Five Great Things That Come With A Leather Jacket
I wear sport coats most days of the week, but for the last two years or so, I’ve been breaking it up a bit with leather jackets. In that time, I’ve found leather jackets to have some nice advantages over tailored clothing. 
Shirts
Paul Newman looks great above in his button-up shirt, but for me, a leather jacket really calls for a t-shirt. The good news is that t-shirts can be had for not too much money. Jesse sells Alternative Apparel ones every summer at a wholesale price. They’re soft, finely knitted, and somewhat stretchy. I wear Hanes Beefy Tees myself, which are more stout. I’ve also heard good things about Uniqlo’s t-shirts, although I’ve never tried them.
All of these can be had for less than ten bucks a piece, which means you can get a whole week’s worth for less than the price of a good dress shirt.
Pants
Similarly, jeans can be had for much less than wool trousers. Unbranded and our advertiser Gustin get regularly recommended in the denim community, and they sell raw, selvedge denim options for about $85 a pair. APC New Standards retail for $185, but can sometimes be found on sale. 
The upside to jeans isn’t just their price, however. It’s the material. Denim is an exceptionally tough fabric and can take a lot of abuse. Some guys wear their jeans every day for two years before retiring them. Do that to a pair of grey flannel trousers and they’ll disintegrate in a few months.
Shoes
Shoes are a bit more tricky. With a heavy horsehide or cowhide jacket, you might need something like a chunky boot. With a lighter lambskin or goatskin jacket, however, you can wear canvas sneakers. I often wear this jacket, for example, with white Chuck Taylor high tops, which I bought for $50. There’s no good dress shoe that retails for $50.
Fit
There are few things that can smarten you up more than a sport coat or suit, but they are admittedly difficult to fit. This might be because of their construction: the shoulder pads, wadding, canvassing, haircloth, etc. Add to that the stylistic details (width of the lapel, shape of the quarters, pitch of the arm, height of the gorge, etc.), and you can see how complicated a tailored jacket can get.
On the other hand, leather jackets (and everything that goes with them) have a lot more wiggle room. It’s OK if your jacket doesn’t look like it was perfectly tailored and if your jeans aren’t hemmed to a perfect shivering break. In fact, they shouldn’t look like that anyway. 
Care
Finally, it’s nice to not have to iron a shirt before you go out, worry about whether a dry cleaner will ruin your jacket, or care if some food drips onto your clothes. Everything above – the t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and jacket – is meant to be worn and beat up. Some items (such as the jeans and sneakers) look better after they’ve been worn in. Others (such as the t-shirt) are cheap enough to easily replace.
Granted, the leather jacket itself can be pretty expensive. You’re either going to spend a lot of money for a new one, or a lot of time searching for something used. On the upside, once you find one you like, there are five great things that come with it. 

Five Great Things That Come With A Leather Jacket

I wear sport coats most days of the week, but for the last two years or so, I’ve been breaking it up a bit with leather jackets. In that time, I’ve found leather jackets to have some nice advantages over tailored clothing. 

Shirts

Paul Newman looks great above in his button-up shirt, but for me, a leather jacket really calls for a t-shirt. The good news is that t-shirts can be had for not too much money. Jesse sells Alternative Apparel ones every summer at a wholesale price. They’re soft, finely knitted, and somewhat stretchy. I wear Hanes Beefy Tees myself, which are more stout. I’ve also heard good things about Uniqlo’s t-shirts, although I’ve never tried them.

All of these can be had for less than ten bucks a piece, which means you can get a whole week’s worth for less than the price of a good dress shirt.

Pants

Similarly, jeans can be had for much less than wool trousers. Unbranded and our advertiser Gustin get regularly recommended in the denim community, and they sell raw, selvedge denim options for about $85 a pair. APC New Standards retail for $185, but can sometimes be found on sale. 

The upside to jeans isn’t just their price, however. It’s the material. Denim is an exceptionally tough fabric and can take a lot of abuse. Some guys wear their jeans every day for two years before retiring them. Do that to a pair of grey flannel trousers and they’ll disintegrate in a few months.

