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In My Cart at J. Crew

Use promo code SALEFUN for an extra 40% off sale merchandise. Expires tonight, July 22nd, at midnight Eastern.

Promo codes for 40% off sale merchandise and 50% off clearance seem to be the weekly norm at J. Crew. They added more merchandise to their sale section over the weekend; here are a few things I’ve been mulling over.

Vetra worker jacket in indigo
$119.99, from $248 retail. Well, it was in my cart, but the sizes are starting to sell out. The jacket’s made in France by Vetra, a fourth-generation clothing company from Paris. I like how this Continental take on workwear makes for a casual alternative to sport coats; sort of reminds me of the spring shirt-jacket Derek wrote about a while back. Would’ve been great for this past spring, but should still be great as we transition into fall.

Stripe leather and cotton web belt
$17.70, from $39.50. Made in the USA.

Urban Slim Fit Broken-in Chino in Bisque
$35.99, from $75. Great price and a great color for this time of year.

See all J. Crew men’s sale merchandise by clicking here.

The problem with some people at Pitti is that they take themselves too seriously, and don’t have the self-awareness to understand that they are, in fact, a little silly, and that there is nothing wrong with that. That’s real indignity, and I see that same trait in the shrill critics of the Pitti people. Really, in the end, it’s just clothes. We need them because we are hopelessly inadequate animals. So, if we are going to get dressed, which most of us are, we may as well have some fun.

Fok, aka LA Guy, co-founder of Styleforum

Thomas Mark Heritage

"Heritage" is a frequently-bandied and oft-abused word in menswear these days, wielded by marketers trying to tap into a broader cultural yearning for "authenticity"—whatever that means—and nostalgia for bygone eras marked by quality in materials, construction, and design. They understand that for many of us who develop an interest in menswear, there’s often a desire to reflect that shared identity and appreciation for the past in what we wear—or at least, to fake it.

It’s kind of funny to me how something akin to pride still swells up inside me when reading and talking about Americana in clothing, even though I’m a naturalized American citizen. Although I was not born into that heritage, I’ve adopted it as my own.

However, as an African—born in Madagascar, and raised in my formative childhood years in Kenya—I sometimes feel a bit of a disconnect from the “heritage” most-often referenced in menswear. And there’s always a part of me that wonders how I can incorporate my affinity for the continent of my birth into my day-to-day wear.

So I enjoyed finding out about Thomas Mark Heritage yesterday, a new line of Africa-inspired men’s accessories with raw materials sourced from the continent. The collection features cotton pocket squares, bracelets, and cufflinks.

Most of the squares are made from beautiful Malian cotton batik, as well as one Kuba-styled print from Congo and a Tuareg paisley print. The bracelets feature beads from a half-dozen countries across the continent, and the cufflinks are made from Ghanaian baule beads.

One of the cool things on the Thomas Mark Heritage website is the ability to search for accessories by region; that’s how I discovered my favorite piece, the black onyx Nakuru bracelet. It’s the sort of understated, elegant jewelry I could actually see myself wearing, and it happens to be named after a region in Kenya I often visited as a child.

Thomas Mark Heritage was launched this week by Thomas Anthony, a Philadelpha-based designer and creative director. Originally from Pretoria in South Africa, Thom tells me he started Thomas Mark Heritage expecting that “there were other men from the African diaspora who are looking for a way to wear a piece of Africana as part of their classic modern menswear fits. The pocket squares and wrist beads are intended to do just that; they can add a little colour to your usual suit or sportcoat and dress shirt ensemble in a way that means something to you (and can be a conversation starter as well).”

"It’s been an interesting journey sourcing these materials from all over the continent, trial-and-erroring the beads for durability, working out the best way to add nice raised contrast edges to the pocket squares," Thom says. "The materials are all so beautiful that I try to basically stay out of their way—there’s not much you can do that will improve upon one of these richly coloured Mali wax prints, you know? I just add a little trim and try to stay true to what the artisan intended."

Thomas Mark Heritage bracelets start at $19 and pocket squares at $39. You can see all the accessories at

Today Only at J. Crew: Extra 50% Off Sale Merchandise

Use promo code, TODAYONLY. Expires tonight, July 10th, at Midnight Eastern.

J. Crew’s obviously running out of original promo code names because they used the exact same one almost exactly a month ago. Only this time, the discounts are even steeper, with half off almost all sale merchandise. Makes me wonder if these one-day 40-50% off promo codes are going to be a monthly thing—probably not the greatest way for J. Crew to try to boost their dismal gross margins.

Also, an interesting tidbit from the promo code small print: while the promotion expires at midnight online, it’s good in-stores through July 22nd.

