Easy Ways to Look Better in Tailored Clothing
Whether you’re into the “coat-and-tie look” or not, most of us have to wear a suit at some point, and for those times, it’s amazing how much can be done with just a few basic steps. Look at the photo above, for example – two men in suits, but wearing them to very different effects. The man on the left looks great. The man on the right … less great. So much can be done with just a few simple changes. 
Get Your Pants Hemmed
You want your pants hemmed so that there’s either one break, or no break (a break is the small indentation on your pants as your cuff “breaks” over the top of your shoe). You may find, however, that even with properly hemmed trousers, you pants will slip down a little throughout the day, which will ruin those clean, vertical lines. Some simple solutions: wear suspenders, which will keep your pants up at all times; get your waistband and belt adjusted by a tailor, so they fit you better (although, you’ll always experience some slippage with belted trousers); or simply, pay attention to where your pants are and pull them up when need be.
Show a Bit of Cuff
You want about a quarter-of-an-inch of shirt cuff to peek out from your jacket sleeve. There are, however, some complications with this.
First, if your shirtsleeves are too long, you probably don’t want to shorten them. Shirtsleeves need to be a bit long, so that the cuff doesn’t ride up on you as you extend your arm (think of it as having some slack). Instead, you just want your cuffs to stay in the same position, regardless of how you move around. To achieve this, bring your shirt to an alterations tailor and have him or her tighten or loosen the cuff by moving the cuff button. It shouldn’t cost more than a couple of bucks.
Second, if your jacket sleeves are too short or long, you’ll need to have a tailor either let out some material from the edge or take your sleeves up from the cuff. The second process can be complicated by “working buttonholes,” where the buttonholes are actually punched through and not just for show. Don’t skimp here and let that last button sit too close to your sleeve edge. Instead, have your tailor take the sleeve up from the armhole, but know that it’ll add to the cost.  
Wear Better Shoes
Finally, wear better shoes. Ones that are made from full grain leather, not corrected grain. Cheap shoes look bad when they’re new, and worse with wear. Luckily, the market for good, full-grain leather shoes has gotten a lot more competitive over the years, which means the entry price has dropped to about $200. You can start with this list of good brands. I’d add Jack Erwin to that now, although I think you still get a nice jump in quality as you move from them to Meermin, Herring, or Loake (conversely, Jack Erwin is located in the US, so it’s a lot easier to return shoes if need be). If $200 is too much for you, there’s always eBay and thrifting. For eBay, you can use our customized search link or smart shop smartly for Ralph Lauren. To learn how to thrift better, check out Jesse’s three-part guide. 
Doing just those three things won’t make you look like Cary Grant, but they’ll make you look better than most suit-wearing people in the world. To look even better, read Jesse’s very reasonable and easy tips here. To look even better still, learn about the fit and silhouette of tailored clothing.
(Photo via White Hawk Warrior)

Easy Ways to Look Better in Tailored Clothing

Whether you’re into the “coat-and-tie look” or not, most of us have to wear a suit at some point, and for those times, it’s amazing how much can be done with just a few basic steps. Look at the photo above, for example – two men in suits, but wearing them to very different effects. The man on the left looks great. The man on the right … less great. So much can be done with just a few simple changes. 

Get Your Pants Hemmed

You want your pants hemmed so that there’s either one break, or no break (a break is the small indentation on your pants as your cuff “breaks” over the top of your shoe). You may find, however, that even with properly hemmed trousers, you pants will slip down a little throughout the day, which will ruin those clean, vertical lines. Some simple solutions: wear suspenders, which will keep your pants up at all times; get your waistband and belt adjusted by a tailor, so they fit you better (although, you’ll always experience some slippage with belted trousers); or simply, pay attention to where your pants are and pull them up when need be.

Show a Bit of Cuff

You want about a quarter-of-an-inch of shirt cuff to peek out from your jacket sleeve. There are, however, some complications with this.

First, if your shirtsleeves are too long, you probably don’t want to shorten them. Shirtsleeves need to be a bit long, so that the cuff doesn’t ride up on you as you extend your arm (think of it as having some slack). Instead, you just want your cuffs to stay in the same position, regardless of how you move around. To achieve this, bring your shirt to an alterations tailor and have him or her tighten or loosen the cuff by moving the cuff button. It shouldn’t cost more than a couple of bucks.

