Photo by Salt Water New England

Thursday, September 17, 2020

A Reader Question for the Community: Building a Wardrobe after the Core Items?


A Reader Question for the Community:

Dear Muffy, 

I enjoy the insights of you, your community of interested participants, and your advertisers regarding the tasteful, serviceable, clothing that is the Trad idiom.  A thought occurred to me that for most items of male attire there will be general consensus on number one, but there is rarely discussion of number two.  For example the navy Shetland crewneck is the clear number one sweater, but what is number two?  When you have number one, what is your next selection?  Do you go wild, such as buying carnation cashmere after you bought your navy Shetland, or is it the same sweater in dark grey (or the the lambswool v-neck in yellow, or something else)? I wonder what you and your readers think. 
 
So here are my choices... 
 
Number one sweater...navy Shetland crewneck
Number two...same in dark grey
 
Number one dress shirt...blue OCBD
Number two...pink and white university stripe OCBD
 
Number one trouser...plain front cuffed (1 3/4") khakis
Number two...plain front Oxford grey worsted with 1 3/4" cuffs
 
Number one odd jacket...navy 3/2 blazer
Number two...grey 3/2 Harris tweed herringbone
 
Number one surcingle...navy
Number two...olive
 
Number one polo...navy
Number two...pink
 
Number one short...9" stand up in Pelican
Number two...Nantucket reds
 
Number one casual shoe...Maliseet
Number two...Topsider
 
Number one dress shoe...Alden tassel in No. 8
Number two...Alden LHS in No. 8
 
Number one tie...repp stripe in your school colors
Number two...navy ancient madder neat or paisley
 
Number one outdoor coat...Barbour Beaufort
Number two...Gloverall duffel but could easily be the camel polo.  Here the conflict is palpable

 

Of course the list can go on.  It just seemed an interesting exercise.

 

53 comments:

  1. Perfect capsule wardrobe, add items for sports. Done. Look at all the room now in your closet. PBH

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    1. Yep. Just add a drawer of boxers and a stack of hankies! I note the 9" (discontinued) stand up. I am pleased to report that with more opportunity these days for walking and rowing the 7", still in production, is really a great pair of shorts.

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    2. This may be heresy, but Patagonia's lightweight all-wear hemp shorts are actually 76/24 cotton/hemp, lighter weight than the stand up shorts, and available in 6, 8, and 10 inch lengths. New favorite.

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  2. I agree on the repp stripe in your school colors. To looks at men wearing striped ties you would think the University of Pennsylvania was bigger than the University of Texas, USC, and Notre Dame combined and that the University of Michigan was almost that big!

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    1. I went to USC! And admittedly, I substituted USC stripes for Gryffindor gear when I went to Harry Potter themed events.

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    2. A striped tie in blue-and-gold works for the Naval Academy, Notre Dame, University of Pittsburgh, and University of Michigan.

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  3. Would anyone care to try a list for the ladies? I know our styles and tastes tend to be less cohesive, but a few suggestions could be helpful. Thanks for all the advice on this site.

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    1. I second! I would find it very helpful as well.

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    2. Absolutely! A list for the ladies, please!

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    3. I would welcome such a list, ideally with sources, as I am always challenged in selecting gifts for my wife and daughter!

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  4. Your list is a good one as far as it goes, but isn't it rather basic? Maybe that was the intent? This looks much like what I went away to college with in 1977.

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    1. "When you have number one, what is your next selection?"

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  5. In these dark times, a bit of whimsy such as this list is a tonic. Here are some things you missed that many of us consider equally essential:

    Hat: First choice Ball Cap Bowdoin (substitute Colby, St. Lawrence, Middlebury) Lacrosse Second choice

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    1. I agree with the first choice ball cap as long as you or one of your children went there.

      My daughter asked why I leave the Colgate sticker on my car even though she's already graduated. I told her I paid $250,000 for that sticker.

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    2. Although it would, perhaps, give it a moment's thought, in the end, I am uncertain that I would advertise that my offspring attended a school named after a brand of toothpaste. In fact, when my youngest considered, albeit briefly, applying to a college named Lehigh, as I recall the name, I did become a little alarmed never having heard of anyone who knew of such a place. Thankfully, with little parental prodding, he applied to and attended Williams.

