Miniature Ralph Lauren Sculptures

If you’re a fan of Ralph Lauren’s designs from the ’90s (like I am), but find that all of it fits too big to wear today (like I do), then have hope. This Polo enthusiast has created miniature sculptures of Ralph Lauren’s most famous pieces. Or at least, the pieces most coveted by 'Lo Heads

Finally, you too can own the famous Royal Crest shirt

(Link via Kensington)

On The Ways We Judge Fashion and Taste
After Saturday’s post on the coming 1930s fashion exhibit, I spent some time re-watching clips from our second season. I’m really proud of our videos, although I have nothing to do with their production. All the credit there goes to Jesse, Ben, Dave, and the many people who contributed to our funding.
One of my favorite segments is our feature on ‘Lo Heads – a type of person who collects Polo Ralph Lauren clothing, often the pieces made between the years of 1992 and ‘94. Growing up in the ’90s, I actually had a number of friends that were ‘Lo Heads. At the time in Los Angeles, collecting and wearing Polo was very much connected to a particular underground dance scene, and I spent much of my youth going to clubs to watch guys dance in the flashiest Ralph Lauren gear you can imagine. 
Our feature was poorly received by some readers, which prompted Jesse to write a thoughtful piece on the discursive act of dressing, and what it means for a population of young, (mostly) Black men to obsess over what’s (largely) a white line of clothing. I refrained from writing anything because – it seems to me – like many things dealing with youth subcultures, you either identify with it or you don’t. I liked the segment simply because it reminded me of my time as a teenager.
But upon revisiting the video, and thinking about sartorial history, it struck me that perhaps there’s something else to be said about the way we judge fashion.

Remember Saturday’s brief mention of zoot suits? Zoot suits were exaggerated forms of the London drape cut – a silhouette where a jacket’s waist is pinched, and chest and upper back are made a bit full, in order to give the wearer a more of an athletic figure. It was invented by Frederick Scholte, who happened to be the tailor for Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor – a man largely considered the arbiter of good taste in the early 20th century. By virtue of him wearing the silhouette, it became somewhat popular among a certain class of people (mostly wealthy elites and Hollywood stars).
Since fashion is often a game of one-upmanship, traits that start off modestly soon become exaggerated. So it was with the drape cut, which begat the zoot suit. Inches of fabric were added to the chest; the jacket was lengthened down to the thighs; the sleeves were made so full that they looked like trouser legs. It was a style calculated to be bold and outrageous - perfect for a youth subculture - and it really caught on with young Italians, Blacks, and Latinos, who at the time occupied the “lower” tiers of American social order.
The story of the zoot suit isn’t just about how a certain cut caught on, however. It’s also about politics. At the height of the zoot suit’s popularity (the 1940s), the US government had rationing programs so that raw materials could be conserved for the war effort. This was doubly true in England, where "make do and mend" were the watchwords that set style trends.
The result was a sartorial conflict. While most men were tastefully sacrificing things like pleats, so that less cloth was needed to make pants, these youths were walking around in suits big enough to fit two people. To those not of the culture, it looked unpatriotic and conspicuously extravagant, particularly for men who presumably had little money.
There was also a lot of racial identity tied to the zoot suit. Although some whites wore it, it was largely identified with Blacks and Latinos. When telling the story of zoot suits, it’s hard to not mention people’s attitudes towards race and class. The Zoot Suit Riots, which left more than 150 people injured, were just as much about rising tensions between whites and Latinos as they were about people’s attitudes towards the war.  

