Gay Talese on embellishing suits off the rack

For most of us, it doesn’t make much financial sense to have our clothes hand-made by a tailor. It’s one of the regrettable facts of modern life.
Enter Gay Talese, one of the most skilled journalists of our time. (A lot of people think that his story about Frank Sinatra for Esquire was the best profile ever written.) Talese’s dad was a tailor, so he’s used to having custom-made clothes since…forever. Now, he gets his clothes made in Paris by the son of the guy that taught his father. (Gahhh—if only. Who does Talese think he is?)
Of course, Talese is hardly Midwestern, but Katie Roiphe’s interview with him in the Paris Review touches briefly on his style philosophy. The article is about lot of things—most of which are far more important than style—but here’s something to get you thinking:

“He is so beautifully dressed that strangers will talk to him in the street, that waiters and hostesses in restaurants will want to do things for him, like find a special place to put his hat. Talese’s father was a tailor, his mother ran a successful dress shop, and he says his first idea of how to be special was through clothing.”

Then there’s his post on Gilt MANual about how to throw some elbow patches and cuff-work on an old jacket to spice things up.
He says:
“I think every well-dressed man should have something to wear when he does not particularly feel like being well-dressed, but still refuses to blend in with the ranks of men who clearly care little about what they look like.

That said, this is really a knockaround jacket. It’s afternoon material; I don’t wear it at night. (I sometimes dress two or three times in a day.) If I’m going to the dentist, I might wear this, because I’ll keep the jacket on while I’m down in the chair. Now, if I’m going to have lunch with someone, I wouldn’t wear this. I’d wear a suit.”
I mean, c’mon!! Not only is guy decking out in bespoke clothes, he has a sport coat that he doesn’t think is nice enough to wear to lunch. AND he’s updating them every 30, 40 years to make sure nobody else is wearing what he is. What a guy.

Our advice to you? Get yourself to the thrift store, pick up a wool jacket that fits you like a glove, then take it to the tailor and embellish the hell out of that thing.

To read more of Talese’s philosophy on tailoring, check out Gilt MANual by clicking on the photo:

midweSTYLE: Hay

ABOUT THIS LOOK: I’ve liked the idea of mixing vintage items, Americana goods and designer apparel. Plus, I really wanted to type out “Marc by Marc Jacobs” and “Pendleton” in the same blog post. I wanted to create a faded and dusty look for the field. Warm colors, like the 1901 camel colored shoes and MBMJ warm mauve undershirt, were already being drawn out from the Pendleton shirt.

This leather bomber jacket is one of my favorite pieces that I own. I’m always scared for some reason to pair it with dress shoes and think I need to wear it with boots of some sort. However, I’ve been rocking it with my bucks, wallabees and even Sperrys a few times. Why not, eh?

ABOUT THIS LOCATION: I grew up flying kites in this field. It’s at the bottom of my street from my childhood home. Besides, dodging cow shit as we ran unto the ends of the earth (or so it seemed), I loved looking down the hill—the hill that I hated to bike up so much. But I became so thankful for where I grew up. I didn’t have to stare off into an endless suburban wasteland of cookie cutter houses nor at any brick apartments outside my window. The cows down the street in the field, the airport farther up the road a couple of miles and a general store up the street near my elementary school.

Bomber jacket (thrifted, $6) by “Made in Ecuador 100% Leather”, size 38; wool button-down (thrifted, $6) by Pendleton, medium; “Rat” long-sleeve mauve T-shirt (retail, $9) by Marc by Marc Jacobs, medium; “The Henley” 11.5-ounce dry selvedge denim (retail $198) by Baldwin, size 30; 1901 camel suede bucks (retail, $44) by Nordstrom, size 11; Camper Watch(retail, $18) by Timex; braided leather belt (thrifted, $1).
Photos by Jarred Donalson.

Jeff - Cary – By the airport in Kansas City is where we shot them…so, at the end of my old street. Huzzah!

Cary Randolph - Amazing shots. Somewhere in Missouri? I think I recognize those particular hay bales…
And the jeans! And the shoes! Go Jeff, go.

Jeff - David – Jarred is one of our excellent photographers who is always willing to dive right in. The lighting was perfect, as was the setting.
Thanks a ton. The bomber jacket is killer, mad props to Ecuador. & those bucks you can actually get at Nordstrom Rack right now for 44 bones. It’s a steal.

Leilani – It’s what I wanted to avoided when wearing the bomber jacket, so I threw on the bucks. I sometimes wear my Wallabees with them, but not my boots. A little too biker chic.

Israel – Thanks man. We’re excited for spring!

Brennan – It actually is not interchangeable. I bought it from Amazon and it’s a plastic frame with the attached canvas strap on each side. Still looks sharp, although not interchangeable. We’re so lucky to have been featured on whatiwore, she’s a doll!

Brennan - Is the strap on that Timex watch interchangeable?

Also, kudos on the blog. I’m glad I stumbled on the link from

Israel - May I say, I like the cut of your jib, sir. Terrific work on this post, not to mention the style.

The photos do a wonderful job of transporting those of us who grew up in the manner described above, back into the shit-dogging days of spring.

Keep up the good work.

The Thriftaholic (Leilani) - What a fun photo shoot, seems very Midwest to me. I always dig it when a gentleman can rock vintage (especially leather jackets)– you definitely got a steal on that bomber jacket! Mixing the bomber with the bucks make the outfit more contemporary & urban rather than biker.

David - First of all, those are some of the most crisp photos I’ve ever seen. You must have an awesome camera and knowledge of photog.

Second, that bomber is perfect. Excellent find.

Third, those bucks are wild. They look like they would come from McNairy or Duckie Brown. Super cool.

Seth J. Putnam - @Ben: We haven’t had a chance to get up that way yet, unfortunately. But you can bet that if we do, we’ll be doing some thrifting. In the meantime, if you’ve got some favorites, definitely let us know and we can add them to the map (in the “Thrift” tab). Cheers!

Ben Connor Barrie - Just found out about this site. Looks great. Any plans on covering thrift stores in Michigan and/or the Ann Arbor area?

Seth J. Putnam - Thanks, Christina and Tights That Bind. Y’all are too kind.

The Tights that Bind - Also came here via What I Wore, and your blog is such a great find. I love those shoes with that jacket. The whole outfit is perfection.

cameron - I could have sworn you were wearing socks in the first picture.

Christina - I just came to your blog by way of what I wore. I didn’t know there were boys brave enough to be outfit bloggers. Your blog is well written, funny and stylish. Just had to say it!

Jenna Brucoli - I am kind of dying for the color of those shoes. They look incredible with the wash of your denim. Perfectly style, as always, friend.

Jeff - artfullyawear – Greatest thrift find ever? Completely. It’s even fitted and slim in the chest/torso.
I was hesitant when I walked into Nordstrom because I really dug the blue suede ones, but caved & bought the camel ones….and the blue pair. Glad I did. Two for one, man.

artfullyawear - This is just perfect. I totally dig the color of the oxfords–colors always seem more saturated in suede. And the jacket! Greatest thrift find, ever?

BADASS MONDAY: Robert Redford

Robert Redford has been one most important figures in film since he began his screen acting career in 1962. Films of his that you should have already seen:

  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (starring alongside his buddy Paul Newman)
  • The Sting
  • Spy Game.
Actually, I guess those are just my favorites. His acting, however, is probably least significant in his repertoire of accomplishments. Redford’s ventures into directing, independent film, and political activism have made as profound of an impact on his legacy as his acting. His passion for independent film inspired his founding of the Sundance Film Festival. Redford is also a trustee of the Natural Resources Defense Council.
He also looks good. All the time.

image sources: [x]

Lindsay - I love this feature…Badass Monday. Genius! I should do something like that to show off some of my inspirations, but alas, I may have to change the name when I’m featuring gals like Zooey Deschanel and Jackie Kennedy. Useless Fact: RR and I share the same birthday ;)

Lindsay Living

LBJ orders pants

Nothing new, but still hilarious…and moreso thanks to this snazzy video made by the good folk over at Put This On. LBJ orders pants, stressing that he needs about an inch let out in the crotch (“you know, where your nuts hang”) because they cut him—”like riding a wire fence.”

This was a time when men understood fit.

Put This On: LBJ Buys Pants from Put This On on Vimeo.

Abi - Hilarious!

hb - I don’t even have to listen to it, I know it’s got to do with his bung-hole! Soo funny. I remember when my public radio station was playing the audio when it came out and this stood out in my mind. Perhaps it is just because of my Texas roots!

In My Tennis Shoes - bahaha! thats funny….

Thrifty Thursday: Wool and Alpaca Slacks

On my way home from getting a haircut last week, I happened upon the Village Discount Outlet—which was almost a warehouse. (Or should it be wearhouse?) It was packed, both with clothes and with scarf-covered women cramming their shopping carts full of stuff.
The sizes run big for a little guy like me, but after significant rooting I snagged these incredible wool/alpaca slacks that fit perfectly.

Yeah, they’re pleated. I’m okay with that.
A couple of drawbacks: There aren’t any dressing rooms, which isn’t the worst problem; as long as you’re wearing a T-shirt, you can throw other shirts over it. Pants—that’s another story. I did figure out a way to try them on, but it was tricky and I don’t really want to talk about it.
The place isn’t curated well, but that means prices are dirt cheap. Saw a decent trench coat for 90 cents. And I walked away with a slim-fit Italian dress shirt for $6 that’ll make a perfect gift for the brother.
And these pants? $4. Believe it. Inspect carefully, though. When I got home I found a worn hole in the seat, which will mean a trip to the tailor.

But at 4 bones? You gotta dig, but that’s hard to beat.

Grawlix - If this was the Uptown Village, I think I bought that trench last weekend.

Seth J. Putnam - From the look of your blog, you know what makes a good thrift store, Leilani. I’ll definitely have to check out the Salvation Army. If you’ve got any other suggestions for our thrift map, let us know!

The Thriftaholic (Leilani) - I love shopping for clothing at the Village (usually go to the one near Western/Milwaukee on the edge of Bucktown/Logan Square). I’d also recommend the 2-story Salvation Army in Lincoln Park near Ashland & Fullerton. It can get pretty overwhelming in there but there are good finds if you have the time– guess ladies are lucky in that we can try skirts/dresses on pretty easily.

Oliver Spencer Drambour - I boycott the blog until I’m made aware of how you tried the pants on.

Seth J. Putnam - It WAS exactly like 1940s Poland. Very strange.

Good call on the shorts…that probably would have worked. In my case, it helped that I had some long underwear beneath my jeans. Still was a little awkward, so it was also handy that there was a whole rack of huuuuge trenchcoats nearby. I’ll leave it at that.

David - TELL ME HOW YOU TRIED THEM ON, I know a thrift store with a similar post-apocolyptic/abandoned city warehouse vibe that looks like a clothing bomb exploded in it back in the 70′s which has awesome pants and shorts but no damn dressing room. The best I can come up with is to wear some basketball shorts to the store and just try pants on over them.

Also, why must all old women in those places be covered in scarves, don’t they know it’s not 1940′s Poland?

Nice score on the pants, they should last forever assuming you can keep the moths away. Also, that clothing label is awesome, that should just be the company’s logo.

mallory wiegers - i love alpaca things and i love…