Saturday, July 26, 2014

It's all in the details: Manhattan 2014

Ignacio Quiles, Dandy Wellington, Matt Deckard

I’m continuously neglecting putting pen to paper or even fingers to keyboard. Something I’ve shied away from for the last few years… just a lot of trauma I guess. Best hopes dashed on some fronts and losing both my parents in quick succession… Just not the recipe for taking time to sit and concentrate in the ways I’ve done in the past.

To the blog (We still use that word? It’s quite groggy).

I went to Manhattan to work out some hats and attend MRket menswear show with my fellow chaps from Stetson. That may be the important part, and bits on hats and hat care and hat creation are often my strong suit, but that information will come with future posts and videos. What I want to talk about is the sharing of knowledge and the fun that was had after all those hours pounding the pavement while wearing various pairs of shoes.

I met and hung out with many interesting and captivating New Yorkers…

Me and Gibson Frazier
Let’s start with Gibson Frazier. I didn’t expect to be surprised by the intellect, but you’re always going to be taken a back when you meet in person, someone that just has that “it” quality that used to be often talked about, but is rarely defined. He’s a playwright that often does cameos on the big screen and television, but primarily has worked at the keyboard writing breakthrough artistic pieces… newer ones having strong online kickstarter backing. I first learned of him through a movie he put together in 1999 called Man of the Century where his character lived his affinity for the past and was a man of the 1920s from hat to spats, living in the world of the 90s. You need to see it. That’s acting chops put to their test.

We met at the Norwood, a classic social club that looked exactly like what you’d imagine Manhattan would have, with a ledger to sign in at the door to boot.
Great art on the walls, small tables with conversations happening and someone to come by offering a cocktail every time your glass looked as though the ice were all you had left. We sat, talked sartorial past and future, art and acting, and just had a very good conversation. It was (to use my California wording) awesome.

That was one of the greater highlights of the visit, but there were many others, like meeting with Rose Callihan and Kellfire Bray. Rose is the photographer that catalogued the nuances of the dandy set of today in the new book I am Dandy. A book that is in a way the culmination of the well-dressed movement that’s been coming back to this world, a world that has had a serious bout with being lackadaisical toward dressing in general, and this is the book showcasing the generals leading the resistance. We met at The Rum House where luckily enough Jesse Gelber and Michael Arenella had already setup shop owning the place with some intoxicating swing and jazz music. The talk was intellectual and humorous, going from adventures to see some of these fellows, to tales of the nightlife in New York. Kellfire was a man with great gravitas with a tight grasp on fit and detail when the conversation went to suits.  You two were fun, and Rose… I need my book signed!

Rose Calahan sporting a prototype Stetson
I don’t want to fill this blog with too much to read about, as most people expect a video nowadays… but I absolutely must say meeting DandyWellington … well, when it comes to getting the classics perfect, he’s an expert. Not just in dress, but also in playing the period music he’s mastered. His mode of dress is as suave as his voice, and his skill on the dance floor… well he looked just as at home there as well.

Ignacio Quiles (Sartorial Pairings); It takes a lifetime of riffing on classics to make those classics look balanced and acceptable to many that just have an eye for now. He’s perfect at it. As we walked one of the halls of the latest New York menswear trade shows I lost a suspender button somewhere along the way… he replaced it using a pin from one of the venders tables. Not just quick thinking, quick styling. The look after made me wonder why I had a button sewn on there in the first place. Later that Monday we had a profound conversation on how clubs featuring bands should turn down their ambient music between sets so that patrons can take a breather from focusing on the entertainment to talk.

What else to say… Had a lovely conversation with CharleyMarcuse and Rory Duffy, an amazing tailor and winner of the Savile Row Golden Sheers award. Much about cutting jacket to be open or cutting them to be closed, At the time we were getting more and more tired as we went to a local Irish pub to continue talking about the slightest minutiae on fitting the hardest to fit individuals when it comes to bespoke tailoring.

Me swinging with Gin Minsky
Thank you for all the dances Gin Minsky. Meeting Bernard Delgado and Jack Newcastle is always captivating conversation about the best of what is New Yorks Nightlife. And to Laura, our Archivist at Stetson. I don't know how many hours we dug through the history and talked the state of clothing in general, but it was all smashing to see and learn and know.

Woman looking uncomfortable on bicycle while wearing awesome helmet

Laura Kimsey looking smashing

When you go to New York and you want to swing dance… see George Gee!
Dandy being Dandy
Michael Davis… We need to talk more about suits!

Now from Dallas… Matt Deckard.

Oh… by the by, check out the new Stetson hats at JJ hats!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Respecting Hollywood's Spectacles

Shoes, trousers, jacket vest, shirt, tie... all of these items are important; Hats too, Yet none of those things are as important as the glasses you put on your face. 

