As it’s well documented, Dennis was the only ‘real’ Beach Boy from the Beach Boys. While the rest of Brian’s troupe waxed lyrical about their boards and surfin’ safaris, Dennis was the only member putting the art of Surfing in to practise. Wave chasing aside he was also the only member to genuinely adopt the free wheeling beach lifestyle that defined much of The Beach Boys music.
The darker sides of Dennis – from his tragic involvement with the Manson Family, the heavy drinking and pot smoking (which damaged his voice to gravelly perfection – see/hear Pacific Ocean Blues), to the alcohol abuse that would lead to his premature death from drowning – all contribute to form a complex and intriguing super dude that is often overshadowed by the legacy and immense talent of his brother, Brian.
But rather than this being a mini-biopic of the man I’d of course like to focus on his inimitable relaxed style. There aren’t many gents that can get away with such high waisted pants and still look 110% cooled out with the situation. And not many people have donned Hawaiian shirts with the same degree of sincere causality before or since his Pacific Ocean reign. Team all that up with a Grizzly-Adams-Mountain-Man beard and you’ve got a winning combo on your hands that can even chill a tuxedo the-fuck-out.
So with many brands ‘reviving’ the Hawaiian shirt this season and some fine examples out there already, I thought it would be good to take a leaf from Dennis’ book to show how to wear ‘em loud whilst playing it cool. Here’s a variety of Dennis vs The Hawaiian Shirt images with some recently available latter day options from Stitched & Stitched favourites; Engineered Garments, Levi’s Vintage Clothing, Monitaly, Our Legacy, and Woolrich Woolen Mills.
These images are from Quit Mad Stop’s (x!.) SS11 and FW11 collections and although they’ve been knocking around a while I’ve not seen them do the rounds too much so I thought they were still worth a post. With a few surf specific themed brands emerging in the last few years (Saturdays, Batten Sportwear) it seems Quit Mad Stop seem to have the most mature approach of the crop.
The brand was started by Eric Scott and May Redding as a response to a lack of high end quality in the leisure clothing sector. They went to town creating super basic, beautifully crafted pieces all hand sewn in NYC’s garment district. Produced in small runs on a seemingly as and when basis, the brand doesn’t seem too seasonally focused – which I really like. A great board short is a great board short all year round I guess.
Above all, the thing I’ve enjoyed most about this brand is its excellent look book imagery – fantastic styling with a great model, and eccentric and humorous set ups without being too hipster.
The stand out pieces for me are the retro feeling board shorts with the tie up front adding a nice twist. The tailoring on these looks spot on. The bags also catch the eye and both the leather and duck canvas versions look as tough as old boots. There’s not a lot of stockists around, but Park and Bond carry a few pieces.
Oh, and the name; it’s from the last three lines of Jack Kerouac’s Bowery Blues apparently reflecting how both Eric and May felt at the point of the brand’s creation.
After reading Mr. Ian Mouzer’s post about the Gansey, my good friend and master ceramicist Mr. Matthew Tyas contacted me with some fantastic images he took a couple of years ago of ‘The Filey Room’ in Filey Museum. There he had a very entertaining and enlightening chat with a lady called Margaret Taylor (who knitted the samples and jumpers in the images) who told him all about the Gansey, how they were made and how it’s unfortunately becoming a dying art as she has no one to pass her skills on to. I’m very much looking forward to visiting the museum next time I’m up that way and learning about these amazing jumpers first hand.
I’m always late to the party. My friends say my timings run on Moorby Minutes. There’s about 100 seconds in a Moorby Minute. With these time units in mind, I bring you the new collection from Daiki Suzuki’s Engineered Garments. Long after everyone else has had their say.
To be honest I’ve not felt massively blown away by the new collection and corresponding look book, which is probably why I’ve lacked a little motivation to write about it. It has it’s moments, but it’s a stark contrast to the killer styling, photography, and details of last season. To be fair, I feel Fall/Winter is always where Daiki’s collections excel as the season lends itself perfectly to his appetite for layering and texture.
All that said there are some pieces I’m very excited about, not least the heavily patterned Tab Collar shirts (which, as I’ve mentioned before, I feel have been neglected a little in the past couple of seasons).
Above and below are some great images from the Engineered Garments News blog. I’m all over the pink floral print Tab Collar shirt this season. Worn with some of the brown and yellow Madras ties in the collection it could make for a very quirky pattern cluster-fuck, which I’m definitely more than up for.
There’s an abundance of great ties this season, how many will make it to UK shores I don’t know, but I’m hoping The Bureau will grab a few as they usually tend to do.
This collection relies heavily on some brilliant patterning and textures. It’s great to see an overload of Polka Dots, Madras and Floral patterns as well as some Camo creeping in there, but I just wish there were a few fresher ideas this season in the actual garments themselves. Still the best thing out there, mind.
