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No Good Being Too Relaxed

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    For some 1987 may not seem like that long ago, but a quarter of a century has never the less passed since then. However, viewed within the total span of a company that was founded in 1818, and is coming up on two centuries in 2018, somehow twenty-five years doesn't seem quite as long. In the historical development of Brooks Brothers, there have probably been many different phases and stages, and what Brooks Brothers will look like twenty-five years from now is hard to say. However, what is surprising about this catalog is just how much of it has aged well and still looks great. I still have a little bit of 1987 Brooks Brothers in the closet - a burgundy paisley tie - purchased sometime in the summer of that year at the Madison Street store in Chicago. It still looks great with a tweed jacket in cooler weather.

    This catalog shows Brooks Brothers on the eve of the Marks & Spencer buyout at the end of what could be called an amazing period - the summation of the 1970s and 1980s. There were natural shoulder suits and jackets in that distinctive three button style with the top button rolled over. Brooks Brothers top button roll was always just a little bit higher and more pronounced than, say, J. Press - at least to my eyes. The shirts in an array of all cotton fabrics were still six button with unlined collars and cuffs. Most of their offerings were made in their own workrooms, and what wasn't made by Brooks most likely came from England, Scotland, and Italy. There are quite a few remarkable sport coats, and I've included larger images of these after each page where they originally appeared. There is a lot here that I would like to see offered again. Moving forward doesn't mean that things always need to be created anew. Sometimes the tried and true, the old and familiar are just what is needed to move forward into what often appears like a new and unfamiliar future.

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    Traditions that remain meaningful across time are also those that have the ability to remain responsive to the times in which they exist. They are able to remain both true to their original spirit while also being in dialog with the world around them. It is, perhaps, a common misunderstanding that traditional dress is resistant to change, as if it were an unchanging expression of an immutable ideal. In contrast to this, traditional clothing has always been alive to any given era in which it has existed. If it were not so, we would still be wearing the frock coats and stiff high-collared shirts of yesteryear. In 1977, J. Press ran the advertisement below displaying both a keen sense of humor and self-awareness regarding this often misunderstood aspect of traditional clothing. Thirty five years on from 1977 and J. Press is still a living tradition resisting relegation to the museum of natural history.

    J. Press is a Fossil?!
    It is annoying to have the word 'traditional' translated as if it meant "stubborn." In Japan, there are many fans of traditional clothing. This is a wonderful thing, and however boastful it may seem on our part, J. Press is very proud of this. So, J. Press would like to say a few things to fans of traditional clothing. Somehow in Japan, traditional clothing is often thought of as a "stubborn person's style." This is a misconception. We feel it would be a very regrettable thing if traditional clothing were perceived as a uniform for people with heads made of stone. Though J. Press makes traditional clothing, we have never once thought of ourselves in this stubborn-stone-like way. Further, it is not our intent to make clothing for such people. J. Press clothing is quietly alive with the breath of the age, quietly continuing to change. For example, this year we offer suits that are lighter. In doing so, we are not just following the current trends of today. We have grasped that colors appropriate for today's society have a lighter feeling. We hope that you will understand that tradition rejects arbitrary change. We are not simply stubborn. J. Press makes traditional clothing, but we are definitely not a lifeless fossil.

    Source: Men's Club #195 (August 1977)

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    Sometimes a quiet weekend in the mountains is just about perfect. I was recently reminded of this and how time away from the phone, email and internet, etc. can be pretty darned refreshing. Sometimes there is nothing better than simple homemade food and entertainment. On our recent weekend into the mountains we weren't without media, however, as there is a substantial video and DVD collection of classic Hollywood films. We watched Fred & Ginger in Top Hat, Cary & Audrey in Charade, and The Snows of Kilimanjaro for the 'umteenth time. We listened to AM news broadcasts on an old radio and enjoyed the lively art of conversation. It was perfectly relaxing.

    There were lots of stone walls and moss.

    Making toast the old fashioned way. Toaster was broke. This was better.

    Fresh tomato & basil bruschetta on toast. Breakfast of Champions.

    Old oxford cloth and khakis.

    There was time for refreshing beverages,

    and for hanging out with the dog on the deck.

    Of course, as always, there was some Grateful Dead and other recordings along for the ride. I had time to revisit the Grateful Dead's live 1980 acoustic recording Reckoning, and was reminded of Jerry Garcia's fluency in a number of musical genres: Bluegrass, country, rock, psychodelia, blues, reggae, even jazz. This reminded me of Jerry's other solo work outside of the Grateful Dead - the Jerry Garcia Band. "JGB," in shorthand, encompassed a wide variety of incarnations from his collaboration with Merle Saunders in Garcia & Saunders, to Old & In The Way, The Great American Music Band, Legion of Mary, Reconstruction, Jerry Garcia Band, Garica & John Kahn, Garcia and David Grisman, and The Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band. 

    1980 was a bit of a landmark year, as the Grateful Dead released a new album, Go to Heaven in April and celebrated 15 years with some anniversary shows at Folsom Field in Boulder, CO in June. In September and October there were two legendary runs at the Warfield Theatre in San Francisco and Radio City Hall in New York. Garcia was on the top of his form in 1980, not only with the Grateful Dead, but also with his own band. Garcia often covered songs in a way that was both faithful to the original while making it uniquely his own. A wonderful example of this is the pairing of the two songs, 'After Midnight' written by J.J. Cale, and 'Eleanor Rigby' written by The Beatles. Garcia did this only nine times between late January and early March 1980. The first time was at the Keystone, Palo Alto on 1/20/80 and the last was at The Stone, San Francisco on 3/8/80. Five shows on the West Coast in small venues, and four shows on the East Coast in college auditoriums. The combination of these two songs went like this: 'After Midnight' jammed into 'Eleanor Rigby' which was reprised back into 'After Midnight' (After Midnight>Eleanor Rigby>After Midnight). Years ago, I tracked them all down and on our recent trip to the mountains had the desire to compare them again.

    After some rummaging in the HTJ Archives, which involved nearly standing on my head and shifting heavy boxes, the recordings were all located. Now, I realize that there is only so much of this kind of music review that some folks can take, so I will try to be brief and stick to the point. Which is this: some of these are bloody great performances. I've made some notations below with links to some places where you can listen to some of these for yourself. The 2/28/80 Kean College, Wilkens Theatre show is the only one to have been officially released.  

    The JGB lineup for this tour: Jerry Garcia, Guitar; John Kahn, bass; Ozzie Allers, keyboards; Johnny de Foncesca, drums.

    01/20/80  JGB Keystone Palo Alto, Palo Alto, CA (Soundboard)
    The first time for this pairing of songs. This version doesn't have a very lengthy Eleanor Rigby jam, and sounds a bit tentative in some spots. Recording quality: A. Total time: 18:55.

    01/24/80  JGB Rio Theatre, Rodeo, CA (Soundboard)
    Four nights later, this combination was played very well. Nothing tentative here, After Midnight and Eleanor Rigby are both well played and jammed, but there is better to come. Recording quality: A. Total time: 19:53.

    01/27/80  JBG Keystone, Berkeley, CA (Audience recording)
    After the two warmups above, Garcia and his cohorts really nailed this. Very nice from 3:00 onward. After Midnight and the jam are about 14:30 minutes long before the start of Eleanor Rigby. Recording quality: B+ for some crowd chatter and 3-4 generations removed from the master. One wonders what this would sound like if it were from the master tape. Again, there are still better things to come. Total time: 24:23.

