Dream Team: Help A Reader Build The Ideal Trad Wardrobe

Recently a most unusual email landed at Ivy Style headquarters. Seems a new reader of the site has converted to trad and now wants to build an entire wardrobe and needs advice on what he should get. Naturally I had a few questions by way of clarification.

He says by “entire” he pretty much means just that: “the whole spectrum,” from business dress to resort wear and presumably black tie. Budget is not an issue, he says, either because he just wants to know what the idea items are (a polo coat, one item, is about $2,500) and will figure out the budget later, or because budget is quite literally not an issue.

But rather than having money to burn, the fellow may also simply have an unusually precocious focus on longevity. In his words:

I am in my mid-twenties and I live in Ohio. Ohio has what I call “midwest weather” which is hot summers and cold winters so I kind of need everything. That’s basically it: just a capsule wardrobe that covers the spectrum for everything and be able for me to wear the same things into retirement.

So have at it! Tell this guy what he needs to have a closet that’s the envy of any traditional dresser. Maybe he’ll agree to do an update a year from now and we can see how it’s coming along. — CC

51 Comments on "Dream Team: Help A Reader Build The Ideal Trad Wardrobe"

  1. Rather than recommending the brands and products I prefer, I’d suggest that you start with an item and buy it from each of the makers you like. For example, buy a OCBD from BB, J.Press, Mercer, and Kamakura and live with each for 5-6 months. You’ll be able to tell which cuts/fabrics/details you prefer before sinking hundreds of dollars into 6 or 7 shirts from the same maker. I’ve unconsciously been going through this process for the past 3 years or so. Every purchase gets a step closer to what you prefer most.

    I’d also buy everything from eBay/Etsy to begin with. Aside from having the best prices, it will ensure that you can pick from multiple generations of any given item. So, rather than being stuck with BB’s current crop of shirts, you can hunt down a pre-M&S golden age oxford. It takes time, but it’s worth it in the end to have something you find special, rather than convenient and easily replaced.

  2. Mark Russell | January 9, 2018 at 1:41 pm |

    I believe when asked a similar question, the inimitable Mr. Boyer recommended the Classic Navy blazer as the starting point.

  3. caustic man | January 9, 2018 at 1:58 pm |

    I’ve given this advice so many times I feel like a broken record, but perhaps it’s worth repeating. Forget magazines (both old and new). Forget look-books. Forget what other people tell you to wear. Instead of studying fashion and style, study art, history, and culture. Study the context in which people wore their clothes. An aesthetical appreciation goes much farther than being versed in the minutia of a particular genre. Learn to appreciate harmony and pleasing combinations. Imitate people if you must, it has helped me. But when your imitating is done, allow yourself to have your own point of view.

    If you adopt the rote Ivy look in a whim, or at the drop of several thousand dollars, you will appear soulless and destitute of moral position. Rather, learn to appreciate the context in which the style created itself. Oh, and get a navy blazer.

  4. EvanEverhart | January 9, 2018 at 2:11 pm |

    Some items to get you rolling; an assortment of sack cut jackets and suits, preferably 3 roll 2: navy blue blazer, tweed sport coat/s, and a gray flannel suit to start, as well as assorted OCBDs to taste and from reputable makers. I’d suggest starting with blue, white, and pink and from there move on to yr striped varieties as per yr taste and of course plaid OCBDs are nice and readily available from PRL. Assorted foulard, rep, and paisley ties, as well as a knit tie or two if you like. Prnny loafers in broen or tan, cordovan wingtips, and some dark brown brogued oxford captoes and a pair of black balmorals with coorsinating belts should see you through most situations. Oh, and a navy blue saddle shoulder crewneck sweater and perhaps a brown, gray, or muted green ine and a discrete raglan sleeved raincoat with zip out lining. And let us not forget assorted polos and chinos and etc. This is by no means ccomprehensive.

  5. Maurizio Bruno | January 9, 2018 at 2:13 pm |

    Might I suggest that the young man take a look at Mr. Press’s list:
    and Mr. Boyer’s list:

  6. The above inventories are complete for the basic wardrobe however I would be more careful. For instance, start with trousers. Determine the weight and fabric desired and then focus on the fit, particularly the length and cuff. Well fitting trousers are among the most versatile items. Wool of course with at least one flannel pair. I want the cuff to just hit the top of the shoe-you may prefer a small break. I also want a 1 and 3/4 inch cuff. These are worn every day while a jacket or blazer is worn less frequently.

