Generations of Style: Continued

Warning: potential man tears ahead.

In Memoriam

Every Trad Family has a loyal companion and dear friend.

Two weeks ago, my mother noticed our family dog was acting differently. He stopped eating and drinking quite suddenly on Saturday, and his hind legs became very weak. He had been suffering from Chronic Heart Disease for the past two years. We’ve had our fair share of scary CHF episodes and emergency trips to the Vet, but this looked like the journey’s final end. My older brother happen to be planning a visit soon anyway, so he took the early flight on Tuesday to say his goodbyes (we had gotten our dog for his 15th birthday as an awesome present all those years ago, so he was the “official” owner, and probably felt the closest out of all of us.) My brother was definitely an emotional wreck to see how skinny our dog had gotten in just the few months between his last visit. We were all hoping he would pass peacefully in his sleep, but he sadly started to get violent seizures that Tuesday evening.

I ultimately made the push. No reason to make him suffer any longer, and followed the backup plan accordingly. I drove us in the rainy night. Very surreal experience.

My mother wrapped him up in the same blanket that my sister had when she¬† passed from SIDS (before my time, but she was smart to sell her position and get out, before my brother and I got to play up her middle child syndrome. Ain’t that right Big Sis ;) )

Amazing to have a nearby 24-hour animal center built just before our dog became ill. The amazing facility, staff, and doctors all heroically served as our safe landing zone in the following years, time and time again (just recently received a beautiful card and handwritten condolences to prove it.)

Thankfully we were the only visitors at that late hour. We all each held him in the hospital patient room as we waited for the Vet. I was petting his head as the Doc injected the serine. My brother and mother were crying of course, but I told them to face the back of him. I didn’t want him to see his family being sad in his last moments. I kept strong in front of his lying head; softly rubbing behind his ears as all dogs do seem to enjoy, just as his eyes drifted to sleep. Mom soothed his stomach, my brother held his paw. It goes very quickly. They each carried his now-limp body one more time, but I refused because my last memory with him was when he was alive. That’s how I wanted to remember his vessel. We left him wrapped in Big Sis’ blanket on the table. My brother and mother stepped through the hall door back to the lobby. I grinned at our little guy through the patient room’s door window. He seemed peaceful.

Very somber, but it was exactly how I wanted it to go. My brother in town and all of the people who loved him surrounding as he passes. The house feels weird now and I still catch myself not opening the garage door too fast since he used to sleep on the carpet waiting for us to get home, or wondering if I had brought him outside before his bedtime, or had given his medications this afternoon, or why I didn’t hear his claws on the hard wood this morning. But it’s been getting easier to adjust to the thought. My mother picked up his ashes and our family blanket this past week. He is currently snoring away on the dresser beside her rosary. Still keeping her company bedside, as he had done faithfully for his last tour of duty in these recent years.

As mentioned, it was a rainy night and I had drove. Exactly how it was when my father passed, when I drove my brother and I to the hospice on that rainy late night to meet my mother and grandmother. My father, who passed away 2 years ago from cancer, was very adamant against having a dog at first. He didn’t even fully adore him the way my brother and I did. Yet, Dad happened to give our dog his very namesake. And what is even more ironic? The lovely couple shared the same birthday. My brother and I used to joke with our father that we’d forget his birthday in place of the dog’s. Just like with Homer Simpson….our oddball nuclear family mirrored America’s most famous, to a tee!

Both Dad and dog learned to live with each other in a classic love/hate dynamic, or at least; Dad didn’t get as furious when he took him out to pee, and our sometimes frustrating-but lovable and enduring canine thanked him by pooping on our expensive Arabian carpet (for the fiftieth time.) And that weird bond between them kept going even after my father departed, with our dog getting his very first episode and ensuing CHF diagnosis on Dad’s one-year anniversary. Getting the last laugh in both birth and death. Although my Mom was not immune either; having his last attack on her 60th birthday. Forcing me to whisk away from the festivities and making her momentarily anguished on her own day of joy (got the Vet’s okay just shortly after I arrived, kept over for only a night.) Swear life is like a staged television comedy sometimes! “End of an era” I like to think, because our dog’s passing is sort of like a middleman point of reference between fond memories and hopeful, upcoming new chapters. The next dog I own will be shared by my children.

