Duck Head Migrates North

Editor’s Note:  Rather than have me litter the post with “click on the image to see…”  – if you click on each image you will see the product featured but on the Duck Head site in better detail.

I am all about the locally sourced nature of some things.  Nantucket Red as a color will never look right to me in Canada, anywhere.  And so forth.   But this whole Duck Head only in the South thing is for the birds.

See what I did there?

I hope you had a great 4th weekend.  I had a Duck Head 4th.  From a recording studio in upstate New York to a church in the middle of Greenwich CT to a dad band jam in Westchester to the Club Pool, it was all Duck Head, and it fit in perfectly.  Here, let me show you.

Friday I recorded my first radio show, as my guest I had country music singer/songwriter Jennie Angel on.  Here we are.


Those are Duck Head shorts, the 9″ Gold School Chino Short. What they did is take their famous khakis, and make them shorts. They are classically cut, and there is literally nowhere you could wear shorts that you couldn’t wear these. This particular color is Classic Blue, but you’ll see later another pair, and they come in a pretty broad spectrum.


That’s not a Duck Head WOCBD, but that is coming up.  That’s an Andover.   Jennie was  a great interview, we covered a ton of ground, divorce, witchcraft, healing carpal tunnel, and we did a Johnny Cash duet.  My first time ever doing country, let alone Johnny Cash.  And the shorts didn’t show the sweat.    Here they are up close:


As classic as Beethoven.


Ok, as I have written a number of times, I have never tucked a short into shorts, but then again, I have never modeled shorts either, so…


Saturday was a trip to one of my top three restaurants.  In Greenwich in the middle of the Avenue there is a seafood spot called The Elm Street Oyster House (this is a link, and it isn’t to anything Duck Head).  If you are in the neighborhood, it is the perfect balance between relaxed and formal, I don’t know how they do that.  Speaking of which, I wore the Duck Head WOCBD there, and then for a walk up and down the avenue.   The Duck Head WOCBD is not for tie wearing, in my opinion, it is for JFKish occasions where you want that feeling of Jackie-at-least-let-me-wear-this.  It is tailored perfectly for a casual untucked day.  Here:




In front of a church in Greenwich, with a backpack because I have a family and at any given time I am the pack mule. See how that shirt falls? It isn’t short like shirts that are made to be untucked (never got that concept, it is like making pants where the fly is supposed to be down).



We are gonna cover those shorts, dear reader, and I am going to turn you on to them. But hang on. More on the Oxford first.


Here’s the cut of the shirt. PERFECT to wear casually, it is not slim cut so there is actually enough room to get your arms over your head if you ever want to, I don’t know, touch anything over your head.


It comes in blue too:


There’s a roll there! Again, I wouldn’t wear the shirt with a tie, but it can frame one if that is your preference. The cloth is pure oxford, and the price is about a third off of shirts of this quality.


So I did a concert by myself in a town in Westchester this spring, and got this email from this guy who asked if I would ever be interested in signing with his band.  I was not.  I’ve done that before, and being more like Taylor Swift in that I really like sad songs, I don’t fit with good time bands.  And I’m not that good of a singer either.  But his email was so graceful, it just had an energy about it, it was so kind and inviting, and these days if you have an opportunity to meet a good person, you probably should.  Right?  So I went.  And what a great group of guys!   All dads, all with kids in my kid’s school, and not a protruding ego anywhere.  It was so cool just to be in the middle of that.  So I go every once in awhile as a treat to myself.  Sunday was one such treat.


That’s a Duck Head ballcap and a Duck Head t shirt that has a history of their logo on the back, which I thought was pretty cool when I picked it out. That’s our bass player in the back, who told me something that has stuck with me wall weekend. We were talking about our histories and I told him about my “colorful” childhood and how people react to it but how I think it is impossible to measure one person’s pain against another person’s – so who can say who suffered more, you know? And he said, “Pain is relative, so when I meet people, I always remind myself that they are going through their biggest problems.” I know I said I wasn’t gonna do this, but this photo is a link to the hat, which is a great cap. The t shirt is coming right up.  And before someone with a monocle catches this, yes, he also plays guitar too.


Here’s the back of the t shirt:


The end of my driveway for our evening constitutional. And yes, the leash is an abomination against all that is good and holy. But when we adopted her, the leash was her only friend.  This is the link to the t shirt if you want one.


Then, yesterday, perfect pool day if you are a suburban parent, as am I.   What to wear to a club pool is always hard.  A t shirt is a shirt without a collar, almost immediately disqualifying it for any club appearance.  A polo works, but you wind up taking it on and off so many times that by the end it looks like, well, like you just pulled it out of the pool.  My solution, ever since I saw Pierce Brosnan do it in Mrs. Doubtfire, is a linen long sleeve.  Perfect because you can unbutton it, it is sun-friendly, dressed just enough but not too much.  Here.


This is the Hosford Stripe Linen Oxford. The picture, and even kind of on the Duck Head site, makes it seem more solid blue than it really is.


Here’s the collar of that shirt.  It is cut to the absolutely correct proportion for its function.


