I awoke today with a nagging feeling that I was going to bring this garment back together, so first thing I traveled to the other store in search of the orphaned coat. No dice, but I did pick up a crazy red tweed jacket with bellows pockets and a half belted back (coming soon to the AAW Shop).  Like a man possessed, I again visited the first store in the hopes that the coat may have been put out later in the day after I left. On the drive over, I saw myself wearing the suit, with a collar pin, wool challis tie, and black lace ups. The trousers were still there, but not the coat. Reluctantly, I gave up.

This story serves to illustrate not one but three of the basic tenets of thrift shopping:

1) Persistence is the one thing that separates the men form the boys
2) In order to do this successfully, you have to be willing to accept an occasional heartbreak 
3) Only a crazy person would do this

p.s. You know I'll probably make another pass at this in both stores next week. Commit me.

01 March 2014

NSV x Keikari

Keikari recently interviewed Zach De Luca of Newton Street Vintage. While it may seem odd for me to push for someone who is basically a competitor, Zach is a good friend and has plenty of insightful things to say about style, tradition, thrift shopping, and dressing well. Read the article here.