Friday, October 29, 2010

Anorak Pullover

Ah, the half-zip pullover. Not nearly as versatile as a jacket, yet having a distinctive boxy style. Do you remember the block-colored Gap anoraks with stuff sacks that were all the rage in the 90's? You could find an entire collection of them lining a store wall. I also managed to find a khaki anorak with 3 oversized bone buttons and a long front pocket at Eddie Bauer about 10 years ago. I still miss that thing, even though it engulfed my small frame. I'm also waiting for anoraks to come back and replace windbreakers and cardigans. In the meantime, here are some acceptable starts.

Lands' End Canvas Women's Ultralight Anorak. The "Canvas" line is Lands' End response to the L.L. Bean Signature Line and a late, mass-targeted entry to the Americana market (or something like that). This anorak is modern slim-fit, nylon, and comes in 3 insipid colors. Imported $22.99

Opening Ceremony Oversized Anorak. This piece, in all its wrinkly nylon-cotton glory, looks like it was fished out of a 40-year old dad's closet. I get it- it's supposed to be preppy! And it is, albeit in an unmistakably 80's way. Sold out.

Lees Army Store Hooded Anorak. Worn by the US Army when the going gets windy and damp. Treated with Quarnel ("Quartermaster Repellent"), the military's version of DWR; it repels liquid while maintaining breathability. The small hood looks out of proportion to the width of the body; this is for layering purposes. (I couldn't seem to find this jacket on a US website.) £24.95

Tool Rolls, Pt II

keep everything in its right place. images from soulrun and bikecozy

Though I am still looking for the perfect tool roll to attach to my saddle, I would like to highlight these finely constructed tool rolls to help organize your messenger pack a little more efficiently. The DWR-treated nylon roll from soulrun boasts extra spacious pockets for bulgy items, and comes with 2 sturdy straps and quick-release clips. The one by bikecozy is more understated, as it is made with untreated cotton canvas and is secured with a single velcro strap. They all come in a variety of binding and main fabric color combos to suit your fancy.

Made in: ? and Portland, OR
Handmade? Yes!


Toe Cozys

can't get enough cordura. image from bikecozy

OK, I'll be frank. I have no idea how practical these toe cozys in riding through icy slushiness. But they look snug as a bug and are nicely stitched to boot.

Made in: Portland, OR
Handmade? Yes!


Thursday, October 28, 2010

Liberated Wool Peacoat

where is this gent going in these clothes? images from outlier

Bicycling in style has seen a momentous resurgence here in the US. While urban cyclists in Europe have probably never stopped being classy, we have select brands like Rapha and Outlier here to dress us up (and make us broke). They are probably going along with the assumption that most bike commuters hold: that it is perfectly alright to shell out for premium bike parts and accessories since you are saving so much by not driving or owning a car. This week, Outlier had the gall to introduce a semi-stretchy wool peacoat the price of an iPad. It gets me riled up and I almost can't take so much sartorial brilliance on a sweaty cyclist! At least I can find some consolation in the fact that I don't live in New York and have to be around so many well-dressed lads, unlike this poor woman.

Made in: NYC
Handmade? Yes


Winter Cycling Caps

Regarding bicycling, is it the gear or the rider? I have to remind myself often that all my components and parts are good enough and it's up to me to push harder and go further. However, some gear really does enable you to stay on your bike longer. One accessory that sets the dedicated cyclist apart from the seasonal one is the winter cycling cap. I have a soft spot for the ones with ear flaps. It's never too chilly to ride, especially in Texas!
Fabric Horse's Winter Cycling Cap. These guys made it big with their mini u-lock holster and they have since expanded into making other useful accessories. Handmade in Philly $40
Czech Army Rail Hat. When in need of any technical accessories, aim for the military surplus store. Wool. Best part: $7.99
Another place to look is Etsy. Usually you can sift through the wild and kitschy designs to find something tasteful, like this cycling cap by galstudio. Handmade in Vancouver $35

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Canon Rebel G Camera

How did I fall upon my film camera for life? A photography whim, a Craigslist search, a bit of lens research, and $130. The used body was $30, and the new "plastic fantastic" 50mm fixed lens was $99. Absolute best combination for the amateur film photographer, IMHO. I recommend this to all of my interested friends. The Canon Rebel G was released in the late 90's, and is an entry-level, all-plastic model. Sure, you can read Ken Rockwell all day long, but at the end of the day, those are only the detailed opinions of one man, and you have to go with what feels best in your hands. I'm sticking to this because I don't agree with high camera rental prices, and I also shy away from spending wads of cash on trying out tons of cameras. You're not going to get a lighter or more compact setup in the DSLR world. (If you want digital, I highly recommend going Micro 4/3, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1. The image quality is spectacular, and you also get DoF.)

I don't claim to be a pro at shooting, as I educated myself on the basics of photography, and then let my equipment do most of the tough work for me. The only film I use is Kodak Gold 100, for minimal grain and those warm, deep film tones that are glaringly absent from digital photos. The lens is really fantastic and adequate for most shooting. The 1.8 f-stop means that the lens opening is wide enough for all but the duskiest shots. An upgrade to to f1.4 will cost you ~$300. I've taken this camera everywhere for the past two years. I set it to autofocus and aperture priority and I can capture each shot with ease and minimal fiddling. And as with most on-camera flash, don't use it.

Made in: ?
Handmade? No

$ Check your local Craigslist $

Monday, October 25, 2010

Outlier Packable Heat Windbreaker

Whether it's a rain jacket or a windbreaker, the light traveler always needs a go-to packable jacket. If you are into ultralight backpacking, you must get GoLite. But if you are into looking sharp on your bike even if it means shelling out for premium clothes that cost as much as a new set of cranks AND a Brooks saddle, then Outlier is your search's final destination. Check out that ultra thin jacket stowed underneath said Brooks saddle! Very compact, very practical, very pricey. Also of note, the company just this year released a women's version of their daily riding pant, which is just as tasty and technical as the men's.

Made in: New York City
Handmade? No


Blicks Rapid Bag

Here's a unique saddlebag from Blicks Bags that can carry a small tool kit or expand to fit a pair of shoes via its rolltop. Plus, it easily slides out of the holder when you need to take it with you. Pretty smartly designed. As handsome as the wide old-school canvas and leather-strapped saddlebags are, they are not the best at keeping your stuff secure (trust me, my wallet fell out of my Carradice Barley). I am also a fan of their tiny pica messenger bag. The company is dedicated to using sustainable materials and construction methods, and supports LGBQT rights.

Made in: Cleveland, OH
Handmade? Yes!


Friday, October 22, 2010

Madewell Aberdeen Boot

"i love brogues and desert boots. let's mash em." image from Madewell

They're like desert boots with a wingtip details and removable (whew!) loafer-esque fringe. Quick, someone find me an alternative at 50% the price!

Made in: Italy
Handmade? No


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Wolverine 1000 Mile Boot for Women

legit footwear for legit women. image from leffot

They did it! Wolverine made a women's version of their 1000 Mile heritage boot with the same exacting standards as the mens model. If you want some long-lasting footwear that harks back to the turn of the century, look no further.

See Archival Clothing's detailed review here.

More juicy images at Leffot.

Made in: USA
Handmade? Sort of. See the amazing video below


Aigle Jodhpur Boots

these look like fake leather. image from a.r.c.

Call 'em Chelsea or Jodhpur boots, they've been around since Victorian ages. I've been looking for a suitable pair on equestrian online stores, but I haven't been able to find one. Lack of additional product photos makes it hard to settle. These Chelsea boots from Marais USA are a standout pick, but I am unsure of what size to order due to their narrow width. It's only a matter of time before Chinese-made knockoffs appear in Urban Outfitters. This fashion blog cited the Aigle Jodhpur Boots, which just might be the ticket. Classic good looks and a durable rubber exterior make them a wardrobe essential. The hardest decision? Black or brown...

Made in: France
Handmade? No


Monday, October 18, 2010

Wintercheck Factory Virginia Shorts

climb out of your canvas tent in these! image from Wintercheck Factory

Meet the Virginia Short: a more modest, tougher second cousin of the American Apparel Mineral Wash Runner Short. It's generally pretty difficult to look sexy in long shorts, but at least you can look cool in these. Made from premium dyed cotton twill from Japan. The "Dirty Dewalt Yellow" dye is spot-on. This relatively new socially conscious brand has some neat designs inspired by their Brooklyn flea market finds. Wintercheck Factory gets the Boytoms stamp of approval.

Made in: Brooklyn, USA
Handmade? No


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Gramicci Original G Pant

eat that, j crew! image from Gramicci

Ever seen I first laid eyes on these climbing pants at the local REI during my previous camping gear and outerwear craze, I haven't been able to forget about them. They feature an iconic 80's style with the tapered legs, bunched waistband + built-in nylon belt, and no-nonsense cotton fabric that wears impeccably, similar to a loved leather jacket. The cut particularly mirrors the current trend of not too slim, not too baggy, updated classic cut in mens casual pants, but it's mere coincidence. They still look stylin' even 20+ years after they were introduced and gained a cult status. Showcased here is the discontinued Original G Reverse Leg Pant. Apparently the quality of the brand has gone down significantly, as evidenced by reviewers older and wiser than I. It's an oft heard story of dissatisfied customers due to most clothing companies moving manufacturing overseas. Aside from principle, it only slightly bothers me as I do not climb mountains and boulders. I could easily see these in paired with vintage wafflestompers and a nice plaid shirt. Men, pull on pair of these and watch me swoon!

More Gramicci finds from Sierra Trading Post: Cuffed leg openings. Mountain jeans.

Made in: Asia somewhere
Handmade? No

$24.99 (in XXL only)

Mackintosh Rain Coat

A demure, understated alternative to the belted-trench. Want/ recommended #3.

Alpha Industries Outerwear for Women

As I dug deeper in this company's site (see 3 posts earlier), I uncovered a handful of surprisingly well-designed women's outerwear. There, now you have no excuse to purchase a watered-down version from the likes of Forever 21, H&M, and all those style thieves. Wonder if Cayce Pollard would approve of these. Looks like I might be getting into this military thing after all...

All images from Alpha Industries web shop
Handmade? No

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

J. Crew Chinos for Women

Lately, J. Crew's womens clothing has stopped sucking so bad and consists of more than sparkly trinkets, wool blend cardigans, printed long t-shirts, and hackneyed khaki crap. I applaud them for actually trying to stay ahead of the curve and taking a needed cue from menswear. So much so that I decided to enter their store again, on the hunt for the relaxed Broken-in Boyfriend Chino. (After 5 months of sweltering heat and nonstop short-donning, when it dropped down to the high 70's last week, I dug out a pair of skinny jeans and pulled them on. Not only did I rip a belt loop trying to stuff my legs in, I spent the rest of the day feeling very suffocated. Are skinny jeans the corset of the 2000s? I need pants that let me move, please.) I did not find them, but spotted a deliciously rust+mustard wash of the Waverly Chino. It was the deep color that attracted my attention (listed as OTR on the tag- any idea?), a color not unlike some of the darker offerings of American Eagle and A&F baggy khaki shorts circa 2000. They were a wardrobe staple of the popular "preppies" through all of high school- remember? It was bold, not the usual tempered down khaki, nearly ecru, tint of women's khakis. The straight leg cut gave no hint of being a feminine cut, and with rolled up legs, it was the perfect item for the Americana-loving girl looking for bottoms. J. Crew calls it their "skinniest chino ever," yet it is nearly the opposite of the skinny jean, and could easily be construed as androgynous if not worn with the recommended heel and fitted top. Be like the boys; go with some Clarks Originals.

Made in: Some impoverished country
Handmade? No


Today's Ebay Find: USSR Striped Sailor Shirts

The iconic Breton shirt, mainly the one produced by Saint James, has been making the rounds in classicwear blogs and J.Crews this season. It's a very wide-necked, thick knit, conservative top. For those of us who don't prefer to shell out more than $40 for a plain shirt, there are a few listings on Ebay for similar nautical tank tops and shirts produced for the Russian military.

For more striped shirt sightings and history, see iseastripes

Made in: Russia
Handmade? No


Alpha Industries Military Field Jacket

1st image from A.P.C.

2nd image from usarmystyle

I do not claim to know much at all about military apparel (no otaku here). I'm currently reading William Gibson's Pattern Recognition and getting my first taste of that obsession. Generally, I shy away from US military-inspired garb, mainly because the solid colors are drab and the camo prints are so loud, and most feminized versions are too fitted. However, these super-functional designs hold a permanent spot as one of the fashion industry's most drawn-on inspiration. I really love the faded jacket from A.P.C. paired with sweatshorts and a simple blouse, but it's ~$300; a more affordable, reproduction M-65 by Alpha Industries is shown below. That company has a neat history: formerly a military clothing contractor, they now produce for the commercial fashion industry. Talk about cred! Lindsey Weir from Freaks and Geeks (awesome show) was rarely seen without her beloved, tired field jacket on- that secret fashion fiend!

Made in: USA
Handmade? No


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Beckel Canvas Bags

On a recent trip to Portland, we accidentally drove past the Beckel Canvas store on the way back from a tasty Scandinavian brunch at Broder. Before we left town, I swung by again and picked up a Necessary Bag in red (to X-mas-ize my green War Bag, of course!). Previously they had only used un-dyed canvas and olive drab canvas, so the bright red is an exciting new option. The storefront was about 1/3 of the building; the rest of it was taken up by workstations, long tables, logs of fabric, and a few employees hard at work. No assembly line here; each employee makes a bag from start to finish. I chatted with Kathy Beckel, and we discussed how the Americana trend has resulted in an explosion of new orders in the past 2 years. I'm happy to hear that! I try to recommend these bags to everyone I know, as they are sturdy as heck, amazingly affordable, and made in the US.

Made in: Portland, OR
Handmade? Yes!


Monday, October 11, 2010

IKEA Olunda poster

good for learning Swedish. image from IKEA

An easy to find poster of the Swedish alphabet. Brilliant. Tip from boydknife.

Made in: ?
Handmade? No


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rossi Boots

bottom image from enasco

I've liked the look of the Blundstone ("Blunnies") 500 boots for a while now. They are pull-up leather boots with elastic-banded sides, and a thick, cushy polyurethane sole. They are an Australian staple, even gracing the front cover of Merge Records story book. People love their worn-in Blunnies (just do a Flickr search), yet as I was talking to my local bike mechanic (1st image) about his new pair, he commented that they only last about 2 years for him, and that they used to be made in Australia and now the tag says they are made in Vietnam. I found similar remarks on lower quality and no drop in the $150 price tag on review sites. After scouring around, I fell upon Rossi Boots, an Australian bootmaking company that still makes their locally. The Endura 303 is looks nearly identical to the Blundstone 500, and costs about the same. I think these would make a great winter boot; I could probably even get away with wearing these with a skirt and tights! The only trick about these is that unlike Blundstones, which you can get at Whole Earth here, probably aren't stocked anywhere within try-on distance, so beware of sizing issues when purchasing online.

Made in: Australia
Handmade? No


Friday, October 8, 2010

Flannel-lined pants

why aren't these available year-round? image from omiru

The first version I ever saw of these was in 8th grade or so, in an L.L. Bean catalog, the jeans. (We got sent these to our house for years after I succumbed to a humongous monogrammed backpack of theirs to replace my leather-bottomed Jansport.) They didn't look glamorous back then, and they certainly haven't aged well since then. The women's, especially, scream "mom" and "frumptastic." Though Texas will probably only put out 2-3 days chilly enough to warrant these pants, I still demand that a proper and modern kind of flannel-lined pants for women be made. I read somewhere that J. Crew offers these as chinos for men each winter- they look nice don't they? The women's looks a bit more Gap-py, with oddly summery color choices. J. Crew, now that you have boy plaid shirts for women, please make a pair of these with an appropriately dark pant fabric and a classic plaid lining.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Filson Tin Cloth Field Jacket

top image from Filson

Filson's Tin Cloth Field jacket is heavy (duty) apparel. When I had the chance to try it on at the Portland store, it felt like I was wearing 5 pounds worth of wet canvas. The material is super oiled, super water repellent. Here's a photo of the women's XS engulfing me. Too bad. Here's to them making a kids line, since, you know, dads like to take their sons out hunting and fishing. I really can't imagine when I'd ever be able to fully utilize a jacket like this, but it makes me happy that it exists anyhow. Filson's tagline? "Might as well have the best."

Made in: USA
Handmade? No


Ring Moccasins

Premium laced mocs have been dominating mens footwear for a few seasons now. Here is a less popular, 60's standard ring boot model. Arrow Moccasins, one of the smaller American moccasin handcrafters, is also one of more competitively priced vendors (vs. Quoddy or Yuketen). I've been a fan of their footwear since I started seeking the perfect mocs a couple years ago, and I'm hoping to save up for a pair... once I decide which one I want to settle on. It also tickles me that their site is so 1995- they let their products, not marketing, speak for their brand!

Made in: Hudson, Massachusetts
Handmade? Yes!


A.P.C. Marl Crewneck

it looks sparkly from far away. image from endclothing

Here's a high quality wool sweater to keep for life. The marl knit is my absolute favorite type of knit, as it creates some visually appealing texture without being too busy. As I always say, if I had 10x more money, I'd make my wardrobe all A.P.C. and be done with musing about clothes. I really think they should make this in woman sizes. Last winter I picked up a similar, more affordable version from UO in mens XS; the boxy shape left something to be desired though.

Made in: Tunisia?
Handmade? No

159£ (~$242 USD)

Tannis Hegan Long Strap Bag

A ridiculously good-looking purse handmade with waxed leather. Seen at Lark.

Made in: Canada
Handmade? Yes!

$320 CAD (~$316 USD)

Sunday, October 3, 2010


image from macys

As an occasional baker, I am always looking for ways to either reduce the # of baking supplies I have to clean. However, I chose to add the SILPAT to the group of dirty items in the sink because it means I never have to use and throw away aluminum foil or parchment paper again. It also eliminates the need to butter your baking surface. Plus, the rustic, slightly messy black logo and "made in france" stamp looks great.

Made in: France
Handmade? No

$15+, depending on size

Hitachino Nest Glasses

images from lostinthebeeraisle and truebeer

With what is quite possibly the best beer packaging ever, this is the official Hitachino Nest glass. We happily snagged a pair at the neighborhood Belmont Station bar and beer store. Funny thing, I picked up one of these brews while I was in Japan Summer 2006, when I turned 21. I hadn't yet developed a taste for beer, so the libation was less than refreshing, but I remained enthralled by the clean, playful design of the bottle.

Made in: Naka, Japan
Handmade? No


Klein Tools Canvas Zipper Bag

I have been using a Beckel Canvas War Bag for traveling, and as it has no extra pockets, I have found it useful to bring along a Klein Tools Zipper bag or two for the little things, like socks and chargers. A staple accessory for professional handymen and electricians, it's hardy, cheap, and can be found at your nearest Home Depot. Or grab a few friends and put it for a color 4-pack!

Made in: USA
Handmade? No


SeaVees Bayside Moc Hi

Ah, I'm back from Portland and full of inspiration! One store that impressed me with its sizable section of almost androgynous, classic womenswear was Lizard Lounge. Hats off to their buyer. I spotted a pair of these sweet mocs there. I had heard of SeaVees, categorizing them as one of the many tame, heritage brands that have been popping up lately. Not being a huge fan of 60's California cool, what they cite as their Basis, I was pleased to come across this more rugged model. (However, it seems like they copy Clarks? See 2 Eye Oxford vs. Clarks Original Natalie)

Made in: China?
Handmade? No