Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Brooks Brothers starting a Branded College Line

List of "preppiest" schools to be featured:

1. Harvard
2. Princeton
3. Stanford
4. Cornell
5. Georgetown
6. Vanderbilt
7. Boston College
8. Notre Dame
9. The U.S. Naval Academy
10. Auburn
11. University of Virginia
12. New York University
13. Ohio State University
14. Universities of Alabama
15. University of Georgia

I realize that these are all large schools and they want to reach as much fanbase and alumni as possible, but I question some of the picks, Ohio State for example. No Duke? Ole Miss? Navy but not Army? Unless there were licensing conflicts, I don't see why these schools were left out while others included. Except Yale, which is absent probably because that crosses into J.Press territory. Nevertheless this should be an interesting line. But I have a feeling it would be too Abercrombie for any true tradster to wear.


Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Fun Shirt

My Go To Hell post featured one of the trad holy grails resting in my closet: the Brooks Brothers "Fun" shirt. Not sure what it is but we trads seem to love our crazy mixing of colors, from madras to plaid and everything in between. The Fun shirt is a prime specimen of this pigment fixation, and as Heavy Tweed Jacket says, it is the "GTH benchmark" of all shirts. Dearly beloved or strongly despised, the shirt had it's humble beginnings in the early 1980s as the perfect shirt for the preppiest of the preps. As the perverted offspring of an university stripe OCBD, or several OCBDs for that matter, the Fun shirt has gone through many changes in the last 30 years but still remains as one of the most identifiable shirts in the history of going to hell. It is still offered time to time and depending on the season, but unfortunately BB has discontinued the most famous version pictured below.

1985 Fun shirt, taken from HTJ

A cousin of the original, a 2009 Non-Iron version. I purchased this at the BB factory store and sold it.

I admit I don't wear the Fun shirt on many occasions, although I have three versions of it! Reason being it is too loud to be worn regularly, and you can never escape the noticeable glances from all directions on the event you do take the leap to wear it. That's too much for an unprepared psyche. I tend to put it on when I go on vacations to warm climates (where I don't know anyone and vice versa), the last time being in near-tropical Miami. I also wear it to fancy places where the passerby may be able to appreciate it without gawking. The other main reason is candid but's a gay shirt. Now, I am comfortable with my sexuality but it is what it is. So I would never wear it to somewhere like the classroom, which is telling of the times as if this were 1984, the BB fun shirt would be a hit with my peers, instead of detested and blatantly questioned.

My collection:
Top, BB Fun shirt, eBay
Middle, Ralph Lauren custom fit, gift
Bottom, BB Tartan Fun shirt, Garland Factory store

So how do I wear the BB shirt without looking like I need a big red nose and facepaint? Same as with all GTH items...very subtly. The shirt is very flashy and cannot be mixed with anything else too bright or overstated. I usually pair it with neutral colored khaki shorts or chinos and a navy surcingle or leather belt.

When wearing the Fun shirt, you should try your best to fit the preppy mold. Short inseam shorts, penny loafers (or boat shoes, driving loafers, etc) sockless, rolled up sleeves, etc. That way you have a chance of being labeled a WASP instead of another four letter word...

My BB Tartan Fun shirt is for the fall and winter seasons. Here I paired it with chinos and desert boots, although it may work with brown or olive corduroys or wool pants. But since the shirt is dark in hue, I like balancing it out with a light bottom tone.

The RL shirt under a navy V neck light sweater. The solid navy downplays the strong pattern of the shirt. Just the right amount of color splash for the next cool summer evening when you're breathing in the sea salt and ocean breeze at the restaurant patio by the docks.

Matching stripes can work, as long as the patterns are different but complimenting. This Brooks Brothers sportsjacket has a quiet rust colored pinstripe which is on the other end of the spectrum with the RL shirt's louder multi-colored stripes.

...must start again.

Following my last blog post, where my beloved Hamilton did a humpty dumpty, I fulfilled my loan and returned my father's Bucherer back (he missed it) and picked up a new favorite watch to keep my wrist company until my Hamilton can be put back together again.

I've been meaning to post this since I received my Seiko 5 SNKE01 a month ago, appropriately nicknamed the "Poor Man's Grand Seiko" for it's similar styling to the far more expensive Grand Seiko GMT. I love Seiko and it is very reputable in the horology community, and the Seiko 5 series provides some of the best entry level automatics with models as low as the $50 range on Amazon.

The SNKE01 is rarer but can be had for around $100 new. I like the numeral bezel, reminiscent of the Rolex Explorer II (one day...) and the oyster linked bracelet. Very nice styling for barely over a c-note.

Trad Mannerisms: Go to Hell

With Memorial Day behind us we have officially arrived in the summer season, although this week's 90+ degree highs in my area makes it feel like the dog day afternoons of August instead of the early morning skies of June.

Summer is a great time for the infamous "Go to Hell" look, which if you do not know by now refers to a certain attitude with clothing, as if to say Yes I am wearing yellow pants and I don't care...Go to hell! GTH usually refers to bright coloring but can also relate to the unusual material or loud presentation of your attire, such as incorporating seersucker bowties or motif belts. It works best during summer, and so the warm temperatures are the trad's excuse to break out the pastels with their preppy brotheren and rejoice in walking the fine line between confidence and irony.

