All posts by Dela Dem

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Zegna Fall/Winter 2014-15

Space is the future and everyone wants to be a part of it. People want to be astronauts and go to the moon or just take the new voyage around the atmosphere. Well even though space is the future it is here now both in fashion and in life. The Zegna collection joins in on the action with a galaxy inspired runway. The show did merge future and present with its video of the earth seen from space and then zooming in and focusing on cities like New York, and Shanghai. Both business and fashion markets and two of the top places where we would find a Zegna suit or coat being worn.

The fashions started with a traditional gray two piece suit with a futuristic space theme by employing a glitter style giving off a galactic visual effect. Then bringing the collection back down to earth with a set of traditional checkered coats including a pea coat and another that featured a fur hood. The looks included three main designs consisting of a quilted pattern, a checkered pattern mainly used with suits and coats, and a combination of the two layered together usually with the quilted jacket tied over the checkered coats and suits. Layering was a big statement with this collection where by the designers own words the inspiration behind the looks was “It’s like the perspective of fashion—sometimes close, sometimes far, but always present. Everything is relative.” Mixing patterns was also a staple in the collection and consisted of a houndstooth overcoat with a plaid interior lining and cuffed sleeves. Mixing the patterns was a little risky but nobody can predict the future so this very well could become a new trend. There was a standout piece which brought the history back into clothing and by history it was the Jurassic age where a navy blue belted cardigan had a Stegosaurus spine appliqued onto the arms, while unconventional it did bring the individualistic style into tradition. Thus being able to go between land and space was the theme here, and since we are still on land for now this was a fitting design spectacle of luxury and innovative classical style.

Three Must Have Apps For Becoming Smarter

Are you the friend that everyone thinks lives under a rock? “Who’s Taylor Swift dating again?” “Where did I put my umbrella?” “I wish I could teach myself French.” Well here are a couple of apps that are sure to increase your IQ by a few points.

Lumosity

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It’s a brain training website and app that base their games off neuroscience research. The games are really entertaining, and it doesn’t feel like you’re learning, but you’ll notice the improvements when you’re the first person in the group that can remember the name of that actor that was in that movie, doing that thing, that came out that year. The only downside is to get the full experience of all their games you have to pay for a subscription, but the app is free, and there’s a few games, so you can start training your brain right away.

Duolingo

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It’s a free language instruction app. It tracks your progress through their very intuitive and engaging lessons. And you’re able to compete with your friends. It’s free and there are no ads. The languages available for now are Spanish, French, Italian, German, and Portuguese.

Flipboard and Zite

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Want to know where your friends are getting all those great articles…well here it is. Flipboard markets itself as your personalized magazine, which you can share with your friends. The way it works is you pick from a selection of topics to receive a bunch of articles in that field, then later fill your personalize magazine. While Zite does the same thing, I think it’s more intuitive because it has an algorithm which fills your feed with similar articles that you have actually read in the past.

The Man: Accessorizing Your Look…

One of the hottest trends out there for men right now is accessorizing your look. Whether it’s to go into to town to grab a bit to eat or to a formal soirée; accessorizing the basic pieces that you are wearing will catch some welcomed glances. In the accessory closet for men the list continues to grow with fervor and intensity. Sooner than later without accessories you’re going to run out of different looks and probably become bored with your wardrobe.  

When it comes to accessorizing it seems that women most often take the crown because they have more opportunities. They have purses, extravagant hair pieces, oversized sunglasses, necklaces and the earrings to match. These details have always separated the merely well-dressed from truly stylish mind. Gentlemen, we know matching and looking put-together every day can seem daunting, however, it is easier than you may think.  There are more accessories than I am going to mention but here are a few that are a bit different.

The tie clip: This invention is absolutely awesome, on those chilly windy mornings, the last thing you want is your tie flying up in your face, or when your meeting with your boss ran through lunch, your stomach growling, and you wolf down your food; you don’t want your tie to become doused in ketchup, mayonnaise or whatever else. The clip conveniently clips the tie to your button down for the simple refined look. Style wise, the tie bar can come in an assortment of colors and designs to match or offset your tie or dress shirt.

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Bracelets: Depending on the day and the purpose you want your bracelets to be dignified and simple but have some flash if warranted. For a beach day, perhaps some double braided anchor bracelets to go with the nautical theme. On one hand should be your time piece and leave the other wrists to experiment with different bracelet combinations.

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Pocket Squares: Everyone can dress themselves in fine tailored suits but, many times they forget to polish off the look. This is were pocket squares come into play. A clever and classic way to finish off your suit and tie combo, and a very nice way to add a bit of flare to your outfit. This is definitely a must have accessory for anyone who wish to take their suit game to another level.
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Three Steps Towards Becoming A Man

The three easy steps to improve your life and become a better man.

First Step: Think Manly

Think about the type of man you’ve always wanted to be, inside then out:

  • Who does he look like?
  • How does he act?
  • What makes him happy?
  • What does he eat?
  • Where does he eat?
  • How does he dress?
  • How does he think?
  • Where does he work?
  • Why is he different from every other guy?

And become him.

Most of the time self-improvement starts at the gym and ends at the dinner table. But first, I recommend you actually take some time to do some maintenance inside. Your internal dialog should always be positive and confident, when the world beats you up enough, stop giving yourself the cerebral black-eye. More importantly, surround yourself with people that build you up, not cut you down.

Second Step: Dress Dapper

Pick a person who’s style you admire, and model your own style after theirs. Maybe even combine two or three famous men who’s taste in clothing you respect. Make sure that you have similar body types. And create a visual list of clothing pieces you would like to add to your arsenal of clothes. I cannot stress this enough, but make sure that you are constantly improving, your appearance as well as your style. When you start to make these improvements you’ll see why it’s so crucial in your mission to becoming a better man.

Via Lionsgate UK
Via Lionsgate UK

Third Step: Live a Macho Life

This touches on the point I made in the first step, surrounding yourself with people that build you up. If you have a friend that you’ve always thought, “he’s got it all figured out,” then ask him about the tools that helped him build the man that he is today. Don’t be afraid to develop a team of people that have qualities you admire. Through your interactions with them you would have already become a better man. Go out and do all the things you think a man should be doing, chopping wood and catching fish with your bare hands. Be an active member of the world, join rec teams, and seek out a new experience away from the computer.  Because that’s very macho.

Macho is as Macho does, take note from Clint Eastwood
Macho is as Macho does, take note from Clint Eastwood Via United Artists

 

10 Items Guys Should Ban From Their Regular Wardrobe

1 ) Mid-Calf socks with salmon shorts: With the return of spring warmth comes the inevitable “lacrosse bro” uniform, and this means that mid-calves are back in season. An unfortunate trend for boys who never completely escaped tenth grade, mid-calves (especially when paired with salmon shorts), should be abandoned.

2) Sweatpants featuring the logo of your Alma mater: This should be an obvious one. Sweatpants are to be worn studying in your dorm room or while watching Scandal.

3) Destroyed boat shoes: Just keep your shoes in good condition. Nothing says unkempt quite like your heels rolling over the backs of your worn-down Sperry’s.

4) Tube socks: Socks should not be thicker than the material of the shoe itself.  Memorize this truism.

5) Running sneakers (except when you’re running): Men, find yourselves a nice pair of casual shoes to wear on Saturday afternoons.

6) Explicit graphic tees: You’re not cool if you think that advertising curse words on a t-shirt makes you cool.  This is a simple fact.

7) Excessively baggy Eminem jeans: These are only remotely okay on Eminem, just because he’s Eminem.

8) Chains (vintage pocket watch excluded): Again, very few men can pull off chains on pants. If you really feel you can (please ask first), choose wisely and think minimalist.

9) Too many little whales and alligators: Yes, we know you own a yacht, no need to advertise it anymore. Your investment banker father taught you better. One alligator shirt and one belt with whales please.

10) Cargo pants: You are no longer in fifth grade. These were pretty great when you went to the Aquarium for your birthday in elementary school, but you’ve moved onto bigger and better things now. Leave the past behind.

What to Wear to a Funeral

It happens, and most times suddenly. Oh well, its part of life and we all in some way have to deal with it and also support others with their bereavements.  In this newest installment of the What to Wear series, we confront arguably the simplest sartorial quandary a man can face: what to wear on the tragic occasion when he must attend a funeral.  We call this simple because the answer to the problem is, at first glance, fairly straightforward.

A funeral is perhaps the only occasion in which a FashionMR can get away with wearing a black suit during the daytime.  Black is the color of mourning, and is the ideal outer garb for attending the solemn marking of another person’s passing.  Moreover, a funeral is a formal affair.  We must remain solemn and respectful in recognition of the seriousness of death.  Combine these two factors and you begin to realize why the black suit is the ideal funeral piece.  Moreover, the pairing of a white shirt and a black tie with the suit make further sense.  The combination of black and white is stark, bold, crisp, bringing the seriousness of the occasion into sharp relief.

However, not every FashionMR has a black suit in their closet.  Beyond funerals, black is not a versatile suit color, and outside of funerals, it is a bad color to wear during the day.  Therefore, in lieu of a black suit, we recommend that you dress as formally as you can manage, in colors as dark as you can find.  If you have a navy blue suit, that will serve; a charcoal gray shirt is fine as well.  Above all else, keep your wardrobe simple and sober.  Funerals are not the time for bold patterns or bright colors.  You must recognize the quietude and the softness that comes of a person passing from this world.

