"First off, the women all had incomes between $50,000-$200,000, and while there were only about 500 of them, Allen Edmonds reports that the survey was completed in half the time alotted to it, suggesting that men’s shoe choices may be a pet peeve for many women, and that they were eager to chime in.

Among the finidings:

  • 65 percent of women admit to insisting their man change shoes before going out
  • 59 percent have bought shoes for their man
  • 12 percent have thrown his shoes out”

(Source: Ivy Style)

Christian at Ivy Style has a fascinating retrospective on a formative but largely forgotten American clothier: Rogers Peet.
The OCBD Shirt Series, Part VI: Our Recommendations
After reviewing so many companies, we thought it’d be useful to say which we recommend the most. Obviously much depends on your taste, build, and budget. The great thing about having such a varied market, however, is that there’s almost something for everyone. 
If you want something traditional, I recommend either Mercer & Sons or O’Connell’s. Mercer & Sons has a great oxford cloth that’s a bit more variegated in color and nubby in texture than the standard stuff you’d find at Brooks Brothers or J. Press. They also have a fully sized, unlined collar that gives the kind of wrinkly, carefree roll that enthusiasts find so charming. The only problem is that Mercer & Sons’ shirts fit very, very full, so you if you use them, you may have to turn to their made-to-order service. That’s where you can size the body down two and taper it further by two or four inches. To find out if this might work for you, email Mercer and ask for their shirt measurements.
The other exceptional option is O’Connell’s, who has one of the best button down collars I’ve seen. Ethan there tells me that they’re also working on a new model based on mid-century Brooks Brothers designs. That should be released sometime by the end of this year, and we’ll be certain to announce it when it does.
For something slim fitting, I really like Kamakura. They make two fits – a regular cut and a slim fit. I suspect the slim fit is just the regular cut, but with darts in the back. Admittedly, darts look a bit strange to me on an OCBD, but the body of the shirt still fits fairly well, so long as you have a slim stomach. Either way, both the regular and slim fits have great looking collars. See it worn here at Ivy Style.
You may also want to consider Brooks Brothers’ slim and extra-slim fits once they go on sale. I like Kamakura’s shirts better, but on the downside, they never go on sale. Brooks Brothers’ oxfords, on the other hand, regularly get discounted to about $50 a pop.
Conversely, if money is no object, you can check out Harry Stedman, who makes a pretty nice design from a hodgepodge of classic American details. Just note that they fit pretty slim, so if you’re a regular 36, you may want to opt for a 38 or simply a size small.  
If you want something dressy, try Ledbury. Theirs isn’t a conventional OCBD like the others we’ve covered here. The fabric is a smoother Thomas Mason cloth that’s somewhat reminiscent of Royal Oxford, and the shirt doesn’t have details such as box pleats or chest pockets. All in all, it’s just a dressier looking shirt, which can be good depending on what you’re going for. 
For something affordable, I like Land’s End’s tailored fit oxfords. Their fabric feels better than what Uniqlo and Lands’ End Canvas offers, and the fit isn’t as trendy. Though, depending on your style, Uniqlo and Lands’ End Canvas’ slimmer fits and shorter collars might work better for you. Either way, be sure to wait for sales. Lands’ End oxfords can be had for about $30 or $35, while Uniqlo and Lands’ End Canvas will often be sold for about $20.
Finally, if you want to get something custom made, I can recommend Cottonwork and Ascot Chang from personal experience. Cottonwork, as I’ve noted, does online made to measure, while Ascot Chang does full bespoke. The second tends to have an advantage in terms of executing an ideal fit, but the first will be considerably more affordable. Both do good work, however. You may also want to look into other custom shirtmakers, such as CEGO, Geneva, Anto, Dege & Skinner, and many others. Check StyleForum for recommendations, and perhaps acquaint yourself with the process of buying custom shirts through these posts I wrote last year. 

The OCBD Shirt Series, Part VI: Our Recommendations

After reviewing so many companies, we thought it’d be useful to say which we recommend the most. Obviously much depends on your taste, build, and budget. The great thing about having such a varied market, however, is that there’s almost something for everyone. 

