Unrefinery

The Latest: Wednesday 30 July 2014

Achetez le Vetra | Buy

A recent sale feature on This Fits reminded us of the greatness that is Vetra, a storied Parisian brand that has produced honest, simple workwear and military clothing since 1927 and to this day still manufactures everything in France. The brand's output ranges from caps to shorts to shirts and trousers, but their signature pieces are a series of unlined chore coats and casual blazers rendered in heavy cotton twills that make for great lightweight spring and fall outerwear. Most include a handy interior pocket, which is a nice utilitarian touch on an unlined item, and a fit that is a lot more flattering than you'd expect based on the boxy-looking photos above. Materials, despite being heavy and durable, are soft and comfortable, and they come in beautiful colours—favourites are the "postman blue" shown upper left, a sort of deep royal that they call "navy", and an overdyed brown with a rich texture. A nice collection can be found at Present.
28.jul.2014 style
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Blue On Blue All Summer

A lot of us, it seems, pare our summer palettes down to blues, whites and the tan-to-brown spectrum. Classic nautical. Easy to safely combine, which is particularly welcome during the travel months when you want everything in your bag to work with everything else. It is possible to make the palette a little more interesting, though, by mixing navy and a medium blue. As is the case with most lower-contrast combinations it's a bit more sophisticated, and requires enough disparity in brightness so make it clear that one fabric isn't a faded version of the other.
21.jul.2014 style
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Have some custom trousers made. | Buy

Shirtmaking is the most popular segment of the custom clothing industry for good reason—a woven shirt is closely fitted to a complex, moving shape; has relatively little give; and alterations to it are essentially unidirectional. While the drape of trousers is a little more forgiving and off-the-rack pants are generally much easier to alter than shirts, there are some very good reasons besides fit for having a pair custom-made.
  1. You have a special function in mind. You may not think cargo pockets belong on wool trousers, but if you travel a lot, you can't beat having these generously sized and conveniently located pockets for comfortable access to your phone and passport even when seated.
  2. You appreciate small details. When trousers are designed for a mass market they have to appeal to a wide group, and the safe bet is to make them with belt loops and a zippered fly. If you're a fan of classic menswear you might take the opportunity to add side adjusters, a unique button closure, a special type of lining or pocket style. You're the one who's going to wear them. Might as well get exactly what you want.
  3. You simply can't find what you want. Go ahead and try to find off-the-peg white cotton twill trousers that will hold a crease and are completely opaque. We'll wait. Give up? Luxire will make you a pair with a lightweight cotton lining that adds both opacity and heat mitigation. They're in India. They know about this sort of thing.
Shown: custom Luxire dress cargos in Dugdale Tweed.
18.jul.2014 style
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Introducing Thomas Mark Heritage | Buy

You may have noticed our posts have been a bit sparse lately, and if you surmised that we've been otherwise occupied, you'll be relieved to hear that we haven't been working on a Terrible Blogger Book™. This week we launch Thomas Mark Heritage, a men's accessories brand that lets you wear a little celebration of African design as part of your daily attire. Our first collection has two main lines:

Our Pocket Squares are 100% cotton batik with raised contrast edges, in a variety of colourful paterns ranging from quiet florals to wonderfully chaotic wax prints made in small batches. Most are from Mali; we also have a Kuba cloth-styled print from DR Congo and a Tuareg paisley.

We call our Wrist Beads "Trans-African" because most combine elements from two regions—South African Tigereye interspersed with Ethiopian Heishi, or Botswana Agate with Kenya metal beads. Collect them all and impress your friends with your diasporan worldliness.

Everyone loves African prints and beads for different reasons—we're drawn to the colours and textures, we enjoy owning a little connection to our shared heritage—and we like to think that wearing one of these pieces can be a small statement on one's belief in a vibrant, prosperous African future. Thanks for your patience, readers, and please check us out.
15.jul.2014 culture design meta style
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Choose a polo for the biceps you HAVE, not the biceps you WANT.

