Ralph Lauren Vintage

The year that Ralph Lauren launched his “RL Vintage” website, Newsweek published an article about the appeal of old Ralph Lauren clothes. An excerpt:

RL Vintage” comes in response to a phenomenon that even David Lauren didn’t know about at first. Five years ago, when the brand was looking to commemorate its 40th birthday, executives discovered there were fans who might be celebrating harder than they were. They found a store in Tokyo that sells only vintage Ralph Lauren, with pieces dating back to the 1970s. There was a Japanese magazine devoted to heritage Americana that had an entire issue on old Ralph Lauren pieces. In the United States, a club of Lauren collectors was limited to 67 members, in honor of the year the master first began producing clothes. David Lauren takes out his iPhone and searches eBay for his father’s name: 309,119 items come up (including a life-size aluminum nude that’s supposed to be of his father and that he didn’t know existed). “There is a cult of Ralph Lauren that is kind of amazing,” he says, mentioning the block-long crowds that form at an appearance by dad, now 73.

You can read the rest of the article here. The RL Vintage site — which has been inactive for a long time now, unfortunately — also has a page dedicated to vintage RL collectors. Worth a look, if you haven’t seen it already. 

Q and Answer: How High Should Trousers Come Up?
Peter writes to us to ask: I read Monty Don’s article about dirty attire and I love the idea of high waisted men’s pants. But how high is too high? Also, where might I find such pants?
Although there are guidelines for how trousers should fit, there aren’t many rules for how they should be styled. The rise of your trousers is largely about your taste, body type, and the prevailing fashions of the day. Slimmer men can get away more easily with lower rises, while heavier men often need something higher, but at the end of the day — it about what looks good on you. Personally, I find rise to be something of a balancing act. 
For trousers I might wear with a coat and tie, I prefer a higher rise for three reasons. First, it helps avoid that dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse wrote about, where the bottom of your shirt peeks out from beneath your jacket. It also gives a longer leg line, and better proportions between the torso and legs — which I find to be nice when the jacket is worn open. You can see this demonstrated by Jake from The Armoury here. 
The problem with a rise that’s too high, however, is that unless you’re extraordinarily handsome (like Cary Grant & Co. above), they can look unflattering when you’re not wearing a jacket. Possibly not a big deal if you never remove your coat, but something to consider if you do. 
So, finding that sweet spot — where a rise is high, but not too high — is largely personal, and dependent on your dress habits, taste, and body type. For myself, I prefer trousers that come up just below my navel, although for more casual pants (i.e. anything I wouldn’t wear with a tailored jacket), I don’t mind going lower. Note, the higher you go, the more you might want to consider pleats. They’ll help visually break up that expanse of fabric that can take up your upper thighs and hips. 
Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options when it comes to higher rise pants. Ralph Lauren used to have something they called their Preston fit — which I thought was great — but they recently remodeled their whole line of trousers, so all the old cuts have been discontinued. You might want to stop by one of their stores to check out the new line, and to see if any Preston cuts are on sale. The ones made in Italy are exceptionally nice, but they’re also very expensive. Note that the legs will be a bit full, but you can have them slimmed from the knee down. 
Outside of them, there’s Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, O’Connell’s, and J. Press for dress pants, and then Ring Jacket, Jack Donnelly’s Dalton cut and Bill’s Khaki’s M2 model for chinos. For what Monty Don was wearing, you can check Old Town. Worse comes to worse, if you can’t find anything you like, you can also try made-to-measure through J. Hilburn or Luxire. 

Q and Answer: How High Should Trousers Come Up?

Peter writes to us to ask: I read Monty Don’s article about dirty attire and I love the idea of high waisted men’s pants. But how high is too high? Also, where might I find such pants?

Although there are guidelines for how trousers should fit, there aren’t many rules for how they should be styled. The rise of your trousers is largely about your taste, body type, and the prevailing fashions of the day. Slimmer men can get away more easily with lower rises, while heavier men often need something higher, but at the end of the day — it about what looks good on you. Personally, I find rise to be something of a balancing act. 

For trousers I might wear with a coat and tie, I prefer a higher rise for three reasons. First, it helps avoid that dreaded shirt triangle that Jesse wrote about, where the bottom of your shirt peeks out from beneath your jacket. It also gives a longer leg line, and better proportions between the torso and legs — which I find to be nice when the jacket is worn open. You can see this demonstrated by Jake from The Armoury here

The problem with a rise that’s too high, however, is that unless you’re extraordinarily handsome (like Cary Grant & Co. above), they can look unflattering when you’re not wearing a jacket. Possibly not a big deal if you never remove your coat, but something to consider if you do. 