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JOSEPH_ABBOUDBLACK STRIPE
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JOSEPH_ABBOUD BLACK MULTI STRIPE

You can purchase this for $495 from Men’s Wearhouse 

Style Dilemma: Tie Width

FashionMisters growing in their sartorial expertise can find it difficult to navigate through the trends of the fashion world.  As has been said, fashion and style are different things, the former more fleeting, the latter more permanent, the former more corporatized, the latter more personal.  It should be a gentleman’s goal to develop his own sense of style, informed but not dictated by the whims of fashion.  You must develop a personal style you can carry with you all your life.  To that end, we want to address the issue of necktie width, which has been in flux for some time now.

Since its invention more than 200 years ago, the necktie has waxed and waned according to tastes.  In the latter half of the 19th Century, it was exceptionally narrow so that it might be more easily tied by the masses who adopted it in place of the cravat.  Through the early decades of the 20th Century, ties widened considerably as they became home to elaborate designs and wild decoration.  In the 1950’s, ties narrowed in response to the slim suiting of the period, and they continued to narrow until the late 60’s, where they then widened, and stayed wide through the 70’s.  In the 1980’s, ties widened again, though a brief period of extremely skinny ties came and went.  Wide ties persisted through the 1990’s and the first decade of the 21st Century, until around 2008 when the world of fashion went through another phase of slim tailoring such as we saw in the 50’s; neckties narrowed once more.

The exhaustive history of necktie width should be a sufficient primer on how fickle the world of fashion can be.  It is difficult for a FashionMR to establish a permanent position on tie width based solely on trends.  What we recommend is to choose your tie width based on proportion.  It should be your own body, and the other clothes you wear, that determine how wide your ties are, not whatever appears in the latest runway show.  If you are a tall and slender gentleman, you’ll want to wear your ties slim.  If you are shorter and huskier, a wider tie will better suit your build.  The neutral tie width is between 3 and 3 1/2 inches, so those with average or athletic builds will want to reside there.  It is also a good rule of thumb to match the width of your ties to the width of your jacket lapels.  That is a matter of proportion, just like your body shape.  Find clothes that suit you- not a model, not a mannequin.

Weekend Style: Simplicity

serve FashionMR

Not every day has to feature a carefully planned wardrobe.  The modern gentleman should take pleasure in dressing up, but he should recognize that he does not always need a jacket and tie on to look good.  Sometimes, when the weather is good and there are no events on the calendar, it is enough to dress basically, eschewing fancy attire in favor of a more casual look.  Obviously, the weekend is the most common time these circumstances will occur.  Think of this as your guide to dressing for a lazy Saturday.  Imagine that you have no work that needs doing, no major errands to run, no one to meet with at least until the evening.

When you are going to dress casually, don’t use it as an excuse to be sloppy.  Your business and social attire prioritizes fit and material; your casual attire should do no less.  We recommend you invest in a good polo shirt, the perfect piece for a weekend off.  Its collar keeps you just presentable enough that you can accept a surprise invitation to lunch, while it remains an easygoing item that you can wear as you read a book or watch television.  Try to obtain a close fit, something that hugs your torso and grips your biceps without squeezing them too tightly.  Another option, if you wish to go even more casual, is simply to wear a well-made, well-fitting t-shirt.  A white crewneck is the classic choice here, worn by such style icons as Paul Newman and James Dean to great effect.

Your casual bottoms can consist of jeans, which seem like the obvious choice.  However, we would suggest wearing chinos at least some of the time.  Chinos, like the polo shirt, are great for last-minute occasions, as they transition from casual to semi-business with ease.  However, if you have a well-fitting pair of blue jeans, they can often serve the same purpose.  Again, the keys are fit and construction.  Even if your casual wear is less flashy, less ‘nice’ than your business and event dress, it should be no less thoughtfully chosen.

server FashionMR(3)

 

11 Unbelievable Sex Myths… Who even thought of number 8???

We have all heard them, read them or been told and at one point or another we believed it. We have lived our lives based on these myths that someone made up one day, and suddenly it caught on like a wild fire. Well here is a list of sex myths that are completely untrue. Now lets see how fast this truth spreads. Ummm, I  certainly doubt if it could any faster than a turtle.   Let’s delve right into them:

  1. Men enjoy sex more than women
    Women want and enjoy sex just as much as men do! Men are not the only ones benefitting from the sexual experience.

  1. You can judge the size of a man’s package by the size of his feet
    I’m sure we’ve all heard this one. Unfortunately ladies and gentlemen this is not an accurate form of measurement, so stop checking out his feet!

  1. Masturbation causes blindness
    I’m sure a lot of guys and girl would be happy to hear this! Keep it up;  your eyes will be fine!

  1. You can get pregnant from kissing
    Uh, No you can’t. No other explanation required!

  1. You can catch an STD from the toilet
    Public toilets are gross, but STD’s are not what you should be concerned about!

  1. Aphrodisiacs Boost Your Sex Drive
    It’s all in the mind. Not a single food or drug has ever been shown to have any sort of positive effect on a person’s sex drive according to the FDA.

  1. It is possible to break a penis
    Those things are pretty resilient, so don’t worry yourself! Work it, ride it, with no mercy.

  1. Green M&M’s make you horny
    I’m loving the chocolate. I’ll have to try few more. Who comes up with this stuff and why green?

  1. Hot tubs can prevent pregnancy
    Nope, hot tubs are not birth control or spermicidal. Sorry!

  1. Drinking Mountain Dew decreases your sperm count
    I’m sure many guys have heard this, and many women have spread this rumor. Not only Mountain Dew I’ve heard, but also the colorful soda from the bodega. It’s all false!

  1. Blue balls can be fatal
    Guys you hear that? It’s not fatal, you’ll be perfectly fine!

So keep having safe, monogamous sex. And spread facts, not myths to help people make wiser decisions in a world filled with enough lies! But wait, which of these myths make your favorite? You may have other myths to share, comment and we may sum them all up for our next round of Unbelievable SEX myths.

The Velvet Choice: Your next suit

Velvet has been woven since medieval times.  The fabric originated in Kashmir, where it was then transferred through the Arab world to the merchants of Venice, and thenceforth made its way through the nations of Europe.  Originally, its special weaving process made it expensive to manufacture, ensuring it an association with wealth and nobility.  Even if velvet had been easy to obtain, its luxurious feel and sheen would grant it a special place among fabrics.  Its fibers are tightly woven to create a dense bunch of raised texture, known as pile.  This gives velvet its smooth softness to the touch, while the fabric catches the light in such a way that it shimmers, like the feathers of a hummingbird.

Because velvet is so luxurious, it is best employed in small doses, and then for special occasions.  We would recommend you begin with a sport coat, the most natural use of velvet in contemporary dressing.  Black is the traditional color, though you will also find jackets in blue, red, green, and sometimes even white.  Regardless of the color, the sport coat should be paired with some simple neutral bottoms; gray wool pants or even gray jeans both work well.  The shirt, by contrast, should be daring.  You are already standing out in the crowd by wearing velvet- no sense in hiding.  We suggest a bright color and a bold pattern for your shirt, perhaps something in red or pink, or orange if you can find it.  A tie is optional, but if you choose to wear one, we recommend a bow tie.  It will suggest a tuxedo, combining with the velvet to raise the formality of your entire ensemble.  Of course, if you choose to wear an actual velvet tuxedo, be prepared for even more attention.

What to Wear to: A Concert

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We are debuting a new feature here today, and dubbing it What to Wear.  Appropriately enough, it will examine the preferable dress code for any number of social and formal circumstances.  Our first entry looks at how to dress when attending arguably the most sophisticated of social functions, a musical performance.  This can be as simple as a guitar concert and as ornate as a full opera.  The variety of circumstances surrounding the concert means you will want to alter your wardrobe to fit the precise situation.

As a general rule, however, attending a musical performance carries a level of formality beyond most public events.  Unless you’re attending a rock concert outside, you shouldn’t show up in jeans and a t-shirt.  A more casual concert, such as a guitar concert or a string quartet, requires basic smart dressing.  Wear a navy blazer, some charcoal gray slacks, and a white shirt.  If you wish, you may put on a necktie as well, but at this level it’s not necessary.  If you have patterned trousers or an interesting sport coat, you can wear one of those, but not with the other- and avoid anything too bright or bold, since you will be in a dim concert hall.  You’ll likely want to wear black dress shoes, though if you are wearing navy or light gray for your trousers you may be able to get away with brown.

For a symphony performance, another level of formality is required.  This is the occasion for a suit, if you have it.  Even a basic gray or navy business suit is appropriate, though if you have a black suit this is one of the few times it is appropriate.  A necktie is absolutely crucial for a full symphony performance, especially on opening night.  If you have any particularly fancy items you enjoy wearing- a boldly patterned French cuff dress shirt, a three-piece suit, a grenadine necktie- this is the time to break them out.  The situation calls for a high level of business dress.

When attending the opera, your dress code grows even more formal.  Particularly on a production’s opening night, this is the time for black tie and all its regalia.  If you don’t have a tuxedo, avoid renting one and simply wear your nicest suit, preferably your darkest suit as well.  The opera is the pinnacle of gentlemanly leisure, and a FashionMR should dress appropriately.

tuxedo _fashionMR

 

Pattern Watch: Herringbone

Patterns can present a challenge to the modern gentleman.  It can be difficult enough to blend color and texture in an outfit; patterns present their own difficulties.  We would therefore recommend that a gentleman just beginning to discover fine menswear keep his patterns simple at the beginning.  You should stick with one piece that has one pattern, and keep the rest of your outfit texturally plain.  One great beginning pattern is herringbone, but it is more than a beginner- it is a solid, perhaps an essential addition to any man’s wardrobe.

Herringbone’s name is a case of literalism: it derives from the fact that the alternating lines of woven fabric zig-zagging across the garment look like nothing so much as the bones of a fish.  Herringbone is commonly found as a pattern in sport coats, particularly wool tweed in the Fall and Winter, where, in brown or black and white, it adds a distinguished complexity to the jacket in question.  It is also found sometimes in the weave of dress shirts, though it is less visible there as the cotton is typically of a single color.  Sometimes entire suits will be woven in a herringbone style.  All of these can further be found in lighter weights for Spring and Summer, both in fresco weaves of wool and in linen or cotton.

With a herringbone sport coat as your foray into patterns, feel free to keep the rest of your outfit simple, as we advised before.  Pair a gray sport coat with dark jeans, a white shirt, and a plaid tie for a weekend in the city.  A brown sport coat can take navy pants, a pink shirt, and a golden bow tie to a dinner with a special someone.  Congratulations: you’ve passed Patterns 101.  Class dismissed.

Breton Stripes: Classic French Style

The swing of the fashion world away from Americana and toward Italian sensibilities has led to an explosion of bold styling, an experimentation with color and pattern born thoroughly of Continental taste.  Yet the Italians shouldn’t get all the love.  Overlooked as they sometimes are, the French have been formidable contributors to men’s fashion over the years- it’s no accident that Paris puts on runway shows for men as well as women.  France, as a whole, loves striking, memorable design, something that stands out, something that reveals the good taste of the wearer.  The pattern we call Breton stripes is drawn from this love of the bold, and to this day it is a worthy choice for any FashionMR in search of a casual statement piece.

The Breton stripe, as its name suggests, originated in Brittany, though not in the way one might think.  Though it became a province of France in 1532, Brittany has long maintained an independent streak, perhaps due to its history of changing hands between France and England.  This nationalism is exemplified by the Brittany flag: instead of a colorful design, it is starkly black and white, black stripes on a white background, with a canton like ermine fur in the upper-left corner.

Though originating in Brittany, the Breton stripe became completely French in 1858, when an Act of France designated that white shirts with black stripes would be the official upper garment of sailors in the French Navy.  As so often happens with military wear, what started on seamen soon grew ubiquitous among all sailors and mariners, and then became just as commonplace on land.  In the 1950’s it crossed the Atlantic through the efforts of great artists such as Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso, and though it has not always enjoyed roaring popularity, it remains to this day a solidly famous garment.

The Breton stripe can be worn as a sweater or a shirt.  In both forms, it is always a crewneck, and almost always long-sleeved, in keeping with its maritime traditions.  Though typically white with black stripes, navy stripes have become popular, and even red stripes occasionally appear.  Some makers even invert the colors, creating black shirts with white stripes.  Whatever permutation you select, you cannot go wrong with the Breton stripe shirt or sweater as a casual garment.  Wear it indoors in the Winter, and as Spring arrives take it outside with a pair of chinos or some shorts.  It is simple, bold, and has heritage- everything a FashionMR could ask for.

Style Debate: Suspenders

‘Classic’ style never gets old, or so they say.  What worked then will work now.  However, there are certain aspects of old men’s fashion that should be avoided regardless of how dapper they appear in old photographs or magazine illustrations.  Detachable shirt collars, for example, are style statements the modern FashionMR can do without.  For a greater dilemma, however, we must dwell on whether it is still appropriate for men to wear suspenders to hold up their pants.  Suspenders never really went away, and of late they’ve enjoyed something of a resurgence, but are they a fashion statement the new FashionMR needs to make?

First, let us clarify that there is one situation where suspenders, or braces, will always be required: black tie.  The tuxedo has barely changed since its invention in the Victorian Age, and its classic trappings have always included black silk suspenders to hold up the trousers.  We don’t believe in being stodgy, so we support innovation and experimentation in almost every category of men’s dress.  The tuxedo, however, is special.  It is a classic precisely because it makes every man look good, and because it continues to do so, it above all other forms of dress should remain constant.  Therefore, we always recommend suspenders with black tie.

What about less formal occasions, such as the office?  Everyone who has seen Wall Street recalls Gordon Gekko standing behind his desk, brightly colored suspenders stretched over his shoulders as he manipulates the market with his cell phone.  Suspenders were a prominent feature of the power suit in the 1980’s, but they fell by the wayside in the 90’s as business dress grew more casual.  Today, suspenders have regained some popularity as a business choice, but they have also reclaimed some very old territory as a casual accessory.  Like the men of the 19th Century, certain gentlemen today will wear their pants with suspenders instead of a belt.  This can look awkward on pants with a modern cut, because modern pants sit at a gentleman’s hips.  Old trousers were cut higher, sitting at a man’s natural waist, which made fastening them with a belt impractical.

Thus, suspenders were of old a necessity, not a choice.  We say you should take that hint when deciding whether to wear them yourself.  If you have modern pants that sit at your hips, we strongly suggest wearing them with a belt as you have probably always done.  Your modern cut trousers probably don’t have the buttons to fasten suspenders anyway, and clip-on suspenders have a haphazard quality to them that is unbecoming.  If you happen to own one or more pairs of high-cut pants, however, you are more than welcome to wear them with suspenders; in fact, it’s probably better off that you do.

wearing suspenders_FashionMR

Style Debate: Suspenders
Suspenders

Shell Cordovan: Strength and Elegance

There is a special kind of elegance in utility.  For all the effort and craftsmanship devoted to making things look good, sometimes the most stylish items are those which are supremely useful.  This is true in clothes no less than other areas: consider the rise of denim as a fashion item, or the enduring popularity of brogues.  Turning to dress shoes, a choice of material that exceeds expectations concerning both style and utility is shell cordovan, a leather without peer.

Cordovan leather comes from horsehide; specifically, cordovan is taken from the hindquarters of the horse, the sheathe of flat muscle just beneath the skin.  Perhaps due to the intense labor the shell receives beneath the horse’s powerful rear muscles, it is nearly nonporous, letting in none of the moisture that can plague cowhide leather.  A single horse produces two shells, one for each of a pair of shoes; the shells are cut apart and stripped of their hairy grain by a splitting machine, then, traditionally,  are subjected to tanning with tannins from the bark and leaves of trees (a process known as vegetable tanning).  The hides are then processed and carefully shaped to become, among other things, some of the finest shoes in the world.

Shell cordovan is an incredibly tough and durable leather.  Its lack of pores makes it virtually waterproof, while it also strongly resists scratches.  It is flexible, as well, making it an ideal material for shoemaking.  It does not wear out, and it retains a luster far longer than shoes made from cowhide.  These qualities make cordovan an ideal leather for dress boots- boots ankle-high or higher with the lower stylings of dress shoes.  Cordovan dress boots are the perfect answer to rainy workdays, as they work well with a suit and can endure any challenge the elements throw at them.  Cordovan is a beautiful material for regular dress shoes also, and it will last you for decades to come.  The one drawback to cordovan shoes is that, given the comparative scarcity of the leather and the extra work required for tanning, they are typically much more expensive than regular leather dress shoes.  Consider that an opportunity to make an investment, if you are so inclined.  Buy a pair of cordovan shoes in a simple black captoe, or a brown wingtip.  They will serve you well, repaying their cost many times over.

The Shaggy Dog Sweater: Ivy League Classic

American Ivy League style is built around staples- pieces that are worn without fail starting with a young man’s first year at Harvard or Yale and continuing to his old age.  These pieces- the three-button navy blazer, the nantucket red pants, the brown loafers- combine into a kind of Enigma machine, a codebreaking device that unlocks the doors of privilege and prestige among the old money of the East.  Some of the aforementioned pieces are entry-level Ivy League, the stuff that has been popularized and mass-marketed by Ralph Lauren so that everyone and his son knows about them.  Then there are the more obscure items in the Ivy League wardrobe, things that men only know about because their fathers told them, things that the blogosphere has been late to recognize for its significance.  Among these latter elements, the Shaggy Dog sweater is particularly distinct.

The Shaggy Dog label is officially trademarked by J. Press, the granddaddy of Ivy League and collegiate style.  J. Press invented the concept and has set the standard for it: their Shaggy Dog is a crewneck sweater made of Shetland wool that is combed to make it fluffy and soft.  It is a distinctive appearance, an unabashed appeal to the relaxed, easygoing lifestyle that comes of inheriting wealth.  It is simultaneously luxurious and casual, making it ideal wear for a weekend in the city or on a third date.  Aiding its versatility is the fact that it comes in a huge variety of colors, from pale yellow to bright green to robin’s egg blue.  Shop smart and pick up two or more, if you can, and do your best Thurston Howell impression.

Enduring Classic: The Harrington Jacket

So much of contemporary men’s fashion draws inspiration from the 1930’s through the 1960’s, considered the golden age of tasteful dressing.  Instead of wearing an inspiration, a FashionMR should sometimes seek out the genuine article, something that remains unchanged from those days of yesteryear.  Enter the Harrington jacket, a classic piece of lightweight outerwear that had its heyday in the 50’s and 60’s but has never really gone out of style; likely, it never will.

 

The Harrington is a light jacket that comes to waist-length, where it is held in place by a ribbed band of elastic; it closes with a zipper, and it has a high collar that often buttons at the top.  It’s typically made of cotton or polyester, though there are variations made of suede or even wool.  On the outside, Harringtons usually come in a solid color.  Basic jackets are found in navy blue and khaki; more adventurous dressers can wear jackets in yellow, red, green or any number of colors.  Classically, it’s the interior of the Harrington jacket that speaks the loudest: it is traditionally lined in a vibrant plaid pattern, most often the Fraser tartan.

The Harrington jacket stands well enough on its own, but in the 1950’s and 60’s it got several high-profile endorsements that sent its popularity into the stratosphere.  Elvis Presley wore it in the movie King Creole.  Steve McQueen wore it on the cover of Life magazine.  Frank Sinatra could be seen cadding about in it.  Even the name we know it by was granted by a famous wearer: Ryan O’Neal sported it so frequently in the soap opera Peyton Place that people began to call the jacket after his character, Rodney Harrington.

