Monday, July 26, 2010

Take Ivy (take two, coming soonish)

I know I've posted about this before, but I'm bumping this post up because has Take Ivy for a ridiculous $13.47 pre-order price. That's almost half off the cover price and almost 4 dollars lower than the lowest price I've seen it. I just ordered my copy and you might want to as well, because according to The Trad, "The first printing is 10,000 copies of which 6,000 have been pre-sold." (and this was from a post nearly a month ago).

So yeah, 1-month advance warning. Take Ivy, the much written about photo book from Teruyoshi Hayashida, is being reprinted (finally) and released on August 31, 2010.

Originally shot in the 60s, this elusive book has been sort of a holy grail of prep style for basically forty years. Over the past couple years, copies have sold on various auction and book sites for hundreds of dollars, and The Trad even went through the painstaking (and surprisingly non-litigious, so far) process of scanning and posting the entire book on his site.

Pre-orders are sitting at a dirt cheap $16.50 right now, but I'm sure I'll re-post this when it's release date gets a little closer.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Fighting fire with fuschia

I must admit that the hardest part of the year for me to dress well is during the dog days of summer. It has officially lapsed into heat furnace mode and gotten stuck there during the course of the past two weeks or so, and in combination with a bicycle commute, it makes for a low-level sweat before I've even started work most days.

For reference, this is about what it's looked like the past couple days as I've left work...

hot and humid

I would say it's the humidity and not the heat, but...

At any rate, today I decided to throw caution to the wind and buck up against the sun with a combination of one of the brightest shirt and pant combos I own. It was simply too uncomfortable to wear a tie, so I left it at home.

pink and blue

Up top, I went with a dark pink (you say pink, I say fuschia) and white vintage Arrow gingham shirt. Below, I finally broke out the baby blue Polo khakis I got over the winter (and mentioned in this post awhile back). Tied them up with a dark brown leather belt which went with some leather PF Flyers on my feet (not pictured) of the same color.

When I first put it together, I felt like it was too outlandish, but as the day went on it felt more right. I even took a stroll in the sun at lunch (which is sometimes necessary for sanity when you work in a window-less basement) and didn't come back drenched.

pink gingham

I have to admit that at least part of the reason I rolled up the sleeves (besides the temperature) on my shirt is that they're simply too short for my arms, and look even more silly otherwise. I love the shirt so much that I can't bear to get rid of it, so until I find a replacement there will be bare (bear) arms to deal with.

I only caught a little bit of ribbing for the outfit, which seemed pretty reasonable in my fairly conservative town. Maybe they were right, though. Is it too much?

Monday, July 19, 2010

Thrift store musicians

Part of the fun (for me, anyway) of doing a lot of shopping at thrift stores is finding the little bits of former lives in the items that you buy. I have a couple shirts that have names sewn (or written) on the inside neck label, and I've found ticket stubs, notes, and funeral handouts in jackets that I've purchased. In books, I've found cards, inscriptions, homework, and even money a couple times.

Of course, this former life personalization is the reason that many items end up at a thrift store to begin with (I can't count the number of times a perfect item has had to be refused due to holes or stains), but all in all I've found myself charmed more than I've been frustrated. Just the other day, I found a teacher note to a student in a book that said "Sally had a GREAT day in music class!" and it brightened my day a little bit.

That's probably a long way of getting to the point, but it's an important one when talking about the music of The Books. The duo of Paul de Yong and Nick Zammuto have released 3 albums to date, and this week they just put out their fourth, The Way Out. They make skewed pop music that really sounds like nobody else out there, and yes, there's a thrift store element involved.

One of the key components of their music is sampling, and a large portion of those samples (especially on this new release) are pulled from home VHS tapes, home-made cassette tapes, and even answering machine tapes that the two have found in thrift stores. They cut up the samples and re-arrange them in a way that fits the song, then add their own instrumentation (and sometimes vocals) over the top, creating something amazingly emotional in the process.

Take, for instance, the first "single" from their new album, titled "A Cold Freezin' Night." For this song, they pulled a variety of different clips from an old Talkboy tape (more back-story on the song on their blog). It's two kids trying to one-up each other and recording the process, and the two turn the song into a lively, and dare I say catchy song.

As if that weren't enough, the two also create a video for each song, cut perfectly in time to the song (and again, largely using found footage).

