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HEY SID!

YOU ASK… SID ANSWERS

email your questions to heysid@sidmashburn.com
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JULY 20, 2021

“Hey Sid! What is the best way to carry a little bit of cash and a few cards without ruining the lines of nice pants or a suit with a bulky billfold?” – Chad B.


Hey Chad – great question. And something men have been dealing with for eons. I'm surprised it doesn't come up more. How do I protect my shekels? Once you factor in the cell phone, it's a bit of an uphill battle against the never-flattering pocket bulge. I guess that's one of the reasons why we advocate for wearing a jacket so much… they've got all those pockets to keep things out of sight… great for pens, phones, pocket notebooks, and yes, wallets/card holders. So I guess the short answer is… wear a blazer and keep it in the inside pocket!


now you see it, now you don't - the sharkskin card holder in action


However. If you DO prefer to carry your wallet in your pants pocket, man, do we have one for you. Last month, we got these super-minimal card cases that are made out of sharkskin. Same shark we use for our tassel loafers and belt straps, with this semi-matte, almost velvety texture. The shape is the very definition of "low profile" – no snaps or clasps or zips to mess with. It's got two slots on each side with a slot in the top that's great for cash. Everything about it is a bit discreet - even the colors are quiet. And it'll tuck neatly into jeans or five-pockets, sports trousers, or dress trousers without a trace.


my own card holder


Personally, my everyday card case is this envelope card holder. I dig the origami vibe, and it fits a stack of credit cards or business cards perfectly. I carry mine in my inside jacket pocket, but as long as you don't stuff it to the brim, it can still go inside most pants pockets.


clockwise: sharkskin card holders, envelope card holders, and two-piece card cases


And the third card case you might want to think about is this two-piece card case, which is really two card cases in one! It's made by hand with no seams or stitching, it's just one beautiful piece of leather per side. It's a work of art. And it comes in a variety of colors if you're into that. Sometimes when I go on trips I take these and split them up so I can carry a set of business cards in the other side. This one is great if you're up for keeping your cards in your back pocket or in your jacket. The leather is a bit more rigid than on the envelope style so it remains quite low profile.

Thank you for such a practical, thoughtful question – seriously! I appreciate that you're paying attention to the details. I never wanna sacrifice function for fashion, and while the "lines of nice pants" are clearly pretty important around here, you don’t want to go without a wallet, either. I think this way you can have your cake and eat it too.

Sid's signature

JULY 6, 2021

“Hey Sid! Let's talk about navy blazers. It feels like there are a million options out there, but if a guy is looking for ONE to include in his wardrobe, which option from your collection would you recommend?” – Jeremy

Hey Jeremy, this is the 46th column I've written… one every two weeks(ish) for the last two years. And, funny enough, this is the first time we've tackled one of my favorite, most important (and underrated) clothing items: a NAVY BLAZER.

If I had to name a single item that best represents what we do, this is probably it. We think the Navy Blazer is so classic, so iconic, such a symbol of manhood, that it can transform a day into an occasion, a closet into a wardrobe, a guy into a man… you get the idea. Awhile back, we ran a dedicated feature on ours that includes a fabric primer, pops the hood on construction, and even outlines all the ways you can wear it. And even though that was from a few years back, all the information is evergreen… we still use it today as a primer for new hires to go deep on fabrics, design details, styling, and usage.


Editor's note: it's a little dated, but here's Sid talking navy blazers (pretty much uninterrupted) for 8 minutes.

So yeah, I guess you could say we're passionate about the subject. And your timing is great because we're noticing a loooottt more jackets on guys these days. Perhaps it's some course-correction from WFH fatigue, or maybe guys are just motivated because they're going out and to the office again. Whatever the reason, this feels like the perfect time to invest (or re-invest) in the one garment that will look just as good in Paris, Texas as it will in Paris, France.

While we make seasonal versions (think tonal seersucker for summer or soft cashmere for winter,) we've narrowed down our year-round, "go anywhere in the world, any time" navy blazers to just three. We talk a lot about our Navy High Twist – a very special, two-ply two-ply high-twist wool from England, and a fabric we love enough to use for suits in shades of gray and blue and even a lovat green. We also talk a lot about our Navy Leno Hopsack – the one I'm wearing in that video. It's a cotton/wool blend and comes in our Virgil model, which was designed as a fresher, sexier version of a sack jacket. We also run that one in a variety of colors; in addition to the navy, I wear the green one a ton. Both are fantastic blazers and worthy candidates. But, for you, I think the "if you can only have one" navy blazer is our Mohair Huckaback Kincaid No. 3.


I've had my huckaback jacket longer than I've had my beard


It's got the same design (the Kincaid body) and craftsmanship (our No. 3 level of make) as the high-twist wool, and actually a lot of our jackets and suits. It's made in Italy with a natural shoulder and a full canvas that allows it to mold to your body. We use the finest, oldest, handmade tailoring techniques in the world - and no fusing - to make our full canvas garments. A full canvas construction allows it to adapt to the shape of your body over time, where a fused jacket remains stiff and doesn't move with your body. Like all the Kincaids, it's got a darted body, a 2-button front, and side vents. There's even a ticket pocket in case you need to hop on a train. Also great for keys/Airpods/parking tickets.

So the thing that sets this one apart is the fabric: 260g English huckaback, made with a 60/40 mohair and wool blend. This fabric begs a closer look. It has a little touch, and a little crunch but is still quite soft. The weave is super cool and breathes beautifully, and the mohair gives it a springiness that helps it resist wrinkles. A fantastic travel jacket. There's a slight sheen to the surface, which means it can go a little more formal and has more range than our other navy blazers. And it will get softer and pick up a patina over time. I've had my huckaback for a decade… so while it's certainly an investment, the cost per wear is pretty low when you wear it once a week for 10 years.

Lastly, the versatility of this thing is unbelievable. Not that you didn't know this - I'm sure that's part of the reason you're in the market for one - but I'm a visual guy and we put together this matrix to illustrate the range that a navy blazer (any navy blazer) has. It's broken out by levels of formality on the Y axis and climate on the X axis) and shows how it really is an anyplace, anytime piece.

navy blazer outfit matrix
Formal Cold, Formal Temperate, Formal Warm
Professional Cold, Professional Temperate, Professional Warm
Casual Cold, Casual Temperate, Casual Warm

Hope this answers it for you, Jeremy. If you still need help narrowing it down, give us a call… any of our guys would love to chat more. And thank you for the fun excuse to go deep on a favorite subject.

Sid's signature

 

JUNE 22, 2021

Editor's note: Sid's been writing a monthly-ish style column around watches for our pals at Hodinkee. For June, they asked him to write about his dad and his clock collection. His piece ran a few days ago in conjunction with Father's Day, and we're taking a break from advice this week to share it here.

“Hey Sid! How did you get into watches?” – Hodinkee

Sid and his parents

I own a lot of records and have music playing pretty much at all times, but the sound that puts me most at ease is the ticking of a clock. Actually, it's not just the ticking, but rather the ringing and whirring and quarter-hour Westminster chiming of the dozens and dozens of clocks that filled the ranch house I grew up in. I'm talking wall-to-wall clocks… easily numbering in the triple digits. As an adult, when my wife Ann and I would visit my parents in Mississippi, our girls could hardly sleep at night surrounded by all that ticking, but I just exhaled and felt right at home.

My dad collected and worked on antique clocks in a way that would qualify him as more than an enthusiast, probably just shy of an expert. He was self-taught, but people would bring him all sorts of timepieces to repair. It's sorta what you'd call a side hustle today, but for him, it was way more about the curiosity and the love of the craft than about the commerce. When I picture him in my head, he's either in the yard with his camellias or in his workshop with his clocks.

The workshop was just across the carport from the house. It might be too much to say that time stopped in that shed, but I've gotten old enough to realize that was what he was going for. The quiet and focus and singular goal of the task at hand pushed everything else out of sight for a while. He had always been into watches and clocks, but I don't remember him really pursuing it until after my older brother Kinny died of cystic fibrosis when he was 17. Kinny and my two older sisters were three stairstep kids, and then I came much later… probably a surprise. My parents knew the odds of having another child with CF. Having kids of my own, I can't imagine the tremendous relief they must have felt when I passed the "sweat test" before coming home from the hospital.

After losing his oldest son, my dad started spending a lot of time in his workshop. My sisters went off to college the following year, and suddenly our house of six was a house of just three. The clocks helped fill some of that space, literally. This is when the tinkering really got going. In retrospect, the workshop was an environment that could be controlled and that followed a predictable logic, not dissimilar to his day job as a chemist… lots of experimentation, but in the end, precision wins.



Clocks were tactile and finite, all the pieces milled to fit together perfectly, and either they worked or they didn't – there was no in between. You wind the clock, it does the same thing for 24 hours, 8 days, or whatever the movement, then you do it all over again. Over the next several years, I'd come home from football or baseball or band practice and I knew exactly where I'd find him. In that hot shed, precision screwdrivers carefully lined up on the table, sawdust on the floor, loupe around his head, peering deep into a partially disassembled clock.

As with a lot of guys who get into repair, he also had a weakness for collecting. His specialty was early American clocks – the decorative kind in wooden cases that were popular in the first half of the 19th century. Lots of Seth Thomas and some E. Howards in the house, plus this especially cool J.N. Dunning Gallery clock. There were a dozen lined up on the mantle, rows and rows on either side of the television in the living room, several grandfather clocks in the hallway leading down to the bedrooms… you get the idea. As a kid I thought most of them looked the same, and sure enough, there was a lot of consistency in that era of clockmaking. But my dad really delighted in the nuance and the subtle differences in purpose. He had them arranged chronologically – of course, right? – with the 1836 version next to the 1837 version next to the 1838. I've gotta imagine that winding them all and keeping them synced was his own kind of ritual. Who knows how long it must have taken. I wish I could ask him.



All of the house clocks worked – if one didn't, it'd be in the workshop – and they all ticked and chimed in sync with one another. There was the background noise of the ticking, but every sixty minutes you'd get this awesome kind of musical interlude, with all the different chimes and bells ringing out all throughout the house to signal the hour. Man, I loved that sound. The first one I took any interest in myself was a ship's clock – a brass Seth Thomas, porcelain dial, Roman numerals on the face with ship's bells. One bell every half hour and eight bells each at 4:00, 8:00, and 12:00 to signal the end of the sailor's watch. This one was super cool to wind… it was a two-holer, one for the movement and the other for the bells. Just beautiful. I have a similar ship's clock here in the Atlanta store, and a black face Chelsea Bakelite one, as well, underneath it. My dad came to visit and help out when we opened in 2007 and he loved seeing it in there.

The ship's clock is cool, but my favorite clock that he passed down to me is a Jaeger-LeCoultre Atmos, which keeps time using atmospheric pressure, so you never have to wind it. Nothing is cooler. In many ways it must have been an anomaly in his collection – it's gilded brass and not wood, more stylish than straightforward, French and not American. He would probably laugh that I ended up with that one. It is so sleek and well-designed. Just an incredible, incredible piece. I also have a collection of his old pocket watches – beautiful things that I don't really know what to do with, but I take them out every once in awhile just to check them out. There's also his old Hamilton on a leather band that Ann wears sometimes. It's a little small for me, but I love seeing it on her wrist.



My dad was awesome in so many ways – and now that I think about it, losing my brother probably changed him beyond just transforming him into a clock collector. The vibe was pretty strict at home, classic Southern Baptist, with church three days a week and dinner on the table at the same time every night. But again, in 1969, when there were just three of us instead of six, I think my parents learned how to appreciate what they still had in a fuller way. It seems kind of crazy to think about, but despite his rigidness, my dad more or less let me be… me. He turned a mostly-blind eye to a lot of my carryings-on, and even kind of chuckled at the more unusual stuff I found at the Salvation Army (most notably, my prom tuxedo) and the way I would ask my mother to sew my jeans pegged at the bottom or cut off the collars to make my shirt Nehru style. He loved that! It wasn't his bag, but he got a kick out of it. When I told him I wanted to go to Parsons or FIT in New York to study design, that was one toke over the line. He said, "Son, I'll pay for regular school – and after that, you can do anything you want." So after four years of having a pretty good time at Ole Miss, I sold my Monte Carlo so I could move to New York. I think it was about a week after graduation. He drove me to the airport and sent me off with a hug and a handshake and a lot of love.

The NAWCC is the closest to a fraternity my father ever joined. It's the National Association of Watch & Clock Collectors… I'm guessing some of you may be members. He was a Fellow, which meant he took seriously his role as a "valuable contributor in the field of horology and in the affairs of the association." Part of the appeal of collecting is the community and the camaraderie and the fellowship you get with a shared interest. Those NAWCC cats were all pretty fraternal. I can remember loving the weekends that he and my mom would travel to clock conventions and I'd have the house to myself. I recently became a NAWCC member, myself. Some of that was in honor and memory of Jimmy K – James Kincaid Mashburn – and some was in my own interest. I like watches and clocks. But a good bit of it was in appreciation of what they meant to my dad. He channeled a pastime into a real passion, and I think it kind of helped him navigate the second half of his life. He died in 2010, and I miss him every day – but I get to think of him every time I hear a clock tick, which is pretty cool.

Sid's signature

 

JUNE 8, 2021

“My wardrobe is looking pretty good, but when it comes to pocket squares, I'm totally lost other than plain ole white. Any tips?” – David K.

“I would love your guidance on pocket squares. Knowing what color goes with what, patterns, folds, etc… I'm not there with pocket squares outside of plain white. I have several, but they end up staying at home due to a lack of understanding on what I'm doing. Please please. Guide us!” – Garrett W.

“Tell us what we need to know about pocket squares. I like wearing them especially when I'm not wearing a tie. I've noticed that you usually wear a pocket square but it's quite subtle – you allow your tie to be your 'lead singer.'” – Maurice



David… Garrett… Maurice… before we get started, we have to get one thing out of the way. Maurice, do you speak with the pompatus of love? Anyway, I love that we're getting not just one, but MULTIPLE questions around pocket squares. Thank y'all. There's a rule in our employee handbook: no empty breast pockets. A pocket square completes an outfit, and to me, it's just as important as the tie. I know that it can come off a bit precious, but when it's done right, it can be a quiet supporting character to your look. Here's what you need to know:

First off, don't sleep on the plain white… it's pretty much never wrong! One of my all-time favorites is our 10x10 hemstitch - if you can only have one, this is it. It's Irish linen so there's some drape and crunch to the fabric – almost a little bounce. It's white, so it goes with virtually every jacket. The hemstitch along the edge is just enough of a detail without getting too flashy. The size (10 x 10) sort of guarantees that it can't get too intrusive. And $30 makes it a pretty inexpensive gateway into the pocket square world.

Now, if – like Garrett – you've got that part down and are looking to branch out with color and pattern, let the rest of your outfit be your guide. For me, it is one of the last things I put on before I walk out the door. If I'm going with a patterned jacket that's got some pop – a solid or understated pocket square is a great accompaniment. (You gotta let that lead singer sing.) But if I'm wearing a navy blazer and quieter shirt and tie combo, or no tie at all, then I might lean on my pocket square to give my outfit a little jolt. As with everything else, you're going for balance.


6 guys in the Atlanta shop today - can you spot the mannequin?

 

Color-wise, I like looking for a root color that can hook back to my outfit in some way without matching too literally. Too much matching can get a little prommy. The basic rules apply: colors found in nature – blues, greens, browns, heathers – all party pretty well together, while bright colors are usually best as a one-man-band. And beyond colors, there's a whooooole world of patterns out there. Liberty Fabric prints, geometrics, florals, dots, paisleys, batiks, kilims, foulards. Best rule of the thumb: if there's a pattern that catches your eye – like, for example, this tropical print – and you're not sure how to work it into a more complex outfit, keep it simple. A navy blazer and a solid blue or white shirt is a pretty safe bet. And if you're still having a hard time taking the leap when it comes to print, go with one with a solid outside edge. Then you can show as much (or as little) of the pattern as you'd like.

The final factor in this equation is the way you fold it. There are about 5 basic folds we like, which you can see below. All are great (and relatively easy,) but more often than not, I'm going with the most basic one, the fold-and-go. It's a bit of a take on the late 50s/early 60s super-crisp, squared off look that you'd see in Mad Men… but more casual and a lot less perfect. And no matter the pattern, it's always understated. The folds get trickier from there, so if you're still getting your sea legs, there's no shame at all in sticking with that fold and go. It's kind of like a napkin… unless you're working a cruise ship or some elaborate banquet, the simple square - the fold and go - is more than enough. If you prefer a demo and have 8 minutes to spare, there's a video explainer from the archives (2017) that we made but never released.



THE FOLD AND GO

THE TLC

THE FLOWER

THE FOUR HORSEMEN

THE CLOUD

Anyway, hope this helps demystify the pocket square thing. At the end of the day, as long as you're erring on the "understated" side rather than the Liberace side – sky's the limit. If you like the pattern, odds are, you can find a way to wear it… even if it's just in a navy jacket. And remember, you're only seeing the top quarter inch, so the stakes are pretty low!

Sid's signature

 

MAY 25, 2021

“Hey Sid - I see your seersucker offerings are in now and was wondering the best way to wear them. Does a classic seersucker jacket ever work alone as an "odd" jacket? I'd love to be able to get some more use out of a suit than just paired together for garden parties, you know? Any other ideas for styling seersucker?” – Tim T., #swelteringinSacramento



not a garden party

Thanks, Tim - hope you're staying cool out there in sunny California. I love this question because I love seersucker, and the short answer is YES.

As much as I dig the quiet cool of a tone-on-tone (we make them in navy and spruce green)… the classic blue & bone stripe is the only version that I own. I wear the heck out of it. And I don't even have the pants!! While it IS perfect for a garden party, that is hardly its boundary. I look at my seersucker blazer as the summer version of my navy blazer. (This guy is an open field runner - think Deion Sanders: runs free but under control). It has a LOT of range – it's great with jeans, khakis, canvas, linen, wool – and looks just as good with a shirt and tie as it does with a polo. So in a way you can make it casual and almost beatnik, or dressy and elegant - from Miles Davis at the '58 Newport Jazz Festival to Robert Duvall as Tom Hagen in The Godfather, Part II.

My one rule of thumb is that I don't usually wear patterns with it (except with neckwear), so I would just go ahead and eliminate any patterned shirts. And then I would lean into oxfords (the fabric gives it some ease) in almost ANY color: white, light blue, pink, yellow… all great. Polos are awesome with it, so is a chambray. If you just go with solids you can't really make a mistake. ("One lead singer" rule still applies – no color explosion.) And if you've already got the matching pants – same strategy. Solids up top, and sandals or mocs are just as great as tassel loafers or oxfords.



And the fabric! I mean it was literally invented for the heat in India in the 1600s. It's kind of corrugated, so it never goes totally flat to your skin, which helps with airflow. Like built-in AC! And our jacket is half-lined, which makes it super light and adds to its cool practicality. The fact it's always wrinkled and never wrinkled at the same time makes it perfect for the man on the go. I know it is a Southern stereotype these days, but when I lived in NYC… I saw just as much seersucker up there, if not more, then in the south. And I looooove it as a city suit – no tie, sockless, with loafers. Super cool.

(One last thing to know about the stripe, too, is that it dinges up with time. The colors will chill out the more you wear it and knock around in it. "Dirtier," but in a good way. A patina.)

So yeah… goes with basically any solid, never have to worry about wrinkles, is super-light in the heat… I'd just say don't overthink it and I think you'll be blown away by how much you reach for this as a jacket.

Sid's signature

 

MAY 11, 2021

“I would love to see an explainer on your polos and the different fabrics and washes. You really expanded polos in 2020 and seem to have doubled down even more on them this year, and they are such a staple of summer.” – Matthew W.



in navy pique, on the same wavelength as Matthew W.

Thanks for the question, Matthew… are you a plant? We are doing the polo thing in a big way right now. Minus the ponies.

Since you asked – all four of our true polo shirts have the same design details and shape:
  •   A cut-and-sew collar (so the collar stands up and has the right amount of bloom/roll)
  •   A slightly deeper placket (3-button) with thick Trocas shell buttons
  •   Straight (vs. banded) sleeves for an easier look
  •   A front pocket (we love em)
  •   And an old-school tennis tail. If you, like me, tuck yours in, it makes it easier to stay that way.
(Side story: Rene Lacoste's original polo – as in that Lacoste – had a tennis tail.)

And now for the fabrics:

Pima Pique Polo – Pima cotton from Peru is unbelievably soft… kind of like the cashmere of cotton. Prime Peruvian pima pique. I like a midsize weave (not too open, not too tight). It gives it a texture that's rugged… refined… light… airy… all at the same time. It breathes really well. Our friend Keith Mitchell (who nearly clinched the tournament at Quail Hollow last weekend) has been wearing this one on the PGA Tour this season.

pima pique collage
Keith Mitchell in our white pima pique, coral pima pique, light blue pima pique

Oxford Pique Polo – The differences between our piques are pretty subtle. This one comes from Italy instead of Peru, it's not true pima cotton, and it's a slight twist on a solid color. These are yarn-dyed — each yarn is ever so slightly different, and knit with a mix of colored + white yarns, which gives an "oxford" or heathered appearance. It's not totally uniform, and we love that about it. Functionally, though, it does the same thing as the pima pique.

oxford pique collage
navy oxford pique, berry oxford pique, Arthur Ashe in a pique that isn't ours (but wouldn't that be cool?)

Jersey Polo – This is like the softest t-shirt you own, but in polo form. We use a washed, garment-dyed 180g jersey cotton for the solid colors – which gives it a sun-faded look, and a softer, broken-in feeling right from the get-go. We've also got some special make-up stripes that we created ourselves. (That Watermelon/Dutch Blue is awesome.)

jersey collage
lemon/dusty blue stripe jersey, dusty blue/navy stripe jersey, Jack Nicholson listening to records

Terry Polo – This one's for channeling Sean Connery in Goldfinger or fulfilling all your vintage sports star dreams. Our terry cloth comes from Japan, and the texture is less "beach towel," more "baby washcloth." Plush central. It definitely leans more casual than the rest. You're probably not gonna pair this with a sport jacket, but it looks great poolside or with a pair of shorts. Major cool factor.

terry collage
white terry, grey terry, and surf guitarist Dick Dale terry

And here's a bonus – we also make a polo sweater, called the Rally, which acts just like a polo shirt. It's a bit of a throwback – think Matt Damon as Carroll Shelby in Ford v Ferrari – and very, very cool. It's made of Italian high-twist cotton yarn in a sweater knit that breathes almost like a pique, and it comes in both solids and surfer-inspired stripes. That one's a little different from the others in that the collar is different (although it still stands up,) it's got banding at the sleeve, with no tennis tail, and it can even go untucked with those side vents. It's a tad more refined – looks great with dress trousers – but in a funny way, can go almost as casual as the others.

