Monday, December 17, 2012

Style Share: December

Sheesh. What a year / month / week (pick one or all of the aforementioned). I sincerely hope that you and yours are well and that you're able to spend some quality time with the ones you love over the course of the next couple weeks. If nothing else, remind the people in your life that you love them every chance you get.

It's been awhile since I've done a Style Share, so even if you're a new follower to the blog, fortunately the rules are quite simple; I offer up some items of clothing and the only thing I ask is that the recipient of said free* item email me back a photo or two of them wearing it for a follow-up post on this site (I'll give you credit for the photo and even link your blog if you have one).

This month it's all about ties, and each one has sort of a winter / holiday theme. I'm sending out the first four claimed, so have at it.

Brooks Brothers Santa

Vintage Brooks Brothers Santa Claus emblematic tie. Not really much more to say other than that it's a classic.

Navy ski tie

Yellow ski jumpers emblematic tie on navy silk. Awesome as well.

Lands End candy cane

Lands' End green candy cane / mistletoe colored tie.

Pendleton tartan

Semi-wide Pendleton tartan tie in the colors of the season.

Brown ski tie

Wool / silk knit with another skier motif. I think it's going to snow here soon, and I hope it does in your area as well (once you reach your intended location).

Italian red dot

No-label made in Italy beauty with small black dots on juicy red. No problem going year-round with this.

As usual, claim your item in the comments, then email me through the address listed on the site. It's really that simple.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you see something you like that doesn't get claimed and you want to trade/purchase it, just email me. I've actually traded for a few items in the past and frankly it's nearly just as fun for me.

*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!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gray things for gray days

If I ran down a litany of all the things that have happened in my life over the course of the past couple months, it would sound like a sad country song. I've been busy, and not always in ways that have been happy, but things have now settled back into normalcy and I'm going to celebrate that by keeping on.

For obvious reasons, one of the last things I felt like doing was updating my blog, but along the way I realized that even though it's somewhat frivolous in nature, I actually did miss it a little. If nothing else, it kept my creative juices flowing a bit in trying to capture some decent images and string together some words that made a little sense.

After the most brutal summer that I can remember living through (in terms of heat and drought), we finally got a bit of a cold snap here, and it was welcome to me, as my fall wardrobe contains my favorites. I love my tweed jackets and over-the-calf socks and chunky ties and yes, even sweater vests (and sweaters). It gives me an excuse to wear wool hats and scarves and for once I don't have to worry about what hour of the day I'm going to inevitably sweat through my undershirt.

tweed upper

This past week, I finally broke out some of my tweeds, starting with this color-flecked gray Pendleton. It pretty much goes with anything, but I paired it with navy trousers and a green, vintage v-neck Pringle sweater.

tweed lower

Although this time of year features my favorite outfit combinations, it's also the hardest time to get decent photos outside, as the sun goes down so early that I have to get home early and set aside a couple minutes in addition just to have a chance. With a toddler and various household things that need done, it just doesn't always happen. In the previous photo, I managed to kill two birds with one stone in shooting photos at the same time I was emptying our compost bucket (pictured).


With a dry summer and a really long, mild fall, the squirrels have all gotten incredibly fat. We still have two pumpkins left from Halloween, but one of them has been almost completely destroyed (this is the lucky one).

I'm going to be in the giving mood in December. Six months is long enough to go without Style Share, don't you think?

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Shill: Saucony Kinvara

Prior to our daughter being born, my exercise of choice was cycling. Several summers back, I found an old (1985, to be exact) Trek touring bike and modded it out, turning it into a poor-mans cyclocross bicycle that was perfect for riding the crushed limestone rails-to-trails paths that snake across the countryside in my state.

Over the course of under three years, I put over 5000 miles on that bike, and would routinely leave the house for 2 hour rides, my favorite being a 30-mile jaunt that I finished in an hour and 20 minutes at my peak.

