22
Jul

Stupid Summer Pants — The summer in Monterey Bay isn’t dramatically different than any other season of the year. Temperatures rest between the high 50s at the coldest and perhaps will rise into the low 70s. Despite the lack of any noticeable seasons, I still enjoy wearing seasonally appropriate clothing. And for summer months, I do enjoy wearing some really stupid summer pants.

Don’t mistake this as an endorsement for them, nor should you consider them a wardrobe staple. You don’t need a pair — let alone six pairs — in your closet. They’re obnoxious and never really appropriate for even the most casual of workplaces. They likely will go with very little in your wardrobe, too. 

But despite not being able to justify owning them, their presence has multiplied in the past year — taking more space in my closet that ought to be filled with more of those wardrobe staples everyone keeps harping on about. The truth is that I really enjoy wearing them and they make me happy on my days off when I’m not bound by the workplace jacket and necktie.

They’re probably better known as “Go To Hell” pants — Ivy Style’s Christian Chensvold wrote on the history of GTH pants — but let’s just call them what they really are: stupid. Wearing them signals I’m not doing anything important that day; it’s my day off and I’ll do whatever I damn well please. 

Some are cut trim, others wide with a bit of break. Materials range from light chino cottons, cotton-linen blends or madras. 

I’ve been wearing them with long-sleeved rugby polos, popover shirts, untucked OCBDs, boat shoes, unlined desert boots, loafers, the occasional linen shawl-collar cardigan sweater and never with socks.

It’s a shame the stupidity can’t last year-round, but much like a mojito, they only feel right under the summer sun. 

15
Jul

Steezy Seersucker Summers — Almost two years ago, I saw the top photo of Popeye editor-in-chief, Takahiro Kinoshita, come across my dashboard and instantly I wanted a seersucker suit of my own. 

Cut almost too fashion forward (I suspect by Thom Browne), the jacket’s short length and shorter-still two-inch cuffs exposing bare ankles looked somehow restrained by the simple white club-collar shirt and black silk knit tie and penny loafers. 

Seersucker suits aren’t anything new. Beloved by Ivy and trad purists, you can still find the suit sold by the usual purveyors of such clothing. But those suits always struck me as a bit too frumpy, with legs a bit too wide, jackets often undarted into a sack and cut a bit too long —  placing them safely into traditional territory. They often look like they demand to be worn with nothing other than white bucks and a bowtie, which I think makes them harder to wear if you’re not in the South or perhaps along the East Coast.

And I could never think of a good reason for me to own one, despite liking the idea of owning one. After all, how many garden parties, outdoor summer weddings, Southern courtrooms and Congressional Seersucker Thursdays would I find myself attending?

Regardless, I keep coming back to this particular seersucker suit and the idea and execution of it seems more modern and perhaps wearable in an urban setting. I’d change a few things: make it three buttons, add patch pockets and have the interior construction suited for travel. 

Ideally, the suit would be one you could wear on a trip and also wear as separates. Just pack a navy rugby polo, cadet blue Bermuda shorts, faded denim, a chambray or linen shirt and white canvas sneakers and you’d have a combination of outfits for a summer trip. 

But a third summer will now pass and no seersucker suit hangs in my closet. Perhaps next summer. 

01
May
Albert Ming Arctic Shirt — An interesting innovation for dealing with the summer heat: a cotton mesh fabric. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. It could be useful for casual wear, especially at the beach or a hot summer BBQ. 

The Berkeley-based Albert Ming has a few other garments that merges innovative function into the fabrics, like water repellency. It’ll be interesting to see what else they come up with.

Albert Ming Arctic Shirt — An interesting innovation for dealing with the summer heat: a cotton mesh fabric. I haven’t seen anything quite like this before. It could be useful for casual wear, especially at the beach or a hot summer BBQ.

The Berkeley-based Albert Ming has a few other garments that merges innovative function into the fabrics, like water repellency. It’ll be interesting to see what else they come up with.

