Declaration of Tweedependence
This tweed is authentic as all hell. Styleforum member Zissou posted the certificate of authenticity for the cloth for a friend’s father’s jacket,  handwoven in Scotland in 1959 by Don MacDonald (presumably from a long line of Donald MacDonalds), and certified at Stornaway, which is way the heck up there. I bet that jacket is SICK.
-Pete

Declaration of Tweedependence

This tweed is authentic as all hell. Styleforum member Zissou posted the certificate of authenticity for the cloth for a friend’s father’s jacket,  handwoven in Scotland in 1959 by Don MacDonald (presumably from a long line of Donald MacDonalds), and certified at Stornaway, which is way the heck up there. I bet that jacket is SICK.

-Pete

The Style at the Time

The best and maybe most important show on TV in the 1990s (yes, better than Seinfeld), the Simpsons arguably should’ve retired a few years ago rather than trudge along with HD episodes that hang OK jokes on plots that have long since exhausted the narrative possibilities of the family unit. For years the show’s classic seasons, lines from which make up about 35 percent of Generation Xers’ speech, have aired in syndication but have been frustratingly hard to find online. FXX recently announced it bought the rights to the entire series and will be putting every episode online (in addition to airing all 522 in a row in August), a relief to nerds everywhere. In celebration, a few of my favorite style-related moments from the show:

Grandpa Simpson: I tied an onion on my belt, which was the style at the time.

Homer: Look everyone, now that I’m a teacher I’ve sewed patches on my elbows.
Marge: Homer, that’s supposed to be leather patches on a tweed blazer, not the other way around.  You’ve ruined a perfectly good jacket.
Homer: Ah, incorrect Marge, two perfectly good jackets.

Homer: I don’t want to look like a weirdo! I’ll just go with the muumuu.

Hank Scorpio: They laughed at me the first time I wore jeans with a sport coat. I was the first wealthy man in America to ever do that, now they all do it!

Homer: There’s only two kinds of guys who wear Hawaiian shirts: gay guys and big fat party animals.

Homer: Hugh, there’s something I want you to have.  My Dad gave me his cufflinks on the day I married Marge and they brought us good luck. I couldn’t imagine a happier marriage.  We don’t have many traditions in our family, but it would mean a lot to me if you kept this one alive.

Marge: Homer, I don’t think you should wear a short-sleeve shirt with a tie.
Homer: [groans] Ohhh, but Sipowicz does it.

Homer: So I want the monogram to read “M-A-X P-O-W … “
Employee: Sir, traditionally, a monogram is just initials.
Homer: Max Power doesn’t abbreviate. Each letter is as important as the one that preceded it. Maybe more important! No, as important.
Employee: [sighing] Very well.
Homer: And if you’ve got enough room, add some exclamation points and a pirate flag.

Disco Stu: Disco Stu doesn’t advertise.

Mr. Burns: Some men hunt for sport, others hunt for food, the only thing I’m hunting for is an outfit that looks gooooood.
[to the tune of “Be Our Guest”]
See my vest, see my vest, made from real gorilla chest,
Feel this sweater, there’s no better than authentic Irish Setter.
See this hat? 'Twas my cat. My evening wear? Vampire bat.
These white slippers are albino African endangered rhino.
Grizzly bear underwear; turtles’ necks, I’ve got my share.
Beret of poodle on my noodle it shall rest;
Try my red robin suit, it comes one breast or two,
See my vest, see my vest, see my vest!
Like my loafers?  Former gophers!  It was that or skin my chauffers.
But a greyhound fur tuxedo would be best.
So let’s prepare these dogs —
Woman: Kill two for matching clogs!
Burns: See my vest, see my vest, oh please, won’t you see my vest?

-Pete

Real People: Sport Coats with Jeans

My friend David in New York City is one of the best dressed guys I know. He’s a fine and rare wine expert, running a company called Grand Cru Wine Consulting with his business partner Robert Bohr. They’re a concierge service of sorts - advising wine aficionados and buying bottles for them at wine auctions. The Wall Street Journal wrote about their company not too long ago, and David was photographed in a fantastic navy double breasted suit (which was made for him by our shared tailor, Steed).

Above, he’s seen wearing a green tweed he recently received from Steed. I’ve said on a number of occasions that I think sport coats with jeans are very hard to pull off. When it’s done well, it’s usually with tweeds.

It’s difficult to tell from the photo, but the cloth is woven with a unique combination of both herringbone and barleycorn patterns, giving it a very interesting and classic look. There’s also a blue and chestnut overcheck, which you can faintly make out in the photos. David chose some really tasteful and original details, such as the one button front and single button sleeves. Most sport coats have three or four buttons at the sleeves, while a single button is more of an old-school casual/ sporting detail, particularly found in Southern Italy. The soft shoulder construction and slightly full chest and upper back are signatures in a Steed jacket, and I think it fits David’s style excellently. 