Here’s what I found interesting this time around; I’ve tried to only include merchandise with plenty of sizes still available, and I’ve noted non-returnable Final Sale items:

Ludlow Suit in Italian Cotton Piqué
FINAL SALE. $219.98, from $546 retail; pretty good for a casual summer suit, and plenty of sizes still left. The link above is to the jacket, the trousers are available in classic fit and slim fit.

Dotted Blue Pajama Set
$39.75, from $89.50 retail. What? These look comfy.

Linen-Cotton Ludlow Suit Pants in Vintage Grey
FINAL SALE. $74.99, from $188 retail. The matching jacket is long gone, but as separates these would be great with sport coats in tan linen and navy cotton. Or even just with a navy short-sleeve polo or white long-sleeve polo.

Bowery Classic Trouser in Steel Grey Cotton Twill
$29.75, from $79.50 retail. I’ve been intrigued by the Bowery Classic ever since Ian posted a great review of them a while back, and this is the lowest I’ve ever seen them go; that’s incentive enough for me to try out a pair or two myself. Also available in a saturated caramel color for the bold.

Slim Madras Shirt in Serene Blue Plaid
$34.75, from $75 retail. They say short guys like me shouldn’t wear big patterns, but I love bold madras in blues and reds.

Irish Linen Shirt in Navy
$37.25, from $79.50 I wrote a while back about how I’m on the look out for a navy casual summer shirt, and this looks like a fantastic option.

Suede MacAlister Boot
$54, from $148 retail. I highlighted these during the last “TODAYONLY” sale, and now they’re another 15% off. Pretty sure I’ve never seen the MacAlister go so low. I also had a bunch of people affirm the opinion that the Italian-made MacAlisters are superior to Clarks Desert Boots.

Ebbets Field Flannels Ball Cap
$19.75, from $49.50 retail. I could talk about how Ebbets Field Flannels is one of the most-respected ball cap companies around, but let’s be honest: my initials are “AA”, and this has a giant “A” on the front. That’s why I really want it.

Again, this sale ends online tonight at midnight Eastern, but runs through July 22nd in stores.

See all J. Crew Men’s sale merchandise here.

On Sale at  Brooks Brothers: Half Off US-Made Ancient Madder Ties

We’re barely into July, the days are wondrously long, today’s forecast high is 100°F, and here I am thinking about cooler weather and fall already.

Brooks Brothers launched their summer clearance sale late last week, and as they make room for this fall’s new arrivals, it represents a good opportunity to pick up anything from last fall and winter that happens to still be around, as much of it is deeply discounted.

Poking around in the clearance section, I found this large selection of ancient madder ties. Ancient madder, as many of you know, is a printed silk fabric with a “chalky” hand, long associated with fall/winter in general and tweed sport coats in particular. They’re often printed in neat patterns (that is, small repeated geometric shapes) or large paisleys, both of which are available at Brooks Brothers and pictured above.

While traditional or “true” ancient madder is printed in England, Brooks Brothers’ fabric is printed in Italy, and made up into ties here in the United States. They’re 3.25” wide—what I consider the perfect width for ties—and come with a self-keeper, that is, a keeper loop made from the same fabric as the tie.

At 50% off the original retail price, they come in at $57.50. Click here to see all the colors and patterns available.

Ralph Lauren Fourth of July Sale: 30% Off Select Sale Merchandise

Use promo code HAPPY4TH for 30% off. Code expires July 7th.

One of the nice things about this weekend’s 30% off promo code at Ralph Lauren is that it includes merchandise from all of Ralph Lauren’s menswear lines, ranging from Denim & Supply up through Purple Label and Black Label. I’ll highlight a few that caught my eye.

RRL Bradley Red Chambray Workshirt
Even at 58% off, this is admittedly really expensive for a casual shirt. But I have a soft spot for red chambray shirts, and this is a pretty awesome one, with thick slubby fabric and mother-of-pearl buttons.

Polo Ralph Lauren Canvas & Leather Messenger Bag
Ralph Lauren’s Filson alternative, available in navy, khaki, and the olive pictured above. Sunglasses not included.

Denim & Supply Madras Shirts
I’m still wary of Ralph Lauren’s lower-end D&S line, which is often over-designed to the point of gaudiness. But it’s hard to argue against madras shirts for under $35. I like madras shirts with bold, saturated colors like the blue and red one on the left—just $27.99! For something a bit more toned down, the green plaid madras shirt on the right is $34.99.

Polo Ralph Lauren Straight Fit Hampton Jean
For $52.49, you get dark mid-weight selvedge denim in a straight fit with minimal decoration. Sounds good to me. Similar jeans also available in a slim fit.

