30 May 2011

More Firsts Of The Season

Poplin suit (more on that later)
 Gin & Tonic (actually, this would be the first finished bottle of gin for the season)
 Platic pool
 Richie's slush (used to be called slush, anyway. Still just as good)
 Seersucker pants
 Pink wine, al fresco dining in the back yard
Weber grill

Not neccesarily in that order. All in all, it's been a damn good week.

29 May 2011

The Jams

A fellow known as Laguna Beach Fogey recently referred to me as a "tattooed goombah from Boston who plays Preppy dress up." (the capitalization of preppy is his...I might have capitalized Goombah).  This might have been funny, if only the ensuing conversation hadn't led me to this. Wow.

So I thought about how I don't like to get political here, and how I like to write about clothes, and music and stuff, and how I should probably just leave this all alone. But when I read something so ugly, ignorant and racist, I have a hard time keeping my mouth shut.

So instead of flying off the handle and likely making an ass of myself, I settled my nerves with this incredible live performance by Curtis Mayfield from 1972. Seriously, Curtis with a small band and a Fender amp, sans string arrangement, is unstoppable.

I went to a Memorial Day parade today with my wife, kids and parents. I watched veterans and marching bands roll by, and I thought about what this all stood for, and I tried to give some small idea of it to my four year old boy. Then I came home and got rolling with all this Laguna racism crap and it brought me down, but only for a minute. As Curtis says:

"of all the soldiers who are dead and gone, if we could bring back just one, he'd say we got to have peace"

Go ahead and change the subject if you like...make cracks about the ugly 1970s clothes in the video, make this a conversation about me being a typical bleeding heart from Massachusetts, call me a goombah, it's up to you. I plan to "Keep On Keeping On"

Happy Memorial Day.

p.s. we'll get back to matters more superficial tomorrow...promise.

27 May 2011

AAW S/S 2011

"An Affordable Wardrobe is proud to announce the debut of it's Spring/Summer 2011 collection..."

Blech! Scratch that. There will be no press/blogger party hosted by Stella Artois in Manhattan.

After a week of cleaning up and sorting out from the Top Shelf Flea Market, and taking a much needed and well earned little rest, the shop has just been restocked with plenty of goods suitable for the warm weather. "Bill" is back, and he's wearing a lot of chambray. Check it out.

25 May 2011

La Costa Orientale (or, East Coast "Italian")

A while back, I made a very brief mention of a new pair of pants in the "Milano" cut by Brooks Brothers which had just made their seasonal debut. Today, on second wearing, I find myself still on the fence about my verdict.
Essentially, they would seem to be just my style. A nice pale shade of orange, very East Coast, and seemingly a cinch on a warm sunny day with a navy blazer and dress shirt open at the neck. In true Affordable Wardrobe fashion, purchased well off season at a deep discount. The cut is pretty trim, but I can live with that, especially in what once was considered a casual outfit, though these days I may as well be meeting the Queen or being inaugurated president in such a get up.

I mentioned before that the "Milano" cut takes some getting used to, and the trouble for me lies in the very short rise of these pants. Please forgive me this unseemly crotch shot, but I took it to make a point, in the interest of service to you, my devout readers. Note how the top of these pants just meet the bottom button  of my blazer. Most of my pants come up at least two inches higher, nearly to the top button. Maybe they don't even look bad, or wrong, by today's standards, but I constantly feel like I need to pull them up, only I can't, because they won't go any higher. I guess that's Italian style, or something.

Orange cotton pants should be so very East Coast, and so I wore them with a vintage blue striped Sero oxford ($1.99) and a J. Press blazer ($7.49), but I eschewed the undershirt and left an extra button open for a flash of chest hair, you know, Italian style...

and this pair of brown suede Ralph Lauren driving loafers, made in Italy ($5.49), really holds this one together, you know, Italian style.  It works, I think, but I had to work at it, and I was conscious of the skimpy cut of these pants all day, which is antithetical to stylish dressing.Who was it that said something like "if you can't wear it and forget that you're wearing it, don't wear it"? Can't remember, but its sound advice. I'll be 35 on my next birthday, and frankly, the "Milano" cut makes me feel old. Ten years ago, slim and trim were the two most important things I looked for in a pair of pants. These days, a more classic fit with room to breath is more my speed. Call it dressing like a grown up, if you will, but its really just knowing my shape and how to flatter it that I'm after. That, and not constantly trying to pull up a pair of pants that won't go any higher.