Second, if your jacket sleeves are too short or long, you’ll need to have a tailor either let out some material from the edge or take your sleeves up from the cuff. The second process can be complicated by “working buttonholes,” where the buttonholes are actually punched through and not just for show. Don’t skimp here and let that last button sit too close to your sleeve edge. Instead, have your tailor take the sleeve up from the armhole, but know that it’ll add to the cost.  

Wear Better Shoes

Finally, wear better shoes. Ones that are made from full grain leather, not corrected grain. Cheap shoes look bad when they’re new, and worse with wear. Luckily, the market for good, full-grain leather shoes has gotten a lot more competitive over the years, which means the entry price has dropped to about $200. You can start with this list of good brands. I’d add Jack Erwin to that now, although I think you still get a nice jump in quality as you move from them to Meermin, Herring, or Loake (conversely, Jack Erwin is located in the US, so it’s a lot easier to return shoes if need be). If $200 is too much for you, there’s always eBay and thrifting. For eBay, you can use our customized search link or smart shop smartly for Ralph Lauren. To learn how to thrift better, check out Jesse’s three-part guide

Doing just those three things won’t make you look like Cary Grant, but they’ll make you look better than most suit-wearing people in the world. To look even better, read Jesse’s very reasonable and easy tips here. To look even better still, learn about the fit and silhouette of tailored clothing.

(Photo via White Hawk Warrior)

More Vintage Finds

Pictured above: Some more vintage finds on eBay. If you like looking at vintage clothes and ever want to kill an hour, just dig around eBay’s “completed listings” section. I filter for “sold listings” and sort everything according to the highest prices ended. That way, I can see what serious collectors recently fought over. Useful terms (at least for the kind of stuff you see above) include: Buco, motorcycle club, car club, motorcycle jacket, bomber jacket, flight jacket, WWII jacket, USN jacket, vintage varsity jacket, etc. 

You can read more about these kinds of searches here

Thick Flannel Shirts
Over the weekend, Jesse listed this Spring’s Seven “Must Have Or You’ll Die” Essentials. Do you know why? Because he lives in Los Angeles, and in Southern California, the four seasons are: spring, summer, summer with slightly chillier nights (but not by much), and spring with slightly chillier nights (but again, not by much). Dear readers: know that I - as your correspondent in the Bay Area - understand that we’re still solidly in winter. Here in the Bay, it’s still cold enough to need chunky sweaters, heavy coats, and the occasional pair of gloves. 
It’s also useful to have a few thick flannel shirts around. I’ve been wearing mine every once in a while with jeans and a leather jacket, and prefer ones made from heavy, coarse fabrics. My favorite sources so far include:
John Lofgren: A highly underrated and underappreciated workwear label. Really nice, thick fabrics made into shirts with slightly short, vintage-y cuts. Available at John Lofgren’s site directly, but also Self Edge and Bench & Loom (although the last two don’t have woven shirts right now).
Flat Head: A Japanese workwear label that draws a lot of inspiration from American motorcycle and hot rod subcultures. They have two lines of shirts – the mainline, which is slim and shorter fitting, and Glory Park, which is just a touch bigger. Of all my flannels, these are easily my favorite, but they’re expensive. If you don’t mind the price, they’re available at Self Edge and Rivet & Hide.
Five Brother: A genuine workwear label that recently started making slim fitting shirts for the fashion crowd. These are made from vividly colored fabrics with coarse weaves and a dry hand. Of all the companies on this list, Five Brother probably offers the best price to value ratio. You can find them now at Bench & Loom, but in the past, Context and Hickoree’s has also carried them (they will again this fall).
Nigel Cabourn: Always a favorite, but his prices are stratospherically high. If it matters, his flannel shirts are sometimes reversible, although the other side of the one I bought is perhaps too “fuzzy” to realistically use. Still, he has some nice subtle detailing that the other brands don’t offer (unique pocket designs, smoke mother-of-pearl buttons, and extra, extra thick fabrics). Available at Nigel Cabourn’s own website or any of his stockists. If you’re not able to afford those retail prices, you’ll have to trawl Yoox and eBay like me.
RRL: Ralph Lauren’s ranch inspired sub-label. The fabrics on RRL shirts really run the gamut, but in general, they’re typically a bit flimsier than the aforementioned brands (at least when it comes to fall/ winter shirts). On the upside, they can often be found on deep discount (I bought mine for about $75). These are available at Ralph Lauren’s website, and certain niche stockists such as Unionmade and Frans Boone.
The best part about wearing thick flannel shirts? With designers such as Daiki Suzuki and Heidi Slimane incorporating them into last year’s looks, you can simultaneously feel very “aritansal heritage workwear” and “high fashion au courant.” Plus, Rick Owens wears them! The dream of the 90s is alive in menswear. At least until spring comes for the rest of us. 

