Fall Dapper Day

Dapper Day, the twice annually event that both well dressed folks and Disney lovers look forward to every year, was last weekend. Last fall Dapper Day I wore a western ensemble with slacks, and I enjoyed that so much I decided to go with a similar outfit, and as the weather was quite cool, Patrick finally wore a jacket and tie ensemble! And I actually managed to snap a couple pictures of him.

Patrick’s jacket is honestly one of my favorite pieces in his wardrobe. And believe it or not, I thrifted it years ago! His whole outfit was a hit, and I’m pretty happy the man put the outfit together on his own!

The wooden Disneyland inspired D brooch is a new gem from Match Accessories, who recently launched a Frontierland inspired collection. When I ordered this new D they made mine a little special, and swapped out a boot for the Smoke Tree Ranch brand. Smoke Tree Ranch was a beloved getaway spot for Walt Disney and his family. He loved the Palm Springs club so much that he regularly wore ties embroidered with the ranch’s brand. In fact the Partners statue in front of Sleeping Beauty’s Castle features the brand on Walt’s tie. Read more on Walt and Smoke Tree Ranch here.

The only sad thing about this outfit, is that the hat is the same one I wore last fall Dapper Day, and as much as I would have loved to have worn a different one, I don’t actually own that many cowboy hats, mainly because I am extremely picky. Like this hat is absolute perfection, and I would love to own this exact hat in a variety of colors! The trials of vintage!

Outfit
Hat: Orange Circle Antique Mall, Orange, California
Blazer: Red Light, Portland, Oregon
Blouse: Frock You, San Diego, California
Slacks: Paper Moon, Los Angeles, California
D Brooch: Match Accessories
String Tie & Ring: I don’t remember…
Belt: Found by my dad
Shoes: Re-Mix

 

Patrick’s Outfit
Jacket: Thrifted
Shirt & Pants: Nordstorm
String Tie: Borrowed from me, of course! But I don’t remember…
Shoes: Allen Edmonds

Manly Mondays: Jackets

Mens jackets can be a huge hit or miss for me.  While most men can’t go wrong with a good leather bomber jacket, I can’t pull that off and I’ve lost my taste for sports coats, so I have to look for vintage jackets. I started looking for vintage jackets to replace my classic Dickie “garage style” jacket a little over a year ago, and didn’t find anything for months until suddenly I had found two within a few weeks and another one shortly after.

Early 50s Homemade Green Jacket

I got this from Carla at Bohemian Vintage in exchange for taking some photos of garments for her website. Originally I didn’t like it at all. But Janey insisted I get it and it has since become my favorite day to day coat. It’s light enough to wear in almost any weather and compliments almost all of my shirts. It’s also long enough not to have to tuck in shirts.  This is something to keep in mind when trying on jackets and coats. Many mid-century jackets are of “Ike” length.  This term comes from the army jackets from WWII and the Korean War that were known as “Ike Jackets”.  These short, waist-cropped military jackets were made at the request of then General Eisenhower, thus their nickname.

50s Copper Coat

Janey’s dad found this beautiful wool copper colored coat in Eugene. It was super cheap (I’ve forgotten how much but I think it was around $20) as the lining was trashed. Janey patched up the lining with some new satin and it looks as good as new.

50s Gabardine Ricky Jacket

I bought this amazing 50s Gaberdine “Ricky” jacket from a friend a few months ago. It has bright red satin lining and looks like it was never worn. He kept it in his closet for the last several years. Good Gabardine jackets like this one regularly go for $150 and upwards. More expensive jackets tend to be reversible and/or have a design to in the fabric.  The source of the term “Ricky” jacket is debatable. Some claim that it is named for Ricky Ricardo (the character portrayed by Desi Arnaz in the 50s hit I Love Lucy), while others argue it was after singer Ricky Nelson.  Regardless of the name’s history, Ricky jackets tend to be of Ike length and have a fabric collar and either flap or slash pockets.

New Wool Overcoat

This overcoat occupies a special role in my wardrobe, it only gets worn when I dressed up for a nice night out and it’s very cold outside. I picked this up at Peacock (now closed) for only $60 and considered it a steal.  Overcoats tend to lend themselves to special occasions and are long due to the fact they need to covre up the suit jacket or tuxedo jacket underneath.

Buying Coats

When you are looking for coats there are few things to look out for.

