Nylon watch bands have always interested me, they're an affordable and easy way of changing a watch's personality for a season or a vacation or, just an outfit. NATO bands, the standard watchstrap issued by the British Ministry of Defense, have the extra "keeper" strap to doubly secure the watch to the wrist. The official British military spec strap comes in only one color (Admiralty Grey) and one width (20mm), but of course they come in all sorts of unofficial varieties.
NATO bands have been covered by fashion outlets for years and years, often noting that James Bond wore one with a Rolex Submariner, but he wore a ZULU (no extra keeper strap). I didn't know this but Bond is also often incorrectly cited as wearing a black and grey band, when now with the advent of HD TVs, we know 007 was actually wearing this color scheme.
This week I've been seeing NATO bands everywhere. I combed through them at the Army/Navy Surplus Store, then pawed at the incredible collection of NATO bands at Los Angeles' posh vintage watch dealer, Wanna Buy A Watch on Melrose. They're also available at J.Crew ($20) among several other online sources, and just yesterday I saw the A.P.C. double NATO band men's bracelet ($50)—a purists absolute nightmare. But back to James Bond for a second. I was intrigued to find out that the only woman ever thought to have worn a men's watch in a James Bond movie was Pussy Galore in Goldfinger. More than that, one Rolex historian believes that there may not even be a photo of any woman wearing a 40mm Men's Rolex Sports watch that pre-dates Pussy's 1964 character. So the trend of women wearing men's watches just may have started with (or gained steam) from Goldfinger. Her watch? A Rolex GMT Reference 6542 (commissioned in 1955 by PanAm to help pilots keep track of multiple timezones), a real pilots watch, a watch many collectors today even call the Pussy Galore Rolex. And it looks like maybe she's got a NATO band on in that photo. That must be what Bond was getting at when he said, "You're a women of many parts, Pussy."
Photos: Diagram via Keep the Time; watch bands via Sartorially Inclined; above two photos and text citations via Jake's Rolex World.
Photo by Nina Leen for LIFE, 1956.
My local Army/Navy Surplus store, California Surplus Mart on the corner of Vine and Santa Monica in Los Angeles, is one of my all-time favorite places to shop. It all sort of started a few years ago with my friend Heather, whose friend Billy discovered how chic a $40 nylon helmet bag could be. This set off something of a micro fashion craze among friends. I bought a few of them and get asked about them all of the time—usually by sales associates in department stores or people in retail that can't put their finger on what label is inside my bag. There is no label.
If you're not in Los Angeles or your local surplus store doesn't carry helmet bags, you can get them online here for $21. They're great carry-on bags, laptop cases, work bags, you name it. But beyond their now-legendary supply of helmet bags, the California Surplus Mart always has something super rad.
Like these pants, which I did not take home with me. But I did grab a few chowdah mugs, some neon pink twine, a bandana, a camera bag (not pictured) and some rope for tying down the trunk of my car at flea markets—all for not a lot of lettuce.
I'm loving the Japanese bag maker Bag 'n' Noun, an extension from the clothing label Noun, especially these nylon weekend bags called the Muffin Bag #210 ($168) and the smaller Nylon Mini Muffin Bag #210 ($144), both newly being carried at Steven Alan along with two others. The bags were designed to be fun, well-made, and simple—and according to the designer, Osaka-based Takeshi Ozawa, he was inspired by minimalist European workwear.
If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook you may have already caught a few sneak peeks of my collaboration with Gryphon New York on The Tomboy Jacket ($655) for their Spring 2013 collection. It was announced today on Style.com and will be available for pre-order starting Monday. The jacket is half equestrian blazer and half field jacket and is made of a water repellant metal cotton twill and has Japanese-inspired indigo dye detailing under the sleeves, the collar and on the outer pocket flaps. I was thinking both of Joanne Woodward and WWII correspondent Margaret Bourke-White for inspiration; and of course if it was going to bear the name Tomboy Style, it had to be functional and stylish. I can't stop wearing mine. If you're interested in buying one, they'll be available for pre-order on Monday at Les Nouvelles, I'll be giving out a 15% discount code then too! Thanks to Aimee Cho at Gryphon for being such a rad collaborator!
*** You can now pre-order the Tomboy Jacket at Les Nouvelles and get a 15% discount when you use the code TOM15 ***
Photos by Jamie Beck.
Caroline Ventura is the creative force behind the jewelry label Brvtvs, which is, in all honestly one of my favorites. She is often inspired by her love of menswear tailoring, and mixes masculine and feminine touches to create jewelry that is restrained and delicate, straightforward yet innovative. Each Brvtvs piece is handmade in Ventura's studio in New York, using reclaimed materials whenever available. Check it out here.
If not in NYC, I would live in...Rome. I love how the ancient and the modern coexist all in one place.
My dream holiday would be to...spend a month in Peru. No plans, just wandering.
My current obsessions are...
Food: Vegetables. Cannot get enough.
Music: The Clash. All day, every day.
Fashion: Vintage men's Levi's 517s. They have the perfect rise and make your legs look a mile long.
Retail Stores: Acne, The J. Crew Men's Shop, and I love a good thrift.
I channel my childhood self when I...draw. All my drawings are pretty simple and childlike, I never grew out of making geometric shapes on paper, even when I'm just doodling.
The fictional character I most relate to is...Scout Finch. Not afraid to speak her mind, but it usually gets her into trouble.
If I had to be outdoors all day I would...be running around somewhere grassy or on a blanket with a good book.
My favorite quality in a man is...a sharp wit and a gentle touch.
My favorite quality in a woman is...the same as the men. I love people who can crack a joke but who can also be real and genuine when you need them to be.
I'm terrified of...mimes, clowns, that guy from the Halloween movies. Basically anything with a white painted face or mask.
My dream car is a...BMW 1600 cabriolet.
My cocktail of choice is...a Pimm's in the summer, something with whiskey in the winter.
My celebrity crush is...Gregory Peck. A timeless gentleman.
My beauty product of choice is...deMamiel and Olio Lusso facial oils.
My friends and I like to...eat together. A lot. There's never too many laughs to be shared over a meal.
If I could go back in time for one decade it would be...to the Roman Empire when Caesar ruled. Just to experience it for a day.
As a teenager I was totally into...tattoos, soccer balls, and boys who rode skateboards.
I tend to splurge on...meals. And tailoring, always nice to have a good tailor.
Making things with my hands, not being afraid to get dirty, and not taking myself too seriously...is what makes me have Tomboy Style.
Photo of Hannah Lea in Gitman via The Midwestyle.
I don't know how I missed this, but a few seasons ago Gitman Brothers (also known as Gitman Vintage), a heritage label out of Ashland, Pennslyvania, started (re)making oxfords for women. Apparently Gitman historically made shirts for women, but are now re-issuing Cambridge Oxfords shirts ($165) with the same fabrics they use for men under their Sisters Collection, just altering the sizes and fit slightly. Right now they're available in red, white and blue—and if it wasn't clear from their current color assortment, they're made in the U.S. of A.
LaCrosse Rubber Mills Company was started in LaCrosse, Wisconsin in 1897 as a rubber horseshoe factory. Soon they went on to produce rain coats and the first iterations of rubber overshoes using steam powered sewing machines. During World War II, the family owned company provided rubber jungle shoes for the troops fighting in the Pacific and arctic rubber topped boots for the troops in Europe. In short, they know their rubber boots. This season the 100+ year-old company has released a heritage rubber boot based on one of their 1973 designs called the Hixon rain boot ($120). Their collection video is pretty great too.
I just got back from a weekend on the East Coast—the leaves are just about to begin their color migration and that back-to-school energy is lingering heavy in the air. It reminded me of Septembers past where I'd find myself sifting through trousers, watch bands, scarves and the best collection of ribbon belts known to man at The Andover Shop. Every chance I could get off the Brooks School campus close by, this is where I'd go. I wrote about my affair with this staid (mostly) men's clothier in the Tomboy Style book but had no idea I still had an actual remnant with me a decade or so later and 3000 miles away. I had to photograph it immediately when I found it, I couldn't even wait for natural light. True to form, The Andover Shop doesn't really have much of a web presence, but if you find yourself in Cambridge Mass., or even better, in Andover, Mass., do yourself a huge favor and stop in.
Photo of Pat English, a 17-year-old lion tamer in Ft. Lauderdale, by John Phillips, 1940.
"Like almost everyone else, Pat English dreamed of being famous. But two years ago she was merely a pretty 15-year-old kid at Bayside (N.Y.) High School, and the chances for fame seemed small indeed. Then one day she read an exciting account of how the great Clyde Beatty was opening a school at Fort Lauderdale, Fla. for girl lion trainers. She immediately registered. Pat was one of ten girls who started the course. Eight of them quit the first time they ever saw a lion. Another quit when she saw the lions chew up a mule. Only Pat was left to learn how to use the whip, gun and kitchen chair with which lion tamers overawe their animals. On her second day alone in the cage she was almost clawed to death. Stepping backward, she fell over a block of wood. Only the prompt appearance of Beatty saved her. Today Pat is 17 and a first-rate lion trainer." —LIFE Magazine, June 22, 1940.
++Tomboy Style PSA++
I'm off to the Hudson Valley for a few days, but feel free to keep up with me on:
And I'm just now on Instagram too. Late to the game, but in it to win it.
I walked into a Gap today for the first time in loooong time. I don't know why I haven't been noticing them lately, but I did notice their Fall Shine campaign today which features its “Icons Redefined” collection—an eclectic mix of musicians and dancers wearing Gap’s signature pieces. I'm especially loving this ad of San Francisco-based singer and songwriter Nicki Bluhm whose Q&A rests proudly in the Tomboy Style archives.
My friend Amy is up in San Francisco working on Levi’s® Fall 2013 campaign. She snapped a few behind the scenes photos that she knew I'd like. Do I like!? I love! I'm going crazy for this outfit. And, of course the hat is from our favorite hatters out of Venice, Westbrook Maker.
It's easy to love the new book Katharine Hepburn: Rebel Chic ($40), which hits shelves October 2nd. The book is brimming with rare and never-published photos as well as costume sketches and fantastic writing. With an entire chapter dedicated to Hepburn's tomboy style by Nancy MacDonell, it's also a must-own for any tomboyphile. MacDonell reminds us not only of Hepburn's lasting legacy in fashion but also that wearing trousers in the 1930s wasn't something that any "nice girls" did. She writes, "But in 1932, when Hepburn was striding around in dungarees...the vast majority of women were wearing dresses, girdles, garter belts, and stockings; nice girls simply didn't wear slacks." Pre-order here!
I was invited into the Levi's Haus in West Hollywood this afternoon as part of their #GoForth campaign—which I'll get into more soon. The Haus is a really special place, but without going into too much detail, I just wanted to quickly share a few snaps.
Love this Made & Crafted Sweater Coat and the whole new women's collection.
I am especially excited about the Filson + Levi's collab part III that just launched. I don't care that that's a men's Oil Finish Trucker Jacket, it's great, and I'm not the only girl who thinks so.