Rod’s Greatest Hits – The Royal Blue Linen Prince of Wales Suit

The world of menswear seems eager to sound the death knell of the suit. The consensus seems to be that since so many people are working from home now, and even long-established financial houses are relaxing their business-formal dress codes. survival of the suit will require a less formal silhouette to be worn by choice in casual social settings.

Time will tell if such ominous predictions come true or not, but I’m lucky enough to have the choice and the chance to get suited up for work.

This is one of my favourite suits – featured on the blog before – which complies with the trend towards less formal in terms of cut, cloth and pattern. Royal blue is my favourite colour and I was chuffed to find this suit in linen Prince of Wales check. I already had the royal blue matching accessories!

Sunglasses – Jacques Marie Mage Dealan in hickory

Suit – Suitsupply

Shirt – Tyrwhitt

Tie – Shibumi Berlin

Pocket Square – No name

Socks – Uniqlo

Shoes – Polo Ralph Lauren

Watch – Rolex Submariner

Cufflinks – O’Connell’s lapis lazuli

The Cary Grant Sunglasses

Cary Grant has been held up as a beacon for menswear enthusiasts for so long that his mention has become all too predictable. I’m guilty myself. Of his many films my favourites are ‘Notorious’ for the plot, ‘To Catch A Thief’ for the Monaco scenery, and ‘North By Northwest’ for so many things: the plot, James Mason as the villain, Eva Marie Saint as the beautiful intriguing heroine, the finale on Mount Rushmore, and of course, the suit!

In many ways NXNW could be viewed as a forerunner to the Bond series. A handsome, impeccably dressed hero deals with espionage, a sinister villain, and a beautiful lady, getting into and out of various scrapes, but are we ever truly convinced that he’s in any danger? Cary Grant was allegedly offered the part of Bond for ‘Doctor No’ but his regular million dollar salary would have eaten up the film’s entire budget!

In NXNW Grant accessorises that impeccable blue-grey Glen check suit with a very cool pair of sunglasses. I mentioned in a preamble to a post on Moscot shades here that there has been a long internet discussion as to what brand they were which was never fully resolved. A couple of years ago all debate was sidelined when it was announced in the Hollywood Reporter (see link below) that Oliver Peoples had been working with Grant’s widow and daughter and had their permission to come up with a modern day replica.

I was at first intrigued but I balked at the price which was north of $400. In the time since release the prices became more agreeable so I eventually snagged a pair … which have remained mostly unworn!

The presentation of these glasses is sound enough (although they missed a trick in not providing a glen check cleaning cloth which could have doubled as a pocket handkerchief!) but something about them just didn’t work for me. It’s possible that because I have other glasses in similar colours I reached for the others out of habit, but on closer examination I think it’s more likely I have to admit that they just don’t suit me.

Out of my thirty-plus pairs of sunglasses I have very few that are round so maybe round frames just don’t suit me, and along with that, when I compare the Oliver Peoples version with those of Cary Grant, despite me owning the smaller of the two sizes available, size 48, they look huge on me.

In the debate over the origin of Grant’s NXNW glasses It has been mentioned that Moscot’s popular ‘Lemtosh’ model was a close replica. I’ve visited the Moscot shop in the Bowery area of New York City and already own some of their other models – Hyman, Nebb and Fritz – but curiously they never offered the Lemtosh in a colour close to those worn by grant. Below is the much lighter ‘blonde’ version …

Recently they offered the Lemtosh in a limited edition run of only 150 pairs in ‘dark blonde’. I took delivery of mine recently (number 002/150) selecting the ‘calibar green lenses and was very happy with the result.

With the sizing of sunglasses a millimetre or two each way in lens width can make a huge difference and I feel like these Moscots fit me so much better than the Oliver Peoples version. For comparison see below – the Moscots (upper pic) are sized 46-19-145 while the Oliver Peoples (lower pic) are sized 48-19-145…

In the pics below, Moscots are on the left, Oliver Peoples are on the right …

My final analysis is that Oliver Peoples got the frame colour correct but the grey lenses aren’t accurate and the sizing is too large. In comparison the Moscots weren’t outwardly trying to replicate Grant’s shades, so they didn’t quite capture the richness of the reddish brown acetate, but the green lenses are closer to Grant’s and the sizing / proportions work better for me.

