How to Shrink To Fit (STF) your Levi's

Being a vocal and ardent supporter of Levi's, particularly the rigid 501 shrink-to-fit model, I get many questions about sizing and methods for shrinkage of said jeans. So many such that I feel it necessary to create a document to point to should anyone else ask.
So here it is, the definitive TBTYH guide to STF Levi's.
What we're workin' with.
A quick disclaimer, this is my proven method for myself. You may find it doesn't work for you because of your body type/size. If you're here because your thighs/butt are big, this should work for you in general. Some of my internet friends have reported to me that they've actually had to size up in 501s to accommodate their thighs!
Before you do anything, if you've never tried on a pair of Levi's or you haven't worn a pair in many years, get to your local Sears (I'm pretty sure most carry the standard indigo rigid 501s). Try a few pairs on to get a feel for how the pre-shrink waist will fit. Levi's recommends this:
If your waist is 27"-36", Increase size by 1"
If your waist is 38"-48", Increase size by 2"
If you want your jeans to still remain fitted after the shrink-stretch cycle, I would recommend subtracting one from each of those 'size-up' numbers. In other words, get your regular Levi's size for waist sizes under 36" and one size up for sizes over 36". If you like your fit a little slouchy after you wear them in, take the Levi's advice.

For the inseam, Levi's recommends this:
If your inseam is 27"-34", Increase size by 3"
If your inseam is 36"- up, Increase size by 4"
Once again, I would alter this advice. I favor a 31.5" or 32" inseam on most of my pants. I find that a sizing up two inches on the inseam of my STFs yields the best results for me. So unless you are freakishly tall or want a crazy tall cuff, I'd say size up two in the inseam. The caveat here is that Levi's only makes even-numbered inseam lengths. You'll have to deal with that fact. I can tell you that via this method, based on actual measurements of my jeans, that are tagged and measured to be a 34" inseam will shrink about 2.5 inches to ~31.5".

Alright, so you've figured out your size...oh great, you got a pair online in a color you like on crazy discount because Levi's has many periodic sales Now you're ready to shrink them... Aside: right now I am shedding a single tear for the "verde" greencast 501s that are now unavailable (don't worry, I haven't even started on my third and final pair). For this particular demonstration, I'm using a lighter brown pair of 501s. The procedure is the same regardless of color, however.

In order to shrink your jeans, you're going to have to expose them to water and then dry them. There is nothing magical about it, if your unsanforized denim gets wet then dries, the fabric is going to shrink, plain and simple, temperature of soaking and drying be damned. Conventional wisdom says you will get maximum shrinkage via an ultra hot soak and a hot dry. 
If you have a bathtub, start filling it with the hottest water your hot water heater can generate (remember to engage the stopper).

Gather your jeans and turn them inside out. This will minimize the amount of dye that leaves the fabric during the soak.
Next, throw them into the tub of hot water. You don't have to wait until the tub is full. As long as the jeans are fully covered in water, you can stop the flow of water and take a break. One hour is usually good enough. If this is your first soak/bath, check the tub periodically to make sure that you aren't losing water due to a leaky stopper. You don't want to come back to a pair of jeans in an empty tub.

Break time. Make yourself a sandwich, grab a beer or two, chill out for a while. After an hour or so, your jeans will be well soaked through with hot water. Fire your hand into the scalding hot tub and grab your soaking denim. Heavy, huh? Get some kind of pants hanger that can support the weight of your 501s + the water they carry. I had to wedge a washcloth in one kind of pants hanger to increase the friction in order to hold the jeans up. Hang the jeans up for twenty or so minutes to drip dry. Essentially, you want to just get rid of the serious moisture on the outside of the garment.

After the jeans are no longer dripping, lay a towel on the floor of your bathroom, place the jeans on top, then lay another towel on top of that. A drying Levi's sandwich is what you're going for here. Warning: your towels may pick up dye from the jeans. Don't worry about this, as it washes out fairly readily.