If that song didn't do it for you, check out one of their older cuts, titled "Classy Penguin." The construction elements are similar, but the song takes a completely different direction. Oh, and the video captures some beautiful little nuggets out of every day life. Basically, you'd have to really be a grump to not crack a little smile or feel a bit wistful watching it.

And really, that's where the group shines the most. They take slices of life that really meant something to someone at some point, recapture then, then add their own little elements on top of them and set them off into the world as songs and videos. Over the course of their albums (and especially The Way Out), there's a lot of joy, a little bit of sorrow, and a dash of absurdity for good measure. In essence, they capture a great slice of humanity, and they're some of my favorite musicians because they do so.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A dollar goes a long way

During this past holiday weekend, one of the local thrift stores in our town had one of their righteous, stock-clearing days where every clothing item was marked $1. Some celebrate the holiday by blowing stuff up. Our idea was a little different, as my wife and I set the alarm clock and raided the sale, grabbing a huge bundle of clothes for something like $22 total. What did I snag?

Brooks Brothers nantucket reds

Nice pants! Pity they're too short.

First up is a vintage (note the non-scripty tag) pair of Brooks Brothers red khakis. These stuck out like a beautiful sore thumb on the pants rack at the store, and I was amazed to find that they were my size in the waist (!) only to be saddened that they were about 3 inches too short in the inseam, with nothing left to be let out (insert sad face here).

So, I now have a dilemma. Do I chop them off into some shorts (despite my self-conscious issues about wearing shorts?) or what?

Wranglers choco

Can't beat those 70s tags!

Next up is a pair of dark chocolate brown vintage Wrangler corduroys in exactly my size. New with tags, even. Many will scoff at these, but they're actually made quite well (in the United States, no less) and sharp looking. These will become staples of my wardrobe when the weather turns colder.

Lehner handkerchiefs

In the accessories department, my wife (who loves the thrift as much as I) found these lovely (also new, old stock) men's handkerchiefs stocked in the women's section. Made by Lehner in Switzerland, a stamp on the back states:

Exclusive Import of

Holder Menswear Inc.

1265 Broadway

New York, New York 10001

In searching the internet, it appears that store is defunct, as I could find no mention of it. That said, these are some sharp numbers that will certainly make a nice pocket square.

Chess King belt

One of my finds was a pair of new old stock Chess King (anyone remember that brand and/or store?) pants that were rather unremarkable in and of themselves. However, the pants were the kind that came with their own belt, and that belt was the above number which just rocks my socks. Bright braided red and green with real leather. The pants will be re-donated (they're way too short anyway), but the belt is mine! All mine!

In addition to the aforementioned scores, I got a killer 100% wool sweater (I'll post a picture when the heat isn't so oppressive), a semi-gaudy Ben Sherman shirt, a super nice pair of L.L. Bean wool pants, and a couple other random things that aren't quite as exciting (except for the new, old stock fluorescent green soccer socks, but those probably deserve their own entry).

Oh, and speaking of green, these were another grab...

navy green suspenders with green dots

Navy green suspenders with green dots, new in the original packaging (again). They even have their own set of buttons, which is nice considering I have a pair of project pants I was going to add suspender buttons to anyway. Thrift store serendipity strikes again!

Friday, July 2, 2010

My new nickname is "Skip" or "Chip"

The other day I was doing my usual skim through the local thrift store bookshelves when I ran across The Official Preppy Handbook. I'd been aware of this book for some time, and even knew that author Lisa Birnbach (along with designer extraordinaire Chip Kidd) were planning an update of sorts with True Prep, which is slated to come out in a couple months.

What I didn't know was that the aforementioned Preppy Handbook was out-of-print (so my 99 cent buying price ended up being a pretty good score). I also didn't know that it was largely a snark fest.

The Official Preppy Handbook

I guess that if I'd actually paid attention and read about the book a little more, I would have realized such, but I honestly figured that it was something like Take Ivy with more prose and illustrations instead of pictures.

And actually, after looking through it, there is some quite useful information, including definitions that I hadn't quite picked up on and some other little nuggets that are entertaining at the very least. That said, there are times where it borders on Mad Magazine-esque humor.

Or, at least I think it does.

Perhaps it's meant to be straight-up serious and my midwestern roots simply can't comprehend it all.

At any rate, it's a fun little book to have, but probably no substitute for Dressing the Man: Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion or The Esquire Handbook of Style: A Man's Guide to Looking Good when it comes to actual advise on not looking like a slob.