The Simplest Casual Look
Although I enjoy wearing tailored clothes on weekdays, I dress pretty casually on weekends. Lately, that’s meant dark blue jeans with a clean white t-shirt and a nice, brown leather jacket. For shoes, I wear either sneakers or boots, and if it’s cold outside, I layer with a heathered grey sweatshirt. I find it’s one of the simplest, easiest looks you can put together, and depending on your lifestyle, very well suited to casual weekend activities with friends.
For jeans, I really like 3sixteen’s SL-100x model. It’s a slim straight-legged cut made from a medium-weight selvedge denim that doesn’t bag as easily as other brands’. I’ve also been admiring their premium 3sixteen+ line, as well as Flat Heads 3009s and Iron Heart 634s. Those are made from unsanforized denim, which Kiya at Self Edge tells us will yield more interesting fades over time (without the need to forgo washing, thankfully). For something more affordable, check out Albam, Gustin, and Uniqlo’s Made in Japan offerings.
For the t-shirt, I stick to a pretty basic Hanes’ Beefy-T (I get the one with a chest pocket). It has a stoutness that I think works well with this kind of look, and it can be easily found on sale for about $6. Jesse has also recommended Costco’s Kirkland t-shirts for this sort of thing. For something thinner and stretchier, check out Alternative Apparel, which Jesse does bulk orders on every summer, and American Apparel. Levis also has a nice model that’s in between the toughness of Hanes and the fineness of the last two brands.
Finally, there’s the leather jacket. These can get astoundingly expensive, but it’s worth buying the best you can afford. Just as you can get away with a pair of cheap chinos and dress shirt if you have a really nice fitting sport coat, you can skimp on the jeans and t-shirt if you have a really beautiful leather jacket. 
Some of the best makers here include Good Wear Leather, Bill Kelso, The Real McCoys, Eastman, and Aero. These brands specialize in making reproductions of vintage flight jackets, and they make them as tough as the originals. Temple of Jawnz is also a favorite among style enthusiasts. They’re sadly closing up shop in a month, but are doing one last call for custom orders. 
The price points for any of these is pretty expensive. We’re talking $750 to $1,500 for a jacket, and some even have waiting lists that stretch back a year. As usual, a more affordable option would be trawling eBay and vintage stores, but what you save in money, you’ll spend in time. You could also go for a similarly rugged jacket style, but one not made from leather. One of my favorite stores, Bench & Loom, has some really handsome pieces, and they’re holding a 20% off sale with the code SPRING20. The code is good for both sweaters and outerwear, with some brands being excluded (Mister Freedom, Schott NYC, Buzz Rickson, and The Real McCoys).

The Simplest Casual Look

Although I enjoy wearing tailored clothes on weekdays, I dress pretty casually on weekends. Lately, that’s meant dark blue jeans with a clean white t-shirt and a nice, brown leather jacket. For shoes, I wear either sneakers or boots, and if it’s cold outside, I layer with a heathered grey sweatshirt. I find it’s one of the simplest, easiest looks you can put together, and depending on your lifestyle, very well suited to casual weekend activities with friends.

For jeans, I really like 3sixteen’s SL-100x model. It’s a slim straight-legged cut made from a medium-weight selvedge denim that doesn’t bag as easily as other brands’. I’ve also been admiring their premium 3sixteen+ line, as well as Flat Heads 3009s and Iron Heart 634s. Those are made from unsanforized denim, which Kiya at Self Edge tells us will yield more interesting fades over time (without the need to forgo washing, thankfully). For something more affordable, check out Albam, Gustin, and Uniqlo’s Made in Japan offerings.

For the t-shirt, I stick to a pretty basic Hanes’ Beefy-T (I get the one with a chest pocket). It has a stoutness that I think works well with this kind of look, and it can be easily found on sale for about $6. Jesse has also recommended Costco’s Kirkland t-shirts for this sort of thing. For something thinner and stretchier, check out Alternative Apparel, which Jesse does bulk orders on every summer, and American Apparel. Levis also has a nice model that’s in between the toughness of Hanes and the fineness of the last two brands.

Finally, there’s the leather jacket. These can get astoundingly expensive, but it’s worth buying the best you can afford. Just as you can get away with a pair of cheap chinos and dress shirt if you have a really nice fitting sport coat, you can skimp on the jeans and t-shirt if you have a really beautiful leather jacket. 

