Though I wasn’t born yet when advertising legend David Ogilvy created “The Man in the Hathaway Shirt” in 1951, I have a vivid memory of his iconic image. When I was a kid, I would go with my dad to his favorite clothiers on Cleveland’s west side – either Captain’s Quarters or Ford’s Clothier in Rocky River, Ohio – and I would see the Hathaway ads in the shops. At the time, I thought the Hathaway shirt man and his signature eyepatch were badass.
The C.F. Hathaway Company was founded in 1837 in Waterville, Maine, manufacturing shirts for soldiers in the Civil War. According to advertising legend, Mr. Ogilvy was inspired to create the “man with the eyepatch” campaign by a photograph of Lewis Williams Douglas, an American diplomat, politician and businessman who had lost an eye in a fishing accident. The model who appeared in the actual ads was Baron George Wrangell, a Russian aristocrat. Wrangell had two functioning eyes and perfect vision, but he apparently loved to drink, which caused his hands to shake during photo shoots for the ads. An apparatus was used to keep him steady in front of the camera.
Hathaway closed its Maine factory in 2002, effectively making it the last major American company to make shirts in the United States.
Hart Schaffner Marx – makers of well-made classic American menswear – is celebrating 125 years with a Fall/Winter 2012 collection. The collection is by Joseph Aboud, HSM’s chief creative office, and looks extra handsome and sharp.
HSM was started by brothers Harry and Max Hart in 1887 just outside Chicago and has made high-quality men’s clothing out of the same factory for over 100 years. Additionally, they happen to be President Obama’s choice for suiting.
In my book, a well-crafted suit that retails at full-price for less than $1000 is a good deal. Hart Schaffner Marx suits fit the bill. In fact, their sale prices dip to around $225. Smart stuff from a great American brand.
Chinos* have been a men’s wardrobe staple for decades. They’re handsome, comfortable and versatile, going well with many shirts and shoes. You can wear them with certain boots, a shiny pair of oxfords, sneakers, sandals or flip-flops. They go with a crisp dress shirt or an old t-shirt. With a belt or not. As I said… a versatile wardrobe basic.
If you’re in the market for a classic handsome trenchcoat and have $1,800 to drop at Burberry, you can stop reading now. But if you have, say, $170, keep reading.
In their recent highly visible campaign, UNIQLO has suddenly popped up on everyone’s radar, even though they’ve been offering great style options for great value at their SoHo store on Broadway for years.
One of my favorite items in their current collection is the Double-Breasted Trench Coat. It has that classic “Spy Who Came In From The Cold” mystique in its cut, with a distinctly masculine silhouette. The collar, the epaulettes, the cuffs, the belt, the length… good stuff.
The one pictured here is black. It also comes in beige and navy.
It might have been either Calvin Klein or Gloria Vanderbilt who convinced the style-conscious world that jeans were a luxury item suitable for fancy people or their aspirants. Other lines like Wrangler, Guess and The Gap entered the denim ring to be the Pepsi to Levi’s Coke. (I remember when the original Gap stores sold records and Levi’s.)
Acid-washed, stonewashed and ready-worn styles came onboard to give us even more options. Our jeans can come flared, pegged, loose, skinny, low-waisted or with a relaxed “comfort-fit” to accommodate a specialty ass. The variations come and go. They’re in, then they’re out.
When the fashion dust settles, there is one silhouette that always remains standing: the Levi’s 501® Original or its 505® zip-fly counterpart. Impervious to every denim trend, they never go out of style, and they go with everything. And, unlike all other trendy designer jeans, you can score a pair of Shrink-to-Fits for less than $60. I’ve always preferred a brand-spankin’-new pair of Shrink-to-Fit 501®s because I like to earn the wear and tear that can otherwise be bought for a few bucks more. Sure, you don’t get that cool worn-out look out of the box, but nothing beats a well-worn pair of these babies that can truly fit you (and only you) over time. They shrink and stretch into a genuine custom fit.
If you want to spend three figures on a pair of designer jeans that will look silly in three years, knock yourself out. Otherwise, stick with the winners. They’ll run you between $60 and $70. Unlike your fashion victim contemporaries who risk looking like they over-spent and over-thought, you can feel 100% confident that you’ll never look stupid in them… ever.
If there is any doubt that a classic pair of Levi’s is they way to go, let’s remember a couple of iconic and unforgettable album covers that gloriously flaunt what Levi-Strauss perfected decades ago. If these covers were re-shot today, I don’t really think a pair of Gap or Diesel jeans would cut it.
Rolling Stones – “Sticky Fingers” – 1971 (front cover)
Rolling Stones – “Sticky Fingers” – 1971 (back cover)