Thick Flannel Shirts

Over the weekend, Jesse listed this Spring’s Seven “Must Have Or You’ll Die” Essentials. Do you know why? Because he lives in Los Angeles, and in Southern California, the four seasons are: spring, summer, summer with slightly chillier nights (but not by much), and spring with slightly chillier nights (but again, not by much). Dear readers: know that I - as your correspondent in the Bay Area - understand that we’re still solidly in winter. Here in the Bay, it’s still cold enough to need chunky sweaters, heavy coats, and the occasional pair of gloves. 

It’s also useful to have a few thick flannel shirts around. I’ve been wearing mine every once in a while with jeans and a leather jacket, and prefer ones made from heavy, coarse fabrics. My favorite sources so far include:

  • John Lofgren: A highly underrated and underappreciated workwear label. Really nice, thick fabrics made into shirts with slightly short, vintage-y cuts. Available at John Lofgren’s site directly, but also Self Edge and Bench & Loom (although the last two don’t have woven shirts right now).
  • Flat Head: A Japanese workwear label that draws a lot of inspiration from American motorcycle and hot rod subcultures. They have two lines of shirts – the mainline, which is slim and shorter fitting, and Glory Park, which is just a touch bigger. Of all my flannels, these are easily my favorite, but they’re expensive. If you don’t mind the price, they’re available at Self Edge and Rivet & Hide.
  • Five Brother: A genuine workwear label that recently started making slim fitting shirts for the fashion crowd. These are made from vividly colored fabrics with coarse weaves and a dry hand. Of all the companies on this list, Five Brother probably offers the best price to value ratio. You can find them now at Bench & Loom, but in the past, Context and Hickoree’s has also carried them (they will again this fall).
  • Nigel Cabourn: Always a favorite, but his prices are stratospherically high. If it matters, his flannel shirts are sometimes reversible, although the other side of the one I bought is perhaps too “fuzzy” to realistically use. Still, he has some nice subtle detailing that the other brands don’t offer (unique pocket designs, smoke mother-of-pearl buttons, and extra, extra thick fabrics). Available at Nigel Cabourn’s own website or any of his stockists. If you’re not able to afford those retail prices, you’ll have to trawl Yoox and eBay like me.
  • RRL: Ralph Lauren’s ranch inspired sub-label. The fabrics on RRL shirts really run the gamut, but in general, they’re typically a bit flimsier than the aforementioned brands (at least when it comes to fall/ winter shirts). On the upside, they can often be found on deep discount (I bought mine for about $75). These are available at Ralph Lauren’s website, and certain niche stockists such as Unionmade and Frans Boone.

The best part about wearing thick flannel shirts? With designers such as Daiki Suzuki and Heidi Slimane incorporating them into last year’s looks, you can simultaneously feel very “aritansal heritage workwear” and “high fashion au courant.” Plus, Rick Owens wears them! The dream of the 90s is alive in menswear. At least until spring comes for the rest of us. 