  7. Ivy 101: Intro to Trad, Budget Version

    Lands’ End trousers
    Brooks Brothers 346 (outlet) repp ties
    J.Press Blue Label suit and navy blazer
    Bass Weejuns

    *upgrade to all J.Press heritage and Rancourt & Co. when possible/necessary

  8. Blue blazer, Cotton/dacron suits in navy, olive drab and khaki. Harris Tweed hounds tooth or herring bone jackets, charcoal and navy wool suits-all 3/2 roll and soft shoulder. Khakis, gray flannel, navy pants-flat front and cuffed. White, blue, blue/white university stripe OCBD shirts. Cordovan, brown, black belt straps-to be worn with removable engine turned engraved buckle-one in silver, one in gold. Navy, charcoal, gray and black socks. Cordovan long wings, loafers, cap toes and a pair of black cap toes to go with the black belt strap. Repp stripe, club and solid ties.


  9. Charlottesville | January 9, 2018 at 3:35 pm |

    Congratulations to Christian’s new correspondent. I confess to being somewhat envious of a young man with no fixed budget about to embark on acquiring a new wardrobe. There is a lot of great advice above.

    Like some others, I would recommend a navy blazer, a gray flannel suit and trousers, khakis, tan corduroys, and oxford cloth button down shirts in blue, white and pink as well as a blue and white university stripe. A tan poplin suit and a seersucker sport coat are nice for summer wear, and a brown or gray tweed sport coat is nice in the fall and winter. Repp stripe, black or navy knit, and silk foulard ties; good shoes, perhaps from Alden or Allen Edmonds (particularly tassel loafers); and a couple of Shetland sweaters would all be good additions.

    I bought most of my clothes new at Brooks, Press and Polo from the 80s into the early 2000s, and they have held up well. Once you know what you like from a particular maker, eBay can be a great source for hard-to-find classics, even if saving money is not the primary concern. When I was building up a wardrobe in my 20s and 30’s, Brooks was an almost faultless source. Alas, that is no longer true. Today, I would probably be inclined to find one of the traditional shops remaining in business (Eljo’s here in Charlottesville, for example). They will have some good khakis, flannels, cords, ties, sweaters, etc. available off the rack. In addition, they should be able to put you in top quality, un-darted, natural-shoulder clothing from Southwick, either OTR or made to measure, for no more than you would spend at Brooks, and the styling will be impeccable. J. Press and O’Connell’s of course are good sources as well. Very best wishes to you. I hope we will hear back from you from time to time on how your traditional wardrobe is progressing.

  10. Mitchell S. | January 9, 2018 at 4:04 pm |

    Instead of buying a whole entire wardrobe, my advice is to “edit” your current one. Start with items that you haven’t worn in over one year or no longer fit. Donate those items to a local thrift store.

    Next, buy more of clothes that you already have that flatter you the best. One’s hair color, build, and facial features will determine which items are best for you individually. For example, a sharp angular face looks best with a repp tie, which softens features. A good book to pick up is Alan Flusser’s “Dressing the Man.”

    Finally, no matter how many clothes you own, your wardrobe will never be perfect or complete. Your lifestyle will dictate what clothes to buy and not the other way around. At age 45 I am simplifying my wardrobe and eliminating any unnecessary clothes. Buying clothes is like writing: the mantra goes “edit, edit, edit.”

  11. Trevor Jones | January 9, 2018 at 4:26 pm |

    I’m a big fan of the go to hell look personally. Make sure to add some fun pants (or shorts) to your closet for the spring and summer months. Something with an interesting pattern or colorway. You can go on ebay and hunt down some vintage men’s Lilly Pulitzer pants, or you could look at Castaway Clothing, vineyard vines, or Brooks Brothers for the right off the rack stuff. Not only is it a great conversation starter, but, out in the midwest, there won’t be a lot of other gents rocking the go to hell look I’m sure!
    As a sidenote, for the winter months, I’m a big fan of corduroys. The wider the better. Try Brooks Bros 8-wale or LL Bean.

  12. As you progress be careful of random purchases.. Think carefully about what that eye catching jacket or tie is going to go with in the rest of your wardrobe. Stick to tried and trusted colours that work well together, navy, greys, olive, khaki. I wouldn’t worry about go to hell gear until you’ve covered the basics. In fact, just don’t worry about GTH gear period!

    Buy decent shoes that fit. It’s better to have three or four good quality pairs than a dozen cheap ones.

