Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Don't fall off

So The last few day's... someone told me that they were on an ATV and had to remove their hat so not to lose their hat. 

Keeping your hat on your head
By Matt Deckard

The fitted hat
These are traditionally men’s hats such as the derby, the fedora and the top hat. They are made in multiple sizes or can be made custom to the exact size and shape of the wearer’s head. The preferred fit is loose enough to not leave a visible mark on the forehead, yet snug enough to hold on through aggravated movement or a brisk gust of wind. Just above the ears and the eyebrows around the circumference of the head. The hat is suspended on a band of leather or cloth that is pretty much gripping your skull to stay in place. For these styles, even the ballcap, keeping your hat from getting caught in the wind and flying away is a simple matter of proper fit.

The non-fitted hat
Most traditional women’s hats are made to fit on top of or over a multitude hairstyles. Because of this, there is no relying on a proper fit or a band of material fitted to the head that has to be precisely measured.
Non-fitted hats are affixed to the head by various techniques. Here are a few of them below.

1.    Combs with tines that are facing upwards into the hat. Putting the hat on requires the wearer to push the comb into the hair.
2.    An elastic strap that is affixed to the right and left side of the hat. Once the hat is in the proper place on the head, the elastic strap is stretched behind the head and placed under the hair to provide a solid anchor.
3.    Pins, some often 8 to 9 inches long, are pushed directly through the material of the hat, through the hairstyle, and out the other side of the hat.
4.    Clips/barrettes, some are very much like the combs but with the addition of a separate piece to the comb that clamps down once the comb is pushed into the hair adding a much stronger hold.
5.    Headband, the hat is affixed to a flexible crescent shape that grips the head when pushed down vertically into the hair. 

Whether it be a nurses cap that requires bobby pins to attach it to the top of the head by sliding the clips over the thin material while gripping your hair, or a helmet cloche that completely envelops the head and requires nothing to keep it in place, or the fascinator that may simply have a gator clip that clamps into the hair, there is no end to the spectrum of ways milliners have found to affix these pieces of art atop a client.


The bow around the crown

Signatures in bows. I was speaking to the hat folks at the opening of the @monsivaisco hatshop about certain signature details. Menswear is about slight little changes. Details almost imperceptible lest you are looking for them. The bow on these hats I dubbed the X-1 for stetson. The up kick of the bow is behind the longer end which is level with the hat. It's also done proper here with cotton stitch rather than the previously used clear thin fishing line thread. Unreleased, but back to the manufactures roots of using natural materials. There are a few other secrets to the bow, but it's one I'm very proud to have taken time to perfect and have executed properly, over and over and over again. #windcord #windtrolly

Saturday, July 1, 2017

The gravity of a person

Diane Naegel

I don't get around to what I want to do, 'til I do. 

She was one of those friends that I'd talk to daily, in a time when I think everyone was just figuring out relationships in a new way. Internet created a whole new world of culture and emotions and politics and she and I would talk about it all. But there was a grand difference between what a lot of other people I'd discuss life with saw and did and what she saw and did. We'd go toe to to with ideas about life and people. She'd go deep into the weeds when it came to all subjects, but she had that field around her that defused and incopasicated the drama. It came from just being there and loving and wanting to know people for who they really were. An absolute lack of malice with a strong curiosity. 

She and I were close, and we'd talk daily. I'd love hearing that ping in the morning so I could see what was going on with her mother or the new guy she'd met, or some debate over adding an item to the line for Osh-Kosh. I'd tell her how I could go out and spend the night dancing, but then I'd just go out and kinda hide in the shadows fearing in a way that I'd have to talk to someone when I knew I went out to engage and see people. 

Introvert extrovert is tossed out a lot these days, but she got me when it came to how I didn't like to be swallowed by the world I was in, but wanted to give it all I saw. Odd to think about, and odd to execute. 

