Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tweeds and pleats and unknown details

Today was one of those days that was chilly in the morning, then absolutely beautiful once the sun came out and started shining. Of course, it's still early enough in the year that late afternoon dips quickly into cooler temps, so it's best to wear something that's warm but still breathes a little (if you're going to be outside at all during working hours). I went with fairly muted tones, except for a fairly electric vintage Brooks Brothers tie that I picked up recently.

Brooks Brothers tie and more

The pocket square was one of these great vintage cotton hankies.

socks and shoes

Down below are some burgundy Weejuns and some amazing Polo Ralph Lauren pants that have one forward pleat (hey, I can abide with one or less, especially if it's not a standard pleat). I finally went and bought some over-the-calf socks and I'm loving them. I got a 3-pack of red cotton from Lands' End the last time there was a big sale, and now I'm going to have to stock up on basic colors, because they actually stay on over my chunky calves and have held their color (and held up well) after many washes.

shoulder details

I've worn this sport coat several times before (a vintage Pendleton), but I had never gotten pictures of the interesting shoulder details on it. The photo above is the back of the shoulder. To explain a little further, the detail pictured is actually a sort of accordion fold with two thin strips of fabric that open up when one extends their arm. I haven't been able to find the name of this particular stylistic detail in my sleuthing, so any help (and the functional reason it's built into the coat) would be appreciated. I'm sure one of my readers (and yeah, I'm again looking at you, Yankee Whisky Papa) knows.


  1. I believe this is called an action back, as the gussets allow a greater range of arm action than a jacket without. If sized correctly, the gussets help keep the jacket down on the wearer's body when he lifts his arms. This feature is entirely absent from modern jackets with their cavernous scyes (i.e., armholes).

  2. Oops! It seems I spoke too soon. It seems more likely that this is a bi-swing back. Now that I've done some reading, it seems that the action back is one gusset in the center, while the bi-swing back is two gussets at the shoulders.

    I learned all this from The Houndstooth Kid.

  3. Loving the little flecks of color in the jacket. I bought several packs of Lands' End basic socks recently, and have found them to be rather incredible. Though I haven't tried the over-the-calf variety, at your recommendation I might pick some up.

  4. The shoulder pleats have several names and the first commenter is correct, it seems. As you cam tell from wearing it, the movement afforded by the pleats better allows for the occasionally necessary gunning, fighting, steering wheel holding, etc. The style evaporated for everyday-wear jackets in the late 1930's (though was still found on sporting jackets) and popped up again sometime around the mid 1970's. A favorite tailor in Boston has an old book that shows this feature, and the diagram simply calls them "concealed shoulder pleats".

  5. Mr. R and YWP: Thanks for the information. I figured it was something like that, but this particular sport coat didn't really have any of the other details of a shooting jacket. It certainly seemed a bit more comfortable than some of my other sport coats when hoisting around the ten-month old yesterday. :)

    Scott: Go OTC, you'll love them. I'm not sure how well they'll work in the summer, as I have a feeling they'll make my feet and legs hot (unless I can find some thinner ones, perhaps Pantharella, on the cheap), but for fall, winter, and the few hints of spring that we've had, they've been great.

  6. Regarding your Weejuns, do you have any pointers for someone (i.e. me) who wants to buy his first pair of penny loafers and doesn't want to buy a shoddy pair, Thanks!

  7. Another sharp combination of clothes and accessories! I dig especially the red socks and the necktie. Very cool stuff.

    Best Regards,

    Ulrich von B.

  8. There's a video of Eric Clapton shopping at Cordings where he discusses the benefits of the bi-swing back. Awesome.

  9. Makaga,

    Don't buy Weejuns. The Bass made-in-who-knows-where Weejuns are shoddy. The awful dye job makes them look terrible. (If you can find a vintage pair that was made in America, that's another story.)

    For quality penny loafers, you can't go wrong with Allen Edmonds. Not cheap, but worth every penny (sorry for the pun).

  10. Makaga, I think Mr. R's advice is very solid. It might be hard to see in the photo above, but my shoes aren't exactly in prime shape and they aren't exactly wearing that well. I'm basically treating them as hold-overs until I can find something nicer.

    And regarding Allen Edmonds, I would definitely try a couple pairs on first in-store somewhere before you buy them. IMHO, their widths are slightly different than most brands, so you'll want to get that right for sure before dropping much money on them.

  11. Really good log. Will keep following. The fabric in the grey jacket is known as a Donegal Tweed. Check out my blog.