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Five Failing Institutions That Should Get into Menswear

  • Najib Benouar

USPS Fashion

The recent news that the US Postal Service is launching a clothing line in an effort to right its financial woes has taken the menswear blogosphere by storm.

While we’d rather not speculate too much on the upcoming line until we see it (other than that the name “Rain, Heat, Snow” suggests a lot of outerwear and a hunch that a lot of “mail-carrier blue” will be involved), we’re excited about the prospect of menswear saving faltering institutions. It’s so crazy, it just might work. And if it does, we can think of a few more American companies in financial distress that could benefit from starting their own menswear lines.

Wherein menswear saves the day... and Twinkies: the Five Companies That Should Follow the USPS into the Menswear Game.»

John Belushi in His Natural Habitat

  • Najib Benouar

Today would’ve been John Belushi’s 64th birthday, and of all his memorable comedic moments, his turn as half of the outlaw do-gooders in black suits, fedoras and Wayfarers has always resonated with us most. So we’ve dug up some rarely seen photos of him in full Blues Brothers regalia to commemorate Belushi the elder.

We’re pretty sure that if he were still around to celebrate 64, it would look very similar to this.»

Ryan Gosling’s Gangster Squad Fedora Is 2013’s Scorpion Jacket

  • Najib Benouar

Ryan Gosling Blue Fedora Gangster Squad

This weekend, the marked uptick in on-screen handsomeness continues with Gangster Squad finally hitting theaters.

We caught a screening earlier this week, and throughout all of the expected Eisenhower-era dapperness, there was one scene that really struck us. Naturally, it involved one Ryan Gosling, but the real scene-stealer was his dusty-blue fedora. With all the charcoals and browns atop everyone else’s heads, when Gosling donned the blue hat mid-film, we knew things were about to get a little more badass. (And they did.) We did a little research—each gent had his hats done separately, but Gosling’s hat was a custom job from a milliner in Chicago.

And thanks to menswear’s recently rekindled love affair with hats, we’re sensing this could be the silk scorpion jacket of 2013.

After the jump, a few more stylish shots of the film's fedora-clad leads.»

The Basics of Buying a Panama Hat

  • Najib Benouar

Here at Kempt HQ, we often receive letters from our readers—most of it adoring fan mail—but every so often we get a question from an inquiring soul who we feel the need to help. This week, we received a letter from a reader who was looking to buy his first Panama hat but wasn’t sure where to start.

We’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: the Panama hat is the perfect summer accomplice. But before you take the plunge, you should know a few basics: these aren’t just any straw hats—they’re hand-woven toquilla straw (from Ecuador, not Panama). It’s not all fedoras; there are a handful of classic styles to choose from. And you’ve got a major decision to make—whether you’re going to roll it or keep it crisp.

Allow us to expound on these three tenets of buying a Panama hat.»

The Disenfranchised Youth, Circa 1966

  • Najib Benouar

In 1966, Life magazine checked in on the street youth of Watts in the wake of riots and another dubious police shooting, and what they found was a surprisingly dapper lot. On first mention, South Central Los Angeles might not immediately conjure images of preppy shawl-cardigans, Wayfarers, rolled jeans and Thom Browne–esque pant hems—but as it turns out, these kids were pioneering the Black Ivy look well before Street Etiquette was on the scene (and doing it in the most unexpected place). A few snaps have been kicking around the blogosphere since appearing on a Brazilian blog, but in the event you don’t read Portuguese, we’ve compiled the entire spread of well-dressed rebels going about their day: admiring the Watts Towers, listening to tunes and preparing a few Molotov cocktails (just in case). One street tough in particular arrives on the scene in Clubmasters, a corduroy shacket and a pinky ring, and it’s got us looking forward to an unseasonably cool day.

More on the unlikely style of Watts in the ’60s.»

Gangster, Gangster

  • Najib Benouar

We’ll admit, we’re suckers for 1940s gangster-chic. The fedoras, the wingtips, the tommy guns. So today’s release of the trailer for Gangster Squad (Ruben Fleischer’s Brolin-Penn-Gosling vehicle set for mid-October) piqued our interests to say the least. The homage to LA film noir is strong—and so is the gangster swagger. Naturally, the good guys are playing by bad guy rules, so the well-dressed-yet-sinister aesthetic is working for everyone. (Even for Emma Stone, playing the underworld siren caught behind enemy lines.)

Not to leave you hanging, the trailer’s after the jump. Enjoy.»

Shipley & Halmos Fall/Winter ’12 Line, Annotated

Shipley & Halmos’s latest fall/winter lookbook just arrived in our inbox, and as usual, it’s pretty sharp stuff. It’s got at least two of 2012’s signature items—the shearling coat and the unstructured fedora, for those keeping score—and the whole thing is just a little bit brighter than real life usually is.

To give you a sense of what you’re seeing, we’ve broken it down look-by-look after the jump. Take a gander…

Our favorites from Shipley & Halmos’s new fall/winter line»

Kempt Man of the Hour: Tom Sturridge

Tom Sturridgevia Bauer Griffin, see it full size

Tom Sturridge is having a good week.

This snap caught the British actor just before the new year, touring Paris with Sienna Miller (nice work if you can get it) and a near-perfect collection of accoutrements.

The Wayfarers speak for themselves, but we’re also digging the wintry overcoat, the stubble and the Doherty-style fedora, which add up to a surprisingly potent getup. It’s the perfect “off-day with the lady” outfit, equal parts staying rakish for Sienna and not giving a damn what anyone else might think.

Judging from her smile, we’d say it’s working.

Reel to Reel


As you may have noticed, we’re pretty impressed by fabric innovations. Which is why we’re both awestruck and perplexed by these made-to-order fedoras, made from an innovative combination of colored thread and recycled cassette tape.

The idea originated with the more understated Mixtape Tie, but it was only a matter of time before it made it to sturdier items. The crucial detail is that all the tape still has sound on it—specifically, tracks pulled from the designer’s homemade sound collages—so your precious noggin will get a dose of magnetic good vibrations for as long as you keep it on. You can even generate some music of chance if you run a tape head over it, which would certainly be a first for our wardrobe.

Kempt Man of the Hour: Terrence Howard

  • Jared Paul Stern


*Photographed by our fearless lensman, Patrick McMullan.*

The gangster / jazz great look is a hard one to pull off with any measure of success. Too often practitioners err with exaggeratedly-cut or outlandishly-fabric'd suits, overly large or oddly-hued hats, ridiculous neckties, or just generally odious accessories and embellishments. The trick is to keep things as elegantly simple and classic as possible, perhaps even a little austere if you really don't want anyone thinking you're on your way to a costume ball.

More on today's MOTH»

Sebastian Whorsley, Middle Relief and Ascot Justice

Ashton & Demi

Structural Support: In the near future, girdles will actually tone your body—so go ahead and have that third brioche. [Style Dash]

Alphabet Soup: GQ + CFDA. [FWD]

H to the Izzo: Your man Sean Carter picks up another fashion label. [Female First UK]

Viva Kimmel: A less luxurious outlook from Florence. [Men.Style]

Back to The Well: More deals at Opening Ceremony. [Racked]

Legal Suit: Judge rules that prosecutor's ascot, "borders on contemptuous," a precedent soon to be employed in the case of Neckkerchief vs. State of Ohio. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel]

Product Placement: Adrian Grenier pimps We Are the Superlative Conspiracy with the cryptic, "Remember… remember." [TMZ]

Retrospective: 2007, the year tacky broke. [Electric Warrior]

Small Cap Investment: The Journal puts a "buy" order on the fedora. [WSJ]

Boy Toy: "How To Dress Like The Perfect Couple" by Christopher "Ashton" Kutcher. [Harper's Bazaar]

"I Remember The First Time I Had Real Sex—I Still Have The Receipt": Oh, Sebastian, you scalawag you. [GQ Style Guy]