Water Rat lined coat - What do I know
Better you than me -- That's what I know
20 years ago, I was having dinner at Bistro 110 in Chicago with an ex-college roommate who's a screenwriter and film producer. He asked what I thought of his recent film, a sequel to a movie four years earlier. I slathered baked garlic on my bread and told him I wasn't sure why he did it. He looked visibly hurt and said, "I personally made over one million dollars on that film." I replied, "What the fuck do I know."
I look at Billy Reid and feel much the same as I did all those years ago. "What the fuck do I know." Today, as it was then, not so much as a question but as a statement. Reid's press release makes much of how recent travels to London and Europe inspired this collection for F/W 2012. You can take the boy outta the South but it's hard to take the South outta the boy... as they say.
A shoe with everything on it
The expression, 'Less is more' tends to thrive best north of the Mason Dixon Line. Of course, I'm General Izing but then, I'm an Army man. The South has always like the idea of 'everything on it.' Not that I advocate the minimal black trouser/turtleneck dude living with three pieces of Danish furniture in a Mies van der Rohe apartment. There is a middle ground.
It's just not here. The Blue Velvet suit ($2,195) threw me back to Charlotte, NC where drug store developed pictures of velvet clad prom boys in ruffled shirts with sideburns extending from their ear lobe to the corners of their mouths, sat proudly on stereo consoles all over Mecklenburg County. I'll never tell you what to wear, but if this is the look you're after, you can find it at Goodwill for considerably less.
I liked the Tweed suit ($2,295) with peak lapels. Not an entirely smart choice if last Winter is any indication of the global warming to come but damned good looking. Refreshingly center vented with a Daks waistband and the tweed is butter soft.
Camel hair sport coats ($TBD) are everywhere in the South. I'm not sure why I've never owned one. They're great looking with all matter of trouser: grey flannel, tartan, jean, cords...just stay away from khakis.
This one's incredibly well made but has peak lapels and side vents. This is exactly what an insurance agent from Charleston would come up with on Savile Row while visiting London for the first time. I'm guessing he would wear it in June with a Vineyard Vines tie.
The "Big Raincoat" ($795) or Duster, a la J Peterman, is a reminder that some men can pull stuff off that others can't. It's a great look if you're tall. Not so much if you're living in a world of boobs and belt buckles like some men I know (and am).
Billy's belts offer width over the narrow straps and Tiffany buckles so loved by the South (and me). Everybody is doing cheap versions these days: J Crew, Tommy H, Rugby... the usual suspects. The Reid buckle is distressed and that's silly. Made in Italy, it's got some heft and so, while never with a suit, it would show well with a sport coat. Monogram it with something witty like, "DRINK?" and you'll be miles ahead of the LOSER, Andy Spade.
Not very funny are two double breasted suits of such tire screeching anachronism that they belong in a Bobbie Gentry song. There's long been speculation over what Billy Joe and his girlfriend threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge. Whatever it was, I wish Billy Joe was wearing one of these suits when he jumped.
A grey wool DB called the Anderson ($1,695) comes with peak lapels and balanced button holes. As it should. The fabric is reflective of the price and I can live with that. Problems start with a patch breast pocket and end with a center vent. Things start getting weird with a jacket that buttons right to left.
Next is a cashmere grey DB ($3,295) that has peak lapels but the right lapel is missing a button hole. This is common in countries like Germany -- where apparel design is like watching someone hammer nails with a Stradivarius. The patch pocket stays and like the Anderson, throws off the stream lined DB aesthetic that is so London. The center vent remains but at least it buttons left to right.
I'm guessing that these two d-b's are cut for tall skinny guys with no ass. Hard to tell. If so, it's a look that the youth should enjoy. In the mean time, I'm looking for 1970s Soviet magazines that featured suits like these -- almost exclusively worn by mustached civil engineers in Estonia.
My bang-the-table favorite is this Engineer ($?) boot. I was told the leather has been through some sort of wash. It reminds me of my father's elephant skin wallet he bought in Vietnam. There's a crinkle finish that looks like an elephant butt with cracks that give it character. Simple. Soulful. Worn easily by anyone. Only problem is...no one knows how much it is or if it's even being made. The one thing I really like...but then, what the fuck do I know.
Update on the boot: Received following from Billy Reid's p.r. firm, "You can credit the boot as price upon request because it's not being produced. However, if someone was interested in purchasing it, they could contact the New York store at 212-598-9355 to inquire if they have a similar item or if the boot could be made for them.