Tag Archives: Jackets

Chop Style: Wool for Winter Part 2- The Bomber

Now that we’ve thoroughly covered the ins and outs of the classic pea coat, you might be saying to yourself “Yeah, that’s all well and good Chop, but sometimes I just want to run out and buy groceries.”

We understand this perfectly well. While a pea coat or a proper overcoat is highly desirable as proof against the elements in the dead of winter, it can feel like a bit much at other times. Those tricky fall weeks where the mercury is more volatile than the Dow Jones and the first days of spring when the wind still sneaks in call for something a little lighter and smaller. In a city with three cool seasons, it only makes sense that everyone should own a good three season jacket as a go-to.

Robert Redford looking high and lonesome in a wool bomber.

Enter the wool bomber. It’s inherently a bit more casual than a pea coat, and we dare say better suited to those times when you want to leave the house looking good, but don’t necessarily need or want to be dressed to the nines. Dog walking, a winter bike ride, a quick trip to the store or to a friend’s house are all ideal situations for a woolen bomber.

For many people, the term ‘bomber’ still has them conjuring images of air force pilots and those old nylon numbers most closely associated with skinhead fashion. This is part of the reason we’re so big on wool, and why we’re doing a three day series on how you should be wearing it… because it makes the same simple jacket look a thousand times better. If you need proof, check out these examples from Cole Haan, Filson, and Fred Perry. True, those are all pretty pricey, but you’re internet savvy, right? Surely you can find the same style much, much cheaper.

A woolen bomber will take you effortlessly from the country to the manor.

Need more convincing? Just take a look at Robert Redford here. A woolen bomber was the height of casual cool when he wore them, and the look won’t be fading anytime soon. Hell, we wouldn’t be surprised if Redford’s still got one of those same jackets at hand, and still killing it in his 70’s out there at Sundance.

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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.

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Chop Style: Five Good Reasons to Wear a Blazer This Weekend

Yeah Baltimore, we know how it is. A lot of you like to drape that jacket over the back of your chair as soon as you get into the office. Still more of you have one old standby jacket (possibly handed down from dear old Dad) that doesn’t fit well and that you only break out for weddings, funerals and court appearances. We know that most of you would rather wear a Yankees jersey than be forced into a sport coat on the weekend, but hear us out on this one.

Done right, a jacket can be paired with a wide array of casual clothing, and the rest of your outfit can determine how ‘dressed-up’ or ‘dressed-down’ you are overall. It should also be comfortable. If it’s not, you’re in the wrong jacket.

Martin Amis elegantly displays casual style on a London rooftop. 1980.

Blazers are highly functional. It’s not summer yet. Instead of grabbing an outdoor jacket and then being stuck wearing it in the bar all night or being forced to carry it around and hang it on odd objects (because no one seems to have coat racks anymore) why not don a sport coat instead? It’ll keep the spring chill off your back and take you from a walk in Patterson Park to a table at Annabelle Lee in style. Plus you get half a dozen extra pockets. Who doesn’t want that?

Women will take notice. You’ve been slacking off with the gym routine, but a well cut, properly fitting jacket will keep your secrets. Proper tailoring can give you a little broader shoulder and a little leaner waist. Not really, but it’s all about subtle impressions. The Chop knows from experience that women look long at a guy in a jacket. Who’s more date-able? The boy in his favorite worn out band tee shirt or the man in the casual blazer.

A jacket will open doors for you. Remember the last time you were walking up Charles Street and you really really had to pee and all you heard was “Sorry. The restroom is for customers only.” Well, a blazer might have gotten you in there. It can also result in a round on the house, airline or hotel upgrades, and certain persons keeping mum when liberties are taken. If you want to be money, you’ve got to look money.

Wearing a jacket will keep you out of trouble. Know how you’re prone to yell at people in traffic, commit random larcenies and tell Red Sox fans to go screw? Well, you remember yourself a little better in a blazer. Dressing like a man tends to encourage acting like a man. Funny how that works.

It’s a rule. Of course, we’ll all be a bit rakish from time to time, no matter how finely cut the clothes. As the outstanding blog 1001 Rules For My Unborn Son recently quoted “Dissolute behavior in a coat and tie is always more amply forgiven.” Next time you (un)knowingly make a pass at her while her husband is across the bar, make sure you’re wearing a hell of a nice jacket.

If Charlie Watts can drum in a blazer, you can drink in one.

To clarify: we know the terms ‘sport coat’ and ‘blazer’ are not interchangeable, although for the purposes of this post they are. If you need further guidance Esquire’s fashion editor Nick Sullivan will sort out the issue for you. There are also a wide range of opinions online about what jackets work where and for whom. We’re not even getting into that. Good luck.



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