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Ten years ago, online custom shirtmakers were a mess, and ordering something made-to-measure often resulted in something worse than ready-to-wear. But nowadays, the process and technology have been perfected, and ordering a shirt is as easy as clicking through some styling options. It still takes a bit of tweaking to perfect your pattern (the tailoring term for the architectural blueprint for your garment), but Proper Cloth offers a 90-day window for free alterations and remakes, which ensures that you get a good fit. Ordering shirts this way means you don’t have to rely on designers every season to deliver something you want. You can click through the styling options and the perfect fitting shirt will arrive at your door a few weeks later.
Proper Cloth is unique because of the company’s vast selection of fabrics. Most custom shirtmakers only offer the sort of broadcloth and twills that you might want to wear to work. On the other hand, Proper Cloth offers all of those business-ready fabrics in addition to casual options — washed denim, vacation prints, Japanese indigo, and others. This past week, they introduced their new lightweight Satoyama flannels. Made with slightly faded color patterns, these three-season flannels were woven on vintage, slow-moving Rapier looms in Japan. You can get them made in Proper Cloth’s regular sport shirt patterns or Western designs (as pictured above), and then layer them underneath trucker jackets, bombers, and even sport coats.
Long-time readers know Chipp supplies the most affordable grenadine neckties. They source their silks from the same Italian mills as top-end brands, but their ties start at a much more affordable $45 (grenadines are $60 and, like everything Chipp sells, are made in New York City). Paul Winston, the shop’s owner, tells me he can’t imagine charging much more because he remembers what neckties used to cost fifty years ago, back when his family’s business dressed men such as President John F. Kennedy, Andy Warhol, and Joe DiMaggio.
If you’re looking for your first grenadine, consider three colors: black, some sort of dark blue, and silver. Black can look severe in certain contexts, which is why it’s often not recommended for suits or socks, but the color manages to be neutral for grenadines and knit ties. You can wear a black grenadine with navy suits, tobacco linen suits, and brown tweeds. Dark blue, either in the shade matching your navy suits or one shade lighter, is equally versatile (a dark blue tie can also be an excellent way to visually anchor a light-colored sport coat, which could otherwise float away from you). Lastly, silver grenadines are for guys who only wear ties on special occasions — weddings, fancy parties, and other formal gatherings. Silver ties look less like office clothes than their dark blue counterparts, and the textured grenadine weave here keeps these from looking cheap and shiny.
In a market where most companies have long offshored their manufacturing, Dapper Classics has stayed close to home and invested in a third-generation, family-owned North Carolina mill. Doing so has allowed them to keep a closer eye on production, ensure quality, and deliver high-quality socks at a lower price. Some of the world’s best socks indeed come from Western Europe — Bresciani and Marcoliani socks are widely and rightfully well-regarded. However, Dapper Classics can deliver the same quality for less because their customers don’t have to shoulder import costs. Most of their socks are knitted on single-cylinder, 200 needle count machines, so they’re both fine and durable. Dapper Classics also primarily sources two types of yarn: fine merino wool and Egyptian mercerized cotton. Both are colorfast, and the merino wool is super-washed so that it can go through a regular laundry cycle without the worry of shrinkage. After knitting, their socks are then hand-linked at the toes to eliminate the bumpy seam.
If you’re starting to build a better wardrobe, get six or seven pairs of their solid navy, over-the-calf merino socks. Over-the-calf socks stay up better than their mid-calf counterparts, and no one wants to see your bare calf when you sit down in tailored trousers. Solid navy socks also go with everything — trousers in blue, tan, brown, and olive. After that, consider getting some conservative patterns, such as pin dot and herringbone. For people who live in warmer climes, Dapper Classics’ solid navy, mercerized cotton socks have to be felt to be believed. They’re breathable, durable, and comfortable on hot days.
During the heydays of Ivy Style, prep was connected to a youthful spirit of rebellion. College students dotted in and around New England wore brightly colored pants, pink Shetland sweaters, and patchwork madras and tweed, partly as a way to thumb their noses at an older generation dressed in trad. Flip through the pages of Take Ivy, and you’ll see a ton of “transgressions” that have now been codified as “classic.”
In recent years, Rowing Blazers has reclaimed some of that original spirit but puts a more modern, almost streetwear spin on the attitude. In their latest fall/winter collection, the NYC-based brand leans into color and texture. They have men’s and women’s suit separates in brightly colored corduroy and the brand’s signature gun check and patchwork tweed; American-made cotton duck canvas travel jackets with corduroy collars; sherpa jockey fleeces in croquet stripes and navy-red zig-zag patterns. In addition, there’s a range of 1980s inspired sweaters made in collaboration with old-school English brand Gyles & George, founded by former member of British parliament Gyles Brandreth. These designs, from Brandreth’s 1985 book Wit Knits, include a red piano-key sweater with a matching scarf and a black sweater with an oversized red heart. For their campaign, Rowing Blazers also got Pete Davison and Ziwe Fumudoh to model their clothes.
The collection isn’t for the faint of heart, but certain pieces can be worn in relatively more conservative ways. The patchwork tweed trousers can be paired with solid colored Shetland sweaters, light blue oxford butt0n-downs, and suede penny loafers for a fun look (think of Bill Murray in Moonrise Kingdom). The tartan scarves and preppy surcingle belts can also be an excellent way to add flavor to a more “normal” outfit. Lastly, the duck canvas travel coats can be worn in place of a Barbour (try it with cords, cable knits, and boots).
Matthew at LuxeSwap tells us that he’s working on the company’s famous annual Thanksgiving sale. Every year, they save some of their best stock for a big blowout on Thanksgiving weekend (their version of a Black Friday sale). In his cryptic email, Matthew told me that this year will be a “doozy.”
In the meantime, LuxeSwap has hundreds of high-quality menswear auctions, much of which are from reputable stores such as No Man Walks Alone. Up now are some Private White Balmacaan coats, Vass shoes, Scott & Charters shawl collar cardigans, suede Brooks Brothers boots, and Epaulet tailoring. Remember that you can always find some of LuxeSwap’s best auctions by doing a search on their account for #1 Menswear. Auctions end every Sunday.