15 November 2014

"I Will Do It The Old Way..."

Artsroun "Art" Apinian, 1952-2014
(photo: Jillian Fennimore)

For as long as I can remember, I've been taking my shoes to Savas Shoe Repair to be revitalized by the expert hands of Artsroun Apinian. Sadly Mr. Arpinian passed away this week. I considered him a friend, and despite this blog being on hiatus just at the moment he deserves some space here.

Mr. Arpinian was an old world cobbler the likes of which rarely exists anymore. A true master of his craft, his work was nothing short of art. His shop was tiny and reeked of shoe polish, and every inch of the place was piled high with shoes and sheets of leather. I never got rid of a pair of shoes without consulting him first. 

He really loved his work, and the better the shoes were to begin with, the more involved he would get. A long winded talker, he loved to explain to you in great detail exactly what made the shoes good, and exactly how he intended to repair them. "These shoes need new heels. I will do it the old way...with nails." And he did, every time. But it was more than that. After talk of the shoes was finished a friendly and often long conversation about just about everything else always ensued. A trip to his shop just to pick up a finished pair could easily last a half an  hour.

The shop is still open, and his son has taken over. It;s heartening to see the place still open, since a good cobbler is a precious commodity these days. I haven't brought anything for repair yet, but if he learned from his father then that's a point in his favor.

Rest well, Mr. Arpinian. My shoes and I will  miss you.

07 November 2014

Until Further Notice....

By now you've noticed that posting around here has ground nearly to a halt. Some of you have even been kind enough to email and make sure all was well on my end. It is, thanks. Allow me to give a brief explanation of what to expect from the AAW you know and love in the near future.

I've been writing this blog for just over six years now, since September of 2008, and it's been great fun for the most part.When I started, I felt that the then burgeoning #menswear blogosphere phenomenon needed a cheapskate's voice, and I voluntarily stepped into to fill that role, having honed my cheapskate skills over a lifetime. What I didn't know then was how much I enjoyed sharing my thoughts in writing. I turns out I do, a lot. I spent many years previous performing in bands and had to give that up when my children came along. I guess I didn't know how much I enjoyed having an audience either.

Writing this blog has brought many surprises into my life. I launched a business based on my yammerings here. Every now and then, somebody sent me some expensive thing for free, which was also nice. But best of all, I've met more than a few people who will be lifelong friends through this shallow little pursuit. Who knew?

In any case, after six years I find myself running out of things to say here. Add to that the fact the since August ehow.com has actually been paying me (imagine it) once a week to write for them. All this has been making it increasingly difficult to regularly deliver what you've come to expect here, and so rather than churn out pointless posts just to keep the page fresh, I think it's high time to take a rest and collect my thoughts. I'll still be active over at tumblr if you really need a Giuseppe Timore fix. 

I enjoy blogging and hope to get back into soon, with a new approach and some fresh ideas. Until then, please stand by.

p.s. an excellent new employment opportunity looms on the horizon, and as such I will sadly have to shutter the AAW brick and mortar "secret store" in the coming weeks, moving business back to online only. As such, everything in the store, both physical and online, is 25% off until further notice, Use discount code THANKYOU25 at checkout.

24 October 2014

Darts or No Darts (addendum)

3/2 undarted front, three button cuffs
2 button darted front, three button cuffs
Two button undarted front, two button cuffs

In photographing some new items for my online shop, I came across these three navy blazers. All three are Brooks Brothers, and all three have natural shoulders. The button stance on each is different, and one has darts while the other two do not. No one of them is any more "classic" or "correct" than the others, and each would be perfectly at home with the usual suspects: button down oxfords, khakis, penny loafers, striped ties, charcoal flannels. The "right" one would be the one that looked best and most flattering on the wearer. Let these serve as a perfectly timed real life illustration of the points made in my last post.

p.s. lots of new items arriving in the Shop over the next few days. Keep an eye.

17 October 2014

Reader Questions : Darts or No Darts?

(from "Clothes and the Man", by Alan Flusser)

Reader Ryan writes:

Curious, do you have an opinion about darted vs. non-darted jackets?  And for that matter,..how about sack suits vs. updated American cut suits?

Simple as this question may seem it's actually quite a good one because it cuts right to the meat of the detail obsessed world of #menswear, and let's us talk about which details really matter, and why.

As anyone who reads this blog can easily guess, my own sense of style leans heavily toward East Coast American traditional clothing. However, I also have a deep appreciation for British tailoring. As a result, I tend to shoot for what I call an "Anglo-American" approach to dressing, combining elements of each school of thought. I appreciate Italian tailoring as well, but despite being Italian myself, tend to shy away from it, as it doesn't really suit my figure or lifestyle.

For those who may not know, a dart is a small partial seam that runs up the front panels of a jacket from the pocket to the chest, giving the coat a bit of shaping in the sides. A "sack jacket" doesn't have darts, and therefore has a boxier shape, For generations this one of the distinguishing features of American dress, the other being a "natural shoulder" with minimal padding. In my own wardrobe, there are examples of both. I'm pretty ambivalent about whether a jacket has darts, instead considering the overall shape and cut of the garment. Personally, I look for a natural shoulder, with soft suppression at the waist, and an easy but correct fit. Whether this was achieved with darts or with shaping at the side seams doesn't much matter to me. I feel the same way about pleats vs. flat front pants. I want my trousers to fit comfortably without being baggy. These days I tend to prefer forward pleats, despite the fact that are considered "incorrect" in an East Coast traditional wardrobe, again because they suit my figure and lifestyle better. The fact that they are a little different, irreverent even, is only a plus.

