Sometimes you just have to get away.
Written by Pyung Kim | Photos by Andrew Snavely
I have a hard time writing in the summer.
Screenwriting is a tough gig to begin with. Ultimately, I have zero control over what happens to a script that I write, or whether people will even like it. And so, years ago, I decided that the only thing I can control is output. If I’m never heralded as the next Quentin Tarantino, I figure I can at least be prolific.
Producing pages to the best of my ability may be the extent of my might as a screenwriter – but lately, I’ve been failing miserably. Forget about being good; I’ve been struggling to produce any pages at all. I want to blame the fact that it’s been a crazy couple of months. But I have to admit that writing has always been a grueling exercise in the summer. I’ll sit for hours in front of the computer, to no avail. I can’t blame the heat, either – because I have air conditioning. Maybe it’s the permanent imprinting of “summer break” – whether it’s the restless anticipation of that final bell on the last day of school, or nostalgic yearning for carefree summers gone by (remember concerts??).
In any case, there’s definitely something about summertime that makes sitting at a desk feel downright unnatural.
And it’s been especially bad this summer. I couldn’t remember the last time my mind was so…blank. Desperate for advice, I called my friend Andrew, founder and editor of Primer – and fellow writer. Has he ever had the summer doldrums? Has it ever turned his blinking cursor into unrelenting water torture? And when it gets this bad, how do you manage to sit down long enough to finish something?
“You don’t sit. You get up and go outside.”
“Try taking a walk. I go on walks all the time.”
Maybe he had a point. There’s always been a connection between writing, inspiration, and walking. The Greek philosophers did their best thinking and teaching while ambling down the halls of the Lyceum. William Wordsworth’s poems were filled with treks through countless dirt roads, mountains, and forests. Henry David Thoreau once said: “How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live!”
So I dropped everything and went to the beach. It’s noticeably cooler by the water, so I threw on a light jacket that I keep in the car – I always like to have it at the ready, even in the summer. Besides, you never know when a friend will advise you to go on a walk ASAP.
As I began walking, I couldn’t stop thinking about writing (or rather, being unable to write). But eventually, all the noise in my mind was drowned out by the white noise of the rolling waves. The feeling of my heels sinking into gravel. The welcome cool of the ocean breeze. Eventually, I realized: it wasn’t that my mind was blank – it was too busy. And all I had to do to free up my mind was to busy it with something else. Something calming. Something I’d have no choice but to surrender to. I came home that afternoon and without so much as taking off my jacket, I started writing. For three hours straight.
After my burst of creativity, I called Andrew, excited to tell him how going on just one walk had worked wonders. But he didn’t answer.
He did call back later that night: “Sorry I missed you earlier. I was out on a walk.”
(Dressed For) Everything Under the Sun
It felt so seamless and easy, how I went out into nature at the drop of a hat and, after feeling inspired, came straight back to my desk. I didn’t even have to bother changing because I just so happened to be dressed for both. As a style guy, this prompted me to ask: what would be an ideal, intentional version of this? An easy look that you can live in all day this summer, whether you’re working, or at home, or you just need to escape to the beach and clear your head.
Dressing for the summer hasn’t always been so easy. It’s a season that presents rather schizophrenic conditions: an overly air-conditioned office, only to be subjected to the afternoon heat once you step outside, until it gets cooler again at night.
So what we need is a simple and stylish way to avoid a bunch of guesswork and wardrobe changes.
Post-Prep (à Porter)
The jacket I had in my car was a Harrington, one of my favorites. It’s a jacket that the unititated might be tempted to associate with yacht club prepsters who use the word “summer” as a verb – but this would be a woeful dismissal of a multi-season must-have that any guy can get a lot of mileage from.
As a timeless classic, history agrees. For nearly a century, the Harrington has been embraced by men far beyond the regatta. Old school badasses like Steve McQueen and James Dean made it rebellious. Elvis and 007 made it rakish. Off-duty presidents and statesmen made it regal.
Here, Andrew makes it refined and relaxed by putting a smart-casual summer spin on it. One thing I like about Peter Manning’s version is their slightly slimmer cut compared to other Harringtons, which tend to be blousier. This makes for a more modern look without compromising the overall form of the classic Harrington.
Peter Manning has also seen fit to modify the classic pullover. Have you noticed how sweaters tend to ride up? Or how the ribbed hemming causes the fabric to bunch at the waist when sitting? Since the bottom of the Peter Manning pullover isn’t ribbed, it always hangs just right. And in keeping with the breezy fit of the jacket, the cut (and soft double-cotton) of this sweater also makes for a relaxed drape – again, without compromising silhouette.
