If you haven’t yet stopped by Sterling & Burke, we strongly advise that you do. The refined selection of leather goods at this Pennsylvania Avenue boutique is an immediate reflection of British good taste. At first glance, it’s all about the details. Why toss your jewelry in a zippered pocket if you can roll it in a suede-lined case handmade in England? Or for the well-traveled gent, leave the note pad at home and document your overseas visit in a grosgrain leather diary instead. The impeccable attention to detail got us thinking: What would Sterling & Burke designer Alexandra J. Megan advise her customers to buy? She provided us with a curated selection of items for the professional man and woman, as well as hand-picked pieces for those looking to get away.
Find Valeria Boucas on Twitter at @valeriaboucas.
In the spirit of the season, let’s take a moment to give thanks for the major uptick in awesome menswear options that have flooded Georgetown in recent years. These days, there’s pretty much no excuse for our guys to still be donning ill-fitting suits and balloon-like shirts—and for that we are grateful.
Doing their part to help the cause is Ledbury, a menswear e-shop based out of Richmond and open today for a monthlong seasonal pop-up on Wisconsin Avenue. At the showroom-style store, customers can try Ledbury’s shirting, blazers, and dresswear accessories, and the shop’s team will help place orders to be filled through the website. Expect the brand’s signature classic styles reworked with modern silhouettes, high-quality construction, and luxe fabrics. We snagged a sneak peek at the 1,000-square-foot shop this week, and among the highlights we spotted were the brand’s limited-run seasonal collection (like shirts in a super-soft brushed cotton herringbone), necessity-turned-luxe cashmere socks, and refined blazers, plus a solid selection of silk and knit ties in perfectly restrained patterns. And that’s not all: Beyond the clothes, the showroom nails a rugged-meets-dapper modern masculinity, complete with on-message taxidermy, a bourbon-stocked bar cart, and vintage midcentury furnishings provided by a Richmond antiques dealer (and available to buy, too). Read on to see more of the space and hear more about the brand straight from cofounder Paul Trible.
Who: Kevin Gray, 29
Industry relations representative for a music rights organization
What I do: “Do you ever listen to internet radio? Of course you do. Well, we’re the US performance rights organization that collects and distributes the royalties to your favorite recording artists when you hear their songs on non-interactive digital radio stations. From local acts like Rex Riot and W. Ellington Felton to global superstars like Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder, we deal with artists on every level.
“I educate artists, their managers, label owners, and lawyers on what the organization does and the various ways we assist artists from paying out royalties to fighting on Capitol Hill for musicians’ rights. Imagine getting an e-mail from Santa in early June telling you he has money for you that you never knew existed. I’m Kris Kringle, and I come bearing gifts.”
My work style: “Our office dress code is on the looser side, so that gives me the opportunity to have some fun with my outfits on a day-to-day basis. When most of my coworkers are wearing jeans and tees, I’ll be in a blazer and brogues. The music industry has many different looks to it, so I try to merge the backstage and the boardroom with a little bit of dandy in the mix.”
“I fell in love with the blazer-and-tee look a few years back when it departed from the Miami Vice look. The tee takes the edge off when I’m dealing with artists who don’t take well to ‘suits.’”
Zara blazer and loafers, L.Y. 1981 tee, Uniqlo chinos, Timex with J.Crew strap, Converse glasses, L-Men pocket square.
Since she came to U Street two years ago, Foundry owner and designer Yvette Freeman has stolen our hearts with her worldly passion for home furnishings and antiques—traveling to Paris, Florence, and the like to track down stunning, one-of-a-kind pieces. So imagine our excitement when she announced today that she’s expanding her business to sell—ready for this—clothing.
Beginning November 15, Foundry will sell vintage clothing alongside antiques from new, larger digs just off H Street. And when we say larger, we mean it: The new space, an appropriately historic two-level carriage house in Atlas Court Alley, is 4,000 square feet—four times the size of the boutique’s current showroom. A new design center for personalized consultations and custom orders will occupy half the space. Says Freeman on the expansion: “As more condominium and apartment complexes develop in the H Street corridor, the need for furniture and home accessories increases, and our move to a bigger showroom will help us showcase even more items.”
The clothing portion of the business, dubbed Foundry Threads (Freeman calls it an “era lifestyle brand”), is inspired by the rugged effortlessness of James Dean and will cater primarily, but not exclusively, to men. The space will feature a “fashion wheel” that helps male shoppers narrow down their clothing selections to achieve certain styles. Freeman says that with Foundry’s current offerings, customers are “living well and now [they] are dressing well, so we are helping you to accomplish that” with the addition of Threads. We, for one, can’t wait to see what turns up.
Bonus: The move means lots of purging from the old space, which equals major discounts for customers. From now until the new location opens, everything in Foundry’s current inventory is half off.
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The wane of summer means afternoons spent sailing the Potomac are slowly being replaced by hikes on local trails. And naturally, as leisure activities traverse the seasons, a guy’s footwear should march in line as well. Translation: Bye-bye, boat shoes; hello, boots.
