It’s On Sale: Briggs & Riley at Sierra Trading Post
If you’re looking for basic nylon luggage, you don’t need to look any further than Briggs & Riley. Their offering is pretty simple: a solid bag and an unbeatable warranty. Basically: if your bag is ever damaged for any reason, they will fix it free. Locally, even. They even cover damage done by baggage handlers, which is actually pretty uncommon among luggage companies. I’ve heard from many readers who are B&R customers who’ve seen that in action and can’t say enough.
Briggs & Riley aren’t as expensive as some of their competitors, like Tumi, but they are more expensive than then generics in the luggage aisle at Marshall’s. Luckily, they come up from time to time on Sierra Trading Post, where after coupon (sign up for their DealFlier for the best discounts) the standard carry-ons come to about $200. 
There are quite a few that just came in to STP; you can check them out here.

It’s On Sale: Briggs & Riley at Sierra Trading Post

If you’re looking for basic nylon luggage, you don’t need to look any further than Briggs & Riley. Their offering is pretty simple: a solid bag and an unbeatable warranty. Basically: if your bag is ever damaged for any reason, they will fix it free. Locally, even. They even cover damage done by baggage handlers, which is actually pretty uncommon among luggage companies. I’ve heard from many readers who are B&R customers who’ve seen that in action and can’t say enough.


Briggs & Riley aren’t as expensive as some of their competitors, like Tumi, but they are more expensive than then generics in the luggage aisle at Marshall’s. Luckily, they come up from time to time on Sierra Trading Post, where after coupon (sign up for their DealFlier for the best discounts) the standard carry-ons come to about $200.

There are quite a few that just came in to STP; you can check them out here.

Drying Off
It started raining in the Bay Area this weekend. Really turbulent winds and heavy showers meant that every time I went out even for a few moments, I came home soaking wet. In such weather, it’s good to remember how to properly take care of your possessions.
For jackets and coats, you can brush off most of the water with your hands or a Kent clothing brush. Don’t stick your clothes in the closet afterwards just yet, however. You want to put them in an area with some good circulation, so they can dry properly. The risk with wet clothes is that they might develop mildew, which is really difficult to get rid of. A night out on a coat rack or something should be enough time to let them recover. After that, hang it in the closet with a hanger that has thick, moulded shoulders. I like the ones from The Hanger Project, but there are other merchants as well, such as A Suitable Wardrobe and, more affordably, Wooden Hangers USA.
Likewise, umbrellas should have time to dry before being furled up again. I shake mine off gently before coming in, and then open it again once I’m indoors and set it on its side. The material used for umbrella canopies are usually quick drying, so this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.
Finally, for shoes, I brush off the big drops, stick in cedar shoe trees, and then lay my shoes on their sides, like I’ve pictured above. I used to think the last step was kind of unnecessary, until I noticed that my wet shoes were sitting in puddles when I left them on their soles. Moisture can really weaken leather, so you need to make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again. Setting them on their side helps aid that for the parts that are likely to be most damaged.
Whatever you do - whether for clothes, umbrellas, or shoes - avoid the temptation to hasten the drying process by setting things near a heater. You’re likely to over-dry your items, which can crack leather and make wool brittle. Heaters can rob these materials of their natural oils, so make sure you leave everything to dry at room temperature. Being patient, as usual, is the way to go. 

Drying Off

It started raining in the Bay Area this weekend. Really turbulent winds and heavy showers meant that every time I went out even for a few moments, I came home soaking wet. In such weather, it’s good to remember how to properly take care of your possessions.

For jackets and coats, you can brush off most of the water with your hands or a Kent clothing brush. Don’t stick your clothes in the closet afterwards just yet, however. You want to put them in an area with some good circulation, so they can dry properly. The risk with wet clothes is that they might develop mildew, which is really difficult to get rid of. A night out on a coat rack or something should be enough time to let them recover. After that, hang it in the closet with a hanger that has thick, moulded shoulders. I like the ones from The Hanger Project, but there are other merchants as well, such as A Suitable Wardrobe and, more affordably, Wooden Hangers USA.

Likewise, umbrellas should have time to dry before being furled up again. I shake mine off gently before coming in, and then open it again once I’m indoors and set it on its side. The material used for umbrella canopies are usually quick drying, so this shouldn’t take more than an hour or two.

