Japanese Shirt Folding

When I stayed with my friend in Japan a few years ago I had an amazing experience of everyday life there. Every little thing in Japanese life has a slightly different aesthetic to it. I was honored to have spent time in my friend’s home with his family, and to observe the little differences.

One thing I witnessed which may seem mundane but that I found fascinating, was the differences in folding laundry. Socks were tied into knotted balls which I could never understand, and shirts were flipped into perfect form.

I finally came across a video which explains the shirt folding technique:

And here is the technique in English:

Now if only I could work out that sock rolling technique.

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My Zappos Experience

I have just had my first shopping experience Zappos, and although it didn’t go quite according to plan initially, I am very pleased with their service.

zappos logo

They aren't kidding about the service

A couple of weeks back I made my first ever order from Zappos, a pair of grey desert boots. I paid for them by PayPal and received my shipping confirmation a few days later.

On the day that I was meant to recieve my shoes I checked the UPS website. I saw that my package was returning to the sender due to an incorrect address. Either the Zappos website or PayPal had truncated the shipping address on my order, making it unreadable. I immediately contacted the Zappos customer service, and I was asked to confirm my address. I did so and they said that they had informed UPS of the address change. I was reassured that my package would reach me soon.

Later that day I received an email from Zappos customer service stating that the package was still returning to them, and they would refund my Pay Pal account. I was not seriously perturbed by this, but I thought it was a bit strange that while I obviously wanted the shoes, they didn’t seem to want my money.

I received a customer satisfaction survey email from Zappos the next day, and I decided to fill it out. I explained what had happened, and asked that a customer service manager contact me to discuss the situation.

A week or so went by, and I saw Zappos refund the payment to my PayPal. I thought the matter was over, and I didn’t really expect to hear anything more from them. Yesterday I got an email stating that my order was being processed for shipment. I was confused and I thought that they had decided to sell me the shoes again. An hour or so later I received an email from customer service telling me that due to the confusion they were sending the shoes to me overnight for free. Yes, that’s right, free shoes! I am blown away by the level of service. Zappos clearly realize that customer service is the key to their business, and I will certainly purchase from them again.

My free shoes

My Free shoes!

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There is currently a debate on the dappered threads forum about whether espadrilles are suitable for men. I think that they are, but maybe not for everybody. I would like a pair to wear primarily as beach and vacation shoes. The standard are Tom’s classics which start at $44. There are a few other options which allow you to dip your toes into the the espadrille waters without spending so much cash. I have graded them according to your comfort level with espadrilles.

“I’m worried that all of my friends will laugh at me.” H&M Espadrilles, $12.95

These don’t seem to be on the U.S. site anymore, but they are still available in stores. Construction seems to be hit and miss – I found some with visible glue residue on them. These are so cheap that you can wear them to the beach a few times and toss them if you don’t like them.


Urban Outfitters slip-on espadrilles, $20 (plus shipping)

Urban Outfitters espadrille

If you don’t live by an H&M, you can grab these online. They are still pretty reasonably priced.

“I think I can rock these, but I want to try it out first.” Top Man ‘Ibiza’ espadrilles, $25 with free shipping.

Topman espadrilles

The Topman espadrilles are reasonably priced and include some cool details. The blue solid and striped combination above is probably the coolest pair they have, in my opinion. You should be aware that these ship from the UK with the Royal Mail and USPS, this means they may take a while to arrive.

“I am comfortable with espadrilles, but I don’t want to drop $95 on a pair of Tom’s.” Soludos, $26 plus shipping (about $10 to NY)

These have a full jute rope sole, and come in interesting fabrics like linen and denim (above).

Here is some inspiration for wearing espadrilles:

From street etiquette:

Men in espadrillesOr, with t-shirts and khaki or white shorts as seen here in beach (or South Street Seaport) wear. Espadrilles are definitely easier to pull off in sight of water.

france espadrilles

Paired with light colored chinos or linen pants, again they look very casual and summery.

(And, they definitely look good sitting on centuries old steps next to any European river.)

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The Tie Bar new releases

The Tie Bar has just released a boat load of new stuff. As always, the ties and tie bars are $15 and the pocket squares are $8.

I have already mentioned the new black tie bars in a previous post. They have added a few new cotton ties, but I don’t see any of them as ‘must haves’. They have also released a bunch of new knits. The knitted stripes are super preppy. I think they will look cool if the prep look is your thing.

tie bar knit school striped tieAd stripe knit tie

There are also some reversible, flannel pocket squares. Maybe these are not totally suitable for summer, but they would look great in a tweed jacket for fall.

flannel pocket square

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Weekend bags

Vacation season is coming up and I like to pack light. I have been looking for some reasonably priced duffel bags that will get me through a weekend. Actually, the way I pack, some of these could get me through more than a weekend. I really don’t like to drag a suitcase, especially not along dirty sidewalks, or up and down stairs in the subway. A duffel would be perfect for me.

Mariner Canvas and Leather duffel, Amazon – $39.97 (plus shipping)

Although it’s not a huge bag, the leather details make it look more expensive. There are not any reviews on Amazon, so I cannot speak for its durability.

Goodhope bags Ecoduffel, Sears – $35.99 (plus shipping)

Good hope bags Eco duffelThis bag is available everywhere – Sears, Walmart, Luggage.com. It is made from canvas and recycled straw. It is also available in natural canvas, but I prefer the black and white contrast shown above.

Driftwood Canvas Duffel, ebay – $40.99 (plus $17.50 shipping)

driftwood duffle bagThis is another canvas bag with what appear to be leather (or leather-like) accents. This looks more interesting to me than the Mariner. The interior looks good from the pictures.

Ossington Prince Duffel, Amazon – $89.99 shipped

Ossington Prince duffel bagThis bag is a little more expensive than the others, but Ossington is a well-known and trusted brand, so there should not be any issues with its quality. The Prince duffel is also available in grey and navy, but I prefer the Khaki version.

I am still actively looking for a duffel bag. If you know of any other reasonably priced duffel bags, please leave a comment.

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Nautical Alternatives

Lately, everyone has been pushing nautical shirts and sweaters. Put this on and Steet Ettiquette have both recently extolled the virtues of striped shirts for summer.

Put This On‘s most affordable option was the telnynashka. The most reasonable one I found was here on ebay for $18.99 shipped.

Here are a few other options:

The first, and cheapest, forgoes the long sleeves and adds a pocket:

(Summer scarf? I'm still skeptical)

$12.95 from H&M

The second option is more expensive, but it looks great:

$39.50 from Lands’ End Canvas

I should make it clear that I am not a polo guy and $40 is a lot of money for a short sleeve shirt. I think this is a cool piece though, and the Chambray collar puts it over the top.

LEC also does a crew neck striped shirt for $24.50.

The last option I have is a little bit different. These shirts are made by R.P. Miller at a  hundred-year-old mill in Pennsylvania. These knit shirts are more in line with St. James sweaters than the telnynashka.

$25 (plus shipping) from Gravel and Gold

The ‘Natural and Navy’ option looks the most nautical to me. I also found a few vintage (but unworn) R. P. Miller shirts on ebay:

More nautical looking and just under $26 shipped.

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Black tie bars

There are some new stealthy black tie bars from TheTieBar.com. These are probably not for everyday wear, but I would like one to go with my black suit. They would also work when I go for a total blackout at work (which happens quite a lot).

Available in 1″, 1.5″ and 2″ $15 each.

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