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Archive for September, 2009

“My Guggenheim grant” – An interview with journalist/author Gay Talese

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

Interview with Gay Talese about his life and style.


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Sunglasses are for more than just the beach

Monday, September 28th, 2009

Sunglasses are by no means an accessory reserved only for the summer or the beach.  They are a functional piece of your outfit that are often even more useful in the winter, if you live in an area that gets snow.  At the very least it is wise to have a pair accompany you while driving and the effort of finding a pair that will carry you through your entire day is well worth it.

When searching for sunglasses it is important to consider the shape of your face and the shape of the lenses.  For example I would not recommend a pair with round lenses to someone with a naturally round face as this would mimic the shape of their face and not be flattering.  The size of the lenses also needs to be considered in order to avoid being unfortunately mistaken for a bug.

Finding the right combination of lenses size and shape is difficult to do with out trying on a few different pairs to see how they fit and feel.  It also can help to bring someone else along if you feel you need an outside opinion.

Sunglasses styles tend to change as often as the current fashion trends do but there are a few brands that have survived the test of time and say volumes about the wearer and their sense of style.

Persol is an Italian brand that originally started with products for pilots and sport drivers but evolved into a premium sunglass company.  One of their most recognized appearances was on Steve McQueen in 1968’s “The Thomas Crown Affair”.

Mcqueen Persol Persol McQueen

Today Persol has a large variety of very classic frame shapes that will fit any need.

More recognizable are Rayban’s Wayfarer.  These are glasses that have changed little since their were introduced back in the early 50’s.  The Wayfarer’s longevity has been recognized by many over the years, including the late President Kennedy.

JFK

Whatever sunglasses you choose they should be versatile.  They should have the ability to complement many outfits in many levels of formality.  Once the balance between look, fit and versatility is found you will be left with an item that will be worth every penny as it will help to elevate every outfit that you add them too.

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Suede shoes for Fall

Friday, September 25th, 2009

OK not just for Fall but I especially like suede when the temperature begins to dip.  Whether it be a Desert or “Chukka” boot  or a suede wing tip don’t be intimidated by the texture.Clarks Desert Boots Although you can get suede shoes in wide variety of colors they mostly come in shades of brown.  A brown suede shoe is just that, a brown shoe and can be worn with anything that you would wear a brown shoe with.  Suede is more casual by nature than polished leather and should not be paired with the most formal attire.  suede shoes with suit

Many believe that suede will be ruined forever if it even sees a raincloud.  This is a myth.  While you shouldn’t wear suede in a downpour, it wont destroy them if you were to get caught in a shower.  If they do get wet treat them as you would treat your other leather shoes had they gotten wet.

A vital piece of your shoe care tool box should be a suede brush and eraser bar.  Once the shoes dry the brush and eraser bar can be used to remove any spots that may have been caused by water.

If your suede shoes have discoloration that the brush and eraser cannot fix, take it to the cobbler for a professional cleaning.

Investing in a pair of suede shoes will help add character and depth to your wardrobe.


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Neckties and knots….mostly knots

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

As you can find in many of my posts I believe one of the most important factors of having good style is attention to detail.  The way you knot your necktie is just another detail that needs to be brought into awareness.

The two basic knots are the Windsor and Four-in-Hand.  Many men simply learned how to tie one or the other and it has become the knot they tie without much thought going into it.  Factors that will dictate which knot should be tied include what type of collar is on the shirt and the personal taste of the wearer.

big windsor

Windsor knot

The Windsor is a symmetrical knot that tends to be very broad.  Most men tend to wear this knot with spread collars as it easily fills the space.  Over the past few years it has become somewhat of a fad to knot your tie in a distractingly large  Windsor knot (as seen here).  This I feel is a poor choice due to the excessive attention the knot draws.  This is a good knot but I suggest that to stay away from the extra large variety.  Personal taste may cause some men to become bored with the Windsor varieties due to their symmetry.

The other knot mentioned above is the Four-in-Hand.   Its asymmetry has the benefit of adding subtle interest that doesn’t look overstudied.  The knot also has the flexibility of being tied in small or, through a variation in tying, can be much larger, depending on the collar it is being paired with or the wearers personal taste.

Four-in-Hand

Four-in-Hand knot

This is Prince Michael of Kent who’s trademark is his large Four-in-Hand knots.  A very large knot that some may say does what the Windsor above does but the fact that it a Four-in-Hand adds a bit of asymmetric charm.

