Saving On Heating Bills
I was chatting with my neighbor last weekend, who was lamenting how high her heating bill has gotten this past winter. Just under $200 a month to heat a small three-bedroom apartment (many of us here in the Bay Area have terrible insulation).
I was shocked until I realized I was paying the same two years ago. Lately, however, my heating bill has been around $100 a month. That’s because whenever it gets chilly, I just throw on this thick lambswool cardigan by Ovadia & Sons, which you can see above. I bought it last year on sale from CHCM. The price was $350, which was a lot for me, but I’ve wanted a chunky shawl collar cardigan for some time now, and since I’m unusually skinny, it’s hard to find things in my size. Slightly more fashion-forward brands like Ovadia makes slimmer fitting clothes, which sometimes can work in favor for a guy my size, so I jumped on the sale.
As a result, I’ve been able to use my heater less. Apparently about half as much as my neighbor, who has about the same size apartment as I do. You figure with approximately $200 in savings from December and January’s heating bills, this cardigan will have paid for itself by the end of next winter. 
Obviously, I’m not advising everyone to go out and spend $350 for a cardigan. But I am saying that if you can find some nice warm knitwear, it can be a better expenditure than relying on a heater. This 6-ply lambswool cardigan is so thick that is wears like a jacket. Other knits, which are meant to be worn as layering pieces, aren’t as warm simply because they’re not as thick. If you can find a truly chunky, warm-as-a-down-comforter sweater, it can be worth the investment.
On a budget, however, I recommend Smartwool Long Johns. If you layer their midweight wools underneath a button-up shirt and regular wool or cashmere sweater, you can stay pretty toasty. Campmor always seems to have them on sale for about $50-70. At ~$120 for both the top and bottom garments, these could pay for themselves in one or two months’ time.

Saving On Heating Bills

I was chatting with my neighbor last weekend, who was lamenting how high her heating bill has gotten this past winter. Just under $200 a month to heat a small three-bedroom apartment (many of us here in the Bay Area have terrible insulation).

I was shocked until I realized I was paying the same two years ago. Lately, however, my heating bill has been around $100 a month. That’s because whenever it gets chilly, I just throw on this thick lambswool cardigan by Ovadia & Sons, which you can see above. I bought it last year on sale from CHCM. The price was $350, which was a lot for me, but I’ve wanted a chunky shawl collar cardigan for some time now, and since I’m unusually skinny, it’s hard to find things in my size. Slightly more fashion-forward brands like Ovadia makes slimmer fitting clothes, which sometimes can work in favor for a guy my size, so I jumped on the sale.

As a result, I’ve been able to use my heater less. Apparently about half as much as my neighbor, who has about the same size apartment as I do. You figure with approximately $200 in savings from December and January’s heating bills, this cardigan will have paid for itself by the end of next winter. 

Obviously, I’m not advising everyone to go out and spend $350 for a cardigan. But I am saying that if you can find some nice warm knitwear, it can be a better expenditure than relying on a heater. This 6-ply lambswool cardigan is so thick that is wears like a jacket. Other knits, which are meant to be worn as layering pieces, aren’t as warm simply because they’re not as thick. If you can find a truly chunky, warm-as-a-down-comforter sweater, it can be worth the investment.

On a budget, however, I recommend Smartwool Long Johns. If you layer their midweight wools underneath a button-up shirt and regular wool or cashmere sweater, you can stay pretty toasty. Campmor always seems to have them on sale for about $50-70. At ~$120 for both the top and bottom garments, these could pay for themselves in one or two months’ time.

Where did Cosby sweaters come from? This spectacularly charming designer from The Hague, as it turns out.

(Thanks, Ben!)

“I think youthful people have a long time to live, so they can waste some time on something like that.” Bill Cosby on “Cosby sweaters”

It’s On Sale: Howard Yount sweaters

For the past two winters I’ve enjoyed wearing Howard Yount’s lambswool sweaters. They’re of decent thickness — but not too thick — to keep you warm on milder days and add quite a bit of warmth when layered under a sport coat on colder ones. I wore mine quite frequently in the fall over an OCBD and under a waxed jacket and found they did quite well as transitional clothing. The fit is on the trimmer side, but not so slim that they’re unwearable and the quality has held up after a good amount of wear. 

Howard Yount rarely has sales or discount codes, but right now quite a lot of items from their fall-winter collection are on sale, including these sweaters, which are now $99 (down from $115) in both crewneck and v-neck form. I think they make great additions for a casual wardrobe. 

