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HEY SID!

YOU ASK... SID ANSWERS

email your questions to heysid@sidmashburn.com
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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.