Tony’s Column: Ralph v. The Brethren

 Ralph Lauren innovated the concept of fashionable lifestyle branding. This video is a perfect example of the idealistic imagery Ralph is selling (and we find ourselves enthusiastically buying!)

One of our readers had recently emailed me with a personal essay of his own opinionated narrative. It is simply too good to not share with you all, so I assigned his much appreciated message as an excuse to not only give my direct reply, but to post my own dwelling into the very topic he had brought up; going evermore deeper into the rabbit hole as I attach my resultant exploration of this subject.

The Given Prompt: How does Ralph Lauren compare to Brooks Brothers? The latter decisively being Trad&Prep’s “GrandDaddy” as our most esteemed outfitter? I now leave the Senate Floor to the Gentleman from Ralph Island [edited for publish]:

Lets Talk Ralph Lauren

“Dear Tony,

We both know the greatness of Granddaddy Brooks. However, I’m starting to believe that maybe Ralph is up there. Growing up, I watched my father wear Ralph Lauren polos, sportshirts, and dress shirts. He had a black leather Ralph Lauren wallet, which I now proudly use. Now he opts for his brown leather Ralph wallet that his old college roommate bought him. 

In the past year, I’ve spent more time studying Ralph’s clothes in stores. I had the pleasure of purchasing a beautiful gingham OCBD from a Ralph Lauren store in the Abu Dhabi International Airport during a layover. Now, we both know Ralph Lauren and his pony is very mainstream. The majority of people that I speak to about his clothes only buy them to sport a little pony on their chest. That is obviously a big turn off for someone like me that knows better. Instead, I go off to Brooks Brothers, or marveling at J. Press while in D.C. 

Now as much the brainless masses go to Ralph Lauren just because they believe the pony makes them look cool, they’re also benefiting from their ignorance. Regardless of the stupidity of Ralph’s customers, his clothes are indeed of superior quality. The polo’s that my father has passed down to me are still in excellent quality. It is so easy to look at PRL with disgust because of the mainstream crowd, but the reason why he also does well is not just his branding, but also the quality of the clothes really do speak volumes. To be honest, my decade old Ralph Lauren polo’s are doing better than my year-old Brooks Brothers Golden Fleece polos, which is very odd. Another thing I’ve noticed that Ralph does really well is the cut of his clothes. The fitting , to be frank, is more modern. That OCBD I bought in Abu Dhabi fits better and tucks in better in my chinos than my OCBDs from Brooks Brothers here. Maybe the mainstream crowd does know what it is doing with Ralph Lauren? Of course, I naturally aspire to be wearing Purple Label one day…

Sincerely, P.K.”

Foreword(I)

Thank you Mr. PK for humoring me with your correspondence and for using my blog memes to tell your position. For those with a confused and/or horrified look on his face, please refer to this glossary. And to my psychiatrist.

Foreword (II)

Master PK and I both assuredly agree with your rolling eyes. Why does it matter to decipher the relationship between Ralph Lauren and Brooks Brothers? Afterall, the following consequential forum between our two parties (The Honorable PK and Tony) involves an increased level of intuition that the  brainless masses will likewise have increased disdain for. And not that they are wrong either, since this exercise is purely out of trivial pursuit. Because lets stay grounded and be meta on our outlook…we are diving into the dichotomy of two fashion houses and their individual merits, as judged by some mystical barometer of unofficial final conclusiveness…I mean, how #firstworldproblems can we get?!

Preface

Tony would like to acknowledge Supreme Commander PK for his voluntary inquest and this proceeding forum.

Introduction

His Excellency PK purports to establish Ralph Lauren in the same grace as an already-chiseled face on our Mt. Rushmore of Greatest Trad&Prep brands. Similar to the formulating origins of the Holy Trinity, this superior mountain range of select fashion houses is known for their respective major contributions and influences to our style lexicon, and live prominently on in our wardrobes just as they had for generations before us. They are the revered tailors that you can trust your entire lifetime’s wardrobe to if need be, and Brooks Brothers is easily the utmost peak of these highly regarded few. Tony seeks to comment on Sir PK’s thought process in this reply, as well as put forth corollaries from his own narrative trajectory.

Bodied Response

Dear PK Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the Tradly Empire,

I too have had similiar fondness for Mr. Lauren in my childhood memories with growing up in my patriarchal Generations of Style. My older brother and I are the lineage torchbearers of late, carrying our namesake’s Pride of the Sartorial Arts on our chests. And oh my, what is this marked impression on our said marked chests, that overlays my family’s eternal symbol of gentlemanly guile? Yes. Of course. A champion polo player on his galloping steed and swinging his mallet towards eternal victory. Multicolored signature logo embroided on a frayed, worn-in, classic white oxford cloth button down shirt.

I just described my single most favorite clothing item out of all of the apparel in my bountiful closet. These days, it hibernates in my shirt drawer for the rare cherished moment, but more than a decade ago that shirt used to be my one and only white button down. Period. As in for all occasions ranging from casual to formal. That would be unimaginable to me now! Since right at this moment I now have more than half a dozen white duplicates hanging in my closet, from a rumpled JPressFlap Pocket OCBD to a pressed Brooks Brothers Dress Shirt with French Cuffs and preset holes for a tie pin. Yet, that original white classic Ralph Lauren oxford remains as my most cherished. Maybe it’s because it is one of my oldest items still thriving in an always-maturing wardrobe. Maybe it’s because of its authentically frayed collar and worn softness. Maybe it’s because it was originally my father’s, and hence in true tradly spirit, passed down to his youngest son out of need for a quick fix for 4th grade class photos. Then: super baggy and stiff. Present: perfectly boxy and soft from two decades of wear.

If you closely, you can spot the natural fraying of the tag, collar, and cuff. Solid Oxford Sport Shirt circa early 1990′s.

