It's a question I've been asking myself as well. So I've done a bit of research, and unfortunately, the answer seems to be: not anywhere cheap. I know that last year, H&M had them, in black and midnight blue velvet at different times (black pictured at right), and they were in the area of $35-40. And I foolishly, in a fit of parsimony, returned the ones I bought back then, so of course this year, I haven't been able to find them (although you may want to contact your largest local store just to be sure). This has left me to scour the online marketplace, and the results are decidedly unfriendly to the wallet. However, here's what I've found, in ascending order of price.
Church's is a venerable English shoemaker, now owned by Prada. Too bad these are out of stock right now - it's the best price I've found, and considering the heritage of this brand, I'd consider these a bargain (which is probably why they're sold out).
Made in England by Peal & Co. It's a shame that Brooks Brothers doesn't offer any other embroidered styles; using someone else's monogram is a bit gauche. I'd only recommend these if your initials are actually B.B.
Del Toro, Embroidered Skull and Bones, $215 available in navy, black; also available in non-embroidered navy, red, bottle green, and black ($270), logo-embroidered navy ($270) and black ($215), and custom styles ($295-$455)
Del Toro is new on the velvet-slipper scene, and has been getting a fair amount of publicity from The Wall Street Journal, Esquire, et al. Anytime somebody writes an article about velvet slippers, they're bound to be mentioned.
Stubbs & Wootton is the name in velvet slippers. They carry a handful of seasonal designs, tending towards the irreverent (this heraldic dolphin is the most conservative). But they also offer an unparalleled custom range, allowing you to choose your material, colours, and embroidery style, with dozens of figural motifs ($495), three styles of machine-embroidered monogram ($600), and six styles of hand-embroidered monogram using silver or gold bullion thread ($900).
Again, the tackiness of someone else's monogram, but at three times the price. But they do use bullion thread, so if your initials are actually R.L., these'll save you $250 over the Stubbs & Wootton custom bullion monogram. Otherwise, just say no.
In tonight's episode of Glee, we were introduced to a new, aggressively sexual Dalton Warbler by the name of Sebastian Smythe (Grant Gustin). He invites Kurt and Blaine out to Scandals, the (one and only) gay bar in Lima, where we see him out of his school uniform... and for someone who wonders whether Blaine is tired of "all the preppies" at Dalton, he's the most stereotypically preppy character we've seen so far, in a navy and green Polo Ralph Lauren rugby shirt ($125, now reduced to $74.99). Also, though it's impossible to tell exactly what watch he's wearing from the blurriness of that photo, this one by Bulova looks pretty darn close (even though it doesn't have the contrasting white stitching on the band).
When it comes to men's fashion on the hit Fox TV series Glee, there are really only two contenders for the style crown: Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer, left) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss, right). (I'm not including Matthew Morrison's teacher character, Will Schuester, because he pretty much looks as though he's bought every vest, cardigan, button-down shirt, and knit tie that J.Crew has ever produced, and has nothing else whatsoever in his closet. He's a great example of the dangers of dressing like you just stepped out of somebody's catalog: it might look good once, but if that's all you ever wear, it becomes incredibly tedious.) Kurt and Blaine also happen to be the two primary gay male characters on the show. Coincidence? I think not. For while the most exciting thing that football-playing Finn ever puts on his back is a Ralph Lauren rugby shirt, Kurt and Blaine regularly dress like a stylist's wet dream—especially Kurt, who often looks as if he's stepped directly out of the pages of a European fashion magazine, or, as his father puts it, "like you own a magic chocolate factory." Kurt perfectly sums up his own style philosophy in the third episode of the first season: "Every moment of your life is an opportunity for fashion."