-Kiyoshi

Shetland Ponies in the Shetlands wearing Shetland knits.
A++. Would view again.
(Thanks, Max!)

Shetland Ponies in the Shetlands wearing Shetland knits.

A++. Would view again.

(Thanks, Max!)

Proper Garment Care
Buying high quality garments, with the assumption that they’re built to last, only means something if you know how to take proper care of your clothes. Stuffing them into overcrowded closets or sending them off to bad dry cleaners will shorten their life considerably. Fortunately, taking care of your clothes doesn’t require much work. You can accomplish it with just a few minutes a day.
For suits and sport coats, dry cleaning twice a year should be sufficient for anything that’s only worn once or twice a week. Sending it in more often than that will shorten the life and ruin the look of a jacket. That’s because most dry cleaners use harsh chemicals and give hard pressings. You can, of course, use a high-quality cleaner that doesn’t employ such methods, but those will cost you more money.
For every day care, brush the dirt out with a soft bristled garment brush. This will prevent them from getting deep into the fabric, where friction can damage the fibers. It’ll also knock out any food bits that may attract moths. You can buy garment brushes from Kent, though sometimes slightly imperfect ones can be had for a bit cheaper on eBay. For something truly nice, Linkson Jack has some brushes backed with oxhorn.
To begin brushing, wipe down any large, unfinished wooden table, and lay your garment down on the surface. A polished table may be too slippery, so if you only have one of those, put your garment on a blanket or strip of felt so it won’t slide about. If this doesn’t work, you can also brush your garment while it’s on a hanger (though I find it’s harder to really bring some pressure to bear on the brush this way). While brushing, use short flicks of the wrist and always brush in the same direction. Never, ever scrub. You can first brush against the nap to remove any dirt, and then down the nap for a smooth finish. Some people even recommend dampening the brush with some water first for a bit of a freshening up, though I’ve never found the need to do this.
For wrinkles, you can let your jackets hang for a day or two. Heavy wools and linens should naturally relax over time. If you still need to sharpen them up, try using a garment steamer, but be careful to stay away from the seams and don’t go too wild with the device. Otherwise, you can ruin the stitching and take out the shape. Afterwards, hang your jacket on a hanger with flared shoulders. The Hanger Project makes the nicest ones I know of. The width and curvature of their shoulders most closely imitate a man’s natural shoulders, which is what you want. If you can’t afford them, however, Wooden Hanger USA sells some very nice options starting at $7.
If your jackets are finely constructed, you may also want to send them in for a hand press once a year or so. This will help restore their shape, which is often what gives a suit its flattering silhouette. Note, a hand press is different from a machine press. Most places will offer the second, even if they advertise it as the first. Machine presses take shape out; hand presses put shape in. If you can’t find someone in your area who can give you this service, you can send your jackets to Rave Fabricare.
For trousers, I recommend a similar treatment. Wools and linens go to the dry cleaner, though perhaps a bit more frequently than jackets since they tend to get dirty quicker. Still, we’re only talking about three or four times a year. You can brush out most of the dirt each day with a garment brush. Casual cotton chinos can be machine washed, though I also send my nicer, dressier cotton trousers to the dry cleaner. That includes dress chinos, moleskins, and corduroys. 
For sweaters, some cotton sweatshirts can be machine washed, but most sweaters will be better served by an at-home hand wash. This is a rather simple process, and Jesse covered the how-to two years ago in this post.
For shirts, pre-treat any stained collars and cuffs with Octagon Bar Soap. Soak your shirt in some water, rub the soap in, and scrub with a fingernail brush. Repeat until you see the dirt rings start fading. Then roll up your wet, soapy shirt and leave it overnight in a plastic bag so that it remains moist. The next day, just launder as usual. Alex Kabbaz, one of America’s best custom shirt makers, recommends Tide’s Unscented Original. I use Ecover, and mix in some Oxiclean if my shirts are extra dirty (as per Jesse’s recommendation). To protect the mother of pearl buttons, I sometimes button my shirts and turn them inside out.
For machine washes, you should always try to use the cold water, gentle cycle, but if you really need to treat stains, hot water for whites and warm water for light colors is often acceptable. Dark colors, however, should always be washed with cold water. After the wash, I strongly recommend hang drying. Machine dryers can take the humidity out of your fabrics, leaving them dull and brittle, which will eventually give them a premature worn-out appearance.
As always, make sure you always consult your garment’s care label for more instructions. They’ll usually at least tell you the bare minimum you have to adhere to.
(Photo from The Trad) 

Proper Garment Care

Buying high quality garments, with the assumption that they’re built to last, only means something if you know how to take proper care of your clothes. Stuffing them into overcrowded closets or sending them off to bad dry cleaners will shorten their life considerably. Fortunately, taking care of your clothes doesn’t require much work. You can accomplish it with just a few minutes a day.

