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

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

"Fall" In for Autumn!

Unfortunately for fans of fall like myself, the weather here in  the tri-state area has been unseasonably warm lately, with temperatures hovering in the 70s and little opportunity for autumnal layering. Yesterday, however, dipped just low enough for me to try out a few items that have been burning a hole in my closet for some time now.

The first item is a cashmere Holland & Holland 3-button jacket that I picked up years ago from the H&H store on 57th street between Park and Madison (it disappeared years ago). The jacket is a rust-colored affair with little specks of various colors woven into the fabric, large bishop patch pockets, and a single vent. If you're into the little details, the jacket's lining has a wonderful pattern consisting of dual shotgun shells at rest, a nod to the company's illustrious history as royal gun-makers.

I've generally worn the jacket for outdoor fall events with jeans or khakis, but I thought I'd try to put together a decent business casual outfit, for one of those days where I don't need a suit but want to look a little better dressed than what everyone else considers business casual these days.

Unfortunately, my terrible picture taking skills have only deteriorated over the years, so I will try to take better pictures next time, But I paired the jacket with with a red and brown checked dress shirt from Domenico Vacca under a neutral shetland fair crew-neck sweater isle from Brooks Brothers in various shades of green/beige/tan/brown/etc. I thought that all of that worked well with the London House/Rubinacci flat-front corduroys in a light beige/olive color that I picked up recently, with the Edward Green Brooksville longwings in chestnut antique for RL's Purple Label. 

 I had the sleeves taken in a bit but left the jacket a bit roomier than normal to wear with bulkier sweaters. I've had the Brooks Brothers fair isle sweater for a while, and I like the fabric and the pattern very much. I forget how I came by it, but I feel like it was gift purchased in my usual medium size, which at some point became too big for me in Brooks sizing because everything seems to be cut quite generously (if anyone can offer some suggestions on how to shrink it down a size, I'd love to hear them).

Of course, the next day temperatures were back in the low 70s, but I was pleased with the jacket even if I was only able to put it on for one day! I'm looking forward to wearing to cooler temperatures cool in the weeks ahead :-)

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Return of the Action Back Jacket

There is an old story of a baseball fan that had a ball signed by Joltin' Joe DiMaggio and Paul Simon. On one half, Paul Simon wrote "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?" To which the Yankee Clipper responded on the other side of the leather orb, "I haven't gone anywhere." If the same question was proposed to proponents of that staple of 1930s sportswear, the action back jacket, the answer might be similar to the great DiMaggio's.

Descriptions differ, but generally the action back was worn as outdoor active wear for events such as shooting and hunting. In theory, the side gussets under the shoulder provided greater freedom for raising the arms. Other features usually include a half belt under the side gussets at the back of the jacket. Some versions include a pleat at the center back, or a series of pleats along the length of the back of the jacket. At the front, large patch pockets are usually the norm.

Christian Barker being fitted for his own suit featuring the action back, 
courtesy of Timothy Everest.

More recently, the action back has become almost entirely a stylish touch found on heavy tweed shooting jackets meant to be worn in the English countryside or the Scottish highlands. Interestingly, at some point it seems to have become the standard during the height of the British colonial empire and was almost out of place sans pith helmet.

Clark Gable in repose.

Clark Gable seems to have done much to associate the action back with the stylish cad or the pure-hearted gentleman rogue. He wore the action back to great effect in It Happened One Night, which in Gable's case may have simply been a safari of a different stripe. Several photographs of Gable form the 1930s suggest that the action back was a favorite in his personal wardrobe. Whatever the case may be, the action back seems to have been adopted during that period by the rakish gambling and horse racing set in America.

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I happened upon a vintage action back jacket in a lovely, thick patterned wool made by the venerable Palm Beach company. Unfortunately, the jacket seemed to be cut in something close to a 42 extra long, My misfortune, however, was my brother's good luck, as the jacket fit him very well. The sleeves probably needed to be taken up, but that's a minor alteration. Its also a bit tight around the waist, but my brother has been losing a good deal of weight recently, so it isn't hard to imagine that the waist issue will have resolved itself in a few weeks time.

For those that care about such things, the details on this jacket are quite nice. There leather buttons are worn but charming, and the quarter-lined interior allows you to see the inner workings of the action back's details. There is also a flap over the front chest pocket that adds a little flourish to the more sedate front of the jacket.

All in all, a great purchase that will allow my brother to unleash his inner Douglas Fairbanks while on his own urban safari. And following in the sartorial footsteps of such eminently well-attired individuals as Mr. Gable and Mr. Barker? Truer steps have never been taken.

Brioni Sample Sale

I believe Soiffer Haskin has done one of these before, but I didn't attend so can't speak to whether this will actually be any good - but it certainly does have potential!

Wednesday through Friday
Men’s Tailored Clothing, Sportswear and Furnishings

Tailored Clothing, Sportswear and Furnishings

Up to 75% Off Retail Prices

Wednesday, October 29th through Friday, October 31st

Wednesday: 9:00am to 7:00pm
Thursday: 9:00am to 7:00pm
Friday: 9:00am to 5:30pm

Soiffer Haskin
317 West 33rd Street, NYC

(Just West of 8th Avenue)
Credit Cards Only
(American Express, Visa or MasterCard)
All Sales Final.
Strollers not allowed. No children under 12 will be admitted.
(917) 562-2140