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Fall

Lavenham Quilt

I could tell you that Lavenham was started in 1969 in Lavenham Village, a town that now has well under two thousand people. I could tell you that they begun with quilted horse rugs, before applying their quilting techniques to other classic country designs. I could tell you that their products are still made in an English factory, using the same watchful approach that they started with nearly fifty years ago.

But, none of that really matters when you look at the price tag.

$179.

If you purchase one thing this Fall, it should be a quilted Lavenham. Two pockets, button snaps up the front, corduroy collar, the same way it’s looked since the seventies. After all, why ruin a good thing with bad design?

Lavenham Quilt2

Lavenham Quilt1

Pick one up today at C.H.C.M.

Michael Hainey in Houndstooth by Tommy Ton

Michael Hainey in Houndstooth by Tommy Ton

It’s been a while since I’ve written an actual, applicable “style” piece on here, a fact that I’ll attribute to my general distaste for these last few weeks of summer. The back half of August into September is always a struggle for me – I’m long since tired of linen and rolled up sleeves, but the more I look ahead to fall, the more I’m reminded that those sweaters and tweed jackets sitting in my closet, will have to remain idle for a couple more fortnights. In the spirit of publishing though, I decided to torture myself and write a bit about the one item that I’m really hoping to pick up for this fall – an unlined wool houndstooth sport coat.

Of course when I say “hoping to pick up,” I mean spend my imaginary monopoly money on, but never actually purchase. Nonetheless an unlined houndstooth sport coat is, in my opinion, the perfect fall jacket. My biggest issue with many cold weather weight jackets, is that they end up looking frumpy, with far too much padding that ruins the natural silhouette. I believe that most of a jacket’s structure should stem from the wearer itself, which of course, doesn’t mean all jackets should be devoid of padding, but for right now I will totally admit that I do much prefer a softer shoulder year round.  The lack of lining makes it easy to layer both under and over, which helps to steer clear of Pillsbury Doughboy territory. The most important reason I like this particular jacket, is that houndstooth is favorite fall pattern. It’s not too countrified like many tartan checks, but it still has a solid motif that mirrors the molting leaves, and it happens to be easy to pair with everything from formal dress trousers, to grey chinos, to washed out denim.

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I’m currently down at my parents’ house in Maryland for the holiday, not so patiently awaiting the arrival of the rest of my family and tomorrow’s epic meal.  So, to whet my appetite, as well as yours, for my favorite meal of the year, here’s five Thanksgiving inspired kits.  Have a good holiday everyone, eat, drink, take a nap, and rest easy.  Now, go get off the internet and enjoy yourselves.

Epaulet Daltrey Shetland Tweed Sportcoat – Howlin’ by Morrison Neish Sweater – Aspesi Button Down Fine Corduroy Shirt – Gant Rugger Cords – Alden Sand Suede Chukka Boot – Paul Stuart Oriental Tiger Scarf – Dents Peccary Gloves

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A few days ago, thanks to several well-placed, cancelled classes, I was fortunate enough to be graced with the coveted five day weekend.  With Thanksgiving on deck, and not much on my docket, I fell back on the old standby of absentmindedly walking the streets and watching the hours tick by.  It might’ve been that the impending holiday was on my mind, but as I walked around, meeting up with friends, and running into people, I found myself preoccupied with all that surrounded me.  I consider fall to be the only real season that really has a distinct character to it, which some say is produced by the colors of the season, but to me it really has more to do with the emotions and ideas that this atmosphere creates.

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A few weeks back while I was writing my post about chunky cardigans, I stumbled upon the above photo of Steve McQueen, which has come to redefine my notion of “the quintessential fall outfit.”  At first glance it’s nothing more than a simple navy cardigan and khakis, yet it’s McQueen’s chocolate suede chukkas that have this shot so memorable to me. The search for a pair of fall boots can be a struggle.  On one end of the spectrum sits the lot of burnt red workwear boots that everyone seemed to pick up in the fall of ’09, while on the other we have more formal dress boots that evoke connotations of British imperialism and Downton Abbey Halloween costumes. Then of course, positioned squarely in the middle are Clarks Desert Boots, a reliable yet all too predictable route that seem to be an essential item for any teenager kid’s “menswear” starting kit these days.

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After a seemingly never ending, on again off again Indian summer, this past week has finally felt like the proper arrival of Fall.  Well that is until I woke up this morning and saw temperature climb back into the seventies.  While I for one welcome the cold with open arms, the one fall phenomena that I just can’t get beyond is the Barbour coat monotony that has hit our city with more force than a nor’east wind.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Barbour’s, in fact my trusty Barbour x Tokito jacket is sitting next to me right now, but it’s the inescapable olive green quilted Barbour Bedale and it’s equally as unavoidable brother, the Beaufort that seem to be the only winter coat options on earth right now.  I don’t resent Barbour in the least, they’re one of the greatest outerwear companies of all time, and if everyone in this city seems to be fascinated by their jackets, it’s with good reason.  As one of the first heritage brands to get a big co-sign from pretty much everyone in the blogosphere, Barbour’s hundred year history of made in England outerwear has been told and retold countless times.

