Rod’s Togs – Blazer and Loafers

 

Here’s an example of what’s become a fairly routine business travel outfit for me. I guess I’m gradually getting more comfortable with an open-necked shirt collar in today’s casualised world but I get the feeling it’s not particularly canonical to the Mod look, judging by photos of the classic early sixties period. This shirt has a contrasted inner collar band which was surely meant to be displayed, not hidden behind a tie?

Anyway, a further point to be made concerns versatility. A hopsack navy blazer like this has to be one of the most versatile items in any man’s wardrobe. The sta pressts shown above got me to my destination without displaying any wrinkles, and a couple of days later I switched in light grey tropical wool strides and a more formal shirt and tie to dress the whole look up for work meetings.

 

Also this gives me the chance to address an inquiry made by Christian. He was viewing my posts about  penny loafers and  comparing Crockett and Jones with Cheaney, and asked for some further pics and thoughts, as he has the same Cheaney Howard shoe and has some reservations about how well they fit.

It’s a tough call for me. I have narrow feet with high arches and insteps, which makes closed-laced oxfords almost impossible to wear. All my lace-ups are derbies. It took me a while to come around to loafers – I suppose my enthusiasm gradually grew after acquiring several pairs of driving mocs.

The problem is that lace-up shoes allow a lot more adjustment to foot width than do loafers, which are pretty much fixed in width. I had a pair of navy suede Allen Edmonds Cavanaughs which are a robustly made shoe in a very attractive classic penny loafer style but I could not get them to fit. They had a paradoxically annoying last shape such that I could stick a finger between my heel and the back of the shoe, meanwhile there wasn’t enough room at the opposite end for my toes to fit without curling them! I had similar problems with these Cheaney Howards, trying them with adhesive heel and tongue pads until I finally had to accept they were the wrong size and swapped them out for a smaller size. These are the consequences of what I call the ‘internet shoe size lottery’. Why aren’t shoe sizes, at least in length, standardized? I’m a straight 9 on a Brannock device but due to manufactures’ variances I don’t own a single shoe in size 9!
The width of my smaller version of the Cheaney Howards is still a bit broad for my narrow foot and there is evidence of ‘bowing’ on the inside throat edge of the shoes when I walk, which indicates less than optimal fit, so I added some tongue pads and finally they feel like a good fit. I would of course have skipped all that drama had I been able to try them on in person at a shop. Sites like styleforum have threads in which there are endless questions comparing fit in one brand’s size to fit in that of another, but it’s always going to be a gamble if you aren’t able to try on in person. I have one more pair of loafers in mind to buy (famous last words) after which I hope my internet shoe-buying adventures are very few and far between.

To those of you looking in like Christian who are unsure about fit, here’s my shoe sizing advice:

– Whenever possible try shoes on in person. Wear the socks you’re likely to wear with the shoes. And cut your toe nails!
– Go shoe shopping in the late afternoon when you’re feet have swollen.
– When you get shoes home, wear them all day around the house to gauge fit, so you can exchange them with no drama if you’re not happy.
– If buying by mail order, you could try looking at those brand comparison threads on Styleforum.
– Check a vendor’s shipping and return policy before you pull the trigger – Zappo’s has free shipping both ways which removes a lot of the risk.
– Contact the vendor and speak to a sales person about fit concerns – they may have good advice.
– Know your size on a Brannock device – both feet – at least as a starting point.
– Some vendors may even ask you the length of your foot so try measuring it.
– Seek out an old fashioned cobbler, not only for repairs or preventative measures like Topy soles or heel taps, but for advice on using heel or tongue pads to improve fit if it’s too late to send a pair back for exchange.

Good luck!

Rod’s Togs – Wool Cotton Blazer

I’ve written repeatedly that I’m not snooty about ‘mall brands’ – if the quality and fit are passably decent and the price is right I don’t really care if the label doesn’t come with a century of heritage and history. I recently got this jacket at a reasonable price on sale. The wool-cotton mix makes it a nice weight for business travel on a Spring day.