If you want something traditional, I recommend either Mercer & Sons or O’Connell’s. Mercer & Sons has a great oxford cloth that’s a bit more variegated in color and nubby in texture than the standard stuff you’d find at Brooks Brothers or J. Press. They also have a fully sized, unlined collar that gives the kind of wrinkly, carefree roll that enthusiasts find so charming. The only problem is that Mercer & Sons’ shirts fit very, very full, so you if you use them, you may have to turn to their made-to-order service. That’s where you can size the body down two and taper it further by two or four inches. To find out if this might work for you, email Mercer and ask for their shirt measurements.

The other exceptional option is O’Connell’s, who has one of the best button down collars I’ve seen. Ethan there tells me that they’re also working on a new model based on mid-century Brooks Brothers designs. That should be released sometime by the end of this year, and we’ll be certain to announce it when it does.

For something slim fitting, I really like Kamakura. They make two fits – a regular cut and a slim fit. I suspect the slim fit is just the regular cut, but with darts in the back. Admittedly, darts look a bit strange to me on an OCBD, but the body of the shirt still fits fairly well, so long as you have a slim stomach. Either way, both the regular and slim fits have great looking collars. See it worn here at Ivy Style.

You may also want to consider Brooks Brothers’ slim and extra-slim fits once they go on sale. I like Kamakura’s shirts better, but on the downside, they never go on sale. Brooks Brothers’ oxfords, on the other hand, regularly get discounted to about $50 a pop.

Conversely, if money is no object, you can check out Harry Stedman, who makes a pretty nice design from a hodgepodge of classic American details. Just note that they fit pretty slim, so if you’re a regular 36, you may want to opt for a 38 or simply a size small.  

If you want something dressy, try Ledbury. Theirs isn’t a conventional OCBD like the others we’ve covered here. The fabric is a smoother Thomas Mason cloth that’s somewhat reminiscent of Royal Oxford, and the shirt doesn’t have details such as box pleats or chest pockets. All in all, it’s just a dressier looking shirt, which can be good depending on what you’re going for. 

For something affordable, I like Land’s End’s tailored fit oxfords. Their fabric feels better than what Uniqlo and Lands’ End Canvas offers, and the fit isn’t as trendy. Though, depending on your style, Uniqlo and Lands’ End Canvas’ slimmer fits and shorter collars might work better for you. Either way, be sure to wait for sales. Lands’ End oxfords can be had for about $30 or $35, while Uniqlo and Lands’ End Canvas will often be sold for about $20.

Finally, if you want to get something custom made, I can recommend Cottonwork and Ascot Chang from personal experience. Cottonwork, as I’ve noted, does online made to measure, while Ascot Chang does full bespoke. The second tends to have an advantage in terms of executing an ideal fit, but the first will be considerably more affordable. Both do good work, however. You may also want to look into other custom shirtmakers, such as CEGO, Geneva, Anto, Dege & Skinner, and many others. Check StyleForum for recommendations, and perhaps acquaint yourself with the process of buying custom shirts through these posts I wrote last year

Ivy League Style in 25 Items Or Less

There’s a lovely new book called Ivy Style based on the Ivy Style exhibition at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I’ve been reading it, and besides the glorious illustrations and vintage advertisements featured throughout, one of the things that struck me was G. Bruce Boyer’s description of a college wardrobe in the Ivy era. What’s remarkable about it is that with some very modest tweaks (white bucks aren’t exactly standard issue these days), it could fly for most young men even today, fifty years later.

Six shirts, three white and three blue, and two or three pair of khakis would do the job. In cooler weather, a Shetland crewneck sweater in any color was added. A pair of brown penny loafers and white tennis sneakers (possibly a pair of white or tan buckskin oxfords) constituted the acceptable range of footwear. For outerwear, a cotton gabardine balmacaan raincoat (always tan), and a stout duffel coat (in tan or navy) were all that were needed, although many men also had a cotton gab golf jacket, also in tan… everyone had a tweed sports jacket (Harris or Shetland) and/or a navy single-breasted blazer for semi-dress, and a gray flannel suit for dress. Summer semi-formality was assured with a seersucker or tan poplin suit, some had madras sports jackets, for the more formal occasions a dark gray or navy tropical worsted suit. A half-dozen ties (regimentals, foulards or dots), and the necessary compliment of underwear, socks, pajamas and handkerchiefs filled out the basics.

