Monday, January 16, 2012
The Pennsylvania Tuxedo.
We all know the plaid. They still use it today, however you can definitely feel a thickness/denseness difference between the “vintage” wool and today’s. Dubbing itself as “The Original Outdoor Clothing Company” Woolrich has been around since 1830. The first mill was set up in Plum Run, Pennsylvania by John Rich and Daniel McCormick. Originally just selling woolen fabric and socks to loggers and trappers. In 1843 Rich bought McCormick out and became the sole owner of Woolrich. Moving their location to Richville in 1845, and eventually become such a main stay that the town changed its name to Woolrich. By this time they have started to include shirts and blankets in their line up, and including their classic buffalo plaid shirt in 1859. During the Civil War, Woolrich provided the army with fabric for the uniforms and thick blankets to keep the soldiers warm.
The Pennsylvania tuxedo is the nickname to the red and black plaid Woolrich hunting outfit that is officially named "The Big Game Hunting Suit". Both pieces are made of thick wool to be wore in the deepest of freezes, but also the red plaid was one of the first type of “Blaze” clothing providing some camouflage, but yet some bright visibility to hunters. They also made the "Tux" in solid red and yellow wool in later years for those so daring.
These pieces are still floating around in thrift shops and places like Etsy. I got my coat about 7 years ago, for $20 in Kensington Market in Toronto. The coat is lined with an orange-brown flannel, and has the back map pocket, high collar with buttoned toggle to keep it up. The pants I picked up this year, again in Kensington. The dealer was asking $25, I offered $20, and he settled on $21. I hope he spent that loonie well! These pants are brand new; they still have the paper waistband tag on the inside and not a single stain or catch in all its years of hanging around someones store or house. They have suspender buttons to have all day comfort, belt loops for caring your knife and they lace up at the bottom along the legs. I have been looking for wool pants for some time for winter excursions, but I find that regular pants don’t work to well with my 16" Bean boots. when you fold the pant leg over it bunches to much and adds a lump of cloth against your shin in the boot. These lace ups on the other hand…perfect! Again you can find them cheap on Etsy, and Ebay I have seen them there for as low as $10, and if you are looking for some beautiful heavy wool pants for some deep winter exploring, grab them while they are still around.
It might seem hard to pull off the red plaid pants and not look like Elmer Fudd, but they actually look damn fine with a dark plaid top and vest. Also I don’t think the trees will be picking apart your outfit, I promise. I finally had the opportunity this weekend to get out in my newly completed "Tux". It was -20*C this Saturday morning, and I found myself open buttons of the jacket to regulate. I know the shots are a little "posed". What can you do when you got to take them yourself and you have 10 sec to make it look good, so just enjoy it in all it's glory... the Pennsylvania Tuxedo.
* They hat I am wearing is GAP wool cap in the heritage Plaid, and if anyone has a scoop on a real deal Woolrich Hat in Heritage Plaid to match, shoot me a message!