Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Varsity Jacket

The varsity or “letterman jacket” is traditionally worn by American high school and college athletes and band participants. Originally the purpose of the jacket was to house a schools letter, letters were given out for a variety of reasons but often signified athletic and academic achievements. Throughout the years of its existence the jacket has been worn in a variety of ways. From its continued popular status on the football field to the celebrity spot light. Regardless of who is wearing the jacket it will always represent scholastic achievement.

The sporting of the iconic letterman jacket began as early as the 1940s when high school and college athletes would wear the jacket in a way of supporting their team. Traditionally the jacket is constructed of a boiled wool body (often made with chenille) and leather sleeves. Both the arms and the body often contrast in color to represent the schools main colors.

Receiving a varsity letter became somewhat of a milestone in young athletes life. Once they got their first letter they were able to purchase a jacket and stitch the letter over the left breast. As time went on and they accumulated different patches one could stitch those patches throughout the body of the jacket. The more letters and patches one had, the more achievements they’ve made.

In 1965 the Japanese author Shosuke Ishizu published the book Take Ivy, the book photographed American “ivy style” and sparked a Tokyo based fashion revolution. After the release of this book the letterman jacket was used as a major fashion statement rather then a totem of athletic achievement. As time went on more and more people sported the jacket as an article of fashion rather then one of school spirit.

Today the varsity jacket is one of the most popular fashion items around. Celebrities such as Kanye West and Kid Cudi have been seen wearing the jacket in the past couple of months.

So where can you get a lettermen jacket? Well you have two options. The first is to look on sites such as craigslist and eBay in hopes of finding a vintage jacket at a low price. The other is to purchase a new one from stores like Rugby Ralph Lauren, varsity jackets can be purchased and customized to an individuals liking. Stores like this have really influenced the items popularity .

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Tie it up

When a man wears a bow tie, he is representing more then just a look, the silk cloth tied around his neck gives off a image of power and authority; an image that has been seen over and over again for several centuries. The bow tie was worn first by Croatian mercenaries during the Persian Wars in the early 1600s. The necktie was used to hold there uniform in place during times of battle. The bow tie eventually made its way to France in the early 18th and 19th century where men on highest class status would wear the item on a daily basis. Shortly after this the bow tie was seen throughout Europe where men of all social and economic classes began sporting the fashion piece.

As the trend made its way through Europe, a majority of political and military officials would wear the item to signify their power and intellect. Winston Churchill was most notably seen wearing the neckpiece throughout his time as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War II, his icon look was personified into being a representation of the relentless fighting of the allies during this time.

So now fast forward a half-century or so and the bow tie has not gone anywhere—in fact its presence in pop culture could be more prevalent then ever. From an IPhone application (yeah seriously) to the neck of some of societies most popular celebrities, the bow tie still allows its wearer to represent the power and sophistication it has signified for hundreds of years.
Designer Ralph Lauren Created a new branch of his company in 2004; Ralph Lauren Rugby designs its clothing for the fashion motivated young adult, it uses the bow tie in a variety of different ways to bring together new and old fashions.

I love bow ties, I really do. But I will be the first to admit that they are a pain in the ass to tie. I have been sporting clip-ons for about a year now and only recently decided to transition to the authentic tie-it-your-self bow tie in an effort to look classy on a date. After what seemed to be 5 or 6 hours of attempting to tie the thing I finally tied what I thought was a decent bow tie, twenty minutes later it untied its self and my attempt at sophistication was crushed. With that said I do endorse the wearing of a bow tie—just read this first.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Pea Coat

It is always around this time when you have the realization, “ oh shit I need a winter jacket”. Your best bet for surviving the city slush is purchasing a pea coat immediately. Pea Coats originated in Holland in the early to mid 1900s under the name “pijjekker” or pilot clothe. The name commented on the type of material used in the construction of the jacket. The garment was used primarily in Europe where many of the European navel institutions adopted the jacket as a staple of their uniforms. It was around the same time when the United States Navy began using the item as well.
The jacket represents more then just a practical garment; its large lapels signify authority while its double-breasted front have become an iconic look for the United States Navy. It was not in till the 1970s that the pea coat became a popular fashion item outside of the military. Retailers from all parts of the world started to produce facsimiles of the jacket, often copying the exact structure and details of the original item. The popularity of the pea coat is a double edge sword, for the consumer, you know have a variety of options in color, size and style but for the military, you know have an essential component of your uniform being worn as an every day fashion item. If you are interested in purchasing an official Navy surplus jacket there are a few things you can look for to assure its authenticity. The first is its weight, because of the material used in its construction (Melton cloth), the jacket weighs a hefty 30 ounces. The second would be its color, official navy jackets are only made in a dark navy as well as a matte black.
By adopting the pea coat into your winter fashion repertoire, you are stating several key things. The first is you want to warm. The second is that you want to make a statement with your jacket, a statement that allows you tell the public that you want a classic and sleek look with your jacket. The third is the statement of power the jacket gives off, because of its connection with global military institutions the idea of pea coat represents something much more then just warmth and comfort in the winter month. If you can see your self wearing such an item you can get it at a variety of retailers world wide, I personally recommend Ralph Lauren because of there signature style and quality all of there items represent.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fedora Fever

This happens every October, usually around Halloween; the crisp fall days begin to give way to that winter chill. Every now and again it feels more like wintertime then it does autumn. As New Yorkers we have two options, dress your best and work with the bipolar aspect of the weather or be caught somewhere in-between often being to hot when it is cold or to cold when it is hot. I found that often times what you wear on your head could be the deciding factor of comfort in this ever-changing climate. I was never much of a hats guy until I came to New York City, aside from the comfort aspect, they allow you to take what your wearing to a whole different level. Lately I have been wearing a variety of different types of fedoras, from variations on color and style to different brands and makers. The Fedora was originally a woman’s fashion item in the mid 1800s but as men’s fashion began to develop the hat was seen predominantly on men in the early 1900’s it was worn as a staple item of the middle class. The hat represents an adaptation of the Homburg hat which was made popular at the same time as the Fedora.

