It’s On Sale: Luciano Barbera at Vente Privee
Vente Privee is offering a broad variety of Luciano Barbera clothing, from suits to sportcoats to ties, for about 80% off. I think the outerwear, clocking in at about a grand for an overcoat, is a particularly excellent value for those of you looking for something beautiful that you can wear almost every day in cold weather, all winter long.
As per usual with these flash sale sites, you can use our invitation to sign up for an account.

It’s On Sale: Luciano Barbera at Vente Privee

Vente Privee is offering a broad variety of Luciano Barbera clothing, from suits to sportcoats to ties, for about 80% off. I think the outerwear, clocking in at about a grand for an overcoat, is a particularly excellent value for those of you looking for something beautiful that you can wear almost every day in cold weather, all winter long.

As per usual with these flash sale sites, you can use our invitation to sign up for an account.

Linen Sport Coats for Summer
Everyone has their own pick for what they’d consider a summer essential. For me, it’d be a breathable sport coat. Something made from an open weave material — and has little canvassing, lining, or padding inside — will wear much cooler than your standard year-round wools. In fact, as hot as the weather gets in July and August, I don’t even touch my “year round” sport coats until October. 
Most open weave materials can be classified as one of two types: tropical wool and linen. More of than not, breathable sport coats will be made from linen, partly because tropical wools tend to be very smooth, so they’re reserved for suits. The upside to linen is that it not only breathes well, but it’s also a good way to take the inherent dressiness out of a tailored jacket. Nothing says carefree and casual like having a few rumples and wrinkles in your sport coat. 
You can wear linen jackets with almost anything, but I find they tend to look best with linen trousers. Something in a contrasting color, but similar weave, will make it so that your jacket and trousers are distinctive, but also harmonious. That is, pair smooth, tightly woven linens with other smooth, tightly woven linens; and slubby, spongy linens with other slubby spongy linens. A linen jacket will also pair well with cotton chinos, as both will have the same casual, summery sensibility. Between these two fabrics, you have a world of trouser options once you play around with color. 
Don’t get too hung up on rules though. Luciano Barbera once advocated wearing a linen jacket with wool flannels, and while I personally wouldn’t do it — who am I to argue with one of the world’s best dressed men? Patrick Johnson of P. Johnson Tailors is also pictured above wearing a linen jacket with denim. If you want to try that kind of combination, consider getting a jacket that’s slightly shorter in length and forgoing the tie. As usual, the danger with denim plus sport coat combinations is that they can look a bit discombobulated — very dressy up top, too casual down low. Play down the jacket by getting something that has a slightly less traditional cut, and forgo any neckwear. That way, you’ll bring the tailored jacket down a notch in its formality.
(Photo via Patrick Johnson Tailors)

Linen Sport Coats for Summer

Everyone has their own pick for what they’d consider a summer essential. For me, it’d be a breathable sport coat. Something made from an open weave material — and has little canvassing, lining, or padding inside — will wear much cooler than your standard year-round wools. In fact, as hot as the weather gets in July and August, I don’t even touch my “year round” sport coats until October. 

Most open weave materials can be classified as one of two types: tropical wool and linen. More of than not, breathable sport coats will be made from linen, partly because tropical wools tend to be very smooth, so they’re reserved for suits. The upside to linen is that it not only breathes well, but it’s also a good way to take the inherent dressiness out of a tailored jacket. Nothing says carefree and casual like having a few rumples and wrinkles in your sport coat. 

You can wear linen jackets with almost anything, but I find they tend to look best with linen trousers. Something in a contrasting color, but similar weave, will make it so that your jacket and trousers are distinctive, but also harmonious. That is, pair smooth, tightly woven linens with other smooth, tightly woven linens; and slubby, spongy linens with other slubby spongy linens. A linen jacket will also pair well with cotton chinos, as both will have the same casual, summery sensibility. Between these two fabrics, you have a world of trouser options once you play around with color. 

Don’t get too hung up on rules though. Luciano Barbera once advocated wearing a linen jacket with wool flannels, and while I personally wouldn’t do it — who am I to argue with one of the world’s best dressed men? Patrick Johnson of P. Johnson Tailors is also pictured above wearing a linen jacket with denim. If you want to try that kind of combination, consider getting a jacket that’s slightly shorter in length and forgoing the tie. As usual, the danger with denim plus sport coat combinations is that they can look a bit discombobulated — very dressy up top, too casual down low. Play down the jacket by getting something that has a slightly less traditional cut, and forgo any neckwear. That way, you’ll bring the tailored jacket down a notch in its formality.

(Photo via Patrick Johnson Tailors)

A Lifetime of Infrequent Wearing
StyleForum member MafooFan – who’s famous on that board for not only his good sense of style, but also his ability to cause controversy – has some simple advice on how men can dress better: build smaller wardrobes. To him, the problem for most men is not that they don’t have the right clothes (though, there’s that), but that when faced with a massive wall of choices, they’re apt to picking the wrong things and looking haphazardly put together. Better, he thinks, to thoughtfully and slowly accumulate things that more or less work together, rather than build a massive wardrobe of clothes one doesn’t really know how to wear. 
It’s a nice theory, but not one I’ve ever bought (can you not buy a theory about not buying?), if only because most well dressed men I know of have big wardrobes. Think of historical dandies such as Evander Berry Wall, style icons such as Noel Coward, and contemporary figures such as Luciano Babera. All had wardrobes that were multiple times bigger than most men’s today. I’m not sure any of us could be made to dress more like them if we just limited our choices. Maybe if we adopted one or two personal “uniforms” (like Thom Browne in his signature grey flannel suit), but where’s the fun in that?
No, I believe in big wardrobes. Not just because I think clothes are fun and choosing what to wear should be an enjoyable activity, but also because I think to be truly well dressed, you need to have the right clothes for any kind of weather or social occasion. Instead of five suits or sport coats made from a year-round material, it’s better to have five suited for spring and summer, and five for fall and winter. Instead of having a wardrobe of just tailored clothing, it’s better to have a mix of suits, sport coats, and true-blue casualwear, so that you can be appropriately dressed at the office, dive bars, fancy restaurants, camping trips, holiday parties, sporting games, weddings, etc. 
The downside of big wardrobes, however, is that with too many things, nothing gets regular use. And without regular use, it can be difficult to “break-in” clothes so that they look and feel more natural. Think of how much better a tweed jacket looks once the fabric begins to really soften, or how much more handsome an oxford-cloth button-down shirt becomes once the collar starts fraying. It’s this kind of “broken-in” look that makes pre-distressed clothes so popular (even when they feel like poor imitations of the real thing). I’m also reminded of this passage Christian Chensvold once wrote on his blog Ivy Style back in 2009:

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

On the upside, check out these suede shoes you see above. They were once owned by the famous Douglas Fairbanks Jr., before being sold off to the writer David Coggins in a massive estate auction three years ago. These were made bespoke for Fairbanks by Henry Maxwell, a 250 year-old English shoemaking firm, and presumably earned this condition through a lifetime of wearing, even if the wearings were infrequent. The condition of these shoes makes me think they were as old and familiar to Fairbanks as some of our most beloved pieces. I can imagine them looking excellent — much better than brand new suede shoes — sitting below a pair of grey woolen flannel trousers and a well-worn tweed jacket. 
There’s hope for us clotheshorses yet. 
(Picture by Liam Goslett via GQ)

A Lifetime of Infrequent Wearing

StyleForum member MafooFan – who’s famous on that board for not only his good sense of style, but also his ability to cause controversy – has some simple advice on how men can dress better: build smaller wardrobes. To him, the problem for most men is not that they don’t have the right clothes (though, there’s that), but that when faced with a massive wall of choices, they’re apt to picking the wrong things and looking haphazardly put together. Better, he thinks, to thoughtfully and slowly accumulate things that more or less work together, rather than build a massive wardrobe of clothes one doesn’t really know how to wear.

It’s a nice theory, but not one I’ve ever bought (can you not buy a theory about not buying?), if only because most well dressed men I know of have big wardrobes. Think of historical dandies such as Evander Berry Wall, style icons such as Noel Coward, and contemporary figures such as Luciano Babera. All had wardrobes that were multiple times bigger than most men’s today. I’m not sure any of us could be made to dress more like them if we just limited our choices. Maybe if we adopted one or two personal “uniforms” (like Thom Browne in his signature grey flannel suit), but where’s the fun in that?

No, I believe in big wardrobes. Not just because I think clothes are fun and choosing what to wear should be an enjoyable activity, but also because I think to be truly well dressed, you need to have the right clothes for any kind of weather or social occasion. Instead of five suits or sport coats made from a year-round material, it’s better to have five suited for spring and summer, and five for fall and winter. Instead of having a wardrobe of just tailored clothing, it’s better to have a mix of suits, sport coats, and true-blue casualwear, so that you can be appropriately dressed at the office, dive bars, fancy restaurants, camping trips, holiday parties, sporting games, weddings, etc.

The downside of big wardrobes, however, is that with too many things, nothing gets regular use. And without regular use, it can be difficult to “break-in” clothes so that they look and feel more natural. Think of how much better a tweed jacket looks once the fabric begins to really soften, or how much more handsome an oxford-cloth button-down shirt becomes once the collar starts fraying. It’s this kind of “broken-in” look that makes pre-distressed clothes so popular (even when they feel like poor imitations of the real thing). I’m also reminded of this passage Christian Chensvold once wrote on his blog Ivy Style back in 2009:

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

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

On the upside, check out these suede shoes you see above. They were once owned by the famous Douglas Fairbanks Jr., before being sold off to the writer David Coggins in a massive estate auction three years ago. These were made bespoke for Fairbanks by Henry Maxwell, a 250 year-old English shoemaking firm, and presumably earned this condition through a lifetime of wearing, even if the wearings were infrequent. The condition of these shoes makes me think they were as old and familiar to Fairbanks as some of our most beloved pieces. I can imagine them looking excellent — much better than brand new suede shoes — sitting below a pair of grey woolen flannel trousers and a well-worn tweed jacket. 