Along with the other sunglasses I own in various versions of brown / tortoise acetate I just didn’t think it was worth it for me to keep both pairs so I offloaded the Oliver Peoples version.

We can only hope to emulate the style of Cary Grant but getting a pair of cool shades like these might help bring us a small step closer.

Web story

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.hollywoodreporter.com/amp/news/oliver-peoples-releases-cary-grant-north-by-northwest-inspired-eyewear-1198304

Solving The Cold Weather Conundrum With Military-Inspired Gear – Part Three: Jump Boots

Turning to appropriate footwear for winter weather – I have a pair of black ten-holer Dr. Marten boots in the back of the cupboard for extreme foul conditions but they aren’t very versatile and for that reason have been very rarely pulled out.

My impression is that Mods of my vintage who still live in Britain often lean towards chunky brogue boots to see them through the worst of the winter. The likes of Loake Burford, Bedale, Glendale or Tricker’s Stow seem to be popular choices.

I’m sure these are practical and they seem robust enough to deal with foul weather but they just look a bit too rustic and clunky for my tastes.

I was in Brooks Brothers many years ago and saw a pair of burgundy pebble-grained leather chukka boots with dainite soles by Peal. I’m not sure from which maker they were rebadged – maybe Alfred Sargeant? – but they struck me as possibly the ultimate foul weather footwear.

I was slightly tempted but I remember thinking that was a lot of money to spend on boots which would see rare use.
More recently I was in the Meermin showroom in New York City and they do a similar boot for around $200.

At the same time I noticed they did a ‘jump boot’ style captoe derby lace up which had a shearling fur lining and dainite soles.

These could even eclipse the Peals as the ultimate foul weather footwear, but the two standard colours – dark brown or the antique oak pictured above – were not very appealing to me.

I decided to shelve the idea for the moment but my patience paid off as more recently Meermin had one of their periodic made-to-order offerings during which you can choose some details – leather type, colour, sole, linings – to customise your preferences. I made my choices and the boots arrived at the end of last summer. My options were burgundy grain calf leather, dainite soles, and shearling linings, with the intention of creating the ultimate winter boot on that burgundy colour that had attracted me to the idea in the first place:

Once paid for I was in a brief ‘buyers remorse’ mode wondering if I should have paid the upcharge and gone for the shell cordovan option but I just thought calf would be better if they got wet as I wouldn’t have to deal with the characteristic cordovan white spots! No regrets now!

I have several Meermins in a few lasts (mostly Hiro) all in UK 7.5 as my US size is usually 8.5. I was hoping the shearling lining wouldn’t bugger up the sizing but they have adjusted the size to accommodate that and they fit really well with the shearling making them feel nice and snug.

The leather quality looks great. It’s a gleaming burgundy colour which is a proper red. (I was disappointed with some ‘burgundy‘ grain loafers I got from Morjas last year which were almost black so they were returned).

I wasn’t sure about the punch cap but it adds a touch of class and slightly mitigates the rustic grain leather, which adds to the versatility. I reckon I could wear these with strides from as casual as jeans and heavy chinos up to odd trousers or even suits in heavy fabric – maybe flannel or tweed. (I don’t own suits in flannel or tweed but they would certainly work with odd-jacket outfits with strides made from either!)

I prefer the look of eyelets over the speed hooks on some of the other Meermin models but it makes lacing up a bit of a challenge and that’s not helped by the ridiculously short laces they sent. The infamous nightmare Meermin break-in doesn’t seem to apply here as they were very comfortable right out of the box. I found that there’s a flex point near the top of the boots’ shaft so it’s more comfortable to forego using the top set of eyelets.