1 2 3That’s the thing about Ralph Lauren. While true that I would never put RL wholesomely with the creme of the crop Mt. Rushmore brands that make up the right-most end of a metaphorical balance beam, where traditional TNSIL weighs in at its heaviest; we shall not deny its own far reaching impact on the modern American East Coast Aesthetic. It just isn’t on Mt. Rushmore simply because Ralph came in a tad too late to be considered a real heritage brand. ie) Your grandpa wore Hamilton OCBDs when he was a freshman at Ohio State in 1967, when Ralph was only a mere tie collection in that year of its birth. Mr. Lauren would not catch Gramps’ eyes as a fledgling newcomer until probably the mid-1970s at its very earliest of its fledgling popularity, especially since the Pony really found its groove as it stampeded into the original prep era of the ’80s. The Pony gave us the initial reason to be self-conscious of logos, as a serious contender to that other big competitor in Lacoste’s Crocodile. Then Ralph innovated his multimedia platform through the years by emphasizing the WASP lifestyle, which effectively brought high class tastes to the availability of the mainstream masses. This new approach to lifestyle marketing is what Ralph Lauren is best known for, with the flagship Polo Blue Label becoming one of the most prominent brands that built its reputation on projecting dreamlike imagery. Making the once-unattainable preppy look, perpetrated by the WASP elitists who shopped at the likes of Brooks and Press, and now accessible to the rest of us commonfolk who did not live within a twenty mile radius of Hyannis Port. In fact, the classically interpreted “Polo Shirt” as the mainstream masses know it today may as well be in the same reference to a Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt, by way of brand generification over the past three decades that Ralph climbed the unclimbable Mt. Rushmore and graffitied its Pony Logo all over his Granddaddy’s monolithic face.

Again, it is this aforementioned timeline why I can never technically label Ralph as an American Heritage Brand. Which means RL will never be considered to be in the same grouping of tradliest outfitters in terms of outright birthright. Grandaddy Brooks obviously rules them all with an 1818 establishment and its multitude of clothing inventions that are taken for granted today (including the OCBD – the Original Polo Shirt as we already know it to be). Yuppy twin peak, that is also a choice favorite of GMPs, set up his shop in 1903 with Jacobi Press’ founding across Yale University. And so on. Hamilton Shirts in 1883. The Alden Shoe Company in 1884. Gant in 1949. You see where I am getting at; I guess we can call Ralph Lauren one of the oldest neoprep brands with its 1967 arrival, if we applied the very neoprep definition loosely in this light.

But going with that same logic, Mr. Lauren is easily the greatest of the neoprep brands, no? We can start off with the origin story already mentioned earlier, and shadow RL Polo’s rise to fame in the original prep era that helped it eventually become synonymous with the classic American WASPy lifestyle – whether in truth or not – that is how it is perceived by the mainstream majority. He certainly outlasted Tommy Hilfiger and other rivals, in that epic High Stakes Race for the champion breed of lifestyle branding over two decades ago. We all remember Leo’s portrayal of New Rich Jordan Belfort and his money-making scheme set in the early 1990s? I like to think the movie costume below was decided upon with educated precision, since the Pony was still somewhat exclusive in those pre-mensfashionblogosphere days. Justifiably equipped for a nonchalant scene of a yuppie on his big yacht. Unlike now, when that same Pony can be found sitting under a dust cover in the clearance bin at a Ross Discount Store.

Toast to a time when the Pony was once praised.

source wolfofwallstreetI pay credit to Mr. Lauren moreso for his ingenuity than for what questionable items of his I can buy at Macys. His lifestyle branding and vertical implementation is unparalleled in stature compared to all the other fashion houses, much less Granddaddy Brooks in particular. Polo Blue Label is Ralph’s ambassador, serving as a homing beacon that introduces new customers into a world of an idealistic preppy livelihood. Then once he has you hooked on his version of a WASP Heaven, he has you riding on Blue Label’s saddle to his latter end luxury diversification. Mr. Lauren’s brilliant portfolio is why we now have the pleasure of wearing (or in my case “waiting desperately for the day I can wear”) luxurious apparel from the RL Black and Purple Label variety in a fashion-forward sentiment I can actually agree with. These campaigns have marketed lifestyles that are less Blue’s Harvard Row Team and more Black’s New York City Sophisticated and Purple’s Excelsior Class, and lead to why I have a strict allegiance to Mr. Lauren even if I continuously rebut 90% of Blue Label’s collection in my recommendations. I see it for what it is: Ralph Lauren is a fashion-forward brand through and through, and the very best American mainstream brand in my discerning opinion at that. We cannot deny the success he has built upon feeding a fantastical illustration of our beloved Trad&Prep affliction (and other Americana visions like with Western and Native American themes). There is a reason he is chosen to represent the USA Olympic Team. So Blue Label may have gone too downhill for our advanced groupthink in the name of appeasing an authentic form of Trad&Prep, but credit should be payed when it is due.

Ralph Lauren’s Olympic uniforms are often misunderstood by the brainless masses. “Too preppy, too old looking, too ugly!” But we shall not place blame too easily, since not everyone knows the nuanced impact that Ralph has as the definitive American Designer. “Why the preppy old world look?” the indoctrinated exclaim. Because that is what we Americans do best. This uniform of blazer and chinos is our nation’s export to the global fashion scene when a semi-formal kit is needed. Italians have their dandy soft fit suits, the Germans have their skinny dark muted suits, and the Americans have gold buttoned double breasted blazers in a structured but formed fit. Beret, white chinos, and club collars in ode to sporting regalia of days of yore.

Team-USA-Olympic-uniforms--Ralph-LaurenThis all condenses to a blanketing conclusion that reflect my sum of feelings about Ralph. If I want an updated outfit from the newest runway collections, I look to Mr. Lauren as the credible source for American fashion-forward design. He is the guy that competes against other vogue designers like Gucci, Prada, and Valentino. Not Brooks Brothers. Not JPress. Not Hamilton. He is our nation’s champion facing the whole of European secularism. So in terms of where Ralph fits in the grand lexicon, if the Mt. Rushmore of heritage brands are on the farthest traditional right in our distinguishing spectrum, then Blue Label is placed somewhere at the focal point that is not to trad for mainstream appeal, and Black and Purple come in at the farthest creative left that make up the “looking ahead” runway fashion front.

