Advice: Winter Boots?


I’m in the market for a pair of winter boots.  I’m looking for something that is relatively casual, but can be dressed up.  Rubber sole, relatively inexpensive, but built to last.  Caveat: I’m not looking for something as utilitarian as Bean boots, or as dressy as lace up John Lobbs.  Something in the middle.  Right now I’m leaning towards these Blundstone 585s:

What do you think?  I like the price point, and I like the style.  Do any of you have any experience with Blundstone?  Any other boots I should be looking at?  Lemme know in the comments section.



Winterized, with East Dane

Ahh…wintertime.  It’s not the most comfortable season.  Most of us Southerners hate cold weather, and these two or three months of frigid temperatures present a bit of a challenge when dressing the part.  As it is, layering is key, while still staying comfortable and stylish.  For style, East Dane is one of my go-to’s for good lookin’ winter gear.  They carry so many great brands – and carry the good stuff from each.  Here’s how I would do it right from East Dane‘s corner of the Interwebs:

From top left:

1. Rag & Bone Landon Shawl Collar Cardigan Sweater:  I have this sweater, and lovingly refer to it as my ‘Mr. Rogers sweater’.  The shawl collar gives it a fashion-forward look, while giving the back of your neck a little protection.
2. Gant Rugger Windblown Flannel Shirt:  We can’t wear flannel that long down South, but it’s one of my favorite fabrics.  Wash it, give it about 10 minutes in the dryer, and hang dry…maybe a quick ironing so it keeps it shape.  It’ll get softer the more you wear it.
3. Billy Reid Peak Lapel Pea Coat: Pea coats are touch and go, but Billy Reid knocked it out of the park with his.  It fits like a trim overcoat, and is offered in more colors than the typical Navy blue.  This one in Heather Green is a thing of beauty.
4. Norse Projects Twisted Yarn Scarf:  Don’t laugh at scarves.  They provide more function than you think.
5. Naked & Famous Weird Guy Selvedge Jeans:  Wintertime calls for dark jeans.  Get some good, thick selvedge denim and you’ll be good to go.
6. Wolverine 1000 Mile Mile Montague Chelsea Boots:  When sporting the Mr. Rogers sweater, you need to pair it with some snazzy kicks.  Chelesa boots are like sports cars for your feet…sleek.
7. Panterella Danvers 5×3 Rib Socks:  Yes, socks are OK this time of year.
8. Billykirk 1″ Roller Ball Belt:  I’ve really gotten in to the 1″ belts lately.  They aren’t so bulky like those old thick Abercrombie jobs.
9. Persol Classic Round Sunglasses:  I lean towards the thicker, more substantial sunglasses in the wintertime.  Persol has, and still continues to do it right, even with their classic models.
10. Fox Umbrellas Stick Blackwatch Tartan Umbrella:  The one thing you always forget.  Instead of grabbing the giant Titleist golf umbrella, choose something with a little more class.  Function doesn’t have to be so industrial…it can be a Blackwatch tartan.

Before & After: Meltonian Boot Work

I’ve preached over and over about buying quality pieces that will last for a long time.  By ‘last a long time’, I mean it’s OK to spend good money on pieces that won’t go out of style, and can be taken care of.  I bought a pair of Billy Reid Terrance boots a couple years ago, and they quickly became some of my favorite footwear.  They are great.  They’ve broken in very nicely, and they go with everything.  The boots are Italian made, and cost me a pretty penny, but so far they have been worth every penny.

As comes with every quality pair of shoes, they have to be taken care of.  These boots were long overdue for a tune up, so I gave them a deep Meltonian treatment.  I originally used the same cream as soon as I bought them to treat the leather as well as darken them to the desired tint.  It worked before, and I knew it would work again.  Mrs. Red Clay Soul had a pair of Cole Haan boots that needed some love, so I did them both.

For your viewing pleasure, here’s the before and after:

The boots before:

Mrs. RCS’s Boots – showing the difference of two coats of Meltonian:

The Billy Reid Terrance boots, the boot on the right with two fresh coats of Meltonian:

The finished products:

I’m very happy…and so is Mrs. Red Clay Soul.

Perspectives: A Chat With Ben Johnson, Orvis’ Menswear Guy

We all know about Orvis.  They have been a part of the outdoors conversation for as long as you and I can remember.  One part about Orvis that seems to play second fiddle to their outdoor gear is their menswear selection.  I don’t know why…they carry a TON of great stuff that fits squarely in #menswear domain.  Have you seen their sweater collection?  Their buttondowns?  Harris Tweed?  Pondering this question, Ben Johnson and I had a chat about it.  Be’s official title is Divisional Merchandise Manager for Menswear.  He’s the guy who is responsible for Orvis’ menswear selection.

