21
Nov

Review: Hucklebury shirts (and giveaway)

While there’s been a plethora of made-to-measure shirting companies, I’ve noticed now that there’s a growing number of ready-to-wear shirting companies also popping up looking to find a balance between a better fit for customers who aren’t necessarily looking for the overwhelming options and choices that come with MTM online (or the hassle of measuring oneself or well-fitting shirt). 

One of these is Hucklebury, founded by Parag and Dhawal, that seeks to find a balance on these several factors. 

In terms of fabric, Hucklebury sources their fabrics from the Italian mills Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti. The shirt sent to me for review I found is a 2-ply cotton poplin, which is a bit nicer for warmer weather as its a bit lighter. After a wash, the fabric held its dimensions well and I didn’t notice any shrinkage, which is nice.

For construction and design, Parag told me that they went through at least 25 to 30 variations on the pattern before finally settling on the two fits available (slim and regular) and that the shirts are made alongside shirts manufactured for brands like Zegna and Armani.

An interesting design choice includes adding a reinforced stitching on the bottom horizontal buttonhole with thicker thread to combat against the stress of pulling at the waistline and prevent stretching. 

On the collar, Hucklebury opted to have their collars sewn by hand, from the outside in, to help it stand up higher and not fall under the lapels of a jacket. The collar itself isn’t super skinny and puny, either. It’s of average size and the button-down collar works nicely sans necktie.

The backs of the shirt are darted, which I know can be kind of controversial among guys. My tailor refuses to do darts on shirts, however, I own several darted shirts and they do help add a slimmer profile that many trimmer and athletic gentlemen will appreciate. 

But it all comes down to fit — and I’m pleased with it. The chest, shoulders and waistline fit really well. Not too constrictive, nor too baggy for my tastes. 

Hucklebury sizes by neck, however, they don’t size by sleeve length. I tend to have longer arms (typically, I am a 15/35) so the shirt fell a bit short on my arms. If you’ve got shorter arms though, then it should be OK. 

The back darting does help taper the torso dramatically so you avoid the “puff” at the waistline when you tuck in your shirt. I feel this is among one of the more important points of fit from a visual standpoint — provided you’re wearing a properly sized collar and sleeve, too. 

Overall, I can appreciate what Hucklebury attempts to do for ready-to-wear shirts by going with higher-end fabric mills and bringing attention to a few key details. Their prices aren’t out of line — ranging from $85-$95 — considering the fabrics used and worth consideration.

Giveaway contest: Hucklebury is holding a contest, which you can enter below. 

Enter to win one Thomas Light Blue Stripes dress shirt (worth $95) size 15.

Winners will be announced on November 26.

The more entries you make, the greater your points, the greater your chance to win:

  • Answer a simple question: 5 points
  • Like Hucklebury on Facebook: 4 points
  • Tweet about the giveaway: 2 points (You can tweet once per day)

For U.S. residents only.

Click here to enter the giveaway!

14
Nov

Casual fall uniform

Alex (aka, mrdanger) took these shots of me at NorthernGRADE a little while back and it’s essentially what I’ve been wearing since the weather’s taken a bit of a cooler turn here in Chicago. 

Working from home doesn’t exactly encourage you to do things normal working folks do — like “take a shower” and “wear pants”. However, once I make the effort to appear like a functional member of the outside world, I’ve found myself reaching for the same items from my wardrobe every day. 

This isn’t a far departure from my uniform experiment from a while ago. The selvedge raw denim jeans and the blue OCBD shirt have reappeared. As far as I’m concerned, these items can be worn for three seasons of the year, taking time off for summer (during which I substitute in linen shirts and linen-cotton trousers). 

But with the cooler weather, I’ve been grabbing one of five wool sweaters from a cedar chest my parents gave to me as a birthday gift. It’s a combination of two v-neck lambswool sweaters from Howard Yount, a shawl-collared chunky-knit cardigan and two L.L.Bean crewnecks that I’ve become fond of lately for their warmth and quality. 

When I leave the apartment to grab lunch at the Italian grocer, I’ve thrown on my vintage Barbour Beaufort that I rewaxed myself at the beginning of the season (a tremendous pain in the ass if you’ve never done it before). The jacket’s pockets carry all the stuff I need with me and the game pocket in the back can stow stuff while you’re at a bar — like gloves, a knit hat and scarf. I’ve even put a portable umbrella in there once.

Footwear has been a pair of ranger moccasins with Vibram soles, which have been insanely comfortable to wear and perfect for slightly rainy days. Otherwise, I’m still reaching for the Clarks desert boots, but I imagine L.L.Bean Boots will be making an appearance once snow becomes an issue. 

