Update From Rod

My apologies to regular readers who may have noticed a drop in the frequency of blog updates recently. I’ve been on holiday to Edinburgh, Rome and London and had our return flights to America pushed back several days due to the hurricane. Hopefully the house is still standing when we finally get home, in which case normal service will resume shortly. Cheers – Rod.

Rod’s Togs – Hot Weather Kit

I often say how I moved away from England because I hate the rain and cold, so I’m happy to be in a place where it’s summer almost year-round. I do have to admit that when we’re in what they call ‘the dog days of summer’ it can become hard work but I’m off to England tomorrow for the first time in seven years.

My hot weather kit is either a polo shirt, light strides and trainers or a linen shirt, linen strides and driving mocs. Here’s another example of the former:

Sunglasses – Oliver Peoples Riviera
Polo shirt – Lacoste
Jeans – Levi’s 501
Socks – Uniqlo
Trainers – adidas Gazelle OG

New Loafers

I’m not an avid fan of loafers. I owned a pair of black calf tassel loafers back in the revival days but then never owned any for decades. I probably gradually warmed up to the idea of them more recently after having acquired some of the driving moccasins shown in my previous blog post. These days I acquire a lot of clothes and shoes via the internet and I dislike having to play the ‘shoe size lottery’ when doing so. I do have my size dialed in with Meermin so I was more confident ordering these in a great looking polo suede which is a ginger-brown colour.

The narrower last shape gives the shoe a slightly more formal image which works fine when worn with odd jacket and tie outfits. One day I’ll complete my loafer needs with a more casual Ivy-Style red-brown pebble grain calf version.

The Driving Mocassin

I”ve mentioned elsewhere in this blog how my renewed interest in clothes began several years ago when I returned after some years to a white collar job.

Around that same time I came across a book named ‘Gentleman’s Guide To Grooming And Style’ by Bernhard Roetzel which became the first of many purchases I have since made of books on the subject. It remains one of my favourites.

IMG_1847

This book vastly increased my knowledge of clothing and style, and among the many gems of information inside, this was the first time I’d heard of driving mocassins – in particular the Tod’s gommino version – which may not lay claim to be the first ever driving shoe but may well be the most prominent.

IMG_1848IMG_0753I’m still not sure if I’m ready to lash out $450 for a pair of Tod’s but thankfully there are dozens of alternatives for those like me who prefer a more modest expenditure for these less than hard-wearing shoes.

Driving mocs became part of my summer hot weather ‘uniform’ along with loose linen shirt or polo and linen strides. I make no apology for attempting to emulate the casual cool of Michael Douglas in this photo.

My first pair were Venetian style in black pebble grain buffalo hide from H. S. Trask and took some time to break in but the ‘island’ style soles are probably more durable than those with Tod’s style nubs.  I got these in Summer 2009 just in time to wear for a beach wedding in Cancun, and still wear them quite often now.

I’ve since acquired several more pairs – penny loafers in red leather (Roberto Durville), royal blue leather (Ralph Lauren Polo), dark blue leather (Allen-Edmonds Ventura Highway) and Venetian style in purple suede (sadly now defunct Fins For Him) and navy suede (Clark’s) . They are all extremely comfortable to wear – sockless of course –  as long as you’re not planning on walking a long distance. I tend to slip mine on when we’re going out for Sunday brunch or a stroll along the sea front to pick out a restaurant for dinner. Sharp-eyed viewers may have noticed me sporting driving mocs in several casual-styled ‘Rod’s Togs’ photos. If you’re thinking about a first pair I would recommend the versatility of dark or navy blue as more flamboyant colours like my purple suedes don’t get chosen as much!

IMG_1849

 

Rod’s Togs – Navy Polo Shirt

Temperatures are in the nineties now so it’s time to break out the loose linen strides for dinner on the sea front, paired with seasonal navy ‘Wimbledon’ polo shirt and navy drivers.

Hat – JJ’s Hat Center,  New York
Sunglasses – Randolph Engineering Crew Chief
Polo Shirt – Wimbledon Shop
Belt – Polo Ralph Lauren
Strides – Tasso Elba (Macy’s)
Shoes – Clark’s

Rod’s Togs – The Seersucker Suit

“My jacket’s gonna be cut slim and checked –
Maybe a touch of seersucker with an open neck”

I must have sung along with that line from ‘Sea and Sand’ and ‘I’ve Had Enough’ on The Who’s ‘Quadrophenia’ hundreds of times in my youth (and more than a few as a grown man!) but for a long time I didn’t actually know what seersucker is.