This jacket has stood the test of time and continues to look great on any man.  There are plenty of companies that make Harrington jackets, but if you want the genuine article, go straight to the source: the Harrington jacket’s inventor, British clothier Baracuta.  Baracuta still makes the original Harrington jacket, the model they call the G9, unchanged since 1937.  Wear it over anything short of suit when the weather i

s cool but not cold.  If it’s only slightly chilly, you can unzip it halfway, giving passersby a glimpse of the tartan lining.  It’s a subtle, elegant statement of good taste, everything a FashionMR should desire.

The Shawl Collar

A collar is arguably the most important part of a shirt, a sweater, a jacket, a sport coat.  It swathes the neck, it frames the face.  It can determine our stance and posture as we walk or as we sit.  On an article of clothing that closes in the front, like a jacket or a cardigan, it can even help shape our torso as it appears to observers.  The collar, or the lapel on a jacket, is vital to creating our image.  As the weather turns cool, one variation among the collars on your upper pieces you should consider is the shawl collar.  From sweaters to tuxedo jackets, the well-dressed FashionMR can rely on the shawl collar to bring elegance to his comportment.

There’s no mystery to the shawl collar.  It is what its name suggests: a collar that resembles a shawl wrapped around the shoulders.  Rendered in wool, cotton, or cashmere, it softly swathes your body in a rolling curve, creating a gorge even around the neck.  In a pullover sweater, the shawl collar frames the face like a turtleneck, while allowing the shirt beneath to show through, and giving you more freedom to move your head.  Coming around the neck and close to the jaw, the collar provides additional warmth, making the shawl collar ideal for colder Fall days.  It does not take ties as well as v-neck sweaters, making it best suited for casual settings.  A shawl collar sweater is your best companion during a lazy Fall weekend, keeping you warm and granting you some style on the side.

The shawl collar can also be stretched, broadened, to take on the role of lapel on front-closing garments.  Shawl-collar cardigans are a potent Fall style item: they can, in some settings, take the place of sport coats.  Wear a pair of corduroy pants below, and pair a gray shawl-collar sweater with a white shirt and a colorful knit tie, and you’ll be the toast of any office party.

Perhaps the ultimate form of the shawl collar is its use in evening wear.  The shawl lapel not infrequently takes the place of the peak lapel on dinner jackets, where it accentuates the strong torso of a well-dressed gentleman.  A shawl-collar tuxedo demonstrates discernment, good taste.  It shows a FashionMR who cares about how he looks, who puts thought into his appearance.

Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis: President Barack Obama

Most would agree that Zach Galifianakis is a funny man. Ok, you may not know him by name but, definitely his character in the hangover movies.  In his 18th episode of  Funny or Die, President Barack Obama sits down with Zach Galifianakis for his most memorable interview yet.  Life’s too short. We all need some sense of humor, don’t you think? But whats the point of it all? To promote the Affordable care act. Another creative commercial or informercial huh?  It seems to be working, we think.

Old Spice saying “Goodbye forever – I hope to never see you again” – A must watch hilarious video…

Not many brands are able to get the attention they yearn for. If a brand’s commercial goes viral accumulating over 1.6 million views within a day, you know they are doing something right or wrong perhaps? Either way, you are getting the attention and brand recognition and thats the point.  Old spice commercials seem to do a very good job getting our attention with some sense of humor, although sometimes over the top.  In this video featuring Terry Crews,  it show how saying “Goodbye forever—I hope to never see you again” to an old friend is so much easier now with the new Old Spice face-shaving machines.

Dressing For College

‘College style’ might seem like an oxymoron.  Go to any campus and watch the students walk to class.  T-shirts and jeans are the order of the day.  Some of them show up in their pajamas.  Your average college student takes their wardrobe as casually as they take their studies seriously.

To which we say: why be average?  College is your first taste of adulthood, the time to discover the man you want to be.  It’s also perhaps the first time you have the opportunity to make clothing purchases without your parents looking over your shoulder, so rather than lapse into lounge pants and sweatshirts, dress to the nines.  If it increases the workload on laundry day, so be it- it’s high time you learned to wash your own clothes, anyway.

The classic college dress code comes from the Ivy League universities, what we might today call ‘preppy’- but it was Ivy League before it was prep.  If you’re operating on a limited budget, focus on a few essential elements and combine them.  You need a pair of gray flannel pants to ground nearly everything else you wear.  You need a navy blazer, then another sportcoat, preferably tweed.  For colder climates you’ll want at least three sweaters in wool, and at least one should be a bright color that will make you stand out in a crowd.  A few Oxford cloth button-downs can be dressed up or down, even worn with a tie if the need emerges.  Speaking of ties, if your college has a crest, get a tie with that on it.  The original point of the necktie was to declare allegiance to a club or fraternal order; why stray from that?

For the summer, instead of a t-shirt, spring for a polo shirt, which you can wear under a blazer or on its own.  A pair of khaki pants are your casual style skeleton key.  Finally, spend some decent money on one good pair of shoes, preferably brown, preferably lace-ups.  They’ll last you from Welcome Week to graduation and carry you with aplomb.

If this seems like a short list, it is.  These are the essentials if you want to strut around like the big man on campus.  From here, shop carefully, and buy what you feel speaks to you.  As you advance in your studies, you’ll discover more about yourself, and this will shift your personal style.  You want to dress like you- not like someone else.

 

Men fashionable bags spotted on the runway during Milan fashion week fall/winter 2014 collection

Bags are necessary accessories to any man’s wardrobe.  These are some of the fashionable bags from the runway during Milan fashion week fall/winter 2014 collection.  Which one is your favorite?

The Bomber Jacket

The military has long been a source of inspiration for men’s fashion.  It gave us chinos, as well as the color khaki; it gave us the navy blazer; it gave us the peacoat.  Military gear continues to drive trends in fashion because it is strong, simple, and functional, three qualities that men prize in themselves and in their clothes.  The leather bomber jacket fits all of those criteria, so it should come as no surprise that it has migrated from military apparel to a style staple of men the world over.  Especially as the cold weather comes swirling down our streets and onto our doorsteps, a bomber jacket should quickly become a good friend of any FashionMR wanting to brave the chilly outdoors.

Also known as the flight jacket, the bomber jacket has its origins in the First World War, the dawn of military aviation.  In those days, airplanes did not have closed cockpits, and pilots flying sorties needed something to keep them warm in the cold upper atmosphere.  This need grew more pressing during World War Two, when the altitudes at which aircraft flew rose tremendously- and though planes had closed cockpits by that time, those were not insulated, making a thick coat essential to ward off the frigid temperatures.  The result was a closely cropped, thickly lined jacket with a high collar and elasticized bands at the sleeves, along with elastic around the waist.  Like so much military apparel, after the wars it found many fans among civilians as it became associated with heroism and daring.

Bomber jackets have remained similar in their basic shape, though they do change between manufacturers.  Some have pockets on the chest, while others maintain two simple pockets for a more streamlined look.  The material they are made of also varies: many are made of leather, while others are made of nylon or other synthetic fabrics.  All are classic pieces that should find a versatile place in a FashionMR’s wardrobe.  Pair a classic brown leather bomber jacket with chinos or corduroys for protection from the cold.  If you prefer to be more adventurous, try a jacket in another color, or even a cotton bomber jacket with a patterned exterior.  Unlock your inner flight jockey and dress for adventure.

I on Fashion: Elegance and the Sapeur

 Today I’m thinking about elegance—what it is, what it means, and what forms it can take.

    Much of our contemporary idea of elegance derives from the lifestyles and attire of the often frankly inelegant celebrities about whose lives we seem never to tire of hearing, and not only their fabulous vacations and torrid affairs but also the minutiae of their daily existence.

    Though the intensity of the modern West’s obsession with celebrity culture, and the massive cottage industry that has grown up around it, are wholly new, in matters of style the public has looked to distinguished individuals for guidance at least since the Duke of Windsor and Fred Astaire became synonymous with male elegance in the 1930s. And in this regard—elegance—it must be said that the paragons of yesteryear, whether heads of state or silver screen idols, outshone many of their latter-day counterparts.

    Michelle Obama wearing Junya Watanabe, adoring press notwithstanding, has style but lacks elegance. Carla Bruni, on the other hand, seems to have elegance in spades, as one might expect of a former model—yet she remains a model, wearing clothes well but without her own unifying aesthetic.

    What then is elegance? And what purpose does this palpable yet unquantifiable attribute serve, other than to aestheticize human existence and to draw the occasional admiring glance?

    These questions, never less than embers in my mind, were fanned into flame recently by my receipt of a rather astonishing photo book entitled Gentlemen of Bakongo: The Importance of Being Elegant. The subject of the book is sapeurs, the acolytes of a “religion of clothing” unique to the Congo, and the photographs depict real-life sapeurs in their native environment—the streets and open-air bars of Brazzaville and Kinshasa, the capital cities of the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, respectively, which lie in sight of one another on opposite sides of the Congo River.

    This book, as its title indicates, focuses exclusively on the sapeurs of the famous Bakongo neighborhood of Brazzaville. The photographer, Daniele Tamagni, has done an admirable job of capturing these rare birds in their often squalid environs. Indeed one might come away from her book with the impression that the streets of Congolese cities are positively crowded with peacocks young and old, nattily dressed in European finery.

    What youthful Japanese are often said to have removed from the Western styles of dress they’ve co-opted—namely, their emotional content—even while perfecting them to excess, these Congolese men have restored and heightened. Harajuku girls with more or less sunny dispositions may think nothing of draping themselves in black lace as Gothic lolitas, but for Congolese sapeurs elegance neither begins nor ends with colorful plumage.

