Keeping Summer Simple

I don’t love shorts, but I wear them. Why? The truth is that I’m a San Francisco guy living in Los Angeles. My internal thermostat can handle temperatures from about 55 to 80, so when the weatherman says “high of 91” and I don’t have a meeting or a reason to wear something fancy, I reach for a pair of shorts. It’s tough to admit, but it’s true.

When it’s genuinely hot outside, I work hard to keep things simple and lightweight. Above is the kind of outfit I’m talking about. The shirt’s from J. Crew - right now they’re full retail, $89.50 (!), but I didn’t pay more than $30 for any of the linen in my closet. I usually buy them in-store late in the summer, when they’ve been marked down a couple times. When I see some plain white linen that works well for me, and it’s $23 a pop, I buy a few. I’ve got a couple with something going on, and a couple more in white and light blue solid. Perfect for every occasion.

The shorts are by Uniqlo, and they’re $30. These aren’t world beaters, quality-wise, but they’ll get you through a summer or two. Focus on basics - khaki is of course number one, but white’s surprisingly easy to wear when it’s genuinely summer out. Navy blue’s pretty useful, too.

The shoes are plain plimsolls - traditional canvas sneakers. I actually bought this pair a few weeks ago right after posting about them here, they’re Keds. Thirty five bucks out the door (though there are only a couple sizes left now). Plain white and navy are workhorses for summer sneakers. If they get dirty, don’t sweat it. If they get gross and ratty, replace them. Besides Keds, we like to recommend Converse and Superga. Keep those feet fresh with no-show socks like these.

There are other options, of course. I love the madras shorts and shirts from Lands’ End, for example. I’m a big ghurka shorts man, and if it’s really summery and I’m not walking too far, I wear espadrilles. But frankly, with a simple, coordinated outfit like this, you’ll have 99% of the other chumps beat. Heck, just by covering your toes you’ll have 90% beat. And trust me: no one wants to see your toes.

The OCBD Shirt Series, Part IV: The Reviews

We continue today with four more reviews of oxford cloth button downs. Again, basic features and measurements are given, so you can more objectively compare these shirts against each other. You can check part III of this series for our first set of reviews. 

Lands’ End Tailored Fit Hyde Park Oxford

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Size: 15 x 32

Retail price: $49

Features: Curved chest pocket; split yoke; seven-button front; box pleat at the back with a locker loop; collar made with a lightweight floating interlining

Measurements: Chest 20.75”; Waist 19”; Shoulders 18.25”; Length 32”; Collar tip 6.75cm

Impressions: Lands’ End’s clothes are often described on the menswear blogosphere as very full fitting and needing a lot of alterations. That hasn’t been my experience. At least for their “tailored fits,” I’ve found that their shirts and pants fit pretty slim. They’re not as slim as fashion-forward brands, but when you compare them to classic silhouettes, they’re decidedly slim nonetheless. 

Their tailored fit oxfords are no different. The body measurements compare well to yesterday’s slim fitting Kamakura, but here the armholes are a bit bigger. The collar tips are also shorter – too short to produce any roll, unfortunately, even when the collar is worn without a necktie. Additionally, while the oxford cloth they use is quite soft, it’s a bit flat and boring in its color, and less nubby in texture. If Lands’ End produced something with a more traditionally sized collar and used a fabric with more contrasting weft and warp yarns (to produce a bit more visual depth), I’d be a bigger fan. Still, $49 isn’t bad as a price, and aside from the bigger armholes, the body itself fits pretty well. Something to consider if you’re on a budget and don’t plan to wear this with a tie.

Ledbury’s Classic Fit Blue Oxford

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Size: 15

Retail price: $125

Features: No chest pocket; seven-button front; slightly lowered second button on the placket; side pleats on the back; off-centered button on the sleeve cuff; collar made with a lightweight fused interlining

Measurements: Chest 21”; Waist 20.25”; Shoulders 18”; Length 31.5”; Collar tip 7.5cm

Impressions: Our advertiser Ledbury also makes an OCBD, but theirs is a much different animal than the others we’re reviewing. To start, they’re using an oxford cloth from Thomas Mason. It has a very slight, almost imperceptible sheen, and feels much dressier than other oxfords. It somewhat reminds me of Royal Oxford, which is an oxford cloth you commonly see in Italy, but Ledbury’s is more subdued. Their design also doesn’t have a chest pocket at the front or box pleat at the back. All in all, it just feels like a much dressier oxford cloth button down. If you want something dressier and a touch more modern, Ledbury would be a good option. The one they sent me is in the classic fit, but they have a slimmer fitting version as well.

