30 November 2009

Happy St. Andrew's Day

You might be asking yourself what Angie Dickinson has to do with St. Andrew's Day. Nothing. Absolutely nothing.

29 November 2009

Dehydration Symptoms

Last night's party went without a hitch but I'm a little dehydrated today.

27 November 2009

The Friday Brace: Happy 4th of Thanksgiving

A 2000 Bordeaux Supersized

I know. This post should be a Pinot Noir with a turkey belt from Stafford but I didn't order it in time. Still, Thanksgiving reminds me of the 4th. There's no connection to religion. Everybody can celebrate. It's fairly simple and there's no gifts. You ask me -- we need more holidays like Thanksgiving and Independence day.

The 2000 Bordeaux are drinking nicely...when you can find 'em. I bought all the 2000 I could find under $15 this year. It seems to be disappearing but larger formats like this magnum are still around. It's not that it's an expensive wine. It's not. But it's a great year. Most likely it will be consumed this Saturday at a Thanksgiving / Birthday party. Or, I may put out the Greg Norman Cabernet Merlot. It's a 2007. Yeah, you guys don't want some old wine from 2000. You deserve the new wine. There's not so much dust on it.

There is some dust on the those braces. I remember buying those at Britches of Georgetown thinking they would be perfect for Independence Day. Of course, I never wore them on Independence Day because I had the day off. Still, I wore them a lot. I liked to wear them in London where they generated a lot of disdain from the Brits who hate most things French. They refuse to say French cuff and call it a double cuff instead. They did like French wine though. I don't think they ever had a problem saying that.

24 November 2009

The Haberdasher

A threatened species to say the least. Especially in smaller towns. But when you find one they're like digging up truffles. Not that I've ever dug up truffles but I sure like to eat them. Wright & Simon sits in an odd part of downtown Wilmington, DE. I feel like I can get a line of credit and mugged all at the same time.

W & S been around since 1935 and I'm guessing my old journalism teacher, Jack Hunter, shopped there. Jack was in the PR department at DuPont and wrote the Blue Max on legal tabs late at night using a pencil so as not to disturb his wife. The lead character, Bruno Stachel, was based on a Nazi officer Jack turned informant during the war when he worked undercover in military intelligence.

Jack's first novel became a film starring George Peppard as Bruno, Ursula Andress as Kaeti and James Mason as her cuckolded husband. The movie killed off Bruno but Jack kept him alive and there were two more novels with Herr Stachel. A trilogy I really enjoyed written by a man I respected. One of the better dressed faculty members at my school as well so I can only assume some of his kit came from Wright & Simon.

I found a short sleeve Hathaway button down made in 1986. Priced at $24, Len Simon let me have it for $12. I'm not a short sleeve dress shirt kind'a guy but I've discovered the shirt works great with sweaters when you push up the sleeves. The Pringle sweater was in that heavy gauge plastic that makes a crinkly sound and reminds me of so many old haberdashers I've been in. Len knocked the price from $140 to $88. "Lets just call it a hundred." Len said.

Oddly enough, St Michael the Archangel is Patron Saint to paratroopers, policemen and haberdashers. Huh... I've been all three.

Anyway, We talked about the HBO documentary, Schmatta and before I knew it Len was measuring me for custom shirts. I ordered four. He's good. Two of the shirts are pop over oxfords sans pocket with lined button down collars. I can't even remember what he talked me into for the other two. Made in Perth Amboy, NJ. What a great experience. I can't wait to go back and see what else I can find.

21 November 2009

Pop Up Flea w/ Mr. Mort

Mordechai's Tie

Mordechai's Camera

You meet people in your life and sleep through most of 'em. And then you meet people who wake you up, make you laugh and you share a connection...no matter how embarrasing. Mordechai from, Mr Mort and I shared laughs over pink shirts and photography. Mordechai is a brilliant shooter and a damned fine tie designer. I bought his Chipp inspired, "F**KYOU" tie because it's one of the best cussin tie designs I've ever seen. The man is a genius.

The Pop Up Flea was so much better than last year. Congratulations to all involved in putting it on. I think I made out like a bandit-- Lots of beat up crap that makes life worth living-- and what they sell is pretty neat too.

Blog Cards

I feel horrible about going the budget route for cards but screw it. I'm not made outta money. Lee's Art Shop on West 57th Street did 500 for a hundred bucks. Mrs. Strong, when they were in business, wanted $1,600 for 500. I was a fan of Mrs. Strong but I was told Crane's was doing their work. I have them in time for ACL's flea market today. Giuseppe really nailed it with the most creative cards I've ever seen. Well done, sir.

I didn't want to mention this last year but a fella working one of the booths got confrontational when I took a couple shots of his wares. I would have asked permission but people everywhere were using cell phone cameras and point and shoots. I guess when you whip out a D70 with a hurking lens people assume you know what you're doing and getting paid to do it. How wrong they are. Next time I'll whip out an 8x10 view camera.

Anyway, the fella asks me who I am and who I'm working for. Who I'm working for? That's rich. Should a had Lee's knock out another order of cards engraved with,

'Nonaur Besnes'

20 November 2009

Friday Belt: Foxy Cider...

This just in...
Eljo's Feeds My Fox Fever

"It's my turn," said Badger, taking the jar and tilting his head well back. The cider gurgled and bubbled down his throat. "It's ...like melted gold!" he gasped. "Oh, Foxy, it's...like drinking sunbeams and rainbows." Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl

Cider plays a big role in Fantastic Mr. Fox. In the book and the movie and I'm a fan of both. Wes Anderson took a charming story and I think he turned it into a charming movie. The animation has a familiar look about it and I have to admit...I was a little turned on by Meryl Streep's, Mrs Fox. I wasn't expecting that.

And when I go to one of the best wine stores in the country I don't expect to sell staff on a product they're supposed to be selling. But cider is a toughie. I remember cider taps in London pubs and thinking, "Who drinks that crap?" I associated cider with 'sweet' and 'little old ladies' sipping a half pint. So did the wine expert who told me, "I've meet the folks from Farnum Hills but I'm not much for cider. Too sweet." says the expert. Convert time.

I let go, "Man, I felt the same way but this stuff is different. Not sweet at all and it's great with food. I had it with roasted chicken the other night and it was perfection. And... at 7.5% alcohol I can drink a bottle and not feel like I was hit by a truck." The wine expert looks at the cider bottle and hmmmms. "Maybe I'll give it a try." he says. "Whadaya got to lose?" I says. "It's 12 cussing bucks." By the way, here's a great NPR story a reader sent me on Farnum Hills.

Earlier in the week I was in the middle of a fox 'buzz' thanks to the movie. I've accumulated a lotta fox stuff over the years. Fox cuff links, fox prints, fox sweaters, fox ties, fox in laws and fox belts. How many fox belts can a man have? Not enough I say. I caught this good looking number at Eljos. Called them up and spoke to the one of the owners. Really nice fella who worked a stint at J Press back in the day and knows Trad. He sent it out priority mail and I'm still waiting - - so no belt snaking up a bottle today.

Belted Cow Belts are made in Maine and have a unique look about them. The design is almost needle point like but the price is much more affordable. Check out the Eljo's web site. Great stuff from an authentic source and you'll feel good about supporting a small business. I have this sport jacket in the cross hairs for when it warms up. 'Tasty' as the insufferable youth of today would say. Actually, I think Mrs Fox would dig it.

18 November 2009

Christmas Cards

Option One

Option Two

Two years ago I took pictures of these Napoleonic figurines in the Scully and Scully window on Park Avenue. At $575 and up, I can't afford 'em and even if I could there's too much of the midwest in me that says not only, no...but asks, "Who would?" Still, the pictures look great for a cell phone camera and so I'm thinking custom Xmas cards this year. Which one do you like? If folks don't like them I can always blame you...

17 November 2009

Luggage Labels 1910 - 1960

These luggage labels are $20 to $70 and I think they'd make great Christmas presents. Grab three or four and frame them. Cheap, creative and very thoughtful. My mantra.

16 November 2009

13 November 2009

Friday Braces For A Fanatastic Fox

The Saturday Book & Stuffed Rats

Brooklyn Brewery Black Chocolate Stout & Fox Braces from 1987

I'm looking forward to Wes Anderson's, "Fantastic Mr. Fox." I saw the trailer and immediately thought of this bizarre British taxidermy from an even more bizarre volume in the Trad library, The Saturday Book published in 1953. My friends in London sure like to knock Yanks...but...as far as I know, playing house with stuffed rats is all their own.

I bought those braces in Lord & Taylor years ago. And like the Duke, I paid handsomely but expected a long life in return. Twenty two years isn't bad. They're a little narrow, which was the style then, but who cares - - They're unique, good looking and I've never seen them on anyone else. It will be my mission in life to insure they don't wind up in some hipster's closet who had $2 to spend in a thrift store. These will go to an appreciative home I already know.

Stouts always remind me of a fox and Brooklyn Lager's, Black Chocolate Stout is no exception. Whether it's sitting by the fire place at the Red Fox Inn and being surrounded by more fox art than you can shake a riding crop at -- or -- whether it's seeing a red fox in the woods...amazingly small, deceptively agile and seemingly always up to no good...kind'a like me. At 10% alcohol- it's deceptive alright and dangerous. Huge creamy and thick. More body than my old favorite Imperial Stout by Samuel Smith ... this Stout goes down far too easily but, like a good vintage Port, I can't think of anything better to savor by a fire on a winter's night with Stilton and walnuts while I listen to 'The Fox' by Odetta.

12 November 2009

The Duke's GTH Pants Trousers

Hard to believe the Duke was pressed for room in his closet but there you go. Three... maybe four pair of trousers on one hanger. Although, those kilts are taking up a lot valuable hanging space.

I have a love of GTH pants. That's what I called them until I was corrected in London. "They're trousers, mate. Never pants." But Go To Hell trousers just doesn't sing like Go To Hell Pants. Not to me. They were also called 'Jack Ass Pants' when I was in college. Probably a more apt description of my wearing them.

The Duke was an avid golfer. Consequently, there's some golf related lots in the auction. Couple sets of clubs. What is it about old golf clubs always looking like crap? They just don't patina very well. And there are some odd lots of golf caps. Most of them look like they could be purchased today at any pro shop. One Lacoste bucket hat looks like it came with a free bowelbowl of soup.

I hope this blog does for you what the Duke's closet has done for me. To expose you to articles of clothing you may never have considered. Hey, you may have even said, "Not in a million years." But when you see it - - and you see it a lot - - like those GTH pants...they're not so bizarre anymore. Especially if you see them in Palm Beach where they're worn with style and strangely enough...restraint. Fortunately, I didn't see a Bolo tie in the catalog.

11 November 2009

The Duke's Closet

I try to keep my other blog separate from The Trad but did want to share something on Veteran's Day. You can see it here.

There were many influences on my southern sartorial upbringing. A golf pro cousin in Hilton Head. The Cowan's Ford Country Club on Lake Norman. Chapel Hill. The Ft Monroe Officer's Club. But nothing comes close to the effect my enlistment in the army had. Your appearance was everything and rarely did a good soldier dress like Joe Shit the Rag Man... although I was a good example of a poor soldier dressing well.

The Duke was a soldier, sailor and airman. Certainly there was an affection for uniforms but this love of the cloth -- and of the very best military tailoring -- must have influenced him for the rest of his life. Tailoring in my army consisted of $10 to the cleaners for pegged trousers and buying jackets one size smaller. I guess you have to start somewhere.

10 November 2009

The Duke's Smoking Jacket

A friend who works for an auction house attended Sotheby's Duke and Duchess of Windsor Sale. His three volume set of catalogs are noted with his impressions of lots - - mostly silver and clocks -- and on the last page of the catalog he scrawled, "...it would appear all these two people ever did was play cards and eat."

As much as I would like to have made off with his catalog set...it's far too large to stuff down one's trousers (Perhaps if my trousers were pleated and made by H Harris I'd a gotten away with it), I finally secured my own set of the Duke and Duchess of Windsor sale sans any thievery on my part. Should you be inclined to do the same ... a word of warning. If, like me, you find yourself in a tony upper east side book shop and see this volume for sale...fend off any impulse to purchase it for $250. Rather, go on line to Alibris or Abe and secure a copy for $30. Which is probably what the owner of that book shop did.

If you, like me, enjoy peeking into other people's medicine cabinets and poking around in their sock drawers looking for methods of birth control - - You're gonna love this catalog. I can pretty much guess which readers of The Trad already have this catalog. But I would offer it up to anyone, with sartorial interests or not, as one of the most perplexing, interesting and beautiful books I have ever owned. Not bad for thirty clams.

This week I'll post photos of the Duke's closet. After the winter of 1936, the Duke had a lot of spare time on his hands. And he threw that spare time at his closet. Sotheby's reports in 1960 he had, " ...fifteen evening suits, fifty five lounge suits and three formal suits." There's no mention of Odd Jackets, Smoking Jackets or Blazers. One can only guess.

I own two Smoking Jackets and I'm not sure why. One reason may be cost. I didn't pay full freight for either one. The second reason may have to do with my natural inclination towards being an asshole. One Christmas I wore a Smoking Jacket at a home dinner party with the Golf Foxtrot's family. Black Watch tartan trousers, monogrammed black velvet slippers, double cuff shirt with enameled fox head links, a Black Watch ascot and a black velvet Smoking Jacket trimmed in quilted green silk and tied with a tassel belt. What a hit I made.

Lesson 57. Just because the Duke of Windsor wore it doesn't mean you can.

06 November 2009

The Friday Belt Sans Belt - Sting Ray

"Pick up the color?"

I can't get a regular flu shot in Manhattan. Everybody is out of the vaccine. And that's okay because I have a page from the Trad Dad Playbook. His advice to stay healthy during flu season is to consume lots of hot and spicy food. I grew up going to a lot of Mexican restaurants with my family. I assume we went to Mexican restaurants because that's where Dad wanted to go. He was driving. We were along for the ride. In more ways than one if you get my drift.

I remember one place had a Mariachi band. Had they been playing when we walked in... we wouldn't have stayed. While Trad Dad certainly likes music -- he does not like it table side. I remember his expression when the first chords were plucked. In our world... his stress was our stress. The Mariachi Band made their way to our table... big smiles on everyone's faces while a guitar player lead the way. Suddenly the leader's smile turns to a frown and he makes a hard left and moves clear to the other side of the restaurant.

Feeling relieved, I turned to Trad Dad and caught the last second of, "the look." You can see it here. I was tying my tie one morning when I was a 30 year old newlywed and was having an argument with my then wife. I turned to her and said something I shouldn't have. When I looked back into the mirror I saw that very same look. It frightened me then and to be honest - it still does. Who needs to spend money on Saw VI when you can scare yourself.

No belts today. I'm traveling and hate packing belts. You generate a wardrobe beyond cargo shorts and golf shirts and the belt thing can get maddening. The trousers are a traditional English cut with side tabs and buttons inside the waist band for braces. If you're traveling through an airport - leave the braces in your luggage unless you enjoy being taken aside and "wand-ed."

When I worked at Brooks Brothers, I often encountered men who brought their wives or girlfriends. I doubt they brought them along when buying tires. Women are about as useful in selecting men's clothing. If I heard, "...you need to pick up the color of the tie in the shirt..." once - I heard it a thousand times. "That really pops" seemed to have been in vogue then as well. And while I've always loved contrasting colors rather than matchy match - I admit to looking for a turtleneck sweater the color of that spicy Sting Ray Bloody mix. You know...to pick up that color in the trouser so that it really pops.

I'm thinking a cable knit, wool not cashmere, turtleneck. Like the U Boat commander in Das Boot wore -- but in a deep rust. That Bloody mix really nails the color and man is this mix good. There was concern 10 years ago that the owner was giving her product away. At $9 a bottle she ain't giving away anything but it's wonderful stuff. I love it in the morning all by itself. It'll certainly wake you up. And it's one more spice to fend off the flu. You can even use Sting Ray in a turkey chili recipe. It looks a little white bread but I'm betting some folks here have some ideas of cranking up the heat.

05 November 2009

Princeton 1962

Front Row - 1st from Left - Frank Deford of the Tiger Staff

Key and Seal Club

The Colonial Eating Club
The German Club

That Other Club

"Come join us! We're having sherry with Dr. Tucker and discussing combinatorial mathematics within a finite system. Of course, the sherry is gratis..."

04 November 2009

Washington & Lee 1965 1964

Come on in. Grab a brew. Don't cost nuthin.