You're exactly right about a polo being a summer staple – couldn't have said it better. For sports, for dates or the office, for hanging around the house… it can go almost anywhere. And it's great for casualizing a jacket. Thanks for the kind words, Matthew, and hope you like yours even more knowing a few more details.

Sid's signature

 

APRIL 27, 2021

“I've lost my mojo, Sid. I'm okay with suits for work. Where do I start with a less-formal kit?” – @jwhardie


Thanks for the question and I hope we can help you get your groove back. We've gotten a lot of people writing in about this kind of thing and how to dress for the "new normal." And while it sounds like the weekday suit is working for you, taking it down a few notches can actually feel trickier. I'm going to make it super simple and give you a sure thing. A combo you can take pretty much anywhere, and look pulled together but relaxed.

Sport jacket + 5-pockets.
Sport jacket + 5-pockets.
Sport jacket + 5-pockets.

First off, I'm not sure there's a better time in the history of dressing (outside of maybe 1967) to lean into sports jackets. Just the effort of throwing on a jacket these days will immediately make you one of the better-dressed guys in the room, just by default. Blazers are naturally a little more casual than suits, and typically come in a wider range of fabric and pattern options.

All of these will look cool with trousers, but in search of your less formal kit, 5-pockets with a jacket will get you dialed in. It's not just blue jeans… we do a ton of different colors so you really could make it a uniform without wearing the same pair of denim every day. Anything in the natural/stone/wheat/khaki family is going to go with almost any odd jacket, but a bright color can be a fast-track to reclaiming your mojo. You don't have to make it complicated… just like blue jeans go with nearly every jacket, a navy sport coat goes with nearly every color of 5-pockets we've got. Go for it.



I'd start with the jacket and work your way down. Any of the ones we've got would be a good starting point, but I'll throw out a few of the ones I'm digging most this season. If you want something quiet, this linen-y Spruce/Navy hopsack would be great. Two-toned, but barely. I have an older version of this and wear mine a ton. Or maybe you're wanting to level up a little with a pattern like this Navy/Bone Check hopsack. Both of those are No. 1s, which is our least constructed make. As the Italians say, camicia construction – a jacket with the ease of a shirt. So you're going to feel a little less trussed-up than you do in your suit. Plaids can easily add some lift – the Sage/Graphite and Dutch Blue/Chocolate are both fantastic. They're brothers, linen-rich hopsacks from England, and total panteaters. They go with indigo, they go with natural, they go with khaki, they go with white. And you know how I feel about a navy blazer… how about a tone-on-tone navy seersucker? It's the navy blazer you didn't know you wanted, especially if you live in a warm climate. Parties well with basically everything, but I love the idea of some color on the bottom. Grass green or raspberry pink. Sage green canvas would be equally cool if you're not a brights guy. And white jeans are always right on.

So that formula's your starting point, but you can dial up or down the formality with the rest. When you factor in shirt, shoes, belt, and accessories, there are nearly unlimited options. Riffing here, but maybe you pair it with a polo, sneakers, and an African beaded belt. Or with a sport shirt, reversible belt and loafers. Or with a dress shirt, gator belt and double monks… with a navy knit tie thrown in for good measure. All of these have a blazer and 5-pockets as the foundation, but could take you from your kid's soccer game, to the office, to that date night reservation you've been waiting a year for. But it's not too torqued up for continuing to work from home – sounds like you're going into the office, but for a lot of people, remote work is here to stay.

SOME COMBOS TO TRY:

outfit laydown no. 1:
THE SOCCER SIDELINES: 5-pockets, sneakers, belt, polo, jacket

outfit laydown no. 2:
THE OFFICE OUTFIT: 5-pockets, loafers, belt, sport shirt, jacket

outfit laydown no. 3:
THE DINNER OUT: jeans, double monks, belt, tie, dress shirt, jacket

We've carried (and endorsed!) the jeans and-a-sport-coat combo since we opened some 13 years ago, and I probably wear it myself at least 2 times a week. This isn't revolutionary, just a reminder. Don't worry… it's gonna be great.

Go get 'em.

Sid's signature

 

APRIL 13, 2021

“I'm 24 and I'm getting married in April. We're honeymooning in the Bahamas, and I've got to step up my beach game from the usual swimsuit, ratty tee, and flip-flops that were more than enough in college. How do I pick a look that is comfortable, but looks good at the beach and at dinner? Thanks!” – Jud


First off, full congratulations, Jud, and best wishes to your bride.

Second this is a GREAT question… the beach can be a tricky place… almost the Wild West in that anything goes. You probably won't be surprised to hear that my "dressing for the beach" philosophy is pretty much my "dressing every day" philosophy, just… at the beach. Be prepared for a variety of situations, and keep it simple by limiting your choices to just a few (but the right ones).

SM on the beach'
not a honeymoon, not the Bahamas, but a beach all the same


SHIRTS: First thing I'd do is swap the t-shirt for a shirt with a collar. That'll immediately add lift, substance and even some elegance. I'd grab a couple of pique polos (they've got an open weave, a tennis tail so you can tuck it in or not, plus they come in a bunch of great colors), and a Cuban-inspired guayabera. It's made to be worn untucked and has hem pockets for your phone or keys or a beer. And I'd throw in an awning stripe shirt in the suitcase too - it's got an early-60s California surf vibe - just roll up the sleeves and go.

SHORTS: The length can make or break these… it's why ours have a 7-inch inseam, which still feels casual but looks more tailored than, say, cargo shorts. And I've got your ultimate Bahamas honeymoon shorts fabric right here: seersucker. Super lightweight, with that corrugated texture, so they breathe really well. Most of ours are solid-colored – navy, stone, slate blue - vs. the traditional stripe, so people have no idea they're seersucker until they get up close. We make them with or without belt loops, in case you want to skip the belt. So I'd bring at least a pair of those, and a pair of lightweight twill shorts… maybe stone or fog, or even a light blue or pink.

SWIM: It's nice to see guys abandoning the longer board shorts that dominated the mid-2000s… again, I think a slightly shorter length automatically looks a little neater. We do our swim trunks with either a 4-inch or 6-inch inseam depending on how short you want to go. They're not too torqued-up otherwise: drawstring waist, heavy-duty Velcro fly, pocket in the back, in both Bahamas-style brights (floral, day-glo) and quieter (navy, blue, olive green.)

SHOES: So I think you want to bring 3 pairs of shoes. A pair of penny or tassel loafers for dinner (also great for the plane,) an upgraded version of your college flip-flops for the beach, and a pair of clean sneakers for the places in between. (I've been into Onitsuka Tigers lately.) As for the beach shoes, my go-tos are a pair of two-strap handmade leather sandals. All-time favorites – I've had the same pair for 20 years. That said, a pair of boat mocs can be cool, too. (I am actually at the beach and wearing them today.)

ACCESSORIES: I carry a tote bag with a zipper when I go to the office, when I travel, and, yes, when I go to the beach. There's this newish one that's a great shape and size, made of very beach-friendly nylon. Inside: sunglasses, a bandana, a few masks, a pen, a notebook, Airpods, and some not-too-heavy reading material. (WM Brown and YOLO Journal are great beach reads, and Magazine B is one of my current favorites.)

SOME COMBOS TO TRY:
outfit laydown no. 1: for the beach
For the beach: guayabera shirt, yellow swim trunks, Barbara Shaum sandals, navy tote

outfit laydown no. 2: for exploring
For exploring: white pique polo, navy seersucker shorts, OT Mexico 66 sneakers, Randolph sunglasses

outfit laydown no. 3: for going out
For going out: awning stripe shirt, conroy belt, lightweight twill shorts, penny loafers


BONUS ROUND: I'm sure I'm in the minority, but I also still take a pair of pants, a navy blazer, a white shirt, and even a knit tie with me. That way you've got something to wear for an unexpected invite – just throw on the loafers, and you'll be able to say yes to anything.

Again congrats on the nuptials, Jud; you're a very fortunate guy. Thank you for your question.

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MARCH 30, 2021

“Should you match your watch to your clothes – or your clothes to your watch?” – Nick
“What watch should you wear with a tuxedo?” – Rachel


Time of the season, apparently… we've been getting a lot of watch questions lately, and while I don't consider myself a watch "expert" per se, I do really enjoy watches and their role they play in putting together an ensemble. They're a part of the kit. And we carry a small assortment of our own. So it's been fun to answer a few of these.

a few watches from SM's personal collection'
a couple of my own


Should you match your watch to your clothes – or your clothes to your watch? This came from our first in a series of monthly columns with Hodinkee. We've been a big fan of their storytelling for awhile, so it's exciting to get to chime in once a month. Their head of content, Nick Marino, asked this particular question on our first call, and we were off to the races.

I go deeeeeep on this topic in the column… but the long and short of it is that for me, my watch is the last thing I put on before I walk out the door every morning. It's definitely a part of the look though. In fact, we design our shirt cuffs with the buttons kicked back just a hair so that a wristwatch can fit more easily underneath. It's a small thing – figuratively and literally; it's like a quarter-inch, and it's not gonna feel weird on the other wrist or anything – but it goes to show you that the watch is not an afterthought.

sid in the tailor shop in a fox tie and an IWC
a very cool IWC from Crown & Caliber's collection (image courtesy Crown & Caliber)


Ultimately, I think of a watch as the final lever to pull, style-wise. You can pull it to give a touch of formality to what you're wearing, to chill your look out a little bit, or just to play into the color story. Here's how I approach it:

Rule No. 1 is that the rules are looser than you think. Don't be afraid to go for a high-low mix - I think a Timex looks super cool with a navy suit, just as I think a Rolex Explorer can be great at the beach.
Rule No. 2: If you're a regular reader here, you've heard me say 100 times that you should only have one lead singer in an outfit - and that applies to watches too. If your outfit is a little toned down, now's the time when you pull out the watch that is a bit on the eye-catching side.
Rule No. 3: Your watch doesn't need to match everything, but I like it when it hooks back to something. Just a small tie-in. Maybe it's the color in your jacket matching your watch band, or matching your second hand to the repp stripe in your tie. The magic is in the details.

sid in a glen plaid sport coat and an IWC
same IWC, slightly more dressed up (image courtesy Crown & Caliber)


The second question came from Crown & Caliber. They're long-time friends of ours, based out of Atlanta, and their Digital Marketing whiz, Rachel Butler asked us about doing a little "Mashburn Capsule Collection" of watches on their site and addressing some style questions they frequently get.

One of those questions was What watch should you wear with a tuxedo? It's fun to think about this being a consideration and formal events starting to pick back up post-COVID. To start, you're already in a tuxedo, which is basically a uniform to make you look good – so I try not to overcomplicate it. If you've got a thin, simple, elegant watch – by all means, wear it. And if you don't, it's perfectly fine to NOT wear a watch at all. Hopefully it's the type of party where you're doing more dancing, and less checking the time.

Anyway, excited for the excuse to talk a little more about the watch world. Talk to y'all next… time

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MARCH 16, 2021

“I've always thought your beaded belts look so cool, but have never been able to pull the trigger for fear of not knowing when/where/how to wear one exactly. Can you share any ideas and possibly photos?” – Kevin


Hey Kevin, I know these belts make a bit of a statement and you don't see very many. They're special. But they're not that complicated to work into what you're already wearing, and you'll get a ton of compliments.

Admittedly, these have been a long time in the making for us. I fell in love with a style similar to these when I was a kid - they were the belts you'd find in a Western store, mostly with American Indian designs. If we stopped at Stuckey's on a car trip, I wanted one of those just as much as a pecan log roll, or anything in the candy aisle. The colors and the patterns are works of art. Just beautiful. So I tried to make them when I was at J. Crew and then again when I was working for Ralph at Polo, but we could never find the right maker. Fast-forward to a few years ago, when we found some local artisans in Kenya doing traditional Masai beadwork on these. Each one takes a day to make (quite the turnaround time!) and each is a little bit different.

But it sounds like you're bought in on the belts themselves – so let's talk about how to wear them. I follow a few rules here:
1. Stick to solid color 5-pockets, sports trousers or shorts.
2. Avoid dress trousers or pants with a pattern to them. (Khakis excepted.) For most people, beaded belt + print is just a liiiiitttttle too much going on – and since you're writing in about these, my guess is that you're one of those people.
3. Keep your shirt to a solid color or a simple pattern. Stripes and graph checks and small prints are a yes; large-scale, many-colored plaids, probably not.

You asked for some photos, so I pulled a bunch of stuff together with a few Atlanta guys on the ping-pong table yesterday to try and illustrate it. Here are my liner notes for a few specific outfit ideas, whether you're a t-shirt guy, a dress-shirt-with-the-sleeves-rolled-up guy, or somewhere in between.



Idea #1: this one with a university striped western shirt, green pants, and chocolate suede tassel loafers.
Idea #2: this one with a printed shirt, white jeans, and sand suede Chelsea sneakers.
Idea #3: this one with a navy polo, day-glo jeans, and chocolate suede penny loafers.
Idea #4: this one with white poplin dress shirt, khaki high-ridge twill trousers, and suede driving mocs.



Idea #5: this one with an end-on-end striped shirt, indigo jeans, and handsewn penny loafers.
Idea #6: this one with a green pocket tee, khaki twill shorts, and and suede low-tops.
Idea #7: this one with a tattersall sport shirt, blue twill sport trousers, and tobacco suede tassel loafers.



For me, these belts solve the classic quandary: how do you make khakis cool? Thrown on a pair of 5-pockets, or cords, or high-ridge twill sport trousers or canvas shorts… add a white oxford shirt, and boom. Any of the belts would give that ensemble a beautiful and slightly wild lift - works pretty much every time.

As for when and where - as long as you're sticking to those 3 general rules, I'd say any place that's "5-pocket friendly" is a perfect setting for one of these belts. Hoping this helps you pull the trigger… sounds like you've been wanting one for awhile. Just bead it.

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MARCH 2, 2021

“I was excited to see Keith Mitchell wearing your clothes on the PGA Tour this season. What are some ideas for hitting the links as it gets warmer, especially in the south in the months to come?” – Van


Hey Van, first off – good catch and glad to hear you noticed!

In terms of "ideas" - I've got two words: 'Arnold' and 'Palmer.' Since this week happens to be the Arnold Palmer Invitational, seems like a perfect time to talk golf. But I'm getting ahead of myself. We've never dressed a tour professional for his day job before, but Keith has been a customer and friend off the course for almost a decade… and we've always dug his spirit and enthusiasm (for clothes, cars, records, watches) whenever he was in the shop.


images courtesy Keith Mitchell


He reached out to us after leaving a big, athletic brand. His observation was that golf-wear (just like office-wear) was getting super casual – think mock collars and hoodies and athletic shoes – and losing some of the tradition and formality of its roots. So it was a new direction for Keith in 2021, and he came out of the gate swinging: "I wanna channel late 60s/early 70s Arnold Palmer, and I wanna go all in." He had no idea that one of my favorite coffee table books happens to be Arnold Palmer: A Personal Journey - it sits in my office - so we were on the same wavelength from the get-go. For inspiration, we pulled pictures of the places Keith would be playing, architectural drawings of the courses, photos of other stylish players like Hogan and Seve, iconic emblems like Arnie's umbrella logo or the red Players Badge from Augusta National. We've never done anything like this, and we really wanted to get a feel for style and setting.

So for Keith, we pulled together a kit of parts to kick off his season in Hawaii, that we hoped would be foundational items for the West Coast, the desert, and Florida swing. Lots of cashmere sweaters, cotton pique polos, DAKS waistband trousers, plus the classics like cotton pique polos and khaki shorts. Old world, "pre-performance wear" sports style that doesn't go too far off-road.

Now Van, you're probably not gearing up for the Masters per se, but I think the same blueprint might work for you this spring and summer, too. Here's the breakdown, plus a few combos to try.

POLOS: We make a handful of polos, but for Keith we focused on our classic one in pima pique. Light, airy, and stepped-up but links-appropriate. We put in a ton of time trying to get ours right, down to the $95 starting price. It's got a cut-and-sew collar (vs. knitted like a lot of other polos) that can stand up on its own or under a jacket, plus thick Trocas shell buttons like the ones on our dress shirts, and a tennis tail that'll keep it from coming untucked on your more aggressive follow-throughs. And on the materials front… I know this is controversial, but I am a cotton-or-bust guy. I can't do the synthetic-ness or the silkiness or the slipperiness of performance fabrics. It's a tactile thing. It actually makes me feel hotter. I just like the way cotton feels and breathes – and looks - better. So I'm not gonna knock the performance polos… but I'm not gonna wear one. In terms of colors, white or light blue will go with almost anything, but we make them in pinks and yellows and greens and a bunch more if you want a little more pop for the season. And don't sleep on our retro-inspired Rally Polo… a few guys in our shop & HQ wear it on their weekend rounds and love it.

PANTS & SHORTS: Five-pockets have become the norm at most courses and clubs these days, but if you're looking to take it up a notch or stand out from the crowd a little? Sport trousers in lightweight twill. They're soft but structured, will hold up on a warm spring day, and, like all of our pants, cut slimmish so they definitely read more elevated/tailored than a pair of 5-pockets. Standard khaki or stone are great, but I love getting some color in there – sky blue or soft pink. For guys who run a little hotter, we have a great roll-up of shorts in the same fabric. Now this might not be for everyone, or even you, Van, but Keith loooooooooves to rock the dress trousers on Tour (talk about standing out!) He has our high twist in mid-grey and Air Force blue, but, interestingly enough, says he gets the most compliments on his pleated ones (he's got the light grey tropical wool.) Those are great because they've got that DAKS waistband so you don't need a belt. One less egg to fry.

WHAT ELSE: In most parts of the country, it can still be chilly in the spring and you need another layer over the polo. For us, that's usually a fine-gauge cashmere sweater. If you're only going to have one, the navy V-neck is it, especially if there's a little color or pattern in your polo. And it seems like 1.5-inch gator belts are the Tour player go-to lately (when did that happen?) we prefer the proportions of a narrower strap, which means our 1-inch gator belt with a plaque buckle. Keith's is silver but the brass is great, too – we love when it gets a little banged up. Also in his kit: a white Imperial Visor and white-on-white Footjoy Premieres. Whoa.

SOME IDEAS TO TRY:
outfit laydown no. 1: the hogan
Combo No. 1: navy v-neck sweater, pale blue pique polo, charcoal high-twist trousers (modeled after Ben Hogan)

outfit laydown no. 2: the A.P.
Combo No. 2: pale pink pique polo, slate blue lightweight twill trousers (modeled after Arnold Palmer)

outfit laydown no. 3: the seve
Combo No. 3: navy v-neck sweater, white pique polo, cactus green canvas trousers (modeled after Seve Ballesteros)


Anyway - thanks for noticing, and hope this helps! And best of luck to our pal Keith down at Bay Hill this week - we think (and hope) Mr. Palmer would have approved.

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FEBRUARY 23, 2021

Whoa. There's a pandemic still going, most guys are working from home in casual attire, and what's the topic that keeps coming up over email, DM or Insta live?

Ties.

Rather than just pick one, we've rolled up 5 of your recent questions around neckwear for a little rapid-fire-ish edition of Hey Sid (with a few videos to boot).

How do you tie your tie in that cool way you do? - @yourjuannandonly
It's probably most useful to just show you how I do it vs. trying to type it out. So I made a video from my closet at home. I tie a four-in-hand knot pretty much every day. It's super easy, 4 steps. Unless your tie is too long – then it's a whopping 5 steps (just repeat the "wrap around" twice for what's called a double-four-in-hand). I like to tinker with it a little, to make sure the length feels good (mine hits just above my belt buckle), and I pinch the tie a bit at the end to get a little dimple under the tie knot, which gives it some personality.


So what about the days when you AREN'T tying a four-in-hand? – followup
If the tie is a little thicker, I switch it up. My go to for grenadine or knit ties is what I call an Iranian Air Force Knot. This was taught to me by my friend Edward, who I worked with when I first got to New York in 1984. And while almost nothing is as simple as the four-in-hand… this one is. Again, a grand total of 4 steps. Note, you'll need to start with the tie on backwards, but once you get used to that, you'll have a knot that is beautifully symmetrical, yet has a little zip to it.


How do you wear a light-colored tie? - @adisjp
Don't over complicate it or be intimidated… light colors can be a fantastic way to give your outfit a little bit of a lift. For me, it mostly has to do with temperature. In the winter, I love a lighter colored tie in wool or cashmere. The texture makes it feel a little less slick. On the other hand, when it gets above 70 degrees or so, I like pastel ties in silk, linen, cotton, or some combination thereof. One of my summer go-tos is a charcoal suit with a white shirt and a light aqua silk matka tie. Chic as all get-out.

Favorite tie pattern, and why? - @Dhuge677 and Which type of tie is your favorite? - @Micah.t.m.
Club, knit, repp, donegal, grenadine, tartan… sheesh, @DHuge677 and @micah.t.m - this is like picking your favorite kid - I love them all! And part of the fun in wearing a tie is to mix and match based on season or occasion. So while this one is a tough for me to choose, I'd offer up that every guy should have one tie in his wardrobe that covers him for literally ANY occasion. To me, a solid navy grenadine tie (which is a non-pattern-pattern) is like prevent defense for ties… it can go from jeans all the way up to the most formal of suits. This gives you peace of mind if an important life event comes your way – board meeting, wedding, or even a funeral. Because in those instances, the last thing you want to worry about is your tie. I will say - when I look back at photos, there's a green/navy/sky striped repp tie kinda like this one that shows up again and again and again. Another one that gets a lot of action is my adapter club tie. But again – they're all great.

My sister is getting married this June, in Maryland. The groomsmen are set to wear navy suits, while the bridesmaids are going to wear a blush/pale pink color dress. Any thoughts what we should do with the ties? – Matt S. via DM
Love that you're thinking of this, Matt, and helping out your sister. You might want to just ask her… it IS her day. But if she's leaving it up to you, I'd lean into our philosophy of embracing the "second look" by finding a subtle way to work in the blush color into your get-up. (Read: don't try to make a solid tie match the bridesmaids' dresses.) So maybe it's a tie with some blush heathering, a repp tie with a pale pink stripe, or a pattern with some pink in it. What might be nice is to actually go quiet with the tie and have pocket squares act as your complement instead.

Thanks for the questions, y'all. The tie's alive!

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FEBRUARY 2, 2021

“I'm 27 and realizing it's probably time to upgrade from the daily golf shirt to something a little more grown up. What are some essential year-round sport shirts that are versatile enough to be dressed up or worn casually?” – Buck


graph check, white, and striped shirts in a laundry basket
current laundry basket proving the lineup below


Hey Buck. I think the truth is that most guys get lost, thinking they need tons of shirts, and end up with overly full closets that are lacking in consistency in features or patterns or colors. Most of them would be better off with just 5-10 really great shirts that party well together and look good no matter the season. So yours is a really good question.

