Winter Suit Storage


Here in the American South the flowers are blooming, the leaves are popping and the temperatures are rising. I decided over the weekend that it was time to put my winter wardrobe into storage. I won’t need those flannel suits or tweed jackets until the weather turns cold again next fall. By removing those items to a storage closet, I am sure to have plenty of uncluttered space in my main closet. Those clothes are also protected until they are again needed.

In preparing to put your winter clothes into storage I would first suggest taking stock of your inventory. Do you have clothes that are worn out? Get rid of them. Ill-fitting? Donate them. Winter clothes that you didn’t wear all winter? You won’t wear them next winter either. Get them out. Inspect whatever is left for loose buttons or other repairs that should be done before the clothes are placed into storage.

Insects are the biggest enemy to your winter wools. Moths and carpet beetles are attracted to the natural fibers as well as food stains embedded within those fibers. It’s an awful experience to pull a favorite jacket out of storage and discover that it is full of holes. Before clothes are stored, stains should be spot cleaned and the clothes should be dry cleaned to kill any egg deposits. It is also a good idea to vacuum and/or steam clean your storage closet’s carpet that may also hold egg deposits.

It’s a good idea to store your suits in canvas bags. The canvas breathes, but adds a layer of protection against insects. I personally use the pictured Rubbermaid canvas suit bags that come with a natural cedar insert. They retail for about twelve dollars each.

The final line of defense is an insect repellent. I prefer cedar; it puts off a pleasant scent, but repels moths and carpet beetles. I use a combination of the canvas bag inserts and hanging cedar blocks. Cedar hangers or a cedar-lined closet are also effective options. Keep in mind that the cedar can be refreshed with a little sandpaper if the scent fades.

A Stylish Movie: American Gigolo


American Gigolo (1980) stars Richard Gere as Julian Kay, an escort for wealthy women who is framed for the murder of one of his clients and the theft of her precious jewels. The movie was written and directed by Paul Schrader (of Taxi Driver fame) and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.

American Gigolo is often listed among the top style movies of all time. The movie burst on the scene at the end of the bell-bottom disco era and stood as a preview of the narcissistic and hedonistic decade that followed. It is also the movie that introduced the world to the Armani suit and propelled Giorgio Armani, who created Gere’s wardrobe, to instant stardom.

The movie’s focus on luxury clothing becomes immediately obvious when one of the first scenes has Gere trying on tailored clothing in a high-end men’s store. Gere’s wardrobe includes soft, unstructured suits in silk, linen and Italian cotton. In a complete departure from the style of the 70s, Gere wears small collars, narrow ties, skinny belts and surprisingly high-waisted trousers. The movie ushered in slim Italian clothing as the style for the 80s and influenced the dress of an entire generation of men.

One scene that epitomizes the self-absorption and greed of the decade has Gere pulling out clothing from his immense closet and hyper-organized drawers. He then obsesses over the details of each outfit as he lays out Armani shirts, knit ties and jackets on his bed.

One casual outfit that I found to be particularly interesting included light blue jeans with a ribbon belt, a pale blue shirt, an unbuttoned double-breasted gray jacket with patch pockets and brown boots.

Unfortunately, where the movie shines in style, it lacks in substance. Most of the movie is an excuse to watch Gere (who is very fit and tan) dress and undress, and cruise around town in a Mercedes convertible. It does not even become apparent that the movie is a murder mystery until the first hour is past. Nevertheless, the movie includes some good music and provides a window to a now-bygone era of indulgence and excess.

The Duffle Bag

A number of stylish examples of male clothing and accessories can trace their humble origins to the military. One such item is the useful and ubiquitous duffle bag.

The first recorded use of the term “duffle bag” is credited to the poet E. E. Cummings who used it in a letter he wrote in 1917 while working in France as an ambulance driver during WWI. The bags take their name from Duffel, a town in the Belgian province of Antwerp, where the thick cloth used to make the bags originated.

Many designers have produced their own interpretation of the basic military carryall. Below I will examine a variety of versions, from rugged to lavish, that would be useful for most weekend excursions.


Filson, first opened in 1897 as C.C. Filson’s Pioneer Alaska Clothing and Blanket Manufacturers, produces great outdoor clothes and accessories. Their small duffle bag ($225.00) is made of heavy water-repellant cloth available in brown, otter green and tan. The bag sports leather trimming and a brass zipper.


Temple Bags offers the Re-Purposed Canvas Weekend Duffle Bag ($349.00) made from recycled WWII military laundry bags. Temple Bags adds saddle leather handles, a removable strap and khaki twill lining.


