Thrifted 3-Button Sport Coat – Needs Tailoring

Natural Shoulder, 3-Button Sport Coat by Southwick

Natural Shoulder, 3-Button Sport Coat by Southwick

Last week, I made some great finds while thrifting.  I came across two natural shoulder (Ivy style) 3-button sack sport coats at The Nearly New Shop, which is run by the Junior League of Greenville, SC.  The top button of this sport coat, which is rolled on the lapel (a 3/2 roll) was made by Southwick for Rush Wilson, Ltd., a traditional mens’ clothier in town, with whom I opened a charge account when I was 15 years old.  The other sport coat (images coming soon) was made by Norman Hilton also for Rush Wilson, Ltd.  Both items were in perfect condition with no obvious signs of wear.

The Junior Leagues's Nearly New Shop, Greenville, SC

The Junior Leagues’s Nearly New Shop, Greenville, SC

As you can tell from the image below, the sleeves on this sport coat are a bit short.  Too much shirt cuff is showing.  I need to take it to a tailor and have the sleeves lengthened by 3/4 of an inch.  I like to show only about 1/4 of shirt cuffs.

Southwick 3-Button Sport Coat for Rush Wilson, Ltd.

Southwick 3-Button Sport Coat for Rush Wilson, Ltd.

Most of the items I’m wearing in the shot were thifted.  In addition to the sport coat ($10.00/Nearly New Shop), the other thrifted items are a 100% cotton J. Press button down shirt from The Salvation Army in Greenville ($1.00 on sale), and a foulard pattern silk tie (Oakton, Ltd.) also from The Salvation Army (.50 cents).

I also have on a pair of cuffed, plain front, wool charcoal gray pants from Jos. A. Bank, which I bought on sale a few years ago and a pair of tassel Bass Weejun loafers.  I picked those up at The Salvation Army for $5.99.

Total Cost of the thrifted items:  $16.99.  Purchased new all items would cost over $600.00.  

When I do shop retail, a store like Rush Wilson, Ltd. is where I go.  Rush III and his sales associates offer classic mens’ clothing and personalized service with Southern hospitality.  Families have shopped at this store for several generations.

Interior of Rush Wilson, Ltd. in Greenville SC

Interior of Rush Wilson, Ltd. in Greenville SC

Interior of Rush Wilson, Ltd. in Greenville, SC

Interior of Rush Wilson, Ltd. in Greenville, SC

Properly Attired Professor

Properly Attired Professor

I teach at a private liberal arts college in the South, which is one of the most traditional parts of the country in terms of clothes.  When I was an undergraduate myself, khaki pants and a button down shirt were considered casual in the same way that most people now regard blue jeans and a t-shirt as casual.  I’ve never strayed far from the classic look.  Even in my New York City days (in hipster Williamsburg), a blue blazer or a tweed sport coat was always to be found in my closet.

Today, I wore a tweed 3-button sport coat with a windowpane pattern (bought at a Brooks Brothers sidewalk sale for $99.00 in Westport, CT).  The pinpoint button down is also from Brooks (bought for $4.99 at Unique Thrift Store in Riverdale, NY).  However, I picked up the J. Press bow tie – all silk with a foulard pattern – at their Madison Avenue store in Manhattan.  It was on sale for 30% off.  I think I paid $29.00 for it.  For and in-depth discussion of ties in American Culture, please read this excerpt from Paul Fussell.

Huntington 3-Button Wool & Silk Sport Coat

Total Cost of Sport Coat, Tie and Shirt: $16.99.

This combination features a Huntington plaid sport coat of wool and silk in a spring/summer weight.  The sport coat has several traditional features:  3-button front (3/2 roll) with 2 buttons on each sleeve,  natural shoulders and a single hooked vent in back with 1/4 inch welted edges, an Ivy style afficionado’s dream.  This was a great find at the Salvation Army in Greenville, SC ($6.99).  At the same store, I found a silk and linen jacquard tie ($2.00) made by Jacobs Roberts for Rush Wilson Limited, a local clothier.  The 100% cotton button down is Polo by Ralph Lauren, which I found on another outing ($9.00), and the pocket square was a gift from my grandfather.