Shoes

Shoes are a bit more tricky. With a heavy horsehide or cowhide jacket, you might need something like a chunky boot. With a lighter lambskin or goatskin jacket, however, you can wear canvas sneakers. I often wear this jacket, for example, with white Chuck Taylor high tops, which I bought for $50. There’s no good dress shoe that retails for $50.

Fit

There are few things that can smarten you up more than a sport coat or suit, but they are admittedly difficult to fit. This might be because of their construction: the shoulder pads, wadding, canvassing, haircloth, etc. Add to that the stylistic details (width of the lapel, shape of the quarters, pitch of the arm, height of the gorge, etc.), and you can see how complicated a tailored jacket can get.

On the other hand, leather jackets (and everything that goes with them) have a lot more wiggle room. It’s OK if your jacket doesn’t look like it was perfectly tailored and if your jeans aren’t hemmed to a perfect shivering break. In fact, they shouldn’t look like that anyway. 

Care

Finally, it’s nice to not have to iron a shirt before you go out, worry about whether a dry cleaner will ruin your jacket, or care if some food drips onto your clothes. Everything above – the t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and jacket – is meant to be worn and beat up. Some items (such as the jeans and sneakers) look better after they’ve been worn in. Others (such as the t-shirt) are cheap enough to easily replace.

Granted, the leather jacket itself can be pretty expensive. You’re either going to spend a lot of money for a new one, or a lot of time searching for something used. On the upside, once you find one you like, there are five great things that come with it. 

Denim Repair with Denim Surgeon

Because not enough readers find Put This On while googling “close up crotch damage”, I wanted to offer this testimonial to the good work done by New York’s Denim Surgeon on my most-often-worn jeans, a pair of APC Petit Standards I’ve had since spring 2011. My dry cleaner, bless her heart, patched the worn-out crotch twice but the patches were weak and this is a high-stress area. I chose Denim Surgeon after reading Derek’s post on quality denim repair and reading a recommendation for them on Superfuture’s Superdenim forum. I mailed in my APCs as well as a pair of 5EPs with a similar blowout plus unraveling hems and torn-up pocket bags.

I used Denim Surgeon’s repair form to specify areas to be surgeon’d (some people like to preserve wear-and-tear that others might want fixed, so it’s best to be specific). Two business days after my jeans were delivered to their location in New York, I received a Paypal invoice, which recommended crotch repair and reinforcement for both pairs, at $75 each, plus $10 for pocket bag repair on the 5EPs, and $9 shipping. Not cheap, but potentially better than taking them back to the dry cleaner every few weeks. I paid immediately and the repair work took about a week.

The work they did was significantly more involved than the small patch jobs the jeans had before. Denim Surgeon placed a large fabric patch inside the APCs, shaped a little like the reinforced seat you see on some BDU-type pants. The edges of the patch are flatlock stitched to prevent fraying and the whole thing is stitched to the jeans at the edges and with zig-zag stitches across the patch. They darned the threadbare/torn areas and re-sewed the main seam (where all four denim panels come together) with color-matched thread. From the outside, you can barely notice the patched area, unless I’m doing cartwheels, which I would feel fully confident doing in these jeans.

The 5EP pair was repaired similarly although with a smaller patch. The only concern I’d have would be with sending a particularly tight pair of jeans in for this sort of repair, because the patch is heavy enough it could conceivably affect how they fit.

Denim Surgeon currently offers a Groupon discount. It’s a nice deal although if your jeans are significantly damaged, it likely won’t cover the total cost of repair.

Note: Because of a discrepancy between my billing and shipping address, my jeans were held by Denim Surgeon after repair and before shipping (they were set to ship a week after payment, but did not leave New York for another week). Their communication about the issue was good via email and phone, and they sent me $25 credit toward future repair. At no time did I tell Denim Surgeon I planned to write about their service for Put This On.

-Pete

One of my favorite webshops to browse is Norse Store—I particularly like their sale section, because (1) I’m incorrigibly cheap, (2) they carry a lot of the sort of quietly great casual stuff I prefer, and (3) they don’t necessarily pull seasonal merchandise at the end of the season. So some items are from last fall/winter and are seasonally appropriate now, at a significant discount; caveat being that only one or two sizes are left. Pictured are a nicely mottled Norse Projects boucle tshirt, a Monitaly wool jacket from a few seasons back, Yuketen boots, and A.P.C. New Standards in black. Norse also has a current sale on sneakers (I like the Nike Air Max 90 and Vans WTAPS chukkas). Norse conveniently deducts VAT for non-European customers, although shipping to the United States does cost. Of course, if you’re not willing to pay for shipping something, do you really want it?

