Category Archives: Clothing

O’mast: Pride and Passion.

I chose to write this post in Italian first and then translate it into English since most readers here on tumblr are not Italian you can just scroll down to the English translation. It is only right to honor a beautiful documentary about Naples and some of the great Neapolitan tailors in a language that is closer to their own than English (although Neapolitan dialect can often sound to other Italians like a foreign language). It is often said in Italy that “siamo tutti un po’ napoletani” (we are all a bit Neapolitan) and in fact there is so much of that saying that comes out in the film. I recommend that you purchase the DVD from The Armoury as soon as they start distributing it in the next week or so.

 

O’mast: Orgoglio e Passione.

O’mast è un film che parla sopratutto di orgoglio e di passione. L’artigiano che ad un tempo era considerato uno di tanti lavoranti o commercianti che offrivano merce fatte con le loro mani, oggi è venerato come artista. Anche se Gianluca Migliarotti, il regista, nella chiacchierata in sala dopo la proiezione dell’anteprima Americana del suo film-documentario su l’alta sartoria napoletane dichiara che il suo non è un requiem, purtroppo un pizzico di malinconia si sente a fine filmato. Non è colpa certo di Gianluca che rende un bellissimo omaggio non solo a dei personaggi importanti della sartoria partenopea, ma a Napoli città bella è solare al di là di tutti i suoi problemi di cui si legge spesso nella cronaca. Si sente sfuggire dalle mani del tempo un qualcosa d’importante, la cultura (mondiale) del fatto a mano, del mestiere dove si deve saper usare tanto la testa come le mani per creare pezzi unici quanto pratici e belli. C’è chi fra i presenti alla Casa Italiana della NYU si lamenta che questi sarti non sono nell’orbita dei comuni mortali che non possono permettersi un abito da svariate migliaia di Euro. Eppure c’era una volta quando ogni quartiere di sarti, calzolai, arrotini, fornai, macellai e altri ne aveva a bizzeffe. Allora c’è n’erano per tutti i gusti e per tutti i portafogli. C’è pure da ricordare che ci sono persone che spendono svariati migliaia di Euro sul prêt-a-porter quando potrebbe benissimo farsi fare un abito come si deve da un sarto acclamato.

Mi guardavo torno torno nella sala e vedevo giovani tra cui alcuni dei blogger più gettonati del momento nella sfera #menswear. Mi chiedo però se basta un piccolo gruppo di appassionati a risuscitare il sarto e la sartoria? Non ti parlo dei lavasecco di quartiere che per arrotondare si mettono a farti l’orlo del pantalone, ma del vero sarto che ti fa un paio di pantaloni o una camicia su misura ad un prezzo ragionevole (non dico certo a prezzi stracciati). Il problema come dicono in O’mast è il fatto che c’è molta ignoranza di cosa vuol dire farsi un vestito su misura e credo che molto di questo sia il concetto che il sarto (qualunque sarto) sia molto costoso e poi che ci vuole troppo tempo. Ma il tempo ci vuole qualunque volta uno abbia il desiderio di costruire qualcosa di qualità che durerà per sempre. Sono il primo ad ammettere che con due figli non ho tempo per farmi fare un vestito su misura, ma allo stesso tempo la giacca o il pantalone lo faccio modificare se non trovo una taglia esatta. Lo so che non è la stessa cosa, ma è un esercizio nel cercare di indossare cose che mi stanno meglio piuttosto che peggio.

O’mast è un bellissimo film anche se ci presenta con un vero miraggio che forse non faremo in tempo a raggiungere prima che sparisca per sempre. Insieme alla malinconia però mi sono portato a casa l’ottimismo di una sala piena di evangelisti che si spera spargano la voce su questo film che documenta una specie in via d’estinzione che ha bisogno del nostro aiuto per sopravvivere e chi sa se un giorno non si torni tutti a trovarsi tanti artigiani sotto casa con prezzi alti e bassi e qualità diverse ma sempre con prodotti fatti a mano con orgoglio e passione.

