The Beaten Barbour
The jacket I wore most frequently this past fall and winter was my Barbour. I rewaxed it myself (a messy process I don’t look forward to repeating) and I enjoyed wearing it for its functionality.
The game pocket is great for stashing gloves, hats and scarves. The handwarmers are a relief if you were too stupid to remember gloves. Plus, there’s that awesome waxed cotton smell. 
The Rugged Club posted photos of this vintage Barbour Border jacket you see above, which has been around since 1987. At around a quarter-century old, it’s still performing for him. Beaten, but not dead, it’s impressive for any garment to last so long. 
Barbour jackets aren’t cheap, but you can find them regularly on eBay — we list them quite frequently on our eBay round ups and Inside Track — which is where I found mine. If my Barbour lasts this long, then I think it’ll have been worth the price. 
-Kiyoshi

The Beaten Barbour

The jacket I wore most frequently this past fall and winter was my Barbour. I rewaxed it myself (a messy process I don’t look forward to repeating) and I enjoyed wearing it for its functionality.

The game pocket is great for stashing gloves, hats and scarves. The handwarmers are a relief if you were too stupid to remember gloves. Plus, there’s that awesome waxed cotton smell. 

The Rugged Club posted photos of this vintage Barbour Border jacket you see above, which has been around since 1987. At around a quarter-century old, it’s still performing for him. Beaten, but not dead, it’s impressive for any garment to last so long. 

Barbour jackets aren’t cheap, but you can find them regularly on eBay — we list them quite frequently on our eBay round ups and Inside Track — which is where I found mine. If my Barbour lasts this long, then I think it’ll have been worth the price. 

-Kiyoshi

The Transitional Shirt Jacket

The weather’s still pretty chilly where I live, but in a month’s time, it’ll hit those cool temperatures that’ll remind us summer’s not too far away. If you have a very casual American sense of style, a good garment to rely on for such transitional periods is the shirt jacket. The term “shirt jacket” can be pretty nebulous. I’ve seen Italians use it to refer to things many would just consider outerwear. Here in the States, however, it commonly refers to shirts that fit like jackets, and have a certain outdoorsy, workwearish, lumberjack-y feel. They’re not for everyone, to be sure, but if you want something very casual to wear with jeans and boots, these can be fairly useful on casual nights while strolling through the neighborhood.

The most well known in this field is probably Pendleton’s board shirt, which from my experience fits kind of baggy, but you can have a tailor take in the sides a bit. Filson’s Jac-Shirt is somewhat similar, but is made from a more substantial cloth. For something a bit more “fashionable,” you can consider Apolis, Orlebar Brown, Barbour, and United. Engineered Garments and Woolrich Woolen Mills can also usually be relied on for good options, although this season, I’ve only seen ones made from shinier fabrics (which may or may not suit your style). I also like Aspesi’s many takes on classic military designs. They’re slimmer fitting than what you’d typically find in military surplus store, and while they’re inspired by military garments, they won’t leave you looking like Robert De Niro from the film Taxi Driver.

All of these brands are a bit expensive, but they’ll come down 50% or more by the end of the season. If you’d like something more affordable now, there’s Club Monaco and Penfield. The second is particularly good to check in with every once in a while if you’re on a tight budget and in need of some outerwear.

Another option is to just use a moleskin or chamois shirt as a layering piece. LL Bean’s mainline has a very well priced one, and it fits surprisingly well. I’m a size 36 chest and fit nicely into their extra-small. My only complaint is the tonal buttons, but you can easily swap those out to something more agreeable if you’d like. Filson also seems to have a nice moleskins option, though I’ve never tried it. If you’d like something slimmer, you can try LL Bean Signature’s chamois shirt. The cloth isn’t as heavy or thick as their mainline chamois, and the cut is considerably shorter, but it could give a slightly more fashionable look to someone with a slim build. Epaulet also has a really nice looking moleskin jacket, though I admit I think people should at least give the LL Bean’s moleskin shirt a spin before they jump on a pricier option.

