Wednesday, April 2, 2014

A New Service Offered by the Houndstooth Kid

This has been something I've considered and thought long and hard about for over a year.  But then I was forced out of my comfort zone when a CEO out in Los Angeles contacted me and asked for a short style consultation.  I'm thankful that he did.

Surprisingly I'm a quiet person, shy around folks I don't know very well.  But that consultation session was so comfortable and enjoyable that I decided to finally open it up as an option.  I'm coming out of my shell.



So here it is.  The Houndstooth Kid is now offering either 30 minute or hour-long style consultations via phone, online (Skype, etc.), or even in person if you are local.  Do you have questions about vintage style or just men's style in general but don't know where to start or don't have enough time to research yourself?  Do you need advice about what to wear to your wedding, how to dress your groomsmen, what to don for a formal event or for any other event for that matter?  You've come to the right place.




You can take advantage of Will's vintage expertise and style with a one-on-one consultation where you ask whatever questions you want.

You can order a style consultation either through the Houndstooth Haberdashery or by contacting Will and requesting a session via the following email address: houndstoothkid@hotmail.com.  You will be contacted by Will to set up a date, time, method of correspondence, and the topics and questions you wish to discuss. You will receive a questionnaire and a receipt for both your payment and the consultation via email.



Tuesday, March 25, 2014

That's an Odd One, With a Twist...

I've finally photographed that strange jacket I found back in December.  I also moved the buttons back to their original positions and gave it a good cleaning.

It's simply amazing.  Made of dark navy flannel, it is super soft to the touch.  The gusseted pockets are a very nice touch and add subtle character to the front.  I love patch type breast pockets, especially when their gusseted.

click images to enlarge



The sleeves also have French cuffs, lending the jacket a bit of a casual feel, like that of a smoking jacket.


If the front has subtle character, the back is outright crazy.  Along with some pleats along the shoulders, it has fairly long bi-swing back gussets at each shoulder blade, allowing for improved arm movement.  If that isn't enough, it also has dual vents.



While the outer flannel material is a bit boring, the interior lining will make your eye bleed.


This is a custom-made piece and has no union tag.  Amazing quality, fantastic flannel, and great styling.  A superb specimen of the 1920s sports coat.

Except for one thing: it's date 1968.


That's right, this 1920s style sports coat was made the same year as the Battle of Khe Sanh, the Tet Offensive, and the My Lai Massacre.  RFK and Martin Luther King Jr. were both assassinated the year this coat was tailored.  Apollo 8 orbited the Moon.

How does a 1920s style sports coat get made 30-40 years after that style died out?  Well, firstly the 1920/1930s style of clothing was making a comeback in the late 1960s and some of it was quite authentic, as this sports coat shows.  Natural fibers were often used in these 1960s reiterations before the polyester craze of the 1970s took hold.  So perhaps it was made by someone trying to keep up with the new fashion of the time, which was the old style of the 1920s.

Or, maybe, as this was a custom piece in a larger size, an older plumper man who longed for his younger years and styles had this piece created.  I recently discussed this sports coat with a fellow vintage aficionado and expert who, upon learning the date, related the story of an old tailor in New York City in the 1960s who made absolutely perfect reproduction pieces for a specific client, often out of vintage 1920s and 1930s fabrics.  Those 1960s-made pieces would be nearly impossible to differentiate from original pieces if it weren't for the 1960s dates on the tailor's tag.  Remember, there were still plenty of tailors in the 1960s who used the old school techniques often seen in suits and sports coats from the 1920s-1940s.

I like to think that the second possibility is the correct one, that an elderly man longed for the "good ol' days" of his youth and therefore commissioned something familiar and at the time, surprisingly, in fashion.  Maybe he had a sports coat just like this one when he was a youth.

Who knows?  All I know is that this is one fantastic piece of vintage, with a twist.





Monday, March 24, 2014

Let the New Wave Begin...

There's a new wave of vintage items arriving for sale at the Houndstooth Haberdashery.  There'll be some very nice pieces coming up within the next two weeks or so for all sizes, styles, and price ranges.

Beginning this next wave strong are two beautiful hats in size 7 1/2.

First is a 1930s slightly 'fuzzy' "University Club" fedora with some gorgeous proportions: a tall, straight-sided crown with a fairly narrow yet shapely brim.  Just the way I like 'em.  This one has no issues at all.  As near perfect condition as an 80ish year old hat can get.  Feast your eyes upon this hat, which can be found for sale by clicking here.

click images to enlarge







Now that we have you drooling, check out the next contestant.  It's a 1940s Stetson homburg in black, perfect for that dinner suit you've been dying to wear but didn't because you lacked the right hat.  It's in very nice condition (for being 70ish years old) with only a couple very minor issues that won't keep you from wearing it right out of the box.  







