British GQ interviewed some of the top dogs at Reddit’s Male Fashion Advice forum. A couple of them gave very generous shout-outs to Put This On - thanks guys! It’s a great read.
The Chunky Turtleneck
A friend of mine recently asked me if I knew of a good source for chunky turtlenecks, which reminded of how much I like wearing mine. The one I bought is a cream-colored cable knit with a thickly ribbed, fold down collar. I think it pairs well with heavy outerwear pieces, such as duffle coats, waxed cotton jackets, and pea coats. Ideally, you would wear it when it’s bitterly cold outside, so that it’s more of a functional garment than just a fashion piece.
The best chunky turtleneck I know of is made by Inis Meain, a traditional knitwear maker based on one of the Aran Islands outside the coast of Ireland. Their sweaters are exceptional, but admittedly also very expensive. You can purchase one of their Aran turtleneck designs from Axel’s. For other options in this price tier, consider the offerings by Malo, Sandro, and E. Tautz. Note that Barney’s and Mr. Porter will hold 75%+ off sales at the end of the season (though, that’ll still leave many of those pieces in the “very-expensive” range).
For something more affordable, there’s S.E.H. Kelly’s moss-stitch knit and Ralph Lauren’s cable knit (the latter of the two is having a pretty big sale right now, incidentally, but unfortunately not on that sweater). Fisherman Out of Ireland also has a cabled and ribbed turtleneck available for $150, which you can buy from them through email. I’ve never handled any of their products, but reviews online seem to be good.
Finally, for lack of a better descriptor, there are slightly more rugged options that stay true to the sweater’s workwear origins. Orvis, North Sea Clothing Company, Nigel Cabourn, Aero Leathers, What Price Glory, and Freeman’s Sporting Club may have better bets if you’re likely to wear your turtleneck with things such as jeans and workwear jackets.
A word of caution before you proceed: though Tom Junod once had a great article in GQ about how his father religiously believed that turtlenecks were the most flattering thing a man can wear, I think they really should only be worn by men with defined jawlines. It doesn’t have to be model-esque, but a man with a weak jawline or flabby chin will only look worse when a turtleneck covers up whatever little definition he has. Best to be honest with yourself before you splurge on an expensive sweater.
“Some people would say that you should always wear a white shirt in the evening. I still know men who will insist on it. White is more formal, it’s more flattering to your face under artificial light and it looks cleaner and sharper.”— Simon Crompton, as interviewed by GQ (the rest is a good read, by the way)
“The unpadded shoulders, the three-buttoned long and boxy coat, the too-short, thin pants, and the thin ties with striped buttoned shirts in dark colors—well, I suppose this may go very well with some personalities but it’s not for me. To me, all such look like TV producers. Maybe they want to.”—
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I look at my tie rack. And I think, ‘Should I wear a tie?’ Because I don’t want to wear a tie. But I have all these nice ties. And you have to decide whether you’re going to wear a tie before you pick your shirt, you know, because some shirts don’t really work with ties. But you have to also sort of know the color of the shirt you’ll end up with so you know what tie would go with it. So I’m looking at the ties, thinking I don’t necessarily want to wear one of these, but also thinking about which shirt would go well with the tie I don’t want to wear. And it’s kind of dark because it’s the morning and I get this feeling that there’s maybe a tie that I would want to wear hidden behind all these other ties that are sort of meh. So I’m basically paralyzed. Anyway, in these moments I used to feel terribly, horribly alone. But then came 2006, and with it menswear blogging. And now, with this oral history, I have learned that not only am I not alone, but also people are making a living having the same thoughts I have from 7:58 to 7:59 a.m. every morning.”—
My Father’s Fashion Tips
I have a sense of style, I guess, but it is not like my father’s—it is not earned, and consequently it is not unwavering, nor inerrant, nor overbearing, nor constructed of equal parts maxim and stricture; it is not certain. It does not start in the morning, when I wake up, and end only at night, when I go to sleep. It is not my creation, nor does it create me; it is ancillary rather than central. I don’t absolutely f’ing live it, is what I’m trying to say. I don’t put it on every time I anoint myself with toilet water or stretch a sock to my knee or squeeze into a pair of black bikini underwear. Which is what my father did. Of course, when I was growing up, he tried as best he could to teach me what he knew, to indoctrinate me—hell, he couldn’t resist, for no man can be as sure as my father is without being also relentlessly and reflexively prescriptive. He tried to pass on to me knowledge that had the whiff of secrets, secrets at once intimate and arcane, such as the time he taught me how to clean my navel with witch hazel. I was 18 and about to go off to college, and so one day he summoned me into his bathroom. “Close the door,” he said. “I have to ask you something.”
”Do you…clean your navel?”
”Well, you should. You’re a man now, and you sweat, and sweat can collect in your navel and produce an odor that is very…offensive.” Then: “This is witch hazel. It eliminates odors. This is a Q-Tip. To clean your navel, just dip the Q-Tip into the witch hazel and then swab the Q-Tip around your navel. For about thirty seconds. You don’t have to do it every day; just once a week or so.” He demonstrated the technique on himself, then handed me my own Q-Tip.
”But Dad, who is going to smell my navel?”
”You’re going off to college, son. You’re going to meet women. You never want to risk turning them off with an offensive odor.”
One of my favorite articles ever published in GQ is this essay by Tom Junod, titled “My Father’s Fashion Tips.” It’s excellent not for its fashion advice (that part is secondary), but because we get to see a portrait of a charming man who cared about style. Give it a read when you have a chance.
How do you know you’re officially official? Perhaps when there’s a profile of you in GQ. They followed me on a day of sartorial indulgence in LA - a fitting with a tailor, one with our friend Raul (from our shoes episode) at his new store Don Ville, and a pile of thrift stores.
My thanks to Shona Sanzgiri, who wrote the piece, and Gordon de los Santos, who shot the beautiful photos.
The Necktie Series, Part VII: Tying it with Some Panache
Oscar Wilde once said something like “A well tied tie is the first serious step in life.” By now, you should know that the four-in-hand will work for most situations, and that the double four-in-hand can be used when you want a bit more bravado (or if you’re short and need to shorten the back blade a bit). I’ve also talked about how the Pratt should be used for spread collars or wider ties. With those three knots, you should be prepared for anything.
Next, I thought I’d cover the two basic ways you can add some panache to how you tie your tie. The first is the Italian method - pulling it to the side a bit and leaving the blade out of the keeper. If you have an extra long tie, you might even want to leave the back blade a big longer than the front. The other method is arching your tie, a technique I always use now. It used to be a knee-jerk reaction to seeing guys leaving their ties loosely tied, a look so juvenile and awful that I cringe even just thinking about it. Nowadays, however, I just like the panache it gives. In this technique, the tie lifts off from the shirt. The photograph I’ve chosen exaggerates it a bit; in practice, the tie ends up looking a bit more like this or this. As Hardy Amies once put it, these kind of ties “come into a room almost before the man.”
Check these two videos to see how to do each. The first is an interview with Sid Mashburn by GQ, who probably pulls it a bit more to the side than I would recommend (though he still looks great). The second is by Will, from A Suitable Wardobe, and he’ll show you how to achieve that tie arch.
Come for the headline, stay for the BEAUTIFUL closing joke.