-Pete

Flecked Sweaters for Fall

I don’t know if it’s too early to talk about knitwear, but I’ve been thinking about flecked sweaters a lot lately. Sometimes these are called speckled sweaters, sometimes Donegal sweaters, and sometimes even tweed sweaters. Not because they’re actually from Donegal (a county in Ireland), but because the irregular flecks of color on these yarns are reminiscent of the region’s hallmark tweeds.

The nice thing about flecked sweaters is that they can add a bit of visual interest where a solid knit might be too boring. I find this useful when wearing a sweater alone (over a shirt, but without a jacket). There’s just something about a very smooth, plain-colored merino, worn with wool or cotton trousers, that can sometimes feel a bit too uninspired (though, they do work well underneath tailored sport coats).

There are a number of brands with flecked sweaters this fall. At the top of the price pyramid end is Inis Meain, who makes them in a pure cashmere and wool-cashmere blend. Those are available at A Suitable Wardrobe, Barneys New York, Manufactum, and Frans Boone. Inis Meain makes some of my favorite knitwear in the world, and I find their quality to be unsurpassed, but their popularity in Japan and Europe has made them very expensive. If you’re not deterred by the price, Barney’s also has a few half zip sweaters by Fioroni worth considering.

For something a bit more affordable, check out these options by Drumohr, Billy Reid, Saturdays Surf NYC, APC, and Orvis. J Crew also has something on sale through their Wallace & Barnes line, and an extra 25% can be taken off at the moment with the checkout code FALLSTYLE. Perhaps most promising are these Howlin’ by Morrison Shetlands, which come in light grey, charcoal, and red (I really dig the light grey, personally). 

There’s also a range of Irish makers, none of whom I have any direct experience with. If you’re open to giving them a try, a quick Google search will reveal a number of retailers. Maybe start with Aran Sweater Market, Aran Sweater Shop, and Magee. This seller on eBay also has a range of intriguing options starting at $70.

Most affordable of all is J Crew’s mainline. They’ve done a number of these sweaters in the past and you can still find many of them floating around on eBay. J Crew’s knits, from my experience, stretch out pretty easily, but if the price is right, they can be a good buy. This one, for example, is available for $30 (the cut looks pretty boxy though). Mr. Porter also has this blue version brand new for $90. That’ll probably make it to their end-of-season sale, where it’ll be discounted by 50-70%. 

Totokaelo Man Sale

A store I’ve been really digging lately for casualwear, Totokaelo Man, just did another round of price drops in their sale section. Some items that caught my eye included:

  • An APC striped sweater for $82.25 (I picked up one this season, and think it would make for a nice layering piece this fall)
  • Twins for Peace leather sneakers in white and black for $61.25 (I’ve never handled these in person, but they seem like they could be a nice alternative to pricier options)
  • Twins for Peace canvas sneakers in navy and white for $42
  • Grenson suede crepe soled chukkas for $140.
  • APC Chelsea boots for $180.25 (would look great with a pair of slim jeans or chinos)
  • Margiela chukkas and sidezip boots and for $311 and $344, respectively (a bit more fashion forward, but I think they’d look good with the right ensemble)

You can see what else they have here

A Laptop Case Roundup

I’ve been looking for a good laptop case for the last few months. My two briefcases, a Filson 257 and Lotuff English brief, don’t have any cushioning on the bottom, so I need something to protect my computer when I set my bag down. Unfortunately, most cases are made from neoprene or ballistic nylon, and I prefer more natural materials.

Luckily, there are still plenty of good options. On the expensive end, there’s Vaja and Want Les Essentiels. Both companies make exceptionally good products and their cases strike me as a bit smarter designed than most. Unfortunately, they’re also very pricey, and you might end up with something that won’t work with your next laptop purchase. Still, if money were no object for me, I would probably start here.

