Splurging on Outerwear and Knitwear

The centerpiece of almost any ensemble tends to be outermost layer. It’s what people see most easily, and what covers up everything else underneath. Which means, if you splurge on outerwear and knitwear, you can often get away with spending little on everything else. 

In the above, my white tees above are from Hanes, which cost $12 a piece, but you can sometimes find them on sale for as little as $2. The shirts are from Ascot Chang, which are admittedly pricey, but you can get good casual shirts at Brooks Brothers for about $50 on sale. For something more affordable, look into Uniqlo or J. Crew. They’ll often have shirts on sale for $25 to $40.

The jeans above are from 3sixteen. I bought them on sale for $125 five years ago, when they retailed for $175. They’re now $225. I think they’re still worth the price, but for a more affordable alternative, try our advertiser Gustin. They have raw, selvedge denim jeans starting at $89.

Next, for shoes, I think it’s worth splurging for a pair of boots. The above are shell cordovan cap toe boots from Brooks Brothers, but you could just as easily swap these out for a pair of calf leather chukkas or bluchers, depending on your style. You can get those new through Meermin for $200 or as little as $125 if you’re willing to go second hand on eBay. For something more affordable, try a simple pair of sneakers. For $70, you can get the German Army Trainers Jesse talked about. For $45, you can get Chuck Taylors at ShoeBuy (where they’re almost always on sale). 

After that, there’s just outerwear and knitwear. If you can’t afford to spend on both, then cut back on sweaters. The grey sweatshirt above is one of my most versatile knits, and it cost me $30 on clearance at J. Crew. Sure, it doesn’t keep its shape as well as more expensive sweatshirts, but a quick wash and dry after every wear solves that problem. This takes a bit of the luster out of the cotton, but sweatshirts look good worn-in anyway. As usual, if you can’t afford to get things made from fine materials, then get things that look better beat-up.

Spending little on everything else can make you feel less guilty about splurging where it counts. For fall, this mostly means outerwear and knitwear.