That’s a pretty solid capsule wardrobe. Sadly, no crazy boating blazers, beer suits or raccoon coats.

One of my favorite blogs, Ivy Style, just completed a five part series on the rise and fall of “the Ivy League look.” It’s largely for people who are interested in the history of men’s style (particularly classic American style), but if you are, this is a great, great piece. 

(via Ivy Style)

Personal Style Through Elimination
Ivy-Style had a nice post last week about the well-edited wardrobe, which reminded me of how much stuff I’ve gotten rid of over the years. Christian, the writer behind the blog, is a bit more ruthless about culling than I am. He had a great post many years ago praising small wardrobes, and the accompanying photograph was of just one tie. I assume that was shot for effect, but I don’t think it’s far off from how he operates.
In any case, there’s a passage in his article that I really like

As a result, I’ve never understood the web’s notorious clotheshorses and their compulsive acquiring. Money is not the issue, as some spend lavishly while others are inveterate thrifters. At some point both must reach a stage of surfeit, when it’s impossible for every item in their wardrobe to be fondly cherished. It’s the difference between having a dog and having a kennel. At some point it’s just variety for it’s own sake, and at that point are your clothes really an extension of you?
And just because an item is already broken in doesn’t mean it will automatically feel second nature to wear it. Whether it’s an old rep tie or a vintage Harris Tweed, an item new to you is still new, and will take time until you’re wholly unaware of wearing it. But before then the item will not feel like a part of you, but a kind of awkward sartorial prosthesis.

I perhaps value variety a bit more than Christian. I find it’s nice to have a wardrobe that will suit any kind of occasion, weather, or mood one might find themselves in, and to do that, it’s hard not to have a sizable wardrobe. Still, I’ve gotten rid of quite a lot over the years: patterned pants, pastel shirts, fabric belts, sack coats, and a smattering of designer clothing. Basically things that caught my eye in a store, but didn’t feel natural enough to me when I got around to wearing it. So in continually editing out things that don’t feel right, I think I’ve come to a better sense of personal style. 
Which is to say, if you’re just starting off, perhaps it’s not as good of an idea to “buy less, buy better.” Instead, dabble around and shop in the middle-tiers of quality. That way, you don’t lose out on too much as you try to find your own sense of style. Let your tastes slowly mature, be honest with what you wear, and cull everything that doesn’t feel like a natural extension of yourself. That’s the best way, I think, to find your own personal style: through a process of elimination. 

Personal Style Through Elimination

Ivy-Style had a nice post last week about the well-edited wardrobe, which reminded me of how much stuff I’ve gotten rid of over the years. Christian, the writer behind the blog, is a bit more ruthless about culling than I am. He had a great post many years ago praising small wardrobes, and the accompanying photograph was of just one tie. I assume that was shot for effect, but I don’t think it’s far off from how he operates.

In any case, there’s a passage in his article that I really like

As a result, I’ve never understood the web’s notorious clotheshorses and their compulsive acquiring. Money is not the issue, as some spend lavishly while others are inveterate thrifters. At some point both must reach a stage of surfeit, when it’s impossible for every item in their wardrobe to be fondly cherished. It’s the difference between having a dog and having a kennel. At some point it’s just variety for it’s own sake, and at that point are your clothes really an extension of you?

And just because an item is already broken in doesn’t mean it will automatically feel second nature to wear it. Whether it’s an old rep tie or a vintage Harris Tweed, an item new to you is still new, and will take time until you’re wholly unaware of wearing it. But before then the item will not feel like a part of you, but a kind of awkward sartorial prosthesis.

I perhaps value variety a bit more than Christian. I find it’s nice to have a wardrobe that will suit any kind of occasion, weather, or mood one might find themselves in, and to do that, it’s hard not to have a sizable wardrobe. Still, I’ve gotten rid of quite a lot over the years: patterned pants, pastel shirts, fabric belts, sack coats, and a smattering of designer clothing. Basically things that caught my eye in a store, but didn’t feel natural enough to me when I got around to wearing it. So in continually editing out things that don’t feel right, I think I’ve come to a better sense of personal style. 

