The Long and Short / Big and Small of It

WARNING: This post contains personal history, shoddy statistical analysis, and old images of United States Presidents (one of whom got stuck in a bathtub).

Growing up, I was always fairly big. In fact, I was pretty chubby for the first 20 years of my life (I distinctly remember my mother taking me to the department store to buy "husky" jeans). I now lift weights to convert some of the junk I eat into muscle. This leaves me with an above average mass for my height (albeit slightly less insulated).
Willam Howard Taft: 6'0", 340 lbs.

When I first started caring about how I presented myself to the world, I was convinced that only slender people could look good. Hey, I never claimed to be insightful or intelligent. Since then, through research and experience, I've realized that anyone can look like a million dollars if they just wear clothes that fit their bodies and their personalities (easier said that done, apparently). I also realized that this is true for that of people on the opposite end of the spectrum as well. Small and skinny or tall and lanky guys can often have trouble finding clothes that flatter their body types.

James Madison: 5'4", 100lbs.
Since being larger than average is kind of my angle (and reality), I am constantly thinking about how different pieces of clothing will fit me. Most of the times, at least when it comes to pants, even trying stuff on is out of the question. But more generally, this got me thinking about variation in mens sizing and it's relation to access to good-looking, well-made stuff. My left brain took over and I started wondering if there was a typical male body size with regard to who is "into" looking good or not. I basically wanted to characterize who I'm constantly talking to all the time about clothes in terms of height and weight. Now, I'll be the first one to tell you how little credence I put in simple height and weight figures (don't get me started on the use of BMI as an indicator of health) but for raw data like this, it will do for now. So I basically asked every dude who I've spoken with via Twitter their info. This data includes some of your favorite bloggers and in general, just style enthusiasts (I've also included myself). This is the data I got:
For reference, 72 inches is 6 feet
The output graph of height vs. weight kind of surprised me. First of all, there is a lot more variation than I expected. On the other hand, there are no extreme outliers. The data does not follow a very clear trend (obviously in general, the taller one is, the more likely one is to weight more). One fact that is easily noticable is the cluster of points toward the middle-left of the graph. The cluster contains people who stand between 5'9" and 6'0" and weigh between 150 and 170 lbs. This group would be at the top of your standard bell curve (the normal distribution) and would generally be considered "average" for the age group surveyed (to my knowledge: 18-35 year old males). In this data set, 11 of 27 (40.6%) people are within this window. The points above and below this cluster represent the outlier combination of height and weight that are sometimes more difficult to fit off the rack. [Aside: What is also interesting is that the median weight for those taller than 6 ft. jumps disproportionally compared to those shorter than 6 ft. There is a hole in the graph in the 5'11"-6'3" / 170-190lbs. block. This is likely explained by a limited data set (only 27 data points).]

When a clothing designer makes a pattern for anything off the rack that will have more than one size, they usually try to do so such that the garment will fit the most number of people within their target audience of customers (most likely the top of the bell curve of body measurements). Outliers are often left out, especially in a company that makes high-quality products in limited runs. But hey, that's business. I know I'm really oversimplifying/over-complicating this but I hope it isn't too difficult to understand. My findings were overly simple because I didn't take body type into account; perhaps fodder for a future investigation.



If you wear collared shirts without a tie, I'd venture to guess that you don't button all of your buttons. Not to say that it can't look good, I think you just have to have a certain panache to pull it off.
Sidebar: Once I was on my way to a circus-themed party dressed as an old-tyme magician. I buttoned the top button of the white shirt I was wearing on the car ride over so that the pinpoint collar wouldn't be less splayed out to the sides when I arrived. I unknowingly left the top button done upon entering the party and with the suspenders and beard I was wearing everyone thought I had come dressed as an Amish man.
Anyway, it seems almost second nature to undo the top button of a casual shirt while not wearing a tie. But what if the second button is a bit high? You don't want to look like you live with your mother, do you? Depending on the shirt (naturally), I find myself more often than not in the summer undoing the top two buttons on my shirts. It may seem like a minor detail or some kind of contrivance but I always say that the devil is in the details.
Reasons for leaving two buttons undone are plentiful:
  1. The more pronounced "V" formed by the two halves of the shirt better frames the face in lieu of a tie and jacket. 
  2. The larger opening allows for more airflow and better cooling properties.
  3. It is an excuse to be manly and show more chest hair (if you have it).
So how do you wear your buttons? Rico Suave vs. Poindexter. Is it even worth talking about?