As Royal P.K. mentions, we can look to Ralph for ushering in the newest sartorial aesthetics in contrast to our olde-world TNSIL persona. Mr. Lauren gives us the updated personalized fits and quality sourced from all majestic corners of the world in support of his massive reign over the luxury apparel segment. Although I won’t go as so far to necessarily agree that my own Blue Label articles are any more superior to my Brooks paraphernalia (though I’d easily stand by a USA-made Brooks OCBD.) And almost by sweet irony, we now find heritage brands being the one playing catchup. Whereas Ralph Lauren was the aspiring newcomer who mass produced his own copy of the providence lifestyle that Brooks and other tradder than thou tailors sold to the Olde Money New England Brahmins, we now find Ralph leading the contemporary front and Mt. Rushmore crumbling behind. Out with the old. In with the new. The Noveua Rich of today seem to be exponentially growing in number, especially from the international front, and they want the newest designs to satisfy their thirst for haute fashion. Which Ralph had positioned himself to garner long ago. I am willing to bet RL’s womens collection easily outsells Brooks, just as Purple Label probably easily chosen over Brooks Golden Fleece in any affluent market outside of stuffy Washington D.C. (arguably the St. Alamo of the #1 Repp). We find JPress and Grandaddy Brooks only recently introducing their own lines of fashionably forward and youth-oriented diversification to keep up with changing customer demands: York Street ,Thom Browne’s Black Fleece, and Flatiron & Red Fleece….(Though it is important to note that RL Rugby, which would have been York St. and Red Fleece’s direct competitor for the youthful and fashionably preppy market, was the first to establish in 2004 but had since liquidated in 2012 due to a directional strategy by Ralph Lauren to concentrate its resources away from a small niche to the more profitable international market for luxury goods. Only time will tell if Press and Brooks’ entry into the questionable niche market that Rugby left will prove to be profitable)…Other heritage brands have followed en suite, such as Gant collaborating with Michael Bastion at the helm of its newest relaunch into the luxury segment a few years back. All the while, Ralph having already made his name in cornering both the mainstream and the fashionably elitist crowds for quite some time now. Simply no other outfitter can match his monopoly on today’s version of the American East Coast Aesthetic.

Ralph likes to make a grand statement in his marketing campaigns that match the grand depictions he sells his clothes by. Welcome to the World of Ralph Lauren. Bold print captioning a snapshot that offers a glimpse of the exemplary American lifestyle. Here, a seaside polo match. Vintage Mercedes to match a sporty vibe of long tie with shorts. Too contrived for the real world? Yes. But you are not copying this handsome dude’s outfit per say, but instead you are dressing to his WASPy decorum. Ralph is conveying more than just a need to buy his clothing. He asks you to commit to this ultra romanticized vision in fortifying spirit.

source art8amby.files.wordpress.comYou can spot entire folds of RL print ads in high brow publications like The New York Times and Vogue, whereas Brooks and the other heritage brands had rarely done so in the modern era until perhaps very recently.  source httptheefface.blogspot.comWomen fashionistas resonate with the slender contours that often seem to explode right off his print ads. Notice the common themes here: Attractive feminine models in juxtaposition of powerful prose. Again, Brooks loses out to Ralph in approaching high end womenswear.

urlNacho Figueras as the face of Black Label.

soure httpfashionindustryarchive.com

Epilogue

Where does that leave me at the end of this thought process? I’ll let my wardrobe speak for itself: My current Polo Blue Label pieces are typically my second tier players that support the staples. Meaning if you had all of the basics I recommended in my Starter Guide, then you can now explore other alternatives such as from that of Blue Label.

Conclusion #1

Ralph Lauren, especially Polo Blue Label, is one of our primary solvents for all staples in your closet. This is in addendum to the special brands that I recommend for specified and original items as your go-to’s (i.e from The Guide and Ask Me sections).

For instance, if Bill’s Khakis are your go-to chinos, then Ralph’s Khakis can certainly be your backup for when your M3′s are worn out and sitting in the laundry hamper. However, if you could choose a single pair of Nanny Red Chinos, then you would opt for Murray’s Toggery Shop as the authentic proprietor of red pants. Only your second pair can be from RL. Do you see what I am getting at? Let Blue Label fill in the cracks of your wardrobe.

Classic Fit Preppy Chino

Source Polo.com1

Conclusion #2

Ralph is a fashionably-forward brand at its core, meaning it is one of our regular mainstay sources for unique and “fun” seasonal items.

My “fun” shorts in summer casual patterns, like gingham and plaid, are most all Blue Label that I was able to stockpile over the years from department store clearance sales.

Straight Linen Gingham Shorts (**Hurry, reduced to $24 from $89 as of this posting!**)

source Polo.com2Conclusion #3

Polo Blue Label may be a common denominator for the mainstream masses, but the upsides are its easy availability and subjectivity to great discounts. Just know which items to incorporate (ex. basic chinos) and which to avoid (ex. articles with oversized Pony logos, as well as generally the infamous Polo Shirt due to its extreme ubiquity among the brainless masses).

Blue Label is essentially a mall brand. Polo is regularly seen across the country in department stores and outlets, unlike many of the heritage brands that only have a few boutique locations in select focus markets (ex. JPress found only in New Haven, NYC, Boston, and DC). This is a good thing in that you can easily drive to your closest shopping center to acquire basic apparel with the added advantage of a good chance of a clearance sale. Many major department stores offer the best reductions when the timing is right, as for example with Macys and Belk often honoring stackable coupons. This makes Ralph Lauren one of the very few labels that I actually do appreciate as a mall brand (unlike Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, and other such causes of my contempt). The majority of my Polo collection were purchased at great discount in continual ode to Rule #10 from The Guide.

Conclusion #4

One of the main blog themes is: Go with the brand that innovated first. I look to Mr. Lauren for the pack leader of runway looks that have an American influence. He is the epitome of sartorial artistry for high fashion meeting Trad&Prep influence.

His global empire speaks for itself. Yeah, I do ask that you stay away from your tenth Pony Polo shirt and opt for a Golden Fleece instead, but that’s because I want you to strive for an enlightening that separates you from the brainless masses. Still, we cannot overlook the Pony’s world wide effect either in Ralph being our one true Trad&Prep Ambassador for today. Because of him, we have an international prep in Abu Dhabi who look just as regal as his Massachusetts penpal at Philips Academy. Perhaps you are reading this very article within European or Asian borders in growing interests of the American preppy and traditional look (if that is the case, welcome to the blog!) I am betting that you had placed RL as one of your top brands to shop from, because really and truly, that brand is one of the few that you actually know of. Proving Ralph’s international popularity over the heritage brands.

Polo Blue Label is where Trad met Prep met Mass Marketing. Others have come and gone riding on that lifestyle pony (*cough* Tommy *cough*), yet Polo remains THE preppy outfitter to plebs and kings alike. Mind you, this is the exact reason why I want to transition you away from all-to-common Blue Label Polo shirts and humongous Pony logos that take up half of a shirt, because those exact plebs and kings usually makeup the mainstream masses that I always enjoy ridiculing. But nonetheless we can still look to Ralph Lauren as a proven one-stop supply. Just try to keep with authentic clean cut pieces by staying away from the contrived (i.e. Tyler Shorts look good on the campus of Furman University. False Athletic Patches on a predistressed Rugby Shirt – do not.) As alluded to earlier, I typically like 10% of Blue Label offerings in their simplicity and/or uniqueness. These are the items that have absent or unnoticeable logos, are not sandblasted or predistressed, and do not have fake rugby patches. The rest that do can be left on the discount rack.

