Finding a Higher Rise Chino
For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 
The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.
The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 
A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 
More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 
A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.
(Photo above by The Armoury)

Finding a Higher Rise Chino

For the last few months, I’ve been looking for chinos built with a higher rise. As some readers may know, I favor pants that sit higher on the hips, as I find this helps elongate the leg line and gives better proportions between the torso and legs. Unfortunately, it’s not easy to find such pants nowadays, as the fashion trend for the last ten years has been for low-rise cuts. After writing a post about my search, however, a few kind readers sent me some good suggestions. 

The first, and I think the best, is from The Armoury. These are made by Ring Jacket, a high-end Japanese company known for their tailored clothing. They sit just below the navel, which is high enough to give the effect you’d want, but low enough so you can wear your chinos without a sport coat. The leg is also nice and slim, and the trousers are lined a bit past the knee. You can see them worn by Mark in the photo above.

The Armory’s chinos cost $370, which is pricey, but the pants are exceptionally well built. They’re not available on the website, so you’ll have to email or call them to order. 

A bit more affordable are the ones from J. Press, which were recommended to me by Bruce Boyer. These are fuller in the leg and sit higher on the waist. I think these are some of the nicest traditionally cut trousers I’ve ever come across, but the higher-waisted cut does mean you should probably wear them with sport coats. If you plan to, the price here starts at $120, but there are occasional seasonal sales that will drop them down by 25%. 

More affordable still is Jack Donnelly’s Dalton chinos, which come in both a slim and traditional cut. The slim is more like The Armoury’s, while the traditional is more like J Press’. The difference is that the fabric isn’t as nice, the fit not as clean (at least on me), and the finishing inside is a bit rough (almost unusually so, actually). On the upside, they’re $95 and they have a very nice return policy, so trying them out is more or less risk-free. 

A couple of other good ideas were sent to me. Bill Khaki’s M2 model is a favorite for many people, and some recommended the custom chinos at J. Hilburn and Luxire. Luxire can copy an existing pair of pants for you, which is nice if you’re wary of the made-to-measure process. One reader also recommended these Blackbird chinos, though they’re on final sale, and thus not returnable.

(Photo above by The Armoury)

Trad Nirvana: J. Press Tweed, Circa 1953

One of the great things about thrift store shopping is finding something that seems like it comes from another world. This J. Press coat I found over the weekend is a perfect example. It’s a custom job, completed in October of 1953.

The tweed on this feels like it could stop a bullet. In fact, sixty years later, it’s completely unscarred by time. It could well have just come off the production line. Unlike J. Press today, which usually features a single hooked vent, it’s unvented, but it still features the classic three-roll-two button configuration.
 I only wish that it fit me.

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

The OCBD Shirt Series, Part III: The Reviews

For a while, Brooks Brothers used to advertise their oxford button downs as “The Most Imitated Shirt in the World.” And it’s true that there are few shirts, if any, that have been as widely copied. In that same 1926 Men’s Wear article I cited a few posts back, the author wrote about how he went a little “progressive” shop in Los Angeles and they had identical versions of Brooks Brothers’ shirt, copied stitch for stitch. When asked whether they had any left on post-holiday clearance, the clerk smiled and said: “Why those were all gone long ago. Scarcely any remained to put on sale. We get fresh shipments every month, and can scarcely keep them in stock.”

Such is the selling power of one of the most beloved shirts in classic American dress.

The shirt today is still widely copied, so much so that I don’t know how many men really associate it with Brooks Brothers anymore. Not that I necessarily think that’s a bad thing. The imitations are perhaps what make the oxford cloth button down (or OCBD for short) a living and genuine classic.

For the remainder of this series, I’ll give quick-and-dirty reviews of some thirteen or fourteen contemporary makers of OCBDs, so that readers who haven’t yet settled on a favorite can get a quick view of the landscape. Since fit is everything when it comes to clothing, I’ll post measurements of the samples I received. You can use them to compare who makes a slimmer or fuller model, but note that none of these shirts have been laundered (as they were not mine to keep), so there may be some shrinkage. The chest is measured from armpit to armpit, the shoulders from shoulder seam to shoulder seam (measured from the back of the shirt), and the length from the bottom of the collar band to the hem (also measured from the back of the shirt). The length of the collar tips is also included. The most important part of an OCBD is the collar, after all, and how well it rolls or moves is determined by many factors – the positioning of the buttons, the construction of the collar, and how long the collar tips are. I’ll talk about the first two and give measurements of the last.

Mercer & Sons

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Size: 15 x 32

Retail price: $112.50

Features: Curved chest pocket; fully unlined collar; sleeves made with an off center cuff button and no gauntlet button (like Brooks’ originals); 6-button front; box pleat at the back.

