Summer Classics – eBay and Thrifting

Summer Classics

A Madras plaid tie makes a sharp addition to the summer wardrobe.  The one I’m wearing is from Ralph Lauren.  I bought it last spring for $6.99 at Unique Thrift Store in Riverdale, NY.  The retail price of the tie was about $67.99.  Patches, our border collie, decided to do a walk on in this photograph.

Breakdown on the rest of the clothes, a combination of eBay bidding and thrift store purchases:

eBay

  • Brooks Brothers blue blazer:  3-button, undarted, sack cut with natural shoulders for $76.00 vs. $598.00 retail.  This is the only blazer design I’ve ever worn, and it took several weeks of eBay monitoring to find one at the right price.  I would have preferred a J. Press blazer, but people don’t part with them that often.  This blazer is in perfect condition with no signs of wear.  The lining looks brand new.
  • Ralph Lauren buckle back khakis: 100% cotton, plain front with 1 and 3/4 inch cuffs for $19.99 vs. $125.00 retail.  Buckle back khakis were worn for a brief period in the 1950s, if I recall correctly.

Thift 

  • Brooks Brothers pinpoint button down:  100% cotton, traditional fit for $8.99 vs. $87.50 retail at The Nearly New Shop in Greenville, SC.
  • Bass Weejuns in Logan Burgandy for $5.99 vs. $109.00 retail.  Purchased at The Salvation Army in Greenville, SC.
  • Dockers surcingle belt:  navy, braided cotton for $4.99 at Unique Thrift Store in Riverdale, NY.  I am unsure of the retail price for the belt, but I’d guess about $24.99.

The pocket square was a gift from my grandfather (priceless).  

Brooks Brothers Blazer - Retail

Thrifted Summer Clothes

Thrifted Summer Clothes

At The Nearly New Shop in Greenville, SC last week, I found a very comfortable Madras plaid short sleeve button down shirt from Gant.  I combined that with a pair of Merona all cotton plain front khaki shorts that I bought last spring at Unique Thrift Store in Riverdale, NY.  The Bass Weejuns were a recent find as well at the Salvation Army Thrift Store in Greenville.  The leather leather belt is about 10 years old, and I don’t remember where I got it.

Price Breakdown

Gant Madras Shirt            $8.00

Merona Khaki Shorts       $5.99

Bass Weejuns                  $5.99

___________________________

Total Cost                      $19.98

Bleeding India Madras

Madras Patchwork Plaid Shirt

Today at the Nearly New Shop in Greenville, SC, I found a great bleeding India Madras, patchwork plaid, short-sleeve button down shirt for $8.00.  It was made for Rush Wilson Limited, an exclusive men’s store that has been in business in town since 1959.

The label inside the shirt indicates that the Madras was “hand loomed” and features irregularities in the weave that are actually a sign of authenticity.   The dyes used in hand loomed shirts are natural and not synthetic and bleed when washed.  Over time, the bleeding produces a wonderful faded look.  I’d guess this particular shirt might be 20 years old, judging from the fade of  the colors and the softness of the cotton.  Madras is a key summer fabric for preppies and is essential in the hot and humid climate of the South.

The Nearly New Shop is run by the Junior League of Greenville.  Store details:

118 Greenacre Road
Greenville, South Carolina 29607
(864) 232-1051
Nearly New Shop Collection Hotline: (864) 232-1091

Monday through Saturday
Hours: 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Karen Howard, Manager 
Shannon Simpson – Assistant Manager

Brooks Brothers Madras Shirt Bought on eBay

I’ve been gearing up for summer lately.  Some recent buys include a pair of patchwork madras shorts, a ribbon belt and a pair of Nantucket Reds.  Today a Brooks Brothers long-sleeved, patchwork plaid madras shirt arrived via US Postal Service.

This shirt was a recent eBay purchase.  Price:  $24.94 + $3.65 shipping = $28.59.  Compare that with the current Brooks Brothers retail price of $89.50 (not including shipping, although I could have gone to their Madison Avenue store).  That’s a savings of $60.91.  In addition, the brethren are only offering a short-sleeved madras shirt, and I specifically wanted long sleeves.