Climbing up from Blue Label to the next rung on Ralph’s ladder of vertical integration: I like Black Label for an urban, upwardly mobile type who just oozes sexy manliness. He is the kind of guy who sips brandy as he reads WSJ and relaxes on his Eames Lounge in his New York Upper West Side penthouse on 55 West 81st Street. There is a reason why esteemed polo player Nacho Figueras is the face of Black Label, since his chiseled looks and graceful aura exemplifies Black so well. If Patrick Bateman were, well real first of all, and lived in our 2014′s “sophisticated personal style” timeline and not in 1986′s “full-metal-WASP” era, then he would be wearing Black. And for the record, I place Black miles above the Grandaddy Brooks standard line in regard to this modern approach, with maybe the Black Fleece akin in exclusive nature.

The 1818 Fitzgerald is my recommended go-to for your starter suit. But when you eventually climb the corporate ladder and have enough disposable income to branch out, then Black Label is one of my top places to look for an even higher bar than where the 1818 line is set. Black exudes confidence with the Label’s typically sharp lines in an aggressively tapered silhouette and slightly broad shoulders. You won’t see the usual GTH colors here like you normally would with Polo Blue. Instead, Black Label stays true to its name with a dark palate of sleek suits. You are not going for the WASP look, but instead the Cosmopolitan Man who commands his destiny. Perfect for when you broker a multimillion dollar acquisition deal as your firm’s rising star hotshot.

On my to-buy-whenever-I-reach-well-into-the-six-figures list is the Anthony Suit. Much like how Brooks Brothers has the Fitzgerald and JCrew has the Ludlow, the Anthony is Black Label’s slim fit stronghold.

source Polo.com3Purple Label, on the other gold ring-clad feeding hand, is strictly for the top brass executive who loves the very best that Earth has to give, such as exotic leathers and supple fabrics (okay, the Seven Natural Wonders too). This refined older gentleman drives his Rolls to the Hamptons getaway estate on the weekends when he isn’t jetsetting to his pied-à-terre in Hong Kong. Maybe slightly above Golden Fleece, which is extremely luxurious as The Bretheren’s Cadillac label as it is; only because I put Purple in the most sublime order of menswear tailors. Purple Label sits comfortably next to the likes of Brioni, Cuccinelli, Kiton, Oxxford, and any one of the Savile Row Masters.

That Youtube clip in the title of this article sums up how I feel about these two Labels: Pure Elegance.

$4500 for a white dinner jacket I can wear maybe once every two years? I’ll buy five.

Source Polo.com4

PostScript

Look to the World of Ralph Lauren for the in-betweeners. For the “so ridiculously reduced in price that you would be insane to NOT buy a third pair of kelly green pants”. For the Cosmopolitan. For the Sublime. While Brooks Brothers is the top billed actor who headlines the stage, Polo Blue Label is your supporting cast whom the star owes his brilliant performance to. Black Label is the handsome fella’ sitting front row wearing a peak lapeled tuxedo and holding the soft hand of a Victoria Secret Angel. Purple Label is the benefactor that owns the whole damn theater.

Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire – See more at: http://www.debretts.com/forms-address/titles/knight#sthash.PmNy330B.dpuf

 

 The Uniform. My cherished RL Sport OCBD paired with RL Classic Fit Flat Front Shorts (tapered and hemmed to 7″).IMG_0573

Share on FacebookPin it on PinterestSubmit to redditSubmit to StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Twitter

Joys of Hunting, Part II

First posted a few years ago, this updated editorial celebrates our continuous sartorial Hunt of Patience & Virtue, in the endearing fortitude of Rule #10. Looking good does not have to cost an arm and a leg and a kidney and half your soul. When you want a particular item, no matter how rare and expensively out-of-reach it may appear, you have to keep marching forward no matter the monstrous size of the task. And maybe one day, whether it be a month or a year from now, you’ll taste the satisfaction of playing the long game. You’ll will certainly lose many battles along the way, but you will be the ultimate winner in your personal vengeful war. Don’t let the House win. The game is all yours to overcome.

What I am actually talking about? In the continuous mission of proving to you the reader that style can indeed be had on a budget, I present to you my latest victory as a prime example of Rule #10 in action.

From my sunglasses article, you will know that I have a huge fondness for Persol eyewear. I own the PO2965V in “Havana” Tortoise Shell as my fashionable prescription pair, and the James Bond-esque PO2803 in polarized Black shades. I wanted to complete my Persol addiction with one more pair that serves as a topstone jewel to my Italian-bred pyramid of eye protection. And once I get in my head this kind of bloodlust, I start an unrelenting Hunt for it that will not end until the trophy is mine. Moby Dick had his Great White Whale. I have my Persol 714SM.

source httpgearpatrolcomwp-contentuploads201210persol-714.jpgSome background history: The 714 is arguably the most iconic frame design in the history of eyewear. Our Patron of Cool, Saint Steve McQueen, made the 714 model (along with the classic 649 that is an icon in its own right) world-famous almost half a century ago in the movie The Thomas Crown Affair, seen with the the above instantly-recognizable cinema still. The dual designs have since been inspiration to many other venerable eyewear outfitters. If you see any modern pair of sunglasses with a “bug eyed” circular appearance and/or an angular “keyhole” nose bridge, then it has the 714 & 649 signature blueprint written all over it. The 714 also is known for its trademark collapsible engineering that allows it to be doubly-folded internally for portable use, say in your pants instead of your chest pocket like with your other regular single-folded frames. Countless other modern generations of the Hollywood Elite have been seen sporting the wide-eyed portfolios that Persol is so known for, and that all started with the 714, as in direct contemporary homage of our Patron Saint; with Efron, Brown, and Gosling, among others.

To celebrate Saint McQueen’s famously attached name to the Persol brand (as he is to other 1960s/Mod-era imagery: turtlenecks with sportcoats, suede desert boots, and so on), the house that gave us the Supreme Silver Arrow introduced a few years ago a special edition offering of its popular mainstay 714. The limited quantity series designates itself with the “SM” label, that obviously alludes to the holy man’s namesake, and comes in special pairings that differ from the standard produced 714 line. Namely, the unique features include an extra Supreme Silver Arrow on the midlength of each temple that makes up the internal folding hinge. This is the most noticeable identification of the special edition, as you’d see not one but two Supreme Silver Arrow logos on the sunglasses’ side profile, while the normal 714 only has a small unassuming metal hinge for the folding mechanism. The SM folds its arms horizontally inward while the normal 714 goes downward, and lastly, the SM comes with special edition packaging and a light grain leather carrier pouch with “Steve McQueen” imprinted on it.

