Monday, September 29, 2008

Hang 'em Right

With the changing of the seasons our wardrobes must also change. The light summer clothing should be carefully examined, cleaned, pressed and hung up to make room for heavier Autumn and Winter garments.

But before you put it in the closet, take a long look at what you're hanging your summer wardrobe on. Are you using wire or cheap plastic hangers? If you answered yes, you could be damaging and shortening the life of your investment.

Garments only last so long; each piece can only be worn a certain number of times. Factors such as the number of times a piece of clothing is dry cleaned, how long it is worn or how it is stored can affect it's longevity. A poorly stored suit or jacket will not last as long as a suit or jacket that is stored correctly.

How can we correctly care for, store and hang clothing?

*Throw away wire hangers and thin plastic hangers. These are not only too narrow (thereby creasing the resting garment), but wire hangers can also rust, destroying the clothing along with it.

*Buy thick plastic hangers or, better yet, find thick wooden hangers. Not only do the wooden hangers look more elegant than plastic ones, they also come in a variety of shapes that fit the contours of the garment better than straight plastic hangers. This helps the suit or jacket keep it's natural shape.
Quality wooden hangers can be found at your local department store or at The Hanger Project, a seller of high quality hangers.

*Avoid draping trousers over hanger bars as this can result in unsightly creases and wrinkles. Look for clip or clamp hangers that hold onto the trouser at the cuff and allow it to hang, ridding any chance of creases to develop.

*Hang some sort of insect repellent with your wool suits. Moth balls are fine but can be harmful to you and your clothing. Better than moth balls is cedar. It's natural and makes your clothing smell nice, making it harmful to nothing but the mothes. Cedar rings and balls can be found at your local department store.

*Avoid hanging clothing in any sort of bag, especially older plastic bags. These plastic bags emit destructive chemicals when they deteriorate that can destroy your clothing. If you absolutely must hang your clothing in a bag use a new plastic bag and leave it partially open to allow air to flow about.

*Store you cloting away from direct sunlight. While light helps keep moths away, direct sunlight can easily fade and destroy your wardrobe.

*While dry cleaning is useful to a certain extent, sending clothing to the dry cleaner too often can shorten their lifespan. The harsh chemicals can break down garments if they are exposed to them too often. Dry cleaning can also give your clothing unwanted sheen.

*After purchasing a vintage wool piece, stick it in the freezer for a day or two to kill off any moths that might be hiding. This does not hurt the clothing in any way and keeps the rest of your collection uncontaminated.

If you follow these simple guidelines your wardrobe will last longer and therefore save you money and undue stress.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Ready for Fall

Who's ready for Fall?

It's an exciting time when the color spectrum of the world around us begins to change: deep browns, dark yellows and soft tans become the mainstay of the wardrobe. Jackets, sweaters and vests come back into use. It's a diverse time at the beginning of what many consider the height of the fashion season. Who's ready for Fall?

To help us prepare, here is some inspiration via 'Apparel Arts' and 'Esquire' from the 1930s.

Click pictures to enlarge

The collegiate look:

Sunday, September 14, 2008


The "what I wore" posts are getting to be special and more interesting than those in the past. That's because not only am I finding more vintage pieces but it's getting cooler out and most of those pieces are pretty heavy and warm.

*late '20s/early '30s suit
*'30s tie
*'40s Champ Homburg
*Allen Edmonds

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The trousers are amazingly long, straight legged and high-waisted. The legs measure a circumference of 20" at the hem! And what drape.

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This suit is truly lovely. No union or maker's tags, but the styling speaks of the late-1920s or very early 1930s. Nope, they don't make 'em like this anymore.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Fabric is the Soul of the Suit

October 27, 1945

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Monday, September 8, 2008

What I Wore Yesterday

Autumn is coming around early this year. A cool nip was in the air so I needed something a bit warmer.

Enter the flannel suit.

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What you see me wearing is a wonderful mid-1940s flannel suit. The hat is a mid-1940s Dobbs, the tie is from the 1930s and everything else is modern.

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With the cous.