    Tamagni writes, “Members [of SAPE] have their own code of honour, codes of professional conduct and strict notions of morality. It is a world within a world within a city. Respected and admired in their communities, today’s sapeurs see themselves as artists.” They are gentlemen, and although many younger sapeurs, unlike their forefathers, have organized themselves into competing gangs, they rarely brawl but instead engage in sartorial stand-offs, using their Sunday best as weapons.

    And yet many of these young men are unemployed or make pitifully small wages. Some must save up for months to buy a single designer ensemble. Many is the girlfriend and mother, one can imagine, who wishes that her lover or son would put his money toward more practical goals—like buying a house. Foolish as their indulgence in clothing they can scarcely afford may seem (and in fact is), it’s clear that sapeurs have found a way to transcend their filthy surroundings. That fashion is the vehicle for this transcendence does not invalidate either the goal or the achievement.

    It is easy sometimes for us to forget that money has no intrinsic value, and is useful only insofar as it can obtain for us goods and services that we need and desire. These things which money can buy, whether tangible possessions or intangible attainments such as an advanced education, do have value, either as means to an end or as ends in themselves. So although there is a sense in which the sapeurs, especially those in the younger generation—some of whom seem to compete with one another for gaudiest attire—dress to the nines for the sake of elegance alone, and although there is wisdom in urging them to use their incomes to better themselves, rather than merely their wardrobes, there is also much to be admired in the way they have forged, against the grain of their milieu, confident and unique self-identities.

    Forced to confront daily a world that offers them little encouragement or opportunity, the sapeurs don their elegant suits as a defense against poverty, hopelessness and death. And in so doing, they inspire the next generation to look beyond the dark world in which they are raised and dream of what might be.

 

I on Fashion: Elegance and the Sapeur
I on Fashion: Elegance and the Sapeur

 

I on Fashion: Elegance and the Sapeur
I on Fashion: Elegance and the Sapeur

 

I on Fashion: Elegance and the Sapeur
I on Fashion: Elegance and the Sapeur

 

Men shoes on the runway during Milan fashion week Fall/Winter 2014 Collection

Ever heard the saying, “the shoes maketh  a man” ? And so it does make your outfit look even better. We already know women love shoes, and yes the fashionmister loves his shoes too. A well polished dazzling shoe can get you that job, attract attention or perhaps get you a compliment. Women are always checking you out , starting from your shoes, so put your best shoes forward. Here are few of the men shoes for the fashion conscious man, the fashionMR., for work, dinner or just a casual outing we spotted on the runway during Milan fashion week Fall/Winter 2014 Collection:  Give us your thoughts on your favorite.

Room for Debate: Pleated Pants

Fashion, for all that it looks toward the future, is a reactive industry.  New trends are born from a rejection of current trends, then as those new trends mature and become ubiquitous, they inspire resulting new trends that reject the new standard.  The recent history of pleats in trousers is a textbook example of this tendency.  In the 1990’s, pleated pants filled store shelves and appeared on gentlemen of all ages and professions.  Perhaps the worst offenders were the pleated chinos, double and sometimes even triple-pleated across the crotch, creating a baggy mess that only contributed to the voluminous nature of the pants.  The fashion world rejected this strongly around the beginning of the 00’s, turning out slim-fitting pants with flat fronts inspired by the 1960’s.  The pleated pants from the 90’s continued to be sold, but they were looked upon with scorn, branded a fashion pariah.  Now, almost ten years after the flat front rebellion, pleats are gradually creeping back into the pants from the leading manufacturers.

A pleat is a fold in cloth created by doubling fabric back over itself and then stitching it in place.  They began appearing on trousers in the 19th century, where they were seen as a feature of sporting gear.  The utility of pleats is that they create additional room in the front of pants, allowing some leeway around the waist, particularly when sitting.  They were especially useful on older pants, which fastened up at the natural waist as opposed to at the hips as modern pants do.  As often happens, what was a casual style element was gentrified by dandies in the upper classes, and pleats became associated with fancier clothes.  They also continued to provide benefit to older gentlemen who were more portly in their golden years than they had been in their youth.

There is a golden mean between the billowing pleats of the 90’s and the uncompromising flat fronts of the 00’s.  Pleats are not a cardinal sin in pants; as mentioned above, they have their uses.  However, they should not be an excuse to neglect fit in a pair of trousers.  You should aim for a pair that is still fitted, though perhaps not as slim as flat-front pants.  Pleated pants need to be slightly more substantial.  Also, to avoid the still-looming specter of the 90’s, we might suggest looking for pants with a single pleat on each side, as opposed to double pleats.  Triple pleats, it goes without saying, are right out.

Wild Style: Plaid Dress Shirts

Plaid, the family of patterns that Scotland invented and America fell in love with, has had a swell of popularity in the past decade.  It has ridden the workwear trend to new heights of ubiquity, and one can scarcely walk down the street of a major city without seeing men wearing coats in buffalo plaid, sport coats in Prince of Wales plaid, flannel shirts in traditional highland tartans.  At this point, you probably have at least one casual shirt in plaid, perhaps several.  There is a frontier that is not always explored in the world of plaid, however, one that still intimidates the average office worker: the plaid dress shirt.

It is not so wild an idea, if you think about it: plaid is a pattern, fundamentally no different than stripes or gingham- technically, gingham is a plaid.  A plaid can be imposed on any article of clothing you desire, including dress shirts.  A plaid dress shirt is a great way to add a note of adventure into your office attire.  It can enliven your presence at meetings, make you stand out among your peers, highlight you at job interviews.  Moreover, plaid can allow you to match colors in ways previously unheard of.  A color that appears in a few thin lines of your plaid dress shirt can be picked up by your tie to harmonize your work wardrobe.  You could even match a color in your shirt to your socks, if you’re feeling particularly bold.

The important thing is not to juggle too many patterns at once.  If you are wearing a plaid dress shirt, keep your suit plain, in a neutral color like gray or navy; the purple and blue plaid shirt from Barney’s shown here could also look nice with a brown suit.  A darker shirt, like the black plaid from Burberry, demands a contrasting lightness of color, a blue or even, in the summer, a white.  On the other hand, a dark plaid can work with a dark suit and dark tie, the pattern keeping the outfit from looking like a blackout.  A word of caution: when you wear a plaid dress shirt, you must be on top of your game.  With a look this daring, you’re sure to get attention.

The Rugby Shirt: Sporting Style

peterhahn
peterhahn

Taking a look at weekend style, this weather makes casual dress slightly more complicated.  We can no longer simply throw on a t-shirt or a polo shirt to survive the day at home or the trip to the shopping mall; the cooler temperatures outside demand long sleeves.  We might also want to use the season to wear something more visually interesting, something that will keep up with the shift toward patterned sweaters and textured pants.  A longstanding answer to this sartorial challenge is the rugby shirt, a casual classic in the colder months that continues to be a smart choice for your relaxing weekend.

The rugby shirt’s origins are straightforward enough.  It began as and continues to be based on the shirts worn by rugby players as part of their team uniforms.  Traditionally, it has been brightly and boldly striped with a stiff polo collar of a contrasting color, typically white.  The buttons are made of rubber; this is so that during rugby games, the buttons will come undone when pulled rather than pop off.  Though the shirts worn by modern rugby players are frequently made of synthetic fibers, the rugby shirt as a style item is almost always made of thick cotton.  Sometimes the cuffs are also a contrasting color, though this is not common.  Beyond striping, rugbies can be solid colors or even have color blocking across the body of the shirt.

The rugby shirt should be seen as the Fall and Winter equivalent of the polo shirt, given that they have the same collar.  Actually, a rugby shirt is slightly more casual than a polo shirt, its thick cotton being inherently more rugged, less formal than a polo shirt’s mesh.  The rugby is therefore a good match with blue jeans on a weekend or a day off; it can also be worn with chinos.  Give one a try, and don’t be surprised if you feel like hitting the pitch when you slip it on.

The Peak Lapel: A Study in Strengths

The whole point of wearing clothes, beyond the obvious protection from the elements, is to look good.  We wear what we wear because we believe it flatters our bodies, and we change what we change because we believe the new will make us look better than the old.  Menswear, no less than womenswear, is about achieving a Platonic ideal, a triumph of form whereby our clothes suggest that Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man lies just beneath the cloth.

To further this goal, we suggest a transformation of your next sport coat or suit jacket.  Rather than purchase something with the typical notch lapels, take the time and spend the money to find a suit or sport coat with peak lapels.  A jacket’s lapel occurs where the front edges of the jacket fold over and rise until they meet the jacket’s collar, at which point collar and edges are sewn together.  Most jackets will have the edges and the collar gap apart at the seam, forming a notch, hence the term ‘notch lapel.’  In a peak lapel, the jacket’s edges continue up beyond and past the seam at an angle, where they finally form a point.

The peak lapel is a marker of taste for more reasons than one.  It flatters a V-shaped torso, emphasizing strong shoulders and suggesting a broad, powerful chest.  The lapel draws attention to the gorge of the jacket, the triangular gap where the shirt is displayed, making it an ideal window through which to show off fine shirting.  Moreover, it is a sign of fine tailoring: on a single-breasted jacket, cutting a peak lapel is a challenge even for a skilled artisan, making a fine peak lapel the mark of a master tailor.  This extra work translates to a higher price, but that is not a matter of inflation.  You get what you pay for.

The difficulty in cutting a peak lapel means it is rarer on jackets than the notch lapel- in addition to being more expensive.  The benefits are more than worth the cost.  Make a statement and declare your independence from the ordinary.

