The 99.6% Discount

Leave it to J. Press to deliver the goods. I like this black watch jacket from their Presidential line.

 J. Press BlackwatchI can’t argue with these specs from their website- Classic Trim Fit, 3B Sack with center hook vent, 5/16″ stitches, 2 patch and flap pockets, 1 open patch pocket, and leather buttons. Made in the U.S.A.  But I do draw a line at the price, $980.00.  So, what to do?

The answer is to stumble upon a similar jacket in one of my thrift spots.

Black watch flannel, union-made in the USA for JoS. A. Bank, 3 button sack, 2 flap patch pockets, 1 chest pocket. Metal buttons, not leather, which is kind of a drag but I can’t complain, in a 3/2 roll.

Now, I realize JoS. A. Bank has lost its way in recent years/decades. And even back in the day some considered it a poor man’s Brooks Brothers. But I often find decent quality goods from them, most likely from the late seventies/early eighties, in local thrifts. I should do a whole separate post on some of that stuff. I think I have a soft spot for them because they have local roots, specifically Baltimore. I like to think that the cast of Diner wore JoS. A. Bank.

Anyways, this coat was priced at $8.00, but that day all sport coats in the store were 50% off, ergo I got it for 4 whole dollars. So it’s like getting the J.Press jacket for $976 dollars off, or at a 99.6% discount. Right?

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Hacking It

As a dedicated thrifter I have a complicated relationship with vintage clothes stores. I often take a look at what they’re offering and then move on to my favorite thrift spots convinced that I can find anything they sell for a fraction of the price. Most of the time this is true but sometimes I run across something unique that’s hard to resist.

For instance this Donegal tweed hacking jacket.

I find plenty of good tweed in thrift shops but not in the hacking jacket style. I don’t ride horses but I do ride a bicycle and this jacket will do nicely on chilly fall days, which I’m hoping are just around the corner.

The gray tweed is flecked with bits of color, sky blue, orange and brown. Details include a close to the body fit for warmth and action. Slanted (hacking) pocket and ticket pocket.

hacking and ticket pockets

It has a high three button stance with a throat latch which allows the coat to buttoned up at the collar, crossing one lapel over the other, keeping out the wind on those downhill glides.

throat latch

closed lapelsThe deep cut, 12 inches, of the rear vent allows for comfort in the saddle.

rear vent

The label indicates that its the real deal. Made in England from H. Kauffman and Sons. Kauffman’s, from what I was able to dig up on the internet, was a purveyor of riding clothes and gear for New York’s equestrian class. Check this link for more info. Also, dig that radiant blue lining!

H. Kauffman & Sons

This was more expensive than jackets I pick up thrifting but hundreds less than what I would pay for a similar new piece from Ralph Lauren or Brooks Brothers. And theirs might not have the solid construction and pedigree of this one.

The advantage of vintage stores over thrift is that if the propritor has a good eye and shares your taste you can find lots of good stuff at somewhat decent prices (compared to full retail) without having to wade through the junk that clutters your average thrift. However, I’m the type that enjoys the hunt for the dimond in the rough as well as the rock bottom prices that thrift shopping delivers.  Unlike my thrift haunts I will happily divluge the name of the vintage shop where I bought this – Rock It Again - located on U St NW.

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Back From the Dead

RIP

I’m back. There was too much was going on in my life so this little endeavour had to put in the ground temporarily. But now I have time to do more regular posts (hopefully). Stay tuned. Also, I now have a tumblr page. Check that out for more visuals with less words.

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Vacationland

My wife and I have our hands full with renovating our new home so there was no vacation this summer.  These photos of last year’s trip to Maine will have to tide us over.

More photos after the jump

Continue reading

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Summertime Blues

It continues to be crazy hot here in D.C. and it’s going to get even worse this week with temperatures rising to 100 degrees. Time to break out the Jack Purcell’s.

I bought this pair in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Big 5 Sporting Goods, a western chain, would have sales almost every week. Most of the stuff was sweatshop, child labor produced crap but occasionally they would have good deadstock items at rock bottom prices.

