Monthly Archives: March 2016

  • For generations wearing dress shoes with suits has been a pillar of men’s fashion. Some rules are made to be broken. Deep down, every man has known the day would come when sneakers would be socially acceptable footwear for your suit. Wait no longer: The era of the suit sneaker is upon us.

    Although the suit sneaker might not get you excommunicated from the fashion community anymore, unless you follow a few guidelines you will rue the day you wore your Air-Jordans with an Armani suit--just because you can pair a fine beer with your a star meal instead of wine, that does not mean you should swig moonshine, too.

    Especially if you are a man who does not wear a suit every day, you might get more economy out of your wardrobe by making your sneakers work with your suit. Here are a few tips for those daring enough to diversify their wardrobe with the suit sneaker.

    1. Give the collar a rest.
      As long as you are wearing sneakers with your suit, you might as well leave those dress shirts in the closet. Prefer a sweater, or even a solid colored t-shirt.
    2. Take it easy.
      If you must wear a button down, feel free to give those patterned shirts some playing time. Save your Hawaiian shirts for the Luau, but argyle or paisley shirts enhance your laid back look.
    3. Bread and butter.
      No matter what type of suit you are trying to pair, white sneakers with white laces are a safe bet, or at least as safe as you can be wearing sneakers with your suit.
    4. Pinstripe suit?
      Don’t do it! Don’t you break my heart. Every time you wear a pinstripe suit with sneakers, a humpback whale washes ashore.
    5. Ride low.
      High tops offer great ankle support. However, you are not wearing suit sneakers skateboarding or shooting hoops (or are you?). Lowtops look more elegant, especially without socks.
    6. Do the right thing.
      Obviously you would NOT wear suit sneakers to a funeral or an interview. Use your judgement, people.

    Wearing sneakers with a suit can freshen any style. Especially if you walk to work, you should consider investing in the suit sneaker. Stock a pair of loafers under your desk if you have to--your arches will thank you for it. Alternatively, leather dress shoes, like wingtips, are also being made with sneaker soles. Be careful, sneaker-loafer hybrids can easily seduce you into inappropriate wardrobe choices. There no reason to live in fear of pairing sneakers with suits anymore, but throw caution to the wind at your own risk.

  • Dress pants look cool and collected from the outside, but trouser buttons present the wearer with a maze of choices on the inside. What are these buttons? Where did they come from? Are they our friends or enemies? Fear not. Not only do your trouser buttons have names, they also have purposes besides holding up your pants. One especially mysterious and underused button is called the French Fly.

    THE FRENCH FLY

    The French Fly is the little button opposite the button tab above your zipper, attaching to the waistband instead of the leg. The French fly takes strain off the main button, allowing the flap of your fly to stay flat. When you forget to zip up your pants, the french fly saves you some embarrassment by keeping the flap closed. Additionally the French Fly keeps your trouser fabric from bunching or wrinkling when you sit or stand. In general, interior trouser buttons also help pants hang elegantly.

    These days even casual pants have French Flies, but they remain a hallmark of quality like barn door clasps and jigger buttons. Helper buttons like these are especially useful in that they allow the material to wear more evenly. Multiple buttons are simply more secure--you would not hang a tapestry on one nail alone, why secure your trousers with just the one button. What if it breaks?

    CONCLUSION

    When it comes to buttons, use your intuition. You know what a button is for. Insert button into button hole and repeat. No, not all buttons are mandatory. In an informal setting where you do not expect to move much you do not need the strain relief of auxiliary buttons.

    If you are not dressing to impress, you might not need the elegant draping extra buttons permit. But you might as well be ready for anything, so button whatever you can. Do you really trust one single button to shield you from embarrassment? Even the best buttons need backup.

  • Chairs can be your best friends or your worst enemies in the professional world. Suit sitting is a lot like sitting down in regular trousers, shorts, or, for that matter, nothing whatsoever:

    1. Finding a place to sit down.

      A. Make sure the surface in question is clean, dry (but not too dry), and safe. If it feels like everyone in the room is holding their breaths, don't sit. It’s a trap!

