The Occasional Henley

So lately, I’ve been wearing this outfit pretty often on weekends – a white t-shirt, brown leather jacket, pair of raw jeans, and either sneakers or brown leather boots. It’s an incredibly simple thing to put together and requires very little maintenance. No ironing, no dry cleaning, and no worrying if I’ll stain my t-shirts (as they’re quite cheap to replace).

Wearing the same thing often can be a bit boring though, so sometimes I’ve been swapping out the white t-shirt for a henley. Henleys are pullover shirts with rounded collars and short, buttoned plackets at the front. In the mid-century, they were sometimes know as Wallace Beery because of their association with the 20th-century actor, who was sometimes seen wearing the style on-screen. Some men understandably feel that henleys look too much like long underwear, while others who are old enough to remember the 1990s might think they’re a bit too “Eddie Bauer.” However, if worn with the right kind of clothes, I think they can look pretty good. I wear mine with jeans and leather jackets, but in the photos above, you can see Fok from StyleForum wearing his alone, and Brett from Viberg Boots wearing one underneath a cardigan.

You can find henleys at any number of places. Wings + Horns, RRL, Archival Clothing, Schiesser Revival, and Reigning Champ make them almost every season. Certain stores, such as Blue in Green, Unionmade, and Cultizm also have wide selections, and now that J Crew carries Homespun Knitwear, there should be a decent version in almost every American mall. Additionally, folks looking for a deal might want to visit Bench & Loom. They have a ton of great stuff on clearance right now (though not everything is listed in their sale section, so you’ll want to click around). Included are some henleys starting at $56

Mine are designed by Nigel Cabourn and made by Merz b. Schwanen. They have some vintage-reproduction detailing that I really like, but this particular model is hard to find nowadays (it’s from an old season). Retail is expensive, but like with everything, if you wait for the right sale or scour eBay, you can pick one up for a fraction of the price (I paid about $100-125 for mine). Merz b. Schwanen also makes a wide range of henleys that they’ve designed (here’s one on sale).

I admit, I don’t wear my henleys often, but it’s nice to have a little variety in the dresser drawer when I want to (slightly) deviate from my weekend uniform. 

Real People: Stealth Style

"Stealth wealth" is a complicated term. Essentially it refers to expensive things that aren’t aggressively, obviously expensive. Taking a positive view, in clothing, that can mean clothes and accessories that are special in some way, but not flashy, a combination that many of us consider desirable. On the other hand, it can mean stuff that the rich buy so they can wink knowingly at other rich people without looking like dicks. Less desirable.

Jesse’s recent post on packing for travel reminded me of the ways that these sorts of items can work well. Not that everything Jesse packed is expensive; but like many of us, he’s carefully selected unusual and, yeah, sometimes expensive items (the A-1 jacket, LVC denim) that are special in ways not obvious to everyone. Most people who meet Jesse on his trip will see a guy in an oxford shirt, leather jacket, and jeans. 

Lenny in Richmond makes a similar case in his consistently interesting (but generally normal!) clothing. In all of these photos, he’s wearing jeans, a button-up shirt, and boots (and holding a hot beverage). The color palettes are neutral grays, blues, browns, and olives. The fits are super consistent—the shirt waists hit at the same spot, the jeans are a flattering straight leg. But Lenny mixes J. Crew shirts, which fit him well, with covertly great vintage stuff, pieces from Engineered Garments, Japanese denim, and Visvim footwear, all of which you won’t find at the mall, or even online in some cases. These brands use unusual materials, arcane construction methods, and unorthodox design to produce relatively small runs of items that in the end don’t draw a lot of attention. Not a bad thing. The interesting aspects of this stuff are either subtle—an extra pocket here, exotic leather there—or reveal themselves over time, like the fading of indigo denim. Everything looks comfortable and broken in, and Lenny looks relaxed, knowing his wardrobe is stealthily awesome.

I understand that wearing such items can invite accusations of snobbery, not entirely unfounded. E.g., why buy a $500 pair of boots when the $100 pair looks and performs much the same? Of course there are diminishing returns the more you choose to spend. But once you’ve built a reliable wardrobe in a value-conscious way (this is how I like to think I filled my closet), you’ll likely want to keep your clothing interesting to yourself, and choosing more refined versions of the stuff you already like is one way to do so.

-Pete

It’s On Sale: Mr. Porter

Mr. Porter is one of the best collections of menswear available online, but the full retail prices for designer clothes can be staggering. In their seasonal sales, the Mr. Porter folks mark stuff down 30-50%, and that’s when things start to get really interesting. Of course, even at 50% off Maison Martin Margiela is expensive, but we can dream, right?

