Mark Cho For Less: Going Simple and Recreating a look Faithfully

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On this next edition for “Inspiration for Less”, we take another look at the Armoury’s co-founder Mark Cho and recreate his outfit using less-expensive and thrifted items!  This time, he wears something super simple: a blue jacket, white shirt, black tie, and grey trousers.

In the world of Instagram, we could probably check out the personal style of each of the people I look up to:  Jake Grantham, Chad Park, and Ethan Newton.  However, when it comes to a lookbook we get something much more curated, centered around the theme that the brand is trying to exude.  The last time we looked at The Armoury’s lookbook, it was for their Spring 2016 editorial.  It was filled with a “travel” theme, featuring their lightweight Ring Jacket suits and jackets with a casual spin.  It was fun and really indicative of the Armoury’s focus of “international classic”.

Their lookbook for Fall/Winter 2016 was released a few months ago and while it wasn’t all that exciting to me compared to the Spring one, it was still filled with a lot of great looks that can inspire anyone’s wardrobe.  They shot it at Spring Place, a collaborative space that is utilized for fashion shows, parties, and the like, along with insterting fantastic illustrations by Mr. Slowboy.  “Work and Play”, indeed.

The Outfits felt a bit too typical Armoury for my tastes, which is much more apparent when you realize that Dick Carroll, one of their featured models and shop manager, has a decidedly more vintage Ivy style than the lookbook lets on. However, its important to remember that the lookbook is created by The Armoury to showcase their latest collection and it isn’t a replacement for their Tumblr or IG which features more of the day-to-day style of their sales associates and managers.

What was interesting to me was the inclusion of the co-founder Mark Cho within the editorial.  We’ve looked at Mark before and you’ll notice that he has his own interpretation of ivy style if you look hard enough.  He’s always had a fascination with this 1960’s style and has even had quite a few jackets made from Tailor Caid, Japanese premier ivy tailor, all featuring the same medium width lapel, with a generously spaced 3-roll-2 configuration.  Tailor Caid’s jackets are pretty unique, so you can imagine my surprise seeing it worn in the Editorial, joined by the more modern (or Italian?) suits of Ring Jacket worn by Mr. Carrol and Mr. Parker.  The outfit below (on the left) is what inspired this post.
Counting down to those holiday parties. Go for the nog and make sure you have a good suit. #thearmoury (at The Armoury New York)

It’s a pretty simple outfit, consisting of a deep indigo Ivy jacket, white shirt with black grenadine, charcoal trousers, and black captoes.  It fits in with the other outfits in the picture  (which also play with the simple color motif) but the use of the ivy detailing is what intrigued me the most.  Either way, it’s a great look that combines the classic colors that everyone needs in their wardrobe: black, white, grey, and blue.  These colors naturally pair with each other and Mark has them in the most elegant way possible.  It’s perfect for you guys who want to dress up but don’t like to combine patterns the way I do.

Unfortunately, we can only guess to how much the items in Mark’s outfit cost. The lookbook only contains links to what Dick and Jim are wearing, and they are wearing Ring Jacket Suits that cost over a thousand dollars.  According to this article on Ivy Style, Tailor Caid’s jackets start at $2,800 USD. The Carmina shoes cost $450.  While the jacket may be apart of his Caid suit (which I doubt due to the colors being different) it is apparent that Mark’s entire outfit may cost $4-5k.   Ring Jacket, Carmina and Tailor Caid are as reputable as they can get, its just not within the bounds of “normal” sartorial enthusiasts.  Maybe some day I’ll be able to afford it, but not right now.

I believe that almost any look can be recreated or re-made entirely through thrifting and tailoring.  Please note that it is not enough just to get a blue jacket, black tie, and grey pants and say that you’ve “recreated the look for less”. I mean while you could argue that this is a similar look, it isn’t exactly the vibes that Mark Cho was going for.  It is the attention to the details (like the vintage Ivy style jacket) that you need to pay attention to if you really want to dress a certain style.  And you can still do that without having to pay thousands of dollars.

