Monday, October 3, 2011

The Ryde Gets The Button Down Right

If you want to wait longer in the season before adding a jacket, this is a great year to do it. While women are adding layers, long-sleeved shirts with a heavier construction are the better bet for men.

There is an underlying corps and construction worker influence in some of the better picks, with closely tailored fabrics and a more uniform look. While many of the styles convey a work-oriented feel and more serious look, the best of them add details for a laid-back attitude, even among designers better known for summer offerings.

Two long-sleeved styles designed by The Ryde.

The Ryde might have been founded by Matthew Allen and Mike Figueroa with an art-based approach to the surf scene around Laguna Beach, Calif., and a few long-sleeved shirts they did design have that attitude. One of the best of of them is Amistad Woven, which clearly conveys a military tone but doesn't sacrifice a few stylized elements.

Some highlights on the Amistad include pearlized snaps down the front and at the pockets. The shirt also has a contrast pattern to the inner yoke, at the cuffs, and near the bottom hem. The contrasting red against the gray-green is striking, especially around the chest pocket vents. The shirt is a polyester (65 percent) cotton (35 percent) blend, which gives a little less heaviness that is made up for in its smartness.

Along with the Amistad Woven, the Nautilus Woven carries a similar look with a contrasting red around the collar against the black fabric. It is heavier, made from a 100 percent flannel cotton. There is also a red stripe flare on the right side pocket, and instead of pearlized snaps, the shirt carries metallic sheen buttons.

The only thing I could take or leave on the Nautilus Woven are the shoulder epaulettes. I've never been a fan of ornamental shoulder pieces, and generally avoid them, which is why I think the Amistad Woven is the better of the two great designs on the outside. On the inside, the Nautilus has an Allen illustration included on the liner. Cool.

The only real down side is that there aren't many of the shirts left to be found. Even some of the retail outlets carrying them have limited sizes left. It makes sense, but only because The Ryde focuses its fashions on spring and summer. These shirts are two of four released last year.

Alternative long-sleeved designs to look for in the weeks ahead. 

Almost nobody does industrial like Dickies, so they are always a safe alternative when nothing else is available, with one exception. Sometimes the shirts feel like they fan too far outward toward the bottom, detracting from the appeal of the shirt. They are also a little too straightforward at times.

Ironically, you can avoid this issue by taking longer to look around. Because European shoppers appreciate diversity a bit more than the U.S. , the United Kingdom carries some products that you may never find in a U.S. store.

Urban Industry is one of the U.K. storefronts that do. One of the Dickies shirts found there is the Kingfisher. It has the characteristic dual chest pockets, but offers a slimmer fit that almost eliminates having too much material at the waist. The store also carries other brands not so accessible in the U.S.  and they do price and ship internationally.

Likewise, Affliction Clothing carries several worthwhile button-down long-sleeved shirts. One of my favorites this year is the Sentine LS Woven. It has a slim fit, tapering in at the waist, but what I like even more is that Affliction gave one pocket a zipper front.

It's less functional than it is stylish, but it's the addition of the hardware that really makes it work as something different. While the Sentine does have epaulettes, they are smaller and much less noticeable. It looks more like ribbed construction than something you iron down.

The Sentine is made from poplin cotton, which is a stronger fabric added within plain weave and makes the shirt more durable. It's another reason I've always liked Affliction. Many of their designs have a longer shelf life.

As for epaulettes in general, if you are going to wear a shirt with them, Affliction generally does a better job making them part of the overall look, with heavier stitching. (Check out the Mil Spec Button Down to see what I mean.) When added to heavier construction shirts, they work better because they don't look like a random add on.

Long-sleeved Designs By The Ryde Work At 7.6 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale. 

It's anybody's guess when The Ryde will make its next limited line of button-down long-sleeved shirts. As mostly a T-shirt and board short designer with an affinity for simple non-branded designs, they usually create their fashion leading into the summer. I hope they continue to add more designs to their long-sleeved offerings.

You can find the Amistad Woven (about $60) and Nautilus Woven (about $55) at Becker Surf. For the alternatives, visit Urban Industry for slimmer fit Dickies (like the Kingfisher, about £50). The two picked from the Affliction line include the Sentine LS Woven and Mil Spec Button Down.

And if you do want to see Matthew Allen's art off the shirts and shorts, visit his website. He has some incredible and amazing print work. He's also an accomplished photographer. Anyone familiar with Surfer Magazine already knows his work.
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