Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Warby Parker Update

Back in March I discussed my plan to try on some new eyeglass frames from Warby Parker.  I received an email update yesterday stating that "the response to our new organization was far greater than we could have imagined.  We have been working as quickly as possible to craft more frames.  Several thousand new frames are finally complete and are ready to be sent out to be tried on at home.  We are just now starting to fulfill home try on orders, but the waitlist has grown so long that we won't be able to provide glasses to everyone on the waitlist within the next week or two. ... You should receive an email from us as soon as possible letting you know when you can log on and order some frames to try on at home for free."

So anyway, I'll review the frames when I get my hands on a pair.  Hopefully more on this topic later.

Monday, May 24, 2010


A pork pie is a traditional British meat pie made from seasoned pork filling and jelly encased in a pastry crust.  The porkpie hat is so called because of the resemblance of its crown to a pork pie.  The hat was famously worn by the silent film comedian Buster Keaton, and more recently by Gene Hackman's character Jimmy "Popeye" Doyle in The French Connection (1971).  Pork pie hats are now most often associated with blues and jazz musicians.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Milestone

A Southern Gentleman received its 5000th visitor today.  Thank you to everyone who follows my ramblings.  Keep in mind that if you want to follow A Southern Gentleman on Facebook you may click on the fan box in the sidebar.  You may similarly wish to subscribe to the blog.  Feel free to share entries with friends via email using the envelope icon below each post.  Please direct your questions to the email address listed in the sidebar; I'm always looking for new ideas to discuss.  I would encourage participation in the Vintage Family Photo Contest that I announced a couple of weeks ago.  Finally, thanks again to you, the reader.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Vintage Photo Contest

Here are the first submissions to the vintage family photography contest:

These are photographs of my maternal grandparents, Clarice and Ottie Willich.  The photograph of them together is from their wedding day on May 28, 1937, in Horton, Kansas.  At the time he was 25 and she was 23.  The other picture was taken in 1958 when my grandfather was on a guided hunt in Kenya.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Reader Question

What does it mean if a suit jacket is fused?

Suit coats have a layer of cloth between the outer fabric and the inner silk lining that helps give the jacket its shape.  On higher quality jackets this layer of cloth is a floating canvas shell made of horsehair combined with other materials.  On lower quality jackets the canvas is replaced with much cheaper fusing.  Fusing is a synthetic material that essentially turns to glue when heated.  Because the fabric is glued together the jacket will not drape as elegantly as one with a canvas shell.  A bigger problem with fusing is the potentially disastrous effect of dry cleaning on the jacket.  If you have ever seen someone wearing a jacket where the fabric looked "bubbled," then you have witnessed the unwelcome result of dry cleaning on a fused coat.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Why Wear an Ascot?

Recently, on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart made fun of CNN's Roland Martin for wearing an ascot on national television.  I appreciate Roland Martin's impassioned response:

Jon Stewart asked, "Why?  Why wear an ascot on national television?"  Because this country is going to hell in a hand basket.  We're lost.  We've succumbed to the insane desires of this new generation that is devoid of the common purpose of Americans. ...  Why an ascot?  Because I want my America back.  I want to reclaim the soul and the style that made us the greatest country on Earth.  We have abandoned the stylistic principles of the founding fathers and their wigs and tophats, and their ruffled tops, for the god-awful look of flip flops and t-shirts and baggy pants and sweats.  Jackie O. took us to new heights.  Now we have the fashion sense of James Carville.  Look, I want to help restore the values of America. ...  I want us to be great again.  I want an ascot for every god-fearing boy and man.  And it's time that we reclaim our history. ...  It is time that we return to our roots as a leader in fashion.  Join me in this fight and accept this call to arms and may we all rediscover what it means to be an American.

Preach on Roland Martin.  Can I get an "amen" from the congregation? 


Friday, May 7, 2010

Vintage Photo Contest

The early part of the Twentieth Century is sometimes referred to as the Golden Age of Style.  It is a sad reality that our recent ancestors exhibited a higher degree of style and deportment than we do today.  To illustrate my point, consider the men pictured in the Depression-era photograph above.  Those unemployed men, who are waiting in line for free food, are wearing suits, vests, overcoats and hats.  Imagine how people might be attired if a similar line formed today.

To further illustrate the point, I have decided to host a vintage photo contest.  I am asking that you, the reader, submit classy family photographs from the Golden Age of Style.  Let's see those three-piece suits, fedoras, pinned collars, tie bars and flapper dresses.  With your help I anticipate we may all see some dapper men and beautiful women, and maybe even gain some sartorial inspiration.  You may send your photographs to the blog email address listed in the sidebar.  Please also feel free to share a few details about the individuals, circumstances or settings depicted in your family photographs.

As an incentive for your participation, the winner (as voted on by my readers) for the best family photo from the Golden Age of Style will receive a copy of Alan Flusser's newly updated Style & the Man that will be available on shelves May 11. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

F. M. Allen

I received an interesting catalog in the mail this weekend from F. M. Allen.  Their offerings appear to be rugged, yet sophisticated, and inspired by outdoor pursuits.  I especially like the details (such as the bi-swing, half-belted back) of the pictured brown linen sport coat.

This is the F. M. Allen story as told on their website:

Frank Maurice Allen was born 17 April 1906 in Upton Cum Chumley, Buckinghamshire, England. The son of Sibyl Cooper and Robert Charles Allen, he spent much of his youth hunting in Windsor Forest near his grandfather’s farm.

Allen had no formal training in the field, but was a natural. His early success trapping rabbits earned him the nickname “Bunny” from a gypsy hunter named Piramas Berners, and that endearment stuck with him the rest of his life. Allen continued to hone his skills as an outdoorsman and eventually followed his two brothers to Kenya in 1927.

Following military service during World War II, Allen established himself as a professional safari guide. He would become one of the last great gentleman hunters of Africa, leading safaris for everyone from the Prince of Wales to Mick Jagger. Allen finally retired in 1996 at the age of 90, and passed away in 2002. He led a thrilling life of abounding passion and excitement.

It was his unquenchable sense of adventure, his taste for the fine life and, most importantly, his sensitivity to the people and the places of his time that made him a larger-than-life gentleman guide. Though Allen spent the majority of his life in Africa, he was first and foremost an Englishman. Today, it is that English inspiration and his rugged yet refined spirit and distinguished taste level that serves as our guide as we scour the globe to bring you the very best in gentleman’s sportswear, accessories, and items of uniqueness.

Each F.M. ALLEN product available in our catalog, website and retail stores has been designed with the spirit of the modern gentleman in mind. We’ve taken the very best of classic design and construction and, when called for, blended in a touch of contemporary advancement. The items are crafted by artisans in places like the England, the United States, Scotland, Ireland, and Italy-- places where artistry, workmanship, and attention to the most minute of detail is very much alive and well.