Monday, November 29, 2010

You say it's your birthday?

Well, it was my birthday too, yeah.

Sometimes I'm not the most observant fellow. I get stuck in habits and said habits go unnoticed until they are mentioned to me by someone else.

In an instance relevant to this post, some years ago I got in the habit of wearing a pair of worn-down Saucony sneakers as house shoes. Their soles were so thin (probably no more than a millimeter in places) that they were basically nothing more than slippers, but they still had laces and of course were more adept at tracking things on the carpet and wood floors.

Fortunately, my wife put a stop to this practice with my birthday gift this year, a pair of L.L. Bean handsewn slippers with fleece lining.

LL Bean mocs

After wearing them about for a couple weeks, I have to concede that they're much more comfortable than the Sauconys, and easier to get off when I'm in a hurry to jump into bed on a cold evening, and much nicer to slip on for a Saturday morning spent lazily wandering about the house with a cup of coffee.

As if that weren't enough, I got enough fancy loose leaf tea to last until nearly the end of the Mayan calendar, as well as a variable-temp kettle (shoutout to skoolbus39!).

More and better posts coming soon.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Spotting inner beauty

A couple months ago, my wife ran across an older Heywood Wakefield nightstand at a junk shop. It was incredibly beat-up, with major damage to the finish on all top and side surfaces, as well as stickers stuck all over it. As if that weren't enough, there were a couple dark marks on the top, where it looks like a candle was left burning.

It certainly didn't look like the sort of thing you'd want to bring home and put in your bedroom.

Heywood Wakefield 1
While the surface was damaged, the piece (which is made out of solid northern yellow birch, and is incredibly heavy for its size) was in fine structural shape, and for only $2 she simply couldn't pass it up.

Here's a couple more angles, just so you know what we were dealing with.

Heywood Wakefield 2
My wife started the job, and got a good portion of the old finish off it, then I spent another solid afternoon working on the piece while listening to some football on the radio.

The particular finish used on this piece (which goes by "champagne") is actually a rather impressive concoction of colors and finishes, and instructions for mixing it seemed incredibly daunting. Even then, it seemed like results were pretty hit-or-miss.

Fortunately we found a fellow on the internet who sold pre-mixed batches that he had put together using a tried-and-true method that got rave reviews from other armchair furniture refinishers. At 40 dollars for a quart, it was kind of expensive, but worth saving the headache on trying to mix our own.

After five hand-applied coats, the last coming on one of the last true nice days of the fall, our nightstand was finally ready to be re-introduced to the world (or at the very least, our bedroom).

Heywood Wakefield done!
Total cost of the piece ended up being just under $45 with tax, which is one-third or less what we would have paid for a decent used piece. Sure, it still has a few blemishes (like a small reminder of the candle burn), but I figure it gives it some character.

This wasn't the first time we've rehabilitated a cheap piece of furniture from a sale or store, and it won't be the last. For furniture, beauty is way more than skin deep, and if you're willing to put a little elbow-grease into it, a nice piece of furniture will last a long, long time.

Friday, November 19, 2010

What's in a name?

I'll be the first to admit that in my early days, I would often buy thrift clothes based on labels alone. While I often ended up with nice pieces, there were other times that I purchased an item which was created during a rough patch of a particular manufacturer and I ended up with a piece of junk. Obviously, some labels are better than others; some have their ups and downs (lets be honest, the 80s were bad for a lot of people), while others are pretty much tried and true in terms of quality.

Over time, I've learned not only more about the names on the labels themselves, but the eras in which they were produced and the quality I can expect from such. Since I'm working on a limited budget and I'm not exactly the easiest size to shop for, I can't really be a label snob, but I have to admit getting a little giddy when I run across the big-names in a piece that I can wear.

Of course, the easiest piece of clothing (accessory or otherwise) to shop for is ties, and over the course of the past few months I've ran across some fairly big names.

Armani tie
First up is this Giorgio Armani tie. While I'm not a huge fan of the design, the tag leads me to believe that it's from the 70s, which would make it a very early Armani tie, and worth purchasing simply to have. While it's certainly no investment piece, it is cool to have (and I'm sure I will wear it with a gray suit at some point down the road).

Balenciaga tie
Next up is this gorgeous plaid number from Balenciaga. Based on other patterns I've seen from this label, I would have never guessed I'd see something so understated and lovely from them. This is a tie that I've already worn and will proceed to bust out a great deal more.

Hermes tie
To be frank, I'm not a huge fan of most Hermes prints on their ties or other accessories. By some dumb luck, though, I stumbled upon a couple of them earlier this year and re-sold them, in turn funding some more thrift store clothing purchases in the process. This particular tie was the most understated one that I found, and due to a couple small spots I decided to keep it. So now I own an Hermes tie. Whoopdie doo!

Gucci tie
Like the Armani above, I mainly bought this Gucci tie due to it being a bit more vintage. That said, the texture on the tie is pretty incredible (you can see it a bit better in the detail shot of the label) and because of that it will likely stay in my collection.

My holy grail tie is still a six or seven-fold silk tie, but I'm not holding my breath for one.

It won't stop me from digging through swaths of polyester and acrylic in my valiant quest, though.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For the birds

I haven't hunted since my teenage years, but every fall around a certain time I'm reminded of those cold mornings I spent trudging through the edges of fallen corn fields while waiting for a bird or two to fly into the air. It's that season right now, and perhaps it's no coincidence that in the past two weeks I've seen an overabundance of ties with different bird motifs.

