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As temperatures soared above 90 degrees in much of the United States last week, noted style icon and Vox co-founder Matthew Yglesias said he found comfort in linen. He declared, “Buying linen shirts changed my life. As an adaptation measure, the next climate bill should include tax credits for this.”
Linen is the world’s first tech fabric. If you’ve ever had the feeling of cotton shirts sticking to your skin on a hot day, that’s because cotton doesn’t dry easily. By contrast, linen wicks moisture from your skin, brings it to the other side, and allows it to evaporate quickly. At its core, this is why linen is so comfortable on hot and humid days—it leaves you feeling dry. As a shirting, linen is also typically lightweight and breathable. As a suit or sport coat, it has all of the casual, rumpled nature that good summer style should exude. If you have things tailored, make sure to leave some extra room. Because linen holds wrinkles, sleeves and trouser legs can accordion, so add some length to keep things from being too short.
Proper Cloth has a whole section on its website dedicated to this miracle fiber. Many of the shirt fabrics were sourced from the noted Irish linen mill Baird McNutt; the tailoring is cut from fabrics sourced from the Italian mill Reda. If you’re getting your first linen piece of clothing, start with a versatile shirt. White linen can be a bit sheer, so consider solid colors such as beige or light blue. Or pick up a versatile pattern such as white-and-light-blue stripes. For tailoring, consider a navy linen-blend sport coat or a tobacco linen suit. Our friend Mitchell Moss over at Menswear Musings recently published an article on tobacco linen suits. We know: it’s hard to wear suits nowadays. But a casual suit such as this one will be one of those joyous garments you can wear to dinner, afternoon parties, and even summer weddings.
For people who were into men’s style about ten years ago, Wolf vs. Goat represents a special time in menswear history. It was a time when guys flocked to the internet to learn about how clothes were made. They opted for classic designs and quality constructions, following that overmilked menswear adage, “buy less, buy better.” During this time, dozens of micro companies cropped up online, supported by these niche enthusiasts who knew more about clothing than probably any other menswear consumer in history. For a brief period, the idea of value-for-money was still an important concept in this space.
Much has changed since then. Menswear has become much more driven by streetwear, capital-F fashion, and hyped trends. To be sure, some of those hard-earned lessons from 2010 were sometimes overstated—there’s something joyous in buying stuff you like and not overanalyzing things. But there was also something special about that idea of shopping for value, which companies such as Wolf vs. Goat, founded during that period, represent.
Aside from their advertisement at Put This On, Wolf vs. Goat has no marketing budget. Founder Mauro Farinelli isn’t really even much of a marketer. But if you get him talking about fabrics, construction techniques, and factories, he gushes with enthusiasm. Wolf vs. Goat uses small-scale, low-minimum factories in Italy, which allows them to utilize the region’s skilled labor without getting into giant production runs. On their site, you can find garment-dyed oxford button-downs, Supima cotton henleys, linen shorts, and linen-cotton hoodies—each piece made in Italy. The company also uses interesting fabrics, such as unique blends or environmentally-produced fibers, which sets them apart from the clothes you see everywhere else. Lastly, don’t forget that their Rewards Membership program, which costs a one-time fee of $25, will get you a lifetime 50% discount on all full-priced items.
Paul Winston, the proprietor of Winston Tailors and Chipp Neckwear, likes to say that his family’s company serves a more traditional-minded customer. But since the company’s founding in 1945, they’re also made some pretty wild clothing. Paul’s father Sidney was known for producing things such as patchwork tweeds, madras trousers, and sport coats with vivid linings. And shortly after Paul joined the family’s company in 1961, he designed a small line of clever, pictogram neckties. The difference between sophisticated humor and bad taste, Paul tells us, is always “who and where.” “A chairman once gifted my ties to his board members, and that was considered good humor, but when the same ties are found at Nordstrom, they’re considered bad taste.”
A cheerful, novelty tie can be worn with upbeat Fresco sport coats and colorful chinos if you’re daring. Alternatively, you can also wear them with more conservative navy jackets and grey trousers to add some lighthearted humor. They’re too whimsical for the office, but for garden parties, brunches, and other cheerful gatherings? Why not. Prep, especially, has always been about having fun with your clothes.
Dapper Classics’ socks come in a range of solid colors, which by now, you probably already know how to marshall. When you’re wearing tailored trousers, the rule of thumb is to match the color of your socks to your trousers. So tan socks go with tan trousers, grey socks with grey trousers, and so forth. Otherwise, navy goes with everything. Once you have a rotation of solid-colored socks, consider getting some tasteful patterns. Herringbone, pin dots, birdseye, and grenadine all work well to add visual interest to a basic tailored outfit. If you’re wearing a solid-colored, navy sport coat with a light blue shirt and grey trousers, having a bit of visual interest around your leg opening isn’t a bad thing.
Ten years ago, I would have probably rolled my eyes at the idea of fun socks. But nowadays, I think it depends on the outfit, occasion, and pattern. If you’re wearing a conservative navy suit to a conservative business office, stick to conservative navy socks. But if you’re wearing a sport coat to a casual social occasion, unusually patterned socks can be kind of fun. As an animal lover, I unconditionally support anything with dogs on it. Foxes and pheasants can also be good underneath a pair of chestnut-colored cords. Personally, I think every American should have a pair of American flag socks to wear on the Fourth of July and during election cycles. The fact that Dapper Classics makes all of their socks at a third-generation, family-owned mill in North Carolina only makes these socks more patriotic.
Fall is around the corner, and while the weather right now doesn’t lend itself to thinking about chunky sweaters and heavy overcoats, fall/winter arrivals will soon hit the shelves, the weather will cool, and you’ll find yourself dreaming about buying something new. To help offset the costs of an expensive purchase this fall, consider LuxeSwap’s trade-up program with No Man Walks Alone and Epaulet.
The program is simple. We all have clothes in the back of our closets that haven’t seen the light of day in years. As an eBay consignor who works with high-quality clothing, LuxeSwap can do all the hard work of selling these clothes for you online. They’ll also present the clothes to a captive audience who’s used to shopping through LuxeSwap, which can help you get more money for your second-hand gear. And if you’re willing to take your profits in the form of store credit at No Man Walks Alone or Epaulet, they’ll reduce their commission from 40% to 30% — and those stores will top off your profits with an additional 10%. Effectively, that means 30% more value than you’d get otherwise. Store credit gets posted not long after the auction closes, and it never expires.
Since LuxeSwap works with No Man Walks Alone and Epaulet, you can find a lot of stuff on their eBay list from those stores (as those stores’ customers trade-up through LuxeSswap). On their list of eBay auctions now, you can find Formosa tailoring, Inis Meain knitwear, Kaptain Sunshine summer jackets, Epaulet chinos, and Portuguese Flannel shirts. New auctions go up every Thursday and end in ten days on a Sunday.