 

O’mast: Pride and Passion.

O’mast is about pride and passion. The artisan who once was considered one of many workers or merchants who offered their handmade ware today is revered as an artist. Although in the post-screening chat Gianluca Migliarotti, the film’s Director, was adamant that his was not a requiem, a touch of melancholy is certainly palpable at the end. It is not certainly Gianluca’s fault whose beautiful homage not only to some of the most important Partenopean master tailors (“O’mast” in Neapolitan dialect), but also to Naples a beautiful city with a sunny disposition despite everything that you may read about it in the press. There is a sense that something important is slipping through the hands of time, the culture (globally) of making things by hand, the craft for which you must use your head as much as your hands to create unique pieces that are practical and beautiful. There were some present at NYU’s Casa Italiana who lamented the fact that these master tailors are not accessible to common mortals who cannot afford a suit that costs several thousand Euro. And yet once upon a time each neighborhood had multiple tailors, shoemakers, blade sharpeners, bakers, butchers and others. There was something for every taste and for every budget. One must not forget that these days there are people willing to spend thousands of Euros on prêt-a-porter when they could just as easily have a suit custom made by an excellent tailor.

As I looked around the auditorium last night I saw many young faces some where bloggers that are currently riding quite a wave of popularity in the #menswear sphere. I wonder, though, if a small but passionate group is enough to resuscitate the tailor and the concept of “la sartoria”? I am not talking about the neighborhood dry cleaners that can hem your pants, but an actual tailor who can make you a pair of pants or a shirt from scratch at a reasonable price (but not necessarily a bargain). The problem as is mentioned in O’mast is the fact that there is a great deal of ignorance about what it means to have a custom suit made and much of this comes from the misconception that tailors in general are all expensive and that the process is too drawn out for the tastes of a society that wants everything now. Time, though, is exactly what is needed anytime you want something of quality built that will last a lifetime. I am the first to admit that with two kids I have neither the time nor the patience to wait through multiple fittings for a suit to be made, but I do still take the time to have necessary alterations made to a suit or pants if I do not find a perfect fit. I know it is not the same thing, but it is an exercise in trying to wear things that fit better rather than worse.

O’mast is a beautiful film even if it presents us with a veritable mirage that we may never reach in time before it disappears forever. The melancholy was mitigated by the optimism of an auditorium packed with evangelists who I hope will spread the word about this film that documents an endangered species that needs our help to survive. Who knows one day we may find, as it was years ago, a plethora of artisans around the corner with prices from high to low and differing qualities, but always with products made by hand with pride and passion.

 

O’MAST from Kid Dandy on Vimeo.

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The Cosmos are alive and kicking (literally).

I grew up watching all sorts of sports, but my Italian half pulled harder and I have had a love affair with the beautiful game since I could remember. I love my “calcio” and I love my AS Roma (“giallorosso” – yellow-red – flows through my veins). When I was a wee-one I was only occasionally in Rome visiting family and always during times of the year when it was off-season for soccer (only when I moved to Rome after college did I become a season ticket holder).

So in New York I had the legendary New York Cosmos of Pelé, Beckenbauer, Carlos Alberto and Chinaglia fame (although the latter had played for loathsome Lazio – Roma’s derby rival) and went to games even as the franchise was inexorably declining following Pelé’s re-retirement. The franchise is again attempting to enter MLS as an expansion team and many people want to see it succeed and create a (hopefully lasting) rivalry with the Austrian-owned Red Bulls now playing across the river in New Jersey. I do hope they succeed for the good of soccer and for the good of New York City. In the meantime, I can do no more than show my support by wearing their colors (see Pelé’s replica jersey below) when kicking the ball around with my son in the park (they have also introduced a new Cosmos “Blackout” line of clothing by Umbro).