When I originally decided to wear the wire rimmed P3 style seen in the images below, I did so a bit out of fandom of the Indiana Jones look sported by Harrison Ford, and, a bit more out of the fact that I hadn't really seen a pair of glasses that just suited my own long oval face shape nearly as well. 

The P3 style frame is a circle but with three points pushed out making in slightly triangular. The military actually started using shapes like this over the traditionally round frames issued to troops in the 1920s and 1930s due to the fact that the shape kept the lenses from spinning. If the wearer had a astigmatism correction, a correction that is meant to bend the light entering the eye so, the P3 was just better than a circle which unfortunately easliy allowed the lens to spin, nullifying the correction's effectiveness. But enough about the shape...

Hollywood keeps using the darn things over and over and over again. The particarlar go to brand is that from Berkshire Chase in London. A gold coated wire rimmed style with a brown mottled celluloid that circles the lenses and part of the arms. 

It's just a quite accommodating style. Very timeless. I decided to go with them myself about 17 years ago when most people were wearing glasses that were rimless floating lenses with titanium arms. Glasses that were nearly invisible on the wearers face. I've grown up wearing glasses, they accentuated your identity, and to have something that was there and hiding yet not wasn't what I was into, so I went with the Beaufort P3 from Berkshire Chase particularly because they stood out at the time. Nowadays oddly enough my glasses look like background when seen around eyewear wearers with their thick black Zylonite frames. 

That's all for now. Keep an eye out and you'll see these from scene to scene. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Flattering laces flat: A tail of strapping on your shoes with a touch (just a touch) of old school panache

Through history there have been silk laces, flat cotton laces, waxed flat cotton laces, flat nylon laces, round laces with a nylon core and much much more… Oh and buckles too. When I started wearing dress shoes several years back. The primary lace sold in stores for the plain black or brown dress shoe was the plain black or brown round waxed cotton shoelace that usually had a nylon core for strength. Now, they are fine for shoes… always in style, but for me they just don’t have that certain sense of … well you know, retro grandpa chic that’s just a little unique and what the general masses aren’t wearing. I’m not too eccentric with my wears, but I do like to tweak the details to just a little more outside the box of the regular guy in a suit and tie

A return to the flat, waxed cotton shoelace

I was quite enamored with old shoe ads in Esquire and Life magazines from the 1930s and absolutely had to emulate the look. Clean, dashing, flat and different were the laces on shoes style that were common for the last 100 years. When I decided to change up my style to match the laces I saw in the old ads, I found it was quite the challenge. Flat laces had just fallen out of style. I can guess why with my own experiences; through time, trial and error with different laces.

Flat laces that are all cotton tend to break down a lot faster than the current issue round lace with nylon core. In the early 1950s the US military kept with flat laces that were made of nylon for a short time for dress shoe wear, but those laces tend to  just slide out of their knots so the US military also followed the public and went to the round cotton with nylon core laces.

But I still wanted the classic flat waxed all cotton, and… well they were damned hard to find. I’d frequent the South Coast Plaza mall and order special make Allen Edmonds now and again and constantly ask there about such laces, and at the Alden shop and check online and everywhere else that looked like they’d have an inkling of classic cobbling to their works until I walked into a John Lobb shoe store. They had the laces on their shoes and right there and then I asked to buy a handful of brown and black flat laces.

I’ve gone through all those laces as they do break rather easily, but they evoke a panache that I don’t think can be matched by just a plain round lace.

Over the last several years we’ve seen a return of more and more shoe designs from the early 20th century. Lots of spectators and ankle boots and now also, the flat waxed lace. There are a lot of unwaxed ones out there as well that are quite thick and wide and don’t really look in place on a dress shoe, but I’m happy we now have options.

If You’d like to get a pair I still suggest John Lobb and now Allen Edmonds as they have shoes in their lineup that require such laces. 

A pair of Buzz Rickson officer shoe reproductions I purchased along with extra laces (in stumbling Japanese while in Tokyo). Unwaxed flat cotton

Special Make Allen Edmonds with their waxed flat laces from John Lobb

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Walk softly and... well it begins with that.

I know... a lot of people have been asking me about my work at Stetson... that's coming... a lot has happened since I worked on set for Home and Family and a few other shows, but the biggest change will be revealed in future posts.

Now for shoes.

I picked up a pair of Cole Haan Lunarlon wingtips not too long ago and… well they are the ideal shoes when it comes to comfort and looks for a classic wingtip. The patina is built in so you don’t have to worry about adding polish over a period of years. They aren’t your typical leather soled shoes, they do have a twist, and the twist tends to be what upsets the stalwarts when it comes to a classic style. They are sneakers that absolutely pass the test of hitting the town as a classic dress shoe; the future shoe that I have always wanted. With my soft feet I’ve often had to live the life of wearing a dress shoe for dancing and lots of walking, but when the time hit to travel I’d run to my sneakers as my feat aren’t warhorse enough to take on leather to pavement day after day. These shoes fix the issue. They look as grand as any of my leather soled shine-able shoes, with only a wet wipe of the surface (sacrilege I know) to make them presentable at any event.

