Monday, January 31, 2011

Thinking warm

By some cruel twist of thifting luck, it seems like my best scores lately have all been tailored for warmer weather. As I type this, snow is dumping outside and the temperature for the next three days isn't projected to rise above 0 degrees Fahrenheit (with wind chills dropping to -25 for a good portion of the next 36 hours). Wool will comprise the majority of my wardrobe for awhile and give me a good excuse to break out some of my heaviest sweaters a couple more times.

wool military sweater
This particular sweater is one of them, a vintage military number made in England out of 100% wool that's incredibly thick and warm. Paired with my peacoat, it should take the bite out of even the coldest upcoming mornings. If it goes on for too long, I can easily fall back to the uber-thick L.L. Bean Norwegian as well.

Now, if I can just keep my fingers and toes warm.

Speaking of keeping warm, I did manage to find two great wool sweaters recently.

Aussie Open
One is a fairly standard 100% wool navy v-neck, and while I normally shy away from logos and emblems, I couldn't pass this one up for a dollar. I haven't played a round in two years, and while I'm years removed from my best scores (at prime, my handicap was 5), I couldn't pass up the kangaroos on the crest of this one.

Vintage ski sweater
In terms of bold, blocky colors, you simply can't go wrong with vintage ski sweaters. It's almost impossible to find them in great condition (moth holes are the usual culprits), and this one was no different. It has a tiny hole near the left armpit that I'm going to try to rehabilitate. I'm a sucker for the color combination, and once again it only cost a dollar, so no harm lost if I can't get things to work out.

Thinking about the wind chills tomorrow morning, I almost wish I had kept my beard.


Saturday, January 29, 2011

Yay or nay? The vintage velveteen jacket

If you've been reading this blog for any amount of time at all, you probably know that while I enjoy finding quality traditional clothing items, I also have a bit of a weakness for rather unique pieces as well. This is especially true when they're vintage, as a good portion of the time you simply don't see anything like them being created still today (and if they are, they're by a new designer and priced out of the range of anyone with modest means).

I had just such a find about a week ago. Gliding through the rack at a particularly poorly-lit thrift store, my fingers glanced across some fabric that stood out during the split-second touch. Based on the price ($4) and the tags inside, I knew that it was coming home with my regardless of whether it fit or not, so I paid and left for home without even trying it on.

Black velveteen jacket
It may be hard to tell from the picture, but it's a black cotton velveteen jacket. Based on the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America tag inside the pocket, it's from the mid-60s or so, and it's in absolutely mint condition. The best part is that when I tried it on upon arriving home, it fit me nearly perfectly.

So, I have no idea when the occasion will arise to wear such a jacket, but I was incredibly excited to find it. It's one of those pieces that simply doesn't come around that often, and the fact that it fit me made my day.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Brooks bonanza

Although I've found some great ties over the course of the past couple months, I hadn't run across a lump sum of truly great ones until this past week. Over the past couple years especially, I've gotten better at scanning patterns and colors and visually separating the wheat from the chaff (so to speak), so when I saw some familiar stripes all hanging together recently, my heart skipped a little jump.

striped ties
The three on the right were the ones that caught my attention (specifically the light-blue/navy/burgundy combo), and when I started flipping them over, my suspicion was confirmed.

Brooks Brothers!
I'm not completely sure of the era of these Brooks Brothers ties (I'm guessing 70s or early 80s?), but I'm pretty sure they all came from the same owner, as they were all found at the same store all huddled together amongst some polyester blends and a rather insanely-colored Jerry Garcia number.

I have two other Brooks Brothers ties with exactly the same label (bumping my total to six), and their construction and colors are pretty much impeccable. Finding four at one time definitely qualifies as a joyous occasion and means that a couple lesser-worn cravats in somewhat similar colors in my collection will now be exiting stage right to make room.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

2010 in review

I started this blog just over a year ago, and in the year of 2010 I made exactly 80 posts. I had barely any traffic for quite a few months, but in checking my stats lately, I've noticed that readership has slowly and steadily been ticking up.

For that reason, and because I thought it would be fun to read back through some of my old entries, I've put together this 2010 in review to highlight not only my favorite finds of the year, but some of my favorite (and a couple least favorite) posts.

Favorite find (jacket): In terms of fit and quality construction, it would be hard to beat the camelhair and slubbed silk jackets I found one Sunday late last winter. Bonus nod goes to this crazy Hickey Freeman jacket.

Favorite find (sweater): In terms of both warmth (wowza it is warm) and style, the vintage L.L. Bean sweater from a couple weeks back wins this one hands-down (pictured below with wool necktie, wool peacoat, wool scarf, and beard).

LL Bean sweater
Favorite find (shoe): It's hard for me to mentally separate all the shoes found at the Golden Girls on steroids estate sale, but out of them, I've worn the brown vintage Florsheim Imperial loafers the most.