Levi's Fall Outerwear: Beyond Denim

(In the northern hemisphere) I know it's a strange time to be thinking about outerwear. At least where I'm at, we're all trying to wear as few layers as is socially acceptable. However, you must realize that before you know it, it's gonna get cooler and you're gonna need some kind of jacket to throw over the shoulders of your lady friend when she gets chilly (why do women get so cold?).
If for some reason, you're not down with denim jackets or if you're looking for something fresh when temperatures drop, Levi's has you covered. Enter the Cord Trucker Jacket.

These corduroy jackets in khaki and red are a "slim-fitting update to the 1967 Standard Trucker" and feature a "close and tapered cut". For $70, that is more than good enough for me. And unlike a denim jacket, you'll never have to worry about contrasting with what you're wearing on your lower half. Either of these would work with just about any kind of pants you tend to wear in the fall. Both soft and warm, these will be tough to pass up.
Aside: I can only imagine how excellently the khaki version will pull together your look when you're wearing some dark denim, a crispy white shirt, and a dark knit tie.

*Edit - I pulled the trigger on this jacket and can tell you that it fits very much the same as Levi's slim trucker denim jacket. Check the size chart if you're not familiar because these run pretty slim.


Levi's New Releases: Selvedge 201 and 501

Hot on the heels of their end-of-the-spring sale, Levi's has stocked their web site with some of the new offerings for the colder half of this year. The most compelling items in my eyes are the selvage update of the 501 and the newly re-introduced, non-LVC version of the 201. And more good news: they're both available for the very non-LVC price of $98.00.
Firstly a short history lesson: Way back in the 1870s, after hearing of miners complain of pockets ripping off of their pants in rough working conditions, Loeb (Levi) Strauss, the brains of the operation, and Jacob Davis, the money man, got a patent for using rivets to secure pockets to clothing. The American blue jean is born. The Number One overall was the first model introduced by LS&Co. This later became known as the 501 model and featured a leather patch. Shortly thereafter, a second,  budget-type model, known as the Number Two overall was introduced (later known as the 201) and featured a linen patch to differentiate it from the higher-end Number One. The primary difference between the two is that the Number Two had a lighter weight fabric than the original Number One.
Levi's has essentially offered the 501 since day one in one form or another but the 201 has seen a wax and wane phenomenon, being released maybe two times in the past ten years under Levi's LVC (Levi's Vintage Clothing) line. The current model isn't exactly faithful to the original model, featuring five pockets instead of four (the originals only had one rear pocket) but it is a nice nod to a bygone era and the history of Levi's as a brand.
In these two first photos, you can clearly see the differences between the modern 201 "Workwear Jeans" and what we've become accustomed to with the 501 and every iteration thereafter (510, 511, 514, etc.). The 201s feature a functional cinch back, suspender (aka brace) buttons and back pocket rivets. The fit appears to be even more generous than that of the 501s although I cannot confirm this fact. It isn't even apparent whether or not the selvedge denim is sanforized or not. I will inquire at Levi's HQ to find out more details. The Levi's site seems a bit reluctant to divulge details concerning the origins/quality/weight of it's denim. I would guess that the 201 is of the same weight as the 501 based upon the pictures but you never can tell for sure. The fact that the 201s are only available in a 30 or 32 inch inseam suggest that they don't shrink very much (although this is purely conjecture).
The selvedge 501s appear to be everything you've come to expect only Levi's is jumping on the 'All-Selvedge-Everything' bandwagon (which certainly makes everything better). In all seriousness though, if you are a large-thighed man, this is about the best pair of sub-100 doll-hair selvedge denim you could hope for in my (admittedly Levi's fanboy) humble opinion. Or hell, if you a regularly-sized-thigh person with a reverence for Levi's and don't mind a bit of extra fabric, these are your high-quality, raw denim heritage jeans.

As a freak of a fan of 501s, I might have to buy this pair even though I have way too much denim already. Maybe after I get a little more info on the fabric. It is already clear that they are not constructed in the U.S. ($98 price tag) and the obligatory "Imported" listed as the country of origin on the website supports this.

Hopefully more info to follow. It'd be nice if the new 501s and 201s were cut from selvedge denim from the infamous Cone Mills of North Carolina...

*Edit - Levi's has updated the site to include a few more details about these two pairs of denim. The 201's rise is 1.25" bigger than that of the 501. (12.5" vs. 11.25") and the circumference of the leg opening on the 201 is a half inch larger than on the 501. The 501s are also shrink-to-fit but the 201 is not specified as such so I have to assume that they will not shrink much (they're Sanforized). The message I got back from Levi's when I inquired originally about all the details was painfully general and didn't answer any of my questions. I'll keep pressing to see what I can find out.