Sunglasses – Garrett Leight Harding
Jacket – J Crew
Popover – Ralph Lauren Polo
Pocket Square – brand unknown
Strides – Express
Chelseas – Meermin

Rod’s Togs – Red Linen Blazer

I really need to slow down on my clothes buying as I don’t NEED anything else, but sometimes an item catches your eye and you just can’t resist pulling the trigger. This blazer was priced very reasonably on eBay, ‘BNWT’ as they say in eBay parlance (brand new with tags).

Sunglasses – Roka Rio-Ti
Blazer – Boglioli
Popover – Ralph Lauren Polo
Strides – Tommy Hilfiger
Driving Mocs – Clark’s

Sam Hober – A Tale Of Two Ties

Some time in the late 1990s, after a decade in which double-breasted suits seemed to be everywhere, the wheels of fashion turned and three-button suits suddenly and finally came back in vogue. With joy and relief I jumped in with both feet and acquired several.

Unfortunately in retrospect this version of the three button suit was at some remove from my preference – the fitted three button early sixties style. The cut was extremely roomy with built-up square shoulders, no waist suppression and pleated strides. It probably didn’t help that I commonly chose size 40 when I’m closer to a true 38. Despite having some nice colours and fabrics, they have all long since been despatched to goodwill.

My favourite of that entire batch was a cream wool-silk sharkskin. This also marked my departure from a self-imposed rule of ‘any colour as long as it’s white’ when it came to shirts. A light coloured suit like this deserves a saturated shirt so I paired it with a denim blue shirt and a gold-yellow neat pattern tie. Thankfully I did hold on to that tie, as it pairs perfectly with a gold-coloured Suitsupply blazer which I acquired in March 2015

The tie is a great colour but unfortunately the quality is far from great. I searched high and low for a replacement in a similar colour but of better construction before admitting defeat. Then I contacted David Hober.

David is the proprietor of Sam Hober Ties (named for his daughter Samantha), – http://www.samhober.com – based in Thailand. He has a stunningly varied inventory of fabrics from which his ties are constructed, and specialises in grenadines. David’s ties are bespoke so you get to choose the length, width and certain construction points to suit your own taste.

Importantly for my attractive yet flimsy tie, David was able to open it up and apply his magic to reconstruct the interlining and send it back to me with a new lease of life, clearly more robust and substantial.

I took the opportunity to add another purchase to the return package, a repp silk stripe in the University of Texas Longhorns ‘burnt orange’ and white.

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Rod’s Greatest Hits

Here’s another one of my favourite combinations. While the colour of the suit – a powder blue / light grey muted mohair sharkskin – seems like perfect for the summer, it actually wears very warm so I get this one out on those cool crisp sunny spring days.

Sunglasses – Ray Ban Wayfarer 2140
Suit – Thick As Thieves
Shirt – TM Lewin
Tie – Paul Winston Chipps
Pocket Square – Kent Wang
Socks – Uniqlo
Shoes – Allen-Edmonds Players

 

Tie Clips

My maternal grandad was a wonderful old gent and very snappy dresser despite his limited income. 

My Grandad, Ben Rosenstein, Arkengarthdale, Yorkshire, c1950s.
Arkengarthdale, North Yorkshire

He died at the age of 76 in 1977 when I was 12. The only thing of his that I have is this tie pin:

I’ve never used it. At that time the only tie I owned was my school tie. When I started getting some decent ties some years later, a pin like this wasn’t really my style and I was concerned that the pin would leave lasting damage on a satin silk tie so it’s remained unused, but I still like the idea of having something tangible as a souvenir and reminder of a lovely old fella. 