So I know you asked specifically about sport shirts, but we like to think of our dress shirts as "weekend sport shirts," because they can easily play for both teams. (Remove jacket, remove tie, roll sleeves.) So you'll see a little overlap here. All of these have a modified spread collar with a slight roll, thick Trocas shell buttons, and German interlinings (lightly top-fused for dress shirts, nonfused for sport shirts) that make up the gold standard for us. With basketball season starting to hit its stride (maybe) - here are my "starting five" shirts:

White Poplin (the one to dress up, or not): Everyone needs an elegant white shirt - one that can take you upstairs to the boardroom, or downstairs to the lobby bar. Of course we think our white poplin dress shirt is pretty close to perfect, and just might be the most versatile shirt we make. Don't let the "dress" part fool you… this one looks just as incredible with a pair of old jeans and the sleeves rolled up, as it does under a navy suit. A shirt for all seasons and all occasions.

Sky Rox aka Sky Royal Oxford (the one for 7 days a week): This might be the one shirt that literally every SM employee across the company has in his closet. It's the universal building block, and who doesn't a love a shirt that matches the color of the summer sky? Royal oxford (we call it roxford) is just a touch more refined, and a little lighter than, a traditional oxford… partially because it's actually a completely different weave. But it can also go casual, especially when you get a couple of washes in. I don't think I've found anyone who doesn't look great in it.

Bengal Stripe (the one with a non-pattern pattern): I don't want a closet filled only with solids, and vertical stripes are an easy way to mix it up… but in a subtle way. Think of it as an intro to patterns. This small Bengal stripe is a bit sporty, and goes with almost anything (jeans, chinos, shorts, blazer, no blazer). We like the idea that you should be able to get dressed in the dark, and this one comes with the exact same benefit.

Chambray (the one for the weekend): We love love love chambray and this one's our go-to: an incredible, lightweight, slightly crispy Italian chambray made with linen and real indigo. There's just a comfort and naturalness to it. It's been one of our favorite sport shirt fabrics since day one, which probably explains why we found so many different ways to use it! You'll see various riffs in spread collar sport shirts, band collar shirts, western shirts, slim fit shirts, handmade "Otto" dress shirts… and Ann has a few in her store, too. So yeah, we like chambray, and think you'll find some utility in it, too.

sid in a graph check shirt on the couch at home, and in the same shirt paired with a coat and tie at a restaurant
you were asking for "dressed up or worn casually," right? this is the same graph check shirt at both ends of the spectrum


Graph Check (the one for the "second look"): This is as traditional as it is easy to wear. We like the idea of a suuupppppeeerrrr subtle pattern, because from a distance it reads as a solid. Another non-pattern-pattern/NPP. The details don't scream at you but rather quietly reveal themselves… hence the "second look". This thing only gets cooler when you pair it with jeans or 5-pockets, or even under a solid sweater in the chilly season. And not to sound like a broken record – YES, a graph check will look great under a blazer or with a suit, too.

BONUS! The 6th Man Award Goes To… A Fun Shirt: Versatility and building blocks are clearly key attributes to my starting five. But a good 6th man (aka, a guy who often brings a spark or energy off the bench) can be a key ingredient for a basketball team's success. To put it in shirting terms, everyone can use a shirt that's a little different and just makes him feel cool. Lately my go-to is a brightly colored awning stripe - I like how unexpected they are in a color other than blue. Of course, every guy is different, and a 6th man shirt can lean more traditional, like a button-down in a quiet tartan, or a little louder, like a psyched-out Liberty of London print or a super-bright color. We've got a TON of interesting ones in our semiannual sale, which might be a good, low-stakes place to start looking.

Anyway, Buck, hope this helps. In the end, I think sport shirts are just like anything else: dial in your fundamentals first, then start having fun and getting creative with it, and see where that takes you. Enjoy!

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JANUARY 19, 2021

“What's the right mix or count of winter coats for one person to have?” – Alex


Sid in a snowstorm
Topcoat very much in action


Hey Alex. Happy new year. And great question.

The answer here depends a little on your climate and where your travels have taken you. I live in the South, but my closet has been influenced by spending most of my professional years in New York, plus all the time I've spent traveling back there and abroad. You don't want to be unprepared in New York or Italy in February. But it's been documented that Ann takes up a good bit of the coat closet space in my household, so my winter coat collection has to be a tad spartan, for real estate purposes. But regardless of where you live, it IS the season to be prepared. Breezy, chilly, cold, raining, sleeting, snowing, you get the picture. So with that, here are the 5 winter outerwear pieces I think every guy should have.

A VEST FOR LAYERING: Tough to find a better layering piece. And it's just as good over a sport shirt for the moderate weather, layered under or on top of a blazer, or in conjunction with a heavier jacket to help counter the extreme. I end up wearing mine a lot indoors as well. It just feels good. In Europe (and especially in Northern Italy), it is very common to see people wearing a down vest in the morning all year round, even in July – they treat it more like a light sweater. Maybe a good stylish alternative for our friends in Silicon Valley who want to punch it up a bit.



A TRENCH FOR ALL WEATHER: The secret weapon of outerwear. First, it's instant extended coverage, because it covers your shoulders down to your knees. Second, it's stylistically versatile, and can go with everything from jeans & Chelsea boots to a tuxedo (plus the silhouette is slimming.) And finally, we've got one that's water-repellent that folds up and packs within itself – the ultimate traveler. I actually showed up on my first date with Ann in a trench… I called it a duster but in retrospect it may have been a little J. Peterman. It was raining, but I was probably trying to impress her just as much as trying to stay dry.



A FILLED JACKET FOR HIDDEN WARMTH: Just a vest and trench will cover you for a pretty solid dance card. But you'll also want to have some kind of filled jacket in your rotation. And with all due respect to down, we've been really into cashmere insulation lately. If that sounds a bit over the top, stick with me. It's an alternative to goosedown or poly-fill, made of recycled cashmere fibers from garments & remnants.The mill collects and processes them, and the result is spectacular: wind-resistant, lightweight, and breathable, so it's NOT gonna act like a terrarium. It's the fill for the Traveler's Jacket, which is a grrrrreat layering piece in its own right.

  • Cashpad Traveler's Jacket in Navy
  • Cashpad Traveler's Jacket in Olive
  • Kired by Kiton Cruz 2-in-1 Jacket in Khaki/Burgundy (on sale!)


A TOPCOAT FOR THE OCCASION: There are few more refined items in menswear than a topcoat. And while you won't need it every day, you'll be glad you have it when the temperature dips on the day of, say, your friend's wedding or an important board meeting. This type of coat used to be far more common – it was what a man wore over his everyday suit. I get the most wear out of mine when I am in a walking city. New York, Chicago, Paris, etc. At home, just hopping in and out of my car, I don't necessarily need the extra layer… but walking 20 blocks up Madison Avenue is another story. And let me just tell you – this could possibly be one of the chicest things in your wardrobe. I watched Bryan Ferry perform a whole show in a topcoat at an outdoor venue. It was cool.


Bryan Ferry on stage performing in a topcoat
Bryan Ferry at Chastain Park - he wore this for the entire show


A LIGHT CASUAL, JACKET FOR VARIETY: A jacket pulls whatever you are wearing together – that third piece usually makes it better. A light jacket is great for milder days, but also to add a little bit of variety and interest to your look. A military-style jacket, an overshirt, or even a denim or cord jacket falls into this category. And since these are three-season pieces, and they vary so much in style, you can never really have too many. I tend to use my jackets like Ann uses her purse, so the military style with lots of pockets is usually my go-to.



So Alex, I think those are the right components for a winter coat collection. Depending on where you live or what you do, you could tweak the balance a little – add another serious lined coat if you live someplace especially cold, double up on the vests if you're a fan of the layered look, or go deeper on the light, casual jackets if your wardrobe leans pretty casual to begin with. I'll add a bonus category, in case you were also curious about wintry blazers, because those can work as outerwear, too. I think every guy should have at least one solid (the melange twill is nice) and one patterned (this Scottish camo is a killer) winter-weight sport coat with some texture to it. As much as I like versatility, it's nice to have a seasonal statement piece that makes watching the weather a little more fun.

Stay warm!

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DECEMBER 9, 2020

“ Hey Sid! What's on YOUR Christmas list? ” – Kevin N.


December 25, 2019, 1:44am
time stamp is telling… i'm a little more ahead of it this year


I'm making a list
Checking it twice
For Christmas in a year that's been both gnarly and nice
I drive Ann crazy – but it's not because I'm lazy
Because what to get me? The guy with a store?
A couple of records, not a whole lot more…
If you find yourself shopping for YOUR gifts on MY site,
Here are some things that will be JUST RIGHT.

1. Sid Mashburn Slim Straight 5-Pocket Pant, Timber Corduroy. I talk all the time about wearing corduroys 365 days a year… the umber-y color of these is awesome and may remind her of a pair of old Levis I got a lot of use out of between 1986-89.
2. Sid Mashburn 7-Day Sock Set, Navy Extra Fine Merino. Full disclosure, Ann does all the laundry in the house – I'm just the guy who wants to match up his socks by dye lot. All navy blues are not the same. These may be one of my favorite things we've made, ever. Color coded toe seams so she can match up each pair perfectly. The gift that keeps on giving.
3. American Trench Men's Kennedy Luxe Athletic Sock, White. Love to play tennis in these. I'll tell you right now that I do not play like Bjorn Borg but I can at least look like him.
4. Sid Mashburn Polo Shirt, White Pique. Speaking of tennis – I could use another one of these. Maybe when I finally cash in the tennis coaching sessions she gave me last Christmas… which I just remembered… hmmm…
5. Sid Mashburn Wool/Yak Print Pocket Square, Sunflower/Navy/Multi Floral Motif. Yakety yak / don't talk back. I can never get enough pocket squares and I loooooove the color story going on here.
6. Sid Mashburn M65 Jacket, Olive Cotton/Nylon. Ann has her own M65 jacket in navy and has been wearing it a lot… maybe we can match? That may be one toke over the line, so I'll do the green.
7. Randolph Engineering Polarized Aviator Sunglasses, 23k Gold/Gray Glass Lens. I think I left a pair of these in a hotel a few years back… and they can go with the jacket if I really wanna lean into the theme.
8. Sid Mashburn Handmade Peacoat, Navy Moleskin. Would you believe that I've never owned a peacoat? This thing is unbelievable. Worth breaking the streak for. Almost totally handmade in Italy, pickstitching along the shoulders. Just incredible.
9. Moma Design Store Wooden Ruler, Beech Wood. The stocking stuffer to end all stocking stuffers. I must have a dozen rulers and measuring tapes in my desk drawer but this one does something different from the others. Super, super cool.
10. Musgo Real Cologne, Spiced Citrus. I was never a big cologne guy until I started wearing it a few years ago… it reminds me of my dad. This one's got an awesome citrus-ish, tea-ish scent to it, and it's fairly subtle.
11. Sid Mashburn Luxe Hand-Knit Crewneck Sweater, Emerald Green Cashmere. Ann wrote about knitting a sweater as a teenager a few weeks ago… she hasn't gotten around to knitting one for me just yet, but this one will be great in the meantime. And y'all know I'm into the color green.
12. Ecoffee For Sid Mashburn Reusable Coffee Cup, White/Green.In addition to loving the color green, I love being green. My daughter Daisy found these reusable cups in London a few years ago and they're cool… super lightweight, made out of bamboo, and you can throw it in the dishwasher. This year we teamed up with them for an exclusive colorway with the same "love and happiness" text that's on our packing tape. Hey, even more (Al) Green.

Thanks, Kevin. I think this is the last column of 2020, but I'll be back for more questions in the New Year. Hope your days are merry and bright.

Sid's signature

 

NOVEMBER 17, 2020

“Hey Sid! Help! Masks. What's your take?” – Bill G.


masked up in blue university stripe oxford
the stripe is pulling out the sky blue in the windowpane suit


Hey Bill. Unbelievably, still a timely question. Man, I guess it's been eight months, right? They've become too commonplace now to even be worthy of a joke (though I got a lot of mileage out of the Masked Singer references in the beginning…) but they remain a bit of a sartorial quandary. So your question is a great one, and I'm surprised no one's asked it sooner.

Honestly, we were on the fence about selling them in the first place. We made some when supplies were running low back in April, but those were donations to hospitals and shelters, not product for customers. We were hopeful and naive enough to think that the mask thing would be a short-term need! But by early summer, it was apparent that… whoa… we're all going to be wearing these for awhile.

So why not make them cool? And if you appreciate a fantastic shirt in a super high-quality cotton poplin or oxford cloth… you might want that for your face as well. So we got our shirting factory on board, and made some from the same yarn-dyed Italian fabrics we use for our woven shirts. The masks themselves vary, but they're all non-pattern patterns – small-scale stripes, mini-ginghams, solid end-on-end, mostly blue-based – so they're designed to go with everything you've got. Suit, jeans, polo, t-shirt, you name it. So those are my all-purpose rec, no question. We also made some louder ones in Liberty of London prints… those are kooky and colorful but timeless in the way you'd expect from a company that's been around 150 years.

There are a million more options out there… brights, camo prints, the free ones from Humana, the "performance" type material that looks like neoprene but probably isn't. So when do you wear what? New item, new rules… kinda. We kind of look at it in the same way that you might pick a tie, or as I told my friend Tim Cox… it's essentially a pocket square for your face. It needs to jive with what you are wearing, maybe amplify it, but not distract from it.

For me, solid black feels a little harsh, although I see a lot of those. If you've got a board meeting, or if you're wearing a suit, I'd go with a simple, classic pattern like the yarn-dyed ones I mentioned earlier. You want it to fit the ensemble and show respect to the people around the table, just like with anything else you're wearing. If you're on a Zoom call, you can sneak in a tad more personality with a Liberty print, but I'd venture to say that it's probably not the time for, say…. a New Orleans Saints mask. It may be on your face, but it probably shouldn't be in their face…the other guy might be a Patriots fan. And a disposable medical mask gives off a little bit of a surgeon vibe, which I dig, and kinda reminds me of that moment in Rushmore. "Oh, are they?" One of my all-time favorite movie scenes.

And, like everyone else seeking a bit of safe novelty these days, I'm excited about the holidays and what that might mean for your mask game. We did a limited release of holiday fabrics that I'm itching to put into rotation. Those Christmas Liberty prints with the animals are really speaking to me. (We used them for boxers and pocket squares last winter, but I missed the boat.)

So thanks for asking, Bill, because you're not the only one still getting used to this new accessory category. The good news is that it's fairly low stakes (a mask isn't gonna mess up your look as much as a jacket that doesn't fit right) so think of it as an extension of the rest of your outfit, make sure it's appropriate for the occasion, and have a little fun with it.

Sid's signature

 

OCTOBER 20, 2020

“Hey Sid! Greetings from your old stomping grounds! I just hopped back into the "wear a jacket and tie to work" world, and I am finding myself struggling to match my ties with my dress shirts. How do you go about pairing your ties with your non-solid dress shirts? Dos & don'ts with striped shirts? checked shirts? Many thanks.” – Arden in Jackson


small bengal and striped tie, close and closer
blue small bengal + navy/sky/green stripe, zoomed in


Hey there Arden. It's always great to hear from a fellow Mississippian. Last time I was in town I ran by the Big Apple Inn and grabbed some tamales. I'm sure you know about the Mississippi tamale thing – but my friend Julia Reed who sadly just passed away started a big weekend every year that she cooked up as a fundraiser. I regret that I never went… that woman was off the charts. Life lesson: say yes when you can. Anyway, if you don't go over to the Big Apple Inn for the tamales, go for the jukebox – it's killer. But enough about Mississippi – let's get back to the question at hand: how to match a patterned shirt and tie.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the shirt-and-tie look should have an ease to it… not too stiff or robotic. One way we address this is by making the specs of each piece simpatico with each other. The length on our shirt collars is 8cm, and the width of our ties is 8cm. (8cm is also the width of our jacket lapels if you're keeping score at home.) That symmetry creates a natural coexistence between the two garments. Like they're siblings, or at least really good friends. This gives that ease that we're talking about… and with ease comes confidence… and confidence makes it easier to jump into the pattern-on-pattern game. Long story short - the symmetry sets you up for success.

As far as matching goes, I don't blame you for being a bit timid. Shirt-and-tie combos can often fall on opposite ends of the spectrum… either bland or bad. But I promise that pairing patterns isn't that hard, and with practice you will get the hang of it. And you can usually rely on someone in your life to call you out when you get it wrong. My universal "only one lead singer" philosophy applies here… the more pronounced the pattern, the quieter you'll want the accompaniment. Bolder shirt, quieter tie. Quieter shirt, bolder tie. Beyond that, here are a few reliable, north star combinations to get you started.

And remember that when in doubt, a solid silk knit tie is your friend. They go with pretty much any pattern and never go out of style. (Note that ours are a little narrower at 5.5cm – they're so versatile they don't even need the symmetry! Trust me - you don't want an 8cm knit tie.)

Lastly, since you said you're also getting back into the "jacket and tie" world, a little unsolicited additional advice. While you don't want to have more than one lead singer, you do want to HAVE a lead singer. That can be your shirt & tie combo, or your blazer, or even your pocket square. While there is a time and place for all four of those to be solid colors (usually formal occasions,) it's a hell of a lot more fun to mix and match. So go for it! And remember that it's just a tie… by wearing one, you're already ahead of the game.

Have fun. Let us know how it goes. Go eat a tamale for me.

Sid's signature

 

OCTOBER 6, 2020

“Hey Sid! My sister is getting married and because of social distancing requirements, the wedding has gone from a formal affair to a quiet backyard wedding. I feel a little lost. I don't want to go with the full-on suit, but I also feel conflicted about doing business casual for such an important occasion. Think early October in the Carolinas. How the hell do I dress for a casual wedding? Thanks!” – Andrew M.


green jacket in NC
green hopsack in North Carolina


Brother of the bride!

Historically, there isn't a lot of glamour to this role… (no movies by this name that I can think of…) but despite the lack of fanfare, let me tell you – your sister still needs you to show up and look great. In fact, that could be the only thing you really need to get right! Look the part, smile, and throw all the attention towards her. And remember, the toasts may or not be remembered – but those pictures are going to last a loooonnnnnng time. So let's get you started.

Like you, I would be conflicted about wearing business casual to a wedding (even in 2020). You want to look dressed up and put together, but not in a showy way – the "full on suit" option you mention wanting to avoid. My advice would be to go for a blazer, dress trousers and a quiet tie. You can always lose the tie and undo your top button if you are feeling too stiff – but I think you'll feel better and more confident if you at least start out the day looking worthy of the occasion.

The Carolinas in October are pretty awesome – cool but usually not cold – so it's a great time for a super-fall-feeling sport jacket. You probably don't want to go too professorial with anything particularly tweedy or textured, (unless that's your sister's vibe,) but we've got a lot of greens right now, which could be a cool option for you. The color is festive, and not as expected as navy. I may be thinking this because I brought this hopsack the last time I was in North Carolina — it was for a birthday party, not a wedding, but I still felt pretty good. This one's got a quietly cool herringbone pattern with a bit of extra interest up close, but it's not going to register as anything too wild from a distance… six-foot or otherwise. Think about how good it'll look in the photos with some changing leaves in the background! Underneath, a light blue dress shirt, charcoal dress trousers, and a navy club tie. You can have some fun there if you want - maybe make it a tribute to the couple if they happen to be into squirrels or tennis or vinyl records. Or a classic dot is always a safe play. If a green jacket isn't your thing, just sub it out for another herringbone in oatmeal/chocolate or blue/sage… or the undefeated champion, the navy blazer. Everything else can stay the same (although if you go with solid navy, you can kick up the tie a little more… maybe they like sparrows?)

Lastly, shoes. Dress shoes for a wedding are an obvious layup, but as a wrinkle I might suggest dark brown suede Chelsea boots. (I literally count down the days until it's cool enough to wear them – my personal threshold is 65 degrees.) They're refined, but can go a little 'country' and 'mountain' in the best of ways. When your feet are warm, the rest of you is warm… so make sure you've got a solid pair of socks (navy wool is solid,) and you'll be able to handle any damp grass or chill in the air.

I have to say, Andrew, I loved getting your submission. I know it's not a rocket-science answer – coat, tie, trousers – but the question felt optimistic. There has been a lot of ink spilled about how we are all dressing more casually since our lives have been so affected by COVID… in many ways, almost put on pause. But weddings (and sadly funerals,) birthdays, bar mitzvahs, and anniversaries will continue. The gatherings look different – usually smaller and less public – but celebration and ceremony still ask for effort. These are important events and they're worthy of us stepping it up a little. Dressing up isn't canceled. And that's all you really need to remember. Again, you can always take it down a notch once the party gets going. But start with the tie on, keep your feet warm, and make sure you're ready to dance.

-SID

 

SEPTEMBER 22, 2020

“Hey Sid! You always talk about making clothes for "everyman." I'm a lawyer in my mid-forties. I find that my price point for clothes has increased over the years as my career has progressed. How should I decide when to "invest" in more expensive items like your alligator belt or Edward Green shoes? What categories do think are worth the investment, assuming you want to still be fiscally responsible?” – Brian R.


jumping in front of the Atlanta store
2007 - I had just bought these shoes. 13 years later, the cost per wear is something like 44 cents… and sinking.


Hey Brian – it is probably a mixture of competition and optimism that makes me say that about "everyman." You're right. And while I know we don't always shout this part from the rooftops – mostly out of fear of sounding like Crazy Eddie - VALUE is the one thing I am really keen on passing along.

We talk a lot about "economy of time, mind and money." You need all three, but often in different amounts at different times in your life. Your career has progressed (congratulations on that by the way) and so, for you, time is probably worth more than money right now. When I was young and scrappy, I could spend lots of time searching for the perfect thing at a price I could afford. I actually loved doing that – I guess it was that competitive side of me as well – but now, like you and a lot of men my age, time is the most valuable resource I have. Now, I can't afford to spend a full day on something to save $30 (although it sounds fun.)

And economy of mind is more important than ever before – for all of us. There's enough going on in the world to worry about (are we still supposed to be sanitizing groceries?) without having to add clothes to the list. When you can be appropriately dressed and avoid the rabbit hole of insecurity or oh man, I should have worn X without spending a lot of energy thinking about it… THAT is freedom.

So investing in fewer, better things (in all parts of your life) is one of the smartest decisions you can make. And I can say with confidence it's one you won't regret. This applies not just to you, but every guy! My advice always has been to think about how often you are going to wear something, and factor that into the price. Nothing earth-shattering there, but it's better to have a few great things and wear 'em often than have a closet full of stuff and only wear 30% of it.