It may be 2013, and sticklers of the old may often surround me when it comes to where I go and how I dress, but in the end we live in 2013, and style knows no bounds… but comfort for me will always be king as long as it carries the style I love.

Check them out; tell me what you think of the look. I’m getting more before they stop making them… that’s what tends to happen when I love something that can be bought.

At the request of Professor Timothy Doran... here are the shoes. 

Living it up in LA, Dallas and Manhattan... Talk to you soon.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


There is always a great experience gained from travel, especially when it’s to far off places. This time, the place isn’t too far off, being in the middle of the US, but the experience is more interesting than many past short distance travels as it has taken me to a state that is quite ensconced in its own traditions and styles that easily make it unique and very interesting.

I’m in Dallas, Texas and have a position that requires a lot of study and lots of travel, but more on that in upcoming installments. 

Since I’ve been away from LA, I’ve seen vintage clothing expert Marc Chevalier take up the charge of the LA Tweed Pub Crawl. This one approaching will be the 4th in the line and one not to be missed as they tend to get bigger and bigger each year. Take your tweed and some comfortabke shoes. 

Friday, November 15, 2013
It begins at 7:00 pm.
I believe it's beginning at that place where I've had many a French Dip Sandwich, Cole's in Downtown LA.

I'll attend if I can make the trip work with my schedule.

Locally, I’ve joined forces with Matt Tolentino, Danielle Bennignus, and Tom Pecina to form the Art Deco Society of Dallas. The center of the Art Deco scene in the the Americas (Geographically speaking). 
Event-wise we've already successfully shown to a large audience, Top Hat from 1937 starring Fred and Ginger at the Texas Theater... this was fallowed by a grand concert from the Singapore Slingers. Many more events are to follow including a good old (new) knickerbocker mini golf later this month. 

Anywho, that's a quick latest filler for the blog. Now to get back to rifling through piles of cloth, felt and ribbon.

From Dallas, Sometimes Manhattan and now and again LA, but wishing more often Paris... I'll see you soon.

I believe there is a hangar dance out here that I am to attend.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Skyfall Wears

Ralph Fiennes suspender button placement in the new 007 movie was terrible. Outside that, the movie was splendid.

I was pretty keen on all the wears Tom Ford made for Daniel Craig. Very well tailored and fitted for a man with a muscular physique. Very little leeway for any fat. I particularly was fond of the tab collars Craig wore. You see the entire film as having Craig channel that clean "man cutting through the city" look of the 1960s. It was quite an effect to my eye seeing Craigs wears next to those that they put Fiennes in. Fiennes looks were a bit more 90s in style with cloth that was cut to drape away... built up shoulders to the jackets, shirts that bloused out. Fiennes clothing looked clumsy and staid, even if just by a tad when juxtaposition to the clean action ready look of Craig. Very well done.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Feeding My Eyewear Obsession


As an optician at Hotel De VIlle Eyewear, I got to study faces in a whole new way. I'd learned the intrinsic differences that made a cat eye frame work on one woman and not another. The bold attitude it took to carry off a thick frame that could look obnoxious on one man, ridiculous on another, and still well suited to another. In that time I studied myself of course, and on an excursion of study to Oliver Peoples on Sunset I discovered something that gave my heart glee... a pair of 1930s styled P3 shaped amber sunglasses with minty green lenses that suited me to a tee. I had to have them. 
I receive at least a few questions a week about where I got them, so I'll break it all down here and now. The glasses are a reissue of the O'Malley, a popular style that Oliver Peoples made back in the late 1980s when the company was new and on the covers of the most well known fashion magazines around the world. I tend to think the reissue of these glasses, and the others in the vintage lineup have given Oliver Peoples a new energy, a good fresh energy as they return to their roots. Anywho, I spent a nice amount of money on them and used my skills to make them fit me perfectly so that I don't notice when they are on... comfy! 
With the specs came a classic clam shaped case with a beautiful crushed velvet liner... the case is something that slides neatly into a jacket pocket. 
It's not easy to find a good pair of amber colored frames from the 1930s, and quite frankly I'm not really needing to go on that hunt with the discovery of these. The acetate used to make them isn't brittle, and the lenses have a nice anti reflective coating on the inside for me but not on the outside for you. In these ways, the specs are better than vintage.

I present to you the O'Malley by Oliver Peoples. Just one of many in their vintage reproduction line. Part of the 1980s does 1930s eyewear revival.