DSCF9086 Paul Stuart Made to Order Footwear   The Fitting
“It all begins with the fit.” Peter Agati, Paul Stuart’s shoe buyer, is a shoe guy through and through.

He knows shoes and he knows that what matters most is fit. If the fit is off, nothing else matters. If the fit is right, everything else falls into place. His first trip to a shoe factory is what sealed the deal for Peter. Walking the floor and watching in amazement how many people’s hands touched each shoe hooked him. “Most people have no idea how much handwork goes into shoes, and how much well-made shoes matter.”

The main thing to understand about Paul Stuart’s shoe department is that is it a fully integrated component of Paul Stuart. It is not merely a licensed space operated by an outside brand. No, Peter has spent several years building up a service on par with their brand’s larger reputation. It’s a luxury service department that can fit you properly and provide a degree of customization that results in a pair of shoes that are truly made to order.

Chris Hogan Madison Avenue 10.21.14 735x1024 Paul Stuart Made to Order Footwear   The FittingOTC had been invited to participate in a special brand influencer Made to Order footwear event at Paul Stuart’s Madison Avenue flagship store. OTC’s founder and editor-in-chief, Chris Hogan, spent the day being fitted from their Italian Classic collection. These shoes are not inexpensive, but neither are they overly expensive. In fact, the quality, construction, fit, and materials are equal to most custom labels.

In addition to Peter Agati, Ron Rider, agent for some of the world’s leading shoe makers, was also on hand to ensure that Chris’ fit was spot one and help to create a unique pair of Paul Stuart shoes.

After testing out a variety of lasts, we settled on the one that indeed fit like a glove. As Peter noted, his main job was now done. The fit was right. Now, it was a matter of style, design, details, and finishes.

What did we come up with? We’ll get into that in the coming weeks as we share with you pictures of our Made to Order Paul Stuart shoes as they come to life.

As an added bonus, we also got to catch up with our old friend Mark Rykken, who runs Paul Stuart’s custom clothing department. Much as Peter has done with the company’s footwear department, Mark has created a custom clothing haven for the most discerning clotheshorse. We even met the lady who sews all the buttonholes by hand, no easy task.

Thanks goes out to our pals at Deo Veritas custom shirting and Bull + Moose for the fantastic dead stock tartan tie. Lumina Clothing Company provided the Cone selvage denim jeans, Beltcraft sent along a bespoke suede belt, and Dapper Classics is the source for those killer socks that everyone noticed. As always, those are Eye Buy Direct glasses.

The navy blazer is actually a family heirloom. It’s a vintage J. Press jacket that belonged to Chris’ father and still has his dad’s monogrammed brass buttons. The pocket square was a gift from Alan Flusser.

It’s all about things that last.

In the meantime, below are some more images of the day, captured by our talented – and stylish – photographer Sean Pressley. Many thanks to Sean for spending the day knee deep in shoes.

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old campus rain Personal Style: Creating the College Professor Look

If there is any one “look” or style that best defines East Coast Ivy League, or OTC for that matter, it is that of the iconic college professor. When most people think of college professors (or indeed prep school teachers), the classic look comes to mind: tweed and corduroy, grey flannel, well-worn leather shoes, a beat-up satchel, and some wire framed glasses.

For many, that is what a college professor should look like. The reality is often at odds with the ideal; some look exactly as you might expect and some are in desperate need of sartorial help. Yet, the image of Dr. Jones in his classroom or Mr. Keating, imploring his charges to “seize the day,” persists.

So, what exactly is the “college professor” look and why is it so interesting? This classic Ivy League style can also be described as a sort of 1930s prep school teacher look. It combines two unique elements: a timeless, idealized version of the privileged life and the intellectualness of an exclusive liberal arts education.

IndianaJonesClassroom Personal Style: Creating the College Professor LookThough it may sound a little dramatic, this is a very emotional and evocative style of dress. Think of the outfits worn in such films as Dead Poets Society or A Beautiful Mind, or in any Harry Potter movie. The clothes themselves provide an emotional touchstone that quickly defines where you are and who you are. It is a sort of intellectual uniform, a symbol of belonging that is both timeless and very appealing.

Ralph Lauren in particular has captured the college professor look; in deed it is virtually synonymous with the brand. The now-defunct Rugby sub-brand moved from the lectern to the desk with richly detailed, prep school inspired clothing and accessories. The Rugby stores, often located close to college and university campuses, had the design and feel of an old and moneyed prep school common room.

More recently, J. Crew has masterfully redefined the college professor look to reflect a modernized riff on a late 1950s era Ivy League campus. More streamlined and less fusty, the J. Crew take on Ivy League is modern and active, yet still grounded in the classics, as it were.

A key element to achieving this wonderful look on your own is to not overdo it. And Fall is prime season for employing all the, classic elements.