Additionally, the SM version was made in exclusive color trims that are not available for the standard series, with the most quintessentially recognized being the Havana Tortoise Shell with Blue Tint lenses. Affectionately called the “Honey” trim by groupthink sourced from our fellow community of online menswear enthusiasts, this specific trim represents what I believe is the single most prized item in the entire Persol collection. If Persol is the most supreme name in eyewear, and if the 714 is the most supreme design in eyewear history as worn by the Patron Saint of Cool Himself, and if the 714SM is the supreme special collection that was limited produced in His Honor, and the Honey is the most supreme trim of them all; then the Honey is the supreme trim of the supreme collection of the supreme design of the Supreme Silver Arrow that is the supreme name in the whole of eyewear spectrum.

And this was the supreme pair of sunglasses I began my Hunt for.

Say it again – impossibly cool. Notice the double Supreme Arrows on the temple that I had spoke of. The 714SM is as close as an authentic reproduction to Steve’s own pair from five decades ago.

mcqueen 714What makes the Hunt so nearly impossible to beat, hence rising the stakes and eventual winnings, are the parlay stipulations that go into the joys of the game. See, I can just as easily buy the 714SM for retail price and be done with it. But that isn’t the point, right? That would be a hypocrisy of Rule #10, as well as a major blow to my personable budget. No no no! I had to win in a honorable way that I could be proud of, making the taste of winning that much sweeter. Therefore, I officiated my rules for the championship match:

1) MSRP for a store purchased pair of the 714SM is $400. I will find my new or slightly used pair at less than $300. Granted, this is still a lot of dough for my own strict budget, but $300 is the ceiling dollar amount I was willing to spend for such an exclusive item that the 714SM is. Plus, I know that unlike a few other articles in my wardrobe, these sunglasses were built to last in both timeless design and quality. Truly is one of those privileges items that you can wear fifty years from now and still look good, as we have already seen proven by the 714.

2) The supreme Honey is my only choice. No other trim will satisfy the craving.

3) The 714 comes in size 52 and 54. My initial coordinated research lead me to the deduction that the 52 was the best size for most heads, as apparently the 54 was portrayed as too large by groupthink in longer width and consequently taller height. This made the Hunt even tougher, since the 52 was made in less quantity than the more readily available 54. Still, I kept to my guns and focused on finding the supreme 52.

4) The SM series came out around circa 2010, with only a few reissues since then (mostly in size 54). The original Honey came without polarized lenses while subsequent updates did. I wanted the updated version.

Yummy Honey.

source persol.comI went out on my epic journey with these four unrelenting boundaries in mind. My departing Bon Voyage was almost two years ago, with the bow set on finding the rarest Whale of them all.

Moby Dick and I encountered much rough seas and near-catches. There was the occasion early on, when I thought I caught my White Whale on an eBay listing set at under $300, but it turned out the final bidding had reached just over $350 at the last few minutes. There was the time that I found a member on the StyleForum exchange selling his 714SM at a great deal, but unfortunately turned out to be the Dark Brown trim and not the Honey Havana I desperately wanted. On and on it went like this. There were periods that I gave up, only to restart once again my weekly search on eBay and Craigslist and my favorite clothing forums. On multiple occasions did I find almost everything that fit my criteria, with usually just the size 52 requirement being the regretfully lone absentee. Frustration came and went. Outbidded here. Unrecovered there. Would this White Whale ever come within my sights? Will I ever get the satisfaction of defeating my adversary, or will I be swallowed up by my own maniacal cause, just as Moby had?

Flash forward to three weeks ago. I made a bid on my coveted Honey on eBay. $290 in a slightly-used quality. Only to end at $350 by a fury of eBay sniping at the last moments. Crushed yet again.

But then a week later, I happen to wake up at the crack of dawn to start the work day. This was unusually early for my weekday habits. There I was, sipping on my daily cup of steamy joe and watching the morning news, when I decided to check my eBay App on my iPhone on a haphazard whim with no particular heading in mind. By now, my 714SM search was my top-listed “Starred Favorite” (amongst other presently ongoing Hunts) that automatically checks for the latest listings I had not seen yet, which *protip* is a rather helpful setting on the App. Again, this was quite unusual for me to do this time of day, as I am barely awake to groggily type anything into my tiny sized phone-computer-camera-source-of-life. But perhaps it was a blessing sent down from the Sartorial Heavens by the Patron Saint of Cool Himself, as there it was at the top of the query results! “Buy It Now” for the steal of $275.

Wait, can it be? Check the criteria. 714SM, and not the regular series nor the 649, as many eBay selling tricksters try to put off as? Yup. Havana Honey? Yes. Size 52? Holy crap, affirmative! Quality? Brand new…seriously? Wait, not a fake? From a reputable powerseller which thousands of reviews and a return policy. Could it be? It took me all but two minutes to triple check the details and pull the trigger. Enter Paypal code. Confirmed. Will ship within two days.YESSS!  Two years of searching for two days of highly anticipated delivery for two seconds of pure tradgasssmm.

2 miracles to become a Saint. 3 miracles to become The Patron Saint of Cool. “Buy it Now” was my first saving grace. If it were set to “Bidding” then I would have undoubtedly been outbid to over the $300 ceiling, just as I had a week prior. The second miracle I figured was that the seller had made the listing just moments before I checked my smartphone that early morning, as I knew for a fact it was not prior listed from a search that I ran that exact last night, and this listing would have been probably sold to someone else by lunchtime. Afterall, I knew the rarity of this trim and size coupled with that kind of bargain would go by all too quickly. There were already 3 watchers on that listing. Sucka’zz! Waited too long! And my last miracle was that the seller and I were in the EST time zone, meaning that only a few of us lucky CONUS Americans living on the East Coast were up at the crack of dawn to see that posting. My Central, Mountain, and Pacific competitors were still sound asleep.

I thanked Patron McQueen and prayed 10 Hail Prince of Wales affirmations for my gratitude. The Hunt was done after nearly two years of sweat and tears. My sunglasses collection is now complete for all intents and purposes, since I really don’t need anything else. My American Optical Original Pilots are my cheap but durable daily drivers. The Persol 2803 is my sleek sophisticated pair. Those free Ray Ban aviators that I luckily found on the beach are sitting at the back of my closet for that once-a-year opportunity I actually care to wear them. My Bolle sport shades are in my glove compartment for my afternoon runs.

