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Posts Tagged ‘Rugby’

I probably looked like a schoolboy playing hooky, which, as far as life is concerned, I am. Here I am clashing blacks and blues as usual, although for once, not anywhere on my skin. I was in NYC on business recently, but busy as I was, I managed to find an afternoon to explore the brick and mortar offerings of some our better known catalog companies (see below).

The following are my off the cuff first impressions (unedited); I’ll probably wish they had remained unwritten. Keep in mind that these are not the words of an urbane sophisticate who frequents haberdasheries, but rather those of a bohemian.

Polo: The Mansion: definitely fronts an elegant facade but is rather misleading, since most of it appears to be office space – leaving only the corner sliver as a retail store.  Thin it may be, but we get 4 floors of it. I found the inside to be like an over-decorated movie set. That meant: too many oil paintings cluttered along the stairs, (as a painter, I didn’t think that was possible) a couple of which I wanted to consider closely, but the lighting wasn’t appropriate for viewing (the art deserved better). The staff who passed me looked concerned, as if I hadn’t realized the paintings were for decoration only!

Speaking of the staff: they appeared to have been sent over from Central Casting, on hiatus from Gossip Girl. Immaculately groomed — they were handsome, aloof, and disinterested (because, at a glance, they knew I wasn’t a touriste; I probably appeared to them as either a poorhouse fashion student or an intern from next door, so they politely ignored me). Staff outnumbered customers nearly 3 to 1. The few hardy souls who had braved the rain were clustered around an altar of big logo’d polo shirts. Upon leaving, I happened to notice a white-jacketed manboy at the door, silver tray of champagne in hand for incoming customers. Nice touch but note to staff: I prefer scotch.

Overall, not an entirely unpleasant experience, but this place was clearly for tourists. I found myself more mesmerized by the props/styling of the store and less beguiled by the salable merchandise. The narrow layout is odd; maybe it’s just simple familiarity, but I find the San Francisco flagship store more comfortable and the staff more engaging.

Rugby (both the flagship and Bleeker Street store): easily, the most interesting and positive experience among various bougie big-brand retail in NYC was here. And by here I mean not only inside the stores themselves but seeing it worn on the streets of New York in general. Not only was the average in-store customer base older, I definitely saw Rugby being worn on the street, by a similar demographic. For all I know these were employees of Papa Ralph on their lunch break but I enjoyed seeing other men my age wearing it. At the store, staff was helpful without being overbearing, condescending, or rude. Unusual for retail, in this day and age.

Back home I’ve nearly given up on going inside the San Francisco Rugby store since I feel like a creepy old man among the pubescent sales staff. Sure, they’re friendly enough, with few staffers genuinely going out of their way to smile and chat, but everyone is so young. As a rule I don’t like kids, and by kids, I mean anyone under 30. While most of SF Rugby customers are slightly older than the cashiers, they’re usually just looking for brashly branded polos and are too lazy to try and park their car near the downtown Polo store. The only people I’ve seen in the SF store close to my age are the Japanese tourists; judging from my shopping experiences in Tokyo, I can say that we seem to have similar taste.

Brooks: The older sales staff followed me around like I was going to steal something, which is funny since paying full price there would be like them robbing me.

J. Press: Devoid of customers except for a man I took to be Bruce Boyer (and, if it was, he was my only celeb sighting on this trip.) Mr. Boyer was chatting with sales associate about ”Ivy,” but that’s the most I could eavesdrop, and I too shy to approach him. Overall, J. Press had a much more playful and tempting selection of neckwear (particularly bowties) than the competition. Their casual wear is collegiate, and certainly my style if not my budget; in person, the selection was better than online (or so it seemed) but still not as daring as their designs in Japan. I understand that it’s for a different market over there in Tokyo, but a boy can still dream.

Pink: The young sales staff, though friendly, followed me around like I going to steal something. Offputting.

J Crew: Conspiring circumstances prevented me from visiting the famed mens “liquor” store, though I did trespass in both the Union Square and upper Madison stores. Not much to say overall. One thing I did notice was this: any under-40 male in Manhattan who wasn’t wearing either a business suit or H&M casual seemed to be using the J Crew catalog as his style guide — jeans, plaid button down, and déshabillé blazer. I will credit the Crew on making something of their menswear — ten years ago, it took experts with microscopes and carbon testing to determine if there was any difference between J. Crew and Banana Republic; now both brands are leagues* away from each other. (*by “leagues” I mean that even though they both still cater exclusively to upper middle class white guys, among that particular 1% they are noticeably different.)

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Men are a peculiar species. Not just humans in general, who are weird enough that I cross the street to avoid them, but specifically the subspecies of males. Straight men, scientifically speaking, don’t talk much among themselves about anything that doesn’t involve cars, sports, or (presumably naked) women (gay men are encouraged to substitute their own clichés here: Judy Garland anyone?) (And, as an aside: it has always amused me that straight men who obsess over watching beefcake, tightly-wrapped-in-spandex dudes tackle each other for a living, fail to see how… um… “latent” their interest in sports is.)

Anyway, as as endlessly fascinating as the previous mentioned conversational topics are, it is a narrow list, and of limited help to a burgeoning male on the edge of adulthood. Lacking any sort of proper mentoring, rite of passage, or even the likelihood a present father, today’s young men have to turn to the internet to watch instructional videos on “why it itches” or simply “how to shave.” With the abundance of extra hormones in the fast food chain, teen boys are in need of a shave a good 5 years younger than dad.

One of many areas in which men of all ages are hopelessly uninformed is the realm of socks. After all, how much does a man need to know about pairing socks with Nikes? Assuming he owns a pair of something nicer than sneakers, a man must be semiconscious about what he’s making the rest of us look at, between his cuff and brogue. A spell back, my cyber clothing colleague, Will, over at A Suitable Wardrobe, posted about how socks now are generally of a quality that one can forgo sock garters altogether (he also mans-up the support item of this post by calling them “sock suspenders.” Nice touch.)  I know for a fact that the socks sold through his online store are certainly of this top caliber. But the bulk of foot tubes in my dresser drawer are, after a few cycles through the wash, shapeless sacks whose top has no interest in clinging to my knees, preferring instead to flutter about the ankle. This complaint has been voiced often enough in conversation with other sartorially inclined men that either A) Walmart needs a better quality production gulag on the mainland, or B) there is an egregious industry wide conspiracy of “planned obsolescence” in hosiery that warrants rioting.


Whatever the reason, a daily solution is still (as it was for grandad) sock garters, and among the nicest are those made by Swan Clothing. An accessory company started by Tara Bethune-Leamen 2005, she has previously focused on women’s accessories, however her luxury sock garters could be considered a first foray into the men’s room, so to speak. These garters are ultimately unisex — not entirely surprising  since women have historically co-opted our dry goods and looked better in them (e.g. The Night Porter and what Ms Rampling did for peaked officer caps/suspenders); as such, one shouldn’t be alarmed when visiting the Swan Clothing website. You will find a shapely set of lady’s gams modeling them for you which, frankly, I reckon as a bonus. If only Polo did that with bow ties; I’d buy even more.

Below I’m carefully concealing something. Hint: it’s below the belt.

And for the regular reader(s) — the tie of day:

Specs for the latter images:

Tie: Superba (100% Dacron and “fully washable”)
Shirt: Chalres Tyrwhitt
Cardigan: McGregor (vintage)
Trousers: BR
Overcoat: BR
Socks: Rugby (given the inspiration of the day I thought it worth mentioning)

Don’t forget to visit:

http://shop.swanclothing.com/

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And 100% polyester free. Good and good for you.

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One thing about scanning someone’s blog is that the reader often doesn’t realize if consecutive posts were launched yesterday or last year, unless the posts are specifically date sensitive. So when belatedly perusing an archive of posts -and finding an apology for not having posted in a while- I always pause to consider whether their neglect of my entertainment offends me. I always think: how absolutely selfish of them. As for my having neglected your amusement these weeks past, the sooner you get used to it the better.