    02/02/80  The Stone, San Francisco, CA (Audience & Soundboard)
    Apart from the Kean College show, this is is the only show for which both a soundboard and an audience recording circulate (and the Kean College soundboard only circulates as the official release). However, the 2/2/80 soundboard recording only circulates with the After Midnight>Eleanor Rigby triplet. The audience recording of 2/2/80 is, however, the complete show. Further, apart from the official release version of the Kean College show, this is probably the best sounding soundboard (A+). Jerry is on fire, and if you like the envelope filter "wah" sound you're gonna' love this. Jerry switches from fuzztone to the envelope filter and it is wonderful. The playing is fast, confident and very fluid. The audience recording lineage is Nakamichi CM-700 mics>Sony TC-D5 cassette master. This is an excellent audience recording, a solid A, with almost no crowd chatter, with more ambience than the soundboard. Total time: 25:00.

    02/12/80 Lisner Auditorium, GWU, Washington, D.C. (Audience recording)
    This was the first East Coast show and it is definitely a keeper. The recording lineage is Shure SM-57 mics >Sony TC-158 cassette master. Back in the early 1980s there was an album by the band The Minutemen titled "Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat." If you listen to 2/12/80 GWU you can hear just that - a crowd buzzing and howling under the influence of some heated playing by Jerry. Quite impressive to hear with headphones. The After Midnight jam is heavy, and when the crowd recognizes the opening notes of Eleanor Rigby it responds very positively. It's a great recording with that often difficult to capture feeling of "being there." One of my 'top three' favorites. Recording quality: A. Total time: 20:24. If you would like to listen, go here.

    02/15/80 late show JGB Orpheum Theatre, Boston, MA (Audience recording)
    This is another great sounding recording captured with Nakamichi CM-700 mics>Sony TC-D5 master cassette setup. If you like the envelope filter sound, you will again like this recording. This version may have the longest Eleanor Rigby section with the fullest jam, though as a whole it doesn't have the same energy as 2/12/80, 2/17/80 or 2/28/80, but I am getting ahead of myself. Sound quality: A. Total time: 18:42.

    02/17/80  JGB Laker Hall, SUNY, Oswego, NY (Audience recording)
    This is a truly inspired version. I have a couple different versions originating from this master cassette. Taped by the legendary taper, Keith Gatto (Nakamichi CM-300 mics >Sony TC-D5 cassette master). Bassist John Kahn is is fine form and clear in the mix, which is always a good thing. Jerry's guitar has plenty of fuzztone which is masterfully overdriven during the peak of the After Midnight jam. From 7:00 onwards is it pure Jerry. This is in the desert island 'top three'. Total time: 22:56.

    02/28/80 JGB Wilkens Theatre, Kean College, Union, NJ (Audience and official release)
    This entire show has been released officially as After Midnight. The audience recording was captured using Sony ECM-280 mics >Sony TC-D5 cassette master. This version is very fluid and bluesy with some very fast playing by Garcia. John Kahn is again in very good form complementing Garcia's playing. The band may have definitively nailed it at Kean College. Sound quality: A. Total time: 23:03. It can be heard on various places, one of which is here.

    03/08/80  JGB The Stone, SF, CA (Audience recording)
    There has been some discussion over the years about this recording. It is so kitchen clean that one might be forgiven for thinking it to be a soundboard. Unfortunately, there is no known lineage for this recording. Sonically, it is quite simply the best audience recording of the batch. The whole show is well played and 'Catfish John' and 'That's What Love Will Make You Do' are about as good as it gets. Jerry's playing is very relaxed and fluid as it tended to be at West Coast shows, not quite as high energy as some of the East Coast dates, but very smooth. His handling of the Eleanor Rigby jam, though brief, is inspired. Sound quality: A+. Total time: 19:32. This recording can be heard here. This is the final performance of these two songs played as a triplet.

    I have some photos of Jerry Garcia above taken at Jahrhunderthalle in Frankfurt, Germany in April 1972 and to me, the one above epitomizes Garcia as a guitar player - concentration and mastery of his discipline. There is one version of After Midnight from 1972 worth listening to that was probably played on the above Stratocaster: 12/28/72 The Lion's Share, San Anselmo, CA. It can be heard here

    Eight years later in 1980, Garcia had undergone many changes musically, and also in terms of technology. In 1980, Garcia no longer played a Stratocaster, but was playing the guitar below, named "Tiger" and built by luthier Doug Irwin. The photo below is from the 2/17/80 SUNY show.
    Jerry Garcia may not be for everyone, but if you are interested in classic rock and inspired guitar playing, I hope that you might give one of these versions a listen. My own personal favorites are: 2/12/80 Lisner Auditorium, GWU; 2/17/80 Laker Hall, SUNY; and 2/28/80 Wilkens Theatre, Kean College. These versions are huge and would be taken to the proverbial desert island if electricity were provided. If I could only take one? 2/12/80 Lisner Auditorium - it's the "buzzing and howling under the influence" thing. 

    I don't stay up after midnight much these days, but this kind of sound works for me just about anytime of the day, especially hanging out on the deck on a lazy weekend afternoon with ankles, almost, but not quite as white as the dog's.

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    Perhaps no other suiting fabric has the power to evoke Summer the way that seersucker does. Offered in many colors, seersucker looks great on men of all ages. Though it is a fabric that has a long history, its popularity remains surprisingly resilient even today. However, more than any other warm weather garment, I've often found myself pausing in front of seersucker jackets and suits as I take them out of the closet. In spite of its popularity, wearing this humble cotton fabric calls for a certain amount of self-awareness regarding the time and place when it might be worn. I don't think there's any other suit that can cross the line into period-costume as fast and as mercilessly as a seersucker suit. Hence, my caution when approaching these garments in the closet during the summer. Though seersucker comes in all manner of colors today, in the past, seersucker suits were usually offered in blue, grey or brown (tan) by traditional clothiers such as Brooks Brothers and J. Press. My seersucker suit in blue (above) came from Huntington Clothiers more years ago than I'd care to think about.

    These days, however, I rarely wear it as a suit, choosing instead to wear the jacket alone, paired with lighter weight trousers and khakis. Alternatively, the seersucker trousers from the suit are occasionally worn simply with a solid white button-down or perhaps a polo shirt. It's funny, but seersucker fabric done up as shorts or casual shirts, rarely seems to have this sort of problem at all. I have a pair of blue seersucker Bermuda shorts that are great - about the only thing they need to accompany them is a bit of sun and a refreshing beverage.

    Most traditional men's clothiers have offered seersucker suits and jackets as a summertime staple for years. This is interesting as there are cooler fabrics around. Maybe it's me, but seersucker can become pretty steamy when the weather is warm. I've found that shirts made from thinner fabrics such as end-on-end madras and broadcloth seem to help here in keeping me cooler. I've included several J. Press, Brooks Brothers and Cable Car Clothiers catalogs from over the years because they offer a bit of perspective on this fabric that is so symbolic of summer.

    J. Press Spring & Summer 1954. Seersucker in grey and brown along with that cousin known at J. Press as 'seercord'. In 1954, J. Press was on the cutting edge with a Orlon and cotton blend fabric. The suits included some of my favorite J .Press features, "high notch lapels, raised seams, flapped pockets, deep hook vents, and slim trousers." I like the trousers on J. Press suits. I always feel a bit slimmer in them. Wearing a sack suit doesn't mean one has to look like one is actually wearing a sack.

    Brooks Brothers Spring & Summer 1962. It's interesting that Books Brothers offered separate odd jackets and trousers along with suits. I also have a blue Brooks Brothers seersucker odd jacket purchased about eight years ago that has three patch pockets much like the one in the catalog above. It's that patch breast pocket that seems to differentiate the odd jacket from the suit coat.

    J. Press Spring & Summer 1979. Seersucker and its thinner siblings, hairline cord, and seercord. J. Press continued to offer poly/cotton blends along with all cotton seersucker suits. Hairline cord suits used to be pretty easy to find, but they're a bit harder to find today.

    Brooks Brothers Summer 1981. This is truly an amazing catalog page. Like the 1979 J. Press catalog above, this page features seersucker, pincord and a lightweight cord. The catalog reads as follows:
    C. Crisp pincord woven of wash -and-wear polyester-and-cotton is featured in this classic Summer suit. Made on our 3-button model in grey, blue or brown.
    D. All-cotton seersucker suits have long been warm weather favorites due to their traditional appearance and unusual comfort. We offer them this season in stripings of blue or grey with white.
    E. A most attractive lightweight cotton cloth is featured in our exclusive 3-button suits with patch pockets and welted edges. In white cord on ground colorings of brown, blue or grey.

    These suits very definitely remind me of the 1980s, though I know a guy who still wears a blue and white suit like the one on the bottom with effortless ease. Like the 1979 J. Press catalog above, the wide variety of seersucker and its related striped suits probably attests to sheer numbers of men who wore these suits. Summer used to mean bending the dress code a bit, within certain parameters, but not chucking the entire code away, as often seems to be the case today.

    Cable Car Clothiers, Summer 1983. Cable Car offered the jacket and trousers separately, which was probably a good option for many men. This is a great looking jacket, and one can't go wrong pairing it with a white shirt and a madras tie.

    J. Press Spring & Summer 1997. Seersucker offered in both blue and grey stripes. A few pages later in the same catalog, J. Press also offered a sport coat much along the same lines as the suit coat.

    Sadly, I do not have a Huntington catalog, so the jacket itself will have to do. This jacket has patch and flap pockets and came with a half lining. It's aged very well and has been pretty hard wearing.

    Huntington Clothiers made a pretty darned good jacket with great attention to detail. I'm glad that I've been able to hang on to this, and that I can still wear it.

    One of the features of Huntington jackets that endeared them to many were the hook vents on most of their sport coats. J. Press is about the only place that still offers this feature today.

    Seersucker is, for me, is about simplicity. I might wear it with a thin end-on-end broadcloth shirt, a plain knit navy tie and lighter weight khakis.

    I have found that seersucker and a white shirt also works well with club ties and quiet regimental ties.

    Of course, seersucker finds itself quite at home with madras as well. Nothing says "Summertime" more positively than seersucker and a dash of madras. Just what I needed for this summer luncheon and a bit of chilled dessert.

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    Done in that distinctively illustrated Brooks Brothers style of the 1970s and 1980s, this catalog is the closest I can get to the summer of 1982. I know I've said it before, but like a lot of things it bears repeating: this style of catalog was part of what made Brooks Brothers unique. The cover by illustrator Tran Mawicke shows a couple at Niagara Falls suggestive of June weddings and honeymoon travel, while the inside has a nice mix of illustrations and and photos of classic Brooks clothing for the warmer months. Some of the offerings are staggering by today's standards, like the amount of color choices available for both the Brookslinen sport coats on page 10 or the '346' blazers on page 28, for example. Page two (below) could function alone as a template for all a man would need for a basic summer wardrobe - wool/poly trousers in several shades, a madras jacket, a natural silk jacket, a blue and white cord jacket, cordovan tassel loafers and a coconut hat. End-on-end broadcloth shirts and poplin suits; tropical wool suits and oxford cloth shirts; and poplin odd trousers and madras shirts are just some of the other classic combinations in this catalog that still work for me. Even if one can no longer order from this catalog, it remains a reliable reminder about so much of what is appealing about American traditional menswear.

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    Chambray revisited. The post I did last year on blue chambray jackets no longer exists, so I thought it might be appropriate to revisit the subject. It's a classic jacket and color perfect for the spring and summer. Shown here with Berle trousers, ribbon belt, knit tie and a very soft ancient Brookscloth tattersall with that old school collar roll. I admit to being partial to my chambray jacket purchased from Huntington Clothiers more years ago than I care to admit. These sorts of jackets, of course, have come in many fabrics over the years. Chambray, oxford cloth, various blends, even denim, seem to be the most common expressions of this warm weather classic.

    A light to medium blue sport coat has long been a wardrobe staple for many men during the warmer months of the year. So just for fun, I've gone back to the HTJ Archives in an attempt to find various interpretations of this type of jacket over the decades. The images below are a representative collection of this type of jacket from various traditional clothiers over an almost sixty year span. Image above from Brooks Brothers Spring 1983 catalog.

    J. Press, 1954 Spring & Summer. The choice of center or side vents is unique during this early postwar period. However, denim blazers in contrast trimmed University Colors have, again, left me speechless. If only these were still offered - I would brass up for one in dark blue with red trim in a heartbeat.

    Brooks Brothers, 1962 Spring & Summer. These items are from Brooks Brothers' University Shop collection. The odd jacket offered in an oxford weave (item #653) is something that Brooks Brothers has consistently continued to offer over the years, though not always in a pure 3/2 sack configuration. Brooks Brothers always seemed to be on the cutting edge of natural and synthetic fiber blends. This, I feel, was the correct vein to mine, rather than the synthetically treated "all-cotton" fabrics of today. I'm probably swimming against the current here, though.

    J. Press, 1979 Spring & Summer. All three of these winsome jackets are still being offered today by J. Press. That one can still purchase classic items like these today is is one thing that I greatly admire about J. Press. Sure, some items aren't offered now and then, but J. Press has remained pretty consistent about offering many classic items in the trad canon. Say what you like about Press, at least they remain a bearer of the Trad Standard. Skipper blue lined with navy/white gingham check? I mean, where does the queue form? Yet another reason to like 1979. As if I needed one.

    Brooks Brothers, 1981 Summer. Again, Brooks Brothers can be seen offering blends that were no doubt cool and easy to care for. A word of caution here: resist the urge to wear the jacket with the matching trousers in the catalog. They were made from the same cloth and offered in the same catalog - but not as a suit.

    Cable Car Clothiers, 1983 Summer. This is a great looking poplin blend jacket, in a color that one doesn't often see in poplin. Same rule as above with the Brooks Brothers 1981 catalog, resist wearing the light blue trousers and jacket together. Just don't go there. The tan and navy could most likely be worn together, as tan and navy poplin suits are pretty classic fare.

    J. Press, 1997 Spring & Summer. 1997 is just far enough in the past to offer some perspective. Evocative of the 1990s, "casual" is a word that many traditional clothiers might not use so easily today. I like to think of myself as optimistic, but I remain a bit more pessimistic that men's clothing will ever fully recover from the casual trend that so thoroughly marked the decade of the 1990s. That said, J. Press offered a tremendously wide array of warm weather sport coats in this little catalog, perhaps more so than even today.

    I am fortunate to have a great version of this classic chambray jacket in my wardrobe. My jacket was made by Huntington Clothiers back in the early 1990s. It has been a true blue friend in every sense of the word. It works well with medium grey trousers and khakis of most shades, and a variety of shoes from white bucks, to loafers, to cordovan captoes. Outside of a navy jacket, I can't think of a harder working jacket for the warmer months.

    This jacket has a lot of great details. Natural shouldered, three buttoned, patch and flap pockets and a hook vent round out a classic look. Removing the rear lining made the jacket a bit cooler, which was a good thing - I just can't take the heat like I used to be able to.

    This old Brookscloth tattersall is such a natural for this jacket. I left the collar rumpled as is, because it just goes to show you what an old Brooks collar was like - each collar seemed a bit different and that was part of their charm. The right side would roll differently from the left side, which is sweet when it happens. I'd like to take all of those contemporary non-irons and dump them in the ocean for a drawer full of these legendary shirts. Brookscloth and Brooksweave were leagues ahead of the contemporary non-irons.

    This look at the past is interesting and all, but where is it still possible to find examples of the classic natural shoulder chambray jacket today? Not surprisingly, perhaps, the most easily accessible examples are offered by O'Connell's and J. Press (above). A chambray jacket is a lovely thing to behold, which is why one holds onto a jacket like this over the years. It truly is a warm weather classic.

    "That's What Love Will Make You Do" Jerry Garcia Band 3/18/78 Marin County Veteran's Auditorium, San Rafael, CA. Soundboard.

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    I was changing some leather watchbands to colorful ribbon ones the other day, and decided to take some photos. All of the above bands were purchased at various Brooks Brothers stores over the years, with the oldest from the now closed Madison Street store in Chicago. Brooks Brothers still offers this type of band, and actually the current bands may be a bit more durable than the old ones. At least that's the way it seems to me - ask me in another 15 years how the new ones are holding up. 
    Though some of these older bands are generally pretty tattered, scruffy and missing grommets, they still get worn occasionally throughout the year. Though I probably wear some of the newer Brooks Brothers bands more often, the main reason I keep these older ones is that Brooks Brothers doesn't make them in as wide an assortment of regimental stripes anymore, and of course, because they remind me of the past and the passage of time.
    Since I already had the watchbands out, I decided to take a photo of this old mechanical Orvis Hamilton field watch that was a Christmas gift circa 1981. This watch has a hacking function that can be utilized when the crown is pulled out to adjust the time. Pulling out the crown stops the movement of the second hand and the measurement of time, which is a great feature if one is trying to set the watch down to the second. Years ago, many companies offered this sort of Hamilton watch with their company logo on it. I don't wear this watch much these days, but it still winds and sets fine, runs smoothly, and seems to tell good time. As I look at this old watch and these ribbon bands, there is one thing on my mind, though. Even though this watch still measures the time as accurately as it always has, why does the passage of time seems faster than it did in 1981? I think I need a hacking feature to occasionally stop the passage of time itself, so that I can catch my breath. Then again, perhaps, that's what the magic of a good night's sleep and the occasional nap is for.

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    If you have ever followed Japanese magazines or even been somewhat awed in the slightest by the ability of these magazines to consistently organize and analyze style trends in the West, then you might be interested in a small Japanese book that was published in 1867 by Fukuzawa Yukichi under the pseudonym of Katayama Junnosuke. The book is titled Seiyô ishokujyû (西洋衣食住』、literally, "Western Clothing, Food, Interiors"), though it might also might as easily be rendered as "Daily Items of the West." I have long thought of this little hand-bound book as sort of the granddaddy to contemporary Japanese men's magazines and books that seek to organize and introduce new trends of the West for the contemporary Japanese market. Magazines such as...
    Men's Club 1972, Special Ivy Issue No. 1. Amazing issue chock full of photos of proto-prep emerging from the hippyness of the late 1960s and early 1970s, if it ever really fully emerged from the hippy influence. 1970s prep always had a bit of scruffiness to it.

    Men's Club, 12/1978 "American Traditional." Full-on late 1970s prep with the notable inclusion of prep schools and The Prep Shop.

    Men's Club, 12/1979 "What is Preppie?" A year before The Official Preppy HandbookMen's Club was busy reporting on and categorizing the reality that was prep in late 1970s America.

    Men's Club, 12/1981 "Ivy - Part 2, Dressing Manual" I only have one of these, but there are several issues that include photos of colleges from this period.

    LAST, 5/2003 No. 1. There are also magazines dedicated to only shoes. This is the launch issue of LAST, which is still being published.

    Men's EX, 10/2002 "High Grade Shoes - A Reader" Men's EX has published several of these, of which the launch issue is arguably the best. I covers the full range of quality men's shoes the world over by country, including bespoke makers.

    Men's EX, 7/2007 "Italian Fashion - Q&A" This issue is a minor masterpiece. I am more prep-Anglophile, but there is much here that makes perfectly good sense.

    And, the above issue of LEON was pretty amazingly organized. The thoughts of these men make for interesting reading.

    Free & Easy, 1/2010 "The Garment Tweed." This is basically a textbook about tweed, its history and manufacture. It even distinguishes the various types of sheep according to region. It is a noteworthy  issue for anyone interested in tweed.

    Men's Precious, Spring 2011. The name is what it is because there is a women's magazine titled Precious, by the same publisher. This issue had a feature on England's Royal Warrants titled, "Fabulous Royal Warrant!" It's another textbook-like look at the British institution of the Royal Warrant. For anyone who considers themselves even a luke-warm Anglophile, it would be essential reading.

    Snap LEON, 6/2011. LEON comes out with these a couple of times a year, which feature photos mainly of Pitti Uomo. The issues are organized into sections on jackets, suits, trousers, shoes and further organized by color. Not always my own style, but exceedingly entertaining and extremely well put together - definitely a night stand magazine. This sort of magazine exhibits the best of the above magazines - traveling the world over to get the story on menswear, in the tradition of what Fukuzawa began in 1867, but continued in today's context. Each of the above magazines is a bit different, but the methodology of categorization is essentially the same - focusing on clothing, food and interiors.

    The author of Seiyô ishokujyû was Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901), the founder of Keio-Gijuku University, an educator, Enlightenment thinker, Dutch Learning scholar, translator, journalist and statesman. Of course, he is also pictured on Japan's largest denomination 10,000 Yen banknote. Originally a Dutch Learning scholar (rangaku), Fukuzawa made the transition to English, and became an official translator for the Bakufu government before the Meiji Restoration in 1868. After the ratification of the 1859 Ansei Trade Treaties that opened Japan to trade and cultural exchange with the West, Fukuzawa was included in Japan's first diplomatic mission to the United States in 1859. He also traveled to Europe on Japan's first official European diplomatic mission in 1862. His book Seiyô jijô ("Things Western"), and along with many others, introduced to nineteenth century Japan many aspects of Western thought. Fukuzawa wrote on a wide range of topics from political science, to education, to military strategy. Among his early writings is the small book introduced in this post, titled Seiyô ishokujyû. I have included the book in its entirety below, with a couple of sections translated and comments below.

     Viewed today, this small book might appear deceptively unsophisticated with its simple drawings and text. However, Fukuzawa was introducing not only clothing, utensils and interior items, but introducing many of the English names by which many of these things are still known today. The section on Western table manners is classic and I've translated it below.

    Westerners do not use chopsticks. Meats and other items are arranged on a plate in larger pieces, and then each is cut in turn into smaller pieces with a knife held in one's right hand, then eaten with a fork in one's left hand. Putting food directly into one's mouth by the end of one's knife is considered bad manners. Soup is placed in a shallow plate and eaten (lit. drunk) with a spoon. It is also considered bad manners to make noise when consuming soup and tea. 

    It is, of course, still considered so. 

    Seiyô ishokujyû was published ninety-eight years before Take Ivy, the well-known book that introduced an American Ivy League style to postwar Japan, and explores many of the themes that have consistently remained at the center of these types of magazines and books. If the postwar period in Japan was one of intense ferment and economic growth, the period after the ratification of the 1859 trade treaties was arguably an even more intense period of growth in which new technologies and concepts from the West were adopted by Japan. Perhaps one of the most significant of these was the adoption by the Japanese Government in June 1873 of a new conception of time, the Gregorian Calendar and the twenty four hour day, something most of us take for granted. Seiyô ishokujyû was published in 1867, five years in advance of this calendar change and shows the 'moment in time' when Japan was standing between two eras. Nowhere is this clearer than in the final pages of this book when Fukuzawa, explaining how to read Western watches, was also thereby introducing a new concept of time. Though long forgotten by many, the shift to a concept that understood day and night as part of a single twenty-four hour day, which meant the abolishment of the traditional Japanese framework of two different six hour cycles, one for day and one for night, must have been nothing short of revolutionary. 

    Mechanical clocks were first introduced to Japan in the 16th century through Jesuit missionaries and Portuguese traders. Eventually, however, Japanese clocks were produced that reflected a Japanese understanding of time. Japanese clocks divided the day into six hours for daytime and six hours for night time. Each of these "hours" was longer than the hour that we measure time by today. These clocks also allowed for the adjustment of time in changing length of daylight time during the summer and the winter months. Rather than a circular dial common on Western clocks, many Japanese clocks were long and slender "pillar clocks" (shaku dokei) that would have hung on a post or pillar in a home, and which had an hour hand that moved up and down a track on the clock case. This is why Fukuzawa takes such care in explaining how to read a Western style pocket watch in the section that follows below at the end of this book.

    In translating the Japanese text following the illustration of the watch, I have attempted to remain as true to the original text as possible, so that some of the strange difference in the reckoning of time that Fukuzawa sought to carefully explain to Japanese readers might still hopefully be felt by readers in English.

    Though watches are outside the confines of clothing, food and interiors, in the West church bells measure time, and there are all manner of watches and their customs. Recently in Japan, too, imported watches have gradually become fashionable. Though there are many uninitiated persons who possess watches, and yet do not understand how to read them. Therefore, at the end of this book about clothing, food and interiors, I will write about how to understand these watches.

    In the West, one day is measured by twenty four hours; and accordingly, one of these hours is one half of one hour in Japan. One of these hours is divided into sixty parts, of which one part is called a 'minute'. In the same way, one minute is divided into sixty parts, of which one part is called a 'second'. In this way, one second becomes the basic pulse for the movement of time. Now, the watch dial is divided into twelve parts, with the hour hand devised to go completely around the dial twice in one day, and likewise, the minute hand to go around the dial twenty-four times. Beginning with noon, and again with twelve midnight, the hour and minute hands correctly align with one another to display the twelfth hour. From here, time gradually moves toward the right, and when the hour hand points to the first hour, the minute hand will have gone around the dial once measuring sixty minutes, upon which it returns to the twelfth hour marker. From here time moves forward and when the hour hand is in between the first and the second hour, the minute hand will have taken thirty minutes to move half way around the dial, and will have come precisely to the sixth hour marker. Therefore, the way of reading the time is that one should first look at the hour hand and then at the minute hand. For example, when the hour hand is between the ninth and the tenth hour, and the minute hand points to the second hour marker, the time can be said to be ten minutes past nine. In other words, this ten minutes of time can be said to be the amount of time that has elapsed since the minute hand left the twelfth hour marker. Again, when the hour hand is approaching the tenth hour, having moved beyond midway between the ninth and the tenth hours, and the minute hand has arrived at the eighth hour marker, the time can be said to be twenty minutes before ten. In other words, this twenty minutes means that it will take twenty minutes for the minute hand to reach the twelfth hour marker. In any case, the minute hand begins at the twelfth hour marker and the sixty minutes on the dial are counted based on this. From this one can know what hour and minute it is. The watch in the illustration indicates twenty-two minutes past nine. The second hand goes completely around the dial in one minute. However, when reckoning the time, seconds are not counted.

    Of course, even today, Fukuzawa's description of the telling of time by only using the hours and minutes is the way most of us tell the time in our daily lives. I know of no one who when asked will say, "it is 9:10 and 30 seconds" - unless they are actively timing something or being a bit persnickety. Fukuzawa could also probably not have imagined how one second could be be measured by much smaller intervals such as 1/1000 of a second. The upcoming London Oympics will, of course, show the latest developments in this sort of timekeeping.

    Many magazines today include cars, watches, books, music, film and travel, categories that Fukuzawa may or may not have included had most of them existed in 1867. In any event, Fukuzawa set his parameters on articles needed for basic daily life in the West. The concept of leisure pursuits, as we think of them today, had not yet fully developed, at least not as something accessible to most people. 

    If you are a follower of the Japanese press, the next time you open a Japanese magazine featuring clothing, food and interior items consider how long this sort of thing has been going on. It helps me appreciate the level at which most of these publishers operate at, month in and month out. Styles may come and go, but this sort of thoroughgoing ability to categorize the experience of daily life is what seems amazingly constant. 

    Men's Precious, Summer 2012 "Catalog of British Quality Articles." And so, here we are seemingly back at the beginning. Fukuzawa published Seiyô ishokujyû 145 years ago, and the cataloging of "quality articles" is still going strong - and Winston Churchill still looks great.

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    At times, I have thought that I could probably get through life with only blue jackets and medium grey trousers. I know it sounds perhaps boring, but it does have its appeal. It's an extreme position, I know, but one not without its own merits. Most men probably have at least a couple of blue blazers or odd jackets and perhaps a few pairs of grey odd trousers that function as a more casual alternative to suits. It's almost embarrassing to admit, but I have seven navy blue odd jackets and blazers of various weights and ages. That said, I'm sure I'm not the only one that sees the utilitarian merit of this kind of jacket that bears such repetition in the closet. From winter weight flannel and solid navy tweed jackets, to tropical wool and wool blend jackets, to linen and silk blends, there are many choices from which one can form a core working collection of blue jackets. Since we are in the hottest part of the summer, and there are often times when a jacket (even if it is without a tie) is called for, it's probably not inappropriate to revisit the topic of summer weight blue jackets. 

    Blue odd jackets are a great warm weather alternative to blazers, particularly when they are wool and silk or linen blends. I have one from Brooks Brothers Japan in a breathable fresco blend of wool and silk that I probably wear more than any other jacket during the warmer months. I've worn it so much that I would really like to get another, but they aren't available anymore, or at least not currently. I would have thought that this sort of jacket would be offered year in and year out, but alas it isn't. J. Press has offered a navy linen and poly blend jacket in the past, but over the past couple of years it also hasn't been available in my size. I have another 100% wool fresco navy odd jacket (again, BB Japan) but it just doesn't have the same shoulders as this one, and isn't as cool either, which counts for a lot.

    This jacket has a minimum of lining and extra fabric on the inside. The pockets are all patch pockets, which also cuts down on unneeded inner pocket fabric and the lining to hide them, thus keeping the jacket lighter and cooler. It's also probably one of the nicest natural shoulder jackets I own - it's very comfortable. If all jackets were made according to this pattern it would be a better world, indeed.

    As I said earlier, I am a fan of medium grey trousers, and the J. Press wool and poly blend ones pictured here have become favorites over the past couple of years. I have a couple of pairs that I wear in rotation and have found that they are cooler and lighter than 100% tropical wool. I have no problem with poly blends for warmer weather fabrics for they have a long history in the Trad canon. These J. Press trousers are well made, not terribly expensive and hold their shape well in the heat and humidity.

    As long as we're on the subject of cooler clothing, it would be a shame not to mention end-on-end madras shirts. They are not as easy to obtain today, and I am fortunate to have several that are still very presentable. The thin porous weave of this fabric keeps the air circulating, and when they are starched from the cleaners, they stay crisp and cool looking all day in the heat. Why Brooks Brothers no longer makes this kind of shirt is really very hard to understand, because this type of fabric is an absolute summer classic. 

    This combination of blue odd jackets, medium grey trousers and end-on-end madras shirts is a winning combination in the heat. It's a pretty simple summer strategy that works well for me. 

    My idea of only blue jackets and grey trousers may seem a little extreme, but of course there are a variety of takes on the blue jacket theme that will work. The guys below all look cool and collected in blue jackets and classically colored white, ivory and grey trousers. All of which means that staying cool in the summer heat doesn't always need to involve cargo shorts, t-shirts and flip flops.

    Images: Zino 6/2008; Snap Leon, vol. 1 and vol. 3; Luel (Men's Club 8/2011).

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    There are few things as simple and as satisfying as a Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich. Warm toast, crisp cold lettuce, tangy tomatoes, salty smoked bacon and creamy mayonnaise. I've been tending to my summertime BLT cravings a fair amount lately and thought the humble sandwich deserved some time of its own here. Last winter the legendary Trad blogger, Longwing, wrote a piece about BLTs that was so good it left me waiting for summer and big plump garden fresh tomatoes. Sadly, Longwing's piece on the BLT is no longer available, but as usual Longwing got me thinking. This simple sandwich often flies under the radar, while other larger and richer fare garners all the press. Therein lies the secret to this sandwich - its simplicity. It calls for five ingredients and only those five - bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, mayonnaise and toast. Some recipes suggest variations such as avocado, alfalpha sprouts, brie, green tomatoes, and even one that called for boiled pumpkin. Stay away from this kind of antinomian behavior. Rules are often made with an express purpose and goal in mind, and putting alfalpha sprouts or brie on a BLT will mess things up every time. If I want a salad, I just have one on the side. Nothing wrong with that. Speaking of sides, it's usually something pretty simple like chips, pickles and potato salad. There's some steamed okra here with garlic dressing, too. Anything more really takes away from the sandwich.
    These five basic ingredients call for closer attention. We have a butcher nearby who offers his own hardwood smoked bacon. This is very flavorful bacon, and perfect for a BLT. I usually get it fresh, rather than keeping it in the freezer. Why not? The butcher is only ten minutes away.
    Tomatoes need to be big, juicy and garden grown, preferably from one's own garden. If not, then the local farm stand is usually a good bet. I'm a fan of green tomatoes pickled or fried, but not green ones on a BLT. For lettuce, I'm partial to plain old iceberg lettuce that's cold and crunchy. I'll use leaf lettuce in a pinch, but it lacks the crunch that I find to appealing in this sandwich. When it comes to toast, I think there are really only two choices: white or whole wheat. Pumpernickel, rye, sourdough, while all fine varieties of bread, are just going to work against the flavor I'm after. For mayonnaise, I'm partial to the old classic Hellmann's ("known west of the Rockies as Best Foods" - as the label reads). Now, here's where Longwing's article was memorable, it's this combination of cold and warm that really makes the BLT a masterpiece of a sandwich. Chilled mayonnaise on warm toast along with crunchy cold lettuce, juicy tomatoes and salty smoked bacon makes for a very complex mix of textures, flavors and even temperatures. It's a delicate but perfect balance of ingredients.
    Another card carrying member of the Clean Plate Club. A lot of people were involved in that BLT, and I would like to thank them all. If it takes a proverbial village to raise a child, it takes at least half of the village to make a BLT - the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker, and the farm stand.
    That clean plate is always a bit of a let down, but we can always go back to the butcher for more bacon, like we did last Friday evening.
    A Bacon, Lettuce & Tomato Sandwich is perfect summertime fare. All it calls for is a little attention to ingredients, some chips, potato salad, perhaps a glass of iced tea, and Bob's your uncle.

    If you need a little music to go with it, its hard to go wrong with a little acoustic Grateful Dead, like one of my favorites, 12/6/80 Mill Valley Recreation Center. Betty taped this one (yes, that Betty) with CAD mics on a small stand about 4' from the stage (there was no soundboard). Jack-A-Roe, Cassidy and Bird Song are truly inspired. One of the best acoustic sets of 1980. Perfect music for a summer weekend afternoon that might begin with a BLT, and a chilly refreshing beverage.

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    I knew that we were in for a good dinner on Friday night when my wife mentioned that she was making pork ribs with grandmother's barbecue sauce and Spanish rice with handmade chorizo sausage from the butcher. Now, this is a barbecue sauce recipe that my mother made often during the summer when I was a boy. I guess I didn't realize it then, but it's a very versatile sauce that works well on ribs as well as for pulled pork or chicken sandwiches. I have no idea how old this recipe is but as it was my great grandmother's recipe, I'm guessing that it is a prewar recipe from perhaps the 1930s, from an era long before store bought barbecue sauce. I remember as a kid that I liked the vinegar and lemon tang and that commercial sauces tasted too sweet, and well, sort of all the same. This tasted like home. The ingredients aren't really very special, but the resulting sauce is classic.

    Great Grandmother H's Barbecue Sauce
    2 tablespoons butter
    1 medium onion, finely diced
    1/2 cup finely diced celery
    2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    2 tablespoons sugar
    4 tablespoons lemon (basically one whole lemon is just about right)
    3 tablespoons Worchester sauce
    1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
    1 cup ketchup
    1 cup water
    salt & pepper to taste

    1. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan, and sautee onion and celery in butter until golden and soft.

    2. Place the remaining ingredients in the sauce pan with the onion and celery and mix well. Simmer for a half hour over a medium low flame, stirring occasionally and reducing by about a quarter or so. Best if made a day ahead of time and refrigerated until used.

    My wife marinades the ribs in a mild vinegrette for several hours first. Then cooks the ribs in a slow cooker.

    Then she mixes in grandmother's barbecue sauce and lets it all heat together for about an hour, resulting in a pile of great tasting finger licking good ribs. As usual the dog liked the bones.

    My plate with some Spanish rice and my four bean salad. I mean, I had to make something, and I had the strangest taste for a bean salad. This was good.

    Now, there was leftover barbecue sauce. What to do? So after a good night's sleep dreaming good dreams after all those ribs, I awoke with Barbecue Sandwiches On My Mind. So later that day I cooked and pulled apart a few chicken breasts.

    A little coleslaw was in order, so I made some vinegar based coleslaw with cabbage, chopped onions and cucumbers. Then I mixed the chicken with grandmother's warmed up leftover barbecue sauce.

    This is what I was dreaming about. It's a wonderful thing when everything comes together in the kitchen.

    This sauce makes a sandwich that can compete with most BBQ joints. It is a bit sweet, but has just the right amount of tang. Pile on some slaw and suddenly all is right with the world.

    Barbecue music. Sippin' music. Nappin' music.
    "Big electric fan to keep me cool while I sleep..." and dream barbecue summertime dreams.
    Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band 10/21/87 Lunt-Fontaine Theatre, NYC

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  • 08/27/12--03:48: The Fading Light of Summer
  • The summer sky seems to be shifting toward the fall. The clouds are higher in the sky and though the days are still long, the sun seems to set a bit earlier. This fading light of summer has been on my mind of late, and as I was sitting outside yesterday slow smoking a pork roast for pulled pork sandwiches, it was on my mind even more. Though I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures and woolens, strangely, I am not very anxious about leaving this season of bright colors and simple clothing.

    While cold rain and snow are not exactly around the corner, there's also not much left of summer. Though the woolens are still firmly tucked away, cooler mornings are a reminder of the approaching end of summer.

    Whether one is in Bermuda wearing a red jacket and shorts;

    headed back to campus in a button down and shorts;

    or barbecuing outdoors on a sunny weekend afternoon - Enjoy the fading light of summer.

    Images: Men's Club #221 (8/1979) and #223 (10/1979).

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    With summer vacations over and the fall season almost upon us, it's time to get back to it here at HTJ. In this post I've reached back into the HTJ Archives to report on a little pamphlet published 85 years ago this month by Brooks Brothers titled, Brooks's Miscellany & Gentlemen's Intelligencer for 1927 - A compendium of useful information and repository of polite anecdote. I'm not sure how useful this information was, and some of the anecdotes suffer from being perhaps a bit too polite, but it's still a fascinating bit of history. This publication was part of a monthly series given away or sent gratis to Brooks Brothers' customers, containing advertising and a unique view of history from the perspective of Brooks Brothers. The cover contains drawings of Brooks Brothers' staples from this period, items such as a top hat, gloves, umbrella and cane; a shaving kit; grooming articles, lace hooks and spurs; riding boots and whips. There are also symbols of commedia dell'arte representing the theatre as well as perhaps the role that clothing can play in the daily drama of life. This pamphlet also contains a social calendar for September 1927 and articles related to the sporting life as well as the theatre, events that by their inclusion, suggested a social world for the customer through their association with Brooks Brothers. If one pays close attention to the content in the pages that follow, this seemingly old and yellowing bit of Brooks ephemera comes to life with events and institutions, some of which are still around today.

    It is remarkable upon reflection that in 1927 Brooks Brothers had already been in business for 109 years. There were probably more notable occurrences during 1827 than those listed here, but that was also probably not the point. Anecdotes and references to a particular past suggesting the world of Brooks Brothers were what was probably intended. The numbers of students in the classes of Harvard and Yale may seem insignificant by today's standards, but less so when one considers that for the year 1929-1930 only approximately 122,500 men and women graduated from college in the United States. That Brooks Brothers was positioning itself among an elite segment of American society can also be easily seen by looking at the "Social Fixtures" column on the facing page. Equestrian and Kennel Club shows, golf and tennis tournaments, polo matches and yacht racing make up the collection of events that are listed for September 1927.

    A closer look brings some of these old entries to life: September 8th lists the "Davis Cup Challenge Round" at the Germantown Cricket Club, where France, led by René Lacoste went on to defeat an American team led by Bill Tilden. September 12th lists the "Men's Nat'l L. T. Singles Championship, which is better known today as the U.S. Open, held at Forest Hills, New York. In 1927 the men's singles championship was won by René Lacoste, who again defeated American Bill Tilden. September 15th lists the "Polo Open Championship & Waterbury Cup Tournaments," which was won by a team led by Devereux Milburn, who also appeared on the cover of Time ten days earlier on the September 5th 1927 issue. September 17th lists the "Seawanhaka Cup Races" held at Oyster Bay, NY. The Seawanhaka Cup, the oldest yachting trophy originating in the U.S. that is still in active competition, was won in 1927 by HRH Crown Prince Olav of Norway, sailing Noreg (though the America's Cup is older, it did not originate in the U.S.). Many of the tournaments and races listed here continue in some form today. Another interesting event was the September 5th Labor Day entry which contains the "U.S. Seniors Golf Championship," which was established at the Apawamis Club in Rye, Long Island for men over 55 years of age. Far in advance of the Champions Tour of today, this tournament was held from 1927-1939, principally between players in the U.S. and Great Britain until the outbreak of the Second World War. It is a comforting reminder that age often has little to do with enjoying sports throughout the many seasons of one's life.

    In addition to sports, the theatre was also mentioned several times in this little pamphlet. In the Notoria column on the facing page, there is a quiet "Back to School" reminder for clothing for boys. Brooks is still doing the same sort of back to school thing today, although I'd rather receive a little pamplet like this than the constant stream of email advertising. The Compendium column, continued below, lists all of the trunk shows that Brooks Brothers' traveling representatives were scheduled to make in September 1927. It was a lot.

    As this column indicates, there was a time when Brooks Brothers only had stores in New York and Boston, as well as seasonal stores in Newport and Palm Beach. In a day when Brooks Brothers has hundreds of retail and outlet locations across the globe, as well as an internet presence, the thought of seasonal resort stores and trunk shows is actually somewhat refreshing.

    The back cover of this pamphlet features two illustrations with scenes of the city and of the countryside. Over the years, Brooks Brothers made excellent use of illustrations by artists such as Frederick Pegram, Paul Brown and Tran Mawicke. The illustrations here, by the British artist, Frederick Pegram (1870-1937), have a great feel for 1920s city life and country pursuits. I've cropped them for a closer look below.

    Though it is September and the fall season very near, it's still too hot in many places to even contemplate wearing true cold weather clothing. That said, it is never too early to begin to plan ahead. If nothing else, one might feel cooler. Every location seems to have its cold weather challenges from rain and snow to truly frigid temperatures. It's probably not a bad idea to replace or mend coats and shoes that need it before the cold rain and snow are here again in earnest.

    I don't play as much golf as I used to, but autumn is one of my favorite seasons to play golf or do just about anything else. However, the autumn months often bring wind, rain and frost, creating a need for special gear for inclement weather. On and off the course, this has remained unchanged over the years. One lesson learned during my youth, that I carry to this day, is that the best way to learn a golf course, no matter what the weather, is to walk it. Though carts are an unavoidable reality on many courses today, in a cart one misses many of the contours of the course that can only be noticed and learned by repetitive walking. This, of course, reminds me of a lot of things in life, even clothing. Clothing is functional. It takes some time and experience to learn what works well within the contours of one's own daily life. Following trends and the advice of clothiers may get one to a certain point very quickly, but it can often be done without personal reflection based upon the needs of one's own particular context. I like these kinds of old publications because they remind me that there is a lot that really hasn't changed about daily life. Many aspects of contemporary life feel a bit like riding a golf cart; they are convenient, time and energy efficient, but they also cause one rely more upon fleeting technologies rather than upon wisdom earned through living. Most companies today advertise though the internet. Who wouldn't? It's fast and relatively inexpensive, but 85 years from now will there be little pamphlets like this? There is something about a traditional advertisement like this that, even after 85 years, is still pretty effective. Looking at the picture above, I can almost hear the player shout "Fore!" and see the shimmer of lightening in the distance, and feeling overcome by a sense of urgency as the rain begins to fall, I want to get the round finished. In a sense, this old advertisement reminds me that one has to live with a certain amount of inventiveness, wisdom and humility that only comes  - no matter the storms or current technologies  -  from walking life's course.

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    It was 95 (35C) yesterday and for the middle of September that is ridiculous. I am more than ready to wear tweed, flannel and heavy oxford cloth, but fresco, linen and thin broadcloth are more realistic. In this kind of heat, chilly refreshing beverages are more than welcome. Pimm's is a great mixer that is wonderful with lemonade, limeade, lemon tonic, or fortified with gin. I thought that the dog days of summer were behind us, but this is not the case. I hope that it's cooler by you. Cheers!

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  • 09/18/12--14:57: Longwing tumbles back
  • The sky is black and it's raining mighty hard here, but it just feels better knowing that Longwing has his page back up. This is great news.

