Friday, December 31, 2010

Red Wings Low Cut Oxfords No. 8109 - Mahogany

These sturdy shoes caught my eye the other day. I don't own them, haven't worn them, not sure where to buy them & pretty damn sure I don't want to be the one to break them in. However, once they have been sufficiently kicked to shit, I suspect they would make a very serviceable pair of shoes, sufficiently versatile to take you from the job site almost to the boardroom. (Well, maybe not quite that far, but at least I wouldn't have a problem wearing these out to get the newspaper and run a few errands.) Looks like they would last forever and probably be pretty comfortable after a years' time.

I couldn't get over the photographic similarity between this shoe and the L.L. Bean Blucher Moc (or at least what the Blucher Moc wants to be when it grows up).

A nicely broken-in pair

What they look like now

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Know Thyself

It is really important not to get bamboozled into trying things that are really not our style. Experimentation is one thing, but after several decades of being a grown-up, we have begun to know what works for us and what doesn't. When in doubt, trust your gut.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

To Belt or not to Belt

I asked my younger daughter just now whether she had any good ideas for today's post; she demurred saying, "why don't you give a shout out to one of your friends or something." It was, of course, a stroke of genius, for in that moment I recalled the brilliant post by Will Boehlke I read in A Suitable Wardrobe yesterday. The subject is trousers which no longer have belts, that is to say they are either supported by braces, or else fitted snugly with side tab adjusters. It is a subject near and dear to my waistline, and there is nothing which I can either add or subtract from this very reasoned piece. Go have a look, and tell Will I sent you!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas Movies

Three out of these four movies I got to see on television over the past week while my mother-in-law was here. I missed not seeing Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation. How about you? How was your week?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Baby, it's cold outside . . .

Back in the day, when I lived in a climate cold enough to require such gear, I always preferred mittens to gloves, and I always prefer "simple" to "more complex". Hand-knitted mittens such as these are hard to find.

Image Ffffound! here.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

White Christmas

Ho, ho, ho, Merry Christmas! Here's hoping Santa's been good to you all, delivering baubles and woolens, goodies and Belgians, to all loyal readers. Hope that you are sitting by a crackling fire, feet up, toes warm, nestled in your cottages. We are enjoying the second snowfall of the season, a beauty, dropping 3-4 inches here in St. Louis, reminding me of New England.

Mrs. W's mother is visiting, as she normally does this time of year. The five of us trundled off to see the King's Speech -- a wonderful movie, great clothing, great period piece, wonderful subject matter. Heart warming without sentimentalism. Highly recommended. Five stars on a scale of one to four.

Stay warm and keep the faith.

The King's Speech

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas List Addendum - my very own eye patch

Apple I-Pad, $500 at a store near you.

I have wanted one of these since the day they were first announced. Mrs. W drags her feet, insisting I become employed first. Better to ask for forgiveness than permission.

But I can wait until March for the new version with the built-in webcam. Surfing the web and skyping will be kewler then.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Politics Makes Strange Bedfellows

Here are a couple of guys who come across as pretty well dressed on television:

Jay Leno

David Letterman

But that was not always the case:

Back in the day

I say time heals all wounds. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Barbour Liddesdale

Here is another old stand-by:

I own several of these, but not in navy.

Barbour Liddesdale quilted jacket. Perfect for all but the coldest days in St. Louis. Great catch-all pockets. Also available at Orvis, $149. Size XXL.

Dolphin Cuff Links - Christmas List - Item No. 11

I think I am beginning to realize just how playful life can be.

I had a nice chat with David Shockley at Savile Row the other day. One of the things we talked about was cufflinks. There is obviously a whole language concerning cufflinks, one which I have been oblivious to, since I have never worn anything but button-cuff shirts. It's almost like a whole new avenue of personal expression has opened up for me. I also realize that many people collect cufflinks. Rita Braver did a wonderful piece for CBS Sunday Morning on her husband, Bob Barnett, a Washington DC lawyer who collects cufflinks. I have searched the internet but am unable to find a clip of it. If anyone has a link, please let me know.

Silver plated dolphin cuff links. $23.95. Available here. (Remember, it's not how much you spend, it's how much thought you put into it.)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Field Coat - Hunting Jacket - Chore Coat

To my way of thinking, everybody needs one of these in their front hall closet.