We once made a "utility index" for a customer who led a consulting firm. He needed help with his wardrobe because he was high-profile, traveled a ton, and frankly, couldn't afford to spend a lot of time or mindspace on it himself. We set him up with a matrix of super-simplified options (think Mashburn meets Garanimals) but the one thing that got him over the finish line for us to dress him? That dang utility graph. It showed that when you amortize your items over how often you wear them… it is scary how few things you really need. And if you are using words like fiscally responsible – my bet is that you could make a graph of your own. But anyway, back to your question. What to invest in?

I put my money in shoes – I always have. There is nothing that kills a look more than cheap shoes. As you mentioned, we sell and love Edward Green shoes, which may seem like a splurge (they are,) but cost-averaging over the lifetime of the wear kinda puts things in perspective. Take the price of a pair of those, add in the eventual resole job, and you're looking at seventeen hundred dollars - which is a lot! But okay, let's say you're wearing them even just once a week (it'll probably be more) and that's 1300 wears over the next 25 years. That's cost per wear of $1.31, which is pretty great – and that's on the conservative side. Waiting to buy those shoes until you're 60 doesn't give you as much time to recoup your investment! (I bought mine when I was 45 – they haven't hit the 25 year mark yet but I've definitely gotten my money's worth.) I may suggest our own line as well, many of which are made in England just down the road from the EG factory, and – we think – are an incredible deal. Our cap-toe balmorals are $650, which kicks your CPW down even more… as in fifty cents per wear.

So shoes are big, but I'd also say a navy wool suit that can take you anywhere you need to go – from the most casual dates, interviews, parties, board meetings, weddings, funerals, to the dressiest dates. As an attorney, you probably have your fair share of tailored clothing, but a go-to, do-it-all suit that you feel good in even outside of the office? Worth its weight in gold. It acts like kind of a 2-for-1 with all the pockets for keys, phone, pen, notebook, Airpods, passport… no tote bag required. And remember that in a pinch, you can use the top half as your navy blazer. Just don't overplay that move.

sweater closet
30 years worth of sweaters here


Last thing I'd throw out there. A cashmere sweater gives back like crazy. I know that not everyone is dying to drop $400 on a sweater, but man, other than moths, you should be able to wear that thing for the rest of your life. And it doesn't have to be your typical "neutral," either - this is a grrrrrreat place to add some color. You can see from my closet that I love a green and a bright blue… and that new heathered purple's awesome. You'll be surprised at the CPW you can get, even on purple. Don't forget to get a sweater comb for maintenance. And when it does get a few holes – hey, now it's a sweatshirt. Look up a Youtube tutorial on darning if it's going to bug you, but I wouldn't sweat it. I have cashmere sweaters I have been wearing for 30 years.

I think the key to deciding whether (and when) to purchase is understanding the value it'll bring. Think of how much you'll enjoy wearing it, how you'll feel in it, how long you'll have to enjoy it, and any stuff you'll have to do down the line to keep it in good shape. Resoling, combing, conditioning, whatever. And then do the math on that cost per wear. If it comes out to whatever you spent on lunch today, you're probably safe to pull the trigger. So whether that means an alligator belt (a great purchase no matter what season of life you're in – just figure out the most ubiquitous footwear color in your closet, match to that, wear all the time), a great cotton shirt (for sure,) a tie you love (it's hard to wear out a tie,)… the cost per wear is what to focus on, not the upfront price tag. Sounds like you've earned it.

-SID

 

SEPTEMBER 8, 2020

“You had a sweet pair of green cords in an Instagram video last week. I looked on your site but didn’t see them. Where can I find a pair??? ” – Jeffrey Z.



green cords then (1992) and now (2020)


People are going to think this is a fake question (… Jeffrey, are you a plant?) because this is such an easy one for me. You'd understand if you saw my closet. Sadly, that exact jade color is a few seasons old, but a fresh new batch hit the website late last week. A real kaleidoscope, including one pair that's super similar to that green you spotted.

I actually loved getting your note because corduroy jeans remind me of back to school as a kid – or at least as a teen – because once upon a time this was my personal school uniform. I still wear a pair of grey Fiorucci corduroys from the 80s, and another pair of brown Levi’s I bought for $9.99 at Goof’s Factory Outlet in Jackson. And I just found a pair on Etsy in that incredible 1976 baby blue for $524 (why not $525?)… but I digress.

Anyway, those colorful cords were the best. So much so, that as soon as we got our 5-pocket jean program going, corduroy was next on our list after denim. There’s something about wearing 'jeans' every day of the week yet NOT wearing straight-up blue jeans every day of the week. The 14-wale weight of these is great for fall, but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who wears them year-round. Since your question came in a few weeks ago, it sounds like you do too. I love the texture, I love the look, I love the weight.

A lot of the cords we make (and most of the ones we actually sell) are neutral. But I think every guy should have at least one pair of colorful pants. They give you a little lift. And to all the not-Jeffreys out there, once you get over the initial hesitation of wearing something brighter than your usual, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by the compliments that roll in. Seriously.

So even though the back-to-school thing is a little strange this year, we can at least dress the way we wanted to look back then. Hanging out at the lockers between classes, maybe kissing someone in the hall without a mask. Simpler times.

-SID

 

AUGUST 25, 2020

“Hey Sid! I have noticed more safari- and work-inspired jackets recently. Given the working from home trend, these seem like a great alternative to a sport coat for a video call. Any tips for pulling it off without looking like I'm about to hop in a truck to go look for lions?” – Carlos



gave the Bill Cunningham look a shot on Zoom yesterday, in a blue military jacket and a club tie


Hey Carlos – great question. I get it – nobody wants to look like they just watched Out of Africa the night before. It's great to weave a little cinematic spirit into your Zoom calls… but it's a fine line between "inspired by" and "full-on costume party." You know, in older movies, you sometimes see men come home from the office and change into a different jacket for the evening. But it's a more casual one… something that still has some polish, but feels less precious, and easier to move around in (or drink a martini in). But here we are in 2020, when there is no "home from the office" because, for most of us, home IS the office. So how do you split the difference? What's the piece that can do both?

I think you're right that a lightweight, chore- or military- or safari-style jacket is the answer… and it's totally something you can pull off without looking like a hunter. Think of it as an indoor/outdoor coat. Heavier and more inside-friendly than a windbreaker, but not so heavy that you can't be comfortable sitting in front of your computer. The ones we've got this season are made of this great lightweight fabric that's dry-waxed, so it won't rub off or transfer the way a traditional waxed cotton does. (This is especially good news if your home desk is also your kitchen table…) It's also washed ahead of time to take out some of the crunch and kick-start the break-in process. Even when you're muted on the call, a stiff jacket doesn't set you up for success.

When I think about how to wear it, my mind goes straight to Bill Cunningham, the original "street style" photographer for the New York Times. He grew up in a super preppy, Irish Catholic family in Boston and knew the importance of dressing up as a matter of good manners and respecting occasion. But he took practicality into account as well. He was on a bicycle all day and needed to be able to carry around his camera and his film. So every day he wore a French work jacket. It had four pockets – perfect for his film canisters and notebook - and it was made of utilitarian cotton in this fantastic shade of lapis blue. He wore a collared shirt underneath, but in the evenings, he could just throw on a tie and bike over to a fancy party without missing a beat. In cooler months he'd add a sweater underneath, and in true winter, a down jacket on top.

So let Bill be your guide on your next Zoom call. Since the jacket is by nature a little rugged, lean into "simple but refined" for the other pieces. (You'll see I test-drove the look for you on one of my calls yesterday.) The funny thing about a jacket – any jacket, whether it's a true sport coat or something more casual like this – is that it makes you look more pulled together. Ann talks about this "third piece" phenomenon all the time. If two pieces is your baseline – safe to assume you're always in one, a shirt, and two, pants – the addition of just one more item makes your whole look seem more considered. It pulls it all together. You can take it super casual on weekends, and it'll make even a solid tee and jeans feel like an "outfit." But when it comes to a workday, you want a shirt with a collar. Even just a polo can be cool. And of course, I'm always gonna recommend treating it like a real sport coat and wearing it over a spread collar woven shirt, with or without a tie. (Maybe 'with' if your boss is joining the call.) One of the guys who works here in our warehouse, Dillon, carries this look off really well. It's practical – there's pockets for his pen and his phone and his box cutter – but the tie gives him some polish. Military jacket as blazer. Every time I see him, I'm like, he showed up ready.


Yellow with blue bengal stripe; olive green with tattersall twill

Dusty blue with a tricolor plaid poplin; persimmon with sky blue cotolino


There are a couple of combos to get you started. I think the colors alone will help you avoid the safari look. The idea is casual – and useful – but refined. Remember, you're getting work done.

-SID

 

AUGUST 11, 2020

“How about a post similar to the best-dressed musicians and movie characters… but give us your top five best-dressed political figures! No need to get political, but there have been some well-dressed Presidents (JFK and Bush 41 come to mind,) and Congressmen (Bobby, Teddy K, McNamara, etc.) Thanks!” – Garrett



Bobby Kennedy on the 1968 campaign trail


Okay there… game on. Politics. Tricky, right? (Or left?) Joking aside, this was a lot of fun to think about – so I am glad you asked. Thank you. I spun up a pretty big list in the brainstorming process – and went down a bit of a Google Images rabbithole - but in the end, I went with my first gut picks.

Right out of the gate, my first thought was Ronald Reagan. You can take the man out of Hollywood, but you can't take the Hollywood out of the man. Of course, he was an actor first, and that sense of confidence and magnetism, just the way he carried himself, are a big part of his style. He looked presidential in a suit for sure – but it was his Western look that has stayed in my head. California cowboy cool.


a rugged-feeling sport shirt (option 1, option 2, option 3), blue jeans, roper boots, hoof pick belt, and in true Hollywood style, a pair of sunglasses

Next up, the Kennedy brothers – a two-for-one. John F (JFK, or Jack) and Robert (Bobby) Kennedy. I won't go on again about how my major design influences come from the 1960s (and mostly from television, not politics, since I was just a kid,) but those guys have the same stylish look as so many of the men I looked up to. And, like Reagan, they both exuded charm and charisma. (Of course it helps to be handsome as all get-out.) They both wore suits in that easy, natural way… they were comfortable in them. Bobby in particular - you could envision him going home to his 11 (!) children and not being afraid of some sticky-fingered son clambering up into his lap, or throwing the ball around the yard before dinner. On them, a suit looks like what I'm always preaching – a uniform you can live in, work in, and feel comfortable in. When I think of their best looks, my mind goes to Bobby on the 1968 campaign trail, in a grey suit, repp tie and white pocket square. And while it's easy to think of JFK addressing the nation, my mind goes to him on a boat in a polo or summer-weight sweater and khaki pants. Those images of American presidential romance are kind of burned in my head, and I know I'm not the only one. American Trench, where we get a lot of our socks, designed their original Kennedy style from a photograph of JFK watching America's Cup.


mid-grey suit with a white pocket square, white poplin dress shirt, striped repp tie, sharkskin belt, and over-the-calf socks with a pair of semi-brogues




a blue polo underneath a lovat cashmere sweater, a pair of khakis, and some trouser-length socks with camp moccasins - plus tortoise sunglasses.

For pick No. 3, I'm going global with Kofi Annan. The UN Secretary-General from Ghana was a pretty cool-looking cat – mostly showed up in suits, and always looked great. Truthfully, I probably remember his voice even more than his clothing – but there's something stylish about that too. Learning to speak slowly and thoughtfully and quietly – we could all take a few pointers. He had an awesome, neatly-trimmed beard way before I did, and I like how he let his hair get just a little unkempt. And like everybody else on this list, he, too, wears a suit like a second skin. I would say he has a more traditional, formal vibe than the Kennedys. Dignified, elegant, warm… I guess that's why he led the Secretariat.


navy sharkskin suit (and we like it with a white pocket square although he usually doesn't wear one,) white poplin dress shirt, Ferragamo tie, matte alligator belt, and dress socks with cap-toes

Next up is one of my two style wild cards… Teddy Roosevelt. This maybe be a surprise – clearly he was sleeping at the White House way before I was around. But it was his time spent away from Pennsylvania Avenue that strikes me as so stylish. A man of adventure! A sportsman, a hunter, a soldier, a reader, a writer, a conservationist… a manly President who wasn't afraid of wild game. So in my head, he's not in a three-piece suit or tiny glasses at his desk… he's in a safari-style jacket, bandana around his neck, and awesome boots, trudging through one of the national parks.


lightweight military jacket, blue oxford shirt, canvas khakis, Indy boots, brown pull-up belt with a big oval buckle, back pocket square tied around your neck, hat (yours)

Lastly, I may be stretching the term "politician" when I share my final pick, Gianni Agnelli. But I would say the president of Fiat counts… for sure. His hair and his tan are hard to forget, but the suits he wore, tailored just for him in Rome by Caraceni, were the very definition of ‘second skin.' And so much more literally than I mentioned earlier with the Kennedys – the Italians just take ease and movement in tailored clothing to a different level. His ties came from Marinella, his shirts from Battistoni. He knew quality and he only wore the best. In some ways, it was his duty! Like a politician, he represented his country and knew the world was looking at him. But there was life in the way he dressed, as well. Later on in his career, he got into button-down collars (from Brooks Brothers – exported American cool) and leaving the buttons undone was his signature. His tie was often a bit askew, and on occasion, he would wear hiking boots with his suits. I think he liked a bit of casualization… obviously, I am a fan.


Air Force blue suit, blue striped dress shirt, floral grenadine tie, calfskin dress belt, with suede chukka boots for a little attitude

So, Garrett, there are my five - some more literally "in office" than others. But no matter your politics, everyone can appreciate a man who has the good manners to dress thoughtfully… not so much to gain votes, but to exude confidence and care for those around him.

-SID

 

JULY 21, 2020

“Every summer, I go out west to spend a week with the extended family of my in-laws at a ranch in Wyoming. I'm a big fan of Western-inspired fashion (think RRL) and want to look the part, but I haven't the faintest idea how to pull it off – probably because I've spent my entire life on the east coast. Any pointers?” – Pete in NYC


Well hey Pete. Love this question. I myself have a long history with western dressing… which dates back to long before I even spent any time out west. I got my first pair of Justin boots at 12 and even a horse to go with them. Her name was Flying Paint.

Anyway. You're right – the RRL stuff is fantastic, and also easy to overdo. I have mentioned before that working at Polo felt like one long costume party. People had a lot of fun with their looks even if they weren't going any farther than the Fifth Avenue subway station. Ralph liked to script his collections as though they were movies, which makes sense, because the American West is such a cinematic-feeling place. You've got the mountains in the background, the prairie, the tumbleweeds, rivers wilder than anything we've got back East, a huge open sky. I sort of instantly see a guy on a horse with a rope in his hand. And I want to be that guy. Sounds like you do, too.

But you've been doing this for years, so you know – the goal is to not look like you're trying too hard to fit in among the real cowboys. With that in mind, I am going to give you a short packing list – jeans, sport shirts, belt, bandana, boots, jacket – with a few ideas around each one.

Denim is low-hanging fruit. I would only pack jeans, and don't over-complicate them. Just stick to indigo or stone or khaki, and make sure they're worn in a little. I'm all about presentation but you don't want to be the guy on the ranch with brand-new or pressed jeans. And have a bandana ready… we call it the back pocket square around here. They come in super handy – you can use it as an impromptu mask, to wipe some sweat from your brow, or to offer the lady next to you if she falls off her horse and needs some dusting off. Or even just to wipe the fingerprints off your phone screen. Back pocket squares don't cost much but are a godsend in a pinch – vacation or not. I'd pack a few… maybe both of these.

Where you really want to focus is on your shirts. Western shirts are fantastic (and clearly popular since we're nearly sold out of ours…re-up to come) – but I think almost any sport shirt tucked into your jeans and worn with a cowboy state of mind can feel right. Sport shirts are probably going to feel a little more natural and comfortable to you as a New Yorker, too. I love the faded-out plaids and chambrays – but even a graph check which is more East Coast, can look Western in that context. This chambray is my current favorite, but a blue-on-blue gingham would be pretty good, too. And I mentioned this earlier, but tucking it in is crucial for that old-school Western look – just look at Paul Newman in Hud, or Burt Lancaster in Vera Cruz or any of The Magnificent 7. I'm almost always gonna advocate for a tucked-in shirt, which is why ours are cut with a longer shirttail. Sometimes a guy who's new to us will say that his shirt is too long (by the way, we'll shorten it gratis) but it's for exactly this reason – so it'll stay tucked in.

… which means you can show off your belt! It's choose-your-own adventure here, although a wider belt strap tends to have that rancher vibe. We like a 1.25" strap – the oil leather is going to look more classic, but a zebra strap could give you kind of a cool Peter Beard-esque look. A safari's sort of an international cousin to a ranch, right? Either of these straps looks best with a bigger buckle. This oval plaque is fantastic, although if you get a chance to go into town, Wyoming is exactly the place to thrift some really killer vintage buckles. A longhorn, a ranch brand, whatever you can find. If it's got some scuffs and tarnish on it, all the better. This is something you can easily wear back home in NYC, too. Makes a cooler souvenir than a rabbit foot or a dreamcatcher. And lastly, not to state the obvious, but a hoof pick beltis a layup - just don't offer to use it next to the ranch hands.


Ann, Valentino, the safari jacket, and me at the ranch…

And now – arguably the most essential part of your list – the boots. You may already have a pair, especially if you've been making this trip every summer, but if not, I'd suggest the roper. It's cowboy, but not as on the nose as a true western boot, with that higher heel and turned-up toe. The roper style is a little easier, with a shorter shaft, a lower heel, and a toe that just feels a touch less severe. It's the more understated boot, but just as functional. The vibe is more Townes Van Zandt at the kitchen table, less Ken Curtis in Gunsmoke. (Quick side story on that: I once bought a pair of incredible handmade cowboy boots on a trip to Italy from my favorite store in Milan, Eral55. Pretty sure I was working for Polo at the time. I think I was going for a spaghetti Western thing – Sergio Leone, maybe – but I couldn't resist these boots. But upon getting home to New York I realized very quickly they were just TOO MUCH COWBOY. I kinda knew it, but all Ann had to do was look at them… and then I really knew it. Serves me right for buying cowboy boots in Italy.) So, yeah, roper boots are pretty good for avoiding that, which I would recommend. They're not gonna look as costumey when you get back home.

Last thing I'd suggest… since I'm guessing you're flying, is a jacket. I say this a lot, but a blazer may get you a seat upgrade – and it acts as a purse. Our trailblazer jacket with the bellows pockets (you can put some feed for your horse in there) is perfect for this time of year in Wyoming. The fabric only gets cooler with age, once it's a little roughed-up. And it'll be great if you need to step things up for a family dinner in the lodge. A sport coat just makes you feel a little fresher, especially if you've been outside all day. Ann and I went on a friend's birthday trip to this ranch out in Santa Barbara, and I was working at Lands End at the time. I had just finished this prototype for a safari jacket we were getting ready to put on the men's line. Like I said before – safari is not western, but I was excited enough to bring it. The ranch hands must have had a laugh about this because I ended up with a horse named Valentino. I'd wear it again, to be honest – but a sport jacket is probably your more functional outerwear option.

At the end of the day, the cowboy essence is more attitude than outfit. I know this isn't your first rodeo – or first trip out West, rather – but maybe it'll be the one where you feel the coolest? Safe travels and have fun. Come back with a cool belt buckle.



-SID

 

JULY 8, 2020

“For some reason, I just can't mix and match sport coats and dress pants. I don't know what colors and patterns can go together… I can put a blazer with a pair of jeans and that's where my fashion sense cuts off. What advice can you give me about matching coats with pants and if patterns can be mixed with solids?” – Mason


Hey Mason - wow. Great questions. The good news is that this is less complicated than you think – and that a pair of blue jeans is already a great starting point. (In fact, more often than not, I also go for jeans with a sport coat…so you're not as far off as you thought.) Beyond that, here's how I think about it.

Expand your definition of 'jeans.' You already know that a pair of jeans is a safe bet. But if you're not counting white jeans there, you should be – jeans that are blue, white, or, most of the time, natural wheat (unless your jacket is wheat; more on this later) are going to look great with any sport coat you throw at them, solid or patterned. I know white after Labor Day is controversial, but all three of those work year-round in my book as long as they've got some heft to them. I love a tweedy autumn sport coat with white jeans and suede boots in, say, November.

Okay, but jeans (or five-pockets; for us, they're the same) may not be appropriate for every occasion. When trying to pick trousers for your sport coat, it's a good idea to stay neutral on the bottom. I tend to stick to earth tones – tans, browns, stones, khaki, even a little green. But the most versatile of all is grey. Grey trousers may be even more of a safety play than jeans. If you think about shades on a spectrum of 1-10, ranging from pale pearl all the way to charcoal briquette… any shade of grey from about 2.5-9 is going to go with pretty much any sport coat. If I'm not wearing a pair of jeans or 5-pockets with my sport jacket, odds are pretty good that I'm in mid-grey or charcoal high-twist. So grey's almost always going to work, no matter what's on top.

seersucker jacket and charcoal high-twist trousers
case in point - seersucker jacket with charcoal trousers

 


After grey, I'd look for a secondary or tertiary color in the pattern to guide you. You just want some connectivity. Like this one's got some tan running through it – so tan trousers, or maybe a char brown, would work well. And this houndstooth would be great with either Air Force blue or medium blue, or even a very light khaki to pick up that off-white. This also works in reverse, by the way, if you've got a pair of patterned trousers – for example, these would look great with a navy or mid-blue jacket. So can you mix patterns with solids? Heck yeah - especially if that solid is grey. (And speaking of tried and true combinations - grey trousers with a navy jacket. Impossible to mess up.)

Now what are the things to avoid? If your jacket is solid, with no extra colors in the mix, you wanna be careful about doubling up on a single color. This means no green pants with a green jacket, no khakis with a khaki jacket, no brown pants with a brown jacket. And if you happen to own a plain white jacket (hmmmm) you wouldn't wanna wear that with white jeans. You want to go for contrast instead. Green with khaki - khaki with brown – brown with blue – blue with grey - and so on. I mentioned how useful your grey trousers are, and this is one reason we don't make a lot of solid grey sport coats. They cancel each other out. If it's a super textured Shetland or Harris Tweed, maybe, but generally we don't go there. So be careful with the colors getting too close. The magic exception here is blue jeans and a dark blue blazer. I don't know why that works so well, but it just does. Navy trousers – sport or dress – are a no-go with navy on top, but jeans? Always.

