End’s Casualwear Sale

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With dress shoes being on sale at Brooks Brothers right now, good casualwear can be found at End. 20% off is given on all items with the discount code SPRING14. Some notables:

Common Projects sneakers: The low top Achilles, which I happen to be wearing right now, is one of the most versatile sneakers I’ve ever come across. There are many imitators, but frankly, none feel as good to me as the original CPs. The mid-top looks good too, and I still wish these b-ball highs were available in my size. 

Margiela German Army Trianers: My second favorite sneakers. Also surprisingly versatile, and they have a slightly sportier look than Common Projects. I have them in black and white.

Drake’s pocket squares: Currently priced at $42 with the discount, which is as low as they ever really go. 

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Brooks Brothers’ Shoe Sale

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Some of the best perennial mid-season sales, in my opinion, happen at Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers. The discounts are good, the selection is wide, and although Brooks Brothers’ styling has become questionable as of late (what’s with that Red Fleece line?), there are always some things I can find here or there. 

At the moment, they just launched a 30% off mid-season sale on shoes, suits, and accessories. That’s 5% more than they usually give on these things. Some notables:

Alden shoes: This is one of the rare times when you can get first-quality Aldens at 30% off. I particularly like these suede bluchers in tan and mid-brown. For as boring as they look, their oiled flex soles make them feel like slippers, and their simple styling makes them exceptionally easy to wear. Nice shoes don’t always have to be flashy. Also available? Alden’s tasseled and penny loafers.

Made in England shoes: Brooks Brothers’ English shoes are usually made by Crockett & Jones or some other similarly high-end maker. At the moment, they have these tie loafers in calf and suede (both made by C&J). I think they’d look excellent with a pair of linen trousers, a linen odd jacket, and a light blue shirt. There are also some nice looking loafers and chukkas on sale. 

Superga sneakers: The white version of these sneakers goes great with chinos. You’ll want to go a half size up here. 

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More Than a Soft Shoulder

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The appeal of soft Italian tailoring has set style trends in men’s clothing for at least a few decades now. Although the technique is commonly attributed to Giorgio Armani (particularly in the business press), it really goes back to the Rubinacci and Caraceni families in Naples and Rome, respectively. They’re the ones who took the “stuffing out of suits” by using thinner and lighter shoulder pads, reducing the weight of the canvassing and haircloth inside, and striping away the lining.

In popular writing, this technique often gets reduced to a simple description about a “soft shoulder,” but when I think of what makes this style appealing to me, it’s about much more than a shoulder line. Instead, I think of style icons such as Gianni Agnelli (who often wore Caraceni) and Vittorio de Sica (who often wore Rubinacci), as well as the many men who represent Neapolitan style today (Rubinacci, Solito, Ciardi, Panico, etc). The styles worn and created by these men isn’t just about their softer shoulder, but rather the overall “roundness” of their silhouettes.

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Friends Who Know Something


I was disappointed two years ago to learn that my friend Stephen would no longer continue his site The Simply Refined. His blog was always one of my favorites. Focused on classic clothing (often of the tailored variety), it was informative without being overly stuffy. On the upside, he left it to start a new job as the associate editor of Hodinkee, which means for the past two years, I’ve had someone to bother every time I’ve had a question about watches.

Most of my questions regard watches I think I can wear with casual clothing, as my current 1968 Rolex Oyster is something I only wear with a coat and tie. My first instinct was to get a pilot watch, perhaps something from Stowa or Laco, but after seeing some vintage pieces at Hodinkee, I wanted something with a bit more provenance. So, Stephen and I talked about the possibility of me buying a CWC, a company that makes relatively inexpensive watches for military use. A vintage chronograph like this, for example, goes for about $1,000 to $2,000, and since they weren’t available to civilians, that means each piece was actually worn by a pilot at some point. They also come in 38/ 39mm, which is a great for a guy like me, who has small wrists. 

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Bruce Boyer in Free & Easy

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I was hanging out at Kinokuniya in San Francisco over the weekend, flipping through some magazines, and was pleasantly surprised to see Bruce Boyer featured in the March 2014 issue of Free & Easy. Bruce has always been one of my favorite menswear writers. He’s uniquely erudite and eloquent, and can write about men’s clothing in a way that’s substantive and thoughtful, but also not overly rigid or dogmatic. If you haven’t already, check out his books Eminently Suitable and Elegance. His essays at Cigar Aficionado are also must-reads.

The Free & Easy feature takes us through some of Bruce’s things. There’s an old Coach messenger bag from back when they used to manufacture in the United States, a Willis & Geiger watch set on a brown alligator strap, and a pair of Russell Moccasin’s fishing oxfords. Among what I’m sure are his many tailored jackets, Bruce has a tried and true navy sport coat, a brown checked faux tweed, and a solid green (possibly Shetland?) tweed jacket. For casual wear, there’s a green patch pocketed shirt jacket with a unique lapel by Paul Stuart. It looks rather similar to the Justo Gimeno Teba jackets sold at The Armoury.

