Flea Market Treasure Hunting

February 23rd, 2015

Ever since Will left his job at Google and moved to Los Angeles to pursue his modeling and acting career, I’ve been helping him develop his wardrobe, one well-made staple at a time.

We’re trying to build out his bi-coastal wardrobe on an up-and-coming actor’s budget, so we’ve been digging through vintage shops, consignment stores, and flea markets, mostly. What we’ve learned is that there’s some real treasure out there, if you’re willing to search for it and know what can be altered by a tailor.

A couple weeks ago we were at the RoseBowl Flea Market in Pasadena, which brings together some of the best vintage dealers in the country. We stumbled upon this booth with some incredible French and German military garments, along with some random handmade pieces from European theatre warehouses and film sets.

As we flipped through racks of heavy vintage garments, one piece in particular stood out right now. It was a black wool topcoat unlike any other I’ve ever seen. It looked handmade, due to its impressive craftsmanship and uniquely sartorial lines. The proportions looked right for Will, so I wondered if this could be the go-to dark overcoat that we’ve been searching for.

It was an almost perfect fit, and it was only $80. Now that’s a flea market come-up.

    Businessman Avec Classe


    There were several handmade details on this jacket that made it an immediate stand-out for me. First, the curvature of the lapels. The shape is very sartorial, almost theatrical. They’re a little bit in-your-face, but that’s what I like about them.

    Second, the tuxedo-pleated patch pockets (at the chest and waist). This type of work is almost certainly done by hand, and is very rarely seen on ready-to-wear menswear.

    Third, the subtly roped shouldesr. Another one of those subtly-theatrical details that makes me wonder where this coat is from, and why it was originally made.


    Lastly, the back is belted, shaped with darts, and vented from the waist down.


    Simple Suave Eveningwear


    With a coat this tailored, you have the options to skip the jacket. Go straight from tailored waistcoat to tailored overcoat.

    We haven’t had a chance to take it to the tailor shop yet, but Will’s new go-to doesn’t need much work. Just a couple quick fixes to take it from good to great: lengthen the sleeves by a half inch and take in the lower third of the coat at the side seams, to cut-down on some of the “skirting” that’s happening due to Will being wide through the shoulders/upper back and slim through the hips.


    Cool Weekend Casual


    The beauty of a coat with this level of handwork and detail is that you can pair it with simple basics, like a t-shirt and jeans, and have a complete outfit.

    Sometimes simpler is better, especially in black and white.


    The take away message here: if you don’t have the budget for bespoke or high-end designer clothing, you can still find beautiful handmade pieces, if you know where and how to look. It’s a matter of training your eye, putting in the effort to dig, and knowing which alterations are possible (in this case, having enough fabric under the sleeve hem to be let out).  With roughly $30 in alterations (for a total of $110) Will found himself a handmade overcoat that could easily retail north of $1,000 in boutique shops.

    Thanks, as always, for reading.

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier


    Photography by Alex Crawford. Styling by Dan Trepanier. Modeling by Will Howe

    • Janice

      hey dude — that is a woman’s jacket.

    • TO

      First of all, dope find. This is the kind of piece that keeps me going back and trying to be as creative as possible when it comes to vintage and second spots. Nice highlight. The cool weekend casual look is outstanding.

      Not that I’m really mad at it (it doesn’t take away from the look very much at all) but why not switch out the colored purple laces that came with the (beauty) Cobbler Union joints? I think it would enhance the already sophisticated and classic look of the outfit to go with plain (subtle) laces. I know it was on the list of trends to avoid in ’14, could it be already off that list in ’15?

    • Jared Adelson

      Dan, what are your opinions on tie knots? GQ swears by the four in hand and says the bigger knots are ridiculous. I disagree, esp with a spread collar.

      • cam

        “It was tied with a Windsor knot. Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad.”
        -Ian Fleming (From Russia With Love, Chapter 25)

        • AdamE

          That quote hits the nail on the head… a four-in-hand can easily stand up to a spread collar if you pick a tie with some meat too it (obviously you’ll pass on the ultra-lightweight linen ties, but a heftier silk or wool tie will stand up to it just fine).

      • TO

        Knowing Dan, he opts for a four-in-hand- even with a spread collar. I’m the same way.

        If you want more size to the knot, wrap it around twice for a ‘double’ four-in-hand and either pull it through under both wraps (i.e. the Suitsupply way) or under the second wrap-around you just made.

