Sunday, December 22, 2013

Return of the tartan

A long while ago, I ran across a rather insane tartan sport coat at the thrift store. I simply couldn't resist it, and stashed it away amongst some other clothes, only to forget it about it last fall in the midst of trying to pack up all our belongings prior to a house purchase (which subsequently fell through).

This summer, though, I took a couple pieces to my tailor and re-discovered the tartan jacket, so I took it in as well and had the requisite work done. It again got stashed for the proper time, which happened to arrive this week.

tartan jacket full

Work holiday parties are as good of a time as any to kick out the jams, and while this particular piece got me some snarky remarks, I felt like it also worked pretty well (and I received some compliments as well).

tartan jacket detail

Of course, the trick with a jacket like this is to not go too crazy and look like a clown (although some would argue it's bad enough by itself). It's loud enough that there's really nothing more needed, so I tried to limit my color palette to ones already in the jacket. A simple white OCBD and navy wool trousers were the base, then I tried to pop the gold with a vintage gold grenadine and a black and gold pocket square. A black belt and captoe oxfords rounded it out (I'm wearing house slippers in the pictures because it's been mucky around here).

As I mentioned in the original post, it's likely not something I'll wear more than a couple times a year, but that's part of the joy of thrifting, knowing I only have $25 dollars invested in it, and it will easily provide me with many, many times that amount in terms of sheer enjoyment.

Happy Holidays to you and yours. I hope that 2013 treated you well and 2014 is even better.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Style Share: December 2013

It's been awhile since I've done a Style Share, I admit. With the holidays right around the corner, I figure there isn't a better time to fire one up. If you haven't heard of this thing before, the gist is that I give away 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, I've got five different ties from five different makers, all in fairly distinct styles (some of them more suitable for winter than others). I'm sending out the first three items claimed, so let's do this!

Bass black watch plaid

Vintage Bass tie in a nice black watch plaid. 100% cotton and great for holiday parties or anything else.

Brooks Brothers burgundy

Brooks Brothers burgundy / orange / blue striped tie. Winter with a wink towards spring.

vintage Jos A Bank regimental

Vintage Jos A. Bank regimental. JAB gets a back knock, but their vintage ties hold up against the venerable Brooks Brothers any day.

Lands End Charter collection

Lands' End Charter Collection in wool and silk. Really, really lovely and I'm close to keeping this one.

Liberty of London Repp

Liberty of London repp stripe with a slightly unique color combination.

As usual, claim your item in the comments, then email me through the address listed on the site. It's pretty darn easy and I'll get back to you fairly quickly.

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!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Something for now and something for later.

If your wardrobe is comprised largely of clothes that were bought at thrift or discount prices, you know that one of the best rules is to get while the getting is good. Finding something that fits well that isn't in season is no reason to not buy it if you're paying only a small pittance of what you'd normally pay, and by doing so you're often rewarded with some of your best finds during the time of the year when you can't even wear what you just purchased.

While ties are certainly a bit more season-agnostic than a lot of other articles of clothing, like other accessories such as shoes and belts, there's certainly a time and place for everything that works just a bit better. My personal luck has been quite good lately in both regards, as I've found some stunning ties that will add to my winter wardrobe, as well as several that I can pack away and surprise myself with again in six months.

winter ties

First up is a batch of really varied, and lovely ties that should work well all through the cold months. The far left tie is a cashmere paisley piece by Etro (who are usually a bit garish for my taste), while the middle is a vintage Robert Talbott wool plaid. The far right is a first for me, a really old Bert Pulitzer limited collection made from imported ancient madder. It's really beautiful and I finally see the appeal of ancient madder ties.

summer ties

Possibly topping the cold-weather haul is another varied batch of ties for the summer months. On the left is a mega-vintage PRL seersucker tie, while the 2nd and 3rd are both older Lands' End (I'm still not decided on the flower print, but for some reason I find it engaging for now). The beige/pink/navy stripe tie is another vintage number, and despite looking and feeling like cotton, it's actually a paper-thin wool piece. Very odd, but will probably work best in the spring. On the right is yet another shiny bubblegum number in pink and baby blue from Lands' End.

