Pocket Squares: Interview Attire?

Infallibleatx asks:

I recently graduated from a masters in accounting program, and was chatting with a member of career services staff. She said that they do not recommend that students wear pocket squares to interviews. I was taken aback, because I thought of them as being a classic part of a nice outfit. She said that they were considered “trendy.” Can you settle this? Are pocket squares more of a modern trend, or something classic? Would you recommend them for an interview?

Pocket squares are classic in the sense that leaving a corner of handkerchief visible in your suit’s breast pocket is something men have been doing for a long time. But they’re also trendy in that they’ve made a strong comeback in the last decade, after going underground in the wake of the 1990s biz-caz revolution (the pocket square was the first thing guillotined).

When interviewing for a job—and this question arises for the most part in relation to white collar jobs—you want to wear clothing that (1) tells the interviewer you are aware of and conform to the social norms of business attire (which do change!), and (2) is unlikely to offend anyone’s sensibilities. A lot of things we (reasonably) consider classic are also (reasonably) considered by many to be ostentatious, and you don’t want your job interview to be a referendum on what you’re wearing. Why is a piece of colorful silk in your pocket not acceptable yet one tied carefully around your neck a-ok? A reasonable question. 

Political candidates walk this line constantly, because they’re interviewing for their jobs every day. They default to something like Nicolas Antongiovanni’s concept of Conservative Business Dress (conservative not meant in the political sense). Dark, single breasted, notch lapel suit; plain white or blue shirt; basic, contrasting necktie. Nothing showy or expensive-looking, which would convey frivolousness and concern with unserious things: no pocket square; for god’s sake no French cuffs; as little pattern as possible; black shoes. Look at the images above from the most recent presidential primary debates, essentially the most visible job interview in the world: Not a pocket square on the stage.

I hate to say this, because most politicians dress terribly, but for white collar job interviews: you want to dress like a politician. You can wild out with sick pocket squares once you’re hired and you get a feel for the office culture.

-Pete

Real People: Tweed, Oxford, and Wool Challis

We’re still about a month away from fall, but I’m already thinking about heavy flannels and thick coats. Derek from Nashville  provides some nice inspiration. Here he’s wearing a houndstooth checked tweed sport coat from Martin Greenfield, an oxford cloth button down shirt from Kamakura, and a solid, olive green wool challis tie from Sam Hober. The combination of textures keeps things visually warm and interesting, while the pattern on the jacket adds a little variation to an otherwise solid-colored ensemble. You can’t tell from the photo, but the shirt is actually light blue, not white, which makes for a nice complement to the rustic browns, oranges, and greens that Derek is wearing. I imagine on his feet are brown suede shoes. 

These photos had me shopping around for more wool challis ties last night. Sam Hober, EG CappelliExquisite Trimmings, O’Connell’s, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, and Henry Carter are all worth looking into. The first four have the largest selection of patterns, while the last two are having sales. 

Fake Deals
Medium has a story today on the less-than-honest business practices of discount and outlet stores. An excerpt: 

Despite common belief, outlet clothing never enters a “regular” store and is most likely produced in an entirely different factory than the “regular” clothing. A few months ago I met with some people from Banana Republic Outlet. Banana Republic has a team of people whose sole responsibility is to design and manage production for their outlet stores. Their production team was looking for new ways to diversify their outlet product-line in order to compete with H&M and Zara. It is rumored that these huge retailers have such agile supply-chains that they are able to bring new product to their stores every 2 weeks. While Banana Republic and J.Crew are not trying to compete on price with H&M, their outlet counterparts must. This means that these companies produce lower cost and lower quality clothing specifically for their outlet stores.
[…]
TJ Maxx, known for it’s off-price designer labels, finds itself in a similar position. Ever notice that TJ’s will have a surplus of Calvin Klein, or Rachel Roy, or Elie Tahari clothing? This happens when TJ Maxx brokers a licensing deal with one of these brands. In this situation, the brand (ex: Calvin Klein) agrees to let TJ Maxx produce clothing with their label on it in return for a percentage, usually between 5-20% of the wholesale price of the garment. To put this in perspective, in 2012 Calvin Klein reported that “licensed products currently represent slightly over 50% of global retail sales.” At that time, licensing alone accounted for more than $3.8 billion in CK sales.
Licensing can be a great situation for the brand because they do not have to manage sourcing, production, or shipping. TJ Maxx, or the licensee, manages all of the nitty-gritty stuff, and makes the product in their factories at prices that they control. Then, they put the reputable brand label on the clothing and write that company a check. These branded garments end up at discount retailers and consumers buy them thinking that they’ve just scored an awesome Calvin Klein blazer.

