Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Land's End Canvas

With the huge success of J Crew, there have been a lot of classic American brands trying to rethink and redefine their look. While the brand's style is not as original as J Crew, they certainly are less expensive and provides an additional location to buy some of the classic American Prep pieces.  A perfect example of this is: Land's End Canvas, good clothes, great prices with a few pieces unique to the designer. 

Rugby Shirt - this classic preppy item comes in either navy or light blue and is sold for only $45. I can be worn with jeans or khakis by itself or it can be thrown on over a button down shirt, as featured here. Thrown over a button down shirt, is my favorite look for a Rugby Shirt. It adds a little more style and character to the classic piece.

Chambray Shirts - Land's End takes the essential chambray shirt one step farther by offering a blue with white stripe, like shown above. As well as a whole line of colors, including a tan and an off-white. They also priced the shirt at $39, instead of close to $100 as seen at other stores.

Ties - Also available are some nice modern ties.  They have a classic navy and light blue rep tie as well as a gingham, a plaid and patterned tie.  And they are only $40, which is a great price.  They are also slim ties.

Hoodie - We all need a hoodie or two in the closet.  Land's End Canvas offers a modern looking hoodie for only $50.  The hoodie comes in navy or gray with white drawstrings and zipper.  The contrasting zipper and drawstrings are a good look adding interest to an otherwise average looking hoodie.

Peacoat - They also have a canvas peacoat.  This a great spring/summer jacket for a reasonable $80.  This coat will keep you dry in the rain and warm during the summer night winds. 

Pocket Squares - one of the most unique and different items that Land's End Canvas sells is the plaid and gingham pocket squares. They are sold for $9 a piece and can really add a nice spark to a jacket.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Deeper Dive into LL Bean Signature

LL Bean is a classic American brand with clothes that embody the East Coast and being an Outdoorsmen. They kept those roots with their new offshoot, LL Bean Signature. The difference is the line of clothes has been developed by Alex Carleton of Rogues Gallery and a former LL Bean employee. Carleton, pictured above, modernizes the classics, slims down the fit and puts a few classics on their ear, especially shoes. Typically when designers get involved the prices sky rocket, but thankfully in this case LL Bean keeps the prices grounded, intelligently keeping the brand within reach of most consumers.

At Modern Dignified we are enamored with the Buck Chukka, a combination between the classic Oxford Buck and the Desert Chukka Boot. It combines two similar shoes into a mix that is both unique and stylish. Carleton had the foresight to realize the popularity of both shoes and the genius to combine them. This is really a standout piece for only $115.

Also notable in the collection are the shirts, while they are not hugely divergent from classics in most closets, they fit well and are priced well.  The Washed Oxford in plain or gingham is selling for a moderate $49. The gingham oxford also comes in a sharp looking yellow and a classic red.

Another example of the good prices is the Striped Mariner Polo, a classic nautical look that is selling for $29, a price usually reserved for polos on sale in the winter. The Sportsman Madras Plaid button-down goes for $55.  It is nice plaid pattern and is worth the price, but it also doesn't pop in
the same way as madras and plaid shirts from brands like Gitman Vintage, Band of Outsiders and J Crew.

Overall, LL Bean Signature has a few pieces to compliment the closet as well as one or two stand out items, but overall it underwhelms especially considering the hype around the brand.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Style Profile - Vampire Weekend

We all know the typical Rockstar style, while it changes over the years, rarely is it a style that is transferable to people outside of the Rock star lifestyle. That is part of the reason that Vampire Weekend is so refreshing. They have a style that is fairly universal and can be embraced by most people. Not to mention they have good solid rock songs with catchy rifts and addicting melodies. Vampire Weekend is a modern rock band, with the style to prove it.

Vampire Weekend wowed the critiques and fans of music a like with their second album "Contra". It has a sound of their own that stems from a varied and eclectic mix of musical influences. It is neither completely modern nor completely vintage. It is unlike anything else on the radio, yet it is completely familiar. Vampire Weekend is catchy, but not pop. Emotional but not still light and fun. It is a contradiction that turns into good solid rock & roll.

Like the music, Vampire Weekend has a style that lives in an area not quite housed by any other band. They do not dress like Rock stars, or hipsters, or some other trendy classification of style. Instead Vampire Weekend owns a style that is a mix of styles, Hipster shoes and cardigans, mixed with East Coast elements like Pea coats and Buffalo Check, mixed with modern Preppy jackets and boat shoes. Vampire Weekend isn't playing dress-up or imitating these styles instead they are taking all of their influences putting them into an blender and coming out with a look that is uniquely Vampire Weekend.

Whether you like their music, or their style it is nice to see that they are not just a carbon copy of bands that preceded them but instead a band with their identity.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A New Signature Brand

On Monday, LL Bean launched their new brand, LL Bean Signature.  It is a mix between Brooks Brothers, J Crew and LL Bean.  It is East Coast style in a contemporary and fairly affordable fashion.

LL Bean Signature is a lot of classic pieces with a modern twist, for example the barracuda jacket with a blue and white gingham lining.  It is a new version to this iconic fashion piece.