Prince Michael of Kent

Prince Michael of Kent

Tie material and tie lining will also add to the size of the knot you create.  In order to find what you prefer to wear with different collars you can only experiment.
Here is a link to some easy to follow instructions for a wide variety of knots.

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The Pocket Square

Sunday, September 20th, 2009

The pocket square is an item that I feel some men have trouble getting into as they reach the age where they begin to dress more formally.  Reasons for this could be anything from the wearer thinks them to be flamboyant, to they simply don’t know how to fold them.  As for as pocket squares being only for the flamboyant, nothing could be further from the truth.  A pocket square can be as understated and conservative or as loud and exuberant as the wearer wants them to be.

When trying to decide what color pocket square to use remember that you cannot go wrong with white.  A simple white will add another piece to your over all style without taking any risks on putting patterns or colors together.  PocketSquareBy simply folding his white pocket square, creating an thin crisp line above his pocket, this gentleman succeeds in adding interest appropriate for even the most conservative and formal event.

Colors and patterns can also be used with great effect but fight the temptation to buy prefolded or matching  tie and pocket square sets.  These may seem to be ideal but they create a boring look and are best left to the novice dresser.

Choosing a pocket square that you like with your ensemble can be difficult partly because there are no real rules.  Some men will coordinate colors with their tie or shirt but contrast patterns while others will do the opposite.  Some may pull out a minor color in their shirt or tie with a pocket square, while still others may pair it with their socks or cuff links.  Just put some thought behind it experiment a little if you need to.  Before long you will fall into a combination that is all your own.  pocket-square-10This gentleman succeeds in creating an memorable style by contrasting patterns and some color in his shirt, tie and pocket square.  He allows this combination to really stand out, without looking over done, by pairing it with a subdued cream jacket.

Materials can be anything from silk to linen to cotton but its not for wiping your nose.  That is what the handkerchief is for and you keep that in another pocket.

For some basic pattern and color mixing guidelines see Mixing patterns in your suit, shirt and tie.

Here is a great resource for folding pocket squares from Sam Hober.


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A taste of Henry Pool & Co.

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Here is a great video of a tour through Henry Pool & Co. by Angus Cundey, the companies Director.

This video gives a great feel for what Henry Pool and Savile Row are all about, unparalleled quality.

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Maintaining your Suit

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Suits are one the biggest investments in a man’s wardrobe.  This is especially true for those of us who go the extra mile and have them tailored for us.  There is some discussion about dry cleaning and what kind of damage this can do to the material.  I feel that it is best to avoid any possible damage by simply avoiding the dry cleaners as much as possible (in most cases it is the ironing rather than the cleaning that can damage your suit). Your suits are something that, when worn, rarely come in contact with your bare skin and should not need much cleaning.  All you should need to keep your suits looking nice and weathering time, apart from individual stains, is steam and a brush.

Investing in a small home steamer or iron that can also provide steady jets of steam is a great addition to any mans closet.  This is an item that can be used on many items of clothing that only need slight wrinkle relief.  Many times a jet of steam is more than enough to remove the creases that accumulate from a days wear and it also will help eliminate any faint odors that also may have settled in.  If steam alone is not enough and you feel that you need iron parts of you suit then lay it out carefully and put a damp piece of cloth, preferably an old white undershirt cut to be lain out flat and in one layer, between your suit and the iron.  This will allow flat pressure from the iron and a moist heat to penetrate the cloth without it touching the exceedingly hot face which can cause the suit to get shinny spots.  Your suit can also be steamed in the bathroom while you take a hot shower.

In addition to steaming you also need to brush your suits with a garment brush.  This will aide in removing any dirt that may have adhered to the fabric during the day.  Special care should be given to areas that may accumulate more, such as the cuffs of the trousers and sleeves.  Kent BrushThose who have become regular readers of my posts may have seen a trend in the products I recommend.  These products often have royal warrants endorsing their quality.  The same is true with the brush maker that I recommend for your clothes brush. Kent is a very old brush company that makes high quality brushes for almost every use, which I will get to in another post.  Their brushes may be more that you would expect to pay for a clothes brush but as so many things in your closet it should be though of as an investment that will last  you a lifetime.  This said a brush of lower quality will still do the job, but it may not do it as well.  Also avoid lint rollers on your suits.   These can leave adhesive residue that can damage the fibers.

