Tag Archives: Classic

Chop Style: How to Dress for Summer

Just do this… all Summer, all day long, every Summer, every day. These sons of bitches are so goddamn dapper that poor Brigitte Fossey can’t decide which one of them to devour first… and third.

Martin Sheen, Brigitte Fossey, and Sam Neill at Cannes, 1981.

If you ever wanted to know how to dress for Summer, cancel your GQ subscription and pay no mind to the blogs and the mall. Just do this. See how they’re standing on the middle of a beach in jackets and not looking overdressed? That’s style.

Wearing this in Baltimore could literally take you from the office to happy hour to the ballgame, from dinner at Bluegrass to Flicks on the Hill, or from a day at the zoo to a night on the Avenue. It’s also got the subtle advantage of being absolutely timeless. This photo is 30 years old, and it’s still going to look fresh 30 years from now.

Whatever you’re doing this Summer, do it in this.

3 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: Messenger Bags

It recently occurred to us than since we now own a laptop, we’re going to be in need of a bag in which to carry it if we want to take it with us next time we go a-traveling. After all, the TSA is good for more than just groping your grandma and stealing your souvenirs… they also excel at breaking electronics.

We didn’t want to end up with something that looks more like a big, ridiculous piece of luggage, and we’re not too keen on briefcases either, since no one is mistaking us for a businessman anytime soon. So a messenger bag makes for a natural choice.

Besides, we’re also seriously considering buying a bicycle when we come back in May, so a decent messenger bag may end up serving double duty by toting a computer, as well as keeping hands free on a bike. With that in mind, and since we’ve already gone on record as saying fuck leather, we’re probably going to end up with one of the following options. Fendi and Ferragamo they ain’t, but they’re all solid choices for getting around Charm City.

Ben Sherman canvas messenger: $89.

Ben Sherman

We like this Ben Sherman bag, but probably not enough to buy it. We’re mostly including it here because we like the brand and it’s a solid choice for anyone on a tighter budget. It’s probably not worth its price tag, but is likely better than anything else you’ll find at that price. On the plus side it’s well designed and neutral, appearing both modern and classic at once. The downside is that you’re looking at cheaper construction and material than is ideal. The lower grade cotton canvas may fray or open up, and we’d bet the faux-leather lining won’t last long at all. $89.

Fossil 'Ranger' messenger bag: $168.

Fossil ‘Ranger’

A lot of people give Fossil no love, deriding their stuff as cheap, trendy, what-have-you. We’ll grant you that the watches and clothing leave a lot to be desired, but compare this bag to the Ben Sherman above and you’ll see immediately what an extra $79 buys you.

The leather here is genuine, and covers the whole bottom of the bag. The strap is made of the same canvas as the body, as opposed to woven nylon. The closure is mechanical, and not the magnets found on the Sherman or the velcro on even cheaper bags. The interior comes with a dedicated laptop pocket (which is the whole point of this post, eh?) as well as standard zip and slip pockets and is lined with canvas. The Sherman bag has ‘multi-function’ pockets and is lined with…??? Again, maybe not Louis Vuitton caliber, but a very solid bag for the money. $168.

Jack Spade wool felt snap messenger bag: orig. $335.



Jack Spade

Update: The website is now showing this bag as ‘unavailable’

Wool marks a big step up from canvas, and this 80% wool blend, leather lined number from Jack Spade is (ahem) almost worth its ridiculously high price tag. Lucky for us, it’s been marked down significantly, and Jack Spade is offering an extra 25% off even on sale items with the online code 25off until 1/17/11. That’s enough to make it very competitive price-wise with the brands above. We’re kind of torn between this and the also-on-sale soft waxwear folded messenger which is made of waxed canvas and is actually cheaper than the Fossil with both discounts. Wool: $335 $175.88 Canvas: $255 $133.88.

Commuter Bag by Sketchbook.

