Friday, April 28, 2017

In Review: Meeting in the Middle - A Look at RRL and the Odd Sport Coat

Also Pictured: Shirt - J. Crew, Belt - Thirteen50, Jeans - Levi's Vintage Clothing, Boots - Allen Edmonds, Scarf - Polo RL

There's probably no other brand - or man, for that matter - that epitomizes quintessential American fashion like Ralph Lauren. That's a bold statement for sure, but one I think is well merited. And while Polo is unquestionably at the forefront of the consumer consciousness, my favorite line by far is RRL (pronounced "double RL"), named after the Lauren family's ranch in Colorado. The RRL brand is a love letter to the Great American West - a niche passion project that has gained a real cult following among heritage Americana enthusiasts over the years since it was started in 1993.

Though the brand puts out some eccentric pieces every season, RRL collections consistently display a level of restraint and sophistication virtually unmatched among their peers. I've come to love a lot of Japanese Americana, for example, but RRL has such a finely nuanced aesthetic that it almost always manages to avoid the costumey impression that other brands, both domestic and abroad, can sometimes get mired down in.

RRL have a huge fan base, but the barrier for many, including myself, has always been the cost of admission. It's flat out expensive. However, during a recent sale at Stag Provisions I was able to pick up an odd sport coat from RRL's AW2016 collection for $99.96 - heavily discounted from its initial $590 MSRP (with other sizes still priced at $325, oddly), and one of the lowest prices I've seen on RRL outerwear anywhere. The purpose of this review isn't so much so others can buy this exact jacket (though you can at a higher price at the time of this posting), but rather to give a closer examination of RRL design, materials, and general pricing advice if you've not previously had the chance. Let's take a look.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Frank Muytjens Out At J. Crew

Following up on the news of Jenna Lyons leaving J. Crew only a short few weeks ago, news just broke that head of menswear design and the mind behind the often-praised Wallace and Barnes line is leaving the company.

I'm not going to rehash my prior sentiments about J. Crew's changes, but...come on.

If you want to read more about Frank Muytjens, the man, I think you can learn a lot about his style and eye from this feature on his Hillsdale, NY home as pictured above and below. Here's to hoping Muytjens starts his own line, a la Todd Snyder circa 2011.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Need Wooden Hangers? Check Your Local American Apparel

I heard through the interwebs that American Apparel has been clearing out there stores in true "everything must go" style prior to their stores closing, and a guy in Chicago was able to score a box full of wooden hangers for $5. Apparently, it's pretty common for stores to sell off all their hangers upon closing for almost nothing. My local American Apparel in Philly is closing in a week, so I decided to check it out today. Sure enough, they handed me a large paper bag and told me however many hangers I could fit in there was five dollars (cash only).

For me, that ended up being 30 hangers, which works out to a little less than 17 cents per hanger. I might have been able to put 5-10 more in there, but was worried my bag might break on the way home. One of the girls noted that they should be getting in more soon prior to close as well.  They're also selling ugly store fixtures if you need something to make your home off-putting.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Doing Background Research on the Difficult Product

Jim Carrey as Me Doing Research on the Difficult Product (went straight to DVD)

If you're a real bargain hunter, it can be hard sometimes to find information on things you come across - detail shots, fit pics, size charts, etc., especially when buying things from past seasons on outlet and sales sites, the secondhand market, or brands that have a smaller footprint on the Information Superhighway (you don't call it that?). The process is usually as straightforward as googling a product name, but once in a while you can't find anything anywhere at first and the whole thing turns into a huge pain in your gonad. But when I'm having trouble finding some good references, there are a few tricks I use that I thought I'd share. Fair warning, a fair proportion of guys may find this process onerous and unworthy of your time. Fair enough - as always, your mileage may vary.

Use The Internet Archive: Wayback Machine

Depending on the site, vendors will often keep old product pages up for months or years. You'll also find merchant or third party blog sites that will occasionally showcase a product with fit pics, etc. simply by searching the product name. This is, by far, the easiest way to go about it if the information is readily available, and often you can get enough information just from this step alone to decide whether or not to make a purchase.