We'd go on and on typing and calling over the phone and at sometimes skyping about what and why she was working on for Osh-Kosh, and she made me feel like the only person she knew on the west coast. Like I was an essential person to her life that saw things in a lot of ways how she saw things, and knowing how special she was to the world, and knowing that what she did was magical to my eyes, I couldn't wait to hear that ping at times that would tell me that someone I could share all with was messaging me to share her day, insights, her thoughts. She'd tell me how I could break people down so easily, and want to listen to everything. Even when I didn't engage with them, she instigated me to get out of the shadows more and get back to just dancing and just ask for dances and I'd often ignore. She knew when I dance I make new friend with every song, not just have a dance. We'd roam around shops and I'd trail behind her at the vintage fashion expos as we'd gab about who and why and what would work in her next line. It wasn't about having an eye, it was about knowing all the pieces of the pie of humanity and who, where (where the person lived) someone would just see what was being made, and knowing that it would grab the eye because -- if she were that person, in that life, she'd buy that. And she inspired me and helped me feel that that gift of just reading a culture, I had it too. She'd listen to all my mistakes and I to hers and it was all okay because people learn.

When she decided to start a new publication, I believed and trusted she'd make it happen. She was a true leader and she could do it. And she asked me for an article and to help bring in some ads to support the first issues. She did it. She saw the idea, laid it out and all the way made me feel as though I was giving her as much energy to not fail as she gave me to just put myself out there. She never got to see me accomplish some of the feats I feel she told me I could. 

She found a man out there in New York that she loved dearly, and what I loved hearing was that he got her too. She surprised herself and we'd talk back and forth about being accepted loving a man when she'd dated so many women before, but this one made her feel and know he was right for her. When she messaged me telling me her cancer had returned I sunk. I was reading through those old messages on those mornings again that prompted this. She had a double mastectomy and chemo was destroying her, but she was worried about something she felt so my mind was all on "get yourself to the doctor" and her mind was very much on wanting her guy to not worry about her. 

The point is, I'm an oddball in a lot of ways. But when I find someone that gets me, I'm overjoyed. She was one that got everyone but didn't hide it, she helped me glow. Cancer took her. I told her in person once how much she made me feel as though I was accepted. She left a mark on my soul, and left a magazine for what she loved as a legacy. 

Now Onward.

This is the last Article Diane Naegel and I spoke about. She read it once and I think edited it a bit. It's in an out of print Zelda so I figure it's time to put it out there.

Under Your Collar and Over Your Buttons
Yesterday’s Version of Today’s Necktie

Because you need to protect yourself from the elements, and men are always working on newer and better outfits for warfare, menswear form usually really does follow function. Suits tend to walk in the footsteps of field uniforms made for combat the idea is easy wear and care. This goes for men’s hats and shoes as well, for example, the holes in your perforated wingtips were originally a functional design made to let out water when walking through bogs. However, unlike the other pieces of clothing men wear, the necktie has no other purpose other than to ad color. No it’s not to keep your neck warm like a scarf, it doesn’t hold the collar closed unless you have lost a button, and it isn’t for wiping up your dripped ketchup like your handkerchief. The necktie is unlike any of those things. It’s not like the cufflink that holds your shirt closed at the wrist. The tie is decoration and decoration alone.

Since this is Zelda, I’ll stick to those ties that were around before that second war to end all wars. The ties that were there after the great “you can wear anything as a tie” period and before the long, thick and gaudy “this is a tie” period took hold.

In the 1910s and 20s, the necktie came into its own and changed from being a thin ribbon or a big flouncy draping piece of silk. The cut and drape of the ties became standardized following in the footsteps of the sack suit that had arrived a few decades earlier. It was the cut for an industrial era that came with it the demands of an industrial etiquette. Wrapped around the neck, tied into a knot in front of the collar and the tip falling downward ending in a diamond shaped point that stopped a couple inches above the belly.

They may sound boring or staid with their new cookie cutter shape and length, but the purpose of the tie still remained. It was that peacock flare that a man used to show his spirit. Even though there were now rules involved, the tie had to shine past those rules. In an era of jazz and gangsters and prohibition and a boring industrial origin, it turned into the palette for display of affiliation wealth and attitude that nothing else in a man’s wardrobe could rival.

