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Archive for August, 2009

Style doesn’t have to mean Expensive

Sunday, August 30th, 2009

Like I have said before, a lot of what creates good style is attention to detail and the small things such as ties, cuff links, pocket squares, accessories, etc.  These are items that, when new, can be very expensive relative their size and the number you might need to fill a collection.  If you are looking to build a collection and don’t want to spend a lot of money on some things that will be worn once in a while then start your search on eBay.  I like to keep an eye out for interesting items that can be purchased for a steal.  Most of the time the items are used but this shouldn’t be a problem with pieces like cuff links.  Whenever using eBay be sure to follow their advice for safely navigating and making purchases.

Other websites that can be useful for finding items for relatively good prices are Overstock.com and Bluefly.com.  These can be good but I prefer eBay because of the fact that you can find great vintage items rather than newer items.

Happy Hunting

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Coordinating Leather and Metal

Friday, August 28th, 2009

It is important to pay attention to the different textures and materials that you are wearing in order to coordinate appropriately. A truly refined look is won through attention to detail. When laying out your clothes for the day it is important to first think about what shoes you will be wearing. This will in part depend on your expected activities for the day and what clothes you will be wearing.brownshoe

Once you have decided on your shoes move on to your belt. Your belt should coordinate with your shoes in the following way: black with black, brown with brown, and in a similar texture of leather. Browns do not have to match perfectly but should be of a similar shade. A cloth belt will be paired with brown shoes, as they are more casual. belt

After your shoes and belt move on to your watch. If the watch has a leather strap, again coordinate with belt and shoes following the same rules as with the belt. For metal watches or the watch face of your leather strapped watch the color of the metal should be similar to that of the belt buckle. If you do not own multiple watches but have versatile watch that works well on many occasions (such as a metal sport watch) I suggest getting a few different belts that can coordinate with the watch. Breguet

If your shirt has double cuffs and you decide to wear metal cufflinks then you should coordinate the color with your watch and belt buckle. If you wear a tie bar, it too should follow in suit. It is forgivable if wedding bands clash with the overall theme but other rings (especially if warn on your watch hand) should not.

Some of these items are available containing both silver and gold hues. These can be paired with either gold or silver.

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Pants with the proper fit

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

Trousers are an item that are commonly worn with a very poor fit, which to the trained eye looks extremely sloppy.  One of the biggest mistakes made that I come across, and one of the easiest to fix, is the length.  The next time you walk through town try to notice the length of the suit trousers of the men around you.  More often than not they will billow and around the ankle.  My only explanation for this is either it is caused by salesmen selling suites without really trying to make sure the customer looks good, or an insecurity in the customer to wearing trousers the right length, due to trends in men’s fashion.  Whatever the reason the length of your trouser’s hem should fall just above the sole of your shoes in the back.  This creates a straight vertical  line along the back crease.  The front crease will have one break in the front.trousersIf your trousers are too long, it is an easy fix.  Bring it to your nearest tailor and they will be able to remedy the problem very easily.

When deciding whether to wear pleats or a flat front on your trousers sadly it in part depends on your physique.  For those who are a little heavier I would recommend a pleated trouser because it gives a little more room for movement.  A pleat on a trouser does not mean that the wearer is overweight as anyone can look flattering in a pleated trouser, it just does a good job at masking a bulge here or there.  A flat front provides the wearer with a very clean and simple front but as I mentioned earlier it depends on the body type of the wearer.


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The bespoke suit

Wednesday, August 26th, 2009

The best suits are not those by designers, they are bespoke.  Having a tailor create a suit for you means that it will fit like no off-the-peg suit can.  A skilled tailor will look at your body and create a suit that accentuates positive features and dulls or hides negative ones.  As you might have guessed the most important factor of a suit is its cut.  The cut of a suit refers to the pattern used and how it fits.  The classic suit cut has changed very little over the better part of the last 100 years and has not been greatly effected by changes in fashion. Different tailors have slightly different styles so it is beneficial to do some research and talk to the tailors to find one that fits with what you like in a suit.bespoke

The center of the bespoke world is in London, Savile Row to be exact.  Some of the best and most timeless suits are made here and many of the tailors travel around the world regularly to be seen by clients.  This quality does not come without a price.  A Savile Row suit can cost thousands of dollars and is out of the range of many.  This said if you have access to a tailor who will make you a good suit for less than these prices I would recommend taking advantage.  No suit will fit like a suit made for you.

