30 July 2014

The Striped Tee

Though it may seem something of a sacrilege to many around here, I have to admit that this Summer I have come around to the idea of the striped tee shirt. Double indemnity for liking it especially well when paired with high waisted pleated pants. More on this to come.

29 July 2014


"Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel"
-Samuel Johnson, 7 April 1775

Samuel Johnson, famous English political crank and literary critic of the 18th century, said this in a speech denouncing the independence of what was then known as "The Colonies".

"Second last refuge of a scoundrel, being photographed with your children."

-Anonymous, 13 July 2014, in response to a photo of me with my children

"Penultimate refuge of a scoundrel, 'Drobe; I believe you are better than this..."
-"Redcoat", 29 July 2014, in response to a lighthearted installment of my infrequent "Thrifty Kids" series, in which I feature the thrift shop style of my children.

Um, better than what now? Really, I'd like to know.
Looks like Queen Mum herself is something of a scoundrel then. Not only is she photographed with her children, but in her bed clothes no less. Bet she loves her country too.
Even our man Charles is not immune. Thanks, "Redcoat". You really made your point. Johnson would be proud I'm sure, especially since you misquoted him. 

We will return to our usual shallow yammering tomorrow...I promise.

p.s. I was born in '76

28 July 2014

Thrifty Kids, part 5

Last night, we decided to dine out at our favorite local Italian ristorante. The food there is honest and good, the atmosphere comfortable and homey, not the least bit what you might call "fancy". But the kids think it is, and they both insist on dressing in kind. On this particular occasion, The Girl knocks it out of the park in a classic yet current glamour/preppy look perfect for a Summer evening.
A fitted ladies white oxford button down by Polo Ralph Lauren tones down nicely with a slap bracelet  featuring Rainbow Dash of My Little Pony fame.
A floral print skirt in bright colors on a dark ground adds just the right feminine preppy touch, dressing things up just so while staying comfortable.
Plastic Cinderella pumps from Target remind us that she is, in fact, a five year old girl. These cheap shoes cost more than the rest of the outfit combined.

Well dressed people learn young, as do cheapskates. Give your kids a healthy sense of occasion, but don't let them develop a habit of extravagance. That money is better spent on food and wine anyway.

26 July 2014

Thank You

Just over a year ago, I handed over the first rent check on this little empty room. A few weeks later, I had done my best to dress it up, unlocked the door, and the brick-and-mortar Affordable Wardrobe "secret shop" was born.
I'm still here, and the place is constantly bursting at the seems with an ever changing flow of wonderful old clothes. I've seen a lot of great stuff in that time, learned a lot, and made many new friends. I'd like to thank each one of you who contributed to my Indiegogo campaign, visited the shop, consigned with me, read this blog, or supported AAW in any way. It's been a lot of work and a real labor of love, but it would be nothing without my customers and readers.

To help celebrate, everything in the Shop, both online and in person, is 20% off through midnight Monday 28 July. Use discount code ANNIVERSARY2014 at checkout.

22 July 2014

When in Rome...

"The idea that I would have to drape myself in a toga every morning, and to have this drapery hanging around me throughout the day-the entire day, please!-in the same folds, this uncomforting thought is enough to drive me to suicide. I like to walk, walk, walk and when on a whim , I decide to run after a streetcar racing by, the thing would surely become independent.. The Romans never walked. They just lounged around. And should I wrap myself in a towel after a bath, it is certain to be located somewhere else within five minutes. I just don't have the nerves for that kind of aggravation."

-Adolf Loos "Praise for the Present", 1908, from "Why a Man Should Be Well Dressed"
Wow. And I'll bet some of you thought I was a curmudgeon. This guy is on another plane...100 years ago.

21 July 2014

The Prodigal Son

I've written before about the perseverance involved in successful thrift shopping. Often, suits will be separated into their constituent parts and priced individually, but a pro-level thrift shopper (cheapskate) knows how to find the orphaned components and attempt to reunite them with their missing family. Not long ago, I brought together a three piece suit, from three different racks. Many other times I managed to put coat and trousers back together. Once, I completed a suit by finding the two pieces more than a week apart from one another. But the suit above marks a new level of thrift serendipity, even for a seasoned and perhaps even jaded cheapskate such as your humble author.