You can read the rest of the article here. To figure out which outlet stores are worth visiting, you can read Jesse’s post from four years ago (as far as I know, all those recommendations are still good). He also has a great post on diffusion lines and licensed clothing. 

Fake Deals

Medium has a story today on the less-than-honest business practices of discount and outlet stores. An excerpt: 

Despite common belief, outlet clothing never enters a “regular” store and is most likely produced in an entirely different factory than the “regular” clothing. A few months ago I met with some people from Banana Republic Outlet. Banana Republic has a team of people whose sole responsibility is to design and manage production for their outlet stores. Their production team was looking for new ways to diversify their outlet product-line in order to compete with H&M and Zara. It is rumored that these huge retailers have such agile supply-chains that they are able to bring new product to their stores every 2 weeks. While Banana Republic and J.Crew are not trying to compete on price with H&M, their outlet counterparts must. This means that these companies produce lower cost and lower quality clothing specifically for their outlet stores.

[…]

TJ Maxx, known for it’s off-price designer labels, finds itself in a similar position. Ever notice that TJ’s will have a surplus of Calvin Klein, or Rachel Roy, or Elie Tahari clothing? This happens when TJ Maxx brokers a licensing deal with one of these brands. In this situation, the brand (ex: Calvin Klein) agrees to let TJ Maxx produce clothing with their label on it in return for a percentage, usually between 5-20% of the wholesale price of the garment. To put this in perspective, in 2012 Calvin Klein reported that “licensed products currently represent slightly over 50% of global retail sales.” At that time, licensing alone accounted for more than $3.8 billion in CK sales.

Licensing can be a great situation for the brand because they do not have to manage sourcing, production, or shipping. TJ Maxx, or the licensee, manages all of the nitty-gritty stuff, and makes the product in their factories at prices that they control. Then, they put the reputable brand label on the clothing and write that company a check. These branded garments end up at discount retailers and consumers buy them thinking that they’ve just scored an awesome Calvin Klein blazer.

You can read the rest of the article here. To figure out which outlet stores are worth visiting, you can read Jesse’s post from four years ago (as far as I know, all those recommendations are still good). He also has a great post on diffusion lines and licensed clothing

Barney’s Warehouse Sale
For our readers in or around New York City, Barney’s famous Warehouse Sale starts today. I imagine the deals won’t be as good as they’ve been in the past. Barney’s has been able to clear a lot of their unsold merchandise through their online “Warehouse” shop, and they recently had a crazy fire sale. Still, if you want to check it out, the physical sale is being held today through September 1st at the Metropolitan Pavilion. The address is 110 West 19th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues). You can find more information here.  

Barney’s Warehouse Sale

For our readers in or around New York City, Barney’s famous Warehouse Sale starts today. I imagine the deals won’t be as good as they’ve been in the past. Barney’s has been able to clear a lot of their unsold merchandise through their online “Warehouse” shop, and they recently had a crazy fire sale. Still, if you want to check it out, the physical sale is being held today through September 1st at the Metropolitan Pavilion. The address is 110 West 19th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues). You can find more information here.  

Man Wearing Low-Cut Swimsuit As Though Public Pool A Sun-Kissed Sardinian Cove
KANSAS CITY, MO—Clad in a pair of revealing, skintight swim trunks, local man Paul Withers strode past an array of plastic lounge chairs Wednesday as though the Choteau Community Pool was a remote, sun-dappled Sardinian cove, onlookers reported. Withers, who seemingly confused the facility’s concrete walkway with a winding path down a rocky slope leading to the gleaming white sands and azure waters of the Costa Verde, then proceeded to mill around the swimming area in full view of patrons, having apparently mistaken the roughly 30 west Missourians for a group of lithe, olive-skinned European models. 
More at The Onion

Man Wearing Low-Cut Swimsuit As Though Public Pool A Sun-Kissed Sardinian Cove

KANSAS CITY, MO—Clad in a pair of revealing, skintight swim trunks, local man Paul Withers strode past an array of plastic lounge chairs Wednesday as though the Choteau Community Pool was a remote, sun-dappled Sardinian cove, onlookers reported. Withers, who seemingly confused the facility’s concrete walkway with a winding path down a rocky slope leading to the gleaming white sands and azure waters of the Costa Verde, then proceeded to mill around the swimming area in full view of patrons, having apparently mistaken the roughly 30 west Missourians for a group of lithe, olive-skinned European models. 

