Thursday, October 7, 2010

Barbour Jacket Alternatives

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine told me that he was in the market for a Barbour-like jacket and asked if I had any suggestions. I came up with a list for him, and while a number of these have been pointed out on some other blogs (like Dreams of Perfection), I figured I would compile them all here as a sort of guide to waxed cotton field coats. I'm assuming that pretty much everyone knows about the Barbour Bedale and Beaufort, as a well as the Filson Tin Cloth jacket, so I have not included them. Without further ado, here are the jackets.

LL Bean Upland Field Coat- $99
Arguably the best value of the bunch. The padded shoulder pads are a nice touch, and the fact that it's available in a version with a blaze orange upper half makes it a good candidate for a quail hunt.

Lands End Waxed Cotton Field Coat- currently $119
Clearly a Barbour knock-off, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The sale price of $119 is pretty tough to beat.
**UPDATE- According to Greg from Manifold Destiny, this jacket fits like a Beaufort in terms of length.

LL Bean Signature 1947 Field Coat- $185
A slimmer version of the classic in Millerain canvas that also comes with a button-out liner vest.

J. Crew Woodland Jacket- $278
A J. Crew original; the snap front with clasp-fastening storm flap makes it a bit different from the rest of the pack.

Eddie Bauer Waxed Expedition Cloth Saddle Coat- $299
Somewhat of a surprising offering from Eddie Bauer with some nice features, but the contrasting color of the moleskin collar could be a deal-breaker for some.

Barbour Ursula Jacket at Orvis- $379
Said to be a reproduction of the jackets provided to crews of Royal Navy submarines, while it's not technically a field coat, this jacket is pretty awesome. The lack of a hood (or means of attaching a hood) makes it a little less versatile.

Barbour Derwent at J. Crew- $399
Described by J. Crew as a "tackle jacket," this wouldn't make a bad choice out in the field, especially with the built-in hood.

Eddie Bauer Upland Field Coat with Blaze Vest- $429
Another great offering from Eddie Bauer (which I actually wrote about last September), this jacket has some great features like the padded shoulders, shell pockets, and removable blaze orange vest, but the price is pretty steep. However, like the Eddie Bauer Saddle Coat, some people may not care for the blaze orange collar.

Orvis Taylor Supply Supply Hill Climber Jacket- $495
With the shawl collar and button front, this jacket offers a unique look. Unfortunately, the $500 price tag is nearly impossible to justify, though it is made in the US.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

College circle logo hats

As every true American knows, college football started this past weekend. While there isn't much to say about the games this weekend, every true SEC fan*, and most ACC fans, know that looking good at the game is almost as important as the game itself.

It's pretty common knowledge that the white bar hats made by The Game are de rigeur, but a couple of months back, Ashlyn Stallings, Southern blogger and professional ADPi (TSM), pointed out these hats on her blog. They're also made by The Game, and are available for most SEC and ACC schools (and for some other conferences which also exist, apparently), but come with loads of old school style. Plus, they're only $17. Order one for your favorite school and keep the bill flat so that you look like you stepped out of a tailgate in 1984 (TFM).

*This does not include Florida fans. Jorts, anyone?

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Inside Information on Michael Bastian for Gant

There has been a lot of anticipation for the new Fall 2010 Gant line, designed by Michael Bastian. For his inspiration, Bastian was reportedly heavily influenced by lacrosse, and the line is decidedly preppy and sporty (just like lacrosse should be). However, based on some detective work, A Trip Down South has been able to discover just how Bastian was able to capture the essence of the Fastest Game on Two Feet:

Michael Bastian is, in fact, the Ultimate Lax Bro.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Review: LL Bean Signature Work Boot

By now, everyone should know that LL Bean Signature is the best single collection of clothes out there. Thanks to Alex Carleton, as well as the entire LL Bean archive that is at his disposal, LL Bean has essentially out-J.Crewed J.Crew and come out with a line that is successfully combines traditional items with a more modern fit and details. While J.Crew has gone off the deep end with their expensive sloppy-Americana-workwear-reinterpretation look, LL Bean has embraced its actual history and heritage and created new old classics.

When the preview of fall items came out, the item that caught my attention immediately was the new Signature Work Boot. It looked like a great moc-toe boot that would work well with both jeans and khakis once the temperatures finally come down. Fortunately, my pair came in yesterday, so I can finally provide a hands-on perspective.