Above, left to right, top to bottom, a few favorites:

Drake’s Striped Grenadine Tie

Drake’s Pocket Square

LVC 1960s Star Shirt

Row Two

Incotex Slim Wool Trousers

Woolrich Woolen Mills Madras Shirt

Belstaff Motorcycle Jacket

Row Three

Billy Reid Cable-Knit Sweater

Maison Martin Margiela Silk Bomber

J. Crew Madras Shirt

Keeping Summer Simple

I don’t love shorts, but I wear them. Why? The truth is that I’m a San Francisco guy living in Los Angeles. My internal thermostat can handle temperatures from about 55 to 80, so when the weatherman says “high of 91” and I don’t have a meeting or a reason to wear something fancy, I reach for a pair of shorts. It’s tough to admit, but it’s true.

When it’s genuinely hot outside, I work hard to keep things simple and lightweight. Above is the kind of outfit I’m talking about. The shirt’s from J. Crew - right now they’re full retail, $89.50 (!), but I didn’t pay more than $30 for any of the linen in my closet. I usually buy them in-store late in the summer, when they’ve been marked down a couple times. When I see some plain white linen that works well for me, and it’s $23 a pop, I buy a few. I’ve got a couple with something going on, and a couple more in white and light blue solid. Perfect for every occasion.

The shorts are by Uniqlo, and they’re $30. These aren’t world beaters, quality-wise, but they’ll get you through a summer or two. Focus on basics - khaki is of course number one, but white’s surprisingly easy to wear when it’s genuinely summer out. Navy blue’s pretty useful, too.

The shoes are plain plimsolls - traditional canvas sneakers. I actually bought this pair a few weeks ago right after posting about them here, they’re Keds. Thirty five bucks out the door (though there are only a couple sizes left now). Plain white and navy are workhorses for summer sneakers. If they get dirty, don’t sweat it. If they get gross and ratty, replace them. Besides Keds, we like to recommend Converse and Superga. Keep those feet fresh with no-show socks like these.

There are other options, of course. I love the madras shorts and shirts from Lands’ End, for example. I’m a big ghurka shorts man, and if it’s really summery and I’m not walking too far, I wear espadrilles. But frankly, with a simple, coordinated outfit like this, you’ll have 99% of the other chumps beat. Heck, just by covering your toes you’ll have 90% beat. And trust me: no one wants to see your toes.

December Fair Isle
December is one of the last months you can best wear Fair Isle. They’re not holiday sweaters, but there’s something holiday feeling about them, and while they look great in the fall, I think they look best in the winter. You can stretch them out to maybe about January, but past that, they start to lose their appeal.
A Fair Isle sweater, for those unfamiliar, is a type of knitwear garment that uses a distinctive geometric motif originating from the remote Fair Isle island. They were originally made from undyed wool, so they came in various shades of brown and grey, but nowadays they’re mostly recognized for their very colorful patterning. The best ones, in my opinion, still use the traditional Fair Isle knitting technique: two strands of yarn are knitted throughout an entire row, and continually intertwined on the “wrong” side of the garment. This creates an almost double-thick knit that can lend a lot of warmth.
Now, to be sure, there’s a lot of ugly Fair Isle around, but that can be said about almost anything. The key is to find one you like, and know how to wear it best. I have this tobacco, moss, and oatmeal one from Drake’s, and usually layer it underneath a coat, just so the pattern isn’t too overwhelming. You can see an example here, where I’ve paired the Drake’s sweater with a Loden coat by Aspesi. You can, of course, also wear the sweater without the extra layer, but generally, I find that the louder the pattern, the better it looks when layered underneath something more subdued.
There are plenty of places that sell Fair Isle sweaters. Traditional clothiers such as J. Press and O’Connell’s regularly stock them, as do stores on the slightly more fashionable side of classic, such as Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Gant. You can also find a selection by Jamieson and Barbour at Oi Polloi, William Fox and Sons at Present London, and Howlin by Morrison at End Clothing. For more affordable options, turn to Land’s End and J. Crew. Both of those merchants regularly discount their stock by 30-40%, and a full array of sizes is usually still available once they hit their sales.
Finally, if you’d like one custom made, check out Spirit of Shetland and Louise Irvine. As usual with online made-to-measure garments, you want to take multiple measurements and figure out the averages before you submit your numbers. And when in doubt, err on the side of large. You can always wear something that’s just a touch too big, but you’ll never wear something that’s too small.

December Fair Isle

December is one of the last months you can best wear Fair Isle. They’re not holiday sweaters, but there’s something holiday feeling about them, and while they look great in the fall, I think they look best in the winter. You can stretch them out to maybe about January, but past that, they start to lose their appeal.

