It’s On Sale: Merz b. Schwanen Socks

I’m pretty content with my grey cotton tube socks from Hanes. They’re cheap, stay up on my leg, and go well with sneakers and jeans. A friend of mine, however, is a sharp dresser and likes to be a bit more adventurous with his socks. Even as a guy who doesn’t care for the kind of “happy,” “fun” styles that are popular these days, I often find myself admiring his choices.

So, I thought about getting some of these marled navy socks from Stevenson. Made from a heavy, thick cotton, they have an interesting look and texture. $38 for a pair is pretty expensive though, and Self Edge rarely holds sales. When they do, the discounts aren’t that deep.

Luckily, I remembered that Jesse mentioned these Merz b. Schwanen socks last Christmas (pictured above). I haven’t handled them, but they look great, so in Googling around, I found that my friend Greg is selling them through his store No Man Walks Alone. All merchandise from Merz b. Schwanen is on sale at the moment at 20% off with the checkout code Merz. That puts these at $24/ pair. Still pricey, but a bit easier to swallow than the Stevensons. I bought a couple of pairs in navy and grey. 

As Jesse mentioned, for a more affordable option, check out Wigwam

Dyed Sneakers for Summer

"Whatchu know about that RIT Dye?" - Big Boi on Bullseye

I’m not sure if these aren’t a bad idea, but summer is essentially made for questionable clothing choices (I’m looking at you, shorts). Lately, I’ve been thinking about dyed sneakers, which I suspect might look better on my screen than on my feet. On the other hand, they also look like they’d be really fun to wear this summer with beat-up chinos and casual shirts. Something for lounging around on lazy days. 

To get a pair, you have three options.

  • DIY. The first is to obviously make them yourself. Start off with a pair of white sneakers and dye them with one of the many at-home dyeing kits. RIT Dye is popular, and you can buy packet of it at Walmart, CVS, or Amazon. There are a ton of online guides that will show you how (start here, here, and here). Basically, the gist of it is: if you want a deeper color, such as these Chuck Taylors 3sixteen once dyed, you’ll want to use hot water and lots of a salt. Prepare the dye in a bucket, however, as the chemicals might stain your bathtub or sink. Then, dip your shoes in multiple times and let them air out in-between each dip. For a lighter color, such as these Chucks by Tenue de Nimes, just use warm water, don’t use a lot of salt, and don’t dip them in that much. To ensure the color doesn’t deepen, you can rinse them off afterwards. (Note: For a kind of dye that will fade with time, try Jacquard’s natural indigo. Just be careful the first few weeks, as the color might bleed a bit more than RIT Dye, which means you can wind up with blue feet and perhaps even blue floors).
  • Farmtown Denim. You can also go to Melissa Farmer, who’s a popular Reddit poster with an Etsy shop. She regularly dyes things for Reddit members for a small fee. At the moment, she has a pre-order for natural indigo dyed sneakers (she uses Jacquard, I’m told). You can get anything from Vans Authentics to Jack Purcells to Chuck Taylors, and she’ll provide the shoes. A great option if you, like me, are too lazy to do this process yourself. To see how her dyed shoes age, you can see check out the photos in this interview. 
  • Vans. Vans has a blue overwashed version of their popular Authentics this season. The upside to these is that they won’t bleed on you, and they’ll look broken in from day one. The downside is that you won’t get the experience of having dyed something yourself.

To get a sense of how these might look on your feet, check out our friend Travis Gumbs over at Street Etiquette. Noah Emrich also once dip dyed a pair of Tretorns in order to give them more of a two-tone gradient effect. 