Don't miss out on these two spectacular hats.  These kind of quality hats in this size are getting harder to find.  Get your dapper on!






Sunday, January 26, 2014

What I Have To Say

As if this blog wasn't enough for me to put my thoughts to 'paper', below are links to interviews I did with two different men's style websites.  Strangely both asked to interview me within the a couple days of each other so I guess it was meant to be.  I thank the owners for contacting me and allowing me to take up valuable room on their sites and time from their schedules.



So with little else to say, here are the interviews.

Well Built Style interview

Keikari interview

Let us know what you think, either at those sites or on this one.




Sunday, December 8, 2013

That's an Odd One

Once in a while in this hobby (or should I say addiction?) you'll stumble upon something that's just plain odd.

Case in point, while browsing an online vintage shop I ran across a strange sports coat.  The seller described the jacket as being from the 1940s and made of navy blue flannel material.  It is dated but the date is incomplete: "4-1-?8".  I believe that jacket is from the late 1920s or possibly even the 1930s, though the former is most likely.  Looking at the photos provided by the seller we see some unique characteristics.

-Fishmouth lapels
-French cuffs
-Pleated patch pockets
-Multi-pleated and bi-swing back but lacks a belt
-Dual vents in the back, something fairly unusual to find on vintage sports coats


click images to enlarge

The buttons were obviously moved at some point in time.




You might expect to see this kind of odd sports coat sold in a fashion forward city like New York City or Los Angeles.  But no, it's originally from ol' Indianapolis, smack in the midwest.  I've found in my searches that some of the craziest, most unusual and 'Hollywood-esque' vintage actually comes from small town USA.


I purchased this jacket and when it finally arrives I'll post photos up, so keep an eye on this blog.





Friday, November 29, 2013

Fantastic Vintage for Sale...

...at the Houndstooth Haberdashery.  My closet is bursting at the seams so I'm clearing some fine items out to make room for more pieces that will get more wear.

Now it's your turn to own and wear these 'holy grail' vintage pieces.  Or maybe a few pieces will make someone very happy on Christmas day just a month away.

Here are just a few of the suits and sports coats now for sale.



click links to visit sale site and images to enlarge



This is a rare and fantastic 2-piece suit from the late 1930s/early 1940s.  Heavy weight tweed, very well tailored, just a fantastic piece to see in person.  This suit will make someone very happy.







This is another very rare suit since suits from this period are getting more difficult to find, especially in good condition and a 'wearable' size like this one.  A few moth holes in the jacket and trousers, they are stitched up, not too apparent and don't take away from this gorgeous suit.  A rare piece of wearable art.








The flannel of this sports coat is some of the softest I've ever seen.  This jacket was custom tailored back in the 1930s and the quality shows.  It's a manly and stylish sports coat that will help you dress your best.  Lovely dark maroon pinstripes on a brown background.






I just recently found this one for myself but have decided to part with it because it is just a tad too large for me.  My loss is your gain.  You never see one like this again, it's fantastically unique.  Bold, wide herringbone with square patch pockets.  Very Hollywood and it could be yours.  Check it out.






A nice, conservative, attractive pinstripe suit from the WW2-era.  Not a lot issues with this suit at all.  It does, however, have a neat 'former' issue.  One part of the right leg has an expertly executed example of reweaving.  Reweaving is the lost art of making a hole invisible by hand-weaving individual threads from another area of the garment into the hole. Let me tell you, the reweaving on this suit is expertly done and is near invisible.  This has been the first and only example of vintage reweaving I've ever seen.  I love this suit but alas, not the best fit so off it goes.



The reweave spot.  Nearly invisible!





I have a lot more high quality pieces that will be going up for sale within the next few days and weeks so keep your eyes glued to this blog as well as the Houndstooth Facebook page.

Cheers,
Will



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Quality of the Time

With the way I go on about the quality of vintage all of the time you probably think everything was amazing back during the Golden Era.  And that's not true, there were plenty of bad quality pieces, just like there are today.

The reason we don't see those pieces very often nowadays is that they were cheap and didn't survive.  A cheaply made piece isn't going to last as long as a well made piece, especially if it is all the owner can afford and wears it to death.  Not to mention certain materials didn't always behave the way the owner might have wished:


THE SHRINKING SONG

Woolen socks, woolen socks!

