The Corona Closet

Last week, after a Zoom call for work, I noticed that my closet door was ajar. This is in my home office where I keep my casual clothes, whereas my suits and dress shirts are in the closet adjacent to our bedroom.  Usually, the casual closet is accessed only on weekends, but during Covid, I am there far too often. Thinking it would make a nice Facebook post, I attached a photo, with a brief explanation that another hazard of Zoom from home is open closets.

My Facebook friends responded that the photo must have been staged, due to the neat closet. No, look how unevenly spaced apart those pants hangers are. And the 1990s era Brooks button-down carelessly draped across a hook. It is followed by another Brooks (old-new, as Christian would write), which is too frayed for office wear, (and unseen) one or two RLPs (peach and a blue university-stripe), and several Tommy Hilfiger very thick ’90s-era buttondowns, solids and uni-strip, all with locker loops and pockets, but with their annoying logo on the pocket. Also, all bought at thrift, likely costing no more than $75 for the entire lot. Again, this is the casual closet. Then there are a few tennis shirts (most call them polos) and three LL Bean flannel buttondowns. Extra buttondowns are stored in a nice chest beside the closet, these are shirts I do not wear these days due to: first, having so many, and second, not needing the sleek pinpoint oxfords since my company departed from ties and even dress clothing, or post August in the cooler Colorado climate where I live.

My dress clothing closet in the bedroom has an assortment of blue, white, and pink, a few uni-stripe, button downs, Brooks, Mercer, Michael-Spencer, and RLP dress shirts, three pinpoint non-buttondowns, including a Spencer club collar, followed by an assortment of Brooks Brothers and Jos. A Bank suits, all old era for both retailers, three odd jackets, and one Seersucker suit bought on eBay. I do not even recall the brand, plus my odd slacks, all but two being old era Brooks Brothers.

Back to the casual closet. Another Facebook friend commented that my clothing looks more like Tidewater Virginia attire (where I lived most of my life) as opposed to Rocky Mountain fare (where I live now). Of course. You can take the boy out of the South, as they say. Finally, the khakis. Most of these were bought at thrift stores, except for two new pair of Orvis “ultimate khakis” which are bullet-proof thick. No matter the provider it is hard to find old school long rise these days, no matter how the labels read, but I have two pair, bought at thrift, 1990s era which are the most comfortable of all, one with a 13” rise and one with, are you ready, 14”, made by Tommy Hilfiger. My wife hates those due to the saggy “bottom dollar” they create. Behind the khakis are cords for cold weather, and one pair of whale embroidered Nantucket reds, J Crew, bought at thrift.

The things we find to write about during this “ma, ma, ma, my Corona” unpleasantness in which we live. — JDV

38 Comments on "The Corona Closet"

  1. PocketSquare | October 8, 2020 at 12:50 pm |

    I would like to nominate you for “the most boring post” i have ever read on this website award. Congratulations on your accomplishment. I think looking at your collection of vintage Hanes white t-shirts with yellow armpit stains might be slightly more entertaining, or maybe your most recent yard sale score of used long rise boxer shorts. Either way once again congratulations on your nomination.

  2. As in all things, there is something intrinsically pleasing to the eye in a well-ordered closet.

  3. I thought only women owned this many clothes?

  4. Vern Trotter | October 8, 2020 at 1:20 pm |

    I always play the Zoom game of checking out the books. I notice you have Rebel Yell by S.C. Gwynne about Stonewall Jackson. A fine book about the general. Being in a New York apartment, I always am looking for more space. I have started laying my books flat; also it helps avoid getting a stiff neck reading the titles by not tilting my head.

    I agree this is kind of a boring discussion.

  5. Charlottesville | October 8, 2020 at 1:30 pm |

    JDV – I envy you the uncramped and orderly closet. Mine tend to be a bit overstuffed, as are my bookshelves. However, my own home office is so arranged that Zoom meeting reveal very little of the surroundings, making accidental closet tours impossible. Hope you are doing well.