  • Older coats and jackets are generally shorter.  If you don’t tuck your shirts in all the time pay attention to length.
  • Inspect the lining. This is one of the first things to break down in older coats. Just make sure there are no holes or rips and you should be fine.  Otherwise you will be paying a rather hefty price to replace the lining, but it is worth it if you really love a coat.

Care and Storage

Jackets need to be dry cleaned.  When you store your jackets, get high quality wooden hangers.  They help hold the shape of the jacket better. Like shirts make sure you button or zip your jackets to help them hold shape.

Manly Mondays: Evening Attire

Up until now I’ve spared you from dress shirts, ties, and suits. But now its time to man up and look fantastic for a night out. Finding a nice dinner jacket and pants can make it a breeze to get dressed for a fancy night out.

Shirt and Cufflinks

French cuff shirts are the only thing to wear under a dinner jacket. Cufflinks look better then a normal buttoned cuff and and are one of my favorite accessories.  Cufflinks can be sleek and simple or creative and whimsical, and often have a matching tie clip.  Cufflinks can be found everywhere from Goodwill to antique malls to high end vintage shops to Etsy.

Like a lot of other mens clothes, shirts were often tailored to fit the wearer, so finding a vintage one is difficult. I ended up getting one at Nordstrom for my wedding and had it tailored.

When you go out to buy a new shirt, suck it up and ask a sales associate to help. Shirts are fitted based on your neck size, shoulder width and how long you want the sleeves to be. If you already have your jacket, bring it along when you shop for your shirt so you can get the right sleeve length.

Because shirts are measured at the neck and shoulders, they often run to large everywhere else to accommodate larger body sizes. The downside to this is there can often be a lot of fabric left over when you are done tucking you shirt in. Without tailoring, my shirt would resemble a small tent hanging from my neck. Get your shirt tailored, it costs less then $20 and you can often get it done when you buy your shirt.

Jacket

Your jacket is arguably the most important piece of your ensemble, it sets the tone for your entire outfit so its important to get it right. Fitting at the shoulders is essential, as almost anything else can be tailored. A quick tip to check shoulder size is to lean against a wall, if the shoulder of your jacket touches the wall before your arm the jacket is to big. Getting things tailored can be expensive, but fortunately you can find dress pants and dinner jackets just about everywhere and they tend to be cheap. I just picked up a 1930s dinner jacket with matching pants for $25, so my total cost after tailoring the set shouldn’t be too much.

Pay attention to the width of your lapels, they should be proportional to your  shoulder width, if you have larger shoulders don’t pick a huge lapel because it will make your shoulders look even broader. Thin lapels will also make your narrow shoulders look small and wearing fat lapels with narrow shoulders will be overbearing. Start at around a two inch lapel and go from there. Your lapel width will also determine how wide your tie can be. Try to keep your tie width within a 1/2 inch of your lapels.

Tie

Ties are a staple of vintage shops and thrift stores and since almost no one ever looks you can afford to be picky. Your tie is the central visual piece of your outfit so its important to pick something that looks good and stands out. Be unique with your choice of ties.  It’s a great way to reflect your personal tastes and style. Just remember to keep the width of your tie around the width of your lapels and make sure the style matches.

If you don’t know how to tie a tie, start by learning the Four-In-Hand knot. It’s the easiest knot to learn and will get you through about any situation. If you want a good link this site has a few different kinds of knots if you are looking for something different.

Tie width and design vary a lot depending on the decade.  The 1940s saw wide ties with some fabulous and, at times, flamboyant designs.  The 1950s started with the wider ties of the 40s, but as the decade went on, they became very narrow and by the 1960s, one inch ties were all the rage with more subtle designs.

Pants

Black pants and nicely shined black shoes compliment just about any tie and jacket. Pants should either be the same color as your jacket or a solid color that compliments your jacket.  Navy jacket? Black pants.  Brown and tan fleck jacket? Brown or tan pants.   Additionally, you want to be careful with where your “break” is. The break is how much fabric gathers at your shoes when you are standing. If your pants are too long it will show because to much fabric will gather. If your pants are too short you will show some ankle and look like you don’t know how to dress yourself. Effortless Gent has a great guide on how to get the right break.

Finding Everything

Check out your local Goodwill. Many resale stores such as Buffalo Exchange often don’t take mens formal wear because they think they can’t sell it. If you find something at a thrift store, you will probably have enough money leftover to get it tailored. Look for a simple style that will go with just about everything.

Often, the menswear section at vintage shops is small, however there are a handful that tend to specialize in menswear. In Portland we have Hollywood Vintage and Avalon. You’ll find a lot of good stuff in one place, but the price goes way up. A jacket and pants might cost you $70-$150.

