Detail of the Day – Twilled Cotton in Pink from Button-down Shirt

Detail of the Day - Twilled Cotton in Pink from Button-down Shirt

Detail of the Day – Twilled Cotton in Pink from Button-down Shirt

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This is the detail of a twill weave of cotton from a pink button-down shirt.


Kingpin’s Lady Pins – Inaugural Pin Up Pastel Supernova as Carmen

Burlesque Dancer Pastel Supernova as Carmen in Vargas Style Pin Up

“They say they’re rolled on the thighs of virgins but I can assure you that isn’t true.”

Burlesque dancer Pastel Supernova as Carmen in Vargas Style Pin Up.

Welcome to the first in a continuing series of Vargas inspired pin ups produced by Kingpin’s Hideaway. Pastel Supernova graces us with her rendition of the wild and cigar-smoking Carmen. She also has on display a gorgeous silk crêpe piano shawl in deep royal purple with a wide border of silk velvet.

The piano shawl was made by the defunct J.H. & C.K. Silk Mill of Shamokin, Pennsylvania, pre-1930 and features an early Art Nouveau batik.

This series is built on the structure of the Vargas Pin Up crafted by Peruvian artist Alberto Vargas.  Vargas developed his distinct style throughout the 20th century with his work for film posters and Esquire and Playboy magazines.
Pastel was photographed on location at Kingpin’s Hideaway by Jennifer Toole.


The Shirt 101 – The Basics and How to Measure Yours

Vintage Brooks Brothers Shirts and Collars from the 20's

Vintage Brooks Brothers Shirts and Collars from the 1920's

The base of every gentleman’s outfit is his shirt. They may be made of cotton, linen, silk, wool, or other textiles. A shirt maybe worn for casual pursuits or the most formal ones.

The basic shirt is comprised of the collar, sleeves, cuffs and yoke. The yoke and the sleeves have plackets to help with the closures which may be buttons, studs or cufflinks. More on all those in future posts…

The Parts of a Shirt

The Parts of a Shirt

A shirt may have short sleeves, for wear in tropical or warm summer climates. It may also be of finely woven cotton pressed and starched for ‘white tie‘ occassions. The various elements of the shirt may be changed to give such a wide variety that it has become the staple of gentlemen’s dress.

* – Please note that an undershirt is not a shirt. A “T-shirt” is of the most extreme casual dress and one that should be the rare exception to a gentleman’s dress and not the rule!

The most important element of any shirt in a gentleman’s wardrobe is that is fit him properly. Each fellow has there own desired fit for their ideal shirt and you need to know how to measure one so you can find them more easily.

For your viewing pleasure and sartorial edification:

Gentlemen’s Fabrics 101 – Wool

Wool is the earliest fabric Europeans clothed themselves with. It is a natural fibre that is collected from domesticated sheep and goats, as well as other animals. For our purposes here, wool includes the hairs sheared, plucked or gathered from various animals.

Swiss Cashmere Goats

Swiss Cashmere Goats

A short survey of the animals that supply wool and the names given each type are listed:

While some of these wool fibres are quite exotic, and hence very expensive, others are in common use in the production of gentlemenswear. The wool from sheep is the primary source of the wool  used to make suits, blazers and trousers. Some of the more expensive wool is used to make accessories likes scarves, gloves and hats, although the cashmere blazer is a fantastic addition to any gentleman’s wardrobe!

Thom Browne Striped Merino Blazer

Thom Browne Striped Merino Blazer

The process of turning raw animal fibres into usable wool threads is fairly standard across the many animals the produce usable hair fibres. The first step is to gather the hair through either shearing, combing or plucking. After the hair is gathered, and depending on the source animal, it needs to be cleaned in a process called scouring. The steps in the scouring range from simple hot water to detergent and other chemicals depending on the source animal and the intended use of the wool. Many types of wool have high levels of oils, sometimes called wool wax, which has to be removed, and hopefully recovered, as it is a valuable resource of its own, producing lanolin.

Vicuña Mens Scarf

Vicuña Mens Scarf

The scoured wool is then carded and then sometimes combed. The final product is then either spun into yarn or made into felt. For our purposes, the yarn  is used to make garments and the felt is used for hats. Virgin wool is wool created from the first spinning of the fibres. If the wool was also combed, the fibres have been straightened to the point of making the yarn quite strong and smooth.

The different kinds of wool fabric created from the different breeds and species are wide ranging in weight, texture and tactility. These fabrics form the foundation of gentlemen’s fashion, from elegant suits and tuxedos to coats, scarves and fedoras. But more on that later…

Article first published as Fabrics For Gentlemen 101 – Wool on Technorati.

Gentlemen’s Fabrics 101 – Linen

Cary Grant in Linen Jacket and Trousers

Cary Grant in Linen Jacket and Trousers

Just as ancient China lays claim to the production of silk, ancient Egypt brought the world linen. Linen is the fabric made from the fibre of the plant flax, Linum usitatissimum. Egyptians are recorded as having linen production as far back as 4 000 years and archeologists have discovered linen fragments near human encampments from 10 000 years ago, with some suspected dyed flax fibres being used for clothing as far back as 38 000 years ago.

The Flax Plant - Linum usitatissimum

The Flax Plant - Linum usitatissimum

The process to produce usable fibres from flax to spin into yarn and thread is labour intensive, hence the higher price for linen garments. The flax seeds must first be removed from the plant in a process called rippling. the stacks must then have the cellulose on the plant separated from the plant’s fibres through retting, where bacteria dissolve the unneeded cellulose. Next the flax stacks are scutched which removes all the woody material, as well as the oil, the source of linseed oil. Once scutched, heckling, through the use of the heckling comb, separates the short fibres from the long, where they can then be spun into yarn and thread and then woven into linen. Whew!

Cary Grant Traveling in a Double-breasted Linen Suit

Cary Grant Traveling in a Double-breasted Linen Suit

And taking our cue from style icon Cary Grant, linen is an ideal fabric for attaining Kingpin chic. Will over at The Houndstooth Kid extols the virtues of wearing linen. His most convincing point? It travels well. Very well.

It wrinkles. It’s supposed to wrinkle. A linen suit or jacket without wrinkles is like a car without wheels: they just have to be there for it to work. And since we sit for long periods of time when we travel, our clothes tend to wrinkle even if they aren’t supposed to.

Linen shirts, trousers, jackets suits and shorts are ideal for keeping your cool in the coming summer heat, and looking damn fine doing so!

Article first published as Summer’s Coming, Where’s Your Linen? on Technorati.