At the Top Shelf Flea, I had a customer engaged in conversation who was inspecting a vintage 1980s Brooks Brothers "Brooksease" 3/2 sack suit in navy blue with white stripes I was offering, and he said something like "when I see a suit like this, it makes me wonder why a company like Brooks Brothers would engage in all the 'preppy nonsense'."

I said "Blame it on the Italians."

p.s. plenty of "preppy nonsense" is about to hit the shop, including many of the pink and green pants recently mentioned. Stay tuned.

24 May 2011

Top Shelf Flea Market III...Grazie Mille!

Once again, I am truly humbled by the incredible turnout at Top Shelf Flea last Sunday. It is truly gratifying to know so many people think my crazy little idea is a good one.

I feel secure in saying that a good time was had by all, and I only regret a lack of photographic evidence for those of you not in attendance. Alas, I was too busy selling to shop (every business man's favorite problem, to be sure).

Bill (my faithful mannequin) and I thank you deeply.

21 May 2011

This Little Piggie's Gone to Market...

I look forward to seeing many of you at the Top Shelf Flea Market III. Lots of good stuff, lots of good people. Be back here Monday with the full report.

19 May 2011

Teaser, part 3 (the only way to fly)

Not clothes, not available at my booth, but...
This is a vintage 1980s Olmo bicycle, made in Italy. All flashed up and ready-to-ride shape, courtesy of Top Shelf newcomers JA Outfitters. Not cheap, but a steal for it's quality.

Jason, of  Winderness Workshop in Boston, and author of the blog Eggs & Wool,  and Alexi, bike mechanic extroidinaire and self styled "horrible old man" have come together to form JA outfitters, offering bike stuff, wilderness stuff, vintage camping, fishing, and hiking stuff, and other assorted well curated authentic vintage heritage Americana. Now, before you say it, I know I like to poke fun at all that stuff, but these two have it on a level that only goes to prove my distaste for what ADG calls the "vintage heritage legacy work clothes con artists"...by which I mean, they are for real, not gourmet axe wielding Manhattan lumberjacks. And they have this bike to sell.

You see, I didn't learn to drive until I was 29 years old. I resisted it like the plague, and it wasn't until the birth of a child was fast upon me that I broke down. Prior to that, I was a bike dork, full blast. Fixed gear, English three speed, rolled jeans, wool jersey, courier bag wearing, avant garde rock band playing bike dork. Cocky, and 35 pounds lighter, to boot. In those days, I lusted after an Italian bicyle such as this.

Beat me to it, 'cause if I spend half the days haul on this thing, Mrs, G. will have my head, not on a plate, but likely in a trash bag.

18 May 2011

Teaser, part 2 (pink and green edition)

I've got a fine selection of trousers this time out for Top Shelf Flea Market, many of the old "go-to-hell" variety, perfect for warm weather and sunshine. There's even some pale blue mini-gingham, patch madras, and a killing pair in orange linen, made in Italy, with un-finished hems.

Have you ever seen so many brightly colored trews in the same place outside of Boca Raton?
A classic cotton pair in true kelly green from Lands' End, made in USA, likely 1980s vintage...
Golf pants from Saks 5th Avenue, with buckled side tabs...very Ted Knight in "Caddyshack"...
but the prize goes to this very unusual pair by the venerable Oxxford, rendered in fine worsted wool, full blast dress slacks, only green. Note the signature half waistband. Not for everyone, but don't mess with the guy who buys these.
Dead stock USA made Nantucket Reds by Berle...
Corbin "Prime Poplin" for Murray's Toggery shop, as real as it gets...
and yet another anomaly from Oxxford. You have no idea how hard I'm trying not to keep these.