Some of the best makers here include Good Wear Leather, Bill Kelso, The Real McCoys, Eastman, and Aero. These brands specialize in making reproductions of vintage flight jackets, and they make them as tough as the originals. Temple of Jawnz is also a favorite among style enthusiasts. They’re sadly closing up shop in a month, but are doing one last call for custom orders

The price points for any of these is pretty expensive. We’re talking $750 to $1,500 for a jacket, and some even have waiting lists that stretch back a year. As usual, a more affordable option would be trawling eBay and vintage stores, but what you save in money, you’ll spend in time. You could also go for a similarly rugged jacket style, but one not made from leather. One of my favorite stores, Bench & Loom, has some really handsome pieces, and they’re holding a 20% off sale with the code SPRING20. The code is good for both sweaters and outerwear, with some brands being excluded (Mister Freedom, Schott NYC, Buzz Rickson, and The Real McCoys).

A Basic Cashmere Wardrobe for Men

It doesn’t get much more versatile than a simple v-neck sweater in a basic, solid color. It doesn’t get much more classic, either. Build yourself a wardrobe of three pieces, and you’ll be set for years.

Above are three of the most basic colors: burgundy, navy and gray. If you wear a lot of monochromatic palettes, or want something to wear out at night, you could add black to that list (though gray is more versatile, and can usually fill in fine for black). Camel can also be a nice choice. These are pieces that go with everything from jeans to a suit, and add sophistication and comfort to every outfit you wear.

I like cashmere for my v-necks. It’s warmer relative to its weight than wool, and of course it’s exceptionally soft, as well. It’s also one of the few fabrics that gets better with age. High-quality cashmere, with reasonably attentive care, can last very nearly forever. I think that this is a wardrobe element that’s essential enough that you should look for the best.

But where do you get the good stuff? I wrote a quick guide to finding quality cashmere, but I’ll summarize (OK, probably expand) here.

There’s plenty of passable cashmere on the market today - far more than ever before. You can buy cashmere sweaters for $80 at Costco, $150 at Lands’ End or $198 at J. Crew. That Lands’ End sweater is decent quality, but it’s still expensive, and it’s not the good stuff. It won’t last, look as nice, or feel as good.

As the cashmere market has exploded over the past fifteen years or so, the breadth of quality available has expanded dramatically. All cashmere is not created equal. Cashmere’s quality depends on the quality of the fiber, the quality of the milling, and the quality of the garment’s construction. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that there’s no difference.

Good cashmere is made from the longest fibers. It is dense, resilient and lightweight (though it may be offered in multiple layers, or plys). The texture should almost approach a cotton jersey. It will also (new) be a little less soft than the cheap stuff. The short fibers in cheap cashmere are loose right from the start, so they feel soft to the touch. They’ll pill and tear. The best cashmere feels smooth as much as it feels soft. Go to a super-fancy store, and touch some Loro Piana branded cashmere, and you’ll get a feeling for what I’m talking about.

Of course, great cashmere has become surpassingly expensive. A Loro Piana cashmere sweater can cost as much as $1500, and one by a less-well-advertised maker like Drumohr can still go for $500 or more. Perhaps you can swing this, in which case more power to you, but for most of us, that’s cost-prohibitive.

There is good news, however. Because good cashmere wears so well, and because almost all cashmere was top-of-the-line until fifteen or so years ago, used is a tremendous option.

For $30-60, you can buy a pristine Scottish cashmere sweater (Scottish cashmere, by the way, is what you want), from a luxury maker. Look for something from the 1980s or earlier, with a smooth, tight hand. It should be made in Scotland, either for a fancy store (Saks, Nordstrom, Brooks, Wilkes, Niemans, that kind of thing) or by one of the big Scottish cashmere brands (Pringle, Drumohr, etc.). Look for something sized by chest size, not S-M-L-XL. Focus on the basic colors we’ve identified above. If it’s pilling, has holes or stains, leave it be.

When you’re shopping, take your time. The perfect piece may not come along right away, but it will come. These are basics, after all.

Once you’ve got your sweater - or sweaters - care for them gently. Hand-wash them only when they really need it (once a year or so). They’ll actually get softer with age. If you wear through the elbows, add patches. If you get a snag, have it rewoven. Take care of them, and they’ll keep you warm and stylish for a healthy chunk of the rest of your life.

