Thursday, March 31, 2011

Free Shipping

I was watching The Office tonight (we'll miss you Michael Scott!) and switched channels during commercial break when I saw a flash of familiar tanned leather. It turns out I caught a glimpse of the famous L.L. Bean boots being manufactured at the Freeport, Maine headquarters.

Back in grade school, I thought the brand was uncool, boring, and for old people. Their catalogs were fun to look at when they came in the winter because of the funny sweater alpine designs on the cover that you'd also see at your next Xmas Ugly Sweater Party. This backpack was about as far as a normal teenager would dare bring to school. Of course I grew up in the south and not in the northeast where L.L Bean is worshiped. The Official Preppy Handbook describes Bean's significance well and puts them as "nothing short of prep mecca". Thus as I sit here a few years later typing up this blog post, my trusty Bean boots are off in the corner still with rain beads on the rubber and having kept my feet dry from the downpour earlier today.

There are still some Bean items I would never see myself buy, however this trad company is on the top level of quintessential American brands. They're great for the basics and now with free shipping, I can see myself ordering from them more often. L.L. Bean and another one of my online retailing favorites, Land's End, have been pushing towards attracting the next generation of customers with the new Signature and Canvas lines. Along with never ending free shipping with zero minimum, Mr. Bean may have made a strong power play amongst their competitors. They certainly have my attention.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Spring Shopping

I'm all about some awesome steals and below are a few that I was lucky enough to grab.

These 8 Vineyard Vines polos pictured below were found on Craigslist from a guy in Washington D.C. I didn't find out much about him but I assume he was moving on to better things in the capital city and wanting to upgrade his closet. He listed these shirts for $10 a piece and I offered to take the whole lot if he included shipping within the cost. Nice guy accepted and even emailed me a UPS confirmation receipt. 8 VV shirts for $80 total is a once in a lifetime deal and I'm glad I found his listing the same day he posted it, or someone else would've jumped on it quick!

I consider VV to be more of a college brand and the only VV item prior to this I own are chappy swim shorts, so I'll keep a few but much like the seller I don't think I'll be wearing them well past graduation. They go for a lot on eBay (even used) so I'll sell the rest and hopefully make a profit.

Protip: for Craigslist hunting, I type into Google "[Item] + Craigslist" and it will come up with the available searches across the country. Haggle with the seller or at least ask them to throw in the cost of shipping like I did.

I found the Lacoste polo at the bottom of the picture in a sales rack at Belks and was surprised to see it marked down from $80 to $40. The original Lacoste polo usually never go down that low and this particular shirt was the last one left and thankfully in my size. $40 for a shirt is still a lot in my book but I probably won't find another Lacoste polo this price for a long time.

Big fan of the Land's End Legacy chinos and found these Reds at Sears for $6. The Patagonia Torrentshell Rainjacket came in the mail, marked from $120 to $71. Not the best deal overall but since it is in full season it was nice to grab it without waiting a couple of months for a clearance and risk not finding my size and color choice.

Found these Ralph Lauren shirts at my Goodwill. $4 each.

Monday, March 21, 2011

All in the Name

There are many synonyms and variations of our style. Classic East Coast Clothing or Traditional American Clothing (Trad) serves as the forefather of the Ivy League Look and later on Prep. Then enter in locational differences of East v. Midwest (or do the boys at Stanford have anything to add?) and the ever popular Northern v. Southern Prep. And how about our Fogey cousin across the pond? Or Japanese Trad, which without we would not have rediscovered Take Ivy, the Old Testament to The Official Preppy Handbook’s New Testament. These are just to name a few and each has its own history and influences amongst each other in the grand picture.

If the Ivy League Look had a baby named Prep, then Prep had a bunch of bastardized children that fall under the 3rd generation of present day American collegiate clothing.

Since I am focusing on up-to-date college styles on this blog, here are my general interpretations of what I have come to know. It’s hard to accurately describe each as its own presence since they are all pretty much cut from the same cloth, but I’ll give it a shot.

Mainstream Prep

To start things off, this is the largest and most popular genre that most college students can relate to and probably at least half of your campus wears. The majority of them shop the mainstream brands at the mall. Ralph Lauren is the big one, a relic of the latter end of the original Prep era when Ralph’s polo shirt took over Lacoste’s reign. Tommy Hilfiger and Nautica followed but lost street credit a long time ago, but both and other similar department store brands still serve a place although not the weapon of choice that RL Polo is. Fitting ranges from so-so to horrendous and more than likely you will see pants that are too long, untucked tails, and Abercrombie and Fitch may still be considered cool (unfortunately). Mainstream Prep is everywhere in some shape or form across the nation and it is what the general public sees as today’s default Prep style.

Sample Staples: Black North Face Denali Fleece Jacket, Rainbow Flip Flops, Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt, Pre-Distressed Levis 559, 11” inseam shorts from Gap, Oakley Sunglasses

Boston cap, North Face jacket, and a white crewneck underneath an unbuttoned shirt (bad). Yup.

Neo-Prep (Northern Prep, Trad)

Heavy in Trad influences and clothing fundamentals such as chinos and OCBDs, Neo-Prep is the truest form and direct evolution from the Ivy League Look to Prep and from Prep to now. What separates it from the umbrella of Mainstream Prep is that it is cleaner, simpler, and mature. There is no need for graphic shirts and skinny jeans and instead opt for polos and button down shirts for daily wear. Neo-Prep is not totally Trad however because it is updated with relevant approach and incorporates synthetic fibers like fleece and thinsulate that Trad purists resist, but the bare principle of practicality and function remains. Attitude wise, there are the GTH elements that many Mainstream Preps may not understand or dare to wear like pastel shorts and emblem belts. Another big key is the attitude towards how clothes are worn. Chinos are worn often and have little to no break. Fitting should compliment your build but not noticeably. Barefoot in boat shoes or loafers in warmer weather and never sandals unless at the beach. Neo-Preps shop at the Trad brands that most Mainstream folks may have never heard of, as well at even lesser-known specialty shops and regional brands. The real prep students from the Northeast Academies and Universities match closest to this style.

Sample Staples: Jansport Rightpack, Brooks Brothers OCBD, Patagonia Synchilla Snap T, Stock Levis 505 and 501 (naturally distress over time), Bass Penny Loafers, Paul Stuart Engine-Turned Silver Belt Buckle, Ray Ban Aviators

Casual with a Tattersall button down and lightly faded denim. Cute girl.

Southern Prep

Very similar to Neo-Prep and made popular by the SEC universities. A lot more GTH colors and warmer textiles like seersucker and poplin. The outdoor culture has a large impact. Costa Del Mar sunglasses polarized to protect you from the lake water glare and croakies to save them from falling off-board. Columbia PFG technical attire for when you wheel in the next big one. Visor hats and shorter inseam pleated shorts for the sunny hot weather at the links. Hunting cap and oiled field coats for quail hunting. Bow ties. Madras. Justin Roper Boots for the gentleman farmer. Coat and tie on gameday, white bucks for church in the summer, and Skoal…lots of Skoal. Vineyard Vines, Ben Silver, and Lily Pulitzer (for the girls) along with the many recent startups like Southern Tide or Southern Proper. Heritage is a big thing in the south and thus they have risen up to the dominance of traditional clothing that was once associated only to the Northeast.

Sample Staples: Perlis Crawfish polo, Patagonia Stand Up Shorts with 5” inseam, Sperry Billfish boat shoes, Orvis Shot Shell Belt, Costa Del Mar shades and Croakies with your university or coastal destination of choice printed on it

Straw Gambler Hat, Del Mars, OCBD, Red Pleated Seersucker

Fratty (Laxbro)

This varies a lot depending on the area. In the south, Southern Prep and Fratty are basically the same but with more jock mentality. Random mix and match like OCBDs with athletic shorts or chino shorts with white high top athletic socks and Nike Air Max sneakers. The Frocket and the Fratshag or Alamaba Swoop (and Flow for the Laxbros.) Lacrosse and Soccer are the sport of choice and collected lax pinnies and futbol jerseys from years of summer camps and grade school teams end up keeping your nipples soft when you step out of the jacuzzi to get another Coors Light.