 

Made in the USA. These cost me a whopping $10. I remember that the store had a huge stack of pairs in boxes, about 5′ high. If I knew then that there would be a ton of americana/heritage nerds in the near future I would have bought the whole stack and become a ebay mogul! Even if I sold them at a slight mark up they would be a better deal than what these guys ask. The thing to be “distressed” about is getting taken for an extra $15 for sneakers which look like they’ve been worked over with a metal file. You’re better off buying from the source. Take us home Eddie.

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So Sporty

I don’t have many clothing items left from my college days. They were either not very stylish or have fallen apart and been discarded.  Heading out for a run the other day I grabbed one of my trusty workout shirts and was struck by how long I’ve had it and how long it’s lasted.

This particular shirt has some meaning because it’s a physical link to my rowing days. I got this shirt for being part of the winning lightweight novice crew at the Dad Vail Regatta. There is a tradition in crew to exchange shirts with the other boats after a race. Crew at my school was a club sport, which meant very little financial support from the university, and our shirts reflected this – poor quality fabric with crappy silk screen graphics of generic oarsmen in silhouette, which began to severely fade after the first wash. Georgetown University’s crew team, on the other hand,was probably not hurting for funds, hence the much higher quality shirts. It’s safe to say that we got the better deal that day.

The tag reveals its origins, made in the U.S.A. by Sew Sporty.

Some quick research on the internets reveals that they still exist.  I sent an email to the company asking if they still make any of their garments in the U.S. They replied that their henley shirts, custom jackets, unisuits, custom tank tops and rowing shorts are made in California.  Below are some images of the henley options from their website. Click on images to enlarge.

I also like these button placket and long sleeve henleys.

All of this stuff, plus the sweltering weather we’re having here in D.C., has me dreaming about blowing a ton of money on a sculling shell so that I can skim along the Potomac and Anacostia rivers.  That’s not going to happen anytime soon so I’ll just run along the river wearing this shirt. Close enough.

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The Ten Best Dressed Men In Comics

Saturday, May 7 is Free Comic Book Day. In honor of this joyous day I present my nominations for the best dressed men in the funny books. 

I love comics. I’ve read them off and on since grade school. I think they’re a unique American art form, like jazz and rock n’ roll. The industry and the collector fan base define the medium’s golden age as the late 1930′s through the early 1950′s. But I think we’re living in the true golden age of comics right now because there’s so much good material, both cape and non-cape, on the shelves. Remember, comics are medium for telling stories not a story genre. In other words it’s not all super-heroes, so don’t be afraid to try one. If you’re in D.C. you can find them at Fantom Comics in Union Station, Big Planet Comics in Georgetown, and Politics and Prose in upper northwest.

The ten I chose are franchise characters, mostly action/adventure related, because they are characters that I know and have read and also they have appeared enough times to be defined by a certain style.

1.Tintin
My first pick almost didn’t make the list because I wasn’t sure he’s over 18. But Tintin is undeniably a sharp dresser. And the “clear line” art style of Hergé really lets the outfits shine. Here he is sporting a mackintosh, blue Shetland sweater (I actually don’t know if it’s a Shetland but that’s what I imagine it to be), white point collar shirt, brown pants and monk straps.

Again with the mac, this time over a brown suit, yellow v-neck sweater and black knit tie.

This panel from Tintin in Tibet, illustrates his good taste in sportswear. I dig the anorak. As a matter of fact, I might have to do a whole separate post on the virtues of the anorak.

2.Blake and Mortimer
These two get the nod for their post-war British nattiness. Captain Francis Blake is the dashing, military intelligence officer and Philip Mortimer is the tweed jacket and bow tie wearing professor.  I can’t confirm it, but it looks like the Burberry house check is showing on Blake’s trench.

In all honesty I can’t recommend the comics themselves, too much expository text that slows down the story and breaks one of the fundamental rules of comics – the importance of a balance between pictures and words. However, the comics are great for images of post-war London streets, private clubs and bachelor flats with book-lined studies.

Blake and Mortimer

3.The Spirit
Denny Colt, aka The Spirit, always wore the classic combination of navy blue suit, red tie and fedora. Created by one of the giants of comics, Will Eisner, The Spirit’s groundbreaking visuals are still influencing the medium today.  The mask was requested by the newspaper syndicate, as a nod to super hero conventions, but Eisner always envisioned his hero as a regular guy, although one that could take a serious amount of punishment at the hands of underworld goons and femme fatales he encountered.