When you shop, make sure you know your shoulder measurement (the width from tip to tip on your shoulders) as well as your neck, waist and inseam measurements.

To get you started here is an Etsy treasury of vintage cufflinks. They range from about $10-$200 so you should find something in your price range.

Manly Mondays: Shoes

Until around a year ago I wore exclusively Converse and would simply buy a new pair every year when the old pair wore out. Then I found this amazing pair of Justin boots at a local vintage store that felt like they were made for me. Since then I have been hunting down vintage shoes and boots. But I wont lie, finding vintage shoes and boots isn’t easy.

Why Go Vintage?

One word, fit. Vintage shoes (and new high quality shoes) are made mostly of leather (including the sole), which will stretch and break in beautifully. This is also one of the things that makes buying vintage shoes so difficult. You will often find shoes that fit, but were broken in by someone with a very different foot than you.

But it’s still possible to find good vintage shoes, and it’s possible to find newer shoes that still look old and are handmade of leather, many of which are still made in the United States. These often turn up at vintage and thrift shoes for fractions of what they cost brand new.

Boots

Boots are a great addition to your wardrobe, they are stylish enough to go with anything, especially jeans and tough enough to be worn everyday without worrying too much. I own two pairs of boots the vintage Justin cowboy boots and a pair of new Frye boots.

Cowboy boots are easy to find at vintage and thrift stores, costing fractions of what they do new (a very nice pair of cowboy boots will run between $100 to $300).  Just keep looking until you find a pair with a good fit for around $30 to $60.

These Frye boots cost quite a bit, $250 to be exact, but I know I will be wearing these for the rest of my life. They are made of leather, but have a Neoprene sole. The rubber sole is great because leather soles trend to breakdown faster in the rain (and it rains a lot in Oregon) so these make great fall and winter boots.

Wingtips and Dress Shoes

I have had the misfortune to only find one pair of wingtips that fit me really well.  They are newer Allen Edmonds and I love them to death. They are all leather and have a great look and finish to them. I see oxfords and wingtips at thrift stores regularly and they are not too expensive. I also have a pair of newer black dress shoes that I keep for special occasions.

What To Look For

When shoe shopping here are a few things to look for:

  • All leather. Leather shoes are like leather jackets.  You break them in to create a great fit. If a newer shoe has a leather sole it will generally say inside the shoe. If it just has a “Leather Upper” the sole is usually fake leather which will break down sooner.
  • Made in the USA or Italy. The highest quality boots and shoes are still made in the good ol’ US of A or in Italy.
  • Find a good store. If you are going to buy new, buy from a good local shoe store.  The sales staff at at these smaller stores are incredibly knowledgeable. I had a clerk who could tell I needed a pair of 10 1/2s and not 11s, just by the way I walked. They also tend to stock good brands of high quality shoes. So you can try before you buy.

In Portland, I love Louie’s and Johnny Sole to buy shoes at. If you want to look at some good shoe brands, look at Frye boots, which are still handmade (in Mexico and US) of leather are are stylish and tough. Allen Edmonds are all made in the US and they have a great clearance section on their website.

Shoe Care

Now that you are buying leather shoes you need to take care of them. This means polishing and in some cases waterproofing. I use Kiwi polish for my shoes and I treat my Fryes with some leather cream that came with them. Polishing is a simple process,

  1. Clean all the dirt and dust off your shoes, use a slightly damp rag or cloth.
  2. Evenly apply the polish and rub it in with a polish applicator or rag.
  3. Buff the polish with a polishing brush.  These can be purchased along with your polish. Sprinkle a little water on as you polish to add shine.

Polishing helps your shoes look good. You can also apply waterproofing and leather creams to your shoes to help keep the leather soft.

Manly Mondays: Shirts

Contemporary mens fashion can sometime seem a little dull… Jeans, t-shirts, sneakers, etc., everything emblazoned with logos and brands. Vintage shirts however can often be found for less than contemporary shirts and come in a variety of styles and fashions, not to mention they tend to be of better quality.

60s Button Downs

I’ve come to love these 60s button down shirts where the stitching contrasts the fabric. The have a nice loose fit and work well with any pants and jacket. They can be found fairly easily at any vintage clothing store and are usually $35 or less.  I found this one at Elsewhere Vintage in Orange, California.