More at The Onion

Actual Japanese Workwear

Check out these absolutely stunning Japanese firemen coats. Known as Hanten coats, these were worn by Japanese firefighters in the 19th century. At the time, the technology to spray water at a high-enough pressure hadn’t been invented yet, so Japanese men had to fight fires by creating firebreaks downwind. Doing so, however, put them in danger of catching on fire themselves, as hot embers can travel up to a mile. To make their coats more protective, they were continually doused with water. 

The symbols and designs you see are for several things. Some are just for decoration, of course, while some signal the fire crew that the wearer belonged to. Others are lucky symbols or refer to a heroic story, giving the wearer encouragement to be strong and courageous. 

You can see these coats in person (along with many other awesome things) at Shibui, a shop in New York City for Japanese antiques and collectibles. They’re moving at the end of September and are having a sale right now to lighten their load. Select items are discounted by up to 50%, including lots of boro fabrics, which is a kind of heavily patched and mended Japanese textile. You can see examples of boro here.

For those of us outside of NYC, Shibui has a Google+ page you can admire (they’ll take phone orders, if you’re interested). There’s also a book titled Haten and Happi, which is all about traditional Japanese work coats. 

Emily Spivack’s Worn Stories project: What Are the Things We Want to Hold Onto?

I don’t have hard data on closet turnover rates, but even the thriftiest and most #timelessly dressed guys will end up with a mostly new wardrobe every 5 or 6 years, especially when it comes to oft-laundered items like tshirts and oxfords that just plain wear out. Yet when you’re picking out stuff to chuck or donate, a few things that should probably go to Goodwill… inevitably don’t. You hang onto certain things even though a voice in your head whispers, with a little concern: “Hoarder.” Their value isn’t measured on receipts or by amortized per-wear cost (don’t pretend you haven’t calculated that at least once). Their worth is autobiographical, in the story they tell you about yourself.

Emily Spivack, who teaches at the Pratt Institute and created the Smithsonian’s Threaded blog on clothing history, has collected “sartorial memoirs” since 2010, and this month is publishing Worn Stories: a book that includes among its 67 stories contributions from John Hodgman, Andy Spade, Dapper Dan, and Albert Maysles, among many others. I can hardly think of a concept more in tune with Put This On.

"I wanted to be able to preserve these stories before they get lost."

Spivack worked with a broad cross section of people—artists, writers, athletes, chefs, teachers—and the stories in the collection are as varied and unpredictable as their sources. Some are tightly focused on the clothes; for others, you wonder, as you read about a broken relationship or awkward adolescence, how the clothing will be woven in. This is not “talk about your favorite shirt,” although some people do; these are items ripped and frayed by lives lived, and they proudly bear the stains of memory. “One is the story of what someone wore when they were kidnapped, another was stabbed; one is about what someone chose to wear to break up with her boyfriend,”  Spivack told me. “When you go to a thrift store, you might find a receipt or ticket stub in a pocket. You know there’s a history there, but it’s lost. I wanted to be able to preserve these stories before they get lost.”

Uniforms, hand-me-downs, and bootlegs

Each story centers on a single item of clothing, more often than not unexceptional on its own. Spivack collected the pieces from her subjects in order to photograph them for the book, “and you could tell they’d been worn. Some were ripped or threadbare.” Although the book balances men’s and women’s stories, Spivack made a deliberate choice to exclude jewelry. “Jewelry lasts forever; you can pass it on to the next generation. Clothing is not really perceived in that way. It degrades, it shows its wear, it’s impermanent. I think that’s relevant… Those are the things that possess meaning to people. That’s worth noting: what are the things we want to hold onto?”

Some of my favorite pieces in the book: critic Sasha Frere-Jones on the growing pains of teenage subcultural identity via a green band jacket; author Courtney Maum on a Ralph Lauren sweater and what it meant and didn’t mean about her father; Double Dare announcer Harvey on his Family Double Dare costume; and artist Andrew Kuo on bootleg Bart shirts and Linsanity.