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    3. I've never bought a baseball cap in my life. However, I graduated from a very ordinary state university but our two children graduated from a university named after their great-great-great-great grandfather (give or take a great). Yet neither of them wear anything with the name of the school on it.

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    4. Better yet-- if YOU actually attended or played. It always amused me when folks who didn't know the difference between a split dodge and a face dodge wore lacrosse apparel. Kinda like someone wearing a belt with golf embroidery who never played a round in their life.

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    5. Dear ML, the wonderful aspect of being a WASP parent is that many of us (for example, me) actually did play lacrosse in college 50 years ago. Of course, at that time, it was still a gentlemen's game, played by a handful of proper universities and small, New England colleges (although I recall that a few 'state' schools had teams but they were all located in the South so were, therefore, irrelevant to everything). Now, with regret, the sport has wandered into every high school in Iowa and most 'state' schools have spawned men's teams (with less than remarkable talent, I might add). Indeed, my son, playing in goal for Bowdoin, was required to participate in an NCAA DIII playoff game against some unfortunate young men who attended a college I had never heard of (which I believe has since closed) because that college had finished first in some God-awful, made-up league somewhere in Michigan, or some state like that. I recall that this squad would have been beaten, handily, by my son's team at Taft; the NCCA game ended 21 to 0. I share all of this simply to attest to your amusement regarding later-day advocates of a sport now ruined by the unwashed masses from places like Texas and California. Oh, the humanity!

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    6. My favorite "brush with greatness" was being coached by Mr. Stranahan in 1960 at Plandome Road School in Manhasset. Lacrosse historians will recognize Stranny as the man who coached the greatest player in my life, Jim Brown. My daughter played lacrosse in Austin. It is still fun with modern sticks, but I miss the old wood and leather sticks.

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    7. Ahem. An "irrelevant" state school from the South, the University of Virginia, won the NCAA D1 lacrosse championship in 1972. The next season, the University of Maryland, the runnerup in 1971, won the title, defeating long-time rival Johns Hopkins. Hopkins captured the championship in 1974, defeating Maryland, which went on to top Navy in the 1975 title game. One could go on, but, basically, southern schools dominated collegiate lacrosse in the 1970s. Just FYI.

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    8. I think it's odd that The Cirquitor puts "state" in quotation marks, as if state schools are actually something else.

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    9. He doesn't get out much. He says he's never heard of Lehigh University and claims his son played lacrosse against another small school he had "never heard of." A strange way to establish your bona fides, by confessing your ignorance.

      Footnote: Bowdoin, for all its merits, has never been relevant in men's lacrosse.

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    10. My dear Sartre and Dorcas (?), state "schools" (there, I did it again) are the result of well-intended merchants and tradesmen in the 19th and early 20th century forming technical and agricultural institutes for their offspring. I googled Lehigh. Apparently, it's benefactor was an American businessman who pioneered railroad construction. Wow. Not, one might say, the same raison d'etre (as our dear Sartre might say) for the two-dozen or so colleges and universities of worth in these United States, all of which were formed by clergy in the 18th century or very early 19th century in order to provide instruction to Anglo-Saxon young men on subjects such as liturgy, philosophy and natural science. Why, Sartre himself didn't attend Texas Agriculture and Mining University (known to its somewhat uncultured graduates as Texas A&M). No, our dear Sartre graduated from École Normale Supérieure, at the time the most prestigious institution in the Republic. One wonders why, Sartre, who graduated in 1929, currently advocates for the value and worth of our "state" schools, most of which derive their substance from taxes or sales of football tickets. Or is it perhaps that Sartre, once a middling thinker in his own right, is now incapable of understanding my beau monde manner of tweaking my inferiors. Alas, more pearls before swine, me thinks. As for Bowdoin, my dear Sartre, permit me to suggest that your insight into NESCAC athletics has not, to my knowledge, been called upon before, whether by graduates or coaches from these schools nor anyone else. If you care to become truly informed, come back from wheresoever our Lord sent you in 1980 and I will instruct you. These lessons may be difficult for you to understand, understandably. Relevant was never something Sartre would have considered valuable in the past; your philosophical outlook must have changed. In all events, gentlemen, you will never belong, never understand, always emulate, forever writhe in jealousy and, in general, always stand on the outside of the true Prep world. It's alright. You have 327 million colleagues.

