Monday, February 7, 2011
Living in Southern California always makes everything feel different. And one of those many differences is short-changing seasonal styles since the milder weather extends the fall though winter and early spring.
Rain-soaked Seattle is much the same way. We were always more likely to add layers rather than change wardrobes like they do in the East. Even Rails Clothing designer Jeff Abrams appreciates that. He once told a fashion magazine that women who invest in vests are smart because they can look sharp or keep you warm.
Abrams should know. Shortly after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, he went to work for a television network in marketing. He might still be in television today, but Abrams noticed something while traveling by train and backpacking for two years in Italy. Fitted fashions had much more sophistication than the street clothes he grew up with in Los Angeles.
Rails blends European stylings with Southern California casual.
Abrams initially started out with a simple concept — reinventing the hoodie by adding buttons and bringing in the fit. This idea was an instant hit in 2006. Now you can find Rails Clothing almost anywhere in California, ranging from Anne Michelle and Blue Bee to Red Balloon and Yellow Dog.
Abrams has since moved on from reinvented hoodies to a broader line of looks like the Kendra Gauze, but most of them still carry the narrower cut, unique lines, and better fabrics. There is almost a vintage quality in some designs, especially the men's line, ushering in a blend between what some people call basics, even if relaxed metropolitan is the better moniker.
What works especially well is the recent emphasis on plaid, like the Bobbi Plaid in white (above) or the warmer Kendra Buttondown with a similar patten. The latter features Rails' soft, double-sided gauze fabric and relaxed fit. Hand wash, hang dry.
The Bobbi Plaid is a bit different. It is a lighter shirt, suitable for spring. It has rolled short sleeves for a working class 50s feel. The boxy cut makes it masculine, while the cropped length keeps it feminine. If you want something other than black and white, check out the Bobbi Plaid in red.
Rails International's Take On Plaid Fits For 7.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
I didn't stumble into Rails shopping for women's clothes. They do have a men's line, with that flair between Southern California and a retro-European look. What I like the best about the clothes is that they work well enough on their own, but can also create a layered look without the need to add a coat.
You can find Rails clothing in any number of boutiques across the United States. There are some stores that carry a few selections online from time to time. Manhattanite is one of them. You can find several of the Rails designs mentioned above. They range from $88 to $120.
If you don't see what you like, Manhattanite invites customers to email them with inquiries. They are happy to place special orders whenever possible.