I’ve mentioned before on here that my Dad was a stylish man for the most part. He was never flash and lived a fairly frugal lifestyle with a condensed wardrobe, (the like of which might be considered ‘capsule’ in today’s menswear parlance!) probably as a result of over 20 years as an itinerant pilot in the RAF.  I don’t remember him beating me over the head with his sartorial philosophy, so any style markers I may have inherited from him are more likely the result of observation and osmosis, not didactic dictation. One of his habits was to always wear a tie clip. Naturally he didn’t have a whole collection. I remember a silver-toned dagger shape that I admired as a kid. In this photo you can see a clip but it doesn’t appear to be dagger- shaped:

Dad at Nana's (Now Judith's) house, circa 1957?
Circa 1957

When I first got interested in trying to dress well, aspiring to be the sharpest Mod in our group, I began looking for ways to set myself apart (above?) the other lads in their ‘off the shelf’ revival Mod outfits. Thus began the raiding of my Dad’s top drawer in search of pocket squares, braces, cufflinks and tie clips. 

I got a tip around that time that Argos was selling tie clips and I managed to get the last couple they had on sale – a really cool gold-toned one in the shape of a sword, and a similar battle axe shape. These saw me through those revival days after which they disappeared. It’s rare that I ever lose anything but I did lose track of them. No big loss as I never wear gold now. The battleaxe is barely visible in this photo of me and my mate Ed from February, 1981:

Ever since beginning a white-collar job in the nineties I’ve continued to have a tie clip on hand. For a while I’m sure I was using some cheap silver-toned base metal version acquired from the revolving displays of tie clips, cufflinks and Kenneth Cole bracelets they have in the menswear sections of department stores. When I decided it was time to up my style game a few years ago I also decided it was time to up my tie clip game. 

On a trip to Cozumel around that time, I found a really nice tie slide in sterling silver with a zigzag pattern that’s supposed to represent that of a snake! 

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This became my daily-use slide and on one of our many return trips I searched out a similar slightly more chunky one:

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These are the ones that turned me on to the benefits of a ‘tie slide’ over a clip. The clips often have teeth which don’t work well with satin or repp silk and may pull on woven grenadines, and the thickness of the spring clip angle often causes a bulge or herniation to form into your shirt front. Slides are much narrower so they don’t cause a bulge, and will likely cause less trauma to delicate silk.  I’ve acquired a few more slides, mostly as a result of shopping around on eBay for vintage versions. There’s a brand named ‘Swank’ – probably defunct now – which appears a lot in eBay searches although I don’t believe any of mine are made by them. Swank clips and cufflinks tend to be base metal, dating generally from around mid-century, and there’s a huge range. I prefer to go for real silver over nickel or base metal. 

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If you’re wearing a narrow, square-ended knitted tie a clip or slide looks best horizontal. Some would say the informal nonchalance of a knitted tie is negatively disturbed by the fussiness of being corralled by a clip. If you agree, you might think about getting a ‘Tie Buddy’ which is an invisible way to keep your knitted tie from falling into your soup. I believe I got 3 for $10. They work by buttoning onto two of your shirt buttons and slipping through the keeper or label on the back of the tie. Hopefully the buttonhole spacing on the Tie Buddy matches the button position of your shirt!

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Over the course of the day a clip or slide is likely to end up moving. I’m not particularly fastidious about setting or resetting the clip’s angle through the day. High-buttoning three-button jackets when fastened don’t leave a lot of room between tie knot and buttoning point, so setting a tie clip high above the buttoning point is unnecessary and can look flashy. Usually I set the clip below the buttoning point of my jackets so they are used more for function than for show and are only visible when I unbutton my jacket to sit down.

Rod’s Togs – Red Harrington

Here’s a very ‘canonical’ Mod outfit. Fred Perry does a very decent version of the Harrington jacket. All cotton, made in England, true to size and slim fitting. This one has set-in sleeves rather than the more traditional raglan sleeves. It also has an umbrella vent in the back and an inside zipped pocket. The lining is Royal Stewart as opposed to the Fraser tartan used by Baracuta, and it’s set back from the zip so remains unseen.

Sunglasses – Ray Ban Wayferer
Jacket – Fred Perry
Polo shirt – Fred Perry
Jeans – Levi’s LVC selvedge
Socks – Gold Toe
Trainers – adidas Gazelle OGs