Measurements: Chest 24.75”; Waist 23”; Shoulders 18.5”; Length 32.5”; Collar tip: 9.25cm

Impressions: To the extent that there’s a shirt that closely resembles Brooks Brothers’ “Golden Age” oxfords, it would be Mercer’s. The collar is unlined and has long collar tips. The combination of these things produces a very handsome roll when the collar is worn with or without a tie. The cloth, in my opinion, is also much better than any other maker’s. It’s nubbier and there’s more variegation and depth in the color. The only problem is that it fits very, very full. Mercer however, allows you to do customizations fairly easily. You can size down two, such that a size 15 collar can go on a size 14 body. The waist can also be further reduced two or four inches if needed. This should dramatically reduce the fullness, but it will still be less slim than many of the more “fashionable” brands. Best to email Mercer and ask for specific measurements across their size range to see if doing a made-to-order can work for you. If you get something made-to-order, I may also suggest requesting a 7-button front, as this will help the shirt from gaping as the collar naturally shrinks over time.  

O’Connell’s Heavyweight Oxford

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Size: 15 x 32

Retail price: $110

Features: Curved chest pocket; lightly fused collar; box pleat at the back; 7-button front; split yoke.

Measurements: Chest 22.5”; Waist 21”; Shoulders 18.5”; Length 31”; Collar tip: 8.5cm

Impressions: Another one of my favorites. Again, the collar tips are long enough for there to be some expression, which is rarer and rarer to see nowadays from more fashionable companies. When worn, I think O’Connell’s has one of the better collars around. The fit is very traditional and classic, however. Not baggy, mind you, but classic in the real sense of the word. This is a great option for people who take the idea of classic style seriously.

J. Press

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Size: 15 x 32

Retail price: $98

Features: Flapped chest pocket; 7-button front; split yoke; box pleat at the back; collar made with a lightweight, fused interlining.

Measurements: Chest 22”; Waist 20.75”; Shoulders 18.5”; Length 31.5”; Collar tip: 8.5cm

Impressions: Just a tad slimmer than O’Connell’s. Fit is again very traditional and classic, and the collar points are long enough to produce a roll. This version is most distinguished by J. Press’ signature flapped chest pocket, which few other producers make.

Gitman Gold’s Cambridge Oxford

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Size: 15 x 32

Retail price: $135

Features: Curved chest pocket; split yoke; 7-button front; box pleat at the back; collar made with a medium weight fused interlining

Measurements: Chest 21.5”; Waist 20”; Shoulders 18.25”; Length 30”; Collar tip: 8cm

Impressions: Slightly slimmer than the aforementioned options. The collar is a bit too heavily lined for my taste, but it does look good when worn without a tie. The length of the shirt is also a bit short, which makes this harder to tuck if you’re tall. Note, Gitman has a wide line of shirts, and this is only one. You can may also want to check out Gitman Bros., Gitman Sport (blue label), and Gitman Vintage (green label). Their gold label line is Gitman Dress. 

Kamakura

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Size: 15 1/3 x 35 1/2

Retail price: $79

Features: Curved chest pocket; 7-button front; no pleats, but darted, back; off-center button cuff; collar made with a lightweight floating interlining.

Measurements: Chest 21”; Waist 19.5”; Shoulders 17.5”; Length 33”; Collar tip: 9cm

Impressions: I can see Kamakura become very, very popular soon. This fits on the slim side of classic. Not so slim that I’d feel uncomfortable recommending them, but they’re clearly made for someone with classic sensibilities in 2013. The collar is lightly lined, but the interlining is unfused, so you can get a little wrinkling when it’s worn. Nice touches for an OCBD, in my opinion, as wrinkles carry a casual, carefree, American charm. The collar buttons are also spread further apart, which bring the points closer to the lapels of a sport coat when both are worn. This is a great option for someone who likes how a traditional button down collar should look, but wants a slightly more modern fit in the body. Price is fairly affordable too. I would just recommend sizing up a little, as this size 15 1/3 shirt already fits somewhat tighter in the neck than the other options above (which were all sized 15)

Kamakura is currently available in-store in New York City, though you can call them to place orders. They’re also opening an online store within a month. Certainly a company to keep tabs on. 

Check back tomorrow for more reviews. 