(Photos via Vimeo, 3sixteenVans, and DIY Vat)

Notebooks
I’m a little late to the notebook party, but I picked up a pack of Moleskine Cahiers a few months ago and have found them to be incredibly useful. The Cahier is a small paper journal that differs from Moleskine’s other models in that it’s significantly smaller (measuring just 3.5” x 5.5”) and made with a soft, flexible cover (rather than the hardbacks that their more famous journals feature). They come in packs of three for about $9, but unsurprisingly, you can find them for a little cheaper on eBay. 
I mostly use my Cahier for writing down shopping and to-do lists, but when on the go, I find it’s also useful for keeping phone numbers, addresses, and directions that I might need to refer to later. I like that the back half of the notebook has perforated pages, so that I can easily tear things out once I’m done with them, and that the cover is simple and plain, rather than designed with some graphic. The back inside cover even has a small pocket where I can keep things such as return receipts and subway tickets.
Of course, there are dozens of other companies that make notebooks like this. Leuchtturm 1917’s Jottbook is similar to the Cahier, but has a few more features, such as numbered pages and a blank table of contents. Word is nice in that it has a unique “check off” system for people who primarily use these for to-do lists. Rhodia and Field Notes are good if you want something a bit more robust (useful if you keep your notebook in your back pocket, rather than jacket pocket). And Scout, Hit List, and Banditapple Carnet are better for use with fountain pens, while ELAN and Rite in Rain are made for use in the field.
For people who want their notebooks to look a bit more “hip,” check out Skilcraft, Calepino, Doane Paper, and these used by the US Department of Defense. If you have a bit of money to spend, there’s also this collaboration design between Midori and Nigel Cabourn. It features two broad arrow symbols, which were used in the mid-20th century on British military items. It looks quite handsome, even if the price is hard to swallow. For the opposite of that, there’s PocketMod, which is essentially a free notebook you can make yourself. 
(Photo via Hooman Majd, who’s seen above using a notebook from Muji)

Notebooks

I’m a little late to the notebook party, but I picked up a pack of Moleskine Cahiers a few months ago and have found them to be incredibly useful. The Cahier is a small paper journal that differs from Moleskine’s other models in that it’s significantly smaller (measuring just 3.5” x 5.5”) and made with a soft, flexible cover (rather than the hardbacks that their more famous journals feature). They come in packs of three for about $9, but unsurprisingly, you can find them for a little cheaper on eBay

I mostly use my Cahier for writing down shopping and to-do lists, but when on the go, I find it’s also useful for keeping phone numbers, addresses, and directions that I might need to refer to later. I like that the back half of the notebook has perforated pages, so that I can easily tear things out once I’m done with them, and that the cover is simple and plain, rather than designed with some graphic. The back inside cover even has a small pocket where I can keep things such as return receipts and subway tickets.

Of course, there are dozens of other companies that make notebooks like this. Leuchtturm 1917’s Jottbook is similar to the Cahier, but has a few more features, such as numbered pages and a blank table of contents. Word is nice in that it has a unique “check off” system for people who primarily use these for to-do lists. Rhodia and Field Notes are good if you want something a bit more robust (useful if you keep your notebook in your back pocket, rather than jacket pocket). And Scout, Hit List, and Banditapple Carnet are better for use with fountain pens, while ELAN and Rite in Rain are made for use in the field.

For people who want their notebooks to look a bit more “hip,” check out SkilcraftCalepinoDoane Paper, and these used by the US Department of Defense. If you have a bit of money to spend, there’s also this collaboration design between Midori and Nigel Cabourn. It features two broad arrow symbols, which were used in the mid-20th century on British military items. It looks quite handsome, even if the price is hard to swallow. For the opposite of that, there’s PocketMod, which is essentially a free notebook you can make yourself. 