Western

Western wear was especially popular in the 40s and 50s and was often handmade and embroidered of gaberdine wool. These shirts are incredibly hard to find and expensive, often going to over $200. Fortunately there was a western wear revival in the 70s (with folk music) and through the 80s (with the release of  the film Urban Cowboy) as a result there is a lot of newer western wear that is still of high quality that is more affordable than to 40s and 50s pieces. Much of these later pieces are made of either cotton or polyester, and most sport some fantastic designs. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t find a style you like, there are loads of different designs, so keep looking and you are sure to find something.  I have had lots of luck with western wear at various Buffalo Exchange locations.

Linen and Gabardine

Shirts made of linen and gabardine occupy a space between everyday wear and dress shirts.  They are very, very nice, but tend to be a little more expense around $40-$60.  Gabardine is a very tight knit of wool generally found in 4os clothing. It’s incredibly high quality and very fashionable.  Linen is great at keeping you cool and breathes well, it also feels strong and smooth. The downside is, as Janey puts it, “If you look at linen wrong will wrinkle.”  So buying a linen shirt is not to be taken lightly. This one was just too great to pass up.  Portland’s own Living Threads Vintage has a great selection of menswear, which is where I picked up this linen shirt.

Taking Care Of Your Shirts

You can save yourself extra laundry and extend the life of your shirts by getting some plain white undershirts. These can help protect your vintage shirts from sweat and reduces the need to wash them. I can wear shirts for a few weeks without washing if I wear them with undershirts, just wash your undershirts and keep everything clean.

Another tip to extending the life of your shirts is hang drying. After washing your shirts (in cold water), take them out of the washer, put them on a hanger, buttoning the first two buttons, and then hang them on your shower rod. The heat from dryers can weaken fabric over time.

Gaberdine, since it is wool, should be dry cleaned whenever possible.  If not, hand-washing with Woolite, and laying flat to dry is the best alternative method.

If your shirts get wrinkled you can take this quick tip from Janey: hang your shirt up in the bathroom before taking a hot shower, the steam from the shower should get out the worst wrinkle and keep your shirts nice without washing or ironing.

Always hang your vintage shirts if you can. Folding them into a drawer damages the shapes and lines of the collars (and the rest of the shirt). To persevere the collar shape button the first one or two buttons up near the collar, this helps keep the shape of the collar intact.

Sizing

For the most part you can safely look for mens shirts that match the size of t-shirt you wear, but before you rush out an buy shirts, get your wife or girlfriend to help you take three simple measurement to help you fit your shirts right.

  • Neck: Measure around the lower middle part of your neck (where a dress shirt collar would sit). 14-14 1/2 is small, 15-15 1/2 is medium , 16-16 1/2 is large.
  • Shoulders: Measure from the middle of the rounded portion of your shoulder to the same point on the opposite shoulder.
  • Chest: Measure around the broadest part of your chest

Most shirts won’t have all three of these measurements.  Many have just the neck, but it gives you a good idea on how to quickly size things.

Vintage Shirts On Etsy

To get you started, I made an Etsy Treasury with a selection of shirts for you to get some ideas and possibly purchase.

Manly Mondays: Jeans

It may seen strange that in a series about vintage mens fashion that I’m going to tell you go out and buy new jeans, but read on and find out what to buy and why.

One of the best favors you can do for yourself is to stop buying pre-washed, pre-shrunk jeans at the mall or second-hand jeans and start breaking in and shrinking you very own pair of Levis 501 Shrink to Fit. But why buy new jeans when vintage or broken in jeans are so easy to find? Quite simply you can get a better fit if you shrink the jeans yourself rather then buying a vintage pair.

Getting the Perfect Fit

Denim shrinks when it gets wet, traditionally cowboys would buy a new pair of raw denim jeans (which are very, very stiff) and walk into a river and then wear the jeans for several months without washing. The jeans would shrink and conform to the wearer’s body for the perfect fit. This is one of the huge reasons not to buy vintage jeans, they will have been fitted to someone else’s body so the same size and brand will not give you a constant fit.

Shrinking Your Jeans

It’s really easy to shrink Levi’s.  Buy a pair that is a little larger then the size you want them to end up (check the labels!), fill up your bathtub with warm-hot water and soak the jeans in them for about an hour then let them dry. If you let them drip dry all the way you should have a very stiff pair of jeans ready to break in. If you want your jeans to be a little more wearable drip dry until they are just damp (no longer dripping), then throw them in a dryer on “air” or “tumble” dry for one cycle.

