Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Reader Questions - Men's Clothing, Wool Sweater Softening

Bills Khakis; Leather Man Belts; Brooks Brother's Shirts; J. Press Navy Blazer and Tweed Jacket (

1. Dear Muffy, I have been following your blog for some months now from my soon-to-be-ending exile abroad, and I truly appreciate the cornucopia of information you provide to your readers on so many subjects: clothing, skiing, sailing, village life, all accompanied by gorgeous photography. The reason I am writing this post is that I am in a quandary about my wardrobe. Due to my career, I've lived abroad for some 20 years now, but I’ll soon be returning to the States. In my official capacity, I've worn mostly suits to the office (no “work casual”) and for evening hours and weekends, I've managed to keep enough men’s preppy essentials to kit me out over time. The problem I am having is that since I've been away, I really have no idea how to do preppy “business casual” in America. I’ll be consulting with physicians and academics, and so suits, at least for everyday wear, are out. I must look “professional,” but at this point in my 40s, I’m not sure anymore what “professional” means. I've seen colleagues in jeans, tee shirts, khakis (creased) and wool trousers, kempt and unkempt; in short, anything seems to go. I feel as if I've crawled out from a cave and now must navigate this strange, new world back home. How does one strike the right balance these days between looking professional at the office in an environment of “business casual”? (P.S. Thank you for any thoughts you may have in this direction.)

2. Hey Muffy, Having both of my parents, as Princeton graduates, and while living in CT my whole life, I have been exposed to a lot of "ivy" culture and style as well. I've studied your blog like its my religion, and I have to say, I think it's amazing. I've taken many bots of advice from it and have incorporated them into my own style although I often come to the curiosity of if I am dressing a bit to old for my age. My style resembles my father more and more each day. Haha. I was wondering, being seventeen, are there things I should keep in mind when shopping preppy, things I should avoid, or look for? I see my friends wearing more Polo Ralph Lauren and Vineyard Vines. I sometimes think my taste far exceeds the years that I have! Is it inappropriate for someone of my age cherishing my Quoddy mocs and my Brooks Brothers chinos? Or are there things I should think about being a preppy male teen, as I do feel like I dress a little older than my age sometimes.

3. Thanks so much for the thorough review on Norwegian sweaters. Although I have enjoyed LL Bean sweaters for years I have never owned one of these - until this week. Which brings up my question: I found one of the original 80% wool 20% nylon sweaters at a thrift store - it is the charcoal version with teal and purple stitching. It was beautiful, looked new, and the LL Bean label sealed the deal. But when I tried to wear it I found it to be very rough - like coarse steel wool. I was wearing it over a cotton tee shirt and, when I took off the sweater, the tee had quite a few gray fibers stuck to it. My guess is the sweater was never washed - since I live in the AZ desert, it may well have been lying in a drawer for 25-30 years (judging by the colors). So my question is: Did you find that single, or even multiple, washings were necessary to soften the original sweaters to remove loose fibers and/or make the sweaters more comfortable to wear? Just for reference, I don't have a problem wearing other wool sweaters - even Shetland wool - over a tee, or lambs wool/merino/cashmere on bare skin. But the Norwegian was prickly even through the tee. Thanks for any help you can offer - the geekier the better.

4. What are thoughts on Vineyard Vines?  Tommy Hilfiger? J. Crew?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

When Precious...

“I revolted by becoming a sensitive person, which I am not. I hate folk music. I don't care for most of the sensitive people I feel obligated to hang out with...

I pour a round of Lowenbrau, being careful not to pour along the side but straight down so the beer can express itself, and they say, “Did you ever try Dockendorf?” It’s made by the Dockendorf family from hand-pumped water in their ancient original family brewery in an unspoiled Pennsylvania village where the barley is hauled in by Amish families who use wagons with oak beds. Those oak beds give Dockendorf its famous flavor.  

These beer bores, plus the renovators of Victorian houses, the singer-songwriters, the runners, the connoisseurs of northern Bengali cuisine, the collectors of everything Louis Armstrong recorded between August 1925 and June 1928, his seminal period—they are driving me inexorably toward life as a fat man in a bungalow swooning over sweet-and-sour pork. ”  

Garrison Keillor, Lake Wobegon Days

Monday, January 21, 2013

Camden Windjammers, 1964

Photos from our archives
Camden Windjammer Mercantile, now a National Historic Landmark was built in 1916,  and restored in 1989.  She is still in service today with Maine Windjammer Cruises, the first and oldest fleet.  Here are some photos from the archives of a Windjammer cruise from 1964.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Winter Walks and Winter Birds

Common but beautiful, gulls heed the floating ice

Walking With Birds

Birding during the winter can take many forms.  It can be done passively, through feeders, and on dedicated trek.

Almost any coastal walking route across New England provides wonderful bird views.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Harbor Deli

At any harbor deli, one can feel almost immediately at home.  They are their own genre, familiar in their patterns and menus.

1. Accessible by Land or Sea: While you can arrive by car, launch or dinghy is vastly preferable.

It used to be that all cruising guide books would have icons denoting pay phones on land.

2. Independently Owned and Operated.  Yet they are more similar than fast food chains. Fnord.

3. The Big Board:  Handwritten, with dozens of options, yet we always place the same, custom order.

4. Open Food Prep: Has that Soviet vibe of standing in one line to order, one line to pay, and then still waiting around until the food is ready.  One milestone is when they know your name without asking, then when they know your order without asking.

5. A Full Range of Customers: Where else can Ivy League Professors and CEOs stand in line with dock repair people and quarry workers?

6. The All Important Tip Jar: The workers at the harbor deli are over-qualified, and one suspects that the ratio of tip money spent on pre-med text books is higher here than almost anywhere else.

7. The View:  The view is often much better than the premium residential real estate nearby, but no one seems to notice it, except on Sunday mornings.

8: Local Events.  Germany may have had its beer halls where political movements were formed, but in Coastal New England, the hot bed of activism is captured and fanned by the bulletin boards.

9. The Free Papers: While waiting for food, there are always free papers, from predictable to bizarre.  There are also copies of WSJ and NYT, which are technically for sale, but everyone flips through those as well while waiting.

10. Postcards:  But no one ever buys them.

11. Hip Drinks:  The refrigerators seem to be the C.E.S. of the beverage world.  Bring your sunglasses.

12: The Desserts:  While the grownups plan to just get a quick sandwich, the youngsters have much bigger ambitions for their haul.  Baked desserts are either made on the premises or locally and delivered.

13.  Miscellaneous:  Each deli has its own seasonal, regional, or just bizarre specialty items.

14. Dogs. Outside the door are three or four dogs, waiting for their masters, forming their own canine reception line. Petting each is not optional.

15. Outside Eating Area:  Small, and the subject of plenty of zoning disputes with neighbors.

16. Ice Machines:  The real detail that distinguishes a harbor deli from simply a deli that happens to be near the water is the ice machine, the lifeblood of any trip.

To a sailor, this is a picture of an ice machine.
17. Food to Go. In parts of the world, the art of origami and other paper folding has flourished.  In coastal New England, this art form has been monopolized by the lunch packers, who individually wrap dozens of food items per order to survive the obstacle course of being thrown, dunked, left in the sun, and squished, before inevitably given to the wrong person.

If you have a favorite harbor deli, please let others know where it is.