Last week, I decided to search for a new double-breasted blue blazer. The one I had owned in the states years ago did not make cut when it came time to relocate: it had seen years of use (abuse?) and we were traveling light. My single-breasted version would suffice.
And, at any rate, I could always find one at Brooks Bros. and be back in the saddle whenever I wanted.
Or so I thought. My recent search of the Brooks Bros website found a disappointing selection of blazers–most styled too short in the tail and too tight in the chest–and no double-breasted model. I sank in my chair. Another brick falls from the wall.
Thankfully, Turnbull and Asser of London still offers a stylish, traditional model. As travel returns to normal, I decided I would venture to London and investigate, but I found myself in no hurry. And I began to wonder why. (In earlier days, this would have become a ‘mission’.)
While time changes little in the Old Money universe, it has changed a few things for me since arriving relocating in 2017. In the states, I was seldom without my blue blazer. I was either wearing it or it was lying in wait, as it were, in the back seat of the aging BMW. With the oxford cloth button down and khakis, it was Standard Equipment, part and parcel of The Uniform.
It was practical. It had pockets for my wallet, keys, and pen. It never wrinkled (100% gabardine wool). It elevated my look quickly and easily if I needed to drop into a finer establishment. It provided warmth when I had to endure dreaded air conditioning.
Here, I find myself wearing the blazer less and opting for the V-neck merino wool pullover sweater more. For some reason, 50 shades of grey and the ubiquitous Parisian black have become the default color options. Underneath, a white dress shirt has begun to nudge out the oxford cloth button down. In cooler weather, a tweed jacket, quilted jacket, or wool overcoat is added on top for warmth. Little else in my wardrobe has changed.
The merino wool pullover is now my go-to garment, almost year-round as ‘summer’ is limited here to about ten weeks of not-coolish weather per year. The blue blazer hangs at the ready, but less used in this new life of mine. A small, perhaps trivial consideration, but there it is. (File it under ‘First World Problems’, if you like.)
My questions for you are as follows: what is your ‘go to’ article of clothing? Has it changed in the past few years? Did it change as a result of the pandemic? Feel free to nominate shoes, shirts, jackets, or accessories. Articulate what you like about your go-to item. Feel free to plug a brand that’s working for you, or call out a brand that’s been found wanting. Be fair. Be specific.
If nothing has changed, feel free to mention that. Not much does, but when it does, it’s great to hear about it.
Happy Monday from the 1st arrondissement…
15 thoughts on “The Old Money Wardrobe: Review and Rate The Classics”
During The Demic, I wanted to wear more dresses around the house. I thought I would experiment and try one of those ‘cheap clothes’ websites to see what all of the fuss was about. Because of how, from what, and where, the clothes were made I noticed two important things to keep in mind; they shrink the minute you wash them even if washed on cold and hung up to dry, and the sizes are so small you need to order 1-2 sizes larger than you normally wear. Time to head back to quality and longevity in my proper size. How I long for the colors and femininity of the ’80’s and ’90’s.
My go-to article of clothing for almost 15 years now has been a pair of suede chukka boots from J. Crew. I’ve worn them since college and they are probably the most comfortable item I own. Crepe soles are wonderful for long walks and travel and the suede develops a nice patina over time (all you need to maintain is a little water-proof spray for wet weather and a brush to maintain the nep in the suede). I’ve noticed I’ve leaned into them even more since the pandemic started and casual dress is here to stay. Runner-ups: my 100% cotton blue OCBD’s from Land’s End and a navy cashmere crewneck pullover that I wear over white dress shirts out to dinner, theater, etc.
Sorry to disappoint, but for us, sartorially nothing has changed (I know, big surprise!). I think the default dressing style in Paris is a little dressier and more formal, so I’m not surprised you’re adapting to your environment. Apparently it takes more than a pandemic to get us out of OCBDs, khakis and polo shirts.
Lands’ End is, was, and probably will continue to be the “go-to” provider for many basics in my family (early 40s husband and wife, college son, high school daughter) – their polo shirts, in particular. This was also the case for my parents. The customizable inseams on pants and jeans are also helpful for those who have less-common inseam sizes. My daughter and I also like their sweaters (particularly the cotton drifter-style) and dresses. I have recently added several long-sleeve roll-tab shirts in cotton or linen from Lands’ End or Ralph Lauren to my own wardrobe, and find myself reaching for them often.
Unfortunately, as I am quite pear-shaped, the cut of Lands’ End pants just does not work for me the way it does for the rest of the family. I’ve found the chinos, corduroys, and linen pants sold by NYDJ are much more comfortable and flattering while still standing up well to regular use. My daughter and I also are fans of Universal Standard, especially their jeans.
Footwear is a challenge for everyone but my son. I have some difficulties related to an old injury that limit my options, my husband has unusually wide feet, and my daughter has merely “wide” feet. My husband’s go-to brands are New Balance for athletic shoes and Propet for everything else – some hints for other well-made shoes in 5E width would be welcome, if anyone has them. My daughter and I wear a lot of Rockport, SAS, and Ros Hommerson, and I also wear Vionic when I need additional support.
As I was minimizing my wardrobe, I wanted to buy one pair of boots that checked all the boxes: water/snowproof, can be dressed up or down, no heel, comfortable to walk in. I’m in my 3rd season of my La Canadienne Saint boots and love them! https://www.lacanadienneshoes.com/us/saint-5812002-black
Blue Brooks Brothers OCBD. If only they still cared. Thank the Lord for ebay.
Dark color Bean blucher mocs
Bass smooth strap pennies
Full fit khakis
And I agree on the merino v neck. I wear one most every day, and it helps a tie still look dressy but not so noticeable as under a blazer in today’s sloppy culture.
Byron – what is the color of your tweed jacket, if I may ask? Curious as we’re planning a trip to Paris at some point and would love to bring mine.
COVID struck shortly after we moved to our adopted country, so like others, work from home has become the norm. And also like others, I was pretty dressing sloppily at the outset. Then I read OMB, tried wearing The Uniform each day and realized how much I loved it. So, that’s become my new go-to on most days.
Brands – I’ve re-discovered how much I love LL Bean, esp for the chinos. For OCBDs my new favorite is Kamakura MTM, though I do plan to try a Mercer in the near future). I’m still on the hunt for the perfect merino v-neck so if anyone has suggestions, I’m wide open.
Lastly, as it is horrendously hot/humid here (even compared to my home state of Florida), summers dictate linen shirts or polos. For both I find I love my RL items more than my BB ones.
Bonjour Expat, I’m glad you’re enjoying the uniform. The tweed jacket I have here is a cream with grey and soft yellow checks. There is an earth tone tweed jacket somewhere in storage (USA) I think. Yes, bring the tweed to Paris! Two merino V-necks that I was given 10 years ago are Banana Republic. The elastic is just now beginning to give out in the waist. They’ve been excellent workhorses for the wardrobe. Not sure if BR ships to Europe, though. Several quality V-neck options from 60 to 120 euros here in the city, I believe. Happy hunting… – BGT
Thanks Byron! Coincidentally (or not), my 2 v-necks in gray & navy are also from BR! Guess I’ll stick with those for now. Although for next Fall I have my eye on a nice brown one from J Press… merci et bonjour
My go to piece of clothing is a Ralph Lauren Tattersall Shirt I purchased in 2005, since it’s untreated cotton (unlike the no iron chemical treated shirts you see a lot of today), it breathes beautifully and is nice and soft with a fray around the collar. During Winter/Fall I wear it once a week. If you get real cotton shirts that you immediately hang up after drying they become real soft. I also stay away from the so-called no iron sheets and always get untreated organic. (Just like Grandma had).
I come from a line of women who traveled a lot. Before my mom passed in ’94, we talked about my going to Europe after she was gone. I got to London in ’96. Shopping on Bond Street, I came across the Hermes shop. Gorgeous scarves. I hesitated, given the prices, but I knew mom would want me to get one. I did, and have never regretted it. Hardly a week passes that I don’t wear it. It’s an extra layer of warmth around my neck on chilly days, and I frequently get compliments on it. It’s a colorful reminder of that trip, and of my mom’s generous spirit.
Good for you, Katie. A wise investment…with memories as dividends. – BGT
As much as I enjoy the philosophical posts, it’s the wardrobe articles that get me the most excited! There’s something so interesting about the “whys” and “hows” behind dressing, particularly when it comes to well-turned-out folks like the OMB readers.
Like erhubbell, my La Canadienne knee-high boots are workhorses during the winter (I have the ‘Passion’ style) – and like Katie M., I’m finding great joy and utility in getting daily wear from my silk scarf (not Hermes, but a London connection nonetheless: Sabina Savage).
A feature of post-pandemic dressing is that I now pay a bit more attention to at-home clothing. For example, in the heat of summer, I’ve taken to wearing a linen caften or somthing similar instead of “loungewear” or cast-offs that would be more suitable to gardening or heavy housework.
Hope everyone is doing fine and well!
Things have changed. For the first time in 2 years (2 years!) foreign tourists are back – it’s summer in the southern hemisphere – and while they have always been very casual in the hot weather, now they are much worse. You can easily spot them, firstly because they don’t look as comfortable in the heat as the locals do and are often very badly sunburned, but secondly, because of their terrible clothes.
But here’s the thing. I’m as guilty as them. After 2 years of isolation and working from home etc, I did not realise that I had also become a slob. I caught sight of my reflection in a shop window and I was horrified. Immediate remedial action was taken but what shocked me was how easily and stealthily it happened. I would have sworn it would never happen to me and yet it did. I wasn’t a total slob, but my standards had definitely dropped.
And your comment about colours in Paris was spot on. I’ve worn mostly black and white my entire adult life and it was a family joke that I fitted in perfectly in Paris. Half my family lives there and I’m just awfully glad they didn’t see me in my slob phase!
For my husband and me, in the cooler/cold weather, our go-to’s would be one of a few blazers, but most definitely, a complementing cashmere scarf for added warmth and to complete the look. I’ve been working from home for over 7 years, my husband does half-time at home. This makes us even more appreciative of dressing up when we go somewhere. You’ll never see me in stretch pants and Uggs in public, nor him in sweat pants and shower shoes.