The stamping of the grain pattern on the toecap isn’t as aggressive as on the rest of the boot. I suspect that this may be a deliberate move by Meermin to facilitate those with the time, patience and desire to polish up a mirror shine on the toes. That’s not really my thing but it’s there for those who want it. My only other mini gripe is that the addition of a leather pull tab at the top of the rear seam – really just an extension of the backstrap – would have been a bonus in making them easier to don. Not a big deal.

So there’s my optimal cold-weather options. There’s not much about this ensemble that makes obvious references to the Mod look but in my view the military provenance of each item makes for a coherent outfit that does not cross the line into dress-up. Judge for yourselves if I managed to maintain a small element of style while coping with the elements. I certainly feel like this outfit reflects my own preferences much more than a brightly coloured nylon ski parka or other similar modern outdoor gear would, despite the reservations of those army lads I encountered many years ago!

I wore this entire rig recently on a trip to Buffalo NY so I could ‘field test’ my acquisitions, and I’m happy to report that I remained toasty despite the temperature never managing to creep above freezing.

If I ever do find myself suffering at the Stadium of Light one Boxing Day in the future I’m confident any suffering I’m made to endure will be more likely a result of the team’s performance, not due to the cold!

Solving The Cold Weather Conundrum With Military-Inspired Gear – Part Two: Jumper And Trousers

After acquiring my pea coat, my thoughts turned to what to wear with it to help stave off the cold.

Staying with a military theme, obvious choice would be a seaman’s roll neck sweater. Similar versions were worn by RAF pilots:

A crew neck and scarf probably offer a bit more versatility, with it being easier to doff the scarf once indoors and warmed up, than having to peel off the jumper. When I was a young lad working on a milk round through some brutal winters at the end of the seventies, my Dad was quite chuffed to see me sporting a blue-grey RAF ‘wooly pully’ jumper (with traditional canvas shoulder and elbow patches) to keep out the cold on those frigid early mornings. I searched for something like that …

… and I’m still searching for one in the right size and colour at the right price. They’re not so easily available this side of the pond and postage from the UK is a nightmare! I did get one delivered but it was too small so it was returned. Meanwhile someone tipped me off that a jumper similar to the off-white roll-neck as worn by James Garner above was on sale in Uniqlo so I grabbed this at a very reasonable price in their recent sale:

My preference is still for something in RAF blue-grey and it would contrast better as I’m not altogether satisfied with the near tone-on-tone effect with these beige trousers, but I’m still happy with the roll neck. It’s lightweight and not scratchy at all but still a very warm layer with which to face the elements.

I don’t have a lot of experience with roll necks but I found a nice detail in this one, in that the height of the neck allows you the option of turning it down twice to have a bit more ‘breathing space’ or just the once for a bit more protection from the elements …

Trousers for a foul weather situation can be tricky. Traditional cotton strides like jeans and chinos are rubbish in cold, wet weather as cotton is not well suited to keeping the wearer warm and dry. I’d learned that outdoorsy brands like Lands End and LL Bean sell chinos with toasty flannel linings which might fit the bill against the cold but I’m not sure how well they would work in the rain. Aside from getting some waterproof shell suit style over-trousers there aren’t a lot of wet weather options. I’ve heard of a brand named ‘Outlier’ who make strides which look like chinos or five-pocket jeans but are made of some kind of breathable man-made waterproof goretex-type material which may bear a closer investigation. Anyway I did some roaming on the internet and ended up with these Eddie Bauer fleece-lined chinos for only $40.

They’re not particularly stylish but they at least share a distant military provenance with the pea coat. They are a bit unimaginative compared to my usually more colourful threads, but I refer back to the trade-off in style versus comfort in cold weather. They should work well as long as I don’t get caught in a downpour.

In order to provide a bit of contrast between jumper and strides I ended up throwing down for a second pair in their only other colour which is a charcoal grey

So if/when I find a blue-grey wooly pully I’ll have the option to wear it with the beige strides, or the cream seaman’s jumper with the charcoal strides.

The beige version came with a red and black tartan lining, the charcoal just had plain black lining. Wearing chinos with boots gives you the option to roll them up without them looking like ‘high waters’. Both colour strides are not very inspiring to me which may explain why people like to display the brighter inner fleece but I don’t think that’s for me!