Q and Answer: What to Pack for Traveling to Cold Climates?
Erieking writes us to ask: I’m looking to travel to Europe next year, and will be in many different climates. I have my summer wardrobe covered, but am curious what you’d recommend for winter travel in Scandinavia? I have a budget of about $500-1,000. 
I used to travel a lot to Russia in the fall and winter months, so I can relate to how difficult it can be to pack light, but also have everything you need. The good news is that above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can rely on smart layering. Doing so will allow you to be a bit more adaptable as the weather changes, whereas if you pack a big, warm coat, you might be too warm on days that are only chilly. I recommend the following:
Baselayers: Baselayers will be your best friend. Layer them underneath everything and you’ll be surprised by how little else you need. I like Smartwool, which you can often find on sale at Campmor and Sierra Trading Post. The second has options by other companies as well. Just make sure you get the heavyweight stuff. 
Outerwear: If you mostly wear tailored clothing (suits, sport coats, and the like), then you’ll need a traditional coat (some stores call these dress coats). Brooks Brothers and O’Connell’s are good places to start, but for something more affordable, check your local thrift stores. For anything more causal, pick whatever suits your taste. Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren often have nice looking designs, and they regularly discount stuff by 25% during their mid-season sales. J. Crew is a more affordable option, but their constructions often feel lighter and thinner. 
Sweaters: Cashmere is warmer than regular wool, but nice cashmere is expensive, unless you hunt for something vintage. For practicality and price, I recommend thick wool sweaters (ideally in turtleneck form, so you get some extra protection). Inis Meain’s merinos and O’Connell’s Shetlands are some of my favorite sweaters, but they’re a bit expensive. For more affordable options, I like Club Monaco. Just make sure to avoid the cashmere stuff, as it’ll be too thin for your needs. 
Tailored jacket: Get a heavy brown tweed, ideally with some kind of pattern, such as a herringbone or check. Any place that sells suits should also have sport coats. You can check out these stores to start. 
Pants: For casualwear, I like raw denim. It’s typically heavier than your run-of-the-mill jeans from Levis, so it feels warmer to me (even if the effect is just psychological). I wear 3sixteen’s SL-100x model, and really like them, but you can find more affordable options from our advertiser Gustin. For something dressier, get a pair of mid-grey wool flannels. Again, you can check out these stores to start.
Shirts: Bushed cotton flannels, chambrays, and wool-cotton blends all make for great cold-weather shirtings, but when I travel, I like to pack light, so I bring my favorite shirts of all: oxford cloth button downs. The upside is that they work equally well with sport coats and casualwear. 
Thick, wool socks: Feet can be hard to keep warm, so get thick wool socks (they’re warmer than cotton, and help wick sweat away). Just make sure your feet still fit comfortably into your shoes. An overly tight fit can restrict circulation, which will make your feet feel cold. Again, I like Smartwool. 
Gloves: I find that leather gloves lined in cashmere or rabbit hair feel warmer than wool gloves alone. You can get them from Dents or Merola, or have them custom made through Chester Jefferies (I had them make me this design, which you can order if you show them those pictures). For something more affordable, browse Nordstrom. They have some great options and an unbeatable return policy to boot.
Scarves: I love Drake’s scarves, but they’re expensive. Luckily, cheaper options will keep you just as warm. Just make sure to get something made from cashmere or merino, and in a long enough length so you can wrap your scarf around your neck twice. You can get Johnston’s of Elgin scarves for about $40-50 from Sierra Trading Post once you apply one of their DealFlyer coupons. 
Shoes: When it’s cold, it’s likely wet. Shoes made with what’s known as a storm or fudge welt will be more waterproof, but truthfully, I’ve been fine with regular Goodyear welt constructions, even in the snow. I just recommend bringing at least two pairs (ideally boots), and rotating between them. Commando or studded Dainite soles will also give you better traction, and they won’t grind down as easily as wet leather. For where to turn, the sky is the limit when it comes to expensive makers, but you can use this list for more affordable buys. I really like Meermin. 
The above should get you through any kind of weather that’s 20 degrees and above. Even in Moscow, things only dip below that for maybe two or three weeks per year. If you find yourself in icier conditions, then you’ll need a down parka, but good ones will cost you dearly (if you care to know, my dream pick is Nigel Cabourn’s Everest parka, which you know is serious business because it has the word Everest in it). I say plan your trips smartly so you don’t have to buy such a thing. 

Q and Answer: What to Pack for Traveling to Cold Climates?

 writes us to ask: I’m looking to travel to Europe next year, and will be in many different climates. I have my summer wardrobe covered, but am curious what you’d recommend for winter travel in Scandinavia? I have a budget of about $500-1,000. 

I used to travel a lot to Russia in the fall and winter months, so I can relate to how difficult it can be to pack light, but also have everything you need. The good news is that above 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can rely on smart layering. Doing so will allow you to be a bit more adaptable as the weather changes, whereas if you pack a big, warm coat, you might be too warm on days that are only chilly. I recommend the following:

  • Baselayers: Baselayers will be your best friend. Layer them underneath everything and you’ll be surprised by how little else you need. I like Smartwool, which you can often find on sale at Campmor and Sierra Trading Post. The second has options by other companies as well. Just make sure you get the heavyweight stuff. 
  • Outerwear: If you mostly wear tailored clothing (suits, sport coats, and the like), then you’ll need a traditional coat (some stores call these dress coats). Brooks Brothers and O’Connell’s are good places to start, but for something more affordable, check your local thrift stores. For anything more causal, pick whatever suits your taste. Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren often have nice looking designs, and they regularly discount stuff by 25% during their mid-season sales. J. Crew is a more affordable option, but their constructions often feel lighter and thinner. 
  • Sweaters: Cashmere is warmer than regular wool, but nice cashmere is expensive, unless you hunt for something vintage. For practicality and price, I recommend thick wool sweaters (ideally in turtleneck form, so you get some extra protection). Inis Meain’s merinos and O’Connell’s Shetlands are some of my favorite sweaters, but they’re a bit expensive. For more affordable options, I like Club Monaco. Just make sure to avoid the cashmere stuff, as it’ll be too thin for your needs. 
  • Tailored jacket: Get a heavy brown tweed, ideally with some kind of pattern, such as a herringbone or check. Any place that sells suits should also have sport coats. You can check out these stores to start
  • Pants: For casualwear, I like raw denim. It’s typically heavier than your run-of-the-mill jeans from Levis, so it feels warmer to me (even if the effect is just psychological). I wear 3sixteen’s SL-100x model, and really like them, but you can find more affordable options from our advertiser Gustin. For something dressier, get a pair of mid-grey wool flannels. Again, you can check out these stores to start.
  • Shirts: Bushed cotton flannels, chambrays, and wool-cotton blends all make for great cold-weather shirtings, but when I travel, I like to pack light, so I bring my favorite shirts of all: oxford cloth button downs. The upside is that they work equally well with sport coats and casualwear. 
  • Thick, wool socks: Feet can be hard to keep warm, so get thick wool socks (they’re warmer than cotton, and help wick sweat away). Just make sure your feet still fit comfortably into your shoes. An overly tight fit can restrict circulation, which will make your feet feel cold. Again, I like Smartwool
  • Gloves: I find that leather gloves lined in cashmere or rabbit hair feel warmer than wool gloves alone. You can get them from Dents or Merola, or have them custom made through Chester Jefferies (I had them make me this design, which you can order if you show them those pictures). For something more affordable, browse Nordstrom. They have some great options and an unbeatable return policy to boot.
  • Scarves: I love Drake’s scarves, but they’re expensive. Luckily, cheaper options will keep you just as warm. Just make sure to get something made from cashmere or merino, and in a long enough length so you can wrap your scarf around your neck twice. You can get Johnston’s of Elgin scarves for about $40-50 from Sierra Trading Post once you apply one of their DealFlyer coupons. 
  • Shoes: When it’s cold, it’s likely wet. Shoes made with what’s known as a storm or fudge welt will be more waterproof, but truthfully, I’ve been fine with regular Goodyear welt constructions, even in the snow. I just recommend bringing at least two pairs (ideally boots), and rotating between them. Commando or studded Dainite soles will also give you better traction, and they won’t grind down as easily as wet leather. For where to turn, the sky is the limit when it comes to expensive makers, but you can use this list for more affordable buys. I really like Meermin

The above should get you through any kind of weather that’s 20 degrees and above. Even in Moscow, things only dip below that for maybe two or three weeks per year. If you find yourself in icier conditions, then you’ll need a down parka, but good ones will cost you dearly (if you care to know, my dream pick is Nigel Cabourn’s Everest parka, which you know is serious business because it has the word Everest in it). I say plan your trips smartly so you don’t have to buy such a thing. 

It’s On Sale: Jeans and Things Related
Two denim sales worth noting:
The first one is at Self Edge, where you can take 14% off your order with the checkout code JeanFinder. As usual, the discount percentage matches the year (so in 2013, it was 13% off, and this year it’s 14% off), which means if you’re looking for something half off, you’ll have to wait a long time. On the upside, while the discount isn’t deep, the stock is excellent. Lots of great jeans from brands such as 3sixteen, Flat Head, and Stevenson Overall Co. I also like their heavy flannel shirts from Flat Head, Iron Heart, and Sugar Cane. 
Second, our advertiser Gustin is holding a grab bag sale for one day only tomorrow. Jeans will be $75 and shirts will be $65. You can specify your size and fit, and all orders will ship immediately, but you won’t know what you’ll get. The upside? The stock is mostly indigo - although there are also some black, grey, and brown jeans in there - so at least you know you won’t get something that will be hard to wear. 
Lastly, this is probably a good of time as any to play Neil Young’s "Forever in Blue Jeans."

It’s On Sale: Jeans and Things Related

Two denim sales worth noting:

  • The first one is at Self Edge, where you can take 14% off your order with the checkout code JeanFinder. As usual, the discount percentage matches the year (so in 2013, it was 13% off, and this year it’s 14% off), which means if you’re looking for something half off, you’ll have to wait a long time. On the upside, while the discount isn’t deep, the stock is excellent. Lots of great jeans from brands such as 3sixteen, Flat Head, and Stevenson Overall Co. I also like their heavy flannel shirts from Flat Head, Iron Heart, and Sugar Cane. 
  • Second, our advertiser Gustin is holding a grab bag sale for one day only tomorrow. Jeans will be $75 and shirts will be $65. You can specify your size and fit, and all orders will ship immediately, but you won’t know what you’ll get. The upside? The stock is mostly indigo - although there are also some black, grey, and brown jeans in there - so at least you know you won’t get something that will be hard to wear. 

