Warby Parker: The 2011 Collection

I wrote back in December that Warby Parker, the online purveyor of vintage-inspired acetate eyeglasses, planned to launch a new collection for 2011. That new collection is now available on their website. The 2011 collection includes fourteen new frame styles and a variety of new colors.

begley-midnight-blue

Warby Parker sent me a selection of the new frames to inspect ahead of the launch. As a group the collection appears to be bigger and bolder than their original offerings. The most striking aspect of the collection are the new colors.

winston-lunar-fade

The only new solid color is Midnight Blue. I like the new color. It’s conservative without being black. Pictured is the new Begley frame in Midnight Blue.

crosby-burgundy-fade

There are several different versions of what Warby Parker calls a “fade.” A dark color at the top of these frames fades to a lighter one at the bottom. There is Lunar Fade (pictured on the Winston frame) that blends from black to clear. From a distance the Lunar Fade provides a fairly subtle effect. The other fades are much bolder. The Burgundy Fade (pictured on the Crosby) fades from dark burgundy to almost clear. The Old Fashion Fade (pictured on the Felton frame) transitions from dark brown to a light caramel. The Oakwood features a similar combination of brown and caramel, but it has a mottled pattern instead of a fade.

felton-old-fashion-fade

The other three colors, Greystone (a greenish gray), Striped Maple and Striped Evergreen remind me of the Celluloid barrels of vintage fountain pens. The Beckett is pictured in Striped Evergreen.

beckett-striped-evergreen

On another subject, several readers who live outside the United States have asked me if Warby Parker plans to offer international shipping in the foreseeable future. I am informed this is a project that is in the works.  Canadian shipping was launched a few months ago. Currently the hope is that they will be able to offer full-fledged international shipping in the next six to nine months; however, that is a moving target so it could be sooner or later than that estimate. Nevertheless, for those of you outside the United States who are itching for a pair of Warby Parker eyeglasses, your wait may end in 2011.

Novelty Ties

theme-tie

Recently, while wandering through a local department store , I noticed a table of post-holiday sale items. Novelty ties featuring Frosty the Snowman and Santa Claus were piled indiscriminately on the table. It was a grim reminder that the excitement of the holidays had passed. It was also a reminder of how much I absolutely despise novelty ties.

Novelty ties, typically made of polyester, feature a variety of garish images including commercial products, pop culture icons, sports teams, cartoon characters, and holiday themes. For some reason Tobasco hot sauce seems to be a popular theme in the novelty tie milieu. Once, in a fit of novelty tie hatred, I wrote the following haiku:

Tobasco on silk.

Spilled hot sauce on an Hermès?

No. Worse. A theme tie.

I know. Terrible poetry. But you get the point.

Proponents of the novelty tie might argue that they are a fun way to show off your personality. But if you’ve got a solid personality, do you really need Bugs Bunny dangling from your neck? A man’s clothing should draw attention to his face where others can get a true sense of his personality. In opposition to this goal, a garish novelty tie draws all the attention to itself.

Novelty ties are also a jarring mix of the formal and informal. Neckties are typically worn with dress clothes. A tie that looks like a slice of bacon is just completely out of place. My tastes run more in the direction of a solid navy grenadine tie. When it comes to the novelty tie, I just don’t get it.

Braces And A Neckerchief

Oscar Wilde once noted that clothes should hang from the shoulder, not from the waist. To that end, I decided last week that I needed to find a quality set of braces to pair with the Corbin trousers that I wrote about in my last article. You may recall that I deleted the belt loops and had buttons added for braces. After doing a little research, I settled on braces from Albert Thurston. That British company has been making and selling braces since 1820.

albert-thurston-braces

Albert Thurston braces are offered in wool boxcloth for cool weather and the lighter weight barathea fabric for warm weather. The braces are offered in a wide range of colors and patterns. The leather ends come in black, brown or white leather. The braces with hand-stitched white glove leather are arguably the most versatile because you don’t have to worry with matching the leather ends to your shoes.