Tweeds and jeans go well together because of their equally casual nature and rustic background. With anything too smooth or slick - either in texture or sensibility - you run the risk of looking strangely dressy up top and too casual down bottom. The most obvious faux pas is to wear a suit jacket with jeans, but even as you go down the scale in formality, the combination can look very odd. A tweed sport coat with a pair of jeans, with an equally casual, blue button-down collar shirt (sans tie) and a pair of boots though? Excellent.

Incidentally, if anyone is interested in getting something from Steed, they’re touring the US in February and March. They do both bespoke and made-to-measure, and you can see their travel itinerary here

Donegal Tweed Ties
As conventional wisdom goes, grenadines are some of the most useful ties you can own. The reason is they’re (typically) solid in color, but also textured in weave. The textured weave allows you to wear it easily with solid colored shirts and jackets, while the solid color allow you to pair it with patterns. There are few jacket, shirt, and tie combinations where a grenadine would not work.
The same principle can be applied with other ties, although they’re slightly more seasonal in use. A tussah or raw silk can be worn in the summer with cotton or linen jacketings, while a boucle can paired with tweed or flannel in the fall. A Suitable Wardrobe just launched their end-of-season sale, and all three types are available at pretty attractive prices. Slightly similar are lightly patterned ties, such as the speckled Donegal tweed my e-friend Voxsartoria is seen wearing above. From a distance, it appears solid in color, but upon closer look, it has little flecks to keep it interesting. Again, something you can wear with solid colored shirts and jackets, or ones with patterns.
Or so I think, anyway. I wanted to get a Donegal tie this past season, but wasn’t able to. Berg and Berg launched their winter sale yesterday, and they had this very lovely speckled navy tie that someone bought before me. Brooks Brothers also had this knit tie that sold out before I even had a chance to consider it.
There are other options still available though. Vanda Fine Clothing has them in Air Force chevron and pebbled grey patterns. Those come in their signature, lightly lined construction, which allows their ties to feel a bit more “true” to their shell fabrics. There’s also Drake’s and E.G. Cappelli – two of my favorite tie makers. Drake’s is a high-quality, no-nonsense construction, while E.G. Cappelli is typically lightly lined and has a bit more visible handstitching. Additionally, there’s Howard Yount and Sid Mashburn. I have no experience with their neckwear, but both companies have solid reputations. And if someone doesn’t mind the skinny widths, there are these options by Gant Rugger and Alexander Olch.
Hopefully I can get one before winter ends. 
(Picture via voxsart)

Donegal Tweed Ties

As conventional wisdom goes, grenadines are some of the most useful ties you can own. The reason is they’re (typically) solid in color, but also textured in weave. The textured weave allows you to wear it easily with solid colored shirts and jackets, while the solid color allow you to pair it with patterns. There are few jacket, shirt, and tie combinations where a grenadine would not work.

The same principle can be applied with other ties, although they’re slightly more seasonal in use. A tussah or raw silk can be worn in the summer with cotton or linen jacketings, while a boucle can paired with tweed or flannel in the fall. A Suitable Wardrobe just launched their end-of-season sale, and all three types are available at pretty attractive prices. Slightly similar are lightly patterned ties, such as the speckled Donegal tweed my e-friend Voxsartoria is seen wearing above. From a distance, it appears solid in color, but upon closer look, it has little flecks to keep it interesting. Again, something you can wear with solid colored shirts and jackets, or ones with patterns.

Or so I think, anyway. I wanted to get a Donegal tie this past season, but wasn’t able to. Berg and Berg launched their winter sale yesterday, and they had this very lovely speckled navy tie that someone bought before me. Brooks Brothers also had this knit tie that sold out before I even had a chance to consider it.

There are other options still available though. Vanda Fine Clothing has them in Air Force chevron and pebbled grey patterns. Those come in their signature, lightly lined construction, which allows their ties to feel a bit more “true” to their shell fabrics. There’s also Drake’s and E.G. Cappelli – two of my favorite tie makers. Drake’s is a high-quality, no-nonsense construction, while E.G. Cappelli is typically lightly lined and has a bit more visible handstitching. Additionally, there’s Howard Yount and Sid Mashburn. I have no experience with their neckwear, but both companies have solid reputations. And if someone doesn’t mind the skinny widths, there are these options by Gant Rugger and Alexander Olch.

Hopefully I can get one before winter ends. 