19
Feb

Proper Suit summer fabrics & unstructured jackets

Last week, the guys from Proper Suit let me know they had new fabric books in for spring and summer. 

Since my review of Proper Suit back in November, Proper Suit has been featured in Esquire's Style Blog and Bloomberg TV — it’s good to see a Chicago men’s clothing company get some national level attention — and they’ve now opened up a 3,600-square foot office in Chicago’s River North area to take local Chicago appointments. 

But the stuff I’m really excited about are their new fabrics for the warmer seasons. The variety of lightweight wools, linens, cottons and wool-silk-linen blends offer an exciting buffet of choices for odd jackets in the summer — or suits if you intend to go with a more conservative solid linen or seersucker fabric. 

Proper Suit has fabrics available from a variety of Italian mills, including Loro Piana, Zegna, Artison Napoli, Reda, VBC, Delfino, Ormezzano, Solbiati, Imparato and Fintes. 

In addition to these seasonal offerings, Proper Suit told me they’re now offering unstructured jackets as an alternative to their traditional full-canvas construction. Customers have been asking them for a while if they can offer it and they’ve worked with their manufacturer to add the option. 

After some consideration, I picked a 240-gram brown plaid linen fabric with a mid-blue check (seen on the bottom of the first fabric photo above) from Ormezzano. 

For details: brown horn buttons, bemberg lined sleeves, patch pockets, dual vents, notched lapels and of course a 3-2 roll buttoning stance. Because of the unstructured nature of the jacket, we narrowed the shoulders a bit from my suit pattern and raised the armhole slightly. 

I’m excited to see how it turns out an in a few weeks should have photos and a review up for those curious about trying the program. If you’d rather not wait, then you can visit Proper Suit and book an appointment to see the fabrics for yourself. 

25
Jan
clamorist:

Brown calf & suede correspondent shoes at Charles Tyrwhitt

I’m seriously considering getting a pair of spectator shoes for summer. I can’t decide if these are more or less obnoxious than if they were done with white instead of suede.

clamorist:

Brown calf & suede correspondent shoes at Charles Tyrwhitt

I’m seriously considering getting a pair of spectator shoes for summer. I can’t decide if these are more or less obnoxious than if they were done with white instead of suede.

06
Dec
1930s De Pinna white linen suit — Beyond the fact that this suit is nearly eight decades old, there’s a story to go with it:

The man who gave me this suit told me that it belonged to his father. His father purchased it at the De Pinna department store on 5th Ave. in NYC. De Pinna is a now-defunct department store that was known for its high quality, conservative clothing and was owned (along with Brooks Brothers) by the parent company of Julius Garfinckel & Co. out of Washington D.C.
Here is what the man recalls of the suit’s history:
"On Friday June 28, 1940 my Father dressed in this linen suit and his best friend - both newly minted physicians - steamed away from Pier 32 in NYC on the American Republics Line S.S. Argentina bound for a great adventure to South America. For two months they ventured by ocean liner, train, private car, donkey and dugout to ‘Rio, Sao Paulo (the Chicago of Brazil), Montevideo, Buenos Aires, the Great Lakes way to the south hidden amongst the Andes, Arequipa and the Quinta Bates, Cuzco and Macchu Picchu on the swift waters of the Urubamba, the myriads of flamingos resting on the shores of Lake Titicaca and Lima the ‘City of Kings.” These were the days where each accommodation was preceded by a letter of introduction, one dressed for dinner, and the world unfurled before you."

You don’t really want to know how much it costs to own this suit, but it’s definitely something to admire — especially being so clean after all these years.

1930s De Pinna white linen suit — Beyond the fact that this suit is nearly eight decades old, there’s a story to go with it:

The man who gave me this suit told me that it belonged to his father. His father purchased it at the De Pinna department store on 5th Ave. in NYC. De Pinna is a now-defunct department store that was known for its high quality, conservative clothing and was owned (along with Brooks Brothers) by the parent company of Julius Garfinckel & Co. out of Washington D.C.