So, finding that sweet spot — where a rise is high, but not too high — is largely personal, and dependent on your dress habits, taste, and body type. For myself, I prefer trousers that come up just below my navel, although for more casual pants (i.e. anything I wouldn’t wear with a tailored jacket), I don’t mind going lower. Note, the higher you go, the more you might want to consider pleats. They’ll help visually break up that expanse of fabric that can take up your upper thighs and hips. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t many good options when it comes to higher rise pants. Ralph Lauren used to have something they called their Preston fit — which I thought was great — but they recently remodeled their whole line of trousers, so all the old cuts have been discontinued. You might want to stop by one of their stores to check out the new line, and to see if any Preston cuts are on sale. The ones made in Italy are exceptionally nice, but they’re also very expensive. Note that the legs will be a bit full, but you can have them slimmed from the knee down. 

Outside of them, there’s Brooks Brothers’ Black Fleece, O’Connell’s, and J. Press for dress pants, and then Ring JacketJack Donnelly’s Dalton cut and Bill’s Khaki’s M2 model for chinos. For what Monty Don was wearing, you can check Old Town. Worse comes to worse, if you can’t find anything you like, you can also try made-to-measure through J. Hilburn or Luxire

The Popover Shirt
Summer is a great time for slightly more casual takes on tailored clothing, and there’s no easier way to dress down a tailored jacket than by using a slightly more casual shirt. So instead of the finely woven cotton dress shirts you might use for the office, consider something in a linen or linen blend. Bolder patterns can also make a shirt look more casual, although you want to be wary of anything that looks too busy. I find blue and white Bengal stripes to be the most useful.
I’ve also come to really like popovers, which is a pullover style with a half placket front. Before sport shirts were made with coat fronts – where the opening went from the collar down to the hem, like a coat – they were made with half-plackets such as this button-down. Nowadays, popovers can be seen a sort of “in-between.” They’re more relaxed than a traditional shirt, but dressier than a polo, which makes them great for those days you want to look sharp, but casual.
The problem with popovers is that they can be sometimes hard to fit. Unlike long-sleeved polos or rugbys – which are styled similarly – these are constructed from a woven, rather than knitted, material. Which means they’re less stretchy. So, in order to easily slide in and out of these things, you want your shirt to be cut a little bigger, but not so big that it looks baggy when worn. 
I ended up going through my shirtmaker Ascot Chang in order to get the right fit, but you could also try many of the ready-to-wear options and be more exacting with your alterations tailor. Try Sid Mashburn, Gitman Brothers, J. Crew, G. Inglese, Individualized Shirts, Fun Time Shirt Company, and Ralph Lauren to start. For something custom, check out Mercer & Sons, Luxire, and our advertiser Proper Cloth. The first will do made-to-order, where you can customize your shirt from a wide range of pre-selected options, while the last two can do made-to-measure, where you’ll get a shirt made according to the body measurements you submit online.  

The Popover Shirt

Summer is a great time for slightly more casual takes on tailored clothing, and there’s no easier way to dress down a tailored jacket than by using a slightly more casual shirt. So instead of the finely woven cotton dress shirts you might use for the office, consider something in a linen or linen blend. Bolder patterns can also make a shirt look more casual, although you want to be wary of anything that looks too busy. I find blue and white Bengal stripes to be the most useful.

I’ve also come to really like popovers, which is a pullover style with a half placket front. Before sport shirts were made with coat fronts – where the opening went from the collar down to the hem, like a coat – they were made with half-plackets such as this button-down. Nowadays, popovers can be seen a sort of “in-between.” They’re more relaxed than a traditional shirt, but dressier than a polo, which makes them great for those days you want to look sharp, but casual.

The problem with popovers is that they can be sometimes hard to fit. Unlike long-sleeved polos or rugbys – which are styled similarly – these are constructed from a woven, rather than knitted, material. Which means they’re less stretchy. So, in order to easily slide in and out of these things, you want your shirt to be cut a little bigger, but not so big that it looks baggy when worn. 

I ended up going through my shirtmaker Ascot Chang in order to get the right fit, but you could also try many of the ready-to-wear options and be more exacting with your alterations tailor. Try Sid Mashburn, Gitman Brothers, J. Crew, G. Inglese, Individualized Shirts, Fun Time Shirt Company, and Ralph Lauren to start. For something custom, check out Mercer & Sons, Luxire, and our advertiser Proper Cloth. The first will do made-to-order, where you can customize your shirt from a wide range of pre-selected options, while the last two can do made-to-measure, where you’ll get a shirt made according to the body measurements you submit online.  