In our formative years during the revival we looked to Richard Barnes’ ‘Mods!’ book as the best (and only) contemporaneous source for tips about how to dress in authentic sixties Mod style. Within the pages of the book is a photo spread of some of the iconic threads worn by Mods, including a very sharp looking thinly striped jacket. I still didn’t know this was seersucker.

IMG_1756

Having since lived in the southern states for over two decades I have eventually learned. Seersucker is still not seen very often here. Perhaps there’s too strong an association with the era of the quaintly old-fashioned style of Atticus Finch?

IMG_1758

In recent years Mississippi senator Trent Lott has publicized ‘National Seersucker Day’ among congress members in an attempt to repopularise the distinctive cotton fabric.

IMG_1757

Today happens to be that day, so I ventured out in my seldom-worn gray seersucker suit. I bought this several years ago for about $100 knowing it wouldn’t see much wear. I actually prefer the bright blue coloured version over gray but that wasn’t available and this was too good a bargain to pass up.

Hat – JJ’s Hat Centre, New York
Sunglasses – Oliver Peoples
Suit – Linea Luomo
Shirt – Charles Tyrwhitt
Tie – Chipps Paul Winston
Pocket Square – Macy’s
Shoes – Allen-Edmonds

Rod’s Togs – The Navy Blazer

IMG_1724

Recently we learned of the passing of Roger Moore. In my opinion he was not a great actor and was far and away the worst actor to play James Bond, conspiring with the producers and writers to take the series in a direction of such poor quality it almost never recovered. I’m also not convinced by the revisionist history view of his Bond being so well-dressed. Moore’s clothes during his tenure were well-fitting but he made way too many concessions to the fashions of the times, including huge shirt collars and jacket lapels, wide ties and bell bottoms, and that’s before we get to those laughably bad safari jackets that some ‘igents’ seem intent on trying to revive. Flashy details like buttoned down cocktail cuffs on shirts and linked sleeve buttons on jackets are greatly at odds with the literary Bond’s style, but that should come as no surprise as Ian Fleming himself would struggle to realize that Moore’s films were supposedly based on his source material!  Moore employed his own tailors for the films so the responsibility for these sartorial mis-steps can’t be passed on to a costume designer.

Off-screen Moore always appeared to be likable and affable, with that well-known twinkle in his eye revealing that he wasn’t really taking any of this seriously – a trait that may have won him many fans but may also have impeded his career in terms of winning more serious or highbrow roles. Also, as my cyber-pal Matt Spaiser eloquently demonstrated in his blog http://www.bondsuits.com, Moore was the king of the blazer!

There are as many opinions about menswear as there are writers, but one theme which seems to have achieved rare, almost universal consensus is that every man should have a navy blazer in his wardrobe. It is the non plus ultra of versatility and acceptability and has been for a century and more.

There are two competing theories regarding the provenance of the blazer. The first is that in preparation for a royal visit, seamen aboard HMS Blazer were kitted out in navy livery with brass buttons, thus giving rise to the double-breasted version.  However, in his book ‘Rowing Blazers’, Jack Carlson states that this story is apocryphal and the origin in fact lies with members of the Lady Magdelene Rowing Club wearing bright red jackets known as ‘blazers’. These are the single-breasted single-colour or brightly-striped versions.

IMG_1725.JPG

There are two key factors to be aware of in wearing a navy blazer. The first is to avoid looking like you have repurposed the top half of a navy suit, so ‘non-suity’ features such as swelled edges, patch pockets and non-matching buttons (horn, corozo, mother of pearl) are desirable. Secondly it’s best to step away from the ‘security guard’ look – the unimaginative uniform of office building admin staff the length and breadth of the western world, consisting of ill-fitting navy blazer, white shirt, navy tie, gray strides and black rubber-soled shoes.

There is a variety of cloths from which to choose your blazer – linen, fresco or hopsack for the summer, worsted wool or serge for temperate seasons and flannel or cashmere for the winter. Mid-gray strides are the most obvious colour to complement a navy blazer and these are available in an equally wide variety of fabrics, but navy being such a neutral colour other options include beige, tan and olive for the feint of heart or Nantucket red, gold, white (hello sailor!) or light blue for the more adventurous.

I already have several blazers but recently picked up this version in unlined navy lightweight hopsack and it’s quickly moved to the front of the queue!

Sunglasses – Ray Ban Wayfarer
Blazer – Suitsupply
Shirt – Linea Luomo
Tie – Chipps Paul Winston raw silk
Pocket Square – The Tie Bar Madras cotton
Strides – Howard Yount tropical wool
Socks – Uniqlo
Shoes – Allen-Edmonds