There’s hope for us clotheshorses yet. 

(Picture by Liam Goslett via GQ)

Two Closeout Sales

Two stores are having closeout sales at the moment, both with pretty good deals.

The first is at Pockets Menswear in Dallas, Texas. The owner is retiring, so everything in the store must go. Things at this point are discounted about 75% off. Nelson there tells me they have

  • Zegna shirts for about $120 (sizes 15.5 through 17, and medium through extra-large)
  • A few Incotex pants for about $70 (sizes 32 through 34 waist)
  • A couple of Boglioli sport coats for about $500 (sizes 44 and 46 in US sizing) 
  • Lots and lots of ties from brands such as Luciano Barbera, Zegna, Nicky, Seaward & Stern, and Altea. There’s also a couple of E. Marinellas left, but not many. Prices for these are about $45. For ease of ordering, I’ve included ten photos of some of their inventory. When you call, you can tell them something like “I want the brown tie on the left hand side of picture 8” (or something like that). Note, in pictures 1 and 3, those are mostly wool knits, but there are some in silk. 

When you call, ask for Nelson. He’s familiar with Put This On and the photos above, so he’ll be able to sort you out. Their phone number is (214) 368-1167. Nelson said it’s fine to call today and next week, but ideally not over the weekend, as they get super busy then. 

The second sale is at Independence in Chicago. They’re selling off all of their Swims Premium Classic galoshes and pricing them at $60. Colors available include orange and black. Again, you have to call in the order, however (the number is 312.675.2105). Ask for Timothy. 

“You don’t need so much to be unquestionably, simply elegant.” Luciano Barbera

Mauve, Flannel, and Tweed

Last fall, I wrote a post about other shirts readers might want to consider after they’ve built a solid foundation of light blues and whites. The softer shades of pink and lilac, for example, can be easily worn underneath navy or grey jackets for a livelier look, and ecru adds something interesting without straying too far from white. I also like striped shirts in brown, grey, or green, so long as the shirts aren’t dominated by those colors, and not combined with similar trousers (e.g. no mid-grey striped shirts with mid-grey wool trousers).

Well, add mauve to that list. I recently found the two photos you see above – the first from Heavy Tweed Jacket and the second from Luciano Barbera’s blog. A warm tweed sport coat combined with a comfortable pair of grey flannel trousers is nothing new, but when you swap out the standard light blue shirt for a striped mauve, I think it becomes a slightly more interesting look. These can be worn with your standard fall and winter ties, such as the ancient madders and woolens you see above, and the warm tones all around can be brought out through a pair of shell cordovan shoes made from Horween’s #8 leather.

Since seeing the two photos, I’ve been looking for a nice, striped mauve shirt for myself, but not with much luck. Light pinks and lilacs are easy, but this very specific shade of mauve seems elusive. The one place I found was Cottonwork, who has a version of it here. Cottonwork tells me that there’s a very subtle weaving pattern to the material, which is only visible on close inspection. Alternatively, they have this plain weave, but it’s in a slightly cooler shade of purple. I’m thinking about getting the first material made into a semi-spread collar shirt with a French placket and no pocket, precisely to wear with things such as tweed jackets and grey flannel trousers.

Note, Cottonwork is an advertiser of ours, but before becoming so, I was a customer (and fan) of theirs for a quite a while. Of the five online made-to-measure shirt operations I’ve tried, I found theirs to be the best. Their shirts fit me better and were more nicely constructed (e.g. higher stitch count, straighter seams, nicer interlinings, etc). You can create a custom shirt through them by submitting your measurement online, or by sending them your best fitting shirt and asking for it to be copied. To read about how to take advantage of custom shirt programs, you can read my series on the topic here.  

I’m very excited that the Museum of the Rhode Island School of Design is planning a menswear exhibition for this spring called “Artist/Rebel/Dandy: Men of Fashion.” It doesn’t open until late April, but with folks like PTO pals Guy Hills and Luciano Barbera featured, it should be a wonderful show.

It’s On Sale: Rugby Ralph Lauren & Luciano Barbera 

There are two flash sales of note today: Rugby Ralph Lauren at RueLaLa and Luciano Barbera at Gilt.

The Rugby selection is limited, but they do have a few sweaters and a tartan duffle coat that I think looks like a nice alternative to all the solid colored coats you typically see. You should also know that Rugby’s own online retail site has added further price drops to their sale section, too, where you can buy a tuxedo jacket, pants a shirt for $520 altogether. 

The Luciano Barbera selection at Gilt has several fall sport coats that look ideal, however, the price is a bit steep. I know $700 isn’t exactly chump change to most people, but it’s almost a quarter of the retail price (if Gilt is to be believed). 

-Kiyoshi

“I do not want to see your socks, but I do want to see your shoes.” — Luciano Barbera on trouser break
Luciano Barbera says this is the perfect cuff. Who are we to disagree?

Luciano Barbera says this is the perfect cuff. Who are we to disagree?