I suppose ”country” attire of both American and British influences inspired my desire to swing toward a more casual wardrobe — basically the kind of stuff that ends up on Thornproof. While I particularly like the look of tailored clothing in the spring and summer, I don’t have the same affection for it in the colder months. 

A tailored jacket in the cooler months means a tailored overcoat and every time you go out you have to find a place to stash that heavy thing if there’s no coat check (and we all know there’s no coat check at dive bars). Dress shoes are quickly rendered useless unless you choose to constantly wear overshoes or willing to buy at least two pairs of dress boots with Dainite soles for traction. Rock salt and sludge become enemies of flannel trousers. 

I might be overthinking it all, of course, and I certainly keep some cold-weather tailored clothing on hand, but it’s the exception for my daily wardrobe — not the rule. I really do prefer to wear workwear at this time of year, especially since I don’t work in an office. 

My one gripe would be that it doesn’t offer much of an opportunity to wear a necktie. I think ties look awkward under v-necks, are impractical under crewnecks and if I’m wearing a shawl-collared cardigan at home, there’s not much need for a tie. 

It’s relatively simple and takes zero real thought in the morning (or early afternoon) when getting dressed. It will look rather appropriate for most instances and you can dress it up with a nicer pair of tweed trousers if you’d like. But let’s face it: In the sea of black North Face fleece zip-ups that seems to reappear each winter, you probably won’t need to go to such lengths. 

13
Nov

Review: Cottonwork made-to-measure dress shirts

Recommending a made-to-measure shirtmaker comes with a lot of caveats, which makes them tough to review. Fit is, of course, paramount, but once you’ve got a well-fitting shirt in your wardrobe, you can take your measurements from the shirt nearly anywhere. 

Provided you’ve got a shirt you’re happy with in terms of fit, then you can look for a shirtmaker who has the fabrics and options you want in a shirt. CottonWork has these in spades and the shirt they allowed me to make for a review has the characteristics I’d encourage anyone to look for in their MTM shirting. 

Let’s start at the beginning. If you have a well-fitting shirt, then you can simple take measurements off that shirt and input them at CottonWork. This is my recommended method. And if you don’t have a tape measure, CottonWork will give you a free starter kit that has a tape measure and several fabric swatches. 

From that point forward, it’s a fairly standard process that those of you who’ve done MTM shirting online will recognize. You pick you fabric and use a shirt builder that gives you a live preview of your order’s details. 

On the topic of fabric, CottonWork offers a wide variety, starting at $45 for cotton-blends to fabrics from renowned mills Thomas Mason and Tessitura Monti that range north of $200. For those wondering if there’s a discernible difference for a high end fabric, I’d argue that there is after receiving my shirt made from a Thomas Mason oxford cloth. There’s a refinement to the fabric and a softness that’s unlike what I’ve seen elsewhere. 

While I kept it fairly predictable in terms of fabric choice — as many of you know, solid blue is often my preference — I decided to make some slight straying choices from what I typically prefer. Instead of my preference for a placket front, I went with a French front and also pocket-less, too, as I intended for this to be worn with suits in a slightly more formal look.

For the shirt’s collar, I went with a spread collar and I really love how soft the collar is around the neck. It’s not stiff and doesn’t feel like cardboard’s inside like some shirt collars. You’ll also notice the buttons on the shirt are mother-of-pearl, which is a nice touch that’s often an option you have to pay extra for at most MTM shirting places, but not CottonWork.

The collar has a decent roll when worn with a necktie. I will admit that while I like that it has removable collar stays, I prefer to not wear collar stays to make the collar a bit more soft in appearance. Well-made collars and a necktie should work just fine most of the time to keep things upright. This collar might very well be the most comfortable shirt collar I’ve had outside of my Brooks Brothers OCBDs. 

In terms of construction, it’s worth pointing out that all CottonWork shirts are single-needle stitched with 22 stitches per inch. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to count stitches in an inch, but it’s a pain in the ass. And, yes, I did count them on my shirt and their claim holds up, in case you were wondering. 

CottonWork also offers an optional split-back yoke. Several other MTM operations require you pay extra for this, but it’s a free option at CottonWork. If you’re not familiar with split-back yokes, the reason for this preference is one of better fit across the shoulder. With the fabric at a diagonal in a split yoke, it stretches better when you move your arms out, but it’s also more expensive for the shirtmaker to produce. (You can read more about split-back yokes here.)