Building an Affordable Neckwear Collection
If you want to build a necktie wardrobe for not too much money, there’s no better place to start than eBay. At any given time, there are hundreds of silk repps floating around that site, many available for only $10 to $20 a piece. Striped silk repp ties, as I’ve mentioned, are exceptionally useful because you can wear them with either sport coats or suits, whereas some ties are too casual to wear with one, or too formal to wear with the other. 
To find them, just search eBay for well-regarded American brands such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart. Seaward & Stearn and Atkinsons are also good names to look out for, although they’re usually available at lower quantities. E. Marinella and Drake’s are undeniably exceptional, but typically sell at much higher prices. Ralph Lauren can also be nice, although he carries such a wide range of lines - each made to different qualities - that it can be hard to find what’s well made. If you care to sort through it all, just look for the blue Polo label or the high-end Purple Label. 
The only problem with shopping on eBay is that it can be difficult to discern a tie’s condition. Most sellers can tell if there’s a pull or stain in the silk, but this is hardly the only damage that can occur. If a tie has been sent to the dry cleaners, for example, the silk will have likely lost its luster, and if it’s been wrongly ironed, you’ll see an impression of the tie’s folds pressed into the front blade. The slip stitch that goes up the back spine might also be loose or even broken from improper yanking, and the neck area might be faded or overly worn, making the tie’s knot a slightly lighter color than the rest of the body. Worst of all is if the previous owner never let his tie rest after each day’s wear, but instead kept it knotted, so that he wouldn’t ever have to retie it again. This will ruin the interlining inside, making it difficult for you to ever get a good dimple. It’s rare that you’ll come across a seller who knows how to look for these kinds of defects. 
Still, for $10-15, not much is lost if you get a bad piece, and even if the tie doesn’t come in the most perfect condition, this might not be a bad thing. The men who wear silk repp ties best are often wearing pieces that are ten or twenty years old, and their ties have a sort of worn-in quality that makes them more appealing than things that look too new or pristine. Set aside $100 or so and stick to dark colors (e.g. burgundy, forest green, brown, and navy), and you’ll have a pretty good starting collection in no time. 
(Photo via Oxford Cloth Button Down)

Building an Affordable Neckwear Collection

If you want to build a necktie wardrobe for not too much money, there’s no better place to start than eBay. At any given time, there are hundreds of silk repps floating around that site, many available for only $10 to $20 a piece. Striped silk repp ties, as I’ve mentioned, are exceptionally useful because you can wear them with either sport coats or suits, whereas some ties are too casual to wear with one, or too formal to wear with the other. 

To find them, just search eBay for well-regarded American brands such as Ben Silver, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Paul Stuart. Seaward & Stearn and Atkinsons are also good names to look out for, although they’re usually available at lower quantities. E. Marinella and Drake’s are undeniably exceptional, but typically sell at much higher prices. Ralph Lauren can also be nice, although he carries such a wide range of lines - each made to different qualities - that it can be hard to find what’s well made. If you care to sort through it all, just look for the blue Polo label or the high-end Purple Label. 

The only problem with shopping on eBay is that it can be difficult to discern a tie’s condition. Most sellers can tell if there’s a pull or stain in the silk, but this is hardly the only damage that can occur. If a tie has been sent to the dry cleaners, for example, the silk will have likely lost its luster, and if it’s been wrongly ironed, you’ll see an impression of the tie’s folds pressed into the front blade. The slip stitch that goes up the back spine might also be loose or even broken from improper yanking, and the neck area might be faded or overly worn, making the tie’s knot a slightly lighter color than the rest of the body. Worst of all is if the previous owner never let his tie rest after each day’s wear, but instead kept it knotted, so that he wouldn’t ever have to retie it again. This will ruin the interlining inside, making it difficult for you to ever get a good dimple. It’s rare that you’ll come across a seller who knows how to look for these kinds of defects. 

Still, for $10-15, not much is lost if you get a bad piece, and even if the tie doesn’t come in the most perfect condition, this might not be a bad thing. The men who wear silk repp ties best are often wearing pieces that are ten or twenty years old, and their ties have a sort of worn-in quality that makes them more appealing than things that look too new or pristine. Set aside $100 or so and stick to dark colors (e.g. burgundy, forest green, brown, and navy), and you’ll have a pretty good starting collection in no time. 

(Photo via Oxford Cloth Button Down)

Crazy Stuff on eBay

I spend a lot of time digging up auctions for our eBay Roundup and Inside Track posts. Sometimes, when I want to take a break from looking up stuff on eBay I … look up stuff on eBay. Lately, I’ve been really fascinated by vintage military and biker gear. To be sure, really beautiful Italian suits and modern streetwear labels are nice (and often what we list in our roundups), but for the purposes of just browsing, they rarely capture my imagination like these vintage pieces. 