Consider the Silk Scarf
If you’re wearing a wool coat this winter, consider pairing it with a silk scarf. Silk scarves aren’t as versatile as ones made from cashmere or lambswool, but they look amazing when worn with heavy dress coats. By that I mean things such as polo coats, Ulster coats, and Chesterfields – the kinds of things that you sometimes see labeled as “dress outerwear” in places such as Brooks Brothers. It’s just another way of saying outerwear that’s dressier than things such as parkas and leather bomber jackets.
A silk scarf can really soften up the look of a heavy wool coat. See Noel Coward above or Gordon Gekko in this scene from the movie Wall Street. In both cases, their scarves in lend a nice sheen to an otherwise matte ensemble. It’s not unlike how we use silk ties and polished shoes to counterbalance the flatness of a wool sport coat or woolen trousers. As I wrote earlier this year, I believe a lot of what it means to dress well is learning how to strike a balance between different elements of what you’re wearing (patterns, texture, hardness/ softness, sheen/ flatness, etc). Light silk scarves do that well with heavy wool coats, so long as the coat is as dressy as the scarf.
There are a few places to buy a silk scarf. My favorite is Drake’s, who sells them in a few different designs. I have two of their reversible dotted tubular scarves – one in navy and one in brown – which kind of look like this, but without the fringed ends. A navy dotted silk scarf is arguably the most versatile version you can buy, though I like my brown one for when I wear navy coats. The difference in color helps distinguish it from the rest of what I’m wearing.
You can also pick some up from traditional men’s haberdashers, such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Paul Stuart, and A Suitable Wardrobe. Additionally, San Francisco’s Wingtip stocks Edward Armah silk scarves, as well as a few under their own house label. You can also buy Edward Armah’s scarves directly from Edward Armah themselves.
Admittedly, all those are quite expensive. You could wait for them to go on sale, but they’ll still be on the pricey side. Alternatively, KJ Beckett sells silk scarves by Michelsons of London (also available through the manufacturer themselves), but I have no first hand experience with their products, so I can’t speak about their quality. You can also try eBay. This seller, for example, regularly stocks them, but his/ her scarves are often short and narrow. That’ll limit how you can wear the scarf. You may be able to get away with wearing it like a muffler underneath your buttoned up coat, but it may look silly if you try anything else. Better if you can get something 64” or longer, but those will typically cost you considerably more. 

Consider the Silk Scarf

If you’re wearing a wool coat this winter, consider pairing it with a silk scarf. Silk scarves aren’t as versatile as ones made from cashmere or lambswool, but they look amazing when worn with heavy dress coats. By that I mean things such as polo coats, Ulster coats, and Chesterfields – the kinds of things that you sometimes see labeled as “dress outerwear” in places such as Brooks Brothers. It’s just another way of saying outerwear that’s dressier than things such as parkas and leather bomber jackets.

A silk scarf can really soften up the look of a heavy wool coat. See Noel Coward above or Gordon Gekko in this scene from the movie Wall Street. In both cases, their scarves in lend a nice sheen to an otherwise matte ensemble. It’s not unlike how we use silk ties and polished shoes to counterbalance the flatness of a wool sport coat or woolen trousers. As I wrote earlier this year, I believe a lot of what it means to dress well is learning how to strike a balance between different elements of what you’re wearing (patterns, texture, hardness/ softness, sheen/ flatness, etc). Light silk scarves do that well with heavy wool coats, so long as the coat is as dressy as the scarf.

There are a few places to buy a silk scarf. My favorite is Drake’s, who sells them in a few different designs. I have two of their reversible dotted tubular scarves – one in navy and one in brown – which kind of look like this, but without the fringed ends. A navy dotted silk scarf is arguably the most versatile version you can buy, though I like my brown one for when I wear navy coats. The difference in color helps distinguish it from the rest of what I’m wearing.

You can also pick some up from traditional men’s haberdashers, such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Paul Stuart, and A Suitable Wardrobe. Additionally, San Francisco’s Wingtip stocks Edward Armah silk scarves, as well as a few under their own house label. You can also buy Edward Armah’s scarves directly from Edward Armah themselves.

Admittedly, all those are quite expensive. You could wait for them to go on sale, but they’ll still be on the pricey side. Alternatively, KJ Beckett sells silk scarves by Michelsons of London (also available through the manufacturer themselves), but I have no first hand experience with their products, so I can’t speak about their quality. You can also try eBay. This seller, for example, regularly stocks them, but his/ her scarves are often short and narrow. That’ll limit how you can wear the scarf. You may be able to get away with wearing it like a muffler underneath your buttoned up coat, but it may look silly if you try anything else. Better if you can get something 64” or longer, but those will typically cost you considerably more. 

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.