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Yesterday morning, during a phone call with my mom, she regretfully remarked how she knew her vacation with my dad was over because he was “back in his uniform.”  For as long as I can remember my dad has worn a black suit, starchy dress shirt, tie, and black shoes, without fail every single day of the work week.  I’ve always been inspired by my dad’s commitment to his armor (I’ll save a full reflection on this uniform for tomorrow’s post,) but lately I’ve been thinking equally as much about my dad’s off-the-clock attire.

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Shot by Matt Smith

Fall is made in the fabrics.  Burnt orange donegals, sage green herringbone tweeds, ivory colored cashmeres, dark grey lambswools.  These are the textiles that spring to mind when we think of fall, the many textures and hues that mirror the rich fall landscape.  Coming from the brighter yet simpler summer palate we are quick to jump on these dynamic fabrics, searching for something a bit more dramatic than the flat textiles that we have been wearing for the past dew of months.  As a result though, we tend to forget that amongst a sea of the bold and the complex, it’s often the most understated pieces that stand out the strongest.

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We purchase two kinds of clothes, those that rest in our closet and those that rest in our minds. We buy those essentials-shirts, shoes, socks, trousers that sit idle throughout our rooms waiting for us to toss them on absentmindedly as we piece together a Monday morning outfit.  And then there are those rare few pieces that drive us simultaneously towards inspiration and obsession. They make us never want to wear anything else, to find a way to fit them into every single outfit we wear with in a week, these are the items that illustrate the true value of clothes.  They make us happier when we wear them, they strike confidence in us, and when they’re on our backs we truly believe we’re the best we can be. I was fortunate enough to acquire one of these elusive pieces this past week, as I stumbled upon a late eighties Polo Ralph Lauren double breasted cardigan.

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Last week I was a bit overzealous in using the title “Winter Week,” so this week I’ve decided to go with the more moderate “Fall Week, Summer Edition” and focus on lightweight jackets. Seems a bit more reasonable.

I’m not sure if I’d consider it a mid-life crisis, or adolescence or what, but right now menswear is going through it’s confused years.  Everyday we see brands that were once heritage turning toward Neapolitan style tailoring, we find Japanese labels that are better at Americana than American brands because those American designers are preoccupied with channeling Scandinavian design.  We are in the midst of a melting pot full of influence where once conflicting styles are blended together without anyone batting an eyelash.  And then on the other hand there are brands like Outlier, a company that hits the sweet spot, never “reinventing” themselves, or trying to stay on trend, Outlier simply makes great clothes that you just can’t help but get behind.

Outlier began with a simple goal, they wanted to create a pair of pants for the bike commuter that rides into a traditional workplace each day.  A pair of pants that fit well and could take a beating but still looked appropriate for a workday.  They succeeded in creating what can only be described as a pair of tailored, technical, trousers that propelled Outlier into the spotlight.  That was back in 2008 and since then they’ve taken their unique design approach and applied it to everything from shirts to bags to shoes to create products that couple a thoughtful modern fit with revolutionary fabrics.

Over the past year I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting Abe Burmeister,Tyler Clemens, and Roy Dank, who together make up team Outlier, and every time I run into them I hear stories of cutting-edge materials and insane ideas.  Which is why when Roy emailed me over some info on their newest release, The Supermarine Anorak, I wasn’t the least bit surprised that it was one of the most amazing jackets I had ever seen.

The jacket has all the fundamentals of a solid anorak-a half-zip front, a large kangaroo pocket, a deep hood, but taking a closer look at the details, you can see the level of consideration put into the piece.  The half-zip is protected by an adjustable magnetic throat piece to add an extra layer of protection, the jacket is equipped with side vents to allow for breathability, there’s a rear stash pocket, and then of course there’s Outlier’s strongest suit: the fabric itself.

Supermarine cotton is the sort of fabric that has made Outlier legendary over the past few years.  It’s a highly breathable, water resistant, entirely windproof material that very few people use because it hasn’t seeped into the mainstream yet.  Outlier sources the fabric from Italy, and it’s a revised version of the original Supermarine cotton that the British military used during World War Two to outfit their fighter pilots in case they crash landed in the North Sea.  The material is lightweight, and practically silent compared to Gore-Tex and other so-called “technical” fabrics making it easy to toss on and move around in during those brisk fall days.

The Supermarine Anorak is an extraordinary piece, but it’s exactly what I’ve come to expect from Outlier.  Outlier is one of that brands that I consider to be true “designers.”  They aren’t simply tinkering with little details, or color, or patterns, they’re approaching each garment like a problem, taking an existing design and stripping it down to it’s foundation only to rebuild it again as something we have never seen before, and that’s why there’s really no other company like them out there today.

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