(Picture via voxsart)

via @ImportantChart
The Switch
Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:
Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.
I’d add a few more things:
Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.
-Pete

The Switch

Rigidity about the beginnings and ends of seasons for clothing denies the variability of our climate. Labor Day has come and gone, and meteorological summer ends in a few days, but even though I have an itch for scratchier fabrics, if the weather calls for it I’ll still wear linen in September. Still, it’s about time to give up and put away the seersucker and linen or the rust tweeds in the closet will just get rustier. Storage of seasonal clothing is like re-sorting a record collection for music nerds enthusiasts—to dabblers it’s a chore but to the truly dedicated it can be deeply satisfying. Derek put together a helpful to-do list for seasonal storage a couple of years ago, and it’s worth revisiting his tips as you put away your summer stuff:

  • Wash or dry clean your clothes before you store them. This ensures that insects aren’t packed away with your clothes and that any food bits, which can attract insects, will be gone as well. I even give my clean clothes a good shake before they’re actually stored. 
  • Check the pockets to make sure they’re empty. I also zip up the zippers and button the buttons, just to make sure things are in good order. 
  • Get muslin or canvas garment bags for your trousers, jackets, and suits. I’ve found that these work better than plastic since they allow your clothes to breathe while keeping the bugs at bay. It’s also recommended that you use hangers with molded shoulders for your jackets and suits. Many people believe that this helps your garments keep their shape, though I’ve read credible sources cast doubt on this claim. Still, I’m not testing the matter with my clothes, so I play it safe. 
  • For sweaters and shirts, store them in plastic bins with lids. Drill a few holes into the lid so that air can circulate. Failing to do so can create moisture, which in turn can cause mildew. Pack them away with the heaviest items on the bottom, and be sure not to overstuff things, otherwise you’ll ruin the fibers. I also wrap my favorite pieces in acid free tissue paper, but this isn’t terribly necessary.
  • Put cedar balls or lavender in along with your clothes to deter bugs. 
  • Choose a storage space that is cool and dry. If you don’t, your clothes may develop mold, and if they do, they will have a smell that will be very, very difficult to get out. I’ve had clothes permanently ruined from being stored in damp areas, so be careful. Once you’ve chosen a place, vacuum and clean it out before your store your clothes there. 
  • If you have silverfish in your home, and you’ve put holes in the lids of your storage bins, put those bins off the floor. This will lower the likelihood of having silverfish snack on your garments.

I’d add a few more things:

  • Take the opportunity to cull your wardrobe. Clothing that is truly worn out should be trashed; stuff that no longer fits you or that you no longer need can be ebay’d, consigned, or donated. Bonus: room for more stuff.
  • Mothballs still exist; don’t use them. They’re toxic and they smell it. Lavender and cedar are ideal. You can buy cedar sachets or make them—if you don’t need them to be photogenic you can find spice bags at kitchen or hardware stores.
  • If you (like me) weren’t as careful as Derek when putting away your fall/winter stuff last year: (1) immediately clean any tailoring or sweaters you didn’t clean pre-storage; (2) steam wrinkles out of suits that got creased in storage, but don’t overdo it—if it’s really wrinkled, get it professionally pressed.
  • If you’ve stored stuff poorly in the past (stretched out knits, left suit jackets on wire hangers for months), now’s the time to repent and do right by your clothes.

-Pete

A Visit to Walker Slater in Edinburgh, Scotland

While I was in Edinburgh this past week, performing in the Fringe Festival, I took the opportunity to stop by Walker Slater, the town’s premier menswear shop. Endinburgh’s a beautiful, gloomy town, hung with fog even at the height of summer, and Walker Slater is perfectly suited for its environment. Inside are warm woolens, worn leather and plenty of tweed.

The shop began in the 1980s featuring more standard fashion fare, but the owners quickly found that despite Edinburgh’s status as one of the cultural capitals of Scotland, which itself is the world’s capital of tweed, there wasn’t much decent tweed to be found. They experimented with tweed trousers, sold them quickly, and within a few years they were off to the races, leaving t-shirts behind in favor of breeks and braces.

The shop offers one of the widest selections of tweeds I’ve had the chance to see in a clothing store. There are serious, sedate tweed suits and bold, outrageous ones. Something for every occasion. A handsome and dandyish Kenyan man who worked for the United Nations was placing a made-to-measure order when I stopped in. One sportcoat relatively serious, one with a blinding red overcheck. Both looked like they’d come out looking tremendous.

One of the things that impressed me most about Walker Slater was the price point. These weren’t Chester Barrie-made supersuits, but the quality was solid, and the prices were quite reasonable. I was lusting after a £125 shirt jacket, and sportcoats ran £390. I also had to remind myself that I lived in Los Angeles to help restrain myself from grabbing a whole stack of their lovely moleskin trousers, including some in ivory white.

I had a bit of a chat with the shop manager, and he told me that the owners really prioritize keeping the retail prices reasonable, which I always appreciate. They’re also, of course, selling own-brand merchandise without a middleman. Most trousers and shirts are made in the UK, and most of the tailored clothes are made in a British-owned factory in Portugal.