Fun Pants

At this point, just about everyone has heard of Nantucket Reds, the famous symbols of Eastern privilege now a key element of preppy, Ivy League style across the country.  What is perhaps still unknown is just why Nantucket Reds, and their brightly colored fellows, have gained the status they enjoy.  Why do pants in faded pink command the discerning eye of old money?  The answer, at least in part, is that bright colors and outrageous patterns signify the dress of someone who doesn’t need to be sober in their tastes.  It’s a bit like Mark Zuckerberg coming to work in his sweat pants, though far more stylish.  Those who live solely on inherited wealth can afford to flaunt traditional standards of business dress or casual attire, as they will not be penalized for it the way lesser men would.

One way to take this devil-may-care aesthetic to the next level is to wear fun pants, available all year round in various colors and fabrics.  Fun pants are usually, though not always brightly colored; they can be chinos, corduroys, sometimes a more exotic fabric such as moleskin.  What distinguishes them is their embroidery: they are festooned with small prints stitched into the exterior of the pants.  These are called ‘critters’ traditionally, and they can take a variety of forms.  There are pants with ducks, anchors, turtles, lobsters, golf clubs, candy canes- the possibilities are endless, especially in the modern times.  You can find them in colors ranging from navy blue to bottle green, from nantucket red to sunflower yellow, so you’re sure to find a shade appropriate for your circumstances and the spirit of the season.

Fun pants are advanced style- this should be obvious.  Like the Eastern elites who initiated them, they should only be attempted if you have reached an unimpeachable point in your personal style.  The way you dress should be beyond reproach, and you must have the confidence to carry them off.  Keep your upper body simpler: opt for a solid shirt and either a navy blazer or a roughly textured sport coat, perhaps something in tweed.  You can be a bit more creative with your tie.  Again, confidence is key.  If you are going to echo the style of the Roosevelts and the Vanderbilts, you must have some of their swagger.

The Coat

There are certain elements of a gentleman’s style that so perfectly harmonize form and function that they become an unquestionably essential part of his wardrobe, no matter his own peculiar circumstances.  Every gentleman, for example, needs a navy blazer.  Every gentleman needs a pair of gray woolen pants.  Every gentleman needs at least one polo shirt.  And every gentleman, no matter where he lives or what he does, should at some point invest in a coat- a proper coat.  Even if you live in a typically warm climate, even if your job does not involve you spending much time outside, there is going to come a point in your life when you will need the practical and sartorial advantages a greatcoat provides.

The greatcoat, also sometimes referred to as a topcoat, is typically made of wool, cashmere, or some blend of the two, though it can also be made of cotton, alpaca, camelhair, or in some luxurious cases, vicuña.  It typically stretches from the shoulders down to the middle of the thigh, though some older, larger models will be found that hit at the knee or even lower.  It can be single or double-breasted, and it can have collars that range from shawls to notch lapels to peak lapels to even the rare Tautz lapel (someday we shall explain the Tautz lapel).  It ranges in color from charcoal gray to black to navy to camel.  It can be close-fitting, though it is typically sized to fit under a suit jacket or a sport coat.

The great benefit of a coat is that it does its job perfectly while making a FashionMR look impeccable.  It is heavy, long, and thick, so it keeps you warm even in the coldest of conditions.  At the same time, it generates a remarkable silhouette that flatters nearly every shape.  It emphasizes your shoulders and makes your torso a pair of long straight lines that stretch perpendicular to the ground; the angular shape that results is unshakably masculine.  Since its invention, the greatcoat has been worn by every stylish man at one point or another; it reached its zenith in the 1930’s, when royalty like the Prince of Wales and celebrities like Cary Grant sported it to great effect.  Yet the coat never went away- it remains useful, and stylish, now and always, a true menswear classic.

The First Suit: Basic Business Dress

We live, undoubtedly, in an age of relaxed business dress.  Casual Fridays have turned into Casual Weeks, and working men are encouraged to value comfort above all other considerations.  We certainly would not want you to be uncomfortable in your job; after all, comfort can be helpful to improve performance.  However, too much comfort can actually impede performance.  It can cause us to grow slothful and careless in our work.  We would therefore encourage every man who works in an office setting to avail himself at least part of the week of traditional business dress, and that means a lounge suit.  Think of this as our guide to the first step in that progression.

If you are buying a business suit for the first time, it’s best to search for something simple and versatile.  A two-piece suit, consisting of trousers and a jacket, will be fine for almost any office, respectfully formal without being too showy.  Look for a suit whose waist is not too low and whose armholes are not too low; going higher in both of these will aide your freedom of movement.  The lapels of your jacket can be thinner or thicker; the recent trend has been towards skinny lapels, though that is beginning to reverse.  It’s generally best to keep everything in proportion to your body, so if you are a larger man, opt for thicker lapels, while thinner lapels look best on smaller men.  Similarly, your own size will be a consideration when deciding what cut your jacket employs.  If you are a barrel-chested man, it is unwise to try and squeeze yourself into a slim-fit suit.

For your first suit, we suggest either a dark gray color or a navy color.  Both of these are extremely versatile, able to be matched with many combinations of shirt and tie; moreover, both of these colors can take either black or brown dress shoes, meaning they can transfer from a more casual daytime environment to a formal event in the evening with some modification of their accoutrements.  They are acceptable at weddings and funerals, at work meetings and job interviews.  They are the suits of a man who knows what he wants from the world and how to get it.  Yes, that man is you.

The Odd Vest

Men in the ‘golden age’ of dressing- the 1920’s to the 1960’s- were not averse to displaying color.  Particularly in the Roaring Twenties, men found the display of bright colors and bold pattens a way to distinguish themselves, to display their wealth and good taste.  Though this was achieved in no small part through suits, overcoats, and ties, one method of adding interest to the wardrobe has not gotten the attention it deserves: the odd vest.  ‘Odd’ in this case means ‘mismatching,’ and it distinguishes the vest as a separate piece from vests that are part of three-piece suits.  In the interest of reviving good ideas, we would like to suggest the odd vest as your solution to the question of how to distinguish yourself from the men around you.

The odd vest fell out of favor along with vests in general during the 1950’s and 60’s, though it was dealt its harshest blow during World War II and the fabric rationing that resulted.  As such, it can be difficult to find in modern days, though it has begun to make a comeback with some stylish retail destinations, and among some of the more traditional tailoring houses, it never went away.  The early part of the 20th Century is filled with examples of vibrantly colored vests- or ‘waistcoats’ as they are also known- peeking out from under sport coats and suit jackets.  The recent HBO series Boardwalk Empire, set in Atlantic City in the 1920’s, provides many wonderful examples of the odd vest and its ability to enliven an ensemble.

If you’re just beginning to explore this style choice of yesteryear, we might suggest a cautious start.  It can be difficult to match a completely distinct piece with the rest of your wardrobe.  Many of the odd vests currently sold are offered around Christmastime in festive red and green plaids.  Try one with charcoal gray pants, a navy blazer, a white shirt, and a tie that picks up one of the vest’s colors.  As Winter becomes Spring, you can begin to look for a vest to celebrate Easter, something in a soft shade like pink or yellow.  Search the online stores of some of the British clothiers, as the odd vest retains more popularity on the other side of the Atlantic.  Do not hesitate, in this instance, to be bold: this is advanced style, so confidence is essential.

The Secret World of Japanese Menswear

What places on Earth come to mind when you think of fine men’s clothing?  New York City, London, Milan, Naples all come to mind.  The world of menswear is dominated by an ever-shifting contemplation of American, British, and Italian aesthetics.

What if I told you that one of the great menswear cities of the world was Tokyo? The Secret World of Japanese Menswear

American audiences will perhaps be surprised by this assertion, but it’s true.  Japan, in fact, is one of the leading countries of men’s fashion, though it is not always the most publicized of locations.  It lacks the sartorial heritage of England and Italy, and it has not been the forceful presence of the United States on the world scene.  Yet Japan has its own sense of style, and its own great designers, waiting for the adventurous sartorialist.

Japan is not a great secret for everyone.  Italian and British tailoring houses have long known the Japanese man’s penchant for fine clothing, and his interest in pursuing fashion-forward dress.  When major continental brands look to expand their market, it is to Japan, not the United States, that they first travel.  This was true of Savile Row tailors in the aftermath of World War II, and it continues to be the case today.

As you might guess, the Japanese man’s sense of style is somewhat Italian in character, with a preference for soft tailoring, bright patterns, and luxurious fabrics.  Japanese menswear is not wholly dependant upon European sensibilities, however; they are not bound by the tradition and the legacy of centuries of style.  There is a freedom and a creativity in Japanese clothing not often found in the West, a sense of style bordering on the eclectic.  The Japanese are not afraid of innovation, and they are not afraid to be bold.  If you ever find yourself in Tokyo or Kyoto, peek into some of the shops.  You may be amazed by what you see.

The Turtleneck Makes a Comeback

If you were walking and talking in the 1970’s, you probably have some recollection of the turtleneck’s heyday.  The heppest of cats would strut down the streets of America, their high-collared sweaters rolled around their necks, set amid their wide lapels, just below their U-bar mustaches.  If you can remember that, you probably remember the horrific aftermath of it, when those hep cats grew dingy, and so did their turtlenecks.

For those who can remember, and those who can’t, we say look alive: the turtleneck sweater is back.  It emerged on the runways of most major labels in recent seasons, and the man on the street finds himself with the option of wearing a turtleneck seriously for the first time in decades.  If you weren’t around in the 70’s, the turtleneck can evoke bad memories of elementary school in the 90’s, but we advise you not to fear.  Let’s lay down some ground rules.  First, the turtleneck’s natural state is as a sweater- avoid the turtleneck shirts.  Avoid the mocknecks too: half the point of wearing a genuine turtleneck is that you can roll the neck down until it hits its sweet spot, coming right up to your jaw.  If you’re going out for the evening, consider a turtleneck in a neutral shade under a darker sportcoat; it’s a great alternative to a shirt and tie.  When wearing a turtleneck alone, it’s better to go for a thicker knit, and taking on a bold pattern can help the sweater stand for itself.  Finally, don’t be afraid to go luxe when buying.  Nothing will put the nylon and polyester nightmares of the 80’s further in the grave than a turtleneck in birdseye lambswool or rich cashmere.