  13. Johnny Del Mar | January 9, 2018 at 5:08 pm |

    For the winter, layer with a duffel coat, preferably an old Gloverall made in England. General Montgomery wore one so enough said.

  14. Before suggesting anything, what type of work do you do?
    This will dictate what you might want to consider.
    I have a ton of suggestions, but will be happy to assist with prioritizing after knowing what you do.
    Jim M.

  15. Don’t buy everything at once.

    Don’t settle on poorly designed items because they are the cheaper option.

    Buy custom when it makes a positive difference.

    Try not to wear a Trad costume. It is 2018, not 1959.

    Spend good money on shoes that fit properly. If you want to save on shoes, make sure you know your size before you buy on Ebay.

    Wear your clothes hard, but do take care of them.

    Keep all of that in mind and start with a navy blazer. If you prefer metal, go with a darker bronze.

  16. Joel Vaughan | January 9, 2018 at 7:11 pm |

    What memories. I started over 30 years ago as a college sophomore with two pair of khakis, a pair of Dexter camp-type mocs, and a white button-down. All my older and soon to be frat brothers dressed like that and I basically copied them. But a quick primmer is to read Lisa Birnbach’s lists in ‘The Official Preppie Handbook’. Buy only a few items sound quality items at first, until you find what you think you’ll like. Then buy even more quality items of what you really like, (such as the guy on this site who moved and had a while box labeled Blue OCBDs). One note, your own ‘brand’ is more important than any brand you wear, especially since we eschew logos. if it’s not “you” don’t buy it no matter what experts say, because you either won’t wear it or you will dislike wearing it; e.g., in my case – and I know this is heresy – Bean rubber mocs. Just more show than practical, and not really comfortable, the higher tops are more practical. And there’s nothing like vintage family attire, e.g., the guy who runs my firm’s DC office wears his grandfather’s tweed top coat. Tres cool! Dress more like your wise uncle in a photo from the ’60s than the model on a Ralph Lauren catalogue last month. Shoes, must be highly polished, jackets can be patched, and OCBDs and khakis frayed, but polish those shoes. And do not wear the same pair every day. I rotate among four pair, black and cordovan Bass Weejuns, and black and cordovan Allen Edmonds Park Avenues, trying never to wear the same pair two days in a row. Don’t spend money on GTH items now, as you will grow tired of them. They are fillers to be worn rarely. There also is an excellent but quite pricey list here: https://theoldmoneybook.com/2017/08/03/back-to-school-the-old-money-guys-basic-wardrobe/

  17. First thing I would need to know if I was outfitting him is, what does he do for a living?

  18. The Young Man | January 9, 2018 at 10:52 pm |

    What number would you recommend for ties, shoes, and sweaters and in what styles? Also, what would you recommend for accesories and overcoats?

  19. I suggest a dietician and personal trainer be put on the payroll if the wardrobe is to last into retirement. The speedy metabolism of a 20-something is nothing like the plodding pace of a 50 year-old’s metabolism.

  20. First time comment. This is something that I’ve seen discussed but really should be the be-all and end-all of every menswear blog. I think tasteful restraint and simplicity should always be encouraged. This is the first time that I will have tried to fully outline my thoughts on the subject and I welcome the opportunity.

    First, some opening remarks:
    1. This is in no way definitive or authoritative, merely one person’s perspective, albeit one informed by several websites and books, and a few years’ experience. In a way, it’s my ideal “minimalist” wardrobe (as much as I can make it).
    2. As alluded to by other posters, such an endeavour (building a wardrobe) is a process to be enjoyed. There will be mistakes and things will evolve over time.
    3. My suggestions presume a typical five-day work week in a moderately formal office environment and a relatively casual weekend in which one would still want to look put together.
    4. My objective is to be as efficient and correct as possible. Versatility is key.
    5. Fit, style, quality, etc. are all assumed to be appropriate. Clothes should be well cared for.
    6. While this is mostly in keeping with ivy style, it is not necessarily bound to it.

    With that, I’m just going to put this out there and see how it works.

    First layer:
    – 8 pairs of underwear (preferred style)
    – 8 pairs of socks (some solid to match suit trousers, some striped/patterned for fun; over the calf length preferred)

    Number selected is to allow for a week’s rotation for laundry, plus one spare.

    – 2 pairs of khakis (beige) (all seasons)
    – 2 pairs grey flannel (fall/winter)
    – 2 pairs linen (brown/grey) (spring/summer)
    – 1 pair corduroy (brown) (fall/winter)
    – 2 pairs of shorts (khaki/madras/linen) (if desired) (summer)

    Trousers should be rotated throughout the week and washed as appropriate.

