Rod’s Togs – Beige Suit Part Two

This suit provides a slight contrast in formality to the lightweight linen suit posted recently. It’s 100% cotton and very robust with structured shoulders and although a similar colour, it wears quite a bit warmer than the linen version. Acquired many years ago from eBay for $75. Again, to prevent the pale colour from washing out my pale complexion I like to combine this with a saturated shirt.

Sunglasses – Moscot Lemtosh (limited edition ‘dark blonde’)

Suit – Banana Republic

Shirt – Tyrwhitt

Tie – J Crew

Pocket Square – Bachrach

Cufflinks – Tyrwhitt

Socks – Uniqlo

Shoes – Meermin snuff suede three eyelet plain-toed derbies

Rod’s Togs – Beige Suit Part One

Now that the temperatures are well into the eighties where I’m at, it’s time to break out the linen. When we go out for dinner in the summer months I’m usually to be found wearing a loose linen shirt, linen strides and driving mocs. Something like this:

You can’t beat those linen shirts which are available at a very decent price and can come in a broad variety of colours. I’m not a great fan of short-sleeved shirts and only own a couple. I prefer the look of long sleeves, even if they’re rolled up a couple of times. In the above pic I’m wearing penny loafers with Dainite soles instead of the more typical driving mocs. Wearing these shoes, along with the jacket to match the strides, steps up the formality of my usual rig by a notch or two which was warranted for a neighbour’s birthday celebration held on a restaurant patio.

I took the pic with the jacket closed but left it open most of the night, partly as I was mostly sat down and partly just to ease the formality to fit the situation.

This look takes some inspiration from Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in ‘The World Is Not Enough’:

I say ‘inspiration’ as I wasn’t trying a full on emulation here! Brosnan’s suit is herringbone linen, his shirt is a Turnbull and Asser broadcloth and his shoes are single monkstraps, but the general colour scheme is similar. I’m somewhat more pale and pasty then he is but in either case wearing a light beige, almost ivory suit looks good with a bold, saturated shirt. I really like these pebble grained loafers in a chestnut reddish-brown.

Stand by for a post about a different version of the beige suit coming soon.

Sunglasses – Oliver Peoples Cabrillo

Suit – INC (Macy’s)

Shirt – Uniqlo

Pocket square – No name

Belt – Tyrwhitt

Shoes – Cheaney Howard

Rod’s Togs – Gig Gear

Aside from several Breton-style shirts I seem to have acquired a ton of hooped polo shirts too.

Recently my mate Dave – proprietor of the ‘Rock and Roll Brit’ blog linked on my home page – invited me to sit in for a few songs during an informal gig he’d arranged in St. Petersburg. ‘That’s Entertainment’, ‘Wonderwall’, ‘You Do Something To Me’ got a run out!

Sunglasses – Ray Ban Gatsby Metal Squares

Polo shirt – Fred Perry

Jeans – Levi’s LVC

Trainers – Adidas Rom

Guitar – Takamine EF 381 SC 12 string

Rod’s Togs – Military OG Trousers

Let’s get a couple of ‘full disclosure’ statements out here first, concerning my preferences.

1. I’m becoming increasingly bored with jeans. For any male who grew up since the 1950s, jeans have been a near ubiquitous component of their wardrobe. This is understandable to a degree. Since the early career days of Marlon Brando and James Dean they have represented a cheeky rebelliousness for kids as they weren’t favoured by the earlier generation. They also stood up to the knockabout back-street lifestyle of a typical pre-teen whether coming up in the city, the suburbs or the country. And when that kid moved into adulthood, if he moved into a blue-collar occupation then jeans transitioned perfectly into workwear, due to being hard-wearing and somewhat protective. But after seventy years of this ubiquity I’m frankly bored to death with them even though I accept that in certain contexts, paired with certain other items, they remain appropriate.

2. I’ve never liked ‘cargo pants’. The side pockets look clumsy and unflattering to me and I’m left to wonder what people need to be carrying around with them that requires so many pockets. If the cargo pockets are there for aesthetic rather than practical purposes then my reaction is that this bulky look is totally at odds with the sharp, trim silhouette that’s characteristic of Mod style.

So in my search for an alternative to wearing jeans that does NOT include cargo pants I’ve noticed a general appreciation in menswear circles for what Americans call ‘OG pants’. The ‘OG’ refers to ‘olive green’, the default colour of American combat uniforms from the Second World War throughout the Korean War, Vietnam War and beyond. Anyone familiar with the TV show MASH will have seen uniforms in this colour worn by the cast in every episode.

As a kid I would often go away with the family stay to at a rented cottage in the Yorkshire Dales for ‘Blackberry Week’ (half term holiday in late October), and as the Army’s Catterick Camp was in the same area near Richmond we’d often see soldiers in uniform wandering around the market towns that we’d visit. In those days the British Army combat uniform was a ‘DPM’ (disruptive pattern material) woodland pattern camouflage jacket and ‘Lightweight’ trousers in solid olive green.

So in considering military surplus strides as an alternative to jeans, my Anglophile leanings caused me to check out the British version first.