Ralph Lauren’s homes apparently look like Ralph Lauren Home catalogs. 

Also, he has a horse in his driveway. 

More at Architectural Digest

(via FE Castleberry)

Where to Buy Good Pants (Part One)
Readers often ask us if we have any recommendations for where to buy good trousers. Usually grey flannels, as those tend to be the most useful, but other styles as well. So I reached out to a few friends to compile a list. Like with our guide on where to look for a suit, this isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but hopefully people will find it useful as a starting point. Today we’ll cover some expensive options, and tomorrow we’ll tackle the more affordable places.
Rota ($220-395): An Italian line with a slim leg and slightly higher rise. The construction is great, the fabrics excellent, and there are some cool details such as an extended waistband (which looks nice when you’re wearing your trousers without a belt). Note, the Rota Sport line is garment washed, so while the cut is originally same, the waist, thigh, and hip areas will be slightly slimmer. Rotas are mostly available ready-to-wear, but you can get them made-to-order through No Man Walks Alone. Doing so means you can choose from a bigger fabric selection.
Ralph Lauren ($200-450): Ralph Lauren is a big umbrella label, with lots of stuff at different tiers of quality. I personally like their Italian-made line of trousers through their Polo label (also known as Blue Label for how the label is blue). Their Preston cut is a more traditional fit with a higher rise. As with all trousers, you just have to make sure that the thigh, seat, and rise fit the way you want. The legs can be slimmed from the knee down and the waist adjusted accordingly. Prices are high (usually north of $400), but you can find them on sale at Ralph Lauren and select Bloomingdales stores for $200-250 at the end of every season. Just look for a made-in-Italy label, and note that it may soon be made-in-USA. 
Brooks Brothers Black Fleece ($200-575): Another great option if you like a traditional rise, but this time, the legs are slimmer than Ralph Lauren’s Preston cut. Thom Browne, who designs the line, often puts a little loop at the back of the waistband, but you can have that removed by a tailor if it’s not to your liking. Brooks Brothers also regularly discounts their stuff at the end of the season, and the Black Fleece line is sometimes discounted more heavily through online flash sales. 
Clay Tompkins ($250-400): A relatively new company, but one worth considering. Clay Tompkin’s trousers are cut somewhat similar to Howard Yount’s (which we’ll review tomorrow), but they feature some nice details such as adjustable side tabs. Those not only give a unique stylistic touch, but they’re also useful for when you need to adjust your pants in increments smaller than an inch (which is the only thing possible when you’re wearing a belt). I’m also told that if the red stitching on the back pocket isn’t to your liking, Clay can make your trousers without them. You can read more about Clay’s trousers here.
Panta ($239-379): A favorite of mine. No frills or flash sales here, just really good pants made in NYC. These are slimmer than many of the more traditional cuts at J. Press and Ralph Lauren, but not as slim as Howard Yount or Epaulet. The guy who runs this place, Ed Morel, also has an unusually good eye for fabrics. That means you’ll get lots of stuff that’s slightly more interesting (but still very tasteful) than what you’ll find elsewhere. Additionally, they can do made-to-measure and custom if you email them. The downside? They rarely hold sales, so the prices you see are what they are (though, maybe that’s a good thing?). 
Come back tomorrow, when we’ll talk about where you can find good trousers at more affordable prices.   
(Thanks to Ivory Tower Style, Luxe Swap, and This Fits for their help with this post. Also, credit to Panta for the photo above.)

Where to Buy Good Pants (Part One)

Readers often ask us if we have any recommendations for where to buy good trousers. Usually grey flannels, as those tend to be the most useful, but other styles as well. So I reached out to a few friends to compile a list. Like with our guide on where to look for a suit, this isn’t meant to be comprehensive, but hopefully people will find it useful as a starting point. Today we’ll cover some expensive options, and tomorrow we’ll tackle the more affordable places.

