My Must Haves

Being stuck at the house for the past three months has given me some time to reflect on my stuff.  My closet, my storage, and the piles of shoes that need to be culled.  We aren’t back in the office yet, so I’m not spiffing around in a blazer and double monks every day…yet.  When looking through my stuff, I have a natural habit of ranking things.  What are the most important, and what would I leave behind if my house was on fire.  This may seem a little weird to read, but I have a feeling we’re all guilty.

So this raises the question for me: What are my favorite things?  What are my ‘must haves’?  What are the items I own that I’d immediately replace should something happen to it?  I’ve been working on this list for a few weeks, and I think I have it narrowed down.  Here are the goods, with a little color around why they are my ‘must haves’.  Let me know what you think:

TOTE BAG: I’ve used totes for years and years.  My mom used them incessantly growing up, and I guess it rubbed off on me.  They are extremely handy, especially with kids.  We bought both our boys the zippered Filson totes as their ‘luggage’.  Hopefully they’ll gain some nice patina and be good and broken in by the time they go away to college.  For me, my favorite is actually the first piece of Filson that I ever got: the tin cloth tote (which they don’t sell anymore – they replaced it with the zippered Grab N Go Tote).  I have used this for almost ten years, and it is my go-to when I need a tote.  It is nylon-lined, and the tin cloth is nearly indestructible.  It has an open top, which I actually don’t mind.  I would be heartbroken if I lost this one…

501s: Let me clarify: a pair of the original rigid Shrink to Fit 501s that have been soaked and tailored.  I have a pair that is about five years old, and has stretched to the point of needing to be re-tailored.  I love these jeans.  They are my go-to for almost any situation.  I am very specific in how I have them tailored: take some out of the butt, think the legs, 7.5″ leg opening, and hemmed to the slightest of break.  Then I wear them for as long as I can between soaks.  After wearing them for some time, they become like a second skin.  And they are Levi’s.  My Levi’s.

BIT LOAFERS:  I grew up wearing penny loafers, and have my fair share of tassel loafers, but I am completely sold on bit loafers.  Maybe it’s my advanced age, but I think they are a great in-between from pennies and tassels.  They work with almost anything…hell, I wear them with shorts, jeans, chinos, trousers, and I’ve been known to wear them with a suit.  I have a pair of brown Oak Street Bootmakers bit loafers that are my absolute favorite.  So much so that I want to get another pair just to store in the closet.  These need to be polished and probably resoled this year, but I’m more than happy to spend the money, as these guys are the real deal.

NAVY BLAZER: We sing the praises of a good navy blazer quite a bit.  And for good reason.  It is the outer layer of armor for almost any outfit that includes pants.  However, what I’m referring to is that navy blazer.  Not the boxy one with gold buttons that you wore as a pledge, but instead the well fitting, well made jacket that looks as if it was made for you.  In many cases, a good one is.  My go to is one I got from Ledbury about five years ago.  It is incredible, and fits me like a glove.  I’ve worn it more than any jacket I own (by far), and don’t know what I’ll do once I wear out the elbows.  That will be a sad day…

SHOTSHELL BELT:  This may seem pretty specific, but it’s here for a reason.  I got my first shotshell from Orvis when I was a freshman in college.  This was back when they were still using the Winchester shells, and I believe I paid $35 at the Buckhead Orvis store.  I wore that belt for at least fifteen years before I had to retire it (probably prematurely).  Since that belt, I’ve owned quite a few more in different flavors.  This is my go-to belt.  The bridle leather breaks in very well, and the shotshell is just the right amount of flair.  I love the look, and plan on wearing one for the foreseeable future.

WAXED JACKET: Is there a better piece of outerwear?  I saw a funny meme about all the ‘Buckhead Bros’ wearing their Barbours…I snickered, but honestly, I love my Bedale.  My waxed jacket collection has grown pretty substantially, adding in options from Tom Beckbe (the ES is my current go-to), Over Under (GREAT hunting jacket), Ball and Buck, and Belstaff (thanks, Mrs. RCS).  Between September and April, I rarely leave the house without one.  They are as cool as they are functional.  The big front pockets become a catch all, and they are essentially weather proof.  The older, the better.

POCKET KNIFE: I am NEVER without a pocket knife.  Whether it’s something dressy like a Laguiole, or something classic like a Buck Knife, or a Benchmade knife, they are as much a part of my EDC, as they are a part of my DNA.  I picked up this habit from my Granddad, who was a huge influence on me growing up.  I remember him carrying his pocketknife everywhere.  I used to watch him sharpen his knife on a stone.  He would do everything with that knife…a habit that I’ve picked up as well.

FRONT POCKET WALLET:  Back in 2007, a buddy of mine asked me what he should get as a groomsman gift…something around $50 each.  I recommended the Colonel Littleton front pocket wallet embossed with each of the groomsman’s initials.  I was in the wedding, and got one.  Before that, I can’t remember what wallet I was using, but it was a back pocket wallet.  Since that wedding, I have worn that front pocket wallet.  There have been brief lapses in judgement where I’ve carried some other apparatus, but I’ve always gone back to that wallet.  In 2017, I replaced it with the same wallet in Buffalo leather, and feel like it’s just getting broken in.  This wallet is exactly what I need.  I don’t carry a bunch of stuff, so this works GREAT for me.  I’ve recommended this wallet to every groom since…and will continue to do so.

What about you?  What are your must haves?

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15 Comments

  1. Pete
    05/29/2020 / 8:28 AM

    Gucci jordaan loafers- wore them to my black tie wedding 3 years ago and with jeans, tux and suits or khakis since. Updated version of OG horsebit loafer with a 70s vibe and I’m confident red from Shawshank would appreciate.

    Smathers & Branson needlepoint masters belt- I was lucky enough to go in ‘14 and grabbed this off eBay directly after. Reminds me of my happy place and a lifetime memory with a close friend. Huge conversation starter and gives me a presence in any meeting.

    Topo designs day pack- use this as my work bag everyday for 7 years and great on my bike ride in or for short weekend trips or sunset trips to the beach. Just starting to break in and will be around for 50 more years. Looks like a jansport or East pack from when I was a kid.

    Love your blog

  2. B. Scott Robinson
    05/29/2020 / 8:46 AM

    Stafford of Thomasville shot shell bag

    I bought this bag several years before Stanford’s closed shop. It holds 5 boxes of 12ga shells and has served me on my world travels as a solid manly man-bag.

    Russell Moccasin Zephyr boots

    I bought these around 2003. They are on their 3 set of soles. Love them.

    Crocodile belts

    I bought two wide and very “rustic”, right off the crock spine, croc belts while living in South Africa in 2010 for about $50 each. They still look great and are practically indestructible. I have a similar rifle sling which is amazing.

    Drapers of Glastonbury slippers

    My family bought these for me from Ben Silver several years ago for Christmas. I wear them almost every morning. I need a new pair.

    Cotton Scarf

    I have a hand woven cotton scarf that was liberated in Afghanistan by a fellow field officer. I wear it year round, all over the world, with it serving as a personal travel towel-blanket-rope-belt-shemagh-sling. Most functional item of clothing of all time.

  3. Will
    05/29/2020 / 10:46 AM

    Things I would immediately replace:
    Daily driver lucchese boots.
    Sportcoats: Harris tweed, American cut navy blazer
    Tailored wool blend khaki trousers.
    White ocbd
    Can of Copenhagen
    Good sunglasses
    Alligator belt

    • Wheels
      05/29/2020 / 12:16 PM

      Which Lucchese boots do you like? I’m having trouble deciding between their roper or a western style.

      • HL
        05/29/2020 / 12:25 PM

        I have both Western and Roper. For where I live, style, usage I wear my Ostrich Roper most. I wear the Western with blazers and jeans/5 pockets – I live in southern Louisiana so it could vary for you.

    • Raleighrally55
      06/01/2020 / 10:41 AM

      A dentist chewing tobacco, ironic?

  4. OKH
    05/29/2020 / 12:15 PM

    I second the tote and wallet (18 years in and on #3).

    I would add:
    Filson 24 hr briefcase
    Double H 1552 boots – perfect western work boot
    Orvis Dri-release shirts – long sleeve, hooded or not, short sleeve…all great and versatile
    LL Bean scotch plaid flannels – the medium tall fits me perfectly, ages well, and cheap enough to buy plaids

  5. HL
    05/29/2020 / 12:22 PM

    I would have to really put some thought in to this as you did. If I had more time to grab stuff other than my kids, wife and dogs ( in that order), I would grab :
    Keys & Wallet – I have the same wallet as you – sans initials
    Watches – I have a handful of nice watches to hand down to my sons that will go up in value with time
    My grandpaws National Championship ring and signet ring
    Pappy Van Winkle 20 year old reserve

    I really cant think of items I can NOT replace as far as clothes, luggage, belts, boots. I have extremely nice stuff in my opinion but I haven’t grasped to any that if they were thrown in a fire I would shrug it off an buy the same one and have to break it all in.

  6. Wheels
    05/29/2020 / 1:39 PM

    Three articles that I must have would be an Orvis signature sweatshirt, grey New Balance 990 (really wish they would bring back the 991) and my Alden Indy boots.

  7. Gray
    05/30/2020 / 11:02 AM

    This is a good start. My opinion is that all of this stuff falls into the category of “things to buy with your first real paychecks and before kids.”
    When I graduated law school 9 years ago I started accumulating Filson luggage. Thank god I did: not only are prices drastically higher today, but the idea of dropping $350 on a duffle bag while paying tuition for twin toddlers is laughable. Same goes for my Ferragamo drivers, Ping irons, Planet Ocean, etc. Now I might treat myself to a new Kamakura shirt every year!

    • HH
      05/30/2020 / 5:48 PM

      Solid point – definitely agree with buying before kids. It’s hard to advise some who think they know it all, but if you buy, spend a little more and buy quality over quantity and timeless items.

    • Fritz
      05/31/2020 / 10:28 AM

      I finished law school 10 years ago and similarly went on a FIlson buying spree with my first paychecks. Still using the same luggage and briefcase.

  8. Steven Bremer
    05/30/2020 / 12:30 PM

    The quarantine has made me think about the things I really “need” and my desire for a uniform so here we go for my must haves.

    1, Ledbury OCBD in white
    2,.Orvis chinos
    3. Rancourt beefroll loafers in Horween
    4. Dapper Classic socks
    5. Tudor GMT

  9. JDV
    05/30/2020 / 7:16 PM

    Excellent, excellent post. Mine would be as many soft oxford-cloth button downs, traditional fit, and as many khakis, loose fitting, as I can collect. Both are hard to find on a budget these days. One navy and one gray suit, and the obligatory blue blazer with gray slacks. One nice pair of Allen Edmonds balmorals for dress, one pair of Bass weejuns, smooth strap, and one pair of Topsiders. A well-worn Bible with a stiff cup of coffee, and weekend mornings are set. The kids watch cartoons on Saturday and I, the news shows, on Sunday. And I’d never be without a handy Beach Boys greatest hits CD or download.

  10. JDV
    05/31/2020 / 7:10 PM

    One more point: I do not wear jeans, coming of age in the South in the eighties, I pretty much stopped wearing jeans during college.. I keep one pair but almost never wear them, living in khakis. Jeans do hide dirt well when traveling, and look great with a university stripe button down, but they are so darn thick and uncomfortable. And the traveling factor is cancelled out by how warm they are on a plane. As my late dad always said, too hot in summer and too cold in winter. Plus, how does one ever retrieve anything from the front pockets without standing up and, even then, scraping one’s knuckles raw. However, twice now Mr. RCS, you have posted photos of jeans on this page which make them look fabulous: today’s. post and earlier, the post on a Goodwill find. You could photograph jeans for a living.

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