Unfortunately, it's also common for old items to have been scrubbed off of merchant sites and all you get is a "page not found" notification instead of that sweet sweet shoulder measurement you were pining for. The good news is that sometimes those pages have been archived on the Wayback Machine, an incredible tool which lets you enter in a web address and search through versions of that page that have been captured and snapshotted in time. Unfortunately, not all pages have been archived and sometimes an image or two won't load correctly, but more than once I've found the information I was looking for on captured versions of websites from seasons past. That Kapital Domingo coverall page shown above, for instance, no longer exists on the Kapital site, but on the archived site you can still look at and download all the pictures, look at the description, and access the size chart.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Wolverine 1000 Miles on Sierra Trading Post - $97.49 (!)

I try not to let this site get mired down by sales posts, but I felt like I had to mention that Sierra Trading Post is running their Wolverine 1000 Mile seconds quality stock in three colors at $129.99 with coupon codes applying. With an extra 25% off on the current promotion, that brings them to $97.49. I don't think I've ever seen a price that low for them ever, though do note these are seconds quality, meaning usually some sort of scuff or scratch somewhere. I would also not expect the stock to last very long.

You might recall that I wrote a review on my 1000 Mile Centennial Edition boots in buffalo hide a few years ago. The originals are much the same, albeit in a more accessible and versatile Chromexcel. Gun to my head and forced to choose between the two, I'd probably pick the originals in brown and then ask what sort of person forces another person at gunpoint to buy boots.

Need a coupon code? Here's mine that I'm not using at the moment, which you can apply in cart  to get that sweet sweet $97.49 (limited uses): NVY8797M

Unfortunately, Sierra Trading Post seems to have stopped sending coupon codes out to newer customers/subscribers, but I still get them frequently for being an OG. So if you're ever looking for one, just shoot me an email and I can probably send you a 25% off code (long gone are the extra 40% off days).

Link to Wolverine 1000 Miles on STP

*Note 4/16 - It looks like these have gone in and out of stock a few times over the past few days, and usually very quickly. If you're in the market and are trying to increase your chances of catching a pair, consider using a web monitor to alert you when the page changes so you'll be one of the first to know. I've covered it a bit before here if the concept is new to you.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Epaulet Closing Sale

The Epaulet store in NYC had their closing sale in the physical location over the weekend and tomorrow will be opening up their online portal to sell remaining stock. If you're signed up for the newsletter it should be coming tomorrow, but one of the owners posted on Reddit today noting that you can shop early online here:

Closing Sale Link

Epaulet Steerhide Tennis Trainers

Enter in promo code CLOSING40-FINAL-SALE to get an extra 40% off listed prices. Some good prices on Alden footwear as well as a selection of blazers and sneakers. When I was looking to buy some simple, well-made sneakers, Epaulet's trainers were definitely on my list and what I would buy now if I needed a good pair. 

Be aware all sales are final. Ultra final. So email them if you have any sizing questions at

Friday, April 7, 2017

The Passing of Glenn O'Brien

I just got done writing about the troubles of  J. Crew, a company that helped raise me, only to sadly hear that Glenn O'Brien had passed away at the age of 70. I think older and more cultured people than I may remember him from his earlier life and work, but I simply knew him as "The Style Guy" from GQ. He authored a column that answered fashion and lifestyle questions sent in by readers for over 15 years, and his advice was one of the first unwavering beacons of wisdom I found early on - in truth, a large part of the reason I used to think that GQ was the authority on fashion and menswear. I had a lot to learn, obviously (including to stop reading GQ - especially after his departure from the magazine), but for a long time Glenn O'Brien was always there to subtly shape the way I thought about style while I sat on the toilet, one month at a time, with steady and insightful commentary - a young, impressionable period when I was struggling to establish my own views on style and how it could be more personal to me.

His Schott rider pictured above remains one of the coolest things I've ever seen on a man - a feat that relies largely on the man himself. He'll be missed by many style orphans who looked up to him as a true icon and in that regard, somewhat of a father figure.

"Style isn't fashion. Fashion is about what everybody's doing, what everybody's wearing. Style is about what you're doing, what you're wearing." - Glenn O'Brien

Men Still Need J. Crew

J. Crew AW 2010

Derek Guy at Put This On recently wrote a nice piece about what makes J. Crew special following news of Jenna Lyons leaving the company, so I won't belabor the same points in a much less compelling and more grammatically dubious manner, but the trouble that J. Crew is in financially (and in some ways existentially) has struck an emotional chord in me that I did not know existed. I thought I'd share a few thoughts of my own here. In a small way, it's been like watching a beloved family member dealing with a difficult disease, and one that may be terminal.