The ties from the 1910s and before WWII were very specific in their design and construction, and even though you can still buy representations of these ties from a myriad of shops that pride themselves on how stodgy they are and how little they have changed there wears since their beginnings, the ties these shops sell today are truly only representations of something that was once great. Representations with all the life and beauty and elegance and simplicity sucked out of them. So please don’t wear them, and here is why.

#1 Length: When it comes to modern ties they are outrageously long.
Being an item that was meant to dress up the neck and disappear into the closure of the jacket, they don’t. They peek out from below your jacket and hang over the waistband of your trousers. You’ll often end up checking to see if you peed on the tip when leaving the restroom. And tucking it in your pants isn’t an option since that just looks weird and will bulge your jacket upward when you sit down.

#2 Weight: When it comes to modern ties they are outrageously heavy and thick.

It’s a pendulum rather than a display of silk, a pendulum that swings back and forth paying n attention to that breeze of wind that would ad romance to the tie if it had any. With this outrageous weight and bulk, you can’t tie knots that jut away from your collar, you can’t ad pins or collar bars because the knots turn out way too big. In fact with the modern tie and it’s bulk the tie ends up being all about the knot.

# 3 Shape: When it comes to modern ties they are outrageously straight and BORING.

It wasn’t meant to be a stripe from your collar to below your waistband with a sole purpose being covering your buttons. The tie would start at your neck as a tight knot and the sides would become further and further apart as the silk descended, and at the widest point, a point that was usually an inch or 2 away from the waistband of your trousers, the sides would stop their spread and jut back toward a centerline, ultimately giving the tie a diamond shape. The bottom end of the tie was glorious arrow, which dictated that below that waistline was the wearer’s manhood. With the modern silk bar they make today, you just have something that hangs from your collar with a tip that runs past your waistline…  just a button cover that is roped around yourneck.

Now where can you find a tie today that isn’t a long gaudy silk rope?

Well you can hunt vintage shops and hope I haven’t already been there, but there are a couple other options.

The closest in make and design on the market today are those ties made for the Rugby line of Ralph Lauren. They are simply the silk twill with a light weight interlining, no loop in the back to pass the shorter end through and an unlined tip… this is important because you may want to gently iron that tie tip out into more of a diamond shape to capture that gentle spread ties used to make. Just chop off about 4 from the narrower end and tie the tie so it hangs a few inches above your waistline and you are good to go.

You could also go to Brooks Brothers and head straight for the boys department. In there you will find ties that are made to meet the needs of a man of normal stature. Why they put them there, I don’t know… but in a pinch when you are in pants that actually sit at your waist, they fit the bill.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Fallen arches. Not the defeated enemies in front of you, the enemies beneath you

It’s always been a trick, having shoes in which you can walk all over town, then deciding that you want to attend a venue where you’ll be dancing and realizing… these shoes I’m wearing… they have rubber soles and they don’t spin worth a damn!

A few years back I wrote an article about shoes that can transition from dancing to walking without skipping a step. It was all about leather soled classic men’s dress shoes, and who makes the right ones.  But after that I took a job that required walking around a concrete floor day in day out and running at times from one factory to another across gravel and mashed down sand. Not the ideal environment for a soft-footed man like myself. It got to a point where I flew to Manhattan on business and realized I was not just limping, I was nearly wanting a wheelchair due to the pain. I’d torn my plantar and my doc said it was from … well running up and down long runways of concrete.

Apparently you can still dance with a torn plantar as the two things don’t really have anything in connection if you are spinning around on the balls of your feet… you just need more stamina to stay up there and not put your heel down, the heel of a foot being a very important part of walking, but no so much for dancing.

So I was in Manhattan and walking across the island and decided… yes… sneakers and a suit… if it works for David Tennant as Doctor Who, it can work for me. But it didn’t. No matter what I wore, it was still a torn ligament and pain and staying on the toe of one foot was the rigor of the trip.