Q and Answer: What’s the best white tee?
D2F asks: Do you  have any suggestions for good, long lasting plain white t’s? 
Most white tees simply won’t last too long. White will yellow with laundering, sweat and soil no matter what you do. Good laundry habits will certainly help (wash your shirts soon after wearing), but the white t-shirt is essentially a disposable item.
With that in mind, I have three recommendations.
For everyday wear, I really like Alternative Apparel, which is why we’re selling them this week. They’re very, very soft, a little bit fine with nice stretch, have a reasonably slim fit and are a nice medium between long enough to tuck in and too long to wear untucked.
If you prefer a stouter cloth, I really like the Kirkland brand tees sold at Costco. They’re a little boxier and a lot heavier. They’re not really soft, but they’re very sturdy and very cheap. They’ve been replaced in my wardrobe by Alternative, but are still a very solid choice.
For undershirts, I’ve been really happy with the shirts that our long-time advertiser Ribbed Tee have sent me. They’re about ten bucks apiece, and they’re designed as undershirts, not as undershirt-outershirt hybrids. That means they’re pretty long and they’re ribbed to fit close. As I wrote before, I love the softness of the modal-blend shirts, but they also pill a bit and feel a little clammy. The original ribbed all-cotton model feels soft for a ribbed tee, but not as soft as a non-ribbed tee. They just sent me their Retro model, which is a poly-cotton blend, and they’ve done a nice job of recreating that favorite 80s t-shirt feeling there, if that’s your preference. If you’re looking for an undershirt, though, I haven’t seen any better.
Otherwise, just get your white tees from Bubble’s Depot.

Q and Answer: What’s the best white tee?

D2F asks: Do you have any suggestions for good, long lasting plain white t’s?

Most white tees simply won’t last too long. White will yellow with laundering, sweat and soil no matter what you do. Good laundry habits will certainly help (wash your shirts soon after wearing), but the white t-shirt is essentially a disposable item.

With that in mind, I have three recommendations.

For everyday wear, I really like Alternative Apparel, which is why we’re selling them this week. They’re very, very soft, a little bit fine with nice stretch, have a reasonably slim fit and are a nice medium between long enough to tuck in and too long to wear untucked.

If you prefer a stouter cloth, I really like the Kirkland brand tees sold at Costco. They’re a little boxier and a lot heavier. They’re not really soft, but they’re very sturdy and very cheap. They’ve been replaced in my wardrobe by Alternative, but are still a very solid choice.

For undershirts, I’ve been really happy with the shirts that our long-time advertiser Ribbed Tee have sent me. They’re about ten bucks apiece, and they’re designed as undershirts, not as undershirt-outershirt hybrids. That means they’re pretty long and they’re ribbed to fit close. As I wrote before, I love the softness of the modal-blend shirts, but they also pill a bit and feel a little clammy. The original ribbed all-cotton model feels soft for a ribbed tee, but not as soft as a non-ribbed tee. They just sent me their Retro model, which is a poly-cotton blend, and they’ve done a nice job of recreating that favorite 80s t-shirt feeling there, if that’s your preference. If you’re looking for an undershirt, though, I haven’t seen any better.

Otherwise, just get your white tees from Bubble’s Depot.

Southwick Made-to-Measure at Costco?
A StyleForum member named rezzo posted this interesting story recently…

While at Costco I checked out the Southwick display they have set up.   Southwick is having a MTM event for suits, SC, pants and shirts.  The  measuring is done via a body scan where you stand in this booth in your  underwear for about 10 seconds.  Then you get a print out with about  every possible measurement you can imagine (except what’s covered by the  underwear).   They had a relatively small choice of fabrics (about 20-25). There was  about 5 fabrics from and Asian mill which cost $449 and all the rest was  an Italian mill for $549 - he told me the name but I can’t remember it  other than he mentioned it was an old family owned mill. The salesman,  who was extremely knowledgeable about the construction told me that they  had a full floating canvass and they were half machine, half handmade -  his example of handmade was that the sleeves are attached by hand. I ended up ordering a plain navy worsted, 3 button w/ side vents and ff  cuffed pants from the Italian fabric.  There were the standard type of  choices (buttons, side or center vent and so on) but you could get as  specific as you want - anything you could think of they would write it  down in the notes area.  I asked for horn buttons and they said ok.   They would also make the jacket with working sleeve buttons but I opted  not to do that because I would rather make sure they feel the right  length and then just pay to get them done locally.  For $549 I thought  I’d give it a shot.  Delivery is in about 6 weeks, I’ll let you know how  it turns out.  Southwick also keeps the measurements on file so if it  works out I’ll add a charcoal as well.  I don’t remember the other  prices except the MTM pants were $135 - a bit more for flannel.  They  were also doing MTM shirts.