Full of color, full of clocks!
Plain and fancy, yellow, blue,
From the counter beam at you.
O golden fleece, O magic flocks!
O irresistible woolen socks!
O happy haberdasher's clerk
Amid that galaxy to work!
And now it festers, now it rankles
Not to have them 'round your ankles;
Now with your conscience do you spar;
They look expensive, and they are;
Now conscience whispers,
You ought not to,
And human nature roars,
You've got to!

Woolen socks, woolen socks!
First you buy them in a box.
You buy them several sizes large,
Fit for Hercules, or a barge.
You buy them thus because you think
These lovely woolen socks may shrink.
At home you don your socks with ease,
You find the heels contain your knees;
You realize with a saddened heart
Their toes and yours are far apart.
You take them off and mutter Bosh,
You up and send them to the wash.
Too soon, too soon the socks return,
Too soon the horrid truth you learn;
Your woolen socks can not be worn
Unless a midget child is born;
And either sockless you must go,
Or buy a sock for every toe.

Woolen socks, woolen socks!
Infuriating paradox!
Hosiery wonderful and terrible,
Heaven to wear, and yet unwearable.
The man enmeshed in such a quandary
Can only hie him to the laundry,
And while his socks are hung to dry,
Wear them once as they're shrinking by.

--Ogden Nash

Some of the worst-made suits (yet highly collectible today) are British 'Demob' suits from the 1940s. As British servicemen were returning from the war the government gave them suits to help them get back on their feet. They were often very crudely made with all sorts of errors: misshapen lapels, funky proportions, low quality materials. 


click images to enlarge



But they were only meant to be worn a short time to allow the owner to get a job and eventually buy new suits.  Demob suits sell for big bucks but beware: not every vintage suit advertised as a Demob suit is really a Demob suit.

A demob suit.  Note the wonky lapels and the poor pattern matching on the back seam.
Photos via Baron Kurtz Vintage.




Now let's once again look at the other side of things: good quality.  While poor quality items did exist they were definitely the exception, not the rule.  Let's face it, people back in the day cared more about quality and were more thrifty, fixing and salvaging and reusing items without tossing them away like we do today. As a result, we're able to find both the high-end and lower-end pieces from 70 years ago, often in perfect condition. And looking at vintage 'mid-level' pieces from run-of-the-mill department stores like Sears, Younkers, and JC Penney, we see that garments from these places that everyday low- to middle-class folks use to buy are often still better quality than higher-end off-the-rack of today. 

I regularly find vintage top quality tailored suits and other pieces from long gone shops that were once found in tiny farming communities. Back 70-100 years ago nearly every decent sized town had one or more men's clothing store and/or one or more tailor shops. They dotted the landscape from coast to coast. My great- great- grandfather owned, in central Iowa, as many as four quality men's clothing shops within 50 miles of each other back in the teens and '20s. The quality was better and people were willing to pay more for that quality.  

Examine the late 1930s/early 1940s drape sports coat shown below.


This sports coat is artful, finely crafted.  It has a gorgeous, subtle herringbone pattern to its wool material.  Add in the attractive leather buttons and the sleek roll of the lapels and you have an incredible piece of vintage.  Here are a couple more views of the sports coat:



For so fine a garment you might expect it to be a high-end custom piece from a custom tailor.  Let's have a look inside at the label:


Younkers is a local, midwestern department store that was founded in 1899 in Des Moines, Iowa.  Below is the original Younkers site from which the above sports coat was sold.


Interesting, that a department store company similar in concept to the more famous J.C. Penney's department store company would sell such a finely made garment.  I think this point demonstrates that quality mattered much more during the Golden Era than it does today.

Just out of curiosity, how much would that Younkers sports coat have cost back in, say, 1940?  Well, here's a comparable sports coat from a Spring and Summer 1940 Montgomery Ward catalog.  The price for this piece is $12.50 in 1940 dollars. 


How much is $12.50 from 1940 in 2013's dollars?  $208.52.  If we were to walk into any of the big name department stores like J.C. Penney's or Younkers and purchase a sports coat at a full price of $200 I think we'd be very disappointed in its quality when compared to its 1940 counterpart.

I think it's pretty safe to say as a rule of thumb, vintage clothing will be better quality than most modern clothing, even much of the higher-end stuff today.  Quality mattered back during the Golden Era, though from time to time junk would make an appearance.

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