      B. Chairs are ideal, and a suede chair is best. In a pinch a couch, or even a marble bench or fountain, will do (fair warning: the pigeon is the nemesis of the amateur sitter).
    2. Place legs against the surface, and let gravity just pull you down (unless you are on the moon, but lets take this sitting business one small step at a time). Until you have step two down pat you should practice in the privacy of your own home, and avoid public transportation. You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, don’t you? Practice.
    3. Maybe your legs cross, maybe use an armrest or foot stool. Whatever you do, do not just sit there like a deaf-dumb mute. Endless variations exist, so improvise, gentlemen. Rock and roll (caution: rock in moderation).

     

    Once you have mastered the art of free-form suit sitting, you may tweak your suit sitting technique. Chances are, if you are wearing a suit, be it for your interview, date, or deal, you are under close scrutiny. Everything is a test.

    The tragedy of the suit is that they are really made for standing, but almost every occasion you will wear a suit for requires sitting. In fact, sitting is pivotal for success in the modern world. But do not let chairs trip you up--you did not get all dressed up for nothing. 

    1. Which button goes where?

      A. If you are wearing a single breasted suit, and you probably are, you always button up when standing, and open when seated. This is simply how the fabric is cut. Deviance from the open-close rule invariably leads to jutting lapels--laugh now, but you will be cast from your office like a leper.

      B. If you are wearing a double breasted jacket--you have got four buttons below your chest rather than two or three--always leave the suit buttoned up. Really the whole point of a double breasted jacket is that it looks elegant while you are seated, sipping tea, perhaps smoking, and dictating your
      memoir while you adjust your ascott.
    2. Check yo’ socks.

      Make sure you are wearing appropriate socks, because they will show. Sitting in a suit is like a duel, so showing skin is like opening your rib-cage to a forward lunge.
    3. Choose your battles.

    Your suit hates you for sitting, but we all have needs. Suit sitting wears the pants seat, suit seams, and the creases. Since you should wash your suit as little as possible, for the good of the integrity of the fabric as well as your wallet, sitting poses a very real threat to your washing schedule. Especially if you
    take the bus to work, or your date--hey, no judgement here--man-up and grab a pole for stability.   As bad as suits are for sitting, they are worse for falling and offer almost no protection for the wearer (even if your suit was advertised as bulletproof).
    You learned to walk before you can run, and you will have to learn suit sitting before you will be promoted. Think of your socks, buttons, and seams before you sit in your suit and you will fly with the corporate eagles in no time. Follow a few simple rules, and you will make it past the chair every time. The rest is up to you.

  • Herringbone pattern is ideal for those of us eager to set ourselves apart from the herd. This is due to the optical illusion created by the interlocking, alternating chevrons that make up its signature pattern. A herringbone suit is an ideal second tier suit for after you wear in your navy or gray suits.

    A brief history of Herringbone 

    The herringbone design derives its name from fish skeleton. From up close, the pattern looks spiney (moreso if you squint). In contrast to that, herringbone looks solid or blurred from afar. 

    If the Harry Potter invisibility cloak had an equivalent in men’s fashion, it would look like herringbone.

    The interlocking chevrons that compose herringbone patterns were inspired by Ancient Roman Roads, circa 500 B.C. These arrows allowed the road to absorb more pressure in motion. Herringbone fabric is no less ancient, with textile artifacts uncovered from Egyptian and Celtic cultures alike. Most notably, the Shroud of Turin, allegedly the burial shroud of Jesus, was herringbone. So next time you find yourself shopping for a jacket, ask yourself what Jesus would do and opt for herringbone.

    Ways to wear Herringbone 

    While herringbone’s storied pedigree has kept the design a consistent favorite among corporate types, modern twists on herringbone pattern abound. You might want to keep it simple and not bother with other mix-ins. However, herringbone does pair well with many different styles. From Led Zeppelin  T-Shirts to woolen cardigans. There is another reason you will get great mileage out of your herringbone suit: herringbone allows wearing either the trousers or jacket individually.

    Naturally, herringbone comes in different sizes. Smaller herringbone is less difficult to match with your wardrobe. A herringbone overcoat with larger chevrons pairs nicely with a herringbone suit, for example. 

    Conclusion

    As a potentially formal pattern for suits, herringbone is unique for the ease with which it dresses down. Wear herringbone with tennis shoes or denim worry free. The versatility of herringbone makes the pattern one of the easiest styles in men’s fashion.

  • True navy suits hold a deep, midnight hue. Other blues are less versatile, and weaker. Navy expresses a youthfulness flattering to older men, and loyalty. Take your navy suit with you wherever you go. From black tie optional events to airports, your navy suit can work with any situation. Wear navy blue and, like your suit, you will come off as versatile and professional.