With a month left in the pregnancy, I started getting the feeling where I didn't want to be too far of a distance away from home (especially in the middle of the countryside), just in case. The bike got parked in the basement, and I dusted off my running shoes.

It wasn't enough to just start running, though, as I'd done that many summers ago and ended up paying for it with some severe shin splints in the fall. Instead, I did a little reading up and decided to rebuild my running technique based on ChiRunning. Having read up on it, I figured a change might be in order, as over time it's supposed to reduce injury and be better for the body in general. After five summers of hardcore tennis playing and some bone spurs in my hip to show for it, I was looking to reduce wear and tear in any way possible.

Saucony tread

Here's a picture of the bottoms of my first pair of minimalist running shoes (Saucony - Kinvara) after almost 600 miles. The outsole is massively compressed, but they're still wearable and even comfortable.

Saucony shoes

Here's the same shoes from above, showing a little bit more wear and tear, including a bunch of dirt and crud that got embedded in the mesh while running off paved paths (about half my mileage). The shoes are crazy light, weighing in at only 12 ounces each (and that's for a size 14 shoe), and have just enough cushion for a large-framed fellow without going full-on barefoot style (which I know my body would not like).

Since I retired the aforementioned pair, I picked up the latest model from Saucony, the Kinvara 3. They've upgraded a few of the things that bugged me (the outer mesh is stronger), while keeping everything great about the shoe.

I'm up to almost 1000 miles run (since I started up again) and haven't been slowed by injury once (with the longest break between runs being 5 days due to sickness). For an old, lanky fellow with a tendency for aches and pains, I consider that a win.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Gone carving

Our long, brutal summer has finally given way to some cooler temperatures, and while we're still running at near dust-bowl levels in terms of moisture for the year, the bearable nights and reasonable days have me at least thinking about my favorite season in terms of clothing.

It's closer to pumpkin carving season than it is powder carving (heck, we haven't even gotten frost here yet), but if nothing else these ties helped me mark the changing of the seasons.

ski ties

I haven't skied in years, but I have a flaw in my character that I simply can't pass up novelty ties like this when they come my way. They're all great colors, with excellent movement, and while the fellow on the right might be a hiker and the odd man out, I couldn't just leave him hanging there.

More content coming this month, including a return of Style Share and more. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Casual glen plaid

While tradition (and many others) says you probably shouldn't wear a tie without a suit, blazer, or sport coat, I'll admit that it's one of the rules I break sometimes. I've written before about mixing more casual shirts (and a tie) with more sporty jackets, and I'll probably do it again at some point in the future. There are days where I require at least a thin extra layer in the morning and after work, but barely leave the office during the day, and sometimes I find myself with this combination.

tie and jacket

I fell into this look recently, during a week when work was a grind and the temperature was just a pinch below the heat oven it's been for months. It made even more sense given my bicycle commute.

jacket and tie detail

It is summer, and a cherry red linen tie popped over a brightly-colored striped shirt. Showing a complete disregard for eyeballs everywhere was the lightly-colored glen plaid jacket over the top.

jacket tag

The jacket itself is a vintage (I'm guessing 60s or so from the tag) piece that I picked up years ago, and despite being lightweight, it's held up incredibly well (the talon metal zipper alone is massive and feels indestructible). It's not really a windbreaker and it's certainly not waterproof, but sometimes it's the perfect jacket for layering, tradition be damned.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Paper trail

Earlier this summer, I was scanning some ebay searches while rocking my daughter to sleep one night. I ran across a seller who had obviously come into a good-sized stock of Brooks Brothers sport coats that were new with original tags. I could tell that they were older (given the script on the tags) and although there weren't exact measurements in the listings, I could also tell that they were completely unfinished, most with original basting through the sleeves (and later found the small paper packets of mother-of-pearl buttons in the breast pockets).

