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The word piqué comes from the French term piquer, meaning quilt, hinting at this fabric’s knitted nature. It’s an incredibly popular fabric during the summertime because its waffle-like texture makes it breathable without being sheer. However, it’s typically only used for polos, like those you find at your local mall. Those can be comfortable, but they’re are often lacking in style.
Proper Cloth has some excellent piqué fabrics this summer knitted from pure cotton and cotton-blended yarns. The cotton-linen blends have a crisp, dry hand and will wick moisture from your skin, keeping you dry during the summer. The Tencel-cotton has to be felt to be believed. It’s supremely stretchy and soft — almost like the feeling of brushed cotton flannel against your skin but without trapping heat.
Since Proper Cloth is an online custom shirtmaker, you can use these fabrics to make anything you want, including pullover polos and traditional button-front shirts. You can wear these on their own with chinos, tailored trousers, and even shorts. When the weather allows, they can be used to dress down casual suits and sport coats. Since Proper Cloth allows a free remake on first-time orders, you can be guaranteed the perfect fit. Get the solid blue piqué if you want something versatile or the stripes if you want to add visual interest to a tie-free ensemble.
After sack suits and five-pocket jeans, the oxford cloth button-down might be America’s most important contribution to global style. As the story goes, the style was invented by Henry Brooks, founder of Brooks Brothers, who noticed that polo players occasionally secured their collar points with buttons to prevent them from flapping up during play (the story is likely apocryphal, but so goes the lore). Brooks Brothers first put the collar on pullover shirts before moving it to a coat-front style that we know today — first with a six-button front before moving to seven. Over the next hundred or so years, the oxford button-down became associated with all that is good: dependability, professionalism, youth, sport, education, and the casual spirit that defines American style.
Nowadays, nearly every classic menswear label offers its version of this shirt. Wolf vs. Goat recently dropped theirs. Available in staple colors such as white, light blue, and coral pink, as well as two fits — charmingly named before and dinner — these are produced from Albini’s Thomas Mason fabrics. As many may already know, Thomas Mason is one of Albini’s higher-end shirting lines — and Albini is one of the world’s most famous shirting companies. Thomas Mason fabrics are well-regarded for their soft hand, but they typically come with expensive price tags. Wolf vs. Goat offers their Thomas Mason shirts for about $100 if you sign up for their Rewards Program (which only costs $25). These oxford button-downs feature a darted back, single-needle construction, and side gussets, making them a little dressier than the Brooks originals. Of course, they also have that full collar roll that Ivy style purists covet so much.
For something a little more casual, check out the new line of heavyweight henleys and t-shirts (the second of which comes in long or short sleeves). Their weight makes them a little better suited for three seasons of the year (fall through spring), and you can pair them with everything from denim trucker jackets to black leather double riders. As with most of Wolf vs. Goat’s clothes, these are made in Italy and available at half the full retail price if you sign up for the company’s Rewards Program.
Long-time readers know Chipp supplies the most affordable grenadine neckties. They source their silks from the same Italian mills as top-end brands, but their ties start at a much more affordable $45 (grenadines are $60 and, like everything Chipp sells, are made in New York City). Paul Winston, the shop’s owner, tells me he can’t imagine charging much more because he remembers what neckties used to cost fifty years ago, back when his family’s business dressed men such as President John F. Kennedy, Andy Warhol, and Joe DiMaggio.
If you’re looking for your first grenadine, consider three colors: black, some sort of dark blue, and silver. Black can look severe in certain contexts, which is why it’s often not recommended for suits or socks, but the color manages to be neutral for grenadines and knit ties. You can wear a black grenadine with navy suits, tobacco linen suits, and brown tweeds. Dark blue, either in the shade matching your navy suits or one shade lighter, is equally versatile (a dark blue tie can also be an excellent way to visually anchor a light-colored sport coat, which could otherwise float away from you). Lastly, silver grenadines are for guys who only wear ties on special occasions — weddings, fancy parties, and other formal gatherings. Silver ties look less like office clothes than their dark blue counterparts, and the textured grenadine weave here keeps these from looking cheap and shiny.