(Photo via Hooman Majd, who’s seen above using a notebook from Muji)

Q and Answer: What Shoe Care Products Should You Consider (Part Two)
Over the weekend, one of our readers asked us for our opinion on which shoe care products he should consider buying, so we started with what’s most important. Today, we’ll cover some stuff that’s less essential, but can still be kind of nice to have if you’re really getting into shoe care. 
1. Cleaners: It’s good to wipe down your shoes every once in a while with a cleaner if you use wax polishes. Doing so helps removes build-up and allows the leather to best take in conditioner. Lexol and Saphir Reno’Mat work really well as general purpose cleaners, while Saddle Soap is a bit better for rugged workboots. When using these, make sure you use a sparing amount and go gently. This stuff can be powerful. 
Saphir also makes a special cleaner for suede shoes, though much of stain prevention can be done by spraying your suede shoes down with Allen Edmonds’ Waterproofer. 
2. Welt Brush: These are handy for brushing out the dirt that accumulates in the welt (the area where the sole meets the upper). A Suitable Wardrobe sells one made from pig bristle, but you could also just use a stiff bristled toothbrush. 
3. Shoeshine Mat: Shoeshine mats are completely superfluous, but I really like them. They’re used to protect the surface of your table as you work on your shoes. Obviously, newspaper is a much cheaper solution, but if you don’t mind spending the money, La Cordonnerie Anglaise and Valmour make some really nice leather options.
4. Solvent dispensers: If you want to bull your shoes, you have to put a little bit of water on your polishing cloth to build a shine. One way is to do this is to fill up a very small cap with water and dip your cloth into it every once in a while. Another is to lightly spit (a bit gross, admittedly, but this is where the term “spit shine” comes from). I personally use this solvent dispenser, which you can see in action here. Amazon has a bunch of other options as well. 
5. Deer bone: Deer bones are used help smooth out any small, superficial scuffs on shell cordovan. I own and use one, but unless you take some kind of pleasure in obscure shoe care techniques, I think you can get equally good results with the back of a spoon. 
6. Chamois cloth: I like to dust off my shoes before putting them on. Allen Edmonds’s horsehair brush is good for this, as is Saphir’s chamois cloth. 
7. Shoe bags: Speaking of dust, shoe bags are useful for keeping shoes dust free when they’re not in use. The company that made your shoes probably provided you with a free pair, but if you need replacements, our advertiser The Hanger Project and this seller on Amazon seem to have good options. 
8. Edge dressing: The edges of soles can get pretty scuffed up from wear, so every once in a while, it’s a good idea to “repaint” them. Saphir and Allen Edmonds make some pretty good tools for this. 
9. Boxes: Finally, you might need a box to hold all this stuff. I talked about a bunch of options in this post, but since writing that, I bought this box by Gerstner & Sons. I highly recommend them if you don’t mind spending the money. 

Q and Answer: What Shoe Care Products Should You Consider (Part Two)

Over the weekend, one of our readers asked us for our opinion on which shoe care products he should consider buying, so we started with what’s most important. Today, we’ll cover some stuff that’s less essential, but can still be kind of nice to have if you’re really getting into shoe care. 

1. Cleaners: It’s good to wipe down your shoes every once in a while with a cleaner if you use wax polishes. Doing so helps removes build-up and allows the leather to best take in conditioner. Lexol and Saphir Reno’Mat work really well as general purpose cleaners, while Saddle Soap is a bit better for rugged workboots. When using these, make sure you use a sparing amount and go gently. This stuff can be powerful. 

Saphir also makes a special cleaner for suede shoes, though much of stain prevention can be done by spraying your suede shoes down with Allen Edmonds’ Waterproofer

2. Welt Brush: These are handy for brushing out the dirt that accumulates in the welt (the area where the sole meets the upper). A Suitable Wardrobe sells one made from pig bristle, but you could also just use a stiff bristled toothbrush. 

3. Shoeshine Mat: Shoeshine mats are completely superfluous, but I really like them. They’re used to protect the surface of your table as you work on your shoes. Obviously, newspaper is a much cheaper solution, but if you don’t mind spending the money, La Cordonnerie Anglaise and Valmour make some really nice leather options.