MrKeating DPS Personal Style: Creating the College Professor LookThe college professor style is at its best when you appear to have not thought a great deal about what you threw on this morning. Tweed or corduroy coats, chunky sweaters layered over old button down shirts and school ties, gray flannels, corduroy pants, or heavy khakis. They are simple and classic components that, when combined, create an instantly recognizable picture.

The goal should be to reference key elements of the classic look but not mimic or replicate them as costume. You are not a character in play; you are someone with a real life, commute, and job. Still, this look is really about dressing emotionally and layering on a philosophy of life.

Moreover, the inherent eccentricities of this style make it fun and flexible. If you already invest in timeless core pieces, it’s that much better. Instead of a sweater, why not opt for a simple heather grey crew neck sweatshirt from American Giant over that OCBD, khakis, and old boat shoes?

Take Ivy Book Personal Style: Creating the College Professor LookThis quest for an authentic and honest expression of Ivy League style, in many ways the core of the college professor look, resulted in a 2010 English reprinting of the iconic 1965 Japanese book, Take Ivy. The virtual bible of American East Coast style, The Official Preppy Handbook, is a perennial reference, while subsequent publications including Ivy Style: Radical Conformists, Preppy: Cultivating Ivy Style, The Ivy League, and Rowing Blazers offer additional guidance.

Selecting honestly crafted and long lasting accessories is also important. Instead of a generic nylon backpack or computer bag, invest in a leather folio or classic briefcase. Frank Clegg makes some of the best; expensive, yes, but something that will last a lifetime. Classic pens and watches mix well, as does traditional footwear. Suede shoes, heavy brogues, and dressy boots are good choices.

For cooler days like the ones ahead, choose a big scarf in a nice tartan or your school colors. If you don’t have school colors or don’t like the ones you do have, just adopt someone else’s.

When done right, the overall effect should be of a natty intellectual. It should also look natural and relaxed with a touch of world-weary travel. This look works best on those who already possess a genuine love of this most classic of periods for menswear and are indeed curious about the world and of always learning more.

Perhaps more than any other style, the college professor look persists decade after decade because it is not really about fashion; it’s about a philosophy of life. It’s an outward expression of your curiosity and appreciation of what the world has to offer; a physical expression of cherishing the past and looking toward the future while never losing touch with your own sense of personal taste.

Below, we offer some inspirational imagery to set you on the sartorial path of creating your own version of the classic, timeless, rumpled, worldly, or modern college professor. Take your pick and make it yours.

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OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart Footwear

Making Shoes OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart Footwear

True personalization is the epitome of luxury. The idea of something crafted specifically and uniquely for you – to fit your particular body in all of its glorious imperfection – is what makes the world of bespoke so special, attractive, and often expensive.

Perhaps nowhere is the true benefit of customized fit more evident than with footwear. A bespoke suit is a wonderfully comfortable expression of a tailor’s craft; a garment that can change how you feel about yourself and how others see you. Made to measure shoes, however, are another thing all together.

Well crafted shoes are utilitarian as well as practical, functional, and vital accessories that can quite literally make or break your day. Even the best looking, most elegantly crafted brogues are worthless if it hurts too much to walk or they simply do not fit your particular feet.

PS Classic Logo OTC Goes Handmade With Paul Stuart FootwearPaul Stuart, already the byword for elegant comfort that speaks to a classic landed gentry aesthetic, has recently launched a made to order shoe program, taking up the banner of luxury footwear personalization. Blending their signature landed gentry style with the precision of the cobbler’s art, Paul Stuart’s exceptional English and Italian footwear is something to notice.

OTC in NYC

OTC has been invited to try out and document the Paul Stuart custom footwear experience and we’d like to bring you along for the ride.

On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, we will be in-house at the Paul Stuart flagship store at 354 Madison Avenue to meet the shoe-makers. OTC editor-in-chief Chris Hogan will learn about what goes into their made to measure Italian Classic footwear, get measured, and pick out all the details for our personalized pair.  Mark your calendars to stop by, say hi, and possibly look into ordering a pair for yourself.

Afterwards, we will be updating you throughout the entire process; as the shoes are formed, crafted, finished, and delivered. We are thrilled to be part of this outstanding event and look forward to showing you how the kick-off consultation at Paul Stuart goes.

In addition to OTC, the Paul Stuart team selected four other leading style influencers to be part of this project: Jake Metzger of Downeast and Out, Skylar Bergl of Four-Pins, Max Twitty of Gents Among Men, and Christopher Fenimore of his eponymous blog.

You can become an integral part of this social media experience too by following Paul Stuart, all of the influencers, and tagging @paulstuartny and #paulstuartshoes.

Those wishing to schedule an appointment during the shoe event or requiring more information are invited to contact Peter Agati at 212.682.0320 (ext. 546) or Peter.Agati@paulstuart.com.