Next, imagine you are squishing grapes between your toes making wine in Italy and step on every square inch of the towel above the jeans, with both your feet, at least twice. This squeezes the extra water out of the jeans and shortens the drying cycle.
Step in the name of love. No, I'm not always wearing denim.
Rip those jeans back right-side-in and repeat the foot-blotting procedure on the exterior of the jeans.

If you're gonna wuss out, hang dry exactly like I described to drip-dry or hang on a hook from the back-most beltloop. About a day should do it depending on relative humidity. If you're planning on truly shrinking-to-fit, strip down to your skivvies, seriously. Or more. You get better heat transfer going commando. Put on your jeans! Wear them proudly while very damp. In the Northern Hemisphere, this (December) is not a very pleasant time to shrink jeans. The best time to do this is late Summer, early Fall, in my opinion. Sometimes you have no choice, however. If you get the chance to shrink in warmer weather, go outside and take a walk or bike ride. This will greatly decrease drying time.

Some tips while wearing your awesome damp Levi's:
  • Avoid sharply bending your knees. 501s have a serious tendency to stretch out in the knees, especially if you do full, ankles-below-knees squats while the jeans are wet.
  • If you're working with a darker color (especially indigo), lay towels on any upholstery you sit on. Wet denim is very prone to transfer its dye. Towels are easier to wash than your couch.
  • If you run up against your bedtime or you're just sick of wearing damp pants, hang them to dry for however long it takes. The parts that take the longest to dry are the hem, the pockets and the fly.
After the jeans are dry, the process is complete. You've done it. Start wearing the hell out of your new Levi's.
Wearing the crispy cardboard jeans for the first time.


November of Dressing Nicely -or- Guys in Chicago Don't Care How They Look

I've recently had the pleasure of meeting (online but soon to be in person) a writer/social media director for Metromix, which is somehow related to RedEye, which is a faction of the Chicago Tribune essentially concerned with cool stuff for younger adults in the city. Ernest Wilkins could tell you better about what he does than I can.

Anyway, he is someone who has an interest in dressing better and wants to bring as many people as possible along for the ride. Much like Will over at Momentum of Failure with his 100 Days of Ties Project, Ernest has launched his own initiative. Enter November of Dressing Nicely (NoDN). The movement was inspired by a visitor to his office:
A guy from LA came into the office a few months back to take some meetings with my bosses. He was the best-dressed dude I've seen in years. I mean, suit was tailored, shirt had a monogram, sick longwing brogues, and a clean shave. The women went bananas. "Who is that guy?" "Is he working here now?" *wolf whistle*. A comment rang out that stuck with me. Upon finding out the gent was from LA, a co-worker stated, "Oh of course, no guy who lives here would look like that."
One of Ernest's #NoDN photos
Disturbed by this comment, Ernest asked his peers about Chicago men and their apparent disregard for dressing well. The general consensus was that "Guys in Chicago don't care how they look". Hell bent on being the exception rather than the rule, Ernest vowed to dress better for at least an entire month beginning November 1st, 2010. He has posted his photo every work day and has invited any one else to do the same. I've been submitting my self-taken photos and it's really encouraged me to avoid falling victim to laziness when I dress myself in the morning. It has already been a very positive exercise.

As I've stated before, my office environment is very casual and it would be easy to slip into a groove where a t-shirt, jeans, and sneakers become a uniform. I now refuse this possibility and try to look good all the time. However, I still lean toward casual dress (I'm not wearing suits to work) so I'm not scaring my coworkers too badly. In fact, I'm probably wearing jeans more often than not. Even so, the ignorant will still assume I have a job interview if I'm wearing a coat and tie as well. Anyway, it is interesting to see the photos submitted by the others who participate (there's a loyal community of maybe 6 people) because of the range in level of formality and perspective on what "dressing nicely" is to them.