If you want to invest in just one bespoke suit I recommend looking into a suit in charcoal or navy in wool.  These wool in these colors are most versatile and would enable you to get the most enjoyment out it.

Here is a great video about Thomas Mahon, a well known English tailor. “Tailor Made in Cumbria”

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Maintaining your shoes

Sunday, August 23rd, 2009

You’ve spent a lot on your fine leather shoes and if you want them to last for a very long time you need to take care of them.  Here are some guidelines to follow to help get the most out of your footwear.

  • Let them “Rest”. Giving your shoes a day or two between wearing will allow the moisture from your feet to dry out of them naturally.
  • Use cedar  shoe trees. Cedar shoe trees will maintain your shoe’s shape and help avoid creases.  The cedar will absorb moisture and add a fresh cedar aroma to your shoes.
  • Store in shoe bags. Shoe bags will keep your shoes from accumulating dirt and dust while not being worn.
  • Shine your shoes at least once a month. By shining with a cream at least once a month you will maintain the leather’s supple texture and keep it from drying out and cracking.  Here is a great video with some shining tips How to polish shoes.

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Interesting interview with Domenico Spano

Friday, August 21st, 2009

Domenico Spano is a tailor/designer for Saks Fifth Avenue.

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Invest in your shoes

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

Shoes are one of the items of a man’s wardrobe that should not be skimped on.  More than almost any other item, they should be seen as an investment that will last (with proper care) years and years.  Aside from their potential longevity shoes have to power to make a good wardrobe a great one, but this said they alone cannot save a poor one.

Shoes vary in their level of formality.  The most formal are black oxfords.churchsoxfrd A good rule of thumb on dress shoes is the more perforations and the more ornate the seams the less formal.  Somewhere on the less formal end of the spectrum are brogues, also known as wingtips.  churchswngtipOriginally country shoes brogues have evolved into a versatile shoe that that is especially nice in brown and, depending on the color, can be paired with everything from pin stripe to tweed.

Both of these shoes are also closed laced shoes.  Closed lacing refers to how the leather that comes together via the laces is attached to the shoe.

The leather on top of a closed laced shoe is sewn underneath the other leather (these shoes are both closed laced).

The third picture is of a pair of open laced black brogues by the English shoemaker Church’s.  On open laced shoes (also known as bluchers or derby shoes) the leather that is manipulated by the laces is sewn on top of the other leather creating a raised section on the sides and top.  I prefer closed laced shoes because they are more formal, they have a sleeker look and I am not distracted by the raised edge of the leather.  Depending on the material, open laced shoes can bridge the gap to being worn with jeans or khakis. clsdlacewngtip In the end, whether you choose open or closed laced, be sure to invest in a few different kinds of shoes because it will not only add  more excitement and versatility to your wardrobe but a fine leather shoe needs one to two days to “relax” between wearings.

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Links…. Cuff Links

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

So much of men’s style is about attention to the details and finding a way to bring it all together.  Cuff links are one of those details.  Cuff links are most commonly worn with shirts that have double cuffs, also known as french cuffs, where the cuff is folded back over the sleeve.  Less commonly they are worn on dress shirts with combination cuffs, (cuffs that are not folded over but have a button hole on each side for links as well as a button on one side).

Shirts with double cuffs are slightly more dressy than shirts with button cuffs.  For this reason you generally wouldn’t wear a shirt with double cuffs without a tie or in very casual dress.  The cuff link  you choose to wear can also reflect how formal the occasion is.  For the most formal I formal linkwould recommend solid gold or silver links. To add a little color to your evening wear or to be slightly less formal you can wear cuff links that include enamel that can come every color you can imagine.  Finally fabric knot links would be the most casual.  The colors in the enamel and fabric links allow you to tie them into other parts of your ensemble, such as tie or pocket square.  Cuff links can also be whimsical and express the wearers hobbies, interests or sense of humor.

Any man who enjoys wearing double cuffed shirts should own a healthy collection of links.  I define a healthy collection as at least two metal sets per double cuffed shirt.  This collection should include both gold and silver so that the metal of belt buckle, watch, ring, and links can be similar.  Because links can be fairly expensive I strongly suggest looking to places like ebay to find some great deals.

silk linksKnotted fabric cuff links are much more affordable than the gold or silver varieties allowing for a much larger collection.  They come in solids and multi-colors and are often sold as impulse buys at the front of fine clothing stores.  Their affordability allows you to have links for countless color combinations.

