Monday, February 28, 2011

Tags and Textures: Vintage cream / red / blue silk tie

While the good things about winter include re-discovering the joys of my vintage pea coat and nearly wearing out a heavy-duty Pendleton scarf from daily use, my patience is starting to wear thin with the cold temperatures. I probably wouldn't be so grumpy about it all if the skin on the tips of several fingers wasn't cracked and bleeding, and I'd probably even find it slightly tolerable if our furnace hadn't decided to stop working on not one, but two separate nights when the temperatures dropped into single digits, but seriously.

At least I'm getting some extra cardio with all the snow shoveling.

silk tie 1
Really, though, I'm ready for some warmer temperatures and a brighter color palette. In anticipation, here's a vintage tie from the venerable Maus & Hoffman of Florida, who have been in business for over 70 years.

silk tie 2
I've never been there, but based on their website collection and quality of this tie and others I have from them (including a really old Hermes), they're purveyors of only the finest of finery. Yes, they're pricey, but lest you think all their prices are out-of-reach, check out the sweet madras pants on clearance for only $59! Damn!

silk tie 3
Made in Italy of some sturdy rough silk.

silk tie 4
This particular tie was featured in this original post and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that it was not only frayed at the bottom, but had a couple stains (on the back, thankfully). I wore it once last fall during a particular Indian summer-ish day, but I can't wait to break it out again soon.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Walking contradiction

I'm all for following some traditional rules and not throwing everything out the window when it comes to personal style, but sometimes I wake up and simply glaze over some things for fun. If it's comfortable, it looks decent, and if my wife doesn't halt me before stepping out the door, it's a go.

Case in point was today.

First off, I remember reading a blog where a fellow once said,
"As I've mentioned in other posts, I often feel self-conscious about wearing hats (simply because they make me even taller)...

rabbit fur hat

Oh dear, a rabbit fur cap.

Secondly, is that a freaking Australian Open golf tournament v-neck sweater being worn on a day when there's 8 inches of snow on the ground? Why yes. Yes it is.

Some dudes have Hawaiian shirt Friday; I guess this is my equivalent.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pull your feet to your chest

After a nice warm-up later last week and the beginning of this one, we had another cold snap here today. Between lunch and the end of the work day, we got almost 4 inches of snow, making the drive home slow going and pulling into the steep driveway a hit-or-miss proposition. Fortunately, the front-wheel drive found success on the second try.

I knew it was it was coming, though, and tried to celebrate yesterday with some suitable hints of warmer color.

tweed and hermes
Up top, I went with a western-styled tweed jacket that's incredibly versatile on days that fluctuate wildly in temperature. It's warm, but only half-lined, so it breaths pretty well. Paired it with a pink and white university striped OCBD and even busted out one of my Hermes ties. Pocket square in gold (another one courtesy of Kleidsam, - thanks man!) seems like it might be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me here...

shoes and socks
Down below, I went with cream corduroys, striped socks and my beeswax Clark bucks, which have aged nicely and are giving off a lovely patina of yes, gold!

Like I said, that's pushing it a bit, but I was trying to shove some subtle attention in their general direction. Their color is just too nice to not appreciate.

And now, I must go scoop the sidewalk.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Neck decoration and a confession

In addition to the sunglasses I wrote about in the previous post, my best finds lately have been a couple of accessories. It seems like I'm always finding interesting neckties, but it's rare that I come across something so interesting as the scarf that I ran across the other day.

wool and silk scarf
Some time ago, I learned to always peruse the women's scarves while thrifting. Men's pocket-squares are often scattered in, and I found a an ascot awhile back as well.

wool and silk detail
My persistence was again rewarded the other day when I found this beautiful scarf hanging amongst the dregs and was instantly drawn to it. With a bold paisley print in 100% silk on one side and the other in 100% medium-weight black zephyr wool, it's about 10 times more flashy than the usual winter scarf, but I can't wait to drop it into rotation at some point and let the silk side flash.

navy polka dot bowtie
Awhile back, I also ran across this lovely silk bow tie in navy with baby blue polka dots.

Now, I'm certainly lowering my style credit (not that I ever had any to begin with) several notches in admitting this, but I have to share that I've never worn a bow tie in my entire life. When I saw this tie, I saw it as a future challenge to myself, and bought it with the thought that owning such a nicely-constructed piece (in such easy-to-work-with colors) would certainly be the impetus to finally take the bow tie plunge.

