WIWT: 02-26-2013 — Chicago’s received some serious snow today. It’s the kind of snow that creates slushies on the sidewalk and deep puddles of brown water along the curbs. And that’s why I bought a pair of Bean Boots when I moved here. Huge five-foot puddle that’s up to your ankles? Who cares! Walk right through it, because your feet are waterproof now. 

I’ve spent the entire winter wearing my vintage Barbour Beaufort. It’s not extremely warm, but it’s really useful. The game pocket in the rear stores my gloves, hat and scarf when not in use. The bellowed pockets up front are large enough to store whatever you want to carry (I’ve used it to carry my Fujifilm X10 in the past). I know some people find the jackets too baggy, however, I think they’re just fine and it allows you to layer up underneath — like with a thick fisherman’s sweater from L.L.Bean or a tweed sport coat. 

The rest of the outfit is pretty basic: tan suede gloves with cashmere lining, a cashmere scarf striped with olive, brown and charcoal tones, Levi’s 501s, and a navy wool knit cap. 

Nothing is particularly trendy or fashionable here, but it’s useful, relatively affordable and I don’t care if it gets dirty and beat up. Clothing you don’t have to care too much about is something I’m beginning to appreciate a bit more. 


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. 


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



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


Yves Saint Laurent


Burberry Prosum

Berg & Berg

Gant Rugger

Paul Stuart

Austin Reed



Ben Silver


Can you help me out with seasonal style advice? I'm confused as to what sort of patterns (Shirts, pants, jackets, and ect) and fabrics (shirts, pants and ect) to wear for each season, all of 4 of them. I know tweed and wool is for the f/w, seersucker is for the s/s, as is madras.

- Asked by Anonymous

Fall-winter: tweed, flannel, cashmere, heavier-weight worsted wools, heavier cotton drill, duck canvas

Spring-summer: linen, mohair, madras, seersucker, lighter-weight wools, tropical wool, fresco

If it’s cold, wear something thicker and warmer. If it’s hot, wear something thinner and cooler. Pretty simple, really. 


could you recommend any nice winter suits that i can add to my closet? currently dont have any, and my only two suits are navy and gray. thanks!

- Asked by Anonymous

For wearing around the office, I’d say a good flannel suit is worth looking into. The grey flannel suit is somewhat of a long-time staple piece of a man’s wardrobe before modern HVAC systems were introduced to most workplaces. 

For a more casual alternative, I think a tweed suit might be worth tracking down. The instances when you can wear a full-on tweed suit though might be sort of rare. I wouldn’t consider it office attire, given that tweed’s origins were meant for it to be worn in the countryside, not the city. 

Still, I like tweed suits because you can break them up and wear the jacket and trousers separately with other elements of your wardrobe, which is what I do quite often. I was lucky to find two of mine at thrift stores (both donegal tweed). 

As for where to buy new, that really depends on your budget. Be warned though that finding either types of suiting isn’t going to be something you can find on the cheap. Lands’ End has a flannel suit that’s gotten some mixed reviews in terms of the quality of the flannel used. The only tweed suit I’ve seen from memory would be from either J.Crew or GANT by Michael Bastian


Ccan you recommend some brands that I can find some gloves, beanies, & scarves?

- Asked by Anonymous

I could, but it’s hard to give recommendations without knowing price. 

I could just point you toward Dents gloves and Begg scarves, and tell you “buy the best!”, but that’s probably not what you’re looking for. 

For a decent pair of leather gloves, perhaps check out Nordstrom’s in-house cashmere lined gloves. I have a pair made of suede and they’re super cozy. They’ll run you about $70, but if you can hold out until their after-Christmas sale, they should be cheaper. 

For scarves, Johnston’s of Elgin often is recommended and there’s a bunch of models at Sierra Trading Post. There’s a lot of options out there for cashmere scarves, and it’s really more or less about how much you want to pay and if you can snag a deal. Put This On did a good primer on scarves

The one quality bargain find I stumbled across though are scarves made by John Hanly. They’ve been around since 1893, weaving and making scarves and blankets in Ireland. They’re suppliers to the likes of Ralph Lauren’s Polo line and Liberty of London. 

You can find their scarves for sale here, and extremely reasonable prices. I bought a merino wool one and am very, very happy with it. 

As for beanies, Well Spent found these for $9. I have one from L.L.Bean that I’m kind of on the fence about. It’s warm, but kind of too small for my head. I feel that knit hats are kind of the sort of thing you have to try on.


Question - like most of us, I do plenty of #menswear blog reading. With the fall season among us, I'm picking up on respective color hues but how do these hues change as we move into the dreaded Chicago winter season? One color that I'm stuck on is this burnt orange/rust movement. It's an ideal fall color but what about in the winter? I know at the end of the day, it's all about what you're confident & comfortable in but what color hues are more suitable for the winter. Grays & blacks?

- Asked by Anonymous

I’m a fan of wine/burgundy for the season, and I think dieworkwear summed it up nicely.

