I recently opened a box of old photographs and college annuals and blew off the dust. The images here are all from the 80s, an era that I fondly recall as the days of hair.
1983 – This photo was taken just after my 17th birthday, and I would be going off to college the next year. I’m wearing a pair of white cotton pants (white ducks), a navy surcingle belt, a light blue button down shirt and a rep tie. I have a blue blazer draped over my shoulder and a hand in my pocket, stock gestures that class photographers back then encouraged. Do they still do that? If so, someone should tell them to stop! It doesn’t look nonchalant, but rather silly.
1986 – Class photograph from my sophomore year of college. Wow, where do I begin? The hair was huge! My wife refers to this as helmet hair. The tortoise shell glasses were also huge, a style trend in the 80s, and should have come equipped with windshield wipers. My smile was David Letterman-esque. I’m wearing a tweed sport coat, a button down shirt (starched from the looks of things) and a rep tie.
1986 – With friends in the courtyard of Silliman College during the Summer Studies Program at Yale. I’d changed to a smaller pair of tortoise rim glasses. I’m wearing a polo shirt and a pair of Bermuda shorts.
1988 – Senior year of college. Preppy on steroids in this photo just a week or so before graduation. Madras plaid button down shirt, Bermuda shorts and a ribbon belt with a sailboat motif. Yeah, those were the 80s.
I always check the tie rack of any thrift store because there will inevitably be a gem lurking among the horrid polyester designs. Yesterday, I found a perfectly good 100% cotton madras plaid tie by Ralph Lauren. It was priced at $6.99. One man’s last season tie, is another man’s treasure. But I’m not sure whether I will actually wear this one. I really don’t like logos on my ties – just a personal preference – so it may go up on eBay.
In one store, I found a slew of fine 100% silk Brooks Brothers rep ties for .99 cents each. There was no sign of wear on any of the ties – you always have to check the section of a tie where it is knotted (where friction occurs) to see if the material is worn. You should also check the tip of the tie, where it is pulled through the knot, for signs of wear.
I wanted to compare the price of my thrifted tie vs. the Ralph Lauren retail price. There were no madras ties on the main website, but I did find an example on Lauren’s Rugby site. The asking price was $69.50. So my savings through trifting = $62.51. Ties are usually priced low in thrift stores, and the asking price vs. retail creates a huge savings opportunity.
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!