Lastly, this is probably a good of time as any to play Neil Young’s "Forever in Blue Jeans."

Five Great Things That Come With A Leather Jacket
I wear sport coats most days of the week, but for the last two years or so, I’ve been breaking it up a bit with leather jackets. In that time, I’ve found leather jackets to have some nice advantages over tailored clothing. 
Shirts
Paul Newman looks great above in his button-up shirt, but for me, a leather jacket really calls for a t-shirt. The good news is that t-shirts can be had for not too much money. Jesse sells Alternative Apparel ones every summer at a wholesale price. They’re soft, finely knitted, and somewhat stretchy. I wear Hanes Beefy Tees myself, which are more stout. I’ve also heard good things about Uniqlo’s t-shirts, although I’ve never tried them.
All of these can be had for less than ten bucks a piece, which means you can get a whole week’s worth for less than the price of a good dress shirt.
Pants
Similarly, jeans can be had for much less than wool trousers. Unbranded and our advertiser Gustin get regularly recommended in the denim community, and they sell raw, selvedge denim options for about $85 a pair. APC New Standards retail for $185, but can sometimes be found on sale. 
The upside to jeans isn’t just their price, however. It’s the material. Denim is an exceptionally tough fabric and can take a lot of abuse. Some guys wear their jeans every day for two years before retiring them. Do that to a pair of grey flannel trousers and they’ll disintegrate in a few months.
Shoes
Shoes are a bit more tricky. With a heavy horsehide or cowhide jacket, you might need something like a chunky boot. With a lighter lambskin or goatskin jacket, however, you can wear canvas sneakers. I often wear this jacket, for example, with white Chuck Taylor high tops, which I bought for $50. There’s no good dress shoe that retails for $50.
Fit
There are few things that can smarten you up more than a sport coat or suit, but they are admittedly difficult to fit. This might be because of their construction: the shoulder pads, wadding, canvassing, haircloth, etc. Add to that the stylistic details (width of the lapel, shape of the quarters, pitch of the arm, height of the gorge, etc.), and you can see how complicated a tailored jacket can get.
On the other hand, leather jackets (and everything that goes with them) have a lot more wiggle room. It’s OK if your jacket doesn’t look like it was perfectly tailored and if your jeans aren’t hemmed to a perfect shivering break. In fact, they shouldn’t look like that anyway. 
Care
Finally, it’s nice to not have to iron a shirt before you go out, worry about whether a dry cleaner will ruin your jacket, or care if some food drips onto your clothes. Everything above – the t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and jacket – is meant to be worn and beat up. Some items (such as the jeans and sneakers) look better after they’ve been worn in. Others (such as the t-shirt) are cheap enough to easily replace.
Granted, the leather jacket itself can be pretty expensive. You’re either going to spend a lot of money for a new one, or a lot of time searching for something used. On the upside, once you find one you like, there are five great things that come with it. 

Five Great Things That Come With A Leather Jacket

I wear sport coats most days of the week, but for the last two years or so, I’ve been breaking it up a bit with leather jackets. In that time, I’ve found leather jackets to have some nice advantages over tailored clothing. 

Shirts

Paul Newman looks great above in his button-up shirt, but for me, a leather jacket really calls for a t-shirt. The good news is that t-shirts can be had for not too much money. Jesse sells Alternative Apparel ones every summer at a wholesale price. They’re soft, finely knitted, and somewhat stretchy. I wear Hanes Beefy Tees myself, which are more stout. I’ve also heard good things about Uniqlo’s t-shirts, although I’ve never tried them.

All of these can be had for less than ten bucks a piece, which means you can get a whole week’s worth for less than the price of a good dress shirt.

Pants

Similarly, jeans can be had for much less than wool trousers. Unbranded and our advertiser Gustin get regularly recommended in the denim community, and they sell raw, selvedge denim options for about $85 a pair. APC New Standards retail for $185, but can sometimes be found on sale. 