Harry Stedman

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Size: Blue sized small; green sized 36

Retail price: £100-£124 for non-EU customers (~$150-189)

Features: On the blue, there’s a six-button front; box pleat and locker loop at the back; button at the back of the collar; no sleeve gauntlet buttons, and no chest pocket. On the green, there’s a seven-button front; box pleat with no locker loop at the back; button at the back of the collar; a flapped chest pocket at the front; and no sleeve gauntlet buttons.

Measurements: On the blue: Chest 20.25”; Waist 18.25”; Shoulders 17.5”; Length 30”; Collar tip 7.5cm. On the green: Chest 20”; Waist 18.25”; Shoulders 16.5”; Length 30”; Collar tip 7.5cm

Impressions: UK-based Harry Stedman sent me two of their oxfords to review. The green oxford is sized by chest, and fits slimmer than the alpha sized blue oxford. Both fit very slim, however.

Each shirt has a hodgepodge of classic American details – flapped chest pockets (J. Press), locker loops (Gant), and yes, even a fully unlined collars (Brooks Brothers). I favor unlined collars – as they can be more carefree and comfortable – but Harry Stedman’s is perhaps a bit too short to take advantage of their construction. Unlike Mercer & Son’s, who has a much fuller collar, Harry Stedman’s collar leafs measure 7.5cm. It’s enough to produce a bit of a roll, but is still perhaps best worn without a tie.

I do wish these had more traditional proportions and came sized by collar and sleeve, but if you want a more fashion forward shirt, and have the money to spend, Harry Stedman’s would be something to consider.

Uniqlo’s Slim Fit Long Sleeved Oxford

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Size: Small

Retail price: $30

Features: Curved chest pocket; seven-button front; collar constructed with a lightweight floating interlining

Measurements: Chest 20.25”; Waist 18.25”; Shoulders 17”; Length 29”; Collar tip 6.5cm

Impressions: Uniqlo’s OCBD has the hallmarks of fast fashion. The fabric isn’t that great, the stitching is a bit rough, and the silhouette is very trendy. The shirt hugs close to the body (so much so that it feels like second skin) and it’s too short to properly tuck. The collar is also the shortest we’ve come across, so when you button it down, you get something closer to this instead of this.

Still, it’s $30, and currently on sale for $20. If you’re a student, on a tight budget, and are around people who wear trendier clothes, this could be the right buy for the time being. The shirt is difficult to tuck in and the collar is too skimpy to wear with a tie, but you may be unlikely to do either anyway. If these seem right or you, consider Lands’ End Canvas. A few years ago, those used to be discounted to ~$17 on clearance, which is about how much I think they’re worth, but I’m unsure if that’s still the case. 

On Monday, we’ll review our last set of shirts, which of course will include Brooks Brothers’ contemporary line.

For $50 You Can Buy …
Following on my “style for college students" post, I thought I’d suggest some "under $50" options that I think would work well for students. Above is what I sometimes wear on weekends if I have errands to run, but I think it can also work for someone in college. 
Shoes: The canvas shoes are a collaboration project by Billy Reid and K Swiss, and they’re on sale right now at J Crew for $30 (use the code OURTREAT). I think they work well with casual chinos and jeans. If you want other options, LL Bean Signature sometimes discounts their blucher and ranger mocs to about $50, and I think they can be worn with the same things. 
Sweatshirt: The grey sweatshirt above is by Onassis. The fit on their website looks skinnier than how mine wears, but perhaps they had the model size down (or maybe they changed the cut). Either way, it’s a decent, casual sweatshirt, albeit thinner than other models on the market. For other affordable options, check out Uniqlo and J Crew (the second of which offers them in grey and navy). J Crew’s cost over $50, but hardly a thing in their store doesn’t make to their end-of-the-season sales.
White tees: I usually wear my sweatshirt over a Levi’s 1950s pocketed tee, but those don’t seem to be online at the moment (they might have them in-store though). A similar model seems to be the pocketless version. If you wait, those go on sale for about $9. Hanes’ beefy tees are also good, cheap beaters. For more options, look into Alternative Apparel (which I know Jesse likes), American Apparel, Uniqlo, J Crew, and Velva Sheen. 
OCBDs: You also can pair the grey sweatshirt with an oxford cloth button-down, which in turn will give your collarline some more structure. The cheapest ones I know of are at Uniqlo, but Brooks Brothers and Land’s End Canvas will often discount theirs to about $35. Here’s some striped ones from Brooks now for about $40.  
Jeans and chinos: My preferred jeans are 3Sixteen’s SL-100x, which I think are one of the best values on the market right now. They’re expensive, but the fit and quality of the denim and construction are excellent. For something cheaper, check out Uniqlo’s Made in Japan line or Gap’s selvage jeans. For something cheaper still, Levis has a bunch of options, so long as you stay clear of any pre-distressed stuff. The non-raw, non-selvedge stuff won’t age as beautifully, but they’re also much more affordable. Alternatively, you can wear the above with Uniqlo’s vintage chinos, which are on sale right now for $40. Jesse has recommended them in the past. 
Belt: Finally, I bought the belt above for $20 at a local jean shop, but you can buy nicer belts from Voyej, Corter, and Don’t Mourn Organize.
The best thing about everything here is that nothing requires much maintenance. I know most college students don’t have time to iron their clothes, polish their shoes, or do any of the other recommendable things for clothing care. The stuff you see above are all items you can throw on, not pay too much attention to, and not worry if things get stained. These are the kind of clothes that look better beat up than brand new anyway. Pretty much ideal if you sleep in libraries, go to parties where cheap beer is often spilled, and don’t even own an iron. 