Last month the better half and I decided we needed a little rest so we headed up north to Whitby in North Yorkshire. While we were there we took note of some of the older fishermen in the bay. I have always admired the traditional working-man’s practical style and often look for inspiration for my own wardrobe (Lumberjack, Cowboy and Oil Prospector are already in there). I was especially drawn to the wool jumpers a lot of the gents were wearing so I endeavoured to find out where I could purchase an authentic fisherman’s jumper.
I found an old knitting shop and decided to look in and ask about the jumpers and I was politely informed by a delightful old woman that I wasn’t looking for a ‘Jumper’ but a ‘Gansey’. The term ‘Gansey’ is derived from Guernsey, the Channel Island in which this particular style of knit originated.
So what makes a Gansey? The Gansey is a unique type of jumper traditionally worn by fishermen. They are knitted with 5 ply worsted wool in one piece with no seams. Five small double ended needles or wires are used to knit in the round creating a really tight knit (or close knit) which creates a wind and somewhat waterproof protection against the elements. The intricate patterns often concentrate towards the upper part of the garment around the shoulders, arms and chest and are often made reversible so they can be worn either way around prolonging the wear of the Gansey before it needs repair.
As the bottom half of the Gansey suffered most wear and tear it was often left plain so the lower body, cuffs, and the plain of the sleeves could easily be pulled out and re-knitted. The sleeves were often rather short so that the cuffs didn’t get caught or stay permanently wet when the men were fishing. The traditional fisherman would wear a Gansey next to the skin with the addition of a pure silk scarf to stop chaffing around the neck. This would also create a seal to keep in heat. The Gansey would also come in to play when a Fisherman was out of work. To denote this he would turn up the bottom of his Gansey to let other Captains know he was approachable for hire. The turned up section also doubled as a handy pocket later adopted to keep their tobacco and matches.
There are many Gansey patterns, often depicting fishing related iconography such as anchors, cables, and diamonds (nets) and some included weather and land influences, from lightning strikes and hail to furrows and the harvest. Many fishing and port towns around the North East coast had their own unique styles (which often came in handy when identifying drowned seamen). The most popular styles still available include Staithes, Runswick Bay, Whitby, Robin Hoods Bay, Scarborough, Filey, Flamborough, Patrington, and Humber Keel.
I decided to go for the Whitby Gansey as I loved the ‘half and half’ design, which covers the chest and upper arms with patterning and leaves the lower half plain. I also plumped for a denim knit which is untraditional, but lighter and should see me in to the late spring/early summer without being too warm. The denim wool is naturally died with indigo and like a good pair of jeans will naturally wear lighter over time. Each Gansey is made to measure and takes 6 to 8 weeks to hand knit and you can pick and choose your own specifications. I went for a fully traditional crew neck and plain ribbed cuffs and hem. If possible, I would recommend going to get measured up and talk in person about your requirements, but if you can’t then the place I bought mine from (details below) do an excellent mail order service.
I can’t think of a garment that’s going to look better with this beard I’m growing. Next step: take up full time pipe smoking.
I paid a chance visit to the new Double RL store yesterday in London’s Mayfair. Situated on the super plush red-bricked Mount Street they’ve taken residence in a stunning space set over two floors.
The concept is simple: White collar workers upstairs, blue collar downstairs. This is Ralph in his purest, strongest and most enjoyable guises. Refined suiting and outerwear inspired by classic English style and Hollywood’s golden age of gentlemen is what you can expect on the white collar floor – a side of RRL I love, but rarely see on sale in person. It’s perfectly pitched at the Mayfair crowd on a street that makes Bond Street look like Barnsley. Think Paisley silk ties, shawl collar smoking jackets, chalk pinstriped suiting with peaked lapels, and Harris tweed.
The blue collar section features all the rugged classic denim range you’d expect from Ralph’s most coveted label. Expect to find top quality jerseys, beaten up denim, tough outerwear, Cordovan work boots, and rugged leather goods. It’s all here on these two floors of greatness.
The styling is second to none. The story is well told with every detail considered. The staff are sound and well up on their Ralph. Folks, in this clothing obsessive’s humble opinion, this might just be the best menswear store in London (especially in the sale). You can check out some more shots and words about the store over at Loomstate.
He’s quite possibly the inspiration for many of Daiki Suzuki’s key A/W looks and the prototype for the landscape of today’s menswear. Classic and relaxed plaid button downs are teamed with great cable knits, fatigue pants, monkey boots and traditional bobble hats. From waffle knit sweaters to Melton wool parkas, the kid nailed it all. I’ve been trying to dress as well as this dude since I was eight years old and am now only just finding my stride – he had it from the age of eight. The re-re-birth of the Americana/Preppy movement subconsciously began here. Merry Christmas (ya filthy animal) and a Happy New Year.