The Spirit

4. Robbie Robertson
Spider-Man has one of the best supporting casts in comics. Robbie Robertson, editor of the Daily Bugle is intelligent, cool, levelheaded and a direct counter point to blowhard publisher J. Jonah Jameson. His look is always old school newspaperman, sleeves rolled up, top button undone calmly putting another issue of the great metropolitan daily to bed.   Note the staple on the left side of the scan. Direct from the source! Drawn by John Romita, Jr., one of the all time greats of Spider-Man art.

Robbie

Here he is again in a vest with knit tie rakishly loosened as drawn by one of my other favorite Spider artists, Ron Frenz.

Robbie

5. Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D
Intended to be Marvel Comics’ version of James Bond. In the early days he rocked a cigar, eye patch, shoulder holster, shark skin suit, and knit ties (sometimes with polka dots!).  Later on he was given a skin-tight bodysuit but somehow still managed to look cool.Nick Fury

6. Casanova
It’s hard to explain this book but it’s awesome. Part homage, part spoof of Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, the title character looks like he just walked offstage after recording Get Yer Ya Ya’s Out with Keef and the boys. The story is wacky crazy with parallel time streams, copious drug use and pop culture references right and left. Artists Gabriel Ba and Fabian Moon render the hero sharp and angular in keeping with the whiplash tone of the story.

 

Heh, “gothic hobo”. I gotta start using that one in the field.

7. Jimmy Woo
Originally introduced in the 1950′s the character was resurrected (aren’t they all at some point?) by Marvel in the 1960′s as an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and now leads the  current day Agents of Atlas.

Who are the Agents of Atlas you ask? Well, they’re a group of 1950′s heroes,  Namora, Venus, Marvel Boy, Killer Robot and Gorilla Man who fight world menaces while pretending to be bad guys. They also get advice from an ancient dragon who, um… It has a killer robot and a wise cracking gorilla, what more could you want?!

Here’s Jimmy woo channelling Steve McQueen with a turtle neck under a sport jacket.

Jimmy Woo

 

8. Slam Bradley
DC Comic’s two-fisted private eye in the mode of Sam Spade and Phillip Marlowe. When he’s drawn and written by the great Darwyn Cooke, he never looks better. Dark suit, dark tie, white button down, cigarette dangling from a face that looks like Dean Martin went ten rounds with Sonny Liston.

Slam and SelinaSo cool he gives Selina Kyle (a.k.a Cat Woman) a rain check. Damn.

9. Parker
Another triumph for Darwyn Cooke and a chance for him to really showcase his early 60′s design sensibilities. Two-button narrow lapeled suits with skinny knit ties and cuff links abound. Cooke’s version of Parker is based on the character of the same name from the Parker crime novels by Donald Westlake. The Hunter

Parker shows his bad ass ways and the proper amount of shirt cuff (last panel).

Last year, Cooke released a follow up volume, The Outfit, which was excellent.

10. Max Weinstein
Max is the protagonist in Vittorio Giardino’s three-volume No Pasarán! Max, a former Republican volunteer in the Spanish Civil War, reluctantly returns to Spain to search for a missing comrade in arms. Intrigue and danger ensues. Despite the horror of war around them all the characters dress in high late-193o’s style.

 I know I’ve seen this awesome cream-colored cardigan somewhere… Oh yeah, it was here.

The ladies can’t resist the tweed jacket, button down shirt, repp tie, and sweater vest combo.

 Brown brouges with gray flannel pants is always a classic combination.
 
 
A look inside his bag, courtesy of the Republican intelligence service, reveals a man with good taste. Metal flashlight, flask, pipes and tabacco, box matches, swiss army knife, Moleskein notebook and fountain pen.
 
 
 
 The series is also full of great depictions of rucksacks and millitary gear. Here are a couple of my favorites.
 
 
 
 
There’s no real dress code when reading comics but why not raise the bar a little like this guy in a university stripe shirt, vest and tie?
 

 Or, make like Bogie in full pinstripe splendor.

Whether you read comics or not, don’t dress like this guy. 

Worst. Post. Ever.

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