For cuffs, I went with what CottonWorks described as a Neapolitan cuff. I wasn’t sure if I’d like the style as it’s a bit flashy, but worn under a jacket it’s less obvious. Cuff construction is a bit more substantial than the collar and the sleeve features a gauntlet button, too. 

Of course, monogramming is available. I opted for the collar, so it would be hidden, but you can opt for the chest, cuffs or placket, too. I don’t typically wear monogrammed items, but I figured it’d be worth showing those reading this review what it looks like. If you don’t like scripted fonts, you should know they have two other scripted fonts and a sans-serif block font available. 

In terms of fit, I’m pleased with it after a wash and iron. I wore the shirt out on Friday evening and didn’t find any issues in regards to fit with it. My latest MTM shirts have been slightly fuller in the upper torso to allow for movement, but I’ve had them aggressively taper at the waist. While I don’t typically like to wear a dress shirt sans a jacket, this does help balance comfort against “puffy shirt waist” syndrome.

Because I used measurements off another MTM shirt I’d gotten after visiting a tailor in person, a lot of the finer measurement problems had been worked out after a few trials and adjustments. CottonWork did a good job of replicating the shirts I had already in my wardrobe. 

If you’re concerned about getting an ill-fitting shirt, then let me recommend you go with one of their $45 fabrics first to see how it fits as a test shirt. I’ve often found it takes several trials before dialing in your fit on a MTM shirt — especially if you’re basing measurements off your body instead of a well-fitting shirt. Alternatively, you can send in your best fitting shirt for CottonWork to replicate, too.

So, if you’re looking for a MTM shirtmaker that does quality construction, can easily replicate the fit of your best shirt and give you a wide breadth of optional details, then check out CottonWork. To date, they’ve been the most impressive online-only MTM experience I’ve had and have matched the in-person MTM shirtmakers I’ve used in the past with their quality of work. 

08
Nov
Proper Suit review fit details: 
Suit: Proper Suit navy blue Loro Piana wool All-Season sharkskin
Shirt: Hemrajani Brothers
Tie: Vanda Fine Clothing navy fina-weave grenadine
Pocket Square: Howard Yount white linen
Belt: Beltmaster strap & vintage silver slide buckle
Socks: Pantherella
Shoes: Allen Edmonds Bel Air
Proper Suit review fit details: 
08
Nov

Review: Proper Suit

My experience with Proper Suit taught me one important thing: Not all made-to-measure suiting is made equal. It’s not just about the amount of fabrics available or what details you can have, but it’s largely also about the skill and expertise of those fitting you. 

The guys behind Proper Suit, McGregor and Richard, have a great deal of experience and familiarity with their product and service. When they offered me the opportunity to review a suit from them, I was admittedly a bit nervous when they managed to just eyeball measurements and adjustments without a tailor’s measuring tape. 

But that comes from having spent an incredible amount of time fitting guys in eleven different cities, starting right here in Chicago. Unlike some lesser made-to-measure operations that let you simply enter in a few measurements online, Proper Suit insists upon an in-person appointment to fit you to a few base-model suits and make the necessary adjustments. 

And these adjustments aren’t just for things like sleeve length or tapering the chest. They took into account my posture and where the best buttoning point would be on my torso so the lapels would lay correctly.  

The armhole size was raised a bit to accommodate the fit I wanted, but it wasn’t too extreme as I intended for this suit to be more for business dress. The height of the chest pocket was adjusted to be more in proportion with my torso length. 

When it comes to shoulders, they really stressed over every aspect, from the slopes of my shoulders, to what kind of padding to go with (I went with a natural shoulder), to how the sleeve ought to be rotated to make it drape properly. 

"Our fit specialists are not only just really cool guys," McGregor said. "But they are very technical and take fit very seriously."

My experience on the fitting definitely reflected that. While it was casual and relaxed, I felt that the two of them definitely “got it” in terms of knowing what to care about and how to manipulate the pattern being made to flatter your body the best. 

There are 300 different fit check points that goes into consideration when the pattern is entered into AutoCAD. Because of all the different adjustments needed to account for your body’s shape, Proper Suit flatly rejects the idea of just having guys enter in a few self-taken measurements and shipping a box to their door, like some competitors do. 

I think McGregor’s reasoning why Proper Suit avoids online MTM made a lot of sense: 

"Two people may have very similar measurements but they have completely different postures, different tastes and different reasons for wearing the suit. How do I know which fit will be correct? I don’t. You are also relying on someone else measuring you. That is just flimsy. I hear a lot about remakes that other companies need to do to dial down the fit. Remakes for my business are toxic to our bottom line. That is why we take upmost care in getting it perfect the first time and we can offer this kind of quality at this price point."