    – 4-7 oxford cloth button down (choose from blue, white, pink, university stripe)
    – 1 fly front, French cuff white dress shirt
    – 3 plain dress shirts (white/blue)
    – 2-4 polo shirts (navy and white) (if desired) (spring/summer)

    OCBDs are worn with any kind of jacket/sweater or with sleeves rolled up in the spring/summer (or even with suits, if desired).

    Dress shirts are worn with suits. Fly front shirt can be worn with suits and black tie.

    – 2 cardigans (burgundy, navy, grey or brown)
    – 2 crew-necks (burgundy, navy, grey or brown)

    Mostly worn in the spring and fall, can be casual at the office or on weekends.

    – 1 navy blazer (single breasted) (all seasons)
    – 3 tweed jackets (brown, grey and blue) (fall/winter)
    – 2 summer jackets (preference of seersucker, linen, or lightweight wool) (beige and navy)

    The navy blazer is the staple. It goes with anything and is worn year-round.

    Tweeds go with khakis, flannels and corduroy.

    Summer jackets should go with khakis and linen trousers, and can include a lighter-weight blazer.

    – 1 navy
    – 1 medium grey (flannel if desired)
    – 1 charcoal grey

    All single-breasted, three-piece if possible (worn when desired). If only one is chosen, it should be navy, as it can be worn to an interview, graduation, wedding or funeral.

    – 1 pair black captoe oxfords
    – 1 pair burgundy longwings
    – 1 pair dark brown (not tan) bluchers (preferred style)
    – 1 pair summer shoes (canvas sneakers)

    Dress shoes are never worn on consecutive days, and should be stored using cedar shoe trees and polished regularly.

    Black captoes are worn with suits, flannels and black tie.

    Burgundy longwings go with pretty much anything but black tie.

    Dark brown bluchers should be casual enough to be worn on weekends but still able to hold their own against anything up to a suit.

    Canvas sneakers go nicely with summer attire for casual days at the office or on weekends.

    (I’m not a loafer or boat shoe guy, but to each their own)

    – at least 5 silk ties in a variety of tasteful patterns (stripes, dots, small motifs, etc.)
    – 1 black knit tie
    – 1 wool tartan tie (if desired)
    – 1 black bow tie (self-tied) for black tie

    Navy and burgundy should be the anchor colours.

    Pocket squares:
    – 1 white linen
    – 2-5 coloured squares (if desired)

    White linen goes with anything from blazers, to suits, to black tie. Coloured squares should complement ties and sport jackets (hints of white, navy and burgundy are safe).

    – tie clip (if desired)
    – tasteful cufflinks (for black tie)
    – mechanical watch with dark brown leather strap

    – 1 trench coat or Mackintosh (rain coat)
    – 1 light cotton zip-up spring/fall jacket
    – 1 single-breasted chesterfield (navy or grey)
    – 1 double-breasted winter coat (navy, British Warm, Polo) or duffel coat (tan or navy) (if required)

    Chesterfield is worn with suits and black tie. Double-breasted coat is for very cold weather. All classic coats should be at least knee-length, except pea coats.

    – 1 pair rain boots (gumboots/wellies)
    – 1 pair winter boots (Bean boots seem to be well-regarded; I have Sorels)
    – 1 pair dark brown leather boots (if desired)

    Boots are a necessity for dealing with certain weather conditions. Leather boots can be worn in lieu of shoes in the right circumstances but are not required in a minimal wardrobe.

    Hats (if desired):
    – 1 brown tweed flat cap
    – 1 grey trilby/fedora

    A tweed cap does well in the fall, and a grey fedora goes well with rain coats or dress coats.

    – 1 black umbrella

    Umbrellas are very effective in the right conditions, and add panache even when rolled up.

    – 1 pair brown leather
    – 1 pair black leather

    Black gloves are required for formal occasions but brown suffice in most others.

    Black tie (if desired):
    – 1 dinner jacket [single-breasted (one button) or double-breasted (4 button one), peaked or shawl lapels, no vents, jetted pockets, covered buttons)
    – matching trousers (silk stripe on side, side adjusters and/or suspenders, no belt)
    – matching waist cover cummerbund or waistcoat) if wearing single-breasted jacket
    – fly front dress dress shirt (described above)
    – tasteful cufflinks
    – black dress socks
    – black captoes (described above)

    I think that about covers it. Apologies if I missed anything. I won’t apologize, however, for differences of opinion where matters of taste are concerned; as I said, to each their own!