The Saddleback Leather Co. duffle bag ($537.00) is offered in four colors of waterproof full grain boot leather: carbon black, chestnut, dark coffee brown and tobacco brown. The bags feature industrial marine-grade thread and hidden nylon reinforcing straps. Saddleback Leather offers a 100 year warranty.


Brooks England offers high quality leather bicycle saddles and bags including the Hampstead Holdall (€320.00) made of water-resistant cotton fabric and vegetable tanned leather. It is designed to be worn over the shoulder or attached to the rear rack of a bicycle.


Ettinger has designed and crafted luxury leather goods since 1934. Their Cotswold Weekend Bag (₤468.00) is made of cotton drill and trimmed in waxy leather. It is available is five color combinations including olive/Havana, sand/Havana, ivory/Havana, navy/black, and black/black.


Glaser Designs sells leather goods directly from their San Francisco, CA, studio. Their week-end size leather duffel ($715.00) is available with many custom options.


The ultimate over-priced duffle bag is the Louis Vuitton Waterproof Keepall 55 ($2,450.00) made of monogrammed waterproof canvas.

A Stylish Movie: Bonnie and Clyde


Bonnie and Clyde (1967) stars Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker, a bored small-town girl, and Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow, a small-time ex-con. The movie romanticizes the couple’s string of bank robberies that made newspaper headlines and caught the imagination of the Depression-era public.

Faye Dunaway is lovely in pencil skirts, berets and silk scarves. Warren Beatty is equally stylish in double-breasted suits, vests, spectator shoes and hats. As a touch of sprezzatura, his shirt collars are often askew. It’s odd to watch them rob banks while so well turned out.

One small detail in Beatty’s wardrobe struck me as particularly stylish. Early in the movie he takes Dunaway to town for a coca-cola. While they chat he chews on the end of a wooden matchstick. Several more identical matchsticks are tucked into his hatband. It’s a nifty personal touch like Gianni Agnelli wearing a watch on the outside of his shirt cuff.

Even members of the supporting cast exhibit interesting style. Michael J. Pollard plays C.W. Moss, a slow-witted auto mechanic turned getaway driver. He is often seen in blue jeans, chambray shirt, blue jean jacket, neckerchief and newsboy cap. That’s pretty stylish dress for changing the oil in your car.

Gene Hackman plays Barrow’s older brother Buck. In an interesting contrast, he mixes a tattered brown leather bomber jacket with gray pants, white button-down shirt and tie.

In addition to being a stylish movie, Bonnie and Clyde is entertaining to watch. The movie was nominated for numerous Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Costume Design. In 1998 the movie was placed at #27 on a list of the 100 best American movies according to the American Film Institute.

For some entertainment and classic sartorial inspiration I recommend you watch Bonnie and Clyde.

Teach Your Children Well

Last week my five-year-old son asked my wife why we did not dress him in “nice” clothes. Bear in mind that much of his wardrobe is a miniaturized version of my more casual attire. For school he wears blue jeans with sweaters or simple solid-colored polo shirts. Over that he may wear a navy pea coat, a waxed cotton jacket or a bright yellow rain slicker. At church he might be seen in navy blue pants, a white dress shirt, gray cardigan and red, white and blue bow tie. So why does my son think I am depriving him of “nice” clothes? Apparently the kindergarten definition of “nice” involves t-shirts emblazoned with the latest logos from popular culture. It is also apparent that my son is feeling some pressure to conform his dress to that of his peers.

In most retail stores it is surprisingly difficult to find boys’ clothing that is devoid of decoration. It seems that every shirt is embellished with a bulldozer, a football, a rocket, a dinosaur or a pirate. Somehow, more than thirty years later, Star Wars remains a popular theme. There are t-shirts for Spider Man and Sponge Bob and countless other cartoons of which I am either too old or too out-of-touch to even be aware.

So do stores sell these embellished clothes because that is what parents want to buy for their kids? Is this driven by demand? Or do parents just dress their kids in these clothes because that’s what’s available at the local store? In this regard I wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg.

As you may have gathered, I am not a fan of logo-emblazoned children’s clothing. Our society is infected with a sloppy, lazy attitude towards dress. That attitude is being reinforced in the next generation. Habits are learned young. I, for one, do not want to one day find a picture of my son on the pages of People of Walmart wearing tattered jean shorts or a t-shirt that says “disease free” with an arrow pointed at his genitals.