This one will be continued at some point in the future.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Thrift karma in action

Years ago, when my wife was a poor undergraduate student, she decided to splurge a bit and treat herself with a nice pair of Ray Ban sunglasses (about $100). After owning them for only a couple weeks, she accidentally left them on a desk in a computer lab after writing herself bleary-eyed. When she returned, they were gone, and she swore to never spend more than $20 on a pair of sunglasses again.

My thrift scores have been few and far between lately, but when I saw the almost brand-new pair of Ray Ban's sitting in the sunglasses pile at my local store (including their original case and cleaning cloth), I knew I had to buy them. At the time, I wasn't quite sure they were in a style that my wife would like (and I hadn't yet heard the aforementioned story), but they were nice enough to buy regardless.

Ray Ban sunglasses
Needless to say, she was stoked to see what I'd found, as the dark tortoiseshell Ray Ban's were the same exact style of the ones that she'd lost so many years ago.

As I mentioned above, they're immaculate, without a single scratch and had only a single fingerprint smudge on one lens, which buffed off easily with the enclosed cloth. Not too bad for $4.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Gray days and gray things

Today was one of those weird between-seasons days that tempts you with some warmth then quickly reminds you that it's actually still winter. Brisk and cold in the morning with a glorious warm-up in the middle, then clouded up and dreary by the end of the work day.

I was lucky enough to experience all three of those temperatures firsthand, as I rode my bicycle to work for only the third time this year. I didn't set out to mirror the late-day cloud-over with my outfit, but it seemed to fit quite well by the time I pedaled home and the sky was a sheet of gray.

tie and pocket square
As I mentioned in my last post, I've gotten some amazing gifts back from people that have participated in Style Share. In a way, it's sort of become Style Swap, and in this outfit both the lovely tie and pocket square are courtesy of Kleidsam, who's always tearing it up stylistically.

I paired them up with a sort of multi-sized hounds tooth jacket in black and white that I have a hard time working into the rotation. Here, the soft grays seemed to melt the dramatic contrast almost perfectly, and it all sort of blurred into some thick black wool pants and wingtips that kept me warm while pedaling away.

jacket pants shoes
On a quick eye-scan, it's almost like a fade from white to black from the top down, with little flecks of color here and there (the jacket has some threads of blue and purple going through it), perfect for a day that hinted at sun then faded to something a little more subdued.

the steed
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention my steed, which I mentioned in an earlier post then promptly forgot. It's a bicycle that I built from the ground-up (it started out as a vintage road bike), with loads of parts that I picked specifically for turning it into something that's close as possible to being the perfect commuter bicycle.

If you're a bike geek and want me to do a more detailed post on all the details, let me know, otherwise I'll just let it be and say that I came pretty close to hitting my mark. I can ride in a jacket and tie with leather soles and have no worries. It's comfortable, minimal, and a bit throwback, and I love it.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Can't explain it

There are a few items of clothing in my wardrobe that I have a somewhat hard time explaining why I like so much. They either have somewhat dubious and/or dated styling, and yet I keep them around and break them out on various occasions.

red leather jacket
This oxblood leather jacket is one of those items. The styling is very 80s (see detail picture below), with zippers on the chest and a slim cut that makes it looks like something out of The Warriors crossed with a jacket that a backup dancer in a Michael Jackson video might wear.

leather jacket detail
That said, I like it. The color is deep and rich and it fits me really well (if a bit tight when I'm wearing a sweater underneath), and really, there's not a lot more to explain than that. On this particular day, I paired it with an older Lands' End knit tie, a Brooks Brothers v-neck sweater, my Pendleton driving cap, some cream corduroys and rather nondescript Florsheims.

Speaking of the aforementioned tie, it was actually a gift from The Cable Knit Collegian, who sent a great selection of them to me awhile back. When I started up Style Share, I certainly didn't expect anything in return, and yet I've gotten several awesome things from those who have participated. I've been incredibly flattered by this gesture from my "internet friends" (as my wife calls them when she sees me opening a package), and I've been working the pieces into my wardrobe recently and will be featuring more of them in the near future.

Considering all the outright dissing and petty bickering that I read on some men's style blogs, the return kindness is one of those damn cool things that proves there are plenty of good guys out there. More to come.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Style Share return - Hardy Amies tie

Another return, another reader killing it.

Hardy Amies
This time out, it was Schorsch, who snagged this Hardy Amies paisley silk tie from February

Hardy Amies outfit

photo courtesy Schorsch

I'll let him pair it up...

I used the tie for a Valentine's Eve Brunch with my wife and daughter. Attached is how I wore it, paired with a red uni stripe oxford and a grey hopsack jacket. Down below was some raw denim and oxblood cap toes.