This is what leads me to my sentiment that not all made-to-measure suiting is created equal. Before even getting into fabrics, construction and details, the fit has to be perfect. 

And when it came to fabrics and details, the sky’s very much the limit. There are about 250 fabrics available with 80 different linings. 

Details on the suit (or sport coat) can include all the usual things like a throat latch, sueded lining under the collar, monogramming, surgeon cuffs, ticket pockets, etc. 

But I found the details on the trousers to be actually surprising. The hem of the trousers have an extra strip of fabric sewn on the inside edge to give them extra weight to keep them down. The waistband has a strip of grippy fabric on the inside to help keep your shirt tucked in. This isn’t something you’ll find on most off-the-rack trousers, for sure — and they weren’t included with another MTM suiting operation I tried. In fact, the only time I’d seen these details were from my tailor’s bespoke trousers he did for his customers. 

As for the suit itself, I went with fairly standard details. Flapped jetted pockets, two-button, notched lapels, flat fronted trousers with jetted slanted pockets and no cuffs, kissing buttons (non-functional), boutonniere hole and loop, suede under-collar lining with monogrammed initials. 

The fabric is a navy blue sharkskin texture from Loro Piana’s All-Season line with a silver Bemberg lining and a light-blue printed piping. 

The construction is full canvas and the lapels roll amazingly well. They suggested I wear it several times to help break-in the jacket a bit and I did find the suggestion made it decidedly less stiff than when I first put it on. And it really felt great after an evening of dancing at Double Door — so, yes, you can move in this suit. 

In terms of pricing, Proper Suit lists their prices on their website and Loro Piana fabrics start at $1,250 (for comparison, if you were to head to the Loro Piana retail store to do their MTM program, their suits start at $5,500 and it takes three months turnaround). Proper Suit’s base model fabrics start at $750. 

The one question I almost always seem to be asked, especially on higher-priced items, is, “Is it worth the money?” I can imagine some people will browse over to Indochino and see they could get two suits for the price of Proper Suit’s base model — assuming quantity is a better deal, or that paying half the price would be a steal in comparison. 

The difference is that I don’t believe there’s a legitimate comparison. For one, the fit I received from Proper Suit absolutely blew away the fit I received with Indochino (and I even received an in-person fitting with them during their Traveling Tailor program). The attention Proper Suit just pays to their suit’s shoulders is more attention than what Indochino paid to the fit of my entire suit. Proper Suit even hand-stitches the shoulders of their suits to make sure it fits you better. 

And once you get into construction, Proper Suit also wins out. For an additional $250, you can have your suit entirely handmade. And while the suits are manufactured in China, McGregor — who happens to also be fluent in Mandarin — stressed to me that not all factories are the same and they’ve spent years finding the best manufacturer for their suits, which also makes suits for some other really big-name labels, and they work with them to ensure they’re producing the best-fitting suits the first time for each new customer. 

Admittedly, made-to-measure isn’t for everybody or everyone’s budget, but when you consider the prices of some ready-to-wear suiting brands, it’s worth considering the alternative, too. The price is a good deal considering the fit, fabric and construction.

Wearing this suit made me wish I had a reason to wear a suit more often — or at least find more excuses to wear one. These guys care immensely about the finest individual details while providing a good value. Consider this review a recommendation for Proper Suit

01
Nov

Everlane introduces cashmere sweaters and OCBDs — Everlane has introduced two types of cashmere sweaters today, in both v-neck and crewneck in navy, charcoal, grey and black colors. For $120, this might be a really good deal if their past products are any indication (I have a few T-shirts and their tote bag and was fairly impressed). 

They also introduced three OCDBs at $55 each. Not a bad price, either. 

If you’re not an Everlane member, feel free to use my invite here

30
Oct

Review: Johnston & Murphy 1850 Gannett boot

I’m a very skeptical person. When a men’s footwear brand contacts me about reviewing one of their pieces of footwear from a new heritage line they’re producing, I’m often cautiously interested. But Johnston & Murphy’s new “J&M 1850” line has a surprising gem in it that I feel is worth talking about. 

Plus, Johnston & Murphy is letting me run a contest to giveaway a pair of their shoes or boots to one lucky Chicago-area reader (details at the end of the review). 

The "Gannett" boot caught my eye for several reasons. First, the boots have a Goodyear welt, which I feel is a necessary minimum for shoe construction if you’re going to be paying decent money and expecting the shoes to present a decent value in the long term. Shoes with a Goodyear welt are able to be resoled more easily, which means you can wear them for a whole lot longer. 

