In pursuit of some sprezzatura

Yep, looking for some of that.  Hoping it can be sourced and doesn't have to be innate. So the first shot is with a pair of dubs.  No not the kinda bling you put on an Escalade, but the kinda of dubs that go on your feet — Double Monk Straps.  Now maybe for a Manhattan resident this could be a relatively easy thing but for someone who lives somewhere else in the US this is not straight foreword at all.  First off the only US manufacturer of Double Monk Straps is Allen Edmonds in Wisconsin and their version reflects their location. About as much style as a Harley, just plain clunky.  The rest of the choices are from Europe, mostly England, Northampton England; John Lobb (JL), Edward Green (EJ), Crocket and Jones (CJ), Alfred Sargeant (AS) and Graziano and Girling (GG). Carmina in Spain pretty much rounds out the list except unless one is going to consider the Italian brands, which are a different look all around.  Oh, then there is Brooks Brothers who sells Edward Greens (but not the double monks) and OEMs its Peal brand from Crocket and Jones and Alfred Sargeant and Ralph Lauren Purple Label who OEMs from Italy and Northampton. The RLPL's are probably harder to get than any others, except when their Mansion strategy doesn't work and they get dumped on Gilt.  Double Monks can be so hard to source that a major player in the US market place is the Armory, based in Honk Kong.  

Anyway, i decided to get me some Edward Greens. The only place that had a size that purported to fit (there is at least a UK to US size conversion going on here) was Axel's in Vail, CO.  After waiting for the Amex billing cutoff (so as to have American Express provide the bridge financing of this adventure) a pair of EG Westminsters were headed to Club 2223. Unfortunately all the research was for naught and despite the awesome fitted shoe tress about the only thing my feet were going to fit in were the boxes — so back to Vail for the very, very beautiful Westminsters.

Edward Green Westminster

So next Brooks Brothers sends me a notice of their friends and family sale — 25% off on everything. Well I wondered if they have Peal Double Monks. Well they do, in calf and suede. So... at that price why not try both. Web scuttlebutt is it that they are made by CJ. These, CJs or not, are clearly not up to the standard of the EJs and in fact the calf version looks rather pedestrian. But they fit, at least the suede version does, so we have one potential keeper and another trip to the UPS store.

Brooks Brother Peals in calf

Brooks Brothers Peal in suede

Along the way I had discovered a review article on 25 pairs of Double Monks, of those only the ones above and a pair of handmade calf CJs from Ben Silver and a pair of the made in Spain Carminas appealed. Others, like all of the Paul Stuart and Graziano and Girling options were way too aggressively styled to have any chance off getting on my feet. As usual Ben Silver pricing reflected their usual hefty premium so I decided to pass on those for a while, especially since the Carminas were in a very rare saddle shade of Horween Shell Cordovan for about the same price.  Even better the Carminas were at a place in NYC called Epaulet, had the additional benefit of free overnight delivery via UPS ground and no sales tax — something the Brooks Brothers invoice had in spades.

I was really psyched when I get an email from UPS, telling me the Carminas are in the front vestibule. I do a fair amount of trade with UPS, not much liking that sales tax stuff, I would rather pay an express company than feed the inefficient maw of state government — they clearly make better use of the funds and definitely communicate better.  Ok, returning now to footwear...  Not yet having had a pair of Carminas my only thought of seeing a square shoe box inside the shipping box was that was strange. But, I guess they are into packaging differentiation.  Well that was a silly conclusion, it turns out that their shoe boxes are oblong just like everyone else's.  But their boot boxes are square.  Inside were pair of pretty damn ugly, size eight boots for some welterweight in Indiana. Grrrrr — another visit to the UPS store.  Epaulet was not being very responsive to email and it is a business day so I give them a call, alas Epaulet follows hair salon practice and is closed on Monday and I have jury duty the following day so this is clearly not going to get resolved quickly. I managed to not get selected for a jury (being politically located somewhere between a libertarian and an anarchist tends to cause that outcome) so I had some time to straighten out this Carmina snafu before jetting off to Houston for a day. Once I got them on the horn, Epaulet quickly got to the bottom of the mix-up and got the right pair to UPS that same day to be awaiting me on my return from Houston on the next — the shoes took the rapid travelling in better shape than me.  

So, the Carminas arrived, and I think they look pretty damn stunning.  They also fit, perhaps the prescience to order a larger than recommended size helping the cause. Well, if the truth be known they only had two pair, one a dainty pair of 8 somethings and the UK 11.5s, which I took, so they are 1/2 size bigger than my normal size and they are reputed to be slightly wider than most especially on the last these things were formed on.

Carmina Salingers

The observant amongst you will notice that these things are named after the guy who invented Holden Caulfield. I wonder if Holden drifted into in Manhattan sporting a pair of Double Monks?

So all is returning to normal at Club 2223, maybe not yet at Amex billing central but I expect that to be under control before the 26th when the dough is due, Some credits to be pursued — actually a couple of pretty decent sized credits, especially regarding the Edward Greens. At least until I make the final decision to wear them or not the suede Peals will be staying in addition to the Carminas — Brook's 90 day return policy allowing for a elongated evaluation.

In the mean time I decided to add yet some additional sprezz with a couple of new shirts with spread collars. It turns out size here is not a problem, the guys who make shirts with radically spread collars assume their customers have the upper body of a twelve year old and certainly not a 6'5" twelve year old either.  So forget the RTW option. One of the shoe blogs mentioned a place called ProperCloth, also an NYC operation, that had some very nice fabrics and a highly computerized web to doorstep process at very reasonable pricing.  So why not, particularly since they know you are going to bungle the measurements and will redo the first one to get it right at their cost. They tell you exactly what is going on when and commit the delivery date two weeks out, despite that the last leg originates in Malaysia. So this shirt needs to be adjusted somewhat, well maybe a bit more than somewhat but it looks and feels so damn good I am reluctant to give it up. Well that is next weeks problem.  The biggest issue with these guys is Federal Express Signature Required delivery.

From ProperCloth