The Very Useful Black Tie
One of the biggest fights in men’s fashion during the early 19th century was over the appropriate color of men’s neckwear. At the time, men wore cravats (a type of decorative neckerchief) in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and knots, but always in one color and one color only — white. Pristine white too, so as to show that you were a member of high society.
Which is why there was such a big backlash in 1840 when some liberal minded dressers started wearing them in black. As one leading magazine of the day wrote about it:

One of the most important events of the moment is the conflict between the black cravat and the white cravat. Can one now appear in good society with a black silk tie? Convention’s repose is an unhesitating no. But the new fashion answers in the affirmative. […] What’s next? How will Paris respond? According to our sources at their embassies, the great world powers are divided on the question. One irate woman of high society has brought forward the following thread, ‘If the level of male indecency reaches the point of wearing black cravats, we will be forced into retaliating by raising the necklines of our dresses.’

Despite such serious threats, black cravats became the norm by 1850. 
Today, men don’t wear cravats, of course, but rather neckties, and black is one of the most useful colors you can own (along with navy). One or two should be enough, with at least one of those being a silk knit or grenadine. As we’ve written before, the advantage of ties that are both solid colored and textured is that you can wear them with almost any kind of shirt and jacket combination. If your shirt and jacket are patterned, the solid color of your tie will keep things from looking too busy. If instead your shirt and jacket are solid colored, then the textured weave will keep things from looking too boring. Such ties are the easiest to put on in the morning when you don’t want to think too much about what to wear.
In black, things are doubly easy. You can wear black ties with tan cotton or linen sport coats in the summer and things will still look suitably light and cheery. In the winter, you can wear them with grey flannel suits and brown tweed jackets for a more somber look. Additionally, a black tie can add a little color variation to a navy jacket when a navy tie might feel too matchy-matchy. 
To get a good black grenadine, check places such as Drake’s, EG Cappelli, Kent Wang, J. Press, Sam Hober, A Suitable Wardrobe, and our advertiser Chipp Neckwear. I like EG Cappelli for their soft construction, Sam Hober for their flexibility (they do custom ties), and Chipp Neckwear for their affordability. For knit ties, you can check the same makers, but add Land’s End to the list.
(Photo via Voxsartoria)

The Very Useful Black Tie

One of the biggest fights in men’s fashion during the early 19th century was over the appropriate color of men’s neckwear. At the time, men wore cravats (a type of decorative neckerchief) in all sorts of shapes, sizes, and knots, but always in one color and one color only — white. Pristine white too, so as to show that you were a member of high society.

Which is why there was such a big backlash in 1840 when some liberal minded dressers started wearing them in black. As one leading magazine of the day wrote about it:

One of the most important events of the moment is the conflict between the black cravat and the white cravat. Can one now appear in good society with a black silk tie? Convention’s repose is an unhesitating no. But the new fashion answers in the affirmative. […] What’s next? How will Paris respond? According to our sources at their embassies, the great world powers are divided on the question. One irate woman of high society has brought forward the following thread, ‘If the level of male indecency reaches the point of wearing black cravats, we will be forced into retaliating by raising the necklines of our dresses.’

Despite such serious threats, black cravats became the norm by 1850. 

Today, men don’t wear cravats, of course, but rather neckties, and black is one of the most useful colors you can own (along with navy). One or two should be enough, with at least one of those being a silk knit or grenadine. As we’ve written before, the advantage of ties that are both solid colored and textured is that you can wear them with almost any kind of shirt and jacket combination. If your shirt and jacket are patterned, the solid color of your tie will keep things from looking too busy. If instead your shirt and jacket are solid colored, then the textured weave will keep things from looking too boring. Such ties are the easiest to put on in the morning when you don’t want to think too much about what to wear.

In black, things are doubly easy. You can wear black ties with tan cotton or linen sport coats in the summer and things will still look suitably light and cheery. In the winter, you can wear them with grey flannel suits and brown tweed jackets for a more somber look. Additionally, a black tie can add a little color variation to a navy jacket when a navy tie might feel too matchy-matchy. 

To get a good black grenadine, check places such as Drake’s, EG Cappelli, Kent Wang, J. Press, Sam Hober, A Suitable Wardrobe, and our advertiser Chipp Neckwear. I like EG Cappelli for their soft construction, Sam Hober for their flexibility (they do custom ties), and Chipp Neckwear for their affordability. For knit ties, you can check the same makers, but add Land’s End to the list.