    Obama wears a blue suit every day.

    "I'm trying to pare down decisions,” said Obama. “I don't want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make."

    As our Commander in Chief puts it, even small choices chips away at one’s decisiveness, like a river gradually building through a boulder--psychologists call this phenomenon decision fatigue. Trusting in the variability of a few navy blue suits is Obama’s trademark look as well as a low-effort, high-value system that reduces friction in his daily life.

    But navy blue can save you more than just time.

    Many men never realize the color suit they choose has a profound subconscious impression upon their peers, as well as themselves. The colors you choose are just as important as your fit. You would not wear a zoot-suit three sizes too big to the office, so save the yellow pinstripe suit for your cameo on Sesame Street.

    Colors convey character.

    Black suits are for the depressed, morticians, plaintiffs, and valets--so do not be surprised if people start handing you their keys when you wear your black suit. Red connotes flashiness. Nobody takes an executive in beige seriously. White suits are only appropriate for Samba instructors and megachurch ushers. Green comes off as sporty. Brown clothes need to be tailored perfectly, or else your co-workers will dub you Mr. Potato head behind your back. Orange seems attention seeking. In purple you might look a little bit too fashionable for your own good, and pink is actually painful for human eyes.

    The darker the color, the stronger the impression.

    Navy blue infuses your character with an eternal propriety and conventional utility, both friendly and powerful. Think of the many media outlets, advertisers, agencies, and web based platforms that feature blue: Facebook, Fox News, and law enforcement for example.

    As an added bonus, raindrops and other liquids are less obvious on your blue suit.

    Since you should avoid washing your suit as much as possible, navy blue is a go to hue, both for professionals who only need the one multi purpose suit and for the executive who relishes the flexibility in wardrobe options that navy suits allow.

    Navy blue’s place in the menswear color wheel remains secure. The fashion equivalent of gold of the fashion world, your navy blue suit holds its value even as the seasons come and go. Be ready for anything. Buy blue.

  • Dress socks say a lot about a man, maybe even more than ties. Socks are not the first thing people notice, but, sooner or later, your coworkers will glimpse your socks. To you socks may seem an arbitrary choice, and in high school you were right. Nobody cared. In the professional world, however, a man’s socks are the window to his soul. Follow a few easy rules, and avoid dress sock faux pas:

     

    1. Always match.
      Wear dark dress socks with dark trousers, and lights with lights, without exception. Match dress sock color with trouser color whenever possible.
    2. You are not fooling anyone.
      Throw away all or any skin toned dress socks, especially if you are a man. You will look like you are wearing stockings, and everyone you see will assume you are also wearing women's underwear. Skin toned socks did not work for Louis Armstrong. They will not work for you.
    3. Christmas in July?
      Humor your aunt by wearing those snowman socks she gifted you for Christmas for three to four hours. After she goes to sleep (apply eggnog if necessary) burn all and any holiday socks with the Yule Log. Nobody gets promoted for being cute. And if I ever find cartoon character socks at your house, I will inform the authorities.
    4. Sock height.
      Save your ankle socks for the gym, and your knee socks for the soccer field. Formal socks should ride a few inches below the knee. In Enlightenment Era France you got the guillotine for showing any calf. Never let your coworkers see your legs--bare skin is a sign of weakness. Likewise, socks that go above the knee may inspire gossip that you wear pantyhose to work.
    5. Lost in translation.
      All you jet-setters out there would do well to remember that not all cultures wear shoes while conducting business. If you are doing business in Japan, for example, wear socks you feel confident exhibiting to your partners and rivals overseas, or you will be caught between a rock and a hard place.

    Until you have refined your fashion sense, play it safe with socks or you will be sorry. Socks can be the crowning feature of your suit, or your Achilles heel. Once you feel more confident in your personal style the right colorful socks can bring out your skin tone. Just remember, socks are not underwear, even if you keep them in the same drawer. People will see your socks. Choose responsibly.

  • Today,  little distinction remains between blazers, suit jackets, and sports coats. Nuances still exist between jacket types, but chances are that coworker calling you out for wearing a suit jacket with your trousers is just being a jerk.

