Who doesn’t love a little wardrobe success?
Do I have a little victory story to tell you! Grab your tea or G&T as this is my biggest advertisement and endorsement yet for sustainable shopping. I’m not talking about buying bamboo knickers (no bamboo is required down there today, cheers) or ethically sourced organic cotton. I’m talking about embracing some of the epic vintage fashion that is out there, having already lived some glorious lives in the past but also ready to live many more. The kind of shopping that when you walk into a haven of style from yesteryear, you expect nothing, but leave with everything you could have wished for in the style stakes.
You see, I’m now a firm believer in the fact that fashion and wardrobe dreams CAN come true no matter what your shopping budget is. You know those dream-like heavenly pieces that are always on your style-conscious radar? Those pieces that are an iconic statement to YOU. Those pieces that take you back to a particular era or time. I’m talking of those items that encompass an essence of pure cool and sophistication. I’m not talking about finding that perfect meringue dress – although if we’re on the subject of perfect meringues, then I’ll let it be known that I would never say ‘no’ to a bloody good slice of Pavlova!
So there I am on a city weekend away in Toronto. I treat these weekends as a chance to absorb every ounce of culture, diversity, art and raw street energy. There is nothing like it. When you take the girl out of London, you don’t take London out of the girl. So this doll heads to her nearest best thing: Queen Street West and Kensington Market in Toronto.
Before I bubble over with excitement (I really don’t do just simmering), let me set the scene. I’m wandering down Queen Street West with my friend. It’s the end of the day and there are 30 minutes before the shops are due to close and we come to one of my fave Toronto vintage stores – the mighty, “Mama Loves You Vintage”. We pop in with the prospect of a speedy scan of all things gorgeous with no expectation other than a grand “ooh” or “aah”.
I walk through the shop door, switch my shopping spidey-senses to full power and rifle through the shirts, the dresses, the denim and the bags. I wander down the store to the men’s section and see my friend holding something that can only be described as the black leather biker version of the mythological Golden Fleece. My mate, Sarah and I begin a full-on eyebrow conversation as we silently try to decipher if this is indeed the rock’n’roll version of Jason’s Golden Fleece presently in my hands. Thank you, Sarah!
What is it? Well, here’s a clue….. check out a blog post that I wrote back in October 2015, titled Uniform pieces: Biker Brilliance . Those style musings focused on the black leather biker jacket, it’s style history and why I reckon it’s a style-hero piece to have in your wardrobe. This is when I declared my undying love for the iconic Schott Bros Perfecto biker jacket.
The Schott Bros Perfecto Story
So let me take you back through the history books to 1913, when two sons of a Russian immigrant, Irving and Jack Schott, started making raincoats in a New York City basement. In 1928, Irving Schott designed his first leather motorcycle jacket and branded this jacket with the name of his favourite cigar – The Perfecto. It was sold for $5.50 at a Harley Davidson store. Flash forward to the end of WWII when the rise of the ‘New Rebellion’ was becoming apparent with its emphasis on cool, fast cars and rock’n’roll!
*above images from schottnyc.com. Check out their fab history tour here
In 1954, the cult classic Marlon Brando film, “The Wild Ones” came onto the big screen wowing us with that iconic image of a beautiful brooding, Brando, wearing his Perfecto biker to pure perfection. In 1955, the great James Dean was said to never be seen without his Perfecto 616 jacket and owned that heartbreaker, biker-bad-boy look like a rebel without a cause!
Fast forward to the 1970’s and 80’s and this classic, quality hand-cut, steer hide leather jacket was once again becoming a symbol of rebellion. This time with the punk rock movement on the streets of downtown New York and London, it was seen as a uniform staple of punk rock clubs such as NYC’s infamous Bowery Street CBGB’s. All hail The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Blondie, Joan Jett and many other punk rock musicians as they all wore their Perfectos with pride. So many iconic images encompass this epic era in style history. The simplicity and edge of The Ramones sensational look: slim Levi 505 jeans, striped t.shirts and leather Schott Perfecto jackets is one that has thankfully been ingrained into our style subconscious. Interview Magazine, 2013, said it best: “The Ramones were punk pioneers with their leather jackets, sunglass wearing singer Joey, frantic two-minute songs and simple lyrics. They were antithesis of everything that was popular in music at the time: the anti motown funk, free-loving prog-rock and blues rock”
*all above images found on Pinterest
Schott’s celebrated their 100th year anniversary in 2013. The company is reported to be still owned and run by third and fourth generations of the Schott family and still strive to manufacture most of their clothing in the U.S, which is a great achievement in my opinion. This brand has clearly been lovingly cultivated by a family with passion and quality at its core. Something we don’t see too much of in this day and age. They still create and make a modern version of The Perfecto jacket today, check it out Mens here and Womens here.
Schott NYC say, “There is a feeling with putting on a Perfecto that cannot be replicated or described. It is a persona, the history of Americas bad boy, seeped in heavy cow hide and chrome hardware”
My Perfecto Public Announcement
So, I’m mother-trucking excited to announce that I am the seriously proud owner of my very own beautiful vintage Perfecto jacket! I know, I know, I think I just squealed and pee’ed a little as I wrote that sentence!
It’s nothing short of f*&%ing fabulous and so is Mahro of Mama Loves You Vintage for selling it to me and taking pleasure in my crazy-ass enthusiasm of finding it! How many other retail owners laugh and smile at your declaration of “I promise I will look after it, care for it, fix its wear and tear and kiss it nightly! Thank you, Mahro.
My Perfecto research led me to the fabulous Schott website which indicates that from my jackets label, being black with the bull and cactus surrounding ‘Perfecto – genuine Steer Hide – handcut – Schott Bros” is a late 1960’s Perfecto! Jeepers bloody creepers! It maybe missing its belt and in need of a cobbler or leather specialist in stitching up a few seams, but it has that perfect essence of an authentic true heartbreaking rock n roll biker jacket. I’m curious about its previous lives and loves. Who originally bought this in the Sixties? How many others have worn this? What lives did they lead? What has this jacket seen and listened to? This is what I truly love about buying and wearing vintage clothing. It’s not always about the sustainability and environmental factors or the higher quality of pieces made decades ago. It’s about the passion and emotion for an iconic era that you connect with. I treated my perfect Perfecto at home, naturally listening to The Ramones on vinyl, with leather cream to gently lift any dirt and to condition this steer hide beaut. Could I be any happier about a piece of clothing? Quite frankly, No.
Stylin’ the Perfect Perfecto
So, how do I plan to wear my Schott biker jacket? Well, to start with, abso-bloody-lutely everything. I’m a firm believer in wearing a wardrobe that makes you happy. If you love it, then you wear it – and you ‘own’ that look for yourself – as an expression of yourself and your style! For me, it’s always about the smile on your face and the confidence in your step. No clothing should ever wear you. I love to see people tell the world who they are through their clothing. I adore a touch of eccentricity and the glow surrounding someone who nails and owns their look.
Here is my Perfecto in action and how I have worn it so far. Oh my goodness, I just bloody love it! You are going to see so much more of it too with Autumn’s cooler temperatures heading my way. So, for a vintage Perfecto outfit chase, follow my instagram feed @loveagoodtstripe or Facebook page @ Love Good Stripe.
Wearing: Vintage Schott Perfecto jacket @mamalovesyouvintage, red vintage house dress @darlingvintageshop, Clog sandals @swedishhasbeens, black plastic jelly bag @shopfy, black sunglasses @katespadeny and Fierce necklace @kemitelford
Wearing: Vintage Schott Perfecto jacket @mamalovesyouvintage, black cotton tank top @Zara, printed maxi skirt @royalpalmvintage , Fierce necklace @Kemitelford and @Zara studded sandals from 3 summers ago!
Wearing: Vintage Perfecto @mamalovesyouvintage, Stripe T.shirt @mujicanada, distressed denim @Gap, trainers @Converse
Wearing: Vintage Schott Perfecto @mamalovesyouvintage, Equipment Leopard silk dress from @garbconsignment, black skinny Jamie jeans @topshop and Chelsea boots from @circusbysamedelman
So there’s my little story of how a vintage shop moment made all my wildest wardrobe dreams come true. It’s always worth investing the time, effort and patience into your wardrobe. There are many great biker jackets out there on the high street and in the luxe designer shopping world. But for me, this vintage second-hand original 60’s Perfecto is the best of them all. We’re all different with different tastes, but my advice to anyone who has a passion for authentic vintage style is to put your wishes out here to the universe and keep your eyes open to all possibilities. After all, I’ve discovered, it may just come your way!
As always, thanks for reading.