My brother and I were thinking of sneaking in and burying our buddy’s ashes alongside my father to keep him company, where eventually my mother will rest too. Sometime during a foggy moonlit midnight probably: we want to be sure graveyard spirits haunt our wretched souls forever after.

We like to think our dog was waiting for my brother to come home one last time. He had it in him too, since he lasted longer than all of the life expectancies my Vet gave him. Maximum was a year. He gave us two, like a Champ!

DexterRIP Dexter. 1997 – 2014. 17 cherished years!

trad familyForever part of the Trad Family ;)

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Duck Head rises from the ashes (Part Deuce)

source duckhead.com3New logo, old fashioned manufacturing

Some of you will be able to recognize one of my more subliminal but enduring themes of College Trad: my continuing education and promotion of tried-and-true Trad & Prep brands. These are the kind of niche labels that fly under the mainstream radar, and yet carry with them a rich tradition in authenticity and loyal following. Often times, they resonate with regional culture, as seen in such Porn Store, Perlis, with its crawfish logo that is ubiquitous with the prep scene in the deep south Gulf states. Or my fondness for GMP-level outfitters J.Press and Barbour, both of whom are not as hidden underground these days due to their recent explosion of re-discovery by the stylists, but are rather secluded away from popular fashion still (unlike, say Granddaddy Brooks and WASP-for-the-masses Ralph), and thus worthy of the preppier-than-thou “God Mode Preps” that I cheekily have turned into a insider meme for you guys.

From the very launch of CollegeTrad, there is one brand in particular that I have always championed. I first featured my Duck Head chinos in the introductory header for this blog, and have since made posts through the years. I speak to Duck Head’s notoriety amongst Southern Fratdaddies that can trace its lineage back to the original 1980′s Prep Era and beyond; their decline and disappearance in the subsequent years, and then finally to a phoenix reincarnation in 2011. But as some things go, that revival did not last long unfortunately, as the famous yellow and green Duck logo flew away for the Winter once more.

Only to return yet again.

Source duckhead.com

Three years later, Duck Head is going to give it a try for thrice the charm. With new ownership based in Greensboro, NC, and a more intuitive direction that catches up with our updated “back to basics” Americana tastes, Duck Head will fly once more and this time with the same domestically-made quality as it once had when the company started nearly 150 years ago.

Click image below for the new and improved Duck Head:

source Duckhead.com2

I’ll be following this re-re-launch closely and am wishing the new guys at the helm best of luck in capturing the popular audience that it once had but has not effectively garnered since. Let us all hope that this historic prep brand can catch the eye of the latest crop of college kids and young patrons! And a note to the new administration: I’d be happy to correspond privately if you ever needed my opinion for marketing research.

 

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Spring & Summer, 2014


Official party anthem of Summer ’14

I apologize for the absence of updated porn stash pics (…completely disregarded Winter ’13…), so finally here are a few select outfits I have worn in the later parts of spring through the current first half of summer for your inspiration. Keeping to the mission statement of CollegeTrad, I highlighted below a few pick clothing items that obey Rule #10.

Birthday dinner on a temperate afternoon in early April. This chino sportcoat is a repeat offender you’ve seen a few times in past articles, but with good reasoning. I think an unstructured khaki or stone colored sportcoat in cotton or linen is essential in your closet because it’s so versatile as a semi-formal jacket during the mid seasons. The lightness of the neutral tone visually compliments the warm weather and sunshine so impeccably well, creating a relaxed and airy vibe for the rest of your outfit. Great for dressing out on those fashion-forward occasions like a hot date with a classmate from your graduate program or out to a hip gastropub with your coworkers. This should be your third or fourth jacket, after the staple blue blazer and a versatile wool sportcoat (the other 3rd/4th would be a winter coat, like tweed or herringbone.) And the lightweight 14-Whale corduroy is perfect for moderate spring and autumn temperatures.

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JCrew Unconstructed Ludlow Sportcoat
Brooks Brothers Non-Iron Spread Collar Dress Shirt, Slim Fit, $35 via “3 for $179 everyday deal” plus additional 30% off Corporate Double Discount Day and stacked $20 Brooks Card Birthday gift card (originally $92)
Brooks Brothers Country Club Fine 14-Whale Corduroy Pants, $30 via eBay (originally $108)
Cole Haan Pinch Penny Loafers, $50 used via eBay (originally $158)
Brooks Brothers argyle socks, made in England
The Cordial Churchman Seersucker Pocket Square, made in USA
American Optical Polarized Original Pilots, made in USA
Hamilton Khaki Field Watch with NATO strap

 

Study brunch with friends on a humid morning. I recently scored a great wholesale deal on a few pairs of Ralph Lauren shorts in novelty colors from a JCPenny Liquidation Store, just in time for this year’s heat wave. Had them all hemmed from the standard 9″ to 7-7.5″ inseam.