Finally now, the holy grail trim of the  Persol 714SM in Havana finishes out my stable of pure bred champion racers. As my most fashionably forward pair, the 714SM is the peacock of the hardy bunch. I can see these complimenting any occasion. Spring picnic at Central Park in a green gingham and tan wingtips. Summer vacation to the French Riviera in a white linen suit. Lounging in an Aspen ski cabin in a tweed overcoat and burnt orange corduroys. Perhaps this upcoming autumn, in the spirit of Mr. McQueen, I will take a drive through the Appalachians in a black turtleneck and plaid prince of wales sportcoat, with the brown Havana frame mirroring the earthy tones of foliage. These 714s are my flagship in my personal eyewear collection, just as it is the flagship paradigm that captures all of the ideals that beset the extraordinary ethos of the Supreme Silver Arrow.

 

CollegeTrad Recommends:

If you can’t wait for two years like I did on eBay, then you can buy the Havana 714SM at only a few select approved retailers. For the 2014 S/S Season, Persol came out with a small reissued batch, with the two below presently selling them as of this posting date.

SunglassHut. $400. Only currently offered in size 54.

Mr. Porter. $400. Both 52 and 54 are currently available. Better hurry though, since Mr. Porter typically features merchandise in sampled showcase with only a limited quantity.

*Protip: If you do buy from a third party then remember to look for the identifying details that separate the SM from the standard 714 series that I described earlier.

As taken from my IG.

Persol 714SM CollegeTrad

Game. Set. Match. Next!

 

 

 

Share on FacebookPin it on PinterestSubmit to redditSubmit to StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Twitter

The Engine-Turned Plaque Belt

8Always keeping an eye for the details

One of the most headache-inducing themes that I see from clansmen who are unknowingly part of the Brainless Masses Tribe (a proud native people who make up a sizable population, where common behavior includes cultural propensities for loving guns, eating burgers, and watch adult males in tights and helmets take out human aggression on a “grid iron”, and who are common throughout all regions of the United States of ‘Murica) is the natural predisposition to think that BIGGER IS ALWAYS BETTER. You see examples of this dated mantra everywhere. A monolith chronograph watch that your street smart friend, who likes wearing a flat billed baseball cap with the metallic sticker badge still attached, likes to have on his wrist when heading out to the club and then makes his shoulder joints sore by the end of the night. Your family’s longtime insurance agent who you have only seen in a saggy polo shirt tucked into triple pleated droopy slacks. Your weird uncle who is still stuck in his adolescent golden years with wearing a suit he bought in 1977 that is colored like an Easter egg and has airplane wings for lapels for your cousin’s bar mitzva. And this theme is not always taken in literally either, as it can be applied metaphorically too. Like that suburban MILF who you see tanning at your clubhouse swimming pool from 2pm to 5pm every day before she needs to pick up her daughter from soccer practice, who is probably 36 but looks 44 because of the sun damage; who drives in a monstrous white Escalade that is needed for its trunk space, not for their one child, but for the weekly even she has to pick up a special ordered dinner set for her McMansion’s dining hall. Or your regular brandwhore who has to show off Mr. Lauren’s Pony on his chest that is noticeable a half a mile away.

Evolution of Ralph Lauren PonyGood thing you and I are on a elevated civilized stature than those uneducated savages yapping below. We don’t need to flash signs of wealth to show we have class. Bigger is not always better, with the guiding principle we follow being: Understated Is Better. Because it isn’t about quantity or logos in making sensible sartorial decision, but rather keeping to the heart of if all, where choosing a specific clothing item over another is based on logical reason in placating yourself, as opposed to others. You care not to show off multiple logos or wear a huge time piece to win favor. Since, in our tribe of advanced collective groupthink, we don’t put as much emphasis on such trivialities; caring more for the minimal, the durable, and the versatile.

The audacity of “Bigger is Better” is never more true for men’s accessories than for any other wardrobe topic, with two specifically in mind. I’ve already used the example of a bling bling bling bling 60mm diamond-encrusted wristwatch that would make Chamillionaire proud. What is the other accessory that has fallen victim to continuous physical sizable upgrade?

Belts. For the love of all that is good and peaceful in this increasingly-turbulent world, can we please talk about Belts? I take issue with the insistence of most guys wanting a larger belt width and buckle size, specifically for dressing up. This issue gives me heart palpitations, friends. I cringe every time I see it, which is daily sadly. Meaning your huge ass belts are dangerous to my health as a walking heart-attack-waiting-to-happen.

Your leather belt wasn’t supposed to be 1.5 inches in width and have a metallic buckle large enough to catch radio signals from space. These kinds of belts belongs nowhere in a modern closet. Which is why its a good thing that in recent years, thanks to the Americana movement and the return to common sense, has the offering of wide belts and huge buckles from mall brands and tradly outfitters alike toned down. Yet, even those of us who know the difference between a boat shoe and a proper dress captoe when deciding what to wear to an internship interview, still sidesteps the obvious mistake of adorning an ugly black belt that is as wide as it is plastic-ey and cheap looking, in the belt loops of a pricey Brooks Brothers Milano Fit suit he took extra attention to tailor in precise accordance to CollegeTrad recommendation from yours truly. Little does he know that this one subtle but costly detail can Make or Break his otherwise dapper appearance as much as Sperrys in place of Allen Edmonds Park Avenues would do in equal damage. What good is all of the recommendations I give if a small aspect that has potentially disastrous consequences like this topic at hand spoils the whole outfit in its mishandling?

The Guide endorsed a starter set of belts and attached laws that govern a belt’s proportions. Leather belts that you’d wear for any occasion that gives the slightest of hints to a formal dress code (whether it be that earlier mentioned internship interview, a normal day at the office, or a fun sorority formal on a cruise en route to the Carribean) should always be between 1 to 1 1/8 inches in width. There is little exception I allow in this regard, given the preset factors of the leather dress belt in question, and I’ll even go further in highly recommending belts only 1″ in width. Notice how this practically rules out a noticeable share of belt selection that is currently offered in today’s market for menswear accessories. Even brands that I am generally affable towards often times sell questionable inventory. The LL Bean’s Chino Belt, Allen Edmonds’ Manistee, and the JCrew’s Classic Buckle Belt are at or above the industry longstanding marquee width of 1.25″ that is typical of the product range sold at mall brands and department stores, encouraging the misguided mainstream prep guys and other factions of the brainless masses to do wrong. Count how many times you’ve seen some spiked hair guido dressed in a neon purple dress shirt and a polyester blend pair of black pants, that is a few inches too long and too tight, that he all bought on clearance from mall brand Express. There he is, with an awful 2-in-1 reversible belt and a shiny buckle that can blind infants and elderly people. Yuck. This is not formal at all. It is clownish.