(Photo via Voxsartoria)

Where to Buy Good Pants (Part Two)
The market for trousers is pretty wonky. There’s surprisingly not that many good options, and despite there being a new company popping up every month for Goodyear welted shoes or handmade ties, the number of companies selling trousers over the years has remained relatively steady. 
Still, there are some great places to consider. Yesterday we talked about some some expensive options. Today we’ll cover the more affordable stuff. 
Howard Yount ($115-195): A favorite for many people, including me. They have two cuts – a slimmer Italian-made line and a fuller American-made line – but the differences are really small. Their pants are often recommended for a few simple reasons: the prices are competitive, the quality solid, the cuts slim, and they have a wide range of fabric options. The only downside is that they’ve been getting a lot of complaints for their poor customer service, but the fact that people still buy from them is a perhaps a testament to their product.
Epaulet ($150-275): Another popularly recommended source. The pricing and quality here is similar to Yount’s, but the cuts are slightly slimmer. Walt is their standard slim fit, while the Rudy has a bit more room in the seat and thighs. They also recently introduced their Driggs cut, which is an even slimmer model with a lower rise. Folks interested in picking from a wider fabric selection can utilize Epaulet’s made-to-order program. We reviewed it here.
J. Press ($82-330): A great source for traditionally cut trousers. Meaning, a higher rise (which will help you avoid that dreaded shirt triangle Jesse talked about) and a slightly fuller leg. In some models, they also give the option of a longer or shorter rise, although most of what they sell is called “regular.” In more exact terms, I find their “regular” rise to come up just below my navel, which isn’t too unlike the Ralph Lauren Preston cuts and Brooks Brothers Black Fleece models we talked about yesterday. 
J. Crew ($50-128): J. Crew’s Classic Bowery trousers are said to be very similar in cut to Howard Yount’s trousers, and have a slightly higher rise than what’s offered on the company’s Bowery Slim. You can find measurements for both models here. Like with everything at J. Crew, the key here is to wait for sales, as almost everything gets discounted throughout the season. 
Land’s End ($50-129): Always the reliable source for good, affordable clothing, Land’s End has a line of “tailored fit” pants. Measurements, however, suggest that the cut might differ from material to material. For example, these Super 110 wools are said to fit similar to Howard Yount’s trousers, but these “year’rounders” seem to be a dowdier cut. Two years ago, I tried the same fit in their moleskin fabrics, and found them to be much too slim to wear. On the upside, returns at Land’s End are fairly easy, so little is lost if you try a pair out. Like with J. Crew, however, you’ll want to wait for one of the company’s many promotions. 
Mabitex and Incotex ($50-400): Two great brands that are often sold at steep discounts in the secondary markets (e.g. eBay, Yoox, StyleForum’s Buying & Selling subforum, etc). Unfortunately, what you save in money, you’ll spend in time. The quality and fits here can really range, which is why you’ll want to pay close attention to what you’re buying (look for measurements). That said, when these are good, they’re really good. Especially at the prices they often go for. 
Benjamin ($99-115): Much like Incotex and Mabitex, the fits here are all over the place. If you pay attention to the measurements though, and compare them to your existing trousers, you can get a well-fitting pair at an exceptional price. 
Costco ($39-50): There are rumors that Costco’s house line, Kirkland, has nice wool trousers. I unfortunately haven’t had a chance to check them out, but perhaps you can take a look next time you’re there buying batteries in packs of a thousand. 
(Thanks to Ivory Tower Style, Luxe Swap, This Fits, and Voxsartoria for their help with this post. Also, credit to Howard Yount for the photo above).

Where to Buy Good Pants (Part Two)

The market for trousers is pretty wonky. There’s surprisingly not that many good options, and despite there being a new company popping up every month for Goodyear welted shoes or handmade ties, the number of companies selling trousers over the years has remained relatively steady. 

Still, there are some great places to consider. Yesterday we talked about some some expensive options. Today we’ll cover the more affordable stuff. 