Here is what the man recalls of the suit’s history:

"On Friday June 28, 1940 my Father dressed in this linen suit and his best friend - both newly minted physicians - steamed away from Pier 32 in NYC on the American Republics Line S.S. Argentina bound for a great adventure to South America. For two months they ventured by ocean liner, train, private car, donkey and dugout to ‘Rio, Sao Paulo (the Chicago of Brazil), Montevideo, Buenos Aires, the Great Lakes way to the south hidden amongst the Andes, Arequipa and the Quinta Bates, Cuzco and Macchu Picchu on the swift waters of the Urubamba, the myriads of flamingos resting on the shores of Lake Titicaca and Lima the ‘City of Kings.” These were the days where each accommodation was preceded by a letter of introduction, one dressed for dinner, and the world unfurled before you."

You don’t really want to know how much it costs to own this suit, but it’s definitely something to admire — especially being so clean after all these years.

10
Aug

Summer weekend fun jackets — A year ago, I would’ve worn something like this to the office during the workweek, but no more.

I’ve said this before, but when I first started this blog and began trying stuff out, I tended to dress quite “loudly” (like I think a lot of guys do when they first discover this hobby). 

But over time I began to thinking about context and consequently toned things down. I don’t consider myself a dandy — it’s not my personality — as I’m more conservative and reserved around people. For work, I don’t want to meet people and have them be distracted with the obnoxiousness of color in my clothing. This is why I’ve chosen to stick to monochromatic outfits. 

Since purging my wardrobe of nearly all colors outside of blue tones and neutrals, these are the two jackets to survive. Why? Because I think summer weekends deserve some jackets that tend to reflect my mood and they are something that allows me to break the rules of the uniform and have some fun. For me, I think loud jackets like these only work on summer weekend days, as I can’t really think of a situation in my life where they would be appropriate otherwise. 

The jackets are both in the “sack” cut and vintage finds I had altered by my tailor. The madras is a 3/2 roll, the cotton navy a 2-button. Both have wider lapels, flap pockets, center vents and half-lining (my only gripe). Of course, I do have some personal rules for wearing these jackets:

  • White shirts: I don’t think light blue or a striped shirts would go well with either of these jackets. The neutrality of white contrasts the best against the multiple colors competing for visual attention. White also tends to look better against tanned skin in the summer, bringing a richness to your face. In this case, I’ve gone with a long-sleeve cutaway-collar polo shirt, but white linen dress shirts work nicely for humid weather.

  • White trousers: Again, white offsets the loud colors nicely as a neutral. They’re a pain to keep clean and sangria is their sworn enemy, but nothing says “summer” better than being able to wear white linen trousers. You could go with stone or a light tan, too. 

  • Suede laced shoes: I’d prefer bucks or saddle shoes, something distinctly American with a blobby toe for the reason that these jackets have an American cut. If you’re wearing Italian-influenced jackets that are cut super slim and unconstructed, then perhaps suede tassel loafers or driving moccasins would be better. 

  • White linen pocket square: The jackets are overwhelming, keep the accessories simple.

The key here is to keep the jacket as the only “shouting” element you’re wearing — after all, if everyone’s shouting then no one gets heard. This is pretty common advice whenever someone asks a question like, “How do I wear bright color chinos?” and is given the answer of surrounding that element with toned-down pieces. 

I feel that advice comes from the right idea, but is explained incompletely. A blue OCBD or denim or khaki chinos are all “toned-down” pieces that according to the advice should work, but actually would result in a less coherent look. Perhaps in another season, but for the jacket’s full radiance to work, you have to set it against a background that’s optimized to not distract from its color in any way, which is why I’d argue for white above all colors. 

This is also why I don’t think loud jackets using bright colors work outside of summer. You can’t often successfully wear white during the other seasons. Fall and winter is more muted in color palette and requires a different way to incorporate the idea of “loud”. You either use color in a variety of earth tones and complimentary colors with darker hues in a loud pattern for countrywear or you use high-contrast neutrals in a monochrome palette for citywear — and neither of those really appeal to me. The former is too English, the latter too “fashion-y”.  