I see NoDN as a continuation of the Tie Tuesdays I've observed since last fall. It serves as a reminder to take extra care in laying out an outfit that I know will look good. I'm not sure how many of you follow my Tumblr but I've been posting most of the photos I submit there along side the ones that end up on the NoDN Gallery that Ernest has set up. Below are some of my better submissions (please excuse myself looking like a complete ass in most of these, it's just the way I am).

If you're a Chicagoan trying to get in on the action, e-mail Ernest with your photo attached and he should post it right up. Prove to the land that you care about what you look like!



Shirts Bigger Than Your Jackets

Allow me to preface this with saying that I am primarily an online shopper. I mostly hate going to brick and mortar places for a number of reasons I will not explain here. I'm usually pretty good at judging sizes based upon vendor-supplied size charts on websites and have generally been very successful in getting my size right while buying online. 

While discussion around these parts seems to settle on pants most of the time, inconsistencies in shirt sizing aggravate me as well. The rest of this rant data-driven study explores just one example of the root cause of this aggravation.

As far as sport shirts in the realm of an everyday essential, I could not stop hearing about how great Brooks Brothers was (most notably the extra slim fit). Sport shirting at Brooks Brothers comes in standard, nonspecific sizing (S, M, L, XL, etc.). Consulting the size chart on the site (scroll down to MEN’S SIZE TRANSLATION CHART) and you'll see that the large (L) would be best for someone between a 42 and 44 inch chest and 35" sleeve. This is nearly perfectly describes my sizing. But ah yes, the cut of the shirt...how is that? Directly above that size translation chart, you'll see a description of all the cuts offered at Brooks Brothers. I've transposed them below (I've omitted the Luxury Fit because it is the same as the Traditional Fit only available in longer sleeve and body lengths).
  • Traditional Fit
    •  Our fullest cut sport shirt
  •  Slim Fit
    •  Measures 3” slimmer through the chest, 5” slimmer through the waist and 2” slimmer through the seat than our Traditional Fit Sport Shirt.
  •  Extra Slim Fit
    • Measures 2" slimmer through the chest, 2" slimmer through the waist and 3" slimmer through the seat than our Slim Fit Sport Shirt. Higher arm holes and narrower sleeves complement the trimmer silhouette.

So it would stand to reason that the Extra Slim is 5" slimmer through the chest, 7" slimmer through the waist, and 5" slimmer through the seat than the Traditional Fit (simple addition of SF to ESF reductions). Now, I'm not exactly a slim guy but I'm not cut like an action figure either. I was actually debating originally between the Slim Fit in large and the Extra Slim Fit in large. One of the reasons for this debate was that I saw a friend who had one of these very shirts (Brooks Brothers Extra Slim). He had one in medium and he reported to me that it was very trim through the chest and that he probably should have gotten the Slim Fit in medium on account of him having an unusually large chest for his height (shorter than me). So using this information and the information on the Brooks Brothers site, I ordered an Extra Slim Fit oxford cloth buttondown in large.

Upon receiving the shirt, I was disappointed to say the least. Not because it was too slim through the torso but because it was way, way too full. I'll let the measurements do the talking. I took measurements of the chest pit-to-pit, the waist where it would tuck into pants, and the largest part of the sleeve, pit to outer shoulder.
A: Chest : 23.5"
B: Waist : 22.5"
C: Sleeve: 9.5"

At least for me, wearing this shirt has resulted in considerably annoying bunching around the waist while tucked in and sail-like excess through the sleeves. I never realized just how large it was until I threw a Levi's trucker jacket (size large) over it. This is actually what prompted me to measure the shirt in the first place. For reference, I've included the same measurements for the jacket as well.
A: Chest : 22.5"
B: Waist : 21.5"
C: Sleeve: 8.5"

Thus, the "Extra Slim" shirt (compared to the Levi's jacket) is 2" larger through the chest, 2" larger through the waist, and 2" larger in the sleeves! This shirt is larger than an article of outerwear of the same tagged size! I understand that different brands have different guidelines and that you can't assume that a large is a large is a large, always. Having said that, why on earth is this shirt described as extra slim? It's not even slim by conventional standards. Also, the minuscule collar with rear button that prevents all but the slimmest ties from fitting through is some kind of sick punctuation mark on this bloated, adverb-laden sentence of a shirt.