  • Howard Yount ($115-195): A favorite for many people, including me. They have two cuts – a slimmer Italian-made line and a fuller American-made line – but the differences are really small. Their pants are often recommended for a few simple reasons: the prices are competitive, the quality solid, the cuts slim, and they have a wide range of fabric options. The only downside is that they’ve been getting a lot of complaints for their poor customer service, but the fact that people still buy from them is a perhaps a testament to their product.
  • Epaulet ($150-275): Another popularly recommended source. The pricing and quality here is similar to Yount’s, but the cuts are slightly slimmer. Walt is their standard slim fit, while the Rudy has a bit more room in the seat and thighs. They also recently introduced their Driggs cut, which is an even slimmer model with a lower rise. Folks interested in picking from a wider fabric selection can utilize Epaulet’s made-to-order program. We reviewed it here.
  • J. Press ($82-330): A great source for traditionally cut trousers. Meaning, a higher rise (which will help you avoid that dreaded shirt triangle Jesse talked about) and a slightly fuller leg. In some models, they also give the option of a longer or shorter rise, although most of what they sell is called “regular.” In more exact terms, I find their “regular” rise to come up just below my navel, which isn’t too unlike the Ralph Lauren Preston cuts and Brooks Brothers Black Fleece models we talked about yesterday
  • J. Crew ($50-128): J. Crew’s Classic Bowery trousers are said to be very similar in cut to Howard Yount’s trousers, and have a slightly higher rise than what’s offered on the company’s Bowery Slim. You can find measurements for both models here. Like with everything at J. Crew, the key here is to wait for sales, as almost everything gets discounted throughout the season. 
  • Land’s End ($50-129): Always the reliable source for good, affordable clothing, Land’s End has a line of “tailored fit” pants. Measurements, however, suggest that the cut might differ from material to material. For example, these Super 110 wools are said to fit similar to Howard Yount’s trousers, but these “year’rounders” seem to be a dowdier cut. Two years ago, I tried the same fit in their moleskin fabrics, and found them to be much too slim to wear. On the upside, returns at Land’s End are fairly easy, so little is lost if you try a pair out. Like with J. Crew, however, you’ll want to wait for one of the company’s many promotions. 
  • Mabitex and Incotex ($50-400): Two great brands that are often sold at steep discounts in the secondary markets (e.g. eBay, Yoox, StyleForum’s Buying & Selling subforum, etc). Unfortunately, what you save in money, you’ll spend in time. The quality and fits here can really range, which is why you’ll want to pay close attention to what you’re buying (look for measurements). That said, when these are good, they’re really good. Especially at the prices they often go for. 
  • Benjamin ($99-115): Much like Incotex and Mabitex, the fits here are all over the place. If you pay attention to the measurements though, and compare them to your existing trousers, you can get a well-fitting pair at an exceptional price. 
  • Costco ($39-50): There are rumors that Costco’s house line, Kirkland, has nice wool trousers. I unfortunately haven’t had a chance to check them out, but perhaps you can take a look next time you’re there buying batteries in packs of a thousand. 

(Thanks to Ivory Tower StyleLuxe SwapThis Fits, and Voxsartoria for their help with this post. Also, credit to Howard Yount for the photo above).

Silk Knit Ties for Summer
Silk knit ties are great for wear year round, but they’re especially nice in the summer. This is partly because they go well with the rumpled linens and cottons we wear when the weather gets hot, and it’s partly because summer clothes often look better when they’re a bit more casual (and the silk knit is the most casual tie of all). If you wear sport coats this season, there are few better ties to reach for than the silk knit.
The good news is that - unlike with regular neckties - the differences in quality here are much smaller. All knit ties are made by machine, which means there’s less variation to be had in handwork. They also don’t have an interlining inside (which regular neckties do), so the construction is much simpler. As a result, which silk knit you buy is largely about design and taste.
You can break up silk knits first by thinking of them in terms of their material. Even though all silk knits are obviously made from silk, each will have a different kind of “crunchiness” to them. Some will feel very crunchy in the hand, while others will be softer and floppier.
Of the crunchy variety, there’s Drake’s, Exquisite Trimmings, Conrad Wu for something with a denser weave, and Land’s End, KJ Beckett, Paul Stuart, Howard Yount, and our advertiser Ledbury for something looser. Notice that the different weaving patterns give the ties different textures. None are better or worse; just different.  
For something softer and floppier, there’s J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Ben Silver, Kent Wang, and The Knottery. Each, again, have theirs made in their own weaving patterns, which give them different textures. Rubinacci and Sozzi also make some in really attractive and unique patterns. You can find Sozzi at No Man Walks Alone, Exquisite Trimmings, and The Armoury (though you’ll have to call or email The Armoury to order).
My favorites? Probably the Drake’s for their width and texture, at least if you’re going for solid colors. Sozzi and Rubinacci are really nice for something a bit more unique. Few ties can beat Land’s End in terms of value, though. At full price, they’re a bit expensive, but if you wait for one of their many sales, it’s not hard to grab one for about $30. If you haven’t already, get one in solid black. It’s arguably the most versatile silk knit you can own.