Finally, for shoes, I brush off the big drops, stick in cedar shoe trees, and then lay my shoes on their sides, like I’ve pictured above. I used to think the last step was kind of unnecessary, until I noticed that my wet shoes were sitting in puddles when I left them on their soles. Moisture can really weaken leather, so you need to make sure your shoes are completely dry before wearing them again. Setting them on their side helps aid that for the parts that are likely to be most damaged.

Whatever you do - whether for clothes, umbrellas, or shoes - avoid the temptation to hasten the drying process by setting things near a heater. You’re likely to over-dry your items, which can crack leather and make wool brittle. Heaters can rob these materials of their natural oils, so make sure you leave everything to dry at room temperature. Being patient, as usual, is the way to go. 

Sierra Trading Post got a new shipment of shoe trees in. Get them for about $11 a pair once you apply their coupon codes (which you can receive through their Deal Flyer newsletter). Those codes usually knock another 30-45% off. 

Sierra Trading Post got a new shipment of shoe trees in. Get them for about $11 a pair once you apply their coupon codes (which you can receive through their Deal Flyer newsletter). Those codes usually knock another 30-45% off. 

Sierra Trading Post: What To Buy

The online discounter Sierra Trading Post mostly sells outdoor gear. If you need a sleeping bag or a performance fleece at a discounted price, they’re your #1 source. Oddly, though, they also care a smattering of high-end menswear items. They’re not in the catalogs they send out, and they don’t have a special section on the website. You have to know what to look for. If you do know, though, you can find some great stuff.

What can you buy at Sierra Trading Post?

  • Isaia suits & sportcoats. One of the best Italian ready-to-wear brands often closes out stock at STP. Find suits and sportcoats for about $1000, and sometimes as little as $500.
  • Bill’s Khakis. The trads love Bill’s because their quality is consistently superb, but at retail, they’re expensive. Stack a few discounts at STP, and you can get their M3 fit (which is their slimmest, but isn’t that slim) for as little as $50-75.
  • Johnston’s of Elgin cashmere. One of the few reputable cashmere-goods makers left clears out tons of sweaters and accessories at significant discounts. Use coupons judiciously and sweaters will end up under $200. Scarves, gloves and other accessories sometimes dip as low as $20 or $30.
  • Pantherella socks. Want to buy fancy socks but don’t want to pay fancy prices? Play your cards right, and you can get these English-made socks for about $8 a pair. Sometimes even less.
  • Derek Rose pajamas. It’s tough to find good pajamas. These guys retail for about $200-250 a set, but with some couponing, you can get them for under a hundred at STP.
  • Tricker’s shoes and boots. Tricker’s might be the world’s top brand of country footwear, but they’re expensive. With coupons, you can grab a pair for about $300.

One note: using Sierra Trading Post to the fullest can be a bit tricky. Sales at STP stack with coupons, which are sent out daily if you sign up for their DealFlyer service. Coupons typically range from 10-15% off to as much as 35% off with free shipping. Sign up for DealFlyer, and your patience will be rewarded.

Sierra Trading Post
Sierra Trading Post has a some great deals on fall items right now. Remember that they regularly issue 35% - 45% discount codes, usually once a week, but at least a few times a month. Just sign up for their “DealFlyer” newsletter and you’ll be alerted when they drop. I haven’t adjusted the prices below to reflect those discounts, but you can see there are some good deals to be had if you’re patient. 
HS&M quilted jacket ($132) and J.G. Glover tweed jacket ($202): I haven’t handled these in person, but these seem like they could make for nice fall-season jackets. Note that previous discount codes haven’t worked on the quilted jacket, possibly because it’s on clearance. Reviews also say it fits slim. 
Johnstons of Elgin cashmere scarves ($70): I’m a big fan of these once they go on sale. I find the solid light-grey goes with almost anything. 
Smartwool baselayers ($52): These are incredibly useful in cold climates. Smartwool makes well-made, affordable baselayers that are popular among hikers, campers, and outdoorsmen. I wear mine in Moscow underneath heavy sweaters and thick outerwear. I recommend them even if you don’t have to go through such harsh winters, however. They could pay for themselves by just helping you save on the heating bill. 
Trickers boots ($472.50): Expensive, but nice boots. Perfect for fall, though easier to swallow once you get one of those 45% off codes. 
Lambourne corduroys ($109.50): I haven’t tried these myself, but reviews of them on the various menswear forums have been good. Potentially a nice pick-up if you don’t already have a pair of corduroys. 
Tretorn canvas sneakers ($32.86): Not necessarily a fall item, but perhaps something for next summer. Navy would work well underneath a pair of casual khaki chinos. 