Secondly, this pair got my attention because they’re made from Horween leather. This leather, of course, comes from the Horween Tannery in Chicago and has a well-regarded reputation. 

Finally, what surprised me is that the boots are priced at $275, which places them well under the price of other Horween leather boots from other competitors by at least $100, if not more. 

Johnston & Murphy’s representatives sent me a pair as a review unit and I must say I’m rather impressed. If you’ve been hanging around places like StyleForum for a while, then you know that many of the posters there have a less-than-favorable opinion of the brand’s products from the past decade or so, despite having at one time been regarded as one of the premiere made-in-the U.S.A. men’s footwear brands. 

Indeed, these boots were made in India, which may account for the ability to hit a lower pricepoint. Regardless, the quality of materials and construction is — as far as I can tell so far — still there and they’re quite comfortable to wear. 

The leather seems about as good as pairs of Allen Edmonds that I own, although time will really only tell how it develops a patina. The suede portion of the boot feels durable and a bit waxy, so I wouldn’t worry about wearing these in bad weather. The interior of the boot is lined with leather as well.

One thing I liked about the boots is that the sole is a bit of a hybrid between a leather sole and a lug sole. Outright lug soles can be a bit clunky looking and in my mind limits them to being worn only with denim. These have a slimmer profile with a semi-lug sole and it’s hidden from view, making them wearable with chinos. Still, I wouldn’t wear them with dress trousers, as they’re definitely a more casual piece of footwear. And I do think they go best with denim.

Naturally, I do have criticisms. I wished the stitching was a darker brown or black colored thread instead of being contrasting — and the stitching could’ve been cleaner, too. This would’ve given the boot a cleaner look, in my opinion. Also, the laces felt kind of cheap and given the extreme amount of tension you’re probably going to put on these, I’d recommend getting thicker laces with better durability. 

The break-in period isn’t terribly long and they don’t feel extremely too-stiff to walk in on the first wear. You can even wear them with thinner socks and not feel like your ankles have been rubbed raw. Still, there seems to be enough room for slightly thicker socks for the cold-weather months. 

These boots have changed my perception of Johnston & Murphy (much how the Veblens changed my perception of Florsheim) and I think it’s worth taking a look over the future shoes in the J&M 1850 line to see what could be a good value from them — especially if better materials and construction are being used. 

And about that contest: I’ve got a voucher for one pair of J&M 1850 shoes or boots at Hanig’s Slipperbox, 2754 N. Clark Street, Chicago. The winner will be mailed this voucher and has to redeem it in-store — so, I’m making this contest for Chicago-area folks only (because if you don’t live in the area it’d be really hard for you to pick up your pair of shoes). 

How to enter: 

  1. Tweet this review using the hashtag #jm1850 and the URL: http://bit.ly/TS30YP
  2. Shoot me an email at thesilentist@gmail.com with your tweet. 
  3. Do both of these things by 12 noon CST, Friday, November 2nd. 
  4. Actually live in the Chicagoland area. 

I’ll take everyone’s names, do a random sort, assign a number and then use a random number generator to pick a winner. The winner will be contacted by email for their address so I can mail the voucher to them (or we can meetup in person). 

Good luck!

27
Oct
Reminder: NorthernGRADE today in Chicago — If you’re in the Windy City today, then you should really stop by and check it out. I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the setup and vendors last night and it’s really awesome with lots of friendly people. 
The event will be from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Open Secret Studios, 401 N. Racine and is being organized by Pierrepont Hicks and Well-Spent with sponsorship from Haberdash and Penelope’s. 
Here’s who’s showing today: 
Penelope’s (Sponsor) - Chicago, IL
Haberdash (Sponsor) - Chicago, IL
Red Wing - Red Wing, MN
Tellason - San Francisco, CA
Winter Session  - Chicago, IL
Pierrepont Hicks - Minneapolis, MN
Oak St. Bootmakers - Chicago, IL
Independence - Chicago, IL
Portland General Store – Portland, ME
Field Notes - Chicago, IL
Archival Clothing – Eugene, OR
MidNorth Mercantile - Minneapolis, MN
Stormy Kromer – Ironwood, MI
Sir & Madame - Chicago, IL
Locally Grown - Des Moines, IA
Corter Leather – Boston, MA
Inland Clothing – Chicago, IL
Heritage Bicycles - Chicago, IL
Drift Eyewear - Chicago, IL
I’ll be there around noon-ish. Feel free to say hello!

