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

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Swing Time: Apparel Arts & The Golden Age of Film

Fred Astaire, in an early scene from Swing Time, perhaps wearing formal 
attire made for his own personal wardrobe commissioned from Anderson & Sheppard.

There is a great scene early in the Fred Astaire - Ginger Rogers classic Swing Time that caught my eye the other night. In the sequence, Astaire, in his wedding attire, informs the members of his dance troupe that he's giving up the stage (or the dance troupe, anyway) to get married. In order to stall for time and keep Astaire from attending his own wedding, one of the troupe shows him a Lawrence Fellows-like drawing in the pages of Squire magazine (whose title and cover look suspiciously like an Esquire magazine).

The cover of the fictitious Squire magazine, which looks very 
much like the Esquire magazines of the day.

The artwork depicts a stylish fellow in attire that is strikingly similar to what Astaire has on, with the only difference being the cuffs (which the troupe-member has added with a pencil to the drawing). Convinced that his trousers will look terribly dated without this year's look - namely, cuffs - Astaire sends someone down to the tailor with his trousers in order to have the cuffs added.

The Lawrence Fellows-like rendering from Squire 
magazine with the cuffs being added by pencil.

The scene, in and of itself, would have been amusing had it ended right there. But in the subsequent scenes, the tailor is shown steadfastly refusing to ruin his reputation by adding cuffs to the trousers. He pulls out various reference materials to make his point - and this is what caught my eye, as it appears that he has a small stack of Apparel Arts magazines on display which he uses to try to make his point about the cuffs! The magazines appear to be the soft-cover, over-sized versions of the classic mid-1930s issues which feature the title in bold lettering, with some type of painted image at the center of the cover. I tried to capture a few screen-shots, but because of the movement in the scene, they're all a bit blurry. I think the Apparel Arts issues are more obvious if you just watch the scene.

An authentic issue of Apparel Arts, captured on screen 
and in the wild back in 1936? You decide.

One of the questions that often come up in the context of Apparel Arts is just how much of an effect the trade publication actually had on everyday menswear, or how widely circulated the magazine was beyond the stockrooms and corporate offices of the leading men's retailers of the day. Hollywood films of the era certainly offered a highly-stylized version of the "realities" of the 1930s, but if the films of the golden age of cinema did in fact influence the fashions and styles of the day, then it says something if Apparel Arts magazines were being used as props to convey a certain knowledge or understanding of the rules governing men's dress at that time.

The pile of magazines on top of the shelf to the right - more Apparel Arts?

Whether its simply a coincidence that a trade publication such as Apparel Arts, with its distinct fondness for all those things English, just happened to make an appearance in a film headlined by a noted Anderson & Sheppard acolyte such as Fred Astaire is a question for another day :-)

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Silk & Silver Links by EG Cappelli for Zampa di Gallina

I wear silk knots fairly frequently, and I've been looking for another silk cufflink alternative for awhile now. In my mind, the knots are on the casual end of the casual-formal spectrum so I was hoping to come across a link that still included some kind of silk in the design with some kind of sterling silver base (to go with my platinum wedding ring and stainless steel Longines watch).

I happened to come across a thread on Style Forum that provided a link to a French site for well-crafted men's clothing and accessories, Zampa di Gallina, which included these wonderful sterling silver cufflinks made by EG Cappelli that featured little swatches of silk in a variety of colors and patterns (you can see the cufflinks here).

As it turned out, Zampa di Gallina is run by Style Forum member Amar Ezzahi (and his associate Sadri who was also extremely helpful) and I'm pleased to report that the transaction went well and the links arrived within 7 days of my online purchase. There was an initial technical glitch that prevented me from paying via my paypal account (the site has only been up and running for a short time so they're still in the early stages), but Amar/Sadri allowed me to pay directly via Paypal. After that, it was just a matter of waiting for the links to show up.