Such items are easy to find in retrospect. All you have to do is search for a term, click the “Completed listings” checkbox on the left side of eBay’s page, and then sort by “Price + Shipping: highest first” (that’s in the drop down menu on the right side of eBay’s site). That’ll give you the highest priced auctions that just ended, which usually yields some crazy stuff that collectors recently fought over. 

For example, take leather A-2s. The A-2 is a military jacket worn by US pilots in World War II. They’re distinguished by a fold down collar, zippered front, and two flapped pockets. Ever since there’s been a vintage clothing collectors scene, there have been A-2 fanatics. The really awesome pieces tend to have sewn-on patches on the front and hand painted art at the back. Jesse put up a link to a Collectors Weekly article a while ago, and it has some interesting history about how these paintings got onto the backs of our servicemen. 

Anyway, do a competed listing search for “leather A-2” (without the quotation marks) and sort by price highest ended. You’ll get really incredible looking things such as this leather jacket with a painted demon’s head and this one that says “Flying Jenny." Other cool terms to search for? I like "motorcycle club," "car club," "engineer boots," "Champion shirt," and "Buco," just to name a few. Make sure you’re looking in the "Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories" section, however, lest you want to wade through a lot of non-menswear related results. 

Wearekolas also aggregates some of these finds, although they don’t update their blog too often. The above pictures are from them. This jacket in particular is a doozy, although it has that damaged shoulder line I talked about last week.

Tartans + Shetlands + Waxed Jackets
I don’t reblog much, but couldn’t help myself with this one. I admit, I’ve experimented a lot when it comes to clothing, and still like to try new things, but I’ll forever love classic American style.
Above is a tartan shirt, a green Shetland sweater, and a waxed cotton Barbour coat. I think O’Connell’s Shetlands are some of the best around, but they cost $165. If you don’t mind the price, I highly recommend them. Otherwise, you can get Shetlands from these other brands or on eBay. Barbours are also pretty easy to find on eBay UK. Yes, some will be pretty beat up, but that’s a good thing with these kinds of coats. If they come with a musty smell, you can get them cleaned through New England Waterproofers. If the idea of wearing a used waxed coat seems gross to you, and you don’t want to pay for a new Barbour, you can try these alternatives. Lastly, tartan shirts can be bought through companies such as O’Connell’s, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Ralph Lauren, and our advertiser Ledbury. If you prefer custom-made shirts, you can get tartan fabrics pretty affordably through Acorn and give them to your tailor. 
It’s not a terribly new or original look, and it’s hardly “cutting edge” when it comes to fashion, but it’s great, genuinely classic, and pretty easy to put together. In an interview at Ivy Style, Bruce Boyer once said: “I’ve gone through different phases and trends and tried things, but I always keep coming back to a kind of Anglo-American look.” I often feel the same way. 
(Photo via glengarrysportingclub)

Tartans + Shetlands + Waxed Jackets

I don’t reblog much, but couldn’t help myself with this one. I admit, I’ve experimented a lot when it comes to clothing, and still like to try new things, but I’ll forever love classic American style.

Above is a tartan shirt, a green Shetland sweater, and a waxed cotton Barbour coat. I think O’Connell’s Shetlands are some of the best around, but they cost $165. If you don’t mind the price, I highly recommend them. Otherwise, you can get Shetlands from these other brands or on eBay. Barbours are also pretty easy to find on eBay UK. Yes, some will be pretty beat up, but that’s a good thing with these kinds of coats. If they come with a musty smell, you can get them cleaned through New England Waterproofers. If the idea of wearing a used waxed coat seems gross to you, and you don’t want to pay for a new Barbour, you can try these alternatives. Lastly, tartan shirts can be bought through companies such as O’Connell’s, Brooks Brothers, J. Press, Ralph Lauren, and our advertiser Ledbury. If you prefer custom-made shirts, you can get tartan fabrics pretty affordably through Acorn and give them to your tailor. 

It’s not a terribly new or original look, and it’s hardly “cutting edge” when it comes to fashion, but it’s great, genuinely classic, and pretty easy to put together. In an interview at Ivy Style, Bruce Boyer once said: “I’ve gone through different phases and trends and tried things, but I always keep coming back to a kind of Anglo-American look.” I often feel the same way. 

