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In her book Worn: A People’s History of Clothing, Sofi Thanhauser goes through the laborious process of how mills produce linen fabrics. The material comes from flax, a flowering plant with a stiff, slender stalk. Inside these stalks are soft, silky strands, which, when twisted together, form durable cords or threads. Getting to these strands, however, is a long process that involves pulling the plants and leaving them to dry, employing moisture to rot and soften the outer cellular tissue, and then breaking apart the material to remove the inner fibers. That’s to get the material—before it’s processed into yarn and then woven into fabric. It’s a laborious, time-consuming process that can drive up the cost of the final product, but linen is prized in the summertime for how well it breathes and wicks sweat from the skin, keeping the wearer feeling cool, dry, and comfortable.
Proper Cloth has many new linen items this season, including Italian linen shirtings in casual colors such as sage green, slate blue, and sand. These fabrics are ready to be turned into custom-made dress shirts produced with nearly any stylistic detail—popovers, Ivy styled button-downs, or even snap-button Westerns. Proper Cloth also has some Irish linen suits in single- and double-breasted configurations. Natural tan and tobacco brown will be your most versatile colors. However, the grey linen suits can be an interesting and unexpected choice for summer (such casual suits are the only ones you can wear with all-white sneakers if you want to dress these down). You can also check out Proper Cloth’s gallery for casual shirtings this season, which includes stretch seersuckers, Aloha prints, and colorful madras.
I can’t remember how I came across the photo of Bruce Boyer and Mark Cho speaking many years ago, but it has been saved on my hard drive ever since. I love that Bruce is wearing a pair of pale yellow socks. “Fun socks” can be dicey—paired with a dark business suit, they become a gimmick; worn to conservative offices, they’re distracting. But when teamed with a navy sport coat, striped button-down shirt, and tan chinos, they add just the right amount of personality.
The photo has been sitting on my hard drive for years because it took me forever to find something in this hue. These socks aren’t “highlighter yellow” (which Drake’s carriers) but a pale banana color. This season, Dapper Classics carries the same color in their spring collection (available in over-the-calf and mid-calf varieties). Again, probably not suitable for dark worsted suits or conservative offices, but for casual suits and sport coat ensembles while getting coffee with a friend? Perfect.
If you’re looking for something more business appropriate, consider Dapper Classic’s subtly patterned socks in houndstooth, herringbone, pin dot, and grenadine. These are the kind of socks that add a little bit of personality to a tailored outfit without your ankles becoming the center of attention. You can wear these in the summertime with anything from navy tropical wool suits to cotton suits to sport coats of any variety. Dapper Classics’ socks are also made in North Carolina by a third-generation family-owned mill. Their quality is just as good as socks from well-regarded European firms such as Marcoliani and Bresciani, but since they don’t have to pay for international shipping and duties, their retail prices are much lower.
Our newest sponsor, Spier & Mackay, has developed a cult following since they debuted on StyleForum in 2014. Before them, it was difficult to get quality, affordable tailoring in the styles and silhouettes that online menswear guys obsessed over—soft shoulder, trim but not tight chest, and a classic length that covers your rear. Above them are dearly expensive Italian clothes that start at the four figures; below them are fast fashion brands that sell awful tailoring. Spier & Mackay’s tailoring begins at around $300, but the coats are half-canvassed and fit many guys well.
In the last few years, Spier & Mackay has applied their expertise on classic tailored clothing to more casual pieces, such as waxed cotton field coats, suede bombers, and Donegal topcoats. For the spring/summer season, you can check out their range of washed chambray button-downs, linen shorts, and cotton-linen polos. Prices are generally about half to a third of what you’d pay for similarly styled items elsewhere. They even have chore coats on sale right now for $98—less than what many stores charge for button-ups.
For an easy summer ensemble, consider this soft-shouldered, rust-colored sport coat made from wool-silk-linen. Wool-silk-linen—commonly denoted as WSL online—has properties from all three fibers: the drape and bounce-back quality of wool, the sheen and strength of silk, and the crisp, dry hand of linen. It’s prized during the summer months because of how it imitates the texture of traditional fall/winter fabrics, such as tweed, but breathes well in hot, humid conditions. You can wear it as Spier & Mackay presents it above: with cream-colored trousers (pearl grey would also work), a light blue linen shirt, and brown suede tassel loafers.
Over the last thirty years, suspenders have gone much in the way of hats. Once common in men’s wardrobes, they’ve become something of a relic of the past. But why might you want to wear suspenders? For one, they’re more comfortable than organ-squeezing tourniquets. Since your waist expands when you sit, and returns to its smaller circumference when you stand, belts are only comfortable in one of these positions. Suspenders, on the other hand, allow you to have a little extra room at the waistband to accommodate these changes. Plus, they’re better at holding up your pants. Belted trousers tend to slip down throughout the day, which requires you to adjust them continually. You can set the desired length with suspenders, put them on, and never bother with them again.
Chipp Neckwear has the most affordable ones around, at least if you’re looking for something well-made and produced in the USA. The price is $45.50, which is lower than their competitors — much like the price of their grenadine ties. They offer 20 solid colors and three stripes, the choice of black or brown leather kips, as well as gold or silver-colored adjusters.
Thirty years ago, if you wanted to clear out your closet, your options were mostly limited to donating things to Goodwill or seeing what you could get at a local consignment shop, which would typically pay you pennies on the dollar. These days, there are many more options, including resale sites such as eBay, Etsy, and Grailed. Unfortunately, listing things can be a pain, which is why our friends LuxeSwap have been able to build such a good business. They do all the hard work of helping people clear out their closets and earn some cash in the process. They take professional photos and measurements of your items, create the listings, answer questions from buyers, and fulfill the orders. In return, they take 40% of the profits. And since spring closet cleans are in full swing, you can expect better-than-usual listings.
On their eBay account right now, you can find tailoring from the likes of J. Press, Canali, and Sartoria Formosa; shirts from G. Inglese; classic American shoes from Alden; and tons of quality knitwear from Paul Stuart, Ralph Lauren, William Lockie, Anderson & Sheppard, and Christian Kimber. A secret tip: do a search for the code “A1P.” Matthew at LuxeSwap has been working with a consignor who has exceptionally good taste (and a massive, massive wardrobe). You can find some of his best auctions there.