A belt that stands at a subliminal one inch of width confirms your matured duty to strive for the highest levels of refined personal style. The single inch of width and complementary adequate buckle size is large enough to be masculine, but small enough to exude ageless minimalism in the face of trendy discourse. Like I shortly mentioned above, many of the popular retailers are slimming everything down in wake of present fashions, moving away from the 1.25 to 1.5″ wide dress belts that were the standard practice just a decade ago. JCrew has taken note for a few years now by favoring 1 to 1 1/8″ widths, and the likes of Gap and Banana Republic are close behind. This is a wonderful. But even if trends go back to wide ties and plane wings for jacket lapels in another decade, you should always keep belt width at these lowered prescribed specs. For anything dressy, you want your accessories to be undertoned. Only your belts for strictly casual use can be larger in size, although not too ambitious in width either. My widest casual belt is my Orvis Shotgun Shell that I usually wear with denim standing at a contemplative 1 3/8″ width, which is only slightly wider than the regulatory 1.25 inches. Therefore to keep safe, do not go over 1 3/8 inches regardless of casual or formal use. I think 1.5″ is simply too much for any of our purposes.

Luckily, there is one kind of belt that glides smoothly along the sea of excessive bulk and poor quality, and you will never have to give it a second guess as a dependable go-to.

A sterling silver engine-turned plaque that fits a 1″ wide leather belt strap is that intrepid frigate; the one or two belts you will ever need from this point on. The plaque allows a strap to slide through, which is great for longevity as your beer belly grows from your first 21st birthday to your twentieth anniversary of your 21st, in contrast to normal buckles that are subject to hole placement. The art deco period geometric finish of the engine-turned face, consisting of parallel lined etchings running horizontal from end to end and a concentric inner rectangle place in the middle, lends symmetrical elegance to the plaque reminiscent of streamlined steampunk design in virtue of the roaring turn-of-the-century years that arose Captains of Industry. Additionally, having this single parenting plaque allows for owning multiple offspring belt straps in different leathers and colors, which makes this whole accessory one of the most versatile in your closet, as you can conveniently switch out straps with the plaque to adapt to each outfit. And you’ll see the advantage to this when you wear it year after year, since the engine-turned plaque helps keep consistency in varying outfits, thus becoming a signature article that people can attribute you by. Which makes sense why the engine-turned belt is a favorite tradly item of the most elitist of pedigrees; it is a belt that you’d expect a hotshot Wall Street guy to wear, a la in the company of Patrick Bateman and Gordon Gekko, with accompanying french cuffs and braces and all that greenback-oozing jazz. This isn’t by random chance, since the engine-turned design has been a longtime favorite since it allows for elective monogramming of namesake initials (which can also be done with engine-turned tie clips), a WASPy practice in it self that is done by someone who is most comfortable lounging in a leather chair smoking a cigar and wearing nanny reds and a cable knit sweater hanging off his shoulders with sleeves crossed. But don’t let the belt’s aurora of corporate shark-greed diminish its rightful status at the top of the belt hierarchy. A part of the trad man’s Uniform that could be worn seven days a week.

My engine-turned plaque and leather straps in dark brown calfskin on top and black alligator embossed on bottom.

trafalgarbelt1GQ Magazine caught along the engine-turned plaque belt’s return to prominence in the fashion world with its endorsement for JCrew’s offering in a February 2012 issue. I had the original model that was available a few years prior circa 2007, but unfortunately the metal alloy teeth on the backside of the plaque that fed the strap through became malleable over time and gave way. I was forced to throw away the belt. That particular JCrew model also came in pre-distressed leather (not cool for formal use) and had the plaque permanently attached to the strap, meaning you had to choose between a black or brown if you only wanted one – I chose brown for its higher use over black. Thankfully, JCrew had stepped up its game as it became urbanprep and fashion forward in the years since, and now offers an interchangeable strap in non-distressed first quality Made in USA leather at 1″ wide and removable engine-turned plaque. Not bad at a wallet-saving $59 MSRP.

source GQ February 2012We can pay respects to Mad Men once again for reminding us all how undoubtedly classic the menswear fashions of yesterhalfcentury truly were, for Don Draper can be seen in the engine-turned plaque belt, looking badass in 1964 or 2014 as I habitually say. Both belts and watches back then were at a comfortable width before ballooning up in the decades following. The lead costume designer, Janie Bryant, tried to use labels that were readily available back in the television show’s time period for reproduced authentication. For the signature belt we see Mr. Draper wear in almost every episode for his job, she sourced from trad porn store New England leather goods supplier Trafalgar based in Norwalk, CT.

Don Draper Engine Turned Plaque BeltI have the exact engine-turned plaque model and leather straps from Trafalgar that Don wears, although I bought them unbeknownst to me at the time after my JCrew plaque belt broke about three years ago. You’ve seen me list them in my Porn Stash regularly, because just like Don, I too have made my Trafalgar engine-turned and set of accompanying straps my signature accessory. This is because the plaque set, which I currently have in staple colors of dark brown and black shoes, is the one of many types of leather belts that I care to own that actually satisfies most all of my outfits, formal or otherwise. The exception being in my only other current dress belt, a tan LLBean Chino belt, measuring in at just under an inch, that is good for the rest of my stylings that are with tan or light brown shoes (bought from eBay for less than $10 and yet worn more than all of my $35 Leatherman Ltd motif belts combined). The two Trafalgars and the one LLBean is all I need for life’s occasions ranging from the casual to the formal. If I absolutely had to choose two belts to live with for the rest of my life, then I’d easily forgo my multiple motifs, surcingles, ribbons, and other casual leathers in place for the Trafalgar engine-turned plaque set with pairing dark brown and black straps without a moment of hesitation. This should tell you how highly I think of this item as a catch-all for an often overlooked clothing topic that is “mens belts”.