Silk Knit Ties for Summer

Silk knit ties are great for wear year round, but they’re especially nice in the summer. This is partly because they go well with the rumpled linens and cottons we wear when the weather gets hot, and it’s partly because summer clothes often look better when they’re a bit more casual (and the silk knit is the most casual tie of all). If you wear sport coats this season, there are few better ties to reach for than the silk knit.

The good news is that - unlike with regular neckties - the differences in quality here are much smaller. All knit ties are made by machine, which means there’s less variation to be had in handwork. They also don’t have an interlining inside (which regular neckties do), so the construction is much simpler. As a result, which silk knit you buy is largely about design and taste.

You can break up silk knits first by thinking of them in terms of their material. Even though all silk knits are obviously made from silk, each will have a different kind of “crunchiness” to them. Some will feel very crunchy in the hand, while others will be softer and floppier.

Of the crunchy variety, there’s Drake’sExquisite TrimmingsConrad Wu for something with a denser weave, and Land’s EndKJ Beckett, Paul StuartHoward Yount, and our advertiser Ledbury for something looser. Notice that the different weaving patterns give the ties different textures. None are better or worse; just different.  

For something softer and floppier, there’s J. PressBrooks BrothersBen SilverKent Wang, and The Knottery. Each, again, have theirs made in their own weaving patterns, which give them different textures. Rubinacci and Sozzi also make some in really attractive and unique patterns. You can find Sozzi at No Man Walks AloneExquisite Trimmings, and The Armoury (though you’ll have to call or email The Armoury to order).

My favorites? Probably the Drake’s for their width and texture, at least if you’re going for solid colors. Sozzi and Rubinacci are really nice for something a bit more unique. Few ties can beat Land’s End in terms of value, though. At full price, they’re a bit expensive, but if you wait for one of their many sales, it’s not hard to grab one for about $30. If you haven’t already, get one in solid black. It’s arguably the most versatile silk knit you can own.

Touchscreen Gloves

In the age of iPads and smartphones, it’s surprising that there aren’t that many options for attractive, touchscreen-friendly gloves. Many are overdesigned and too techy looking, like something that would come out of an REI store.

I recently came across this problem while I was searching for a pair for my cousin, who received iPhone for Christmas, but also lives in Canada, where gloves are a winter necessity. On the casual side, there’s iTap and Etre, although neither of them are particularly attractive. Muji and Isotoner have plain, simple designs, but I was afraid the acrylic composition wouldn’t be warm enough.

The best I’ve found are leather gloves, which in recent years have come with various gadget-friendly solutions. The simplest are by Pengallan and Land’s End, where there’s a slit in the index finger that allows you to operate your devices. The Pengallans are nice in that they’re made with a horizontal slit instead of a vertical one (which is what the Land’s End model features). This allows you to more easily pull the leather back when you need to push the tiny buttons on your cell phone. There are also gloves that are conductive through leather. You can purchase those through Isotoner or Dents (the second being also available at Mr. Porter), or have them custom made through Chester Jefferies. Chester Jefferies makes great custom gloves if you send them a tracing of your hand, but for better results, I recommend submitting a photocopy. That way, you won’t get any errors from changing the angle of your pen as you trace.  

If you’re daring, you can also try to hack your current set of gloves so they become conductive. There are a number of YouTube videos that show you how, as well as posts at Fashioning Tech and Instructables. It might be wise to be extra-careful if you’re working with leather, however, as you won’t be able to hide poked holes, so mistakes will be costly. 

