Yes indeed. Come say hello if you’re in the neighborhood. Lots of good stuff going on at sale time.
The shirt under the check jacket is a Luigi Borelli which I thrifted. I order my Mercers, although I have had luck finding them second-hand. If you’re interested you should try ordering a Mercer. The roll on their button-down can’t be beat, and their soft semi-spread is also supposed to be very nice.
Since my day job is in custom tailoring and retail, I get asked quite a bit if I still buy stuff for myself second-hand. The answer is yes. Because it’s more fun that way.
If custom clothing is about commitment, second-hand is about promiscuity, about playing the field. Yes, you can get “the basics” for cheap, which is great if you’re a college student or just starting out in the workplace, but to me, menswear media can be too obsessed with “the essentials” and “the basics,” and it seems that every day there is another “essential” thing coming down the pipeline for you to buy.
Clothing is more fun when it’s unessential, and buying second-hand is the best way for a young guy to experiment without saddling himself with debt and regret. It’s like getting drunk at an open bar. I’m not saying there won’t be a hangover, but you certainly won’t feel as bad about it.
The fun, rewarding challenge of thrifting isn’t finding that perfect blazer or that mint Belstaff jacket; if you go into a thrift store with a laundry list of requirements you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Thrifting challenges your taste and your preconceived notions of what works for you personally, but that challenge allows you to change your tastes and cultivate new ones. This is all a long-winded excuse for me to show you this awesome jacket (pictured above) I found and explain why I like it, and why I almost didn’t take it.
I passed this jacket up once because I thought it was too 70s and too old-mannish, but I couldn’t let it go so I went back and luckily it was still there. There’s much to like about it. It’s totally handmade vintage Savile Row, tailored by Norton and Sons.
The cut is serious. It’s got a really nipped waist with a draped chest, and it’s a big F-U plaid check with F-U roped shoulders. Hacking pockets, ticket pocket, side vents.
This thing fit me well, and I loved the details, but I was put off by the cloth, which I found to be somehow too drab and too bold at the same time.
If I were ordering a jacket, would I pick this cloth out of a book? Not a chance, but I wasn’t ordering a jacket, I was buying one second-hand for a tiny fraction of what such a beautifully made jacket would cost normally.
Point is, I took the jacket home with the full intention of reselling it if I decided it wasn’t to my taste. But I didn’t let my initial hesitation dissuade me; I took it for a spin, and now the check is growing on me. It requires a heavy trouser, and I’ve worn it with olive whipcords and tan cavalry twills, and a stiff dark gray serge twill. Knit or wool challis ties in rust or burnt orange really bring out the color in the overcheck.
Looking back, I never would have worn double-breasted anything, tassel loafers, spread collars, or knit ties if I hadn’t been able to find them cheap and wear them without commitment.
You can take the jacket home without marrying it first.
Lately I’ve found myself more and more drawn to tailoring that breaks the rules, defies the classifications, and by that I don’t necessarily mean ultra-loud or assertive tailoring. Call it more of a “broad stroke” traditionalism. I like spread collars too much to forgo wearing them with my Brooks Brothers tweeds, and I love to wear my Mercer buttondowns with my Belvest suit, which has a fairly Neapolitan look to it. Is it “Ivy”? I don’t give a damn.
The other day I acquired this old Southwick suit that broke the world wide open:
It’s an American-made whipcord suit with natural shoulders, lapped seams, swelled edges, a rolled three-button, plain-front slacks. The color I can only describe as tannish-olive-grayish. Sounds “Ivy” enough to me, so I wore it with a Mercer chambray button-down and navy knit. But it also has a great deal of Anglo detailing. Hacking pockets, ticket pocket, side vents, yes, but also that delicate shape to the waist and slight swell of drape at the chest.
I almost couldn’t believe it was a Southwick, and it didn’t seem so Ivy anymore, it seemed more like an English country suit. The trousers have a full cut and a high rise, and seemed to demand a strong cuff and a good break.
So I tried the same suit with a spread collar tattersall in brown on ecru, and a chunky wool challis from Drakes. Doesn’t get much more English country than that.
But then I noticed that with the generously draped sleeves, high gorge, and beautifully rippled waterfall shoulder, I could potentially get a Italian traditional, Luciano Barbera-esque vibe from this thing, so I grabbed a Borelli shirt with a high, soft spread collar and a Rubinacci ancient madder tie.
The point, finally, is not to classify this suit, but to enjoy the lack of classification and the freedom that it brings. Get too hung up on this stuff and it’s too easy to end up looking like a J.Press catalog cutout, or an extra on the set of Mad Men, or a “Fucking Polo Window” or a Hackett ad. The details make sense and coalesce together in a way that is uncommon without being jarring or seeming forced. They’re all traditional, even if they don’t all point to the same tradition, and combined on the same suit they’re harmonious, not disparate.
To a certain extent Gun Club and Houndstooth are interchangeable. Gun checks are comprised of houndstooth patterns just as, if you look closely, there is houndstooth (houndsteeth?) in the Glen plaid. To further complicate things, gun club checks and district checks are the same thing, with the Glen plaid being a specific type of district check. District checks originated with the checks signifying a specific district or estate and were worn by the gameskeepers of that estate. Gun Club is a 19th Century American adaptation of the district check, signifying specific shooting clubs instead of estates. Kind of like what America did with the regimental tie.
Practically speaking, I use “houndstooth” to refer to a houndstooth pattern comprised of two colors (black/white and tan/cream being two common examples). Gun Club or district check usually has more than two colors and may also have an overcheck. Hope that doesn’t confuse things further.
As far as I’ve read, Prince of Wales and Glenurquhart Plaid are the same. It’s a district check from Glenurquhart (which is a place in Scotland) but was popularized by The Duke of Windsor (who was also the Prince of Wales before he became king and then abdicated the throne).
A few of my listings made it on PTO’s eBay roundup. Get it while you can, people.