A Good Day’s Thrifting
After working every day for a few weeks straight, I took a few hours yesterday to pursue some hobby time. I hopped in the car and headed for the west side of Los Angeles to do some thrifting.
I live in East LA, where there are plenty of thrift stores, but precious little quality menswear on the racks therein. The reason’s simple - no rich people, no rich people clothes. There are some thrift chains that distribute across a region, rather than store-by-store, and there are always scores available everywhere, but the percentages are best in nice stores in affluent areas.
I ended up with the pile above. The Polo suit is older, probably from the 1980s, made in the USA, in a beautiful gray birdseye. Perfect fit and a very classic style, especially for a big tall guy like myself. I find myself drawn to Polo from the mid-80s and before, when it was inspired by classic styles of the 1930s and ’40s. The better-quality pieces have held up with time, as well. This suit will require a letting out in the waist and taking up in the sleeves and trousers, but both of those are easily done by my tailor. It set me back $40.
I found the pocket squares in the ladies’ scarves section of one of my favorite thrifts. It’s always worth taking a peek there - pocket squares are usually about 15 or 16 inches square, and scarves for women tend to be much larger, so it’s easy to spot the difference. Only one of the ones I picked up had a brand (also Polo), but all are great options, and they were only five bucks each.
The ties came from a Goodwill that’s been very productive for me in the past. The green striped one was the first I found - I spotted its Kiton tag from across the room. The rest are made by Paul Stuart (in England), Facconable (by Breuer, in France), Brooks Brothers Makers and Andrew of Milano. There was another Kiton, stained, that I left on the rack.
The trip represented visits to six stores, and I shopped at two of them. I spent a total of about $75 (plus another $15 on baby clothes, not pictured). Not bad for half a day’s work.

A Good Day’s Thrifting

After working every day for a few weeks straight, I took a few hours yesterday to pursue some hobby time. I hopped in the car and headed for the west side of Los Angeles to do some thrifting.

I live in East LA, where there are plenty of thrift stores, but precious little quality menswear on the racks therein. The reason’s simple - no rich people, no rich people clothes. There are some thrift chains that distribute across a region, rather than store-by-store, and there are always scores available everywhere, but the percentages are best in nice stores in affluent areas.

I ended up with the pile above. The Polo suit is older, probably from the 1980s, made in the USA, in a beautiful gray birdseye. Perfect fit and a very classic style, especially for a big tall guy like myself. I find myself drawn to Polo from the mid-80s and before, when it was inspired by classic styles of the 1930s and ’40s. The better-quality pieces have held up with time, as well. This suit will require a letting out in the waist and taking up in the sleeves and trousers, but both of those are easily done by my tailor. It set me back $40.

I found the pocket squares in the ladies’ scarves section of one of my favorite thrifts. It’s always worth taking a peek there - pocket squares are usually about 15 or 16 inches square, and scarves for women tend to be much larger, so it’s easy to spot the difference. Only one of the ones I picked up had a brand (also Polo), but all are great options, and they were only five bucks each.

The ties came from a Goodwill that’s been very productive for me in the past. The green striped one was the first I found - I spotted its Kiton tag from across the room. The rest are made by Paul Stuart (in England), Facconable (by Breuer, in France), Brooks Brothers Makers and Andrew of Milano. There was another Kiton, stained, that I left on the rack.

The trip represented visits to six stores, and I shopped at two of them. I spent a total of about $75 (plus another $15 on baby clothes, not pictured). Not bad for half a day’s work.

A Trip to the Tailor

I found my tailor the old fashioned way: by passing by while I was walking my dog.  Having a relationship with a tailor is an immense help to any man who wants to dress well — whether he’s a fancy-pants fella making bespoke suiting on Saville Row, or, like mine, a friendly Korean immigrant and his wife whose main work seems to be making Nancy Reagan-like suits for middle-aged Korean ladies who lunch.

I just got back from picking up an order, and I thought you might be interested in what a guy who doesn’t get his suits made at Norton & Sons does there.  So in that spirit, here’s what I got done:

  • I recently scored a pair of Incotex corduroys in a golden wheat color from Loehmann’s for $29.  They needed to be finished, so my tailor marked their length and finished them without cuffs.
  • I purchased two pairs of pants from Ebay recently.  The first was a lovely black watch plaid wool pair, which was probably from the 60s or 70s, but had never been worn or even hemmed.  I had him put some big (1.75”) cuffs on them for me.  Ten bucks or so.
  • The second pair was a beautiful part of black and gray houndstooth checked pants from the old Abercrombie & Fitch.  It turned out when they showed up that they were made by Oxxford Clothes in Chicago, probably the highest-quality American ready-to-wear clothier.  They needed to be shortened a bit, so we took care of that.  About $10.
  • I bought a pair of J. Crew cords when I was a bit wider at the waist.  They’re not the world’s finest pair of pants, but who doesn’t love chocolate brown corduroy in the fall, so rather than give them to Goodwill, I figured they were worth the $10 and had the waist taken in an inch or two.  About $10.
  • A lovely Facconable sportcoat I’d bought at a thrift store had been just a bit short for me in the sleeves, so I had them taken down a little.  I misjudged how the buttons would look, and they were about one button’s-width too high.  I wanted to move the top button down below the bottom, but my tailor told me he couldn’t move just one button down without moving all the buttons - his hand-stitched buttonhole wouldn’t match the machine-stitched ones that were already there.  Buttonholes aren’t too expensive, but 8 of them adds up to about $40.  I compromised - I had him stitch the new buttonhole in a contrasting color.  Cheaper for me, and a little bit of flair.  I was happy with the result.  About $10.
  • I had a piece of patterned wool that my mother had found at an estate sale - about 3 or 4 yards.  I’ve been holding on to it forever, and I finally got it together to make it into something: a pair of pants.  I love Oxxford’s half-waistband style, and the A&F pants fit me wonderfully, so I had my tailor copy them, with big cuffs to finish them off.  It may be the first real item of clothing I’ve commissioned, besides a tie for my wedding and pajamas from my mom when I was little, and I’m very happy with what I got.  This was (obviously) the most expensive, but still only cost me $120 (my mom payed a couple dollars for the fabric).

It all cost me less than $200 out the door, and I got five pairs of pants and a sportcoat that fit me perfectly, and look just how I’d like them to.

Tailors are not just for rich guys!

(horrible photos courtesy of my iPhone; Australia-themed tablecloth courtesy of someone who went to Australia, bought a tablecloth, never used it, then died and left it to someone who sold it to me for a dollar)