(Pictured above: Pengallan gloves)

The Soft Silk Knit
For as long as I’ve been buying silk knit ties, I’ve always preferred the crunchy variety - the kind where if you squeeze the tie in your hand, the silk material feels a bit “crunchy” as it rubs against itself. I like these for their heavier weight, as the tie doesn’t flop around as much, and for their more distinctive visual texture. You can find them on the high-end at Drake’s, but the best bang-for-you-buck might be from Land’s End. Those retail at $60, but it’s not uncommon to see them go for ~$30 during one of their many sales. 
Some months ago, however, I came across this photo of Dr. Keith Churchwell. Here, he’s seen wearing a brown hat, light blue shirt, Russell plaid jacket, and a burgundy soft-knit tie. The softer knit tie seems so much better suited to an autumnal ensemble, much like how a wool tie would be a better here than any of your basic silks. So, I’ve been hunting for a good soft knit to try out. 
Luckily, it’s easier to find soft knits than crunchy ones. Many the more traditional American clothiers will carry them, such as O’Connell’s, Ben Silver, and J. Press. For something more affordable, there’s The Knottery. In addition to silk, there are also ones made from wool, cashmere, and alpaca blends. Our friend Will at A Suitable Wardrobe has some cashmere ones on sale, and Brooks Brothers just came out with these Donegals. I may just try one of these options out this fall. 
Incidentally, the photo above was taken by Rose Callahan, who has two upcoming events for new her book I Am Dandy. The first is on November 7th from 6-8pm at the Fine and Dandy shop in New York City, and the second is on November 18th from 6-8pm at the National Arts Club (also in New York City). The second will double as the opening reception for a weeklong exhibition of prints by our friend Rose. If you’re in town, stop by and tell her we said hi. 

The Soft Silk Knit

For as long as I’ve been buying silk knit ties, I’ve always preferred the crunchy variety - the kind where if you squeeze the tie in your hand, the silk material feels a bit “crunchy” as it rubs against itself. I like these for their heavier weight, as the tie doesn’t flop around as much, and for their more distinctive visual texture. You can find them on the high-end at Drake’s, but the best bang-for-you-buck might be from Land’s End. Those retail at $60, but it’s not uncommon to see them go for ~$30 during one of their many sales. 

Some months ago, however, I came across this photo of Dr. Keith Churchwell. Here, he’s seen wearing a brown hat, light blue shirt, Russell plaid jacket, and a burgundy soft-knit tie. The softer knit tie seems so much better suited to an autumnal ensemble, much like how a wool tie would be a better here than any of your basic silks. So, I’ve been hunting for a good soft knit to try out. 

Luckily, it’s easier to find soft knits than crunchy ones. Many the more traditional American clothiers will carry them, such as O’Connell’s, Ben Silver, and J. Press. For something more affordable, there’s The Knottery. In addition to silk, there are also ones made from wool, cashmere, and alpaca blends. Our friend Will at A Suitable Wardrobe has some cashmere ones on sale, and Brooks Brothers just came out with these Donegals. I may just try one of these options out this fall. 

Incidentally, the photo above was taken by Rose Callahan, who has two upcoming events for new her book I Am Dandy. The first is on November 7th from 6-8pm at the Fine and Dandy shop in New York City, and the second is on November 18th from 6-8pm at the National Arts Club (also in New York City). The second will double as the opening reception for a weeklong exhibition of prints by our friend Rose. If you’re in town, stop by and tell her we said hi. 

Where To Look First for a Suit (Part One)

Far and away, the most common question I get in my inbox is: “Where should I go to buy a suit, given my budget is X?” I usually try to stay away from such questions, as too much depends on the person’s specific needs. Where are you planning to wear the suit? What kind of styles do you like? What kind of climate do you live in? All these make it difficult to recommend something over email.

However, I’ve always thought it’d be helpful to have a list of recommendations for a broader audience. Something that’s painted with big, broad brushes. So, I reached out to some friends to see what they’d suggest, given different budgets, and added a few ideas myself. Of course, you might go to these stores and find nothing works for you, but at least you have a list of where you might want to look first.

For a budget of ~$500 and under

  • Suit Supply: A pretty good first stop. They have a wide range of styles to fit different tastes and body types. Jackets will typically be half-canvassed, and be made from fabrics sourced from respectable mills. Their lookbook styling is a bit fashion forward, but once you actually check out their stuff in person, you can usually find some reasonably classic designs.
  • Land’s End: Not the greatest in terms of construction, but impressive in terms of price. Check out their “tailored fit” and wait for one of their many sales.   