Now, if I could just thrift a couple more summer-weight sport coats that fit my ape arms, I would really be in business.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

I Ralph, you Ralph, we all Ralph for Ralph

This year has been a doozy, but I'm not gone yet. The past few months found me struggling, then largely succeeding at one of my largest work projects ever while trying to still fit in family time and other important things. This blog found itself lower in the pecking order, and so it fell by the wayside.

Now that fall is here and things have normalized a bit, I plan on firing it back up again. I've had some quality finds lately, and I'm feeling a bit more motivated to write a little bit here and there.

Polo Ralph Lauren mugs

Although it certainly isn't my most exciting score as of late, one of the more fun things I've come across lately is this package of boxed-up Polo Ralph Lauren equestrian mugs from the mid 80s. Made of super-heavy ceramic, they're a little too small for my robust coffee-drinking needs, but for a couple bucks I certainly wasn't going to leave them on the shelf.

Mug on table

Although I've certainly tried to be more picky when buying things at thrift stores over the years, I still have my weak moments where I buy something without really having a home for it. These still might end up in our cabinet at some point in the future, or maybe someone will end up with a retro white elephant holiday gift in their future. There's some fun in that as well.

New Style Share coming within the next week or so. Stay tuned.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Style Share return: Brooks Brothers foulard tie

Seems like every time I post lately, I make an excuse as to why I haven't been posting more often. I will try to start making less excuses and more posts in the future. If you know the routine, you know that as part of my ongoing Style Share project, I offered up a pile of ties back in March, and most of them were claimed.

Brooks Brothers foulard

One of several Brooks Brothers ties that were handed out, this nice foulard print seemed like it could go either serious or not. It was claimed by repeat-contributor Prinz Ulrich von Boffke

Brooks Brothers detail

Brooks Brothers extra

Photos courtesy of Prinz Ulrich von Boffke

As usual, I'll let him give the breakdown on the rest of the details.

I am also wearing a recently thrifted and altered vintage Corbin (US-made with union labels) summer weight wool and silk suit in glen plaid and a pair of thrifted Allen Edmonds shoes that were then reconditioned at the AE factory in Wisconsin.

As usual, PUvB manages to look great on a budget. The bonus action shot made me chuckle even more, as I know I've had a couple random nights where I've forgotten to remove either a jacket / tie/ shoes / some combination of the aforementioned before I got down to weeding the yard or dumping the compost. Cheers, and thanks again for participating to PUvB.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Fashion unforward

While I haven't made too many posts outside of men's clothing on this blog (and frankly, haven't made a lot of posts in general lately), I do have several other interests that keep me busy outside my main orbit of family and work. Although I've hinted at it in places, I'm a huge, huge, huge devotee of music and film, and have been a dilettante of many different sports, with the latest being running.

Around the beginning of the year, I decided that it would be a good challenge (and goal) to run an official half-marathon. Despite living in the midwest, I managed to train outside all winter, and the very longest stretch I went without running was four days (when we got socked with snow). Fortunately, I live close to a route that is regularly cleared, all the ice, snow, and sleet (and more recently, rain) that mother nature threw at me only seemed to embolden my spirit.

deal with it

The aforementioned photo was taken at roughly 3/4 of the way through the half-marathon, on one of the last major inclines. It was taken a little bit prior to me hitting the proverbial "wall," hence the awkward smile. The day was unseasonably cold, and with a start time just after sunrise, my choice of clothing was almost purely synthetics.

Prior to running, I challenged myself by setting a goal time and donation amount to One Fund Boston, noting that I would double my amount given if I managed to beat it. In the end, I managed to do so by almost five minutes, and saw a load of friends and my wife and daughter cheering for me as I neared the finish. Not the worst way to spend a weekend morning, especially when it involves a delicious post-race meal and relaxing day afterward.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Style Share Return: Brooks Brothers flower tie

It goes without saying that I've been kinda busy lately. The toddler in our household turned 2 years old and I ran a half-marathon and things have generally been more than a little on the frantic side. I will make no promises on regularity of future posts, but I will thank those who have sent back photos for Style Share, one of which is featured in this post.

Way back in March, I offered up what I felt were some pretty nice ties and even a hat.

Brooks Brothers flowers

This Brooks Brothers tie with a flower motif was claimed by a reader who prefers to remain anonymous.

Brooks Brothers flower tie

He sent along three photos, with details on the pieces that rounded out his ensemble.

Brooks Brothers flower tie

Brooks Brothers flower tie

As usual, I'll let him tell it.