Last weekend, a regular consigner brought in the jacket pictured above, with the caveat that he knows I don't want orphaned suit coats, but this one is from Brooks Brothers, and maybe this one could exist as an odd jacket. My initial reaction was to answer with a resounding "no", but then he showed me the coat. Almost immediately, something occurred to me. I went to the trousers in my shop, and brought out a pair in the matching cloth, also Brooks Brothers, and in a waist size and inseam consistent with the size of the coat. Thing is, I've had these trousers in my possession for nearly two years. A new one, even for me.

Divine intervention? A prodigal son returns.

p.s. This suit, plus a number of other great new items, now available in the Shop. Check it out.

18 July 2014

The Real Thing

If the endless barrage of images from Pitti Uomo has you confused about why the world in general considers Italian men to be well dressed, check out "La Grande Bellezza". It's a beautiful, lavish movie that manages to be both melancholy and humorous at once. It shows you the "good life" and gets you  jealous of it while being more than happy that you are not living it. On a shallow level, the main character, Jep Gambardella, wears some of the most beautiful clothes I've ever seen. It's true Italian style, and it has nothing to do with short, tight pants, unbuckled monk straps, or ties knotted with the rear blade too long.

12 July 2014

Preppy with a Twist

...or something. The kids and I dressed for a "cook out" at a friends house. Being able to wear a bow tie with shorts is a positive side effect of the "neo-prep" revival. I'll take it.

Go Big or Go Home

Sometimes, you just gotta do it to the hilt

09 July 2014

A Regular Renaissance

I appreciate a really good beer. A rich malty stout on a cold Winter's day; an ethereal wild fermented Belgian sour with a beautiful meal; a big and unusual new style American micro-brew shared with good company; these are all good things. But everything has it's time and place, and when the hot humid Summer reaches full pitch, nothing satisfies quite like an ice cold, easy drinking, low alcohol "regular beer." Every year around this time I revert without compunction or regret to keeping my refrigerator stocked with plenty of such beer, usually canned. Schlitz was my old favorite, but in recent years it's been Miller High Life. This Summer, however, a few good local breweries have stepped up to the plate, and for the first time "regular" beer and "good" beer are actually the same thing.

Notch Brewing started in Everett Massachusetts just a few years ago. Brewer Chris Loring set himself apart from the crowd early on by proudly reviving largely ignored (by Americans at least) European styles of beer and brewing them in thirst quenching, low alcohol versions. After so many years of intensely flavored beers buried in extremely high levels of alcohol, he proudly rolled out a line of delicious beers all clocking it at less than 5% alcohol by volume. Notch Session Pils is just such a beer, a traditional Czech style pilsner. Light, clean, lightly hoppy and bone dry, it stands as a testament to what refreshing pilsner really should be. Easily drinkable straight from the can, this is the beer that convinced me not to drop back to American "macro beer" this Summer.

Jack's Abby of Framingham Massachusetts creates interesting beers that have their basis in the brewing traditions of Germany, but with a distinctly American flair. I'm not usually one for "classics with a twist", but Jack's Abby knows how to achieve balance, consistently putting their own stamp on  classic lager styles without losing sight of history. This Summer, as part of a benefit for the town of Framingham, they've introduced Framingham Lager. Essentially, this is the regular American beer, not a take on a German style, but rather a vastly improved version of whichever crummy beer you grew up drinking. Again, easily drinkable straight form the bottle out on the porch, it's also light and dry, just barely hoppy, and with a refreshing "dusty" quality. In fact, I imagine that this beer probably tastes a lot like Schlitz might have tasted in Milwaukee in the 1930s. Bonus points for the simple red white and blue label. A case of these and a bottle of Bully Boy Whiskey (more on that later) beats a case of Bud and a bottle of Jack any day, even if they are kind of the same thing.

No oily, citrusy hops, no intense body and high alcohol, no added fruit, nothing. Just an honest renaissance for regular beer. Oddly enough, in poking around the internet to see what others had to say about these beers, I was met with mostly mediocre reviews. Chalk that up to our collective need for everything to be a "thing" I guess. I find the directness and simplicity of these beers to be a welcome breath of fresh air in world full of exhausted taste buds. If you live around New England, seek these out. If not, be jealous of those of us that do. The Americans finally get it right.