In my opinion, this is a sweater that gets all the details right. After all, style is in the details. And the most important detail, of course, is fit.
A (Not So Tall) Order
At 5’8” and an athletic 165 lbs, me asking for a great fit off-the-rack is asking too much. Size small might sometimes be the right length, but it’s too tight. If I don’t want to reveal my nipples, I’ll have to go for a medium – but the sleeves and body are too long. Even if I get a medium altered – which I’ve often done in the past – a lot of the details (like the collar, pockets, etc) will still be improperly scaled. I also have a smaller waist and shorter inseam than what I’m normally able to find, so don’t even get me started on pants.
Shorts seem like they should be simpler. Ever try on shorts with the right waist and length – but they still don’t sit quite right? For me, this is often due to the rise, which most brands don’t bother to adjust for smaller inseams. This means that even if I get shorts hemmed or taken in, the crotch remains too long, which is unflattering and “shortens” the leg. And sometimes the leg openings flare out because they’re too wide. I could get all that altered, too – but at this point, I might as well be asking a tailor for custom clothing.
We’ve all been at the mercy of the traditional off-the-rack system. With 30% of guys being 5’8” and under, there are millions of us out there who have been left behind by the men’s clothing industry. Peter Manning is the long overdue clothing brand that solves this problem. Their shirts, sweaters, and jackets come in proprietary sizes ideal for men who are not-as-tall, and they offer waist and inseam measurements that I haven’t found anywhere else (you can find your size with their online calculator).
Like any effective innovator, founder Peter Manning, who is himself 5’8”, was inspired by his own struggle to find the right fit, calling his approach to clothing design “semi-custom” tailoring for the not-so-tall guy. To me, this is actually better than the tailor – because I don’t want to go to the tailor. It’s expensive and time consuming. Shopping can already be a pain, especially to anyone who pays attention to fit, like me.
A Walk In The Park (Or The Beach)
Peter Manning has made everything effortless. I’ve found that their jackets, sweaters, and shirts are always the right length. Even their shorts don’t have to be hemmed because they only come in either 7” or 5” inseam (nearly impossible to find off-the-rack in most stores), with an accordingly proportional rise, and a not-too-loose leg opening. As the first and only clothing manufacturer for not-so-tall guys with a full line of button-ups, outerwear, suits, and even activewear, Peter Manning's ethos is that we should never have to go to the tailor again. Not only do they have all your classic basics covered, they continue to make stylish additions to their line, and they’re only getting better.
Primer has talked a lot in the past about Peter Manning’s unique “one stop shop” position in menswear because we know that their raison d'être – a (not-so-tall) guy’s renunciation of both tailoring and off-the-rack orthodoxy – is compelling for many of our readers, and speaks to a plight I personally know all too well. To Peter Manning, one stop shop not only means an expansive line of closet essentials, it also means no more searching for the right size, no more sizing guesswork, and no more visits to the tailor.
Andrew (And Leela)
Andrew happens to be closer to average height at 5’10”, but given his proportions, he’s also found that he benefits from Peter Manning’s sizing system – for example, with off-the-rack pants, Andrew often settles for 30” inseam, while his true inseam is 29”, and his smaller waist in contrast to his shoulders requires a closer fit for shirts, sweaters, and jackets (Peter Manning’s pants go as low as 25”, and their largest shirt/jacket size fits guys up to 5’10”, 200 lbs).
Recently, Andrew took Leela on a sunset walk along the golden Malibu coast, balancing the classic navy of the Harrington – as well as the blue of its lively plaid lining – with khaki and brown. If a sweater’s too heavy, he sometimes opts for a white oxford button down (proportioned appropriately to wear untucked, keeping it casual).
For those of you who are taller, hopefully this inspires you with similar basics that are easy to find, if you don’t already have them in your closet. And for those of you who have shared in my sartorial struggles, Peter Manning will continue bringing the solutions, and Primer, as always, will supply the inspiration.
In the meantime, if you ever find yourself feeling less than inspired: walk it off.
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Special thanks to Peter Manning NYC for teaming up with us on this feature and for supporting Primer's mission. If you've been trying to find that brand that fits your body shape just right, give them a try. Primer readers giving them a try for the first time can use code ‘primer15′ for 15% off!