There’s actually a somewhat similar story in Nazi-occupied France, where young Parisians known as les zazous sported a zoot-suit-esque fashion. Les zazous too were rebelling against the (Vichy) government’s decree for rationing. Their choice in clothing wasn’t disliked just because it required a lot of cloth however, but also because it represented a bigger “threat” to a society. Vichy government supporters viewed it as being part and parcel with other “bad” things - degenerate taste in music and language (as such youths listened to jazz and used American slang), laziness, and a sympathy towards Jews.
Above are some cartoons from anti-zazous publications, one of which shows a policeman forcefully shaving off a young man’s long hair, which at the time was viewed as an identifier of these “jazz-loving, slang-using, work-avoiding, Jew-befriending” youths and their morality. 
I’m not enough of a relativist to say that everything is subjective. In many ways, the baggy cut of the zoot suit looks outright silly. And, I can imagine that if you didn’t grow up in a culture with ‘Lo Heads, that sort of dress can look strange as well. At the same time, it can be difficult to view any of these things without our pre-existing biases on class. In other words, how we feel about certain fashions - what is “good taste” or “bad taste” - is often deeply tied to how we feel about the people wearing those said fashions in the first place.
Let’s be clear: I’m not accusing the critics of our video of being racist or classist, any more than I’d want to be accused of being racist or classist for liking the dress practices of old-money Anglo-Americans. I’m simply saying it’s hard to set aside our pre-existing social or political views when it comes to judging fashion, style, or taste. All dressing comes in a cultural context - it’s a context we inherit and sometimes have to look hard to see.

If you’re not convinced, ask yourself how did everyone come to dress like English gentlemen? How did the colorful, extravagant garb of men – from French kings to Chinese nobles – give way to the austere, drab clothes that British aristocrats favor? It’s hard to explain this without talking about the rise of the Second British Empire (1783-1815) and Britain’s imperial century (1815-1914), and how people around the world subsequently came to view aristocratic British values and culture. 
Or set aside the world, and ask how the suit came to symbolize authority and power within the narrower context of British society. British men of a certain class used to wear frock coats – a knee-length suit jacket style that was popular during 18th and 19th centuries. Then, a Scottish socialist named Keir Hardie wore the lounge suit (what we think of today as the business suit) to Parliament as an MP in 1892. It was controversial, but he did so to signal his solidarity with ordinary workingmen. A few decades later, the young heir Edward VIII wore the lounge suit as a sort of rebellion against his father the king (who upheld social norms by wearing much more formal clothes). The lounge suit was considered too casual for someone of Edward VIII’s class, and his father hated him for wearing it, but he was so often photographed in a lounge suit that it became acceptable for other men of power to wear it as well. It’s a legacy that continues today, as the lounge suit is pretty much the de-facto uniform for presidents, prime ministers, and kings.

The unwelcomed co-optation of upper-class style by ‘Lo Heads is hardly new. In London in the 1950s, young men from poorer sections of English society started wearing old Edwardian fashions. They were known as “Teddy Boys” and they dressed in a style that some Savile Row clients grew to after WWII (of course, because they lacked money, Teddy Boys did not get their clothes from Savile Row). The Teddy Boys were characterized by drainpipe trousers, long jackets, pointed collars, and fancy waistcoats. There’s a great BBC segment on them here.
The sartorial choices of the Teddy Boys and ‘Lo Heads were received by their respective societies in much the same way: that is, not well. It’s not surprising because, for most people, these were not well-regarded groups to begin with. Our attitudes about how someone dresses is often just as much about how we feel about that person’s background as it is about the “objective” fashion itself. And frankly, the underlying tension of class is why Teddy Boys and ‘Lo Heads dress the way they do in the first place. That twisting of the style and its meaning is … kind of the point. 

On The Ways We Judge Fashion and Taste

After Saturday’s post on the coming 1930s fashion exhibit, I spent some time re-watching clips from our second season. I’m really proud of our videos, although I have nothing to do with their production. All the credit there goes to Jesse, Ben, Dave, and the many people who contributed to our funding.

One of my favorite segments is our feature on ‘Lo Heads – a type of person who collects Polo Ralph Lauren clothing, often the pieces made between the years of 1992 and ‘94. Growing up in the ’90s, I actually had a number of friends that were ‘Lo Heads. At the time in Los Angeles, collecting and wearing Polo was very much connected to a particular underground dance scene, and I spent much of my youth going to clubs to watch guys dance in the flashiest Ralph Lauren gear you can imagine. 