50% off at North River Outfitter

North River Outfitter is running a 50% off promo through Gilt City Boston.
Options are $50 for a $100 gift certificate or $100 for $200 gift certificate. The promotion doesn’t apply to Alden, Omersa or Church’s, but they do have some nice things by Barbour, JW Hulme, Bill’s Khakis, and Tellason.

Note, I wasn’t able to confirm with them if this promotion applies to phone or web orders (they won’t pick up the phone!), so you may want to call at a later point and check. 

Update: It looks like this is indeed in-store only. Good news for people who live in Boston. Bugger for the rest of us. 

December Fair Isle
December is one of the last months you can best wear Fair Isle. They’re not holiday sweaters, but there’s something holiday feeling about them, and while they look great in the fall, I think they look best in the winter. You can stretch them out to maybe about January, but past that, they start to lose their appeal.
A Fair Isle sweater, for those unfamiliar, is a type of knitwear garment that uses a distinctive geometric motif originating from the remote Fair Isle island. They were originally made from undyed wool, so they came in various shades of brown and grey, but nowadays they’re mostly recognized for their very colorful patterning. The best ones, in my opinion, still use the traditional Fair Isle knitting technique: two strands of yarn are knitted throughout an entire row, and continually intertwined on the “wrong” side of the garment. This creates an almost double-thick knit that can lend a lot of warmth.
Now, to be sure, there’s a lot of ugly Fair Isle around, but that can be said about almost anything. The key is to find one you like, and know how to wear it best. I have this tobacco, moss, and oatmeal one from Drake’s, and usually layer it underneath a coat, just so the pattern isn’t too overwhelming. You can see an example here, where I’ve paired the Drake’s sweater with a Loden coat by Aspesi. You can, of course, also wear the sweater without the extra layer, but generally, I find that the louder the pattern, the better it looks when layered underneath something more subdued.
There are plenty of places that sell Fair Isle sweaters. Traditional clothiers such as J. Press and O’Connell’s regularly stock them, as do stores on the slightly more fashionable side of classic, such as Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Gant. You can also find a selection by Jamieson and Barbour at Oi Polloi, William Fox and Sons at Present London, and Howlin by Morrison at End Clothing. For more affordable options, turn to Land’s End and J. Crew. Both of those merchants regularly discount their stock by 30-40%, and a full array of sizes is usually still available once they hit their sales.
Finally, if you’d like one custom made, check out Spirit of Shetland and Louise Irvine. As usual with online made-to-measure garments, you want to take multiple measurements and figure out the averages before you submit your numbers. And when in doubt, err on the side of large. You can always wear something that’s just a touch too big, but you’ll never wear something that’s too small.

December Fair Isle

December is one of the last months you can best wear Fair Isle. They’re not holiday sweaters, but there’s something holiday feeling about them, and while they look great in the fall, I think they look best in the winter. You can stretch them out to maybe about January, but past that, they start to lose their appeal.

A Fair Isle sweater, for those unfamiliar, is a type of knitwear garment that uses a distinctive geometric motif originating from the remote Fair Isle island. They were originally made from undyed wool, so they came in various shades of brown and grey, but nowadays they’re mostly recognized for their very colorful patterning. The best ones, in my opinion, still use the traditional Fair Isle knitting technique: two strands of yarn are knitted throughout an entire row, and continually intertwined on the “wrong” side of the garment. This creates an almost double-thick knit that can lend a lot of warmth.

Now, to be sure, there’s a lot of ugly Fair Isle around, but that can be said about almost anything. The key is to find one you like, and know how to wear it best. I have this tobacco, moss, and oatmeal one from Drake’s, and usually layer it underneath a coat, just so the pattern isn’t too overwhelming. You can see an example here, where I’ve paired the Drake’s sweater with a Loden coat by Aspesi. You can, of course, also wear the sweater without the extra layer, but generally, I find that the louder the pattern, the better it looks when layered underneath something more subdued.

There are plenty of places that sell Fair Isle sweaters. Traditional clothiers such as J. Press and O’Connell’s regularly stock them, as do stores on the slightly more fashionable side of classic, such as Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Gant. You can also find a selection by Jamieson and Barbour at Oi Polloi, William Fox and Sons at Present London, and Howlin by Morrison at End Clothing. For more affordable options, turn to Land’s End and J. Crew. Both of those merchants regularly discount their stock by 30-40%, and a full array of sizes is usually still available once they hit their sales.

Finally, if you’d like one custom made, check out Spirit of Shetland and Louise Irvine. As usual with online made-to-measure garments, you want to take multiple measurements and figure out the averages before you submit your numbers. And when in doubt, err on the side of large. You can always wear something that’s just a touch too big, but you’ll never wear something that’s too small.

It’s On Sale: J. Crew’s Third-Party Brands

J. Crew is offering 25% off orders over $150 or 30% off orders over $250, as well as free shipping, when you use the coupon code WINTER.

This normally wouldn’t be that interesting since J. Crew offers 25-30% discount coupons frequently, but this time, it appears you can apply it to their third-party brands (something they rarely allow). Perhaps they’ll take these off later today, but for the moment, that yields the following deals:

Take a look at their "In Good Company" section for more deals.

It’s on Sale: Best of Black Friday Deals on Wardrobe Basics

Our list of Thanksgiving holiday sales and discount codes continues to grow and be updated. Black Friday deals are hard to judge if they’re the best best price you’ll see on an item, however, it’s usually a good time to purchase items that fall under the umbrella of wardrobe basics that don’t go on end-of-season clearance. 

The 30% off sale at Lands’ End produces several great deals, especially if you stack it with their clearance section, but it’s a good time to get a deal on basics, too. Their Hyde Park OCBDs come to $34.30 — just use code WONDERLAND with PIN 2126

3sixteen has their raw selvedge denim on sale. Offering 10% off might not seem like a huge deal, but it’s rare they ever discount their jeans — in fact, they often sell out and the price keeps going up for a pair at retail ever year. I’m a huge fan of their SL-100x and Derek’s also praised his pair as well, too. Price comes to $198 with code BF2012 and sale ends tonight.

And if you need a cheaper pair of jeans, Levi’s 501s are 40% off with code BLKFRI, bringing their dark-rinse pair to $46.80. 

If you live in a place that snows and don’t have winter boots yet, then I’d recommend picking up a pair of L.L.Bean Boots, which are on sale for $89.10 with code THANKS10, which knocks 10% off and you get free shipping. They’ve lasted me through two Chicago winters and will probably last many more. 

If you need neckwear, The Knottery’s 25% off (code: GOBBLE) sale gives you silk knit ties for $18.75 and silk grenadines for $41.25 — both are an incredible deal. Derek’s reviewed both previously. 

If you’re looking for affordable chinos, Ralph Lauren’s “Preston” chinos are on sale for $44.99 and come with free shipping. Four colors and a whole bunch of sizes still in stock. 

Finally, if you’ve been thinking of getting a Barbour waxed cotton jacket, check out End Clothing’s selection. They’re offering 25% off your entire order and they deduct VAT for U.S. customers. That brings a jacket like the Ashby to $198.75. 

For our readers in or near Milford, New Hampshire: Barbour is having a big warehouse sale this weekend and next at their headquarters, located at 55 Meadowbrook Drive. Thousands of items are being discounted up to 80%. Reports on Styleforum say there are
Shirts for $10
Sweaters between $10 and $25 
Jackets between $50 and $150 (including pieces from the To Ki To and McQueen collections)
Bedales and Beauforts for about $250
Tons of women’s outerwear
Footwear starting around $25 
Everything is final sale, and each customer is limited to twelve items. Hours of operation are between 9AM and 6PM. Call (603) 249-2263 for directions. 
(Photo by Dave_SFU)

For our readers in or near Milford, New Hampshire: Barbour is having a big warehouse sale this weekend and next at their headquarters, located at 55 Meadowbrook Drive. Thousands of items are being discounted up to 80%. Reports on Styleforum say there are

  • Shirts for $10
  • Sweaters between $10 and $25 
  • Jackets between $50 and $150 (including pieces from the To Ki To and McQueen collections)
  • Bedales and Beauforts for about $250
  • Tons of women’s outerwear
  • Footwear starting around $25 

Everything is final sale, and each customer is limited to twelve items. Hours of operation are between 9AM and 6PM. Call (603) 249-2263 for directions. 

(Photo by Dave_SFU)

It’s On Sale: Barbour International
Barbour International on sale at Bloomingdales for $209.50. Free shipping to boot. 
Note that if you want, you can take off the Barbour logo patch with a seam ripper, but you should do it as soon as you get it, so that the jacket doesn’t fade unevenly. 

It’s On Sale: Barbour International

Barbour International on sale at Bloomingdales for $209.50. Free shipping to boot. 

Note that if you want, you can take off the Barbour logo patch with a seam ripper, but you should do it as soon as you get it, so that the jacket doesn’t fade unevenly. 

Find Cover
It’s beginning to drizzle where I live, so I’ve been thinking about umbrellas a lot. The Chinese are said to have invented the first version during the Xia Dynasty, and there is some evidence that the Greeks had them as well. It wasn’t until the mid-18th century, however, that umbrellas were first used in England, and when they were introduced, they weren’t terribly popular. Nicholas Storey once recalled an anecdote by John MacDonald, who said that when he ventured forth with an umbrella in 1770, he was greeted with a heckle - "Frenchman, Frenchman, why don’t you call a coach?!" 
Today, an umbrella can be considered an essential for most men, and there are three general classes to choose from. The first class is the cheap, flimsy variety you find at places such as CVS for about $10. Those should be avoided. They only last a season or two, and even when they’re new, they’re unpleasant to use. It’s much better, I think, to pay the extra money to get something from the second class - reliable, industrially produced umbrellas. These start at about $16, but can go as high as $150. On the low-end of the spectrum, there’s Totes, which costs about $16 (use the discount code belt10). The handle is made out of a dark plastic that’s made to look like wood. It’s not the most elegant of materials, but it’s not terrible for the price. It’s also reasonably sturdy, and quite a good value for $16.  
A slight step above are Brooks Brothers and Barbour. These have slightly better finished wood handles, nicer detailing, and tastefully patterned canopies. Brooks discounts theirs by 25% every mid-season, and about 50% at the end of the season. At their sale prices, they’re especially good buys. A step above still are Davek and London Undercover. Davek’s umbrellas are especially nice in that they come with a lifetime guarantee, and should you ever lose yours, they’ll replace it for half the retail cost. They also have a slightly more modern feel than the other umbrellas discussed here, should you prefer that. 
The third class are artisanal or luxury-end umbrellas. In England, these include James Smith and Sons (the first umbrella shop in England), Swaine Adeney Brigg, and Fox Umbrellas Ltd. In Italy, there’s Mario Talarico, Francesco Maglia, and Passotti. These umbrellas tend to be handmade out of the best materials and constructed to the highest standards. The shafts and handles are made from Malacca, whangee, ebony, chestnut, rosewood, or sometimes even animal horn. Many come with full stick constructions, meaning that the handle and shaft are made from a single piece a wood. This is achieved with a lot of pressure, time, and steam. These are the finest umbrellas you can buy, and they’re a joy to use, but they’re also quite expensive. Most of them start around $175, and they can go as high as $1,000. Should you be in the market for one, you can visit any of those makers’ websites I linked, or check out the options at Shrine, Howard Yount, Under Knot, and Rain or Shine.
In the end, whatever you choose - either a $16 Totes or $1,000 Brigg - these should keep your dry for many seasons to come. And if someone calls you a Frenchman, you can probably be sure they read Nicholas Storey or Put This On (or you’re an actual Frenchman). 

Find Cover

It’s beginning to drizzle where I live, so I’ve been thinking about umbrellas a lot. The Chinese are said to have invented the first version during the Xia Dynasty, and there is some evidence that the Greeks had them as well. It wasn’t until the mid-18th century, however, that umbrellas were first used in England, and when they were introduced, they weren’t terribly popular. Nicholas Storey once recalled an anecdote by John MacDonald, who said that when he ventured forth with an umbrella in 1770, he was greeted with a heckle - "Frenchman, Frenchman, why don’t you call a coach?!" 