05 July 2014

When in Doubt, "Borrow"

photo : The Tie Guy
Some days, it's easy to get dressed, and others, I can barely put a combo together to save my life. Sometimes you step in the closet and the pieces put themselves together for you, sometimes none of it seems right. The latter was the case this morning. Mrs. G and I have dinner plans without the Boy and the Girl (a miraculous treat) and as such I needed something that would keep me all day at the AAW Shop, transition well into evening, and not be so pushy as to make Mrs. G uncomfortable. The first two are easy enough, it's that last one that gives me the most trouble, as Mrs. G, like most people, is not obsessed with clothing to a near unseemly degree.

After much hemming and hawing, I finally decided on the old safety net combination of navy jacket, khaki trousers, blue and white shirt, and quiet tie. Sure, it's safe, but I wore a version of that uniform only yesterday, and none of it was pushing my buttons today. So I sat down for a coffee and some wasting of time via Tumblr, and came across the above image from The Tie Guy. Among numerous reblogged photos of young men in too-skinny fashion clothes, this shot provided a look that was clean and simple; modern but not overly "fashion"; nice looking without being a "look". And it occurred to me that I had something like every piece in my own closet.
Grey tropical suit by Polo, $40 via ebay; blue tattersall spread collar shirt by Polo, $5.49 at thrift; Lands' End knit tie, $2.99 at thrift; no name square, $1 in the ladies scarves at thrift

So I decided to borrow the idea, by which I mean steal it of course. I frequently wear a suit in the Shop on Saturdays, because when else am I going to wear one, but I didn't want to be too formal tonight for dinner with Mrs. G. The tattersall shirt and knit tie turn down the formality a good deal, while still working well with what is essentially a business suit. The look is in keeping with my own style and the style of my shop, but is quiet enough to look right next to the cute Summer dress Mrs. G will likely be wearing. I considered brown suede monk straps, but thought that was a bit too "fashion", and so copped out with my standard brown tassel loafers. Summer may be the perfect time for color in a man's wardrobe, but even I can only wear canary yellow, patch madras, seersucker and rumpled linen so often. Besides,  Boston in is the throes of perfectly moderate, mid-70s, 0% humidity post hurricane weather, just right for tropical wool, not hot enough for nonchalant wrinkles. And Mrs. G doesn't have to feel so self conscious about the peacock beside her, because my louder tendency are in check today, which is the whole point of the demented thought process that led to this outfit, and by extension this blog post.

We all want to develop a personal sense of style, but every now and again it's ok to borrow (steal) ideas from other well dressed men, and these days the internet is full of images to use as inspiration. After all, it's in borrowing that we learn, just be sure you use good solid source material in the first place. As I said once before, sometimes its good to be impressionable, as long as you listen to the right people.

04 July 2014

Happy 4th of July

As an old retail guy, I have a tendency to be something of a curmudgeon about most holidays, as they usually mean a lot of extra work malling sure everyone one else, most of whom have the day off, have an especially good time at all the celebrations I won't be attending, because I have to work. However, I do like to indulge in a whiff of the festive dress. The trick is to keep things civilized, and as understated as possible. Red and white braces on a blue and white shirt are kept in place with a navy tie bearing club crests rather than stars. Khakis, a navy blazer, and brown tassels hold it down. Keep the American flag tie and red,white, and blue afro clown wig at home. Please.

In celebration of the Fourth, An Affordable Wardrobe will be hosting a sale. Now through midnight Sunday, 6 July, enjoy 20% off your entire purchase in our webstore using discount code 4JULY2014 at checkout. This offer also applies in our "brick and mortar", located at 249 Elm Street in Davis Square, Somerville, Massachusetts Bay Colony, Saturday, 5 July, where we will be keeping extended hours, 10 am until 5 pm. (with perhaps a brief midday closure for lunch). Hope to see you there.

02 July 2014

AAW for ehow.com

I'm pleased to announce that I am now a contributing writer to the style page at ehow.com. Read my first published article, on the versatility of the classic navy blazer, here. Thanks to everyone who reads the blog enough to put me on the map.