For suits and sport coats, dry cleaning twice a year should be sufficient for anything that’s only worn once or twice a week. Sending it in more often than that will shorten the life and ruin the look of a jacket. That’s because most dry cleaners use harsh chemicals and give hard pressings. You can, of course, use a high-quality cleaner that doesn’t employ such methods, but those will cost you more money.

For every day care, brush the dirt out with a soft bristled garment brush. This will prevent them from getting deep into the fabric, where friction can damage the fibers. It’ll also knock out any food bits that may attract moths. You can buy garment brushes from Kent, though sometimes slightly imperfect ones can be had for a bit cheaper on eBay. For something truly nice, Linkson Jack has some brushes backed with oxhorn.

To begin brushing, wipe down any large, unfinished wooden table, and lay your garment down on the surface. A polished table may be too slippery, so if you only have one of those, put your garment on a blanket or strip of felt so it won’t slide about. If this doesn’t work, you can also brush your garment while it’s on a hanger (though I find it’s harder to really bring some pressure to bear on the brush this way). While brushing, use short flicks of the wrist and always brush in the same direction. Never, ever scrub. You can first brush against the nap to remove any dirt, and then down the nap for a smooth finish. Some people even recommend dampening the brush with some water first for a bit of a freshening up, though I’ve never found the need to do this.

For wrinkles, you can let your jackets hang for a day or two. Heavy wools and linens should naturally relax over time. If you still need to sharpen them up, try using a garment steamer, but be careful to stay away from the seams and don’t go too wild with the device. Otherwise, you can ruin the stitching and take out the shape. Afterwards, hang your jacket on a hanger with flared shoulders. The Hanger Project makes the nicest ones I know of. The width and curvature of their shoulders most closely imitate a man’s natural shoulders, which is what you want. If you can’t afford them, however, Wooden Hanger USA sells some very nice options starting at $7.

If your jackets are finely constructed, you may also want to send them in for a hand press once a year or so. This will help restore their shape, which is often what gives a suit its flattering silhouette. Note, a hand press is different from a machine press. Most places will offer the second, even if they advertise it as the first. Machine presses take shape out; hand presses put shape in. If you can’t find someone in your area who can give you this service, you can send your jackets to Rave Fabricare.

For trousers, I recommend a similar treatment. Wools and linens go to the dry cleaner, though perhaps a bit more frequently than jackets since they tend to get dirty quicker. Still, we’re only talking about three or four times a year. You can brush out most of the dirt each day with a garment brush. Casual cotton chinos can be machine washed, though I also send my nicer, dressier cotton trousers to the dry cleaner. That includes dress chinos, moleskins, and corduroys. 

For sweaters, some cotton sweatshirts can be machine washed, but most sweaters will be better served by an at-home hand wash. This is a rather simple process, and Jesse covered the how-to two years ago in this post.

For shirts, pre-treat any stained collars and cuffs with Octagon Bar Soap. Soak your shirt in some water, rub the soap in, and scrub with a fingernail brush. Repeat until you see the dirt rings start fading. Then roll up your wet, soapy shirt and leave it overnight in a plastic bag so that it remains moist. The next day, just launder as usual. Alex Kabbaz, one of America’s best custom shirt makers, recommends Tide’s Unscented Original. I use Ecover, and mix in some Oxiclean if my shirts are extra dirty (as per Jesse’s recommendation). To protect the mother of pearl buttons, I sometimes button my shirts and turn them inside out.

For machine washes, you should always try to use the cold water, gentle cycle, but if you really need to treat stains, hot water for whites and warm water for light colors is often acceptable. Dark colors, however, should always be washed with cold water. After the wash, I strongly recommend hang drying. Machine dryers can take the humidity out of your fabrics, leaving them dull and brittle, which will eventually give them a premature worn-out appearance.

As always, make sure you always consult your garment’s care label for more instructions. They’ll usually at least tell you the bare minimum you have to adhere to.

(Photo from The Trad

It’s On Sale: Unionmade Goods

The San Francisco-based store, Unionmade, started their semi-annual sale today and one of the most notable things are the wide variety of wool sweaters in an array of hues. Check out the selection of sweaters from Harley of Scotland ($90), Howlin’ by Morrison ($109), S.N.S. Herning ($120) and Beams+ ($131). Any of these would go well over a button-down collared shirt and under a cool-weather casual jacket with jeans and boots. As with all end-of-season sales, sizes available are limited. 

