If you’d told me almost a quarter-century ago (say, anytime from March 1994 on) that Ebbets Field Flannels, the legendary Seattle manufacture of period-accurate museum-grade reproductions of vintage baseball wear, was making a throwback Vanderbilt baseball cap? I would have lost my mind. As it is, a couple of weeks ago, when this news was conveyed to me at Anchor of Gold…I lost my mind. And rushed to take advantage of a 20% off code on the last day. And came into work on a Saturday to collect the package.
A vintage-look wool flannel Vanderbilt hat, American made and low-crowned, has been pretty much the Holy Grail of my headgear aspirations ever since I started wearing hats on a regular basis again around 2006. While you couldn’t prize the hats off my head throughout most of my higher-ed career, they quickly went by the board in DC, and didn’t come back until I finally cut all my hair off the autumn after the wedding (and in California, with nine months of direct sunlight a year, you need something covering your scalp). Even though I have gotten away from my American-made and workwear obsessions, I have inadvertently stumbled into fulfilling them.
See, my wife gave me American Giant’s work shirt for Christmas. I had plenty of US-made T-shirts and aloha shirts, but that was all. This is a long-sleeve jacket-shirt with snaps, made of the same fabric as their famous hoodie – but with the detailing of an actual button-up shirt. It’s something you can wear out of the house in most any casual setting once the temps drop below 70, and it’s the sort of thing you can wear for a week at a time as long as you change the T-shirt under it. It is heavy and overbuilt and thoroughly comfortable, the perfect dream of a shirt for four days in Tahoe or a week off at Christmas or the first weekend of the NCAA tournament at home in front of the TV.
So stack it together. The Vanderbilt hat from Ebbets. The AG work shirt (and T-shirt under), over top of my LC King jeans. Some kind of footwear, ideally that doesn’t require lacing, like my Blundstone boots or my plastic Birkenstock sandals. And then, the real twist in the tale: my throwback glasses from Warby Parker, the ones that make me look like I stepped off the set of Apollo 13 (or Mississippi Burning). Stack it all together, and it’s a completely new look, radically different from anything I had in DC (or most of the time in California, to be honest). And it’s something that given the opportunity, I might just wear almost every day as long as climate permits.
It looks right on me. It feels right on me. It’s not something I was necessarily trying to craft, but I’ve fallen into a look that is effortless and easy without being unspeakably slovenly, and which doesn’t incorporate a single hoodie or V-neck t-shirt or skinny pair of jeans. I look my age, to be blunt about it, and I’m okay with that. The only thing keeping me from wearing it every day is that after four or five days, you can whistle for the shirt and it’ll jump up on your back, which is not compatible with going among people in a society.
Might need to save up for another one.