The clothes you wear should make you look good. The best way to achieve this is to choose cuts and styles that compliment you. These days it's easy to read the internet and fill your head with a long list of so-called inviolable rules, but following those rules by rote to the letter won't necessarily help you dress well. Know what they are, why they exist, and then adapt them to yourself, using what a friend once called a "broad stroke traditionalism". It can make the difference between looking like you're going as "Take Ivy" for Halloween and being stylish and well dressed.

04 October 2014

Follow Up: The Knot Standard Jacket

I am more than a bit overdue with this post, but here is the follow up of the revisions to my jacket from Knot Standard. To review, Knot Standard is yet another of the growing number of companies offering "online custom". Having had less than good experiences in this realm before, I decided to give them a chance and took them up on their offer of a free jacket back in July

I was impressed with the company then. The communication was great, the website easily navigated, and the jacket was of quality cloth and construction and arrived fairly quickly. The trouble was that the shoulders were cut too narrow and the length of the coat was a little long. After a very cordial correspondence with them on the matter, they remade my jacket and the new one arrived about a month later.

I must say I am more than impressed. The new jacket has been adjusted perfectly, and I look forward to wearing it next Summer. Besides getting a quality garment at was is effectively a reasonable price ($395) the level of service was something that you don't see much anymore. That's worth as much as the jacket to me.

I may  not have paid for it, but I'd have to say that Knot Standard is worth every penny. Their prices rival that of many ready to wear brands of lesser quality, and the service is great. If you're not one to scour the dirty thrift shops like me, but you're less than  satisfied with what your money gets you at retail these days, give them a try.

29 September 2014

Cutting The Losses (An Appeal)

Back in July, I managed to "score" the suit in the above photo from ebay. It's a custom made suit by Alan Flusser, circa mid-90s. I wrote about it shortly after receiving it, using it to illustrate my "Law of Averages" theory as it applies to thrift shopping. It's made of a heavy nailhead cloth, and it's been hanging at the back of the closet in the "on deck circle", awaiting it's trip to the tailor. Every time I take it out to bring it to be fitted, it winds up getting bumped for other pending alterations. The longer I wait, the more I contemplate whether it might not be time to cut my losses on this one.

A three piece double breasted suit, seldom seen since the 1930s, is certainly not an easy garment to come by. Simply having one is something of a second hand/cheapskate gold medal. But when will I wear it? Lord knows I don't really need it. Hell, I don't really need any of this stuff. And the cost of alterations? OK, that's it, my mind is made up....
And then Tin Tin (remember him?) posts this photo, from a mid-90s era Esquire article written by none other than Alan Flusser himself. And I see such a suit in action, and I know now that I must have it...but wait a minute, no, I don't. Perhaps you see my dilemma. Or perhaps you are a more well adjusted, level headed person who is only reading this bog and others like it to marvel at the amount of time and thought that some fellows put into something so ultimately superficial and inconsequential. In any case, I appeal to you for help.

On September 19, 2008, the fellow formerly known as "Longwing" (remember him?) commented in response to this blog's very first post:

"Thrifters have too much shit. You get used to not getting exactly what you want so you tend to buy everything that even comes close."

I refuted him then, even though I couldn't help but admit that he indeed had a very valid point. It's a mild form of hoarding sickness that I have fought hard to keep in check all my life. I feel that I do fairly well, and no doubt operating a second hand clothing business does give me a convenient outlet for unwanted or no longer needed garments. But I ask you, is this not just the sort of situation old Longwing was talking about? Do I bite the bullet and pour more cash into making this suit fit? Or do I recoup my investment and get this thing into the hands of someone an inch or so taller than me? After all, I have a pair of cream colored flannel trousers already at the tailor's awaiting pick up, and a pair of cavalry twills to be dropped off, to say nothing of the dry cleaning.

Torture and anguish, thy name is a less than perfect ebay score. Thoughts and opinions greatly appreciated.

27 September 2014

Dress for The Season...and the Weather

So it's almost October, and I'm itchy to get into my tweeds and corduroys. But as I write this, it's nearing 80 degrees in Boston. The tweeds will have to wait, but the madras and linen would be way out of place.

I recently picked up the jacket above, a recent Brooks Brothers piece. It's made of a blend of wool, linen  and silk, and I find it's handy thing to have on a day like this. The color and pattern aren't too summery, but the jacket still wears cool on a warm day.  When I packed the Summer clothes up, I left this one in rotation, along with a lightweight navy blazer in wool hopsack, and a couple of lighter weight worsted suits in dark colors. It's helpful to have clothes that bridge the gap. In the photo above, I combined the jacket with a wool knit tie, perhaps a bit unconventional, but a nod to the season, despite the warm weather. Below, a pair of charcoal worsted trousers, rather than the lightweight tan cotton I might usually put with this jacket, keep things more Fall as well.

I don't want to walk around sweating bullets in a tweed jacket and flannel slacks pretending I'm not uncomfortable any more than I want to be wearing shorts right now. Nothing is less stylish than being uncomfortable in your clothes, no matter how nice they may be. Dress for the season, but dress for the weather too.