Oxford Bags

Yesterday’s post on fashion cycles reminded me that I have these photos sitting on my computer. These are “oxford bags” - a style of ridiculously baggy trousers that was popular in the early 20th century. They were often made of flannel wool, and originated with undergraduate students at Oxford University (hence the name). At the peak of their popularity in 1925, the bottom hem of men’s pant legs was almost always under 20 inches in circumference. (For reference, most “fashionable” trousers today have a circumference of 16 to 18 inches for suits, and maybe 15 to 17 inches for odd trousers). Oxford bags, in contrast, sometimes measured 40 inches or more. 

You would not be wrong to think of them as the gentleman’s version of Jncos

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)

Being slightly less boring with Ed Morel and Panta

Ed Morel, proprietor of Panta, poses the central question of classic mens clothing in terms of high school: “I went to prep school and I had to wear a tie every day. I could wear a navy or burgundy blazer, but everyone wore the navy. After school we’d go out, try to talk to girls. How do you stand out a little bit within that realm?”

It’s that quality of standing out in a quiet way that many of us are looking for when choosing what we wear. “It’s classic menswear. You’re not reinventing the wheel. You’re wearing a shirt, you’re wearing a tie, you’re wearing a jacket and pants. Ties are within certain widths. Lapels, too. Maybe I’ll wear an eff-you sportcoat and plain pants, or eff-you pants and a solid jacket, and that’s very boring”— he laughs—”It’s incredibly boring.” (Eff-you, in this case, means louder, plaid-er fabric. Ed is pictured above with Bruce Boyer at Carl Goldberg’s Madison Avenue workroom, wearing a shirt and pants.)

The start of Panta

As we step from booth to booth at MRKet, a men’s clothing tradeshow in New York, Morel shops for clothing and shoes to carry at Panta, and with characteristic rapid-fire cadence and self-deprecation, tells me about founding the company. “It would be great if I could tell you a nice romantic story, like my parents came from some country, but… I always did like clothing. Living in New York, having access to the clothes and deals here, it led me to realize I could buy more, sell it, and pay for more clothes for myself.” Ed would buy low on high-end clothes, notably pants, at closeout sales and discounters, then sell high online. “But that inventory is limited, and I thought, ‘What if I had access to great pants all the time?’”

Ed set out to have pants made to his specs—fabrics from sources like Loro Piana and Dormeiul, in sometimes exotic blends and textures, finished by hand, in a signature cut with only one rear pocket—in New York. “Most makers don’t want to deal with the small guys. When I started, it was during the financial crisis,” and a lot of bigger customers were scaling back orders, leaving room for Panta’s business. The good reviews rolled in. Now Ed has developed relationships that allow him to regularly make trousers, ties, and shirts under his own ready-to-wear label, as well as custom tailoring, shoes from Heinrich Dinkelacker, and more to come. Made in small runs with refined cloth, the trousers have cost over $300, but Ed’s adding less expensive options, with some customization available even on the least dear (about $200—less expensive is relative). Fabrics come from top-end Italian and English mills, rare to see off-the-rack, and the make varies according to price point, with truly custom options made in New York by Rocco Ciccarelli.

Ed’s store, Ed’s taste

We stop while Ed places an order with Ron Rider for a Cortina-made split toe derby and a chukka boot, both in shell cordovan. He asks my opinion, and I admit that I don’t generally like split toe shoes. Ed’s OK with that. Panta’s stock is small and focused on what he likes to wear himself. “I’m not going to sell double monks because I don’t wear double monks. I’m not ordering 40 different ties, 40 different pants. I carry four or six styles. The shoes go great with the types of pants that I sell, that go great with the shirts.” With his custom pant program, “We can do pretty much whatever you want, except anything that I find in bad taste.” E.g., no camo.

Ed’s not the only guy to turn personal taste into a small business, but he’s got his eye on bigger things. “It started off as a hobby, but now I’m looking to build something that’ll be around long after I’m gone. I’m working on building something that, if you see a shirt or a tie, you know it’s one of my things.”