Second, don't be tempted to take the suits you already own and wear them as separates. Generally, the only suits you wanna split up are the ones with some texture to them… the fabrics with "touch." Seersucker, linen, canvas, corduroy, heavier wools, something that's brushed like moleskin or flannel. If it's super textured or slubby or beefy, it can usually stand on its own. And that's the key. But I'm guessing that most of the suits in most guys' closets fall into the "don't mix" category. If it's a plainweave fabric, smoother and lighter in feel, you want to keep the pieces together. This glen plaid plainweave is a perfect example. As a suit? Chic as all get-out. But just the jacket on its own doesn't look right – too flat. It needs some heft to it. But once again, plain navy acts as the exception here. You can split up nearly any navy suit you've got, whether it's textured seersucker or a high-twist plainweave. (That's why a navy suit is such a wardrobe MVP.)

Flax & Sage

flax/grey/tan glen plaid can go with brown, olive, or oatmeal trousers   |    blue/sage green herringbone can go with charcoal, blue, or light grey trousers


Brick & Pine

brick/blue houndstooth can go with air force blue, blue, or stone trousers   |   pine/navy/sky windowpane can go with char blue, mid-grey, or dusty blue trousers


In the end, if you're trying to add some more pattern to your wardrobe, and you don't wanna wear a full suit… don't buy a full suit. I know it may seem more economical (hey – 3 for the price of 1!) but remember that sport coats are designed for this. Just look at this page. Every single one of those can go with a pair of jeans, it can go with grey trousers, and it can usually go with a few more neutrals. We go through waaaaaaayyyy too many fabrics every season to produce a jacket that doesn't give you some range.

The best way to get a feel for the mixing and matching is just by doing it over and over and over again, and you may need a little help in the beginning. Reach out to a friend, or your go-to clothier (hopefully it's us) for some steering, or a second opinion. My friends text me photos all the time – "hey, does this work?" It can be hard, even for me… and I've been putting outfits together since I was twelve years old. I actually have this lightweight flannel Prince of Wales jacket that I wear fairly often, and almost every time, Ann's like "…are there pants that are supposed to go with that?" She's not a menswear expert, but it just looks 'off' to her. I'm not sure she could even tell you why. That said, I've also had some guys tell me "man, that's a great sport coat." Which also goes to show you that some of this can be subjective.

Okay, Mason – start by giving some grey trousers a try, and see how that feels. 99% of the time, it's going to work… and if you need a little reassurance, we're only a phone call or an email away.

-SID

 

JUNE 23, 2020

“Hey Sid – I'm a bigger and taller guy (6'4", US 48L/Italian 60L jacket, 40" waist). What advice do you have about business casual looks for guys my size?” – Chris




Muhammad Ali (6'3") and Wilt Chamberlain (7'1") - big and bigger


Hey Chris - I am so glad you asked.

So many men over the years have walked into the shop and apologized, with some version of "I know I'm not as skinny and tall as you and your guys…" I hate hearing that - because it is so not what we're about. While it's true that a couple of our earliest employees happened to be pretty lanky guys, it's our job to make everyone look great. And if we could only do that for model types… we wouldn't be in business very long. I have never ever ever wanted size to be a barrier – which is why having an MTM program has been part of our offering from the beginning. Let me go on the record: the "SM look" is for everyone who wants to wear it.

I am super proud to dress a fantastic customer and friend who has a 70-inch waist. I hope this doesn't sound boastful, but he looks so great in our stuff. We have dressed a 98-pound young man for his Bar Mitzvah. We have tailored clothes for guys in wheelchairs. You get the picture. If you want to wear our stuff, no matter your size or situation, we can make you look great. It might require some custom work, or some extra tailoring, but we can do it.

So, Chris, you sound pretty proportionate, but what I am about to say holds true for anyone on the bigger – or smaller – side, or those whose weight is distributed less evenly. How your clothes are tailored – how they fit you – is the most important thing. Clothes that don't fit right will accentuate your heaviness, your scrawniness, your wideness, your long neck, your whatever… you fill in the blank. To paraphrase Johnny Mercer – we're trying to "accentuate the positive" and "eliminate the negative" and "latch on to the affirmative." I LOVE this song!But anyway, okay, what does 'fitting right' mean? For a larger guy, we'd say:

  • Your jacket sleeve should hit just above your wristbone, and the body shouldn't be too long or too short. For most guys, it should ideally hit at the bottom joint of the thumb when your arms are at your sides. And if you're tall, a too-short jacket is even worse than one that's too long… but it sounds like you're already wearing Ls, so you're in good shape.

  • Your pants should have a minimal break. Puddling or stacking at the top of your shoes will only make you look bigger, and a little unkempt. And the same holds true if you're small… it makes your legs look shorter

  • Speaking of – and this is probably the biggest surprise when a guy first comes to see us – you want flat-front trousers. Pleats add the illusion of volume, so if you're trying to look trimmer, they're going to work against you. We can take 5 to 10 pounds off a man, visually, just by putting him in a pair of flat-front pants. We've got a pleated pant body on our line, and I'm not anti-pleat, but they are harder to get right. Flat-fronts, on the other hand – those are for everyone. I promise.

Your height and stature already make a statement when you walk into a room. This is great! But it means that you may want to tone down your clothes a touch in light of that. You command a presence – your clothes don't need to do it as well. You may not want people to remember you as "that tall guy with the wild shirt." Or maybe you do, and in that case, load up on Liberty and day-glo and camouflage as you please. Do YOU. But we find that most people want to be remembered for their great personalities, and not just their looks or build. And when you feel good in your clothes, you're usually giving off a good vibe.

That does NOT mean you have to look boring. No matter your size, we are big proponents of the second look – smaller details that make someone look twice. A cool beaded belt, a great-fitting navy blazer in a quietly interesting fabric, maybe a watch you got from your grandfather. It could be as small as a pocket square that makes you smile. Wearing things that are of the best possible quality, without being flashy, is a pretty good recipe for success. I think leaning into quiet quality will allow you to stand out without making your physical presence the main event.


on the more casual side… Wilt Chamberlain (7'1") bowling with Willie Shoemaker (4'11")

 


I am always here to spread the gospel about overdressing vs. underdressing – but I think this is especially important when you're on the bigger side. When there's more of you, there's more of your clothes, which means more of a statement. More polish if you look polished, more mess if you look messy. The stakes are higher. I'm not saying to wear a suit to a barbecue, necessarily, but generally, a collared shirt – one with a substantial collar – is your friend.

We did a previous post on "biz cas," (you can read it here,) so I don't want to repeat myself too much. But all the tips above apply to business casual, they apply to dressing up, they apply to black tie, and they apply to days when you're hanging out at home in your jeans and bare feet. Make sure your clothes fit you well, lean into flat-front trousers, go for subtler pieces unless you're a big personality, and err on the side of being more nicely dressed than not. A great-fitting sport coat over a dress shirt - tie or not - will take you almost anywhere.

-SID

P.S. I'll point out that we're on sale right now, which makes this perfect timing for your note. Sale is an amazing time for you to shop. Often, by the time we get to marking down our seasonal stuff, the Mediums and 52-Regulars are long gone, but the fringe sizes are still hanging around. This is when being on the outskirts really pays off. Have fun.

 

JUNE 9, 2020

A quick note: we took a break from Hey Sid last Tuesday. We know that there are bigger and more important questions right now than how to wear Southern staples. The timing for this one was kind of crazy—Sid had answered two weeks prior, but we paused on posting it—because it's hard to think of seersucker without thinking of Atticus Finch in his three-piece suit, fighting against racial injustice in the courtroom. But if you read the sequel a few years ago, Go Set a Watchman, you know that he's more complicated (and sadly, more prejudiced) a character than we once thought. That feels kind of appropriate now, too. Even a beloved anti-racist hero of American literature still has a long way to go. Many of us do. We're committed to doing what we do with a heightened sense of awareness of racism and inequality in every form. Our stated mission is to "enhance people's lives" - and we can't do that in good faith without affirming that Black lives matter so very much. Sending love and happiness and hope to all of you.
- all of us at MASHBURN

“Hey Sid – how do I wear southern summer staples (like seersucker or poplin suits and bucks) without looking like a New Orleans trial lawyer having lunch at Galatoire's on a Friday afternoon in 1986?” – Drew R.




a long, long time ago


Hey Drew. I laughed out loud at your question. Lunch at Galatoire's poses its own kind of risk… and the people-watching is just as great as the food! Which kinda proves your point here. I get it. Between growing up in Mississippi and immediately fleeing to New York afterwards, I got a lot of practice when it comes to wearing stereotypically southern stuff my own way. There was a lot of trial and error through the years. What it really boils down to: one (southern) lead singer at a time. In other words, break up your southern staples.

So, for instance. A seersucker jacket paired with jeans has a casual, knockaround quality, while a pair of pants becomes the star when paired with a white oxford or a navy polo. White bucks can punch up khakis and a sport shirt, and give ya a reason to look down. And unexpected muted colored suits, like tan poplin or navy seersucker can be stylish for the southern heat without necessarily looking capital-S-Southern. (That tonal navy one in particular is like secret seersucker.) But let's break it down by the items you listed.

First, you don't want to do the white bucks WITH the seersucker, or even the poplin suit. It's a little too on the nose. And, particularly if you live someplace that isn't the South, you run the risk of looking like Central Casting. There are some guys who can carry this off (usually the ones who hang out at Galatoire's,) but the fact that you're asking already tells me it may not be for you.

But, okay, what do you wear white bucks with if not a suit? I think those look best with a pair of jeans or khakis, and a toned-down sport coat. Sometimes I'll add a seersucker jacket, maybe, but most of the time I'm wearing them in place of any other bluchers. The most important thing is to get a little dirt on them.

As for the suit… whether it's poplin or seersucker, the easiest way to tone it down is with your shoes. That takes it from costumey to cool. Last week I wore my khaki poplin suit with slightly scuffed-up desert boots, which felt more Lawrence of Arabia than anything else. Out of the two, poplin tends to be easier than seersucker, especially because these are traditionally in light, muted colors.

 
 
 
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A post shared by Sid Mashburn (@sidmashburn) onMay 1, 2019 at 3:01pm PDT

navy-on-navy - the "secret seersucker""

I think the stripe on a seersucker is a little more intimidating, although it shouldn't be! To be honest, pulling off a seersucker suit is mostly in the attitude. You want something – anything – that feels a little 'you.' Maybe it's an interesting pocket square instead of plain white, or possibly a knit tie instead of the club tie you'd expect. Come to think of it, SKIPPING the tie is an easy way to tone it down, too. A suit (in any fabric) without a tie makes the whole vibe less precious… like you're truly comfortable in it. Polo shirt, no tie, tie, open collar… it's all fair game with seersucker. And as far as shoes go, there aren't a lot of rules there, either. Last week I wore a seersucker jacket with a white shirt, grey high-twist trousers, and sharkskin tassel loafers… no socks. I also think it looks cool with sneakers, whole-cut or low-top. And Ann dug up the old picture above where I'm wearing a seersucker suit with black Chelsea boots and a black tie, both of which by definition help to add some rock 'n' roll.

That suit in that Polaroid was actually the first-ever suit I had made for myself… silk seersucker, made by Nino Corvato in New York. The stripe was red, with a tea-dyed color in the ground instead of white, so it looked a little old to begin with, and it had pearl buttons. Today, I would probably counsel a 24-year-old against something like that for his first suit, but, hey, you don't know what you don't know – and I definitely didn't. But I wore that thing everywhere. It nearly landed me in a fight at the Back Door Tavern in Knoxville, when we showed up after my sister-in-law's wedding. By midnight, most people there were probably ready for a fight anyway… but that red seersucker was not well received. I stepped down from the challenge, but the lesson here may be that if you're going to wear a seersucker suit in East Tennessee, you gotta be ready to fight for it.

I apologize that my answer to you seems so stupidly simple. Shoes and attitude, or when in doubt split 'em up. That's all! But it really doesn't have to be that hard. The thing about these fabrics is that they're "stereotypically southern" for a reason… as far as tailored clothing goes, there's nothing better in the heat. A seersucker jacket is way too practical to relegate to the back of your closet because you're afraid of looking like you're in costume. You know, I just learned that the most-entered search term on our website is 'seersucker' – that's most searched of all time, or at least since we launched in 2011! That tells me that you're not the only one trying to figure this out. I really do think every man can wear it – maybe not a whole seersucker suit, per se, but definitely one piece at a time. Maybe next time I'm at the Back Door Tavern I'll just do the jacket with jeans.

-SID

 

MAY 19, 2020

“Hey Sid – I've been troubled with my belt game. I have like 20 belts and none of them are quite right. I don't think I've gotten rid of a belt since college. And, other than a belt for a suit, I am forever confused about which belt to wear with what. Does the belt color match my shoes or my shirt? What about sneakers? If I were to toss all the belts, could you suggest a few that will get me from a suit, to business casual, to the weekend and nights out?” – David F.




brass plaque… the go-to buckle since 2007


Thanks for the questions, David. Totally understand how easily belts stack up through the years… and it's not always super clear when to wear them with what, and when to clean 'em out. But I think we've got a solution for you – fewer belts that go with more things.

My ace belt – the one I wear the most, and the one I can wear easily from suits to shorts (and everything in between) – is a one-inch chocolate brown belt, in either pull-up or bridle leather. Both have a one-piece strap that took us a year and a half to get right. They both come with super-simple brass buckles – unlacquered; we dig a patina – that you can easily swap out. So you can really just get one belt and go wild with the buckle based on the occasion, the formality, or your mood. For instance, you could go with the original or a plaque buckle for coat & tie, maybe something a little more playful like an arrowhead or oyster shell for jeans and sport shirts, and something casual for shorts and a polo – a fishhook, perhaps. You could also just get it as-is and literally wear it with any pair of pants or shorts that happen to have loops. My main "other buckle" is the plaque buckle in brass. The silver version is great, too, just pricier - makes a great graduation gift. Or 25th-anniversary gift!


♫ me and my arrow (and jacket and shirt and jeans)


The best thing about both those leathers is they age beautifully – I compare them to a piece of vintage furniture – as long as you take care of them and don't forget to hit them with a little conditioner (the OG, Saphir Renovateur) from time to time. The pull-up starts out fairly pliable, while you've got to wear the bridle a little harder before it softens up, but both leathers will get better and even softer with age. And a quick note about the width on those. I like one inch. I'm six feet tall, and I like the proportion – it doesn't call too much attention to itself. And I think it works well for everyone. But if you're super tall, or a bigger guy, you may like the extra quarter inch on the 1.25" strap. Too much more than that, and you start getting into Gunsmoke territory.

So I'd start there, with the basic leather strap, and add at least one other belt into the mix that's got a little personality to it. This can almost act like a tie…your one decorative piece. This can be as simple as alligator or sharkskin, but I'd also consider something a little more colorful and casual (good for those sneaker days), like a polo belt, a braided belt, a beaded one from Kenya, or a D-ring ribbon belt. Any of those are a great wingman to a pair of chinos or jeans and are an inexpensive way to lift your outfit. My go-to for this is the zebra belt, which may be too wild for some guys, but I love it and probably bring it out once or twice a week. Ann and I both wear it so often that we have to kinda try not to match.

And speaking of matching. Does it need to match your shoes or your shirt? Your shoes, always. But it doesn't mean you need to put your shoes and belts in a lightbox to match them. Think about it – your shoes and belt are roughly 3 feet apart anyway. Sure, you want them to complement each other, but don't be too precious about it. Brownish to brownish works just fine. And if you're wearing, say…a pair of white sneakers, you don't want to go with a white belt. But what else in your outfit can complement that? Maybe a white shirt. Or a navy tie with white dots. Can the ensemble sing in harmony? It doesn't need to be too connected, but you still want to build some continuity.

While you can always go beltless, my rule is if my pants have loops, I'm wearing a belt. And for the record, you don't need 20 of them (so don't be afraid to toss the ones you don't wear,) but a few of the right belts can quietly kick up your outfit. An ace belt – maybe with an extra buckle – and a "personality" belt. Start there. That's a solid foundation that you can build on for a thoughtful collection. And spring cleaning always gives you a little bounce in your step, anyway. A great weekend project. Tighten up!

-SID

 

MAY 5, 2020

“How about your five best-dressed from the world of music? Loved seeing the better-dressed actors you mentioned a few weeks ago, and I just watched The Birth of Cool where Miles Davis' style shifts were well documented ” – Geoff in Santa Monica




left: Bryan Ferry on the Atlanta moodboard / right: before seeing him live



I loooooooooooove this question, Geoff. There's a huge overlap between music and style. For a lot of artists, the act is just as much about looking cool as it is playing well. So it's no surprise that in the earliest days, probably 50% of our employee base was made up of musicians… no joke. Back then, it made a great side hustle – you could work in the store during the day, play music at night, and get a little discount on Levi's jeans to wear for both. And of course, we always, always, always had records playing in the store, which may have been part of the reason those guys came by in the first place. I've been in this business full-time for a long time, but I've probably spent more time in record stores than in clothing stores… for me, a trip to Tower Records was as much about looking through the albums for inspiration as it was with leaving with something new to listen to. Fifty years of flipping through records was pretty formative, and continues to be a major source of visual inspiration. (Sadly, the inside of my brain looks like discogs.com.)

Long story short, music is big around here. It's hard to narrow it down to 5. But here we go.

1. Late-50s-mid-60s Miles Davis – as you mentioned, but bears repeating. His style evolved over the years, but this is my favorite. His look at Newport 1958 is an iconic one. Put on a seersucker jacket, a band collar shirt, a pair of sunglasses, add a trumpet… you are Miles Davis. He also rocked the neckerchief with an oxford shirt like no one else. To me, that was his peak. (He started doing the glam thing after that, once Betty Mabry came along — I think she got rid of his suits.)



2. Early-70s David Bowie – so, okay, most of his looks were on another level. But even he had a couple of moments you could emulate without looking like you were in costume. Discovering Hunky Dory was a turning point for me… it is not an exaggeration to say it changed the way I saw the world. Visually, musically, socially, everything. I was in seventh grade. This would have been 1973. (The album came out in 1971 but Mississippi always was a little late to the game.) His look on the back of the album - Qiana shirt, baggy flared pants, patent leather boots – was my blueprint, and my older sisters helped me source almost that exact outfit. I actually wore it to a party at some private school girl's house. I didn't get into any fights so I think it must have gone over pretty well…? Anyway, Bowie was a guy who clearly thought about his clothes. And while you're not going to roll up to the grocery store in a full-on Liberty of London Ziggy Stardust jumpsuit… you could roll up to the grocery store in a Liberty of London sport shirt. A small nod.



3. Townes Van Zandt – the original ranch preppie. And the king of understatement… in every way, his music, too. A denim shirt, stone jeans or khaki pants, and a pair of ropers. I think I've been wearing some form of this outfit for my entire life. He might throw on a hat, or maybe an embroidered western shirt — and his long hair and cigarette count as accessories — but generally speaking, that was as torqued-up as he got. I'm not sure he had a bad moment… he knew his look and he stuck to it.



4. Johnny Cash – the Man in Black. Of course, black is almost synonymous with rock 'n' roll, but it was kind of an anomaly on the country music scene, where most of the rest of the players were in rhinestones and big belt buckles. Growing up ,I didn't think country was particularly cool, but he did his own thing, and in retrospect, I really appreciate his commitment to a theme. There are several explanations for his Man in Black thing – black clothes were easy to match to the rest of the band, they didn't get as dirty, they represented, in his words, "the poor and the beaten down…in the hopeless, hungry side of town." Whether it's a political statement or just a color you like, we started running a black suit about five years ago for the guys who want to take it to that place, too.



5. Solo career Bryan Ferry – best for last. He's been on the Atlanta moodboard since Day 1. I love how he performs in a suit and tie, even now. His early years with Roxy Music were very costumey and of the moment (like a sillier, tamped-down Bowie) but when he went solo, he kind of shifted to the "sexy, mature Englishman" vibe even before he could be described as 'mature.' I think he's 74 now. He's still got it. Ann and I saw him about ten years ago at an outdoor venue during a cold snap in October. He performed in a Chesterfield coat and silk scarf, with Robert Palmer-style girls dancing behind him. Fantastic. We saw him again last summer and went straight from the office to the show… I think Bryan and I may have been the only ones there wearing a tie. If you, too, want that "sophisticated lounge lizard" vibe… this pinstripe suit is a good start. Add a white shirt, a tie, and skip your haircut.



I have to say, while all these guys looked great… I don't think I would find any of them quite as remarkable, style-wise, if they didn't make music that resonates with me so deeply. It's music first, clothes second. Maybe that surprises you. Thanks for the question, Geoff — I always love an excuse to dive deep on Youtube.

-SID

 

APRIL 21, 2020

“Hey Sid! Can you help me with a business casual uniform? I've spent much of my career wearing suits and, frankly, prefer them. However, I live in the Bay Area and have recently started having to attend meetings in Silicon Valley where jeans and a hoodie is the lingua franca, and they distrust the guy in the suit. What do you suggest I wear as an alternative?” – Andrew


Hi Andrew – thanks for writing in, and hope you're staying safe out there in San Fran.

I cannot tell you how often this question comes up. The whole idea of "business casual" was presumably intended to put people at ease… but in a funny sense, for a lot of guys, it seems to inspire more anxiety than a full suit getup. What I'm trying to say is… we're with you. And while you sent this question a few weeks ago – in what feels like a different lifetime – I think now is sort of the perfect time to test out a business casual uniform without the pressure of "just going for it." You're still working, but you're not leaving the house… it's a little like playing in Cactus or the Grapefruit leagues… getting ready for a new season! And at the very least, you'll look pulled-together on your Zoom calls.

The good news is that there's a way to do business casual that incorporates a lot of the stuff you wore in your past life. You don't have to flip the circuit breaker; you're just dialing down the dimmer switch. Totally understand why you'd want to ditch the suit for the Silicon Valley crowd, but don't give up on the jacket! A sport coat with no tie can look super cool (Ann always says it's her favorite thing I wear) without alienating the guy in the hoodie. And ditching the jacket and tie can casualize a pair of dress trousers to be just as relaxed as a pair of jeans. Really. My guess is that you don't need a lot of new clothes… you just need a new formula and some tweakage.



you can click the image to make it larger in a new tab, but don't get too hung up on the specifics here… it's the formula that's important, rather than any one particular piece


We put together a sample option set in which every single thing goes with each other. You could literally close your eyes and point to one item in each column to wear, and you'd look great. Sort of like business casual Garanimals. (This becomes really easy when your wardrobe is mostly nature colors… not 'neutrals,' per se, but colors found in nature. Grass and sky and dirt and stones all look good together, don't they?) Each of the pieces are themselves fairly quiet, but most of the combinations yield something greater than the sum of their parts. The white shirt + natural jeans + chukka boots give you a kind of Lawrence-of-Arabia-on-the-conference-call vibe, while the lovat sweater + pink graph shirt + grey trousers combo makes you really look like you know what you're doing. ESPECIALLY if you add in the tie… like Mariano Rivera's cutter.