This is the one article of clothing I have obsessed over for the past five seasons. This is not the one I own, but it is a fine example, available at Orvis, on sale for $219. (Size XL) Get 'em while they last.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

First Snowfall

Last night here in St. Louis we had the season's first significant snowfall.

Oh what joy! I get to wear my Bean boots for a day or two and shovel my car out. I do recall what a co-worker had to say one blustery, snowy day when the both of us had busted our tails to get in to work on time.. "There are only two kinds of drivers you need to worry about on days like this: the Confederates who can't drive in it, and the Yankees who think they can."

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas List - Item No. 10

"Well you can do anything, but lay off of my blue suede shoes . . ."

Henley Royal Regatta Blue Velvet Slippers, available here. Size 11 (UK). Better in black.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas List - Item No. 9

"Sometimes, when you are a man, you wear ...stretchy pants. Just for fun."
       --Jack Black in Nacho Libre

Catch Point Plaid Lounge Pants, $55. Vineyard Vines.

Christmas List - Item No. 8

Personal grooming device, Micro Touch Magic, $9.95 at . Soon to be 57, and still a sucker for blister packs and TV advertising.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Christmas List - Item No. 7

Elegant gold watch, Patek Philippe Calatrava 5119J, or something like it that can be purchased for less than $500. Any suggestions?

Spot-On. (Christmas List - Item No. 6)

Spotted neckties. Drakes of London. Around $135. Lovely shades of lilac.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas List - Item No. 5

Oval-shaped gold cufflinks, preferably with a simple, regal monogram like this one. Think Tiffany's.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Christmas List - Item No. 4

SuperFocus adjustable reading glasses, About $1000, 30 Day Risk-Free Trial. Cool looking, though pricey. Does anybody out there have any experience with these?

Christmas List - Item No. 3

Polo Blue EDT Spray.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Christmas List - Item No. 2

Magnanni Pamplona in Brown, $245 at The Shoemart. I own this shoe in black. It has an elegant shape, it is very dressy, and because of the deerskin vamp, it is surprisingly comfortable. If you're not quite ready for custom made Gaziano & Girlings (and really, who is?), this is the shoe for you. And remember, Santa, I have been a very good boy this year. Size 12, medium width, for me.

Christmas List - Item No. 1

Here is an item for my Christmas list. Ben Silver offers prefolded linen pocket squares, shown above in five colors. They also offer an alluring selection of silk pocket squares. Me, I like to keep things simple. Many times I do not even bother with the pocket square, but if I do, it is always at the last minute, just before I am going out the door. Whether stuffed or folded, I just don't have time to fuss with it. So, Santa, if you are listening, please bring me a set of 5 prefolded linen handkerchiefs (all in one color - white). I have been a very good boy this year.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Sport Coat as Old Friend

Here's the coat I got from Silver

A new sport coat I ordered from Ben Silver arrived yesterday. I was impressed for several reasons:

  • It does not look new.
  • It came when they said it would.
  • Cashmere is a wonderful material.
  • Soft, yes, but I never knew how light.
  • They made it up for me in just my size.
  • It was in essence exactly as pictured.

Needless to say, this is not my usual experience with mail order.

Somehow the right sport coat conjures up images of old money lazing around the yacht club, chatting idly, clipping coupons. Fitzgerald would approve. So would Peterman. You know what I mean.

When this jacket arrived I was reminded that I owned one very similar to it back in my teens. It was not cashmere, however. I have never owned a cashmere coat, and, now having felt the thing, I'm wondering how I ever got along without it. As exclaimed upon above, it is exceedingly light, and to this old gent who sweats easily, that is a most welcome development.

As an article of clothing, the sport coat is just right. Not too hot and not too cold. I don't know if it's the tweed or the professorial look or the elbow patches in tawny suede, but it conjures up the look that says I don't care too much. Some may call it "sprezzatura," but to me, isn't that what we're really after? That carefully-studied, unstudied look. Somebody asks you about it and you say, "what, this old thing?"

I've been buying a lot of suits lately, probably preparing for occasions of state or job interviews. But, the fact of the matter is, I don't get dressed up that often. Business casual, as much as I frown upon it, has fully taken root here in my household in the Midwest. And I am all about comfort. Also, versatility. I know I can dress this jacket up or down, wear it with a tie and a spread colored shirt as pictured above or dress it down with no tie and just a button down.