The grays and blues and reds and pinks all set each other off perfectly. Love the way the paisley cascade down the stripes of the shirt.

It's official, whenever I need inspiration from now on, I need look no further than clicking the style share return tag in my sidebar. Items that were seemed so solitary when I first photographed them have really blossomed.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Playing it safe

Despite some of the suggestions in the comments when I first found it, I broke out my vintage velveteen jacket today and paired it with... jeans. It was the first day that it's really been warm enough to wear it, and it just happened to coincide with a rather mellow day at the office, so on it went.

In honor of the slightly warmer temps, I broke out the Lands' End shirt that I picked up recently, and paired it with a vintage cotton lisle knit tie in electric blue.

paintbrush shirt and knit tie
Below were the dark blue Levi's and some newer Florsheim black wingtips that I throw on when there's going to be much walking that involves trudging through slush.

denim and leather
Considering the light colors of the shirt, the whole thing came off as rather understated. I think my inner peacock (if I even have one) will have to wait until even warmer temperatures to unfurl.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Style Share return - Robert Talbott tie

The week of Style Share returns continues, with another submission from earlier this month.

Robert Talbott
Back again is Yankee Whiskey Papa, who claimed this Robert Talbott silk tie.

Style Share Talbott

photo courtesy Yankee Whiskey Papa

As with his last return, I'll let him tell it:

The tie arrived safely, and went around my neck the following morning, paired with a Turnbull & Asser shirt in black and white stripe. Boston winter has lately been wet, and an LL Bean cardigan in bright yellow kept me warm under an already heavy green wool suit. "Reading Days" at the firm are generally held during bad weather when no client visits are scheduled, and conservative suits give way to more rough wools and heavier flannels.

I have to say, the suit looks so rich and warm that I feel like I could use it as a blanket on a cold day. Love the playful touch of the yellow as well.

Thanks again to YWP, and for everyone else who has given feedback on this project to date.

Housekeeping note: It's a minor thing, but I just made separate categories for the original Style Share posts and their returns (which are now up to 6!) in my site labeling. It will make it much easier to sort through each moving forward, especially making it easier to see the kickass reader contributions.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Post 100: An ode to my better half

For my 100th post, I had an entry written that made some reflections on this blog in general and some other navel-gazing junk. The gist of it all was that despite adding to the overall bloat of the internet with yet another self-indulgent men's style (and whatever else) blog, it made me happy writing it.

And really, that's what it's all about.

Instead, I've decided to talk a little bit about my wife for this 100th post, who, if I go back to the beginning, is the reason this blog even exists (for better or worse). She's influenced and changed me in more positive ways that I can possibly write in this entry.

So, I'll limit her influence to things that pertain to this blog. If you jump in the wayback machine, one of the first entries was a really brief rundown on my style interests to date. If you want to skip clicking that link, the basics are; I jumped around from one thing to another, and when I first met my wife I was kind of a aesthetic ascetic (with one memorable pair of shoes held together with duct tape).

If you can imagine it as a movie scene, picture a beautiful young woman walking into a room wearing vintage clothes with the faint scent of vetiver drifting off her while a gawky, awkward fellow shuffles and stammers and tries to somehow catch her attention. Amazingly, he does so, and after a long distance, over-the-internet fueled courtship, they finally get together. To add one more cliche layer to it all, the fellow realizes that when you have someone to dress nicely for, it becomes even more fun to do so.

I should mention that in addition to thrifting and a love of vintage clothes, my wife is also into textile history and preservation, and even has her masters degree in the subject. She's helped teach me to distinguish different fabrics by how they feel and even showed me how to determine unknown fibers by lighting them with a match and watching how they burn (and how it smells when they do so).

And really, as I mentioned above, that's the least of what she's taught me. We met just over 10 years ago and have been pretty much inseparable since. We have a happy house with two dogs, a big garden and a baby girl on the way.

Wedding shot
She also puts up with all my silly habits, including writing this little blog, so the least I can do is dedicate #100 to her. The few of you who read this blog already know how awesome she is, and the rest of you will just have to take my word.

If you need further proof, check out this photo of her as a 12 year old. And no, her outfit was not a school uniform, that's just how she rolled.

Wife as a 12 year old
Better half, all the way.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Style Share return - Orange wool knit tie

Two more Style Share returns today. I'll feature one in this entry and another later this week.

orange wool knit
Back again is Kleidsam who snagged this lovely orange wool knit tie from January.

Orange tie collage

Photo courtesy of Kleidsam

As usual, he's rocking the little details, with lots of patterns that work together and the base complimentary colors of orange and blue pulling it all together tight.