Our feature was poorly received by some readers, which prompted Jesse to write a thoughtful piece on the discursive act of dressing, and what it means for a population of young, (mostly) Black men to obsess over what’s (largely) a white line of clothing. I refrained from writing anything because – it seems to me – like many things dealing with youth subcultures, you either identify with it or you don’t. I liked the segment simply because it reminded me of my time as a teenager.

But upon revisiting the video, and thinking about sartorial history, it struck me that perhaps there’s something else to be said about the way we judge fashion.



Remember Saturday’s brief mention of zoot suits? Zoot suits were exaggerated forms of the London drape cut – a silhouette where a jacket’s waist is pinched, and chest and upper back are made a bit full, in order to give the wearer a more of an athletic figure. It was invented by Frederick Scholte, who happened to be the tailor for Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor – a man largely considered the arbiter of good taste in the early 20th century. By virtue of him wearing the silhouette, it became somewhat popular among a certain class of people (mostly wealthy elites and Hollywood stars).

Since fashion is often a game of one-upmanship, traits that start off modestly soon become exaggerated. So it was with the drape cut, which begat the zoot suit. Inches of fabric were added to the chest; the jacket was lengthened down to the thighs; the sleeves were made so full that they looked like trouser legs. It was a style calculated to be bold and outrageous - perfect for a youth subculture - and it really caught on with young Italians, Blacks, and Latinos, who at the time occupied the “lower” tiers of American social order.

The story of the zoot suit isn’t just about how a certain cut caught on, however. It’s also about politics. At the height of the zoot suit’s popularity (the 1940s), the US government had rationing programs so that raw materials could be conserved for the war effort. This was doubly true in England, where "make do and mend" were the watchwords that set style trends.

The result was a sartorial conflict. While most men were tastefully sacrificing things like pleats, so that less cloth was needed to make pants, these youths were walking around in suits big enough to fit two people. To those not of the culture, it looked unpatriotic and conspicuously extravagant, particularly for men who presumably had little money.

There was also a lot of racial identity tied to the zoot suit. Although some whites wore it, it was largely identified with Blacks and Latinos. When telling the story of zoot suits, it’s hard to not mention people’s attitudes towards race and class. The Zoot Suit Riots, which left more than 150 people injured, were just as much about rising tensions between whites and Latinos as they were about people’s attitudes towards the war. 



There’s actually a somewhat similar story in Nazi-occupied France, where young Parisians known as les zazous sported a zoot-suit-esque fashion. Les zazous too were rebelling against the (Vichy) government’s decree for rationing. Their choice in clothing wasn’t disliked just because it required a lot of cloth however, but also because it represented a bigger “threat” to a society. Vichy government supporters viewed it as being part and parcel with other “bad” things - degenerate taste in music and language (as such youths listened to jazz and used American slang), laziness, and a sympathy towards Jews.

Above are some cartoons from anti-zazous publications, one of which shows a policeman forcefully shaving off a young man’s long hair, which at the time was viewed as an identifier of these “jazz-loving, slang-using, work-avoiding, Jew-befriending” youths and their morality. 

I’m not enough of a relativist to say that everything is subjective. In many ways, the baggy cut of the zoot suit looks outright silly. And, I can imagine that if you didn’t grow up in a culture with ‘Lo Heads, that sort of dress can look strange as well. At the same time, it can be difficult to view any of these things without our pre-existing biases on class. In other words, how we feel about certain fashions - what is “good taste” or “bad taste” - is often deeply tied to how we feel about the people wearing those said fashions in the first place.

Let’s be clear: I’m not accusing the critics of our video of being racist or classist, any more than I’d want to be accused of being racist or classist for liking the dress practices of old-money Anglo-Americans. I’m simply saying it’s hard to set aside our pre-existing social or political views when it comes to judging fashion, style, or taste. All dressing comes in a cultural context - it’s a context we inherit and sometimes have to look hard to see.