(And before you get too smug recounting all the ways I’ve let you down recently, allow me remind you: if you think you’re disappointed in me than you haven’t met my mother.)

I feared that not having posted lately might set rumors loose; e.g. I’ve forsaken clothing altogether due to my cascading fury over nothing but low rise flat fronted trousers on the JC Penny’s clearance rack and in protest, joined a nudist colony. No, reality is hardly that interesting. Keeping it brief, I’ll say only that my various toils of late have left me with little time for a life, online or otherwise.

Not long ago I snuck out of the house recently wearing this sporty vintage corduroy masterpiece! As if wine colored corduroy wasn’t enough (so convenient for if/when I end up  wearing a glass of red), it also has elbow patches! As well as being double vented, having a throat button to bundle the lapels up on a blustery afternoon, and generous patch packets for handily transporting portable vices (note the plural).

No outfit of mine is complete without requisite rumpled button down and cryptic emblematic tie.

Tie: Rugby
Shirt: Land’s End
Vest: Forever 21
Jacket: Grodins

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I don’t post often about womens clothes for the simple reasons that A) I know next to nothing about them (clothes or women) and B) I just prefer women to wear as little as seasonably possible. That said, members of the second sex habitually garland themselves in clothes and accessories as beautiful as a woman herself. Today’s post revels in an object that, with a broad (ahem) reach, manages to cover two of my more conspicuous fetishes at once: women and neckties.

This Rugby limited edition clutch, patchworked of their uniquely fabulous tie fabric, hits the mark. The Baroness couldn’t resist it, and I couldn’t imagine dissuading a craving of hers; in fact, I always encourage such desires.

Now, as for their mens line, I propose a messenger bag of the same. Rugby, now you know what I want for Xmas.

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Taking advantage of the summer as mother nature (and an even more savage mistress: my schedule) allows. Given the demise this year of the California drought I really should be modeling a parade of wetsuits, flippers, and snorkels. It may come to that yet. But today’s shot was a bright cloudless day and, as long as there’s a leafy tree to nap under, I’ll take it. Not that I was always this way- about either sunny days or naps. Taoism has it’s lore that says a man is not (perhaps cannot) be ready to receive certain pearls of wisdom until at least middle age. No doubt that was first claimed by an old man, but some tastes are certainly acquired, and a few more bitter ones are acquired with age, whether you intend for that to happen or not. A single malt scotch can be that way; one’s pH balance has to mature to meet a particular whisky or vintage of wine, and voila! What was ash in your mouth at 20 is ambrosia at 40. Sometimes people have aged likewise: a man whose actions I found distasteful in my youth, might begin to appear more favorable by the lamp of my own experience (though this is rarer, as my first sensation of disappointment is usually correct.)

Clothing can be similar. The daily uniform I wear now was anathema to me as an adolescent. But back then anything that wasn’t emblazoned with Iron Maiden or Slayer was unfit to cover my regal pastiness. Of course I still wear those tee’s under my Brooks Brothers button downs. It’s called keepin’ it real people! Then there are outfits I’ve been told I’ve outgrown: diapers, or that I’m too young for: diapers. Hoodies and ascots also fall in these categories respectively, and I wear both of those (but only one of them in public.)

Tie: Rugby
Shirt: Nautica
Vest: Polo
Jacket: Gap
Trousers: BR

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Seen here in action on Stow Lake. Snapped by Delilah in-between my snapping her for an upcoming style profile for the blog. I’m fortunate she didn’t take advantage of the opportunity to throw me overboard. You’d be surprised (or not) how such a rash act would increase her (already riotous) popularity.

I will, under duress, confess to participating in occasional physical activities, but I unashamedly admit to enjoying rowing. And, knowing a few true oars-men and -women, I am forced reveal that I was neither in proper costume or form that day, since the whole event was quite spontaneous.


Tie: Westaway
Shirt: Banana Republic
Cardigan: Old Navy
Trousers: Rugby

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