So soon after I returned to Dallas I went to a specialist, and they took a mold of my foot in order to make custom orthotics. These things cost a bit over $400 so they gotta cure the issue -- or so I’d thought. As I waited the month to get the orthotics made, I moved back to California. I was in a boot on my right foot, and on my left I was wearing a lift from a company called Evenup -- If you have a boot on, the lift for the other foot is a necessity as I still have a pang in my hip from wearing that boot before I found the lift. You have to be even!

The custom orthotics didn’t work (there is such a thing as bad bespoke). Yet, before I even got the orthotics I hunted down every pharmacy and foot specialist device I could, asking what can alleviate my pain. The best option at the start were from Superfeet… they did relieve the issue some, and I give great credit for how smashing they felt versus the old hard surface of leather soled shoe, yet they didn’t take the cake when it came to finding something that was strategically aimed at the exact problem I had, and that was that maddening dot on my heel that, if stepped on wrong, caused agony and an awkward gait e.g. wobbly me.

So as much as they were okay, they weren’t the solution. They were better than the custom molded orthotics, yet they were still just not the thing to get me from point A to B in style, or even absent of style prior to my injury.

In-steps the drug store find!

Put them in your dress shoes and they are frakking amazing. Put them in your sneakers and they are Frelling amazing!

There are four different versions of the exact same device and I’ve gone through all of the others… some that were the top of their game before these hit the market. Buy them. I looked and looked and found something that looked different than the bunk I was wearing and I thought I should order those. They were a UK brand and I liked the concept because what I read sold me.

https://www.sofsole.com/product/Plantar_Fascia I never wore them, yet I in desperation was in a Walgreens and saw their Tribalance Orthotic, and to my eye, they looked the same, so I bought a pair. I remind you that I’d gone through all the other insoles thinking they may help, but these were solid. An arch support, a doughnut feel for the heel and just for the heck of it, a little cushion for the ball of the foot. I’d been looking… they were new to the store and I had to have them and they worked. Someone finally figured it out! At least for my issue. Soon after I saw more of the exact same style of orthotic pop into stores. Even Doctor Scholl’s that brand that’s the most common of all made an exact version of what I’d bought as the Walgreens brand.

Anywho. Much better than the bespoke molded orthotics, at least in my case.

The finest help for plantar issues!

I love my feet, and I love yours too. These are exactly the same in what they do and are from all I can see exact replicas of the UK version I saw and read about and understood. And I have all three of these and they are all Brilliant.

Check them out and tell me what you yourself think. I’m wearing them in my dress shoes out dancing tonight … and walking.

1. Walgreens Tribalance inserts https://www.walgreens.com/store/c/walgreens-men's-plantar-fasciitis-orthotic-insoles/ID=prod6220766-product?skuId=sku6192680

2. CVS Plantar Fasciitis orthotics  http://www.cvs.com/shop/personal-care/foot-care/inserts-insoles/cvs-health-men-s-plantar-fascia-orthotics-2ct-prodid-982121?skuId=982121

3. Dr. Scholl’s. https://www.drscholls.com/productsandbrands/tricomfort/

Thursday, February 23, 2017

A word to the museums -- SAVE OUR HATS!

Wendy Ann Rosen

She’s a well-known Hollywood makeup artist, but to me, she’s a god-send to hatting’s history. She’s even served Cary Grant a drink once… and she pointed out he was wearing velvet slippers at the time. She’s been wearing hats since she was a child, and never stopped. Over time she began collecting them to the point where she began cataloging the art and boxes of which there are one of each left in some cases. She inundated me with a waterfall of knowledge on all the old boutique brands and designers that once were in the height of demand yet are now forgotten in time due to them being part of an industry that became a shadow of it’s goliath self. And it’s not just the hats… it’s the promotional materials, the catalogs, the displays, the posters, the branded brushes and the giant window ornamentation that would draw the eye of a shop's passerby.

She’s on a mission right now to preserve this collection and when it comes to getting the word out, it’s time voices got louder. She looks to catalog all of what she has and build a database that hopefully can showcase all of the brands and styles and what once was common knowledge to some, but now lost knowledge to all. The stories she has… the tales of the old department stores and shops that would just carry accessories. I will go back to hear more and write down more. But this message is just to say, she’s out there. She’s been a magnet for hatting history, milliner history, designer label history. And I hope to see it all carefully preserved and exhibited for the world to see. As she pointed out… the last time she saw a hat on display in a museum… it was just the hat on a stick… no reference to who made it, or images of the inside…. To us, it’s important!