I found a small selection of Albert Thurston braces for sale at A Suitable Wardrobe Online Haberdashery. The store is run by Will Boehlke who maintains an excellent style blog. His selection of braces does not match the offerings directly from Albert Thurston, but he stocks the most useful colors. For those in the U.S., the biggest advantage for buying them from the ASW store is the free shipping. I settled on a set of red boxcloth braces with white leather ends. That combination is arguably the most classic and I thought appropriate for my first pair.

leopard-neckerchief

While perusing the ASW store I also happily discovered a lovely dark brown and lilac neckerchief in a 1920s style leopard print. I’ve always thought a neckerchief would be useful when paired with an open-necked shirt, but this is the first time I have ever found one for sale. This particular neckerchief looks great with a blue shirt and the brown tweed shirt jacket that I wrote about recently.

My experience ordering from the ASW store was positive. The online store is easy to navigate. My order arrived quickly and was nicely packaged. And as I mentioned before, the shipping was free.

Corbin Trousers

Some readers may recall my previous complaints about the low rise of today’s commercially available trousers. They look terrible with a waistcoat. They make a man’s legs look short. They are unflattering to any man who has a paunch around his middle.

Last month I took my complaint to my local gentleman’s shop. The suggestion was made that I order a pair of trousers from the Corbin Trouser Company (link: www.corbintrousers.com] in Pennsylvania. Corbin offers a selection of about 150 fabrics in their custom trouser program. The service is certainly not bespoke; you start with a standard-sized pattern and then choose custom options.

I decided to order a pair of flat-front trousers in a mid-gray flannel. I asked for an extremely high rise (at least compared to today’s offerings), no belt loops, side buckles, and buttons for braces. After about a week I received word that the flannel was no longer available and that I would have to choose a different fabric. I opted then for a mid-gray cavalry twill. After that minor hiccup, the trousers were delivered to the store within a few weeks.

Once the pants arrived it became quickly apparent that some alterations would be necessary by the shop’s local tailor. Both the waist and seat were let out, and the pants were cuffed at an appropriate length. These alterations added a few more days and hassle to the process.

corbin-1

Now that I have the trousers in hand, I can say that I am pleased with the result. You can see from the photograph the height of the rise; it is about two to three inches higher than most of my pants. The waistband hits at about my navel. I have tried on a couple of vests with the pants and they cover the waistband appropriately.

The pants also have some nice details. The four-button fastening system is an interesting and secure design. The side buckles are out of the ordinary, and the decision to eliminate the belt loops has resulted in a very clean and smooth waistband.

corbin-2

The downside is that the trousers cost $295 plus tax. I think that’s a pretty high price tag for a fairly basic pair of trousers. Nevertheless, it was a price I was willing to pay for options that are unfortunately not readily available elsewhere.

Style Library [Part 2]

Last week I shared a list of my favorite style books. Following is a list of style books in my library that were not worth the money.

Esquire: The Big Black Book. These annuals are really more magazine than a book. I have the same problem with these annuals that I have with Esquire magazine; they are heavy on ads for trendy clothing and light on good advice. It’s a shame that the current magazine isn’t more like the Esquire of eighty years ago.

The Handbook of Style: A Man’s Guide to Looking Good, The Editors of Esquire Magazine (2009). This little book from Esquire magazine is a lot more useful than the big black books, but it does not offer anything unique that isn’t already presented elsewhere in more interesting fashion.

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy: The Fab 5’s Guide to Looking Better, Cooking Better, Dressing Better, Behaving Better and Living Better, Ted Allen, Kyan Douglas, Thom Filicia, Carson Kressley, and Jai Rodriguez (2004). Carson Kressley’s fashion advice is dubious at best: “Black flip-flops look chic with almost everything, and you can wear them all summer long. I once sported a $3.50 pair with a couture suit. On CNN, no less.”

The Indispensable Guide to Classic Men’s Clothing, Josh Karlen & Christopher Sulavik (1999). Unlike some of the books in my list from last week, I have not found this book to be “indispensable.” It is just a wall of text with a few black line illustrations.

I’ll conclude with one book that is on my wish list. Woody Hochswender’s Men in Style: The Golden Age of Fashion from Esquire (1993) is a reference book of illustrations and editorial copy from Esquire magazines of the 1930s to the 1950s. Unfortunately the book is out of print and has become highly collectible. Nice copies fetch about three hundred fifty dollars. Even at that price, it’s the only book on this list that is worth the money.