Tuesday, December 27, 2011

It's a sin.

Okay, I give into the idea of fashion taking precedence at times, but when it comes to an ankle boot that is truly meant for utility of use, I get offended when shoe designers mess with what works and I conclude that the designer didn’t do research into why certain things exist.

It’s a sin that some ankle boot makers make finger loops that are for affectation and not function.

The ankle boot finger loop should be big enough for a finger to thread into the loop so you can yank your boot over your heel. With this loop you don’t need to use a shoehorn. Yes it might cause the shoehorn business to take a hit if ankle boot designers began putting a functional version on all ankle boots, yet that is the plight of living in an era where clothing not only means fashion, but means utility as well.

On that utility note… WHY ARE THERE SO MANY ANKLE BOOTS THAT DON’T HAVE SPEED LACES? If you look at the photos, you’ll see a pair with holes for threading your laces as it goes up your ankle, and one with hooks for speed lacing your boot. I prefer the easier speed lace when compared to the cumbersome holes that at times have to be unlaced in order to accommodate me putting my foot in.

Yeah yeah, there is the argument that regular lace holes look better on an ankle boot, but I’m wearing an ankle boot for more than looks… it keeps the mud out, it keeps the cold breeze off. I want that extra ankle support, and I don’t want to wrestle with getting it on before I go to work in the morning.

That’s all.

Bad Design

Good Design

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Horween Shell Cordovan; is it worth the expense?

I purchased my first pair of Horween Shell shoes a little over 2 years ago. When they showed up I was hopeful, yet noticed that they were dull in their burgundy color (#8). I’m not a burgundy shoe fan in general, yet this wasn’t a regular burgundy shoe that I bought, it’s one that has a reputation for looking exquisite over time. There are photos abound on the Internet showing the glowing luster that Shell Cordovan mellows and warps into, and I bought that first pair in anxious excitement.

I wore them around town, danced in them, took them through evil weather and then took them through even more. Over that time I was wondering when that great patina would arrive, when that dull luster would go away. These after all are made of a material that is touted as having the ability to pull off a shine without needing polish. The shoe that has been through a tanning process so rigorous, that it sweats out its long term oil wax bath liquids in order to give you a natural coating with which to buff a shine.

That first pair is still dark, still doesn’t quite have the patina I was expecting, but in the shoe’s defense, I did abuse them in a way that most wearers in the 21st century would never do. I have many many pairs of leather dress shoes, and I wear those pairs like most men wear sneakers. To be realistic about shoes and why we wear them, In the end, it all comes down to how comfortable you are (let’s ignore fashion for a minute). The sole and the footbed of the shoe have to be more important than the upper if you expect to take them to and from work for several years. 

Being Men’s shoes, you want a pair that can be walked in day after day, and (yes you must rotate your shoes so you don’t soak them with sweat till they rot) take the punishment while still holding onto their stylish look when in the crowd. We live in a fast food world with fast food clothes (got that from my girlfriend), but we don’t need to give into that fast food idea of style. I bought these shoes to see if they wore better and would have that ‘special’ patina over time, and when compared to calf (the other well known leather in men’s dress shoes) I have to say yes to the wear. Yes, the uppers will get scratched and beaten and all you have to do is take a shine brush to them and go to town. You will need a little cordovan cream at times that will darken them a bit, yet when compared to the average leather you see on the foot of the man that (on rare occasion) will wear dress shoes and be next to you on the morning train, you can walk in confidence knowing that your shoes will look  less cracked and beaten to a pulp as the years go by.

As for the patina… yes… time passes with Horween Shell Cordovan. Some warp like my first pair and some crease and break at the perfect point on my foot and keep the shoe looking quite elegant (when near the other guys calf shoes). The patina, over time, makes the shoe glow, yet doesn’t really come to life unless in sunlight.

You’ll get stuff that looks like crud in those creases and that can be buffed out.
You’ll see a dull luster on the shoes that you think will not go away; ad some cordovan cream and brush like mad.

Buff them
Wear them in evil weather
Add cordovan cream now and again
Buff them again.

The answer is YES.

Oh, and I found that even though I love Ralph Lauren’s dark Cognac wingtips, the burgundy shell really works with… well almost anything. Gray, Navy, Brown...

P. S. They do get lighter in the creases over time, not darker… RAD!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The hat of tomorrow, today!