4. Solvent dispensers: If you want to bull your shoes, you have to put a little bit of water on your polishing cloth to build a shine. One way is to do this is to fill up a very small cap with water and dip your cloth into it every once in a while. Another is to lightly spit (a bit gross, admittedly, but this is where the term “spit shine” comes from). I personally use this solvent dispenser, which you can see in action here. Amazon has a bunch of other options as well. 

5. Deer bone: Deer bones are used help smooth out any small, superficial scuffs on shell cordovan. I own and use one, but unless you take some kind of pleasure in obscure shoe care techniques, I think you can get equally good results with the back of a spoon. 

6. Chamois cloth: I like to dust off my shoes before putting them on. Allen Edmonds’s horsehair brush is good for this, as is Saphir’s chamois cloth

7. Shoe bags: Speaking of dust, shoe bags are useful for keeping shoes dust free when they’re not in use. The company that made your shoes probably provided you with a free pair, but if you need replacements, our advertiser The Hanger Project and this seller on Amazon seem to have good options. 

8. Edge dressing: The edges of soles can get pretty scuffed up from wear, so every once in a while, it’s a good idea to “repaint” them. Saphir and Allen Edmonds make some pretty good tools for this. 

9. Boxes: Finally, you might need a box to hold all this stuff. I talked about a bunch of options in this post, but since writing that, I bought this box by Gerstner & Sons. I highly recommend them if you don’t mind spending the money. 

The Unnecessary but Useful Sleeve Board
Ironing is a pretty simple and straightforward task that only requires an ironing board and iron. However, I’ve found it’s useful to have three other items on hand: a spray bottle, a plastic bag, and a sleeve board. The spray bottle is useful to help soften up the fabric and get the fibers to relax. Your iron should also have this function, but from my experience, a spray bottle always works better. After you’ve lightly sprayed down a few shirts with water, roll them up, and stick them in a plastic bag. Then, as you iron each one-by-one, the others will soak a little, instead of dry up.
The third item – the sleeve board – is useful for ironing sleeves or getting to hard-to-reach places (it’s also great for pressing seams if you sew). It’s similar to an ironing board, but it’s smaller and narrower. This allows you to slip your sleeve through and rotate it after each side has been ironed. The benefit it doing is this way is that you don’t have to constantly adjust your sleeves in order to make sure two layers of fabric are constantly flat. It also means you don’t have to worry about ironing in sharp creases at the edge of your shirt.
You can buy sleeve boards at any number of places. Amazon has a bunch and Target sells a model. Someone even posted an online tutorial on how to make your own. I personally got mine from WAWAK, a company that mostly sells to people in the tailoring trade. Theirs is made from a very sturdy plywood, and both sides have a padded slipover cover. Should you ever damage these covers, WAWAK sells replacements.
The upside to their model is that one side is perfectly built for sleeves while the other side is good for trousers. Of course, if you use this for trousers or jacket sleeves, you’ll want to use a pressing cloth, which WAWAK also sells. The downside, however, is that it’s not foldable or collapsible when you store it away. Something to consider if you’re tight on space. 

The Unnecessary but Useful Sleeve Board

Ironing is a pretty simple and straightforward task that only requires an ironing board and iron. However, I’ve found it’s useful to have three other items on hand: a spray bottle, a plastic bag, and a sleeve board. The spray bottle is useful to help soften up the fabric and get the fibers to relax. Your iron should also have this function, but from my experience, a spray bottle always works better. After you’ve lightly sprayed down a few shirts with water, roll them up, and stick them in a plastic bag. Then, as you iron each one-by-one, the others will soak a little, instead of dry up.

The third item – the sleeve board – is useful for ironing sleeves or getting to hard-to-reach places (it’s also great for pressing seams if you sew). It’s similar to an ironing board, but it’s smaller and narrower. This allows you to slip your sleeve through and rotate it after each side has been ironed. The benefit it doing is this way is that you don’t have to constantly adjust your sleeves in order to make sure two layers of fabric are constantly flat. It also means you don’t have to worry about ironing in sharp creases at the edge of your shirt.