A final word of caution: the turtleneck is not the most forgiving of garments.  It flatters a leaner, toner torso.  We won’t say you can’t wear it if your waistline is broader than your shoulders, but you might think twice about it.

Also: you need swagger.

Color Guides: Red

There are at least ten colors a man must learn how to master if he is going to succeed as a sharp dresser, and here we begin a sequence that teaches you the steps to mastering each of them.  We will begin at the broad end of the visible spectrum with the warmest and broadest of the colors: red.  Red is not the first color that comes to mind when a man gets dressed- it’s too bold, too angry, too exciting and energetic.  Red is not the color you want to wear in a suit to an interview, for example.  However, precisely because red is so bold, it has its place in a wardrobe as a statement piece.

Limit your use of red to a single item of clothing that you want to really pop, the element of your wardrobe that you want people to see coming from a hundred yards off.  In the Summer, or even the Fall, try it in a pair of pants sitting below a navy blazer and a white shirt; you might even try the famous salmon-pink-red known as Nantucket Red.

You might also try some red up top, in the form of a sweater under a navy blazer or a gray tweed sport coat; this is the pop of color we alluded to before, the burst of bold styling in an otherwise inconspicuous wardrobe that will announce you to the world as a man of taste and sophistication.  As was the case with red pants, keep the rest of your outfit subdued: a simple blazer or sport coat, pants in khaki or brown or gray, a white shirt, and a sober tie.  Think of it as an exercise in precision, your demonstration that you can express yourself without losing control of your appearance.

You might wish to limit your use of red to a single necktie in your suit or smart casual ensemble.  Red neckties have long been associated with politicians, somewhat negatively at that, but this should not deter you from tying one on when wearing a gray or a brown suit.  If the thought of simple red in a necktie is too garish for you, we recommend a more subdued shade, like crimson or burgundy, perhaps with a pattern or a stripe, or used with a fabric other than silk, wool or cashmere coming to mind.  Use your reds with care, and they’ll take care of you.

Advice: Jeans for Evening

You may have noticed, in the past few years, a tendency by the leading celebrities and fashion designers to expand the wearing of jeans beyond their classic provenance as workwear and casual bottoms.  In fact, denim has grown to almost become acceptable in formal situations.  We say ‘almost’ because there is still a line that separates business and formal attire from more casual attire, and however much jeans have risen from their lowly origins, they simply are not meant to be worn as truly refined attire.  Denim is too rugged and rough a fabric to pass muster in the unavoidably genteel setting of a formal dinner party or dress affair.  However, the formalization of jeans does mean they have become an excellent option for evening occasions that are less dressy- occasions such as a first date, a house party, or parents’ night at your child’s school.

If you’re going to wear jeans as part of an evening ensemble, the first rule is to keep your jeans dark.  Jeans in a dark blue wash, or even jeans colored black, are the best option after sunset, as their coloring fits the night well.  Additionally, you should look for jeans in a close, but not skinny, fit.  You will want a pair of jeans that flatters your legs without squeezing them, and below the knee they should either gently taper or fall straight to the hem.  You may wish to invest in high-quality denim as well, something from one of the ancient selvedge mills in Japan or the United States.  Not only will the denim hold its color longer, it will be easier to the touch, more fitting a dressed-up setting.

Wearing high-quality jeans in the evening should be an occasion for carefully calculated ‘smart casual’ dressing.  You can get away with a sport coat in a dark color, perhaps also in a large pattern like windowpane plaid; failing that, a navy blazer works just as well.  You might wear a necktie, though it may make your other pieces clash too much with your jeans.  Opt for a shirt with a button-down collar, such as an oxford, perhaps in a solid color such as white or light blue.  On your feet, dressing up jeans is the perfect occasion to wear monkstrap shoes, as they too straddle the line between casual and formal attire.  Dressing up jeans in the evening is a matter of control- you want to go far, but not too far, in appearing elegant.

The Unstructured Jacket

The intersection between dress and casual can be so fragile and delicate as to give the modern man fits.  We live, without doubt, in a casual age, but a man never wants to appear sloppy.  The Italians have been living lives of relaxed elegance for centuries; it stands to reason, therefore, that they would grant the rest of the world a solution to the problem of looking one’s best while still appearing informal.  Allow us to suggest the unstructured jacket, pioneered by the Italians and conquering the world of menswear since  and before Spring/Summer 2010.

As its name suggests, an unstructured sport coat comes without the darts, ribbing, padding, or any other element that might give the jacket a defined shape, and that might, in turn, attempt to shape the torso of its wearer.  Its construction is more akin to a shirt than a typical sport coat, lending it a loose and casual air perfect for situations when too much formality would be paradoxically informal.  The unstructured jacket is most in its element during the warmer months, especially because most unstructured jackets are unlined, making them thin layers of formality that do not cause their wearers to roast in the hot summer sun.

In spite of this, the sophisticated gentleman can enjoy the casual elegance of an unstructured jacket all year round if he so chooses; their lightness makes them an ideal layer between a sweater and a coat when the weather turns cold.  The great triumph of the unstructured sport coat is that, for all its comfort and looseness, it is still a sport coat, a jacket that lends at least a hint of formality to whatever attire it accompanies.  It can take a man from sloth to luxury in the simplest of gestures, all without the hint of sartorial exertion.

The Quilted Vest: A Cold Weather Warrior

It grows colder and colder, at least in some parts of the country.  For those of you beginning to feel the first hints of Winter, it may be time to upgrade your daily wear to something more suitable to the coming season.  A greatcoat is fine for more formal occasions, but what if you’re wearing jeans and a crewneck sweater?  Moreover, what if it’s not so cold outside as to require a heavy coat?  Stepping into this space between spaces is the quilted vest, a more modern piece of cold weather outerwear that will keep you warm, but not hot, in the twilight zone between Fall and Winter.

As their appearance might suggest, quilted vests originated as mountaineering clothing and skier’s wear.  The idea of a quilted vest goes back even further, to Medieval Europe when the padded vest known as the gambeson was worn under chainmail to prevent chafing.  In the 20th Century, the vest, also called a puffer vest, was popularized on snowy mountains for its ability to keep climbers and skiers warm while not restricting movement as much as a full coat.  The puffy squares of the quilted vest were often filled with downy feathers from geese, lending the garment its third popular name- the down vest.  Today, the quilted vest has crept into street style, appearing at every conceivable price in stores from coast to coast.

The quilted vest is a decidedly casual piece of outerwear, so we don’t recommend wearing it with your suit unless you wish to make a statement.  It makes a great addition to a wardrobe for a weekend outdoors, however, lending a layer of protection while not encumbering your arms as a coat would.  Quilted vests frequently come in bright colors, so you might wish to pair it with a neutral sweater or trousers in an earth tone.  If you want to complete the urban adventurer look, perhaps some fingerless gloves and a watch cap.  You’ll be all set for a hike in the woods, or at least for a walk around the block.

Knit Ties

The tension generated by modern standards of dress is nowhere more severe than when it comes to adorning one’s neck.  The necktie was of old a casual element of dress, but as the lounge suit found its place in the business world, the necktie became an element of more formal dress.  Now, with the workplace growing increasingly casual, the tie finds itself in an awkward position.  There are certain situations which seem to demand the formality of a tie, and there are certain ensembles which seem incomplete without a tie.  How to unite a casual world with a formal accoutrement?  There is an answer, more simple than you might think.  If you feel compelled to knot up, but don’t wish to seem too formal, don’t abandon the necktie; rather, reach for a necktie that manages to be casual.  We refer you to the knit tie.

Knit ties, as their name suggests, are neckties made from material that has been knitted together, rather than woven.  The knitting process results in a rough, open texture, leaving many gaps in the tie’s construction; knit ties are often squared off at both ends to finish the sewing.  The coarse and visible knitting helps defang the usual seriousness that accompanies a necktie.  A knit tie looks almost like something your grandmother made for you; it has a relaxed and decidedly casual elegance, while still invoking the appearance of control that is always gained when a man knots up.

A knit tie merges the professional and the casual so well that we eagerly recommend it in casual settings, even settings that might not seem to call for a necktie.  In navy silk, pair it with a white or light blue shirt and a brown sport coat, along with light gray pants- you will have an ideal first date outfit.  Weekend office workshops are the perfect environment for the knit tie- try a brightly colored one with an oxford shirt and a cardigan.  Whenever you feel ready to wear a necktie, but then have second thoughts, that is precisely the moment when you should tie on a knit tie.  It is a tie for a world gone tieless.

The Power Suit

The old axiom is, “Dress for the job you want.”  If you’re committed to this idea- if you see yourself as Chairman of the Board, Head of Accounts, Dean- you’ll need at least one suit in your rotation that knocks everyone who sees it off their feet.  This is the ancient and mighty art of power dressing, and it’s been practiced at least since Louis XIV wore high-heeled shoes to make himself taller.  You need to convince everyone who sees you in the office, on campus, at the site, that you are in charge, even if you’re not at the top.  You want to be at the top.  You want people to think you’re at the top.  That’s how you should dress.

