Photo by Salt Water New England

Monday, January 17, 2022

Everyday Footwear for Snow and Slush?

Photos by Salt Water New England
A reader question:

Quick question… having only lived in NE 4 years now I’m still adapting to everyday footwear on days like today where it’s snow and slush, and the days afterward. Do I need to accept the fact that during this season my day to day is going to be a boot of some kind? I’d look silly in moccasins or loafers right?


After the Storm

Photos by Salt Water New England

 

Camp Mocs

 

Camp Mocs for Women and Men

Camp Mocs, short for Camp Moccasins, are a classic casual slip-on shoe for men and women.  Flattering and easier than boat shoes, they are perfect for business casual when new and for everyday wear when older.   They were invented by Leon L. Bean, and L.L. Bean first introduced these shoes in 1936.

With white soles, they can be worn on boat decks.   A red sole is a fine alternative for autumn.  They can be worn with or without socks.     

A reader asks:

Quick (and unrelated) question for the SWNE community/Muffy. Quoddy or Rancourt for camp mocs? Weighing the canoe shoe and Gilman moc respectively. Any opinions out there? Thanks!

Women's Version

Horizontal lacing around the throat makes it easy to tailor the fit while preserving the ease of a slip-on.

Women's Version

 

Photo Credits:  Muffy Aldrich

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Pink Seersucker Stripes and Pink Seersucker Checks

Photo by Salt Water New England
Two of the latest additions to the summer shirt wardrobe, from Mercer & Sons:

Class-Feral

The Thing Before Preppy - Photos by My Father

One of the most defining characteristics of this "Before Preppy" culture is the concept of Class-Feral.  

Sailing may be the most Class-Feral of sports.  White sails, teak decks, and rough seas.  Hunting (fox, not deer, obviously) also comes to mind.

Class-Feral is seldom dressing up such that retrieving a wind swept hat is made inconceivable.  This true whether cutting through Central Park or sailing out of Penobscot Bay.   

Class-Feral is doing chores, taking solitary walks, even experiments in the same outfits as a trip to the club or meeting with the accountant, albeit in older and more tatty versions.    

Pragmatically, Class-Feral clothes last forever.  The construction endures, but even more so the styles.

Of course, beyond the superficial is where Class-Feral is more important.  Stewardship and urbane intelligence meet a physicality, intrepidness, and even manic mad-scientistness.  

Class-Feral can be seen when dogmatically following an internal honor code while chaffing at external rules.  It is squirming miserably in a classroom but teaching oneself a new language by reading a few French novels with a dictionary.  This is our Cartesian dualism.

A Class-Feral perspective views both rustic and foppish as anathema.  Holes in the elbows, yes, stains, no.  Overly pressed shirts and camouflage anything are two sides of the same coin. 

Houses are never decorated, and in fact seldom finished at all.  Old oriental rugs nicely hide the traffic from dogs, cats, chickens, and horses.  

Some will recall Mr. Z.'s Darien Sport Shop with the suits on the first floor and the skis and tennis racquets on the second. Two much more common touchstones of Class-Feral are the archetypes of James Bond and Dr. Who, due in no small part to to the imprint of the Scottish actors that helped popularize them.  But most leading men and women are written and directed to exhibit some form of Class-Feral, even if clumsily executed.  (The United States currently has trouble with the Class-Feral concept, which has perhaps increased as schools have grown ever more uncomfortable with both Class and Feral.  This may be why Hollywood has to import so many of our leading men and women.) 

As with so many things, explaining it to anyone outside the world is to invite misinterpretations and ham-fisted implementations.  But for those trying to understand why today's "fussy preppy," "trashy preppy," or "empty suit styles" have veered so far from The Thing Before Preppy, it explains a lot.  

At the Club


Friday, January 14, 2022

Winter Marsh

Photo by Salt Water New England

 

Thursday, January 13, 2022

How do you make coffee at home?

Photo by Salt Water New England
 A reader question:

I have a question for the community, sort of an omicron edition.  What is the best way of making coffee at home?  Where do you buy your coffee and how do you prepare it?  Are there any French Press advocates? Is it worth grinding your own beans?  Thank you everyone for your knowing thoughts.   

 

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

The Nordic Influence

Photo by Salt Water New England
 The Nordic influence should not be underappreciated, from Saabs and Volvos to classic birdseye sweaters of pure Norwegian wool.

Monday, January 10, 2022

For men and women who wear cravats or neck scarves, when and how?

 

A reader question for men below:

What do we all think on cravats and or neck scarves?

But also, what are thoughts about scarves around the neck for women?