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    11. "Its benefactor," not "it's benefactor."

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    12. Oh, and by the way, as an Oxford graduate, I'm not jealous and don't consider emulation necessary or desirable.

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    13. Chapel attendance has waned in the upper echelons of American education. Otherwise Cirq wouldn't address someone named Dorcas as a gentleman. "Dorcas" is a feminine name, the Greek version of Tabitha, which means "gazelle." The story of Dorcas in Acts 9 is well known, and the Episcopal Church commemorates her on January 27.

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    14. I think you all must cut him some slack - he's a grown man with a list of acceptable baseballs caps - lol!

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  6. Some of the number ones are clearly number one for New England preps, but in the south one sees more lambswool v-necks than Shetland crews. As for the number twos, I would argue the Burberry trench with zip out liner is a candidate for outerwear, although in the south one sees more Baracutas. I like Cirquitor's additional category. I might nominate the Tilley for number two in that category. As fir the ties, I would reverse one and two for working preps, but for younger preps and retirees it looks right. Interesting the question does not mention suits.

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  7. I have never considered any type of loafers (tassel, penny, LHS) as dress shoes. I was always taught that loafers were casual shoes and that dress shoes always had to have laces.

    The dress shoes that every man should have are either plain toe or cap toe balmorals.

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  8. Good morning, Muffy! Would you please consider recommending the best stores for women's core wardrobe items? Speaking for myself, I am a middle-aged woman who is working from home now; soon I will return to my very casual workplace. I appreciate quality and am having a very hard time finding it! Thanks.

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    1. Me too. As a community college instructor in a very warm region, we wear casual (semi-casual?) to work, and definitely casual at home. Alas, we won't be back in the classroom until next fall.

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  9. For my husband:

    Number one shirt - what he thinks he is going to wear
    Number two shirt - what he actually ends up wearing ;)

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    1. Our husbands must have the same taste.
      MaryAnne

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  10. For chillier, more casual occasions, a relatively understated Norwegian fisherman's sweater in cream and charcoal, or navy and cream. L.L. Bean (actually made in Norway) if you can find one. Those by Dale are very pretty, but a bit flashy and overpriced in my view.

    Best Regards,

    Heinz-Ulrich

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    1. Worn with jeans and cowboy boots (I know, I know), a Norwegian fisherman's sweater makes for a less common casual look that blends two cultures nicely. Whether or not you agree, I used to get compliments from my students way back when I taught Norwegian as a grad student in Wisconsin and Minnesota during the 1990s. A fellow grad student, who sat two desks away in our shared office, was simultaneously repulsed and yet strangely attracted by the look. We've been together almost 20 years and married for 14. Go figure. I still wear and enjoy the sweaters. The boots, not so much.

      Heinz-Ulrich

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    2. If Bean had not forsaken them I would have listed them as tied for first place (blue with cream). Since you have to hunt eBay or Etsy now, maybe number two.

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    3. Apparently it is back! I just pulled it up.

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    4. If it's the genuine article, snatch 'em up!

      Best Regards,

      H-U

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    5. Another source advises that L.L.Bean's new offering looks very similar but is not the same. That is sad.

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  11. In terms of casual wear, can I legitimately wear a Harvard ball cap or sweatshirt if I earned a degree from Harvard Extension?

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    1. I don't see any issues with this but this is an interesting question. Harvard AB Degrees are awarded to students who gain acceptance under the most selective application process in the country. Signalling affiliation through a "back door" is harmless when it comes to caps and hoodies. I doubt this is worthy of a raised eyebrow or sneer if Extension Alums want to show their pride. They worked for it and no doubt earned it.

      However, Hiring Managers and Grad School Admissions scrutinize over the distinction for obvious reasons and this is something they can easily verify.

      I've seen colleagues who advertise Dartmouth affiliation even though they only studied under the Executive Bridge Program at Tuck [not the comprehensive MBA program] but completed their undergraduate at public universities.

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  12. I agree on "whomever thought of Shetland wool for this?" as it's just too itchy. Once a person has worn cashmere, it's really for anything else! :) As for wearing school colors, I also stick to those schools of my affiliation. However, I do retain an Oxford scarf given to me many years ago by a friend.