Bespoke Tailors Grow In NoLita

I recently walked through one of my old neighborhoods, NoLita, on a rare visit (these days) to the lower end of Manhattan. As always the revolving door of stores is staggering. Double-take after double-take of old haunts brought me to Mott Street between Prince and Spring. There was not one store that I recognized from years past and yet I did make two very interesting discoveries. A piece of Saville Row (blasphemy!) and a bit of Broolyn have taken root here and I stumbled across these guarded secrets by pure chance. I say guarded because although already attracting a devoted following, or so I am told, I had never heard of these two haberdashers. There are several reasons for that I am sure, the first of which is work and parenthood that no longer allow me the luxury of idly meandering the nooks and crannies of this city. Also, the custom shirts and suits command prices that are certainly fair for the work and material, but are not at all for the faint of heart.

Lord Willy’s is Monty Python dressed to the nines. Whimsical, in fact, in that most serious of British ways. You have a choice here of off-the-rack or custom for both suits and shirts. There is a wonderful selection of fabrics and a predilection even on the custom shirts for the trendier and easier to wear wide collar. Monochromatic ties are offered to make sure you understand that the shirt makes the man and ties are just their sidekicks. Of course, umbrellas are present to remind everyone that the accent around here is British. I would encourage you to visit Lord Willy’s website which is very entertaining and where Alex Wilcox, the founder, offers some very sensible advice for today’s true gentleman.

A few steps north is a Brooklyn transplant that decided a few years ago to bring his family’s 70-year-old business to Manhattan. SEW (Scott Evan Wasserberger) has a definite downtown vibe to it and yet the rolls of stacked fabric and the sewing machines are distinctly Garment District. There is no “look” at SEW and it makes it that much more welcoming to walk in and browse since you will definitely find something that is in your “style”. One tweak to several classic herringbone jackets that I was admiring is the very colorful fabric found under each collar. A hidden sartorial tweak that peaks out every once and a while letting people know that you are not so boring after all. Everything in the store and bespoke is New York made and that is rarer than rare these days. The SEW blog gives you a better idea of the excellent custom work that they do and is certainly inspiring for anyone interested in tiding up a bit.

I am just happy to see more true haberdashers opening up around town. Even if you are not a suit and tie person, there will always be those occasions in which you will need a suit that fits you properly – not too tight and not like a potato sack. Instead of buying bulk shirts and hoping they guessed your fit why not splurge on one perfect fit?


Lands’ End Polo Shirt – A future addition to my shirt rotation.

I was skeptical when Lands’ End sent me one of their shirts to review. They said it was their best polo shirt ever and I thought, “we’ll see about that.” At that price point how can they possibly make a shirt that fits well and survives wash cycles without the collar curling (one of their claims), the color fading fast or the collar fraying. So when I got mine I decided to wear it by day and wash it by night. I wanted to punish it and see how it held up also because I was only given a week to review it and I wanted to get some idea of how it would hold up over time.  So far I’m impressed. Really truly impressed by how it performed.

First things first, though, the polo shirt that we know today was commercialized by René Lacoste in the 1930’s as a tennis shirt after he retired from playing tennis professionally. He had designed it himself to create a more comfortable and breathable shirt in which to play with a longer tail to avoid the shirt becoming untucked while chasing after the ball. It was soon adopted by polo players who until then had worn long-sleeved oxford shirts with button down collars (to avoid the flapping that was inevitable when riding horses) which Brooks Brothers introduced in their store after John Brooks in 1896, grandson of the founder, attended a polo match in England. In the 1970’s Ralph Lauren (who on a somewhat related note had worked as a salesman at Brooks Brothers), then in the early stages of building his brand, added polo shirts to his line to adhere to the preppy look he was going for and added a logo of a polo player on a horse. This visual reference has become so strong that today most people refer to this type of shirt as a polo shirt despite its origin in the tennis world (which many of us would agree is still well within the preppy realm).