Sierra Trading Post

Sierra Trading Post has a some great deals on fall items right now. Remember that they regularly issue 35% - 45% discount codes, usually once a week, but at least a few times a month. Just sign up for their “DealFlyer” newsletter and you’ll be alerted when they drop. I haven’t adjusted the prices below to reflect those discounts, but you can see there are some good deals to be had if you’re patient. 

  • HS&M quilted jacket ($132) and J.G. Glover tweed jacket ($202): I haven’t handled these in person, but these seem like they could make for nice fall-season jackets. Note that previous discount codes haven’t worked on the quilted jacket, possibly because it’s on clearance. Reviews also say it fits slim. 
  • Johnstons of Elgin cashmere scarves ($70): I’m a big fan of these once they go on sale. I find the solid light-grey goes with almost anything. 
  • Smartwool baselayers ($52): These are incredibly useful in cold climates. Smartwool makes well-made, affordable baselayers that are popular among hikers, campers, and outdoorsmen. I wear mine in Moscow underneath heavy sweaters and thick outerwear. I recommend them even if you don’t have to go through such harsh winters, however. They could pay for themselves by just helping you save on the heating bill. 
  • Trickers boots ($472.50): Expensive, but nice boots. Perfect for fall, though easier to swallow once you get one of those 45% off codes. 
  • Lambourne corduroys ($109.50): I haven’t tried these myself, but reviews of them on the various menswear forums have been good. Potentially a nice pick-up if you don’t already have a pair of corduroys. 
  • Tretorn canvas sneakers ($32.86): Not necessarily a fall item, but perhaps something for next summer. Navy would work well underneath a pair of casual khaki chinos. 

We Got It For Free: Dapper Classics Socks

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of our readers founded Dapper Classics, a company dedicated to supplying men with high-quality over-the-calf socks. Over-the-calfs, as you may know, have the advantage of not slipping down your leg over the course of a day, so your pale, bare calves won’t be exposed when you sit down. That’s one of the quickest ways to ruin a well-tailored look, in my opinion. Mid-calf socks are acceptable with jeans, and no-show socks are fine with shorts, but with anything like a coat and tie, there should be no other option but over-the-calf.

Harry, the company’s founder, sent me a few of their solid navy socks and one pin dot. All were made in North Carolina by a third-generation, family owned mill. A nice distinction for those who care about American made goods, but I was mostly concerned about their products’ construction. On the one hand, 65% of their socks’ fabric is made from mercerized cotton; which is good. Mercerization is a chemical process that increases cotton’s luster, strength, affinity to dye, and resistance to mildew. On the other, the rest of the materials are synthetic – mostly spandex, but also a little bit of nylon. Some synthetic material is necessary for socks to retain their shape, but over a certain point, they can become less durable. Not so, at least for the time being, with Dapper Classics. I’ve worn and put these through the wash about ten times, which is more than the number of times in took for my Gold Toes to start breaking around the cuffs. These Dapper Classics, however, look as good as the day they arrived. 

The real advantage, however, is in how cool they wear. Dapper Classic’s socks are made on a 188-needle machine, which makes them nicely thin and smooth. The weave also feels quite open, so much so that if you spread your toes and wiggle your feet, you can feel the air whiffing through. These seem to be more breathable than the cotton socks I’ve worn from current leading brands, such as Marcoliani, Bresciani, and Pantherella. They’re also quite comfortable around the calves, which is the main reason why I’ve avoided Gold Toe. Those come in at about $5 a pair, which is considerably less than the ~$25 that Marcoliani and Bresciani charge, but they put a deathly grip on my legs and leave them itchy at the end of the day. 