20aLacoste Classic Pique Polo, inherited from my father
Ralph Lauren Oxford Cotton Shorts, $15 via JCPenny (originally $80). Hemmed to 7.5″
Rancourt & Co Gilman Camp Moc in Horween Chromexcel Leather, made in USA
Hamilton Khaki Field Watch with NATO Strap

 

Worn for Easter Sunday and again for a spring wedding. This suit is one of my best treasure finds of my budget hunting career thus far. Beautiful mid-navy sharkskin wool (the below pics don’t do it justice) that was custom made, but returned and ultimately copped by me. Will be my new fashionably forward go-to suit for formal attire. I did have to make a sizable investment to drastically tailor it, which included recutting the pants from a size 36 to 32 (waist altering can be within two inches but anymore will require a more expensive and surgical recut). Definitely well worth the extra $100 though. Total cost of the suit was about $220….originally $2300. Less than 10% of MSRP!

1a A belt with a suit is unnecessary for non-business occasions. Perfectly fine and even preferred for joyous times like a wedding, where the minimalism replaces conservative overtones that are inherent to a belt meant for the board room. Just be sure your pants waist fits like a glove, or use braces.2aThe details. In this new hyperstylized climate we now find ourselves in (a stark contrast to the pre-”mens style tumblr” days that were void of personal sartorial education and refinement), I find myself making the effort to go against the grain with what has entered the apex of the mainstream fashion demand curve. Mens accessories are a great example of this, where it seems like everyone these days has a pocket square+tie bar+lapel thingy+wrist bracelet+penis ring. This is why I have designated my own tie bar as a benchwarmer for now; worn as an occasional treat instead of as a standard practice (mostly if I am going for an urbanprep look, like a sportcoat paired with a 2″ knit tie and denim) But I still want to have a little something extra for times I want to be noticed and admired. Enter: the collar pin. This niffy byproduct reminiscent of the Gordon Gekko-ian years is a tad more subliminal than a tie bar, but still gives a wink and a smile to your gawking fans. And unlike a tie bar that is ruled by the width ratio of the bar to the tie, a collar pin works for any tie size. Worn best with a french dress shirt with finished holes at the point collar.

3The yellow socks and the yellow/navy cotton cuff links nicely compliment with the yellow accents in the tie plaid pattern and the suit’s navy blue. Dress shoes in cordovan and dark browns are the traditional match for navy suits (as well as black), so I played it safe with these burgundy Allen Edmonds Cliftons. But I think a light brown or walnut color looks good as well, even if it breaks the hard fast rules, as long as the occasion welcomes it (i.e. peacocking at your parents’ anniversary luncheon is great, peacocking at an interview is not).45Brooks Brothers errrythang…

Custom Made Sharkskin Suit in Mid-Navy, made in USA, $120 via Garland NC Clearance Center (originally $2300)
Madras Plaid Tie, made in USA
French Cuffed Dress Shirt with Tie Bar Point Collar, made in USA
Dress Socks in Yellow, made in England
Allen Edmonds Clifton in Burgandy, made in USA, $60 used via eBay (originally $295)
Bucherer Dress Watch

 

Decided to go full metal preppy for a day outing.

6aJ Press Flap Pocket OCBD, Trim Fit, made in USA
Ralph Lauren Seersucker Shorts, $15 via JCPenny (originally $80). Hemmed to 7″
Allen Edmonds Westchester Loafers in Walnut, made in USA,
$130 used via eBay (originally $385)
Leatherman Ltd. Surcingle Belt, made in USA
Seiko SKX009 Watch
Persol Polarized Sunglasses

 

One of the codes of conduct I follow in accordance to an authentic preppy lifestyle is the theme of staying “true to yourself”. It is the reason why I praise motif belts that show your hobbies, or buying a souvenir frocket tee from a favorite restaurant as opposed to Vineyard Vines. I am against fabricated representations: logo sport patches selling a brand instead of a real athletic club, predistressed graphic tees, garish oversized logos, and so on. Furthermore, this resilience to the contrived seeps into the occlusion of other cringey clothing habits. Let me illustrate: You know that one kid who walks around campus in a crimson red tee with HARVARD displayed proudly for all to see? Wait…you guys are still enrolled at William & Mary, right? And you’re pretty sure he is an undergrad student since you see him run around with a broom between his legs at Quidditch practice. Then unless that dude transferred (doubt it) then there is no reason for him to wear another school’s shirt that he did not attend, at another school’s campus no less….That kind of cringe.

