Archive for August, 2010

4 Stroke Denim

Monday, August 30th, 2010

In pulling together my personal looks for Fall, I noticed that basic blue denim just doesn’t seem to be a big building block this year.

I’ll be carrying over my white jeans from summer, and loosening up my new pale blue self-shrunk Levi’s 501s, and spicing up a ton of outfits with these selvage jeans by New York-based label 4 Stroke in a deadstock fabric color the company calls “Warmtape”.

Their Warsaw-fit Warmtapes are proving a perfect option for this transitional time of year when sartorially Summer’s become a bummer but its still too hot to truly dress for Fall.

Thinner than traditional denim while still robust and rugged in feel, the Warsaw’s harvest-time tone brings a bold hint of Autumn into an outfit without weighing me down in weighty and woolly fabrics while August and September take their sweet time in cooling the hot city down.

The cut is trim but non-fashion-victim-ed and the jeans, through their unusual hue, seem to lend new life to old pieces I’d been tired of taking out of the closet.

Old shades of gray or faded chambray are given a good twist by pairing them up with a punch of orangey-red rust. I figure, once you’ve got your closet covered in the basics (which I guess I basically do now), it comes time to spice it all up.

Is It Amsterdam Couture?

Friday, August 27th, 2010

…as the tagline heralds, or is it just Abercrombie a la Amsterdam?

Their new line just newly on-line, sportswear label Scotch & Soda nixes any trace of their Netherlands heritage for a Super-American collection for Fall 2010.

Rugged, one-buttoned blazers rendered in crinkled wool and lined in casual cotton would cover quite well those dressed up/dressed down days we live half our lives in.

While plaid flannel perched atop the shoulders of button-up lambswool sweaters further the toughly tony aesthetic.

These ribbed-bottomed hiker chinos are where the collection starts to get especially adventurous. Arguably Alpine and almost awesome, I am, if nothing else, intrigued by their high-trail heartiness.

The shade, shape, and sheen of this classic bomber jacket, as well as its price, make it one of this Fall’s classiest takes on the classic coat. I now suddenly regret dropping dough for the brown bomber jacket I bought last Winter and had been liking quite a lot (up until the split second I spotted this Scotch & Soda version.)

And lastly, an über-Abercrombie style flannel, but Montana manly instead of so Michigan mall-like.

Scotch & Soda’s prices range from around $70 to $300 US, so it’s definitely not true couture, although hitting it with the snippy A&F quip isn’t quite fair either.

A number of these and other Amsterdam goes American pieces from S&S look like witty and reasonably priced pieces for all this Fall.

The Great Minnesotan Get Together

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

The Minnesota State Fair starts today, and I’ve been counting down the days since the second I left it last year. For a few years in my life I wasn’t so into the fair because I felt it never changed, and it was always the same, the same, the same…

But now that’s one of the main reasons I fancy it so much. Every year there’s some new strange indulgence deep-fried experimentally or served on a stick to prove that a new year really has rolled around, but aside from that, the fair looks and feels exactly the same as it did when I was a kid.

And, aside from all the overalls and three-piece suits, it looks and feels not too terribly different than it does in all these decades-old photos.

Lessons learned last year:

1) Full funnel cakes are a better value and better tasting than funnel cake-bites.

2) Just bite the bullet and buy the big jar of honey with the handsome, green label, even if you have to lug it around for a few hours. It’ll brighten up your cupboard and your cereal for months.

Strapless Little Number: Follow Up

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I get ridiculed for how much I internet browser-window shop but the fact of the matter is, you never know what you’re gonna find or where you might find it. And if you don’t over-look, you won’t ever find.

Out of all the shop sites to scroll past, I wouldn’t have thought Restoration Hardware, a fancy faux-aged furniture retailer, would’ve offered up a viable contender for fall’s make or break accessory, the strapless leather case. But, it has.

Made of artisan, vegetable-dyed leather to evoke “the rich and rustic satchels used by 19th century bankers”, the $129 case is designed to carry a 15″ laptop but would look all the smarter stuffed with hand written letters and Japanese fashion mags instead.

See what you can find in places you “shouldn’t bother” looking?