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What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

Aran Handknit What to Wear This Fall: Irish Sweaters

Some things just naturally go together and “sweaters and fall” is definitely one of those things. Or two of those things. Regardless, when cool weather starts rolling in, menswear get a chance to show off some of the things that make classic style so classic.

Layering is one of the treats for those who love cold weather and a chunky Irish sweater always fits the bill. Thick wool, handcrafted, traditional or modern in style, they are for many of us, the hallmarks of the season. And, one of the best places to find an Irish sweater that’s right for you is actually a website.

Aran Sweater Market is a real place – founded in 1892 as a cooperative of traditional knitters on the cluster of Islands off the west coast of Ireland at the mouth of Galway Bay. Known as the islands of saints and scholars, the Aran Islands are breathtaking in landscape and rich in Irish history and culture. They are also the birthplace to iconic, traditional cabled “fisherman’s sweater.” These sweaters were often designed with distinct patterns unique to an individual clan. The patterns were jealously guarded as familial markers and sometimes used to identify the bodies of fishermen lost at sea. In fact, if you have the opportunity to visit the Aran Sweater Market on the Aran Islands, you can see an official register of these historic patterns.

Aran Label What to Wear This Fall: Irish SweatersThe sweaters themselves possess many attributes which made them suitable for cold and inclement weather – typical for lives of fishermen and island farmers in the North Atlantic. An Aran sweater is both naturally breathable and water repellent, and can even absorb 30 percent of its weight in water before feeling wet.  You can learn more about these remarkable garments by visiting the Aran Sweater Shop’s website.

We have been testing out the Hand Knit Honeycomb Stitch sweater (pictured at the top) and the Fisherman’s Ribbed Wool Turtleneck (below). Where the honeycomb stitch sweater embodies the classic fisherman’s jumper, the turtleneck projects a slightly more urbane and modern look. Both are expertly crafted and come with certificates of authenticity that proclaim their Aran Islands provenance. In addition to these two models, you can choose from  a range of style, weights, and colors, from highly traditional to surprisingly contemporary.

So substantial are some of these sweaters that they can often be worn as an outer layer themselves. Or, to complete that landed gentry look, just throw on a waxed canvas field jacket when it starts to get a little too chilly. These types of sweaters look good with almost any East Coast inspired outfit; from khakis to jeans, boat shoes to penny loafers. If there happens to be a large, happy dog nest to you, all the better.

As you might expect, hand knits are more expensive that machine made sweater, but both versions are well beyond the quality you would find in a typical store. Aran Sweater Market also sells women’s sweaters, woolen socks, woven and knitted scarves, and myriad woolens for the home.

Want to know what actual everyday New England preppy families had stashed in the off-season dresser? It was all this stuff – and every year we waited for months to pull it all back out.

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Going Custom With Allen Edmonds

Screenshot 2014 10 06 12.42.15 Going Custom With Allen EdmondsWe are working on an exciting project with iconic American footwear brand, Allen Edmonds.

“Custom” is the big buzzword throughout the fashion and menswear world right now: custom suits, custom shirts, custom trousers, even custom watch straps. To this ever-growing world of specialized fit and individual uniqueness now add customized shoes.

Of course, bespoke footwear has been around for centuries. One can still ring up John Lobb and set an appointment to begin the lengthy, and suitably expensive, process of creating a pair of shoes that will literally fit you feet like gloves. If, however, you require something more logistically and financially manageable, Allen Edmonds has the online tool for you.

Dubbed, the “shoe configurator”, this new tool offers you several footwear models, from casual boat shoes to dress cap toes, that can be tweaked and sized on a variety of levels never before offered. From changing the shoe’s color or type of leather to selecting two different sizes should your feet vary, to swapping soles. You can even mix and match leathers and colors to create some seriously customized (and potentially vibrant) shoes. Allen Edmonds plans to roll out even more features for the configurator soon.

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To be sure, it’s not inexpensive. Although compared to taking the bespoke route, it’s certainly a fair price for what you get – a pair of shoe far more customized to your fit and likes than would be available almost anywhere else; and from a company with a track record that bespeaks quality.

The tool’s interface is easy and intuitive. You start out with the standard model, and the variations you choose dictate the eventual cost of the final product. We gave it a try and settled on the classic wing McAllister wing tip. As we now are heading into autumn, the logical choice was a dark brogue suede. And, since inclement weather comes with the territory, we selected the mini-lug sole.

Simple and classic? You bet. But also, exactly what we wanted, right from the easy chair – and that’s the point.

We eagerly await the results (expect to wait about four weeks), and will show you the shoes once they arrive. Even more exciting for you is that we will be conducting a special giveaway that will let one lucky OTC reader create their very own pair of custom Allen Edmonds shoes!

So, stay tuned and check back.

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