For $50 You Can Buy …

Following on my “style for college students" post, I thought I’d suggest some "under $50" options that I think would work well for students. Above is what I sometimes wear on weekends if I have errands to run, but I think it can also work for someone in college. 

  • Shoes: The canvas shoes are a collaboration project by Billy Reid and K Swiss, and they’re on sale right now at J Crew for $30 (use the code OURTREAT). I think they work well with casual chinos and jeans. If you want other options, LL Bean Signature sometimes discounts their blucher and ranger mocs to about $50, and I think they can be worn with the same things. 
  • Sweatshirt: The grey sweatshirt above is by Onassis. The fit on their website looks skinnier than how mine wears, but perhaps they had the model size down (or maybe they changed the cut). Either way, it’s a decent, casual sweatshirt, albeit thinner than other models on the market. For other affordable options, check out Uniqlo and J Crew (the second of which offers them in grey and navy). J Crew’s cost over $50, but hardly a thing in their store doesn’t make to their end-of-the-season sales.
  • White tees: I usually wear my sweatshirt over a Levi’s 1950s pocketed tee, but those don’t seem to be online at the moment (they might have them in-store though). A similar model seems to be the pocketless version. If you wait, those go on sale for about $9. Hanes’ beefy tees are also good, cheap beaters. For more options, look into Alternative Apparel (which I know Jesse likes), American Apparel, Uniqlo, J Crew, and Velva Sheen
  • OCBDs: You also can pair the grey sweatshirt with an oxford cloth button-down, which in turn will give your collarline some more structure. The cheapest ones I know of are at Uniqlo, but Brooks Brothers and Land’s End Canvas will often discount theirs to about $35. Here’s some striped ones from Brooks now for about $40.  
  • Jeans and chinos: My preferred jeans are 3Sixteen’s SL-100x, which I think are one of the best values on the market right now. They’re expensive, but the fit and quality of the denim and construction are excellent. For something cheaper, check out Uniqlo’s Made in Japan line or Gap’s selvage jeans. For something cheaper still, Levis has a bunch of options, so long as you stay clear of any pre-distressed stuff. The non-raw, non-selvedge stuff won’t age as beautifully, but they’re also much more affordable. Alternatively, you can wear the above with Uniqlo’s vintage chinos, which are on sale right now for $40. Jesse has recommended them in the past. 
  • Belt: Finally, I bought the belt above for $20 at a local jean shop, but you can buy nicer belts from VoyejCorter, and Don’t Mourn Organize.

The best thing about everything here is that nothing requires much maintenance. I know most college students don’t have time to iron their clothes, polish their shoes, or do any of the other recommendable things for clothing care. The stuff you see above are all items you can throw on, not pay too much attention to, and not worry if things get stained. These are the kind of clothes that look better beat up than brand new anyway. Pretty much ideal if you sleep in libraries, go to parties where cheap beer is often spilled, and don’t even own an iron. 

If you haven’t already heard, Uniqlo is now offering online retail in the US. They’ve even launched with a little sale, including one of my favorite casual pants, their vintage chino.
Uniqlo’s not a miracle, but it is something special. Basic clothes, well-designed, at a basic price point. No branding or other BS. I’m looking forward to their growth across the country.

If you haven’t already heard, Uniqlo is now offering online retail in the US. They’ve even launched with a little sale, including one of my favorite casual pants, their vintage chino.