True, it does take some guts to wear this stuff, but once you cross the line, it's not as hard as you think. With a white tennis shirt and navy blazer, any of these trousers really is downright classic. Lots of money and a yacht do help, but all that's only ancillary. Style is the only required ingredient.
Don't worry if you're tastes run a but more conservative. Khakis, seersucker, and charcoal worsted are also in stock for Spring.

16 May 2011

Teaser, part 1

With the third semi-annual Top Shelf Flea Market less than a week away, the time has come for some shameless commercialism.

An Affordable Wardrobe is proud, once again, to be an outside vendor for The Cordial Churchman. Ellie makes a high quality bow tie for short change, her husband helps out, and together they raise a beautiful family besides. What's not to love? See the whole story in their new video:

The Cordial Churchman Story from Jay Grant on Vimeo.

True, I'm the number one shill for these people. But what's wrong with supporting good old American cottage industry? A selection of Ellie's work will be available at the Affordable Wardrobe booth on Sunday. Check it.

14 May 2011

First(s) of the Season

I'm not one to abide Boston style complaints about the weather. However, two nice sunny days in a row would be a treat right about now. All this rain may be "good for the garden", but I'm more than ready to relegate the Barbour jackets to the back pole of the coat closet by now. In any case, Friday presented us with a good deal of the bright natural light, and I took full advantage of it:

 Pale orange pants in the "Milano" cut by Brooks Brothers, bought on sale for less than $30 back in February, sitting in the closet ever since. Narrow cut through the legs and with a fairly short rise, the "Milano" takes a bit of getting used to, but in the end, I like the color enough to put up with them. Besides, they're a cinch with bare ankles, boat shoes, front steps and a gin & tonic (with lemon, not lime, another seasonal first).
With a chill still in the air, a navy tennis shirt and off white cotton cable knit finish the job. Here's hoping the Atlantic Northeast gets at least a little more comfortable, dry weather before we get the 90 degree humid bear-hug.

American Standard "Toilette"

After three days of God-knows-what kind of online S.N.A.F.U., our boys over at the monolith that is Google finally seem to have resolved the problems with the Blogger platform. My apologies for a brief but un-intended absence.

When it comes to the subject of gentleman's grooming, I am a die hard fuddy-duddy. I like to keep things classic and simple, and I've never been one for expensive soaps, lotions, or fragrances. True, I've dabbled in bathroom fanciness, but I always come home to the American basics.

Royal Crown Hair Dressing and Old Spice have been part of my kit, off and on, since I was first old enough to shave. Being a sucker for aesthetics, I will admit to be more than a little enamored of the quaintly outmoded packaging, and of course the fact that these things can be found cheaply at the local CVS is a plus.

Royal Crown is a goopy pomade that I used to use to make my hair into a tall, shiny, greasy pompadour in the rock'n'roll days. Back then, I would slather a big fat scoop of it up top every morning. These days, I find that a tiny fingertip of the stuff massaged into damp hair after the shower is just enough to add a little sheen and keep my thick waves in check. Basically, it's just soft Vaseline dressed up with olive oil and fragrance, but it works, and if used sparingly, washes out pretty easily with a normal shampoo, in my case Market Basket brand imitation Pert.
For the Well-Curated-Authentic-Heritage Brand-Americana fetishists, still proudly made by J.Strickland and Co. of Olive Branch, MS. When you look at all those black and white photos from the Life archives  of guys camping in Maine in Filson jackets, Pendleton shirts and Bean Boots from the 1940s, this is what they have in their hair. $2.50 at the local pharmacy, one can should last the better part of a year.

I hadn't used Old Spice, or any after shave or cologne for that matter, in years. Then, back in August, we had a surprise 60th birthday party for my Dad. Some of his friends put together an old guy gag gift basket, full of Grecian formula, Depends, Geritol, and Old Spice. The rest of the stuff was disposed of post haste, but I kept the Old Spice. Just a drop on the face after a good old wet shave is a nice feeling in the morning. Also made in USA by the good folks at Procter & Gamble, who also provide me with all the Ivory soap I need. $6.49 for a bottle that will last two years.

