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. 


It’s on sale: L.L.Bean — About a month ago I bought these two sweaters from L.L.Bean during their last sale, which is also going on right now: 10% off and free shipping with code NOV10.

I’m really pleased with both the Norwegian and the Irish fisherman sweaters. Both are made in their namesake countries and come to $125 on sale. The Norwegian sweater fits a bit more true-to-size than the Irish counterpart. I’m a size 38 chest and went with size small on both. The Norwegian has a good fit, although I wouldn’t call it a skinny fit. The Irish sweater is definitely baggier, however, I don’t mind it enough to return it (and there’s no size extra small anyway). 

I’ve been wearing them during the week while at home, over an OCBD and with jeans. Both of them look great under a Barbour waxed jacket and do a good job of retaining warmth. Some of my most-worn wardrobe items for the season. 

The sale applies to both L.L.Bean mainline and their Signature line, too, ending on Monday. 


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


It’s on sale: J.Crew — J.Crew is having a 25% off sale with code STYLE25, now thru Sunday, September 30 on purchases of $150 or more. While their “In Good Company” collaborations and tailored clothing are not included, there’s still a lot of items and staples worth looking at for your fall wardrobe — such as sweaters. Here’s a few I’ve highlighted:

Slim merino wool v-neck, crewneck and cardigan sweaters: Perfect for layering under a blazer or sport coat without adding too much bulk. I personally prefer cardigans ($66.75 on sale) for when wearing a necktie, but those of you looking for a more casual outfit could go tieless and with a crewneck ($58.50 on sale) and button-down collared shirt under a sport coat. 

Lambswool crewneck and v-neck sweaters: Looking for a warmer fabric and planning to go sans-sport coat? Lambswool will be a great choice — and it’s cheaper, too, at $48.45 a sweater on sale. I wear my lambswool v-necks with an OCBD and under my waxed cotton jacket and selvedge denim, which makes for a great casual outfit for a trip to your local dive bar.

Lambswool fair isle sweaters: Countrywear that I think is an acquired tasted (admittedly, I’ve yet to find myself wearing one), but many seem to like it. Several different styles for $88.50 on sale.

Donegal lambswool chunky knit cardigan: If you don’t have a chunky knit cardigan in your wardrobe yet, you’re missing out. They’re super comfortable and a great casual piece that you can wear around the house and throw on under a parka. You really only need one nice one, and at $96.00 this isn’t a bad price. It’s the kind of sweater that keeps you warm and always looks great. 


Brooks Brothers fall arrivals: chunky cardigans — While some are lamenting the fact Brooks Brothers’ stock is getting more like the modern Abercrombie & Fitch with branded T-shirts and logo polos, they’re still putting out some decent pieces, too, like these chunky knit cardigan sweaters in single-breasted and double-breasted form. Both have elbow patches and leather buttons. 

It’s on sale: Brooks Brothers sweaters — I’m admittedly not too crazy about this season’s sweaters from Brooks Brothers, with the exception of this linen-cotton shawl collared cardigan. I saw it in stores actually last year (I guess they had spring stock in early) and it was really impressively thick and heavy. Not too shabby for a sweater around $140. 

It’s on sale: Brooks Brothers sweaters — I’m admittedly not too crazy about this season’s sweaters from Brooks Brothers, with the exception of this linen-cotton shawl collared cardigan. I saw it in stores actually last year (I guess they had spring stock in early) and it was really impressively thick and heavy. Not too shabby for a sweater around $140. 


What is a your favorite place to find some good knit sweaters?

- Asked by Anonymous

My only one I have is from Lands’ End Canvas last year. Unfortunately, they don’t make their chunky knits in 100% wool anymore and are blending theirs with synthetic fibers now. Kind of a letdown.

I’ve seen a few great ones at L.L.Bean and Charles Tyrwhitt that seemed promising. I saw a great one at Brooks Brothers today.

If I had crazy rich person money, I’d be looking at Ovadia & Sons, Patrick Johnson, Drake’s and Howard Yount.