My Outfit

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Almost everything in this outfit was thrifted or from Ebay. Even though it may not be new to me, it still fulfills all of the details and maintains a faithful re-do of Mark’s simple look.  In fact, you could say that my outfit is just a tad more Ivy than Mark’s, with the trousers being the main exception.   It still stays within the same vibes of classical elegance, without being too flashy; oddly, it felt weird not combining stripes and patterns in the way I normally do.    Just compare it to the details in the “full Ethan” outfit I wore in the previous post. I traded away my striped shirts and foulard ties for something simple.  Mark Cho also seems to favor mixing patterns as well!  
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Here we can see the detailing that makes this outfit inspired by Mark, but with my own personal style.  I wear my 1960’s Ivy suit jacket, that I wore in full in my previous post, cut from a soft flannel that has a nice micro herringbone.  Note the lapel shape and the button spacing; it’s not a regular 3 button jacket but an actual vintage one that is cut like the other 1960’s ones of its time.  Again, the main giveaways are the lapel shape and the spacing between buttons.  Most three button suits have its buttons a bit closer together.

Wearing the jacket with a black silk knit and a white OCBD with generous collar roll give this outfit a more traditional ivy vibe, where as a white spread collar shirt and black grenadine (as worn on Mark) has a more Italian flavor.  I do add that taste of Italy back in with pleated flannel trousers from Polo Ralph Lauren.  I scored these when I was thrifting near my place!  After a quick taper and hem, they’re good to go.

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I didn’t take a picture of the shoes, but they are wingtips (differing from Mark’s Carmina captoes) from Johnston Murphy purchased on eBay. While I do love captoes, I like the extra “omph” that you get from the brouged wingtips.  They may not be as great quality as Carmina, but buying shoes online from reputable sellers is the key to ensuring that you don’t get something bad.  Johnston Murphy and Allen Edmonds (my preferred manufacturer) are the way to go.  You could potentially get Carmina and Alden’s on eBay but even those are out of my price range! I’ll stick to what I can afford.

Conclusion

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Here’s what I paid for each item:

1960’s Ivy Sack Suit Jacket (Ebay):  $50 (half of suit) + $50 of tailoring: $100

Polo RL Flannel Trousers (thrifting):  $10 + $20 Tailoring: $30

Custom OCBD from Natty Shirts:  $30~

Black Silk Knit from J. Crew:  $40

Johnston Murphy Wingtips (Ebay):  $20

Total:  $220

Now $220 ain’t bad considering all the special details I added to the outfit.  You could go in different ways with interpreting Mark’s outfit, but I like that I was able to find vintage, quality items for such a great price.   Sure, you could find a navy blue jacket anywhere, but going specifically for an Ivy style flannel sportcoat is much harder and takes more specific studying and hunting.  Just remember that it isn’t impossible!  You don’t have to buy Tailor Caid to get the Ivy suit you want.  You don’t need to spend thousands at Ambrosi Napoli to get high rise, pleated flannel trousers.  Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing compared to the feeling of getting something made for your body by hand.  You can’t compare the quality, attention to detail, and love that is put into a bespoke garment.   The reality is, however, that none of us are able to do that right now.   Maybe in the future! I know it’s one of my dreams to have a bespoke suit made, but that could take years if at all. Even for me, getting something custom made at Luxire is out of my bounds.  That’s why I take my passion and knowledge of menswear to thrift stores and eBay.

If you have the desire to learn the details and become a master thrifter, you can dress however you want!  One of the users on Male Fashion Advice does it with more casual outfits very well.  You can do it with sartorial outfits just like me.  I don’t deny that the Armoury supplies fantastically made garments but I also don’t want you guys to get discouraged from dressing well if you don’t have the budget for it.  If it helps, just know that these pieces (a black knit tie, grey trousers, and a blue jacket) can be used over and over  again.  I’m not about having just one set of clothes; just check out another example of when I used this jacket!  It just goes to show you that learning how to thrift and find great pieces on eBay is great for building a great wardrobe, whether you want to go full Ethan or something simple (with a touch of vintage Ivy) like Mark Cho.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan W.

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