The first thing that intrigued me, as well as worried me, about the boot was the leather. While it appeared to be different from the leather used on any existing LL Bean shoe or boot, I was afraid that when it came it would be the same soft but easily-scuffed leather that is found on the Blucher Moc. However, my fears were allayed once I actually got my hands on the boots as this leather really is pretty nice. It's thick, buttery, and already has great depth of color to it. It's somewhat stiff, but seems like it will soften up nicely once it gets broken in. It also appear capable of taking a beating and should hold up for quite a while.

As you can see from the pictures, the sole is rugged, but has a fairly low profile, allowing it to more easily transition to casual situations without looking like you just got done climbing a mountain.

In terms of height, you can see that they are almost exactly as tall as the 10" Maine Hunting Shoe. I'd say this is a pretty practical height as it provides good ankle support for a variety of activities, but doesn't make them to difficult to easily get on or off. The speed laces are a nice touch. When laced up, there are stiffer around the ankles than my Maine Hunting Shoe, but again, I suspect they will soften up a bit once they get some wear.

The insole is leather, and when wearing them, they feel more like a moccasin and less like a boot in that there isn't really much arch support. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, but I may end up wearing my own insoles with them at some point.

In terms of styling, I feel like the name "Work Boot" is almost a misnomer in that they simply don't look as rugged as, say, the Katahdin Iron Works Engineer Boot. I mean this in a good way, though, as I feel like this boot is much more versatile with a more refined look.. If I did have one complaint, it would be that the toe is a little more squared off than I would prefer. Not a deal-breaker, but if I had my drothers, I would have made it a little differently.

Overall, I'm really pleased with these boots. As I mentioned, I can't wait for the fall weather so I can break these out, and I'm looking forward to being able to wear these instead of my Maine Hunting Shoes out in the dove field. If you're in the market for a boot but don't want to go the Red Wing route, I would certainly recommend giving these a look.

Second Annual Fun Pants Party

Myself and the other hosts of the party

This past weekend, a number of friends from grad school and I hosted the Second Annual Fun Pants Party down in Charleston. Last year's party was just a pub crawl along Upper King (in ridiculous, fun pants, no less), but this year we hosted a beforehand cocktail party at the Carolina Yacht Club, before preceding to a pub crawl along East Bay. The actual crawl part was somewhat waylaid (in a good way) due to the awesome band, Unkle Funkle, who was playing at Johnson's Pub, our first stop. A good time was had by all, and I'm pretty sure that our 50+ crowd of people in ridiculous pants made the place a lot better than it normally is.

As an added bonus, the party was graced with the presence of none other than Social Primer himself, Cooper Ray. Be sure to check out Cooper's article, including additional pictures, over on the Social Primer website.

A view of the harbor from the Carolina Yacht Club

Thursday, July 29, 2010

LL Bean Moccasins, old and new

Several months back I made a trip to a thrift store in Roswell and came across two pairs of old LL Bean moccasins--a pair of blucher mocs and a pair of camp mocs. Having been in possession of a pair of the current Bean blucher mocs for a little while, I was quite intrigued at the superior quality of the leather on the old pair of bluchers, as well as the difference in the shape of the toe box. Since both pairs fit, in spite of their worn out soles, I went ahead and bought them both (something like $15 total).

Old bluchers, after being resoled

It was a while before I finally took the old bluchers in to get resoled, but I was able to take them to my local shoe repair place and get actual moccasin soles put on them, and I also replaced the leather liner on the inside of the shoe. Upon comparing them to the current versions, I have reached these conclusions.

Old bluchers

Current bluchers

1. The toe box on the old pair is superior. It is rounder and more elongated; the modern pair has a squarer, stumpier toe box. The older pair just plain looks better.
2. The vamp on the older pair is a bit higher. This isn't necessarily a good or bad thing, but for wearing with shorts, and for slipping on and off without untying the laces, the lower vamp is better.
3. The leather on the old pair is much better. It is thicker, sturdier, looks better, and is clearly able to improve its appearance with age. The modern leather is thinner, looks faker, and seems incapable of developing any sort of patina. However, I will say that the leather used on the modern version is much softer and more comfortable.
4. Of somewhat less importance, the older version of the moccasin sole generally looks better compared the high-tech-looking sole used on the modern pair.

"Are your shoes from the future?"

Regarding the camp mocs, that has been a bit of a different story. I tried to purchase a pair of the modern camp mocs a couple of years ago, but had real trouble with the sizing. I couldn't get a pair that would fit snugly enough on my feet without being too tight. I ended up giving up and exchanging them for the blucher mocs that I have. The camp mocs that I found at the thrift store seemed to fit pretty well, however, and I was pretty excited about getting them back into working condition.