Sorry for the poor quality pics above, the lighting was not the best and dark suits are so hard to photograph anyways. So, here are some better quality photos:
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Very large lapels. A nicely pinched waist shows us this suit does not fall into the "Bold Look" category that was just taking hold in the U.S. about the time this suit was made. There's no maker's label (it was removed sometime in the past) but it does have a 1939 union tag, helping date the suit. The trousers also have "Gripper" snaps and a "Conmar" zipper.
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While zippers were first used in trousers in the mid-1930s and therefore don't help in dating this suit, the Gripper snaps do. Gripper snaps, getting their name from the company that made them, are notorious for being used mainly in the mid-1940s, thereby placing this suit within that time period.
It's a lovely suit. I traded a too-small mid-1940s wool 3-piece suit with a fellow in England for this flannel suit. We're both happy with the trade since we both got vintage suits that actually fit.
Vintage flannel suits are somewhat rare too, making the trade even better.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Cool Chapeau, Man

by Joseph Epstein
Volume 013, Issue 48

Earlier this summer, I was discovered to have a basal carcinoma, which sounds terrifying, but is in fact merely a precancerous sore that was easily cut away by a dermatologist. The sore was at my hairline--wasn't it William James who said of Josiah Royce that he showed "an indecent exposure of forehead?"--and was the result of too much sun. I was told to begin using sunscreen and, on sunny days, to wear a hat.

The hat I bought, at a shop too quaintly called The Things We Love, is a straw fedora, with a slender black ribbon running round its base. The brim is of normal size, and it is a fairly serious piece of goods: no Aussie Outback hat or Indiana Jones replica. An adult hat, I call it, and I wear it at an only slightly rakish angle. (Euclid, unfortunately, does not take up rakish angles, a small flaw in one of the great books in Western civilization.)

The press this hat has been bringing me all summer is noteworthy. "Nice hat," more than one passing stranger has said to me. "Cool chapeau, man," I've also heard. "Very dapper" is the most frequent comment. So far no one has called me "natty." Dapper I can live with, but natty suggests two-colored shoes and monogrammed shirts. You don't ever want to be natty--at least I don't.

The reason my hat seems to be garnering so much attention is that it is unusual today to see a man wearing a--how shall I put it?--grown-up hat in a serious way. I suspect that most people who see me approaching from the middle distance ask themselves, "Is this guy in the hat kidding or what?" As a surety of my earnestness, I do my best not to smile as I pass. When I pass people I know, I am not above tipping my hat, or before women taking it off in a sweeping gesture as if it had a plume.

John F. Kennedy is often cited as the man who killed men's hats in America, and perhaps around the world. With his thick head of hair, low-hairline division, a hat probably would not have sat well on Kennedy. One thinks of FDR as, characteristically, wearing a hat and brandishing a cigarette holder; Harry Truman--a haberdasher, after all--also comes most readily to mind behatted. But today there is no politician that one automatically thinks of in a hat.

John McCain is often shown on television walking around Iraq in a baseball hat. A mistake, this, I feel. For the candidate who is supposed to represent gravity and the wisdom of experience, a baseball cap, even one with Navy written across it, is all wrong. McCain doesn't look good in the damn thing. Barack Obama, the youth candidate, I can easily envision wearing a baseball cap backwards. The picture makes me, in one swoop, lose hope and want to fight hard against change.

The baseball cap marks a steep decline in elegant male attire. Not even baseball players look good in them--just as no Greek fisherman has ever looked good in a Greek fisherman's cap. In his baseball cap, the pitcher Randy Johnson, the Big Unit, looks like a 6′10″ geek. With his cap off, he's more than passable. Yet the baseball cap is endemic in our day, worn forward, backward, or off the side, rapper style. Anywhere you wear them, though, they don't come off.

Men of my father's generation wouldn't leave the house without their hats. In the movies, Humphrey Bogart, Robert Mitchum, James Cagney punched thugs out without removing their hats. A noir flick is unthinkable without fedoras. Hat shops were a fairly common feature in the cityscape. Many dry cleaners and shoe-shine parlors also blocked hats; blocking was a mysterious steaming process that gave new life to a man's hat.

In my thus far brief return to wearing a serious hat, I discover that doing so entails certain inconveniences. The infrastructure, as we should say today, for serious hats is no longer in place. I shall not, for example, be able to travel on an airplane with a hat, unless I sit with it in my lap through the flight, for surely there will be no room for it in the invariably crowded overhead luggage compartments. Hats also present a problem in restaurants, for the vast majority of even good restaurants no longer have a hat-check facility. Hat racks, too, are less and less common.

I intend nonetheless to persist. I have long owned a green felt fedora that I intend to bring out and wear in the autumn. I may well become known, at least in my neighborhood, as the guy in those strange old-fashioned hats. I shall instead think of myself as among the last men attempting to pass themselves off as grown-ups in America.



Good article, though I don't mind being called 'natty'. Actually, I prefer it.

Monday, September 1, 2008

If your socks could talk...

Your suits, your hats should show the serious business side of you.

Let your socks convey the life of the party.


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