I’ll be honest wearing the jeans is a little uncomfortable for the first day or two, but the longer you wear them more they will slowly break in and you will get a really nice fit. You should wear your jeans for about three to six months without washing, this is key because it will help lock in some of that deep indigo color.

Washing

After breaking them in, turn your jeans inside out (helps a bit to keep the color), pour a small amount of Woolite Dark into your bathtub, then fill it up with warm water (if you want to shrink the jeans a little more) or cold water (avoids shrinking and helps lock in color) and agitate your jeans around in it for a few minutes. Woolite will help keep some of the color in as you wash, then rinse with cold water and let dry either by drip drying, or on the air setting in the dryer.

How often you wash will determine the fade of your jeans.  If you want rich darker colors, wash as little as you can stand. I only wash mine every few months, which is actually fine. If you want a dramatic fade, wash a little more often.

I’ve been wearing the pair of jeans in these photos for about four or five months and first washed them about three months after purchasing. They still have a nice deep blue color and fit great. I have two other pairs at varying degrees of wear, including one which is faded a little more and a pair that is hardly worn for nicer events where I can still wear jeans.

How to Buy

You should be able to find Levi’s 501’s at an outdoor or western wear store. I buy mine at the Portland Outdoor Store for around $45, which is a good deal for the quality and durability of the jeans. If you want something different look for the following…

  • Look for raw, unwashed or unstanforized denim. This means it will shrink to your size.
  • If you want the fanciest pair of jeans possible, get raw selvage denim. It will cost north of $150. I have yet to get a pair, but it supposed to be the longest lasting and highest quality material you can buy.
  • Don’t buy anything that is already distressed.  It is much more satisfying to break it in yourself.

Links

  • The Selvedge Yard  has some great photos of Bing Crosby‘s denim tuxedo.
  • Art of Manliness has another good intro to buying jeans.
  • This question on Quora has a lot of great suggestions on small brand denim jeans, the prices might cause dizziness.

Finally if you didn’t take my advice last week and watch Put This On, go watch the episode on denim right now.

Manly Mondays: An Introduction

Hello!  I’m Patrick, Janey’s husband.  Over the past year I’ve gotten into the vintage fashion scene (in no small part thanks to her) and I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts and opinions  and give out some tips to other guys interested in vintage fashion.

Over the next few weeks I am planning to write posts on several topics and share some of my fashions and resources. Here is the list of things I will be talking about:

I’ll be trying to do one post a week. If you want to see a post on a specific topic get in touch and I will see what I can do.

But before we dive into some of those topics, I want to answer a few questions.

Do I have to wear a suit all the time?

No.  You don’t have to wear a suit all the time.  Let me repeat that. You don’t have to wear a suit all the time. There are plenty of casual vintage styles that you can do simply and cheaply. Sit down with your wife or girlfriend and watch a few old movies or movies that take place in the period you’re interested in, and look at what the men wear, its not all suits and ties, they have more casual outfits that still look great.

How is vintage menswear different from vintage women’s fashion?

Vintage menswear is generally more difficult to find for a combination of reasons.  First, men simply wore things out, thus clothing got tossed out or turned into household rags.  Additionally, people tended to save Grandma’s dresses, but not Grandpa’s shirts. This is not so say it isn’t possible to find. I’ve built a pretty respectable collection of 60s shirts and 70s western wear, augmented with a few new pieces that have that vintage look.

On the plus side vintage menswear tends to be much much cheaper then vintage women’s fashions. I usually pay about $20.00 per shirt.

What should I be looking for when I shop?

Look for high quality, great fitting clothes.  Seeing “Made in U.S.A” on a tag is a great sign.  Experiment a little to find out what looks good for you. I’m partial to 60s shirts and I have a vintage suit and an extra dinner jacket for when I need to look nice. I’ll be doing a shopping list with a list of essentials as my last post, which will have a great list of things to start looking for.

What else can I do to find good clothes?

It’s ok. You can buy new items to add to your closest, just keep it respectable looking and whenever you can, buy high quality garments that you can break in yourself.

I buy all my jeans new and break them in myself.  Often the same goes for boots and shoes.  Leather and denim will conform to your body and give you a great fit over time rather then starting worn in, which will reduce the life of your clothes. Dress shirts with French cuffs are also a great thing to buy new and get tailored rather then trying to find the perfectly fitting shirt and a vintage shop or thrift store.

Until next time

Put This On is a fantastic web series that helped launch me into the big wide world of mens fashion and looking like you know what you are doing. You can watch season one now while you wait for my next post.