You may remember I use a safety razor, and I may have complained at the difficulty I sometimes have in procuring blades. A few weeks ago, I picked up two old packages of Gillette Blue Blades, 

and five packages of "the spoiler", each for a dollar. That's 90 razor blades for $7.00. Given that I change my blade weekly, these should last me nearly two years. Still on the card, and in metal dispensers.

From a long gone once upon a time when Gillette products were manufactured in Boston. True, the argument could be made that to use this would be a sin, but I am of the opinion that something like a razor blade is completely worthless as anything other than a shaving implement. I'll shave with them while wearing my un-used USA made Converse sneakers...or should I give these things to the Smithsonian?

And there you have it. These items, along with Aim or Aquafresh (whichever is on sale that week) constitute the American Standard "Toilette". Cheap, classic, and masculine. Who needs all that fancy stuff? Use the money you save to buy bow ties, suede shoes, collar pins and other assorted fopperies.

p.s. we also have an American Standard Toilet, in case you care to know.

09 May 2011

Choose Your Flowers

This was supposed to be a "Happy Mother's Day" post, but I fell asleep a little early last night. Anyway...
A fellow should know how to give flowers to a lady. There are obvious times to do this, such as Mother's Day and Valentine's Day. But really, anytime that the thought crosses your mind that a gift flowers might be a good idea, then I say it is. The best ones are given fro no apparent reason, just because.

Once you've figured that part out, the next step is to go to a florist and hand select the flowers for your arrangement. Sure, pre-made bouquets from the supermarket might work in a pinch, and there are those times when only roses will do, but nothing beats a hand picked bouquet. Don't worry about this being a complicated endeavour, because it isn't.  In this case, they had some beautiful sunflowers, a favorite of Mrs. G's.  I chose two nice looking ones, with large blooms, then handed them to the young lady at the shop and said something like "I'll have these, with some of these white ones and a few of those little purple ones, and go easy on the greens." And this is what we get. Mrs. G liked them, and they look good in a vase in the living room, too.

I may discuss clothing specifically here, but frequently its a general sensibility we're really discussing. The same rules apply to putting flowers together as mixing pattern and texture in clothing. Sunflowers are rustic and earthy, so they play well with the delicate texture of the white flowers. The purple ones provide a contrast of opposites against the yellow of the sunflowers, and the greens tie it all down.There's even that magical mixture of scales, with the largeness of the sunflowers, the medium size of the white, and the petite purple. Imagine instead a brown tweed jacket flecked with gold, with a smooth white shirt and a silk tie with a tiny lavender pattern. Catch my drift?

Chances are if you're buying flowers at all, they are likely to be a gift for someone of importance in your life. Take the time to put in some extra effort and add a personal touch. It never hurts.

07 May 2011

Coat Tails (and How to Ride Them)

A little while ago, our man in New York Tin Tin did a series of posts involving Morning Dress. I will now unabashedly ride the tails of his Henry Poole morning coat shamelessly, and without apology.

A few months ago, I picked up this beautiful vintage morning coat, in charcaol grey flannel. It truly is a thing of beauty, a piece of art in the quality of it's tailoring. Despite the fact that it is made for someone much slimmer than myself, or the fact that I will never in my life have an opportunity to don such a garment , I felt compelled to purchase it. I shudder to think what it's fate may have been had someone like me (read: clothes mad, especially for old things) stumbled across it.
Perfectly cut peaked lapels, with a loop under the left one for keeping a flower in place. The perfect shade of dark grey.
Impeccably tailored...note the line of the shoulders and dramatically supressed waist as well as the curved seams across the back.
Perfect construction, with closed pleats runnung the length of each tail and a hooked vent, as it should be.
Even the lining is a thing of beauty. There's a concealed pocket built into the left tail.
Serious vintage from the Rogers Peet Company. Vintage isn't even the right word in this case. This thing is an antique, a truly wonderful old thing.

