My wardrobe sometimes feels like it suffers from being too serious. I wear lots of leather jackets with jeans and t-shirts these days, as well as sedate sport coats with grey or tan trousers and light blue shirts. Recently, however, I picked up this zigzag lambswool sweater from Ka-Pok (it was made by a relatively new German label called A Kind of Guise). Although it’s not overly wild in terms of design, it’s playful enough to add an element of humor to the more boring and conservative outerwear I mostly own.
Part of this was inspired by my friend Kyle in New York City. His style feels like a breath of fresh air in the world of menswear aficionados nowadays, where most men are either dressed like Italian magnates or Rick Owens (for those counting, which I am, this is the sixth mention of Rick Owens at Put This On).
Oh, and there’s this Persian rug jacket with leather sleeves, made by Tim Coppens for his first collection. I want one so bad, but apparently, there were only two ever produced. One is owned by Kyle. The other is owned by Tim Coppens.
Of course, when he needs to, Kyle can also pull off a much more sober look. Here he’s in a grey suit; green mini-paisley tie, and a mauve, Bengal striped, button-down shirt. Very 1980s American, in a way. If I had to guess, however, I assume Kyle would much rather be in an emerald green suit, if he had to wear one.
David asks: I really want to wear a seersucker suit this spring, but I’m not sure how to pull it off. Any suggestions for how to make it look good?
Seersucker suits are an American classic, but you rarely see them around anymore. That’s partly because fewer and fewer men wear tailored clothes outside of work, so navy and dark grey suits remain, while casual suits are less common. It’s also because seersucker was originally established in the pre-air-conditioning era, when having something lightweight, cool-wearing, and easy-to-wash was as much about practicality as it was about style.
These days, men are more likely to wear shorts and t-shirts when it’s hot, but you can still turn to seersucker for a sharper, more tailored look. Here are some suggestions, in descending order of preppy-ness:
Go Unabashedly Prep: Believe it or not, seersucker suits were originally considered a poor-man’s alternative to linen. Sometime after the First World War, college men started to wear them, which is how they eventually became part of the preppy canon. If you go to things like garden parties, consider following Trent Lott’s style advice: pair a seersucker suit with pastel ties, white bucks, and cucumber sandwiches.
Go Bashfully Prep: A seersucker suit will always look preppy, but you can take some of the edge off by swapping pastel ties out for something darker, and trading white bucks for something less bright. Try a navy tie with dirty bucks or tan calf bluchers. Or tone the suit down further with a long-sleeved polo and casual loafers.
Try Navy: If you can find one, a navy seersucker suit can be a nice alternative to the traditional blue and white. Here’s an exceptional double-breasted example on Savile Row tailor Michael Browne.
Break It Up: For an even more casual look, break the suit up into separates. You can wear a seersucker jacket with linen, cotton, or gabardine trousers in cream or tan (I like The Armoury’s Ring Jacket model for these purposes, since the jacket has patch pockets). Seersucker trousers can also be worn with a navy sport coat, as Voxsartoria has done here.
For the Truly Timid: If all the above still scares you, try a seersucker tie. O’Connell’s has some traditional four-in-hands, J. Press has some bow ties, and A Suitable Wardrobe has seersucker striped ties without the crinkles. The last should be wearable even for the shyest of men.
Although it may already seem like it’s already here, winter is just around the corner, and here at Up There we’re big fans of staying warm no matter how big or small the item may be. From socks to trench coats, and everything in between we’ve got you covered with our winter essentials guide, guaranteed to keep you warm and well dressed all winter long.
Back in the 1970s, some American college students were transitioning away from the more polished navy-blazer-oxford-button-down look of the previous decade and getting into something more rugged. The Japanese called it “Heavy Duty,” and while the name was a little tongue-in-cheek, it perfectly described the style. David Marx has a great chapter about it in his new book Ametora:
[Men’s Club columnist] Kobayashi believed that Heavy Duty and Ivy were two sides of the same coin. Both were “systems” of clothing – a wide set of traditional garments worn according to the time, place, and occasion. Inside the Ivy system, students wore blazers to class, duffle coats in the winter, three-button suits to weddings, tuxedos to parties, and school scarves to football games. Inside the Heavy Duty system, men wore LL Bean duck boots in bad weather, mountain boots when hiking, flannel shirts when canoeing, collegiate nylon windbreakers in spring, rugby shirts in fall, and cargo shirts when on the trail. In the introduction to his standalone Heavy Duty Book, Kobayashi wrote: “I call Heavy Duty ‘traditional’ because it’s the outdoor or country part of the trad clothing system. You could even say it’s the outdoor version of Ivy.”
One of my favorite items from that period is the mountain parka, which was often worn with Shetland sweaters, jeans, chinos, and five-pocket cords. Bean boots, hiking boots, sneakers, and penny loafers made up the accompanying footwear. The style was somewhat preppy, but – perhaps because of the mountain parka’s hippie, California roots – it never really made it into the prep canon. (After eight long years and over 1,000 posts, Ivy Style has yet to do a post about the jacket).
Given the mild winter this year, I’ve been relying more on light layering than heavy outerwear. A hooded mountain parka is not only a good way to keep dry on rainy days, but also use as an on-again, off-again layer when temperatures suddenly change. Some of my favorite models this season, from classic designs to things that are slightly more updated:
Traditional: If you’re looking for something traditional, start with Sierra Designs. Their 60/ 40 parka is iconic, although newer versions have changed over the years (mostly in pocket design and becoming a bit shorter). The 60% cotton and 40% nylon blend isn’t as showerproof as Gore-Tex, but it’s reasonably water resistant and much more affordable. Also worth looking into: vintage parkas from old heritage brands such as LL Bean, Woolrich, Eddie Bauer, REI, Holubar, Alpine Designs, and Wilderness Experience (search eBay and Etsy). Many of those will be longer than newer designs, which means they’ll be easier to wear over a tweed sport coat.
Affordable: As usual, shopping on sale or buying vintage/ used is your best bet if you want something good at a low price, but if you want something that’s both affordable and easily had now, check out Penfield’s Kasson and Uniqlo. The Uniqlo one reportedly feels thin, and it’s not very water resistant, but it does the trick if you’re on a budget (maybe beef it up with a weatherproofer). There are a ton of reviews on Reddit.
How to wear the jacket? Pair one with chinos, prickly sweaters, oxford shirts, and Bean boots, like the 1970s students pictured above. For something less preppy, try one of the rugged, workwear versions with a grey sweatshirt, some jeans, and a pair of workboots, or use one of the updated, contemporary models with a textured sweater and some clean sneakers. My own parka, the royal blue Nanamica in the last photo, is pictured with a Stephen Schneider sweater, pair of faded 3sixteen jeans, and some Common Projects b-ball high-tops.