        • Jared Adelson

          So is a Windsor knot “out of style”

          • TO

            Honestly sometimes I’ve seen outfits where a guy really pulls off a Windsor knot and it looks stylish. Usually its apart of a very formal and elegant look and the proportions happen to be just right. But 99% of the time when I see it, I find it stands out in a bad way. So hence the recommendation for a single (or double) four-in-hand knot because as long as it’s tied tight and finished with a dimple, going that route is fool-proof.

            • Jared Adelson

              Idk. The half Windsor seems not too big to me.

              • AFH

                The small knot with cutaway collar always looks ridiculous. To be honest, cutaways are generally ridiculous (anything above 100 degrees) fullstop; James Bond never wore them. And there’s nothing vainer than ensuring your dimple is just so.

                • Jared Adelson

                  I never liked dimples AFH. So you’re not a fan of wide spreads?

                  • AFH

                    Hmmmmm. I think they can work, particularly on certain faceshapes, but they’re high risk. What can look fun to the camera lens can look a bit tryhard in real life methinks.

                    I think they look particularly incongruous when not worn with a suit, and so, in the spirit of having flexible pieces, I’d avoid them for the most part.

                • TO

                  We always seem to disagree AFH… Which is a good thing, methinks;)

                  • AFH

                    The extreme cutaway is a recent innovation, and seems to point towards the wing collar – combined with a small knot it reminds one more of Oddjob than any Bond look. It is hard to imagine Frank Foster, when creating a collar to suit someone’s face, coming up with a 140 degree cutaway – unless the client had been in some disfiguring accident at any rate.

                    It’s a dramatic look and possibly suitable for fairly formal occasions, but even a 120 degree spread is ‘dramatic’ (Flusser) and that’s too close to costumey for the street IMO.

              • TO

                I don’t think it’s too big either, just don’t prefer the shape.

    • Jeanscuffed

      Great post! I’m not sure if you’re going to touch on this subject but darker colors (from what I see mainly midnight blues and straight blacks) closely blend into one another creating one solid. Now, I’m not sure if it’s the lighting or editing but in the first 2 outfits the coat is noticeably blue while the last outfit paired with the black trousers with the coat, the coat dips over into a blackish hue.
      Also, what a find that coat was! Amazing!

      • TO

        You’re totally right- that’s kinda crazy actually…

    • cam

      Nice find guys! Also, thank you for shooting outdoors. Alex’s skills shine more in that setting ;)

    • Daniel

      Awesome coat!

    • danymyboy

      Sherlock much?

    • Max BornInTheNineties

      I don’t think you necessarily have to lengthen the sleeves. They look cool the way they are, and the shorter coat sleeve is very on trend for 2015.

      • Andrew

        “the shorter coat sleeve is very on trend for 2015.”

        What are you talking about?!

        • Max BornInTheNineties

          That some designers including Tom Ford and Michael Bastian tailored their coats that way for AW2015.

          • http://ledebonnaire.tumblr.com/ Juan Zara

            Dear God, no offense but people like you are the cancer of the sartorial world. Short sleeves are wrong, even more so if people like Tom Ford “tailored” “his” coats that way.

            • Everyone Else Reading

              Andrew, Juan-


              • Max BornInTheNineties

                Thank you :p

            • Max BornInTheNineties

              You’re right about not being a fashion slave. But I honestly think it looks good.

          • Andrew

            First of all, this isn’t a 2015 thing. It’s a stupid trend that has been around for several years. Secondly, just because some designers are attempting to create a seasonal trend, doesn’t mean it looks good. And lastly, clothes that fit well (properly) will always looks better than some idiotic “trend.”

            This coat would look infinitely better on him if the sleeves were the correct length. The incorrect length messes with all of his proportions. This may look trendy or fashionable, but it doesn’t look good.

            • Max BornInTheNineties

              I totally agree that ‘trend’ does not equal ‘good’. I just personally felt like there might be something to this look, and was noting how I saw that personal preference reflected in contemporary fashion. You’re right to value what looks good above what’s fashionable, but remember to keep an open mind :)

    • tommyjohn_45

      Crazy find! I wish I had that sort of luck. I always find that when I find something vintage with a good look, the proportions are way off. Just gotta keep digging I guess.

    • Miguel

      Men oh men, I need to find this kind of flea markets in my area, that’s a steal.
      This is again why I love AOS, I started hunting on Salvation Army and Ebay since I started reading this type of articles.

    • smush parker

      looks like a womens coat, or a eastern european nocturnal villains coat.

    • David Pardo

      Hi Dan,

      You missed the http:// part on the first look links and they point to an error page. :)

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