The trouble with being thrift obsessed is that one tends to accumulate too much stuff. Things like this coat roll along, and I feel like I'm rescuing a stray puppy, as though I have a duty to rescue these things from the dirt and grime and chaos that is a proper thrift shop. That's whya I started my online shop, sort of as missionary work...well that and to make money, you know. Anyway, I must have picked this coat up and put it back a half dozen times, talked myself out of it repeatedly, tried to listen to whatever shred of a voice of reason I may have. In the end, it still followed me home.

So, if you're clothes mad enough to want such a thing, and you wear a 38 jacket, a 32 waist, and are just shy of 6 feet tall, and you promise to give it a loving home, and you think you might actually wear it someday, I'm entertaining offers. Please not that there is one tiny moth hole on the back of the left shoulder, and a couple of the sleeve buttons need replacing, other than that, the conditon is perfect. Contact me via email if you're serious.

Edit: The coat is sold, congratulations Mr. T. I thank you all for your interest. Continue to look here for offers such as these, special antiques.

p.s.For the more "normal" among you, some new items that are infintely more wearable in the modern world have just made the shop. I've got Italian shoes if you've got size 13 feet. Check it out.

04 May 2011

As Seen at the Thrift Store

Finally, we can all relax:
Few things will spoil the day like wasting time worrying about your "pant".

p.s. I've got a couple of very high end Italian sports jackets in stock, a 40 regular and a 44 regular. Beautiful goods, but not cheap. Interested parties, please contact me via email.

02 May 2011

The Jams ( a protracted discourse on kids stuff )

A trip this weekend to the ever overwhelming Todd Farm Flea Market netted this little gem:
Four 45s and two LPs for $14. A steal, given that I'd have paid that much for this little jam alone. The rest was simply frosting.

I saw Link Wray once. It was in the height of my days as a Pompadour and tight jeans wearing punk-o kid. I was in my early twenties, playing in a band that played a hopped up version of Rockabilly. Needless to say, Link Wray was nothing short of a god to us then.  He still is now.

The night I saw him play he must have been in his early seventies...seriously. "Reunion tours" are a plague that the world of punk and rockabilly is lousy with, and I usually did my best to avoid old timer shows. After all, youth and vitriol have so much to do with makes that music good when its good that seeing the old timers is often silly, and usually a bit depressing. Ever seen the Sex Pistols on the Tonight Show from their reunion? Punk is kid stuff, and it tends not to wear so well on the old folks.

Link's band was a couple of young dudes, very obviously thrilled to be on tour with a legend. They start playing one of those dead ahead thumping grooves that almost all of Link Wray's songs are built on. And then the man himself walks on stage. He's wearing a black t-shirt with the sleeves cut off, tight black leather pants, a studded belt and black Ray Bans (like these). At his age, he should have looked downright foolish, but he didn't, because he invented that stuff, he played with as much fire and balls as he ever had, and he was Link Goddamn Wray. He gets a pass. So does Lemmy, a direct heir to the Link Wray School of Life:

You can call it heavy metal, but it kinda sounds like fifties music to me. This one, like Link, has some staying power. A handful of others do as well, but mostly its kid's stuff. You can hold on to the piss and vinegar feelings all  your life, even let them define you, but at some point, you gotta grow up.
Even if you grow up to be the kind of fop who wears a black silk knit tie with a pinned collar and a silk tweed jacket in Glen Urquhart check...
you can still wear silly socks sometimes (or even sillier slippers).
...and your kids may even choose one day to wear two skull and bones patterns together...with penny loafers. This outfit was of the boys choosing, and who am I to say no to this?
See what I mean about kid's stuff, though? When you're four years old, and you choose an outfit like this, it's killer. But it ain't for grown-ups...not even Lemmy or Link could pull this off, though the very thought of either of them in shorts is worth a laugh.

p.s. those Ray Bans aren't the only new item to hit the shop this week. There's a little bit of everything. Check it.