Friday, May 22, 2009

Hats off to this classic by Orvis

The Soft Panama Boater from Orvis is an elegant throwback to the 1920s, from the Ivy League to riverboats on the Mississippi.

In full disclosure, I am a part-timer at the Orvis store in Houston, so my take on Orvis apparel comes not without bias. That said, this particular straw hat stacks up well with Makins and Stetson.

The Orvis straw boater hat, woven in Ecuador and made in the USA, is very much an American classic. I would see this hat being worn by older alumni at Harvard when I was a student setting up tables at tents for class reunions. The flat crown and red-and-blue band are distinctive features. Wearing the hat reveals a man's posture and magnifies his confidence. There's no shame in tipping or removing the hat, of course, when a woman is present.

The simplicity of the straw boater is its most striking quality. The brim is firm and does not droop. A cotton band lines the inside and absorbs sweat. Wearing the hat with a navy blazer and khakis, or with seersucker, yields best results.

Watch the steps of these spectator shoes

During a recent trip to London, I made the rounds on Jermyn Street and did some window shopping. After a quick stroll past the likes of Bates Hats, T.M. Lewin, Daks, Hackett and New & Lingwood, I stopped in at Charles Tyrwhitt, which is known for shirts but has an impressive display of shoes.

The most eye-catching display at Tyrwhitt's was the St. Andrews Correspondent, a two-color shoe that is brown at the heel and toe and tan in between. The use of tan as the contrasting color (as opposed to white) makes the shoe unique. Combined with khaki slacks, the resulting look is all the more impressive.

I withstood the temptation to purchase these spectators that day, opting for the Adler Buckshot Brogue that I purchased from Gieves & Hawkes on Savile Row, located a few blocks west of Jermyn Street. See my April 21 post.) I budgeted for one pair of shoes in London, so I stuck to that. I came away from the Charles Tyrwhitt store knowing what size would fit me best.

When I returned home from London, I ordered the St. Andrew's Correspondent online, taking advantage of a 10% discount. Two weeks later, the shoes arrived at my door.

After putting taps on and giving them a cream shine, the shoes did not disappoint. Compliments flowed. I wasn't walking anymore -- I strutted.

Of course, one wants to wear this type of shoe sparingly, so as not to wear out its welcome. I plan on making my spectators part of the weekly rotation, especially on Sundays!