Because the Kentucky Derby was this weekend, I wore this Friday for work to amuse myself. The tie is paired with a micro-houndstooth Brooks Brothers O.C.B.D (alas, not made in the USA; this is still one of my thrifting white whales). On top is an Orvis gingham sport coat (goes for $198 on its website; I got it for $13).
Down below is a pair of Brooks Brothers plain-front seersucker pants (goes for $98 on its website; I got it for $6) held up by a belt by Narragansett Leathers. To finish, I'm wearing vintage made in the USA Dexter saddle shoes. Everything (but the belt) was thrifted from various Goodwill stores.

I'm a huge fan of the look, in addition to the bargain hunting. Seeing his neat gingham sport coat reminds me I still need something like that to round out my warm weather wear.

As usual, thanks to anonymous for contributing.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Yay or nay: One button too many?

I know that some fellows avoid three-button sport coats and suits like the plague, but I have a full three pieces in my collection with three buttons that I wear, and one of them has become almost a staple over the course of the past couple months (more on it below). While I certainly prefer a 3 roll 2 style, and I'd certainly never go above 3, to my eyes a three-button doesn't look so bad at all (especially on someone with an extra-long torso).

3 button 1

It could be, however, that I'm just trying to make excuses to justify wearing this great micro-houndstooth sport coat that I picked up on the cheap. Made by Hickey Freeman out of 100% cashmere, it has the softest touch of just about anything in my wardrobe, and fits like it was tailored for me without any alterations.

3 button mid-section

I've mentioned it before, and I'll say it again that it is incredibly rare that I find something that fits just so, and my judgement may be impaired here. In terms of checkpoints, it fills all three (great maker, great fabric, great fit) nicely, but sometimes I feel like the extra button looks a bit dorky.

3 button full

It's been cold (near record, actually) here, hence the extra sweater layer between shirt and coat. The forecast looks to trend upward soon, and so I must ask myself if I need to store this sport coat for the summer or try to find it a new home forever. What say you?

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Complementary caps

There's a reason that I haven't made too many posts about hats on this blog, and there's a reason for that. As a person who is roughly six and a half feet tall, I simply get self-conscious wearing them most of the time. My ears get cold very easily in the winter, so I stick to a knit cap of some sort, and while I've taken to wearing flat drivers caps during cool spring and warm fall days, most others end up tucked away except for rare occasion.

Having said all of the above, I recently came across a couple hats that I simply couldn't pass up, even though both fall a bit on the bolder side of the aisle.

Stetson drivers red

Stetson red label

First up is a vintage Stetson drivers cap in a bright, cherry red. This is exactly the sort of cap that I've been wearing a lot lately (I have a tartan and a couple tweed flecks by Pendlton), but this one is screaming loud. I'm telling myself that I can get away with it once in awhile, and photo proof may or may not happen ever.

Pendleton tweed hat

Pendleton herringbone tweed

Next up is another vintage hat, this one a killer green herringbone tweed by Pendleton, complete with a medallion and a couple feathers (for good measure). This one definitely isn't as low-profile, but at least has a more reasonable color palette going on.

I'll never be able to pull off a fedora, but I think I can get a couple wears a year out of both these slightly jaunty hats. For less than $5 each, that's probably worth it, right?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Style Share: March

I said I'd be back this month, and here I am. By doing Style Share a little less often, I think I'll be able to offer up even better items, and I think that holds true here. Haven't heard of this before? Well, basically I give away 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, I'm going to welcome in spring with open arms with four great ties and hold onto the cool weather with one great tweed hat. I'm sending out the first three items claimed, so let's do this!

Green Brooks Brothers

I just missed St. Patrick's Day, but frankly this Brooks Brothers tie should sail clear through summer. Nice greens and blues without being too crazy.

Brooks Brothers flowers

Beautiful navy Brooks Brothers tie with a flower motif. Spring. Easter. Summer. Everything. Wear it with a dark suit and play things down a bit, it goes with anything.

Brooks Brothers foulard

Another Brooks Brothers tie, this one in a nice foulard print. At this point, you're probably wondering why I don't just sell these things on ebay. The answer is that I really like my readers. Again, this one can go with so much and leaves your pocket square options wide open and bright.