Brooks Brothers arms

Even though I typically wear a 42xl in Brooks Brothers, I took a chance and pulled the trigger on a couple of them in size 42l, as they were only $24 each, plus a total of $12 shipping (the seller kindly combined charges). They shipped quickly, and after I'd received them and determined that there was indeed enough extra fabric in the sleeves for my ape-arms, I quickly purchased the final one in my size and had it sent my way as well.

Brooks Brothers 2

They instantly became some of the most peacock-esque things in my entire wardrobe, and I took the one I thought I'd wear most to my tailor and had him finish it up for me (before he left town for an extended vacation). While it's certainly on the bright side, the deep teal has become a favorite, as it goes especially well with anything blue (even seersucker, as seen in this picture).

The others still need to be finished, and I'm honestly fluctuating back and forth on whether I even have enough swagger to pull off the bright peach number. Heck, it could probably even become it's own Yay or Nay post.

Filenes tag

As someone interested in provenance, one of the most interesting things about the sport coats were their original tags, including this one from Filene's Basement with an original price of $48.00 (twice what I paid for it). One can even make out the date on the small sticker attached to the tag (May 6th, 1989), placing the pieces right about where I figured (I had guessed mid 80s in my head).

A true warehouse find, with a decent bit of history. Oh, and I even got the 20-year discount price.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Slow motion tie haul

Although I haven't had a big tie bonanza in some time, there was a period of about a month where I found one decent tie every time I ventured into a thrift store. They were often the only good things I found on my adventures (other than some great toddler outfits), but a couple of them filled holes and some others will probably find themselves returned to the wild at some point.

four ties

First up is this stack of really varied pieces, from several different makers.

paisley and prints

I don't have too many green ties, so the Lands' End on the left definitely fills a void, and while I knew nothing of Pineda Covalin, the Mexican bird motif charmed me (in an Hermes, Ferragamo-esqe way). The construction on it is quality and I can't quite decide whether I should keep it or not. The Polo piece is one that I'm still torn on as well, as I fluctuate between thinking it's bold and something I need to keep while at other times thinking I need to burn it with fire. The far right Lands' End is also a keeper. Lovely summer colors.

madras and plaid

Stack of madras and plaid, again from different makers.

madras and plaid ties

After not finding any madras for ages, I ran across three all in just over a weeks time, including the two, old Talbott pieces in the middle. Of these three pieces, my favorite may very well be the really unique "Country Traditionals" plaid cotton tie by Pendleton. It's not madras, but the greens, blues, and reds are really lovely and it's casual in all the right ways.

I've promised myself I will get rid of at least one tie from my collection with every one that I bring in, so this slower uptake makes for easier decisions than finding two handfuls in one swoop.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Style Share return: Two-tone cufflinks

Last month, I broke from tradition a bit and offered up a batch of cufflinks on Style Share. I wasn't sure how well they'd go over, but the minimum got claimed and there was interest in others as well. Perhaps I'll offer a few more in the future.

links 5

Bruce Partington-Plans claimed these chunky silver tone brushed/matte deco style numbers.


Photo courtesy Bruce Partington-Plans

As always, I'll let the recipient (him) explain...

The shirt that I thought would be the equal of the 'links was quite possibly my find of the year - an Ede & Ravenscroft two-fold cotton black/blue pinstripe number. Ede & Ravenscroft is the oldest tailor in London (est. 1689) and holds the Royal Warrant (i.e. Purveyors to The British Royal Family). Their off-the-peg shirts usually start around £70 ($110). I found my one, hardly worn, in a local charity (thrift) shop for - £3 ($5)! The woven silk tie is also a second-hand find and another good old British name - Wolsey - for only £1 ($1.50). I think the pattern sits well with that found on the cufflinks.

A fellow thrifter from across the pond! Thanks again to Bruce Partington-Plans for participating.

Monday, July 16, 2012

One of these things is not like the others

It's no secret that mens clothing and accessories of different brands are often made under the same roof. A good portion of silk knit ties are made in the same place, as well as grenadine's. A lot of the nicer Polo Ralph Lauren (made in Italy) stuff is made by Coreliani and so on and so forth. There's a lot of re-branding that takes place and some label-associated mark-ups that would truly make heads spin.

