Recommended reading

23 comments on Recommended reading
1 minute
The Milk House, Richmond
Canon PowerShot S95, 2021

💻 We’re all familiar with convenience stores – gas pumps out front, junk food inside. But they started out as dairy stores, a place to grab a quart of milk on the way home. Ted Shideler remembers a dairy store that used to operate in east-central Indiana. Read I Miss Miller Milkhouse

💻 One of my favorite things in the Whole Wide World is a good Oxford dress shirt. Brett & Kate McKay tell you all about this shirt and how to select a good one for you. Read A Man’s Guide to the Oxford Shirt

📷 Alex Luyckx reviews the newest film from Ferrania, an orthochromatic black-and-white film called Orto. Read Film Review Blog No. 100 – FilmFerrania Orto

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23 responses to “Recommended reading”

  1. Andy Umbo Avatar
    Andy Umbo

    All hail the Oxford button down collar shirt! I literally have been wearing it for 50 years! Rumor has it, that the button down collar came as a request from polo players to keep their collar points from flapping up and hitting their faces during play. With suits, with jeans, with everything. Sticklers will tell you that they are not appropriate for men’s fine dress, and they are right, that’s why I also have French cuff shirts and cuff links; but how often do dress that high end in a year?

    They are hard to find today in the quality I’m used to, I’ve tried. I like heavy material, 100 percent cotton, and single sleeve length and collar sizes. With real men’s shirts, you don’t order large or extra large, you order a 17.5 collar size and 37 sleeve length, or whatever you really are. At the dawn of time, I always ordered Marshall Fields Clubman house brand…gone. Then for 25 years, I was able to get them from Lands End…I spent 20 minutes on their site two weeks ago, and could NOT find them in the material thickness I like, and the individual sleeve and collar sizes they carried for literally 30 years….gone? Brooks Brothers? Not “all that”, and wildly expensive, and in the olden days, not really better than Lands End high end brand for half the money. Paul Fredrick? Too, too thin material. You can see your body through the shirt! I have to wear a white tee underneath. Charles Tyrwhitt? Haven’t tried them yet, that’s my next stop.

    “No Iron” processed shirts defeat the joy of 100 percent cotton, they don’t really breathe. Don’t like ironing? Who does their own shirts? I haven’t washed and ironed a dress-type shirt in 40 years! A professionally washed and correctly ironed shirt (usually through a ‘mangle’), is usually anywhere between a buck and a half, to just under three bucks. It usually takes me a while to find a place in a city that does it correctly, with modern machinery, that won’t wreck your shirt or tear your collars and cuffs, but they’re out there. Even in a city as poorly professionally dressed as Indianapolis, it took me a year, but I found a great place with modern machinery and stores all over town (Classic Cleaners) and they did a killer good job for under three bucks a shirt, so someone in your town does it too! I’m retired with zero spendable income, and I still have my non-super-casual, collared shirts, professionally “done”.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I have my shirts done, too. I used to wash and iron them myself – I actually like to iron – but I just don’t have time these days. Classic Cleaners now charges north of $4 per shirt!!!! It’s nuts. Starcrest Cleaners down the street was at $3.85 until recently; now it’s $4.15. I’m considering driving all the way into the village and seeing what Griffith can do.

      I’m with you on the difficulty in finding proper Oxford shirts, both in weight and in sizing. I’m not happy with Lands’ End anymore in this regard. I’m considering trying L.L. Bean.

      If you EVER find Oxford shirts not treated to be no iron, let me know.

      1. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        Wow on Classic getting that expensive! Do they still have the one day a week discount day? I think bringing your shirts in on Tuesday was cheaper than the rest of the week, since they were trying to spread out the work!

        I’ll keep you apprised of my shirt search!

        BTW, I was told by my current shirt person/dry cleaner, that once you have your shirt professionally laundered, that “no iron” stuff is off the material, but I don’t want to pay for it anyway, can’t be good….

      2. Andy Umbo Avatar
        Andy Umbo

        BTW, when I was living and working in Chicago in the late 1980’s, it was a buck a shirt, and when I was a kid in Chicago, my Dad was paying 25 cents a shirt from the corner Chinese laundry! My Mom, who had her own career, told my Dad she wasn’t washing and ironing his shirts when he could get them done professionally for a quarter, she’d give him the buck and a quarter for the week! Had to laugh…

  2. seatacphoto1951 Avatar

    Another film stock to try. Alex’s results are great. He has an intuitive sense how to handle a certain film.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      He does have a real knack.

  3. Greg Anderson Avatar
    Greg Anderson

    Every Saturday I take time to check your blog for recommended reading. There is usually at least one book I find interesting. I follow thru by buying the book or else finding it at the local library. Great stuff!
    Your own photo books should get more of a shout-out as I have purchased and enjoyed them.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I do need to do more to market my books, that’s for sure.


    Concerning the drive thru convenience stores …. many years ago when I lived in Florida , there were small drive thru stores where you could get just your basic things …. milk, eggs, bread, butter, and I believe cigarettes. It was so nice to be able to leave work and drive thru to grab a few things on the way home. It seems like they were called “Little General’s” or something like that. Since that was almost 50 years ago, it’s a tad hazy. Do you remember the little Burger Dairy store on Miami street ??

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I first saw them in Mexico. Then some opened up in Logansport, of all places.

      I do remember the Burger Dairy on Miami. It was on the way to Brant’s!

  5. J P Avatar

    I can agree with most of what Andy Umbo said in his comment. I cannot imagine a wardrobe without plenty of oxford shirts. Like you guys, Land’s End was my go-to for a long time, but I could often find something that would work when places that sold dress shirts had a sale. Finding good ones recently has been a struggle, and I am not about to pay Brooks Brothers prices.