  6. Much more organized than mine at the moment. Nice to have two.

  7. Such a compliment when the ‘most boring post ever’ elicits the longest comment thus far. Leads one to wonder if an interesting post would have exhausted the other’s entire vocabulary.

  8. The khakis in my closet look exactly like that, and even with my eyes closed I can tell you which pair are “almost relegated to mowing the lawn” status at one end, all the way to “with a pressing, I could wear with a blazer” at the other end, and each pair in between. To my wife & kids, though, they all look exactly the same.

    And I know what the ‘Tidewater’ look is (a sibling of the Eastern Shore, parts of Baltimore County, Southside Virginia, etc.); but what is the Rocky Mountain equivalent? Or was your point that there isn’t an equivalent?

  9. Well, Paul, true western and ranch wear aside, basically it is the love of denim and untucked shirts, in restaurants, in the office, and in church. It’s taking a walk around my neighborhood wearing blucher mocs, khakis, and a buttondown and being asked by a neighbor why I am dressed up.

  10. john carlos | October 8, 2020 at 6:45 pm |

    JDV- I live in Texas. I know of what you speak.

  11. Yes, John Carols. But at least there is still some Southern influence there as well as the affluent areas of Dallas. But here there is so much Pacific NW influence, where this grunge movement started. And it has gone from the grunge giving the impression of ‘you’re not better than us’ to now ‘we are better than you.’ The hooded billionaires have moved the needle. The only place where men dress appropriately now are the centers of government in Washington. Some admittedly atrociously, but still appropriately. But that will not last long, is my prediction, sadly.

  12. john carlos | October 8, 2020 at 7:58 pm |

    JDV- Yes, I live in San Antonio and believe it or not in an area of the city where trad is the norm. I also have a daughter who lives in Dallas near SMU, a bastion of trad. Btw, I enjoyed your post today.

  13. Charlottesville | October 8, 2020 at 9:59 pm |

    Paul – Exactly. Our wives, no matter how stylish and attuned to fashion they may be, cannot discern the differences among the 5 pairs of khakis and 10 blue OCBDs in our closets that are so manifestly OBVIOUS to us. I think it is a sickness (ours, not theirs).

    John Carlos – You give me hope that there are some spots of civilization yet remaining.

    JDV – Thanks again for the post, but while I fear you may be right about the inevitable slide into permanent slovenliness, I hope and pray you are wrong.

  14. john carlos | October 8, 2020 at 10:40 pm |

    Charlottesville-I’m single. I have two walk in closets filled with my clothes. I have about 20 pair of casual trousers, khakis from Bill’s, O’Connell’s, Ben Silver. Many shirts. Way too many. I’m trying to quit at my age.

  15. john carlos | October 8, 2020 at 10:46 pm |

    Charlottesville- having said that I ordered two sport shirts from Mercer back in July. Anxiously awaiting their delivery. Maybe the Lord can help those who can’t help themselves.

  16. Tweedy Prof | October 8, 2020 at 10:57 pm |

    JDV,
    Are those khakis waiting to be ironed, or do you prefer to wear them un-ironed?Perhaps it’s just my less-than-perfect eyesight.
    Enjoyed your contribution; didn’t find it boring in the least bit.

  17. Thanks, Prof. I wear them un-ironed. Take them out of the dryer (on medium) the minute it stops, before wrinkles have time to set in, just like Mom taught me when I went away to college. The Ultimate Khakis from Orvis are so stiff, though, that I do have to iron them for work, but not for weekend wear. Also, I am a 32 inseam in dress trousers, but finally learned to buy 34s in my khakis to allow for shrinking. I roll them up in the meantime. Also wear my casual button-downs un-ironed, but I do iron the ones for work.

  18. Tweedy Prof | October 9, 2020 at 12:52 am |

    Allow me to polish up my English before someone else does:

    “… didn’t find it boring in the least bit”
    should have read:
    “…didn’t find it boring in the least”
    or
    “…didn’t find it the least bit boring”

  19. Gents: since we’re into the minutiae of khakis (our “sickness” indeed, Charlottesville), has anyone had any experience with “All American Khakis”? Made in the US (Georgia), under $100, and what looks like a nice selection of weights (canvas-twill-poplin), and all with very traditional looking cuts. I don’t know anybody who’s tried them.

    https://allamericankhakis.com/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5uad98Wn7AIVQ-DICh0Bxg-NEAAYASAAEgIjAPD_BwE

  20. Greg Lamberton | October 9, 2020 at 9:37 am |

    They look low-rise, to emphasize a penile bulge.

  21. Charlottesville | October 9, 2020 at 10:23 am |

    Paul – I have not seen them, but they look pretty good to me: https://allamericankhakis.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/79CramertonPantKhaki1.jpg . And at $90, they are a good deal as well. Bill’s Khakis, M2 fit, are my favorite, but more expensive and can be hard to find in the plain, heavy twill. Charleston Khakis (a label from Berle) are also good when I can find them. Eljo’s has had them locally in the past, but I haven’t looked lately. I want to try the O’Connell’s khaki, but have not done so yet. With all of them, I generally need to have the legs tapered down a bit from the thigh to the cuff, an operation which my local seamstress does quite well for a reasonable charge.

    Mr. Lamberton — You may be right about the rise, but it seems to vary from picture to picture on the website. Hard to say without trying a pair on. Like you, I dislike both the look and the feel of snug, low rise britches.

    JDV – I too have learned the hard way to allow for Khaki shrinkage, having had to send several high-water pairs to Goodwill before their time. I now buy them with unfinished bottoms, wash them in hot water, and dry them to a crackly crispness a couple of times before having them hemmed (“Cuff, no break,” as our much-missed friend Billax used to say).

  22. Buzz Rickson Original Spec khaki trousers may well be the elusive pants so many pine for. Available from History Preservation. This site offers a complete, comprehensive and all inclusive guide to product description, body measurements, sizing tips. Worth a look.

  23. Cuff Shooter | October 9, 2020 at 10:49 am |

    I second Vern’s praise for “Rebel Yell”. A great read. JDV’s wasn’t too bad either–if boring, it’s my kind of boring.

  24. I have acquired four pairs of All American Khakis just this year since Bill’s has again gone the route of being unreliable with their stock list. Alas, AAK does not stock the majority of the products they feature online, so that is an issue for them as well if you are in the market for other than the Cramerton Twills in khaki in the most popular sizes. More concerning, however, is the relatively short inseam which causes a challenge for taller men, especially those who want a cuff on their khakis. All else is of very high quality, although Bill’s still wins the contest for most substantial make.

  25. Bill: thanks for the feedback on AAK. When you say they have a short inseam, the website makes it look like you can choose from a fairly normal range of inseam lengths (30, 32, 34, etc.); are you saying that the inseam measurement isn’t always true-to-size?

    Thanks!

  26. If you order unhemmed, the unfinished outseam is about 45” -46”.

  27. john carlos | October 9, 2020 at 12:34 pm |

    Charlottesville- I’m a fan of the M2 plain front Bill’s Khakis. I also have several pair of O’Connell’s khakis and I highly recommend them. They are fairly heavy twill and the legs are tapered below the knee. I believe they are $135 per pair.

  28. An interesting aside (although maybe not surprising to this group): I actually called one of the All American Khakis stockists near me, and we ended up talking for quite a bit. He said that he hasn’t handled AAK for a year or so, but may be going back to them because Bill’s seemed to be “going by the wayside” (he didn’t elaborate).

    We also talked at length about the menswear and retail landscapes, including Brooks’ bankruptcy, etc., in the middle of which he volunteered the following unsolicited quip, “no matter what they tell you, there is no V-shaped recovery going on.”

    A sad note to an otherwise interesting conversation.

  29. John Carlos or anyone who wears O’Connell’s. Thus far, in the skinny man trouser era, I find that really only Bill’s M1 are roomy enough for me. Companies which promote long rise, such as Lands’ End and LL Bean, are basically what regular rise used to be. Brooks, even if it survives, no longer makes traditional fit pants, and Press and Orvis are acceptable, but not optimum. So, are O’Connell’s a traditional fit long rise trouser?

  30. O’Connells ride the line somewhere between a Bill’s M1 and M2. There is less room in the thigh and more taper to the knee. You can get O’Connells to sit at the waist, but may find you need to go up a waist size to compensate elsewhere for Bill’s M1 gentleman’s cut.

  31. john carlos | October 9, 2020 at 1:43 pm |

    JDN- Yes, O’Connell’s khakis are very traditional but then again, I’m slender. Bill’s M1 would swallow me I think.

  32. Charlottesville | October 9, 2020 at 5:40 pm |

    John Carlos and JDN – I’m not skinny by any means (5’10” and 170 lbs.), and I very much hate tight or short-rise trousers, but but Bill’s M1 cut is way too baggy for me. Another friend of roughly the same height and tonnage as I, however, hates the M2 and swears by M1s. I suppose it just depends on the fit one is most comfortable with, and trying them on is the only way to be sure, which is difficult when shopping online.

  33. NaturalShoulder | October 9, 2020 at 6:09 pm |

    JDN – I concur with Bill’s assessment of the O’Connell’s khakis. I used to be an M2 man myself but decided to give the M1 a try. I am much happier with the slightly higher rise and extra room in the thighs as it makes carrying items in the front pocket more comfortable. I also have my local tailor put a slight taper from knee to cuff. I am of similar proportions to Charlottesville and agree that fit is a matter of personal preference. I have had good luck in picking them up off eBay. My four pair of khakis pales in comparison to to some of you and makes me think I should scour eBay for another pair.

  34. john carlos | October 9, 2020 at 6:56 pm |

    Charlottesville, NaturalShoulder, JDN- I’m 6-1 and weigh somewhere around 150. I like Bill’s M2 and O’Connell’s, especially the tapered legs. Plus, O’Connell’s will cuff them at no charge. I’ve had great results by giving them my inseam measurement. I’ve purchased 4 pair online with no alteration issues.

  35. To whomever is still reading this chain. Just checked out All American Khakis and they seem to be out of stock for traditional fit twills.. Nonetheless, I noticed that their pants have slanted pockets which, according to Lisa Birnbach, is to be avoided. Can’t stand em. Haven’t worn slanted pockets on khakis since I read that when I was a sophomore in college – southwestern Virginia liberal arts institution. Thanks for all the comments, men. Thanks for the real estate, Christian. Charlottesville, always a pleasure. Had to chuckle at the fellow who commented that he thought only women had this many clothes. He must be new to the site. Stay tuned, friend, and thrift, thrift, thrift. Godspeed, everyone.

  36. Do those flags have more than 48 stars and are they made from something synthetic? And where’s the casually placed white tennis ball with a signature like Pancho Gonzalez or contemporaries? Details, details.

  37. Sorry for delay, Uber, as I first had to handwrite my response on a legal pad, and then type it up on a Smith Corona to get it right, and then retype into the newfangled iPad thing. Those flags are 50 states, such a perfect number. And no nod to the great Poncho, But every fondness for white tennis balls, and white tennis clothing. I am quite averse to the great clay court artist from Spain b/c of what he has done to tennis attire with his cutoff shirts and beach comber pants. Long live Roger Federer. What you cannot see in the closet are the numerous cans of spray starch.

  38. Sophia Perennis | June 2, 2021 at 3:58 pm |

    The plural of pair is pairs.

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