Every Wednesday from here on out, we’re giving you a piece of our minds. Actually, more like five pieces. It’s a chance to get a deeper look into what makes the minds behind Kempt tick—you know, beyond the usual Internet handsomeness we’re serving up daily. So welcome to our newest and most personal weekly feature: The Kempt Five.
By now you’ve already begun the monumental wardrobe shift into summer—but your most important move: summer-izing your shirts.
Once the temps start climbing past 70 degrees, it’s a whole new world of chambray, gingham, seersucker, madras and festive summer prints. And, as always, we’re here to help guide you through it with:
Our friends over at UrbanDaddy bring word that the elusive French menswear label Officine Generale has finally made its way to the states—and more importantly, the Internet. Which is fantastic news for the state of rakishness everywhere.
See, thanks to Tumblr, Instagram and Pitti Uomo, it can sometimes seem like there’s an endless supply of achingly handsome menswear readily available for the taking. But most of the good stuff is actually sitting folded neatly just out of the Internet’s reach in some incredibly well-guarded menswear Eden between Milan and Naples that you’ll never find.
Which is why we were pleasantly surprised to hear tell of Officine Generale making landfall on American soil, by way of SF’s Unionmade. It’s a good chunk of those blazers and poplin shirts that you’ve seen reblogged hundreds of times on Tumblr since the label’s January 2012 inception but have been otherwise untraceable. Meaning it’s not exactly menswear for the faint of wardrobe, but it is a good place to look if you’re feeling like a hickory-stripe blazer with four patch pockets is the sort of direction you’d like to go in this summer.
There are plenty of perfectly good reasons to wear a baseball cap.
Driving a convertible. Watching a ball game. Premature balding.
But we’ve been noticing a sharp rise in guys wearing more #menswear-y versions—without a hint of support for a sports team—even more so, with the recent rise in popularity of the five-panel cap and floral prints. And it got us thinking about what it all means. So we’ve gone ahead and taken stock of all the nonstandard baseball caps out there to give you a better idea of what your choice in billed topper is projecting to the world.
The pink tie is a tricky move. (If Donald Trump has taught us anything…)
But this new batch of ties hot off the press from General Knot & Co. toughen it up by using a pink chambray and contrasting it with an Italian indigo twill at the knot. It’s still an advanced move, no doubt, but if you keep your jacket and shirt in check, it’s a nice eccentric touch that will go a long way—at the next summer wedding, perhaps.
It’s the right way to catch a bridesmaid’s attention.
Take a look out your window. Chambray season is here. So we’d like to take this opportunity to give you a little visual inspiration on the subject—from Paul Newman, to what you’ll find in shops right now, to paratroopers in the South Pacific. But mostly for the excuse to make a Fifty Shades of Grey pun (even if we only made it about halfway to 50 pictures).
Long-sleeve polos have been thick on the ground lately, but so far they’ve mostly been neat, aristocratic affairs. Luckily, we finally got our hands on something a little more rugged…
It comes from a throwback California line called Yellow Rat, swapping out that brushed cotton for a more rough-and-tumble chambray that’s light enough to take to the beach. And if you happen to throw on a khaki blazer over top of it, it’ll also be respectable enough to wear to dinner—provided you didn’t get too much sunscreen on it.
Spring’s looking better and better.
A man should own a handkerchief.
They’re ideal for mopping brows and consoling distraught strangers—but it’s not just that. It’s the kind of gentlemanly affectation that suggests you’re in tune with a more genteel era. Of course, the white linen version can be a little traddish, even for us, but there are plenty of more lively options.
For instance, this chambray handkerchief from Rogue Territory. It’s rough-and-tumble enough to leave hanging out of the back pocket of your jeans, or peeking out of the breast pocket of your coat.
It wouldn’t look bad tucked into a stocking either.
Between biker style and the reappearance of the neckerchief, bandanas are having a pretty good year. And while Hill-Side is still the go-to, we may have found a slightly more ambitious option.
The brand’s called Grei, and they specialize in taking US-made chambray and running it through smart dye routines until it resembles the kind of thing you’d see on the wall at MoMA. SF’s Unionmade just put up a dozen pieces in their e-commerce shop, so you can start perusing now. Now if they only made pocket squares…
As we head into fall, here’s an alternative to your standard-issue tweed jacket.
It comes from Monitaly, with the same cut as their Italophile blazers and one important difference: the fabric is duck canvas. That’s the same stuff you find on a Carhartt—basically the toughest canvas known to menswear. So despite the dandyish cut and the chambray-and-silk lining, this jacket can handle just about anything headed your way, including any September gusts.
Or any semi-formal construction sites.
This one comes by way of Australia, where the usually forward-thinking Vanishing Elephant line dipped into vintage styles for the tightest line they’ve ever made. That means intricate prints, polka dots and (our favorite) a club-collared chambray shirt. Well played, gentlemen.
Billy Reid’s been busy.
His broken-in take on the K-Swiss sneaker arrives tomorrow (apparently he’s been wearing them for years), but we’re even more impressive by the seven items that just arrived at J.Crew. Our favorite of the bunch is a fantastic chambray suit that boasts an extra pair of patch pockets and a few genteel pleats on the pants.
If you were looking for something to wear to the Kentucky Derby, we’d say you’ve found your man.
Outlier’s latest lookbook demonstrates the proper time and place for rocking a pink S/S/B/D: on a speedboat outside the Port of Miami. The shirt is Brazilian chambray, and pretty handsome stuff—although if you’re short a boat, we might stick with the blue version.
It looks like the chambray jean is finally hitting the mainstream.
Levi’s is getting together with Opening Ceremony (and, incidentally, Ziggy from The Wire) for a mini-line called Levi’s Chambray, arriving in stores next week. There’s a classic jacket and smock, but the main event is the chambray jeans on display here. (They’re also available in peach, if you’re feeling delicate.) As soon as warmer weather rolls in, they should be a pretty useful item.
But as this shot demonstrates, it’s probably best if you keep them as far from denim as possible.
Our cardinal rule of style is to dress for the occasion. And when you’re a Vogue Brazil editor on assignment in Art Basel, that means bringing your A-game.
Fortunately, when presented with said challenge, Fabrizio Rollo knocked it out of the park.
The sockless loafers speak for themselves, as does the just-weird-enough chambray tuxedo shirt—so we’ll start with those pants. We haven’t seen double pleats on a fashionista in quite a while, much less wool pants rolled above the ankle, but if you’re dressing for a cold season in a warm climate (like Miami in December or Rio in July) it’s a pretty smart move.
Throw in a summer scarf tied over both the collar and the shirt, and you’re in hall of fame territory. Take notes, gentlemen.
We doubt any of you are having trouble finding a chambray shirt, but this one from Crate comes with an interesting detail worth applauding: back darts.
It’s an Italian tailoring trick for getting rid of the excess fabric in the back of a button up—a reliable problem for anyone on the svelte end of the spectrum. In fact, it’s so reliable of a problem that we’re surprised more shirts don’t come with darting built in.
Of course, the best example is always going to be custom, so you may want to try the term out on your tailor next time you’re having a shirt made. If you’re feeling particularly handy with a sewing machine, you can try putting them in yourself, but it’s not for the faint of heart or the delicate of finger. Consider yourself warned.
Since Jean Shop takes its fabrics seriously, that means Japanese selvage, spun in the airy lightness of chambray, tumbled and softened to perfection in-house for one of the lightest summer pants this side of linen. And since they’re jeans, and not trousers, they’ll be weighty enough to feel like light denim—and hold a summer roll.
At the moment, these haven’t even made it to their website, but if you want to get your hands on a pair you can stop by one of their New York outposts or shoot them an email.
Just tell ‘em Kempt sent you.
This Baracuta-style item should be landing at Roden Gray in a few weeks, in anticipation of sunnier days, and while we never saw chambray as outer-layer material, we’re ready to be convinced. It’s certainly rumpled enough to stay casual. If you’re feeling adventurous, you might even try a matching scarf.
It’s tough to pull off a pocket square without coming off like a trad, but if you choose wisely, it can give a staid suit some much-needed playfulness. Our advice: nothing too flashy and per A Suitable Wardrobe, stay away from silk.
Which is why a touch of homemade can be extremely useful. Like cufflinks, this is an instance where you may find the best stuff on Etsy. These cotton squares range from chambray and navy stripe to more complex graphic patterns—depending on your irony tolerance—any one of which would go over pretty well at a holiday party, if tucked into an appropriately rugged blazer.
Hill-Side has built a brand on the premise that just about everything is better made from chambray. And so far—as applied to ties, handkerchiefs and bandanas—they’ve always been right. Their latest gem takes the French fabric into the world of scarves and, while we never would have thought of it…they may be on to something.
The result is a little light, and it doesn’t offer the kind of windstopping fuzziness you’ll want when January rolls around, but it’s also a lot more manageable than the wooly competition. We suggest rolling it up and stashing it in a briefcase, desk drawer or glove compartment for safe keeping. The next time a late-night cold front rolls in, you’ll have an extra line of defense.
We’d cooled off lately on our effusive love for Kanye, but it turns out all we needed was a good reminder.
Kanye’s performance Wednesday night was enough to win back our interest. The song wasn’t bad, but the chambray shirt, and effortless use of the trucker tux won us over. It also didn’t hurt that he was rocking RRL jeans, which might be our favorite denim product ever.
Of course, he’s made a few good videos in the time since too, but the crucial thing has always been public performance. And, like nobody else in music, Mr. West understands how to dress the part.
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