  • Rota ($220-395): An Italian line with a slim leg and slightly higher rise. The construction is great, the fabrics excellent, and there are some cool details such as an extended waistband (which looks nice when you’re wearing your trousers without a belt). Note, the Rota Sport line is garment washed, so while the cut is originally same, the waist, thigh, and hip areas will be slightly slimmer. Rotas are mostly available ready-to-wear, but you can get them made-to-order through No Man Walks Alone. Doing so means you can choose from a bigger fabric selection.
  • Ralph Lauren ($200-450): Ralph Lauren is a big umbrella label, with lots of stuff at different tiers of quality. I personally like their Italian-made line of trousers through their Polo label (also known as Blue Label for how the label is blue). Their Preston cut is a more traditional fit with a higher rise. As with all trousers, you just have to make sure that the thigh, seat, and rise fit the way you want. The legs can be slimmed from the knee down and the waist adjusted accordingly. Prices are high (usually north of $400), but you can find them on sale at Ralph Lauren and select Bloomingdales stores for $200-250 at the end of every season. Just look for a made-in-Italy label, and note that it may soon be made-in-USA. 
  • Brooks Brothers Black Fleece ($200-575): Another great option if you like a traditional rise, but this time, the legs are slimmer than Ralph Lauren’s Preston cut. Thom Browne, who designs the line, often puts a little loop at the back of the waistband, but you can have that removed by a tailor if it’s not to your liking. Brooks Brothers also regularly discounts their stuff at the end of the season, and the Black Fleece line is sometimes discounted more heavily through online flash sales. 
  • Clay Tompkins ($250-400): A relatively new company, but one worth considering. Clay Tompkin’s trousers are cut somewhat similar to Howard Yount’s (which we’ll review tomorrow), but they feature some nice details such as adjustable side tabs. Those not only give a unique stylistic touch, but they’re also useful for when you need to adjust your pants in increments smaller than an inch (which is the only thing possible when you’re wearing a belt). I’m also told that if the red stitching on the back pocket isn’t to your liking, Clay can make your trousers without them. You can read more about Clay’s trousers here.
  • Panta ($239-379): A favorite of mine. No frills or flash sales here, just really good pants made in NYC. These are slimmer than many of the more traditional cuts at J. Press and Ralph Lauren, but not as slim as Howard Yount or Epaulet. The guy who runs this place, Ed Morel, also has an unusually good eye for fabrics. That means you’ll get lots of stuff that’s slightly more interesting (but still very tasteful) than what you’ll find elsewhere. Additionally, they can do made-to-measure and custom if you email them. The downside? They rarely hold sales, so the prices you see are what they are (though, maybe that’s a good thing?). 

Come back tomorrow, when we’ll talk about where you can find good trousers at more affordable prices.   

(Thanks to Ivory Tower Style, Luxe Swap, and This Fits for their help with this post. Also, credit to Panta for the photo above.)

It’s On Sale: Ralph Lauren Fishing Bag

I’ve been using the tan version of this bag a lot in the last year. The canvas isn’t as thick as what you might find on a Filson, and the leather quality could be a bit better, but the build is still solid and I like the design. It’s styled after fishing bags - such as the ones sold by Brady - but, when compared to the originals, it looks less conspicuous in a city environment. It’s been a go-to for me when I need something more casual than a full leather briefcase. 

It’s on sale at Ralph Lauren for $220 (down from $330), but at the moment, you can knock another 30% off with the checkout code HAPPY4TH. That puts it at $154. 

They also have a vintage style backpack that I really like, but unfortunately, the extra 30% discount doesn’t apply. 


"At the end of a long evening spent trying on all of her ex-husband’s clothing, she methodically steamed each of the labels off the vintage wines in his prized collection."

Vintage Ralph Lauren ads are the best. So are amusing captions. This slideshow over at Vanity Fair mixes the two. 
(via The Prophet Pizza)

"At the end of a long evening spent trying on all of her ex-husband’s clothing, she methodically steamed each of the labels off the vintage wines in his prized collection."

Vintage Ralph Lauren ads are the best. So are amusing captions. This slideshow over at Vanity Fair mixes the two. 

(via The Prophet Pizza)

Expanding a Shirt Wardrobe in the Summertime

Luciano Barbera once said that while you can have too many clothes, you can never have too many shirts. “Shirts are quick to wash and easy to store. Plus, they look great. A man should own as many shirts as he wishes –- the more the better.”

I don’t know if I would go that far, but having more shirts does allow you to play around a bit with a tailored wardrobe. Solid and striped shirts in your basic colors (white and light blue) are great mainstays, but having a few causal options can let you get some versatility out of what you already own. For summer, I like the following:

  • Madras: A lightweight, plain weave cotton that’s known for it’s bright and bold plaids. By tradition, these used to be dyed with vegetable dyes that would bleed in the wash, which in turn would give the shirts a distinctive, blurred look. Today, madras is almost always colorfast (meaning they don’t bleed or fade), which is perhaps lamentable, but I find they still go excellently under cotton or linen sport coats, or even worn on their own with a pair of chinos and some plimsolls. You can find them at O’Connell’s, J. Press, Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and J. Crew.
  • Linen: I love the look of wrinkled linen, as it adds a casual, carefree touch to clothes that make them look more lived in. Plus, the plant fiber is just so lightweight and breathable, making it ideal on hot days. With the breeze blowing through, you’d hardly known you were wearing a shirt at all. You can find them at Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Ledbury. Our advertiser Proper Cloth also can make you something custom from their cotton/ linen blends – which will have the breathability of linen, but won’t wrinkle as much.
  • A dressy chambray: This one is admittedly hard to find. A long time ago, some guys at StyleForum became enamored with a distinctive chambray from the French weaver Simonnot Godard. It had the right mix of white and blue threads to make it a chambray, but was dressy enough to wear with tailored clothing (so not like the workwear chambrays you see everywhere else). At some point, it was found that the cloth has a small percentage of polyester in it, so traditionalists quickly abandoned their stock. I personally still love the fabric, and count it as one of my favorite shirtings. It’s unique without being loud, and something you can wear to the office or outside of it. Today, the closest you can find to those original Simonnot Godard chambrays is this shirt from Ledbury (which is 100% cotton). Otherwise, you can try searching around for various end-on-ends, which is a kind of weave that sometimes yields a vaguely similar look.
  • A washed chambray: More the workwear variety, and perhaps something that’s better in the fall with tweed jackets. In the summer though, I’ve found light blue chambrays to go excellently with casual clothes (leather jackets, chinos, and such). Just find something that’s light enough in color to look like a regular light blue shirt, but has a bit of ruggedness to it so that it’s casual. I like the ones from Chimala and RRL, although the prices are admittedly very dear. For something much more affordable, check out this shirt from Everlane

The Language of Penny Loafers

As the weather gets warmer and we inch closer to summer, I most look forward to when I can wear my penny loafers again. I pair them with everything – linen suits, wool trousers and sport coats, chinos and madras shirts, and even the occasional pair of jeans and a button-up. While the style is versatile, however, every pair of pennies may not be. I find that the ones that look best with tailored clothes, for example, don’t go that well with jeans. The difference is all in the detailing.

Toe Construction

Every pair of penny loafers has a U-shaped ridge that bounds the top of the toe. On my dark brown calf Edward Greens, this ridge is made with a decorative top stitch that results in a very clean line. On my dark brown suede Rancourts, the uppers and sides are handsewn together to form what’s known as a “moc toe” (moc being short for moccasin). It’s a slightly rougher looking line, and this roughness only becomes more so with time, as moc toes tend to loosen with wear. Finally, my tan-suede Ralph Laurens have the most prominent ridge of all, with the top piece of the leather folded down and stitched to the sides.

Generally speaking, the last two styles are a bit more casual than the first, if only because they’re rougher and more prominent looking. I find that they go better with slim chinos or jeans, but if you have a more casual sensibility with tailored clothing, they could work with those styles as well. Conversely, the decorative skin stitch technique tends to be the dressiest. You can see this a bit more easily when you compare those Rancourts above to these Aldens. Both are very American in style, but the Aldens are just a tad dressier.

Toe Box Shape

All things being equal, the sleeker the toe box, the dressier the shoe. In this regard, my dark brown calf Edward Greens are the dressiest, while the dark brown suede Rancourts are the most casual.

Color and Material

Like with all shoes, black and dark browns tend to look dressier, while lighter colors (and non-traditional colors) will look more casual. Calf also tends to be dressier than shell cordovan or suede. This is especially true over time, as suede “balds” with wear. This is because, while you can hide scuffs on calf with shoe polish, there’s little you can do about scuffs on suede. This isn’t a bad thing, as quality shoes look better well-worn, but it does mean that wear tends to show up more on suede than anything else.

It’s easy, when choosing a penny loafer, to find yourself drawn to whatever looks dressiest and sleekest, but beware. While those styles may suit you, it’s useful to think hard about what you might wear your loafers with. If it’s something like chinos or jeans, you might do better with something made with a moc toe or beefroll (beefrolls refer to the visible stitching on the sides of the penny strap, which resemble a cut of beef tied with cooking string). There’s language in penny loafers that will dictate how you can best wear your shoes. As Charles Eames once said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.”

“In L.A. for the opening of his Beverly Hills store, [Ralph] Lauren received a last-minute invitation from [Cary] Grant to go to the racetrack. “I told him I had on jeans and a blazer and he said, ‘You can’t wear that.’” After a quick trip to the store for some proper flannels, the two took off to the track—in Grant’s Buick.” WWD’s interview with Ralph Lauren, where he recounts the time Cary Grant wouldn’t let him wear jeans with a blazer.