You can buy sleeve boards at any number of places. Amazon has a bunch and Target sells a model. Someone even posted an online tutorial on how to make your own. I personally got mine from WAWAK, a company that mostly sells to people in the tailoring trade. Theirs is made from a very sturdy plywood, and both sides have a padded slipover cover. Should you ever damage these covers, WAWAK sells replacements.

The upside to their model is that one side is perfectly built for sleeves while the other side is good for trousers. Of course, if you use this for trousers or jacket sleeves, you’ll want to use a pressing cloth, which WAWAK also sells. The downside, however, is that it’s not foldable or collapsible when you store it away. Something to consider if you’re tight on space. 

Seasonal Transitions
Spring officially starts next week, which means now is a good time to start thinking about whether or not you’d like to store away your winter wardrobe. This can help protect your off-season clothes from moths and make much needed room for spring and summer items. Things such as heavy boots, tweeds, and sweaters can take up a lot of space, and a crowded closet can potentially damage tailored jackets, as well as just generally be a nuisance to deal with.
Before packing things away, however, make sure you give everything a good cleaning. Food bits and human odor can attract insects, so a dry clean or wash will be necessary. You’ll also want to check the pockets on everything to make sure you’re not storing away anything important.
For storage, I like to use cloth garment bags, as they’re more breathable than plastic. You can buy some decent ones for about $15 through Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond, though if you have the money, our advertiser The Hanger Project also sells a rather nice model for $65. For sweaters and shoes, I mostly use plastic bins, but lately have been considering getting under-the-bed canvas storage units. Whichever one you choose for yourself, take care to put heavier sweaters at the bottom, and don’t pack things in too tightly. That way, your thinner, lightweight knits won’t come out wrinkled by the time fall rolls around. You may also want to consider throwing in some cedar or lavender sachets with your knitwear, as they’ll help deter dreaded moths and silverfish from finding your clothes and snacking on them.
Finally, consider donating anything you haven’t worn either to a local Goodwill or a charity that will pick up your clothes for free. This site can help you schedule a pick-up for the second. For things that might be too expensive to give away, maybe make a note about what you’d like to sell. eBay is a great place to recoup some of the money you’ve spent, but you’ll want to wait until September before you list. From my experience, seasonal items tend to sell a bit better during their appropriate seasons. Those few extra dollars can make you feel a bit better about having to sell something you were reluctant to part with. 

Seasonal Transitions

Spring officially starts next week, which means now is a good time to start thinking about whether or not you’d like to store away your winter wardrobe. This can help protect your off-season clothes from moths and make much needed room for spring and summer items. Things such as heavy boots, tweeds, and sweaters can take up a lot of space, and a crowded closet can potentially damage tailored jackets, as well as just generally be a nuisance to deal with.

Before packing things away, however, make sure you give everything a good cleaning. Food bits and human odor can attract insects, so a dry clean or wash will be necessary. You’ll also want to check the pockets on everything to make sure you’re not storing away anything important.

For storage, I like to use cloth garment bags, as they’re more breathable than plastic. You can buy some decent ones for about $15 through Amazon and Bed, Bath & Beyond, though if you have the money, our advertiser The Hanger Project also sells a rather nice model for $65. For sweaters and shoes, I mostly use plastic bins, but lately have been considering getting under-the-bed canvas storage units. Whichever one you choose for yourself, take care to put heavier sweaters at the bottom, and don’t pack things in too tightly. That way, your thinner, lightweight knits won’t come out wrinkled by the time fall rolls around. You may also want to consider throwing in some cedar or lavender sachets with your knitwear, as they’ll help deter dreaded moths and silverfish from finding your clothes and snacking on them.