 

Friday, January 7, 2022

Breakfast

Photos by Salt Water New England
Breakfast each morning is consistent:

  • Coffee.
  • Wheat Biscuit Cereal (with Whole Milk).
  • Fresh Fruit.

And then a bit later:

  • Yogurt with Nuts and Berries.



 

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

The Thing Before Preppy - Photo by My Father

Photo by My Father

 

Wearing Affiliations

Schoolboy Scarves

Within the world, it is considered to be in bad taste to wear a recognized school affiliation to which you do not have a connection.  But outside the world, one wears whatever one wants, either aspirational, convenient, or just pleasing.  

Photo Credit:  Muffy Aldrich

Monday, January 3, 2022

Someone who knows your tastes and looks out for you?

 A reader question:

The internet and sites such as SWNE have introduced us to many superb sources, often highly specialized, such as JD, Mercer, Shoemart, and Leather Man.  Other than O'Connell's and Andover, I have a hard time envisioning a possible single source for myself. Once upon a time many of us used a single source like Brooks Brothers, J. Press, or a local shop like Eljo's or Andover.  The notion of a single source usually meant having a close relationship with a salesperson, someone who knew your tastes and looked out for you.  A pleasant set of email exchanges with Eliza B or Serena Mercer is nice, really nice, but I still miss the relationship, now nearly forty years ago, with my good friend at Brooks Brothers.  Have you or any of your readers stuck with a single or predominant source and kept that personal touch? 

 

Ladies Loafers?

 A reader question:

Any recommendations for where to purchase ladies loafers these days?


 

On the Walk Today...

Photos by Salt Water New England
Colder weather required sheepskin and layering.


 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Henry Beston's Outermost House, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Photo by My Father 
Henry Beston Sheahan, Harvard Class of ’09 (Beston dropped “Sheahan” in his thirties), had built the house in 1925 on the Atlantic-facing stretch of beach on Cape Cod  (in Eastham) as a retreat,  spending time there in all seasons, and then writing about it in The Outermost House.  He donated it to the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1959, and it is said that his writings were instrumental in JFK's establishing the Cape Cod National Seashore40 miles of protected beachin 1961.   

Henry Beston spent the rest of his life on his farm in Nobleboro, writing about that as well in Northern Farm.  His legacy is perpetuated today in The Henry Beston Society.

Beston called his house The Fo'castle, and his descriptions of it included this passage:

I wanted a place to come to in the summer, one cosy enough to be visited in the winter could I manage to get down... It consisted of two rooms, a bed-room and a kitchen-living room, and its dimensions overall were but twenty by sixteen.  A brick fireplace with its back to the wall between rooms heated the larger space and took the chill off the bedroom.

When I was a child, my father took me on many treks to visit Henry Beston's Outermost House, including this one in February of 1973.  (We also visited his farm in Nobleboro, Maine.)  The Outermost House was a favorite of his, so of course our house had at least five copies of it floating around.  This is how books were rated before Amazon.

On this visit, the weather turned nasty.  It would recall, if not match, this Beston passage:

I woke in the morning to the dry rattle of sleet on my eastern windows and the howling of wind. A northeaster laden with sleet was bearing down on the Cape from off a furious ocean, an ebbing sea fought with a gale blowing directly on the coast; the lonely desolation of the beach was a thousand times more desolate in that white storm pouring down from a dark sky. The sleet fell as a heavy rain falls when it is blown about by the wind. I built up my fire, dressed, and went out, shielding my face from the sleet by pulling my head down into the collar of my coat. I brought in basket after basket of firewood, till the corner of the room resembled a woodshed. Then I folded up the bedclothes, threw my New Mexican blanket over the couch, lighted the oil stove, and prepared breakfast. An apple, oatmeal porridge, toast made at the fireplace, a boiled egg, and coffee.

Sleet and more of it, rushes of it, attacks of it, screaming descents of it; I heard it on the roof, on the sides of the house, on the windowpanes...

A scene of incredible desolation and cold. All day long I kept to my house, building up the fire and keeping watch from the windows...

For a mile or so offshore the North Atlantic was a convulsion of elemental fury whipped by the sleety wind, the great parallels of the breakers tumbling all together and mingling in one seething and immense confusion, the sound of this mile of surf being an endless booming roar, a seethe, and a dread grinding, all intertwined with the high scream of the wind. The rush of the inmost breakers up the beach was a thing of violence and blind will. Darkness coming early, I closed my shutters on the uproar of the outer world, all save one shutter on the landward side.