For a budget between ~$500 and ~$1,000

  • Brooks Brothers: Brooks Brothers has 25% off sales pretty regularly, and sometimes you can knock an additional 15% off by opening up a Brooks Brothers credit card (some sales associates won’t let you stack these discounts, but most will). That should bring the price down to under $1,000. Their newest cut, the Milano, is perhaps too trendy to recommend, but they have three good “classic” models. From slimmest to fullest, they go: Fitzgerald, Regent, and Madison. Note, you can sometimes also catch their premium Golden Fleece line on Rue La La for just under $500.
  • J. Crew: Their Ludlow series can be a good starting point for many men. Just watch out for the models with razor-thin lapels, which might look dated in a few years. 
  • Howard Yount: Very respectable half-canvassed suits that are, again, made from nice fabrics. They’re also styled fairly well.
  • Proper Suit: Made-to-measure suits for prices starting at $750. You can see our friend The Silentist review them here. If you go, bring along your best fitting jacket and trousers, so you can say what you like and don’t like.
  • Southwick: Classic American styled suits that start at $1,000 or so. You can find them at O’Connell’s or any number of classic American clothiers. They also have made-to-measure for around $1,200, give or take, depending on the fabric. A good option for someone with truly classic tastes.
  • Lardini: Terrible name, but nice Italian suits. Full retail price is north of $1,000, but you can easily find them on sale. Just check places like Yoox (and ignore Yoox’s terrible styling).
  • Benjamin: Great fabric, full-canvas construction, and nice detailing (e.g. discrete pick stitching). Their cuts are slightly fashion forward, but still office appropriate. Our friend This Fits owns their Classico and Napoli models and likes them a lot.

Come back tomorrow, when we’ll cover suits in the four-digit range.

(Special thanks to La Casuarina, A Bit of Color, This Fits, Ivory Tower Style, Réginald-Jérôme de Mans, and Breathnaigh for their help with this article. Also, credit to Suit Supply and Brooks Brothers for the two images above.)

It’s On Sale: Land’s End Raw Silk Ties

If you’ve ever liked raw silk ties but can’t get over the price (they’re ~$150 new, or ~$80 on sale), they’re apparently now available at Land’s End for just $30. Colors are unfortunately not that appealing, but the development of affordable raw silk ties is interesting. Hopefully Land’s End will expand their selection in the future. 

Barbour Alternatives

Although they’ve become a bit trendy in the last few years, I think there are few better coats for fall than one of Barbour’s waxed cotton jackets. As I mentioned over the weekend, their two most popular models are the Beaufort and Bedale (the Bedale being the shorter of the two). Both have waxed cotton shells, corduroy collars, sewn-in throatlatches, and storm cuffs for added protection against the elements. These look at home in the countryside when you’re out for a stroll, or if you’re in the city going to a flea market. I also just like to wear mine over sweaters whenever the weather is a bit wet and cold.

The problem is that they’re a bit expensive. Full retail runs $375-400, and many people find they have to pay an additional $50-70 to lengthen the sleeves. You can find a second-hand one on eBay for between $150-250, depending on the condition, but sometimes these will come with a musty smell. They can be cleaned, but that service can run you another $75-100, all costs included.

On the upside, there are a number of more affordable alternatives. Here are a few that I found:

  • Orvis: Orvis has a few Barbour-ish looking pieces on sale, including this unwaxed Ventile field jacket, dry waxed canvas field coat, and waxed moto jacket. There are also these dry waxed “heritage” coats, Sandanona jackets, and barn coats (granted, the last one isn’t very Barbour-y, but it’s close enough). Note, Orvis’ outerwear tends to run big, so it might be good to either size down when ordering or stop by your local Orvis shop to try things on first.
  • LL Bean: Like Orvis, LL Bean is another good, classic outfitter for outdoorsmen. One of their most famous garments is their barn coat, and while it’s again not exactly Barbour-ish, it’s somewhat similar. These come in both waxed and unwaxed versions, with the unwaxed one being a bit slimmer fitting (I have one and like it, although I wish it were lined the sleeves). They also have something they call an Upland Field coat, which comes in two versions. This one with orange detailing is on sale.
  • Brooks Brothers: If you’re open to a bit more experimentation, Brooks Brothers has this waxed cotton coat with metal clips.
  • Lands End: Ever the stand-by for affordable clothing, Land’s End has a very Barbour-y looking coat for just under $100. In the past, these fit more like Barbour’s Beaufort than Bedale. 
  • Gap: Gap has a decent looking model this season for $128, though it might be a good idea to stop by one of their stores to first inspect the quality (sources say it’s not actually waxed). They do sales pretty often, so you can probably grab this at 25-50% off if you wait for a coupon code.
  • J Crew: J Crew has a waxed cotton field jacket and barn coat this season. The fabric on the barn coat isn’t as robust as the LL Beans, but on the upside, it fits slimmer than the originals from which it takes inspiration. 
  • Eddie Bauer: Eddie Bauer’s Kettle Mountain StormShed Jacket isn’t inexpensive at $300, but my guess is that you can probably get this at a deep discount if you wait long enough.
  • Filson: This cover cloth weekender coat is unlikely to be discounted much, but it looks nice and Filson’s quality is very good.
  • Debenhams: Savile Row’s Patrick Grant recently did a collaboration line with Debenhams. I haven’t handled any of these pieces, but the Dalston hunting jacket and Renbold quilted jacket (available in olive and navy) look pretty good for the price. Like the ones by Gap, J Crew, and Brooks Brothers, you can expect these to be slim-fitting interpretations of the more utilitarian designs by Barbour, LL Bean, and Orvis.
  • Campbell Cooper: Some of these designs admittedly look a bit iffy, but after some “antiquing,” one StyleForum member made his look pretty good.
  • John Partridge: An old British maker of hunting jackets, only theirs are always made in England (Barbours are sometimes made abroad). The quality is good, but the fit is full. On the upside, you can find these for pretty cheap on eBay. Here are some in navy and brown. You’ll want to get garment measurements before actually ordering. 
  • Hoggs of Fife: Another old British country outfitter. I’m unsure of the sizing, but you can browse some of their jackets at Ardmoor, Scot Web, and Fife Country
Hanes Crew Socks
As I’ve gotten older and my style has matured, I’ve found that my choices in socks have become really basic. For dress trousers and chinos, I usually wear solid navy over-the-calf socks made from either cotton or wool blends (cotton if it’s hot; wool otherwise). I really like the ones from Marcoliani and Dapper Classics, but Bresciani is also nice (though, from my experience, some of their patterned socks are a bit more delicate than other brands’). For something more affordable, you can get Pantherellas at 35-40% off using one of Sierra Trading Post’s DealFlyer coupons, or just pick up some basic Gold Toes.
Dress socks are a bit strange to wear with jeans though, so for those times, I wear simple, grey, cotton crew socks. In the past, I’ve bought mine from Uniqlo and Land’s End. I like Uniqlo’s slightly more “retro” designs, but like Jesse, have found Land’s End to hold up a bit better (Uniqlo’s are cheaper, but they tend to fuzz up in the wash).
On a whim earlier this year, I picked up some of these basic grey crew socks from Hanes. They often run 25%-off promotional specials if you buy over a certain amount, which made these socks, coupled with some much needed white Beefy Tees, cheap enough to try.
I’ve been wearing them pretty hard and consistently this past summer, and I’m really impressed with how well they’ve held up. No fuzzing, no loss in elasticity, and they stay up on my leg for the most part throughout the day. Best of all, they cost less than $2 a pair. These are nice affordable basics in the most reasonable definition of affordable. That’s much appreciated given how expensive other “affordable basics” are nowadays.

Hanes Crew Socks

As I’ve gotten older and my style has matured, I’ve found that my choices in socks have become really basic. For dress trousers and chinos, I usually wear solid navy over-the-calf socks made from either cotton or wool blends (cotton if it’s hot; wool otherwise). I really like the ones from Marcoliani and Dapper Classics, but Bresciani is also nice (though, from my experience, some of their patterned socks are a bit more delicate than other brands’). For something more affordable, you can get Pantherellas at 35-40% off using one of Sierra Trading Post’s DealFlyer coupons, or just pick up some basic Gold Toes.

Dress socks are a bit strange to wear with jeans though, so for those times, I wear simple, grey, cotton crew socks. In the past, I’ve bought mine from Uniqlo and Land’s End. I like Uniqlo’s slightly more “retro” designs, but like Jesse, have found Land’s End to hold up a bit better (Uniqlo’s are cheaper, but they tend to fuzz up in the wash).

On a whim earlier this year, I picked up some of these basic grey crew socks from Hanes. They often run 25%-off promotional specials if you buy over a certain amount, which made these socks, coupled with some much needed white Beefy Tees, cheap enough to try.

I’ve been wearing them pretty hard and consistently this past summer, and I’m really impressed with how well they’ve held up. No fuzzing, no loss in elasticity, and they stay up on my leg for the most part throughout the day. Best of all, they cost less than $2 a pair. These are nice affordable basics in the most reasonable definition of affordable. That’s much appreciated given how expensive other “affordable basics” are nowadays.

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.