With the rise of e-commerce and fast fashion, our investment in what we wear is more and more ephemeral, like a lot of the essentially disposable clothes themselves. Not that Worn Stories is another paean to the artisinal; it’s about how we imbue what we wear with a little bit of ourselves, and why that’s hard to let go of. As Spivack says in her introduction to the collection: “We all have a memoir in miniature living in a garment we’ve worn. This book brings some of those stories to light.”

Buy Worn Stories at Amazon or from the publisher.

Pictured above, clockwise from top left: Andy Spade’s vintage waxed jacket, John Hodgman’s dress, Andrew Tarlow’s navy Brooks Brothers suit, Andrew Kuo’s Air Bart Simpson tshirt. Photos by Ally Lindsay.

-Pete

High Waist & Pleats
Here’s another great example of how higher waisted trousers can give you nice proportions between your torso and legs, and how pleats can visually break up the expanse of fabric that sits on your hips and thighs. Ignore fashion writers who say that pleats should always be avoided, or that they’re only meant for heavier set men. There’s nothing wrong with pleats if the tailoring is done well, and you can find many good examples in Old Hollywood pictures from the 1930s through ’50s. Slim the legs down a touch, if that’s to your taste. 
That polo shirt, incidentally, was made by Ascot Chang and is currently being sold through The Armoury (where the model above, Nick, works). You could wear it underneath a sport coat for a more casual look. The collar and cuffs will give you the look of a dress shirt, while the half-placket and pique cotton will prevent you from looking like you just came from the office. 
(via philosophyofthewellfed)

High Waist & Pleats

Here’s another great example of how higher waisted trousers can give you nice proportions between your torso and legs, and how pleats can visually break up the expanse of fabric that sits on your hips and thighs. Ignore fashion writers who say that pleats should always be avoided, or that they’re only meant for heavier set men. There’s nothing wrong with pleats if the tailoring is done well, and you can find many good examples in Old Hollywood pictures from the 1930s through ’50s. Slim the legs down a touch, if that’s to your taste. 

That polo shirt, incidentally, was made by Ascot Chang and is currently being sold through The Armoury (where the model above, Nick, works). You could wear it underneath a sport coat for a more casual look. The collar and cuffs will give you the look of a dress shirt, while the half-placket and pique cotton will prevent you from looking like you just came from the office. 

(via philosophyofthewellfed)

Ralph Lauren Vintage

The year that Ralph Lauren launched his “RL Vintage” website, Newsweek published an article about the appeal of old Ralph Lauren clothes. An excerpt:

RL Vintage” comes in response to a phenomenon that even David Lauren didn’t know about at first. Five years ago, when the brand was looking to commemorate its 40th birthday, executives discovered there were fans who might be celebrating harder than they were. They found a store in Tokyo that sells only vintage Ralph Lauren, with pieces dating back to the 1970s. There was a Japanese magazine devoted to heritage Americana that had an entire issue on old Ralph Lauren pieces. In the United States, a club of Lauren collectors was limited to 67 members, in honor of the year the master first began producing clothes. David Lauren takes out his iPhone and searches eBay for his father’s name: 309,119 items come up (including a life-size aluminum nude that’s supposed to be of his father and that he didn’t know existed). “There is a cult of Ralph Lauren that is kind of amazing,” he says, mentioning the block-long crowds that form at an appearance by dad, now 73.

You can read the rest of the article here. The RL Vintage site — which has been inactive for a long time now, unfortunately — also has a page dedicated to vintage RL collectors. Worth a look, if you haven’t seen it already. 

It’s On Sale: 3sixteen Jeans
3sixteen has their two-tone stitched jeans on sale (where the jeans have two different colors for the stitching). These are marked down about 25% from the regular price, and come in the company’s black and indigo denim. Note, if you want their jeans without the two-tone stitching, Self Edge will most likely have them on sale later this year. They typically do a sale once a season, and at a discount percentage that matches the year (so this year, it’ll be 14% off, most likely). 
Also on sale is this camp stool, which I want for no good reason. 

It’s On Sale: 3sixteen Jeans

3sixteen has their two-tone stitched jeans on sale (where the jeans have two different colors for the stitching). These are marked down about 25% from the regular price, and come in the company’s black and indigo denim. Note, if you want their jeans without the two-tone stitching, Self Edge will most likely have them on sale later this year. They typically do a sale once a season, and at a discount percentage that matches the year (so this year, it’ll be 14% off, most likely). 

Also on sale is this camp stool, which I want for no good reason.