While über-functional rain and snow boots fall squarely on the “necessities” list for coming months, style creed dictates that you also need a solid pair of casual boots. Think durability with some flair. Once you’ve found the perfect pair, don’t forget to work different techniques to incorporate them into your personal style. Try wrapping longer laces around the ankle or tucking in your jeans (tailored, straight fits work best here to avoid bunching), which will show off the flaps and give you a more casual, relaxed look. Need a few ideas? Head to the gallery to shop ten of our favorite styles.
Now that I’ve brazenly accused your city mates of sloth and conformity in their suit-wearing ways, it’s only fair that I offer some polite suggestions about how to make their suits more interesting. At the risk of sounding like Stacy London from What Not to Wear—though there are worse fates— it comes down to a few key points (I reserve the right to add to this list).
Difference is the easiest, and it’s the topic for this week.Difference is a spread-collar French-cuff shirt . . .
Shoulder runs: Go to a men’s suit store. Run your hand across the shoulders of the jackets in one fluid, slow motion. Use your eyes as well. Look and feel for differences in consistency, sheen, and quality. Now look at the prices and analyze what you’ve perceived. Do one set whenever you see a rack of suits. Superset: Do the same for a rack of sport coats nearby.
Tie runs: Like shoulder runs, except with racks of neckties. Do one set whenever you see a rack of neckties. Filene’s Basement is great for this, though the clearance prices make that information less meaningful. But you can still feel the quality differences. Superset: Get a slender tie and wear it with a casual button-down shirt under a sweater.
Tie lifts: When you get home, take off your tie. Keep your suit and shirt on. For each tie you own, put it on, look in the mirror, note the problems and happy accidents (color, texture, reflectiveness, proportion), and take it off. Do one set per suit. Repeat with any new ties. Superset: Make the same tie work with three shirt-and-suit combinations.
Denim drops: At the clothing store, grab seven or eight pairs of jeans in different styles, brands, and sizes, based on colors and washes that appeal to you. Try them all on and study them in the full-length mirror. Rank them according to your gut. Buy the winner. Do one set whenever you want a new pair of jeans. Superset: Ask for a pair of raw-denim jeans for Christmas and forsake all other casual pants, and don’t wash them for the first six months, at least.
Click to Buy (clockwise from top left): A.P.C. New Cure straight leg jeans, $175; Paul Frederick Herringbone town coat, $99.95; Brooks Brothers Regent Suit, $998; Lucchese 1883 Tan Ranch Hand Boots, $329.99
Bear with me. As an English major who took AP physics in high school, I’m eminently qualified to make up metaphors to describe everyday phenomena using laws of physics that I vaguely understood at the time and barely remember now, right?
Let’s take what I call the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. Werner Heisenberg figured out that the more precisely you measure the momentum of an electron, the less precisely you can measure its position and vice versa. Quantum stuff. There are some cool physics reasons why this is true, but the basic concept is easy enough, right?
I propose the Warrenberg Certainty Principle: If you’re confident about the clothes you’re wearing, it’s almost impossible to measure other people’s actual reactions precisely. This happens because of another science thing called confirmation bias. This means that if you have a hypothesis in mind, you’ll tend to discard evidence against it and seek out evidence to favor it.
It happens to you. It happens to me. We forget stuff. Sometimes, it’s Valentine’s Day. Or that the politician we most revile is a human being who has children who probably love him or her.
Another thing we forget is those little nagging sartorial details before we walk out the door. We’re in a hurry or we’re preoccupied, or we’re on the phone and we just forget. Kind of like how I forgot I wasn’t supposed to park in the “compact cars only” spots in my apartment’s lot. No one is to blame, least of all me! Yet we must be diligent. So as you’re putting on your suit, assuming you dress in the same order I do:
1. Check for a zipped fly and buttoned waist. Also check this every time you wash your hands in the powder room.
2. Did you manage to pick out matching socks? No? How about matching shoes, at least? While you’re at it, make sure those navy socks aren’t actually black.
3. Make sure all your shirt buttons are firmly buttoned.
Click to buy, clockwise from top left: Ecco Atlanta cap toe tie, $165; Johnston & Murphy Atchison cap toe blucher, $99; Ecco Atlanta cap toe tie, $165; Bostonian Andover, $110; Florsheim Afton Oxford, $130; Florsheim Edgar, $100Washington’s average suit is a solid dark color: gray or black. It’s made out of an untextured wool that seems to absorb light. It might have a pinstripe. Its jacket is single-breasted and has two buttons. Its lapels are about 2½ inches at their widest point. It has one vent. It’s darted. There’s some padding in the shoulders. Its waist is generous.
Underneath is a white cotton or cotton/polyester (I’m looking at you, Van Heusen) button-down shirt with barrel cuffs and a point collar. There’s a necktie. It’s usually made of a thin, faded, textureless material. It’s patterned with diagonal stripes, horizontal lines, or diamonds. Regardless of how the tie is tied, the knot is never larger than the width of my index and middle fingertips combined, and it never reaches below the collar’s points.
The pants have pleats, no more than two, and a cuff with a full break. They have what you might generously call a billowing fit. A black belt supports them. Black cotton socks accompany the suit. The socks have fallen down the wearer’s calves and collected in ankle puddles, which are visible—along with shin flesh—whenever the wearer crosses his legs. To cap it all off, black shoes made out of matte leather with thick laces—if there are laces!—a rubber sole, and square toes. They often vaguely resemble Steve Madden-style tennis shoes.