I grew up with J. Crew - not so much in the sense that I happened to be young when J. Crew was in its prime, but more so that I found a brand I could afford that fundamentally changed the way I thought about style early on. I can confidently say that no brand has done more to shape the development of my personal style - essentially, they taught me to dress myself before I knew how. When I was just starting out making an active effort into thinking more deeply about my clothes years ago, I was lucky to have found them and saved myself a closet full of throwaways.

J. Crew AW 2014

In those days, Uniqlo wasn't really around (not to suggest the two are interchangeable) and J. Crew's main competitors were Banana Republic, Gap, and Express - none of which have ever managed to achieve the same level of sophistication and sense of authenticity or soul, if there is such a thing, in their design. I suppose I could have ended up under the wing of Polo RL or Brooks Brothers and also had a solid base in Americana, but with the overwhelming scope of different aesthetics under the Polo brand and Brooks Brothers catering to a more expensive and somewhat WASPier crowd, it seemed my relationship with J. Crew was almost fate. They just resonated with me in a way that no "mall brand" had before, or has since for that matter. The only one close would be Club Monaco of the Ralph Lauren empire, who have been struggling with their own woes as of late.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Surprising Spring Value - Uniqlo Military Work Shirt

I have an Army Navy store on my block where I've bought a few things from in the surplus section from time to time. For some reason though, I've always had a difficult time finding things that fit me there. The arms are usually too short for a chest size that isn't extremely large, the body lengths often seem strangely short as well, and all around proportions just leave a bit to be desired. On top of that, it's difficult to find those garments in great shape - something I usually count on finding more of from my friends at Briar Vintage, a vintage menswear shop I've written about before.

I've always thought of Uniqlo as a place to buy affordable basics and the occasional Lemaire/Uniqlo U piece, but I really like some of the military-inspired pieces they've brought out recently - in particular this season's military work long sleeve shirt, which Uniqlo is cringe-inducingly labelling "trendy urban military." That aside, they really nailed the fabric - a nicely weighted slub cotton with the perfect amount of texture. It's interesting that they don't even mention the texture of the weave, given that it's probably the best thing about the shirt (especially given J. Crew's penchant for naming anything but the most baby-smooth of cloth "slub cotton"). But together with the chest pockets and tonal BDU buttons, the design sits in a subtle spot that is clearly military-inspired without being loud or taking it overboard - no small feat, and something you'd normally see more in higher-level brands that charge a lot more for the refined aesthetic.

It doesn't hurt that it's currently on sale for $19.99, either, which is the real story - value. You'll have to spring for shipping ($5 for orders <$75), but you can get it delivered to your local Uniqlo for free as well. Made in three colors, my pick is the olive (which I bought), followed by khaki and then the navy. Fit is standard for current Uniqlo standards - a size small fits me (5'11" - 155 lbs, 36-38R and usually a size small/slim medium) like a regular small. You can also see some example fits on Uniqlo's Instagram page, such as this fellow here, who is emerging pensively from his basement:

or here, on this nice young man who appears to be haunted by the ghost of his past and beset by an episode of likely noncardiac chest pain:

But don't miss out on your chance to "hop on board with one of the spring's hottest trends, #UrbanMilitary." ...Christ. Just...just forget that part.

Link to Product Page

PS - Totally unrelated, but Nordstrom Rack has Iron Rangers in Hawthorne roughout leather (scattered sizing) for $159.97 with free shipping at the moment. Won't stay there long. Here's a link to that. Sizing should be identical to the Beckmans, which run roughly 1/2 size down from your Brannock.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Introducing: The Smart Schott Perfecto - Badass Enabled

Ever thought your double rider is pretttty good, but only slightly smarter and more useful than Apple Siri? I personally hate when people declare that something has "changed the game," but in this case I think we have to just bow our heads down and thank big baby Jesus because Schott just changed the game.

Following up on the success of last year's beachwear line, the Smart Schott Perfecto was introduced today for preorder, and I think we can all agree there's nothing more timeless than a piece of clothing packed with the most expensive technology of the moment.

I take the trolley to work everyday, and half the time I find myself extremely put off that no one is blasting music out of their smartphone or some sort of speaker-in-a-backpack system. For any other road warriors without a steed to ride, the feature list promises to "fill the whole city bus with immersive, 360 degree omni-directional audio from Bose powered speakers hidden in the bi-swing shoulders and underarm footballs with simulated Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound." I reached out to the company to ask if this would apply to trolleys as well, but as of yet have not received a reply.

Initial reviews seem to be promising.