For slightly more affordable options, I really like Calabrese, Carga, and Ally Capellino. Calabrese is an Italian manufacturer of high-end bags with refined and sophisticated designs. Their laptop sleeve comes in a very beautiful tan leather, as well as dark and light canvas materials. Likewise, Carga has a very nice, simple option made from a single piece of vegetable tanned leather, and Ally Capellino’s is made from (what seems to be) a tumble-washed canvas. If you’re a student, you can take a 12% discount at Ally Capellino, which makes theirs a bit more affordable still. 

There are also some really nice contemporary designs by Scandinavian companies such as Mismo, c.dellstrand, P.A.P. Accessories, and wood wood. For something that has more of a traditional sensibility, consider Saddleback Leathers and Restoration Hardware. Saddleback Leathers is known for making very high-quality leather goods, but I suspect Restoration Hardware is using cheaper materials (though, to be fair, I haven’t had a chance to handle it). I also like WM J Mills and La Portegna. Their sleeves have handles, which may be convenient if you plan to carry them on their own.

For non-leather materials, consider Hard Graft and Pack & Smooch. They have some felted wool models that don’t look too shabby. Additionally, there are coated canvas sleeves from Incase and McManus, as well as a denim sleeve that came out of an Incase and APC collaboration. Perhaps most affordable of all is Wrappers, where you can buy a basic, no frills linen sleeve for about $30.

Finally, should none of these excited you, try searching Etsy. You have to get through a bit of chaff, but if you put in the work, you can find some decent looking designs. Check out Harlex and Byrd & Belle, for example. 

As for me, I’m hoping that Calabrese will make something for 13” laptops soon. I’m pretty set on that tan leather model

My Recommendation for Jeans: 3sixteens

APCs tend to be the standard recommendation for people looking to get their first pair of quality jeans. In my experience, there are disadvantages to the old standard. They stretch out much more than other jeans, have poor stitching, and aren’t built from Japanese denim. I recently had a great conversation with Kiya Babzani, co-owner of Self Edge, one of the leading denim shops in the world, about why APCs have become so popular, despite their mediocre quality.

“APCs got into the scene really early and offered a raw selvedge jean with nothing on the back pockets at a good price,” Kiya explained. “There are other brands but most of [them] have a very Americana look to their branding. APCs were a crossroads between fashion and classic […] a more simple, almost ‘fashion,’ look as opposed to a straight reproduction vintage style look which was originally designed for workwear.”

Nowadays, however, we have more options in the sub-$200 price point, and for such buys, I think 3sixteen’s jeans are some of the best that you can get. Unlike APCs, they’re actually made from Japanese denim (specifically a 14.5 oz red-line selvedge denim woven at Kuroki Mills), and will fade beautifully with strong contrasts. 

"The Japanese have mastered the art of producing denim, and textiles in general," Kiya said. "Their textile producing techniques date back further than most of the world, as they produced extremely complex (even for today) fabrics for kimonos, which were dyed with the most exotic dyes and woven on wooden looms."

What’s so special about 3sixteen’s particular Japanese denim? For one, it’s woven exclusively for them, which is rare for a company that isn’t the size of Levis or Gap. The material is pure indigo dyed, with no sulfur, which gives the jeans a deeper blue color than many other models you’ll find on the market.  At the same time, there is minimal processing, which allows the denim to retain some hairiness and prevents it from looking too sleek or uniform. A quick Googling around will show you how’ll they fade. They also have an interesting weave. The 14.5oz weight gives the jeans some heft, but the open ended weft yarns leave the jeans fairly soft on the inside. In short, the denim is some of the most handsome I’ve seen and comfortable I’ve worn. 

The best thing about the jeans, however, is the fit. While the company makes a slim tapered model (ST-100x), I favor the straight legged (SL-100x). They have a respectable rise and a flattering fit all around. If you like the fit of slim, but not skinny, trousers, you’ll probably like the fit of the SL-100x. 

You can get a pair from Self Edge for $195. They’ll hem your jeans with a traditional chainstitch for free, which will give you a roping effect as your jeans age.  That’s still a bit pricey for many people, to be sure, but if you’re looking to get some quality jeans, I can’t think of a better first buy.