Pictured are some of Panta’s fall 2013 silk ties (the silk has a very “dry” feel), as well as new scarves, and a pair of downright beefy Heinrich Dinkelacker brogues.


—Pete

Clay Tompkins’ Trousers

I was recently pretty impressed by a pair of trousers Clay Tompkins sent me on loan. He designed them, but the pattern was made by Tony Rubino, who works with Rocco Ciccarelli at the Primo Factory in Brooklyn (by pattern I don’t mean visual pattern, but rather the paper patterns from which each panel of the trouser is cut). Julian Hertling (aka “Julie”) then sources all the fabrics and makes up the pants. As people who are either in the business or are die-hard clothing enthusiasts may know, these are some of the best guys in the business and have been at their trade for decades (for those unfamiliar, a quick Google search will yield plenty of articles).

The trousers are cut fairly similar to my Italian-made Howard Younts, who I’ve long thought to be a very good go-to source for pants. The rise is just slightly higher, the thigh slightly fuller, and the taper slightly stronger. Slight variations, but all in all, very similar.

There are differences in the details, however. Rather than belt loops, there are side adjuster tabs, which is rare to find on ready-to-wear odd trousers (“odd” here meaning trousers that are not part of a suit). There’s also an open lapped seam going down the side of the legs, and some signature red stitching on the back pocket loop-tabs. If you don’t care for those details, I’m told that your trousers can be made without them (as all of these are essentially made-on-order from Hertling’s factory). Ones made with modifications aren’t returnable, however, so you should be familiar with the fit before asking for them. Stock makes are subject to a 14-day return policy.

The retail price on these is $250, which isn’t cheap, but when Howard Yount’s are $195 and Epaulet’s range from $195 to $235, they’re also not far off from what many style enthusiasts are paying at the moment. The quality of Clay’s seems better to me as well (at least compared to my Howard Yount’s; I don’t have any first hand experience with Epaulet’s). The flannels he sent, for example, are much softer and richer in the hand, and the frescos have a very nice, heavy weight to them. A heavier weight fabric, as many people may know, will hang better on the leg. Outside of pants retailing for $400 or more, I haven’t seen trousers made with such nice materials. (Note, neither of these models are on the website at the moment, but I’m told they’re part of the fall line, which should be up sometime this month). Of the ~$200 retail priced trousers I’ve seen, these are some of the best in quality, and if one is already paying that much for pants, I think Clay’s are worth a look. 

(Photos from Clay Tompkins and The Trad)

New York Daily News: Anthony Weiner gets 2 legs up on NYC mayoral competitors with bright trousers
“Is it a blatant attempt to get the gay vote?” menswear designer Jeffrey Banks asked regarding Weiner wearing red pants last week to the Greenwich Village rally celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. “Is the casual look an attempt to make him seem more accessible?”

New York Daily News: Anthony Weiner gets 2 legs up on NYC mayoral competitors with bright trousers

“Is it a blatant attempt to get the gay vote?” menswear designer Jeffrey Banks asked regarding Weiner wearing red pants last week to the Greenwich Village rally celebrating the U.S. Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling. “Is the casual look an attempt to make him seem more accessible?”

Budget Fatigues

Following on Pete’s post yesterday, Mister Crew mentioned that Earl’s Apparel fatigue pants are a good option for someone on a budget (they’re apparently only $40). I’ve never tried them, but Mister Crew really knows his stuff, so I trust his recommendations. 

Earl’s Apparel fatigues can be had through Independence and Hickoree’s. There are also some at All Seasons Uniform for $27.50, though I don’t know what the difference between those and the others may be. 

