• Varsity Blues

    Style | Prep Essentials  

    American sportswear is always in fashion, and for good reason. Our grandfathers threw together the leisurely look some 50 odd years ago upon returning to campus from war and we have only continued to refine the military-infused collegiate style that has become unmistakably American. Following the recent appetite for all things preppy, it is now taking on a more downtown edge. The varsity jacket is one of those pieces that is unapologetically athletic, not unlike saddle shoes or the pique polo. It’s youthful, all-American, and dripping in optimism. Dress it up with a shirt, tie, and trouser or take it down with just a fleece hoodie underneath. This navy satin jacket, with vintage inspired details (striped cuff ribbing and high set patch pockets), feels of the moment while delivering a rich palette for contrasting fabrics and textures. Work one into your jacket rotation this fall, just skip the letter patch this time around.

    Sep 2, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Saddle Up

    Style | Prep Essentials  

    Sportswear is America's fashion child. It’s about living, and that’s where America has made its mark. In the early 1920’s, American golfers, following the Duke of Windsor’s lead, brought two-tone shoes to the greens long before they appeared on the feet of jitterbugging adolescents. Girls of the 1950’s typically paired saddle shoes with skirts, a white blouse and bobby socks. Although the normal coloration is white and black, today, they’re worn by both men and women in a variety of style and colors.

    Mark McNairy, Allen Edmonds, J.Crew and a handful of English cordwainers each have their take on the classic, but Ralph Lauren's are top drawer. Bench-made in Northampton England by Crockett & Jones (a renowned cordwainer in their own right), this particular pair are vintage at over 20 years old. Everything from the chocolate eyelets, to the tan shade of the saddle, to the silhouette of the toe (not too round but not too pointy) is just perfect. And then they're beat to hell. In tan/white, they subtly hint at the gentlemanly demeanor found on the links.

    Pair the brown variations with a multi-stripe sock from Smart Turnout. Come summer, lace them up sock-less with your shorts and summer-weight trousers. Whatever you do, just don't try to keep them clean.

    Aug 15, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Debonair

    Top Drawer | Style | Prep Essentials  

    When we caught up with Jason Pollak almost three years ago, he had just given life to Deja Vu Refinery. The pièce de résistance? The Debonair sunglasses. We immediately fell head over heels and have been basking in the sun in them since. Pollak is a product guy. His voice gets pitchy when he starts talking about his glasses’ 45 degree arm joints, historically accurate flat lenses, and custom lens colors (like beer bottle green and polarized beer bottle brown). In a previous life, he was a men's vintage clothing and accessories dealer with a penchant for iconic eye-wear.

    Deja Vu Refinery’s Debonair frame, smartly inspired by vintage Tart Optical Arnels, are handmade by master craftsmen from cellulose acetate (a high quality plastic that lends itself extremely well to coloration). They boast seven barrel hinges (not just five or, Heaven forbid, three), functional rivets, and rounded arm ends—an improvement on the Arnel.

    "What I'm doing is essentially vintage reproduction. It's something you've seen before but better."

    One need not be an eye-wear connoisseur to appreciate the meticulous attention to detail though. It is readily apparent Pollak has created something special. Each frame presented in a time capsule case wrapped in brown butcher paper adorned in idiosyncratic skeleton art. Pollak's personal wax seal finishes it off. The fact that it glows in the dark only confirms what we've known since discovering Debonairs—Pollak embodies an early 90s old-school cool.

    The Debonair ($135) is offered in 36 frame and lens combinations, polished to a shine or in a matte finish. While the translucent blonde hue isn't for everyone, the tortoise shells are as inspired as the iconic frames that came before. You can pick up your own pair for a limited time at 25% off with the discount code “CASTLEBERRY”. Each pair comes with a lifetime warranty and a grip of envious looks.

    Jul 15, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Grog Tray

    Food & Drink | Prep Essentials  

    Drinking out is kind of a luxury. Think about it. A decent scotch will run about $14 a pour. Toss back three of those and you might as well have picked up your own bottle. Enter drinking at home. Not only is it economical (we like economical), but it's as good an excuse as any to fill your home with friends while also setting up your own home bar. It was William Morris who held, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." We tend to agree—and a grog tray is both. What began strictly as a scotch bar has grown to include rum (El Dorado is a fantastic and not too sweet sipping rum), small-batch bourbon, rye whiskey, and chocolate.

    As with most things in your home, your bar should reflect your own style and tastes. Make it personal. Stock it with your favorite spirits. I gravitate toward the contradiction between masculine and feminine, old and new, and high and low in my personal style. For me, it's about the mix.

    One reason I love this mirrored grog tray and polished chrome stand is because it has a feminine refinement to it. It's very Upper East Side and lends a touch of nouveau preppy—a stark contrast to my red-blooded liquor tastes. The paper coasters I lifted from a memorable night at The Bowery Hotel, the quahog shell from Narragansett Beach holds match boxes from my favorite bars, while loving cups not only hold chocolate bars and wooden arrows (summer camp nostalgia) but evoke an air of victorious celebration...all memories worth raising a glass to.

    Apr 14, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • National Lampoon’s Animal House

    Culture | Prep Essentials  

    You have four years to be irresponsible. If you’re ambitious, five. Then it’s over. And if you did it right, you spent money you didn’t have, slept through classes you didn’t love, and drank too much. Some of it should be a blur. Ideally, you forged bonds that will never be broken and memories that will never be forgotten. That’s college. Few films capture that...potential...quite like National Lampoon’s Animal House. Released in 1978, it is considered one of the greatest comedy films ever made. In fact, in 2001, the United States Library of Congress deemed Animal House “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant” and selected it for preservation in the National film Registry.

    The lighting in a bottle that is Animal House was made possible by the hands-off approach of Universal Pictures. Although they landed Donald Sutherland, the low budget comedy lacked sufficient star power. The suits didn’t have high expectations. In the words of studio head Ned Tanen, “Screw it, it’s a silly little movie, and we’ll make a couple of bucks if we’re lucky—let them [director John Landis and crew] do whatever they want.” Well, that couple of bucks turned out to be $141million. The film became a true cultural phenomenon setting off toga parties at campuses across the country.

    The heart of Deborah Nadoolman’s costume design was quickly overshadowed by the widespread adoption of the sheet-wearing ritual. Madras shirting, satin baseball jackets, Jennings’ three piece corduroy suit, and Bluto’s iconic “COLLEGE” sweatshirt lent an uniquely American texture to the film. She showcased the marriage between sportswear and clothing that a post-war American youth pioneered. Looking at menswear’s landscape today, it’s quite obvious that Nadoolman’s rich work is, in large part, why Animal House holds “aesthetic significance.” I have pulled together a collection* of pieces I found on eBay inspired by the classic comedy. Follow me on eBay to check out the rest of my shoppable collections at prices that allow you to be, well, a little irresponsible.

    *My eBay Collection was created as part of my collaboration with eBay and Style Coalition #FOLLOWFINDIT

    Oct 30, 2013 | Permalink (4) View/Leave Comments

    Aaron left a comment on 11/12/2013 at 3:03 PM:

    Many forget this amazing film was filmed on the campus of the University of Oregon… Campus obviously has changed quite a bit.


    Meg left a comment on 11/11/2013 at 9:56 AM:

    Easily one of my favorite movies.  This post made my day.  Thanks, Fred!


    F.E. Castleberry left a comment on 11/8/2013 at 7:46 AM:

    @Alex—Right on.


    Alex left a comment on 11/8/2013 at 7:42 AM:

    It’s great to see these looks aren’t dated at all. The movie is set in 1962, right? Except for a detail or two, these guys would look as good in 1962 as they would in 2013.


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