Wash & Wear pt. 2

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Dunking my raw denim (with my body inside them) into a brisk Wisconsin Lake in order to achieve that perfect Levi’s Shrink-To-Fit effect wasn’t a bad way to spend a 93 degree day.

Roaming around the wannabe waves in the drenched denim didn’t feel too icky or sticky, surprisingly. It actually felt sorta swell.

After a breezy, forty minute boat ride my 501s were at least 50 percent dry.

A few sunny, strolls down hot, graveled roads on top of that and the jeans began condensing and conforming to my shape, just as the Levi’s clerk had promised.

A day later, my jeans have maintained their rough, rigid, General Store-staple type of structure, while gaining the perfect little wrinkles and angles which give them that authentic, lived-in, almost alive look.

So far they shrunk up pretty nicely. At least an inch in the waist and the length. Since they aren’t an inky indigo denim and I’m not going for a really worn or whiskered look, I’m gonna just launder them now, fly them through the dryer, and be done with them.

I don’t want to go overboard with the whole ordeal.

(Although, technically, I suppose I already did.)

Wash & Wear pt. 1

Friday, August 20th, 2010

I want a pair of cool, awesomely-fitting jeans as much as the next guy, but I’m not obsessed about it.

I do have a pair of (my first) selvage jeans arriving in the mail today (more on those later) and I did wear a pair of dark rigid denim twenty-plus times this past year before giving them their first wash because voices on the internet told me to. But that’s about as bothered as I’ve cared to get over the whole do-it-yourself denim perfecting game.

But a perfect storm came upon me this week that’s tempting me to play. An article by Simon Roe from Inventory’s premiere issue, along with these $50 buck 501s from the Levi’s store and the quirky clerk who sold them to me seem to be telling me it’s finally time to take the denim perfecting plunge.

My photos don’t quite show it, but the denim I chose isn’t a traditional inky indigo. They’re a lighter, almost train engineer blue, halfway down the track to actually being gray. In person, they’re just odd enough to seem like precious deadstock.

Looming together the advice of Mr. Roe and the dude at the Levi’s store, the key to killer shrink-to-fit 501s appears to be buying them an inch to two inches too large in the waist, wearing them while wet until they dry entirely, and then….

Well, we’ll see where that gets me. I’ll be near a western Wisconsin lake this weekend, so I’ll take a denim dip in my lighter-than-they-seem Levi’s and let them dry right on me.

After that, some advisors claim the jeans will have shrunk to my body already and to wear them as-is a few more weeks before machine washing them. Others suggest I’ll need to launder and dry them after the drench/air dry adventure to ensure a proper fit.

I’ll just take it step by step and see how things seem. Fresh from the store, they fit baggy and bunchy like a toddler’s favorite jeans, but the Levi’s clerk assured me that would be the perfect start to my self-shrinking process.

If nothing else, hopefully we’ll all be info-tained.


Time Travelling

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Up in Northern Minnesota, time stands still in a way that wouldn’t be possible down here around home. And even when something you loved up there finally moves on or fades away, signs of it will still remain for many summers to come.

I’m trying to comfort myself here, but honestly I feel a little bit blue.

T.E. Lawrence

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Over the course of two nights and one cat nap I watched the much revered 3 hour and 47 minute motion picture classic “Lawrence of Arabia” for the first time.

I didn’t adore all of it, and I don’t think I understood all of it either but now Lieutenant Colonel Lawrence is stuck in my head.

An introverted egotist and supposedly celibate sadomasochist, the 1962 film was based on Lawrence’s autobiographical tome The Seven Pillars of Wisdom which I now am intent on reading.

The film and Peter O’Toole’s playfully poker-faced performance within it create a coy and quivering image of the man T.E. Lawrence may have been. But whenever it appears The Lt. Col.’s psychological make up is near enough for us to finally, fully know – everything slithers up off the sand and back into mystery like a desert dune mirage.

So I’m gonna read up on the man, in his words and in those of others, and see if I can maybe figure him out. The best mysteries in life are the ones of who people are.

Depending on which edition I find on eBay, my copy of The Seven Pillars of Wisdom might be a little bit beautiful but it certainly won’t rival the glorious tooling featured on the cover of the first 1922 printing of the book.