That’s a very reasonable price point for a fully canvassed made-to-measure suit. I’m unconvinced that body scanners are better than… you know… a tape measure, but this is a very promising possibility for folks who have a hard time with off the rack suiting, can’t afford the $1000+ cost of most in-store made to measure, and don’t want to mess with Mickey Mouse online operations.
Has anyone used this service? Any comment as to the results? Pictures? Email us - contact@putthison.com.

Southwick Made-to-Measure at Costco?

A StyleForum member named rezzo posted this interesting story recently…

While at Costco I checked out the Southwick display they have set up. Southwick is having a MTM event for suits, SC, pants and shirts. The measuring is done via a body scan where you stand in this booth in your underwear for about 10 seconds. Then you get a print out with about every possible measurement you can imagine (except what’s covered by the underwear).

They had a relatively small choice of fabrics (about 20-25). There was about 5 fabrics from and Asian mill which cost $449 and all the rest was an Italian mill for $549 - he told me the name but I can’t remember it other than he mentioned it was an old family owned mill. The salesman, who was extremely knowledgeable about the construction told me that they had a full floating canvass and they were half machine, half handmade - his example of handmade was that the sleeves are attached by hand.

I ended up ordering a plain navy worsted, 3 button w/ side vents and ff cuffed pants from the Italian fabric. There were the standard type of choices (buttons, side or center vent and so on) but you could get as specific as you want - anything you could think of they would write it down in the notes area. I asked for horn buttons and they said ok. They would also make the jacket with working sleeve buttons but I opted not to do that because I would rather make sure they feel the right length and then just pay to get them done locally. For $549 I thought I’d give it a shot. Delivery is in about 6 weeks, I’ll let you know how it turns out. Southwick also keeps the measurements on file so if it works out I’ll add a charcoal as well. I don’t remember the other prices except the MTM pants were $135 - a bit more for flannel. They were also doing MTM shirts.

That’s a very reasonable price point for a fully canvassed made-to-measure suit. I’m unconvinced that body scanners are better than… you know… a tape measure, but this is a very promising possibility for folks who have a hard time with off the rack suiting, can’t afford the $1000+ cost of most in-store made to measure, and don’t want to mess with Mickey Mouse online operations.

Has anyone used this service? Any comment as to the results? Pictures? Email us - contact@putthison.com.

Eight Days of Style
Reader Lucy wrote to us to ask that we suggest eight super-basic, affordable Hanukkah gifts for her boyfriend “to replace his stained light-wash jeans and Nine Inch Nails t-shirts.”  We’ll offer one choice for each day the oil burned.
Above: a pack of plain white t-shirts by Kirkland, house brand of Costco.  About ten bucks for six shirts.  Nice heavy cotton, a little on the beefy side, if you’re not too tall, consider sizing down.  (If you’re classy, we like Alternative Apparel, but if you’re thrifty, these will do well.)

Eight Days of Style

Reader Lucy wrote to us to ask that we suggest eight super-basic, affordable Hanukkah gifts for her boyfriend “to replace his stained light-wash jeans and Nine Inch Nails t-shirts.”  We’ll offer one choice for each day the oil burned.

Above: a pack of plain white t-shirts by Kirkland, house brand of Costco.  About ten bucks for six shirts.  Nice heavy cotton, a little on the beefy side, if you’re not too tall, consider sizing down.  (If you’re classy, we like Alternative Apparel, but if you’re thrifty, these will do well.)