Solving The Cold Weather Conundrum With Military-Inspired Gear – Part One: The Pea Coat

I often say that at the extremes of temperature – both hot and cold – there comes a point at which style has to take a back seat to comfort. Those of us enamoured with Mod style don’t find the transition easy and we can be reluctant to succumb to the needs of the environment which usually results in some level of suffering. With winter approaching it got me thinking of how to survive when the mercury dips, without completely abandoning all allegiance to style.

The last time I went home to England in the winter was at Christmas 2008. It’s a tradition to go to the football match on Boxing Day. Even though I’d dug out a few items from the scantly-stocked winter clothes section of my wardrobe for the trip home, I remember willing the final whistle to be blown. Was that because the entertainment (I’m being kind here, this was Sunderland!) was in short supply, or because I was feeezing my arse off? Maybe a bit of both!

I have only a few items in my closet which can’t claim at least some tenuous link to Mod style. My leather winter coat is one of them. I’m not even sure what you’d call this style of coat. It’s somewhat similar to what my Mam would call a ‘car coat’. Some mates used to sift through the racks of 1950s American varsity jackets in Flip to try and unearth a similarly cut vintage gem. Those were usually tan or brown corduroy with a fake sheepskin lining to get that Roddy Frame of Aztec Camera look.

Mine is in soft pebble grain leather, but even with the zip-out Thinsulate lining zipped in it was no match for the North Sea winds blasting around the Stadium of Light in late December.

This got me wondering what would be a better choice if I were to find myself in a similar predicament, and the best answer I could come up with in providing the warmth without abandoning all style was the trusty naval pea coat, otherwise known as a reefer jacket.

I generally enjoy the fact that there’s a military provenance in so much of what we wear, from the obvious (olive drab parkas, flight / bomber jackets, aviator sunglasses) to the more subtle (silk stripes on the outseam of dinner suit strides).

When I was an undergrad in England a few of us went on a camping trip to the Lake District and once we’d set up camp we noticed some other lads had set up not far from us. We went over for a chat and it turned out they were army lads on leave. I expressed my surprise that none of them were wearing any military gear at all and asked why, seeing as military gear was supposedly designed for comfort and utility ‘in the field’. They replied that all their issued gear either did not last and/or was not fit for purpose which was a disappointment to me since I have a sort of reverence for the form-follows-function aspect of many items of military-designed gear. This was 1989 and things may have changed since then for squaddies but I’ve still preferred military style over the primary colours and man-made fabrics of more modern outdoor equipment. So for protection from the harshest elements for a long time I’ve liked the look of naval pea coats.

Variations of pea coats have been worn by navies throughout the world for decades which is a testament to their practicality in harsh conditions. I did a bit of research and found that the term originated from ‘pij’ cloth from the Netherlands. Jackets in this style were worn as long ago as the age of sail, with their short length being practical for crewmen when they needed to scramble up the masts and tend to the rigging. As with so many items, quality of manufacture has deteriorated over the years.

The trendiness of pea coats waxes and wanes from year to year but they are never completely out of style so there is usually a wide variety in terms of quality, price, fabrics and colours available, from cheap and flimsy mall brands through ‘designer’ labelled versions and on up to the very expensive military replicas by the likes of Schott, Buzz Rockson and Real McCoy. Still, among the most sought-after are the vintage US Navy versions made in the sixties from heavyweight 100 percent ‘Kersey’ wool before the suppliers started to scrimp on cloth weight and wool content.

I contemplated getting a pea coat for a few years but never looked too hard as I didn’t feel like I had the need, beyond my rare forays to the northern states in the winter for work, along with the slim likelihood of me heading back to England for Christmas some year in the future. But last year during some idle roaming on eBay I spotted this one and for only $40 shipped I couldn’t pass it up.

This is a US Navy version in Kersey wool dating back to 1968 and judging by its condition either it was never issued or else it can’t have seen much action as the condition is near perfect. The pewter buttons aren’t original as they weren’t issued until 1974. For $10 I got a set of black plastic ones with the engraved ‘fouled anchor’ emblem but decided to keep the pewter buttons for now. I also chose to keep the Petty Officer First Class rank badge which lends an air of authenticity to the jacket, to show it’s not a high street knock-off.

The size is 38 but was very roomy so I had the side seams slimmed and the sleeves shortened – alterations which cost more than the coat! My aim was to try to keep it snug enough for warmth but with enough room for a thick jumper or even a blazer to fit underneath if I wear this for a work trip.

Rod’s Togs – Charcoal Sharkskin Suit

If current pronouncements in the media are to be believed then the trend of wearing suits these days is on life support. I’m happy to continue with my rearguard action, so recently I got suited up for a work trip to Atlanta.

The accepted wisdom on pocket squares is to choose one which picks up some of the other colours of the outfit in a subtle way. Today’s selection is hardly subtle. I wouldn’t make the faux pas of wearing perfectly matching tie and pocket square but I don’t mind a bit of obvious colour matching sometimes. One wise piece of advice I read a long time ago was to avoid using pocket squares in a pattern that would suit a tie, especially small neat patterns, as they compete for attention with the tie. Arguably I failed in that regard with today’s outfit but my view is that ignoring that wisdom and having an additional pop of bright colour against a dark grey suit can work OK. What do you think?

Sunglasses – Moscot Fritz (tortoise black)

Suit – dark grey wool sharkskin

Shirt – Tyrwhitt

Tie – Tyrwhitt

Pocket square – no name

Cufflinks – Tyrwhitt

Socks – Uniqlo

Shoes – Allen-Edmonds Lexington chili calf

Rod’s Togs – The Working From Home Rugby Shirt

For many people working from home is a new thing – thrust upon them as a result of precautions against the spread of the pandemic. As such there has been a lot of debate as to what’s appropriate attire when working from home. Outfits range from sweat-pants-and-hoodies right up to formal businesswear. The latter has the whiff of overzealousness to me, bordering on cosplay. In today’s environment of ever more casual workplace dress codes, are people really expected to be kitted out in suit, shirt and tie … while participating in a zoom call from the kitchen table?

My job requires frequent teleconferences but no video so I’m free to wear what I like when working from home. As I like to dress more formally when I’m out on a job site, comfort trumps formality for me when at home as it’s unlikely I’ll need to cross the door unless it’s to do the school run or grab something from the supermarket.

When I wrote about rugby shirts previously I mentioned how they occupy a space on the formality scale somewhere near a long sleeved polo shirt. Here’s another one I acquired which is warm enough for the slight chill we get at this time of year and suitable enough if I do have to step out.

Sunglasses – Tag Heuer

Rugby shirt – Joseph Turner

Jeans – Levi’s LVC

Trainers – Adidas Gazelle OG

Rod’s Togs – Khaki Cotton Blazer

This is a near-revival of an outfit I showed on the blog before, but this time I replaced the jeans and desert boots with marine blue chinos and Chelsea boots. I have the same blazer in a dusty navy blue, both bought from Brooks Brothers several years ago.

Sunglasses – Jacques Marie Mage ‘Molino’ (Hunter)

Blazer – Brooks Brothers

Shirt – J. Crew (Thomas Mason)

Pocket Square – No name

Strides – Banana Republic

Chelsea Boots – Carver by Epaulet

Taking Stock Of The Blog – 2020

I fully realise that the content of this blog is a niche market so I’m always happy to know that interest is being sustained. The last few years figures have been holding steady at between 12,000 to 14,000 views per year, coming from up to around 5,000 visitors.

The last year smashed those precedents with over 18,000 views from nearly 6,000 visitors in 98 countries. Since the pandemic seems to have affected life in so many ways in 2020 maybe it’s a factor here and people working from home have a bit more browsing time? Either way I’m happy that my ramblings continue to be of interest to some people out there.

WordPress changed the editing platform during the year which has made posting much more challenging, but I’ll continue to struggle with the pointless new features until I get more familiar with it.