My only gripe with Dapper Classics that their pin dots aren’t as well made as they could be. After a few washes, the dots started to fuzz. I’ve found this to happen on some of my other pin dots as well, namely those from Pantherella. In fact, Marcoliani’s pin dots are the only ones I’ve found to hold up well over time. For what it’s worth, however, Harry at Dapper Classics tells me they’re aware of this problem and are working with the manufacturer to fix it. This is a young company, after all, just two months old, so a few bumps on the road are to be expected.

Dapper Classics sells their socks for an even $20, with free shipping included. That’s a few bucks less than the current leading brands, and are seemingly just as respectable in quality. As I said, they also have the advantage of wearing cooler, which can be a blessing for men who are prone to getting sweaty feet on hot days. Harry says they’re also working on a 80/20 merino wool range that will retail around $22. It’s nice when I’m able to recommend something on its quality, and not just price, but it’s best when I can recommend something because of both. I’m rather pleased to say that I’m able to do that here. 

Some New Navy Socks

I recently picked up some over-the-calf navy socks from Kabbaz-Kelly & Sons and The Hound Clothiers. Navy, as you’ve read a dozen times by now, is the easiest color to wear, and that holds equally true for socks as it does for sport coats. You can wear these with almost any color of trousers and not give the matter too much thought in the morning.

I can only think of a few exceptions. Sometimes, lighter colored trousers, such as tan or light grey, seem to pair better with similarly colored socks or at least something that matches the day’s shoes. For example, last week I wore a navy wool sport coat, light blue shirt made from an end-on-end cloth, sand linen trousers, and a pair of dark brown derbies. Navy socks here made the trousers look a little lost for some reason, so I put on a pair of dark brown socks and things looked a bit more balanced. 

For some bit of a visual interest, a few of my socks feature subtle, conservative patterns. Above are pin dots and herringbones by Marcoliani, and a pair of “slash fashion herringbone” by Bresciani. Marcoliani’s herringbone borders on slightly too bright, but I think they still work with slightly more casual ensembles. The others are dark and subtle enough that they could work with almost anything except a business suit. I wear these under dark olive glen plaid, charcoal windowpane, and plain mid-grey flannel trousers. I think they’re a nice way to have fun with your socks without crossing over into wacky.

If you’re on the market for such dress socks, I highly recommend Marcoliani and Bresciani. They’re a bit expensive, but from my experience, also the best made anywhere. A more affordable alternative is Pantherella, which comes up on Gilt and Sierra Trading Post for about $7-12 a pair every so often. Just make sure you get over-the-calf versions. They don’t slip down, so they’ll never expose your bare, pale calves when you sit down or cross your legs. That, in my opinion, should always be a requirement of dress socks. 


Strategic Frugality
If you’re just starting to build a better wardrobe, funds can be limited, so it’s good to know where you should focus your money. Not all clothes are created equal. Skimp on some things, and you’ll look terrible; skimp on others, and few will notice. The key here is to be strategically frugal. 
Where You Can Skimp
Knit ties: Supposedly, there are only a few knit tie producers in the world and they all make ties around the same quality. I haven’t confirmed if this is true, but all the knit ties I’ve owned - from Lands End to Charvet - have been only differed in material and design. If you stick to a reputable brand, you can get a good knit tie for about $20.
Socks: Over-the-calf Gold Toe socks can be had for about $3 a pair. Sierra Trading Post also sometimes sells Pantherella socks for $6, and those are a bit more comfortable.
Belts: The starting price for a decent belt is about $50 (e.g. Equus Leather and Narragansett Leather). However, if you go to some place like Kohls, you can get a serviceable belt for about $20. Just make sure they’re full grained leather on both sides.
Pants: If you happen to live on the East Coast, check Daffy’s for Mabitex. They cost about $25 for chinos and $40 for wool. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years, the rise has been getting shorter, and since they’re often factory seconds, they sometimes have loose stitches or poorly made seams. Just pay close attention when you buy. 
Casual shirts: Lands End Canvas’ Heritage shirts can work in a pinch. I hesitate to fully recommend them because the collars are so skimpy and the stitching, though durable, isn’t particularly well done. However, if you don’t plan to wear these with sport coats or ties, they’re passable and can be had for as little as $12. 
Where You Can Splurge
Suits, sport coats, and outerwear: This is where I think you should concentrate your money. An excellent sport coat or jacket can really make an ensemble, and even the most untrained eye can spot a cheap suit. Put a really nice jacket over a mediocre button-up shirt and pair of chinos, and you’ll look great. 
Shoes: Cheap shoes are false bargains. A well-made pair of shoes can last you thirty years while cheap shoes last for three. Get full-grain leather shoes that are made with Goodyear or Blake/ Rapid construction, and learn how to properly take care of them. Doing so will mean they’ll look better with age, not worse. 
Briefcases and bags: If you work in a traditional business environment, it’s worth the money to spring for a nice briefcase. Like the nice suit and shoes, it reflects a certain level of professionalism and competence. 
Sweaters: Poorly made sweaters will lose their shape quickly and pill more easily. Own fewer sweaters, and buy the best you can afford. 
That Said …
That said, there are smart ways to work with a limited budget for the things above. 
Bags: Avoid materials that try to be what they’re not. If you only have a limited budget, a well made canvas bag will be better than a cheap leather one. A $50 leather briefcase will always look like what it is. 
Sweaters: Similarly for sweaters, stick to merino wool, lambswool, or cotton. Many companies sell cashmere sweaters at basement-level prices, but they don’t last very long. 
Shoes: If you’re buying from a lower-tier brand, aim for suede. The differences in quality from the low- to high-end suede are much smaller than it is for smooth calf. The soles and grommets might still give out, but at least you won’t get those really ugly creases you see on corrected grain leathers. 