Robert Talbott madras

If the above weren't enough, how about a mega vintage Robert Talbott madras tie? Cream and faint pinks and blues. Linen suits, white bucks, the whole nine yards. Claim it before I keep it.

flecked tweed hat

The wind was still whistling here today, and probably will be for a couple weeks yet. Size small. True measured circumference of 21.5". I have a hat like this I wear incessantly and it's great.

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!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Handiwork revisited

Nearly two years ago, I wrote a post about a little project I was working on while passing some hours one evening.

hand-sewn pocket square

Since that post, I'd worn the hand-rolled pocket square several times, and it was only today that I realized I had never properly photographed it in action.

I started a couple other clothing-related projects around the same time (including making a scarf out of a chopped-up tweed jacket with a few moth holes in it), but mostly abandoned them. Time with an infant (and then toddler) got to be much more important, and instead of learning the fine art and sewing and spending time with a needle and thread, I funneled time into other pursuits.

pocket square plus outfit

Truth be told, I only finished two edges of the above pocket square, but with some strategic folding and stuffing, it doesn't really matter. Sometimes life interrupts intentions in a good way, and the two rough edges are a good reminder of that when I wear it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Style Share Return: Red Italian tie

Recently received another Style Share return from the month of December. Reminded me that I should probably do another one soon, and I will within the month of March.

Red Italian tie

This lightweight, nice Italian silk number was claimed by the UK-based Bruce Partington-Plans.

Italian red tie

Photo courtesy Bruce Partington-Plans

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

The shirt's nothing to write home about but the jacket was another charity (thrift) store steal from a couple of years ago. Hanging on a rail surrounded by polyester raincoats and leather jackets, this wonderful wool jacket made by Magee of Ireland would probably have cost upwards of £265 ($413) when it was new and it came home with me for £5 ($7.50)! The pictures from my ancient digital camera really don't do it justice - the deep russet brown with red herringbone and blue check made it the perfect choice to go with this tie.

I always love it when readers combine their thrift scores with a return, as I know it makes me excited to know that others are out there finding great stuff (and honestly, it just makes me want to get out myself).

Thanks again to Bruce Partington-Plans for participating.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Before the buyout

It's long been known that vintage (before they were bought by Gap and given a make-over) Banana Republic clothing and accessories are actually very well-made and in a completely different realm than what the brand has become known for in recent times. In fact, Scott Adams has gone so far as to dedicate a site to Banana Republic when they were known as a "Travel and Safari Clothing Company." Needless to say, if you walk into one of their stores today, you're probably not going to find anything that holds up very well on either of the aforementioned.

I've often talked of patience on this blog in regards to thrifting, and I've certainly tested my own while trying to hunt down a new briefcase or satchel for work use. Since last summer, I've been dragging around an older messenger bag that I received back in the era when I was cycling to work every day. It's certainly seen better days, and has several holes and wear spots that have had me in search mode for a half a year or so now. In a combination of sheer frugality and the thrill of the hunt, I passed over several decent bags in the past couple months that would have set me back a little more than a Benjamin Franklin.

Banana Republic bag

My patience finally paid off this past week in the form of a new, old stock bag by the aforementioned Banana Republic. Likely made in the mid 80s or so, it's made of a light green, super heavy cotton twill, with a ton of nice detail work and very solid construction (made in the United Kingdom).

Banana Republic bag bottom

All leather trim and brass fittings, it should definitely take a beating. On the plus side, it has enough room for me to haul my lunch, my umbrella, and anything extra I need to stow in it through the course of a day.

Banana Republic bag tag

So, after my long wait, I managed to pick up this piece for a grand total of $12 (before tax). I doubt I'll find anything better for a long while.

Friday, February 22, 2013


While my clothing selections are often a direct reflection of my mindset, lately I've been stripping things down and keeping them incredibly simple just for the sheer ease of it. I've never been accused of being a peacock, but I've been playing it incredibly low-key lately, stripping out as much color as possible while emphasizing texture. It seems a natural thing to do in the winter, and today was one of the more extreme examples.