However, I took them back up to above-mentioned cobbler (this was after I got the blucher mocs resoled), and was told by the owner that the company that made the moccasin soles is no longer making them and that he couldn't get any. I was pretty miffed by this; you mean to tell me that there is no company in the entire country, or world even, that makes the old-style moccasin soles? I ended up deciding to just take my shoes back and wait until I could find someone else to put the proper sole on them.

I ended up taking them to Midtown Shoe Repair about three weeks ago. I brought in my pair of old blucher mocs to show the guy what I wanted, and he seemed confident that he could do what I wanted. He told me it would be two weeks, and after waiting patiently, I went back up there this past Saturday. Upon getting the shoes back, I saw that they had a boat shoe-style sole on them. "This isn't what I wanted" I told the guy. In his broken English he told me, like the other cobbler told me, that the company that he used to get them from no longer makes them. It didn't matter, I was still pretty peeved that he went ahead and put the wrong soles on them. Maybe if he had asked for my phone number when I dropped off the shoes, he could have called and told me that he couldn't get what I wanted. Knowing that there was little I could do at this point, I went ahead and paid and knew that I wouldn't take my business there again. I will still continue to seek out someone who can put the right soles on them, but I guess I will wear them in the meantime.

So, aside from the soles, how is this old version of camp mocs? Pretty good, I would say. While I can't do a direct comparison since I don't have a pair of the modern camp mocs, the superiority of the old pair mostly comes down to the superior leather. As you can see, these shoes have taken on some very good character, and in spite of their age (who knows how old they are), they are still in very good condition. The laces are even the original ones (or at least the ones that were on them when I bought them). The fit is alright; the right shoe is pretty tight on my instep, and they could be a little most snug in the heel, but overall they work pretty well. If I actually wore them with socks, they'd probably fit even better.

Boat shoe sole on a moccasin: what a travesty

So what can be taken from this comparison? Well, LL Bean's camp and blucher mocs have certainly changed over the past decades. While they are still classic, versatile, affordable and reliable footwear, the old versions are simply better. I think that LL Bean needs to go back to a better quality leather and use the old pattern (including the old toe box). I can't really think of a reason why Bean would sell the current version, except that it is likely cheaper to make, and possibly represents a greater profit margin. My plea to Bean, and to Alex Carleton and the team at LL Bean Signature: bring back the old version, even if it costs a little more. It's simply better.

ICON CJ series

You may remember my SUV Showdown poll last July, in which the Land Rover Defender crushed the competition as the best SUV on and off the road. On my wrap up post, I mentioned one of my personal favorites, the FJ series by ICON. ICON is a Los Angeles-based company which takes old Toyota Land Cruisers, strips them down to their frames, and completely rebuilds them with all new components. Old Land Cruisers are amazing on their own, but these are simply incredible.

I recently noticed that ICON is now offering a line of CJs. CJs (including the most well-known models, the CJ-7 and CJ-8) were civilian versions of the Willys jeep, and the predecessor of the Jeep Wrangler. Like FJs, CJs are awesome in their own right, but the ICON versions are true off-road monsters.

Like the ICON FJs, the CJs are available in both "old school" and "new school" styles.

Old school

New school

Interested in one? Hopefully you've got pretty good credit because the two CJs that are currently available for sale on the website are $96,000 and $101,000, respectively. If that's a bit of sticker shock for you, just look at some more awesome pictures and wish for the day that you finally win the lottery.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Antico Pizza

Last week I went out to eat at Antico Pizza with some folks for my friend Chris' birthday. I had had pizza from Antico before, but hadn't ever eaten there. While the pizza was delicious the previous time I had it, eating at the restaurant is a whole experience in and of itself.

Antico is located at 1093 Hemphill Ave NW, which is just northwest of Georgia Tech's campus. Needless to say, it's not the trendiest part of town, but really, who wants to go to a restaurant in the trendiest part of town? The restaurant itself is pretty tiny; it originally only had the small front dining room and was meant to be more of a take-out place, but as more and more people wanted to eat there, the owners decided to add some tables in the kitchen. This is now the best seat in the house. Things are loud and bustling, you have to stand at some of the tables since there aren't any chairs, and the fluorescent lights aren't exactly romantic.

From your table you can watch the cooks making the pizzas, putting them in the ovens (which were reportedly imported from Italy), and pulling out the bubbling, crispy pies, which are cut and carried about 20 steps straight to your table.

Photo from Yelp

All the atmosphere in the world wouldn't make any difference if the food wasn't worth eating. Fortunately, this pizza is worth it. If you're from Atlanta, you may already be familiar with Antico's reputation as, arguably, the best pizza in Atlanta. While some online reviews indicate that the pizza is overrated, I have to disagree. I really do think that it's some of the best in the city. Chris and I ordered the Pizza Bianca (white pizza), pictured below; it was very good, though I would say that it was a little too intense with the amount of ricotta on top. When we ordered from Antico at my office, I got to try several of their other combinations and I remember the San Gennaro being particularly good.

Photo from Yelp

Perhaps one of the best things about the restaurant is that it is BYOB (or BYOW). We stopped off at Hop City (arguably the best beer store in Atlanta, and right around the corner from Antico) beforehand to get the necessary provisions. I picked up a 6-pack of Birra Moretti as I felt like an Italian beer was the most appropriate choice.

One final thing to note is that the seating situation can be a little touch-and-go. You order at the counter, and then it's up to you find a place to eat. Given the limited number of tables and the popularity of this place, this is quite a difficult proposition, especially at peak hours. Fortunately, the restaurant does take reservations for large parties (I think that we had 12 or 14 and were able to get two tables to ourselves), but it's probably best to bring some patience along with you regardless.

All photos were taken on my Blackberry, unless otherwise indicated.

Leather Man Ltd. grosgrain leather tab & buckle belts

It's no secret that I am a fan of belts, as indicated by my previous posts on the subject (here, here, here, and here), but the one at the top of my list right now is the grosgrain leather tab & buckle belt from Leather Man Ltd.

Obviously the love child of an emblematic belt and a grosgrain belt, two staples of a preppy wardrobe, this belt offers the casualness of grosgrain, but is made a little more formal by the leather tab and buckle. Additionally, it's a more practical choice as the d-rings the typically come on grosgrain belts can be a pain. Also, like most belts from Leather Man, they're pretty affordable at only $28.

To be honest, the selection of grosgrain patterns that Leather Man currently offers for these belts is simply OK--it could be better. However, these are some of personal picks, all of which would make an easy transition from summer to fall.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Officially Pre-ordered

Well, my paranoia got the best of me tonight. Fearing that the Take Ivy reprint might actually sell out if I didn't go ahead and order, I placed my pre-order, and while I was at it, I placed my pre-order for True Prep. I'll admit that I'm more excited about the latter, but having the former certainly won't be bad. August 31st and September 7th should be awesome days.

Now we will finally see what those creepy Japanese dudes were really writing about.

Can Lisa Birnbach do any wrong? I'm still tempted to ask her to be my Facebook friend...

More New Music

I haven't bought any new music in a while, and going on a retreat this weekend, last night I thought that it might be time. I went on iTunes and this is what I got:

A.A. Bondy- When the Devil's Loose

I got A.A. Bondy's first album, American Hearts, last May (I did a post on it then) and loved it. When the Devil's Loose, his second album, has been out for a little while, but just I finally got around to buying it. I purchased it with little hesitation, and upon the first couple of listenings, it has not let me down. It should be noted that Bondy is originally from Birmingham, so obviously it's good, since nothing bad has ever come out of Birmingham (except for Larry Langford).

Robert Plant & Allison Krauss- Raising Sand

I based my decision to buy this album mostly on hearing the songs "Killing Blues" and "Please Read the Letter," which I had heard on internet radio stations before. I figured that it might be similar to All the Roadrunning, the album that was put out in 2006 by Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris (an album which I hate at first, but eventually became one of my favorites). The actual duet on Raising Sand are easily some of the highlights of the album, and I feel like Krauss' solo songs are a lot weaker. It could have something to do with all of the pedal steel that's present in the duets... Perhaps the other songs will grow on me as I listen more.

Zac Brown Band- The Foundation

Part of me still can't believe I bought this album. One of the main reasons I don't like popular country music is because of the trite and cliche lyrics. Perhaps no song embodies trend this more than the Zac Brown Band song "Chicken Fried," but for whatever reason, I absolutely love it. There are a couple of Jimmy Buffetesque songs on here too which I would love to listen to while sitting on the beach by the Gulf (assuming there aren't tar balls everywhere). It comes across as a pretty unsophisticated album at first, but I think that there is some better instrumentation and some more lyrical depth than there initially appears, and the guys are from Georgia, so how could I not like them? Plus, Ben the Bunnyman, of the Regular Guys fame, is featured on the last track. I guess I can consider this my "guilty pleasure" purchase.