I am aware that Brooks Brothers is a traditional brand with generally traditional (see: full) sizing. But when heard repeatedly from young people on the Internet championing "BB-ESF" as the gold standard for off the rack sport shirting, I figured that Brooks was trying to target a wider demographic and hey, better for everyone, right?

What is the explanation for my dissatisfaction with this shirt? Is it just me? Do I just have unreasonable standards compared to those of my peers? Did I read the size chart wrong? Is there something wrong with the Large pattern at Brooks Brothers? Did my shirt get tagged wrong at the factory? Either way, this shirt fitting me properly will require it to be entirely recut through the side seam.


Mountain & Sackett Neckwear (a rare product blast)

Well it's time for my lame, bi-monthly, one-off post on TBTYH and I've decided to switch it up a bit. I'm going to do a SartInc-style brand highlight for ya'll. I'm a pretty big fan of neckwear of all kinds. I wear a tie every Tuesday and sometimes on the weekend when I want to make all my friends think I'm a weirdo. I also nearly exclusively buy neckwear secondhand or new at severe discount. Hell, I've even made my own tie and have loose plans to make more. Anyway, if there was one company to turn me over to the dark side of buying new ties at retail prices, Mountain & Sackett would be the one.
I heard about Mountain & Sackett through The Art of Manliness a couple of years ago. They have done a few promo giveaways with AoM but otherwise have been largely overlooked by the cool-kid blogs. This is likely due to the fact that M&S seems fairly off the grid in terms of social media utilization. Granted, they do have a Facebook page but we all know that Twitter seems to be the most effective way for small companies to communicate directly with niche customers.
100% Handmade

Mountain & Sackett is a New York based company that has been around since 1957. Their ties are all handmade in New York from fabric from European mills and are sold direct from the factory. I wanted to bring them to your attention because they seem like a legitimate family business putting out a high quality product for a reasonable price (most of the ties are betwee $60 and $74 with the more expensive ones topping out at $105). They have an amazing selection of not only colors and patterns, but of sizes too. Most of the ties are a pretty classic 3.5" in width and 58" in length but for some styles you have the option of a slimmer or bolder width (2.75" and 3.75", respectively) and/or a longer length (62"). Being of above average height, I appreciate the 62" option.

If it wasn't enough to make a high quality, sharp-looking product in the States, the good folks at Mountain & Hackett have their hearts in the right place by producing a line of neckwear and accessories adorned with the puzzlepiece logo of Autistm Speaks, a charity dedicated to changing "the future for all who struggle with autism spectrum disorders." Sixty percent of sales of these pieces go to the charity.

Anyway, let's hit some highlights:

Stylistically, the regimental stripe seem to be M&S's bread and butter. With 22 different variations, you're bound to find something you like. Made of English silk, these ties come in the standard 3.5" width and the standard 58" length. M&S also claims that these are the "World's Only 100% Handmade Regimental Tie(s)". Believe that claim or not, handmaking a tie is a real craft. It is a time-consuming and tedious procedure that should not be taken for granted in the eyes of quality.

                     Royal Marines                                             Sherwood Foresters                                             Ocassionals Hockey

If a traditionally stripped regimental tie is not your thing, maybe you want to stunt like Kanye at New York Fashion Week (I thought every week Fashion Week?) and you don't want to go as bold as J.Press would like you to. Mountain & Sackett have quite an array of silk ($60) and wool ($74) knit ties at a 2.5" width, as compared to the 3" J.Press numbers. Also, it is worth noting that these are NOT handmade in the US, rather in Italy.