All of these items are in excellent condition with no visible signs of wear.  I won’t buy a sport coat unless it is my exact size – 44 regular.  I realize that taking any good find to a tailor for minor adjustments is almost a given – not so in this case!  Not only was the item a perfect fit in the shoulders and chest, but the sleeves were also the perfect length, allowing just 1/4 inch of shirt cuffs to show.  Apparently, I have a doppelganger in Greenville.  To top it all off, I found a traditional Haspel sport coat of go-to-hell yellow linen with a faint turquoise window pane pattern.  It had a Rush Wilson Limited store label and was a 3-button model with 2 button sleeves and  natural shoulders.  This item was half-lined on the interior and will be perfect for a late spring steeplechase race.  The fit of this sport coat was absolutely perfect,  and I’ll post images of it in the next week.  The same person must have donated both sport coats.  Lucky finds!

Burberrys’ Tweed Sport Coat & Land’s End Turtleneck

On a Saturday afternoon thrift expedition last summer, my wife and I stopped at The Salvation Army in Danbury, CT.  Their store occupies two floors of a building (several thousand square feet) in the downtown area.  It is a gigantic warehouse full of amazing clothes, and if you ever go there, you should be prepared to spend several hours if you want to find the really good stuff.  It takes time to weed out all of the clothes that just don’t cut it (that’s code for clothes that contain acrylic, polyester or poly/cotton blends).

I had several good finds on this trip, but the best deal was a 2-botton tweed Burberrys’ sport coat for $9.99.  It’s actually a Burberry knock off.  The lapels are 3.5 inches at the widest point.  I also found a slate blue 100% cotton Land’s End turtleneck for $4.99, which I paired with the Burberry, khaki pants and penny loafers this afternoon.  The pattern on the sport coat has several colors running through it:  slate, navy and maroon.  The turtleneck really picks up the slate blue stripe of the sport coat.

I had to have two alterations done:  the sleeves had to be shortened so that I could show 1/4 inch of cuffs when wearing a button down, and a slight ridge appeared below the collar, which my tailor took out (a  task he calls “lowering the collar”).

Another find that day was a 3-button Corbin sport coat for $9.99, which I’ll post about some other time.  It was english style, double vented in the back and with two pockets on the right side – a smaller one on top.  I also bought an Oleg Cassini 2-button sport coat with a small houndstooth pattern of maroon and navy over a dark brown background.  The magic price for that one:  also $9.99.  Rounding out the haul were two Land’s End button downs (pink and white) at $4.99 each and an assortment of wool sweaters none of which cost more than $5.00.  The Oleg Cassini looks amazing with the pink button down, by the way.

As a general rule, I prefer a 3-button, natural shoulder, sack cut sport coat over any other kind, but I will occasionally buy a 2-button model if I really like the pattern.  Some exceptions are necessary, I suppose.  All in all, this was a good day of thrifting, costing less than $50.00. If I’d bought everything new, I conservatively estimate that I’d have paid at least $500-$700.

Brooks Brothers 100% Camel Hair Sport Coat

This is one of several Brooks Brothers 3-button, sack cut sport coats I purchased recently at a local thrift store.  It’s 100% camel hair – perfect for fall and winter – and I picked it up for $15.00.  The top button is rolled on the lapel and is not visible, while the top button hole (also rolled on the lapel) is visible.  This is commonly called a 3/2 roll, and it is the quintessential look of the Ivy League.  I just checked the Brooks Brothers website and found a solid 100% camel hair 3-button sport coat listed for $548.00.  I think I did well!

Two minor alterations were needed:  the sleeves were slightly short and needed lengthening.  I like to show between 1/4 and 1/2 inch of cuffs.  There was also a ridge just below the collar, which needed to be taken out.  I got it back from the tailor yesterday, and I can’t wait for cooler weather so that I can wear it.

3-Button Front. The Top button is rolled on the lapel.