Standard advice for buying a polo shirt includes an instruction to get sleeves that hit mid-bicep, which is fairly universal. More personal, on the other hand, is the relationship of sleeve opening and underarm measurements to your actual arms. If you don't have guns like James Bond here there's a risk that your arms won't fill out your sleeves, and this is a place where a loose drape is seriously not a good look. Fortunately it's easily remedied by a tailor, who can open up the underarm seam and taper the sleeve opening to be reasonably snug. While you're at it you may need to adjust the underarm length to maintain the proper sleeve angle. For sleeves at least, err on the side of low and tight.
11.jul.2014 style
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Why you aren't seeing our crap on Facebook | Fail

If you're reading this after clicking a headline on your Facebook wall, you're one of a very exclusive minority. Whether you consider that lucky or unlucky depends on how charitably you view the quality of this site, but regardless...

Facebook's login page says that "it's free it always will be", but what they're actually referring to is your ability to log in to the service. The fundamental concept of the site—that if you follow or like someone, you'll see what they share—is on its way out. As an excellent article by Gawker's Valleywag reports, the number of a page's fans reached by each post is being actively throttled by Facebook with the ultimate target being 1% of those who sign up for our content actually seeing it. Unless, of course, we pay to "boost" each post. For huge companies this is no big deal. For snarky menswear websites it's a laughably impossible investment. For non-profits and activists it's a crippling blow to a key communication channel.

This is your window of opportunity, Google Plus. Get it together.
03.jul.2014 culture meta
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Breaking Up A Suit

A lot of the stuffy rules surrounding menswear are without merit, but there are a couple of really good reasons why you shouldn't break up your suit and wear the jacket and trousers separately:
  • A jacket that looks like it belongs with a suit is probably going to look like an orphaned spare part when worn with other trousers.
  • Trousers wear out faster than jackets; wearing the pants more will accelerate this.
That said, if your day's travels involve events with different degrees of formality, swapping out the top half of your suit is probably the easiest way to go from meeting to casual—you can always pull a polo or sweater out of your bag or trunk and change into it, whereas bringing along and hot-swapping into replacement trousers and shoes could (depending on situation) vary from inconvenient to grounds for arrest. And while a suit coat might not work without its matching pants, conversely there are no suit pants—even power-suit chalk stripes—for which you can't find a casual knit complement. Just pair patterns with a solid or vice versa.

Shown above: Wool/cashmere blend suit pants by Ernesto, merino sweater by... er... Express... shoes by Mezlan, belt by Calvin Klein.
30.jun.2014 style
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Berluti Fall/Winter 2014 | Buy

Winter officially began for the southern hemisphere last weekend, and around here that flimsiest of excuses is rationale enough for looking at Berluti's F/W 2014 collection on a day when an air conditioning failure would mean death for us all. A few highlights to add to one's shopping list for the one-percenters and to inspire imitation for the rest of us:
  1. The centerpiece of the collection is a really interesting peacoat/DB jacket hybrid, shown here in camel tan and russet red. This short outerwear piece is cut closely like a double-breasted sport or suit coat but with side slash pockets and executed in a rich wool (knowing Berluti, it probably has some sort of exotic cashmere content as well). A trim and clever silhouette that regardless shouldn't be immune to the usual buttoning rules.
  2. Meritorious use of suede and shearling. These rough materials add wonderful textures that contrast beautifully with your worsted dress trousers and complement things like wool flannel and canvas. Probably not the most practical choice for wet wintery weather. Is that going to stop anyone? Not really.
  3. Big, long, dramatic overcoats, simultaneously a bit fashion-forward (rather showy compared to your standard overcoat) and practical (it might actually fit over your suit and keep your legs warm). Belting these things saves them from shapelessness. Giant lapels show you aren't screwing around.

26.jun.2014 style
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Lands' End Monterey Swim Shorts | Buy

Every once in a while Lands' End will really surprise you by doing something that doesn't at all seem in keeping with a division of Sears. Their new Monterey swim shorts are actually based on a stylish (almost fashionable, even) retro/fitted form most famously rendered by Orlebar Brown. Like the OB Setter short briefly mentioned last month these have an inseam around 5", a smooth front waistband, a snap and zip closure, side adjusters and generally clean lines around. Unlike the OBs they have a less sleek elastic back, a somewhat downscale D-ring for the site adjusters and are available in only two solid colours. But they also cost about 80% less. Look at them less as a poor man's OB and more as the nicest short available under $50.
23.jun.2014 style
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Never change, Dockers... | Fail

Dockers' new #stopdadpants campaign, including a TV commercial starring Jim Harbaugh, is based on a noble premise. Unfortunately the ill-fitting elephantine-legged trousers you see here are the "after", not the "before". At least they aren't pleated.
18.jun.2014 culture style
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