Remember that post I did on Bit Loafers? Well, my closet is in a constant state of evolution. In some years the wardrobe evolves more than others, but there’s always movement. I’m currently doing some serious re-evaluation in every aspect of my wardrobe – just like Notre Dame is doing with every position after their loss to Duke. At home. Let me repeat: Notre Dame lost to Duke at home.
After doing that post, it was clearly obvious to me that I needed a good pair of brown bit loafers. Specifically, loafers that would cover 80% of outfit situations. I’m a huge believer in the 80-20 (Pareto) rule. Not familiar? Look it up. From a rotational perspective, I was looking for a pair of loafers that I would wear all the time. I chose the Oak Street Bootmakers bit loafers based on my past experience with the beef rolls, and after a couple wears, I am glad I did.
Out of the box, the loafers are exactly what you want: a well constructed shoe out of quality materials. Check and check. The leather is Horween, so it’s not shiny, but not dull. It’s made to be polished, and then patina’ed. These will look outstanding in about six months. The inside is lined with calfskin, making it extremely soft – especially for those of us that will sport these sans-socks.
What is most important for me is the vamp. A lot of bit loafers have a vamp that is too low, which makes them a little dainty, or too high, which makes them look a little too formal. I wanted something in the middle, and the OSBM option is just right. Why do I want a mid-vamp loafer? As I mentioned above, I want to wear these with 80% of the outfits I put together, which includes jeans, khakis, trousers, and even shorts. These work with all of those options, and dress it up just right.
The construction is right where I want it. I wear a size 9 in OSBM (reference: vs. a 9 in Alden, a 9.5 in most Allen Edmonds), and these were ever so slightly tight out of the box. This is good, because they will stretch out and mold to your feet. From a care perspective, I use cedar shoe trees and give them a good brushing before wearing. I’ll probably wait on polishing them until they get a good ten wears or so.
Team: I am a big Oak Street Bootmakers fan, and for good reason. This is my third pair of their loafers (first, and second), and I will continually buy more as needed. The style is classic, the quality is outstanding, the price point is dead on, and the company is outstanding to work with. They have an excellent value proposition. Get on board, folks. It’s hard to go wrong here.
It’s great that the scope of menswear has completely accepted the sport coat as a standard. We’re way beyond the Navy Blazer at this point. Given the exposure and that general acceptance of these jackets gives way for some bolder options. By ‘bold’, I mean deep plaids, stripes, checks, and patterns that become the flare piece of your outfit. Since these jackets act as the flare, I like to call them ‘exploding jackets’. I can’t take 100% credit for that term – F.E. Castleberry started it. More on him later. ‘Exploding’ refers to the blown up, or bold patterns. Rather than micro-checks or subtle plaids, these jackets are magnified.
I absolutely condone the over-use of exploding jackets. It is such a cool look, as long as it’s done right. It is a mature look, and it requires confidence to pull off. Ladies love it, so the value prop is high. Here are a few examples of how to do it right:
This example from Drake’s: A very bold, wool jacket with a solid shirt, club tie, and flannel trousers. Everything except the jacket is as basic as it gets, and the jacket works perfectly. Trade out the trousers for a pair of good jeans, and you’ll accomplish the same look.
The above image is from F.E. Castleberry, who has his own tailoring business, doing high end suits and jackets. His exploded wool and cashmere Glenn plaid jacket is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. As for styling: “My school of thought when it comes to pattern is: More is more. Our cashmere and wool exploded Glenn plaid jacket is paired with a bold Bengal stripe button down and a wool striped club tie. For us, it’s about mixing patterns while matching the proportions of those patterns with the jacket’s.”
Read Wall, a men’s store in DC, does a ton of exploding jackets. This pattern is a great example of a starter exploding jacket. It almost doubles as a navy blazer. The key to this look: a solid shirt. Stay away from plaids and U-stripes when sporting an exploding jacket. Pair this jacket and a blue oxford with good jeans or charcoal trousers and you are in business.
This is a great example of Sid in one of his exploding jacket. Green and pink on cream. I guarantee you never go to the store saying ‘I’d love to find a hunter green and pink plaid jacket’. It’s one of those things that just happens. The green and cream keep it earthy, and the pink gives it punch.
Lastly, don’t forget khakis. The grey plaid above (Drake’s) is a dressed up version of the exploding jacket, as well as one of the most versatile. Good, tailored khakis are prime candidates to top off with an exploding jacket. Pair it with suede loafers and a white shirt…hard to beat.
I’ve started a collection of ‘exploding’ jackets, and believe it or not, they all get a good bit of wear:
Remember, all you need to pull these off is a good pair of jeans, a white/blue/bengal stripe shirt, and good dress shoes or loafers. I usually wear an alligator belt with a monogrammed buckle. It’s a bold look, but it’s good to be bold.