Reminder: NorthernGRADE today in Chicago — If you’re in the Windy City today, then you should really stop by and check it out. I had the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the setup and vendors last night and it’s really awesome with lots of friendly people. 

The event will be from 10 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Open Secret Studios, 401 N. Racine and is being organized by Pierrepont Hicks and Well-Spent with sponsorship from Haberdash and Penelope’s

Here’s who’s showing today: 

I’ll be there around noon-ish. Feel free to say hello!

18
Oct

Massimo Dutti now online — Yesterday, I learned of Massimo Dutti’s opening of their online and real-world store (New York City) from quitecontinental and taking a look through their site I’m kind of impressed.

Their all-wool (or all-cotton) suiting is sold in separates and comes in under $500. Their blazers range from $200 to $330. The lapels aren’t overly slim and the jackets aren’t cut too short. The button stance may be a bit high for some’s taste, but I largely think the cut and details are definitely office-appropriate without being too flashy. 

Massimo Dutti’s parent company also owns the to-be-avoided Zara and a few threads on StyleForum seemed to come to the consensus that their clothing is decently constructed and made from better fabrics than their fast-fashion sibling — and they’re a good deal if you can buy their stuff on sale. Derek at dieworkwear wrote about Massimo Dutti more than a year ago, for those of you looking for more background information. 

I’ll admit a few pieces caught my eye, but I’m glad that there’s yet another option for guys to grab a decent-looking suit around the $500 pricepoint. If anyone’s had a chance to try on their stuff or owns something from them, then let me know and I’ll add your thoughts here. 

17
Oct

Jersey blazer roundup

Since leaving government work and not having to visit an office on a daily basis, my wardrobe has shifted toward the casual spectrum. My much-cherished navy wool blazers go rarely used, sitting in canvas garment bags. 

A Suitable Wardrobe points out how the navy blazer sits in an odd “no-man’s land of formality” — and I suppose he’s mostly right, even if I tend to ignore his wisdom in my personal practice. Despite this, I think there’s an alternative to the traditional blazer that will probably be better suited for those of you in casual environments that don’t require a navy wool hopsack: the jersey knit cotton blazer.

Often unconstructed and lightweight, they exist as a hybrid, looking a bit more refined than a simple sweater, but not as formal as an odd jacket. They’re super comfortable to wear and most are extremely affordable, too. 

I purchased mine from Brooks Brothers (please ignore the terrible styling shot they have) and have been quite pleased. I think it looks best with jeans, an OCBD and a silk knit tie. 

There’s quite a few options available in a variety of price ranges. Depending on your lifestyle, you might end up wearing one of these more often than a regular navy blazer. 

++++

Lands’ End rib-knit winter blazer

Brooks Brothers jersey blazer

Suit Supply Boston cotton double-breasted blazer

Charles Tyrwhitt jersey tailored fit blazer

Tommy Hilfiger trim-fit jersey blazer

Gant Rugger jersey hopsack blazer

17
Oct

New Brooks Brothers formalwear arrivals — As the holiday season comes up, those of you fortunate enough to attend so many black-tie events that you get bored of wearing your standard dinner jacket might consider other more “fun” options. Perhaps a tartan cummerbund will work. Or even a tartan jacket, if you’re feeling exceptionally bold. 

If you’re looking for something a bit more subtle, however, Brooks Brothers just released their velvet blackwatch tuxedo jacket. It’s tough to see the pattern in the photos, but it’s slightly visible on the product shot’s rear view at certain spots. I imagine this looks rather amazing in person. The downside is that the jacket features notch lapels, making this a much more casual jacket (beyond the fact it’s patterned and velvet). 

There’s also a grey shawl-collar jacket that I’m not quite sure how I feel about. It’s cut in Brooks Brothers’ “Milano” fit and unfortunately has flapped pockets. And I’m not sure about that use of grey. Part of me wants to give it credit for being different, yet part of me thinks it might make you look like you’re one of the service staff at an event. 

Of course, both of these are exercises in excess. If you don’t have a proper suit for black tie, then I suggest you focus on buying a tuxedo first. 

11
Oct

Men’s silk scarf roundup

I was lucky enough to pick up this silk scarf from Barney’s. I’d been debating on getting it for a while, but it sold out online. On a whim, I decided to contact their customer service department, who managed to track the last one in their inventory down to their Beverly Hills store. A sales rep there was kind enough to find it in their store, ring it up and mail it to me. 

Silk scarves have been on my mind for quite a while now. Admittedly, I first noticed them on Roger Sterling in the past season of “Mad Men” and thought it complimented the suit and overcoat look rather nicely. I don’t think it’d look coherent with more casual pieces, like waxed jackets, peacoats and duffle coats, but its smooth vibrancy contrasts quite well against heavy wool and cashmere coats while mimicking the sheen on your necktie. 

