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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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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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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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Mixing patterns in your suit, shirt and tie.

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009

Wearing patterns in your suit, shirt and tie is a great way to add a little character to your look. When mixing patterns some care needs to be taken when choosing what patterns to wear together. As a general rule you should avoid wearing the same pattern on all items, for example a striped shirt, tie, suit.  An exception to this rule is when all the stripes are different. Notice in the picture below the differences between the stripes in the three items. allstripes

I prefer the tie to have the boldest stripes, as in the picture, to help it stand out against everything else.

If you choose to wear both a patterned shirt and tie, such as stripped shirt and a patterned tie, these should be worn with an understated suit.  With so much going on between the shirt and tie a boldly patterned suit could create a look that is too busy.  Remember, the bolder the shirt and tie combination, the plainer the suit should be.  If you want to pair a checked shirt with a stripped suit it is said that the width of the check should be about equal to the width of the stripes of the suit.  In this situation I would suggest a solid or subdued tie to avoid there being to much going on.

Brown and blue

If you have a suit with a pattern such as a tweed, check or bird’s eye I suggest pairing it with a more plain tie and/or shirt because of all the texture the suit or jacket provide.  Below-top is a classic combination perfect for the country or the weekend.  Below-bottom is a bird’s eye suit that uses a solid tie to tone down the patterns of the look while still demonstrating bold contrast through color.  The bolder the check or pattern on the suit the plainer the shirt and/or tie should be under it.  Tweedgrey birdseye

The material of the tie itself also can contribute an interesting touch.  A wool or knitted tie can do what a pattern does by adding texture, even when the color is a solid or very plain.  The most formal ties are silk though.knitted tie

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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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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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