The upside to jeans isn’t just their price, however. It’s the material. Denim is an exceptionally tough fabric and can take a lot of abuse. Some guys wear their jeans every day for two years before retiring them. Do that to a pair of grey flannel trousers and they’ll disintegrate in a few months.

Shoes

Shoes are a bit more tricky. With a heavy horsehide or cowhide jacket, you might need something like a chunky boot. With a lighter lambskin or goatskin jacket, however, you can wear canvas sneakers. I often wear this jacket, for example, with white Chuck Taylor high tops, which I bought for $50. There’s no good dress shoe that retails for $50.

Fit

There are few things that can smarten you up more than a sport coat or suit, but they are admittedly difficult to fit. This might be because of their construction: the shoulder pads, wadding, canvassing, haircloth, etc. Add to that the stylistic details (width of the lapel, shape of the quarters, pitch of the arm, height of the gorge, etc.), and you can see how complicated a tailored jacket can get.

On the other hand, leather jackets (and everything that goes with them) have a lot more wiggle room. It’s OK if your jacket doesn’t look like it was perfectly tailored and if your jeans aren’t hemmed to a perfect shivering break. In fact, they shouldn’t look like that anyway. 

Care

Finally, it’s nice to not have to iron a shirt before you go out, worry about whether a dry cleaner will ruin your jacket, or care if some food drips onto your clothes. Everything above – the t-shirt, jeans, sneakers, and jacket – is meant to be worn and beat up. Some items (such as the jeans and sneakers) look better after they’ve been worn in. Others (such as the t-shirt) are cheap enough to easily replace.

Granted, the leather jacket itself can be pretty expensive. You’re either going to spend a lot of money for a new one, or a lot of time searching for something used. On the upside, once you find one you like, there are five great things that come with it. 

An Affordable Spring Look
Outerwear tends to be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending on your budget, you can get relatively affordable coats and jackets nowadays from Club Monaco, J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren. At the end of every season, they’ll have nice looking designs for about $150-200 (Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren have really good mid-season sales as well). More affordably, there’s Pointer’s chore coat for $87. It looks pretty good if you like workwear.   
For rainy days, I sometimes wear LL Bean’s Trail Model Rain Jacket with jeans, a Shetland sweater, and some LL Bean boots. The shell is made from a waterproof rip stop nylon and the interior seams are taped. The pocket bags are also made of mesh, so that if you store away any wet things, they’ll dry quicker. The best part? It’s $79. Possibly $71 if you wait for one of LL Bean’s occasional 10% off coupons. Additionally, they have a similar jacket this season under their “Signature” line. Although I haven’t handled it, the jacket looks like it comes without a chest logo (which the mainline does, unfortunately, although it’s tonal). I also assume it fits slimmer all around.
In the photo above, I’ve paired my LL Bean rain jacket with an oxford cloth button down shirt from Ascot Chang, a Shetland sweater from O’Connell’s, and a pair of straight legged jeans from 3sixteen. All of these tend to be a bit on the pricey side, but you can find more affordable alternatives at a number of places. Brooks Brothers will have oxford cloth button downs for about $50 during sale season, while Kamakura sells them for about $79 year round. More affordable Shetlands can be had for about $75-100 at Brooks Brothers and LL Bean when they’re on discount (although they don’t always carry them). Lastly, raw selvedge denim jeans can be had for about $89 from our advertiser Gustin, or $82 from Unbranded. Both get regularly recommended in the denim community.
Together, these pieces make for a reasonably classic look, and more importantly, can be had for not too much money. 

An Affordable Spring Look

Outerwear tends to be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. Depending on your budget, you can get relatively affordable coats and jackets nowadays from Club Monaco, J. Crew, Brooks Brothers, and Ralph Lauren. At the end of every season, they’ll have nice looking designs for about $150-200 (Brooks Brothers and Ralph Lauren have really good mid-season sales as well). More affordably, there’s Pointer’s chore coat for $87. It looks pretty good if you like workwear.   