Uniqlo’s not a miracle, but it is something special. Basic clothes, well-designed, at a basic price point. No branding or other BS. I’m looking forward to their growth across the country.

Uniqlo San Francisco: Now Open!
After quite a buildup, the West Coast now has it’s own Uniqlo. 111 Powell in San Francisco. I’ll probably stop in this weekend when I’m up in the Bay.
(Photo: Kawanet)

Uniqlo San Francisco: Now Open!

After quite a buildup, the West Coast now has it’s own Uniqlo. 111 Powell in San Francisco. I’ll probably stop in this weekend when I’m up in the Bay.

(Photo: Kawanet)

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer
Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.
In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 
I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suit, has written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   
For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.
And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.
Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 
(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

Cool-Wearing Shirt Fabrics for Summer

Warmer temperatures call for open weave shirtings - those lightweight, airy fabrics that allow your skin to breathe and body heat escape. My favorite summer shirting is linen. It’s so gauzy and open that it allows you to feel every gentle breeze passing through, but it’s also quite prone to wrinkling. Personally, I find a lot of charm in that, but it’s not to everyone’s taste. Additionally, depending on the quality of the linen, you may find that new linen can feel a bit rough. You can trust, however, that it will soften considerably over time.

In addition to pure linen, there are all of its variations. Linen-cotton blends, for example, will give you some of the benefits of linen but look less messy. I also recently came across a pure cotton that’s woven to feel and look just like linen. You can find any of these - pure linen, linen-cotton blends, and pure cotton woven to feel like linen - from a variety of makers. Brooks BrothersJ. Crew, and Howard Yount are good starts. Brooks’ shirts are better in their slim to extra-slim fit cuts, depending on your size. For more affordable options, you can check Uniqlo (which you can shop at through Suddenlee) and TM Lewin. For higher-end models, browse the stock at Ledbury, Mr. Porter, and Barney’s. The latter two are holding sales right now, which means you can get particularly nice ones at a more affordable price. 

I’m also a fan of pure-cotton oxford cloth (the stuff used to make OCBDs), but not everyone thinks they’re well suited for summer. For example, Michael Anton, author of The Suithas written that he thinks they’re too warm for high temperatures. On the other hand, Alex Kabbaz, arguably the best custom shirtmaker in America, has recommended them. Personally, I find that my OCDBs wear cooler than many of my other dress shirts, but you should try wearing some for yourself and seeing how you fare.   

For those who have shirts custom-made, I also recommend cotton-batiste, cotton voile, and chambray. The first two are rather popular in Southern Italy, where the weather can get quite warm, but they have the problem of often being too translucent. Fortunately, A Suitable Wardrobe has some cotton voile shirting that’s very wearable, as well as a very nice, fine chambray. I would heartily recommend either of those if you can afford them. If you’d like to find other sources, check with your shirtmaker. He or she should have some from a variety of makers such as Thomas Mason.

And last, but not least, there’s madras, which we’ve already talked about here.

Of course, being that the world of shirting is wide and varied, it’s best for you to always check for yourself whether a particular fabric is good for hot weather. One trick you can employ is holding the cloth up to the light. If the fabric is lightweight and you see a lot of light passing through, it’s more than likely perfect for summer. 

(Pictured above: Bolts of fine chambray shirting at A Suitable Wardrobe. Photo taken from StyleForum.)