When you’re first building a better wardrobe, high-end socks seem frivolous. After all, who sees socks? Gold Toes seem perfectly serviceable, and they come in packs of ten for about $27.
What you’ll find, however, is that Gold Toes (and other socks in that price range) are often uncomfortable. They grip the calf so much, they leave marks. They’re thick and don’t always fit comfortably into tight-fitting dress shoes. Plus, the cotton dries out after a while, leaving the socks stiff and crunchy.
Dapper Classics’ socks aren’t cheap, but they’re more affordable than their competitors and no less well made. Their over-the-calf socks stay up on your leg and never slip down throughout the day. They cover your calf so that your skin doesn’t show when you sit down. If you wear tailored trousers, such over-the-calf socks are a must (start with at least five pairs in solid navy since those go with everything). Finely knitted from mercerized cotton and merino wool, they’re soft, comfortable, and age supremely well.
Of course, spending $25 for a pair of socks can feel daunting if you’ve never bought something like this before. One way to make things easier is to ease your way into it. When you get the urge to buy something (as we all do), pick up a pair of socks or two (although a purchase of three pairs will get you their “sock of the month” for free). After a couple of years, you’ll have a high-quality sock wardrobe that you can rotate through.
Most brands shine in the fall/winter months, while their spring/summer collections can feel lackluster. But Rowing Blazers’ neo-preppy aesthetic is perfectly suited for warm weather. Last week, they dropped their latest lookbook, which features an ensemble cast of friends of the brand, including Henry Eikenberry of Euphoria. “We’ve been relatively quiet so far this year, which feels very different from our usual breakneck cadence of new drops,” explains company founder Jack Carlson. “I think it’s good to do that from time to time. It’s allowed us to do some really strong work. We have many exciting projects coming out this summer, including collaborations with K-Swiss, Murray’s Toggery, La Martina, and SEGA… and preparing to open a new flagship store in New York.”
“But it’s also allowed us to reflect — to think about the things that are most important to us and get back to our roots: quality, authenticity, making things the old-fashioned way, and putting a thoughtful, inclusive, slightly subversive spin on the classics. The first drop of this collection features some old favorites, like the classic navy blazer with cream grosgrain trim, which we haven’t had since before COVID, wide-stripe blue and cream seersucker, and some of my favorite rugbies and hats from the last five years.”
The new lookbook focuses on preppy tailoring and elevated basics inspired by vintage American and Japanese sportswear. Carlson says that many of the quality sweats and tees were modeled after things he’s seen in Japanese vintage shops. “We worked with a group of amazing craftspeople in Portugal to recreate the hand, weight, and knit of our favorite vintage pieces in a range of colors. They’re true basics — no logo, no-nonsense. An important part of the Rowing Blazers world is irreverence: bold colors, crazy collaborations, and a sense of humor. But another equally important part of our identity is this focus on quality, on timeless pieces that are eminently wearable and will last forever. Sometimes it’s cool not to have a big logo or graphic, and just let the quality speak for itself.”
It feels weird to talk about fall/winter clothing in late June, but smart shoppers plan ahead. So here’s a tip: starting around August, stores will begin filling their shelves and racks with covetable overcoats, spongey knitwear, and beautiful tweeds. There will probably be something in there that you’ll want to buy. And you can make the purchase easier on yourself by cleaning out your closet now.
LuxeSwap is an online consignor that helps people sell their unwanted clothes on eBay. The process is straightforward. Take inventory of the clothes you don’t often wear and send the list to LuxeSwap along with a note asking them if they can help you sell these things. Since they’re a high-end menswear consignor, you’ll want to send them items from reputable labels (stained Old Navy t-shirts aren’t worth your or their time). Once they approve your list, they’ll send you a pre-paid shipping label if you’re based in the US, which you can use to send in your items. They then do all the hard work of listing these things for you on eBay — taking professional photos, posting measurements, fielding questions, and fulfilling orders. In exchange, they take 40% of the net profits. But here’s the catch: if you’re willing to take your payment in the form of store credit at No Man Walks Alone or Epaulet, LuxeSwap will reduce their commission to 30%, and these stores will top off your credit with an additional 10%. That means more money you can spend on clothes — and freed up closet space to store your new purchases.