Up top was a white Lands' End button-down, a dark-gray wool v-neck sweater, and a light-gray tweed Pendleton sport coat that's basically my go-to when it's cold. It has leather elbow patches that are almost the perfect shade of gray between that of the coat and the sweater. A plaid Balenciaga tie with a couple strands of red and some flecks in the tweed are the only hints of color at all.

mid-range details

A shot of the midsection reveals even less color.

lower details

Since I went with a plain white pocket square, I figured I could get away with red socks, but even they were muted by black captoes. I suppose one could say that it's completely lacking personality (although the toddlers at my daughters daycare would disagree, with the sheer excitement they showed over the red socks), but it was comfortable and warm, and some days that's about all the personality I need.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Style Share return: Navy/Green Pendleton

After a long hiatus, I finally got back into action in December. Some times were offered, and many were claimed. This is the second response that I've gotten (although there's certainly at least one good excuse as to why I haven't gotten more).

Pendleton tie

Long time reader, commenter, and all around good guy Mr. Readerston snagged this excellent plaid Pendleton, which I happen to have a duplicate of in my very own collection.

pendleton tie return

Photo courtesy Mr. Readerston

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

Mr. Readerston combined this Pendleton wool tie (courtesy of Mr. Midwester) with an Oxford cloth button-down shirt from Mettler's American Mercantile (gift), a cotton cardigan from Uniqlo (bought new), a Polo University by Ralph Lauren jacket (thrifted), and an unbranded Italian silk pocket square (also thrifted). Both the shirt and the jacket were made in the USA. Out of the shot were a pair of unbranded dark brown heather flannel trousers (thrifted), green wool socks from Lands End (bought new), and brown suede brogues from Bass (also bought new).

That cord jacket is absolutely awesome. I've been looking for one for ages, but haven't yet found one that fits my ape arms. The rest of the layers look nice and cozy too for this time of the year.

Thanks again to Mr. Readerston for participating.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Patience is a virtue

When I first started thrifting seriously for clothes, I bought everything of even middling quality that came close to fitting me. It was only upon finding that I had far too many useless, ill-fitting clothes cluttering up my closet that I had to change my mindset to one of biding my time until the right items came along.

Turnbull and Asser tie

Although I haven't been finding the wealth of ties that I used to when I went out more often, I've still run across a couple treasures lately. One is this heavy silk Turnbull and Asser in white with navy stripes and check. It has a couple tiny little pulls, but they're only noticeable on super close inspection.

Upper shot

Pants and shoes

While I haven't been hitting the physical stores as much as in the past, I've managed to pick up a few great finds here and there on ebay. One example is this pair of made in Italy J Crew wingtip boots. J Crew isn't always known for their quality, and these boots looked ridiculously beat in the auction photos, but a couple points stuck out to me while looking at the auction.

J Crew boots

The first is that the heel is actually stacked wood, and the boots are entirely made of leather (except the heel). There are a few J Crew lines that have been licensed by seriously quality makers (in fact, they have done some with Alden), and these appear to be top shelf. One of the things I'd wanted over the past year was a pair of boots just like this, and instead of forking over $300 or more for Allen Edmonds or something of similar quality, I managed to make these mine for under $50 including shipping. After a quality polish, they've done quite nicely, and I'm guessing that if I take care of them, they'll last me a decade or so.

I'll admit it's fund to splurge and strut your stuff with something new once in awhile, but I somehow manage to get that same feeling when I find a screaming deal.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Style Share return: Skiing tie

Last month, I finally got back into the swing of things with Style Share and offered up a pile of ties. Not sure if I'll do it every month, but I have some seriously rad stuff that will be offered up as soon as the temperatures go up a bit.

Brown ski tie

GetTicketsToTheDance claimed this fun ski motif tie from the Squire Shop, and even provided a link with a bit of history about the place it was made for.

ski tie detail

ski tie lower shot

Photos courtesy GetTicketsToTheDance

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

The coat is a vtg Navy flannel 3/2 Sack from the Harvard Co-Op, the shirt is a current Brooks Brothers Oxford Cloth Button down (USA Made), the khakis are LL Bean flannel lined, the ragg socks are Cabot Brothers (now Darn Tough out of VT), and the Beefroll pennies are Florsheim Imperial. The Coat and Khakis were thrifted, the shoes a cheap ebay pickup.

Not only classic-looking, but warm as well (I've got to get some flannel-lined pants for the days when the wind gets wicked around here). I'm a big fan of mixing in a playful tie with a more traditional coat and pants combination. Lots of bargain shopping as well!

Thanks again to GetTicketsToTheDance for participating.