The shop offers a line of very traditional tweeds, with full-cut trousers and strong shoulders. They also offer a more contemporary style, and both are executed well. I was particularly impressed with their modest collection of casual clothes, which was classic but not at all fusty. Think E. Tautz or Nigel Cabourn. They even have a lovely ladies’ shop a few doors down.

It was a real pleasure, amidst the hubbub of the Fringe, to stumble into this home-grown gem. If you’re in Edinburgh (or London, where they have another outpost), it’s very much worth stopping in.

Walker Slater, 16-20 Victoria St, Edinburgh & 845 Fulham Road, London
(and online at WalkerSlater.com)

(Photos by Jesse Thorn)

Trad Nirvana: J. Press Tweed, Circa 1953

One of the great things about thrift store shopping is finding something that seems like it comes from another world. This J. Press coat I found over the weekend is a perfect example. It’s a custom job, completed in October of 1953.

The tweed on this feels like it could stop a bullet. In fact, sixty years later, it’s completely unscarred by time. It could well have just come off the production line. Unlike J. Press today, which usually features a single hooked vent, it’s unvented, but it still features the classic three-roll-two button configuration.
 I only wish that it fit me.

I had a Brooks Brothers herringbone almost exactly like this. Size 41L. Mid-60s. Half-lined. Lost it in Heathrow Airport, running for a flight, carrying my baby son and all our luggage. I started sweating, so I took it off and draped it over my shoulder bag. Slipped off in the tunnel between terminals.
One of the saddest material losses of my life.
(via VoxSart)

I had a Brooks Brothers herringbone almost exactly like this. Size 41L. Mid-60s. Half-lined. Lost it in Heathrow Airport, running for a flight, carrying my baby son and all our luggage. I started sweating, so I took it off and draped it over my shoulder bag. Slipped off in the tunnel between terminals.

One of the saddest material losses of my life.

(via VoxSart)

Q and Answer: Elbow Patches
Shane asks:  I would love to hear some discussion on blazers / sports coats and the use of elbow patches.  Yes or no?
Several folks have written me about elbow patches lately, so I thought I’d offer an answer.
Traditionally, elbow patches patched the elbows of coats. After all, the elbow, being both a flex point and a point likely to be abraded, is the part of a coat that wears out quickest. Elbow getting thin? Want to keep the coat? Patch it. There’s no doubt that patching a worn elbow is kosher. My favorite cashmere sweater has patched elbows, and I’ve got an old herringbone tweed coat that’s going to need some soon.
Add elbow patches to an old coat, and it instantly becomes more casual. Indeed, it’s a maneuver that only works on coats that are inherently casual to begin with - you see patches on tweed, corduroy and the occasional flannel blazer, but you’d never seen them on a pinstriped business suit. The patched elbow is suitable for the man who lives in a casual sportcoat but values thrift. Hence the professorial associations.
In the last few years, patched elbows have been seen on ready-to-wear more frequently. Brands like Brunello Cucinelli have added patches to blazers and sportcoats with great abandon. It’s part of the re-casualization of tailored clothing, a specialty of the Italians of late. At its best, it can be a nice color and textural contrast to the primary fabric. Some folks have gone a bit crazy with the idea.
Adding patches to an existing coat is an inexpensive alteration, but be careful not to go too wild, or it can look affected.
(photo by Garry Knight)

Q and Answer: Elbow Patches

Shane asks:  I would love to hear some discussion on blazers / sports coats and the use of elbow patches.  Yes or no?

Several folks have written me about elbow patches lately, so I thought I’d offer an answer.

Traditionally, elbow patches patched the elbows of coats. After all, the elbow, being both a flex point and a point likely to be abraded, is the part of a coat that wears out quickest. Elbow getting thin? Want to keep the coat? Patch it. There’s no doubt that patching a worn elbow is kosher. My favorite cashmere sweater has patched elbows, and I’ve got an old herringbone tweed coat that’s going to need some soon.

Add elbow patches to an old coat, and it instantly becomes more casual. Indeed, it’s a maneuver that only works on coats that are inherently casual to begin with - you see patches on tweed, corduroy and the occasional flannel blazer, but you’d never seen them on a pinstriped business suit. The patched elbow is suitable for the man who lives in a casual sportcoat but values thrift. Hence the professorial associations.

In the last few years, patched elbows have been seen on ready-to-wear more frequently. Brands like Brunello Cucinelli have added patches to blazers and sportcoats with great abandon. It’s part of the re-casualization of tailored clothing, a specialty of the Italians of late. At its best, it can be a nice color and textural contrast to the primary fabric. Some folks have gone a bit crazy with the idea.

Adding patches to an existing coat is an inexpensive alteration, but be careful not to go too wild, or it can look affected.

(photo by Garry Knight)