Polo Ralph Lauren Custom Fit Dress Shirts
The sale includes a bunch of PRL’s slimmer custom fit dress shirts for as low as $35, including the tattersall buttondown collar poplin pictured above.

You can see all Ralph Lauren merchandise eligible for the promo code here.

On Sale: Up to 37% Off Rancourt-Made Bass Weejun Loafers

Some of you may recall that Bass recently introduced the Fenmore, a limited-edition Weejun penny loafer made in Maine by Rancourt & Co. Since Bass long ago outsourced production of their iconic preppy staple overseas, the new shoe was heralded as something of a return to roots. I’m sure the less grumpy members of Tradsville rejoiced.

Alas, it seems the celebration may have been premature. I started mulling over this post just a day or two ago, and in the interim, Bass removed the Fenmore from their website, as well as the Youtube video that accompanied the launch. The shoes can now be found for $209 at Gilt and You can disregard both sites’ stated MSRP of $350; Bass’s own site had the Fenmore listed at $295. Still, $209 is a discount of nearly 30%—pretty good for loafers made in America by a respected shoemaker. Plus, the various leathers are sourced from Chicago’s Horween Leather Company, some with a pebbled grain and others with an oily finish that looks an awful lot like Chromexcel.

At face value, is the best place to pick up a pair of Fenmore Weejuns, as they’re $209.99 with free shipping. They’re available in a pebbled brown and a smooth burgundy (color 8 Chromexcel?).

Gilt carries the Fenmore in six different colors, and for some people picking up the loafers at Gilt may also be a better deal. I think pretty much everyone has a Gilt membership these days, but if you don’t, they’ll give you a $25 credit if you join through a referral link (that’s mine, and yes, I also get a $25 credit if you join). That brings the Fenmore Weejuns down to just $184 plus shipping.

For current members, Gilt occasionally sends out 30% off promo codes. It’s never been clear to me who gets these, or why, but if you happen to get lucky, that makes the loafers just $146—a steal for Rancourt-made shoes.

For everyone else, may have the cheapest Rancourt loafers around.

Extra 25% Off Sale at East Dane

Use promo code 25MORE for 25% off all sale merchandise. Code expires Thursday, June 26th.

When East Dane released a rare promo code early Tuesday for an additional discount on sale merchandise, there was an immediate scramble for the most obvious deal: Drake’s London ties for under $70. Most of the ties I picked out for this post sold out by the time I started drafting it, but two are still lingering as I write this that are versatile enough to see a lot of regular wear: a charcoal dotted tie ($58!) and a black tie with white flower neat pattern ($64).

These brown pebble grain Dainite sole Mark McNairy wingtip boots are just begging to be worn with dark denim this coming fall. Goodyear-welted and made in Northampton, England by Sanders & Sanders, they’re a steal at under $200.

Speaking of dark denim, there are still a few pairs of Imogene + Willie straight fit jeans left for under $100. I honestly haven’t followed the brand too closely of late, but when I visited them in Nashville a few years ago, they were making the jeans right there in their shop. Pretty cool.

Final sale merchandise at East Dane is discounted 70%—with the additional 25% discount it’s all a whopping 77.5% off retail. Final sale means no returns or exchanges, so there’s obviously some risk involved. One brand we see here that I’m willing to take my chances with is Aspesi. The high-end Italian maker is best known for their slim (and expensive) field jackets, but the discounts puts their other merchandise down to the Gap/Banana Republic/J. Crew range. Personally, I’m eying this "made in Italy" navy linen shirt, as I’ve been wanting a casual navy summer shirt for some time (inspired, no doubt, by this picture of George Cortina). Also worth a look are these Aspesi chinos, still available in most sizes.

See all East Dane sale merchandise eligible for an extra 25% off.

On Sale at STP: $39 Tailored Fit Baird McNutt Irish Linen Sport Coats

Thanks to Jamie for the tip. Use promo code SFB61114 for 35% off $59.95 sale price. Code expires tonight, June 12th, at midnight Central Time.

These are Lands’ End jackets from two years ago that originally retailed for around $250 a piece—you can still find a full description and (generally positive) customer reviews at the original product page.

I tried out the large herringbone jacket when it was first released, along with a pair of trousers made from the glen plaid. Made with 100% linen fabric from Ireland’s Baird McNutt mill, the construction and fit is comparable to the navy Lands’ End cotton-linen suit I’m wearing here: slim fit, unpadded shoulders, quarter-lined for better breathability, taped seams, and short enough to work on my 5’7” 38S frame. My only real complaint is the awkwardly low armholes, which restrict movement a bit when you try to raise your arms. I also suspect some people won’t like the slubbiness and wrinkles of 100% linen fabric, but that’s just part of its charm.