If you’re not convinced, ask yourself how did everyone come to dress like English gentlemen? How did the colorful, extravagant garb of men – from French kings to Chinese nobles – give way to the austere, drab clothes that British aristocrats favor? It’s hard to explain this without talking about the rise of the Second British Empire (1783-1815) and Britain’s imperial century (1815-1914), and how people around the world subsequently came to view aristocratic British values and culture. 

Or set aside the world, and ask how the suit came to symbolize authority and power within the narrower context of British society. British men of a certain class used to wear frock coats – a knee-length suit jacket style that was popular during 18th and 19th centuries. Then, a Scottish socialist named Keir Hardie wore the lounge suit (what we think of today as the business suit) to Parliament as an MP in 1892. It was controversial, but he did so to signal his solidarity with ordinary workingmen. A few decades later, the young heir Edward VIII wore the lounge suit as a sort of rebellion against his father the king (who upheld social norms by wearing much more formal clothes). The lounge suit was considered too casual for someone of Edward VIII’s class, and his father hated him for wearing it, but he was so often photographed in a lounge suit that it became acceptable for other men of power to wear it as well. It’s a legacy that continues today, as the lounge suit is pretty much the de-facto uniform for presidents, prime ministers, and kings.



The unwelcomed co-optation of upper-class style by ‘Lo Heads is hardly new. In London in the 1950s, young men from poorer sections of English society started wearing old Edwardian fashions. They were known as “Teddy Boys” and they dressed in a style that some Savile Row clients grew to after WWII (of course, because they lacked money, Teddy Boys did not get their clothes from Savile Row). The Teddy Boys were characterized by drainpipe trousers, long jackets, pointed collars, and fancy waistcoats. There’s a great BBC segment on them here.

The sartorial choices of the Teddy Boys and ‘Lo Heads were received by their respective societies in much the same way: that is, not well. It’s not surprising because, for most people, these were not well-regarded groups to begin with. Our attitudes about how someone dresses is often just as much about how we feel about that person’s background as it is about the “objective” fashion itself. And frankly, the underlying tension of class is why Teddy Boys and ‘Lo Heads dress the way they do in the first place. That twisting of the style and its meaning is … kind of the point. 

Q & Answer: Where Should I Buy A Tuxedo?

Jason asks: I wanted to ask your opinion on J. Crew Ludlow tuxedos.  I live in Tribeca and often walk by the Ludlow shop on Hudson and like the look of their tuxedos displayed in the store front window.  I was also considering going to Brooks Brothers for a tux. Can you help?

Here’s the thing about tuxedos: they’re expensive, and unless you go to a lot of charity galas, you won’t end up wearing them a lot. Heck - I’m going to a film premiere tonight, and I’m told I should show up in a suit. So if you want the expenditure to be a reasonable one, you’ll need to buy something that you’ll feel as happy wearing ten years from now as today.

One of the J. Crew Ludlow tuxedos is the lower picture above. It’s fun. If I were a young guy from a CW show going to the Emmys, it might be the perfect thing. But in five years, the stuff that seemed fun (like the low-waisted pants, double vents and super-narrow lapels) will seem dated. The six or eight hundred bucks it’ll cost is a lot for one or two wearings.

So I’d recommend going one of two ways. The first is to go classic. Here in the States, if you’re talking about going to a store and buying off the rack, that really means Polo or Brooks Brothers. Both have great options like the one on the mannequin above that will look as classic in 2035 as they do now - if there’s still black tie at all then. Both will also be a bit more expensive than J. Crew, though I think they’re also a little better in terms of quality-to-price ratio.

The budget option is to go vintage. This takes shopping time and patience, but you can save a lot of money. As long as you’re comfortable looking distinctive, an older tux can look just as great as a new one. We’re talking pre-70s here, mostly. Show up in slim late-50s lapels and you won’t look dated, you’ll look retro, and that makes all the difference. Almost all black tie events are at least in part about enjoying yourself, so there’s no need to worry about not looking uber-conservative - there are no black-tie funerals. My own tuxedo was purchased at a Goodwill for $40, and it dates to the mid-30s. Looks as sharp now as it ever did.