     

    Blazers are versatile, if somewhat informal. Suit jackets are often glossier, and sports jackets come in bolder colors and designs--the 19th century equivalent of the hunting vest. Unless you are a sailor for halloween, hunting for quail, or an extra on Mad Men, you do not need to stress out about which jacket is which. Just know enough not to wear a hunting jacket to your friend’s funeral or a business suit to a picnic. Here is how and why:

    The Blazer:

    1. Traditional blazers are a solid color, usually navy.
    2. They used to have golden buttons, but those are rare these days.
    3. First developed in the 1800’s for the British Royal Navy.
    4. Wear with nice shoes, but not necessarily formal footwear.

    The Suit Jacket:

    1. Paired with matching pants, not similar pants.
    2. Generally a tighter fit and higher quality material, because they not for layering sweaters underneath.
    3. Wear with formal shoes.

    The Sports Coat:

    1. Yes, people once played sports in jackets. These fit looser, for increased flexibility.
    2. Comes in a variety of colors, patterns, and designs. Nobody actually needs padded elbows; I do not care how much you write, but sometimes the patches do feel nice.
    3. Less structured than other jackets. Looks great over a sweater.
    4. Originally sports coats were a sign of opulence, as not everybody could afford one on top of their regular jackets. They still are, as most Americans who do not frequent Yacht or golf clubs would be hard pressed to find a use for their sports coats.

    Keep in mind that you should avoid wearing your nicer suit jacket separately from its pants parts separately often, so they can wear evenly.

    The difference between blazers, sports coats, and suit jackets has blurred, but you should still be able tell the difference. Wearing the right type of blazer shows respect as well as class.

  • Unless you live in a room full of mirrors, you probably don't consider how your suit looks from behind. Even the fashion savvy tend to focus on the front, but if you want to be a leader you would do well to consider how you look to those who follow you. Find out if a double vented jacket is right for you.

    You might think the back of your jacket a cut and dry affair, but the variations on your vent say more about the wearer than any lapel.

    Vents first developed on jackets as a functional necessity of riding horses. You might not commute by horse--parking is not that bad, at least not yet--but your vents still allow you to sit down without warping your jacket. As well as preventing creasing and bunching, vents also permit easier pocket access.

    If you fear sitting down in your jacket, you may be wearing the wrong type of vents for you. So sit down, and read on. Take a load off.

    Two types of vents dominate the fashion landscape, with a rare third choice: American, with one slit down the center; English, with the double vents, or side vents; and Italian, without any vents whatsoever.

    The American (Single vent)

    - The international community agrees, Americans tend to carry around a little extra baggage. Those of us with prominent rears risk growing a tail--that kicked up flap from the double vent--unless we stick with single vents.

    - Of course, in a single vent jacket your hindquarters are totally exposed every time you put your hands in your pockets. 

    - Single vented jackets are generally cheaper and easier to mass produce.

    The English (Double Vent)

    - The double vented jacket allows for the easiest pocket access.

    - Most Bond suits are double vented--they highlight your physique, and have a slimming effect thanks to the vertical lines.

    - The double vents allow for an increased range of movement.

    - Wearing the double vent projects worldliness, quality, taste, and exclusivity.

    Italian (Ventless)

    - Ultra slimming effect when standing (still).

    - Good luck sitting.

    - Why even bother with trouser pockets?

    - Ideal for prancing, posing, and those who cannot sit still.

    Especially if you are a novice in men’s fashion, avoid the Italian vent, or lack thereof. A single vented jacket is a safe bet anywhere, but you may come off as cheap or unimaginative. The double vented jacket is an international favorite, an aerodynamic style conquering the world not in the name of England, but rather common sense. Vents are your friends, the more the better.

  • Suede feels and looks great, but if you have ever owned a pair of suede shoes you know the anxieties that follow you throughout your day. True enough, stains and other blemishes look much worse on your suede shoes than on your loafers or your running shoes. Your suede paranoia is not unfounded. More often than not the suede shoes we see on the street appear faded or stained. You might want to believe that suede is somehow less durable than leather or harder to clean. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    All those people you see walking around in dirty suede shoes are just plain lazy--suede is way easier to clean than leather. Five easy maintenance rules will keep you suave in your suede.

    1. You are not melting

      Contrary to the urban myth, suede does not necessarily melt if you get it wet. Getting caught in the rain in your suede kicks does not turn you into the Wicked Witch of the West. Take a deep breath.