Finally, consider donating anything you haven’t worn either to a local Goodwill or a charity that will pick up your clothes for free. This site can help you schedule a pick-up for the second. For things that might be too expensive to give away, maybe make a note about what you’d like to sell. eBay is a great place to recoup some of the money you’ve spent, but you’ll want to wait until September before you list. From my experience, seasonal items tend to sell a bit better during their appropriate seasons. Those few extra dollars can make you feel a bit better about having to sell something you were reluctant to part with. 

MyHabit.com, the flash sale site owned and operated by Amazon, has recently been in the business of kicking the tail of its competitors. They’ve had great brands, and they have Amazon-level logistics. Old Gilt fans will remember the days when you’d order something and it would show up the next day. MyHabit’s still on that. Rare are the orders that don’t show up within three or four business days. Plus: shipping and returns are free.
Right now they’re having a big inventory clearance. It started this morning so a lot of stuff is gone, but there’s still a lot left. I love the Facconable shirt-jacket above, which is about $200. This Gant by Michael Bastian down vest is awesome (in XL and XXL only). There are Facconable chinos in a number of sizes and colors still left. There’s a ton of Hickey Freeman outerwear at very reasonable prices. I love this C’N’C Costume Nacional field coat, which is a hundred bucks. There’s even a few Cucinelli cashmere pieces.
If you don’t already have an account, this is our referral link - we get a little kickback if you sign up.

MyHabit.com, the flash sale site owned and operated by Amazon, has recently been in the business of kicking the tail of its competitors. They’ve had great brands, and they have Amazon-level logistics. Old Gilt fans will remember the days when you’d order something and it would show up the next day. MyHabit’s still on that. Rare are the orders that don’t show up within three or four business days. Plus: shipping and returns are free.

Right now they’re having a big inventory clearance. It started this morning so a lot of stuff is gone, but there’s still a lot left. I love the Facconable shirt-jacket above, which is about $200. This Gant by Michael Bastian down vest is awesome (in XL and XXL only). There are Facconable chinos in a number of sizes and colors still left. There’s a ton of Hickey Freeman outerwear at very reasonable prices. I love this C’N’C Costume Nacional field coat, which is a hundred bucks. There’s even a few Cucinelli cashmere pieces.

If you don’t already have an account, this is our referral link - we get a little kickback if you sign up.

NYT: Amazon Plans Its Next Conquest: Your Closet
Amazon’s getting serious about apparel, but it means stepping into a particularly dangerous minefield. Their focus has been price - offering commodity products for less than their competitors. The fashion business is distinctly uncomfortable with that prospect.They want fancy presentation and pricing that preserves their mystique (and margins).
Still, this is big news for consumers. I had no idea, for example, that if I type “Jack Spade” into the Amazon search bar, I’ll find hundreds of products. Their flash sale offering, MyHabit, is catching up to industry leader (and category creator) Gilt Groupe, as well. Today, for example, it’s offering sales on Gant Rugger and Luciano Barbera. We’ll see where it’s heading, but it’s tough to see it breaking bad for those of us who like to shop online.

NYT: Amazon Plans Its Next Conquest: Your Closet

Amazon’s getting serious about apparel, but it means stepping into a particularly dangerous minefield. Their focus has been price - offering commodity products for less than their competitors. The fashion business is distinctly uncomfortable with that prospect.They want fancy presentation and pricing that preserves their mystique (and margins).

Still, this is big news for consumers. I had no idea, for example, that if I type “Jack Spade” into the Amazon search bar, I’ll find hundreds of products. Their flash sale offering, MyHabit, is catching up to industry leader (and category creator) Gilt Groupe, as well. Today, for example, it’s offering sales on Gant Rugger and Luciano Barbera. We’ll see where it’s heading, but it’s tough to see it breaking bad for those of us who like to shop online.

Amazon is offering 30% off all shoes sold by them. Includes Red Wings, Allen Edmonds, Clarks, Ralph Lauren, Martegani, Sorel, Wolverine 1000 Mile Boots and others.  (Discount is applied at checkout, and there’s a $75 minimum.)