(Photo via glengarrysportingclub)

Alternative Markets

If you purchase your clothes online (and you probably do), you’re aware that the online marketplace for clothing—sure, for everything—has exploded in the last decade. First, established stores began selling their wares online, then warehouse-backed, online only behemoths like Yoox and Mr. Porter showed up. The vast gray market of eBay has been another source of growth for both new and used stuff, providing a place to snag vintage, deadstock, and new clothing and accessories from well beyond your local Goodwill/Buffalo Exchange. Also, helpfully, a place to dump your own regrets and didn’t fits. Of course you pay for access, through eBay fees and transaction charges.

Recently we’ve seen more independent options compete with eBay in the secondary men’s clothing market. As a seller, I always like to see more outlets where I can sell my stuff, particularly when listing is easy and cheap/free, and where the people browsing will be knowledgeable about what I’m selling. As a buyer, smaller markets can mean less competition and less chaff to sort through.

Styleforum Marketplace

The Styleforum buying and selling forum has historically been the best non-retail place to find niche men’s clothing online. Although not easy to search, it’s simple to browse and, once you register, pretty simple to use. Styleforum has a custom tool for setting up listings with photos and details. Styleforum management is relatively laissez faire and does not get involved in transactions or disputes. There are rules, though, and a feedback system. Listings are split between “classic menswear" (mostly tailoring and traditional men’s clothing; e.g., suits you’d wear to work, sweaters and pants you’d wear out to dinner with your in-laws), and "streetwear & denim" (mostly non-tailored and designer stuff, e.g., high-end workwear and edgier stuff). Sellers who want to maximize visibility and sell at a high volume can pay for better placement; some earn legitimate livings selling exclusively through Styleforum.

Superfuture Supermarket

Another forum marketplace, one even simpler than Styleforum’s, because Superfuture listings are plain ol’ threads just like any other on the forum. As for the what you’ll see here, it’s seriously niche interest stuff. Up and coming designers, rare streetwear, and for lack of a better word, gothninja. Like Styleforum, Superfuture mostly stays out of the way and lets members negotiate and work out payment amongst themselves.

Que Pasa Shop

A new concept is a storefront like Que Pasa Shop, with a limited pool of sellers and a managed payment system. Que Pasa’s system means that the stock is more tightly edited than the constantly moving free-for-all of forum classifieds. Que Pasa reviews all items before they post, and holds payment until sellers enter shipment tracking information, adding a level of trust for buyers. Payments are processed through Paypal. Que Pasa, however, takes 15% of each sale price. Que Pasa does additional merchandising through their blog, which, frankly, looks pretty cool.

Grailed

A similar but more straightforwardly user-driven site is Grailed. The name is a reference to the sort of rare, sought-after items you might conceivably quest for, and the products currently on offer are a very broad mix of obscure designers and much more accessible stuff. The site allows you to filter items displayed by designer, size, etc., in an intuitive way, making it easy to narrow down the selection to what you’re interested in. Grailed uses Paypal and expects buyers or sellers to resolve any issues through Paypal’s buyer and seller protection policies; for now, the site is not charging users any sort of fee. As its user base broadens, it will be interesting to see how Grailed’s stock changes. Anecdotally, I saw quite a few items on Grailed that are also listed on forums and eBay.

Bureau of Trade

Bureau of Trade has built an attractive, Monocle-y looking, humor-laced site around, essentially, aggregating interesting eBay listings. They list more than clothes, branching into cars, art objects, and puppies. It’s fun to browse but truthfully I already know a good place for eBay finds.