    To conclude, once one has the above, nothing else should ever be *needed*, though one can always improve one what one already has.

  21. Easy. Pick up a copy of “The Offical Preppy Handbook” and “True Prep”. Both have served me well over the years.

  22. whiskeydent | January 10, 2018 at 9:37 am |

    Scrolling through Heavy Tweed Jacket on Tumblr is a great source for inspiration. As the name suggests, he is particularly adept at combining classic tweed jackets (I must have that damned gun club) with shirts, sweaters, ties and shoes into appealing fall/winter outfits. The guy’s taste — especially the use of color, texture and pattern — is simply outstanding.

  23. Polo tweed sport coat
    BB blazer
    RRL khakis
    RRL raw selvedged denim
    RRL khaki shorts
    Black Fleece OCBD
    Alligator belt
    Sterling engine turned slide buckle
    Claret knit tie
    Horse long wings
    Horse LHSs
    Horse tassles
    Horse PTBs
    A-2 jacket
    Barbour Sapper
    Tan rain coat
    Barracuda jacket
    Old school white T-shirt
    Old school grey sweatshirt
    John Lofgren engineers
    pale yellow socks
    grey rag wool sock
    Danner Mountain Lites
    Vermont ski hat
    Vanson Comet
    O’Connells Shetland sweater
    Stetson Open Road
    MLLeddy caboy boots
    Pendleton board shirt
    Biltwell Old school metalflake helmet
    Redwing moc-toe oxfords
    Birdwell board shorts.
    Old school rayon Hawaiian shirt.
    Footjoy Classics golf shoes
    Scotty Cameron b-ball cap
    Repeat as necessary.

  24. Charlottesville | January 10, 2018 at 12:11 pm |

    Young Man – Thanks for asking. For what it’s worth, here are my thoughts, which I encourage you to ignore to the extent that they do not line up with your taste.

    What number would you recommend for ties? I would not go out and buy an armload all at once, but I think that, if you wear a tie to the office every day, you may want to acquire a dozen over the next few months. Ties are always a relatively inexpensive way to add variety to a wardrobe, and over the years I have added and shed hundreds, so the current stable is always somewhat in flux. I would guess that I may have 175 at the moment, including 50 bowties, but that is excessive, and if I had the time and energy, I would feel guilty about it. Maybe later.

    How many shoes? Hard to say, but to start, I would think you will need a pair of brown and a pair of black. If you wear suits, lace-ups are not a bad idea, but these days people tend to wear loafers with everything. I personally think a pair of black cap toes is a good investment, and also like brown brogues, either cap toes or long wings as you see fit. I also have both black calf and burgundy cordovan tassel loafers, and frankly those 2 pairs will work with anything. If you are not squeamish, and have a can of Lysol to spray the insides, eBay can supply barely worn Allen Edmonds and Alden shoes for less than a quarter of the retail price. My guess is that men buy them for weddings and then dump them. If the idea of used shoes is not appealing, the Allen Edmonds on-line Shoe Bank provides a good selection of discontinued styles and seconds. I have bought a couple of pairs from them and am quite satisfied, but if you are not satisfied, they will take them back. Most of my shoes are from Allen Edmonds, or from Brooks Brothers made by Alden, and I probably have more pairs than I need, but as long as you take care of them and do not have to wear the same pair every day, good shoes will easily last 20 years, and I have had some for longer. For casual shoes, I like LL Bean camp mocs, and Sperry Topsiders (in either leather or canvas). Penny loafers are also good for casual wear and can double as dress shoes, especially with blazers and sport coats. I also have some Bean gumboots, plain-toe bluchers with rubber soles and pebble grain long wings with Dainite soles for wet weather. I have opera pumps for black tie, but that is not really necessary, and being a southerner, I have white bucks for summer (but not at work).

    Sweaters? I have 4 Shetland sweaters from Alan Paine and LL Bean in heathery shades of navy, brown, green and gray. Some people insist on saddle shoulders, and that is fine, but the Bean product works well for me and is reasonably priced. I hope to get a Shaggy Dog from Press one day, probably in pink. I sometimes wear a cashmere cardigan with or in lieu of a sport coat, and I have a couple of sweater vests as well, but do not wear them a great deal.