I’m not really a fan of the button down belt loops, and some versions come with a large map pocket on the front thigh which is too close to cargo pants for my liking.

The American version is named ‘OG 107’ and they are available from military surplus stores as well as a plethora of recreations ranging in price from cheap to laughably expensive. Somewhere in the middle are Stan Rays reproductions which retail for about $85, but I recently scored a pair brand new with tags from eBay for $45 shipped.

I haven’t handled the military version up close so I can’t write about how close these Stan Rays are to their origins. Details-wise they have deep patched front pockets, zip fly, belt loops and button down patched rear pockets. They appear to be robust but lightweight 100% cotton which is exactly what I was hoping for, with a fine ‘hopsacky’ hand. Upon receipt I immediately put them in a hot wash and tumble dry to soften them up a bit and maximise any shrinkage in the cotton, then had them tailored.

eBay buyers are beggars not choosers and mine were sized 34-34. If I’d had a choice and a chance to try them on in a shop I’d have probably gone for 32 or 30 waist as even the slimmer versions are generously cut as shown above, so I had some slimming done in the waist and legs.

Advocates for Stan Ray OGs seem to enjoy wearing them in a loose and even sloppy manner, with the high waist allowed to sag and the hems casually rolled up once or twice. This of course is not my style so the tailoring allowed me to sharpen up the silhouette somewhat. In hindsight I think my tailor was a little over-aggressive in taking in the excess. I wouldn’t have minded a slightly more louche look and fit which might have been a benefit in hot weather.

The intention was to have strides that I can grab and don without much thought, for activities like the school run or a quick trip to the supermarket. I admit that it would be generous to suggest that strides like these have much of a connection or provenance to the classic 1960s Mod look, but in the interests of pushing the boundaries whilst keeping one eye on style they have a place in the casual section of the wardrobe alongside chinos, sta-pressts, five-pocket strides and cords, and provide a viable alternative to the ubiquity of boring jeans!

Sunglasses – Ray Ban Carbon Fibre Aviators

Breton style t-shirt – J Crew

Strides – Stan Ray

Desert Boots – Clark’s Originals

Rod’s Togs – Making The Case For Orange Shoes

In the classic 1974 film ‘Chinatown’ set in 1930s Los Angeles, there’s a scene in which Jack Nicholson as well-to-do private eye Jake Gittes is snooping around the cliffs investigating some dodgy goings-on with the municipal water authority when he’s suddenly swept up in an unexpected deluge of water being run off from the reserve supply in order to create the illusion of a shortage. He makes for a sorry sight as he trudges back to his car with his bespoke suit drenched and missing one “god-damn Florsheim shoe”.

Florsheim is just one of many once-reputable American menswear brands which have taken the long journey from being highly regarded, through the downward spiral of offshored manufacture and reduced quality in the race to the bottom, and which now trade on long-past glories. Their famed Kenmore longwing brogues remain much sought-after in vintage circles but the current version is not nearly as robust as those from the past, made in America.

Perhaps in a grasp for credibility, in 2009 Florsheim partnered up with New York fashion house Duckie Brown to produce a range of shoes – Florsheim by Duckie Brown – that combined traditional styles like longwing brogues, loafers and suede bucks with a wonderful array of bright colours. This wasn’t a million miles from the George Cox Robot shoes which I discussed here and were once available in every colour in the rainbow.

I was a bit late to the party on finding out about these great looking Duckie Brown shoes, and by the time I got into one of those all-too-familiar obsessive hunting modes the collaboration with Florsheim was at an end and available choices were limited. I missed out on the royal blue calf brogues but I did manage to snag this pair of tangerine suede bucks which I’d lusted after for a long time … and which have subsequently remained on my shoe rack with very rare use.

Sometimes it’s useful to examine our decisions and try to come up with a rationale behind them – in this case, why I wore them so rarely. I’m not afraid of the colour, and at one point I was even searching for a pair of bright orange suede Adidas Gazelles until I remembered I already had that colour covered with these bucks. Maybe the combination of vibrant orange but in a shoe style firmly rooted in American trad caused me to subconsciously assign them to a stylistic no man’s land? I tend to wear Adidas Originals classic trainers like Gazelles with jeans and choose one of several pairs of driving mocs to wear with linen strides, so where do suede bucks fit in? I often advise people to tread carefully with their purchases, as the more ‘out there’ an item may be when it comes to styling or colour, the less versatile it will be and thus the less ‘bang for your buck’ in terms of uses per dollar. I use these orange suede bucks as the perfect illustration for a great looking shoe but due to its vibrant non-versatile colour, it gets very little use.

As a teenager I was an admirer of The Jam almost to the point of obsession, but when it came to being influenced by style I was always much more into Bruce Foxton than I was Paul Weller. That’s why I joined a band and took up playing the bass and of course my first bass was a Rickenbacker.

When Weller split up The Jam my musical interests were exploding, partly as a result of being in a (non Mod) band and partly just from the wonderfully eclectic cacophony of new music that was the environment of the second half of the eighties. I didn’t care much for The Style Council and haven’t followed Weller’s solo career very closely since then. I certainly haven’t been interested in his baffling approach to clothes and hair styles since those days!

