At some point in the past, when a man wanted to manicure his small patch of land, he wouldn’t reach for a gas-powered contraption. He’d reach for something that could do the trick just as well, thanks to a little elbow grease and ingenuity: a push reel mower.
Technically, push reel mowers never left—you can find a surprisingly modernized one here—but they haven’t been popular since the days your granddad was mowing lawns for summer cash. And nowadays the only time you might even come across one is in the assortment of well-placed rusty props leaning in the corner of your favorite faux-mercantile café.
If you managed to check off the first summer must-have on our list early (see: the vintage roadster to your left), it’s probably about time for an oil change. And luckily, Gear Patrol just tipped us off to a new, handsomely packaged motor oil that’s been specially formulated for classic cars. It’s a collaboration between German oil company Mathé and auto magazine Chromjuwelen—who’s to thank for the graphically pleasing labels—which should make for a fitting addition to any well-read garage (or gear-headed desktop).
On the heels of our boot roundup, here’s a tip on keeping your boots in condition through the winter.
The gents at Leffot turned us on to a leather dressing from Montana Pitch-Blend that’s been conditioning rugged boots for 25 years. It’s a simple blend of pine pitch and mink oil—10 bucks will buy you a year’s supply and then some—but it’s enough to let you stomp through snowdrifts with a clear conscience. The oil is best if you’re ready to spread it on with a cloth, but there’s also a beeswax-based paste if you’d rather use your hands.
It’s also the closest most Red Wings get to a shoe shine, so they’ll come away with a darker, “glowing” color you usually only see in a polished wingtip. Think of it as a well-earned bonus.
Linen’s our pick for the perfect summer fabric—light, breathable, more rugged than you think—but the threat of intense wrinkling scares a lot of gents into cottonhood. But bringing rumpled linen back to the crisp look of the gentleman above is easier than you’d think. You just need a gameplan.
We wish we had a butler. In fact, it’s one of the great disappointments of our life that we do not. And, if you stop and think about it, we bet you’ll get pretty worked up about it too. But in the absence of a butler, valet, coachman, footman or personal chef, it falls to us to perform some of these tasks ourselves.
Starting with the clothes brush.
It’s a habit that’s fallen out of favor in the age of dry-cleaning, but it should be a solid part of your pre-party routine. Brush your suits the right way and you’ll add an extra level of sharpness, along with a few extra wears between cleanings. Do it wrong and you’ll leave awkward diagonal lines across the back of your favorite jacket. So naturally, we’re going to make sure you do it right.
This is how a pair of undyed leather shoes looks after a year of non-stop wear.
The story is here, courtesy of the good folks at Blackbird, who seem to endorse this kind of shoe abuse, but we see it more as a cautionary tale. A scant twelve months ago, these were bright, clean loafers, full of potential. Now they’re covered with the kind of creases and raw scuffs that cause weaker souls to run out of thrift stores in tears.
There, but for the grace of shoe trees, go all of us.
So in the interest of saving any other wayward oxfords that have yet to fall into weathered perdition, we thought we’d reiterate the one central rule of wearing in shoes: don’t wear them more than two days in a row. There are others—keep them out of the rain, keep a shoe tree or some newspaper inside when you’re not wearing them—but they pale before that one cardinal dictum.
When you ignore it 364 times in a row, you end up with something like the shoes above—great color, but a cloudy patina and too much scuffing for a shoeshine to cure. Consider yourself warned.
Despite the mind-boggling volume of men’s mag articles on the subject, shoe maintenance is never going to be fun, sexy or exciting. But, with the right set of gear, maybe it can be handsome.
This truffle leather shoe cleaning kit contains everything you need for a vigorous session of loafer scrubbing—including three brushes, two tins of beeswax polish, a rubbing cloth and a shoe horn—but the important thing here is the dopp kit style, which lets you keep it on your closet shelf without feeling like you’re prepping for a second career at a stand in the airport. It’s a radical idea but a good one: If your cleaning gear looks good enough, you might find yourself inspired to use it.