Kempt

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Ralph Lauren Goes Vintage

Ralph Lauren is one of Americana’s most venerable institutions. He’s managed to clothe an entire nation—from the cable-knitted Northeast to the denim-on-denim’d Southwest.

And as a testament to that legacy, the brand is launching the webshop RL Vintage today. After a small army of vintage clothing enthusiasts/historians was assembled, the team set out, rummaging through the finer flea markets and antique shops to put together a veritable museum of Polo-centric Americana—well, a museum that you can actually buy things from. For the men’s offerings, you can expect a lot of suede—and even some fringe—but something we’re really looking forward to is the “Bring It Back” program that lets Polo fanatics dig through the archives and vote on pieces they’d like to see reissued. Whatever gets the most votes will actually go into production as a limited-run throwback. Currently on deck is the Polo Bear sweater, beloved by grandmothers, rappers and menswear bloggers alike.

Take a closer look at what’s in store at RL Vintage, after the jump.»

So Crazy It Just Might Work

It’s already happening. This unseasonably warm weather just keeps on getting more and more unseasonably warm. So we’ve already had to kick our yearly quest for the ultimate summer shirt into high gear.

Enter: this new Franken-shirt from Brooks Brothers—it’s part polo (with a knit collar and ribbed armbands) and part seersucker sports shirt. And it very well could be “the answer.”

Or “the shirt kept reserved for the golf course.”

Kempt Man of the Hour: Andre Balazs

Speaking of seersucker, Andre Balazs gave a pretty thorough clinic on the uses of the seersucker suit at this weekend’s Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic.

If you’re not familiar, the Polo Classic is an annual polo exhibition that lures in celebrities, the occasional prince and a nigh unmanageable quantity of Manhattanite polo fans. And since it’s all happening on a Sunday afternoon in early June, with little to no shade…things can get a little bit warm.

So naturally, Mr. Balazs switches from his usual open-collared wool suit to an open-collared seersucker suit. (Trads will object to the loafers under a suit, but we're willing to give him a pass given the occasion.) The touch that elevates it into MOTH-hood, however, is that umbrella—in case those storm clouds showed their teeth. Stay prepared, gentlemen.

Ralphwatch 2011

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Through untold acts of espionage, we managed to get our hands on Ralph Lauren’s Fall 2011 lookbook…and it’s pretty handsome stuff. Of particular note: this Chaplin-esque ensemble from the newly launched Black Label Denim line. (Yes, that’s denim and yes, those are pleats.)

Elsewhere, Purple Label dips into Prohibition-chic, tiny collars abound, and enormous socks continue their moment in the sun. We even spotted a few friendship bracelets on the polo end of things.

It won’t be in stores for a good six months, but it should be worth the wait. Flip through the haul after the jump.

Take a look...»

The Soft Bulletin

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Our main criterion for a summer polo is feel. You want it soft, breathable and light enough to pass for a t-shirt—all of which makes an undershirt company a pretty good candidate.

Sunspel has been making English underwear for 150 years now (they claim to have introduced the boxer short to England), along with a few plain-color polos. But they’re finally branching out into more adventurous styles for their new Spring/Summer crop.

This one in particular is sharp enough to pass for Thom Browne—tricolor stripes and all. And given that Mr. Browne has borrowed fabrics from Sunspel before, it’s only right.

Kempt Man of the Hour: Ben Kingsley

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Summer polo matches like last week’s Cartier International usually call for a uniform of khaki suits and lightweight gray wool, which tends to produce solid results. Sir Kingsley gets this week’s prize for bucking the trend with a powder-blue blazer, a midnight-blue shirt and weather-defying black pants.

The cotton blazer is as close to a summer staple as you get, but one in this color is a lot harder to pull off than it looks, and pairing it with ink-black pants is the kind of sartorial vision that takes you beyond the basics.

Nicely done, sir.

This Sporting Life

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Time to brush up on your jai alai skills.

This month’s Esquire features a rundown on the more obscure sports and the Brit-inspired clothes they require. This being Esquire, the labels range from Burberry to Canali to the omni-present Mr. Lauren, but the styles are much more…uniform. White pants, white knits and white sneakers are more or less the uniform from tennis to cricket. Polo isn’t mentioned, but you can probably guess what to wear»