It’s On Sale: Uniqlo Pants, Shirts, and Polos

Uniqlo has a decent sale going on right now, including some discounts on summer attire:
As we’ve mentioned before, Uniqlo’s US stores are only in New York, but you can order through Suddenlee and get the sale price by manually entering it in. Suddenlee will ship nationwide and internationally (just not next day delivery if you’re outside the Northeast region of the US). If you have any questions about their proxy shopping service, read this
How Does Suddenlee Work?
After my post on Monday about Uniqlo’s sale, it seems many readers are confused about how Suddenlee works. Why did I link multiple websites? Will Suddenlee ship to any city? Why doesn’t Suddenlee list Uniqlo on their website? Why aren’t sale prices listed at Uniqlo? So on and so forth.
Suddenlee is pretty simple. It’s a proxy shopping service. You’re essentially paying someone to run around New York City, buy things for you, and ship you the merchandise. However, in order to do that, they have to know what you want. To tell them, you need to go to their website, drag their shopping button to your web browser’s bookmark bar (at the top of your browser, usually), and then go to whatever website you want to shop at. Once you find something you want, click the “add to Suddenlee” button you put on your bookmark bar, choose the size, color, and quantity, and Suddenlee’s team will go out and buy it for you. If there is a sale, you just need to tell them what’s the current sale price or they will adjust it down for you when completing your order (you’ll receive all the original receipts to verify all the correct prices were charged). Their front page has a video towards the bottom that better demonstrates how this works.
To answer your other questions: I listed multiple websites because Uniqlo has the annoying habit of not listing everything on their US website, even if it’s available in their NYC stores. That’s why I list the UK and Japanese sites as well. This will give you an idea of what the item looks like, and a way to communicate to Suddenlee what you want. Uniqlo also doesn’t list the sale prices on their website because they don’t have an e-commerce system. The prices are in-store only, but I’ve verified the prices with them, so you can manually key those in on your Suddenlee purchase. And yes, they’ll ship anywhere, but if you don’t live in the Northeast region of the US, you won’t get next day delivery.
Finally, as to why Suddenlee doesn’t list Uniqlo as one of the stores they service, it’s because they don’t officially service Uniqlo. However, since they’re a general proxy shopping service, they’ll shop anywhere in NYC for you, and that includes Uniqlo. Their service is perfect if you want to buy things at multiple stores and combine on shipping (thus saving money), if you need something quick (and you live in the Northeast), or if you want to buy something from a company that doesn’t have an ecommerce presence (like here with Uniqlo).
And that’s Suddenlee. 

How Does Suddenlee Work?

After my post on Monday about Uniqlo’s sale, it seems many readers are confused about how Suddenlee works. Why did I link multiple websites? Will Suddenlee ship to any city? Why doesn’t Suddenlee list Uniqlo on their website? Why aren’t sale prices listed at Uniqlo? So on and so forth.

Suddenlee is pretty simple. It’s a proxy shopping service. You’re essentially paying someone to run around New York City, buy things for you, and ship you the merchandise. However, in order to do that, they have to know what you want. To tell them, you need to go to their website, drag their shopping button to your web browser’s bookmark bar (at the top of your browser, usually), and then go to whatever website you want to shop at. Once you find something you want, click the “add to Suddenlee” button you put on your bookmark bar, choose the size, color, and quantity, and Suddenlee’s team will go out and buy it for you. If there is a sale, you just need to tell them what’s the current sale price or they will adjust it down for you when completing your order (you’ll receive all the original receipts to verify all the correct prices were charged). Their front page has a video towards the bottom that better demonstrates how this works.

To answer your other questions: I listed multiple websites because Uniqlo has the annoying habit of not listing everything on their US website, even if it’s available in their NYC stores. That’s why I list the UK and Japanese sites as well. This will give you an idea of what the item looks like, and a way to communicate to Suddenlee what you want. Uniqlo also doesn’t list the sale prices on their website because they don’t have an e-commerce system. The prices are in-store only, but I’ve verified the prices with them, so you can manually key those in on your Suddenlee purchase. And yes, they’ll ship anywhere, but if you don’t live in the Northeast region of the US, you won’t get next day delivery.

Finally, as to why Suddenlee doesn’t list Uniqlo as one of the stores they service, it’s because they don’t officially service Uniqlo. However, since they’re a general proxy shopping service, they’ll shop anywhere in NYC for you, and that includes Uniqlo. Their service is perfect if you want to buy things at multiple stores and combine on shipping (thus saving money), if you need something quick (and you live in the Northeast), or if you want to buy something from a company that doesn’t have an ecommerce presence (like here with Uniqlo).

And that’s Suddenlee

It’s On Sale: Uniqlo Chinos and Knits

Uniqlo is having a sale this week on their chinos and knits. I personally think their vintage flat front chinos are the best buy, but here is a full run down of what they have:

As we’ve mentioned before, Uniqlo’s US stores are only in New York, but you can order through Suddenlee and get the sale price by manually entering it in. Suddenlee will ship nationwide and internationally (just not next day delivery if you’re outside the Northeast region of the US). 

It’s On Sale

Uniqlo is having a different sale each week from now until April 1st. This will include:

  • $30 jeans. (The Made in Japan Denim Regular Fit is not included in the sale, however).
  • $15 oxford shirts and $20 dress shirts
  • $20 chinos. Note that Vintage Chino Flat Front Pants aren’t on the website, but they’re available in-store and will be part of the sale. 

You can read about it here

Uniqlo only has stores in NYC, but you can order through Suddenlee and get the sale price by manually entering it in. Suddenlee will ship nationwide (just not next day delivery if you’re outside the Northeast).