Posts Tagged ‘Sartoriana’



The Baroness and I at the Ball (photo by Pete Crosby)

Tying the Ties

The lads getting ready

Fist Pup

First Pup set for the Night


Lapel Pins I designed for the ER

The after party

The after party


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As you can see it’s summer here in San Francisco. Standing on my roof in the fog often feels like I’m standing at the edge of the world, and given my proximity to the Pacific, and San Francisco being one of the more westerly oases for the spiritually and culturally exiled, I suppose I am standing on such a precipice. This shot in particular looks like I was waiting for a bus and suddenly found myself teleported to the rooftop. Here I’m clad in my de rigueur rumpled shirt and trousers, with my concave torso at least being disguised in several layers of fabric. The lack of a pocket square is because I fled the house in some haste – tardy, as usual, for what some call work.

The jacket is from the discontinued Polo “University” label; although that bridge line is no longer, there are currently others to choose from. My preference is Rugby – a favorite of Polo’s attempt at “gateway drugs,” though perhaps that isn’t being quite fair to Rugby, which was once the more daring child of Papa Ralph’s. But, ultimately, it is the accountants who control our blue chip consumer goods, not the creatives, so I don’t (usually) blame designers for any lulls.

Ahem, back to me – the sweater vest is Façonnable. I confess some surprise that the fit wasn’t more of a “slim”, you know — with their famous Mediterranean diet and all. Though, with my creeping decrepitude, leaving room to grow probably isn’t a bad thing. The shirt is Cafe Coton and the tie is American Traditions. The latter’s name is open to some interpretation, invoking either “witch trials” or, more probably, “WASPs.” (Both Cotton Mather and Thomas Paine can be perceived as American heroes depending which American you ask.) American Traditions, at least at the time of this particular tie’s birth, was owned/licensed by Superba Inc, a subsidiary of Phillips-Van Heusen Inc, who own nearly every brand you’ve ever bought at a mall. Ah yes, the “comglom,” or in slang: “if an oligarch was transposed into a spreadsheet.” Of course, as Citizens United v. FEC showed us, there is no difference anyway.

Tie: American Traditions
Sweater Vest: Façonnable
Shirt: Cafe Coton
Blazer: Polo
Trousers: BR

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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)

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