I grew up in a Catholic, Eastern-European enclave in Pennsylvania coal country. As such, the Ivy League Look is something I’ve consciously adopted. It has not been passed-down to me nor born out of my environment, which I feel has given me total freedom in exploring it. To me it’s almost a form of fiction writing, a way to create a character and flesh out their characteristics and history through dress.
The core of my wardrobe comes from trad staples. I wear some combination of OCBD and chinos virtually every day of the year. However, some international influences creep in depending on the season. In the fall and winter, plenty of tweeds and Fair Isles find their way to the front of the closet, and in the warmer months I reach for my Persols and Italian loafers. I think of the latter as my Dickie Greenleaf mode, and as of this writing I’m fully in it.
Back in college, nothing felt more victorious that finding a well-fitting white OCBD on sale. Since those pre-income student days, I’ve managed to stockpile a small horde of them, almost all of which are white or blue, with exceptions made for the light pink or university stripe outlier. The vast core of my rotation are Gant Rugger, which are ludicrous at full-price but reliably drop down to 50% each season. Gant’s Scandinavian overlords have clearly influenced the fit, and its extra-long arms and trim body fit my Stretch Armstrong-esque proportions well. I have a single OCBD from Lean Garments (whom I’ve worked with as a copywriter), which offers a similar fit with the bonus of an unlined collar and mother-of-pearl buttons. To wear with suits I have three custom OCBDs from Gitman, Ratio and Michael Spencer. They’re all terrific, but ultimately Michael Spencer takes the prize.
I have plenty of love for unadorned penny loafers, but there’s something about the impracticality of the tassel loafer’s extra ornamentation that really gets me. It also strays a bit from all-American territory and into something murky and continental, an effect heightened by the Italian-made loafers I picked up from M.Gemi (where I’ve been working as a copywriter) at the start of the season. I’ll wear them everywhere with rolled-up jeans and frayed chino shorts. The combination makes me feel like a disinherited manufacturing heir frittering away my final dollars at a remote beach bar. It’s actually a good feeling.
Engine-Turned Belt Buckle
I enjoy monograms. At the same time, I never want to go full Colonel Kurtz and end up disturbing guests with initialed hand towels. I find that wearing a single, semi-discreet monogram everyday keeps things in check. So I picked up a engine-turned belt from Trafalgar with a monogrammed buckle that’s been serving me well. There’s something utilitarian and almost minimalist about the design of an engine-turned belt that I prefer over more traditional buckles. I’ve worn it every day since its arrival, and I plan on doing so until it either myself or the belt meet our demise.
Prim Wristwatch On A Throne Strap
When it comes to accessories, I prefer having a single item—one belt, one watch, etc.—that I can invest my identity into and wear daily. For the last four years I’ve been wearing the same Prim watch, which was a gift from my best friend. She found it in a Prague antique store for about 50 euros. It’s exact date is unknown (I’ve had some fuzzy guesses at ’50s), but it looks like it’s had several decades of loving wear. The word “Czechoslovakia” is written in tiny type below the six—the Romantic in me finds something wonderful about a watch engraved with the name of a country that no longer exists. In short, it has the appearance of a prized heirloom without any connection to my own family past. But an heirloom requires a first generation to pass it down, and I suppose that role falls on me.
Barbour Ashby Jacket
I won’t be wearing it for at least another two months and I’ll be missing it sorely until then. I’ve had my Ashby for several years, and it sees almost daily wear seven months out of the year. I have the zip-in quilted liner, which keeps it going through all but the harshest days of Boston winter. The best pieces of clothing are those that are made better by age and wear, and nothing seems to look better after taking a beating than a Barbour. I look forward to seeing where the color has changed each time it’s survived a particularly aggressive downpour.
Repetition is a valid critique of my style. Four out of the five items I’ve listed above can be found on my person most days of of the year. So when I wish to deviate I enjoy wearing something incredibly loud. I have embroidered pants and shorts that bear the miniature likenesses of ducks, anchors, signal flags and more, but nothing receives so many comments from bystanders as my skull pants. They’re also a relic of another time and place—the dead-and-buried Ralph Lauren Rugby label, whose Newbury Street store was a fixation of mine during the early years of college. All the buttondowns and chino shorts I bought from Rugby have worn out from heavy wear, but the skull pants keep going. Luckily for myself and others, you just can’t wear skull pants every day. — ERIC TWARDZIK
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