Thursday, October 23, 2008

Great Clothes

There's a fascinating piece in the NYTimes this a.m., "Fashion Report 1920," about clothes that last, clothes that are never out of style and clothes that defy logic in their fashionability. Says a fashion magazine editor, "Here are all these great standbys that don’t really have anything to do with the lifestyle we lead here in New York" or almost anywhere else outside the Great Rural Landscape.

My favorite from this collection (Filson, Levi's, Barbour, basic T-shirts, Topsider, Woolrich, Alden)is the Pendleton wool shirt (inset photo of my favorite), a $108 item that I can't afford. I have 15 of them. OK, so I bought them used, mostly on E-Bay, about $20 each, plus shipping. Some date to the early 1960s and all are simply marvelous examples of textile potential: strong, colorful, stylish and comfortable.

The shirts range from the "loop" botton hole style from about 1964 to the Sir Pendleton with the button collar that is more recent, a little losser around the middle, but still thinning, even in big-panel plaid. When I started buying these shirts a year or so ago, I was immediately given a lesson in American sizing, Pendleton version, especially the simple fact that we are bigger than we were 40 years ago. Large isn't large any more. It's a medium, about a 38 to 40 inch chest. Even the extra large is a bit on the snug side for me--and that's what I wear in most shirts and jackets.

Tight or loose, though, the Pendleton is the gold standard. I was shooting a photo of a prominent Roanoke men's clothier for our magazine the other day--dressed in a Pendleton and jeans--and mentioned that I felt like a lumberjack in his fine men's shop. "That's a Pendleton shirt you're wearing," he said. "Lumberjacks can't afford those." Point taken.

(The photo is by my favorite wife, Christina, who interrupted her toilette to shoot it, which I appreciate.)

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