Q and Answer
Chris S. writes:
What considerations are necessary in the cuff/sock/shoe colour/pattern decsisionmaking flowchart?
A good question, Chris.
We can start with this: gym socks are for gym shoes.  If you’re wearing basketball sneakers, you’re probably off to play basketball, and you should wear athletic socks to do so.  Same goes for other athletic endeavors.  I buy my gym socks at Costco, and I always buy the same kind so I don’t have to worry about losing one in the wash.
For casual wear, gym socks are dicier, but most padded athletic shoes would look silly with any socks but gym socks.  (Excepted: the simplest classic canvas and leather sneakers are usually more suited to a finer colored sock.)  If you’re wearing shorts and athletic shoes, no-show athletic socks (the kind that encircle the lowest bit of your ankle) are the most appropriate.
Once you’re wearing proper shoes, the basic rule is to match your socks, more or less, to your pants.  The basic principle behind this is that you’d rather lengthen the appearance of your legs than the appearance of your shoes.
In dress situations, you should never show bare leg.  That means that over-the-calf dress socks are best - you can buy them at most reputable men’s stores, though shorter socks are the norm.  I’ve found great pairs at great prices at the Nordstrom Rack with some regularity.  You can also find solid quality plain men’s dress socks (Gold Toes, for example) at warehouse stores like Costco.  A few pairs of plain charcoal grey and a few pairs of navy will build the foundation of your sock wardrobe.
We’re big supporters of colorful and patterned socks, generally, but stay away from novelty socks.  Argyle is a wonderful choice, with the color pallette varying by season, though we would be disinclined to pair argyle with a suit.  Obviously, too, the color, weight and feel of the sock should be consonant with the rest of your outfit, particularly your shoes and pants.  Patterned socks can be quite nice with casual pants and an odd jacket.  We’ve had good luck with sock sales at Banana Republic, which often get down to $2 or $3 per pair in-store.  These usually won’t be very tall, but that’s less important in a more casual context.
Bright socks are wonderful, but they are most effective when used as an accent in an otherwise conservatively styled outfit.  Perhaps purple socks with a navy suit and dark shoes pick out a color in your necktie, perhaps they’re just fun.  But that’s Advanced Placement dressing.  Get your no-skin-showing, no-gym-socks game tight before you start in on stuff like that.
And no socks?  We’re no Sartorialist, but we’re fine with that when the weather’s warm.  We do prefer loafer or “no show” socks, which will protect your shoes a bit from sweat and your feet a bit from blisters.

Q and Answer

Chris S. writes:

What considerations are necessary in the cuff/sock/shoe colour/pattern decsisionmaking flowchart?

A good question, Chris.

We can start with this: gym socks are for gym shoes.  If you’re wearing basketball sneakers, you’re probably off to play basketball, and you should wear athletic socks to do so.  Same goes for other athletic endeavors.  I buy my gym socks at Costco, and I always buy the same kind so I don’t have to worry about losing one in the wash.

For casual wear, gym socks are dicier, but most padded athletic shoes would look silly with any socks but gym socks.  (Excepted: the simplest classic canvas and leather sneakers are usually more suited to a finer colored sock.)  If you’re wearing shorts and athletic shoes, no-show athletic socks (the kind that encircle the lowest bit of your ankle) are the most appropriate.

Once you’re wearing proper shoes, the basic rule is to match your socks, more or less, to your pants.  The basic principle behind this is that you’d rather lengthen the appearance of your legs than the appearance of your shoes.

In dress situations, you should never show bare leg.  That means that over-the-calf dress socks are best - you can buy them at most reputable men’s stores, though shorter socks are the norm.  I’ve found great pairs at great prices at the Nordstrom Rack with some regularity.  You can also find solid quality plain men’s dress socks (Gold Toes, for example) at warehouse stores like Costco.  A few pairs of plain charcoal grey and a few pairs of navy will build the foundation of your sock wardrobe.

We’re big supporters of colorful and patterned socks, generally, but stay away from novelty socks.  Argyle is a wonderful choice, with the color pallette varying by season, though we would be disinclined to pair argyle with a suit.  Obviously, too, the color, weight and feel of the sock should be consonant with the rest of your outfit, particularly your shoes and pants.  Patterned socks can be quite nice with casual pants and an odd jacket.  We’ve had good luck with sock sales at Banana Republic, which often get down to $2 or $3 per pair in-store.  These usually won’t be very tall, but that’s less important in a more casual context.

Bright socks are wonderful, but they are most effective when used as an accent in an otherwise conservatively styled outfit.  Perhaps purple socks with a navy suit and dark shoes pick out a color in your necktie, perhaps they’re just fun.  But that’s Advanced Placement dressing.  Get your no-skin-showing, no-gym-socks game tight before you start in on stuff like that.

And no socks?  We’re no Sartorialist, but we’re fine with that when the weather’s warm.  We do prefer loafer or “no show” socks, which will protect your shoes a bit from sweat and your feet a bit from blisters.