Within twin scimitars it reads in gold: The sword also means clean-ness + death.

It’s this very sense for the dryly dramatic that made ol’ Lawrence the larger-than-life legend he would become.

Bean Boots: LL Bean Signature

Wednesday, August 11th, 2010

To be clear, the camo case from ACL & Co. that arrived yesterday debuted on-line way last fall. So today is the first real day of F/W 2010 arrivals for me and my wardrobe with the front door appearance of my Alex Carleton designed L.L. Bean Signature classic Bean Boot in its brand new colorway.

Granted, they’re not exactly a “transitional” item. In home by mid-August, I wouldn’t even think of wearing them until a golden leaf or two has fallen, sometime deep into chilly crisp October. Although I won’t be wearing them anytime soon, I’ll adore my black over brown Bean boots as they sit patiently in some un-cool corner ’til full-length pant-wearing-weather returns.

They’re  a little dull right out of the box, but a swift swipe with a leather furniture wipe and they do dew-up just great.

Hunting Season Begins

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

The last half of July I willed myself not to buy anything for fall, no matter how desperately I wanted to. Whenever I was tempted to add anything to an online shopping cart I’d switch over from Safari to Photoshop and stare longingly at the layered document I’d compiled of all the pumpkin and pine-colored goods I was eyeing to buy myself for autumn. It seemed the smart way to approach the season, from both a financial and curatorial standpoint.

Monday, August 2nd had been sagely set as the official start of my fall fashion hunting season, and just now my prizes are starting to arrive!

The first: My very first foray into blog-branded goods via the ACL & Co. “collection”.

Short story long – For half of eternity I was that one guy everyone knows who’s so cool and non-cliché they don’t own a cell phone. But finally this June, last year’s white iPhone was saddled upon my once untethered existence until this year’s white iPhone finally figures itself out. So that really cool and non-cliché guy you all know, it’s someone else now. It’s not me.

For eighteen years, when leaving the house, all I’d need is my keys in my front left pocket, and my wallet in my front right. (I’ve tried parking my wallet in back, but it bugs me and my butt-pockets to no end.)

But now that I’m required to carry three belongings along with me instead of two, me and my front pockets keep forgetting either my wallet or my phone at home.

So I reasoned it was time to try a mini man-bag/mega zip-up wallet. I can cram everything inside it, saving myself from the now untrue assumption that everything I need is perched in my two front pockets.

I considered a few options but this orange interior-ed camo bag from ACL was cheap ($24.50 plus shipping) and as macho as a man-clutch could ever hope to be, so I went with it.

Time will tell if I can adapt from a hands-free lifestyle to that of a camo-ed clutcher. I’m honestly a little dubious.

But if not, camo appears again further down on my fall fashion hunting list. It was never a print or trend that really riled me up quite right, but this season it seems snappy and smart somehow.

America In Color

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Did you see these yet?

Taken between 1939 and 1943 by the Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information to document the effects of the great depression on the super-great citizens of small town America.

Whatever you call the crimson cap atop the boy on the right, let’s all find one for fall!

There’s something so elegantly nonchalant about the way they’re tending this soil. Perhaps they’re just posing, but next time I have back-breaking work to take care of under the summer sun, I’m going at it as cool and casual as they all did.

Oklahoma kiddies worn out by a square dance. Someone host a square dance, invite me, and we can all get worn out together! I’ll bring sarsaparilla, or something.

These images (and all the others) make me wonder if the sky was more cyan back in 1939, or if the grain was more golden. Surely not, but it always seems that way.

The Lengths That I Will Go To

Friday, August 6th, 2010

In my ongoing process of transitioning to a pleated-pants lifestyle, I came upon a trio of $4 pairs at an iffy thrift store. After trying them on at home, only these no-name tweedy ones proved a potential winner.

Their colorful flecks fulfill most of the 50s-slanted chic of a similar Beams Plus pair at the Inventory Stockroom, with a more 80s angle perhaps. Their only problem is they’re awkwardly an inch too short.

There is some leeway up inside the hem, so the question becomes, when I take them to my happy, hispanic tailor do I have them lengthened into respectable yet rote man pants, or do I hike them up even more – mischievously, like Thom Browne’s interns probably would?