Unsurprisingly, they can be quite expensive, especially so if you want one that’s backed with wool or cashmere as well. I also preferred to find one around 65” to 70” in length and around 12” wide. You can go shorter, but you’d have to wear it mainly as a muffler, which restricts how you can tie it around your neck. 

As for where to buy, you best bet would be stopping in at a “trad” retail store. I recall Cable Car Clothiers in San Francisco having a great selection in stock when I visited in a paisley and medallion prints.

Drake’s London seems to have the widest variety of prints and types, ranging from silk in a tubular construction to an ancient madder and cashmere reversible scarf that looks phenomenal. Different stores stock different items, so you’ll want to poke around if that’s in your budget (or even if you want to drool over .JPEG files). 

Should you get a silk scarf instead of one made of cashmere or wool? Probably not. Your run-of-the-mill wool and cashmere scarves will be much more versatile and still work with tailored overcoats — and will be quite warm. But if you’re looking for something a bit more luxurious and you find yourself wearing suits daily, it’s hard to argue against having a silk scarf as part of your wardrobe. 

I’ve compiled a roundup of silk scarves below, but I didn’t show all the colors an variations the different brands and retailers have available. The prices vary quite wildly and I suppose it’s just a matter of what your tastes and budget happens to be. 

+++++

Brooks Brothers

Lands’ End

Dolce & Gabbana

Etro

J.Press

Drake’s London at Mr Porter

Drake’s London at O’Connell’s

Drake’s London at A Suitable Wardrobe

Drake’s London

Hugo Boss

Forzieri

Yves Saint Laurent

Lanvin

Burberry Prosum

Berg & Berg

Gant Rugger

Paul Stuart

Austin Reed

Farrell

Dion

Ben Silver

09
Oct

Review: Louis Walton neckwear

One of the most under-appreciated details on a necktie is the bar tack. I’ve had neckties that I’ve paid a hefty sum for that lacked a decent bar tack and came undone after a few wears, which is a moment of disappointment when you think back to how much the tie cost. It’s a tiny detail, unnoticed by so many — wearers and manufacturers alike — but I happen to enjoy the tactile feel of a well-sewn one.

Louis Walton's bar tacks are impressive, as you can see above. I consider it on par with those found on Vanda Fine Clothing's and Panta Clothing's neckties. It's better than the bar tacks found on Drake's London and Polo Ralph Lauren, in my opinion. It's the first thing I noticed when I received a review necktie, handmade by owner Gregory Walton (he named the company after his father) in San Francisco. 

"I started making ties because I realized the things I liked were very expensive and I felt that with practice I could make something just as nice as the things in the shops I liked," Gregory said. "In my family it has been a practice to learn to make the things or do the services we like."

Gregory’s been sewing neckties since 2008 and initially gave them away as gifts until a friend asked him to design a line of ties and pocket squares for his shop. 

The tie Gregory sent me is this navy Japanese cotton with white flowers in a six-fold design. The tie is lightly lined and untipped, two details I particularly enjoy. It also features a hand-sewn slip-stitch to allow the tie to recover after being worn.  

I asked Gregory about some of the technical challenges of learning how to sew ties by hand, and unsurprisingly he said it’s not easy. One of his mentors taught him how to make patterns for shirts and trousers, which helped him develop his own patterns for neckties. 

"There is still a measure of trial and error involved because I make each tie with the client in mind," Gregory said. "Therefore, the shape and length of each tie is different depending on the size and preferences of the client. I am constantly learning and trying different things."

Another challenge is sourcing fabric and thread, because they’re not available at just any fabric store, often needing to be sourced from mills directly. Finding good fabric is extremely important to him because it affects how the tie drapes and knots. 

While the design and pattern of the fabric is originally what caught my eye (I’m always a sucker for navy ties), the light cotton actually goes nicely with a variety of summer and warm-weather jackets and the “neat” flower pattern gives just enough visual variety to break up an ensemble of solids. I liked it in particular against a light blue linen shirt and a white linen-cotton jacket.

If you’ve been following the Louis Walton tumblr, you’ll notice that Gregory’s also been expanding his skillset into leather goods, including belts and keyholders. If you took a look, you’ll see they look damn impressive. 

"I am very excited to be branching into leather work and find it o be very rewarding," Gregory said. "I am starting with small pieces like keyholders and wallets, and I hope to offer larger items like briefcases and bags for men next year. I do everything by hand and it leads to pieces that are very strong and structured, while still being soft and pliable." 