Below are the building blocks we used for the everything-goes-with-everything formula. It's not a lot of pieces… which is exactly why they're worth the investment. Especially with business casual, "less but better" is super important. From here, you can add in the "personality" stuff – the bandana in the back pocket, sunglasses, an interesting belt, colorful five-pockets, whatever makes you feel cool – and then you're really cooking with gas.

JACKETS - a navy one and maybe one more
- Either navy leno, navy huckaback, or navy high-twist
- This brown/sand linen twill would make a good "second jacket"… it's a sleeper

SWEATERS - one crewneck and one V-neck in, again, navy and another color (lightweight cashmere is excellent for SF weather)
- Navy fine-gauge cashmere
- Lovat green fine-gauge cashmere

SHIRTS - a mix of solids and some non-pattern patterns
- Blue graph check poplin
- Sky awning stripe poplin
- Pink small graph check poplin
- White roxford
- Sky end-on-end

PANTS - a couple of jeans, a couple of trousers
- Blue jeans
- Natural or white jeans
- Khaki trousers
- Grey trousers

SHOES:
- A pair of loafers
- A pair of boots, like chukkas or Chelseas
- A pair of bad-weather boots

BELT:
- A simple dark brown belt. One is enough, but if you want to add some variety…
- Swap out the belt buckle.

and to (literally) keep in the pocket, a TIE:
I know the vibe is jeans-and-hoodies, but sometimes you've got to read the room. If a client or a visitor shows up in a tie, you want to at least have the option of getting on his level. Navy knit feels a little less "guy-in-a-tie"… plus it rolls up really quickly, so you can stash it or put it on depending on the crowd. I've stuffed this one in my pocket more times than I can count… and pulled it out of the pocket to quickly tie it up, too.



Alright, Andrew. I hope this is helpful. Just losing the tie and putting on a pair of jeans can get you 90% of the way to true Business Casual. The other half is mental. I think that's a Yogi Berra quote. Play around with a couple of these combos while you're working from home, and see how it makes you feel. There's no replacing a suit — I'm with you on that — but hopefully you can find your biz-cas groove. Good luck.

-SID

 

APRIL 7, 2020

“Hey Sid, I recently watched the Guy Ritchie movie The Gentlemen. The movie was fine, but the clothes were remarkable. So my question is (as we are all watching way more television than usual), what are your top five best dressed movies?” – Tony in Atlanta


Thanks for the note, Tony… this is a fun one. And harder than I thought it would be!

I've been a freak about clothes since I was a kid, so I can find something to groove on in practically any movie ever made. (Most recently Frozen II… have y'all seen that? Underneath the fur tunic, Kristoff's got on this umber-ish Shaggy Dog sweater that had me thinking about cold weather again…) But, okay, in an attempt to narrow this down a bit, I tried to think about the movies that have had the clearest influence on our line… like, who are the characters that have been in the back of our minds as we've been designing all these years? You can tell I'm into the 60s. I'm not sure this is my definitive Top Five of all time, but it's definitely a Top Five. The trailer to each movie is linked, so you can get a sense of whether you want to watch the whole thing. Because like you said with The Gentlemen, sometimes the costumes are better than the movie itself… and if you're not vibing on the storyline, why not head straight to Google Images? Anyway, here we go.

1. To Sir With Love (1967)
I love Sidney Poitier in almost everything (our Virgil model of tailored clothing is actually named after his character in In The Heat Of The Night) but especially in this movie. And the soundtrack kills me. He appears to forgo a pocket square for most of the movie — and even his jacket, like in this great shot — but we took some creative liberty by giving him a white one with a navy edge. I'm only sad we don't have a tan trench right now… he looks great in that one. Honorable mentions in the slim, suited-up 1960s category are Charade and, of course, North by Northwest.


The Mark Thackeray look: striped tie of course, white poplin shirt, semi-brogues, navy-edged pocket square, navy suit with a spare pair of grey trousers to swap in


2. Ford v Ferrari (2019)
Now this is a match. Matt Damon looks great in pretty much everything in this film, but I had to do a double-take in this scene because it's a dead ringer for our Rally Polo. I always like natural-colored 5-pockets, but in some scenes his pants look a little dressier, so we threw some of those in, too. And plot-wise, I can never resist a sports drama or a car race.



The Carroll Shelby look: chronograph watch, wheat jeans, burnt crystal sunglasses, navy sweater-knit polo, hopsack dress trousers, plaque belt buckle


3. Blow Up (1966)
Classic! I think of David Hemmings in this movie nearly every time I put on a pair of white jeans with a blue shirt. He switches back and forth between two blue shirts (when he's wearing a shirt at all!)… a solid and a mini gingham. In the movie, his jacket is actually a super-dark green, which got twisted in my memory, but a sporty navy leno-weave sort of does the same thing here. The soundtrack's good, too.


The Thomas look: navy leno-weave blazer, blue mini-gingham shirt, blue chambray shirt, white jeans, black bridle belt, black Chelsea boots


4. Love & Mercy (2014)
Yes, another recent-ish 60s period piece. I love that whole Beach Boys look. We used to play Pet Sounds a LOT when we first opened the shop, so the fact that much of this movie was about the making of that very record had me hooked. The fantastic style was just a bonus… just look at the official art! Patterned shirts with short sleeves — or just the sleeves rolled up — with light-colored, lightweight trousers. Relaxed, California, easy. An honorable mention with a similar vibe is Endless Summer (a classic). Also, the Crab Key scenes in Dr. No have some great beachwear.


The every-Beach-Boy look: linen guayabera-style shirt, paisley swim trunks, tropical-printed sport shirt (roll the sleeves up), bleached canvas sport trousers and leather sandals… why not?


5. Hud (1963)
Oh, man. This one is a killer. Watch this if you liked Giant — it nails that rugged, late-50s-early-60s Texas Panhandle look. Paul Newman's western shirt is red, which would feel a touch aggressive for my own life, but he pulls it off. And the silhouette is perfect.


The Hud Bannon look: chambray western shirt of course, big leather belt with a big brass buckle, rigid blue jeans, a bandana for the back pocket, roper boots and a bootjack to get 'em off at the end of the day

And 6… a bonus pick. You asked for five, but I realized that I missed my favorite style movie of all time: Jazz on a Summer's Day. It's really more of a documentary, shot at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, and it was kind of a big deal because it was shot in color, as opposed to black-and-white, which was typical of most music films at the time. It would be impossible to distill it down to a single look, because for me, this movie has got it all. Suits, stripes, madras, sport trousers… and everything is cool as all get-out. Do not miss Thelonious Monk's bamboo-templed sunglasses. The whole thing used to be on YouTube, but got taken down for copyright reasons. But it's worth looking up some piecemeal clips or tracking down a copy — I could watch this on repeat for the rest of my life. At the very least, check out the soundtrack.

Thanks again, Tony. This was fun. Now I'm off to check out The Gentlemen.

-SID

 

MARCH 25, 2020

“Hey Sid, I'm working from my kitchen for the foreseeable future, and on top of everything else going on, I'm not sure I'm self-motivated enough for this! What are you wearing when you're working from home?” – Richard, via email


Hey, Richard. This is a wild time. Plenty of folks have been adjusting to working from home in the last few weeks, and with so many kids home from school… it's a double-whammy. For some guys that means you can probably relax it a little, but that doesn't mean you should slouch it, either.

First off, we put a lot of stock in how we present ourselves to others, but also to ourselves. It's essentially good manners. Taking care of yourself and putting some effort into how you look offers a sense of security & normalcy to those around you… your family, kids, parents, partner, neighbors, or passers-by. But this stuff applies even if you're alone!

Second, I love working so if I'm cranking from home, I'm still gonna want to treat it like any other workday and get off on the right foot. That means waking up on time, making the bed, and getting in a shower and maybe even a shave. I'm thinking about it right now… strange times… maybe I'll lose the beard… But, okay, when it comes to getting dressed, we're all looking for something easy, yet put-together, that will at least look professional from the shoulders up if you need to jump on a Skype or Zoom or Facetime. Let's break it down by category.

PANTS: I know I'm at the house, but I'm not ready to go full-on shorts mode… it's a mental thing for me. That means sweatpants are out of the question, too. I'm still WORKING, after all. So I'm going for jeans or some kind of 5-pocket pant. Cords are usually my go-to. They're softer and lighter-weight than jeans, but just as versatile, and feel a touch more considered without losing any comfort. I'm wearing the white ones as I type.


khakis: another great work-from-home standby for your bottom half



TOPS: For above the waist, the first thing I'm thinking about is my schedule… am I going to be on a call with video at any point? If so, sorry, I'm going with a sport shirt… this isn't the time for a t-shirt, a sweatshirt, or even a polo. So if I'm going to be on camera, I'm in chambray, a Bengal stripe, or a crisp white. This awning stripe is cool too. I like to wear dress shirts with an open collar – like a sport shirt – and I wear both this one and this one lot. But I'm not hopping on Skype every day. There's this knit sport shirt we make that's so cool, and kind of a sleeper pick. It feels like a polo, because it's made of a pique knit, but it's constructed just like our regular woven shirt, with a full placket and a spread collar and everything. You can just lounge in it a little more, and it's not going to wrinkle like a poplin will. You don't want to be worrying about ironing your shirt every day when you're not going into the office. (Ironing relaxes some guys. Not me. I iron one wrinkle, I produce another.) Anyway, knit sport shirts: practically made for working from home. I'm also leaning into our polos, which have a cut-and-sewn collar that's every bit as engineered as the ones on our woven shirts. The pique ones are classic, but I've been super excited about these new yarn-dyed oxford ones for months. They just came in the week before last, and I'm looking to snag the pink and the aqua. If your house is a little on the cool side, this is a great time for a cotton sweater, or even lightweight cashmere. It's an elevated version of a long-sleeved tee or a sweatshirt.

SHOES: If I'm walking around the house all day, I'm either barefoot or in slip-ons… and definitely not wearing heavy dress shoes. It's nice to be able to take the trash out, or get the mail, or just take a step outside the front door. Depending on your vibe, you could go with loafers (tassel or penny), moccasins (camp or Venetian), or slip-on sneakers (low-top or even high-top Chelseas). And, you know, if you're properly dressed otherwise, house slippers can look pretty cool.

Also, Richard, I hear what you're saying. I had to find my way too. In my early 30s, I had a gig where I was working from home for a few months. We were living in a super-drafty house in Connecticut and had three young kids at the time, and there was this heathered, charcoal-grey half-zip Polarfleece that got a lot of mileage. Years later, Ann confessed that this kind of bummed her out. I had been working at Polo before that, so it wasn't even that I had been wearing a suit every day (dress code: "creative") but there was a pretty serious transition from "employed" to "freelance" and the fleece represented uncertainty. Take that for what it's worth. This is another reason why I sing the praises of a suit… it's so easy to look great without having to think about it. But none of us are gonna wear a suit at home (well, maybe one or two.) Again, getting dressed and cleaned up is as much for you as it is for the people around you. And for the record, a collared shirt can make all the difference. (A good soundtrack helps too… maybe even lighting a candle or some incense.)

If you (or anyone reading) feel like sharing how you're dressing right now, post an Instagram and tag it #heysidimworkingfromhome — we'd love to see! Hang in there, Richard, and stay safe. Sounds like your new office at least has some snacks. We're all in this together.

-SID

 

MARCH 3, 2020

“What are your thoughts on trouser cuffs? I personally love a 2-inch cuff on dress trousers but what about sport trousers?” – Thomas


Grrrrreat question, Thomas. This is typically something that comes up at the eleventh hour — in the tailor shop — because every time we alter a pair of pants for a guy, whether it's sport trousers or dress trousers or suit trousers, we ask if he'd like them cuffed or plain. And a key word there is LIKE… because a lot of it boils down to personal preference. Cuffs are never a dealbreaker. That said, here's how I approach it:

Okay, so the suit trouser is the easiest one, because with a dressier fabric (high-twist, sharkskin) we almost always like a cuff. It gives some gravity and heft and, in a way, it helps the fabric hang. This is in part because we prefer zero to very little break on our pants, so we don't want to give them the opportunity to hop and flop around. A cuff helps contain that. So generally YES to cuffing suit trousers.

Now there are exceptions… for me, cuffs become optional with a more casual fabric, whether it's part of a suit or not. For instance, I have seersucker pants with a plain hem, and same goes for my poplin suit. And I don't love cuffs when I'm wearing boots – like Chelseas or chukkas – mostly because they can easily get hung up on the top of the boot and spoil the vibe. Too much going on down there. And I like how plain-bottomed pants with boots give your silhouette a clean, minimal look. (Architects tend to favor uncuffed trousers, as do a lot of European guys, interestingly.) So anyway, I have non-cuffed flannel & corduroy pants for that exact reason. Another exception is tuxedos – I never cuff those. (I also happen to wear Chelsea boots with my tux fairly often, so it's a double strikeout there.)


air force blue high-twist, cuffed with wingtips; stone poplin uncuffed with tassel loafers



So, getting back to your question – can you wear them with sport trousers? Absolutely. And if you're into the way they look on dress trousers, my guess is you're going to dig the lift they'll give to your sport trousers, too. I'd say about half my sport trousers have cuffs… and for me it's a gametime decision based on the fabric and what else I'm wearing. The more casual the fabric and shoes – like cotton or sneakers – the higher probability I'm going for plain bottoms. And the dressier the fabric and shoes, I'm probably going cuffs. It's a feeling more than an exact science… so be confident & fly your own kite.

Lastly in terms of the cuff height… I think the most ideal proportion for pretty much every guy – myself included – is 1.75 inches. Sounds like you're a fan of the 2-inch cuff, which is cool, but don't be afraid to cut it down just a smidge. It'll make the cuff a little less of the star of the show, which allows you to experiment with different fabrics, colors, patterns, or other fun things.

At the end of the day, almost every trouser works with a cuff… but there are some times when plain bottoms are gonna look the part, too. Long story short, it's hard to go wrong. Hope this helps!

-SID

P.S. If you want a little more of a formula, we put together a flowchart that might help you decide.

 

FEBRUARY 18, 2020

“Coach me up on some black jeans. Do you have to roll with only black shoes? Can you mix black and blue? Do you wash 'em, do you wear 'em?” – KD in Kentucky


Johnny Cash… Joey Ramone… Dee Dee Ramone… I'm not sure if you're a musician, KD, but black jeans put you in good company. The last time I can remember wearing a pair of black jeans myself was to a Modern Lovers show at The Bottom Line. (You can do the math on the date.) But even though it's been a while, I still have a feeling for them… we wouldn't sell them if I didn't. We've stocked black Levi's since day one, and we made a special black selvedge pair for our New York Holiday Shop that we just reordered, for those who are little more into denim. The Levi's are like the intro class; the selvedge takes it to the next level. I think a lot of guys (including our staff) look at black jeans the same way I look at blue jeans – just as a super neutral that can be worn with almost anything. There are some guardrails, though…

So to your question — do you have to roll with only black shoes? Unless it's a bright white or colorful pair of sneakers, Converse or Vans or something, I'd try and lean toward dark colors. And I looooooooooove black dress shoes with black jeans – black double monks, or black tassel loafers — because it's sort of unexpected and gives the outfit a slight formal lift. For a little more rock 'n' roll cowboy vibe, Chelsea boots, chukka boots, Blundstones in bad weather, all look great as long as they're dark.

On mixing black and blue (the combo, not the Rolling Stones or Backstreet Boys albums)… depends on the shade. One of my favorite looks is black jeans with a blue oxford shirt. Awesome. The classic element of a button-down collar, combined with the softer color, just takes the edge off a little. So light blue is a yes from me. But while I like black & navy on women, not as into it for men. It gets a tad too Coco Chanel. So if you're throwing on a blazer, leave your navy one in the closet and go with a pattern that has some dark grey or black in it. A Prince of Wales, a houndstooth, even a solid Shetland with some heather … something with a little char in there to pick up the dark in the jeans. A black knit or a club tie (like the green owl or maybe the griffin) is a strong add, too.


JB and Nick in black Levi's in the shop

 

And of course black jeans are gonna look good casual. Just don't overcomplicate it – a pair of sneakers (no socks), paired with a t-shirt in a pale color (white, sky blue) is great. Or, if you want to step it up slightly, go with clean Adidas trainers and a white polo or white oxford shirt with rolled-up sleeves, maybe a black cashmere sweater thrown on top… that's cool. And if you're really going all out, I think a black tuxedo jacket, a white roxford shirt, a black alligator belt with either a silver or brass plaque, and calfskin Chelseas with black jeans could be killer for the right occasion.


black jeans on the Atlanta mood board

 

In terms of caring for black jeans, our general rule of thumb is not to wash them unless they're dirty, and when you do, wash them inside out. I'd go for the shortest cycle, cold water, and don't put them in the dryer if you want them to stay black. Just hang dry. On the flip side, if you're going for more of a beat-up, Ramones look and want to accelerate the fading, leave them in on the longest wash cycle, heavy spin, hot water, followed by the longest, hottest drying cycle. But know that any heat is going to shrink up the fabric, so beware the shrinkage if you go this route. Essentially, cold water keeps 'em dark, and hot water fades.

Okay, so KD… does that give you enough to work with? I think the main message here is to keep it simple (and to stay away from brown shoes and navy.) Have fun. Send us a picture if you feel good.

-SID

 

FEBRUARY 4, 2020

“Hey Sid! When do I wear tassel loafers vs. a penny? I'm in the market for a new loafer and love both… but I can't figure this one out!” – Bennett S. in Atlanta


I love loafers. I love penny loafers, I love tassel loafers, and love that you're interested in both, Bennett. You bring up a great (and not easy!) question… when to wear which ones?

On the surface, the shoes seem to do the same thing, but there seem to be two very distinct camps: "tassel guys" and "penny guys." In my experience, it seems that penny guys think of tassels as too novel or decorative – too much flourish. And to the tassel guys, the penny loafer can seem dressed-down or staid, like maybe it's missing something. For me, both versions make my list of the 5 dress shoes every guy should own. And for a lot of great reasons.

In more relaxed settings, the short answer is that they're interchangeable. Wear either with jeans, khakis, dress trousers, and pretty much any 5-pockets, like corduroys. Plus both pennies and tassels party well with sport jackets – with or without ties – sport shirts, sweaters, and polos. Again, pretty broad set of possibilities here.


a few years ago in South Georgia (and dark brown calf tassels)

 

Now, once you start veering into suit territory, things get nuanced. So before sporting a suit with loafers, I like to consider all elements at play, rather than just the tassel vs. penny distinction. Are they Italian or American? Calfskin or suede? Socks or no socks? What's the setting? All communicate slightly different degrees of formality, depending on the type of suit you're wearing. So here are my rules…

In terms of MAKE. Shoes made in England or in Italy can tend to lean dressier than a typical American (handsewn) loafer, Alden notwithstanding. We have a fantastic American penny loafer, which goes real casual real quick… especially in light suede or a Scotch grain. It's got that traditional moccasin toe and the imperfection gives it an easier feel. There's kind of a knockaround vibe to it. On the other hand, our Italian penny feels much sleeker and more refined. This really shines through with the stitching, the leather, and the profile of the sole. So with a suit I'm sticking with Euros, tassel or penny.

For MATERIALS, calfskin (or shell cordovan) is best for dressier suits like sharkskin, and if I'm on the formality fence, I probably would wear them with socks that match my trousers. On the flip side, suede is going to casual-ize the look a bit by adding some texture, and is best for crunchier, less formal suit materials (high-twist wool, for instance) or more seasonal fabrics, like a flannel or a silk-linen. And oftentimes I like to go sockless with suede. Below is a rough spectrum of how we like to think about the tassel vs. penny breakdown… as you can see, it's not quite as much of a binary as you might think. (For simplicity's sake we limited the options to our assortment — we only make tassels in Italy — and skipped the question of socks, which would have added another six data points, and which automatically make your look dressier.)

On the whole, I find that a tassel loafer, even though it is a little more playful or adventurous, is also more refined, and works better with suits than a penny loafer does. The penny is more utilitarian. And with a suit, it can be a cool look! You just want to think about all of your outfit's ingredients before totally going for it.

The beauty of both of these shoes is that outside of the most formal of occasions (black tie, or maybe a super-serious boardroom) you can pretty much wear both almost any time. I think it sort of comes down to your personal preference and the silhouette. I'm more of a tassel guy these days – as are most of the guys in our shop - but ask me again in a few months! I dove a little deep on this one, but you really can't go wrong… and hey, both look good on the pedals of a bike.

If I were you, I'd try 'em both on, and just trust your instinct.

-SID

 

NOVEMBER 26, 2019

“Can we talk socks? How about a broad overview of sock do's and dont's, seasonal approach, and general best practices. Cheers!” – Ben L., via email


Contrary to popular belief, Ben… I, Sid Mashburn & the fellas that work at Sid Mashburn actually DO like socks. And we wear them often. We use them to complement an outfit or for the more practical reason, to stay warm and protect our feet. But since we often do go without, we've narrowed down what we like in socks to a pretty extreme degree. We're not talking about athletic socks or boot socks. Those are great – we particularly love the ones from American Trench and CHUP – but that's for another column. Today we're gonna stay in this sort of jeans-northward range… dressy-casual to dressy.

I know there are guys who like trouser-length (mid-calf) socks and we carry them in our shops… but I pretty much only wear over-the-calf socks. I just like them because they tend to stay up, they give me full coverage, and I don't have to think about them. The full coverage thing is especially important when you're sitting down. Clearly we have no compunction about showing some ankle – as I said, we go sockless all the time – but when it's just a sliver of leg showing between your sock and your trousers, it can look a little awkward. So the OTC sock is sort of a "prevent defense". Anyway, I like an over-the-calf sock, and usually like it ribbed. I don't mind a flat sock, but for me, it's better with some texture.

sid and ann sitting on the stairs in the DC shop'
over-the-calf socks in full force… no leg showing here


When it comes to the content, we like wool with a little bit of nylon in it. The nylon gives them some structure and durability, helps them stay up, and means you can throw them in the dryer… it makes them a little easier to manage. Personally, I don't mind cashmere in the mix, or silk, but I want wool to be the prevalent fiber in my socks. Partially because they breathe and perform better that way. I do wear cotton socks, too, but they tend to lose their luster and color quicker, don't stay up well, and they're not as durable. For my money (and my mind,) it's wool OTC nearly all the time.

Now for colors… by and large, we're not big on super-fancy socks, or character socks, or socks being the lead singer. Sometimes we like them to just blend in, sometimes we like them to be a discreet accent to what we're wearing… small patterns, dots, feed stripes, small foulards, small decos. Granted, we have good friends who take a very different approach and love lead-singer socks! To quote Charles Wright, "express yourself!" But, yeah, around here, we keep the socks fairly quiet.