Real People: Fatigue Pants
Of course, we all read Put This On, so all of our pants are perfectly tailored: Fitted in the waist, slim through the thigh, draping elegantly down our calves to end in an ideal break over our frankly breathtaking (hand-welted) shoes. But when I need a break from worrying about breaks, it can be comforting to pull on a pair of pants designed for utility. Military-style, olive drab fatigue pants are probably not the most often re-purposed surplus gear (M-65s take that prize), but they are exceedingly wearable. They’re an interesting alternative to plain cotton khakis (also military derived) for wear with plaid shirts and worn-in shoes, like Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments, and can even be reasonably swapped in for more formal trousers if you’re in a position to be a little subversive, like Gary Drinkwater, pictured in his shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gary’s colors are neutral and well-balanced, and he looks relaxed rather than sloppy, which can be a concern with fatigues, especially surplus versions.
Such pants can be found vintage in a number of models: pants from the OG-107 U.S. military work uniform (standard issue for the second half of the 20th century; OG-107 really designates the color, olive gray); M-1951 cargo pants; or more recent Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) trousers. They are best purchased in person because the sizing varied over the years and many if not most pants were altered after issuance, so actual measurements may not match tagged sizes. Although fatigues can sometimes be tailored to fit trimly, the bagginess is in my opinion the interesting aspect and on its own is “different” enough—pinrolling can help narrow them at the ankle. Camouflage patterns are best left to the military or utility purposes around the house, like yardwork.
Gary’s pants were purchased new, from Engineered Garments sub-brand Workaday (I have a pair from Workaday myself, as well as a couple of vintage pairs). Daiki Suzuki has offered a pair in his collection nearly every season for years, but they vary in fabric and cut—some are trimmer than others, and spring/summer versions are lighter weight. They’re currently available at Engineered Garments stockists like Drinkwaters or Mohawk General Store.
-Pete

Real People: Fatigue Pants

Of course, we all read Put This On, so all of our pants are perfectly tailored: Fitted in the waist, slim through the thigh, draping elegantly down our calves to end in an ideal break over our frankly breathtaking (hand-welted) shoes. But when I need a break from worrying about breaks, it can be comforting to pull on a pair of pants designed for utility. Military-style, olive drab fatigue pants are probably not the most often re-purposed surplus gear (M-65s take that prize), but they are exceedingly wearable. They’re an interesting alternative to plain cotton khakis (also military derived) for wear with plaid shirts and worn-in shoes, like Daiki Suzuki of Engineered Garments, and can even be reasonably swapped in for more formal trousers if you’re in a position to be a little subversive, like Gary Drinkwater, pictured in his shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Gary’s colors are neutral and well-balanced, and he looks relaxed rather than sloppy, which can be a concern with fatigues, especially surplus versions.

Such pants can be found vintage in a number of models: pants from the OG-107 U.S. military work uniform (standard issue for the second half of the 20th century; OG-107 really designates the color, olive gray); M-1951 cargo pants; or more recent Battle Dress Uniform (BDU) trousers. They are best purchased in person because the sizing varied over the years and many if not most pants were altered after issuance, so actual measurements may not match tagged sizes. Although fatigues can sometimes be tailored to fit trimly, the bagginess is in my opinion the interesting aspect and on its own is “different” enough—pinrolling can help narrow them at the ankle. Camouflage patterns are best left to the military or utility purposes around the house, like yardwork.

Gary’s pants were purchased new, from Engineered Garments sub-brand Workaday (I have a pair from Workaday myself, as well as a couple of vintage pairs). Daiki Suzuki has offered a pair in his collection nearly every season for years, but they vary in fabric and cut—some are trimmer than others, and spring/summer versions are lighter weight. They’re currently available at Engineered Garments stockists like Drinkwaters or Mohawk General Store.

-Pete

The Onion: Man Purchasing Pair of Red Pants Better Be Willing To Put Up Or Shut Up.

The Grouch - Simple Man

Forever rockin’ $20 pants until the end

I know all you #Menswear guys got into hip-hop in college when you first heard Asher Roth and now you’re all about quoting Drake or whatever, but take a second out of your Rick Ross rotation for a West Coast underground classic. The Grouch: good dude, good rapper.

(via) (Thanks, Stephen)

(via) (Thanks, Stephen)