Gregory also mentioned he’s working on outerwear pieces with a local tailor to be offered as made-to-measure items. 

It should also be noted that Gregory’s training under Beatrice Amblard of April In Paris fame. For those who don’t know, Amblard is a former Hermes artisan that now has her own label designing custom leather accessories in San Francisco. 

Check out Louis Walton and follow Gregory on Tumblr and Twitter. I have a feeling it’s going to be exciting to watch.

09
Oct
Gay Talese’s underground writing bunker — The New Yorker has a short video feature on journalist Gay Talese’s home office, which is located beneath his townhome in what used to be a wine cellar. 
Talese now decorates it with collages of his stories and keeps a wide assortment of files and notes from each piece and story he’s worked on — going back decades. 
What amused me greatly was to see how Talese takes his notes. As a former journalism student, I’m always fascinated how journalists take notes as there’s no one “right” way to do it. Talese’s method works for him and I think it’s pretty cool. 
Other great videos featuring Gay Talese:
Put This On, S1E7 - “Personal Style”
Big Think interview with Gay Talese
Jake Davis Test Shots: Gay Talese
Men.Style.com visit to Gay Talese’s home
Gilt MANual: Tour of Gay Talese’s hat closet
An Evening with Gay Talese
G.Q. Style Sages: Gay Talese
Vine Talk: Gay Talese on wine culture

Gay Talese’s underground writing bunker — The New Yorker has a short video feature on journalist Gay Talese’s home office, which is located beneath his townhome in what used to be a wine cellar. 

Talese now decorates it with collages of his stories and keeps a wide assortment of files and notes from each piece and story he’s worked on — going back decades. 

What amused me greatly was to see how Talese takes his notes. As a former journalism student, I’m always fascinated how journalists take notes as there’s no one “right” way to do it. Talese’s method works for him and I think it’s pretty cool. 

Other great videos featuring Gay Talese:

08
Oct
It’s on sale: 40% off Lands’ End Canvas — Both Lands’ End Canvas and mainline Lands’ End are offering 40% off any single item through the end of today. Use code LEAVES with PIN 9876. 
I received an email from reader Yaakov who bought this LEC navy blazer during their last sale and had a mini-review of it. A few things he noted:

First off, the lining is great. It’s half-lined in cotton, and it really makes a difference. The jacket feels very light in comparison to some other LE jackets I’ve tried.
The shoulders are unstructured, which is nice, especially for me. I fill out on the larger end of the 40R spectrum, so it looks pretty nice.
Buttons are not functional, so for some that’s a plus. (Sleeve length is nice on me, so wouldn’t have minded.) Buttons are a a bit of stark contrast to me — a “bright” brown — but for some again, that’ll be a plus.
My biggest problem with the jacket was the slight collar gap that it created between my shirt and the jacket. For some, (again) not a problem, but for nitpickers it might get annoying.

For what it’s worth in regards to collar gap, that happens for a variety of reasons. Mainly, your body just may not be suited for the jacket. Also, I’ve seen folks with shorter collar points (aka, “skinny” collars that are on-trend right now) experience collar gap quite frequently. So, the blazer might work out for you, but you’d never really know unless you try it on — them’s the breaks with online retail.

It’s on sale: 40% off Lands’ End Canvas — Both Lands’ End Canvas and mainline Lands’ End are offering 40% off any single item through the end of today. Use code LEAVES with PIN 9876

I received an email from reader Yaakov who bought this LEC navy blazer during their last sale and had a mini-review of it. A few things he noted:

First off, the lining is great. It’s half-lined in cotton, and it really makes a difference. The jacket feels very light in comparison to some other LE jackets I’ve tried.

The shoulders are unstructured, which is nice, especially for me. I fill out on the larger end of the 40R spectrum, so it looks pretty nice.

Buttons are not functional, so for some that’s a plus. (Sleeve length is nice on me, so wouldn’t have minded.) Buttons are a a bit of stark contrast to me — a “bright” brown — but for some again, that’ll be a plus.

My biggest problem with the jacket was the slight collar gap that it created between my shirt and the jacket. For some, (again) not a problem, but for nitpickers it might get annoying.

For what it’s worth in regards to collar gap, that happens for a variety of reasons. Mainly, your body just may not be suited for the jacket. Also, I’ve seen folks with shorter collar points (aka, “skinny” collars that are on-trend right now) experience collar gap quite frequently. So, the blazer might work out for you, but you’d never really know unless you try it on — them’s the breaks with online retail.

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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