-Kiyoshi

From the department of the one that got away

Threaded: Your Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters
I’m not gonna lie, I’d rock the heck out of some of these.

Threaded: Your Guide to Ugly Christmas Sweaters

I’m not gonna lie, I’d rock the heck out of some of these.

December Fair Isle
December is one of the last months you can best wear Fair Isle. They’re not holiday sweaters, but there’s something holiday feeling about them, and while they look great in the fall, I think they look best in the winter. You can stretch them out to maybe about January, but past that, they start to lose their appeal.
A Fair Isle sweater, for those unfamiliar, is a type of knitwear garment that uses a distinctive geometric motif originating from the remote Fair Isle island. They were originally made from undyed wool, so they came in various shades of brown and grey, but nowadays they’re mostly recognized for their very colorful patterning. The best ones, in my opinion, still use the traditional Fair Isle knitting technique: two strands of yarn are knitted throughout an entire row, and continually intertwined on the “wrong” side of the garment. This creates an almost double-thick knit that can lend a lot of warmth.
Now, to be sure, there’s a lot of ugly Fair Isle around, but that can be said about almost anything. The key is to find one you like, and know how to wear it best. I have this tobacco, moss, and oatmeal one from Drake’s, and usually layer it underneath a coat, just so the pattern isn’t too overwhelming. You can see an example here, where I’ve paired the Drake’s sweater with a Loden coat by Aspesi. You can, of course, also wear the sweater without the extra layer, but generally, I find that the louder the pattern, the better it looks when layered underneath something more subdued.
There are plenty of places that sell Fair Isle sweaters. Traditional clothiers such as J. Press and O’Connell’s regularly stock them, as do stores on the slightly more fashionable side of classic, such as Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Gant. You can also find a selection by Jamieson and Barbour at Oi Polloi, William Fox and Sons at Present London, and Howlin by Morrison at End Clothing. For more affordable options, turn to Land’s End and J. Crew. Both of those merchants regularly discount their stock by 30-40%, and a full array of sizes is usually still available once they hit their sales.
Finally, if you’d like one custom made, check out Spirit of Shetland and Louise Irvine. As usual with online made-to-measure garments, you want to take multiple measurements and figure out the averages before you submit your numbers. And when in doubt, err on the side of large. You can always wear something that’s just a touch too big, but you’ll never wear something that’s too small.

December Fair Isle

December is one of the last months you can best wear Fair Isle. They’re not holiday sweaters, but there’s something holiday feeling about them, and while they look great in the fall, I think they look best in the winter. You can stretch them out to maybe about January, but past that, they start to lose their appeal.

A Fair Isle sweater, for those unfamiliar, is a type of knitwear garment that uses a distinctive geometric motif originating from the remote Fair Isle island. They were originally made from undyed wool, so they came in various shades of brown and grey, but nowadays they’re mostly recognized for their very colorful patterning. The best ones, in my opinion, still use the traditional Fair Isle knitting technique: two strands of yarn are knitted throughout an entire row, and continually intertwined on the “wrong” side of the garment. This creates an almost double-thick knit that can lend a lot of warmth.

Now, to be sure, there’s a lot of ugly Fair Isle around, but that can be said about almost anything. The key is to find one you like, and know how to wear it best. I have this tobacco, moss, and oatmeal one from Drake’s, and usually layer it underneath a coat, just so the pattern isn’t too overwhelming. You can see an example here, where I’ve paired the Drake’s sweater with a Loden coat by Aspesi. You can, of course, also wear the sweater without the extra layer, but generally, I find that the louder the pattern, the better it looks when layered underneath something more subdued.

There are plenty of places that sell Fair Isle sweaters. Traditional clothiers such as J. Press and O’Connell’s regularly stock them, as do stores on the slightly more fashionable side of classic, such as Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren, and Gant. You can also find a selection by Jamieson and Barbour at Oi Polloi, William Fox and Sons at Present London, and Howlin by Morrison at End Clothing. For more affordable options, turn to Land’s End and J. Crew. Both of those merchants regularly discount their stock by 30-40%, and a full array of sizes is usually still available once they hit their sales.

Finally, if you’d like one custom made, check out Spirit of Shetland and Louise Irvine. As usual with online made-to-measure garments, you want to take multiple measurements and figure out the averages before you submit your numbers. And when in doubt, err on the side of large. You can always wear something that’s just a touch too big, but you’ll never wear something that’s too small.