Do I Really Have Ten Blue Blazers?
This morning, I’m spending a bit of time switching cold weather clothes for warm weather clothes. It’s a time of reckoning. And I reckon I’ve got a lot of blue blazers.
To my credit, I’ve only purchased one of them new, and most came from thrift shops. And what they say about blazers, that they’re the most versatile garment you can own, is true. But still… ten?
Here’s the rundown:
Classic Brooks Brothers. This is the blazer you think of when you think of a blazer. Brass buttons, the whole nine. Bought it at the thrift shop, and I rarely wear it… I’m not a brass button guy.
Classic Brooks Brothers (White Buttons). Another thrift store find - but I replaced the brass buttons with mother-of-pearl.
Kiton Double-Breasted. This one’s all cashmere. I bought it at a thrift store, and I think it may at one time have been the jacket of a suit. Since it’s so soft and unconstructed, and Italianate in style, it works great as a blazer. Replaced the buttons with light horn ones.
Chester Barrie Double-Breasted. I bought this one for $75 or something on eBay a week before I found the Kiton at the thrift. Put smoke mother-of-pearl buttons on it. It’s a little lighter than the Kiton, so it gets more warm-weather wear.
Polo Corduroy. This one gets out a lot when it’s cooler - and it was $30 or so on eBay.
Brooks Brothers Unconstructed Flannel. This one I found at a thrift store in Orange County. It fit perfectly off the rack, and one of the best-dressed guys I know, Elvis Mitchell, once told me it was gorgeous. Has brown horn buttons. Great for knocking around in cool weather.
Cantarelli Summer-Weight . This one’s very blogger approved - patch pockets all around, partial lining, open-weave wool. Got it from eBay for $50 or so. Couldn’t resist.
Custom Fresco Blazer. This was my first ever bespoke garment, from High Society Tailor in Los Angeles. It’s something prohibitively expensive off the rack that, living in LA, I wear all the time.
Vintage Flecked Blazer. This one’s from the late 50s, maybe the early 60s. I bought it at a thrift many years ago, and it’s a great going-out coat. Add a knit tie, a button-down shirt and grey flannels and you look like the big man on campus.
Freeman’s Sporting Club Shacket. Is this a blazer? Or a shirt? Or a shirt-jacket? It’s solid navy, so I’m calling it a blazer. A perfect thing to throw in the bag for a casual trip. Warm, fits a sweater underneath, looks great with jeans and chinos. Another $50-ish eBay purchase.
So what does it all mean? Am I a crazy person? Or do I just have the right tool for every job? Maybe the latter. Maybe the former.
(Edit: just took out my summer clothes. Blue Polo linen. That’s eleven.)

Do I Really Have Ten Blue Blazers?

This morning, I’m spending a bit of time switching cold weather clothes for warm weather clothes. It’s a time of reckoning. And I reckon I’ve got a lot of blue blazers.

To my credit, I’ve only purchased one of them new, and most came from thrift shops. And what they say about blazers, that they’re the most versatile garment you can own, is true. But still… ten?

Here’s the rundown:

  1. Classic Brooks Brothers. This is the blazer you think of when you think of a blazer. Brass buttons, the whole nine. Bought it at the thrift shop, and I rarely wear it… I’m not a brass button guy.
  2. Classic Brooks Brothers (White Buttons). Another thrift store find - but I replaced the brass buttons with mother-of-pearl.
  3. Kiton Double-Breasted. This one’s all cashmere. I bought it at a thrift store, and I think it may at one time have been the jacket of a suit. Since it’s so soft and unconstructed, and Italianate in style, it works great as a blazer. Replaced the buttons with light horn ones.
  4. Chester Barrie Double-Breasted. I bought this one for $75 or something on eBay a week before I found the Kiton at the thrift. Put smoke mother-of-pearl buttons on it. It’s a little lighter than the Kiton, so it gets more warm-weather wear.
  5. Polo Corduroy. This one gets out a lot when it’s cooler - and it was $30 or so on eBay.
  6. Brooks Brothers Unconstructed Flannel. This one I found at a thrift store in Orange County. It fit perfectly off the rack, and one of the best-dressed guys I know, Elvis Mitchell, once told me it was gorgeous. Has brown horn buttons. Great for knocking around in cool weather.
  7. Cantarelli Summer-Weight . This one’s very blogger approved - patch pockets all around, partial lining, open-weave wool. Got it from eBay for $50 or so. Couldn’t resist.
  8. Custom Fresco Blazer. This was my first ever bespoke garment, from High Society Tailor in Los Angeles. It’s something prohibitively expensive off the rack that, living in LA, I wear all the time.
  9. Vintage Flecked Blazer. This one’s from the late 50s, maybe the early 60s. I bought it at a thrift many years ago, and it’s a great going-out coat. Add a knit tie, a button-down shirt and grey flannels and you look like the big man on campus.
  10. Freeman’s Sporting Club Shacket. Is this a blazer? Or a shirt? Or a shirt-jacket? It’s solid navy, so I’m calling it a blazer. A perfect thing to throw in the bag for a casual trip. Warm, fits a sweater underneath, looks great with jeans and chinos. Another $50-ish eBay purchase.

So what does it all mean? Am I a crazy person? Or do I just have the right tool for every job? Maybe the latter. Maybe the former.

(Edit: just took out my summer clothes. Blue Polo linen. That’s eleven.)

It’s On Sale: Wool Challis Neckties

While I’ve personally reduced my wardrobe down to a variety of navy neckties, the two exceptions in my closet feature giant paisley designs on them. One is an ancient madder and the other is printed on wool challis that I picked up at Cable Car Clothiers on my last day in San Francisco. I really enjoy the look of a big, bold paisley pattern for some reason and for colder weather the wool challis printed ties pair well with tweed jackets, chunky-knitted cardigans or a navy blazer. 

Ralph Lauren’s clearance sale has reduced their wool “estate” challis ties to $52.49 — about 60% off — and having handled them in stores I think they’re rather superb if you find giant paisley prints to be your taste. Unfortunately, the photos don’t really do the muted and dark tones justice. 

-Kiyoshi

Our friend Dallas Penn let us know about this very cool event in New York on Sunday, January 20th.
From noon to 4:30, you can buy, sell and trade your vintage Polo gear. Then, starting at 4:30, there’ll be a concert featuring some of the fiercest rappers in New York: Sean Price and Buckshot among them.

Our friend Dallas Penn let us know about this very cool event in New York on Sunday, January 20th.

From noon to 4:30, you can buy, sell and trade your vintage Polo gear. Then, starting at 4:30, there’ll be a concert featuring some of the fiercest rappers in New York: Sean Price and Buckshot among them.

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: A Black Tie Guide
Our series on putting together an ensemble for black tie affairs on time and on a slim budget continues. Today we discuss finding the proper shirt. Click here to read the rest of the Black Tie Guide. 
Part 2: The Evening Shirt
While you can find fairly good deals on eBay for the tuxedo, it can be tougher when it comes to the shirt, especially if you have a preference for something that fits a bit more trim in the body and sleeve. 
A few things you want to look for in a tuxedo shirt:
French cuffs
Placket should allow for studs (bib front) or use mother-of-pearl buttons (pleated front)
White cotton that’s thinner, i.e.: poplin or broadcloth — avoid heavier weights
Spread or wing collar 
Bib or pleated front (this means no pockets)
Which collar should you go with? Wing collars come from a more formal tradition — white tie — and it depends if you believe they have their place in black tie ensembles. I think their visible points compliments tuxedos with peaked lapels. If you have a shawl-collared jacket, which relates closer to the casual smoking jacket, then consider going with the less formal spread collar. 
As for bibs or pleats, it’s again worth looking to the traditions of white tie for stylistic cues. The bib front often is made with a pique fabric (also called “marcella”) that’s associated with white tie and considered a more formal choice. Still, I think you could safely pick either and just go with your personal preference. The vertical lines of a pleated front could be beneficial to those looking to elongate their torso visually. 
Unfortunately, off-the-rack options for such shirts are limited under the $100 pricepoint. Charles Tyrwhitt’s shirts start at around $80 and they offer a slim fit version. The next best deal is the bib front from Suitsupply at $99 (slim fit) and for $20 more you can get a pleated front instead (extra-slim fit). 
I’ve personally owned the Hugo Boss Black slim fit bib front with a fly placket and darts on the back and found it to be quite good for $125. Remaining south of $150, you can pick among Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren and Kent Wang.
Of course, when you’re around $150, then you might want to consider going with made-to-measure, at which point your options really open up quite a bit. But at this point, you might be pushing your luck with receiving your shirt in time for New Year’s Eve depending on your shirtmaker and shipping time. 
Finally, remember to avoid wearing a regular white dress shirt with your tuxedo — especially one with barrel cuffs, plastic buttons and a chest pocket. 
-Kiyoshi
(Photo via Time/Life)