Finally when you hang your suit it should only be done with a broad coat hanger that fills out the shoulders.  I recommend that this hanger be made of ceder to both absorb moisture and repel insects that may eat the material.  For trousers a clamp type hanger is ideal because it clamps onto the hem of the trousers allowing them to hang naturally, pulling wrinkles out, under their own weight. hanger Top of the line hanger be found though the Hanger Project. These hangers fill their function well but not without a price. It is not necessary to go out and get hangers such as these though.  The most important thing is that they fill out your shoulders and hold properly.

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Hats for fall

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

We are already well into September and the temperature is steadily beginning to drop. This means it is about time to pull out the fall hats. Here in New England it is not uncommon for the fall to have a large proportion of dreary days, but they are usually not cold enough for a heavy hat. For fall I enjoy wearing a tweed or waxed cotton cap. Flat caps, such as the example below made by Lock & Co. Hatters, were originally considered a hat of the working class but was also adopted as a gentleman’s country wear. Today it is appropriate casual headwear and does a great job keeping the biting breeze off your head.tweedcapBarbour also makes a light cap from their waxed cotton.  This cap is great for the rain as it is water proof and will keep your head dry.  For those of you interested they have discontinued them and a search may be required to find them.  At the time I am writing this they can still be found at Orvis.  Lock and Co. also makes shower proof hats that run more expensive, but they are master hat makers.

french connection porkpie

Gene Hackman wearing a porkpie hat in 1971's "The French Connection"

For more a more formal hat that will carry you through the winter (minus the coldest days) look to a fedora, trilby or porkpie.


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Reflection

Friday, September 11th, 2009

Please take a moment to remember those who we lost eight years ago and those we have lost since then.

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A Matter Of Opinion: Cocktails

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

I’m starting a new, repeating post that I am calling “A Matter of Opinion”.  It will include things that I think add to a man’s overall style and class, but are by no means required to achieve them.

I think that every man should have at least a basic bar knowledge.  What I mean by this is that men of style and class should know how to make a few of the great cocktails, even if they prefer beer or wine.  If a man has a small liquor cabinet at home then it should be stocked with the ingredients needed for these cocktails.  If you don’t drink them or at all then you liquor cabinet will stay stocked for a very long time and if you ever need to make anything for a guest, you will be well prepared.

Equipment: Corkscrew; Bottle opener; 1/1.5 oz. Jigger; Ice bucket with tongs and/or scoop; Cocktail shaker; Long spoon; Toothpicks, skewers, stirrers, etc.; Muddler; Assorted glassware (rock glasses, highballs, cocktail, etc.)

Ingredients: Gin, Vodka, Bourbon, Rye, Brandy, Scotch, Dry vermouth, Sweet vermouth,  Triple Sec, Angostura bitters, Orange bitters,  Lemons and limes, Simple syrup.

I’ll start with my favorite cocktail.

Manhattan:manhattan

1-2 dashes Angostura bitters

2 measures rye whisey

1/2 measure sweet vermouth

ice

Put ice in shaker, add a 1-2 dashes of Angostura bitters, pour vermouth and whiskey in stir and strain into preferably chilled glass.  You can garnish with a cocktail cherry but it tends to add a sweet cherry hint that I like to skip.  Can also be drunk on the rocks.  Pour into cocktail or rocks glass

Martini:martini

3 measures of gin

1/4 measure dry vermouth or to taste

ice

Put ice in shaker.  Pour in gin and vermouth and stir.  Strain into preferably chilled cocktail or rocks glass and garnish with an olive.  For vodka martinis just substitute the gin with vodka.  I like to garnish a vodka martini with a twist of lemon.

Sidecar:

2 measures brandy

1 measure triple sec

1 measure lemon juice

ice

Put ice in shaker.  Pour in brandy triple sec and lemon juice.  Shake energetically until frost forms on the outside of shaker.  Pour into rocks glass.  Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange peel.

Mint Julep:

3-4 fresh mint leaves

1/2 oz. simple syrup or two sugar cubes

3 measures of bourbon

crushed ice

Put syrup, or sugar, and mint in highball glass and mash well with muddler.  Add crushed ice to fill glass and add bourbon.  Stir well and garnish with mint sprig.  This drink is best on a hot summer day.

Scotch:

scotch

ice (optional)

Add ice to rocks glass (optional),  add scotch. Enjoy.

There are more drinks you can make with these ingredients and other ingredients you can get that will help expand your drink library but I think these will give anyone a good start.  For a pretty good list of other cocktails try this Link.

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