So, unsurprisingly, my sock drawer is about 60% navy – I like all shades from mid-blue to midnight and blu scuro. Then 20% of my socks are charcoal, which is like the Switzerland of socks. Completely neutral. It can cross over, it can go to navy, black, brown, olive, anything. So navy and charcoal alone can work for pretty much every occasion, anywhere. The rest of my sock drawer is a mix of various colors found in nature… browns, greens, even some burgundy. And I prefer some melange in those – which is when a couple of colors are knitted in – because the small flecks of different shades make them more versatile and easier to wear with other colors.

high kicking in the office
the other reason we like OTC socks is that you can high-kick in them


And to answer the question you didn't ask – but a lot of people do – I am sockless a lot. (God's socks!) Personally, I have never found a need for those small no-show socks. Just going without works for me. And fear not! It doesn't make them smell bad. It's amazing what high-quality leather, cedar shoe trees, and maybe a little Clubman talc can do.

Grey and navy dress socks aren't the most exciting things to buy, but it's kind of like stocking your pantry with pasta. The simplicity is what makes them essential, and perfect… you'll be happy they are there for you and happy you don't have to think about them. So, Ben, when you're grabbing your socks in the morning – navy OTC or otherwise – do it with confidence and sing along with Mitch Ryder. "Sock it to me."

-SID

 

NOVEMBER 12, 2019

“My girlfriend gave me a pair of chocolate suede Chelsea boots.  Can you give me some suggestions on what to wear them with?” – Joseph C., via email


"Woke up, it was a Chelsea morning, and the first thing that I heard
Was a song outside my window, and the traffic wrote the words"


Oh, sorry, we're speaking of boots here… and one of my favorite subjects in the world, ever: Chelsea boots. I love them… they're almost like an Englishman's version of a cowboy boot. The Beatles wore them, the Stones wore them, Thom Oatman wore them… they've got a super clean silhouette, a refined and nicely-shaped toe, elastic side gore… and the other cool thing is the ease. Both from slipping them on and off, and the ease of mind when you're wearing them. They're a great back door shoe.

And maybe most importantly – given your fantastic question, Joseph – Chelsea Boots are super versatile in how they present themselves. They can have a boardroom look, or a backstage look, or they can have sort of a ranch-y outdoor knock-around look. Now – onto yours and how to wear them.

Suede tends to make things a bit more casual than calfskin, but that doesn't mean you can't dress 'em up, you just gotta go with a wintery fabric. And to me, there's nothing quite like the chocolate suede Chelsea boot with a pair of grey flannel trousers. Beautiful. The nap of the flannel pairs up with the suede that's on the boot – it's like they were made for each other, like Jesse & Frank. And same goes for moleskin or corduroy sport trousers, even dress trousers in a high-twist wool – it's almost like suede's Irish twin in fabric form. And you'll notice that in England there's no compunction about wearing them with a suit. We LOVE that. Hell, we'll even wear a black calfskin Chelsea boot with a tuxedo… b.t.t.b.

jacket and vest from way back - Milwaukee Art Museum 2007'
in Milan in a panteater jacket, navy down vest, and white cords


For a more casual vibe, any kind of 5-pockets – denim, cords, moleskin – are a no-brainer with Chelsea boots. Obviously blue jeans, but the pebble moleskin or the rose corduroy, if you're feeling it, would look particularly good with that chocolate suede. I like them with a finished hem but I also like them with a frayed bottom, too, like when you just cut them off yourself.

And then there's your top half. We think Chelseas & 5-pockets look great with a dark blazer and foulard tie, and maybe throw on a trench or a waxed field jacket if it's really cold, but it'll look just as great with blue jeans & a ribbed sweater and a quilted jacket, or a down vest if that's more your speed. Pretty much any in-season sport shirt fabric will look cool underneath. And since Chelseas have a little bit of rock 'n' roll in them, a military or motorcycle jacket would be cool, too. Once you get the hang of them, they're so easy to wear, it just makes sense to have that silhouette available for any situation.

chelseas in DC
A few years ago when the DC store was being built, in a leno-weave jacket, striped tie, and a half-tucked end-on-end shirt. Like I said, lots of range.


Honestly, about the only thing stopping me from wearing them is the temperature. I will put them away toward the end of cold or cool-ish weather, so 75° and above, I'm out on the Chelsea boots (except our Chelsea sneakers which go all summer long). Really, 60s and downward, I'm great. That's just me, though – Ann wears hers all year long, and you can, too.

And lucky for us, it's the time of the season…

-SID

 

OCTOBER 29, 2019

“I'm a furniture designer, and travel to Paris and Cologne every January for trade shows. I always struggle with what coat to take for the cold weather there - I want something relatively warm, not too bulky, and stylish. Something that looks good over jeans and Chelsea boots, but not too casual. For a couple of years, I carried a Barbour, but it really isn't that warm, considering how heavy it is. Do you have any suggestions? I really don't want to look like I'm wearing a ski parka” – Dudley M., via email


Thank you Dudley… we feel your packing pain on this one, and for this exact reason we designed a jacket with travel in mind called the Traveler's Trench. (I take it with me on virtually every trip. See Instagram for proof.) And this season we made a second version that's filled with cashmere*. If that sounds a bit over-the-top, stick with me here.

First off, it's essentially a navy trench coat, so it goes with everything, from your jeans and Chelsea boots, to… hell, even a tuxedo. The length is both stylish and slenderizing and gives you coverage down to your knee, which I love. And the nylon is water-repellent, so it's great if you get hit with a little wind or rain or sleet or snow. The silhouette is just a little more refined… I like that sort of 1960s undercover look. It's a little Richard Burton in The Spy Who Came in From the Cold. It’s very put together in a quietly strong way.

last year at the Nasher Sculpture Center in the Traveler's Trench'
last year at the Nasher Sculpture Center in the Traveler's Trench



Second, let’s talk about the Cashball lining because it is FANTASTIC. It’s an insulation made of recycled cashmere fibers from garments & remnants that are mixed with mircrofibers and spun into a new raw material, all of which creates a highly compressible, wind-resistant, super-lightweight & warm alternative to goose-down or poly-fill. And it’s breathable, so it’s NOT gonna act like a terrarium. You shouldn’t start sweating on the inside when you’re wearing it. (Sometimes a Macintosh – which I love – can do that because of its rubberized lining.)

Instead of simply throwing the remnants away, the mill collects them and processes them. It’s as resourceful as it is warm.

It also allows some versatility to bundle up, with our other travel must-have, a fine-gauge cashmere sweater underneath… maybe a scarf, gloves, a hat if it's really cold. And if you get a weird sunny day in the 60s – or rather, 17ish Celsius – it’ll do a decent job of warding off the wind. Or you can just peel it off and pack it up. It’s lightweight enough to do that. (And you’re right, a Barbour definitely isn’t.)

Now the spy look might not be your thing. If not, my other go-to is our down vest. I love, love a down vest. I will wear it either under a jacket as a layering piece, because it will give me plenty of warmth. I also wear it under a sport coat, and I have no compunction about wearing it over a sport coat. And when you first see it, you might think, “that looks a little unusual.” But when you get your eyes accustomed to it, you may actually like the look! It’s almost like it’s part of the outfit in a way… like you’re wearing tweed sleeves with a nylon body. The Italians love it.

jacket and vest from way back - Milwaukee Art Museum 2007'
jacket and vest from way back - Milwaukee Art Museum 2007



Paris can be fickle in the winter… it can be sunny and pleasant, but in comes the rain and the wind and it'll drop down to the 40s quickly. Not something you want to get stuck in! (Now’s the time for that cashmere sweater.) At the end of the day I always ask myself, how do I take as little as possible, and how can I accomplish as many of my needs as possible, without having to overpack? So for me a Traveler's Trench, a down vest, and a fine-gauge cashmere sweater are my trifecta.

Have a great trip and enjoy the steak frites.

Rock the cashball…

-SID

 

OCTOBER 15, 2019

“I live in Austin, which is on the more casual end of the spectrum. My uniform is essentially a pair of five-pockets, oxford shirt, and loafers. When the occasion (or weather) allows, I will put on a navy blazer to dress it up. Thoughts on other sport coat options (color, pattern) that pair well with jeans so I can add a little variety to my wardrobe? ” – Will G., via email


Fantastic question. And let me applaud you on where you are clothes-wise -- sounds like you have a great sense of what works for you. Austin is an interesting place to dress it up and dress it down, because you've got everyone from congressmen to cowboys, and all types in between. A good blazer can look right at home with a pair of boots… it's as utilitarian as it is stylish.

If you're gonna look at one blazer for the season that's different than your navy blazer, parties well with jeans or trousers, and is appropriate for Austin – both vibe and climate – I'd steer you towards this houndstooth jacket. I've got one that's an older model but as you can see from our Instagram, I take it everywhere.

 
 
 
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Sid Mashburn (@sidmashburn) onMay 21, 2019 at 4:09pm PDT



Right outta the gate, I'm not sure there's another jacket that's more capital-F-fall. The English lambswool is perfect for anything below 75 degrees, and I like the patch pockets for a more casual feel. It's our sportyish No. 2 make, with a special 2-layer canvas, so it's lighter and breathes a little better than its more-constructed counterparts like the Nos. 3-5.

Style-wise, make no mistake about it, houndstooth is a lead singer. You'd think it's so loud that it's not versatile, but it is! It's unexpectedly neutral… oatmeal and navy, which if you think about it, is essentially like sand and the night sky put together. And what doesn't look good against those two colors? My guess is that it'll go with a lot of your closet already.

a patterned jacket can go casual, dressed-up, or somewhere in the middle
from casual to dressed-up to somewhere in the middle



One of our favorite looks would be a pair of jeans with a chambray shirt and cowboy boots, or in our case, ropers, to kinda knock around in. If you want to dial it up slightly, wear it with wheat jeans or khakis with a university stripe oxford shirt, and chocolate suede loafers. And if you pair it with grey high-twist trousers, a solid blue shirt, a club tie and semi-brogues… all of a sudden you're boardroom ready.

Generally speaking, you'll want to wear a houndstooth jacket with solid or small-striped shirts, (avoid checked patterns like plaid or gingham), a striped, solid, or club tie (don't compete with the jacket), and pants of any color as long as it's solid with an in-season fabric (denim, cords, twills, cottons). And for shoes… put 'em on last and match the vibe of the outfit.

And if houndstooth isn't your thing, there are plenty of directions you could go… a herringbone or glen plaid, melange wool or corduroy… or even the brown or green version of our favorite leno-weave blazer. All will look great with five-pockets (and for that matter, with the city of Austin).

Just don't wear with shorts, unless you're Angus Young.

-SID

 

OCTOBER 1, 2019

“Hey Sid, I have a few weddings coming up this fall and winter. How would do you do black tie?” – Matt S., via email


First off, great question. This is sort of the perfect time to be thinking about black tie. It's before the rush of holiday events, and gives you a few weeks for alterations if you need to make any tweaks, and a chance to hunt down the bow tie you haven't seen since your last formal event…and it also gives you a chance to get ahead of any unexpected surprises (size, taste, you name it).

I'm a big believer that every guy should own his own tuxedo. It pretty much never goes out of style and one could argue that the best a man ever looks is in a tux. So I'd find an occasion – maybe it's your own wedding, maybe, as in your case, you're just a guest, or maybe it's an award you've won – and invest in looking great that night. This gives a real purpose to the purchase, and as a result you'll forever be prepared for any formal occasion that comes your way. (Or at least for a decade or so.)

Overall, I wanna try to blend in in formal settings, but I always want to have a little flourish… something unexpected… something differentiating without being distracting. And I like to have a few options to play with so I can dial it up or down based on the occasion.

So I have two tuxedos – a black tuxedo with a shawl collar, and a midnight navy tuxedo with peak lapels. (I'm not sure there's many shades of blue that I don't like… but here I want to keep it as close to traditional black as possible. Or as the Italians will call it, blu scuro.) The peak lapel is a bit more traditional – probably what comes to mind when you think 'tuxedo' - whereas the shawl collar one has a bit more flair to it… you may recognize it as what James Bond usually wears (see Dr. No.) (I also have tails. And for the record, I have worn them once.)

a black-tie Black Friday a few years ago in the shop
a black-tie Black Friday a few years ago in the shop



I've got 3 shirts and 3 shoes that I mix and match depending on the occasion. For the shirts, I have a pleated front, a pique front, and I have a plain white roxford dress shirt, all with a spread collar and all with single cuffs. (Single cuffs work similarly to a French cuff but are not quite as fussy. There's no fold back.) The easy-going one is the roxford, with Trocas shell buttons. The standard buttons on our shirts are so beautiful that – to me – they are equal to studs. Our tuxedo shirts actually come with button-out plackets so you can swap in studs… which I usually do with both the pique front and the pleated front options.

By the way, I'm not hung up on the idea that studs and cufflinks have to match. I like when they do, and we sell a few "dress sets" for that tight look, but it's not a huge thing. I typically like either sterling silver or unlacquered brass, so they get that natural tarnish to them. I also love cheap and cheerful black or white silk knots in my cuffs as well. What else up top? Black-tie is just about the only time I personally wear a bow tie. Ideally, you want the bow tie material to match the trim, so let your jacket be your guide. A satin bow with a satin lapel, a grosgrain bow with a grosgrain lapel, etc. Mine are silk faille so I'm wearing that one. I usually skip the cummerbund…it tends to add visual girth. (Makes me look fatter.)

Shoes-wise, I've got 3 go-tos - a pair of black calfskin Chelsea boots with a leather sole, black Belgian loafers, and black lace-ups. The black Belgian loafers are typically with no socks (and is usually my summer go-to), the Chelsea boots are a little rock 'n' roll but still totally appropriate, and the lace-ups are going to be more formal or when you're on the fence… they'll never look out of place. This isn't the time for kooky socks, so go for black. Silk is the dressier option, but regular over-the-calf merino wool will work too.

So for YOUR upcoming weddings… if I were in your shoes? I'd say the classic peak-lapel tuxedo in black, the pique front shirt, the silk faille bow tie, black silk knot cufflinks, and because of the seasonality, the black Chelseas. If boots feel too out-there for you, go with the lace-ups and you'll still be one of the best dressed guys in the room. And the beauty of black tie is that you can wear the exact same thing to the next wedding… and the one after that… and so on…

Hope this helps… and have fun!

-SID

P.S. Call us if you need help.

 

SEPTEMBER 17, 2019

“Crew neck or V-neck or quarter-zip sweaters? Is there a more appropriate environment for each or do you like to stick to one in particular? Also, what are the core colors every guy should have in sweaters?” – Buck P., via email


You may want a sweater for many reasons, but usually for me it comes down to one of two: either to add an extra style dimension to your wardrobe, or as a layering piece. And a good rule of thumb is no matter the style, the lighter and more refined the knit is, the dressier it tends to be. By this same logic, the heavier and coarser it is, the more casual it leans. So you probably don't want to show up to a fancy dinner with a fisherman's sweater under your blazer, but a fine-gauge cashmere sweater? All day…

In terms of styles, the V-Neck is almost always the first sweater of the season as you move into fall. I think about it almost in place of outerwear — "I'm not going to wear a jacket but I am going to throw a sweater on top of this." I usually like mine on the lighter- to mid-weight side… and because they don't give you coverage from the neck-up, it's great for layering but isn't enough for cold-cold weather. It's an especially great piece for the workplace because it looks more natural with a tie underneath, or even under a jacket, compared to a crewneck. A navy v-neck in particular can almost take the place of a blazer indoors – most of the guys who work here own one, and wear the heck out of it in the colder months. There's a picture of me with a chambray shirt underneath a lovat green v-neck… a combo I love to this day. I can remember wearing that a lot with a waxed cotton jacket on the weekends.

late summer v-neck c. 1994
late summer v-neck c. 1994




Half-Zip sweaters are a little more au courant… I generally think of it as a modernized, sportier version of the v-neck with a touch of sweatshirt in there. But it can also act as that cold-weather sweater in your closet, because if you need to warm up your neck (or you forgot your scarf), just zip it up -- full coverage. It's really like a more elegant version of a Polarfleece. I like it with a sportier shirt… a blue oxford cloth or a small pattern would look killer underneath this olive green. It can also go dressier with a tie underneath, especially in cashmere. I usually don't wear one underneath a blazer, but plenty of guys who work for us do, and it looks great on them.

The Crewneck is arguably the most traditional of the sweaters and it can go back and forth from being a t-shirt or a sweatshirt or a sweater, depending on the material. Think about it. In cashmere, it can be pretty dressy — and can go equally well with a pair of dress pants or a pair of jeans – but in a cotton or a Shetland wool, it starts to act more like a sweatshirt. Same goes for a bulkier knit like a thermal stitch. And unlike the other two, this style doesn't necessarily need a shirt underneath, especially in a lighter weight. So there's a lot of range… you can wear a cotton-cashmere crewneck with a pair of jeans if you're going to get a pizza or something, but you can dress up a fine-gauge cashmere crewneck with a pair of dress trousers for a dinner party… with or without a crisp white shirt underneath. (Without the shirt, it's a little retro-feeling… kinda Rat Pack.)

And speaking of, I would argue that a fine-gauge cashmere sweater is the greatest travel piece you can have. It stands on its own, but also layers/plays well with others. You can wear it on the plane, you can throw it under a jacket, you can tuck it into a tote bag or carry-on, and — insider tip — if you roll it up and put it in a shoe bag, it makes a great travel pillow. That's why we carry it in over a dozen colors.

Lastly, on that… I lean towards classic and neutral (navy, charcoal, camel) because not only are they going to go with about everything, but more importantly they allow your shirt underneath to add a little lift — think ginghams, checks or even a brightish complementary color. That way it elevates the outfit in a "second look" kind of way, without feeling like you're trying too hard. (That said, I also love bright colors in wintry yarns – brambleberry, rosebud – for a pop.) But the one sneaky all-star color you've got to have is lovat green. It suggests the heather in Scotland, and it's an amalgam of all the foliage pulled together in one color, so you get up close and there are flecks of purple and brown and wheat and yellow and blue and green in there. And somehow it's still a neutral… but a dynamic neutral.

Okay, Buck, I hope that helps. It's 94 degrees as we speak, but sweater weather is coming. I can see it and I can feel it.

-SID

 

SEPTEMBER 3, 2019

When it comes to Hey Sid submissions, we get just as many in-depth sartorial questions as we do quick, light-hearted inquirires that may or may not have anything to do with clothes. We thought it'd be fun to highlight some of the latter, for a post-holiday weekend Lighting Round. They range from desert island albums to actual desserts… enjoy!

“Hey Sid. What is your favorite Foundations recording with Clem Curtis?” - @ca.philly via Instagram

Is this a trick question? Toss-up. "Baby Now That I Found You" or "It's All Right…"

“Hey Sid. Can you offer some insight on the tie knots you use and prefer?” – Bob W. via email

Four-in-hand mostly… unless it's a super-thick fabric like wool, and then it's a double reverse four-in-hand, taught to me in 1984 by a former member of the Iranian Air Force.

“Hey Sid, cake or pie?” – @randypeets via Instagram

Great question. Love both but REALLY love Ann's banana pudding… served warm.

“Hey Sid, what are your 3 favorite hotels in the United States?” – @hawaii1982abc via Instagram

1.) The first time I ever stayed in a hotel was on a vacation with my family in the late 1960s. A stop along the way was an original (Kemmons Wilson) Holiday Inn, with a pool outside… and I thought "man, this place is cool."
2.) When our daughter graduated from college in Austin, we had a nice weekend at the Hotel St. Cecilia – it's got sort of a high-low vibe.
3.) And lately, when visiting our Georgetown shop, Ann & I really have taken to The Jefferson in Washington DC.

“Hey Sid, yes or no on undershirts?” – J.A.D. via email

Used to be a full-time "yes" but now mostly a "no"… unless I'm cold.

“Hey Sid, which (musical) artists have inspired your style?” – Jake U. via email

Bowie, Bryan Ferry, 50s/60s Miles Davis, Rebop Kwaku Baah from Can and Traffic.

“Hey Sid, what are your top five things to do in Atlanta?” – @ehenriquez88 via Instagram

For me personally? I'd say…
1.) Take in a concert at Variety or Tabernacle
2.) Strike up a tennis game at Bitsy Grant
3.) Sit poolside at home with the Sunday Times, sun or no sun.
4.) Eat tacos at Taqueria del Sol or Little Rey Al Carbon
5.) Work. I love being in our shops & office and am there 6 days a week.

But for visitors? I'd probably suggest you…
1.) Explore Buford Highway, a 4-lane highway lined with food from all over the world.
2.) Stroll the Beltline
3.) Shop with us (and our friends) at Westside Provisions District
4.) Catch an Atlanta United game if you can; they're really good. The fan experience is unmatched.
5.) Dine at Miller Union, our latest James Beard winner.

“Hey Sid, I want to take the wife abroad — have already done Italy and Tulum — where should we go that has great shopping, good food and authentic vibes but not too overrun with le touristas and still somewhat affordable?” – @igilley via Instagram

If you've never been to Paris… hands down, you gotta go. There's tourists because it's great. Lean into it. The off-season will feel a little less crowded. And if you do, give us a buzz; we have a couple of favorite stops to pass along.

a self-avowed tourist in Paris
a self-avowed tourist in Paris



“Hey Sid, top ten desert island albums?” – @andrewnewby via Instagram

Listeners of our now-off-the-airwaves AM radio show won't be surprised at a few familiar faces. In no particular order…
1.) Miles Davis - Sketches of Spain
2.) David Bowie - Ziggy Stardust
3.) Brian Eno record – Before and After Science OR Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)
4.) Al Green – Greatest Hits
5.) Roxy Music – Siren
6.) Todd Rundgren – Something / Anything?
7.) The Nutcracker score
8.) Gil Scott-Heron & Brian Jackson – Bridges
9.) The Beach Boys - Pet Sounds
10.) Belle & Sebastian – Dear Catastrophe Waitress
Bonus 11.) Gang of Four - Entertainment!

“Hey Sid, what's the temperature in Hotlanta?” – @biguntx via Instagram

Always hot, even when it's not.

“Hey Sid, not a question, but I officiated a wedding in one of your sharkskin suits, in Austin, in July. It was 103 and I was sweating like a pig, but the suit held up nicely and I did not die.” – J. Andrew F., via email

Maybe because you looked so cool! A win for everyone.

-SID

 

AUGUST 20, 2019

“When should you wear a spread collar versus button-down? It seems like the two are interchangeable these days.” – John David I., via email


Spread vs. button-down…
Don Coryell vs. Woody Hayes…
Frazier vs. Ali…
West Coast vs. East Coast…
Almost everyone appreciates a throwdown.
THIS IS NOT THAT!
It's not either-or, it's both/and.

The first thing that comes to my mind when thinking about spread vs. button-down collars is the pick and roll in basketball. Two guys doing very different things but playing for the same team. (Hey, it takes two to score.) The button-down and spread collars shouldn't be looked at as closet competitors but rather versatile teammates that lift up the whole team. But this is a GREAT question because they can both be used for a lot of different occasions and in many instances, you're 100% right – the lines are blurred.