Strategic Frugality

If you’re just starting to build a better wardrobe, funds can be limited, so it’s good to know where you should focus your money. Not all clothes are created equal. Skimp on some things, and you’ll look terrible; skimp on others, and few will notice. The key here is to be strategically frugal. 

Where You Can Skimp

  • Knit ties: Supposedly, there are only a few knit tie producers in the world and they all make ties around the same quality. I haven’t confirmed if this is true, but all the knit ties I’ve owned - from Lands End to Charvet - have been only differed in material and design. If you stick to a reputable brand, you can get a good knit tie for about $20.
  • Socks: Over-the-calf Gold Toe socks can be had for about $3 a pair. Sierra Trading Post also sometimes sells Pantherella socks for $6, and those are a bit more comfortable.
  • Belts: The starting price for a decent belt is about $50 (e.g. Equus Leather and Narragansett Leather). However, if you go to some place like Kohls, you can get a serviceable belt for about $20. Just make sure they’re full grained leather on both sides.
  • Pants: If you happen to live on the East Coast, check Daffy’s for Mabitex. They cost about $25 for chinos and $40 for wool. Unfortunately, over the last couple of years, the rise has been getting shorter, and since they’re often factory seconds, they sometimes have loose stitches or poorly made seams. Just pay close attention when you buy. 
  • Casual shirts: Lands End Canvas’ Heritage shirts can work in a pinch. I hesitate to fully recommend them because the collars are so skimpy and the stitching, though durable, isn’t particularly well done. However, if you don’t plan to wear these with sport coats or ties, they’re passable and can be had for as little as $12. 

Where You Can Splurge

  • Suits, sport coats, and outerwear: This is where I think you should concentrate your money. An excellent sport coat or jacket can really make an ensemble, and even the most untrained eye can spot a cheap suit. Put a really nice jacket over a mediocre button-up shirt and pair of chinos, and you’ll look great. 
  • Shoes: Cheap shoes are false bargains. A well-made pair of shoes can last you thirty years while cheap shoes last for three. Get full-grain leather shoes that are made with Goodyear or Blake/ Rapid construction, and learn how to properly take care of them. Doing so will mean they’ll look better with age, not worse. 
  • Briefcases and bags: If you work in a traditional business environment, it’s worth the money to spring for a nice briefcase. Like the nice suit and shoes, it reflects a certain level of professionalism and competence. 
  • Sweaters: Poorly made sweaters will lose their shape quickly and pill more easily. Own fewer sweaters, and buy the best you can afford. 

That Said …

That said, there are smart ways to work with a limited budget for the things above. 