While these jackets were originally part of a suit, the patch pockets, swelled edges, and casual patterned fabric mean that they work just fine as standalone sport coats for the summer, paired with white, stone, or grey trousers and loafers. They could even do some early fall or late spring duty with dark denim and chukka boots.

I returned the glen plaid trousers because the lime green horizontal lines proved much brighter than conveyed by online images—I thought the pattern didn’t quite work for trousers, but it should be fine as a jacket. As for the large herringbone jacket—I’m not sure why I returned it, but it was probably because of the price.

Now that they’re just $39 a piece, though, I’m definitely taking another look.

Maybe Dad Wants a Tie

There’s this trope that keeps appearing in ads and promotional emails over the past few weeks: “Don’t get Dad another [boring/ugly/unwanted] tie this Father’s Day, buy him our product instead!”

This is where I say to my wife and boys that you don’t need to get Papa anything for Father’s Day. A Sunday afternoon together will more than suffice.

For anyone else who does want to give a gift for Father’s Day, I ask that you to reconsider the necktie. It need not be ugly nor unwanted, but boring might just be okay. Unlike the novelty ties often pressed upon fathers this time of year, the best ties are usually subdued: solid or simply-patterned in dark colors. There’s elegance in simplicity, and against a white or light blue shirt, such ties defer attention from themselves to the man wearing them. What better way to honor Dad?

My favorite ties are made by Drake’s London. Handmade in England, Drake’s ties are world-class in construction and materials used, and I daresay there’s a tangible difference from your typical tie. The first time I knotted a Drake’s tie, I literally gasped aloud. There’s something about the exquisite fabric and supple construction that creates the perfect knot almost every time, and the very act of doing so is a simple pleasure that will long be appreciated.

If you’re used to purchasing ties at department stores, the retail price on Drake’s ties will probably shock you. Thankfully, there are a number of stores that have them on sale at the moment, including Barney’s, Barney’s Warehouse, and Mr. Porter. However, with five day standard shipping at the latter, and questionable designs at Barney’s and Barney’s Warehouse, your best bet is actually at East Dane, which has a dozen Drake’s ties for under $100, and can guarantee delivery by Father’s Day if you order today.

Because maybe, just maybe, Dad wants a tie.

On Sale at Sierra Trading Post: Wolverine 1000 Mile Firsts!

Pictured above:

Wolverine 1000 Mile x Filson Emerson Boot in Rust

Wolverine 1000 Mile Latham Chukkas in Rust and Beige

Use promo code SFB6514 for 30% off through Saturday, June 14th.

That’s right, not seconds. These were easy to miss when they first appeared on Sierra Trading Post a couple days ago, since STP’s already stocked factory seconds of both models in the past. But a closer inspection of the title and product description indicates that these are first-quality closeouts, and not blemished or defective seconds.

They aren’t priced much higher than seconds, either. The Emerson boot is $299.95—31% off retail, and just $10 more than the Emerson seconds that sold out at Sierra Trading Post a couple weeks ago. You can certainly find the Emerson for less elsewhere online, but stacked with Sierra Trading Post’s Deal Flyer emails, it can be discounted as low as $165. Not bad for an American-made, Horween Chromexcel Goodyear-welt boot created in collaboration with Filson (the tongue is made of Filson’s signature cotton twill).

As for the Latham burnished toe suede chukka—while it’s $50 more than the seconds that happen to still be available at STP, they’d be just $138 with a 45% off Deal Flyer. The style and colors aren’t for everyone (not my thing, personally), but if you like happen to like the aesthetic, you’d be hard-pressed to find better-constructed chukka boots for that price.

You can see all the recently-added first-quality Wolverine 1000 Mile boots here. Note that the Latham seconds are also on that page—couldn’t find a way to exclude them.

Today Only at J. Crew: Extra 40% Off Sale Merchandise

Use promo code, well, TODAYONLY. Expires tonight, June 9th, at Midnight Eastern.

Last Wednesday, J. Crew announced a $30.1 million first quarter loss and a 38.7 percent drop in gross margins compared to last year, partially placing the blame on the fact that they hold sales too frequently.

So it’s kind of weird that on Monday, they’ve decided to hold one of their better sales in a while: an extra 40% off all sale merchandise. But it kind of makes sense—along with too frequent sales, J. Crew cited decreased store activity for their thinner margins, which leaves them with excess inventory to clear out. I’m guessing that decreased store activity was due to people holding out for deeper sales they knew were coming.