3 striped ties

I mention the above because lately I've run across a lot of different ties from the same era that all bear a remarkable similarity to one another. None of these labels are ultra high-end, but starting prices on them (at least at time of retail) had to vary a fair amount. Note the ties in the aforementioned picture and their prints. They'll all fairly similar repp stripe ties with alternating colors, all of the same width, with the weave of the silk all running in the same direction.

3 ties, one BB

Flip them over and the labels tell a different story. The discerning eye probably caught that the Brooks Brothers tie had a slightly different print (the thick bars being more narrow than the other two), but it still gives the same overall effect. If that weren't enough, check the following Lands' End tie (which I tried to give away several months ago on Style Share):

Another almost exact match, at probably a slightly lower original price-point than either of the aforementioned.

The moral (as always) is not to sweat the labels too much. If you like it (and it fits), and it's not complete crap quality, the only people who are going to make a big deal out of the difference are those who you don't want to hang out with anyway.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Something old(er), something new(ish)

I've lamented my lack of summer-weight sport coats a lot on this blog, but over the course of the past month I've run across several great pieces. A couple of them have gone into regular rotation, and a couple more of them will be added to that cycle as soon as my tailor returns from a family vacation to Greece.

My most recent (and current favorite) find is this light blue, almost chambray-colored 100% cotton number. Many will scoff at the brand name (Stafford), but it's vintage and fairly well made. Considering it set me back a whole $6 and fit me dang well right off the (thrift) rack, I'm not about to get too snobby with labels.

cotton and cotton madras

I paired this new find with one of my favorite ties in my entire collection, a find from way back when I first started this blog. I've found more madras since the three in that linked post, but they're still some of my favorites.

Not quite as sweltering here, but still very, very warm. With a couple months of summer left, I should probably just buckle down and quit complaining, as it sounds like it might be the new norm.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Over the shoulder outside

It's been really, really hot here lately, and shows no signs of abating. This screen capture shows what the next five days holds in store, and the 10-day looks similar.


The week previous is similar, so it's pretty much a broken record around here. I only have a few summer-weight sport coats, and frankly even they get hot on days like this. From late-morning until the sun goes down, really the only respite is to remove the sport coat and sling it over your shoulder if you're walking more than a few blocks outside (that is, unless you want to have a glistening sheen on your forehead when you finally arrive at your destination).

silk linen shots

Still, it's best to combat the heat as much as humanly possible, and this cream-colored silk/linen sport coat (a recent find custom-made for a local high-end men's clothing shop) mostly does the trick. Here, I paired it with some navy trousers, penny-loafers, a navy silk knit and one of my old cotton pocket squares. The tie was a trade with oft-commenter Mr. Readerston, who I hooked up with a couple madras numbers he had scoped out from a previous post.


Here's a close-up, which shows off the nice pick stitching on the coat, as well as the textural details that I thought played off one another nicely.

Speaking of those who comment on this site (and friends), I was lucky enough to have dinner with Yankee Whiskey Papa the other evening. Great conversation, as always, and I apologized profusely to him for having to endure our current blast oven temperatures.

Hope you all are staying cool, wherever you call home.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Style Share June

Hey there.

It's been awhile, but I plan to post more regularly in the future, and I figured what better way to make a return than with a new episode of Style Share. If you're new to the site, please read some older entries in this series, but if you're a regular you know the routine. This is the part of the show where I offer up some items of clothing and the only thing I ask is that the recipient of said free* item email me back a photo or two of them wearing it for a follow-up post on this site (I'll give you credit for the photo and even link your blog if you have one). First two items claimed will be sent out. This month, it's all about the vintage cufflinks.