For rainy days, I sometimes wear LL Bean’s Trail Model Rain Jacket with jeans, a Shetland sweater, and some LL Bean boots. The shell is made from a waterproof rip stop nylon and the interior seams are taped. The pocket bags are also made of mesh, so that if you store away any wet things, they’ll dry quicker. The best part? It’s $79. Possibly $71 if you wait for one of LL Bean’s occasional 10% off coupons. Additionally, they have a similar jacket this season under their “Signature” line. Although I haven’t handled it, the jacket looks like it comes without a chest logo (which the mainline does, unfortunately, although it’s tonal). I also assume it fits slimmer all around.

In the photo above, I’ve paired my LL Bean rain jacket with an oxford cloth button down shirt from Ascot Chang, a Shetland sweater from O’Connell’s, and a pair of straight legged jeans from 3sixteen. All of these tend to be a bit on the pricey side, but you can find more affordable alternatives at a number of places. Brooks Brothers will have oxford cloth button downs for about $50 during sale season, while Kamakura sells them for about $79 year round. More affordable Shetlands can be had for about $75-100 at Brooks Brothers and LL Bean when they’re on discount (although they don’t always carry them). Lastly, raw selvedge denim jeans can be had for about $89 from our advertiser Gustin, or $82 from Unbranded. Both get regularly recommended in the denim community.

Together, these pieces make for a reasonably classic look, and more importantly, can be had for not too much money. 

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).

Kickstarter of Interest: Gustin denim
Last week a Kickstarter project came to our attention from the team at Gustin, who is offering their denim at wholesale prices direct to pre-sale customers instead of selling to retailers. The project met its fundraising goal on the first day. 
If you back the project for $81, then you can receive a pair of selvedge denim jeans made in San Francisco from fabric from White Oak Cone Mills. Compared to several other made-in-the-U.S.A. raw denim brands at retail, that’s under half what you’d typically see.
Personally, none of us here have had hands-on experience with Gustin denim, so we can’t fully comment on things such as fit and construction. There is a sizing chart here, which you can use to compare to other pairs of jeans you may own. For some insight from people who have tried on a pair, Gus at A Bit of Color had some thoughts as does Mark at Simpler Man.
I also wondered about the possibilities of returns or exchanges for Gustin’s Kickstarter backers. Here’s the response I received from Stephen at Gustin:




We’re not going to officially allow returns or exchanges (Kickstarter makes it quite difficult), but we’ll do our best to facilitate swapping of sizes if there’s an issue. After Kickstarter - absolutely. The goal is to have free shipping both ways. It’ll work like Zappos - you can order 3 styles in 3 sizes, and just keep what fits.




I personally think the idea of crowd-funding is an interesting approach to addressing the cost issue of raw denim (and apparently so do more than 800 other people backing the project). I’d just caution looking over the size chart carefully and making sure the fit works for your needs. 
-Kiyoshi

Kickstarter of Interest: Gustin denim

Last week a Kickstarter project came to our attention from the team at Gustin, who is offering their denim at wholesale prices direct to pre-sale customers instead of selling to retailers. The project met its fundraising goal on the first day. 

If you back the project for $81, then you can receive a pair of selvedge denim jeans made in San Francisco from fabric from White Oak Cone Mills. Compared to several other made-in-the-U.S.A. raw denim brands at retail, that’s under half what you’d typically see.

Personally, none of us here have had hands-on experience with Gustin denim, so we can’t fully comment on things such as fit and construction. There is a sizing chart here, which you can use to compare to other pairs of jeans you may own. For some insight from people who have tried on a pair, Gus at A Bit of Color had some thoughts as does Mark at Simpler Man.

I also wondered about the possibilities of returns or exchanges for Gustin’s Kickstarter backers. Here’s the response I received from Stephen at Gustin:

We’re not going to officially allow returns or exchanges (Kickstarter makes it quite difficult), but we’ll do our best to facilitate swapping of sizes if there’s an issue. After Kickstarter - absolutely. The goal is to have free shipping both ways. It’ll work like Zappos - you can order 3 styles in 3 sizes, and just keep what fits.

I personally think the idea of crowd-funding is an interesting approach to addressing the cost issue of raw denim (and apparently so do more than 800 other people backing the project). I’d just caution looking over the size chart carefully and making sure the fit works for your needs. 

-Kiyoshi