Or maybe you'd care to get crazy-luxe-Italian and opt for a fine cashmere tie. A bit more pricey at $105, this ultra-soft tie is cut from fabric from Lanificio Cesare Gatti, a leading Italian textile manufacturer specializing in wool and cashmere. These ties only come in 3.5" widths and both standard and long lengths.

You know paisley stuff is gonna be the next it thing, right? Mark my words. These are pretty beautiful, traditional 3.5" width, regular and long lengths. Not much else to say.

You can't go wrong with a wool tartan tie in the fall and winter. There are several patterns to choose from, some actual Scottish family tartans (any MacDonalds, Sinclairs, Stewarts, Thompsons, or Kerrs around here?) which is cool, as well as a few glenplaids. The black/white glenplaid pictured below is definitely my favorite tie offered by M&S and the one I'm currently talking myself into buying. This particular tie can be cut into any of the widths or lengths previously mentioned so you can customize to your heart's content.


Pro Footwear Tip: Use Tongue Pads

It is well documented that I am a shoe junkie. I have many pairs, some of which that do not fit me perfectly. I blame it on an awkward foot size. Technically I should be a US size 12.5 M based on actual foot measurements. Since 12.5 is not a common shoe size (most shoe makers will do half sizes through 12 then skip directly to 13), and size 12s are nearly always too small I'm left with sizing up to a 13. For the most part, this isn't a problem and I have many size 13 shoes that fit me pretty well. However, it is not unusual for me to buy a pair of shoes that are just a tad too large. The consequences are usually heel slippage and what ShoeMD diagnoses as CSS (Clown Shoe Syndrome). Heel slippage is treatable whereas there is currently no known cure for CSS but patients diagnosed with it have been known to live long and happy lives.
This is a typical tongue pad.

For the cure to heel slippage, enter the tongue pad. The concept is simple enough: shim up the shoe to accommodate a smaller foot. The modern tongue pad takes the form of a 1/4" thick felt patch with adhesive on one side. The pad is stuck, via the adhesive, to the inside of the vamp on the shoe's tongue. This pushes the foot back into the heel  Truth be told, I had no idea that these little guys existed until I bought a pair of lightly used shoes on eBay that had them already installed. I didn't know what they were but they felt nice against my foot and the shoe fit perfectly because of it. I Googled "tongue pad" and low and behold, that's what they're called. I immediately ordered seven pair. I've put a few into some of my not-so-snug-fitting shoes and I now have shoes that fit! As an added bonus, if you're a trend-hopper like me and you sometimes wear your dress shoes sans socks, a tongue pad is a comfortable buffer between the top of your foot and bare leather.

I know the shoe snobs will deride the use of tongue pads and be all "ALWAYS try on shoes before buying" or "only buy shoes that fit perfectly" and "take out a second mortgage on your house and buy made-to-measure shoes". But for me, they work. They're a simple, inexpensive alternative to selling or returning shoes that are only slightly too large. A particular pair of chocolate brown suede loafers I thought I would have to sell on eBay wound up fitting after popping in a pair of tongue pads. Hey, that's worth it to me.


The Groomsman's Dilemma

This is a joke.
At some point in a young man's life, it is likely that he will be asked to stand up at a friend or relative's wedding. The day of his wedding is quite possibly the most important day in a man's life and he and his wedding party usually dress accordingly. Clearly the groom and groomsmen want to look good and especially for a religious ceremony will err on the side of formality in terms of dress. I won't delve into the details of types of wedding dress. It's all been said before (by the way, I can't agree with this advice more). Truthfully, I didn't know much at all about formal dress before reading these articles.