Favorite find (hat): I'll call this one a tie, as both the vintage Pendleton driving hat and the amazing Harris Tweed rain hat are gems.

Favorite find (pants): I can't believe I never got an entry written about them, but I found an amazing pair of vintage light blue pants made out of heavy oxford cloth. Yes, they're very cool. I will get pictures when I break them out of storage this spring.

Favorite find (tie): If you've read this site for any amount of time at all, you probably realize that I have a bit of an obsession with ties. If I absolutely had to pick my favorite finds, though, it would come down to either the pile I found in this tie bonanza or these three lovely madras ties, which I wore a ton last summer.

pile o ties
Favorite find (other accessories): They're certainly nothing high-end or seriously sought-after, but I have to admit my delight in finding these great belts (and belt hanger).

Favorite find (furniture): Okay, so my wife found it, but this Heywood Wakefield nightstand was a gem just waiting to be uncovered with a little bit of elbow-grease.

Favorite find (book): I managed to find several books on men's style, but it was an early 20th century ship log that stood out (pictured below).

Log book first page
Favorite style-related post: This one was harder to choose, mainly because I don't feel like I really settled into a very good rhythm in terms of photos until late-summer or so. If I had to choose, it would be this one, which also happens to somewhat show the aforementioned Florsheims.

Favorite non-clothing-related post: Without a doubt, this post. Some runner-ups include this post on owls, this one on gardening, and this one featuring pictures from the 50s of my grandparents.

Favorite series of posts: Easy, Style Share. It's been a lot of fun so far, and I again thank everyone who has participated. A runner-up might be Yay or Nay which has gotten some great responses.

Most ill-advised style post: Just to show that I'm not above making fun of myself, I direct you to this fairly eye-gouging pairing. Not sure what I was thinking on that one. Oh, and another fairly slouchy post is this one, where I'm apparently trying to be the definition of frumpy.

Sure, it would be easy enough to delete those previous posts and try to forget that they ever happened, but they're part of the process. In terms of that process, 2010 was a great year, and 2011 seems like it's already off to a good start.

Etsy Find - Handmade iPhone/iPad cases

I don't own an iPad or an iPhone, but when I came across Blythe King's Etsy shop, I kinda wished that I did, just one so I could deck it out in one of her handmade cases.

handmade iPad and iPhone cases

product photos courtesy Blythe King's Etsy shop

Made out of vintage fabric (and buttons) that she's collected, her products are absolutely stunning. They're organic, colorful covers, made of tweed and other highly textured fabrics, providing a great contrast to the items they house (known for their clean and futuristic (and many would say austere) looks).

They're not cheap, but considering that they're handmade and essentially one-of-a-kind, these gorgeous covers definitely look to be worth it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Style Share return - Lands' End ties

Another Style Share return arrived in my inbox, this one from Scott at The Cable Knit Collegian. He snagged the lot of two Lands' End ties from December.

Lands End ties
His camera has been bugging out lately, so Scott graciously sent me a collage of the outfit that he was styling with the aforementioned ties.

outfit from Cable Knit Collegian

photo collage courtesy The Cable Knit Collegian

I'll let him put it together for you the rest of the way...
It's crazy how well these colors match up. I started off the day with my olive tie and cords. After work I switched into my red tie and cords for the evening. I paired these with my madras driver's cap (with hints of olive and red), green/white striped oxford, shawl sweater and shearling boots.

Thanks to Scott, and to everyone who has sent in their returns so far. I'll have another round of stuff early next month to claim.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Shill - Lands' End sale

It's not very often that I post links on this blog to new stuff, because frankly I rarely buy new clothing anyway. Even sales sites like Gilt and others are usually ridiculously overpriced (at least, coming from the mind of a habitual thrifter), but in case you hadn't yet seen, Lands' End is having a fairly massive sale going on through tomorrow night.

I've long been a fan of Lands' End, largely because their clothes are well-made and almost completely free of adornment (yes, I love my Polo horsies, but for the most part I prefer garments sans-logos). At any rate, there's definitely some great deals to be found, which includes a lot of stuff in their Canvas line.

flannel overlay belt
For instance, I got one of these really neat twill flannel overlay belts for a whopping $6.98. There's also a load of great shirts, and I picked up a pair of tailored-fit nantucket red pants for just over 20 bucks (something that had been on my internal wish-list for awhile).

My total damage was just over $55 for 5 items (using the code JAN20 and the Pin 6111 for free shipping on $50 or more), which really isn't a whole lot more than buying stuff at a thrift store. With that purchase, it was the first time I'd bought a new (non-thrifted, anyway) clothing item since our trip to San Francisco. Unless I stumble upon some more great online deals, I'm guessing it will be that long (<> 6 months) it until it happens again.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Weekend WTF: Bowtie flower thingy

Previous entries with the wtf tag have certainly been a little more odd, but in both cases, I at least knew what they were. With this installment, I'm really truly stumped with the actual accessory that I've purchased.