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Over the feet and Under the shoes

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

Socks are the part of a man’s wardrobe that generally goes overlooked.  Most men simply follow the general rules of road and stay quite conservative  (those rules being: white socks for athletic attire and sneakers,  dark socks for dress attire or leather shoes and the socks should be the same color as the pants in a darker shade).

When it comes to what you wear with your leather dress shoes you have the opportunity to break from humdrum of plain dark socks and show some personality.  argyleFor the less adventurous, in more casual situations, this can be done with a simple argyle in rather subdued colors.  Generally the brighter the color of the sock and the more it clashes the more adventurous the individual must be.

For more formal situations solid colors are more acceptable.  If you are wearing a dark navy or black suit with black shoes colored socks can break up the two.  Or they can be used simply to add personality toblue socks your ensemble.

Whether you choose a patterned sock, such as an argyle, or a solid, coordinate a color in the sock with a color above the waist.

Your socks are something that are not normally seen unless sitting making them a great way to start being more adventurous and showing your sense of style.

One definite rule for socks is that they need to be the right length.  They should be tall enough so that bare skin is never exposed if you sit or cross your legs.

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A gentleman’s accessories

Friday, August 14th, 2009

A great suit might really help to make a look but style does not rely on clothes alone.  It is subtle details such as accessories that help to refine the look and make it timeless.  These accessories are not just meant to look nice but they need to function and serve the purpose for which they are intended.

Wallet: Wallets come in many shapes and sizes but I feel that, as in most applications, simplicity is best.  I don’t like sitting on a folded piece of leather or having a lump on my backside.  To avoid this I started using a front pocket wallet.  They are thinner and have room only for the essentials (cards, cash).accessory wallet thinaccessory wallet open

This wallet is a great example of a good balance of form and function.  It’s made by Bosca who also make other luxury leather goods.

Watch:  A watch is as much a piece of jewelery as it is a functional necessity.  The criteria an individuals use when choosing the right watch for them should include their personal requirements and expectations.  Does the watch need to be waterproof, have lots of features, or only the basic simplicity of time and maybe date.  You should also go and try on watches with different sized watch faces to find the size that works best for you.

For the best of sport watches that can go from work to play while representing the epitome of class look to Breitling and TAG Heuer.  These watches are waterproof and are available with either leather or metal link bracelets.

    TAG Heuer's Monaco as worn by Steve McQueen in 1969s "Le Mans"

TAG Heuer's Monaco as worn by Steve McQueen in 1969s "Le Mans"

For a more traditional, simple elegance,  look to brands such as Patek Phillippe or Breguet.  These watches delight in the concept of less is more.  Relying more on clean lines and a well thought out layout to make an impression than an abundance of features. Patek Philippe's Ref. 3939 These watches while very nice tend to exist outside the average price range for the American man.  It is possible to find less expensive brand that have similar style cues and satisfy similar needs but for less money.  If you are lucky enough to be able to say that these watches are within your range then I would recommend the best.

The Pen: Every man should always have a pen somewhere on them at all times.  In more casual settings this may just call for a nice ballpoint for jotting down the occasional note or number but for the office or when a suit is involved I recommend a fountain pen.  Nothing can be more formal or more personal that a handwritten note written with a fountain pen.  For top-of-the-line, look to DunhillMont Blanc, or Waterman.  But from a design point of view one of the most beautiful pens is the discontinued Parker 51.

Parker 51:  Simple and elegant

Parker 51: Simple and elegant

Flask and Pocket knife:  More optional, but just as necessary in my opinion, are the hip flask and pocket knife.  Both  tend to show their real worth when you need them and don’t have them.

A flask can be a beautiful accessory that says a lot about its owner.  I recommend a vintage sterling silver flask.  They can be found on various auction websites and antique stores but if you are lucky enough to have one that has been passed down from father to son, fill it with your favorite tipple and carry it proudly.  Many a train ride home from work has been made more enjoyable thanks to a few sips of a favorite drink.

A small pocket knife has many uses from opening letters or boxes to cutting fruit.  Like the flask the most most desirable pocket knives are those that have been passed down and carry a history with them but don’t feel bad if you must buy one.  They can be extremely cheap while still looking very nice.  If you choose to carry a small pocket knife take care when traveling and make sure to keep it in checked luggage.

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