Today, an umbrella can be considered an essential for most men, and there are three general classes to choose from. The first class is the cheap, flimsy variety you find at places such as CVS for about $10. Those should be avoided. They only last a season or two, and even when they’re new, they’re unpleasant to use. It’s much better, I think, to pay the extra money to get something from the second class - reliable, industrially produced umbrellas. These start at about $16, but can go as high as $150. On the low-end of the spectrum, there’s Totes, which costs about $16 (use the discount code belt10). The handle is made out of a dark plastic that’s made to look like wood. It’s not the most elegant of materials, but it’s not terrible for the price. It’s also reasonably sturdy, and quite a good value for $16.  

A slight step above are Brooks Brothers and Barbour. These have slightly better finished wood handles, nicer detailing, and tastefully patterned canopies. Brooks discounts theirs by 25% every mid-season, and about 50% at the end of the season. At their sale prices, they’re especially good buys. A step above still are Davek and London Undercover. Davek’s umbrellas are especially nice in that they come with a lifetime guarantee, and should you ever lose yours, they’ll replace it for half the retail cost. They also have a slightly more modern feel than the other umbrellas discussed here, should you prefer that. 

The third class are artisanal or luxury-end umbrellas. In England, these include James Smith and Sons (the first umbrella shop in England), Swaine Adeney Brigg, and Fox Umbrellas Ltd. In Italy, there’s Mario Talarico, Francesco Maglia, and Passotti. These umbrellas tend to be handmade out of the best materials and constructed to the highest standards. The shafts and handles are made from Malacca, whangee, ebony, chestnut, rosewood, or sometimes even animal horn. Many come with full stick constructions, meaning that the handle and shaft are made from a single piece a wood. This is achieved with a lot of pressure, time, and steam. These are the finest umbrellas you can buy, and they’re a joy to use, but they’re also quite expensive. Most of them start around $175, and they can go as high as $1,000. Should you be in the market for one, you can visit any of those makers’ websites I linked, or check out the options at Shrine, Howard Yount, Under Knot, and Rain or Shine.

In the end, whatever you choose - either a $16 Totes or $1,000 Brigg - these should keep your dry for many seasons to come. And if someone calls you a Frenchman, you can probably be sure they read Nicholas Storey or Put This On (or you’re an actual Frenchman). 

Your Fall/ Winter Scarf

As the temperatures begin to dip, it will be important for you to have a few scarves on hand. If it’s cold enough, you’ll obviously wear yours with an overcoat or some kind of heavy winter outerwear. If it’s not, however, a scarf can be even more important, as it may be your only source of warmth. 

When buying one, it’s important to pay attention to a few key things:

  • Material: Generally speaking, cashmere will be softer and warmer than wool or lambswool, but it really depends on the quality. A lambswool/ angora blend by Alex Begg, for example, will be nicer than any cheap cashmere. You can also get scarves in either silk or cotton, but those tend to not be as warm. Whichever you choose, I recommend staying away from acrylic. There are too many affordable, good scarves, made from natural materials, to justify buying an acrylic scarf. 
  • Nap and size: Pay attention to the size and nap. I personally prefer scarves to be around 70” long, and never go below 63”. As Will from A Suitable Wardrobe shows, if your scarf is too short, you won’t be able to tie it. You’ll also want to pay attention to the width. If your scarf is too thin, it will hang like a silly noodle around your neck. Lastly, note that rougher materials, such as some lambswools, will be more difficult to tie into knots.
  • Color and patterns: As I’ve written before, I think scarves are worn best when they complement, but not match, the rest of your ensemble. That means picking one with complementary colors or a secondary color that matches your jacket or coat. I personally find solid colored scarves, or those with plaids, windowpanes, and stripes, to be the easiest to wear, but you can also get scarves in Fair Isle, dip dye, or houndstooth designs. 

So with that, what are some of your best options? 

Of course, there are hundreds of good scarves to be had, so the above list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. If you’re on the market to buy one, however, the above can be a good place to start.