I woke up this morning depressed. That’s not unusual. So I did what always do—I went for a run around Central Park and then spent money.
What was unusual was what I spent it on. I bought a grey and orange horizontal striped umbrella at Paul Stuart. They also have it in burgundy and yellow and a blue pin dot. They are all $427. I assume that price means it will last forever.
It makes you pray for rain, sleet and snow, but I promise you that when you come in from the rain, your entrance will be noticed. It will also make it a lot easier to pick out your umbrella in the coat room.
This is a column about shopping that can be done anywhere, anytime, anyplace, and I’ll focus on internet sites that are not well known. I am not trying to push any particular product; I am trying to help make for an educated consumer. I want you to be able to kill a few hours and spend a couple of hundred dollars on things you will like and wear for a long time.
For example, Permanent Style is a very good blog on men’s clothing—particularly English styles. It has great resources and suggestions about where to buy things. It also contains a lot of intelligent commentary, especially on high-end clothes.
Much less well known is a site called The Bespoke Dudes, which is the Italian version of Permanent Style. It’s a great guide through Italian tailoring and a primer on how to wear clothing in the Italian style (the pants are shorter and narrower and the cuffs are bigger). The site also advertises the best sunglasses I have ever seen. Many of the products sold are Bespoke Dudes merchandise, but they have lots of interesting advertising as well. It’s a lot of fun to just go from one site to another for the blogs and the advertising.
A great site for neckties is E. & G. Cappelli. These fine Italian ties are good value, but the shipping costs are high. However, if you buy a couple at a time, the per tie cost of shipping comes way down. I like bright colors and there are lots of them here.
Zampa di Gallina (the name has to do with chicken feet, which some people eat but which seems disgusting to me) has all kinds of cool Italian products, including shirts.
The best tie site is still Sam Hober. Somehow the idea of English ties made in Thailand appeals to me (they keep German Shepherds to fight off the snakes). They have a great selection of Grenadine ties in all colors and styles (the main difference in Grenadines is the tightness of the weave). The forest green, midnight blue, and the cream all look like they would be terrific with most suits. Both the ties and the shipping are inexpensive.
There is a site selling updated traditional style English clothing called Crombie that has a great navy blue raincoat with a red lining. Prices are quoted in pounds.
Another English site called Johnston’s of Elgin sells knitwear. The sweaters and scarves come in great colors. The company makes a lot for private labels, which is probably why they are reasonably priced. Their web site is very easy to use.
There are good American sites like Brooks Brothers and J. Crew, but one that deserves to be better known is Ben Silver. It features conservative American styles but they do them very well and with good colors. It also has a terrific collection of shoes.
If you like Alden shoes—strong Made in America shoes for strong made in America men—there is a site call Moulded Shoe, which originates in a store in midtown Manhattan that is so narrow you can’t try on the left and right shoe at the same time. They have the best selection of Alden shoes, both standard and exclusive, that I have ever seen.
There is a good website for a chain of stores called J. Press, which is so old fashioned that it’s chic. It’s also very inexpensive.
People think mostly of L.L. Bean for outerwear, but Filson (great website) has better high-end products.
Mes Chaussettes Rouge has a huge selection of socks, including ones made for bishops and cardinals (the website announces that it is “Tailor to the Pope”). Another very good sock site is Viccel, a Turkish brand that sells lovely cotton socks in both light and heavy weights. The colors are varied and rich. I like to wear my khakis little short so I can show off the socks.
The best place for khakis is Bills Khakis, which offers very heavy, old-school styles. I love them and have several.
Do yourself a favor, and right after you read this column, go to a site called Exquisite Trimmings. It sells accessories like ties, pocket squares, sweaters, scarves, suspenders, and shoe and shaving kits. They are currently having a great sale, the selection is good, and the quality is superb. This is one of my favorites sites, and it’s not well known in the U.S. They have very solid looking, double-sided mother of pearl cufflinks in every color (Don’t get me started on single-sided cufflinks—when you are out to dinner and you pass the sauerkraut, a certain class of people will see that your links are a front). And they are cheap, which can be important. I once left my best pair in my shirt and they were lost at the cleaners. The site also has great customer service.
By the way, try find a jeweler who will make cufflinks for you. They have molds for everything. And putting pearl on the back eliminates the double-sided issue. Stores kill you on the price of cufflinks. Just get pictures of what you want and ask the jeweler to copy.
I have a pair with shamrocks on one side and my initials on the other. Well, actually, I have lots of cufflinks with shamrocks and harps on them. I love the land of my ancestors. The Irish smile all the time and have the world’s biggest raspberries.