I’ve finally started clearing out some unworn and/or unwanted clothes and shoes and had some success already with selling, so I hope to revive the dormant ‘Rod’s Flogs’ page with some updated pics of what I’m trying to get rid of. Feel free to contact me via the site or at rodsmodblog@hotmail.com if you see anything you like or want more details.

Please also contact me with any ideas or comments. Thanks to all visitors and viewers for your interest and support of my efforts here – wishing you all a happy, healthy and stylish 2021!

The Provenance Of Influence … Inspired By Jaz Karis

The origins of Mod style are often fairly well laid out with (almost) all roads leading – directly or indirectly – to the look that was taken up and developed by the original faces of underground London in the very early sixties.

But one thing I love about ‘The Look’ is that in more than fifty years it has been by no means monolithic, nor static. Evolution may have progressed at a slow rate, but progress has definitely occurred and there is a broad enough scope of differing Mod-inspired looks that allow for plenty of variety. I chuckle when I think about a thread on the Modculture forum entitled something like ‘Items of Mod style that you dislike and would never wear’ and after several pages of participants volunteering their entries, some wag chipped in with the comment ‘so basically everything, right?’

In opposition to those people who suspect that Mods have their feet stuck in cement blocks when it comes to moving with the times, I’m constantly on the lookout for inspiration for new clothes that I think will look good, or new combinations of clothes I already own. Sometimes inspiration comes from unlikely places

One of my earliest TV memories, aside from the usual kiddie fayre, was the blanket coverage given to the Apollo space missions. James Burke, Cliff Mitchelmore and Patrick Moore were ever-present on TV for a while during my formative years. The astronauts of that era were very cool, combining their clean cut military background with a casual Ivy look. I knew nothing about that sort of thing at the time of course being still in the infants school, but it’s interesting that their style is now seen as iconic in some circles, and I’ve read comments online in recent years that some skins and suedes claim to have been influenced by their look, which I believe to be a bit of a stretch!

Since watching the moon landings as a very young kid I’ve had an interest in the developments from NASA. I visited the Johnson Space Centre countless times when I lived in Houston. I was at one time involved in biometric and cardiac testing of shuttle astronauts and once got a behind-the-scenes tour of the WET-F facility where the astronauts were training for a shuttle mission. I administered a nuclear treadmill test to Russian Cosmonaut Gennadi Strekalov (who was wearing not a Poljot but an Omega Speedmaster Moonwatch!) and became good friends with NASA pilot and instructor Roger Zwieg. So I have the slightest claim to authenticity when sporting the famed NASA ‘meatball’ iconography. It’s a refreshing change from the more obvious target t-shirt.

More recently, I was tracking an MA-1 jacket on eBay in unconventional dark red which was going for a paltry sum when I came across this pic of Jaz Karis within a feed from Fred Perry. I know absolutely nothing about this young lady beyond noticing her striking good looks, and the fact that she looked super cool in the same jacket that I was contemplating getting for myself.

 

Jaz

 

That was enough for me to stump up the $25 for the jacket, and I paid an extra $6 for the NASA patch which I used to unashamedly rip off her look.


Anyway. all this just goes to show that you can get your style inspiration from a number of sources, some of them unexpected. If the end result works, it’s all good!

Sunglasses – Jacques Marie Mage Molino (Hunter) / Randolph Engineering Aviators

Jacket – Levi’s MA-1 replica

T-shirt – Ben Sherman / NASA ‘meatball’

Strides – Levi’s 511 Commuter / Levi’s 505 LVC

Trainers – adidas Samba World Cup Edition / Desert boots – Clark’s

Rod’s Togs – Dressing For The Season

At this time of year many of those who participate in menswear forums and blogs are overjoyed to be breaking out their cool / cold weather clothes. It seems that a majority look forward to the variety in colours, patterns, fabrics and layering that autumn and winter allow. Along with breaking out the scarves and overcoats they look forward to mothballing their linen, fresco and seersucker cotton in favour of tweeds, flannels, cords and moleskins.