    I understand that they are iffy with suits, but I usually wore a white one with a suit on days I went to court. I just liked the feel of the heavier fabric.

    I took mine to Classic too – for a long time they had a weekly special that was $1 or $1.50 per shirt, but I see that they are now up to $3.85, even on special.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I’ve always wondered why you can’t get a dress Oxford with a straight collar. Seems like a good idea!

    2. Amdy Umbo Avatar
      Amdy Umbo

      I actually think they are perfectly fine with suits, especially for the work day. I just was told that broadcloth, no button down collar, and usually French cuff, was what you might wear for evening or upscale party. I certainly wore heavy Oxford button downs with suits daily, and yeah, I love the heavy material as well! There’s all kinds of classic dress “rules” from the olden days. Did you know that there is no brown leather in fine dress wear for men? As Frank Zappa used to sing, Brown shoes don’t make it! It’s black or cordovan only. Ditto with brown suits. Reagan was the guy that started wearing brown suits in the White House, and they had to be expensive, but they looked like crap! Clinton was the guy that started wearing black cap toed Oxford shoes with formal wear, instead of those god-awful gros grained bow patent leather shoes. Thank God, I hated those. As my Grammy used to say, you can wear whatever you want, until you get someplace where people know what they’re doing, and then you look like Ruggles of Red Gap!

  6. Ted Shideler Avatar

    Thanks for the shout out, Jim!

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      You bet!

  7. tbm3fan Avatar

    Have worn Oxfords since 1970 because of my job after school. No t-shirt and jeans. Sourced all from Lands End from 1977-2005. Currently have 20 in light blue, French blue, yellow and pink. I wash , hang dry, and then hand iron. People always ask who does my shirts. Very picky about ironing and don’t want a crease down the sleeve. For suits, like when, I would pull out broadcloth shirts.
    Last night took my wife out for her birthday dinner. She loves beef ribs
    She always makes herself look nice when out like this. A Filipina thing.
    I put on cuffed chinos, light blue Oxford, and a brown herringbone sport coat. My son walks out and goes argh I have to dress up. He did and at the full restaurant I am the only male dressed up. I like my coats and since I am the same today, as in 1980, they all fit perfectly due to a great tailor back then.

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      TBM, you hit on one of the great mysteries of modern relationships, mostly among the 20-30 something’s. The question I always ask when I’m out in a restaurant and looking around, is how these very attractive women dressed rather well, ended up eating with these rubes in a wrinkled t-shirt and some sort of pants that look like hell because they’re made out of sweat shirt material? I would hope that date would be a “one and done” for her. Nothing wrong with being the best dressed man in the room, especially when you’re getting admiring glances from the ladies, who will be browbeating their hapless husbands and dates on the way home. It’s one thing to wear casual out to dine, especially dependent on the city you live in, and the establishment you’re going to, but when did wrinkled t-shirts become acceptable?

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      You’re fortunate to still fit into your clothes from 1980! I don’t fit into the suit I got married in seven years ago.

  8. Doug Vaughn Avatar
    Doug Vaughn

    I wore Oxfords from Land’s End for my entire career (retired last year). I was raised in a little country town, and to us, an Oxford WAS dressing up. I’ve never worn anything nicer with a suit (which I only wore for interviews, extremely important business meetings, or a funeral). I’ve never owned the kind of shirt you need cuff links for, and I’ve never owned wingtips or other super fancy shoes. I guess I would have never fit in with high-society folks, but that’s completely OK with me.

    For the last 20 years or so, the companies I worked for mostly went to casual dress, about half that time with jeans every day of the week (even though I was in senior management), but I still wore the Oxfords because they’re so comfortable. Now that I’m retired, I’ve put on a pair of dress pants the sum total of one time, for a funeral, where even as pall bearers we were told to ditch the jackets. I love living in a laid back country town!

    My dad always said the guy who invented ties should have been hung with one.

    1. Andy Umbo Avatar
      Andy Umbo

      Doug, I not only have wing tips, a few pair, but French cuff shirts as well; where the fun with wearing them is buying wild and weird cuff links from resale shops, I have 15 pair! Including some 1950’s era Swanks that are leaping dolphins with red gem eyes! Wing tip shoes are wildly comfortable, if you get the old big toed ones like Weyenberg Messagics, and as the fashion assistants used to tell me at my ad job, while they were oohing and aahing at mine, that resale shop ones are muy hip!

      I actually love ties too, and own about 75 of them, including vintage. I will tell you the number one “truth” I learned after years of retail department store advertising: men hate dressing because they’re still trying to fit into shirt collars and pants waists they were wearing in high school! If they’d measure their necks, and buy a shirt that fits, they wouldn’t be choking themselves with ties! When your collar is buttoned, you should easily be able to fit a few fingers between your neck and the collar on each side. In my late 20’s, I used to wear a 15 inch collar… now? 17.5 inch! And I’m not all that big! I even have bow ties, mostly vintage, one that even looks completely black, but on close study is a woven pattern of spider webs with a spider in it!

    2. Jim Grey Avatar

      I rather like dressing up all the way on occasion, but day to day I’m a jeans and button-down shirt kind of guy. I’m wearing Lands’ End flannel today!

  9. Steve Mitchell Avatar

    I realised just yesterday that I have not read anything from your blog for several weeks, and wondered if you were OK. Looked you up, and found I had somehow unfollowed you – no idea how. Anyway I’m back :)

    1. Jim Grey Avatar


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