An easy fastening and unfastening of each belt strap end allows you to interchange the plaque.

trafalgarbelt2As with what I presently own, I advise similarly to my readers in initially getting two straps. One strap in dark brown calfskin will be your mainstay dress belt that matches your numerous amounts of shoes in mid to dark brown, and a second in black exotic skin for the rare occasion you need to wear all black. Why have the black in that exotic invocation, you ask? That is by thoughtful arrival via deductive processing. Think about it. Trad&Prep hates black because of how unuseful black is for for most events. You won’t see me in a solid black button down, a lone black pair of trousers, and so on. Only a pair or two of black formal shoes, notably captoes and evening pumps, are necessary black items for the Trad&Prep curriculum. If that is the case, consider the times you’ll wear these black dress shoes – with the friendly reminder of narrowing those times that definitely require a partnering belt that also should obviously be black to match the color of the shoes. Times like those require the powerful statement that innately comes with such a serious shoe and belt pairing. A funeral, the classicist’s foremost instance of appropriate events that encourage blackwear, is NOT one of those power hungry times since you should be respectfully bare in showing off your dandy persona, and therefore won’t need a belt for your black suit to begin with (while we’re on the subject… Follow this subdued approach with all of your other funeral wardrobe choices and accessories. Be conservative with your most moderately tailored suit, which is why if you are keeping encyclopedia notes, your one and only two buttoned black suit should not be sleek as Giorgio Armani would suggest, but instead somberly fitted for the single function this said suit will perform as pallbearer. No tiebar or collarpin either, with only a subdued formal watch with black dress band. This is not the time to be fashionably forward, you should be as boxy boring trad as you can get. I do however encourage a crisp white pocket handerchief folded into a square for the gentleman’s calling to comfort your Lady’s inevitable tears…) In similiar ruling, eveningwear after business hours does not require a belt either. Not out of humble respect necessarily, as it is for funeral decorum, but for eloquent minimalist grace that you should uphold in being a modern gentleman. Braces are the product of choice in these instances if waist support is needed at all, but especially true for tuxedos (making up your only other black suit) where belts are never worn with anyway, never never never ever. So that rules out the black belt for smartly dress evenings. Leaving weekday professional manners left. If black captoes and matching black belt is worn with a grey or navy suit, or even otherwise for a fashionably forward chic approach to dress that touches on tactile sophistication and luxurious demeanor; then these kinds of outfits benefit from supple exotic skin that is representative of a matching lifestyle success that your cultivating appearance alludes to in both of those two creative proceedings. The natural abrasions in exotic skin patterns add affluent richness to the black leather that would otherwise brood away as boring, and since this is the opposite aesthetic you want to give in outfits of opulence, then a black strap in reptile skin is the definitive result. Think: Ralph Lauren’s Purple and Black Labels, where that same kind of cosmopolitan inspiration domineers in these high end runway collections. Not to be worn for funerals or evening, as again you will most likely never wear a belt for these calls for understatement, but instead for power moves in the boardroom and festive evening dinners at the ballroom. Tell ‘em who is boss! One such example of the latter instance being from my Blackwatch article, where I wore my black Allen Edmonds Grayson tassel loafers with my Trafalgar black alligator embossed strap for a holiday evening gala in similiar regards to the way I would adorn a tuxedo, albeit a belt here would make more sense for odd trousers in place of satin-striped pants. For you animal lovers and PETA extremists out there, the exotic skin can be artificial as it is in my case, or otherwise save up for the real lizard and ostrich skins once your career accolades actually warrants them. Aim for three to four straps eventually in differing shades of brown and cordovan, and keep to a lone black as that is all you will ever need.

Your tribesmen of The Brainless Masses will have multiple black belts, from Express and Gap and Target Merona. He wears these 1.25″ belts in disastrous pairings, like with a button down tucked into shorts where a surcingle or motif would’ve been infinitely better. You, the tradly spirit, knows that only one black belt suffices for the rare occasion you need it. So may as well have that black belt in an eye-pleasing exotic skin.

Exotic embossed black leathers for the belt and my Bucherer dress watch to go with black leather shoes. Silver accents in the plaque, watch case, collar pin or tie bar (with minute mentioning of an engine-turned design if you look closely). These matching accents brings an astute outfit together.

trafalgarbelt3The dressy spirit of the engine-turned belt will dress up any casual or semiformal outfit. It is why I like using it often in my casual wearings as much as I do for formal; to add a bit of class when you see me pairing the belt with denim for an evening out for example, as pictured in the title picture. I’ve used the JCrew and Trafalgar engine-turned plaque for over five years now in my youthful adulthood so far, and it has never failed, as arguably my most utilized accessory. Its adaptability is quite amazing. You can’t wear a surcingle or a wide leather casual belt with a suit to your case presentation. But you can wear the plaque, as well as later that evening with raw denim and a soft cotton sportcoat for a celebratory drink.

CollegeTrad Recommends:

When you first start out in your career, you don’t want to overstep your ground level ladder rung by sticking it up to your supervisor with an overly ambitious expensive accessory. Buy a moderately-priced brass or alloy metal plaque and cheap straps for now as a stepping stone, and save up for a higher quality investment set with real sterling silver and authentic exotic skins as you climb up the ladder. Go with a silver plaque first and maybe gold later if you wish. I personally don’t think you should monogram the plaque face for a similiar reason as earlier…but that is your call, Mr. Hotshot.

Trafalgar Rhodium Over Brass Engine-Turned Plaque for 1″ wide belt straps. Made in USA. $55. Brown Glove Leather Strap for $48. Alligator Embossed Leather Strap for $50. These straps are sadly not made in USA, but Trafalgar does offer higher priced leather goods that are made domestically. *Protip: The Trafalgar company webstore rarely has a sale, but I was able to purchase with a 20% off discount around the winter holidays. Keep a look out for it. And there’s always eBay.

JCrew Classic Leather Belt. 1″ wide in black or brown straps. Removable Engine-Turned Plaque. Made in USA. $59.

Ralph Lauren Sterling Silver Engine-Turned Plaque. Fits 1″ wide straps. Made in USA. $195.

Brooks Brothers Sterling Silver Engine-Turned Plaque. Fits 1″ wide straps. Made in USA. $248.

Tiffany&Co Sterling Silver Engine-Turned Plaque. $245. (Assume to be for 1″ width, domestically made)

Paul Stuart Sterling Silver Engine-Turned Plaque. $287. (Assume to be for 1″ width, domestically made)

Ralph Lauren Silver Toned Engine-Turned Plaque and Exotic Alligator Skin. Fits 1″ wide straps. Made in Italy. $1750.

My long term goal is to have a duo set of engine-turned belt plaque and tie bar, both made in sterling silver, from Tiffany’s.This is when I will have reached the executive level. Until then, I’ll happily keep slidin’ on with my Trafalgar as a junior secretary’s assistant intern.

 

Share on FacebookPin it on PinterestSubmit to redditSubmit to StumbleUponShare on TumblrShare on Twitter