Welcome to Kempt’s #Merica Week. It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is. Fuck yeah, U-S-A.
Welcome to Kempt’s #Merica Week. It’s pretty much exactly what you think it is. Fuck yeah, U-S-A.
As far as menswear nostalgia goes, the Ivy-antihero Steve McQueen is on Mount Olympus.
From editors to designers, the man gets name-checked for inspiration as well as instruction more regularly than anyone else—but this takes it to a whole new level, because on Thursday you’ll have the chance to don the actual tweed jacket Steve McQueen wore in Bullitt.
McQueen’s brown herringbone tweed jacket, replete with giant leather elbow pads, hits the Bonhams auction block in two days, courtesy of his son Chad, along with a couple muscle cars from the family stable. And considering the jacket’s estimated to go for $600K to $800K, you might as well spring for the 1968 Ford Mustang Bullitt to match the jacket and fully channel the King of Cool. (But in a pinch, a navy turtleneck will do.)
Here’s a little history lesson for you: plain white T-shirts first appeared in the late 19th century, when some manufacturer decided to split the union suit into separates. And originally, they were meant to protect one’s finer outer layers from the perils of, well, sweat.
Like boxers for your chest.
But the rules have changed in the past century. The undershirt has, on occasion, been called to take sartorial center stage. Like before bed. Or between takes on set. Or during takes, for that matter. And throughout it all, some brave, overtly stylish men have succeeded in proving that these baser layers can be worth way more than their thread count.
In the way of warm-weather footwear, you won’t do much better than the classic canvas sneaker—known as the plimsoll to the real heads.
And this pair might be the finest example we’ve seen this season—a collaboration between the military-minded Nigel Cabourn and sneaker stalwarts Converse that’s just landed at End. Here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: Nigel Cabourn based the shoes on 1940s British military-issue sneakers, built them on a similar-era Chuck Taylor last and sourced the Ventile canvas upper from the material still used in pilot suits to this day. The shoe comes in track brown, gray and the summeriest of all: eggnog.
Who to Channel: Steve McQueen on his day off; a ’40s-era tennis player at Wimbledon; a trad on summer leave in Nantucket.
When to Wear Them: Anytime between today and Labor Day, especially when it’s feeling like a “chinos and oxford-cloth button-down” kind of day.
Degree of Difficulty: About as hard as it is to tie shoelaces. (Once you’ve done that, wear the hell out of them all summer.)
As the warm-weather gear continues to trickle into shops, we couldn’t help but notice this two-tone shawl-collar cardigan from Drumohr sticking out like a sore, overly warm thumb as it recently arrived at Unionmade.
But upon further review, the Scots over at Drumohr had us fooled: it’s a cotton-linen blend that’s knit so loose, you could almost see through it. Which seems uniquely well suited for this time of year. Here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: The legendary knitwear brand was founded in southern Scotland in the 1700s and has been a favorite among Europe’s well-to-do ever since.
Who to Channel: Steve McQueen piloting a pontoon boat; a royal of Monaco on the kind of French Riviera day when socks aren’t necessary but a little extra warmth might be nice.
When to Wear It: Right about now, and anytime a warm day cools off into the sunset as the summer approaches.
Degree of Difficulty: Medium. This is a pretty slouchy garment, so we’d keep this for the breezy-weekend-and-beach-bonfire circuit.
Desert boots have been thick on the ground in menswear circles for some time now, but you’re most likely to find them in a dusty suede or waxed brown leather.
Which is why this navy pair with a brick-red crepe sole that’s just landed across the pond at End is especially intriguing–and perhaps a better way to stand apart than going the lug-sole route. Here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: Clarks have been making the poster-boot of desert footwear since WWII—and have since become a staple in most guys’ wardrobes. This pair replaces the usual uppers with a navy nubuck and dyes the crepe a brick-red, like your favorite pair of bucks.
Who to Channel: Britain’s Desert Rats battalion in their finest dress uniforms; Steve McQueen, had he kept the boots on with his tuxedo (shown below).
When to Wear It: Anytime you would wear your suede pair. You can leave those in a dark corner of the closet until everyone starts wearing upcycled versions of the desert boot—and it’s time to go back to the originals.
Consider These: The best update to a classic you’ve seen in a good while.
For centuries, mankind has relied on sweaters for winter layering and autumn-night warmth. But beyond that, they’ve been something of an afterthought. Until today.
Because today we’re celebrating the venerable garment in all of its forms by counting down the 70 greatest moments in sweaterdom—from lumpy cardigans to clingy cashmere hugging the shapely, we’ve found them all. And we’ve assembled them in full splendor.
Every year around this time, the pantheon of fine menswear purveyors sets up shop in a warehouse deep in the hinterlands of Manhattan. And every year around this time, we trek downtown to check it out. Since most brands show clothes that won’t be available for about six months—and because the show is enormous—we decided the best thing to do was break it down, using our patented scientific formula.
The down vest has been experiencing a renaissance—in many forms—but we’re most interested in the old-fashioned armless outwear version. And this new waxed-cotton down vest from Archival Clothing is exactly that. Here’s what else you need to know about it.
The Story: The nostalgic outdoorsmen at Archival Clothing got together with Seattle’s coziness experts at Crescent Down Works to insulate this waxed-cotton vest—even the pockets are stuffed with down to keep your hands extra warm—and Centralia Knitting Mills for the worsted-wool rib collar.
Who to Channel: Steve McQueen dirt-biking on a crisp fall morning; Sidney Poitier in Shoot To Kill; Marty McFly; not the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
When to Wear It: Chopping firewood, on morning commutes that might require reaching for a subway straphanger or on trips back to the future.
Degree of Difficulty: Medium. If you’re feeling adventurous, layer it over a jean jacket—or, if you’re at Pitti Uomo, over your suit jacket—otherwise, throw it over a thick flannel shirt or sweater.
Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Groucho Marx, Palm Springs, CA, 1954
It may prove a bit tricky to duck out of the office this week for a twilight round of golf, given that we’re coming off a 10-day Fourth of July sabbatical. To tide you over, we now present, in no particular order, 18 photos of style icons spoiling a perfectly good walk.
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).
Sean Connery with stunt double Big John McLaughlin, Never Say Never Again, 1983
When the city of Fort Lauderdale recognized Big John McLaughlin, Shogun of the Sea, with a star on the Walk of Fame earlier this year, he responded, “Does one have to be alive to collect it?” It likely was not the first time Mr. McLaughlin asked some form of this question, having pioneered diving, stunt rigging and motion picture safety techniques in the late 1950s that are still in use to this day. Jaws simply wouldn’t have been a scary movie if it weren’t for Big John.
“I guess the craziest thing they ever asked me to do was bite a live tiger shark,” he reminisces. But his favorite was doubling 007 in eight Bond films, including Thunderball, in which he doubled 34 different people.
Allow us to join the city of Fort Lauderdale in raising a glass to Big John, the Shogun, and all the brave men who have kept our precious style icons safe over the years. To that end, we close the week with…
The sun has set upon another legendary Texan. You’ve likely seen his name emblazoned on the back of a Mustang GT or obsessed over his automotive masterpiece, the Shelby Cobra, or maybe even picked up a packet of his expertly spiced chili powder blend. (It’s one hell of a legacy.) The man ran on pure guts and octane—when he was a race car driver, and later in life when he changed the face of the American sports car industry. So we’d like to salute Carroll Shelby with a few iconic photos of the legend standing next to his legendary works of art. (And Steve McQueen, in the above.)
Gentlemen, a new month is upon us.
The good news is, this one features a lot more Sofia Vergara from Esquire and a 100 points of spring style from GQ, among other things. Naturally, we don’t agree with every last piece of it, so we’ve provided a running commentary for this month’s print crop, separating the sublime from the ridiculous. Consider this the Cliffs Notes version.
Easily one of the most stylish movies of 2011, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has been in our sights for a while. It’s got nearly all of our favorite things—British tweeds, outlandish glasses, a few well-placed Steve McQueen references, just for starters. So we sat down with costume designer Jacqueline Durran to find out where she dug it all up. If you’ve ever wanted to dress like a 1970s intelligence man, start here.
Christopher Hitchens with Ian McEwan (left) and Martin Amis in Uruguay via The Guardian
We spend a good deal of time here at Kempt headquarters discussing the gentleman’s style: his clothes, his facial hair, his accoutrements, etc. In addition, though, over the past year, we’ve attempted to broaden the definition of style to include his behavior as well: his adherence to a certain chivalric code, his etiquette, the words he uses, his manner of pursuing artistic and athletic endeavors, his morality, his aspirations and, inevitably, the periodic missteps that can and squander those aspirations.
While we hesitate to dip our toe into the murky, stale bathwater of year-end reviews (and while we have even greater hesitation to hurl ourselves, willy-nilly, into the business of doling out meaningless, award-less “awards”), we’re doing so anyway.
Maybe we’re slightly more nostalgic for 2011 than we’ve been in the past.
Or, more likely, maybe we’re finding the exercise of attaching superlatives to people and things and moments to be kind of fun.
Whatever the reason, we present for your perusal—in three parts over as many days—the 2011 Kempt Awards.
Culture is now officially over.
At least, that’s the premise of a new think piece by Kurt Andersen in next month’s Vanity Fair, which claims our culture stopped producing new ideas sometime around 1991.
He’s got a point, especially on the men’s style front. Swap photos of low-key men on the street circa 2011 and 1991, and it might be hard to tell which was which. You could hardly say the same for 1971, or 1951. Even the cutting-edge style pics, like the above one from Wale Oyejide, are hardly distinctive. Give or take the banker’s collar and he could be walking out of a law firm on any day in the last 30 years.
It all points to a pretty sobering conclusion: fashion is over. We hope you like those longwings, because they’re going to be with you for a very long time…
Ladies and gentlemen, this is the greatest movie poster ever made. (Admittedly, we may be biased towards Mr. McQueen.) We mention it because one of the originals is going up for auction at the end of the month, and if you need an artifact of late 60s cool, you won’t find a better one.
Well, maybe a Mustang…
This gentleman from the latest Acne show reminded us of a certain oft-overlooked detail.
It’s a simple thing, holding true for denim jackets and Harringtons alike. And it’s the source of the ineffable sharpness radiating from the pic…but naturally, you’re going to have to click through to find out what it is.
Here’s one thing we like about sunglasses: not a lot’s changed. If it looked good in ’56, it looks good now. So to help you settle on your own personal style for the summer, we’ve brought together some of the most stylish gentlemen ever to block out UV rays, together with the modern equivalent of their signature shades.
LinksUrbanDaddy DRIVEN A Continuous Lean A Headlong Dive A Suitable Wardrobe Archival Clothing Art of Manliness Blackbird Blog BULLETT The Choosy Beggar Coolhunting Cool Material DETAILS Die, Workwear! FashionBeans Four Pins GQ Hypebeast The Impossible Cool Jake Davis The Midwestyle Mister Mort The Moment Put This On Racked The Sartorialist The Selby Selectism Valet Vanity Fair Daily Vulture Wax Wane What I Saw Today Well Spent