I’m happy to live in a place where there isn’t a lot of variation in the seasons but I suppose I can confess to making certain adjustments when the mercury takes a bit of a dip. Today I was travelling to the Miami area for work and was about to grab my dark blue cotton blazer but in deference to the season – if not to the weather itself (a bracing 61 degrees rising to 75!) – I made a change.

This blazer is a wool-cotton mix, the colour was named ‘acorn’ with which the local pavements are currently scattered. It’s completely unstructured with only the sleeves lined so it works fine on a warm day but the colour seems fitting for the season.

Sunglasses – Moscot Neff in blonde

Blazer – J. Crew

Popover – Ralph Lauren Polo

Pocket Square –

Strides – Express

Socks – Lands End

Loafers – Crockett and Jones Harvard II

Rod’s Togs – Blue Breton Shirt

I’ve acquired a few Breton shirts over the years and written about them here, here and here.

As much as I like the look they don’t get worn very often. Last year I got one from The Breton Shirt Factory that turned out to be too small so I gave it to my wife. Making that purchase put me on their mailing list and when they later contacted me about this blue version with a red stripe they sucked me in to making another purchase.

Sunglasses – Tag-Heuer with custom lenses

Shirt – Breton Shirt Company

Strides – Levi’s 514 Sta-Pressts

Trainers – adidas Gazelle ‘mi adidas’ custom

Rod’s Togs – Orange Fred Perry Polo

As a kid growing up in England we never had trick-or-treating or fancy dress and I’d never seen a pumpkin but it seems that they are now everywhere around here at Halloween, making orange the unofficial colour of Autumn in America. I don’t do fancy dress so this was my outfit to take my little girl trick-or-treating:

Sunglasses – Ray Ban New Wayfarers

Polo – Fred Perry

Jeans – Levi’s LVC

Trainers – adidas Samba

Rod’s Togs – Lacoste Banlon-Style Shirt

Back in 1996 I went for the first time to the Essence Music Festival. This is a huge music event that, at least in those days, celebrated and showcased the rich vein of what’s known as ‘ol’ school’ music, hosted in the New Orleans Superdome. Rather than try to define such a nebulous term it might be easier to list the talent on show over that Fourth of July weekend – Barry White, Stevie Wonder, Chaka Kahn, Luther Vandross, Cameo, The Whispers, Frankie Beverly and Maze – and that was just the main stage. There are also ‘superlounges’ – small stand-up gigs staged in the outer hallways of the Superdome for either lesser-known, up-and-coming artists, or maybe just artists with an expected smaller draw than those on the main stage. I was lucky enough to catch Maceo Parker that year and had so much fun over the extended weekend I returned for the next eighteen years! The following year among many others (Maxwell, Ashford and Simpson, Erykah Badu, Maze) I saw Bobby Blue Bland and was less than impressed. How can a blues band have two drummers but no guitarist? Long, sustained, minor key solos don’t really work on a piano! Mr Bland came on stage looking like a grouchy old grandad whose nap had been interrupted, wearing an odd-looking seventies-era polo shirt with a broad elasticated waistband.
I’ve since found out they are known as ‘Banlon’ shirts and they are much beloved by certain people of a Mod persuasion, I would guess more for their nostalgic connotation than their stylistic contribution.


A bit of internet research reveals that ‘Ban-Lon’ was originally the name of the man-made fibre but the term has at some point transported to describe this kind of polo with the elasticated waist band.
Anyway last year during a work trip to New York I did my usual routine of walking up Madison Avenue, down Fifth Avenue then heading down to the village to look at more shops. At the Lacoste shop on Madison I saw this shirt in obvious colours so couldn’t resist getting it. This is not your usual Lacoste polo. Aside from the red and blue hoops on the chest and arms, the material from the stripes down is pique cotton but the upper chest and sleeves are a different textured waffle weave. I probably could have lived without the Banlon-style waist band but the rest of the shirt is far enough away from that worn by Bobby Blue Bland that it wasn’t a deal breaker for me.

Sunglasses – Tom Ford

Polo shirt – Lacoste

Jeans – Levi’s 501

Desert boots – Clark’s

… and in keeping with my commitment to try and post more lifestyle pics …

Happy Halloween everyone!

.