The Most Versatile Knit Tie

Jake over at Wax Wane already wrote about black silk knit ties this week, but I thought I’d give them another plug anyway. Black is, unexpectedly, one of the most versatile colors for knit ties. Better than the standard go-to colors for neckwear, such as brown, burgundy, and bottle green. Better even than the always wearable navy. The black silk knit was perhaps most famously worn by the literary version of James Bond, who was often described by Ian Fleming as wearing a dark suit, clean white shirt, and a “thin, black silk knitted tie.” It’s also heavily associated with other mid-century icons such as the fellas in The Rat Pack. In fact, one of the first ties I bought as an undergraduate student was a black silk knit, precisely because I thought Sammy Davis Jr. looked so great in them.

You can wear almost anything with a black silk knit tie: brown tweeds, navy jackets, or grey suits paired with white or light blue shirts in solids, stripes, or checks (knit ties are especially nice with checks). Given that many men today want to wear a tie without looking too formal, the black silk knit is about as good as you can get. Versatile in color; casual in form.

There are many places to score one. On the high-end, we have Drake’s, who makes them in a rather unique weave. They’re also commonly found at traditional American haberdasheries, such as Ben SilverBrooks Brothers, and J. Press (the last of which is having a 25% off sale right now). Additionally, Howard YountKent Wang, and Sid Mashburn sell them for between $60 and $75. For more affordable options, consider Land’s End and KJ Beckett. The stock at Land’s End doesn’t include black right now, but they regularly restock their knit tie inventory in wide range of colors and their navy blue’s more like a midnight blue. If you join their mailing list, you’ll be notified of when they do their 30-40% off sales (which happens a few times a season). That will knock down the price of their knit ties to something around $25. Not bad for a tie you can wear with almost anything. 

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

We Got It For Free: The Knottery Grenadine and Silk Knit Ties
The Knottery, a relatively new entrant in men’s neckwear, recently sent me two of their ties to review. The package came last week and in it was a solid navy grenadine, which is part of a new collection of grenadines they’ve just introduced, as a well as a solid burgundy silk knit.
The silk knit is straightforward enough. Whereas regular neckties have more complicated constructions, silk knits are simply woven on machines either in tubular constructions or attached through a seam at the back. The ones at The Knottery are three inches wide and made in the first method (tubular). Some men prefer this because without the seam, you don’t have the small bump going down the back, which in turn won’t bulk up the knot. I personally have never had a preference either way. What I do think men should consider, however, is the material and weave that the knit is formed in. Silk, cotton and wool will obviously create different looks, and each can be woven in a different weave. One only needs to compare the silk knits at Drake’s, J. Press, and Land’s End to see what I mean. None are better than the others, but they do serve different tastes. If you like the material and weave at The Knottery, these seem like a decent value at $25.
The grenadines are perhaps a bit more exciting. With the exception of Chipp2, I don’t know of any other retailers selling grenadines for under $60. The Knottery’s are $55, three inches wide, and made from the same silk grenadine fabrics that all the other high-end makers use (with the exception of “mock” grenadines, I believe there are only two sources for “true” grenadine fabrics, and both of them are very good). They are also constructed in New York by a very well respected American manufacturer (I can’t reveal who, but they’re well respected).
Perhaps their only faults are that they’re made with a 50/50 polyester-wool interlining, which means that the tie won’t relax as easily after a long day’s wear, and that they’re machine made. Normally, with high-quality wool interlinings, you can hang your tie up for a night and the wrinkles will naturally fall out. This is a bit more difficult with blends. The machined seam at the back also seems a bit tight, which I admit makes me wonder about the tie’s longevity. On the one hand, numerous high-end makers have told me that a slightly looser slip stitch is essential to ensuring that the tie has enough give when it’s being wrapped tightly around a neck, and can return to its original shape when it’s unknotted. On the other hand, before wearing handmade neckties, I wore mid-tier, machine-made ties from department stores for years, many of which had these tighter stitches, and none of them snapped. Their only problem was that they looked a bit lifeless and failed to give a good dimple when knotted, but none of these are issues that The Knottery’s grenadines suffer from.
Outside of those concerns, the rest are just preferences. My favorite grenadines are from Drake’s, Sulka (now defunct), and E.G. Cappelli, all of which are lightly lined. The Knottery’s are a bit heavier, but not as heavy as my grenadines from J. Press. They also have a slightly peculiar feel when you rub the fabric between two fingers – a feel that’s not too unlike rubbing the fabric of a silk knit together, which doesn’t happen with any of my other four-in-hands. Not better or worse for it, mind you, just different.
Of course, some may wonder how these compare to Chipp2’s grenadines, which are the other affordable option on the market. I admit I like Chipp2’s lighter feel, pure wool interlining, and hand construction, but I dislike that their outer fabric (the silk) is somewhat loosely attached to the interlining itself. The Knottery’s are built like all of my other grenadines, with the brushed interlining staying close to the silk, and I think it gives a more handsome dimple. They’re also easier to order from, though some might find charm in Chipp2’s slightly roundabout process. Perhaps most importantly, Chipp2’s are made from garza fina, which have a fine weave, whereas The Knottery’s are garza grossa, which have a slight honeycomb like appearance. Again, purely a matter of taste, but I generally prefer garza fina with suits made from smoother, worsted wools, and garza grossa with more informal jackets.  
Either way, for those on a budget, you now have two sources to get an affordable grenadine – Chipp2 and The Knottery – both of which offer decent options. 