Anyways, here are a few of my picks for this go-round.

Ghillie Jacket ($131.99, from $248 retail)

Quilted Shirt-Jacket in Navy ($35.99, from $168)
This is a piece of outerwear I’ve liked but been hesitant about because I’m not sure how I’d actually wear it. So I posed the question on Reddit and got some good answers. People who’ve picked it up seem to really like it.

Dark Rinse Denim Jacket ($59.99, from $138)
I thought this jacket looked pretty good this past fall as worn by Scott Schuman (aka The Sartorialist). As a shorter guy, he had his tailor alter the hem.

Wallace & Barnes Flannel Shirt ($53.99, from $118)

Flannel Shirt in Blue Herringbone Plaid ($41.99, from $79.50)
I have an irrational, nearly twenty-year old knee-jerk aversion to plaid flannel shirts after witnessing a bunch of my junior high classmates humiliate my homeroom teacher for wearing one when he made an effort to dress better (they didn’t have Put This On back then, kids). But the deep, bold colors on these ones are tempting me to face my phobia.

Indian Cotton Shirt in Rose Tile Plaid ($23.99, from $75)
Speaking of bold colors, I’m looking to add a few madras shirts to my summer shirt wardrobe as we hit a stretch of days with triple-digit highs. The price is certainly right on this one. Who’s happy about a casual office dress code? This guy!

Indian Cotton Shirt in Sail Blue Plaid ($29.99, from $75)
Because sometimes you need to tone it down at the office.

MacAlister Boots ($64.80, from $148)
I’ve honestly kind of dismissed J. Crew’s MacAlisters (why not just go for Clarks Desert Boots?), but Pete at Put This On made in intriguing case for them a couple weeks ago as a sharper alternative to CDBs.

Bennett Chukka Boots ($59.99, from $248)
You’ll have to forgive me, because I think this is the third time I’ve written about these boots in the past few months. But holy cow—these are Goodyear-welted, dressy chukkas for $60 ($60!!!). And, curiously, they’ve taken them off of Final Sale, meaning you can still return them if they don’t work out. It really doesn’t get much better than that.

Ends Today, June 9th: Macy’s Friends & Family Extra 25% Off Sale

Use promo code FRIEND for 25% off, including sale merchandise.

A few picks from Macy’s Friends & Family Sale for this Monday morning. As it happens, everything I’m writing about meets Macy’s $99 threshold for free shipping — cool!

First up, Tommy Hilfiger tuxedos. I first wrote about these two years ago, and remarkably, the premise is more or less the same: short of shopping vintage on eBay, Tommy Hilfiger is your best bet for an almost proper tuxedo under $300.

What do I mean by this? There are a few features that distinguish a proper black tie jacket: it should be black or midnight blue with shawl or peak lapels (never notch!), satin or grosgrain lapel facings, a single-button front, and jetted pockets (more on proper black tie attire here).

It’s ridiculously hard to find all of those things in a jacket alone for under $500, to say nothing of the entire dinner suit. Macy’s carries two Tommy Hilfiger trim fit suits that get most of the way there, and through the end of the day, they’re just $281.

The first jacket option is pictured above: a one-button shawl collar in black. The only knock against it is the flapped pockets, but if you want to be a purist, you can tuck the flaps into the pockets.

The second jacket option is a peak lapel version with two knocks against it: flap pockets and a two-button front.

Trousers with matching satin piping (another important detail) are available for both.

Beggars can’t be choosers (unless they have a long timeline and can wait patiently on eBay), so if you’re in the market for a tuxedo and have a sub-$300 budget, this is about as good as it gets.

Also from Tommy Hilfiger for those on a restricted budget—a hopsack navy blazer for $112.

For something a bit more casual and summer-ready, Polo Ralph Lauren chino sport coats are $172, nearly half off the original retail price. They’re available in ever-popular navy and khaki, as well as a faded red called “Flame”. Note that the difference between the navy and khaki jackets extends beyond color—they navy features a patch breast pocket, while the khaki jacket has a welted breast pocket and what appears to be a crisper fabric.

A handful of Allen Edmonds also end up steeply-discounted with the promo code. The Patriot suede penny loafer is just $136, from a retail price of $365, but there’s a reason: reviews indicate that these run narrow, and folks are having trouble with sizing. Fortunately, shipping and returns should be free on these, so it’s risk free to give them a try.

For something a wee bit more formal, the brown suede Strand cap-toes come in at $204For the same price, you can also get the Hanover wholecut oxford in black, which—with a mirror polish—should be a nice complement to the Tommy Hilfiger tuxedos.