      We love how warm suede is, but cold weather usually means unexpected rain, snow, and mud. The truth is that water rarely stains suede, unlike patent leather. Still, avoid fly fishing in your suede high tops. Stomp through city puddles at your own risk.
    2. Stay golden

      A lot of suede shoes never leave the apartment. No matter how neurotic you are about your suede shoes, like all beautiful things, suede fades. That is no excuse to hold your shoes hostage. Take the doggie bags off your sneakers and boil a pot of water. That’s right, steam cleans suede sneakers, so hold them over a pot of boiling water or a kettle. Give the steam a few seconds to do its thing, then have a cup of tea and chill out. Steam makes suede look brand new, smoothing wrinkles, dissipating stains, and bringing out the color.

    3. Brush your feet

      After you have steamed your shoes, use a suede brush. If you do not have a suede brush, use a toothbrush. If you do not have a toothbrush, go to the dentist. Seriously. You do not have to brush suede shoes as often as you brush your teeth, but it is a hell of a lot easier than shining leather. Dont freak out if you get mud on your suede. Wait until the mud dries, brush the suede, then use an eraser.

    4. Your shoes are your babies

      If duct-tape came in a powder, we would call it talcum powder. You can use talcum powder for nearly everything, except cooking. For grease stains brush your suede with a paper towel and let a layer of talcum powder sit over night. If the powder fails, try white vinegar. As a last resort, curse the gods and seek out a cobbler--usually they live under quaint hills or nearby cobblestone alleyways.

    5. Strike first

      Winter is coming. Instead of letting your suede boots hibernate, seal your suede with preventative spray. A thin layer helps keep out dirt and liquids. Remember to brush or steam your suede before sealing. Sprays typically last a few months, so you will have to reapply the solution next winter.

    Suede shoes want to keep your feet feeling warm and wonderful all year long. While suede may get dirty easier than other shoes, suede is also much easier and cheaper to maintain. Love your suede, and your suede will love you.

  • Interior jacket pockets are more than an indicator of quality. Like your outer pockets, inner pockets must be used sparingly. Inner pockets, however, allow for a greater degree of privacy as well as specialization.

    Since men started mocking each other for carrying man-purses, pockets have been a staple of our wardrobes. Far from going out of style or use, inside jacket pockets have never been more relevant.

    While keys and sharp objects damage your lining, interior pockets are perfect for cell phones and mp3s. If you have a mysterious interior pocket, too big for tickets and too small for your wallet, chances are it is a tech pocket.

    Some of the pockets have names derived from original uses, like the opera ticket pocket. These days interior pockets serve a variety of pocket purposes. Since they are interior, nobody will frown on you keeping candy bars in your opera ticket pocket, because no one will ever know.

    Of course, on bespoke suits (tailor made from scratch) you can ask for as many inner pockets as your heart desires. Most of the pocket names we use today were named arbitrarily based on function, so feel free to name away.

    WHAT IS IN YOUR POCKETS?

    My suit has one pen pocket, a wallet pocket, a passport pocket, a business card pocket, a phone pocket, an earbud and flash drive pocket, the jumbo wad of cash pocket, the judgement day black bean supply pocket, gold and diamond pockets, and finally the Jimmy Hat pocket. If you feel bulky with your inner pockets full, your jacket might be a bit tight.

    Keep your business card pocket on your right breast so you remain free to go for your card while shaking hands.

    HISTORY OF THE POCKET

    Far from extraneous accessories, secret pockets are pockets in their purest form. Pockets take their name from the Old French word for bag. Originally men wore a pouch tied onto their trouser, but as pickpockets became more prevalent after the Industrial Revolution people started cutting bag holes into their pants. The rest is history. Pockets came into being to protect your valuables from pickpockets, which is the main benefit of interior pockets.

    TOO MANY POCKETS?!

    You might think that having more opera pockets makes you a big shot, but any more than four and you will come off as a lunatic. Unless you are the Phantom of the Opera, keep in mind that more pockets means more fabric, which leads to a clunkier informal look.

    DO NOT BE A POCKET JERK

    In men’s fashion it feels like every thread has a specialized name. Not so with interior pockets. Of course some of the pockets may have once had names, but nobody really cares about what you call your interior pockets--that is between you and your jacket lining. The inside of your jacket is a great place to express yourself, whether you fuel your OCD by labeling each pocket or pack enough concealed pens to open a shop. Just be yourself.

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