Made from 100% two fold Egyptian cotton, the Sunspel SS Henley has quickly become my favourite t-shirt. It’s a perfect fit, with a perfect sleeve length and nice straight body. It sits nicely on the hip and is a nice weight for all year round wear underneath other garments. Super flat buttons ensures it also sits nicely under finer shirts.
Sunspel’s t-shirts in general have a fine neck seam that’s deep enough to go unnoticed under, say, an Oxford button down, but high enough to not look like you’re wearing a deep neck tee with something like a work shirt. I prefer the Henley style personally as I like the extra detail it adds to an outfit and the option to unbutton it in warmer months. The fore mentioned points also help eliminate that unfortunate American Cop look that can happen with the likes of a Haynes shirt and an awkwardly placed second button.
Of course these are not the cheapest of shirts, but I do not jump to that cost based on a whim. I’ve tried many t-shirt brands and styles down the years, but most have fallen short in some department or other; Fruit of the Loom (just crap), Haynes (lose shape), Topman (too short), Gap (too baggy), American Apparel (too long), Calvin Klein (again too baggy), Ralph Lauren (shrink). Because of these experiences I decided to splash out on a higher grade shirt. The quality shows ultimately in the washing and my Sunspel tees have not lost their shape or feel and there’s absolutely no noticeable shrinking after a lot of washes. Also, never pay full price. There are often bargains to be found. Highly recommended.
I paid a visit to the newly opened Ralph Lauren Rugby this weekend in Covent Garden, London. Aside from the overwhelming amount of Rugby shirts upstairs, the downstairs delivered a plethora of interesting things; from affordable totes and accessories to plenty of tweed and knitwear to some really nice vintage watches.
I’m not sure what the U.S. perception is of this side of the Ralph business, but it certainly made a good first impression on me.
That being said there were a few things that concerned me mildly. The first being the ridiculously good looking members of staff EVERYWHERE (not that I have an issue with ridiculously good looking folks, but it was a little heavy handed – it’s no good if the overwhelming amount of good looking staff members make the customers feel like trolls. Hopefully they were all there for opening day duties only) and also the overly friendly greeting on the door. It all felt a touch Abercrombie and Fitch, which I suspect is the market Ralph is going for here, but still, lets not get too carried away. The personalised Rugby shirt offer only went on to reinforce this.
These points aside though, the store left a good overall impression and I’m looking forward to going back to explore it a little more thoroughly when it’s less rammed.
I did of course walk away with a token opening day purchase… a pair of socks.
The jewel in Engineered Garments shirting crown would certainly have to be the 19th Century BD Shirt for me. It’s one of their staple garments that appears each season and like their other shirts has only a few subtle, but distinctive details that set it apart from the crowd.
Along with the Rounded Collar and Tab Collar shirts it’s one of Engineered’s smarter, preppier shirts, but unlike those aforementioned styles this shirt is simpler and can generally be worn more casually.
My obsession with this shirt has been gathering momentum recently especially with the new Autumn/Winter items arriving in stores in testing floral prints. The BD shirt is often Daiki’s playground for using some of the more garish madras, plaids, and checks, offsetting the simplicity of the shirt style and setting it apart from more traditional button-down offers such as Gitman, Ralph or Brooks Brothers.
Another reason is I’ve recently bought a couple of the Workaday versions of the shirt which are good ‘all rounders’ produced in great quality oxford cloth in simple colours and patterns. I also find the cut more pleasing than the mainline version even though it’s necessary to size down for Workaday. For those interested, the Workaday shirts (which are also significantly cheaper than the mainline equivalent) can be found at The Bureau Belfast.
Other features that set this style apart are two large curved plackets at the bottom of the shirt making up for it’s distinct lack of buttons down the front and giving the style a more ‘historic’ feel. I’ve heard some people complain in the past that the shirt’s buttons cease too early as the last one is around the naval area. I really don’t find this an issue with such exaggerated overlapping plackets – the shirt always looks neat and tidy when tucked in and I’ve never had an issue with it splaying open at the waist band. I find the bigger issue for smarter occasions (like all E.G. styles) is the incredibly high hem, but it’s another payoff for the more casual untucked approach.
One last detail I’d like to discuss is single needle tailoring, which is generally considered superior to that of twin needle/chain stitching for a few reasons; the seam lays flatter than chain stitched seams, looks cleaner, and is less prone to puckering after washing. Single needle stitching is also every bit as strong as twin needle as there are still two rows of stitching, but one is hidden inside the fabric. It is, however, more labour intensive to produce which is why it’s generally only found on higher quality dress shirts. Single needle tailoring can also be found on the Rounded Collar shirt.
Alongside the Workshirt, this is certainly my favourite Engineered Garments shirt style. My plan is to, style by style, take a more in-depth look at Engineered’s shirting styles in future posts.