Those of you who know Paige Denim might think it strange that such a company would find its way onto a blog that celebrates classic clothing.
Yes, Paige Denim’s products are manufactured domestically. But it is not, in any reasonable sense of the term, a purveyor of classic clothing. Its offerings are much too fashion forward, with skintight cuts, excess zippers and fabrics no lover of classic clothes would readily embrace.
But among the items Paige Denim sells, a few items can be found that would work well in a classic wardrobe. Over the Christmas break, one such item presented itself as we sifted through the wares at a store on Congress Street in Austin, Tex.–a pair of plum colored corduroy pants. Slim cut, they’re a perfect match with riding boots and a chunky wool sweater.
For nine months out of the year, those of us in Southeast Texas grapple with varying manifestations of heat. The other three months see mild to cool temperatures with occasional diversions into the downright cold.
But I’m partial to truer (and longer lasting) winters. The brace of chill against my face as I bundle up in an overcoat is one of life’s overlooked pleasures.
Perhaps, if I had to endure the seven month onslaught of a northern Maine winter, I might change my tune. But for now, the snow is a little brighter on the other side of the fence.
Still, here in the subtropics, there are a few days each year when a scarf is worn more by necessity than affectation.
A couple of weeks ago, while on vacation in New York City, I visited the Lodge Man Shop, a sliver of a commercial enterprise in the East Village offering a bevy of American made goods. There, I picked up a my second Faribault Woolen Mill scarf (the Alden Pinstripe Wool Scarf), in an orange and navy diagonal pattern. For my money, orange is the ideal color for accessories, offering just enough pop against navy, gray and brown.
The scarf has quickly rocketed to a position as the favored among my many scarves. It’s really an exceptional piece, and that’s a testament to the good people at Faribault Woolen Mill who have been making blankets and other wool accessories since the end of the Civil War. It is, in the company’s own words, “one of the last vertical woolen mills in America.”
It comes as little surprise that, when outlining the six axioms of women’s style, the Official Preppy Handbook put men’s clothing–“Either actual garments from the man’s wardrobe…or near imitations”–at the top of its list. The prep woman has long venerated certain items owned by her husband, boyfriend, father or brother. The Brooks Brothers oxford button down. The Bean Norwegian sweater. The J. Press navy blazer.
And we think what clothing company Kirrin Finch is doing fits wonderfully within that tradition. They’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to launch a line of made in New York City women’s shirts with a decidedly masculine aesthetic.
But Kirrin Finch comes at that from a slightly different perspective.
Started last year by wife and wife team Kelly and Laura Moffat, Kirrin Finch caters to women who, put simply, like to wear men’s clothes. They find that their genuine identities don’t fit neatly within the rigid gender binary of male and female. Sartorially speaking, these women favor a more masculine style, and they usually gravitate toward the more classic examples (which is why they have a special place in our hearts).
But those women have a difficult time in today’s apparel market. Shop for women’s blouses and you’re likely to encounter tops with darts or excessively frilly details. Try your luck in the men’s department, and the shirts don’t effectively navigate the particulars of a woman’s contours.
A middle ground there is not.
That gap in the marketplace led Kelly and Laura to conceive, plan and ultimately launch Kirrin Finch, fittingly named after two fictional tomboys. Although neither has experience in the apparel industry, they’re fortunate to live in a city with a number of resources to guide nascent apparel making concerns. The shirts they’ve designed bear all the hallmarks of classic men’s tailoring.
We’ve pledged our support for Kirrin Finch’s Kickstarter campaign. Once the campaign is over, we’ll have the chance to choose among the company’s seven shirt options, and production will begin at a New York City factory, with delivery expected sometime in June.
Frannie, being the planful young lady she is, has already placed a figurative check mark by her choice: a dark blue chambray with a green check contrast pocket. It’s a wonderful looking shirt with some dandyish touches, something akin to the “boyfriend” style shirt–often an actual man’s shirt–that prep women have long been so fond of.
Of note, Kirrin Finch has also expressed a commitment to environmental stewardship, manufacturing locally to minimize the energy costs associated with transporting goods, using organic cotton and shipping shirts in recycled packaging.
While we understand and appreciate the laser focus of Kirrin Finch’s approach to its target audience, we strongly believe that their product (so beautifully designed, with a nod toward classic styling) will have an even more ecumenical appeal. We can easily envision women of all stripes finding something to love about these shirts.
For several months now, I’ve been interested in giving the F.H. Wadsworth D-ring ribbon belts a try. But, based upon the measurements on the company’s website, I fall somewhere in that no man’s land between a medium and a large, so I was reluctant to make on an online purchase.
On my recent trip to New York, I learned that Frank Stella (a men’s store on the Upper West Side) had just started carrying the F.H. Wadsworth belts. I was able to try one on and nail down the particulars of my size (ultimately, a medium) before pulling the trigger.
Despite its venerable spot among the American classics, it’s been decades since a grosgrain ribbon belt has been part of my wardrobe. I’m glad to have corrected that oversight, particularly so because the F.H. Wadsworth belts are a sterling example of the form. They come in some 30 color combinations, and the construction is first-rate.
The belt I bought is called The Plum. If a little prosaic, that name is an apt description, although the main body of the belt is a little more maroon than a true plum, which suits me fine.
Truth be told, I know little about F.H. Wadsworth, save that the company’s belts are made in New York City. The F.H. Wadsworth website suggests that the company name is an eponym for its founder, although the skeptic in me thinks that moniker sounds a little too perfectly aristocratic.