Needless to say it is hard to find a reasonably priced good quality polo shirt and Lands’ End was a very nice surprise for me. I also learned that they have been making it since 1981 and this is just a tweak and update on their classic. I never owned one, but after having received my complimentary navy polo from them and trying it out I can say that I will. I use polo shirts on a daily basis during the warm months (on their own) and occasionally during the winter months as well (they work great under a button down oxford with the collar popped up) and they do not usually last me more than two or three seasons depending on the quality. I have always worn Brooks Brothers, Ralph Lauren and J Crew, but at half the price Lands’ End will be placed in the rotation.

After a week of wearing and washing I can confirm that the collar does stay flat and the color so far has not faded nor did the shirt shrink or fray in any way. My compliments to Lands’ End for a quality shirt at a very affordable price.

If you would like a chance to win one of these polo shirts let me know in a comment below how often you wear polo shirts during the week.

For additional entries you can*:

– Like The Dapper Dad on Facebook

– Like Lands’ End on Facebook

– Follow @TheDapperDad on Twitter

– Follow @LandsEndChat on Twitter

– Tweet about the giveaway using the following text: @LandsEndChat polo shirt #giveaway @TheDapperDad http://bit.ly/jl2zee

*Please give me a heads up in a separate comment below that you have done so otherwise I will not be able to count it as an additional entry.

No more entries will be accepted after June 22nd at 12am EST (date and time stamp on the comment). The winner will have 24 hours to claim their shirt before I pick another winner.

PLEASE NOTE:

– The giveaway is open to US residents only.

– The winner will not be able to choose the color of the shirt (only the size).

– Lands’ End will ship the shirt directly to the winner so please make sure you leave a valid e-mail so that you can be contacted for a shipping address.

Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Dad Central Consulting on behalf of Lands’ End and received a polo shirt to facilitate my review, one to giveaway, and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.


Cardigans and the Charge of the Light Brigade.

I keep hearing that the cardigan is making a comeback. When was it ever gone? For some unknown reason the most comfortable of “sweaters” every once and a while takes a beating because some fashion icon has decided to administer last rites. Interestingly the ongoing debate on the cardigan seems very much in tune with the ongoing historical debates about the valor of the 7th Earl of Cardigan the famous commander (and after whom the sweater is named) of the Light Brigade who led the charge during the Crimean War’s Battle of Balaclava. And so goes the debate about the cardigan. Personally I have always found it the perfect understated sweater that allows you to wear pretty much anything underneath, but still forces you to wear something. I know that many of you see it as “old fashioned”, but trendy comes and goes never to return, old fashioned never really fades away.


In the Navy…

The Duffle coat can trace its origin to the Belgian town of Duffel, where warm woolen clothing was manufactured to stave off the winter chill. The coat itself, which was adopted by the British Navy and most famously by Field Viscount Montogmery (from hence the coat’s nickname – the “Monty”), is made of heavy wool with a two-piece hood and wood toggling held by rope. The reason the Royal Navy commissioned them is that the toggles could be unfastened while wearing thick gloves and the hoods were carefully designed to fit over peaked Naval caps. The coat has had its moments as a fashion favorite, but has survived all these years because unlike many other designs it is functional and understated. I still have one that I purchased 15 years ago and looks like new with the advantage that it is “broken in”. The price range and different designers’ take on it are spread far and wide. Stick with the trusted names such as Gloverall and Burberry and you will enjoy wearing it for years to come.


Charles Tyrwhitt puts Jermyn Street within reach…

There is nothing like finding a great suit that fits and that does not break the bank. The former is much easier than the latter so I am pleased to see that one of my favorite Jermyn Street residents has put some of their classic suits on sale at a steep 60% off.  So you can own one of these incredible suits at a mere $395. I know it may not seem like a bargain, but this suit is going to be with you for a while. If you need only one suit for those rare occasions – get one of these.