The first paragraph is interesting, but if you want to cut to the chase jump to the second.

Over the years (at least the ones I’ve been alive (and a few decades before)), the dimensions of menswear have changed from the look of fitted trousers and baggy jackets to fitted jackets and baggy trousers, to where it kinda is today… fitted jackets and tight trousers. This look being close to that of the look men wore in the 1960s, that slim blade through the city look that came about in a time where men were eliminating the hat from their wardrobe. In fact, if the man had a hat with his suit it would tend to be strictly for fashion alone, a hat with little to no sun protection, with a stingy brim and low profile crown so not to distract from the streamlined look. Well… I’m not quite against that look, yet as of late I have been frustrated by its permeation in sartorial society (primarily because I don’t have a streamlined human form). It’s wonderful that there is a more tailored ideal out there combating the hoards of people getting the high tear priced reproductions of mining clothing from the 1920s. Regardless of whether or not it’s what I love, it’s a step in an interesting direction. A direction that I want to see grow into a neo future styled world with a sea of people wearing retro futuristic clothing while talking to their holographic friends that are being projected out of small shiny robots that float and fallow our every move.


I have a pretty large collection of men’s hats that were produced within the last 100 years, and most of them are from the 1930s and 40s, back in what I consider the heyday of headwear.  Because I’m into the 1930s man about town aesthetic, I tend to go for hats that have a sense of proportion that was common in that era, brim not too wide, crown not too low; I’ve loved this balance so much with my wears that I have hunted down those vintage hats to keep me happy and covered when it rains. Or when I need to keep the sun off my face. Unfortunately there is a lack of this type of hat in this era unless you go custom. Yes, there are lots of hats on the market today. Hats that look like they go with many things, yet there are few, to my eye, that look as good with a well tailored 1930s style suit.  That’s why I’m releasing one onto today’s market. I hope you enjoy it.

It’s available for pre order now from Matt Deckard Apparel.

The Powell Fedora
in Tusk White

6” crown
2.5” brim
2” ribbon
bound edge
roan leather sweatband

To pre order one in your size, use paypal to send your address and hat size and $225.00 and $12.00 shipping to mattdeckard@yahoo.com

Please feel free to contact me with any questions.

A hat for the man of action.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Big 2011 Los Angeles Tweed Pub Crawl Followup

Now and again you just need to let go and hang out with your pals and tell all the odd tales and happy experiences of the year. I'm happy this is turning into such an occasion.

There were around 25 people, including members of Ask Andy's Fashion Forum and The Fedora lounge that attended. I give a hearty thanks to all that participated.

I know I had an amazing, and semi drunken, time that spanned the blocks of Los Angeles in a way only a native can do (even if the next location on the list was the best recommendation from the person next to me). I hope to see you all next year.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The 2nd Annual Los Angeles Tweed Pub Crawl Nov 10

There comes a time in life when friends, a cocktail and tweed are the only things between you and a night of being cold and alone.

The Second Annual Los Angeles Tweed Pub Crawl

Thursday November 10, 2011
Starting at 8:00pm

Wear your tweed. Whether it be a suit, a sport jacket, a cap, a scarf a skirt or a tie, put it on and let’s go out!

We’ll meet at the bar at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles and stroll to downtown’s finest purveyors of cocktails and ales. From 8pm ‘til we’re through.

Hope to see you there.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The suit shouldn't make your legs look shorter than they are.

With the low waist on the trousers and the bunching at the ankles, it just makes his legs look shorter than they are. 

There are other issues like the skinny tie and wide lapel imbalance, or the long bunching sleeves, but the critically awkward elements that stand out the most are the pants and the vest. They destroy any anatomical harmony that the eye can enjoy. 

He's a slim man; the long vest trying to go over the low wasted trousers gives it a saggy belly look. If he's going to wear a vest, he needs higher wasted trousers. The vest would have to be shorter giving focus to his trim waist.... Also, he should get those trousers hemmed, he's gonna get his heel caught in the leg and trip.

Good thing is he's wearing a suit. I've had worse fitting things, but I try not to wear them to red carpet functions.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Beverly Hills September 7th 2PM Stroll

This one's for the locals. I hear tell Andy Gilchrest (Ask Andy About Clothes) and Richard Torregrossa (author of Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style) may be meeting us along the way.

We meet at Brooks Brothers, head to Ralph Lauren, then to Leather Soul, then Carroll and Co. and to the the various shops around the blocks.