-Pete

Vintage Leather Belts
I’m not as experienced as Jesse it when it comes to thrifting, but I do enjoy going to thrift stores. When I go, I often like to browse around for vintage leather belts - the thick kind that you wear with jeans. One of the nice things about buying second-hand is that you can get things with a bit more character. With good leather, you’ll often get something that has aged beautifully. 
Take the above belt, for example. It’s from a webpage Mister Freedom made for their “Ranchero shirts,” which are lovely, but the star of the photograph - at least for me - is the belt sitting in the middle. The variation in the coloring, the scuffing, and the scored design give the belt a certain appeal that modern workwear brands only imitate.
You can find such belts if you hunt around enough. Just visit good thrift stores or flea markets (in the Bay Area, I’d highly recommend Antiques by the Bay, which happens on the first Sunday of every month. Not only do they have a few vendors that sell vintage belts, but there are a ton of other great booths for vintage wares as well). There’s also eBay, of course, but that gets slightly dicier. Vintage leather goods can be of varying quality - either because of the quality of the leather itself, or because of how the item was taken care of throughout the years. Without being able to handle the belt, and without a brand name to go off of, it can be difficult to know what you’re looking at. Still, some of these are quite affordable, so if you get stuck with something less than ideal, it’s at least not a big loss.
The alternative is to buy something new, but from a brand that takes it inspiration from old, vintage designs. RRL and Levi’s Vintage Clothing often have tooled or painted belts that are made to look like they’re from the mid-century. You can find them at workwear-focused stores such as Hickoree’s and Unionmade. They won’t have the kind of patina that an authentic vintage belt will carry, but they’re often still quite handsome. With enough wear, you might get it to look as nice as the one Christophe Loiron (owner of Mister Freedom) photographed above (though, probably not, because that belt looks really awesome). 
(Photo via Christophe Loiron)

Vintage Leather Belts

I’m not as experienced as Jesse it when it comes to thrifting, but I do enjoy going to thrift stores. When I go, I often like to browse around for vintage leather belts - the thick kind that you wear with jeans. One of the nice things about buying second-hand is that you can get things with a bit more character. With good leather, you’ll often get something that has aged beautifully. 

Take the above belt, for example. It’s from a webpage Mister Freedom made for their “Ranchero shirts,” which are lovely, but the star of the photograph - at least for me - is the belt sitting in the middle. The variation in the coloring, the scuffing, and the scored design give the belt a certain appeal that modern workwear brands only imitate.

You can find such belts if you hunt around enough. Just visit good thrift stores or flea markets (in the Bay Area, I’d highly recommend Antiques by the Bay, which happens on the first Sunday of every month. Not only do they have a few vendors that sell vintage belts, but there are a ton of other great booths for vintage wares as well). There’s also eBay, of course, but that gets slightly dicier. Vintage leather goods can be of varying quality - either because of the quality of the leather itself, or because of how the item was taken care of throughout the years. Without being able to handle the belt, and without a brand name to go off of, it can be difficult to know what you’re looking at. Still, some of these are quite affordable, so if you get stuck with something less than ideal, it’s at least not a big loss.

The alternative is to buy something new, but from a brand that takes it inspiration from old, vintage designs. RRL and Levi’s Vintage Clothing often have tooled or painted belts that are made to look like they’re from the mid-century. You can find them at workwear-focused stores such as Hickoree’s and Unionmade. They won’t have the kind of patina that an authentic vintage belt will carry, but they’re often still quite handsome. With enough wear, you might get it to look as nice as the one Christophe Loiron (owner of Mister Freedom) photographed above (though, probably not, because that belt looks really awesome). 

(Photo via Christophe Loiron)

The Foundation of a Good Necktie Wardrobe
I don’t know anyone who wears ties that doesn’t have more neckwear than they need. Ties are relatively inexpensive, easier to size right, and can help satisfy that urge to buy something new. The problem with accumulating ties here and there is that you often wind up with a haphazard collection – one with dozens of pieces, but never the right thing to wear.
In my time wearing ties, I’ve found the ones that get the most use fall into two categories.
Solid-colored, Textured Weaves
The first are solid colored, textured weaves – such as grenadines and silk knits (for year-round use); raw silks, tussahs, and linens (for spring/ summer); and wool, cashmere, and the occasional boucle (for fall/ winter). As I mentioned in my post on Donegal ties, the advantage of solid colored, textured weaves is that you can wear them with almost any shirt and jacket combination. Have a patterned shirt and jacket? The solid color helps things not look too busy. Have a solid colored jacket and shirt? The textured weave helps things not look too boring. Having a stable of good, solid colored, textured neckwear helps you look put together without forcing you to think too much about what goes with what in the morning.
Stripes
The second are striped ties, like you see above. Traditionally, Englishmen wore these ties with the stripes sloping down from left to right, while Americans went the other direction. The style originated in the early 20th century, when decommissioned British officers continued to wear their regimental colors after they returned to civilian life (hence the name “regimental striped ties”). Anglophiles in the United States imitated the practice, but flipped the direction of the stripes so they wouldn’t be accused of being parvenus.  
Today, the colors and direction of the stripes don’t really matter anymore, as nobody really remembers the origin of these things. The only thing that’s important is that such ties – at least in the United States – are incredible versatile. Whereas foulards – a type of small-scale, symmetrical, non-representative pattern (usually geometric or floral in nature) – are often better paired with suits, regimental stripes can be worn with either suits or sport coats. And that’s very helpful if you, like me, wear sport coats more often than anything fancier.
Of course, there are other ties worth buying. Paisley patterned ancient madders are fantastic for fall, and a couple of checked or dotted designs are useful too. But for a solid foundation in your neckwear wardrobe, I’ve found solid-colored, textured neckties, along with regimentals, to be the best. I’d suggest getting them in various materials and colors before you expand too far elsewhere. 
(Above picture taken from a Ben Silver catalog)