See the stripes? I don’t know why they don’t read like that in some pictures. They do in real life.


Those are the shorts I was telling you about up top.  Here’s a better look:


Gold School Chino in Lead Green.


Last but not least, the shorts I am gonna work on with you.   First, they are a performance short, so they are supposed to look like you can move in them.   But I wore  them to lunch in Greenwich to make a point.  They are cut right.  So right, in fact, that they project more classic style than performance style.  They are really a hybrid between classic shorts and the more day to day.  They work great for days like that, where you are walking a lot, maybe carrying your daughter’s… EVERYTHING on your back.


These are not cut like performance shorts, even they they are made like them. They are cut like classic shorts. So it looks like you are wearing them on purpose, not because you couldn’t bother to change after the gym.


Let’s talk about the elephant in the room.  That’s a drawstring.  Yessir it is.  And wait, it even has a zipper on one of the pockets.  Check this out:


These are not gonna be for everybody, but if you can pull them off, they are STUPID comfortable.


You can see it, right?  There is no occasion all weekend where Duck Head did not fit in with my Northeast New Englandy Half Westchester events.    While Duck Head is predominantly known in the south, it is time to bring them north.  Come on up, Duck Head.  The water’s fine.  Half a year, anyway 🙂





19 Comments on "Duck Head Migrates North"

  1. I like the click on image!

  2. A Fine Sad Man | July 5, 2022 at 10:15 am |

    The Blue Duck Head shirt has a good roll, and as long as the tie is of a suitable width to create a knot that does not overwhelm the collar it could indeed be nicely framed as you point out, JB.

  3. Gibson Gardens | July 5, 2022 at 10:21 am |

    @ Craig

    I like the click on image too. But most of all I love the great products that we see once we click

  4. I grew up in the South, and I grew up wearing Duck Head. I never thought of the brand as geographically bound or restricted even if I felt that way myself at times. I’ve thought about giving Duck Head another try, but in the nearly forty years since the first iteration of that brand closed shopped, my loyalties have shifted elsewhere. I might need to give their chino shorts a try. The collars on the OCBD shirts, even with the slight roll, are just too short for my taste.

    As for suffering: no one escapes this life without it. We may suffer in different ways and at different times, but we all suffer. I think any attempt at comparing one’s own suffering to another’s (i.e. “my row to hoe is harder than yours”) is futile. I agree that we should take it as a foregone conclusion that anyone we meet may be struggling this day more than at any prior day in their life and see our meeting, no matter how brief or surface, as a chance for two souls to double their joys while halving their sorrows. A smile, a hand shake or a civil exchange of words still can go along way.

  5. Old School | July 5, 2022 at 12:01 pm |

    Any possibility of accessing your radio show?

  6. Sounds like a great bunch of people to make music with. Likewise curious about the radio show.
    Re: the shorts, they look great. I might have to check those out. Drawstrings, however, just aren’t for me unless I’m swimming. (Speaking of which, I hope you didn’t experience a “run-by fruiting” at the pool.)

  7. Bruno "79 | July 5, 2022 at 12:49 pm |

    Based upon your previous endorsement of the shorts, I purchased three pairs including the classic blue model. I wore the same outfit to a Friday night cocktail party that you did, but the shirt was a Press WOCBD with flap pocket. The shorts were everything I was looking for as to cut, style, length, and comfort.

  8. Yes, I had the same thought as Old School above. Would really like to give the show a listen.

    Summer Regards,


  9. AndrewK247 | July 5, 2022 at 10:57 pm |

    I’ve heard of those stripes referred to as railroad stripes, because it is similar to what the old train engineers used to wear.

    Since they probably see this page, I would request them to give the actual chest measurement of the shirt. I have a 46 chest, and most polo shirts fit me quite comfortably and a little baggy when the description says (Chest 42-43). So I would not know which size to take. I assume they have a Chicago area location though. I would probably buy them because they are sub-$100 and have 2 cuff buttons.

  10. @ downtradden

    Nice! i’m a flip flop and cargo short guy but I’m abouts to cough up some major green foe these badboys! Somebody call the doctor again LOL!!

  11. Just bought my honey a pair of green shorts and a red pair for myself. I’ll wear them until they need patches.

  12. Just love these shorts. All the men in my family have them.

  13. Expat Yank | July 6, 2022 at 6:12 pm |

    Looking rakish in that linen shirt, JB!

    And here’s another vote for a link to your show 📻

  14. So true that quality at a price we can afford is key. Those shorts suit my family’s pocketbook just fine.

  15. Skip Whittington | July 6, 2022 at 9:41 pm |

    I hear some of the UK ivy contingent are wearing these with boots, braces, and harringtons. Ridiculous. These are pure American.

  16. Can we wear reds on our Nantucket Island?

  17. RaleighPrep | August 17, 2022 at 3:23 pm |

    Sooooo, I commented a few years ago on this site—with a slightly different moniker—regarding the new “relaunch” of Duck Head. And I’m STILL on the fence. JB makes some good points, and obviously loves the new iteration, and I have an old college buddy who bought a few of the new DU Gold Schools recently and absolutely loves them…but, still some trepidation on my end.

    Honestly, for the price of a few pairs of new DH chinos I could easily purchase the Danelectro baritone guitar I’ve been lusting after. (Yep, like JB, I’m also a life-long musician and multi-instrumentalist.)

    Here’s my thoughts about the new Duck Heads from a DH Relaunch thread from a few years ago. Feedback welcome, and sorry for the lengthy ramble. I have strong memories and feelings regarding DH. (And brevity isn’t my strong suit.)


    Anyway…on to the Duck Head revival. I had some trepidation at first—they’ve been bought and sold many times over, and every new iteration fumbled—but was otherwise stoked to see them try a comeback. Like a lot of posters here, I have fond memories of the brand from the 80s to mid- 90s.

    My (Public) high school in Raleigh was, and is, very old-line Southern prep. A lot of us could’ve gone to all-male Woodberry Forest, EHS, VES, the Asheville School, the McCallie School, etc., but most of us chose to stick around and hang with the guys we grew up with, and date attractive female classmates. Back then, Duck Heads were all the rage, no doubt influenced by elder siblings and fraternity brethren at local and regional colleges. They were decent quality pants at a decent price—about $30 a pair—usually purchased at department stores like Thalheimer’s or Belk’s. Stiff as a board at first, they softened up nicely—after a dozen washings and some hard-earned wear—to a buttery, suede-like feel. I had several pair: khaki, stone, olive, British khaki, gray, and navy. We wore our Duck Heads paired with a B.D. Baggy, L.L. Bean, or Land’s End OCBD or rugby (Fall and Winter), polos or t-shirts (Spring and Summer), completed with ragg wool Wig Wam socks (or no socks) and tan suede bucks, saddle bucks, penny loafers, L.L. Bean mocs or Duck boots. The pants transitioned well into the weekend—for duck blinds, dove/quail fields, or fishing the Carolina coast. (The company made shorts, and we wore those too, but more common was to make them cut-offs; the ends frayed nicely after a wash for a cool, casual prep look, perfect with a Ralph Lauren or Boast polo and Sperrys.)

    The pants served me well at my (Private) college, the brand being quite prevalent on campus. I had such an attachment to one pair—that endured countless washings, several hunting forays, dozens of roadtrips, many spilled beers at the frat house, and one miffed girlfriend tropical drink-toss—that I even wrote a short story for a creative writhing class about the adventures of those beloved Duck Head khakis. (The prof loved it; I got an A+ !)

    They were worn until unwearable. With pockets that could no longer be sewn shut and various holes too big to ignore, I finally had to toss them, and vaguely remember humming Taps while doing so.

    Sometime around the mid-90s the brand sort of faded from view (and my wardrobe). Maybe it was all the ownership changes, or the emergence of others, but they seemed to disappear from the landscape. I’d all but forgotten about Duck Heads unil seeing a recent ad in Garden & Gun magazine (a good vehicle for marketing to the southern preppy set.)

    I haven’t bought a pair yet but after viewing the website, again, I have some trepidation about the “old yet new” brand. And here’s why:

    1.) $100 for the (not even made in USA) Gold School, entry-level chinos? Seriously?? One of the things that made them cool was that they were inexpensive, without actually looking cheap. And they were widely available. You could get them in near-campus Mom & Pop retailers or department stores, for roughly the same price: $30. You could get several pairs of Duck Heads for the same price as one pair of Brooks. (And if you paid $75 for a pair or Duck Heads in the 80s and 90s you were either naive or got seriously ripped off…they NEVER sold for that much in that era, at least not around here…)

    Sorry, but $100 a pair really doesn’t scream, “value” to me; it screams, “we priced the same, or higher, than every other brand out there.” (Like other posters have noted, do we really need yet another brand selling $100 khakis?) What sets this new version apart from Orvis chinos, which have the same look, details and price?

    2.) The new ones have the “enzyme dyed,” pre-worn look. They do all the work for you at the factory. Another cool-factor of older versions was the stiff feel and finish. You had to break em’ in, actually earning the patina.

    3.) The updated navy version appears more black than blue. The old ones had more of a dark royal, almost purplish hue. (And no gray? One of the most versatile colors of the old Duck Head lineup is nowhere to be seen.)

    *** Edit for Aug. 22’: OK, looks like they brought back the gunmetal gray color, but it’s still way off from the 80s shade. And the current “navy” still looks black, and is WAY off from the original dark royal hue.

    4.) The new logo and placement. Why screw up a good thing? The old, instantly recognizable cartoonish mallard head on bright yellow background has been replaced by a wimpy little tag hanging from the waistband. WTF?? They omitted the very crux of its nostalgia-inducing charm!

    5.) I really don’t think an inside “locker loop” and other hidden details like a logo on the button or in the fly really add to the appeal. Again, they just aped other brands already out there.

    I may cave and get a pair, if only for the nostalgia. A more likely scenario would be picking them up at a brick and mortar, so I could try them on. But for me, the jury is still out on the “new and improved” Duck Head chinos. And I’m not sure if nostalgia wins over newer flaws and snafus.

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