For the second time now, Style Share has gone Trans-Atlantic (and there's a piece currently en route to Canada). Thanks, as always, to everyone who has participated so far, and here's hoping it spreads even more from here out.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Color blocking

Some of my favorite recent thrift finds have been of items with solid colors, but amazing textures. After a week or so of trying to work new ties and other items into the rotation, I decided that Friday would be a day where I only donned only solid colors.

As it turns out, the informal challenge actually worked out quite well. A good mixture of brighter and subdued colors (plus some varied textures) drew my eye (at least) in unexpected ways. A casual Friday at the office, so to speak.

with and without outside clothes
On the left is my indoor outfit; A light olive shirt with a slight herringbone weave (my only cheat) was matched up with a super thick Scottish wool tie ($1, and one of my recent favorite finds) in cream and a 100% wool sweater vest by Lord Jeff ($3, another recent find). When I ventured outside, I added a heather green knit cap ($2.07 cheapie on clearance at Target), my perennial, slightly-damaged red Pendleton scarf and the heavy-duty navy pea coat.

pants and belt
Below, I wore some forest-green Polo corduroy pants ($5.00), paired with a thick Chaps belt and some Florsheim bluchers (not pictured).

As a whole, the outfit was certainly conservative by most measures, but popped with just enough flourishes of color to reflect the days getting longer and the temperatures slightly less cold.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Style Share - February

After a slow start, Style Share has really taken off during the past month with quite a few returns. If you haven't checked them out yet, take a spin through the archives.

Again, there's no theme this month, just a variety of interesting things that I thought readers could claim and run with. There are five things to choose from (for free*), and I'll send out items to the first three people to claim their items in the comments. Once items are claimed, they're off the board, but the person who claimed the item will need to contact me through the email listed in my profile so I know where to mail the particular items.

As always, the only thing I ask is that the recipient of said item of clothing email me back a photo or two of them wearing it for a follow-up post on this site.

Onward to the items!

Robert Talbott
Great, classic Robert Talbott tie in black silk with skinny white, gray and red stripes. Goes with anything.

Lands End ocbd
Lands' End vintage OCBD in blue and pink! 60/40 blend (cotton/poly) made in the U.S.A. No size tag, but based on measurements (neck is 16", sleeve from shoulder seam to hem is 26", chest, from armpit to armpit is 21") I think it's a 16/34. No brainer on the colors, I wish it fit me.

Hardy Amies
Great, crazy paisley 100% silk tie from Hardy Amies. Straight outta London.

Lands End Jacket
Lightweight 100% wool Lands' End jacket in size 41R. Awesome multicolor houndstooth pattern that's just begging for slightly warmer temps. Don't worry, it's going to happen soon.

3 leaf clover tie
St. Patrick's Day is next month, and this navy poly blend tie will be your perfect accompaniment either then or any other that you want to play it loose.

*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.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Once a week in winter

During the summer, the grill takes precedence for cooking due to not wanting to heat up the house any more than necessary. In the winter, though, the added warmth is no big deal, and cooking aromas are only an added bonus. Over the course of the past couple years, a nearly weekly habit of mine has been to roast a chicken in the oven. Buying a whole bird is not only much cheaper than various cuts, but slow-cooking a bird with the skin only helps to trap in the flavor of the meat.

chicken in the oven
The usual routine involves eating the legs and drums for one meal, then picking the rest of the chicken clean for use later in the week. Favorites are the old standard chicken-noodle soup as well as my specialty, chicken tikka masala. If we end up geting too lazy, it ends up chopped up on salads or made into chicken salad. Really, you can't go wrong.

We're not done there, though. Once the chicken is picked, we save the carcass in a freezer bag, and when we get a couple of them (and an afternoon or evening when we're going to be home for awhile), we toss them in a pot with some veggies and make stock.

chicken stock
This picture is from during the summer (obvious from the fresh tomatoes), when two separate batches netted us 8 quarts of stock (which in turn is used for a base in the aforementioned chicken-noodle soup and loads of other stuff). Because the cavity of the chicken is usually filled with spices and garlic when being roasted, we rarely even have to add salt or any other spices to the soups that we create out of it.

Other than some boiled bones and random scraps, nothing much goes to waste (the cooked carrots even get pulled back out and turned into seriously gourmet dog food toppings) and we even end up saving a bit of money in the process, even when buying higher-quality chicken. It's a trade-off that I'd definitely say is worth it.

P.S. Thursday night (Feb. 3rd), I'll unveil the items for Style Share for the month of February. There's some pretty interesting stuff if I do say so.