Battenwear Camp Shirt

Battenwear’s New York made camp shirt hearkens back to a time when even outdoor pursuits were undertaken with a certain panache. It looks like something you might have found in an L.L. Bean catalogue during the company’s heyday.

Made of a soft cotton flannel, the shirt features two front breast pockets with a smaller pocket on the bottom left. But something else entirely–a pair of raglan sleeves–sets it apart. Typically, raglan sleeves are found on overcoats, so their appearance on a shirt is both unexpected and refreshingly iconoclastic.

But, for yours truly, raglan sleeves also have a practical dimension. One of my shoulders slopes a little more than the other, making it impossible to get a perfect fit in off the rack shirts. Sometimes the difference is minimal; raglan sleeves, set at the neckline, avoid those slight differences in fit at the shoulder seam.

I acquired my shirt on something of a whim. As you may recall, I was in the market for a parka, and Battenwear’s Travel Shell Parka fit the bill perfectly. I purchased one before visiting Battenwear’s Bivouac retail store, and I really hadn’t planned on buying anything during my visit.

But when the Battenwear folks showed me the shirt and I tried it on, I was hooked. It is an exceptional shirt in every way–with an aforementioned design that is so well thought out. It reminds me why American made goods are some of the most innovative (while remaining true to the precepts of classic dress) on the market today.

Fine and Dandy Shop

The American musician Scott Miller once wrote, “I’m not above cliches tonight.” So, dear readers, forgive this small incursion into the realm of the hackneyed and shopworn.

Sifting through the wares in New York’s Fine and Dandy Shop, I was like a kid in a candy store.

There is not a single thing for sale in the Fine and Dandy Shop that would not appeal to the well-dressed man. The shop has a commitment to the kind of old fashioned, independent haberdashery you see all too infrequently in these times of rampant, multinational consolidation.

Fine and Dandy traces its origins back to 2008, when it emerged as an online vendor; as it grew, it  organized popups around the New York area. By 2013, the enterprise had taken brick-and-mortar roots.

I had the opportunity, during my visit to New York last November, to visit the Fine and Dandy Shop.

First, a small word of warning. The shop is not particularly easy to get to. It’s located on West 49th Street, in Hell’s Kitchen, one of the few areas in Manhattan underserved by the otherwise excellent subway system. I came up from Chelsea (after a visit to the Dia Foundation), intending to take the M11 bus up 10th Avenue. But the traffic was so thick that I got off the bus and hoofed it to the shop on foot. I beat the bus.

It’s worth the effort.

A paean to dandyism as high art, the Fine and Dandy Shop is, despite its modest dimensions, densely stocked with men’s furnishings of just about every stripe: suspenders, ties, socks, pocket squares, sock garters, cuff links, scarves and spats. Just about everything in the shop is American made, and most of that in New York City.

I purchased an ascot, a pair of suspenders, a pocket square and, rectifying a (literary omission), a copy Take Ivy. The ascot, pocket square and suspenders are all made in New York.

The ascot is fairly light, making it ideal for spring and summer wear, although I’ve already employed it in the unseasonably warm Southeast Texas winter.

The pocket square is a beautiful, muted plaid wool challis with blue edging.

A pink and cream cotton, the suspenders are will have to wait until spring and lighter colored suiting.

Rooster Cottonit Tie

Back in the heyday of the Ivy Style, the squared off knit tie was one of the essentials. It was formal enough to pass muster at events that called for a jacket and tie yet sufficiently causal to convey an easy-going, jaunty manner.

The early 1980s, with the renewed fascination for all things Prep, were a veritable renaissance for the squared off knit tie; I owned a few. And the ur-label was Rooster; at the peak of the tie’s renewed popularity, production of the ties was a 24/7 undertaking.

Since then, the Rooster style square knit tie has made occasional reappearances on the necks of stylish men. But sadly, there is no longer a maker of such ties in the United States. Even Brooks Brothers, which maintains an otherwise ironclad commitment to neckwear made in the USA, outsources its knit tie production.

This is why the vintage Rooster versions (made in the USA) are so prized by Ivy partisans.

A few days ago, I was sifting through the wares at a thrift store up in Houston, and I lucked into one of these, a navy Rooster Cottonit. A little internet sleuthing reveals that the trademark for the Cotonit name was issued to Rooster in 1979.

Filson Toboggan

We’ve written before on the venerable toboggan (aka the woolie cap), extolling its virtues for outdoor winter pursuits.

A few months ago, while roasting in the Southeast Texas summer, I ordered a Filson toboggan, an act of not insubstantial imagination. My current cold weather hiking cap is from SmartWool, and it’s more skullcap than toboggan, with scarcely enough fabric real estate to cover my ears. The Filson cap rectifies that deficiency.

During my trip to New York City last November, the cap received its first wearing, during a hike of Inwood Hill Park and a walk of the entire length of Manhanttan. I’m pleased to report that it performed its task with aplomb, keeping my noggin warm in the morning chill.

Filson maintains a fairly strong commitment to American manufacturing. This cap is among those items that continue to be made on these shores.