A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Farewell to Summer

With temperatures starting to drop here in the Northeast, its beginning to feel like fall is right around the corner. Of course, that brings a whole range of wardrobe options back into play, but it also means the linen and seersucker goes back into storage for the next few months. So its with a heavy heart that we bid a fond farewell to another wonderful summer. On the bright side, everyone in my household is already missing their respective summer straws :-)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Edward Green for RLPL: The Carter

Online clothing enthusiasts like to talk about "grail" items - although at some point the definition changed from a hard-to-find, obscure, or downright unobtainable item to merely some object that one simply hadn't gotten around to purchasing just yet. With a shelf full of shoes, I would be hard-pressed to say that there are any "grail" shoes remaining out there for me. After I found a few pairs of J&M Handmade 100s and Edward Green's Windsor, there really wasn't that much out there that I was pining after. However, if I was going to use the term "grail shoe" to describe any one pair of shoes, the Carter, an Edward Green shoe made for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label, would be the shoe.

Ralph Lauren's Purple Label offerings from Edward Green represent an interesting paradox. None of the models made by EG for RLPL are truly hard-to-find, because if it came down to it, you could probably have any of the models made up to RL's specifications via EG's MTO program. That being said, the RLPL models are somewhat hard to find because RL doesn't offer the same models season after season. So if you liked the a particular model and didn't purchase it when it was available, you might to wait a few seasons before its available again. This was an issue with my RLPL Barksdale loafer in Edwardian Antique, a pair of shoes that I have literally worn to death (and still do). I actually have never seen them offered again in Edwardian, and was surprised to see them this fall in dark oak after a hiatus of several years.

The Carter is another model that disappeared from the shelves after being stocked with some regularity over the course of several seasons. For many years, I assumed it was RL's version of the Dover. In reality, its probably more closely related to EG's Ecton, the Dover's three-eyelet cousin featuring EG's magnificent split-toe that is actually crafted together using pig bristles. In the Carter's case, RL added EG's HAF sole - basically a double sole that tapers elegantly to a single sole waist.

In any event, the Carter is a wonderful model, featuring the split-toe design that really exemplifies EG's expert craftsmanship and subtle elegance with regards to shoe design. Somewhat surprisingly, RL designed the Carter on the 808 last, rather than their old favorites the 89 or 888. I have read many complaints about the shape of the 808 last over the years. Tony Gaziano, the designer of that particular last during his EG days, has been quoted many times as stating that the 808 was ill-conceived and plagued with fit issues from its inception. Indeed, the popular 888 last was apparently a re-design of the 808, but I have to say that if I had to choose between the two, the 808 would probably get the nod. The toe box isn't quite as squared, which also results in more room for the toes along the sides and at the vamp - as I'm not the biggest fan of square toe boxes to begin with. I imagine they''ll feel great in the fall with a thick pair of socks on. Looking forward to it :-)

Of course, an added treat with older EG's for RLPL were the lasted shoe trees in burnished mahogany. At some point, the trees were discontinued and unlasted trees had to be purchased sepaartely. The fact that these Carters came with the 808-lasted mahogany trees was a special bonus!

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Man in the Baggy Tan Suit

It seems that the leader of the free world has been getting a lot of grief because he chose to wear a tan suit to a press session on foreign policy. The criticisms seem to center on 2 main points: (1) the President wore a whimsical summer outfit to what was a somber session on the very serious current events taking place throughout the world; and (2) the tan suit was actually embarrassingly ill-fitting and poorly tailored.

Most assuredly, there are probably others who can speak to what is appropriate wear for a "serious" policy discussion - many people seem to be of the opinion that the President's normally ill-fitting grey or navy suits would have been more appropriate for the occasion. And that may be true, but the notion that a tan cotton suit is something of a leisure suit or clown outfit is at best a canard and, at worst, a malicious lie.

Certainly, tan cotton or khaki suits of the type that Haspel of New Orleans became famous for during the 20th Century are a warm weather, seasonal option. Of course, this stems from the fact that the cotton is supposed to breathe better in warm weather. It seems odd that of all the people that have chosen to wear a cotton suit in a business setting in order to keep cool during the dog days of summer in the last 75 or years or so, it was the President who was considered to be unprofessional or insufficiently serious.

As to the second point, the suit certainly appears to be rather ill-fitting. When I wake up to Al Roker and Matt Lauer commenting on the shockingly poor fit of the shoulders on your jacket, things are not going well for you, at least from a sartorial standpoint.This, of course, is in line with the rest of the President's business attire, generally speaking. In this instance, I wonder how much of the negative commentary has to do with the distinct drape of the cotton suit. There is generally a stiffness to the fabric so that it does not seem to "adhere" to the shape of the body. Basically, there is a bulbous aspect to a cotton suit that is well-tailored.

In the President's case, if someone were to announce tomorrow that the suit worn by the President to the press briefing was made by Haspel or Joseph A. Banks, would anyone be surprised? The suit has the rather bland, amorphous fit of an off the rack item - the arm-holes of the suit jacket look enormous, in keeping with the one size fits all ethos of ready to wear made for morbidly obese Americans. The fact that the President is rather trim has apparently lead to this sorry state of affairs wherein the President had probably purchased this suit based on tag size rather than actual fit. What we are left with is an unflattering jacket with armholes that are too wide and sleeves and a waist that are probably too long. The tie is too long and incredibly wide and he only seems to want to show some shirt cuff from one of his two sleeves. On the other hand, the President did pair the suit with dark brown wingtips and he also buttoned the appropriate button on his jacket, so there may be hope for him yet :-)