In the collection is a variety of shirts, jackets and sweaters that are nicely designed and sold for reasonable prices.  It is a streamlined collection focusing on the essentials and fashion musts, like this shawl collar cardigan.

Or this khaki raincoat, the unique and unusual collar is a nice touch separating it from the other rain coats out there.

The barracuda jacket in navy, which is even better than the white version.

Another example of taking a classic and putting it on its ear.  Here is LL Bean's mix between a chukka boot and a boat shoe, but done in a way no other designers are offering.  Plus you have to love the blue suede.

The rest of the pictures are from the LL Bean signature look book, check them out.  Please let us know your thoughts at:

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Unbranded Brand

"The Unbranded Brand is jeans with no name, no branding, no washes, no ads, no gimmicks. Just great denim at a great price! Wow, what a concept, only paying for the product itself... crazy, isn’t it?" That is written on the tag and on the website.  Basically, they are no nonsense jeans made out of rope dyed Japanese Selvedge Denim.

These are raw selvedge denim jeans, which means that they will stretch and become larger when you wear them over time.  They will also distress and mold to your body and how you move.  The longer you wear them without washing them, the more distressed they will become.  Washing them is like locking in the look.  

They come in three styles: skinny, tapered & slim straight.  At Modern Dignified we feel the best option is the slim straight, modern without looking like you borrowed your girlfriend's jeans.  

Typically raw selvedge denim jeans are anywhere from $120 to $250, but these are reasonably priced at only $78 a pair.  Currently, they are being sold at Urban Outfitters, but they will probably expand out with time.  They are a refreshing pair of jeans, just plain raw denim. 

Friday, March 12, 2010

Reader's Question: Khaki Suit

As always we are more than happy to answer Reader’s Questions. This one is from John from in Seattle.
Alright, I'm getting married in a sweet Banana Republic khaki suit. I'm thinking cordovan bicycle toe oxfords, sorta like the To Boot New York 'Randall' Split Toe Oxford at Nordstroms (I don't think it's in cordovan, though).
Am I being a bit too picky or should I just settle for a nice venetian loafer (Cole Haan immediately leaps to mind)?
Thanks! Your blog is excellent and thanks for bringing style to the masses without the pomposity.
First off John, congratulations on your impending nuptials it sounds like you will look very dapper for the event. A khaki suit in the summer/spring can be magnificent and quite a statement. It is a nice choice for a more modern wedding.

You discussed the Split Toe Oxford from To Boot, but this shoe is too dark. It is a shoe meant for dark suits, not the light khaki suit you will be wearing. The dark color of the shoes will make the outfit look bottom heavy. Stick to a lighter color like a light brown suede or a tan/walnut. You want the shoes to compliment the khaki suit, not clash with it.

You will also need a shoe that can transition easily between outdoor and indoor and is more casual, in line with the suit. We feel that the loafers are too casual for your wedding, while the theme is certainly more casual than a black tie affair; you are not getting married barefoot on a beach. Wear some shoes that respect the occasion and ditch the loafer idea.

Since you are in Seattle and the weather can change in a moment, it is best to stay away from the quick to mind choice of white bucks. While they are perfect for sunny days where cotton suits are worn, if it is a rainy day or overcast day, the shoes will not look right. Save them for the sunny South Carolina wedding.
With that said, where does that leave us? A few choices come to mind:

Johnston & Murphy make a great saddle shoe. Tan suede with brogue leather, it is a perfect spring/summer shoe. It is casual yet sophisticated and it will look great with the khaki suit. The shoe sells for around $130 and can be worn all day and night without offending anyone.

A nice walnut colored wingtip will work great. This shoe will hold up better on a rainy day and will add some fantastic character to your soles. Keep the shoe a light brown and the outfit can pop with such a terrific complimentary shoe. This Allen Edmonds MacAllister shoe is as classic as they come. It has the shape and fit to work great with a suit but is not stuffy. This shoe or one like it will go for around $250.

As we have discussed previously, J Crew and Alden teamed up to make a tobacco colored wingtip. It is a modern color and shape, extra light brown with rounded toes and blucher design. This is a magnificent shoe and will last until you’re fourth kid graduates high school (assuming you end up having four kids). Basically, this shoe will last for 20+ years, if not longer. Your wedding day might be a nice memory every time you slip the shoe on. The Alden shoes sell for around $450.

Lastly, you can go with a tan buck, a compromise between the white buck look but with coloring that will work better on an overcast day. We would still prefer one of the wingtips, but can appreciate the elegance and simplicity of a pair of bucks. Bucks are a common shoe this Spring, sold by Allen Edmonds, Johnston & Murphy, J Crew and many others. Bucks will typically set you back $150 or so.

Whatever the choice, Modern Dignified would like to thank you for your readership and kind words, but most importantly, we would like to wish you a wonderful and fruitful marriage. You are braver than we are.

If anyone else wants our opinion, for whatever it is worth, email us at: You can also become a fan of Modern Dignified on Facebook and follow Modern Dignified on Twitter @ModernDignified.