Links 1

Crests, crowns, and dots. Not sure if there's significance in the motif here, but there are some neat links.

links 2

Simple, yet nice deco style with a matching tie clip. Bonus!

links 3

Square frame links with rhinestone-tinged triangles. For when you're feeling the bling.

links 4

Gold tone horse with bridle. Awesome.

links 5

Thick silver tone two-tone brushed and matte deco style.

links 6

Best of the bunch? Brass hunting dog heads over mother-of-pearl inlay? I might quiz you on your hunting safety guidelines if you choose these, just to make sure you're worthy. :)

As usual, claim your item in the comments, then email me through the address listed on the site. It's really that simple.

Perhaps it goes without saying, but if you see something you like that doesn't get claimed and you want to trade/purchase it, just email me. I've actually traded for a few items in the past and frankly it's nearly just as fun for me.

*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, April 24, 2012

More than this

The past month has been kind of a whirlwind. Lots of family events and incredibly busy at work. Just sort of a perfect storm of things to keep me away from making updates.


The most exciting (and positive) thing that's happened is that our little girl turned one. She's happy and healthy and walking and jabbering a lot. Fatherhood has been even more fun that I thought it would be. I love that little gal.

On a much sadder note, the first third of 2012 has found far too many people that I know and care about exiting this world. Some had lived long, full lives, and others had shorter, vibrant lives and left far too quickly. If anything, it's been a major reminder that I need to tell everyone that I hold dear just how much I care for them as often as I possibly can.

I'll get back to updating this blog at a regular basis sooner or later, but I'll end this one with a quote from one of my favorite authors.

"Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies-"God damn it, you've got to be kind.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Racing horses and racing dogs

While I've never been a big fan of horse-racing, I can certainly appreciate it from an aesthetic sense. Horses are magnificent beasts, and although it's been years, I've had the pleasure of riding them on more than one occasion. On a recent thrifting adventure, I caught sight of a horse motif (once again, in the women's scarves), and pulled it out only to find that at 13 inches square, it was going to be the newest addition to my slowly-growing pocket square collection.

pocket square

It's 100% silk, made in France and printed with the name Daniel La Forêt, which, at least based on internet searches, isn't particularly sought-after. That said, the silk is super soft without being flimsy and with hand-rolled edges and a crisp print it seems like the quality on it is above average (and at $1.99, a bargain).

horses detail

Like a lot of great printed pocket squares, it's one of those pieces that has such a keen level of detail that it's almost frustrating to know that most of the design is going to end up stuffed down into a pocket.

dog socks

Zooming into completely different territory, it seems that I have a hard time passing up whimsical motifs of just about any nature these days, so when I ran across these socks recently at Target (in a 2-pack with a more staple print at $1.99), I again had to drop 2 bills.

I've already featured our dogs a couple times on this site, and while these socks appear to feature Greyhounds (or possibly Whippets), I couldn't resist. With the bases at least partially covered on birds, whales, lobsters, and the aforementioned horses, it was time to include yet another member of the animal kingdom.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Style Share return: Brooks Brothers tie

How many Brooks Brothers ties have I passed along since I started Style Share? At least ten, and here's one that was claimed back in February.

Brooks Brothers purple black stripe

Purple isn't a color that I run across a great deal around here, so I figured this one would go fast, and it did. It was claimed by Prinz Ulrich von Boffke, a repeat contributor.

Brooks Brothers return

photos courtesy Prinz Ulrich von Boffke

I'll let him give the details on the above...

The tie was worn with a navy Jos A. Bank "trio" suit (purchased on sale a couple of years ago) and a thrifted no-name silk pocket square with hand-rolled edges that has some dark purple in it. The shirt is a Land's End (purchased new but reduced some years ago) and the shoes that day were, I think, some Johnston Murphy black cap toe oxfords that I won for about $20 a year ago on ebay.

Bargains galore (right up my alley), and I like how the purple is played with subtlety here. Thanks again, PUvB.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Trip to the tailor part two

About a month and a half ago, I wrote a post about taking a stack of sport coats to a tailor in order to get them in more wearable shape. Because of weather conditions, one of them (a thick lambswool number) only got worn a single time before it was put back into storage for the spring/summer, but another of the three has made several appearances (and should work through spring).

