Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Style: Canda Sports Jacket Back From Tailoring

I finally got the grey Canda sports jacket from Soli Omar Tailors and I am happy to report that they didn't disappoint as per usual. I wrote about this jacket before in a post comparing it to another grey sports jacket I have. Well, it's finally back and here are the results.

After traversing and searching for light brown or tan buttons, I settled on gilt buttons I took from a double breasted jacket I have. I removed these buttons from the double breasted jacket a long time ago and were there for use. Consider yourself lucky to find men's buttons in Durban, I couldn't find anything appropriate for this jacket. Maybe it's time I made forays into online buying.

Well, I made the necessary changes and I am happy with the outcome. I quite like the contrast of the grey and brass of the buttons. I don't think it's aesthetically limiting since both brown and black accessories can be worn with it.

The one thing I love about the work of Soli Omar Tailors has to be everything that's ever been done on my jackets. If you remember this Canda jacket didn't have a vent. After some consultation with them it was finally decided that only one vent would be inserted because there wasn't enough material on the sides. Another thing, there also wasn't enough material down the middle of the jacket, therefore, I had to find a piece of material which would be used on the overlap of the vent.

Now I wait for the last kicks of the cold weather so that I can at least enjoy it a little bit. I would also like to urge anyone who knows something about Canda to share their knowledge with us.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Pick Of The Week: Filling Station Denim Jacket x Cat Apparel

Now that it’s spring, it’s time to change gears and adjust your wardrobe to some transition pieces. A denim jacket is one such piece that’s versatile enough to work as a layering piece and outerwear. Today I present to you the Filling Station Denim Jacket by Cat Apparel. It’s great to see a brand like CAT Apparel vaunted in work wear making forays into wardrobe staples for men like denim jackets. I will admit I don’t own one yet; however, I am waiting for this very denim jacket from Brantex, the official distributors of CAT Apparel in South Africa. When placing my order I was meticulous about the sizing. I am a size 40 in jackets, which translates to a medium, thus, there is no difference in sizing between my jackets and a denim jacket. The fit will hit right at the waist as well.

This particular denim jacket is perfect for spring in that it is lightweight; made from 100% cotton and since it is a lighter colour it definitely moves away from the winter palette. As outerwear over a polo neck or a sports shirt on a casual Friday this denim jacket offers many styling opportunities. It works even with a simple v-neck t-shirt or a hoody. Try it with jeans, chinos or fleece pants, complemented with sneakers, lace-ups, loafers or boots; a denim jacket pretty much runs the gamut of clothing combinations. Some gents are brazenly experimental and add a pocketsquare; I don’t advocate that, because it borders on garish and trying too hard. As a foundation of work wear decorating it takes it out of its element.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Style: Men's Casual Spring Essentials

I’ve been waiting for the rain and it hasn’t come. Instead the heat and accompanying humidity have prevailed and there is no way of hiding from them, nor is there any abate visible on their part. I tweeted a statement a few weeks ago that ‘it was time to bust out the overcoats and flannels because the real cold weather was finally here’, how misinformed I was. This strange anomaly has had me rethinking my whole take on spring fashion and how most of us can get by in a stylish way. I, thus, present to you my picks for spring 2013. Some essentials every gent could use in their wardrobe.
White sneakers

Nothing says wiping the footwear slate clean quite like a pair of star white sneakers. For me, my pick is the Converse All-Star Chuck Taylor lo in white leather. Incredibly versatile and equally elusive; I have yet to see a pair on the streets, however, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other brands. This particular pair is great for casual weekend wear or, dare I say it, casual Friday. They can definitely relax a smart casual look in a combination with chinos and a cotton field jacket, or a light coloured denim jacket.

Driving shoes

With temperatures hovering around the late 20s degrees it’s natural that your feet need to breathe. Get them in a pair of driving moccasins. I saw a young gent a few weeks ago wearing driving mocs and I thought to myself ‘it’s a little too early to be wearing those’.  But looking at the weather at the time, it was uncharacteristically hot for a spring day. Don’t neglect adding these to your list because they are versatile and stylish. There is a popular brand of driving mocs in South Africa called Carvela; I’d like to take this moment to implore you to try other brands out there because I feel that they have as much to offer in the driving moc style. For instance looking at these two colours, one can deduce that there are colours for everyone, both the cautious and the brave.

Brown boat shoes

As colourful as spring allows us to be, I wouldn’t be too experimental in the boat shoe section. That’s why I advocate for brown boat shoes because with their brown sole they are slightly more dressy than other types. Boat shoes in bright colours with white soles are very casual, nautical in fact, and they meld with summer better. The brown boat shoes pictured are great for spring in that they can be worn with chinos and a cotton jacket, as well as shorts and a striped t-shirt. I would go for the slightly dressier look finished off with a brown boat shoe.
Bright chinos

I have always had an affinity for the colour terracotta. Ever since I discovered the myriad combinations one can wear it with, it’s definitely up there on my essentials list. Chinos or a suit in this shade is an exuberant but not flamboyant start to the colourful season. Some gents are apprehensive of experimenting with bright colours; terracotta however is a safe start. Pair them with a navy blue or a grey blazer. In light of this, I can’t wait for the time I will profile a suit in a terracotta colour.

Light grey sweater

This sweater is not dressy at all but what I like about it is that in the right shade of grey and complementary fit, it becomes a stylish alternative to other sweaters in myriad colours. With jeans and chinos, this is as casual and stylish as it gets. This particular sweater has elasticated cuffs and waist; therefore, in the proper fit it will complement your body and outfit
Short trench coat

The weather might not be indicative of the rainy season but I assure you the rain is coming. Spring is incredibly wet so it’s best to get ready to counter the deluge. A short trench coat is a useful way to start because it's fashionable, trendy, and stylish.  The great thing about a trench of any kind is that it transcends all the seasons, maybe even last a lifetime; however, what’s important is adapting it throughout the year. In the context of spring you need a lightweight, breathable piece. You don’t want to burn up. Because I believe that the rains are still coming, you will definitely be wearing your trench right through December
Chambray or Patterned Shirt

This is the time to experiment with a lighter shirt fabric, and chambray is a great start. Somewhat of a cross between cotton and denim, it straddles dressy and casual really well. The two examples  below illustrate just how versatile they can be. And a subtle pattern allows one to experiment with various necktie designs. It follows then that a patterned chambray shirt is right at home when paired with a cotton suit.

Cotton jacket

A jacket is an indispensable item in a gentleman’s wardrobe. As you manoeuvre through the seasons, the same should apply to your jacket fabrics. A gent needs a light weight cotton jacket with little construction in the shoulders and lining. If you’re going for an unstructured jacket, then it’ll mean there is absolutely no shoulder pads and lining. The great thing about a cotton jacket with little structure is that it can be dressy and casual. To the office and going out later in the evening needn’t be dress code strict.

Colourful canvas belt

If you’re ever faced with a challenge when making forays into the realm of colour and are apprehensive about it then start small. If a bright suit, or bright shirt or tie are too bold for you then try a colourful accessory such as a canvas belt. This will lead to other attempts at colour in other aspects of your outfit. The wonderful thing about colourful canvas belts is that they can be worn in a number of ways and with contrasting footwear. So just because the belt has red doesn’t necessarily mean that the shoes should be red, however, the red is merely a guide as what colours  to combine and complement your outfit.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Style: The Anatomy Of A Custom Made 80s Blazer

To me anything vintage has to be pre-1980, so 70s is vintage, however, the real deal when it comes to vintage is anything that was made before I was born. So before 1978, then I consider it to be vintage. Given my definition it's only right that this custom made blazer is not vintage because it was made in 1981. I have had it in my possession for close on five years and how it managed to make its way across the pond to South Africa from New Haven, New York, is as mysterious as a message in a bottle. It's no doubt that a blue jacket/ blazer is an undisputed essential in a gent's wardrobe. However to have a blue blazer custom made for you, that's something special. My aim with this post is to break down the specifics and nuances of a custom made piece of clothing. And this blazer evinces all that.
Let's start with the fabric. It's smooth, soft fabric is very much a wool. And over the years it has served me well during cold, windy and rainy spring. Since I don't wear a scarf popping the collar was rather useful. It features slanted pockets, and a ticket pocket. From the first image, it's not very clear, however it has two buttons, and features a rolled lapel. The low button stance, reminiscent of 80s tailoring, creates a deep V which necessitates a tie bar when wearing a necktie.
Apart from well proportioned sleeves-the length of the blazer shows it was made for a tall man-more aspects of tailoring are seen in the functional sleeve buttons. A feature that is somewhat of an anomaly in South African tailoring because this is something you don't find on men's jackets at all. By functional sleeve buttons I mean that the buttons on the blazer's cuff can be buttoned and unbuttoned. This feature is also known as working cuffs.
 This blazer has seen little wear over the past two years simply because it just doesn't fit me anymore. My body has atrophied to an extent. I surmise that the blazer was made for a gent who was tall but with disproportionate arms. The wool has all the warm qualities of a winter fabric and it insulates really well against the cold.
A garment that is custom made is special in that it is unique and the uniqueness is in the details. This blazer has two vents and what appeals to me is the fact that the custom process goes as far as the vents. Notice how the vent(s) is not cut stright instead it is slanted. I think it was designed this way in order to accommodate the hips as well as the contours of the body. It's quite a long vent and skirt as well.

Another feature of custom tailoring is the collar. First of all the contrast in fabric colour on the underside of the collar means that the collar was constructed to give it more shape and form. The curved stitching also means that it was hand sewn as opposed machine sewn. The curve is a challenge to effect with a machine. By hand it is much easier.
The most interesting feature of this blazer are the shoulders. This is not something I noticed before but the shoulder construction is truly a work of art. It's a natural shoulder, there's absolutely no padding and this adds to the slope. This is also a sign indicative of European tailoring influencing American tailoring because natural shoulders are chiefly Italian. If you're wondering which brand this blazer was made by; it's undoubtedly American tailoring tradition and menswear lore.
And the label says it all. Chipp was a New Haven and New York based men's clothier esteemed for outfitting Pres. John F. Kennedy. Now defunct, it is well known for introducing and inventing patch madras and tweed, as well as bold coat and suit linings, which is evinced in this very jacket. The company enjoyed its peak in the 1960s and 1970s, and saw its demise in the 1980s. This is a great piece of history and I have also enjoyed delving its provenance. I even tried googling the name of the gentleman it was made for, but that search turned up nothing. Nevertheless, it's a work of art. I hope that if someone is looking to commission a blazer then this can be start or a guide on what to look for.
Here is a picture of the blazer in action taken in 2011.