So, enjoy the summer of bright color while you can. Mojitos will be out of season all too soon. 

30
Jul

Orvis convention shorts — I don’t do shorts or critter prints, but this is about as close as I’d ever get. 

06
Jun

It’s on sale: Bucks and Boat Shoes — Piperlime is having a 20% off sale with code GIFT on men’s shoes. If you’ve been wanting to get some affordable footwear for the summer, then you can pick up these Bass Brockton white bucks for $55.20 and these Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes for $60. 

Also includes free shipping. Sale ends Saturday. 

03
May

White Denim: a summer staple on sale

White denim is fantastic for summer — a favorite of mine last year. It pairs well with blues and tans, making it a great fit to either contrast with hopsack blazers or linen sport coats. For those looking to take a more colorful approach to summer in their tailored jackets — either preppy or Pitti inspired — the neutral tone of white works well to compliment them, too, be they a wild madras or vivid washed cotton. 

If you’re unsure of where white denim might fit into what you already wear, treat them like you would khaki chinos or grey trousers in your wardrobe. I find white denim works best as a casual alternative to trousers and a warmer substitute for fabrics like linen on sunny weekend days. 

Best of all, getting white denim isn’t that costly and fits right in for those of you on the ramen noodle budget. 

Levi’s 501s in white denim are on sale for $33.60 with promo code FF2012, which knocks 30% off during their Friends & Family sale. (Sale ends May 7th.)

As far as sizing goes, I went down 2” from my waist size, as the denim will stretch out over time. Also, I took mine to the tailor to have them altered to a 7-inch leg opening and hemmed to no break. They look great with a pair of suede tassel loafers or chukka boots. 

02
May

White bucks roundup

With summer coming up and the Kentucky Derby this weekend, it’s about time to start breaking out the seersucker in your wardrobe. And with summer suiting comes summer casual footwear — particularly the white buck. 

They naturally go with summer clothing, like linen and seersucker suits, colored chinos and madras. I particularly like their high-contrast look against dark denim, letting the indigo stain the suede a bit. 

While some brands like Walk-Over and Mark McNairy have decided to make them more colorful, I’m still a proponent of the classic white buck. You could go with a dirty tan, which might have more year-round appeal, but there’s something I just really like about a stand-out pair in optic cocaine white. 

White bucks are typically seen as a preppy staple, with the term “white shoe firm” often referring to successful firms filled with partners who were Ivy Leaguers, as described in this column by William Safire. I suppose the thinking went that those in “black shoe” firms could only afford one pair of shoes, thus they bought the basic staple: a black pair of shoes. Those in “brown shoe” firms were more successful and able to buy pairs black and brown. And those in the elite could afford to have excess footwear, such as white shoes. 

Funny enough, suede bucks are relatively cheap nowadays in comparison to full-grain leather shoes, as Put This On points out. In fact, many see them not as shoes you purchase with the intent to wear them forever, but as disposable after they wear out. Of course, that depends how much you intend to wear them. You can spend as little as $60 with Bass, or go as high as $500 with Alden.

On the higher end, you’ll find construction with Goodyear welts and soles made of the more durable Dainite red-brick rubber. The suede will probably also be of higher quality. By contrast, the lower end will have less durable rubber and glued soles.

Personally, I have a virtually unused pair from Brooks Brothers I found on eBay on the cheap. Unfortunately, a day after wearing them sans socks resulted in the footbed lining to come unglued and curl up under the ball of my feet while walking. Frustrated, I ripped out the footbed liners and now only wear them in colder weather with socks. So, paying more for “mid-range” bucks might not necessarily mean you get something better than something on the low end. Buyer beware — I’m just glad I didn’t pay full retail for them. 

I will, however, vouch for the Walk-Over brand. I have a pair of saddle shoes from them — similar in construction with a Goodyear welt — and the lining has yet to come off the footbed with my bare feet. They typically turn up once in a while on sale, but $225 for Walk-Over bucks strikes me as a fair retail price. 