I ended up purchasing the following three, but could have easily tripled the number below if not for condition issues.

blue heron 1

blue heron detail
Obviously, this first tie doesn't depict a bird that one would hunt, but I found myself drawn to it anyway. I initially bought it thinking it was a Great Blue Heron (which is a magnificent bird), but a closer look at markings (or lack thereof) make me instead think that it's a Great Egret. Either way, it's a nice design.

Pheasant tie

Pheasant tie detail
Along with turkey and quail, pheasants are a bird that I did hunt back in the day. This particular tie is beautiful, with two different bird poses on an incredibly thick red silk.

Pheasant tie detail

Pheasant tie detail
The bird on this third tie has me stumped, but I couldn't pass it up. Old school woven tie from the UK (for Robert Talbott) that is again super thick and feels great.

I don't think there are any unwritten rules on not wearing ties with sporting birds on them if you're not a hunter, just as there are no real rules for not wearing a tie with lobsters on it if you live in a landlocked locale.

Or am I wrong on that?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Feeling cheery, feeling dreary

Today was the end of the run, so to speak. After an extended Indian summer and a nice, long fall of warmer-than-normal temperatures, the cold wind started gusting around dark and ushered in a round of rain which is supposed to turn into some snow by tomorrow night.

I decided to go subdued, with a splash of color. Up top is a camelhair herringbone jacket with an off-white oxford and the regimental tie I snagged a couple weeks ago at an estate sale.


Down low were some medium-brown pants and vintage Florsheim Imperial loafers from another estate sale earlier this summer. The photo is in the dying light of the day, with Elsa the dog making another appearance.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Riddle me this: How can a suit be so ugly and so cool?

One of the reasons I don't post many pictures and links to a lot of new fashion pieces on this blog is because they're things that are simply out of my price range. I've never paid $100 for a pair of pants, and I've never dropped $300 (or even half that) on a pair of shoes, and really I can't imagine doing so in the future. I limit my budget and love the thrill of the bargain hunt, and this small corner of the internet tries to reflect such.

Having said that, if I were rich and a little bit more eccentric and had a place to store it properly, I would probably be tempted to bid on this auction, which is for Frank Gorshin's Riddler Costume from the First Episode of the original Batman television series from the late 60s.

Riddler suit

Holy insane lining Batman!

It's one of the more hideous / beautiful / insane / eyeball-popping suits I've ever seen, and yet there's something about it. Oh yeah, and I know I mentioned it before, but look at that damn lining!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Fall tweener

We've been having one of those falls where it starts out pretty chilly in the morning, but by mid-afternoon is settling in somewhere in the low 60s or so. It's been sunny and dry, and despite some brisk wind, fairly unseasonable and nice.

Because of the cooler commutes on my bike rides to work, I've broken out slightly warmer clothing, but I wanted to keep things in line with the sunny and nice temps yesterday, so I went with a medium-weight herringbone tweed jacket in light brown and cream. Paired it up with a pink and white university stripe oxford and one of the brighter ties from this early summer haul.

jacket and tie

Down below I wore some khaki-colored corduroys that sort of blended into the cream color of the jacket and my well-worn and well-loved Clark desert bucks.

down low

The resulting combination was something that managed to keep me warm on the ride in, but was perfectly agreeable when the sun was beaming down its slowly dying rays later in the day.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Spreading the Love: Style Share - November

When I first started this site, I figured it would be a good place for me to try out a completely different range of writing, as well as work on my photography skills a bit. As I mentioned way back in the beginning, I've been writing on multiple sites for quite some time (in one case, over a decade), but over the course of the past couple years I've found myself burnt out on what I was doing. I've been a long-time thrifter and collector of material culture, and along with my several-year burgeoning interest in men's style, it seemed like a natural fit.

Like anyone who runs a blog, I enjoy feedback and interaction with the audience that I do have. Having said the above, I'm going to try out a little experiment and hope that it turns into a regular feature on the site.

While I am not a rich man, thrifting and garage and estate sales have been good to me over the years, and it only seems fair that I spread some of the joy around. And so, each month I'm going to be giving away a couple things to readers of the site, completely free of charge.*

The only thing I ask is that the recipient of said item of clothing send back a photo of them wearing it for a follow-up post on this site. It doesn't have to be a Vogue-quality shot, and it doesn't have to show a face or any other distinguishing features. It only has to show off the item you've received in an ensemble that you put together.

My rough plan is to throw out 3-5 items each month that are available. The first two responses I get from readers in comments will the get the requested item (please don't put any contact information in there, as you can send me that through the email listed in my profile).

The remaining pieces will go back into the box until next month (or so). From there, I (and the rest of my small audience) will wait excitedly to see what said readers put together with their requested item. :)

Sound good?

Okay then. Let's start.

This month, I've got four different 100% silk ties from fairly venerable names, each with a rather distinct style.

Robert Talbott

Robert Talbott repp in emerald green, navy, and khaki

Liberty of London

Liberty of London paisley for Neiman Marcus


Vintage (80s or so) Gucci black with anchor and rope motif


Burberry's (80s or so) stripe in gold/green/purple/maroon with flower motif

I'll try to switch things up from month to month to keep things interesting, and it will all sort of depend on what I come across in my findings. Stay tuned and you too can take part in this little experiment.

*Seriously, it's free, and yours to keep forever. No strings attached. I won't share your name on the site or with anyone else unless you have a blog of your own that you want me to link. Please note that all clothing will be used (but certainly not stained, smelly, or damaged, as I do have standards), so please only agree to participate if this sort of thing doesn't gross you out. Thanks.