Just to show you how much coronavirus has upended the universe, we're hoping the 150,000 masks that Brooks Brothers is planning to produce on a daily basis are all their synthetic narrowly-tailored Soho Fit. In the midst of a pandemic (but only in the midst of a pandemic), artful dishevelment must take a backseat to epidemiology.
DEAL 1: In our MB Build series from earlier this year, we bought the client four shirts. His favorite was the white NOS Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs we had in our warehouse for over a decade. But a close 2nd was a Brooks Brothers plaid from YOOX. We got the last one in February, but it's back in stock in several sizes and just $59. Fits true to size.
DEAL 2: Later, when we bought our MB Build client shoes, one pair he threw back was these Alexander Smith tennies. His loss was our gain, as we kept them, and have since become huge Alexander Smith fans. Quirky and different in an authentically British way — as opposed to Boris Johnson's TTH way — this brand is our most important discovery of 2019. Once $229, they're just $52, and while we're unapologetic Anglophiles, we'd punt the lot you'll like them as much as we do. Fits true to size.
As we said in the intro we're starting with shirts. The target archetype is "urban landed gentry," which in terms of shirts calls for plaids, so we went for three plaids and a casual-ish white dress shirt as a necessity for when he wears a tie.
1. Aspesi is an MB favorite, and we scored this large-scale plaid for $52. Had we waited a bit longer we could've gotten it for just 29 bucks, where it's at now. Aspesi's sizing is all over the place but in this case an L fit the client well. (He's 5' 10", 185 lbs.)
2. When we think of Brooks Brothers we don't think of plaids quite this involved, but this fits our bill, and also Dave (client). Marked "slim," its USA-style fit was more roomy than most Italian brands' regular. $41.
3. Growing up we could only find Wrangler at Fleet Farm, but in the past couple of years the iconic brand's been showing up on designer sites like YOOX and ASOS. What took so long?! This shirt was $75, and rounds out our plaid collection. Runs a little small.
4. Back during the Bush 43 Administration Marc Jacobs made dress/casual white shirts for his discount "Jacobs by Marc Jacobs for Marc Jacobs" line. But these shirts were no joke, with sewn collars and shanked buttons. We liked them so much we bought 15, and sold one of the NOS to our client for what we paid, $58. (Side note: Marc Jacobs is planning to resurrect a discount line called "The Marc Jacobs," set for release in fall 2019.)
We Threw These Back
1, 2 Deperlu and Xacus are two reasons why we're in love with YOOX. Both are smallish Italian brands most people have never heard of that make clothes you'll never see on anyone else. The issue is that, being Italian, the fit is Italian, which means if you're not an athlete on a restricted Mediterranean diet you may feel like a kielbasa and the shirt is the casing.
3, 4 More Wrangler, but we stuck with the version that both fit the best and the client liked the best.
UP NEXT: Sweaters. Plus a tool to help our client get dressed every day at the click of a button.
Q: I need an exceptional black tie for a funeral this Saturday; it will be paired with a black Hardy Amies suit, white shirt, black shoes. Can you help? Sounds simple but a classy black tie is not that easy to find. Sorry such short notice. —Cristian
A: We understand your dilemma. A black tie sounds simple, but you want to look like Bobby Kennedy — or even Ted — not the lead singer for The Knack or a Halloween mobster. Especially at a funeral. What that means is nothing too shiny, nothing too skinny, nothing too wide.
Our first choice is this Lanvin — which weighs in at the exactly proper MB tie width of 3⅛ — but there's only one left. So either act fast or be prepared to settle for this Brooks Brothers number — which will do in a pinch but does not quite possess the strikingly generic elan of the Lanvin. So we say act fast.
We'd never heard of Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama until he showed up to a barbecue dressed like a cross between giant Rubik's Cube and a Vegas mobster (see photo). Normally, we're not fans of patchwork shirts, black turtlenecks, or greasy pompadours, but if you put them all together and you're the ruler of one of the weirdest countries on the planet, well, what can we say? We like this look, Prime Minister Hatoyama!
Not everyone agrees with us. Japanese designer Don Konishi called Hatoyama's shirt outdated and out of touch, just like his political ideas and policies. (Glass houses department: Look at Konishi's own line of clothes.)
If you don't want to wait until S/S 2011 to get your Hatoyama Shirt, the early adopters at Shirtsmyway.com are offering a limited-edition version now, for $500. Drably dressed leaders of the world, take note.
Q: I've noticed you guys are down on Brooks Brothers, and I mostly agree. However, I just picked up a suit and sport coat from the Black Fleece line for 50% off and had a made to measure suit done. I picked wool from the Zegna factory and it will be constructed in the Martin Greenfield factory in Brooklyn. So, in the right setting, can Brooks Brothers be considered bastardly? --David
A: While we've poked some good-natured fun at Thom Browne, his stuff for Black Fleece the past two years is pretty good, and the quality is top-notch. Made in China, this is not. Our problem has always been the completely ridiculous pricing. Even at 50% off (as much of it is now) it's only a so-so value. If you like Black Fleece, keep your eyes on Gilt Man; they just had a sale with discounts in the 60-75% range and we expect another one fairly soon.
Ed. note: giltman.com is fast becoming a near-daily required shopping stop. If you'd like an invitation to join just drop us a line.
Q: What types of shirts and pants combinations can be paired with a black velvet blazer for a semi-formal New Year's Eve celebration? --Black
A: The shirt is easy: white, pressed, no button-down. If you have one, an evening shirt with studs would be MB. The pants? Hmmmmm ... time is short ... is there a Black Fleece-stocked Brooks Brothers near you? The blazer + the shirt + these subtle tartan pants will definitely get you more than the obligatory New Year's peck on the cheek.
The classic Negroni is simply equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. You can do better.
5 parts Plymouth gin
2 parts Campari
1 part Pimm's No. 1 Cup
1 part sweet vermouth
1 part dry vermouth
2 dashes of orange bitters
Quick shake or stir and pour into chilled Martini glass. Garnish with an orange twist.