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Friday, January 6, 2017


Yesterday, it was MyPillow.  Today, the closest thing I have to a fetish:  my collection of special shirts.  I joke that the reason I go to Bangkok and Seoul is to buy shirts.  The reality is that this is mostly true. In addition to the standard or traditional shirts, I have four special types (left).  Each has a story.

And, by the way, I've just about signed up for my next world journey, beginning in March, and ending with a week of golf near Napa Valley.  Anyway, it was about fifteen years ago, I was browsing through Ross and saw a comfortable-looking t-shirt.  Canary yellow, silky soft, only $12.  I had not owned a yellow shirt for a very long time.  In the third grade I got stung by a bee when I was wearing a yellow aloha shirt.  This was to be my first yellow shirt in half a century.

Then, a couple of weeks later, I saw the same shirt in Ross for $8.  So I bought it.   Wow, saved $4.  A month later I happened to be in Las Vegas, and joined my family to Ross, where I saw that same shirt for $14.  When I returned to Honolulu, I went straight to Ross, and saw that the price had dropped to $3.  I bought three,  Count now up to five.  A week later, the price was $2, so I bought three more.  A couple of weeks later, there was one left, a 3X, for $1.  Purchased my ninth.  I gave two away.  I use it for sleeping.  I have no idea what the make is:

This is my most comfortable shirt, and I've washed them innumerable times.  They are still as good as new.

Maybe a quarter century ago, when I now and then was fitted for tailored suits in Bangkok, I decided to also get two safari shirts.    Last year I ordered a few of my 8th generation.  The material is now a lot more comfortable, with zipper pockets, and now, even inside pockets.

This time I made two long-sleeve versions.   I never really counted, but would guess 20 safari shirts.  How much did they cost?  All of them, combined, amount to less than one night at the Ritz Carlton Tokyo.   I get comments all the time from people who love the style.  I do, too.

This is my most functional shirt, for I can place all kinds of things in the pockets, and zipper them closed.  The long sleeve is great for travel, for I just take it off during the check-in ceremony.  Will be back at Jackie's Tailor in April to try a lighter material.

No kidding, I'm an authority on tailored suits from the Orient.  In the seventies, Hong Kong was the rage.  Maybe $100/suit for the best ones.  In the earlier 80's, Taiwan got into the act.  For $100 you could get a decent outfit (jacket, trousers, vest and shirt, with a free tie), and it would be ready in three days at most.  By the later 80's Itaewon in South Korea took over.  Better quality, still for $100. Then in the 90's Bangkok arrived with $50 suits.  They were not great, but I still own a couple from the era, and began my pathway for the ultimate safari shirts.  Today, you can still probably get a suit made in Bangkok for $50, but the quality will be terrible.  

Incidentally, at one time I must have owned more than 50 ties.  I still own a lot, even though I have not used one for many years.  Anyone want a tie?  I should sell them on eBay.  

My favorite is elegantly clownish.  Most of my ties cost less than $3.  However, in 1990 I bought a Jim Thompson silk tie for $150 (equivalent worth today because of inflation would be $272).  The first time I used it, some chicken grease spilled on it.  Try getting grease out of a silk tie.  Below, the Jim Thompson is on the left.

Which would you wear today?

The third shirt-type can only be found in South Korea.  Their long sleeve golf shirts are light, silky and comfortable.  I've washed them a lot and the only change is that the lighter colors all turn various shades of gray.  I only place sun block on my face, for the sleeves protect the arms, and the combination of socks and shorts protects most of my legs.  This is embarrassing, but I have 40 of them in all colors of the rainbow and more.
The first one I bought cost almost $200.  You can now find them for $30 or so, but need to bargain at the outlets.  Mario is a good place.  I'll be back in April.  Why?  Why not.

I have a few really expensive aloha shirts, which to me is more than $100:

I don't enjoy ironing shirts, but like to think that mine are made of material that need no ironing. I have not felt a comfortable Reyn-Spooner shirt.  I bought a palaka (left) ... threw it away.   

Tori Richards kabe crepe is okay. To the right is the type businessmen in downtown Honolulu wear, tucked-in.   To me, this tradition, which involves a suffocating belt, defeats the whole principle of informality and comfort in aloha wear.  I've tried suspenders, and still do on occasion.  I still own a dozen of them.

Bailey's Antiques has 15,000 of them.  Many are cheap.  I actually bought one for $3 and still use it.  However, they have some that will set you back several hundred dollars, each, and up to $4500.  I have enough shirts for two more lifetimes.  I may never again buy an aloha shirt.


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