“Acafellas,” season 1, episode 3
As the only openly gay student at the fictional William McKinley high school in the non-fictional city of Lima, Ohio (two hours northwest of Columbus, population 38,771), Kurt is the victim of constant harassment; his outlandish clothes, effeminate mannerisms, countertenor voice, and porcelain-doll looks make him an obvious target. Up until the middle of the second season of the show, while he is unable to outwardly express his sexuality in the sense of having a relationship with another man, he finds an outlet for it in another way: his clothes. Kurt has a penchant for tight pants, scarves, "form-fitting sweaters that stop at the knee," and just about any other style of clothing at the bleeding edge of fashion, often those that blur gender boundaries. But Kurt's philosophy on that? "Fashion has no gender."
They're keys!“Born This Way,” season 2, episode 18
Blaine, introduced in the sixth episode of the second season, is a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers, a rival choir to McKinley's New Directions. For most of the second season we only see Blaine in his school uniform, though there's a handful of times when we see him in regular clothes. But then in the third season, he transfers to McKinley, and starts wearing regular clothes all the time—though his clothes are anything but "regular." Blaine has a predilection for clothes that hark back to the Mod era of early 1960s London. Drainpipe trousers that end inches above the ankle, skinny suspenders, brothel creepers, labels like Ben Sherman and Merc... his wardrobe is a virtual stroll down Carnaby Street. And the bow ties! He wears them with polo shirts, for God's sake! I really don't know what to make of it. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why Glee's costume designer decided to make Blaine so modish. I really would have expected him to be more traditionally prep in a Ralph Lauren sort of way, but I guess they were going for something a little more... flamboyant. Perhaps they decided that conventional, straight-up prep would be a little too boring for the outgoing showman that Blaine is?
“The Purple Piano Project,” season 3, episode 1
Now, when I was originally planning this post, I thought it would be neat to go through Blaine's outfits, episode by episode, and try to track down where each piece could be found in real life. Then I discovered that there already exists an entire site devoted to this: Fashion of Glee. And once you've seen that site, you really have to work even harder than you otherwise would have to suspend your disbelief that Kurt, the 17-year-old son of an auto mechanic, could somehow be wearing a $660 Comme des Garçons shirt, $675 Paul Smith boots, or a €1,470 Vivienne Westwood suit, among any number of other ridiculously expensive designer clothes.
Also, I was disappointed that my idea, which I'd thought was so original, turned out not to be; such is the curse of the Internet. But then I realized I had a couple of items they didn't! So, here they are:
I've seen this shirt available online in two versions, one with the logo tag on the chest pocket and one without; for the show, they either had the latter, or removed the label from the former.
Kurt's outfits are always fascinating to look at, even though there's very few of them that I'd be likely to wear myself (much like a European men's fashion magazine). And, while I'm not really a fan of Blaine's modish skinny-suspender/bowtie looks, I'm really digging the preppy elements in his wardrobe from last week's episode, "Pot O' Gold", and this week's upcoming episode, "The First Time." Costume designer Lou Eyrich has been heavily favouring sweaters from Thom Browne, both from his eponymous line and, more predominantly, from the Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection. And I gotta say, it seems a lot more plausible to have private-school-attending Blaine wearing $500+ pieces than it does Kurt. So, without further ado...
From "Asian F," season 3, episode 3: Unknown Thom Browne tipped sweater-vest
Blaine's vest is similar to this Black Fleece vest
($150), but the tipping pattern matches the white version instead of
the grey. But it's almost certainly Thom Browne: note the signature
"locker loop" at the back neck.
In this promotional photo we can see quite clearly the pants that Blaine wears with the cardigan, in a grey Prince of Wales check shot through with pink. They're actually very similar to this pair by Brooks Brothers Black Fleece ($450), except those are shot with blue. Perhaps Blaine's are from a past season's collection?
Anyway, that about wraps things up for today. In the near future, I'll tell you how to make your very own replica Dalton Academy Warblers uniform, just like the one that I made for my Hallowe'en costume!
THREADS COUNT has two primary purposes: to educate men about the rules of classic men’s style, and to consider the importance of clothing as a tool for expressing, and constructing, the self. And of course, from time to time, the author may interject entirely personal opinions, rants, and raves on the subject of men’s style in general.