Sketchbook ‘Commuter’ Bag

Finally, we come to our only option that’s not made in China. A Twitter follower turned us onto the shop of Etsy seller Sketchbook yesterday, and we’re suitably impressed. The design suits us both aesthetically and practically, and you’ve got to love anything that’s 100% natural. Nothing in here but wool, cotton, leather and steel. You’ve got to cut out a hell of a lot of middlemen to get something of that kind of quality for this price, but that’s the great thing about an Etsy find. We imagine there are few things more satisfying than having someone ask ‘Who made your bag?’ and answering ‘Amber Jensen from Minneapolis.’ Plus with a current availability of one item in each color, you can’t get much more exclusive. $140

4 Comments

Filed under Chop Style

Chop on the Spot: Interview With Sixteen Tons Proprietor Daniel Wylie

As you may already know, the Chop is no stranger to matters of style. Classic American fashion is one of the cornerstones of this blog. So when we heard word of a new men’s shop opening in Hampden, you can believe it raised our eyebrows pretty high.

For too many years quality menswear in Baltimore has been strictly limited to the suit-and-tie crowd, and anyone wanting to look good outside of office hours has had to hump it out to the mall, and as we all know the mall can be a very uncomfortable place, like the back of a Volkswagen.

Daniel Wylie has been a busy man of late, curating goods, rebuilding his shop space from the ground up, and dealing with the myriad other concerns of getting a business together. Sixteen Tons had its soft opening about 2 weeks ago, and we can tell you firsthand, he’s done a hell of a job. The newest store on the Avenue looks great, and will have you looking great by the time you walk out the door.

Busy as he’s been, Daniel was kind enough to take a few minutes to talk to the Chop about his new shop, ideas on style, and how to keep the gentlemen of Baltimore Town looking their best.

Thanks for taking time out to talk to the Chop. With interior design, as well as with men’s fashion, the details can make or break your whole style. As we speak, you’ve got the doors open, but have still been laying on the finishing touches. How has it gone so far setting up shop?

    I agree about the details. I was fortunate after much BS to get a truly unique building in Hampden, The Augusta Bank Building at 36th & Hickory [most recently Squidfire] and that to me is part of the battle as people are just drawn to it. They want to walk in and see what’s inside. The interior was pretty much just a room, raw space needing some serious attention. It hadn’t had much done to it in almost twenty years so I really had to start from scratch. There was nothing I could do that wouldn’t be a massive improvement on what was there. Some may say I went too far, but I really wanted to cultivate a distinct Sixteen Tons environment and experience that will hopefully compliment everything within it. The whole process has been grueling, lots of late nights and sore muscles. Fortunately, I had the Boh Man helping me. (He’s fucking useless really…)

Could you tell us a bit about your personal style, and how it may have evolved over time?

    Having style and having a style I think are different but obviously related; probably cousins. I’d like to think I’ve always had the latter and as I’ve grown (slightly!) older I am learning more about the former. As far as style I mean not so much the rules and regulations, but how and why certain things just look good on me. The terabytes of incredible information that are online have really been like an exhausting college course for me on the history of men’s clothing and everything associated with it .

Who or what do you think has had the most influence on your own wardrobe or style?

    My personal style has probably evolved over time mostly on gut instinct. Though even through those years of ignorance I can now see that I was at least unconsciously drawn to certain things and people for specific reasons. Most of those had to do with a kind of effortless not-giving-a-fuck but looking sharp nonetheless; maybe studied but not labored. I would have to reference as a couple of personal touchstones Sammy Davis Jr. because the man just perpetually looked sharp and Paul Simonon. The whole Rudeboy/Rat Pack/Rockabilly thing I dig, its like the bastard offspring of Ike Turner and Gene Vincent in a Nudie Suit with steel capped Cuban Cuban-boots.

It sounds like you’re talking about the Italian idea of Sprezzatura. Baltimore is a city with 21st century ideals, but very rough edges. It seems that artful dishevelment and organic wear and tear should be as natural here as cowboy boots in Texas or Sandals in Key West. Any thoughts on that?

    Sprezzatura is a new word to me, but absolutely spot on in definition. That is the black belt of fashion (life?) we should all aspire to.

Can you give us a teaser about some of what we can expect to find on the racks at 16 Tons?

    Some outerwear, some knits, some shirts, some no bullshit selvedge denim, definitely some labels new to Baltimore.

Locally exclusive labels, you say? That’s interesting. Care to tease us with some examples?

    Pretty positive that I’m the only one in Baltimore with Farah Vintage, Universal Works, Naked and Famous Jeans, Artifacts and SkunkFunk (who I probably won’t have again after this winter), and possibly Revolution Now, Field Notes and more.

That’s some quality stuff. Many men might cringe at the term “boutique” but 16 Tons is at least what you might call a “specialty shop”. What advantages for the customer does this style of shopping have over, say, a Macy’s or a
Sears?

    I just have to believe that most men loathe malls as much as I do. I’ve always preferred a more comfortable, interesting environment that has a unique personality to 2500 sq ft of racks of whatever. And it’s less complicated in the sense that if you like what the store is doing, its style or whatever, then it saves you having to hunt it down yourself. Also, I think the increased awareness of supporting smaller, local, independent businesses overrides any discomfort of what that business might be listed under in the yellow pages.

You’ve made it clear that 16 Tons is striving for Timeless or Classic style, but what does that mean to you exactly? It seems that there’s a very fine line between timeless and Old Fashioned, and many fashionable men unwittingly cross it when trying to smarten up. I’m thinking specifically of certain NY/Brooklyn or Jack White types who’ve run the slippery slope from fashion into age-inappropriate mustaches, hats, suspenders, etc. and end up looking like an anachronism.

    I think that the standards, the basic building block items of a man’s wardrobe, design wise, say since the beginning of the 20th century, can and have only been improved on so much. Pants are pants, two legs forever. A well cut, well fitting suit just looks good, forever. This is more or less why certain elements never go away, because they’ll never look bad. All the extremes or aesthetic details of different styles or eras are just that, styles, that come and go. A man will always look sharp in a nice hat but you can’t really say that about a dude in spats.

Speaking of going back in time, these days it can be tough to have a conversation about menswear without at least one or two Mad Men references being thrown around. Is this a blessing, a mixed blessing, or a curse?

    I’ve never watched it, but I’m familiar with the reference. I don’t think that anything that encourages men to wear clothes that fit them and not be afraid to look sharp can be a curse. It just depends on how it filters out into the public, good examples to learn something from and apply to daily dressing or a bunch of guys in period costume.”

In terms of fashion, what, if anything, sets Baltimore apart from any other east coast city?

    If my memory serves me correctly, it was the Baltimore market that single-handedly kept the Nike Air Force 1 in production, amazing if you think about it. Besides that bit of minutiae and maybe the Deaconites antifashion/fashion of a few years back, I can’t think of anything that our humble city has that makes it unique, clothing wise that is.

Finally, if you had to pick, what one thing should every man have in his closet?

    Hangers or skeletons…

Thanks again, Daniel. We can’t wait for the chance to blow some of our post- Christmas gift cash in the shop, and get to be looking right for New Years’ Eve. Of course, we may not have to now that you’ve got gift certificates available. Let’s be honest, Baltimore. A 16 Tons gift cert makes a much better last minute gift for the man in your life than that same old bottle of booze.

_________________________________________________________

Sixteen Tons is now open at 1100 W. 36th St. in Hampden. 410-554-0101 or shop16tons.com. Mon-Thu: 11-6, Fri & Sat: 11-7, Sun: 12-5.

1 Comment

Filed under Chop on the Spot

Chop Style: Wool for Winter Part 1- The Pea Coat

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it’s getting pretty cold here in Baltimore. It’s getting to be freezing, actually, and you’re going to need some protection against the elements. From now until April you’d be damn foolish to leave the house without a coat or jacket. You’re going to want something warm, weatherproof and of course, high on style.

Fortunately, the Chop is here to keep you warm all winter long. Over the next few days, we’re going to present you with three solid style choices that are heavy enough to keep you warm, classic enough to carry you anywhere, neutral enough to match any outfit, and sophisticated enough to make anyone look damn good.

Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin both display effortless cool in classic pea coats.

The men’s magazines and internet fashionistos waste many, many column inches every year debating the pros and cons of leather vs fabrics, which is great for them but not much help to the man on the street. They’ll tell you over and over how leather is classic, hard-wearing, heirloom quality, etc etc etc.

Since we’re big on blanket pronouncements, we’re going to go ahead and make one here: fuck leather. Don’t get us wrong, we’re still all for leather shoes and belts (although we are a little guilty about it), but to the Chop’s mind those are the only places a man should be wearing leather. (Okay, maybe gloves too.) Leather jackets carry way too many connotations of bikers, daddies, and 80’s cock-rock hair metal. If that’s the look you’re going for, then have at it, Gentle Reader. We don’t like it, and we wouldn’t buy it.

For the modern Maryland man, wool is all you need to see you through winter; this winter, next winter, and plenty of winters after. The only question left to be answered is do you want that wool in the shape of a coat or a jacket?

Okay. You're probably not looking at the coat anymore.

Why decide? The perfect pea coat will serve in place of both, since in a lot of ways, it is both. The differences are subtle, but there are plenty of types of peas generally available, and styles vary widely. Some have the short length, slim fit, and high neck of a jacket, and others the longer, fuller, scarf-friendly design of an overcoat. A classic cut will fall right in the middle, and be the best of both worlds.

There are plenty to choose from on sites like Overstock and Amazon, as well as well as at shops and malls around town. There are a few things to keep in mind when shopping though:

  • 100% virgin wool is best. It’s also very hard to find and very expensive if you do find it. Even most high-end brands and department stores are selling wool-blends.
  • The higher the percentage of wool in the blend, the better. 60% should be the minimum you look for. Price and wool content are not necessarily directly proportional.
  • You get what you pay for, but only up to a point. Look to spend anywhere between $75 and $175. Less than that is too cheap, and more may just be pissing money away.
  • Look for a true double breast- meaning the coat has 2 sets of working buttons down the front.
  • Classic means simple and simple means classic. Stay away from unnecessary bells and whistles like shoulder straps, wrist straps, extra pockets and tons of buttons. Serge didn’t need that crap, and neither do you.

At sea or ashore, a classic pea is an ideal choice for any man looking to get into his first proper coat, or to upgrade his everyday coat to something more stylish. Black, gray, charcoal or navy, you’ll spend the winter looking as good as you feel.

1 Comment

Filed under Chop Style

Chop Style: Fill Your Boots With Ragg Wool Socks

We told you recently about the best boots you can buy under $200. Whether you’ve already hit the shops and picked them up, or you’re polishing up a pair of old favorites for winter service, you’re going to need the socks to fill them. Those casual, everyday Gold Toes are a great choice most of the year, but they may not be quite suited to another Snowpocalypse.

Winter is close upon our heels (yes, that is a pun), and just as you don’t want to wait for the snowfall to buy a shovel, you also don’t want to wait until you’re strolling through slush to keep your feet warm. Thus we declare this weekend the official start of wool socks season, and we recommend REI’s Classic Ragg.

Ragg Wool Socks- $8.50 at REI

We’ve been wearing ragg wool socks for years and years; literally both around the house and around the world. Ours have served faithfully whether we were tromping around in a Belgian winter, or drinking Belgian hot cocoa in our pajamas all day through. All of our pairs are still somewhat serviceable, but after more than 10 years of use a bit of wear is beginning to show.

Now, we don’t make a habit of doing our shopping at outdoors and sporting goods stores, but REI beats the world when it comes to wool socks. There are plenty of brands and types from which to choose, but for our money a basic ragg sock can’t possibly be improved upon. (Because let’s be honest here… the Chop’s not climbing any goddamn mountains anytime soon.)

The best part? At only $8.50 a pair, we can afford to replace a whole drawerful of socks. If nothing else, these deserve a priority spot on your Christmas list this year.

__________________________________________________________

REI has Baltimore area Locations in Timonium and Columbia.

Leave a comment

Filed under Chop Style