A couple of years ago there was an excellent documentary on The Jam named ‘About The Young Idea’, and more recently I’ve seen equally well done films ‘Into Tomorrow’ about Weller’s career and ‘Long Hot Summers’ about The Style Council. At some point in the latter there’s a clip of the band around the period of ‘The Cost Of Loving’ in which they were decked out in white trucker jackets and white jeans.

I thought this was a fantastic image for the band and a great look for spring and summer. I believe the pic below was from the ‘Heavens Above’ video which was a song from the album which was clearly influenced by the Philly Soul sound, released as a single in America but not back home. The video was shot around a windmill, possibly in The Netherlands, which may have influenced the preponderance of orange!

I have Levi’s trucker jackets in white and blue but neither have been worn in a long time. I’ve mentioned before how jacket season where I live is short and the truckers have to compete with – and usually come off worst against – several Harringtons, monkey jackets, MA-1s and cotton blazers.

I’ve been an advocate for white Levi’s as an alternative to blue jeans for many years now, and this renewed admiration for the kit worn by The Style Council inspired me to dig out my white denim trucker jacket. The double blue denim outfit – the Canadian tuxedo! – has been frowned upon for a while which may partly explain why my own blue trucker hasn’t seen the light in a long time, but a double white denim outfit? Maybe I could go for that – maybe it should be named the ‘Florida tuxedo’? Wearing that with a ‘Cost of Loving’ style orange polo would give me a great excuse to dust off those long neglected orange bucks which in my opinion would be an upgrade on the stark black leather loafers Weller wore at that time.

Then I remembered that drummer Steve White provided a bit of contrast to the whole ensemble image by sporting an orange denim trucker and that set me off once again on another of those all-too-familiar obsessive hunts.

Once again I found I was late to the party as there were several decent looking versions popping up on my internet search, but they were all from a couple of years ago and all sold out.

Then I got lucky with this from Amazon …

Of course its great that that there was a happy conclusion to this particular round of compulsive behaviour on my part but I’m equally happy that I now have a couple more outfits with which I can wear my long neglected orange bucks and put away that nagging feeling that they were the epitome of white elephant purchases in my wardrobe.

Sunglasses – Ray Ban New Wayfarer 2132

Jackets – Levi’s, DZDS (Amazon)

Polo Shirts – Lacoste

Strides – Levi’s 501

Shoes – Florsheim By Duckie Brown

Rod’s Togs – The Bright Pink Broad-check Shirt

I’ve never liked that pale pastel pink colour that Brooks Brothers uses for their Oxford Cloth Button Down shirts.

It’s nothing to do with perceived femininity. I can see how with a grey suit and navy tie it could be a good look, I just never much liked pale pastels, including the pale yellow and pale blue too which are the other favoured colours of OCBD shirts. I much prefer saturated colours. Maybe its something to do with being pale enough myself so I don’t like the idea of pastels washing me out. I have no problem with bright pink colours like fuchsia as shown here and here.

Browsing the Lands End catalogue last year I came across this more vibrant pink shirt with a blue check. This came in a cotton fabric mixed with some sort of futuristic non-wrinkle man-made content too. The end result is a smooth hand and cool feel that did indeed remain wrinkle free during air travel for work recently.

My experience of Lands End is that their sizing is very generous so even though most of my togs are ‘medium’, this was a size ‘small’. Some of their shirts have a ‘tailored fit’ option but curiously not this one, which is ‘traditional fit’. You can see it’s somewhat roomy which is helped by the open box pleat in the back. This is a detail I particularly dislike on shirts, so I may get the side seams slimmed, but as I so rarely wear a shirt like this without a jacket it’s not a priority for me. Of course there’s the pointless chest pocket which I could live without but this would also be hidden under a jacket. It’s cool to have a splash of bright colour when wearing ‘standard’ gear like navy blazer and grey strides.

Sunglasses – Ray Ban

Jacket – Uniqlo X Lemaire

Shirt – Lands End

Pocket Square – no name

Strides – Express

Chelsea boots – Arthur Knight

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!

There’s also some of my all-time favourite dialogue from any film:

James Mason:  Has anyone ever told you that you overplay your various roles rather severely Mr. Kaplan?  First you’re the outraged Madison Avenue man who claims he’s been mistaken for someone else.  Then you play the fugitive from justice who’s supposedly trying to clear his name from a crime he knows he didn’t commit.  And now you play the peevish lover stung by jealousy and betrayal.  It seems to me that you fellows could stand to do a little less training from the FBI and a little more from the Actors’ Studio.

Cary Grant:  Apparently the only performance that will satisfy you is when I play dead!

James Mason:  In your very next role and you’ll be quite convincing I assure you!

In many ways – including the addition of snappy dialogue – NXNW could be viewed as a forerunner to the Bond series. A handsome, impeccably dressed hero deals with espionage, a sinister villain up to no good 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 price 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!