Jimmy Stewart - love the scarf

J. Press used to make a sport coat just like the scarf in the above photo. It was a handsome coat, the colors, as I remember them were a deep mulberry wine, and the darker color, as it appears above, was navy blue. I have looked and looked on the internet and have been unable to find it. This scarf definitely captures it. The photo below from 1954 is a close cousin:

Cashmere, custom tailored by J. Press, SI, Oct. 25, 1954.

Final image, from The Consortium of Gentlemen Farmers, a blog which seems to have stopped publishing. Too bad. Doesn't the name just say it all?

Love the jacket, dislike the floppy bow tie. Part of a suit. Ralph Lauren.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Old Shoes Are The Best Shoes

Well turned-out deer in the headlights

To me there is something very comforting in these images of Prince Charles' shoes. Here is a man whose clothing allowance is probably unlimited, and yet he prefers relatively simple oxfords, 40 years old in some cases. Notice also that they are highly polished and well taken care of (patched, yes, but undoubtedly well soled and well heeled). It reminds me of the dress code adopted by a well known New Hampshire boarding school at the time it went co-ed and abandoned coat-and-tie. From there on out, its only concern was "neat, clean & in good repair." We also have an interesting opportunity here to observe various amounts of break in Charles' trousers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Savile Row - St. Louis Style

Here in Saint Louis we have a thin crust pizza, made in the round but cut into small squares. One of my daughters swears by the stuff. I, myself, being a transplanted Easterner, prefer my pizza a little earthier and favor the New York version. Nonetheless, there are a lot of things that get done in a special way here in St. Louis, and those native to the area take special delight in referring to "St. Louis Style".

Such is the case with tailored clothing at Savile Row. Owned and operated by David Shockley, and located in the heart of Ladue, St. Louis' toniest address, Savile Row offers the discerning customer a sometimes overwhelming array of choices, and as David likes to say, "they're all in your size." Ably assisted by Wendy Jones and Mandy Boncek, you will be welcomed into a world of style, sophistication and first class service.

David Shockley

I had known about this store for roughly ten years before I ever ventured in. Prior to that time I was content with ready-made goods from Brooks Brothers, Joseph Banks, Polo Ralph Lauren, or things that I had found at the Andover Shop and J. Press on yearly pilgrimages back to Boston. I first made it through David's doorway about a year ago, and since that time, let's just say that I have purchased enough clothing to render an opinion.

My first suit with David, a bold chalk stripe

My first experience with working buttonholes

This is how I feel when I wear my new suit.

Last week I went in to pick up a couple of shirts that were ready. Originally there were three, but one was retained so we could re-tweak the pattern a bit. Comparing these shirts to those I have purchased from Hemrajani, I would offer the following:
  • These shirts are made in the U.S.A.
  • Selection of fabrics is wonderful (and, of course, you can actually see and touch them)
  • Turnaround time is quick - usually 4 weeks
  • Cost is higher than Hemrajani
  • And then there is the human factor, someone at the store to talk with, and discuss what you'd like to have done differently the next time.

Perhaps I should start using "TWH" instead of my own initials

My experience at Savile Row has been overwhelmingly positive, the clothing and service both superb, the turnaround time relatively quick. Prices range from moderate to high, but you get what you pay for. Remember, this is clothing that is built to last a lifetime. If you take the cost of what you're purchasing and divide it out over the twenty years or so that you are likely to wear it, you'll soon find it to be much less expensive than the throwaway garments you get at the mall. Where else can you select exactly what you want, and specify the details? Remember also what Oscar Wilde said: "the cynic is someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing."

Go see David. Trust me when I say you will not be disappointed.

Friday, November 19, 2010

"If you don't mind, it don't matter"

The great Satchel Paige used to say, "age is a question of mind over matter: if you don't mind, it don't matter." A lot of things in life are like that. It's a question of picking your battles, not taking the bait, and not engaging the enemy. If you don't mind, it don't matter. Try using it as your mantra as you go through your day. Let me know if it helps.

For another take on the same issue, take a look at Toad's post Resolutions (NMP). And if you like Toad and Maximinimus, as I do, have a look at this post: If Maxminmus Had a Son for an amusing chuckle.

Keep your chin up and keep smiling, I'm tapdancing as fast as I can.

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