F.E.C. Essentials

The Inexhaustible Virtues of the Navy Blue Blazer

If there has been one mainstay in the closets of well-dressed men for the past century, it's the navy blue blazer. It's the work horse behind any gentleman's wardrobe worth its weight in gold [buttons]. Navy is gentler (than black), softer (than black), more accessible (than black), and goes with anything you can throw at it. While routinely paired with chinos and loafers, the navy blazer works just as well mismatched with a charcoal wool trouser or dressed down over a pajama set.

Though most often associated with an emblematic silk tie and a certain hauteur, the blazer finds its origins on the river. The style originated with the jackets worn by members of the Lady Margaret Boat Club of St. John’s College, Cambridge—they were an eye watering red, suggesting their wearers were on fire, and so were called ‘blazers.’

Images by  Nick Onken

Images by Nick Onken

Out grew the 17 year-old hand-me-down boasting uncle Chip’s Prep school insignia? Not to worry. Now is as good a time as any to get one made-to-measure that actually fits. An ill-fitting jacket is always going to look like it belonged to your ugly uncle.

Our house style embodies updated touches like a 2 button closure, a 3.5” notch lapel, natural shoulders, side vents, and flap pockets. Cutting it in a doeskin will keep it in rotation year round. It's a medium-weight wool with a short, soft nap and a tightly woven structure. Despite its softness, doeskin is hardwearing due to its compact weave. You want that contradiction in the cornerstone of your closet.

We take ours with gold buttons. They’re handmade in England by Benson & Clegg, a top quality bespoke tailor who happens to be a Royal Warrant holder to the Prince of Wales. The buttons are created by craftsmen following a tradition of artistry and excellence established in the 18th century. Dark brown horn works just as well for a more subtle touch…there is no rule against having both, after all.

Kule

The sun is glaring down on a Cap d’Antibes beach from a vast blue perch. It’s the summer of 1923. Gerald Murphy—artist, F. Scott Fitzgerald muse, and heir to the American leather accessories maker Mark Cross—takes refuge from the blistering heat in a shirt he discovers in a Marseilles market. It’s striped. The navy-on-cream Breton stripe looks so handsome on Murphy that his friend Picasso follows suit.

The jaunty appeal of the striped sailor top Murphy first discovers not only escapes the Murphy’s meticulously curated coterie of characters but achieves a devout following of royals, artists, and rebels. The likes of The Duke of Windsor, Jean Seaberg, Andy Warhol, and Joan Baez all go on to iconize what is essentially the French naval uniform. It isn’t until the 1970s that the Breton stripe shirt settles down as the androgynous staple we know now lovingly adopted by American preppies.

One of those American preppies is Nikki Kule. A Parsons-trained fashion designer with a stint at Brooks Brothers manning the boys and girls collections and a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, Nikki is obsessed with stripes. One might even say possessed. She currently designs her namesake line Kule out of New York. The collection for women and men boldly embodies this “Preppy Luxe” aesthetic Nikki has embraced so warmly throughout her life.

This fixation has Nikki deep in the pursuit of the perfect striped shirt. More specifically, the Breton striped shirt. With a handful of silhouettes to fancy any whim, we’ve been living in them this entire summer (we affectionately refer to it as being "Kule for the Summer"). While the royal blue-on-cream is a modern interpretation of the striped shirt Pablo Picasso made famous, Nikki’s exploration of color results in a prism of color-ways likely to be crowned new classics by summer's end. Fortunately, a 3,915 mile trek to a Marseilles market isn’t necessary to get your hands on one, just a quick trip to a striped corner of the world wide web called kule.com.

Saddle Shoes

Saddle Shoes

Sportswear is America's fashion child. It’s about living, and that’s where America has made its mark. In the early 1920’s, American golfers, following the Duke of Windsor’s lead, brought two-tone shoes to the greens long before they appeared on the feet of jitterbugging adolescents. Girls of the 1950’s typically paired saddle shoes with skirts, a while blouse and bobby socks. Although the normal coloration is white and black, today, they’re worn by both men and women in a variety of style and colors...

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The Debonair

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When we caught up with Jason Pollak almost three years ago, he had just given life to Deja Vu Refinery. The pièce de résistance? The Debonair sunglasses. We immediately fell head over heels and have been basking in the sun in them since. Pollak is a product guy. His voice gets pitchy when he starts talking about his glasses’ 45 degree arm joints, historically accurate flat lenses, and custom lens colors (like beer bottle green and polarized beer bottle brown). In a previous life, he was a men's vintage clothing and accessories dealer with a penchant for iconic eye-wear...

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The Grog Tray

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Drinking out is kind of a luxury. Think about it. A decent scotch will run about $14 a pour. Toss back three of those and you might as well have picked up your own bottle. Enter drinking at home. Not only is it economical (we like economical), but it's as good an excuse as any to fill your home with friends while also setting up your own home bar. It was William Morris who held, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." We tend to agree—and a grog tray is both...

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