I think it’s almost inevitable though that most people in the winter go toward grey and black. Most outerwear is in those tones as it’s a generally safe color. But I think if you use a scarf, knit cap, gloves or other accessories to bring out an accent color or pattern to contrast against those neutral tones.

If you’re feeling rust as a color, get some rust items. I say go with what you personally like and make it your thing.


What's a good year-round goto pair of shoes? Or howabout something more focused: what's the goto winter shoe?

- Asked by Anonymous

For year-round, I’d say a brown pair of wingtips. If they’re blucher style, then they’ll be casual enough to go with denim, while still perfectly fine for going with a suit. I think my wingtips are fairly versatile to wear with almost anything in my wardrobe. Get a pair of overshoes and you’ll be set for light snow and average rain, too.

For winter, I thoroughly suggest not fucking around and getting a pair of L.L.Bean Boots. When it got crappy out, these were my default, go-to shoes. I will note, however, that I kept a pair of “normal” shoes at the office to change into and wore the boots for commuting.

If you want something more classy for winter, a pair of military or brogue boots with a Dainite sole (or lug sole if you feel so inclined for a more rugged look) will do you nicely, like the Charles Tyrwhitt pair I mentioned. I’d also take a look at dieworkwear’s guide to rainy-day boots. Those Brooks Brothers shell cordovan boots are amazing.


What's the quickest way to take my style to the next level? I've got the basics down, but I'm severely lacking in jackets, knitwear and shirts. Any suggestions on the essentials to round this area of my wardrobe out?

- Asked by Anonymous

Kind of depends what your personal style is, but experimenting and trying stuff out might be the only way to discover it.

Here’s some stuff I’d look into:

Jackets: I think seasonal fabrics are a good way to go — but pay real close attention to the details and decide what you want (or what you want a tailor to add). For the colder seasons, I was really into tweeds last year. You could easily have suede patches added or look for options with a throat latch. And, given tweed’s almost infinite variety of colors and patterns, you can definitely find either a conservative or wild pattern.

This year, I’ve been sniping cashmere jackets on eBay. Feels great and for some reason it’s not being discussed as much right now (maybe because a lot of readily available brands don’t have 100%-cashmere jackets available?). I’ve got three I need to take to the tailor.

As for spring and summer, jackets in madras, linen and seersucker are worth hunting down right now in eBay. I think summer really encourages more outrageous patterns, especially on the weekend. Again, I’d be picky about details.

Knitwear: I’m pretty stuck on chunky knit shawl-collared cardigans. Derek at dieworkwear really likes shaggy-dog sweaters. I also think that a tennis/cricket sweater is pretty neat. Brooks Brothers has a few right now, but they’re also on eBay and Etsy quite frequently. Find a design and color you really like and buy a great one that’ll work with a majority of your wardrobe as a layering piece. That’s the logic I used behind mine and I have zero plans this year to buy more sweaters.

Shirts: Custom-made shirting. I’ve said this before, but I prefer MTM services where you have a tailor measure you in-person instead of submitting your own measurements (either off a shirt or self-measure). Study up and get nerdy about the details you want.

Other: Neckties. Edit your tie collection and build it into something great with quality pieces. This process will probably take years unless you’re filthy rich. I guess this advice could also be given for every element of your wardrobe.


hi! i was wondering if cotton deconstructed blazers are only for the summer. could i layer up with sweaters and wear it as a fall/winter navy blazer? or is it the cotton material that makes it a summer piece? thanks so much :)

- Asked by Anonymous

I think cotton’s pretty versatile. You’re right about how it’d make a great layering piece. I suppose it depends on the color, texture, etc., but I don’t see why you couldn’t use a lot of them year-round — especially chino blazers.


When referring to one of tour anon answers; Suits, jackets, chinos, trousers, you stated you have some all season pieces. What material are those? I'd feel like this could cut my wardrobe cost if I can wear the same things for all seasons.

- Asked by Anonymous

If you’re lucky enough to live in a place that essentially has one climate, then you can definitely cut down on what’s needed in your closet. If you’re like me and live in a place like Chicago that goes from roasting and humid to freezing and bitter, then you’re going to need to diversify as the weather changes.

"All-weather" clothing is kind of a subjective term. For instance, the suits, jackets and trousers that would be considered "all-season" wools, but they have some features to them that limit them in the extremes. For instance, they’re not thick enough to hold up against the coldest winds and temperatures, and their full lining (or half lining in the trousers) doesn’t make them ideal for really warm weather, either.

I think the same thing goes for chinos. While on some days I can wear an average-weight chino in the summer, the hottest days just require lightweight chinos. And in really cold weather, I prefer to wear flannel trousers.

Do you need seasonal articles? Not really, I guess. But do they make your life more comfortable? Yup.


Howard Yount fall 2011 preview now online — Lots of really nice stuff. My favorites are above, which include a cashmere shawl cardigan with suede elbow patches, plaid flannel trousers and a donegal wool necktie. For those on the double monk hunt, there’s two options available: calf leather and suede.

ADDING: I just realized that if you wore this all together with a white OCBD, chunky wool socks and slippers, you’d basically look like grandpa — which isn’t a bad thing.

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: