Saturday, February 19, 2011

Socks and Boat Shoes in the Winter

This past week was sunny in the lower 50s and 60s and everyone on campus was excited with spring time knocking at the door. But with that came the sudden appearance of tees and shorts as if it'll miraculously warm up to the mid 90s by the afternoon. Guys, let's not jump the gun! You're not fooling anyone next time that chilly gust blows between the science building walkthrough, causing you to have goosebumps and forcing you to shove your blue hands in your Nantucket Red Short pockets. Alas, it is still winter in many parts of the country and days of warmth are just as teasing as that tri-delta girl bending over in her spring dress.

I may be going against the frat bible here, but I am not a fan of the hardcore going barefoot in boat shoes when it's snowing outside rule. Some firmly disagree and I have no ill feeling toward them, but to me it is just as dumb as when guys wear their Croakies and Del Mars at night (can't you just leave them hanging off your dashboard mirror after hours?) or wearing shorts so short that their boxers creep out when they sit. I am all for being preppy, but these examples that push the boundaries to the extreme just for the sake of staying true to the preppy lifestyle are kind of ridiculous, and as a trad man at heart, I'd much rather fulfill these codes of valor in a utilitarian, common sense kind of way and to avoid the WTF? stares (for the wrong reasons anyway).

So boat shoes and socks. Are they polar opposites? Boat shoes are inherently a warm weather shoe and I rotate them with my L.L. Bean Blucher Mocs in the colder months, but when I do wear my Sperrys I always pair them with socks. If it is of season or it is less than brisk degrees (below 60 in my book) outside then you should adorn socks, unless you live in a tropical climate and therefore free of a lot of worries we northern people deal with.

But because boat shoes are a casual shoe I tend to pair them with atypical or 'fun' socks. Argyle, wool or hiking, and fair isle socks can be both under-stated and appropriate for daily seasonal wear while GTH patterns like multi-striped, rugby, and bright colored socks for preppier occasions.

Depending on how dandy you want to appear, socks can be used to add personality to your wardrobe and can make as loud as a statement as going sockless in below-freezing temperature. I normally reserve my 'louder' socks for casual events or when I am feeling ironic. Below are examples of boat shoes and socks, however you can adapt this to any other shoe you wear regardless of season. Just be mindful of what you wear your GTH socks stuff to....class is ok to illicit those WTF? stares (for the right reasons), but probably not at funerals.

Gap wool socks
J. Crew yellow socks

Old Navy multi striped socks

J. Crew red striped socks

Brooks Brothers argyle socks

J. Press rugby striped socks

J. Press fair isle socks (been meaning to get a pair of these)

D.S. Dundee fair isle socks
Wallows Fair Isle Socks with Clarks Wallabees. Taken from The Bengal Stripe.


Update May, 2012
Mr. OCBD has posted a very nice writeup on socks that I also suggest reading.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Game Day

While rewatching last week's Duke/UNC basketball game on ESPN3 the other day, the camera panned the crowd and I caught the guy pictured below. He has a typical fratty outfit, with the douchey go-to-hell attitude exclaimed by wearing the aviators indoors, but I certainly admire his game day attire.

A lot of people won't understand the tradition of dressing up to sporty events. For most, catching a ball game is the most casual thing you can do besides lying on a lazy river sippin' on a bloody mary. Dressing up to a game is the prep's retort to slobs wearing over-sized jerseys and cheesehead hats. It exudes class and respect for the sport, which feeds into why football games in the south are huge events that one should wear their Sunday best to. But it doesn't necessarily mean you should wear a suit and instead you can opt for fun combinations (i.e. a bow tie in your school's colors). You will see fraternities and sororities dress up at football games, especially schools in the SEC. Another example would be any horse race or golf tournament. College basketball doesn't usually receive the same kind of attention but it's nice to see guys like below pull it off.

Worn-in college block lettering baseball cap, point collared shirt, Duke Blue motif bowtie

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

January 2011

Church service.

-Land's End Canvas Shawl Cardigan
-L.L. Bean OCBD
-Brooks Brothers #1 Repp Tie
-J. Crew Chinos
-Clarks Desert Boots

School Day.

-Gap Pea Coat
-Jos. A Bank Cashmere V Neck Sweater
-J. Crew Gingham OCBD
-Ralph Lauren Belt
-Ralph Lauren Chinos
-Cole Haan Penny Loafers

School Day.

-Patagonia Synchilla Snap-T Fleece Pullover, Made in USA, eBay for $10 (Love this sweater!)
-Ralph Lauren Peach University Striped OCBD
-Land's End Chinos
-L.L. Bean Blucher Mocs

Sweater removed.

-Hamilton Khaki Field Watch
-Volunteer Traditions Surcingle Belt


-L.L. Bean Signature G9 Jacket
-Gap Italian Merino Wool V Neck Sweater
-J. Crew Ringer Shirt
-Gap Denim
-Clarks Desert Boots

Jacket removed.

-Bucherer Watch with NATO strap.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Duck Head Pants

Ubiquitous with southern preps in the 1980s, Duck Head khakis are an icon of a by-gone era. Almost every kid from grade school to college owned at least one pair, and were seen almost exclusively in the Carolinas, Virgina, Georgia, and on SEC campuses and football stadiums. They were preferably worn starched, pleated and cuffed; and were very affordable at $5 or less on sale. Made in the USA quality and many discount stores carried them. You can spot a good ol' southern boy with the famous yellow and green logo at the back of each pair.

Duck Head started out in 1865 in Tennessee when George and Joe O'Bryan cut material from surplus Army tents to make work wear overalls. The name of the tent fabric, known as "duck cloth", along with the brothers' passion for hunting led to the name of the company. During World War II, Duck Head became one of the largest manufacturers of military uniforms, churning out almost 5 million by the end of the war. (Here's a more complete history video taken from their website. Disclaimer: looks like it was made fifteen years ago.)

The khakis were synonymous with fraternities in the south, so much so that GDIs would refer to wearers with a term that sort of rhymed with "DuckHead"

Tintin of The Trad remembered his Ducks very well and described the perfect Casual Friday combo: an OCBD, surcingle, and barefoot in LLBean Bluchers. Try with pants or shorts. Great for the summer barbecue at the lake or a home game this Fall. Shrimp and grits sold separately.

The company was sold in 2009 and has yet to make a reappearance. Hopefully we'll get to see a return soon, but until then you can find these forgotten treasures on eBay. I scored the coveted Olive color Ducks online, and Stone color Ducks at my local Goodwill as NOS ("new old stock"- with tags). Luckily I was able to find them both in flat front which are rarer than the popular pleated version.

My older brother had a pair back in elementary school during the height of its availability. Now, my good friend Matthew and I are the only ones who wear them on my campus, although I did once see a fratter at the ACC tournament last year wearing Duck Head shorts. Perhaps we can brew a comeback?

My 2 Duck Heads