My very simple rule is this: if it's a formal occasion (or if you are wearing a dressy suit,) I never wear a button-down but rather opt for a spread collar with a tie.

And I wear a suit at minimum, 3 days a week, so right out of the gate I'm going with the spread the majority of the time. Part of the reason I do that is because I just love the versatility – it can go from very casual to very dressy, depending on how you're wearing it. If I'm going into the office, I put in collar stays to crispen up my collar a bit to complement the jacket and tie. If I go out after work, I might take off my tie but leave the jacket on and collar stays in. Maybe I'm headed to a concert, I'll take off the jacket, the tie, roll my sleeves up, and remove the collar stays… let the collar get a tiny bit of rakishness. I'm at a show, after all. If it can go from desk job to dive bar… and look crisp the whole time… that's some serious range. (Off-roading to the tie zone, I did go see Bryan Ferry after work last week, and kept my tie on for that one. He and I were the only ones in the house wearing them, but for me a tie is the equivalent of a hoodie for the Northern California tech set: my own personal comfort zone.) So, yeah, the spread collar is the most versatile, and the one option we feel like everyone should have in his closet.

the after-work concert look is the same as the taco joint look
the after-work concert look is the same as the taco joint look



Now a button-down doesn't have quite as much range as the spread, but it can make a very specific statement. It's going to automatically look more traditional, or "trad"… a staple in the Ivy set. While you don't have quite as many options with the button-down, you do have the decision on whether to button the collar or not. For me, 85% of the time I'm wearing it unbuttoned. Unless I'm going without a tie, then I pretty much always button it. (If you do the math here, yes, I wear a lot of ties.) Part of the secret sauce of dressing is to not look too uniform, even when you're wearing one! That's the whole idea behind sprezzatura. While I don't wear my button-down collars with a suit, I typically pair them with 5-pockets (cords included) or sport trousers, and at times, dress trousers. Can you wear it with a suit – some do, yes. I think about Wall Street or guys in DC, a navy pinstripe suit, a striped repp tie, some cordovan tassel loafers with a button-down… it's a look that's going to work for some people, but not necessarily for me.

Here's the thing, though – a lot of this is personal preference. Once upon a time, 90% of our assortment was spreads, because that's what I like. (That's also why you see so much navy blue.) We've diversified a little bit, because different guys like different things… though spreads do still have a majority in our sport shirt lineup. It's one of the reasons we have a Made-to-Measurement program, where you can pick your own fabric/collar/cuff/etc. So if you love our Roxford, or a seasonal plaid, but would rather have it in a different collar than the one we made as stock… well, then, get one made for yourself the way you like it!

button-down vs. spread
a classic blue oxford BD under a navy leno-weave jacket, and a small banker stripe spread under a glen plaid suit



And we spent a TON of time trying get the collars just right on our shirts. Which is why we basically just offer these two off the rack. We made the length of our spread collars 8 centimeters… roughly 3 1/8", to live in harmony with our jacket lapel width and tie width. (You guessed it – those are 8cm too.) One of the great things about this length is, it'll sit under the jacket really nicely, like they're made for each other. Because they are! And our spread collar is actually a modified spread, not a traditional English spread. In other words, spread but not too spread… but long enough to be substantial. Beware of small collars, they're unflattering – the proportions make your face and neck look bigger – and give off a fast-fashion vibe. And that's all I'm gonna say about that. When it comes to our button-down collar, we spent a lot of time – literally, years – perfecting the collar roll to get the right amount of "bloom."

We really wanted the movement in the spread to be just as special, so we put in a soft woven interlining to actually mirror that bloom. That interlining comes from Germany – it's the best of the best – and it's fused in our dress shirts (top layer only), and nonfused in our sport shirts. You can actually feel the difference – when you pick up the dress shirt, the collar's going to feel a bit more structured, dressier, really, and the sport shirt is going to feel a little softer and more casual. It mirrors the vibe of the shirts. On the other hand, our button-down collars never have fused interlining. It's not our look. A more formal fabric can dress it up for more formal occasions, but we want the softness to come through all the time. Again, we want the two to be complementary. A spread and a button-down party well and play well together. They're on the same team: the making-you-look-good-and-feel-good team. Pick and roll…
-SID

 

 

AUGUST 6, 2019

So we've been getting some questions about the heat…

“Hey Sid, I live in Southern California and want to dress up at times. Two issues, it's hot! And I want to retain some of that coastal cool. What should I do?” - @turnerc7 via Instagram

 

“Florida is a geographic oddity-the only state in the union that's five feet from the surface of the sun. For those of us who believe professionals should dress professional, can you discuss some warm (I mean brutally warm) weather options for those of us who can't bring ourselves to give up their blazers, sports coats, and ties?” - Chris D. via email

 

“The heat in the south… How do you transition from the elegant and effortless sophistication of a jacket and tie to the mandatory shorts and short sleeve shirt for the intense southern summers?” – Ryan N. via email


US open
sweating last summer at the US Open


Hot town, summer in the city
Back of my neck getting dirt and gritty
Been down, isn't it a pity
Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the city
All around, people looking half dead
Walking on the sidewalk, hotter than a match head


That's the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of living in New York City and how miserable it can be about this time of year. And you don't have to be living in New York to feel like the heat is on. It's August, it's pretty much hot everywhere. And we think we've got some answers for you how to beat back the heat, no matter if you're in California (Craig,) Florida (Chris,) the South (Ryan,) or even NYC… as I am remembering right now, sweating to the oldies in the subway station.

What to wear at the beach or poolside or at a backyard barbecue is one thing – and we'll touch on that later. But the tougher questions, is when you need to go to a wedding or a board meeting or special event – how do you dress up, but stay cool?

Right outta the gate my mind goes to fabric – the right fabric for summer is a game changer. And the usual lightweight summer accomplices – cotton, linen, seersucker, madras, pique – are well-known (and get the job done) for a reason. They're tried and true. But my go-to… and I'd say the one most people don't think about, is wool. I know, you're thinking "wait, really, wool??" But stick with me. We have a particular high-twist wool fabric from England that we use in our many of our suits that has a very fat yarn structure, and the yarns are plied – 2 ply to be exact – so 2 yarns twisted together in the warp (north-south) 2 yarns twisted together and the weft (east-west) and when you put these two fat yarns together it makes for a very open weave. Basically like a basketweave. The fabric almost literally breathes and allows air to go through it – which in turn, keeps you cooler. And that twist in the yarn means it has an excellent bounce-back to it and sheds wrinkles well. Case in point: I wore my Air Force blue high-twist to an outdoor wedding in August in the Florida panhandle a few years ago. In my mind, I hardly broke a sweat, except on the dance floor.(Though maybe I was sweating less just knowing that my air-conditioned suit was working.) But the beauty of the wool suit is that it's a year-rounder and we make it in a variety of colors – that Air Force blue, oxford grey, charcoal, lovat green (as in we-love-it green) – and you can wear it just as easily in August as you can in November.

Second thing I think about is color. If it's in the daytime, and if you're going to be in the sun, the general rule is the lighter, the better. Now you might not want to go full-on white suit – though for the record, I do own one – but think light stone, light blue, seersucker, and shoot… it's basically a requirement in the south to have a khaki poplin suit. These lighter suits are meant only for true summer or where it feels like summer most of the year. (Lucky you in Palm Beach.)

99 degrees last week in Austin
99 degrees last week in Austin - Qadir in seersucker and me in high-twist wool



The last thing I'm going to think about is putting the outfit together in a way to maximize lightness. You want to avoid looking hot, and maybe worse, having people TELL you that you look hot. I'd start from the bottom and work my way up… if at all possible, I'd bypass heavy, leather-soled dress shoes in favor of lighter ones… penny loafers or tassel loafers. And if possible, I don't wear socks – that will instantly make you feel cooler and look cooler. I'd put a back pocket square in one of my pant pockets. It can be great for mopping a brow or soaking up the condensation from a cold drink - a makeshift coaster. And, as much as we recommend wearing a tie, depending on the event, I would consider going without one. A sport shirt – or even a polo with a cut-and-sewn collar that will stand up and keep its shape – looks great with a jacket and allows a little more airflow.

And Ryan, to answer your question about maintaining a certain level of sophistication with shorts and a short-sleeved shirt… There are a few rules I like to stick to. I like a shirt with a collar vs. a t-shirt for a crisper presentation (a short-sleeved oxford cloth button-down is fantastic). If you insist on going untucked, I'd steer you toward our Marquez shirt, a pared-down riff on a guayabera. (We also do a more classic one.) Oh, and one last thing… going a little shorter and more tailored on your shorts makes you look a little taller. Not sure you'll be any cooler temperature-wise, but standing taller is never a bad thing.

At the end of the day, don't forget… everybody sweats, and a little perspiration actually looks good. Admittedly, I love the summertime. Lean into it! Or, just get a drink.
-SID

 

Matt Hranek in the Marquez
Our friend Matt Hranek looking cool in the Marquez shirt

 

 

JULY 23, 2019

“When is it okay to wear sneakers with a suit?” – @gene_kansas, via Instagram


That is a fantastic question, especially since we're living in a time where pretty much anything goes… until it doesn't.

In general, we think about dressing as a form of manners – making an effort when getting dressed shows respect to those you're with. So the very first thing I would think about is the host, or company I'm in. What is their style? Are they more conservative or more out-there? Consider their style as you put together your outfit. You'll want to make an effort, but don't want to out-dress your host either.

Second, I'd think about the environment, and both location and season. Am I in the city? West coast or east coast? (For instance, LA is significantly more dressed-down than, say, Philadelphia.) Or am I at the beach or in the desert or in the low country? What's the climate? What's the season? Warmer weather sort of begs for a more casual decorum in general, so that helps your chances in pulling off a suit with sneakers.

Lastly, I'd think about occasion. If the word "formal" is in there, this is probably not the time. And if it's at the opposite end of the spectrum, a pool party or kid's birthday (or shoot, a kid's birthday party at a pool), you might not want to be the only guy there in a suit. But this means most occasions between informal and jacket-optional are totally appropriate… which means there are a LOT of examples… travel, commutes, backyard gatherings, cocktail hours, dinners, colorful parties (holiday! costume! birthdays!), visits to country or yacht clubs, even informal or beach weddings.

Assuming this all checks out… you're in the go-zone. So how do you do it? I don't wear sneakers with a suit very often but when I do, I follow 3 simple rules.

  • The shoes should have the correct shape. Since you're wearing dress trousers, you'll want sneakers that have design similarities to a dress shoe. We like a clean silhouette, like the way we like our jackets with a natural shoulder and minimal break in our trousers. I like those that take inspiration from vintage tennis shoes with simple, clean lines – think Tretorns, Adidas Stan Smiths, Diadoras. A more streamlined, cleaner silhouette works better with a suit, so probably not something with torqued up soles. And all of these have a range of options. I'd add that slip-ons or wholecut lace-ups are also great, especially when they're leather or suede.
  • Keep the color(s) neutral-ish. Going with sneakers is already a bit of a rebel move, so dialing it back refines the look ever so slightly. For example, an air force blue suit with Tretorn Nylites in white and navy, a flax color sharkskin suit with Diadora Game L Low sneakers in green & white, a seersucker suit with white on white sneakers, or a navy high twist suit with our own navy suede chelsea (sneaker) high tops.
  • Make sure your shoes are clean. This might be stating the obvious, but don't undervalue its importance. Not just clear of dirt or stains or general wear, but clean in terms of appearance. The stark contrast of bright white can be distracting, so they don't need to look like you just bought them or anything, but you'll want them crisp, especially the laces. This is a key to pulling it off… you lose the look if you're wearing shoes that are dirty or a little too worn in.

Maybe not a rule, but as a general north star, I would consider "does it feel like you?" It's certainly a look, and not all of us can be John Lennon on Abbey Road, or Is This It-era Albert Hammond Jr. If it's not your bag – that's okay, too. Feeling like you are clothed and in your right mind – no matter what shoes you're wearing – will make you more productive, confident, and content.

Hope this helps. You might have inspired me to break out the sneakers a little more often….
-SID

testing out the look
Whole-cut sneakers in the office – just testing out the look

 

JULY 9, 2019

“What is your view on suede shoes in the summer? I don’t know the answer, so I avoid them entirely. I see them worn in London, but feel like they don’t have a place in the States. Appreciate your thoughts.” – Jake H., via email


"Don't you step on my blue suede shoes…"

Just think… Carl Perkins (the lyricist), Elvis Presley, Johnny Hallyday (the French Elvis), Buddy Holly, John Lennon, Eddie Cochran… they all sang that song. And if these guys are talking about it — suede is an important subject that we're just not talking about enough, so thank you for bringing it up.

So, can I wear suede in the summer? Well, the first suede shoes I ever had were a pair of white bucks, and I would only wear them from Memorial Day through Labor Day. Which is summer only, more or less. I am not always a "rule follower" with things like this… white jeans, for example, are year-round for me. But even if you're on the more traditional end of the spectrum, the heritage of that shoe – the quintessential Southern American shoe – is a great indicator that suede is MEANT for summer. My originals had a little bit of a cream color & some nap/scruff to the suede which was very, very nice (nubuck is not our thing – it's too flat)… and paired with that brick red sole? Fantastic. In fact, we do a pair pretty similar to that one – the only change is, besides a great fit, we added a red Dainite sole – an excellent quality rubber sole from the UK that is a good mix of town & country. It's definitely a look – I did an interview with Garden and Gun a few years back, and admitted that there are probably some spots where guys might try to fight you for wearing them. I told them that you need to be ready to take a blow for the white bucks. I still stand behind that!

But to answer your question, yes - we're big-time advocates of suede all year round. But you don't want people looking at you thinking, "man, his feet gotta be hot!" So, for the summer months, you first want to consider the type of shoe. I'd even ask yourself "do these feel heavy?" To me that's the litmus test. I leave my Chelsea boots and leather-soled suede shoes (e.g. double monks) in the closet until the first hint of fall. Then I slip into some shoes that look and feel lighter — penny loafers, tassel loafers, moccasins, bluchers, sneakers, slip-on espadrilles… even a pair of light colored chukka boots work for me. Going lighter in the weight and shape of a shoe will open up a lot of colorways – even dark ones! Chocolate, snuff, blue, navy, tobacco… though I'd probably draw the line at black unless it's a formal occasion.

The last piece of the puzzle when wearing suede in the summer, is going sockless. All of these can (and probably should) be worn without socks. To me, there's something super-cool about no socks with suede, particularly a loafer, especially if you've gotten a little sun – it just communicates a casualness… a "light and easy" feeling overall.

I own a lot of pairs of suede shoes but if I were to recommend ONE – to me the perfect summer pair is the tassel loafer, in basically any color. I love love the look of a pair of white jeans, a linen jacket, and suede loafers. But they'll go equally as well with a pair of colorful sport trousers or linen pants or even shorts — it's almost impossible to imagine where and when you can't wear these.

And caring for them is pretty easy – we created a shoe care guide if you want to go deep on it. But the necessities are a pair of shoe trees and a wire suede brush, and a suede eraser is helpful too. A buck bag for the white ones is great. (We have them in the Atlanta shop.) To give your suede the longest life possible and preserve its texture, you'll want to brush them so gently and often, so that dirt doesn't sit in the nap and stain it. And while people are often afraid of letting suede near water… it's not life or death. If it's a drizzly day, it's probably best not to wear them, but if you get caught in the rain, don't worry too much about it. The only thing you should really worry about is oil. So maybe not the shoes you want to cook or change a tire in. (In case of grease, though, cornstarch is a quick fix to soak it up.)

I hope this helps. "Go cat go…" in your suede shoes! And if you're stuck, shoot us a picture or give our shop a call… we'll help you.

-SID

suede chukkas in Switzerland
Suede chukkas in Switzerland a few summers ago

 

JUNE 25, 2019

“I'm traveling a lot this summer (Atlanta to Italy)… what are your travel essentials for a man on the road?” – @thenotoriousjjg, via Instagram


Hey mane. This is an exxxxxcellent question. When I'm traveling, I wanna look my best and travel light, so the first thing I ask myself is "where am I going, what am I gonna need, and what's the weather?"

WHAT I PACK
The goal is to get everything into one carry-on, with one zip-top canvas tote. I like my dopp kit to be small, packed with the usual suspects, plus Band-Aids, Neosporin and aspirin, just in case. I am usually on business – so I bring a suit typically – but you can skip that and get away with a jacket or two, navy or something discreet. (Even on vacation, it's good to be prepared.) I always pack a white shirt (in case something formalish comes up), always pack a solid tie, a pair of white jeans, a pair of blue jeans, and a pair of dress shoes that can be dressed up or down. If I've got room, a pair of more casual shoes like moccasins or loafers. Even if it's not fall or winter, I typically pack a lightweight sweater – a fine-gauge cashmere crewneck. Cashmere is sort of God's polar fleece… it packs so easily and is great for layering. And, no matter what, a swimsuit. It's the biggest disappointment when you don't have it. Be ready always… to go swimming.

HOW I PACK IT
I like to wear a jacket on the outbound flight – it doesn't wrinkle as much, gives you a leg-up on a possible upgrade, and all the pockets make it like a man's version of a purse. You can get a lot in there. If I'm bringing a second jacket, I first hang it on a plastic wide-bodied hanger – ask your local haberdasher for one of their castoffs. Then, I'll cover it with plastic like you get at the cleaners, and put it in a lightweight garment bag. I will section the garment bag into thirds, folding the bottom up one level, laying my ties across the middle section so they won't move around, then folding up again neatly. And that goes on the top of one side of my carry-on.

Shirts – there's a formula to this. I'll take one additional shirt for every 3 days I'm gone (4 for a 3-day trip, 8 for a 6-day trip, etc.) and I get them folded in plastic when I send them to the cleaners (Ralph's on Collier, by the way,) because they're easier to pack. You can use the plastic as your laundry bag, too. For jeans, I will turn both pairs inside out, and roll them up so they avoid getting stained (white) or staining other items (indigo). I'll usually bring a pair of shoe trees, but those things are heavy, so in a pinch, you can put some rolled-up socks and underwear in your shoes instead… it works almost as well. If I've just got the shoes I'm wearing, I'll put my socks and underwear in a felt shoe bag. And that's about it for the suitcase. One more tip: when you get to where you're going, hang everything up – and when you hop in the shower, move the stuff on hangers to the bathroom to enjoy the steam and ease up any wrinkles.

In my tote – you want one with a zipper so you can put it underneath your seat without anything falling out – I put my computer, a folder of work stuff, another felt shoebag filled with cords & adapters, my sunglasses, some reading materials that I probably won't get to, plus some pens and something to write on. You have to watch out for the kind of pens that explode on planes though. Ink stains don't come out easily.

I know I say this a lot, but ultimately dressing – whether you're on the road or on the tarmac or just on the clock – is about good manners. Be practical and comfortable on the flight, sure, but make an effort for those around you. You never know who you're going to run into at the airport… and in a funny way, it doesn't matter. To sum it up: look nice, pack light, bring a pair of swim trunks, and never underestimate the importance of those felt shoe bags. Travel safe and buon viaggio.
-SID

 

JUNE 11, 2019

“What is essential for the beginning of a young professional's wardrobe?” – @b_c.harris, via Instagram


Personally, I wear a jacket and tie every day… actually, every single guy in our office, stores, and warehouse wears a tie. It's a no-brainer in that our toughest decision in the morning is which tie I'm gonna wear. In a funny way, it makes getting dressed in the morning a heck of a lot easier. We work with a company that experimented with having their baristas wear ties in the Pacific Northwest… home of the casual look. The baristas got better tips and the morale was higher - they actually liked dressing with some structure. We quote Deion Sanders here a lot — "when you look good you feel good — and when you feel good you play good — and when you play good they pay good." Anyway. I love it. But unless you're a banker or a lawyer (or you work for us,) it's likely that you don't have to wear a tie. And "professional attire" or "business casual" are pretty broad terms… it's like, what does that even mean. For the better part of my career in design, I didn't have to wear a tie to work. It was just a choice that I sometimes enjoyed. It was a creative environment, and a lot of my coworkers really went all out getting themselves rigged up as "creatives." It was actually a blast watching what people showed up in. Like a costume party every day. Having fun with your clothes is great. But for me, especially these days, I just want to grab and go and save my brain for more challenging decisions during the day. So how do you look put-together, sharp, and professional… without thinking about it all that much? (Or looking like you're thinking about it all that much.)

So what are the go-tos? You're looking to edit your life with the least amount of items to prepare you for almost anything. You may not have a lot of dough yet — or at least I didn't when I was just starting out — so you want to treat these as building blocks. You'll have these things for years, not months, so focus on less-is-more, quality-over-quantity. Better to show up in great things more often. There is no shame in a uniform. And find a tailor you like and trust… fit makes a big difference. It's also worth the investment of the two bucks or so to get your shirts cleaned and pressed. I can usually get at least a couple of wears out of each one, and some of my best memories of being young in New York were the conversations I had with the neighborhood cleaners. Or learn to iron yourself! The point is, a pressed shirt is about showing effort and manners. But back to the list. I put together a handful of essentials — in this case, 11 — that go with everything in your closet. This should all make getting dressed easier in the morning (or in the dark!) and arm you for almost any occasion… a meeting with the boss, a trip to the bank, or a casual get-together after work.

Here's what I'd get as a starter kit, from head to toe:

 

This roll-up might seem basic, but it's super-versatile… it all works together wherever you live. If you've been asked to help with a board presentation, it's navy suit + white shirt + navy tie + dark socks + the lace-ups, shined. If it's a company outing, it's dark jeans + blue-striped shirt… sleeves rolled up. If it's hosting a client for a cocktail hour it's grey trousers + navy suit jacket + sport shirt, maybe go sockless. Any scenario, you're ready.

And of course you can build on this. Add in another pair of shoes (penny or tassel loafers), throw in some white jeans, add a few dress shirts that have a subtle pattern — a light stripe or graph check, or maybe add a pair of charcoal dress trousers in case you're getting invited back to that board meeting… and you'll be well on your way.

Let me know how it goes.
-SID
P.S. And hey… as long as you're asking… I may just throw a bit of this in as well. That stuff above will help you dress for success — but you actually have to work to BE a success.

RULES FOR WORK

  • Keep your shoes shined, your clothes pressed, your breath fresh and your mouth clean.
  • Show up early, stay late — and make the most of your time in between.
  • Say less, be more.
  • Smile, a lot. It communicates an ease and willingness to help.
  • Keep a pen & paper on you — we think Caran d'Ache and Moleskines are pretty great.
  • If you have a business card, always keep one on you. Use a business card holder. (I am reminded of this every time I forget my own.)
  • Try and stay off your mobile phone… pay attention to those around you.