The Foundation of a Good Necktie Wardrobe

I don’t know anyone who wears ties that doesn’t have more neckwear than they need. Ties are relatively inexpensive, easier to size right, and can help satisfy that urge to buy something new. The problem with accumulating ties here and there is that you often wind up with a haphazard collection – one with dozens of pieces, but never the right thing to wear.

In my time wearing ties, I’ve found the ones that get the most use fall into two categories.

Solid-colored, Textured Weaves

The first are solid colored, textured weaves – such as grenadines and silk knits (for year-round use); raw silks, tussahs, and linens (for spring/ summer); and wool, cashmere, and the occasional boucle (for fall/ winter). As I mentioned in my post on Donegal ties, the advantage of solid colored, textured weaves is that you can wear them with almost any shirt and jacket combination. Have a patterned shirt and jacket? The solid color helps things not look too busy. Have a solid colored jacket and shirt? The textured weave helps things not look too boring. Having a stable of good, solid colored, textured neckwear helps you look put together without forcing you to think too much about what goes with what in the morning.

Stripes

The second are striped ties, like you see above. Traditionally, Englishmen wore these ties with the stripes sloping down from left to right, while Americans went the other direction. The style originated in the early 20th century, when decommissioned British officers continued to wear their regimental colors after they returned to civilian life (hence the name “regimental striped ties”). Anglophiles in the United States imitated the practice, but flipped the direction of the stripes so they wouldn’t be accused of being parvenus. 

Today, the colors and direction of the stripes don’t really matter anymore, as nobody really remembers the origin of these things. The only thing that’s important is that such ties – at least in the United States – are incredible versatile. Whereas foulards – a type of small-scale, symmetrical, non-representative pattern (usually geometric or floral in nature) – are often better paired with suits, regimental stripes can be worn with either suits or sport coats. And that’s very helpful if you, like me, wear sport coats more often than anything fancier.

Of course, there are other ties worth buying. Paisley patterned ancient madders are fantastic for fall, and a couple of checked or dotted designs are useful too. But for a solid foundation in your neckwear wardrobe, I’ve found solid-colored, textured neckties, along with regimentals, to be the best. I’d suggest getting them in various materials and colors before you expand too far elsewhere. 

(Above picture taken from a Ben Silver catalog)

I spend a lot of time each week digging up stuff for our Inside Track and eBay Roundup posts, and every once in a while, will come across something pretty remarkable. 

Like this electrically-heated, wool flying suit from France, which was made in 1945. The description reads:

Second and last example we were able to source, this one carrying a 1945 date and difficult to find a better example. Hugely overbuilt item made from double walled chocolate brown heavy jersey wool with leather detailing. Has a five button chest closure on leather back with leather button hole piece. Short stand up collar. Heavyweight ‘Eclair’ double zips run inside leg up to waist level. Zipped cuffs with pleated elasticated cuff ends. Right hand thigh with electrical cord. Pleated gusseted stud cuff closures. Side vents either waist side for access to clothing worn under. Fully polished satin interior.

Ending price was ~$140, with a ~$60 price quoted for shipping to the United States. If you had ~$200 to drop, this would have made for a pretty awesome Halloween costume.