What makes GTH inherently trad/preppy is the rich history behind it. Ivy Style has an amazing article about the origins of the look and you can see how it has risen to its popularity nowadays. Before, the GTH mindset was clear and defined by the very name of the style, with only a few people brave enough to break the color barriers, whereas now it is more common with dear ol' Ralph Lauren paving the way in its popularity. You may still get a few glances here and there depending on where you live, but at least you can rely on the fact that the look is supported in mainstream fashion.

Of course, another reason GTH is firmly infused in the preppy look is largely due to its placement in today's culture, usually with a negative connotation. Is GTH douchey? Short answer...of course. Look at any typical teenage movie where the cool-headed hero fights the villainous typecast rich preppy kid with a mean spirited personality (like that Delta Iota Kappa kid in Van Wilder). Or these douches from Take Me Home Tonight. Not to mention the king of all rich kid parodies, the Youtube video Tea Partay. GTH is the lifeblood of the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant preppy types, but does it mean they all drive Bentleys, spit on the working class, and use hundred dolla' bills as toilet paper just because they want to wear kelly green shorts instead of boring khaki ones? Short answer....what you don't? Yes jk. It is your character that defines you, not your clothes. Let the haterz hate.

Like with all clothing, there are rules that you should follow before donning on the bleeding madras. Rules fly in the face of the very reason behind GTH, but following these will save you from looking like a clown or being thrown out of your law school interview.

1) One GTH item at a time, or in few cases, if there are two items then the other must be subtle. You want your outfit to look tasteful to help downplay the douchiness of it!

2) Keep it seasonal. For example, multi-colored linen shorts for the warmer months only, not for fall and winter.

3) Be weary of the occasion. If you are going to class then it's ok to put on your nantucket reds but please keep them at home for funerals. If you have any doubts about whether or not you want to be noticed by your GTH attire, then don't wear it and save it for a more festive occasion.

I've collected a few pictures of myself in the GTH look. Below is a casual outfit illustrating Rule #1, where the nantucket red shorts are balanced with a neutral grey t shirt. Since the baseball cap is also somewhat loud in color with its unique blue shade, the shorts are the "large" item and the baseball cap is the "subtle" item.
Lacrosse tournament t shirt, thrifted
Land's End shorts
Sperry Boat shoes

Heading to the pool. And one of the only times you will ever see me in flip flops. Vineyard Vines 7" inseam chappy trunks are extremely GTH. The ones I have on are actually pretty simple compared to their other designs.
Ralph Lauren pocket long sleeve shirt
Vineyard Vines chappy swim shorts
Rainbow sandals
Ray Ban aviators

Grey polo and yellow shorts.
Ralph Lauren polo
Caribbean Joe linen shorts, tailored to 8" inseam.
Sperry Boat shoes

We've unfortunately witnessed alot of tornadoes this year across the nation so early in the season. This was taken a week ago on a stormy day that produced such violent weather in the Midwest before the front hit my area in the Southeast. Best wishes to those affected.
The Patagonia Torrentshell that I picked up recently came in handy. I like the Bali Blue color because it makes the outfit brighter on a gloomy rainy day. I consider it mildly GTH, and orange cap, shorts, and rain boots add to the preppy effect.
Patagonia Torrentshell Rain Jacket
Ralph Lauren shorts.
Nike Baseball cap, naturally distressed over years of wear.
LL Bean boots

Real men wear pink.
Brooks Brothers t shirt
J Crew seersucker shorts
Persol sunglasses
Sperry Boat shoes

Another example of Rule #1. The motif belt plays the subtle GTH item.
Brooks Brothers OCBD
Ralph Lauren pants
Leatherman Ltd Belt
LL Bean blucher mocs
Ray Ban aviators

The fabled Brooks Brothers "Fun Shirt". This is good example of why I consider the navy blue surcingle belt paramount to have in your closet. The extreme GTH presence of the shirt makes it nearly impossible to wear any thing else loud without making the whole outfit look tacky. The navy belt helps ground the look. And since the Fun Shirt is meant to be worn casually in the summer, you want the belt fabric to reflect the warm weather. Leather would be ok but cotton (namely surcingle) is better. A solid navy surcingle is the perfect answer.
Brooks Brothers "Fun Shirt" OCDB
Ralph Lauren shorts
Land's End surcingle belt
Cole Haan Penny Loafers

The watch in the above pics is my new Seiko.

Edit 6/4/11: Someone had nicely mentioned that some of the items above may no longer be considered GTH. Admittingly, I stretched the term for the blue baseball cap and so on, but the idea behind Nantucket Red shorts remains even though it is no longer that special to be seen wearing in public. That IvyStyle article explained the rise of GTH from a time when the term truly meant the sartorial emotions defined by literally saying "Go to Hell", to now where it is a simple catchphrase spread by the popularity of the preppy look on the internet and the fashion houses of the world. Red shorts may be common in my and your area, but the idea remains and the sensitization of GTH has made it tougher to "out-GTH" the next attire. Before, it was red pants and pink shirts. Now, it is 4 paneled shorts with lime green, sky blue, fuchsia and pink. Tomorrow, it will be a Hula girls embroided into your madras shirt....oh too late.