Champagne Taste on a Beer Budget: A Black Tie Guide

Our series on putting together an ensemble for black tie affairs on time and on a slim budget continues. Today we discuss finding the proper shirt. Click here to read the rest of the Black Tie Guide

Part 2: The Evening Shirt

While you can find fairly good deals on eBay for the tuxedo, it can be tougher when it comes to the shirt, especially if you have a preference for something that fits a bit more trim in the body and sleeve. 

A few things you want to look for in a tuxedo shirt:

  • French cuffs
  • Placket should allow for studs (bib front) or use mother-of-pearl buttons (pleated front)
  • White cotton that’s thinner, i.e.: poplin or broadcloth — avoid heavier weights
  • Spread or wing collar 
  • Bib or pleated front (this means no pockets)

Which collar should you go with? Wing collars come from a more formal tradition — white tie — and it depends if you believe they have their place in black tie ensembles. I think their visible points compliments tuxedos with peaked lapels. If you have a shawl-collared jacket, which relates closer to the casual smoking jacket, then consider going with the less formal spread collar. 

As for bibs or pleats, it’s again worth looking to the traditions of white tie for stylistic cues. The bib front often is made with a pique fabric (also called “marcella”) that’s associated with white tie and considered a more formal choice. Still, I think you could safely pick either and just go with your personal preference. The vertical lines of a pleated front could be beneficial to those looking to elongate their torso visually. 

Unfortunately, off-the-rack options for such shirts are limited under the $100 pricepoint. Charles Tyrwhitt’s shirts start at around $80 and they offer a slim fit version. The next best deal is the bib front from Suitsupply at $99 (slim fit) and for $20 more you can get a pleated front instead (extra-slim fit). 

I’ve personally owned the Hugo Boss Black slim fit bib front with a fly placket and darts on the back and found it to be quite good for $125. Remaining south of $150, you can pick among Brooks Brothers, Polo Ralph Lauren and Kent Wang.

Of course, when you’re around $150, then you might want to consider going with made-to-measure, at which point your options really open up quite a bit. But at this point, you might be pushing your luck with receiving your shirt in time for New Year’s Eve depending on your shirtmaker and shipping time. 

Finally, remember to avoid wearing a regular white dress shirt with your tuxedo — especially one with barrel cuffs, plastic buttons and a chest pocket. 

-Kiyoshi

(Photo via Time/Life)