Nothing says summer more than the light, breathable fabric of an India madras shirt.  It is a key item for the prep wardrobe.  I like this pattern much better than the current Brooks Brothers offering.  For more about how madras clothes are made, head over to Ivy Style for Christian Chensvold’s interview with Cape Madras cofounder Brian Sisselman.

  

Patchwork Plaid Madras “Go To Hell” Shorts

Warmer weather is coming.  Soon we’ll be into spring and then on to Memorial Day, which is the gateway to the summer prep wardrobe – linen, poplin, seersucker and, of course, madras.  As with traditional retailers, thrift stores begin to shift focus to the coming season(s).  Today, while shopping at Unique Thrift Store in Riverdale, NY, I found not one, but two pairs of excellent madras plaid shorts.  One pair was the much sought after patchwork variety, a true summer prep staple, known as “go to hell shorts.”  Those bold enough to wear them simply could care less what anyone else thinks.

Patchwork Plaid Madras Shorts

Patchwork Plaid Madras Shorts

These flat front, Bermuda length shorts were made by Gap (not my favorite retailer by any means and hardly preppy on many things).  However, they got it right with these shorts made of 100% cotton India madras.  The stitching is first rate, and I’m willing to bet that side by side you couldn’t tell the difference between this pair and ones  from much more expensive outlets such as J. Press, Brooks Brothers or O’Connell’s.  The asking price for mine:  $14.00.  Brooks asks about $90 to $100 for theirs.

Detail of Patchwork Plaid Madras Shorts

Detail of Patchwork Plaid Madras Shorts

With a navy blue Lacoste or Polo shirt (or even a white button down), paired with a surcingle belt, these madras shorts will look great in summer.  It’s unusual to find madras of any kind in a thrift store.  So when you see it, snap it up.  It won’t be around long.   It’s even more rare to come across multiple madras items on one expedition, but I was lucky this time.  This second pair I found was flat front in Bermuda length with a basic plaid pattern — not patchwork — from Land’s End.  The price was $14.00 as well.  For another $9.00, I picked up a white 100% cotton oxford cloth button down from Ralph Lauren.  It was in perfect condition!

100% Cotton India Madras Shorts from Land’s End

Über Preppy Band – Vampire Weekend

Vampire Weekend’s 2008 song M79 references bleeding madras: “No excuse to be so callous/Dress yourself in bleeding madras/Charm your way across the Khyber Pass….”  Madras, a lightweight cotton weave usually with a plaid pattern,  is perhaps the most versatile and definitively preppy article of clothing, used for jackets, shorts, pants, shirts and even ties.  On Labor Day, I put away all my madras clothes (and seersucker/poplin) for use next summer.  However, now that it’s October in New York City and still hot (80s all week), I’ve been tempted to bend the sartorial rules a bit and  break out a madras shirt today.

In early madras shirts and pants, the dyes used were not stable and literally bled during washing, yielding slightly different hues that faded with time.  Jackets and ties that had to be dry cleaned maintained their vibrant color.  Below is a vintage (1960s) Gitman Brothers bleeding madras shirt.  The bleeding variety is harder to find these days, as most dyes are stable.  I rarely see madras in thrift stores. Vintage shops are your best bet to find the real deal.  If  you come across a madras piece you like that fits, don’t second guess yourself.  Buy it.  It won’t be on the rack when you come back.

Vintage Gitman Brothers Bleeding Madras Shirt

Vampire Weekend Lead Vocalist Ezra Koenig In A Madras Plaid Shirt

Here is a blast from the past – a shot of me in my college dorm in an actual bleeding madras button down shirt from Gitman Brothers, which I had for years.  I’m also wearing cotton shorts – most likely from Brooks Brothers – and a nautical belt (sailboat motif).   For more on madras, you might want to check out this post from Ivy Style.

For more about Vampire Weekend and the preppy connection, check out this article from Billboard.