  • Bags: Avoid materials that try to be what they’re not. If you only have a limited budget, a well made canvas bag will be better than a cheap leather one. A $50 leather briefcase will always look like what it is. 
  • Sweaters: Similarly for sweaters, stick to merino wool, lambswool, or cotton. Many companies sell cashmere sweaters at basement-level prices, but they don’t last very long. 
  • Shoes: If you’re buying from a lower-tier brand, aim for suede. The differences in quality from the low- to high-end suede are much smaller than it is for smooth calf. The soles and grommets might still give out, but at least you won’t get those really ugly creases you see on corrected grain leathers. 

Conservatively Patterned Socks

There’s an old piece of wisdom that says men should match their socks to their trousers. Doing so elongates the leg line, which in turn supposedly makes the man look taller. I’ve never been quite sure of this rule (or the logic). It works fine for navy or charcoal trousers, but matching brown socks to similarly colored pants and shoes seems off to me. I also don’t care for light colored socks, so wheat and mid-grey trousers need a different colored hose. 

In the end, I’ve found that navy socks go with everything. It’s richer than black and complements any color next to it. Thus, most of my socks are a solid navy, with charcoal a close second. I also have a few pairs in odd colors such as dark bottle green and aubergine, which I wear whenever I want a bit of irreverence. Those are never worn to match trousers, of course, though sometimes they complement a secondary color in my tie. 

It can be a bit boring to only have solid colored socks, however, so you can mix in some conservative patterns. This takes a bit more focus in the morning, but can add real character to your ensemble. Time-honored combinations include a two-toned houndstooth with glen plaid flannels, fine herringbone with a chalk striped suiting, or well spaced pin-dot hose with windowpaned wools. The key here is to find a pattern that both complements and contrasts your trousers. If you stick to neutral colors and conservative, traditional patterns, this should be easy. 

Marcoliani and Bresciani makes some of the best patterned socks out there. Marcoliani can be found through Kabbaz & Kelly, Howard Yount, and O’Connell’s. If you’re in the Bay Area, you can also find them at The Hound Clothiers. Bresciani can be bought through A Suitable WardrobeBerg & Berg, and Mr. Porter. Both of these brands are expensive, but the construction is top-notch and the patterns are tasteful.

For more affordable options, keep an eye out for Pantherella socks on Sierra Trading Post. They have more synthetic fibers in their composition, which means they’re a bit less breathable and durable, but their patterns are equally tasteful and they can be had for as little as $5 a pair (just wait for the heavy markdowns). Uniqlo also has these dotted socks which you can buy through Suddenlee, but they’re cotton and not over-the-calf. I recommend waiting for the Pantherella sales instead, if you can wait. 

Photo credits: MostExerent, SpooPoker, and Pocket Square Guy.

Your Fall/ Winter Scarf

As the temperatures begin to dip, it will be important for you to have a few scarves on hand. If it’s cold enough, you’ll obviously wear yours with an overcoat or some kind of heavy winter outerwear. If it’s not, however, a scarf can be even more important, as it may be your only source of warmth. 

When buying one, it’s important to pay attention to a few key things:

  • Material: Generally speaking, cashmere will be softer and warmer than wool or lambswool, but it really depends on the quality. A lambswool/ angora blend by Alex Begg, for example, will be nicer than any cheap cashmere. You can also get scarves in either silk or cotton, but those tend to not be as warm. Whichever you choose, I recommend staying away from acrylic. There are too many affordable, good scarves, made from natural materials, to justify buying an acrylic scarf. 
  • Nap and size: Pay attention to the size and nap. I personally prefer scarves to be around 70” long, and never go below 63”. As Will from A Suitable Wardrobe shows, if your scarf is too short, you won’t be able to tie it. You’ll also want to pay attention to the width. If your scarf is too thin, it will hang like a silly noodle around your neck. Lastly, note that rougher materials, such as some lambswools, will be more difficult to tie into knots.
  • Color and patterns: As I’ve written before, I think scarves are worn best when they complement, but not match, the rest of your ensemble. That means picking one with complementary colors or a secondary color that matches your jacket or coat. I personally find solid colored scarves, or those with plaids, windowpanes, and stripes, to be the easiest to wear, but you can also get scarves in Fair Isle, dip dye, or houndstooth designs. 

So with that, what are some of your best options? 

Of course, there are hundreds of good scarves to be had, so the above list isn’t meant to be exhaustive. If you’re on the market to buy one, however, the above can be a good place to start.