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  13. "Whoever," not "whomever." "Whoever" is the subject in the clause "whoever thought of...," not an object. Of whom have you heard? I've heard of whoever is worth hearing about.

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    1. whom·ev·er
      /ho͞omˈevər/
      Learn to pronounce
      pronounFORMAL•LITERARY
      used instead of “whoever” as the object of a verb or preposition.
      "I'll sing whatever I like to whomever I like"

      Definitions from Oxford Languages

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    2. James, your definition relates to whoever/whoever used as the object of a verb or preposition but in the way you have used it it is the subject. It should be "whoever thought of Shetland." Think of this: You might say "Jane thought of Shetland," but you would not say "her thought of Shetland."

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    3. James, you have not negated the point made by Dorcas, who pointed out that in the instance under discussion "whomever" is NOT the object of a verb or preposition as you contend. As she stated, the entire clause with "whomever" as the subject is in fact the object of a preposition, which means that "whoever" rather than "whomever" is correct because in that clause it is carrying out the action. See her usage examples. Yours doesn't work as a rebuttal to hers, because yours isn't in the same grammatical structure. In yours, "whomever" is not doing the action as it is in hers: In "whomever I like" (your example) the subject actually is "I" but with inverted word order, so "whomever" would be correct because it is the direct object even though it comes before the subject and verb. In her example, by contrast, the clause "whoever is worth hearing about" features "whoever" as the entity performing the action, which means that "whoever" is correct and "whomever" would be wrong. Sartresky is correct as well.

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    4. Are you saying the entire clause is the object, but the subject of a clause belongs in the nominative? Just asking through a T & T haze.

      ;0)

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  14. Even in the middle of a pandemic and other disasters, one might keep at least a single suit. There seems to be no mention of one, so assuming that the list is not restricted to casual clothing, here are my choices for suits:

    Number 1: A classic grey flannel suit (Oxford grey), mid-weight,single breasted, with three buttons on the jacket and flat front or English- pleated trousers, 1-3/4" cuffs.

    Number 2: A dark blue worsted wool suit, constructed in identical fashion to the grey flannel suit described above.

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    1. Great point. Being in a warmer clime I opted for a charcoal Southwick 3/2 with 1 3/4" cuffs on the trousers and buttoning cuffs (a "too cool" surprise) on the jacket. For New England your #1 and #2 choices are unassailable. In Texas I'd put olive poplin in the #2 slot.

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  15. As the reader asked for opinions, I'll give mine! While I certainly cannot fault the list given, I respectfully submit some alternatives:

    Sweater: I live in a city and a shetland always feels a bit too rustic. For me, first is cashmere v-neck in navy, second is cashmere v-neck in dark grey, dark green, or burgundy

    Dress shirt: First is white Oxford cloth or pinpoint BD, second is light blue Oxford cloth or pinpoint BD

    Polo Shirt: First is navy, second is white

    Weekend Shoe: Quoddy boat shoe (summer); Quoddy chukka (winter)

    Casual Weekday Shoe: Alden loafer (summer); Alden blucher (winter)

    [Not listed, Formal Shoe: First is cap toe oxford in black, second is wingtip in cordovan or dark brown]

    [Not listed, Suit: First is single-breasted medium-weight wool in navy, second is single-breasted medium-weight wool in dark grey]

    Outdoor Coat: first is cotton gabardine raincoat in tan, second is wool or cashmere overcoat in navy or grey

    For what it's worth!

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    1. If I may comment on my comment: there may be a generational difference here. My grandfather was a proper Bostonian of the WWII generation. He was tasteful and conservative in all things, including clothes, except that he had a small arsenal of go-to-hell garments. I remember in particular a dizzying madras sport coat. He also owned a pair of shocking wool trousers in a tartan that no clan would call its own. Perhaps it came from a youth spent in the Depression and then the military, but I think the WWII generation's "second choice" tended toward the outrageous in a way that is no longer the case. All the same, I know a contemporary of mine who favors a pair of dark green corduroys decorated with small golden retrievers. Perhaps the go-to-hell spirit lives in a few brave souls.

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    2. My father was of the World War II generation as well and although generally tasteful and conservative had both tartan and Madras GTH pants and other definitively prep items, the pink OCBD and the pink polo. No prep wardrobe is complete without pink.

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