I was at a local thrift store the other day when I spotted what I originally thought was two silk bowties floating in a bin of loose ties. I pulled them out to inspect them a little closer, and this is what I found...

lands end thingies
Based on the style of the tag, they're definitely an older Lands' End product. They each have a hook and latch like a ready-tied bowtie, but instead have an almost 2-inch fixed "flower" on the neck where the bow would usually be.

lands end things
They were 50 cents each, so I couldn't pass them up. Frankly, I'm not even sure that they're a men's accessory, but I figured it was worth a dollar to inspire a blog post and learn a little something in the process.

Certainly one of my readers know what they are. If you do, please let me know in the comments.

Edit: As expected, Yankee Whisky Papa came through with the answer in the comments (a Rosette tie, which is a womens accessory) and even had a suggestion that I'll likely have to follow. Thanks!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Style Share return - Brooks Brothers tie

About two weeks ago, I was wondering aloud to my wife whether I'd ever see any returns on my Style Share idea. As it turns out, I only needed to wait until the holidays were over until the returns came in and the recipients humbled me with their contributions.

This time out, it was the Brooks Brothers tie from January.

Brooks Brothers
This tie was snagged by one Yankee Whisky Papa, who runs his own style blog over at Boxing The Compass.

Brooks Brothers

photo courtesy Boxing The Compass

To prove how versatile the tie is, I'll let BTC tell it...
I went out for a 7 a.m. sledding run with my 3 year old son, and wore your tie. I happened to have exactly matching cufflinks for it, which are somewhat visible in this picture of me about to leave the house for the short but fast and icy sledding course in the Boston Common. Gray sweatshirt over a TM Lewin St. James shirt and a Mister Midwester-gifted tie. Later, shifted to wool blazer and was off to the office.

From the sled-run straight to the office, like a superhero. That's copy that Brooks Brothers only wish they would have come up with. :)

Again, thanks to everyone for rolling with this. I'm having a blast.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Style Share return - L.L. Bean shirt

Whoot! My little experiment in crowd-sourcing style is showing some returns. For the second time this week, a Style Share item that was sent out into the world has now been documented in the wild.

This time out, it was this vintage L.L. Bean chamois shirt from December.

LL Bean
The shirt was snapped up by The Natural Aristocrat and he worked it into not one, but two different outfits.

LL Bean vintage

Photo courtesy The Natural Aristocrat

Both outfits show the true versatility of the shirt, with the second turning in a true mix of styles that really make the bright red shirt (which could be considered fairly utilitarian considering the humble origins) into a focal point.

If you click through the photo-credit link, TNA even included a bit of nostalgic memories about L.L. Bean and some history of the shirt. Good stuff.

Thanks again to everyone who has participated in the project so far, and here's to many more great returns.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Ties is a four-letter word

In terms of grammar, the title of this post might not sound that great, but in my case it's sadly true. Although I find it hard to find pants, shirts, jackets, and shoes that fit me, ties are the great equalizer. It seems like I'm always finding designs and colors that I enjoy, and because they don't take up a lot of room in my wardrobe (and they're usually inexpensive), I never to fail in justifying a purchase to myself.

Oh, and speaking of four-letter words, how about Dior, Gant, and Polo?

First up is a vintage (80s or so?) Christian Dior tie in an a color combination that instantly makes it the most beautiful paisley in my entire collection. This one is going to get a lot of play.

gant flower
Next up is this beautiful Gant number (100% cotton, made in U.S.A.) in navy, with a delightful pattern of small colorful flowers. Again, this can go with so much.

gant repp
Another Gant tie (100% silk, again made in U.S.A.), this is going to replace a Land's End tie I have in a similar color-combo, just because I like it more.

Polo repp purple yellow
Purple and yellow Polo repp in 100% silk. Not sure what I'll wear this with yet, but I'm not going to pass it up for $1.

Polo birds
Lastly (but certainly not least), another Polo tie, this one in 100% wool with more birds. Yeah, I can't get enough.

How many ties are too many? I guess I'll find out eventually.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Style Share return - Chaps tie

As I mentioned in my last post, the first Style Share return has arrived. It comes courtesy of Kleidsam, who runs a blog of his own.

Chaps tie
He took this Ralph Lauren Chaps tie from December and made it flourish with his usual aplomb.

style share photo

Photo courtesy of Kleidsam

More textures than you can shake a stick at, but with enough mutual color interplay that it works smashingly.

style share photo

Photo courtesy of Kleidsam

The little details (flower in the lapel, skull and crossbones tie bar, and herringbone pocket square) just make the eye dance a bit more, and the shoes are lustworthy as well.

Much thanks Kleidsam for participating! Hopefully more returns will soon follow.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Style Share - January

I've got one return from a previous months Style Share coming soon and hopefully more on the way, so it seems that this little experiment in crowd-sourcing is working.

No real theme to this months items, just some neat ties and a sweater that I found. There are four things to choose from (for free*), and I'll send out items to the first two people to claim their items in the comments. Once items are claimed, they're off the board, but those who claimed the item will need to contact me through the email listed in my profile so I know where to mail stuff.

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. It doesn't have to be lit like The Sartorialist or even show your face, it just has to show how you put it to use.

Enough disclaimers, here are the items:

Brooks BrothersThis one was claimed last month, but I was never contacted so it's back in action. This tie is so versatile that it's almost hard to imagine an outfit that it doesn't work with.

Christian Dior tie
Beautiful vintage Dior tie in dots with gray, red, and purple. Depending on what it's surrounded with, I could see it being either playful or subdued. Super sharp.

shawl neck
Vintage wool shawl-neck sweater (size medium in case you can't read the tag). Panache brand (you can't beat that name!), this one has plastic buttons, but is perfect for the couple months of winter that remain.

orange wool knit
Vintage orange wool knit tie, straight outta Scotland. Perfect for those have Syracuse, University of Texas, Illinois, or any other number of schools as their alma matter. Or hell, just get it if you love nubby wool texture and ORANGE.

*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, January 4, 2011

Sweaters and scruff

I had a nice little block of days off over the past two weeks, and even though I kept fairly busy, I found the time to get out and thrift a little bit. I had a lot of competition (our city is full of pickers, and there were quite a few thrifters in town for the holidays), but I did end up finding a couple gems.

First up was this vintage L.L. Bean sweater. It is now easily the thickest sweater I own, and I haven't even had the occasion to wear it yet.

L.L. Bean sweater
I knew it was something interesting the moment I saw it, and the tag affirmed it. It's old enough to have the vintage L.L. Bean font, and oddly enough it was made in Norway.

L.L. Bean detail
It's not 100% wool, but honestly I don't mind in this case. It makes it less susceptible to moth damage and although it inhibits the breath-ability just a bit, it's going to be layered with enough other garments when I finally do wear it that it won't make much of a difference anyway.

I also found a beautiful 100% wool sweater vest (knitted in England) and a short-sleeve (!?) 100% lambswool v-neck sweater that I'm guessing one would just wear like a sweater-vest. Some cool accessory finds (including a couple sweet ties) will be coming in another post.

It's certainly not very stylish, but I also bought this...

Las Vegas
Frankly, I'm not a huge fan of Las Vegas as a city (it's just not my thing), but I buy vintage ringer t-shirts like this once in awhile to wear in the yard and/or around the house. It's one of those shirts that feels like it's been washed about 150 times and is soft and thin and incredibly comfortable. To each their own, I guess.

Almost three weeks since my last wardrobe post, and almost as long since I've shaved. Trying to decide whether I should chop down the ever-thickening beard or not...

I haven't had any returns from the first two months yet, but I'll unveil the items for this months Style Share on Thursday evening (Jan. 6th). Some good stuff again, so swing back and stake your claim.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy new year, baby.

I want to wish all the readers of this site a happy and healthy 2011. I started this blog up a little less than a year ago, and it's been a great deal of fun to write as I explore and evolve my own personal style and show off some of the interesting things I've found.

Having said the above, I've been hiding something from you and I need to tell you about it. I hinted at it vaguely in a past post, but I haven't yet posted anything about what will definitely be the biggest and most exciting news to happen to me in the year 2011.

girl profile
The above picture is a profile view of an ultrasound of the baby girl who, if all goes according to plans, will enter the world sometime in the first week of April and change our life forever.

I had a long holiday break and meant to make more posts here (and even took quite a few pictures), but instead I ended up painting the room that will soon be hers and tried to make sure several other things got done around the house. There's only about 3 months to go, and I'm about 85% insanely happy and excited about what's to come, with about 15% of me still feeling afraid of all the little details and whether I'll remember everything and do everything right that I know I should. I've been reading books and trying to somehow prepare myself for it all, but know that no matter how much work I do, I'll soon be dumped headlong into something that I simply can't comprehend until the experience is actually happening to me.

I can't wait to hold the little baby in my arms that I've felt kicking me through my wife's skin for the past two months. I'm excited to see what she looks like and how she takes after myself and her mother. Most of all, though, I'm anxious but hopeful that everything goes as smoothly as possible.

Heck, I've even wondered how old she'll be when she first says, "Dad... You are not going to wear that outside the house, are you?"

Again, I wish the best for you and yours in 2011.