2pm at Brooks Brothers, I'll probably be going through shirts downstairs. Wear a suit and bring conversation.

It's a modern menswear crawl.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Bespoke Shoes in Hollywood

Willie's in Hollywood under the helm of Raul Ojeda is beginning to establish itself as a a top of the line bespoke shoemaker for more than just the studio circuit. The shop for years has been making custom lasts for the stars and has been working directly with Hollywood to design some of the most iconic footwear seen on screen. From Captain Kirks boots to to Wonder Woman's... well, boots, Willies has been in the business of making the stars walk like stars for over 50 years.

Raul's Custom Don Ville shoes promise to help your gate, as well as your looks. The baseline price for a first pair of shoes is around $1,600.00, then drops substantially after the last is made and your foot's needs are nailed. Yes... A high price, but when compared to the number of cheaper shoes you can go through, wouldn't it be nice to buy at least a pair a year that can be resoled and repaired to perfection to 17 years, than to have a three pairs of not quite right pairs a year that you may not even want repaired due to fickle fits and styling?

From my conversation with Raul yesterday, he's always studying the other shoemakers around the world and building on what he sees. I appreciate the fact that he's an encyclopedia on what everyone in the market is making in general.

Timeless, and you decide what you want.

Someday... someday. Best part is that they are local and I can stop by anytime I like just to watch the leather being sewn.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

Return of the Strawfut

The sequel to this post

I received a new pair of shoes yesterday, something I've been waiting a few years to see. The new Allen Edmonds Strawfut. Back in 2009, the only pair I'd seen were vintage and falling apart, yet I loved them just the same.

There were three main reasons I felt they were a fantastic shoe.

#1 The foot shape was just right for me. The shoes had a foot shape that was common for the day with a wide forefoot and narrow heel... this was a big plus that gave me lots of toe room; something which always made me regret my rack full of modern dress shoes that tend to be designed with a small toe box (my Hobbit-like feet require Hobbit-like shoes).

#2 They breathed. The shoes had a mesh that allowed air to flow freely around the foot. Being a Californian and a dancer who spends a lot of time on the floor, having shoes that breathe is a great bonus. They are shoes from the 1940s, and the construction is completely vintage, so when the mention of the mesh being nylon came up, the heads at Allen Edmonds thought it odd material to be used, even in the conversation with Paul Grangaard, the CEO of Allen Edmonds, I think he and their head designer thought nylon was a bit taboo when it came to shoes made for business. But being a material from the 1930s, it was a time when something like a nylon mesh to keep shoes air cooled was very innovative.

#3 They flexed and needed no break in time. With nylon mesh on much of the upper, there is no leather to break in on top of your foot. This makes them lighter and more maneuverable when it comes to... well, doing anything. They move and feel like leather soled sneakers.

A perfect off the shelf shoe when it came to my foot, yet the only way to get a pair was to hunt through vintage shops, or build a time machine, and with current science saying that you can't time travel back into the past unless you'd built your time machine there already -- well I guess I had to choose my own route.

I posted the shoes everywhere and wrote about how much I loved them. Because of this, I eventually received a call from the CEO of the still-existing Allen Edmonds company and we discussed the styles of the past.

It's a little over two years later, I still keep in contact with the company through emails now and again. And I also think it's high time I finished writing and showed you the new addition to the Allen Edmonds Spring shoe collection...

I received them in the mail yesterday. They are a veritable duplicate of the 1940s shoes made by Allen Edmonds.

Before I get to them, I have to say this,

I want to thank Paul Grangaard and Jim Kass and the whole Allen Edmonds company for returning the Strawfut to the their line of shoes. I hope you sell a million, and know that a good dress shoe that is flexible and really breathes is back on the market to fill a sartorial hole that has been very empty.

Thank you!

I do have to say that the ones I received are not the production model, but a special make. The production model is done on the #5 last that has a narrower toe.

Now to the shoes.

This pair made for me is done on the #1 last that has a wide toe-box like the originals. The footbed is Poron which is a space age dense memory foam wrapped in a layer of leather; very comfortable. The soles are Rendenbach leather that is a denser leather that can take more of a beating over time than the standard Allen Edmonds soles, and the heels are combination rubber leather, and I just like the look.

The (new) Strawfut

The production version is Available here.

Thursday, January 20, 2011