With the coming of night the storm increased; the wind reaching a velocity of seventy to eighty miles an hour. It was at this time, I am told, that friends on the mainland began to be worried about me...

The house was moved back from the water a couple of times,  and finally washed away in the Blizzard of 1978.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Barbour Coat's Last Chapter?

 

A question for the community:  

What do we do with much loved and much worn (out) Barbour coats?  I received a new Barbour Border last Christmas to replace my rotting and easily tearing Beaufort…but I cannot bring myself to part with the Beaufort.  Sending it back for repair would be prohibitively expensive.  Need some suggestions.

 

Friday, December 31, 2021

Last Days of Maine Coast Summer Camp - Fellow Staffers

Photo from My Archives

 

Cheap Watches and Ribbon Bands

Where to spend and where to save is mercurial, to be sure.   Boats, horses, schools, scotch, and privacy are often targets of largesse.  Spending extravagantly in other categories, such as resorts, goes more against the grain.  Flashier watches fall into the second category—perhaps better suited for the winners of various company regional award events.

Today, inexpensive watches—of classic design and with ribbon bands—can scratch a certain analog itch, lightweight and so far from precious that you don't have to worry about either breaking it or showing it.

Photo credit:  Muffy Aldrich

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Cable Knit Sweater

Photo by Salt Water New England

The cable knit remains one of the most versatile sweater patterns, and a perfect example of the evolution of a style from hard-working origins to now a widespread adoption. 

Bosie's chunky knit, 4-ply supersoft Geelong Lambswool for Men, has a polo neck and all-over Scottish cable stitching, with a longer, more modern cut.  From her wonderful Blue Mogganer collection.

Navy Blazer + Pink Shirt

Photo by Salt Water New England

 

Fingerless Gloves?

Photo by Salt Water New England

 A question for the community:

Do you wear fingerless gloves, and if so, for what?

Shown:

Monday, December 27, 2021

The Thing Before Preppy

Photo by My Father - Camden, Maine

Looking over the photographs from certain clothing companies, you may see a pattern.  Brightly attired people are bounding at a tennis club or outdoor tailgating banquet or other aspirational setting, grinning ear to ear because they are having so much fun, while some animal looks on soulfully.  

These are derivative of Tommy Hilfiger’s “Meet the Hilfigers" advertisements from the 90s, which themselves were riffs on the earlier Ralph Lauren campaigns of the 80s, that were based on the work of Slim Aarons.

It seems inevitable that people today associate these increasingly ersatz marketing campaigns as the definition of preppy style.  Newcomers must see this as the sartorial equivalent of costume jewelry. 

My take is a bit different. 

For me, the origin of the style is in the 1950s, around the coast of Connecticut.  A culture was codifying influenced by the wealth and access of New York; strong schools; and the culture of so many early settled New England towns with deep British roots.  The clothes were often bright and casual but still substantive and well made, much of which came directly from nearby manufacturers. Towns also had shops that specialized in imported Irish woollens and tweed.

This style was immortalized in many classic New Yorker covers that were done under the art direction of James Geraghty.  

Heading up the coast, New Haven soon fully embraced a variation of this, and of course so did the Boston area.  The parents of prep school students bought locally-made leather shoes, Camp Mocs and Bluchers that were manufactured in Maine on the way home from summer camp.  

I grew up around New Haven in the 1970s as my parents had the generation earlier.  (Three of my direct ancestors were amongst the original settlers of New Haven in 1638.) It was a region and culture that raised the game of a lot of people.  Obviously we never labelled our culture growing up.

This look was eventually knocked off and mass marketed, to mixed degrees of accuracy, by the preppy books of the early 1980s. It became conflated with Slim Aarons (via Ralph Lauren).  At its most dreary, preppy has become completely derivative and even interchangeable with some touristy Americana. 

This may be why I think of my background (and what I explore here) less as preppy, and more as “the thing before preppy.”  

And to those generations that have imprinted upon these newest social media images, my culture may be even more remote, perhaps the thing before “the thing before preppy.” 

I do wonder as the zeitgeist tires of these ever more cheap and vulgar variants, when misdirection goes out of style and the maneuvers of social competition are understood to be self-defeating, then perhaps the older Geraghty vision will become a better source than Aarons/Lauren/Hilfiger.  

If that is the case, perhaps the thing before the thing before preppy might actually be the thing after preppy.  

Photographs from our Archives (all but the last taken at the Westport Historical Society's Exhibit): 

The Cotswold Field Coat in Jarrow for Ladies

Photos by Salt Water New England

Shown:


 

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

O Woolly Night

Photos by Salt Water New England

Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!