Sample Staples: Worn-in The Game College Bar hat or Flat Billed baseball hats, Frocket with fraternity letters, Adidas Soccer Shorts, Clarks Wallabees or New Balance 993 barefoot, Emblem belt with Lax sticks, Oakley Frog Shades

Exaggeration but you get the picture

Urban Prep

Fashion’s answer to Prep and Trad. Clothing is more fitted. Lots of Cardigans, skinny ties, and tailored chinos. Same old stuff, updated look.

Sample Staples: See J.Crew, Band of Outsiders, Michael Bastian

Plaid OCBD, Patterned slim tie, Tie Bar, 4 block colored pants, suede slippers. Legit.

There are undoublty more sections, subsections, titles and so on about Preppy clothing...but let's not get overly methodical about this. And if you're like me then you dabble between all of the above. I've made a special section for "Fratty" on this blog to make a distinction between my Tradly attire and Fratty excursions, so I will leave it at that!

Friday, March 11, 2011

PSA: 3/12/11

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Winter is finally melting away and the Spring rains will be flowing in soon, so I decided to invest in a new rain jacket for the upcoming wet season. I trust Patagonia (-gucci?) for my technical outerwear and found that their Torrentshell Jacket has very favorable reviews. Usually they retail for $120, but knowing me and my cheap habits I searched for a better deal and I was not disappointed.

6pm has the jacket in mustard (which I actually like and reminds me of the classic yellow "Paddington Bear" coat) in M, L, and XL as well as narwhal grey, channel blue, and purple in odd sizes for only $65.

Mountain High Outfitters is the site I used. I like the bali blue color the most but they unfortunately did not have my size and went with the channel blue instead. But there are lots of color and sizes left plus free shipping for $71. (Mountain High has awesome bargains in general so look back often, I recently saw the Patagonia R4 which usually retails for $250 discounted to only $100).

I always try to check something out in person before buying it online so I stopped by REI the other day and tried the Torrentshell on. It surprisingly fits slim and has fitted sleeves so I would buy true-to-size if you have a regular build. Pretty siked for my jacket to ship in and I hope it performs as well as the hype. Guess we'll see when the April showers come! Act fast on the above deals guys, don't know how long they will last.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Alvin - Dennis, Inc.

There used to be a time where prestigious universities had cooperatives (Yale Co-Op, Georgetown Co-Op) where the student body could pick up blazers with their school's embroidered emblem and engraved buttons. Unfortunately many of those establishments have closed their doors long ago, making way to tailgate sweatshirts at your local Dick's.

But some mom and pop stores are still around, such as Alvin-Dennis, Inc, a traditional clothing store in Lexington, VA that opened its doors in 1963 and is situated near Washington and Lee University and Virginia Military Institute. They offer the likes of Rainbow Sandals, North Face, and Southern Tide products for the younger students, and Haspel and Peter Blair for the older alumni. A great example of keeping up with the competition and proves that hometown stores can still serve a sizable market.

102 West Washington St in downtown historic Lexington, Va
An employee and an Alvin Dennis original tee. Maybe he works part time and is a full time graduate student? Nice bowtie.
W&L and VMI chinos

School Formalwear. Great for the next frat formal.

Owner Alvin Carter with customers. Professors? Tweed jacket, Anglo Rimmed glasses, Nantucket Reds, Motif Surcingle belt.
VMI instructor. Pressed and Tucked In.
Checkered button down.

Former W&L All-American Paul Wallace
Patagonia Synchilla Marsupial
Reds, Blue Blazer
Mountain Hardware jacket

Days gone by. Mr. Carter seems to have shown up to work in a jacket and tie for the past four decades. Bowtie, Reds, Ribbon Surcingle belt
W&L students. Blazers, Dirty Bucks.

Plaid everything
Frat shags don't change over time.

Former employees

The future.