The reason there is such popularity behind this headpiece is its deep roots with American pop culture. It is often associated with major American gangsters of the early 1900s as well as law enforcement officials during the prohibition era. The hat was also dawned by Dallas Cowboys head coach Tom Landry during his tenure with the football team. The hat was used to complete his signature look; he is often portrayed with it on in the number of monuments and memorials commemorating what he did as a coach. What separates the Fedora from other major hats and headpieces sported by American gentleman is its connection with history, by wearing the hat you not only wearing an accessory, you are wearing a part of our counties past.

By taking to the streets, you can see how popular the Fedora is. From elders to children to the rich and the poor, individuals who wear this hat aim to achieve the cool trendy feeling it gives off. The fedora is not the only turn of the century headpiece that is currently gaining popularity, the Homburg hat as well as the Porkpie hat have been sported by celebrities and style experts in recent time. The men’s style blog Street Etiquette recently did an entry on the Porkpie hat, exclaiming to its audience what it achieve as a staple fashion item. Before the winter months and first snow hit, you have to take necessary measures to keep you head warm. Picking up a fedora or two might be the perfect solution to being comfortable and stylish all at once.
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Friday, October 15, 2010

Tis' Boot Season

The leaves are changing, and that perfect smell is back in the air. It is finally time to dust off your pea coat and gloves and come to the reality that winter is right around the corner. As a life long New Yorker of come to accept that winter can be as beautiful as it is disgusting. Sure a snowy winter wonderland always brings me back to my youth, but the brown slush and icy puddles that can be found at every street corner isn’t something I like to romanticize. It is that slush and disgustingness that brings me to my next point—if your going to survive as a New Yorker a good pair no—a great pair, of boots is essential. You don’t want to be that guy that walks into a party looking like he just lost a battle of epic proportions with brown slush. With that said finding the perfect balance of practicality and style in a pair of boots is a delicate thing. Yes you want a pair of boots that will keep you warm and dry, but you also don’t want something that are how do I say this? Ugly.

I recently was faced with this problem my self, I sensed that boot season was coming faster then usual and had to get a pair before it was too late. After doing weeks (alright more like hours) of research I found the only two pairs of boots that offered comfort and practicality as well as style. The two winners are LL Beans legendary Bean Boots and Ralph Laurens Ranger boots. Both these styles are truly the only boots on the market that combine every element you would want.

The Ralph Lauren Boots are classy, vintage genuine leather combined with thinsulate and sheep’s fur to allow you feet to stay as warm as possible. It’s the combination of the classic Ralph Lauren style with extremely warm materials that make these boots a winner.

Of course it would be impractical to have two pairs of winter boots, so like many other men. I had to make a choice, what pair of boots did I want to christen my feet for this winter and many others to come. The answer was obvious; I had to go LL Bean Boots. . The first thing is there completely water proof which is amazing, there extremely stylish and they have a life time warranty not to mention there made in the USA which is an added bonus. Wearing these beauties around not only makes me feel fresh, but I am also guaranteed to stay dry, well my feet are at least.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Snap it Back

Close your eyes for a second and pretend your in the 1990s now think back to every iconic sports moment, Jordan in his prime, Bret Favre, John Elway the greats as we know it. Now think about there style—their swag if you will. After every magical moment they produced they were crowned with a snap back hat, one with their teams logo and bright colors representing our favorite sport teams of the 1990s. These hats don’t just represent sports franchises of our past and current, but they represent an era in sports dawned by perfection and style. Today these snap backs are back, from street style stores like Supreme, Coat of Arms NYC and Flight Club—if you want it you can find it, but you are going to pay the price. When shopping at stores like these they tend to jack up the price because of their name and the rarity of the specific goods they sell. I tend to search in other places to find gems; I usually hit the streets to find venders that sell the hats for as low as 10 bucks a pop. It shows that as long as your willing to search for something you can find it. So why exactly is the trend so popular right now? One thing is that it represents the past, events and memories that we hold dear to us, the other reasons is that it’s a reemergence of a lost fashion something that has continued to develop even past its prime, the hat you wear doesn’t represent the team on it but rather the style you are trying to achieve. Now look at pop culture from rappers to celebrities and every B-Lister in between, you can find the appearance of snap back hats, the colors and vintage old school style is what everyone now a days is trying to achieve. It should be interesting to see how this current trend develops, as people from all spectrums begin to sport it will the celebrities that dawn these hats move on to bigger and better things? Or will it continue to develop and blossom in to something even bigger? I guess well just have to see for now but one thing is for sure, if you wear a classic snap back. You are going to look good.