This particular piece was one that I actually found way back in the summer of 2011 (it definitely would have made my list), then wore once and promptly returned to the closet because I realized it didn't fit me as well as I would have liked. Alas, at the same time that I had a couple other sport coats fixed up, this one (sleeves lengthened and waist suppressed) was altered as well.

ticket pocket jacket

As with a fair portion of my favorite clothes, this piece doesn't have a designer label, but is instead from a regional shop, made in the days when there were a lot more small clothiers and quality items made in the United States. My guess is that it's actually an orphaned jacket (and what I would give to have gotten the pants and possible vest along with it!) and the through the magic of thrifting I was only able to acquire the one piece. It's made of a nice, medium-weight wool and features some nice detailing (including the ticket pocket), and filled a niche in my wardrobe, so I certainly can't complain.

ticket pocket jacket

On this particular occasion, I paired it with a white button-down, a vintage gold grenadine tie, a plain linen pocket square, some darker chinos, and my trusty Florsheim ankle-boots. Kind of a disparate mixture, but nothing was too outlandish in color, so it didn't feel awkward.

As with the previous piece, the tailoring results on this jacket were nice enough that I've piled up another batch of items to take in and have worked on (including this beast). More results will be forthcoming.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Style Share return: Altea tie

Another return, this one from February, back when it was just unseasonably warm and not holy crap is it going to be 120 degrees every day this summer? warm.

Altea woven

This nice Altea woven silk tie was claimed by repeat-contributor TDP, who wore it out on the town and to a concert.

Altea tie ensemble

photo courtesy TDP

As usual, I'll let him give the details...

Paired the tie with a navy wool-silk Gucci suit, no-name white silk pocket square, no-name ancient white shirt, unseen Romano Martegani black calf captoes, and unseen ancient yellow cotton socks from the Andover shop.

Good stuff, as always, and now that he's rocked the double-breasted blazers a couple times, it makes me think that I need to redouble efforts to find one of my own. I've been averse to them for a long time, but I'm starting to think I could pull one off.

Thanks as always, to TDP, and to everyone else who has played along.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How low can you go?

When you own a house that's closing in on 100 years old, there's always a list of things that need to be done. Lots of the list is hopefully small, but once in awhile a bigger thing needs taken care of and it's usually enough to throw schedules and routines out of rhythm. That's what's been happening in my world the past two weeks, but fortunately the worst is over and done with.

Because this is a blog about style on a budget (or a bargain), I've often thought about making a post featuring an ensemble with the absolute bare minimum invested, just to see what I could pull off. Over the years, I've purchased shirts, trousers, ties, and even shoes and a couple suits and sport coats for a single dollar each, but I've never tried to combine them all into something that would add up to be a single outfit comprised of items purchased with Washingtons.

windowpane and blue

I thought of the above just last week, because I came darn close without even really trying to do so. The jacket is an older Jos A. Bank piece that I picked up over the winter during a blowout sale (for $1), and it was the first time I wore it. Obviously, it's not top-end quality, but with an infant who still sometimes spits up without advance notice, I'm not going to sweat it. The tie is a Polo Ralph Lauren linen number, also purchased for a dollar, and the cream chinos and vintage Florsheim wingtips below (both unpictured) were the same price.

windowpane and blue closeup

The only thing that really bumps up the average price is the shirt (Lands' End), which was purchased off ebay in a lot and came out to $8 including shipping. The pocket square is a lovely vintage piece from Yankee Whisky Papa, and it worked absolutely perfectly here.

I've never been one to fawn over designer names (although I certainly get a kick out of finding them on occasion), and after putting this all together I felt like it all came off pretty nicely. When I realized that I'd probably only invested about $25 total in the ensemble (give or take), including undergarments, it made me feel even better.

After all, I've got a college fund (and a nearly 100 year old house) to worry about.