Once they arrived, I was quite pleased with them. I went with a brown silk to go with the various shades of brown and grays that I wear throughout the week. I was tempted to also pick up the EG Cappelli 7-fold featuring the same fabric/pattern for sale on the Zampa di Gallina. I'm still debating whether to do it since I have a Drake's tie in a very similar color/pattern. It's not an exact match, which I think may ultimately be a better option than wearing matching tie and links.

So far, I've tried the links with a few shirts and it looks great. The colors really jump out and offers a nice contrast against white or light blue shirts. Generally, I like heavier cuffinks and these are fairly light, so my personal preference would have been for something with little more heft, but I'm quibbling here. That being said, the cufflinks look great and I would highly recommend picking up a pair via Zampa di Gallina.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

The 3-roll-2 Jacket in Reindeer Suede for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label

After much trial and error, I've got a pretty healthy map of thrift and consignment shops in New Jersey now that I try to pass through regularly, as most have proven to yield some pretty interesting finds. The other day, I came across this tan jacket made for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label. It has all the bells and whistles that you would expect to find on a Purple Label item: ticket pocket, pick stitching, dual vents, and a nice 3-roll-2 lapel. What sets the jacket apart is the supple reindeer suede that its made from. I've never seen anything quite like it.

Unfortunately, the jacket is a bit too big for me, but hopefully it will work for someone that wears a 44L.

You can find the eBay auction here.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Sensuous & The Sublime: 3-fold ties from E.G. Cappelli

I've been hearing quite a bit about EG Cappelli ties for some time now. The fabrics and patterns all look exquisite over the internet, and satisfied customers rave about the craftsmanship and the quality. So I thought I'd take the plunge and try out a few of the 3-fold ties offered for sale via Cappelli's online outlet. My understanding is that the ties aren't second or defective, but are simply ready-to-wear models which differ primarily from the main store's offerings which are all made to order.

I've read a few reviews which commented on the thickness of Cappelli's 3-folds and, since I'm not a huge fan of overly-substantive ties, that seemed like another reason to start with the 3-folds. Ties cut to "standard" measurements usually work for me, so I wasn't crying out for a bespoke offering.

There were over 35 pages of fabric offerings for the 3-fold outlet ties, but I was finally able to whittle the choices down to the offerings in the image above. The images on the site aren't the greatest, but they're relatively accurate. Of course, in person the fabrics are much more vibrant.

All-in-all, the entire ordering process was painless and actually enjoyable. I sat down and perused the site on Friday night, Signor Cappelli processed the order on Monday morning, and the shoes arrived on my desk this afternoon. From Naples to new York City in under 36 hours! Ah, the joys of global e-commerce. Of course, with the dollar doing quite well versus the Euro, it's a great time to explore some of the works of art being created by some truly amazing Italian artisans. And, at roughly USD $65.00 per tie, the 3-folds really represent great value, in my opinion, compared to what you'll pay here in New York City for comparable standard 3-fold ties from the more renowned tie-makers.

For what its worth, I would agree that the fabric on these 3-folds is definitely thicker or more substantial than what you'd find on ties of comparable construction from Charvet, Drake's or E. Marinella (at least, the 3-folds that I own), and feel about the same as my Kiton 4-folds. Whether that means a better knot remains to be seen, but I'm looking forward to finding out. I hope to sample Signor Cappelli's 5 and 7 folds in the near future, and hopefully I'll be able to report back on those soon as well.

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Closet Cleaning - Ties for Sale!

I was trying to do a little closet cleaning today and as a result I put together a small pile of ties (Hermes, Drake's, Kiton, Brioni, and Polo Ralph Lauren) that have been around for a few years now but have simply failed to get into the rotation. Some are unworn, others are were worn once, all are in very good condition and available to bid on at eBay. You can find a link to the various ties up for auction here. I'm also happy to end an auction early for any interested readers.

Thanks and best wishes to all for a wonderful 2015 :-)