There are PLENTY of options out there, and for every good one, there are ten bad ones. Stay away from the 70’s gameshow host look, and do it right. Here are some excellent examples of what to look for:
Well, I struck gold yesterday at Goodwill. It was a random Goodwill, that usually yields nothing. I had a half hour to kill, so I stuck my head in the door. As expected, I didn’t find anything until I was walking out, and there was a rolling rack that was filled with clothes and about to be put out. I saw a really nice burgundy jacket, and grabbed it. I’ve been looking for a burgundy jacket for a while, and this one looked good. Then I noticed the tag:
I thought to myself ‘I really hope this fits…’. And it does. It does need some minor alterations, but I believe I can afford to invest in this jacket, considering I’m in for $7.83 so far, and the retail is a bit higher than that (roughly * 1000). I’m planning on taking it down to Sid Mashburn this weekend and let them get to work…I’ll let you know how it goes.
Here are the pre-alteration images:
The jacket is in really good shape. There are no real signs of wear. It’s a 3-button jacket, but is worn as a 3/2 roll. The fabric is a very nice 100% cashmere burgundy herringbone with a very faint blue and red windowpane. The jacket is fully lined, has working button holes on the cuffs, and has soft shoulders. It is not a dated jacket at all.
The work I need to get done is relatively simple. I think the sleeves are OK, but letting them out 1/2″ wouldn’t hurt. It needs to be brought in just a touch on the sides, and that’s really it. I’m sure they’ll make a few more suggestions, which I’ll probably accept, and let them get to work.
I never thought I’d own a Kiton. While this is cheating a bit to get there, they have such a high barrier to entry, it would be hard for me to justify. Their jackets are beautiful. Take a look at Neiman Marcus, YOOX, and Stanley Korshak. Kiton is known for some of the finest tailoring in the world. As seen here:
I’m really excited, folks. I’ll let you know how the jacket turns out after a trip to the body shop.
All of you Georgia folks have really embraced Peach State Pride. You see their hats all over the place, and that peach logo is starting to pop up more and more. They are such a great company to work with and are committed to Georgia-themed products, now including almost every Georgia university and college polos, hats, and belts. They donate 15% of all profits to Georgia-based charities. How great is that? Now, it’s not to say that the peach logo can’t be worn when outside of Georgia…
With that said, we’re teaming up to give one lucky Red Clay Soul reader a nice collection of Fall goods: a hat, a long-sleeve t-shirt, and a polo shirt of your choice (including all those great Georgia university and college polos)
What would I choose? I love that blue trout hat, the red patch long sleeve t-shirt, and the light green polo.
Leave a comment to this post with your favorite Georgia city to enter. For additional entries:
One of our closest friends texted me a few months ago with this message: “Isbell 9/24 the Fox – In?” It took about 45 seconds for me to complete my purchase. He was contacted via Spotify as one of the biggest Jason Isbell listeners in Atlanta, and was offered early access to tickets to the show. I had seen Isbell a few times prior, and always enjoy his shows. For reference, I’m a so-so DBT fan, and am much more drawn to Isbell’s solo work. That said, I firmly believe that ‘Southeastern’ is one of the best albums over the last ten years.
We rounded up the wives and pregamed at Cypress Street Pint & Plate. After a few libations and some fried chicken, we made our way to the venue. Josh Ritter opened up, and did an outstanding job. His stuff shows up on Spotify, and I enjoy it. Very Texas/Americana country. His guitarist could rip.
Jason Isbell is known as an outstanding guitarist, and an even better songwriter. He has a very appealing sound to rock fans, Americana fans, and country fans. It showed – the show was 100% sold out, and it was easy to see by the crowd. There were plenty of boots in the crowd. Opening with ‘Flying over Water’ got everyone going, and set the tone for the show.
Isbell seemed to have the amps turned up, as ‘Decoration Day’, ‘Goddamn Lonely Love’ and ‘Never Gonna Change’ dug deep. It was great that he played some of his older stuff. They were all followed by resounding applause from some of us older folks.
Overall the show was a good mix of selections from Isbell’s newest release ‘Something More Than Free’, as well as his older stuff.
He broke into ‘Codeine’ and it was like Drivin ‘N Cryin’ playing ‘Straight to Hell’. It’s such a great song, and Isbell hammed it up a bit for the crowd. We all loved it. Even the folks who hadn’t ever heard ‘Codeine’ were tapping their feet….
…and then ‘Alabama Pines’ (Mrs. RCS’ favorite). This was like a hymnal…everyone at Fox was singing at the top of their lungs. Amanda Shires’ did the fiddle right on this one.
After ‘Pines’, Isbell gave us all a treat, telling the story of ‘Cover Me Up’. How he and Amanda write songs and play them for each other. He wrote this one for Amanda, and she loved it right off the bat. “High standards” is what she said. This tune fits the bill. Isbell went on about how he likes to sing it to her every night…and he did:
It was a very emotional moment, and one that I’ll always remember.
Isbell has continued his upward trajectory as a singer, a songwriter, and a performer. He and his band were 100% in sync during the show, giving the audience a crisp, thick performance of a good mix from his catalog. Those attending were hoping for a good show, and they got it. It’s these types of shows that prove live music is still the best entertainment around.
Extra Credit: Hat’s off to Amanda Shires. Isbell mentioned that this is one of her last shows on his tour, as she is about go on the road in support of her new album ‘My Piece of Land’. Mrs. RCS and I have been playing this all morning, and it is EXCELLENT. Shires is a breath of fresh air. Obviously a bit of a departure from what we heard Saturday night, but for a sunny Sunday morning, it’s just what the doctor ordered.