He’s a super cool guy that gets it.  He has one foot solidly planted in the Orvis tradition, but one foot in the forward-looking perspective of the next great #menswear thing.  Here’s a little more about Ben and his perspectives:

How long have you been with Orvis?  I’m coming up on 10 years. I started out in the field managing our store on the north side of Indy, transitioning to the head office in VT in early 2008.

How do you approach the Orvis catalog of goods? Orvis is different from other retailers that I’ve worked with in the past. We have a number of “heritage” items that have been with us for years. Our customer loves the fact that they can come back to Orvis and continue to find “that old friend.” As such, we continually look for product that will draw upon that heritage and compliment many of our long running items, while also being relevant within the marketplace. Further, we also look to introduce our customer to products that represent the same commitment to quality that they’ve come to expect from Orvis (this would include products such as Barbour, Schott, Tellason denim, Kletterwerks bags, etc.).

‘Orvis’ has always been associated with ‘Quality’. How do you determine, test and approve the level of quality on what is offered from Orvis?  It’s pretty simple. We have a saying within the company: “Is this something that we are proud to own or give?” That seems to do the trick. However, sometimes we get it wrong. When we do, we fix it. We have a very strong “Voice of the Customer” (VOC) team at our distribution center in Roanoke, VA. They relay concerns of not only our customers, but also Orvis associates in the field. Through the VOC team, we continually look for products that don’t measure up to our standards.

What is it like working at Orvis?  Fun, exciting and challenging. We have tremendous latitude to do what we think is best for the brand and the business. Orvis has also enabled me to enjoy some activities that I otherwise never would have had the chance (Sharptail hunting in Montana; fly fishing on the River Test in the UK; attending the Goodwood Revival for the past 4 years).

What do you like to do outside of work? Pretty extensive traveler. Tend to be a pretty big audiophile. Lived in Chapel Hill/Raleigh from 89 – 96 and had the opportunity to see a great band just about every night. A little more challenging in VT, but I try to see live music whenever possible. Read about anything I can get my hands on.

What is your ‘Everyday Carry’?  I tend to be a bit of a minimalist—keys and a phone.

Who are some of your style icons and inspirations?
Willis & Geiger—the original outfitter.
Ralph Lauren
Hackett—I always love to see what they’re doing.

What is your favorite ‘thing’ from Orvis?  Wow, that’s a tough question. Probably has to be our Gokey Heritage Duffle . The first item I ever had from Orvis was a piece of Battenkill luggage that I received from my future wife in ’94. I feel the piece personifies quality, heritage and commitment to craftsmanship.


What do you think?  What’s your favorite thing from Orvis?

The Hawks Bandwagon

Over the past month or so, the strangest thing has happened…  Apparently Atlanta still has an NBA team, and they are still called the Hawks…and they are GOOD.  They’ve won something like 26 of their last 28 games, and don’t have a superstar player, instead playing like a team.  Kyle Korver has a higher 3-point shot percentage (53.6%) than Shaq’s career free throw percentage.

Bandwagon is a term that we throw around, and quite frankly, I agree with it.  While I don’t really have a problem with it, I understand why some do.  Here in Atlanta, we are notorious for bandwagon fans.  Take the late 80’s Braves vs. the 90’s Braves…as soon as they had they miracle season in ’91, they were the talk of the town.  Before then, they couldn’t give tickets away.

Now look at the Hawks…  Games are selling out, NBA is getting more than 5 minutes an hour on Sports Radio, and for good reason.  I’m happy to admit that I’m looking forward to their game today – a nice ‘business man’s’ special at 2:30 vs. the Pistons.

The Hawks have been around for a while…remember the ‘Human Highlight Factory’?  Let’s remember:


Kevin Willis

Tree Rollins

Doc Rivers

Spud Webb

What do you think?  You tuning in to the Hawks?

Grateful Dead: Fare Thee Well

Well isn’t this just a real nice surprise…  Looks like I know what I’m doing to celebrate America’s independence…heading to Chicago to see the remaining members of the Grateful Dead in their Fare Thee Well shows.  Looks like Phish-man Trey Anastasio will do the fronting, which sounds like a good thing.  I’ve never been a hardcore Phish guy, but no doubt the talent is there.

It will be interesting to see how they do the shows…Dead shows typically aren’t a ‘festival of hits’, so the setlists could be fun.  Ticket prices don’t look too bad, either.  One of my biggest regrets is missing the Dead show at The Omni in 1995.  I still think about it.  I’m down with Chicago.  I’m serious.

So for some Saturday conversation…what’s your favorite Dead song?  Me: “China Cat Sunflower => I Know You Rider” from Europe ’72.  What’cha got?

Friday Jam: Drivin N Cryin – “Straight to Hell” (Live)

I’m a huge Drivin N Cryin fan.  Their first four albums got HEAVY rotation for many years, and I still find myself listening to them today.  I watched “Scarred but Smarter”, the documentary of Drivin N Cryin last week.  Look for a review very shortly.

To celebrate…feel free to sing along: