Month: June 2016

Wardrobe Workhorse: The OCBD (Oxford Cloth Button Down)

Good day my dapperites,

Today I wanted to talk to you about a wardrobe staple, a reliable, multitasking workhorse. I am talking of course about a piece of classic American prep, the OCBD.

So what is the OCBD? It’s an “Oxford Cloth Button Down”. Oxford cloth is a very durable and hard wearing type of cotton. And before you ask, yes it is one that requires ironing (or not, depending on how you wear it, but I’ll get into that later). The style originated in England by polo players to keep their collars from flapping in the wind and was brought to this side of the pond by John E. Brooks, grandson of Brooks Brothers’ founder, Henry Brooks. The rest they say, is history.

So what makes the OCBD such a versatile option in the wardrobe? Simply put, it can be a dress shirt, a sport shirt or a layering piece. Iron it nice and crisp and throw it with a suit and tie like this:

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Or wear it with the sleeves rolled up like this:

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And you know what the beauty of the shirt is? The more you wash it and wear it, the softer it becomes and the more comfortable it is. Eventually it will start fraying on the cuffs and collar, but does that mean you should stop wearing it? Hell no. As the years go on, your age shows, so why shouldn’t your shirt show its like a badge of honor. Wear it proudly.

OCBD aficionados on menswear sites and forums could debate hours and hours over what brand is the best and talk about the much sought after collar roll . My personal (and perhaps biased) take? The originators, Brooks Brothers still got the game on lock. They’ve recently revamped their shirt to remove the inner lining on the collar and cuffs, thus reinstating the “oldschool” collar roll of yesteryear, and added mother of pearl buttons. Of course they upped the price to $140 USD per shirt ($189 CAD). Not worth it in my opinion unless you get em’ on sale. But you can still buy whatever stock is left of the old version for a pretty good discount. Now, not all my OCBDs are Brooks Brothers, but they are definitely my brand of choice. By the way, what colors should you go with? White, Blue and Pink are the all time classics.

Of course this post would not be complete without a showing of my personal collection of OCBDs:

 

 

 

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You must be asking yourself, are those 2 on the right identical? Yes, yes they are. Why? Because one of them was accidentally put in the dryer and as George Costanza once said “There was significant shrinkage” the sleeves were shrunk and made it unwearable as a dress shirt, so it’s relegated to casual wear. I had to get a replacement. Bottom 3 are Brooks Brothers the top 2 are from Simons.

Maintenance for these shirts? Wash them in warm/cold water and DO NOT put them in the dryer, they DO shrink. Just hang to dry and iron them as needed!

There you have it, a quick primer/intro on the OCBD and why I call it the “Wardrobe Workhorse”. Get yourself a few and wear them for years and years. They’ll love you as much as you love them!

Stay Dapper my friends,

 

-The Don 😉

A Primer on Swimwear

With summer right around the corner the time is right to learn a little something about swimwear and where I stand on it.

 

A brief history lesson if I may (and since this is my blog, I will!). Obviously in the earliest of times, swimwear consisted of your birthday suit. In all your glory, you could go in bathe in any lake/river/pond/ocean/bathhouse you came across.

As time went on and people began to, you know, evolve, rules were put in place for men to covered while they swam/bathed. Some cultures, such as the Japanese used loincloths for bathing prior to the 19th century. The first swimsuits in the early 20th century were made entirely of wool and were often a one piece outfit (that must have itched like hell!)

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One can only imagine the horrific scent that this thing must have held after a hot day  of use in the sun.

In the 1930s however, people began to realize the nuttiness of the 1 piece and the top half was scrapped completely, resulting in the swim trunks we have become accustomed to today. Interesting to note that swimwear in the 1930s often came with belts and looked something like this:

 

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Not much changed until the 1950s postwar boom and the advent of synthetic materials such as lycra which provided more comfort and less drying time. Also gone was the belt and introduced were zippers as well as an array of patterns and styles:

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1960 was the year the iconic (or dreaded, depending on who you ask) Speedo was introduced and swimsuits were at their shortest length ever.

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The 1970s and 1980s were pretty ordinary as the Speedo-style trunks remained the overall king of swimwear until the 1990s, where the boardshort was introduced and became the #1 choice for men because of it’s ridiculous bagginess and long drying time loose comfortable fit.

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While the boardshort is still very popular, there has been a revival (Thank god!)  of varying forms of Speedo/boxer brief style trunks as well as shorter and trimmer cut shorts. So, what exactly should you be wearing this summer? Read on..

Unless you are a competitive swimmer, or have the body to pull it off, please stay away from the Speedo!

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If you look like this, don’t do it! (Think I’m being mean? tough shit)

For the average guy, swimwear that hits below the knee or mid-thigh is both stylish and acceptable. For the daring, try a retro fitted trunk like this. While it may be as tight as a Speedo, the boxer brief style covers enough. Again be mindful, if you think you’ll look ridiculous in it, or don’t have the confidence, then don’t do it.

Something I have noticed in the past few years as being very trendy are swimwear are fun prints and patterns. This is one trend I am definitely on board with, bringing a retro feel in a modern fit!

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An example of modern swimwear in a fun retro print

Another thing I am noticing are swimsuits that are designed as a 2 in 1 to function as a pair of shorts. I personally am not too keen on the idea. After a day on the beach, walking off to a bar or some place with sand stuck in my pockets is not an appealing scenario.

There you have it gents, a primer on swimwear and suggestions on how to upgrade your beach/lake/poolside look this summer! Thank you to The Gentleman’s Gazette as I sourced my information for this post from them.

As always, Stay dapper my friends!

-The Don 😉