But not to say there isn’t a small grey area either. I happen to have grown up in Durham, just a stone’s throw and a window cracking away from Duke University, and have quite a few connections to the institution and health system. Friends who currently attend or graduated from there, a few family members work there, I used to work there, and I see Coach K often enough that it isn’t mere coincidence. Living on Tobacco Road forces you to pick a religion (baptism into a local ACC college basketball house that is), so naturally it was easy for me to like the darker, *cough* correct *cough* shade of blue. We have no other major sports teams in Raleigh-Durham other than from the NHL, so the Blue Devils and Kevin Costner’s minor league Bulls fight for the pride of our town. I vividly remember all throughout grade school the bragging rights or the walk of shame each person had the morning after a big game. And seeing how our excellent men’s LAX team won the national title again this year, I don’t mind wearing this championship shirt around my hometown. Just not at the schools I actually attend and rarely anytime outside of NC. And I draw the line at university gear that are not team affiliated. Indeed, yes you can represent a faucet of interest in your own life as long as you can back it up with some inkling of familiar connection. I like to think of myself as a psuedo Duke alumni, even without that really really really expensive piece of really expensive paper.

TFM: interplaying casual clothing with formal loafers. Nothing frattier than lacrosse.

7a8University Bookstore T-Shirt
Columbia PFG Half Moon Shorts
Allen Edmonds Westchester Loafers in Walnut, made in USA
Seiko 5 Watch

 

Another combo suitable for a King Fratdaddy. Worn to an outdoor nature exhibit where I wanted to be in comfortable shoes.

9aSEWE Frocket
Ralph Lauren Chino Shorts, $7 thrifted (originally $70). Tapered and hemmed to 7.5″
New Balance 993, made in USA
The Game College Bar Hat
Seiko 5 Watch

 

Business casual. Fun socks to brighten up the bland.

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16Brooks Brothers Non-Iron OCBD, Houndstooth Light Blue, Slim Fit
Brooks Brothers Advantage Chino, Milano Fit
Brooks Brothers Argyle Socks, made in England
Cole Haan Pinch Penny Loafers
Trafalgar Engine Turned Plaque with with brown calfskin strap
Seiko 5 Watch

 

Dinner and a movie. Lavender (and Lilac) is one of my favorite colors for spring. Think of it as a spiritual¬†descendant of that other standard choice of vanity…Lavender is the new Pink is the new Orange is the new Black. Going for a sophisticated neoprep look, I wore my tortoise shells that match the rich tannery of the belt that match the texture of the bucks.

10Brooks Brothers Non-Iron OCBD, Lavender Gingham, Slim Fit, $35 via “3 for $179 everyday deal” plus additional 30% off Corporate Double Discount Day and stacked $20 Brooks Card Birthday gift card (originally $92)
Raleigh Denim, Jones Fit, made in USA, $110 used via eBay (originally $285)
Cole Haan Saddle Bucks, made in USA
LL Bean Chino Belt, 1″ width, vintage, made in USA
Banana Republic loafer socks
Persol Tortoise Shell Eyeglasses

 

Memorial Day church service and family picnic.

11 12The details. 13 The bowtie has a nautical theme on the reverse side. I liked how the light blue backdrop matches the oxford pants.14

Brooks Brothers Windowpane Sport Coat in Navy, made in USA
Brooks Brothers OCBD, Slim Fit, made in USA
Brooks Brothers Reversible Bow Tie, made in USA, gift
Brooks Brothers Pocket Square, made in USA, gift
Lands End Oxford Cotton Pants
Allen Edmonds Grayson Tassel Loafers in Merlot, made in USA, $100 used via eBay (originally $365)
Trafalgar Engine Turned Plaque with brown calfskin strap
Bucherer Dress Watch

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