It really just comes down to your budget and pickiness over what you want out of a chunky knit sweater. My preference is wool or cashmere in button-up cardigan style and shawl collar.


i was wondering if there are any stylish ways to wear a basic, zip-up hoodie/sweatshirt, like with a button down, as opposed to the basic t-shirt combo?

- Asked by Anonymous

I hate zippers. I hate them on sweaters, on shoes, on denim, on pretty much anything. Whenever I see a zipper, I always am forced to think how much better it would be if there were buttons instead. 

But my personal biases aside, you could easily put a button-down collar shirt with a tie under a zip-up sweater for a more layered look. 

My one piece of warning would be that if you have a tie with an open silk weave or knit (like a silk knit or grenadine), I’d be careful about the loops of silk getting caught in the zipper — which goes back to why I hate zippers on things. 


Review: Howard Yount lambswool sweaters

If you live in a place that has a “real” winter, then I think that owning several sweaters for layering is a fairly essential wardrobe consideration, especially so if you’re wearing blazers or sport coats.

Of course, I was woefully neglectful of having them in my wardrobe for quite some time. I spent most of the fall looking at options and debating how much I wanted to spend and from whom I wanted to buy them from. I teetered back and forth between fabric types (merino wool, lambswool, cashmere, cashmere-wool blends, etc.).

But I always came back to one option and finally got around to buying two v-neck lambswool sweaters from Howard Yount.

The verdict: I shouldn’t have waited so long — and neither should you if they fit your budget and wardrobe needs. The price of $99 is extremely fair.

The fabric quality feels substantial. I don’t feel like it’s something I have to treat with gloved hands like cashmere, but I don’t feel like it’s lacking in superb softness either.

The fit is trim to the body (I’m a 38”-chest and ordered a size small) and hugs the chest nicely if you want to layer it under a jacket.

And, yes, they’re warm. I bought the burgundy and heather grey sweaters — and I really want to buy several more.

So, how do I plan on wearing them? Here’s two examples.

The burgundy looks great against a navy blazer and grey trousers. I’ve put it over a ecru OCBD and a wool-knit tie from The Knottery. This is a nice, conservative color scheme that can go just about anywhere.

For my grey sweater, I put it over a blue university stripe OCBD and with a polka-dot blue tie. White denim? Sure, why not? And a mossy green cashmere sport coat on top. It almost feels a bit monochrome and a bit out of season until you get a closer look at the textures. I think of it as a lighter, brighter contrast to all the super dark, black and grey colors you see worn in winter (seriously, does everyone have to have a black wool or nylon coat?) that is slightly more casual.

Navy contrast-collar shawl chunky-knit cardigan — Wool-cashmere blend and made in Italy and under $100. Makes a better gift than a Snuggie. 

Navy contrast-collar shawl chunky-knit cardigan — Wool-cashmere blend and made in Italy and under $100. Makes a better gift than a Snuggie. 

FYI: Howard Yount has restocked its $99 lambswool sweaters. I just picked up the burgundy and dove grey in the v-neck style. 
Oh, and there’s a restock of winter trousers, too.

FYI: Howard Yount has restocked its $99 lambswool sweaters. I just picked up the burgundy and dove grey in the v-neck style. 

Oh, and there’s a restock of winter trousers, too.


Peter Johnston 12 Ply Scottish Cashmere Cardigan

Ridiculous. Probably the ultimate old-man sweater for winter.


Peter Johnston 12 Ply Scottish Cashmere Cardigan

Ridiculous. Probably the ultimate old-man sweater for winter.


Have you tried any of the Uniqlo sweaters? Supposed to be good quality, but the fit is of concern as they would have to be bought using that new shopping service website, so returns could be tricky.

- Asked by prodigal-punk

Sorry, I’m in Chicago and haven’t tried any Uniqlo stuff. I’m guessing others here though could chime in with some knowledge.

FWIW, Wooster’s interview with GQ not too long ago mentioned he thought their cashmere sweaters were a good value at $99.