We Got It For Free: The Knottery Grenadine and Silk Knit Ties

The Knottery, a relatively new entrant in men’s neckwear, recently sent me two of their ties to review. The package came last week and in it was a solid navy grenadine, which is part of a new collection of grenadines they’ve just introduced, as a well as a solid burgundy silk knit.

The silk knit is straightforward enough. Whereas regular neckties have more complicated constructions, silk knits are simply woven on machines either in tubular constructions or attached through a seam at the back. The ones at The Knottery are three inches wide and made in the first method (tubular). Some men prefer this because without the seam, you don’t have the small bump going down the back, which in turn won’t bulk up the knot. I personally have never had a preference either way. What I do think men should consider, however, is the material and weave that the knit is formed in. Silk, cotton and wool will obviously create different looks, and each can be woven in a different weave. One only needs to compare the silk knits at Drake’s, J. Press, and Land’s End to see what I mean. None are better than the others, but they do serve different tastes. If you like the material and weave at The Knottery, these seem like a decent value at $25.

The grenadines are perhaps a bit more exciting. With the exception of Chipp2, I don’t know of any other retailers selling grenadines for under $60. The Knottery’s are $55, three inches wide, and made from the same silk grenadine fabrics that all the other high-end makers use (with the exception of “mock” grenadines, I believe there are only two sources for “true” grenadine fabrics, and both of them are very good). They are also constructed in New York by a very well respected American manufacturer (I can’t reveal who, but they’re well respected).

Perhaps their only faults are that they’re made with a 50/50 polyester-wool interlining, which means that the tie won’t relax as easily after a long day’s wear, and that they’re machine made. Normally, with high-quality wool interlinings, you can hang your tie up for a night and the wrinkles will naturally fall out. This is a bit more difficult with blends. The machined seam at the back also seems a bit tight, which I admit makes me wonder about the tie’s longevity. On the one hand, numerous high-end makers have told me that a slightly looser slip stitch is essential to ensuring that the tie has enough give when it’s being wrapped tightly around a neck, and can return to its original shape when it’s unknotted. On the other hand, before wearing handmade neckties, I wore mid-tier, machine-made ties from department stores for years, many of which had these tighter stitches, and none of them snapped. Their only problem was that they looked a bit lifeless and failed to give a good dimple when knotted, but none of these are issues that The Knottery’s grenadines suffer from.

Outside of those concerns, the rest are just preferences. My favorite grenadines are from Drake’s, Sulka (now defunct), and E.G. Cappelli, all of which are lightly lined. The Knottery’s are a bit heavier, but not as heavy as my grenadines from J. Press. They also have a slightly peculiar feel when you rub the fabric between two fingers – a feel that’s not too unlike rubbing the fabric of a silk knit together, which doesn’t happen with any of my other four-in-hands. Not better or worse for it, mind you, just different.

Of course, some may wonder how these compare to Chipp2’s grenadines, which are the other affordable option on the market. I admit I like Chipp2’s lighter feel, pure wool interlining, and hand construction, but I dislike that their outer fabric (the silk) is somewhat loosely attached to the interlining itself. The Knottery’s are built like all of my other grenadines, with the brushed interlining staying close to the silk, and I think it gives a more handsome dimple. They’re also easier to order from, though some might find charm in Chipp2’s slightly roundabout process. Perhaps most importantly, Chipp2’s are made from garza fina, which have a fine weave, whereas The Knottery’s are garza grossa, which have a slight honeycomb like appearance. Again, purely a matter of taste, but I generally prefer garza fina with suits made from smoother, worsted wools, and garza grossa with more informal jackets.  

Either way, for those on a budget, you now have two sources to get an affordable grenadine – Chipp2 and The Knottery – both of which offer decent options. 

Most items are 30% off in the J. Press sale. Nice deals on a lot of stuff.

Most items are 30% off in the J. Press sale. Nice deals on a lot of stuff.