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    For those who follow the calendar of seasons, autumn begins this year on September 22. Though in many places the temperatures aren't truly cool yet, the fall season is basically here. So in anticipation of what is perhaps, for many, the most favorite season of the year, I've reached back into the HTJ Archives to revisit the Brooks Brothers 1980 Fall & Winter catalog. Shetland, tweed and corduroy have been on my mind if only for the value they hold in anticipation of cooler weather ahead. In spite of its age, this catalog might easily serve as a guide for the coming seasons. In 1980, Brooks Brothers firmly understood the concept of "Brooks Brothers" and the requisite style that this entailed. Nearly every page of this catalog has something that I would consider purchasing today, which is not always the case with the contemporary version of this clothier. Perhaps there is something here for even The Brethren to learn about their own past. Natural shoulder three button herringbone tweed and district check jackets that, of course, could be worn by a young man as he ages into his middle years and beyond. The same could be said of the worsted flannel trousers and blazers here as well. There are also a variety of "Makers" button down collar oxford cloth shirts in a variety of colors that had a very soft collar. One of my favorites, the blue graph check button down is also offered here. About the only place to find this cloth today is Mercer & Sons. Brooks also offered a variety of saddle shouldered Shetland wool sweaters from Scotland - an essential for the chilly autumn and winter evenings and great when worn under an old down vest while out shopping or walking the dog. In 1980 Brooks Brothers also offered standard candy stripe shirts in four colors: brown, yellow, wine and blue. It is sort of remarkable that the similar shades of brown and wine were offered together. I've had all of these except the brown, which would probably look great with a grey herringbone jacket and an olive madder tie. The patch corduroy trousers, so wildly late 70s and early 80s, still stand the test of time. The list could go on and on. It's a great little reminder of the power of the concept that is Brooks Brothers.

     Herringbone is the backbone of a traditional wardrobe. Brown, grey and olive are the standards that will stand the test of time.

    A corduroy jacket will grow soft with age, and can often function in place of a lightweight jacket when out and about town. Forget the tie and throw one on with khakis or cords and loafers.

    Supima cotton in the original colors of ercu, pink, yellow, white, green, yellow and, of course, blue.

    Supima in brown, yellow, wine and blue candy stripes. Candy has never been so sweet.

    Who would have thought that in 1980 this was an illustration of a future blogger? Amazing the perspective time gives.

    Over thirty years on, and all of these shoes are still classics. This is perhaps why Brooks Brothers still offers them, and they would, of course, be foolish not to. It would also be foolish not to follow the suggestions offered in this small catalog for the upcoming fall season - fall colors and cooler weather will just feel better.

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    Under Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, looks every inch the statesman in September 1945 while wearing a grey glen plaid suit with an old school button down collar oxford and a great bandana-esque silk tie. Worsted glen plaid is a very versatile fabric for woolen suiting as the fall season moves into cooler mornings and shorter days.

    Shown here, leaving the White House in 1950, with Ambassador Philip Jessup and Assistant Secretary of State Dean Rusk, Acheson again exudes quiet calm in grey glen plaid.

    I have long been fond of glen plaid in medium grey - it is a pattern that is both formal and relaxed at the same time. Fortunately, however, this type of suit is not something confined solely to the past century. It is still available today at J. Press made with fabric from the Lanificio Comero mills in Biella, Italy.

    That J. Press still offers this sort of suit in a medium grey glen plaid with a blue windowpane, is extremely commendable. As the days begin to get a bit cooler, such a suit is the perfect foreign policy to adopt as one goes about the business of one's own matters of state.

    Images: Google LIFE Archive; Dean Acheson, Present at the Creation. (Norton, 1969) ; J. Press.

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    The autumn season is officially here, though in many places it still isn't very cool. With the summer season in the past, fall patterns and colors seem fresh once again. In another month, the season for heavier tweeds will be here, however, in the meantime what is one to do? For me, the hint is in coolness and colors that work well for this time of year. I have some lightweight wool and wool blend jackets that fit perfectly in this season - when it is still a bit warm, and not yet genuinely cool. The jacket shown here is a brown and olive gun club check with a burgundy windowpane. It's just the ticket for this early autumn time of the year.

    The lining has been partially removed and the jacket finished on the inside, making it more cooler and a bit more flexible during the in between seasons of the year. The fabric, from the Abraham Moon & Sons, Ltd. mills in West Yorkshire, England, is an adaptable blend of 75% wool and 25% linen that has the character of tweed while remaining cool.

    Flexibility in a wardrobe is always a helpful thing. Having jackets that can switch hit between seasons makes it easier to shift into the fall.

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    Over the weekend, my wife was reorganizing some shelves in the kitchen and the dining room, making space for some new things, when she called me into the kitchen. Now, it is no secret around these parts that I enjoy tea. I always have. I am not teetotal, but I am an inveterate tea drinker. "Tea: the drink that rejuvenates, but does not inebriate" - that is my motto. Much of the tea I enjoy is Indian via a variety of British tea purveyors. Darjeeling and Assam being my two favorites. Years ago, I had a great source for a single estate first flush Darjeeling, but that simply isn't available anymore. I usually brew from loose leaf tea, as it just tastes better than tea bags. I have a bunch of older tea tins (above) that I find it hard to let go of, and actually, many of these have the best seals, or even double lids, so I continue to use some of them for storing tea. However, I'm getting away from the story at hand: It is possible to have too much tea. There is wisdom in that old adage, "Not for all the tea in China."

    After we put all of the tea onto the island, even I was surprised at the sheer amount of tea and tins that had been taking up space in the cabinets and cupboards. Some tea tins and boxes had been given as gifts by various kindly disposed folks, among them are the hard to drink "teas" with flower petals, dried fruit and even nuts. Well, as I looked at the island, it was I who felt like a bit of a nut. My wife asked me to check "expiration dates" on tins and boxes and discard what was too old to possibly be any good anymore. There were also the opened tins that seemed like good ideas when tasted at the store, but which really never made a big hit once they were brought home.

    They all went into a bag, one great blend of unwanted tea. It sort of looked like something that I might rake up from under the bushes in the yard. Moral of the story: Don't over stock tea in the pantry. Keep tea fresh and purchase only what is needed. If you are ever invited to a tea lover's home, resist the temptation to give teas with fruit, flowers, nuts and various potpourri in them. Stick with the basics: Darjeeling, Assam, Earl Grey, various Breakfast Blends, etc. I told myself that the same rule should also apply when purchasing tea for home.

    All of this reminds me of an article that Mike Royko, the late and well-loved syndicated columnist, once wrote about shopping and stocking the pantry in his home. Royko wrote about how he and his wife had a difference of views over grocery shopping, with him claiming that she bought things that just sat in the pantry and never got used. His great dislike were the cans of stewed tomatoes that he reported just sat ignored in the pantry, taking up space. His radical proposal for shopping (which I hope his wife did not accept) was a moratorium on shopping "until we eat everything in the house." Now, I suspect that Mr. Royko was not much of a cook, because it is just far easier to keep certain things on hand if one really wants food and the kitchen to be a part of daily life.

    I can't remember much more of the article than that, but it was on my mind as I thought about the tea piled up on the kitchen island looking like some sort of a 'Tea Fair' at the local international supermarket. Though I would like to place the blame on kind-hearted gift-givers, I had to admit that much of it was purchased by my own hand. I don't think I'll adopt the Mike Royko method of shopping, but keeping less tea on hand will make for less clutter and better tasting tea. Now that that's settled, I'm wondering what to do with all of those old tea tins. Maybe a new cabinet, or even a curio case would be a good idea.

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    Here are some classic images from Dartmouth College during 1977. Faculty still wore tweed jackets and ties, along with heavy-duty longwings and bluchers. It was a time when boat shoes, Maine Hunting Boots, Levis cords, hiking boots, quilted down vests & jackets, raincoats, hiking coats, and rugby shirts were pretty popular. It was a very outdoors style and a bit scruffy. It was cool, and I guess I still think it is.

    This photo looks so natural and relaxed, as if every group photo should have a large axe. On the subject of things relaxed and a bit scruffy, the Grateful Dead played at Dartmouth College's Thompson Arena in the spring of 1978 not long after these photos were probably taken. The concert can be heard here on the Internet Archive. It's a solid show, and great soundboard recording (Estimated>Eyes is a good one). Coupled with these images, the music helps make the past seem as if it weren't that long ago.

    Images: Men's Club #195 (8/1977)

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