    Accessories and overcoats? I have a gray Chesterfield style overcoat in heavy charcoal gray herringbone from Brooks that will probably last 500 years. I saw an almost identical one on eBay from J. Press for $250, and it would probably go for $1,200 or more new (https://www.ebay.com/itm/J-Press-100-Worsted-Wool-Charcoal-Gray-Herringbone-Overcoat-Topcoat-43R-USA/202169294039?hash=item2f123a9cd7:g:az8AAOSwz~paSoU~). I have a camel-colored Chesterfield in cashmere that I bought at J. Press around 15 or 20 years ago, and it was (I think) $995 back then. I have a soft, brown tweed polo coat that is incredibly warm, and several raincoats in different weights from Burberry’s, J. Press and Barney’s in NYC. Duffel coats are also great, but I do not have one. A Baracuta-style golf jacket is nice, and I have a Barbour coat that I bought in London around 1993 for wet weather as well. My wife has a barn coat from LL Bean that I think is about as good looking and practical a casual coat for man or woman as I have seen and they are reasonable priced. I think that a good raincoat with a zip out lining is a good all-around coat for most dressy and semi-dressy occasions.

    As to other accessories, I wear hats (felt fedoras in winter and Panama fedoras in summer) but it can be an affectation if it is not something you regularly would do. I have calfskin gloves in black and brown, and a pair of deerskin gloves in a deep tobacco tan, but a single pair of warm gloves in brown or black leather should do for most occasions. I also have a pair of white kid gloves from Brooks for formal wear which, along with an off-white silk jacquard scarf and black homburg, I freely admit to be an affectation but I only wear them once a year to dinner at a friend’s house, so I don’t feel too embarrassed.

    I have belts in surcingle, which are nice with khakis, and brown and black leather belts for dress. I also have brown and black alligator belts from Brooks, one of which has an engine turned sterling buckle from Polo, but that is a matter of personal taste and some people might think them showy.

    As to jewelry, I wear Hamilton watches because that is what my father wore, and I have several on leather straps. Like Christian, I sometimes wear a collar pin with a club collar, but some people find the look fussy. I have a number of pairs of cuff links, but wear French cuffs only once or twice a month, and I do not know that they are a necessity for most people. I have a sterling pen from Tiffany that was a gift from my travel agent long ago when there was still such a thing as travel agents, and several nice Dunhill lighters and cigarette cases, but they are of limited use for this non-smoking age.

    Please take all of this with several large grains of salt, and take your time as you build up your wardrobe. It has been a sort of hobby for me for the last 30 years or so, and I have made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot along the way, but it has all been great fun. The advice above regarding Flusser’s and Boyer’s books and Heavy Tweed Jacket’s website are good ones. Best of luck!

  25. As an admitted Texan, I should inform y’all that I think VD’s caboy (pronounced ka-BOY) is slang for cowboy. Leddy boots are indeed a fine example of custom, Texas-made boots, but there are several other craftsmen making high-quality boots down here. If you don’t want to wait a year or longer to get a pair made for a mid-four-digit cost, I’d suggest J.B. Hill or newcomer Tacova. Lucchessi’s are the best OTR option.

    Meanwhile, the Stetson Open Road, which pairs nicely with lower-heeled “roper” boots, is a classic worn by Presidents Truman and Johnson. I have a custom hat that’s very similar. It’s considered a businessman’s hat as opposed to a working cowboy’s broader-brimmed lid. I know that seems like hair-splitting, but it’s a big deal to real live cowboys who disdain and possibly kick the asses of wannabes (“drugstore cowboys” who are “all hat and no cattle” or John Travolta in Urban Cowboy).

    As a Senator, LBJ used to toss his Open Road out in the crowd as he finished campaign speeches. Some poor staffer always had to pry it from a spectator and return it before the future-president’s helicopter lifted off for the next stop. J.J. “Jake” Pickle was one of them and went on to serve about a thousand years in Congress.

    That’s today’s Texas trivia lesson you didn’t ask for. Ride ’em Ivies.

  26. whiskeydent
    I prefer Naconas.

  27. Damn it all, how I look forward to Charlottesville’s posts. How is it that (mere) web-blog comments ooze genteel charm? His–they do. Keep it coming’, C-VIlle.

    The dirty (or not so dirty) little secret–(and we all know it)–is that a couple of 3-patch blazers (tropical, flannel), a gray herringbone tweed jacket, gray bottoms (tropical, flannel), handful of repp ties, a shetland crewneck (gray or oatmeal), a half a dozen OCBDs, khakis aplenty. and penny loafers* will take anybody a long, long way. Those of us who have become profligate in our collecting–we indulge sartorially in something akin to St. Paul’s “third heaven,” but there’s something to be said for the basics.

    *Speaking of penny loafers, Rancourt recently decided to go purist and old school. It has more of a Sebago Cayman vibe than old school Weejun, but still:


  28. whiskeydent | January 10, 2018 at 3:59 pm |


    I bet Christian never imagined guys discussing cowboy boots on his blog!

    I’ve had Noconas, but it was so long ago that I’ve forgotten what I thought about them. Nowadays, they don’t carry a boot I like that fits my long and narrow feet. My current boots are Justin Ropers, and they’re okay.

    I’m waiting to pull the trigger with JB Hill on something similar to these: http://www.jbhilltexas.com/product/american-redwood/

  29. Charlottesville | January 10, 2018 at 4:18 pm |

    Thanks, S.E. What a kind thing to say. And your dirty little secret seems like straight up good advice to me. I think I started out with a blazer, a couple of suits and a tweed sport coat as a young lawyer, and wore Brooks OCBDs almost exclusively for the first couple of years. I have built on that foundation for the past 30 years or so, but all are still core items in my wardrobe. I note that I have a friend whom I have known since school days who wears black or brown penny loafers exclusively with suits, sport coats and even black tie. Simplifies dressing, and saves on shoelaces.

  30. Northern or southern?

  31. Charlottesville | January 10, 2018 at 5:08 pm |

    Scott — Northern or southern what? If you mean my friend with the penny loafers, he is from Ohio, but went to law school in Virginia and lives here now after working in LA for some time. I think it’s true that southern men tend to keep to the more collegiate version of Ivy to a greater extent than men in the north. I’m somewhere in between in that I tend to wear suits and lace-up shoes for work most of the time, and loafers and khakis on weekends but then I am only Virginian on my mother’s side, my father having emigrated from New York. Sorry for butting in if your question was directed to someone else.

  32. Some very good recommendations from many above, but like Tobias, I think OPH does a great job of listing the core essentials.

  33. Seersucker and madras receive accolades galore ’round these parts, but, for summer wear, I’ll plug the solid navy linen blazer. Great with poplin pants.


  34. whiskeydent
    All the boot brands you mentioned are good. Nacona maybe a spin off of Justin or anther Texas boot co. I buy Nacona because it’s the only decent boot my high arch can make the turn in. Western boots are a bitch to walk any distance in, but the most comfortable foot wear to sit at a bar in.

  35. I agree with S.E. 100%, it’s the basis for any wardrobe. This guy with unlimited funds should call S.E. or someone whose wardrobe he admires and go on a road trip. It would be a learning experience for both and fun. I know I’ve done it.

  36. A Trad Confused | January 10, 2018 at 7:22 pm |

    One thing is for certain, what you actually need is much less than you think.

  37. I concur with Dick “Squeeze” Press: Gray flannel suit is a must. If you live below the Mason-Dixon, a tropical or fresco in a shade of heathered/mottled gray serves the same purpose. For instance: 510213 in this bunch:


  38. Don’t forget short sleeve shirts for summer. I think one oxford, go pullover if you like, and one madras is more than adequate. Especially if you have a couple polos for golf or cleaning out the garage.

    T-shirts – make sure the neck is snug.
    Ties – if you’re going with higher waist pants, make sure the ties are not longer than 56″ (which are difficult to find) unless you’re well over 6 feet tall or have a substantial neck and wide radius belly to take up the tie length. Etsy and ebay are your best bet.

    STRONGLY recommend (as at least one other has suggested) that you DON’T buy it all at once. Just fill in the witer clothing needs you have now, maybe replace the one or two items you know you’ll never wear again. Then do it again in the spring.

    This is because your taste will mature. What is your best color? Do you know? So which shade of grey trousers works best with the jacket you haven’t bought yet? Or which ties work with the most shirt-jacket-pants-shoes combos? Will you be going with gold or silver? Is pink really your thing? Or is green, or red, or yellow going to be the color?

    Easing into it in that way means go full steam ahead on any staple grey, khaki, navy items, which is most of the backbone items. And of course at least one white and one blue OCBD. And navy socks. But at least you won’t buy what looks better on someone else.

  39. All i can say to this young guy is: now look what you’ve gone and done. Confused? You should be. Just find yourself a very old natural shouldered sack jacket, the scrunchier the better. Job done…..for the time being.

  40. S.E. hits the nail on the head for the can’t-miss starter kit.

    Charlottesville, of course, gives us the wonderful long view that a young man (we all?) should aspire to.

    Despite several re-readings, I can’t figure out what I’d call Vic Delta’s list, other than Brooklyn-meets-the-new-Duck-Head-ad-campaign (it pains me to say).

    * a quick note for Charlottesville: when I type your name, my computer tries to auto-correct it to Chancellorsville – I’ll leave that to you to ponder!

  41. As Joel and Tobias mentioned, get an original copy of TOPH. Can’t go wrong.

  42. Thomas Mukherjee | January 11, 2018 at 11:38 am |

    If money is no consideration just hit O’C’s, Press, H. Stockton, and so on and let the staff guide you towards an impeccably tailored wardrobe.

  43. Charlottesville | January 11, 2018 at 1:24 pm |

    Paul — Thanks. I think that many, including our beloved leader CC, would shake the head and say “Tut tut” or possibly worse regarding the size of my wardrobe. In my defense, I note that it sort of sneaks up on you if you wear a coat and tie every day for 30+ years. I am trying to slim it down somewhat, but when the weather can vary by 100 degrees over the course of a year, I justify some of the volume simply by the need to be prepared for anything. Nevertheless, I must admit that I do not really need quite so many seersucker suits and navy blazers, and the number of ties is hard to excuse. If I live long enough to retire some day, I imagine that most of my suits will go to Goodwill, but I bet that a full compliment of shirts, ties, sport coats and blazers will remain in my closet. Perhaps I can hope to age into something like our friend Billax, who was, and I assume and hope still is, always sharply dressed in his mid 70s. Richard Press and Tom Davis also come to mind.

    I hope that the “Chancellorsville” auto-correct does not presage my being mistakenly shot in the dark by so-called “friendly fire.” However, since I have no troops and my wife does not care for gunplay, this seems unlikely.

  44. Thomas Mukherjee | January 11, 2018 at 4:59 pm |

    Another thing bit of advice the OP might find it useful to take on board is to be sure to know the difference between informed sources of trad ‘knowledge’ such as this one and one or two other clothing forums, which in all kindness appear to have a therapeutic as opposed to a sartorial function.

  45. Thomas Mukherjee | January 11, 2018 at 9:17 pm |

    @Berkeley Breathes.

    Well at least you know when the cap fits even if you are totally unaware of how boring you look. But hey, BB at least you have the the consolation of wearing your moderator’s hat and ‘leading’ three or four imbeciles. Carry on being blind.Perhaps if you puff your ego up a bit more it might compensate for your lack of a neck.

    • Obviously there is something going on in the internet that I’m unaware of. What a relief.

      Don’t forget: I’m right about what advice I’ve given! Don’t rush into buying too much, especially colors!

      (Resume hate speech).

  46. Thomas Mukherjee | January 12, 2018 at 5:27 am |

    No hate, Saigo. Just annoyance at a little gobbet of nobodies taking sly digs at our host, CC.

  47. After further review…….gentlemen, i apologize for bringing a a pair of boots to a gunboat parade. My preference for blazer, tweed, knit tie, Alden and OCBDs is to trad like anchovy is to fish and espresso is to coffe.. But I’m, old, retired, very small, live in central Phoenix and get around on a Vespa. Irregardless of the best intentions and resolutions, daily chores and routines tend to push me a little more toward blue collar American rather than tab collar Trad.
    It would be great to do Full Monty ivy everyday but I’m not seeking employment or giving up SW winters and year round golf.
    Savoring this well moderated column, enjoying the thoughtful comments and lively exchange of ideas is great fun. You guys bring civility to the outpost. Americana is my tiara and east coast trad is the jewel in the crown..
    I will now return to my seat in the bleachers, keep my head down and my lip zipped.
    Keep the train rolling, amigos.

  48. @VicDelta: for what it’s worth, my comment about your list wasn’t meant to be snarky or disrespectful – it actually contained all sorts of interesting-sounding things; I just couldn’t quite place them in the trad context, that’s all.

  49. Despite the rancor that rained down on Brooks for their exhibition at Pitti Oumo, I’d recommend throwing yourself on the mercy of Brooks’ custom department. Granted, the off-0the-rack stuff has gone to hell, but they still know how to make tailored clothing and shirts. After you’ve selected a stack of swatches for clothing and shirts, stop by the furnishings furnishings department on the way out. Buy all the basic repps that appeal to you. If you have average width feet, buy up the inventory of Alden, Peal, and Edward Green shoes. Then, head down to the Armoury for all the Drakes ties.

  50. Send him to Leonard Logsdail in NYC.

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