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The Oddest Jacket

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Inspired by a post I saw at Breathnaigh, I recently bought a Needles Rebuild jacket. It’s easily the oddest piece of clothing I own, and I say that as a guy who walks around town in a motorcycle jacket. For those unfamiliar, Needles is one of the brands under Nepenthes – a Japanese company that operates as both a retailer and parent company to a number of labels. In addition to Needles, they have Engineered Garments, South2 West8, and Sonic Labs. The company’s founder and director, Keizo Shimizu, designs Needles and Sonic Labs.

The Needles line feels very eccentric and bohemian. It includes this “Rebuild” collection, where individual pieces of clothing (often vintage) are deconstructed and used to “rebuild” new garments. Given the construction and designs, each piece is totally unique, even if the sensibilities across models and makes are the same. Take this BDU field jacket, for example. There are snap button pockets (presumably from the cargo pockets of BDU pants) on the interior side of the left lapel. One is so strangely placed that it’s in the middle of where the lapel folds over, which causes the lapel to sit strangely. Snap button pockets have also been used to reinforce the elbows, and there’s one pocket – upside down, even – placed right next to the patch hip pocket. Should you unbutton it, a ribbon previously used to cinch the waist on a pair of pants will unravel and fall out, reminding you that you’re in the Willy Wonka world of field jacket designs.  

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Thinking About Fall Clothes in Spring

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Christian at Ivy Style once called me a clotheshorse. If you know Christian at all, you know that’s not a compliment. He’s one of the few bloggers I know (if not the only one) who has a healthy relationship with clothes. He likes them, but doesn’t obsess over them. In any case, what prompted it was me asking him last spring what he thought of some brand’s sweaters. He said “You’re one serious clotheshorse if you’re already thinking about fall!

And it’s true, I tend to think about clothing purchases way in advance. Lately, for example, I’ve been thinking about green tweed sport coats. The London Lounge is selling a new barleycorn and herringbone mix through their cloth club. It’s a beautiful design with a blue and chestnut brown windowpane, but I’m not yet sure of what’s out there, so I’ve been unable to commit. Flipping through A Style is Born and Scottish Estate Tweeds gave me some ideas, however. As did going through some photos I’ve downloaded throughout the years. All are included below. 

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Ten Things You Don’t Need This Spring

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Lists about “spring essentials” are the worst, either because they’re about things that are obviously not essential, or they’re about things so basic, they’re mind numbingly boring. So, I bring you my list of ten non-essentials: utterly superfluous things that no one needs, but I’ve been eyeing as spring collections roll in: 

  • Russell Moccasin boots: Yes, I’ve been getting into workwear. And these Russell Moccasin boots look like they’d go great with jeans.
  • Chimala workshirt: Unionmade just received their new Chimala stock. I really like this washed chambray shirt, which J. Crew has for $50 less. There’s also a nice washed chambray at RRL.
  • Stephan Schneider cardigan: This hooded cardigan looked so good on Kyle that I bought one for myself. Something slouchy and casual to be worn with jeans and a t-shirt this summer.
  • Saint Laurent suede Harrington: The jacket I want most this season. Ignore Mr. Porter’s terrible styling and trust me that it looks great when worn. Slightly trucker-jacket-like cut with a high stance collar. 
  • Drake’s pocket square: Printed cotton pocket squares are great with linen or tropical wool jackets. Drake’s has a nice one this season in olive and tan.

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Please, Mr. Motorcycle Man

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I do most of my writing these days from a café near my apartment. It’s spacious, has lots of sunlight, and most importantly, plays good music at a volume that’s not too loud. The only problem is that, to get there, I have to walk down this small street where a bunch of bikers hang out. Real bikers too – guys and gals in unfashionable jeans and black leather jackets with club patches on the back. At any given moment, a few of them will be looking at someone’s bike, while others will be sitting on benches, seemingly shooting the breeze and observing passersby.

This is all well and fine except for when I wear this. On those days, I walk out of my apartment feeling like a bad ass, strut proudly to the café, and just as I near this group, I hang my head in shame, shuffle my feet, and silently pray “please Mr. Motorcycle Man, don’t ask me what kind of bike I ride.” Then, as soon as I round the corner, my chest puffs up again and I go back to strutting. To the rest of the world, I imagine I look like some kind of Marlon Brando. To these bikers, I’m sure I come off as a strangely shy guy with oddly pristine looking clothes. 

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Armani Was Awesome

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StyleForum member Working Stiff recently started a thread titled “Armani Was Awesome.” And it’s true; Armani was awesome. Although his work is closely associated with power suits in the ‘80s, much of his style – as Parker notes – was more “slouchy” than “powerful.” In fact, his real contribution is in making softly tailored constructions popular that decade. By knocking the stuffing out of suits (i.e. reducing the interfacings and shoulder pads), Armani was able to achieve a very relaxed and softly tailored silhouette. The “power” part really comes from the extended shoulder line. For the rest, Armani elongated and narrowed the lapel, and lowered the buttoning point just a touch, in order to create a loose, devil-may-care playboy look that was eventually made famous by Richard Gere in American Gigolo (who wore Armani for his role).

Here are some images to illustrate that well. There are photos of Jean-Michel Basquiat, who famously painted in expensive Armani suits and would often appear in public in the same paint-splattered clothes. Then there are some old advertisements, including a number with photos shot by Aldo Fallai (the Armani-Fallai partnership being a famous one in fashion advertising history). I’ve also included some some screenshots from American Gigolo, which I stole from Clothes on Film

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