Must Haves for Fall
Whether you live north or south, east or west, two items a man must have in his fall wardrobe is a tweed sport coat and a cotton corduroy jacket. These are timeless items that every well dressed man should own. I don’t care if you are an old fogey or a Millennial. Don’t care if you wear them for dress or sport, outerwear or business wear. They are items that will take you anywhere in any situation wherever you happen to be.
They can come from a traditional American manufacturer or an offshore house that models the garment in some traditional way. Tweeds can come from the Outer Hebrides or from Ireland-real tweeds. Others are simply simulating the style. Corduroy, developed in the 1700s, can be of large or wide whale or fine pin-whale. The cottage industry that makes the familiar “Harris Tweeds,” generally has a trademark and are numbered. I have a tweed cap made in Ireland that has the name embroidered in the inside top lining of the person that made the cap.
I have been scouring the market and can’t nary find corduroy in traditional shops. Brooks, O’Connell’s, JPress, Andover Shop, Cable Car, but Ben Silver has a corduroy jacket. Trousers are still offered on the menu in most stores, but jackets are scarce. If you find them, let me know.
As far as tweeds, you can find them almost anywhere this year. Brooks Brothers has introduced Brooks Tweed. It is a lighter weight tweed looking pretty close to a Harris, but not as hefty if you can’t handle Harris. Some “tweedy” looking jackets are not tweed at all but lambswool with a touch of cashmere. Smart.
So, shop till you drop. Check out the stores. On-line doesn’t do it justice.
GUARANTEED TO WRINKLE
The first all cotton dress shirt I purchased was as a college student. Gant striped button down. It felt great, looked great. Yes, it wrinkled at the end of the day, but still looked great to me. Before that time, most of what I wore was a blend of cotton with Dacron/polyester. Never wrinkled very much. Polo style shirts we BanLon. Remember those? In the 70’s, it was difficult to adhere to a dress code that resembled the professionalism of the earlier “Ivy League” style. It took some searching, but you could do it.
After college and having exited my first job with a professional dress code environment, I joined the retail industry. I worked at an exclusive men’s store that sold high end updated traditional clothing. I learned all I could possible jam into my head and my experiences to become a professional clothier. Our store carried Polo Ralph Lauren clothing when it was only sold in small specialty stores, Norman Hilton, Oxxford, and other high quality clothing. Shirtings were from Polo, Gittman, Kenneth Gordon, Ike Behar and Robert Talbott. All natural fiber clothing. Polo even had a label sewn in the garments “Guaranteed to Wrinkle.” Never knew if it was an answer to a question that would be asked or a joke. I think both.
The fabrics felt wonderful. Care instructions were important. Customers didn’t care much for blends, they wanted to look great and feel great. They took care of their appearance and clothing. But somewhere along the line wrinkle resistant became a marketing tool to sell more “care free” clothing. Tencel, rayon, stretch fabrics and easy care wrinkle free garments became a must for the lazy consumer. One important icon in the industry, Brooks Brothers, developed a wrinkle free dress shirt and expanded to sport shirts and cotton trousers. The innovator of the button down collar shirt was to become the leading purveyor of non-iron dress shirts, a chemical process applied to the cotton to resist wrinkles. You could look at the end of the day like you did when you started the day.
Someone once said that a man should wear the clothes, not the clothes wear the man. Boy that sounds good to me. It seems that at the end of the day, a man should look like he worked, accomplished something, reached or is nearing reaching a goal. Depending on what he is wearing, he could look like he sat there and contemplated his navel all day. What do you want to say about you??
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TIP TOE THROUGH THE TULIPS
Are you one of those fashion gurus that ruined the tips of your expensive shoes by polishing them darker than the rest of the shoe??? Too late, fashion statement over.
Several years ago a fashion statement became a Fad. I started noticing the tips of well-dressed and not-so-well-dressed men with light brown or tan/walnut colored shoes with very dark tips. Some darker than others. Were they purchased that way or did they polish them that way? Seems as though you could darken any toes of your expensive or inexpensive shoes darker. Soon, to be in fashion, that is all I saw, from lemmings of fashion to professionals in the clothing business.
So I asked myself, why would anyone want to permanently “damage” a pair or pairs of shoes seemingly forever? The fashion caught on and is still somewhat evident today although not as ubiquitous. I guess for some it is now “their” style.
My good friend and former employer, who I have great respect for his sartorial acumen, has given me his formula for the tip toe process. He represent a prestigious international fabric company and sees fashion before it happens. His technique is this: Black or brown cream(the operative product) slowly rubbed into the toe feathering it out toward the laces. Finish with tan or clear wax(the operative product) for some shine.
There you have it. You could make it your style, but I am never ruining a pair of shoes that are upward of $400. The choice is yours. I know what mine is.