Which is to say, if you’re just starting off, perhaps it’s not as good of an idea to “buy less, buy better.” Instead, dabble around and shop in the middle-tiers of quality. That way, you don’t lose out on too much as you try to find your own sense of style. Let your tastes slowly mature, be honest with what you wear, and cull everything that doesn’t feel like a natural extension of yourself. That’s the best way, I think, to find your own personal style: through a process of elimination. 

“White bucks and saddle shoes
That’s what the kids all choose
Chinos and slacks of course
Oh, yes, they sure look boss
Getting ready to go steady are
White bucks and saddle shoes
Button-down shirt and a crewneck sweater
Lets all the kids look so much better”
— Lyrics to Bobby Pedrick Junior’s "White Bucks and Saddle Shoes." (via Ivy Style)

Ivy Style at the F.I.T. Museum

I’m headed out of New York this morning, having taped a few episodes of Judge John Hodgman, enjoyed a San Francisco Giants World Series victory, ordered a few shirts from my friend Carl, and attended WFMU’s Radiovision conference. I didn’t have a lot of free time on this trip - blame the baby - but I did make time to visit the Fashion Institute of Technology Museum and their lovely exhibit Ivy Style.

Among the sights:

  • Some stunning tartan sportcoats by Jeffrey Banks, the former protege of Ralph Lauren, author of several menswear books, and sole African-American contributor to the exhibition.
  • Some delightful Berk slippers, featuring a pair in crescent moon and star theme which match some I bought for my wife recently.
  • Ralph Lauren outfits pieced together from collections 30 years apart, but sharing a near-perfect aesthetic symmetry.
  • A Thom Browne Ivy-inspired suit featuring a spiked crotch.
  • Some genuinely gorgeous bleeding madras in shorts, coats, and everything else.
  • Some amazing information about a Princeton tradition, still extant, called the Beer Suit. Derived from workwear, it was clothing made to be worn by seniors while drinking, to avoid ruining the good stuff. They look a bit like a painter’s outfit, with graduation years and slogans stenciled on. After graduation, the suit was worn to reunions until the 25th reunion, when one could finally wear a class jacket - usually (by the looks of it) a crested blazer.

If you’re in New York, don’t miss the exhibition, which is free. And don’t forget the symposium, which is in just a few weeks.

Ivy Style Symposium
The Museum at FIT, which has been holding the special exhibition on Ivy Style, is having a symposium on the same subject November 8th and 9th. The list of scheduled speakers is impressive. Included are menswear authors Bruce Boyer, Daniel Cappello, Jeffery Banks, and Doria de La Chapelle; bloggers John Tinseth of The Trad, Dusty Grainger of Maxminimus, and Clark Aldrich of The Daily Prep; industry folks such as Richard Press, Paul Winston, and Michael Bastian; and finally a bunch of academics who have written on the subject of men’s dress. The presentations and subsequent conversations here are sure to be worthwhile. 
If you’re interested, you can read more about the symposium here. The deadline for pre-registration is October 26th. Tickets aren’t cheap ($100 for both days to the general public), but students get in free with proper ID. 

Ivy Style Symposium

The Museum at FIT, which has been holding the special exhibition on Ivy Style, is having a symposium on the same subject November 8th and 9th. The list of scheduled speakers is impressive. Included are menswear authors Bruce Boyer, Daniel CappelloJeffery Banks, and Doria de La Chapelle; bloggers John Tinseth of The Trad, Dusty Grainger of Maxminimus, and Clark Aldrich of The Daily Prep; industry folks such as Richard Press, Paul Winston, and Michael Bastian; and finally a bunch of academics who have written on the subject of men’s dress. The presentations and subsequent conversations here are sure to be worthwhile. 

If you’re interested, you can read more about the symposium here. The deadline for pre-registration is October 26th. Tickets aren’t cheap ($100 for both days to the general public), but students get in free with proper ID.