Thursday, February 2, 2017

J. Crew Ludlow Shoes

Not about Alden, Allen Edmonds… Johnston and Murphy
Image may contain: shoesThere are a few grand companies still left in the US that classic American shoe.
I do wish they would make more ankle boots as I tend to go off roading in my leather souled footwear and there is a big hole in the market when it comes to a good old balmoral boot; It seems everyone jumps right into making the bluchers when it’s just not the same thing -- a tale for another post.
J. Crew a few years back separated its menswear from its womenswear and when this happened they took the menswear into a very collegial high end old money aesthetic. 60s style fitted corduroy trousers with small embroidered pheasants or dogs, narrow ties with coat of arms looking shields leather dopp kits for the man on the road needing to keep his shaving gear in a properly classic case. With all of this came the shoes as well. Proper shoes… wingtips that were double souled leather with pebble grains and slippery heels. The kind of shoes you wear on an elevator while heading to sit at your desk that has that extra white shirt in the drawer for when you spill your bourbon on yourself before the meeting.
For the shoes, they went to the most prolific of the American made brands, and that was Alden of New England. One of the last surviving American factory made dress shoe brands, they showed up at the new J.Crew and made a splash to the point where J. Crew began doing special makes of ankle boots and special colors… Now to the reason why I’m writing.
The Alden shoes retail for nearly $600 when you add the tax. A bit out of most men’s budgets… and for a shoe for a traditional mall store… often something that stands out as a bit out of place. So J. Crew decided to do something within it’their men’s shoes that’s a bit more approachable to the mass market that covets the stoic studying genius look. They made reproductions of the Alden shoes… very close when it comes to design, fit and materials, and sold them for half the price of the Alden shoes.
Image may contain: shoes and bootsHandcrafted in China.
So I bought three pairs.
The ankle boots in russet brown, and a black pair and a russet brown pair of the low quarter captoe style.
Off the bat they look and feel just like Alden shoes. The leather used are said to all be imported to China for the hand making of the shoes and the uppers are very very fine calf skin with very tight pores. Very much like the Alden leathers that take a beautiful shine. The soles are dense and tough like Rendenbach would produce. Hard and so far they appear to be wearing down very slowly without deforming.
Image may contain: shoesThe footbed is taking a while to break in. Usually with high end leather soled shoes… Like Alden and Allen Edmonds, there is the leather sole, a bed of cork above that sole you walk on, and a leather footbed on which you stand. The cork sandwiched between after a few wearings helps the footbed take the shape of your foot so you get a custom shape to walk on. These are taking their time so I’m not sure if these have that cork layer or not, they may just take a while to break in because they use a tougher upper layer of leather. The shoes are fully lines in calfskin so your foot slides in easily while wearing socks, and the back of the heel has the rough side out so it grips to your heel and your foot doesn’t slide out while walking.
The ankle boots have a last (foot shape) with a larger toe box. I like this for the look and for the fact that I have a wide forefoot. The low quarter shoes have a narrower toe box but not too narrow… they look like shoes made in the 1940s and I love them for that reason.
They have a well placed heel cushion under a thin piece of leather and a combination leather and rubber heel. Being a swing dancer I tend to prefer rubber heels lately because I kinda like being able to put on the brakes while spinning.
I’m still breaking them all in, but first impressions are that these are like new Aldens. As I’ve written before, I have very fickle feet when it comes to what I wear. The stiffness tends to be a pain and if that goes away I’ll love them a lot more. I know Alden and Allen Edmonds break in faster. They feel very balanced for walking and dancing but I do wish they made them in a wide or E sizing.
If you want something that is absolutely the finest reproduction of a classic vintage American business shoe, these fit the bill. I’ll dance in them for a while and write a follow-up.
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