Anyway, last spring I was asked to be in my best friend's wedding. This was the first wedding I was actually to be a part of and I really had no idea of what to expect. It was decided by the bride and groom that the men of the wedding party would be dressed in tuxedos (even though the ceremony was to be held during the day). There was no argument from me and not much time passed before I found myself in a Men's Wearhouse Tux getting measured for a slick Calvin Klein two-button number, the best option available (if you've ever been to a MWT you've probably seen the ridiculous and insane zootsuit nonsense they have available for attention-seeking prom-goers). From what I ascertained from the measurements and the subsequent first and only fitting was that essentially they take an off the rack tuxedo jacket in your general size (in my case 42L) and simply alter the sleeve to the appropriate length. The pants are even easier: side tabs accommodate a range of waist sizes and the leg is cut full and flowing for all. The pant length is hemmed to taste.
This is me in a rental tuxedo.

To the right is a photo of what I looked like on the day. Forgive that my expression makes me look like a total dork and that my jacket is unbuttoned. I was taken by surprise. Even so, you can see that the jacket falls fairly straight down my sides and does little to flatter my body shape. It is difficult to see in this photo but the most bothering part of this outfit was the pants. They were just too big through the thigh and lower leg (something very difficult to do with me). I felt like I was wearing Hammer Pants. In fairness, I don't think I looked completely horrible. My experience just left a bit to be desired. This article will give you more of what to expect if you're going the MW route. All complaining aside, the ceremony and reception were truly beautiful and I would never, ever hold anything against the bride and groom because they are my de facto family. This is simply a case study in trying to dress one's self without the assistance of someone who sells you the use of a garment for 24 hours for $150. To me this is a waste. This is akin to paying rent and living in an apartment for your entire life. You get to park your body in it for a little while but own nothing at the end of the lease. You can also do nothing to customize it because you don't own it. Anyway, here's to investing in real estate formal clothing.

So, another friend is getting married late this fall and has asked me to be a part of his wedding party. I have refused to make the same mistake of renting a schlubby tuxedo for nearly half the cost of one that fit me that I could own for as long as the seams held up. The groom-to-be has chosen the same suit from the Men's Wearhouse as my good friend last year. And after looking at a bunch of tuxes I have concluded that a two-button, notch lapel jacket is a two-button, notch lapel jacket. There's a reason why its design has changed so little in the past few generations.
P.S. - I hope Idris Elba is the next Bond.
So for this wedding, I have resigned myself to acquiring my own tuxedo (I may have to rent some accessories from MW to be in the cool kids club but I'm fine with that). I looked up the same CK two-button that MW rents for $150: it retails for $350. Granted, there are extras included in that $150 but those are extras you can use over and over again (shirt, tie, waistcoat, studs, links, shoes, etc.). Still, I'm thinking the cost of getting that suit altered is gonna push the total cost higher than I'm comfortable with. Another idea: Internet made-to-measure. Enter Indochino. You may have heard of them before. They offer custom suiting based upon user-submitted measurements. They also offer a classic tuxedo for $359. They offer a ton of extras (lapel style, vents, ticket pocket, your choice of lining color), the sizing is based on your own measurements and the fit is guaranteed (they give you a $75 alterations credit to use with your local tailor if the garment doesn't fit you at first). I'm giving them a whirl for this upcoming wedding and hoping to look like James Bond (as the product description explains). They're also having a promotion right now with tuxedos where you get a shirt and two accessories free with code "TUXEDOPROMO".

From what I've read online on people's experiences with Indochino, reviews have been pretty good. Most agree that the fabric quality is not phenomenal but pretty good for what you're paying. Most people have to use the $75 credit and take a trip to the tailor at least once. This is simply the nature of the beast. You shouldn't expect a bespoke quality fit based on no actual fittings of the suit. Anyway, if the tailor can't do anything to make it fit you for $75, Indochino will cut you a new suit. Read this guide before you start anything.

Anyway, I'll be sure to let you guys know how it works out. I'm excited.

Aside: Don't Indochino's trenches look awesome?


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.