Below I’ve done a roundup of white suede bucks by price bracket, so everyone should be able to find a pair in their budget.

$100 and under:

$100 to $150:

$150 to $300:

$300 and over:

And for grins, here’s me last year wearing mine during a nice summer weekend last year:

23
Apr
23
Apr
23
Apr

Howard Yount 2012 summer suits & jackets

Howard Yount will be releasing their summer collection of sport coats, suits and a blazer this week. Frankly, this is something I’ve been excited about for a very long time and I was thrilled that Jamison at Howard Yount gave me a sneak peak at the season’s offerings. 

The most notable addition, in my opinion, is the introduction of a double-breasted suit in a navy cotton-linen fabric (also available in single-breasted). You don’t see a whole lot of double-breasted suits offered in ready-to-wear, let alone one in a summer weight and partially lined to keep you a bit cooler. And while the suit certainly would look great at more formal occasions throughout the summer, you could also break the suit up and wear each piece casually, too. Pair the jacket with some white denim or beige chinos and the trousers with a polo. 

In fact, three of the four suits in the line could easily be worn as separates — the patch pockets on the single-breasted navy suit and the glen-plaid linen suit sets them toward the casual suiting spectrum. 

I’m personally excited to get the grey tropical wool suit. It’s not easy to find more conservative suiting with little lining and in a summer weight that’s still fit to be worn to a more formal business environment or event. If you’ve ever worn a suit with a full (synthetic) lining in 80-degree or hotter weather, then you know quickly you wish to have an alternative. While I don’t wear suits much anymore, having that option in my closet is a welcome addition to the wardrobe.

Of course, there’s also a "California Tuxedo" option for those of you looking for it: a navy summer blazer. I have last year’s model (a different fabric), but the concept is still the same: a lighter navy tone with brushed brass buttons and an open-weave wool fabric with minimal lining to keep you cool. I love my summer blazer from Howard Yount that I bought last year and it’s lightness is amazing. 

Finally, there’s the range of seven sport jackets that have fabrics from the likes of Zegna, Carlo Barbera and Reda. There’s a wide range of options for the more conservative in you — such as a gun club plaid and a black & white herringbone — to the more dandified — with a royal blue cashmere-silk and a purple wool. 

As far as pricing goes, jackets will be $549 (except the cashmere-silk jacket) and suits starting at $599, which I think is really competitively priced when compared against other jackets of similar quality. 

And, one more thing: For those of you excited about the double-breasted suit, you’ll be thrilled to note Jamison has plans to bring it back in the fall in a grey flannel. 

See the entire collection after the jump:

Read More

11
Apr

Spring-summer blazers on the ramen noodle budget

I’ve been getting a few questions about where one can get a cheap jacket for spring and summer that won’t break the bank, so I’ve found a few options that should make a good portion of you happy. For those of you on the ramen-noodle budget, this list is for you:

Lands’ End Canvas chambray blazer: $21.97 — My roommate actually owns this and it’s pretty nice. Lightweight and has the appearance of washed denim. Goes great with white denim. 

Lands’ End Canvas nailhead oxford blazer: $24.97 — Looks like a bit of an improvement over the chambray blazer with lining only in the shoulders and sleeves. 

Lands’ End Canvas vintage chino khaki blazer: $53.97 — Given it’s fully lined in polyester, it might not be the best choice for summer, but early spring and fall it could be a decent buy. 

Onassis poplin 3-button blazer: $98 — Available in navy, grey, stone and red colors. Definitely cut shorter, so might be better suited for people on the short side. 

Onassis double-breasted blazers (Adger & Sidney): $168 — Available in cotton-linen sateen or cavalry twill. 

Life After Denim Oak Lawn blazer: $128 (here and here) — A lighter 76/24 cotton-linen blend in both desert and navy. 

About The Silentist

A menswear blog on finding your personal style, written by Kiyoshi Martinez.

I work at Khaki's of Carmel and live in the Monterey Bay area. Formerly from Chicago.

E-mail me, I'm fairly nice: thesilentist@gmail.com

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