In Praise of Vintage Polo
The more I lurk on eBay and flip through thrift store racks, the more a conclusion starts to form in my mind: if you want to dress well, a great place to start is vintage Polo.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no 'Lo Head, but there are some really important factors to consider here.
First, Polo tailored clothing have bent with the passing trends, but they’ve never abandoned classic ideals. If you grab a Polo sportcoat off the rack at the Goodwill, its styling can pass for current two times out of three.
Second, Polo tailored clothing is freely available. You can buy vintage Polo suits and sportcoats on eBay for $50 or $100 without breaking a sweat. There’s probably not a thrift store in America without a piece of Polo on the rack. Even a nearly-new suit won’t cost more than a couple hundred bucks. It’s accessible.
Third, it’s of good quality. Would I pay the $1500 retail price for a new Polo suit? Probably not. (Then again, I’ve never spent $1500 on a clothing item in my life.) But over the last forty years, Polo tailored clothes have been of consistently good quality. Maybe not superb or exciting, but consistent and solid.
There’s no other brand you can say those three things of. Maybe Brooks Brothers is closest, but while its styling has always been conservative, it’s never had the elegance of Polo. Polo’s always hung on to a bit of the Gatsby flair. Classic, but sharp.
I’ve got a couple of old Polo suits from the 70s. Union made in the US of A. Beautiful heavy fabric and solid, sophisticated styling. I’d say the same of the Italian-made tweed sportcoats I bought at the outlet store a couple years ago. These days, after years of thrifting, I’ve got higher-end stuff in my closet, but I reach for the Polo just as often. That’s really quite an accomplishment.

In Praise of Vintage Polo

The more I lurk on eBay and flip through thrift store racks, the more a conclusion starts to form in my mind: if you want to dress well, a great place to start is vintage Polo.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m no 'Lo Head, but there are some really important factors to consider here.

  • First, Polo tailored clothing have bent with the passing trends, but they’ve never abandoned classic ideals. If you grab a Polo sportcoat off the rack at the Goodwill, its styling can pass for current two times out of three.
  • Second, Polo tailored clothing is freely available. You can buy vintage Polo suits and sportcoats on eBay for $50 or $100 without breaking a sweat. There’s probably not a thrift store in America without a piece of Polo on the rack. Even a nearly-new suit won’t cost more than a couple hundred bucks. It’s accessible.
  • Third, it’s of good quality. Would I pay the $1500 retail price for a new Polo suit? Probably not. (Then again, I’ve never spent $1500 on a clothing item in my life.) But over the last forty years, Polo tailored clothes have been of consistently good quality. Maybe not superb or exciting, but consistent and solid.

There’s no other brand you can say those three things of. Maybe Brooks Brothers is closest, but while its styling has always been conservative, it’s never had the elegance of Polo. Polo’s always hung on to a bit of the Gatsby flair. Classic, but sharp.

I’ve got a couple of old Polo suits from the 70s. Union made in the US of A. Beautiful heavy fabric and solid, sophisticated styling. I’d say the same of the Italian-made tweed sportcoats I bought at the outlet store a couple years ago. These days, after years of thrifting, I’ve got higher-end stuff in my closet, but I reach for the Polo just as often. That’s really quite an accomplishment.

Season 2 Episode 4 Clothing Credits

Introduction

Overcoat - Vintage by Capper & Capper

Scarf - Courtesy of Christine Cariati

Hat - Courtesy of W. Bill

Q and Answer

Coat - Polo Ralph Lauren

Sweater - Vintage

Tie - Cordings

Shirt - Thin Red Line

Pocket Square - Put This On Gentlemen’s Association

Scarf - Courtesy Christine Cariati

Hat - Courtesy W. Bill

Trousers - Pro Tailor, Los Angeles

Shoes - Vintage Florsheim

David Saxby

Suit - High Society Tailor (cloth by Molloy & Sons)

Cuff Links - Vintage

Shirt - Thin Red Line

Tie - Vintage Carroll & Co.

Square - Put This On Gentlemen’s Association

It’s On Sale: RL Long-Sleeve Polos
Ralph Lauren is selling their long-sleeve “Custom Fit” polos for just $22.46 with the code RLEXTRA25. Custom Fit is the slimmer of RL’s styles, though it isn’t fashion-slim. Shipping is a flat $5. It’s part of a much larger sale.

It’s On Sale: RL Long-Sleeve Polos

Ralph Lauren is selling their long-sleeve “Custom Fit” polos for just $22.46 with the code RLEXTRA25. Custom Fit is the slimmer of RL’s styles, though it isn’t fashion-slim. Shipping is a flat $5. It’s part of a much larger sale.