ADDING blacklisterblog said:

I don’t know about the cashmere, but I have a merino wool sweater vest from 2-3 years ago that has aged terribly.

I think 2-3 years is probably about how long you can expect something from a fast-fashion retailer to last. I have an H&M wool sweatervest that I received as a gift that lasted about as long.

funkypresident said:

they recently had a grand opening special where they were actually down to 59.

m0ym0y said:

at 99 or their 59 into price…alot can be said on the fit which for me was a bit boxy but still it’s real cashmere (to what point, i don’t know) but i do say colors galore !!

Markdowns to $59? I really don’t want to think too much about what their “real” cost of production is on those things then.


L.L.Bean Irish fisherman’s sweaters — I came across these last night while looking something up for a question someone had emailed me and I must say that I’m really struck by these chunky knit sweaters, which are available in crewneck, mockneck and cardigan styles in grey, natural and donegal tweed (pictured, because it’s my favorite) colors.

Now, these are what my brother would probably refer to as “old man clothing”, but I certainly see nothing wrong with that. Just look at how awesome these look and imagine how warm they would be to wear.

The price might be a bit steep for some at $130-$150, but they’re still made in Ireland.

ADDING thisfits replied:

You might want to check out Aran Crafts. Roughly the same price, made in Ireland, trimmer fit. Mockneck measures 2inches smaller in the chest than L.L. Bean. Disclosure: haven’t tried them myself.

Great tip.


Fall-winter military-inspired menswear

I’m a big fan of military surplus stores to find casual pieces for my wardrobe. I don’t wear “casual” stuff very often, so I prefer that they be cheap and hard-wearing if possible.

Typically, when it comes to outerwear, military surplus stores do the trick. I’ve previously posted about some spring-summer military surplus outerwear I picked up, and I returned to my local Army-Navy Sales store in Chicago to get some cold-weather gear.

First up was finding a M-65 field jacket. This has been copied a lot by other brands and designers and reinterpreted for slimmer fits recently (and the price has been increased accordingly), but I’m going to make the argument for the original.

While I can understand the temptation of a sleeker M-65-styled coat, I actually prefer mine a bit larger so I can wear a sport coat or blazer underneath. Admittedly, this look is ripped from Josh Peskowitz at Park & Bond, but I’ve tweaked it a bit.

I went with navy chinos instead of khaki to avoid looking too military with the coat zipped up. I also added an OCBD instead of a spread collar to keep it more casual. I did stick with dark chocolate suede shoes though.

But the above look would actually be somewhat rare for me. This look below is more likely. A chunky knit shawl-collared cardigan over a casual, tie-less button-down shirt. I picked the red gingham to break through with some color amid all the neutral tones.

The jacket goes rather easily with denim and the chelsea boots make this an outfit you can throw on in a hurry to get out the door to run errands and still not look sloppy.

I wasn’t expecting to pick up this next piece, but I stumbled across this navy acrylic sweater. It has a great texture and a henley-styled buttoning that lets you put it over an OCBD and still let your necktie peak through.

It’s casual, but could easily be worn in a business casual work environment with some flannel trousers and loafers as I’ve done here. Chinos would work well, too, with some chukka boots.

Want to layer it up? Throw on a tweed jacket. This is fairly basic and would obviously work well for when temperatures outside aren’t quite cold enough for an overcoat, but still cold enough you want some bit of warmth.

I prefer to add a silk square with tweed, just to offset the textures. It helps if you make the dominant colors of your square the minor, highlight colors in the jacket (in this case, gold and blue).

While you could purchase this stuff online, I find that sizing is almost impossible to determine without trying them on. The jacket I got is a “medium-long”, so its length covered my blazers. The sweater is a 38-40 medium, but rather form fitting.

The prices are definitely attractive — at least to me. $70 for the jacket and $25 for the sweater. If you don’t live in a major urban city, you might very well be able to get similar items cheaper. I’d recommend taking a trip to your local army surplus store and seeing what they have in stock.

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

Popular topics: