Every Wednesday, we’re giving you a deeper look into what makes the minds behind Kempt tick. We call it: The Kempt Five.
“Sweater” is a pretty broad term.
It covers everything from the finest of gauge cashmere to the chunkiest of knit Shetland (throw a shawl collar and some elbow pads on it and you’ve got a full-on piece of outerwear). Then there’s everything in between—good for layering or on a day that might not require a jacket. So we went ahead and found the season’s six best options that should have you covered for any occasion you might encounter.
We’ve filtered through all of the online sale noise and graded your best options out there, should you feel inclined to do any menswear browsing this weekend…
For Every Stripe: The Brits at Sunspel—legendary for their buttery-soft polo shirts and tees—are knocking 20% off everything striped.
Sizes Available: A
For the Tennessean: Nashville shop Imogene + Willie is slashing up to 50% off some flannels and work shirts.
Sizes Available: A
For the Traveler: Makr’s signature slimmed-down wallets, cordovan leather gadget sleeves and other travel gear are all 20% off through Sunday.
Sizes Available: N/A
For the Rugged: The purveyors of hard-to-find craftsmanship-driven menswear at Bench & Loom are knocking 20% off jackets, coats and sweaters with the code SPRING20.
Sizes Available: A
Introducing Kempt’s March Madness bracket, wherein we pit the most iconic college basketball coaches against one another in an attempt to finally nail down who’s the most stylish of them all.
As you’d expect, it takes more than just sporting a pocket square or one nice blazer every so often to be named one of the most stylish college coaches of all time—everyone looks at least halfway decent in a suit and tie.
We were looking for coaches with a distinct through-line of personal style—and since most of these guys spent decades and multiple trend cycles on the sidelines, it usually came down to one iconic item they’d never given up. John Wooden’s thick-rimmed glasses, Bob Knight’s red sweaters or even Jerry Tarkanian’s “chew towel”—that sort of thing. Even if the pattern or cut of their sport jacket changed, that item didn’t. Which meant a guy like Jim Boeheim just missed the cut, because you might not even recognize his surgeon-cuffed look of today as the same guy who wore this in the 1970s. (Also just missing the cut: Gary Williams and his signature sweatiness.)
But there were plenty to choose from, and we just managed to cut the field down to the Sweet 16—which is where we’ll begin today, and continue to narrow down as the week progresses.
Consider this a last-minute addition to yesterday’s spring must-haves: fine-gauge cashmere.
And right on time, our comrades in style over at UrbanDaddy Perks are knocking 25% off a fine selection of spring-ready cashmere sweaters, cardigans and one exceptionally cozy-looking speckled henley from Christopher Fischer—an expert on balancing the yarn’s buttery-soft gauziness with just enough warmth retention perfect for the typical “summer in the light and winter in the shade” March day.
Clearly Dickens was pining for some cashmere while writing that line.
As menswear’s love affair with Italian tailoring runs its course, there’s been a rising trend in rumpled luxury—some have gone so far as to name it “cozy boy.” (In other words, this refined-sweatpants craze is not going away anytime soon.)
Whatever you want to call it, the gold standard of this new menswear subculture has to be Elder Statesman, this year’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund recipient. It features a collection of impossibly soft, well-made and exorbitantly priced cashmere. If draping yourself in the finest of hand-knit opulence is your thing, or you’d just like to admire a $3,200 cardigan (er, robe?), here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: The charmed life of knitwear designer Greg Chait has involved interning for Whitney Houston, dating an Olsen and stumbling into a high-level position with jean maker Ksubi. He founded Elder Statesman in 2007, making cashmere blankets for the wealthy—stocking private theaters and jets, that sort of thing—and the rest is history.
Who to Channel: Those Snuggie commercials—but while cozying up on your private jet instead of your lonely couch.
When to Wear It: This isn’t a sweater, this is a lifestyle.
Degree of Difficulty: Low/irrelevant: if you’re spending three grand on a stay-at-home sweater, you’re probably not going to listen to us anyway.
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.
The finest sweaters were born out of cultural necessity: the fisherman sweaters of the Fair Isles, the hieroglyphic-like knit Cowichan sweaters, J.Press Shaggy Dogs…
And if you were to combine them all into one sweater, you’d get something close to the Andean alpaca sweater. Coincidentally, this new collection of Bolivian alpaca sweaters from Industry of All Nations has some especially handsome examples of the 3,000-year-old craft. Here’s what else you need to know.
The Story: The gents at Industry of All Nations have traveled the world, seeking out small factories and co-ops of local artisans making quality wares—from espadrilles in South America to jeans in India. Their latest discovery was this small knitting collective in Bolivia that’s making authentic alpaca sweaters the same way they’ve been doing it for centuries—except with an updated fit and exclusive color patterns—while giving back to their community.
Who to Channel: A turn-of-the-century backpacker, hiking up Machu Picchu; a worldly philanthropist with a penchant for hypoallergenic wool; Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
When to Wear It: Consider this the holiday sweater you can wear year-round (as long as it’s cold enough outside).
Degree of Difficulty: With such a versatile piece, there should be little to no difficulty subbing this in any sweater-related situation—over an oxford, under a blazer, with jeans, with trousers. Just go for it.
The Pop Up Flea has become the stuff of #menswear legend. And it’s back for its fifth installment—but you’d be mistaken to think they’re still doing the same old stuff. This one is going to be even bigger and even better. (Trust us, we know a guy.)
If you’ve never heard of the PUF (though we highly doubt that, if you’re reading Kempt), imagine all of your favorite bloggerly things on the Internet materialized in one place: knobby wooden posts you can actually touch, your favorite shoemaker in the flesh, the smell of motor oil and vintage tweed in the air… The whole thing was conceived by Michael “ACL” Williams and our very own editorial director, Randy Goldberg, who has so graciously allowed us to pick his brain on what to expect from the three-day extravaganza that kicks off at 3pm tomorrow at NYC’s ROOT (Drive-In) studios. (And show you a few sneak peeks.)
In our ongoing campaign to help you win the holidays, we’ve come up with a list of eight integral items you’ll want handy for the upcoming season.
Some are things you can wear, some are calls to action, and some are just a state of mind. But they all add up to one hell of a festive menagerie, bound to get you in the holiday spirit. We’ve got the entire list below, but as always, you can find them anytime you’re in need of inspiration on the left side of the Kempt home page.
Your cure for this epic case of the Mondays you’ve got right now: stocking up on some new threads at Cyber Monday prices.
Basically, the entire Internet is on sale today, so there’s a lot to wade through. Luckily, we did it for you—to find the best #menswear-friendly deals in cyberspace (then we can retire the word “cyber” until next year, or forever), including a few exclusives you won’t find elsewhere…(For a few more deals, check out our friends at Urban Daddy.)
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.
Ski season has arrived surprisingly early in California—and it’s got us fantasizing about hot chocolate, snowball fights and, especially, ski sweaters.
A good ski sweater has to do two jobs well. Firstly, it must keep you warm on the slopes—fits under a jacket well, has a zip at the collar if things get too warm. Secondly, it should be lodge-worthy for a fireside après-ski amongst new friends. Like the St. Moritz sweater from Obermeyer. Here’s what else you should know about it.
The Story: Sixty years ago, Klaus Obermeyer left Germany to start a skiing school in Aspen, CO—nestled in America’s answer to the Alps—and decided he needed the sort of ski gear that was practical and handsome. (A man after our own low-tech-loving hearts.)
Who to Channel: Jean-Claude Killy; warm mugs of spiked coffee; a holiday party in a wood-paneled ski lodge in the ’70s.
When to Wear It: Aside from skiing, this should be your go-to for any sporty fall escapades: a bike ride through the woods, ice-skating, chopping firewood, carving pumpkins.
Think of This As: The Cadillac Coupe de Ville of ski sweaters.
It’s one of our favorite seasonal shifts: trading in the cotton and shantung ties for the heartier knits of fall/winter.
To lead the way, the Knottery has just unveiled their autumnal offerings, and we’re especially partial to these mélange knits. They’re the equivalent of your favorite fall sweater—that can be wrapped around your collar. They’ve also come back with a few more iterations of their Norwegian sweater-inspired tie from last year—which should also have you in the mood for some leaf-crunching underfoot.
We can almost taste the tweed.
The Michael Bastian buzz has already moved on to spring 2013 (he presented the line yesterday at Fashion Week, to the typically upbeat reviews), but here’s something you won’t have to wait six months to get your mitts on…
This cashmere sweater with a nostalgic nod to Charlie Brown (hat tip). What’s not nostalgic: there’s none of the thick itchiness we can assume Chuck was constantly dealing with in his department store wool version. This, on the other hand, is luxurious stuff made in Italy and should add a nice tongue-in-cheek between your corduroy blazer and oxford button-down.
It’s a better look than going for “the Pigpen.”
We’re fans of elbow patches in all forms. The strategically placed leather patch gives anything from blazers to cotton sweaters an extra bit of scholarly ruggedness—take these long-sleeve polos from French label LOFT design by… (that the gents of the quarterly across the pond hipped us to) for instance. The sweatshirt-leaning thickness and patches of leather put them right in fall-ready territory and could even suffice as outerwear on a day that wouldn’t require another weatherproof layer. (That day is coming sooner than we know it.)
The Cosby Sweater. Never before have a man and an article of clothing been more intimately linked. But it’s also important to remember that Cliff Huxtable’s Fruity Pebble patterns were confined to the 1980s—and a fictional character. Sartorially, young Coz (the standup comedian, the jazz drummer, the track-and-field star) made some strong (to quite strong) style choices, combining Malcolm X’s formality, Barack Obama’s collegiate ’fro and Johnny Carson’s panache. The result was (and remains) a very good thing.
Some things make you want to be a better man. Other things remind you that you already are one—like this ad for Drummond Sweaters, which ran in a 1959 issue of Esquire. Here’s why you should buy one: genuine bone buttons, hand-fashioned, and there’s no need to haul a woman up a cliff just to show off your Drummond because these pullovers look great on any level. After all, women are useful indoors—even pleasant. But on a mountain they’re something of a drag.
Indeed, it’s a comfort to know we’ve become better men.
You won’t be needing your winter coat anytime soon.
So now’s the time of year when we usually throw all our sweaters and tweedery into a ventilated box under our bed, and bring out the linen shirts and tees. But as you might expect, it can get a little musty in there, so you’ve got some cleaning to do. Don’t worry; it’s simpler than you think. After the fold, we’ve got three places to focus, to make sure you finish off the month as crisp as you started it.
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