A Fair Isle sweater, for those unfamiliar, is a type of knitwear garment that uses a distinctive geometric motif originating from the remote Fair Isle island. They were originally made from undyed wool, so they came in various shades of brown and grey, but nowadays they’re mostly recognized for their very colorful patterning. The best ones, in my opinion, still use the traditional Fair Isle knitting technique: two strands of yarn are knitted throughout an entire row, and continually intertwined on the “wrong” side of the garment. This creates an almost double-thick knit that can lend a lot of warmth.

Now, to be sure, there’s a lot of ugly Fair Isle around, but that can be said about almost anything. The key is to find one you like, and know how to wear it best. I have this tobacco, moss, and oatmeal one from Drake’s, and usually layer it underneath a coat, just so the pattern isn’t too overwhelming. You can see an example here, where I’ve paired the Drake’s sweater with a Loden coat by Aspesi. You can, of course, also wear the sweater without the extra layer, but generally, I find that the louder the pattern, the better it looks when layered underneath something more subdued.

There are plenty of places that sell Fair Isle sweaters. Traditional clothiers such as J. Press and O’Connell’s regularly stock them, as do stores on the slightly more fashionable side of classic, such as Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Gant. You can also find a selection by Jamieson and Barbour at Oi Polloi, William Fox and Sons at Present London, and Howlin by Morrison at End Clothing. For more affordable options, turn to Land’s End and J. Crew. Both of those merchants regularly discount their stock by 30-40%, and a full array of sizes is usually still available once they hit their sales.

Finally, if you’d like one custom made, check out Spirit of Shetland and Louise Irvine. As usual with online made-to-measure garments, you want to take multiple measurements and figure out the averages before you submit your numbers. And when in doubt, err on the side of large. You can always wear something that’s just a touch too big, but you’ll never wear something that’s too small.

It’s On Sale: J. Crew’s Third-Party Brands

J. Crew is offering 25% off orders over $150 or 30% off orders over $250, as well as free shipping, when you use the coupon code WINTER.

This normally wouldn’t be that interesting since J. Crew offers 25-30% discount coupons frequently, but this time, it appears you can apply it to their third-party brands (something they rarely allow). Perhaps they’ll take these off later today, but for the moment, that yields the following deals:

Take a look at their "In Good Company" section for more deals.

It’s on sale: Shetland crewneck sweaters 

It’s not even post-Thanksgiving yet and a swarm of pre-holiday sales has begun. Count J.Press and J.Crew both among them, who each are offering their Shetland wool crewneck sweaters at 25% off right now. 

These sweaters are great for casual wearing with a button-down collar shirt underneath and with a wide range of pants, ranging from flannel trousers to cords to denim. 

J.Press “shaggy dog” sweaters come to $146.25 with the discount (code PSNOV12) and they’ve been featured during Jesse’s trip to J.Press. Truth be told, the sweaters will likely drop further after the holidays, however, selection of colors and sizes will be dramatically reduced at that point. Sale ends Wednesday, November 21. 

The J.Crew Shetland sweaters by Wallace & Barnes differ from the J.Press ones in that they’re not “shaggy” and they also have elbow pads, but they’re also cheaper at $96 with the discount. No code needed and the sale ends Tuesday, November 20.

- Kiyoshi

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer
Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.
In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 
I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suit, has written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   
For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.
And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.
Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 
(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer

Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.

In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks BrothersJ. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 

I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suithas written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   

For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.

And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.

Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 

(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

Online Discount Shopping
Since writing at Put This On, I’ve made an effort to talk about how men can build wardrobes on tight budgets. My posts on strategic spending and affordable basics, for example, were written in that spirit. With so many blogs and magazines focusing on outrageously expensive items, I think it’s important to talk about more realistic acquisitions. Men can still look well dressed without spending thousands of dollars a year on clothes. 
If you want the most affordable deals, companies such as Land’s End and J. Crew are probably good places to start. J. Crew is a bit expensive at full retail, but much of their company branded inventory (i.e. non-third party stock) is discounted by 50% or so at the end of the season. 
For something a bit better, you’ll have to turn to online discount houses. This is where higher-end brands tend to be sold for 10-40% of their retail value. Granted, given that these items are extremely expensive in the first place, the sale prices can still be somewhat hefty. However, if you’re looking for high quality items at a better price, these are the places to search.
Flash sites: This model is perhaps the most well known - discounted items are offered at some site for a limited time only. The biggest flash site is Gilt Groupe, but there are many others. Check MyHabit, Jack Threads, Belle & Clive, Ru La La, Ideeli, and HauteLook. The stock at these places really range. There’s a lot of junk, but also everything from Jack Spade to Finamore. If you sign up for an account, some sites give you the option of receiving emails from them, which means you can more easily stay on top of their sales each week. 
Clearance houses: Things that couldn’t sell at retail are often sent here for clearance. Yoox and Three Different are two of the bigger online clearance houses. Again, there’s a lot of junk, and they apparently style their models blindly, but if you know your brands, you can pick up some very good deals. If you don’t, do a little research on StyleForum. 
Online discount boutiques: In addition to the big clearance houses, there are smaller boutiques that acquire their stock through a variety of different means. Malford of London, Virtual Clothes Horse, Shop the Finest, and eHaberdasher are very good ones. There’s also Exquisite Trimmings, which focuses on neckties, pocket squares, and scarves. The inventory at these places tend to be better selected than the big discount houses.
Discounted footwear: A Fine Pair of Shoes and eBay seller sausages234 are two very good sources for discounted shoes. Grapevinehill is mostly unremarkable, but they carry Ralph Lauren footwear, some of which is decent. Finally, there’s Classic Shoes for Men. The photos there aren’t as nice as the ones at the aforementioned sites, but the stock is just as good (if not better). The proprietor, Mr. Sevan Minasian, noted that he’ll throw in a free gift with your order if you mention our site. 
Us: Kind of goes without saying, but there’s also our eBay roundups and Inside Track newsletter. The first includes customized search links to help you find deals on eBay and the second has sales announcements every week. But you already knew that. 
Now, I’m sure few people will remember all those sites next time they’re shopping for something specific, so I suggest you bookmark them somewhere and save them for later. You could save yourself some considerable money if you do. 
(Photo above: An inside look at Gilt Groupe’s warehouse, taken by Notcot)

Online Discount Shopping

Since writing at Put This On, I’ve made an effort to talk about how men can build wardrobes on tight budgets. My posts on strategic spending and affordable basics, for example, were written in that spirit. With so many blogs and magazines focusing on outrageously expensive items, I think it’s important to talk about more realistic acquisitions. Men can still look well dressed without spending thousands of dollars a year on clothes. 

If you want the most affordable deals, companies such as Land’s End and J. Crew are probably good places to start. J. Crew is a bit expensive at full retail, but much of their company branded inventory (i.e. non-third party stock) is discounted by 50% or so at the end of the season. 

For something a bit better, you’ll have to turn to online discount houses. This is where higher-end brands tend to be sold for 10-40% of their retail value. Granted, given that these items are extremely expensive in the first place, the sale prices can still be somewhat hefty. However, if you’re looking for high quality items at a better price, these are the places to search.

  • Flash sites: This model is perhaps the most well known - discounted items are offered at some site for a limited time only. The biggest flash site is Gilt Groupe, but there are many others. Check MyHabitJack ThreadsBelle & CliveRu La LaIdeeli, and HauteLook. The stock at these places really range. There’s a lot of junk, but also everything from Jack Spade to Finamore. If you sign up for an account, some sites give you the option of receiving emails from them, which means you can more easily stay on top of their sales each week. 
  • Clearance houses: Things that couldn’t sell at retail are often sent here for clearance. Yoox and Three Different are two of the bigger online clearance houses. Again, there’s a lot of junk, and they apparently style their models blindly, but if you know your brands, you can pick up some very good deals. If you don’t, do a little research on StyleForum
  • Online discount boutiques: In addition to the big clearance houses, there are smaller boutiques that acquire their stock through a variety of different means. Malford of LondonVirtual Clothes HorseShop the Finest, and eHaberdasher are very good ones. There’s also Exquisite Trimmings, which focuses on neckties, pocket squares, and scarves. The inventory at these places tend to be better selected than the big discount houses.
  • Discounted footwear: A Fine Pair of Shoes and eBay seller sausages234 are two very good sources for discounted shoes. Grapevinehill is mostly unremarkable, but they carry Ralph Lauren footwear, some of which is decent. Finally, there’s Classic Shoes for Men. The photos there aren’t as nice as the ones at the aforementioned sites, but the stock is just as good (if not better). The proprietor, Mr. Sevan Minasian, noted that he’ll throw in a free gift with your order if you mention our site. 
  • Us: Kind of goes without saying, but there’s also our eBay roundups and Inside Track newsletter. The first includes customized search links to help you find deals on eBay and the second has sales announcements every week. But you already knew that. 

Now, I’m sure few people will remember all those sites next time they’re shopping for something specific, so I suggest you bookmark them somewhere and save them for later. You could save yourself some considerable money if you do. 

(Photo above: An inside look at Gilt Groupe’s warehouse, taken by Notcot)