Your typical lounge suit (as business suits are classically called) is, in 2014, a two-piece number in some shade of gray or blue with notch lapels and pants that may or may not have pleats.  This leads to the first rule of power dressing: the more fabric in your suit, the more power it has.  Go beyond two pieces and reach for the additional fabric of business’ other suit styles.  The three-piece suit has an air of formality granted by its vest, which also means you stay suited up even when your jacket is off.  It commands respect.  Even higher in might is the double-breasted suit, which swaths you in an enveloping jacket that strengthens your torso and broadens your shoulders with its peak lapels.  There’s a good reason your boss’ boss probably has at least one double-breasted suit: it is the prototypical dress of the Masters of the Universe.

When you’ve picked out a suit, you can’t stop- consider your shirt and tie next.  Go for a striking shirt in a bright color, a bold stripe, a large gingham.  Your suit should be a neutral shade already, giving you a backdrop from which to experiment with shirt and tie combinations.  Be bold, again, but don’t scream.  Coordinate your colors, and take care when mixing patterns, contrasting a strong pattern in your shirt with a subtle pattern or texture in your tie.  A key element of power dressing is elegance.  You want everyone to notice you, but you don’t want to be seen as a buffoon.  After all, power properly exercised is a matter of control.  You must display your power without unleashing it, except at the right moment- then you’ll win your audience’s awe.

Style Bonus: Colorful Dress Socks

Once you’ve mastered the rules, you can break them.  This is as true in men’s style as in many other fields, and the ability to violate the rules with aplomb can set the FashionMR apart from the crowd of unassuming men that surround him.  One of the cardinal rules of good style is that you should match your socks to your pants.  It’s a good rule, generally speaking: it lengthens your legs visually, makes you appear taller, and is a safe union of color between the pants and the shoes.  But like all rules, it can be broken, and if you break it with style, you can have a flash of bold dress that declares your sartorial independence from the ordinary.

First, some grounding rules- yes, there are rules for breaking the rules.  The whole point of bold dress socks is that they contrast the sober surroundings of your pants and shoes.  Therefore, if either of those happen to already be colorful, opt for normal, staid dress socks.  You wouldn’t wear red dress socks with blue suede shoes, for example- unless you seriously wanted attention.  Additionally, you should match patterns with solids and solids with patterns- if both your socks and your pants have a pattern, the effect will be too busy.

That said, use your dress socks for a flash of color in a normally sober outfit, like a colorful dress shirt.  In fact, if you choose, you can match your socks with your dress shirt- consider wearing pink socks with a charcoal gray suit and a pink Bengal stripe dress shirt underneath.  Play with complimentary colors, if you can: if you’re wearing a navy suit, try some orange socks.  Of course, if it’s summer and you’re wearing a white or khaki suit, all bets are off- be as colorful as you like.  Use your socks as a palette no less than the rest of your wardrobe, because every part of your body can act as a tool of expression.  You should be an individual from head to toe.

Plaid: Royal Stewart Tartan

Plaid seems to become an especially appropriate pattern, not just for the holidays.  Albeit, something about the mix of colors crossing over a dominant background seems particularly festive.  Tartans came into being as the descendants of regional patterns marking out the various locales of ancient Scotland.  Over time, they grew associated with the Scottish clans, to the point that most of the major clans had one or several tartans to its name.  The Royal Stewart Tartan, as its name suggests, was the tartan of the House of Stewart, and reached significant heights as a symbol of power in unison with its famous bearers.

The House of Stewart rose to prominence at the end of the 13th Century, when it secured peace with England through a marriage union with the House of Tudor, thus claiming an inheritance with the English throne.  The line produced a number of kings, many that ruled both England and Scotland; however, the Stewarts also presided over the famous interruption in the English monarchy, when the Republicans under Oliver Cromwell tried and beheaded King Charles I.  The House became extinct in 1807, but it left its legacy upon Great Britain- and ensured the popularity of its personal tartan.

The Royal Stewart tartan is extremely popular, especially around Christmastime, and it’s not hard to see why.  With a red background overlaid by wefts and warps of black, white, blue, and dark green, it has the colors of the Christmas season, from red bows to dark trees to twinkling blue lights. Nonetheless,  there are few bold and confident fashionmisters who are not afraid to wear them any time of the year.  It can work as both an accessory and a main piece, as a scarf or a pair of pants or sometimes even a sport coat.  As it is a very bold pattern, its companion pieces should be paired down, so look for pants in brown or gray, shirts in white or light blue, coats in gray or black.  This royal regalia speaks loudly enough on its own- it doesn’t need to be amplified.

The pocket square: A significant piece for every man.

How can this little piece of fabric shoved into a pocket be one of the hottest trends for the FashionMR today?  Men have discovered that monotony is over. The proof is the numbers… According to the latest addition of WWD Men’s Week that came out on February 13th of this year, “Men are investing in themselves and their personal style more than ever, and are focused on how they are expressing themselves” (Brown p.1). Juxtaposing women’s and men’s apparel sales, The NPD Group Inc. claims though still a smaller slice of the industry men’s picked up steam and jumped 5.3% or $59.5 billion in sales last year.

The pocket square is a significant piece going into the everyday wardrobe. Just like socks, it can add a little flair, a little playfulness and attitude to a solid basic suit. GQ has said, “The littlest things make the biggest difference” (2013 p. 1). I get asked a lot how do I wear a pocket square, how can I match it to what I’m wearing? My rule of thumb and what I tell everyone that asks is that there is no correct way. For example if you’re wearing a solid colored dress shirt with a striped tie… it may be nice to offset it with a floral or paisley pocket square.  If the tie has blue and grey in it, choose a pocket square that draws out one of those two colors.  The possible combinations are endless and that’s what makes fashion so enjoyable; one day something is relevant and the next day it gets modified to something bigger and better.

 

Photo Credit: GQ.com

Photo Credit: GQ.com

Brown, Rachel. (Febraury 13th 2014).Print. Men’s Week.  WWD.

GQ.. (May 2013). GQ Style.  http://www.gq.com/style/wear-it-now/201305/the-gq-guide-to-pocket-squares#slide=6

 

Dyed Denim: Beyond Blue Jeans

The designer denim craze that has so gripped the world of fashion has transformed the way we think of jeans.  What used to be workwear has been dressed up, shaped up, prettied up, and thrust into the spotlight as a wardrobe staple on par with the navy blazer- indeed, jeans and a blazer are now recognized as an excellent evening staple, a state that used to be considered heresy.  In the rush to upscale blue jeans, however, there is one option that is sometimes overlooked: who said jeans have to be blue?

Denim can take on many garment dyes; indeed, as cotton, it is highly suitable to a broad range of colors.  We therefore recommend that you go beyond blue.  An easy way to start is with a pair of white jeans, a great substitute for white chinos in the Spring and Summer.  If you don’t want stark white, consider an off-white pair like the ‘wheat’ color sold by J. Crew.

There’s more to dyed denim than white, however.  Denim most enjoys dyes of bold, dark colors, such as black, gray, and even burgundy.  At the same time, it can take the lighter shades, such as the aforementioned white and even khaki or stone.  If you have the resources, don’t hesitate to experiment with different colors of denim.  Treat these jeans like a pair of colored chinos or corduroys, but with the added edge of their rough exterior.  Pair them with a scratchy tweed sport coat, a marled sweater, and some desert boots, and you have the perfect outfit to spend a night out on the town with.  Or you can go hiking, if you feel so inclined.  You are wearing jeans.

Fair Isle Sweaters

Certain items of clothing rise imperceptibly through the public consciousness, taking hold of our sartorial awareness so subtly that we do not notice them until they are suddenly everywhere.  Then there are pieces whose popularity can be traced to a single moment in time, to a place and a person that defined the item and bestowed it upon the rest of us prepackaged.  The Fair Isle sweater is undeniably the latter.  Its place in the menswear canon is due almost wholly to its popularity with one of history’s most famous clotheshorses: King Edward VIII of England, who has gone down in history as the Prince of Wales.  All through his life, the Prince was a stylistic adventurer, eschewing the staid conventions of the upper class and embracing a wardrobe built around comfort, boldness, and sporting character.

The Prince made a sensation out of the Fair Isle sweater, whose name comes from its origin on  Fair Isle, one of the Shetland Islands off the coast of Scotland.  The people of Fair Isle have long sense perfected a knitting technique in which different colors of wool are woven together to form rows of patterns, with no more than two colors per row, and no more than five colors in the entire garment.  Technically, a Fair Isle sweater employs only the traditional patterns of knitting from Fair Isle itself.  However, the great popularity of the Fair Isle style of knitting has made a trademark of the name, and today sweaters from all over the world of menswear are dubbed ‘Fair Isle,’ whatever their origins or design.

If you wish to have the genuine article, however, you must seek out a sweater with the brilliant colors and wild patterns of traditional Fair Isle knitting.  If you can find one from Fair Isle itself, so much the better.  For a more fashion-forward look, seek out a sweater in unorthodox patterns and colors, and pair it with a ground of gray pants and a tweed sport coat.  The Prince would applaud your daring.

The Desert Boot are ankle-high boots, allowing greater freedom of motion for the foot…

Shoes that have utility are always prized in menswear over shoes that do not.  Most recently the trend has been toward work boots, even in situations that call for more formal shoes.  We like our footwear to have a sense of purpose; however, we also like to show off when we get the chance.  A popular combination of these two impulses over the past few years has been the desert boot, which is still riding high as a shoe of choice for the  many stylish gentlemen, the fashionmister.  The reason it endures is that it serves a purpose while still looking distinctive.  It is utilitarian while still possessing dramatic flare.

Desert boots are ankle-high boots, allowing greater freedom of motion for the foot than would be had in a calf-high boot.  They also offer less protection than a calf-high boot, which is understandable given their origins.  Clark, the American shoe company, first introduced the desert boot to the public in 1950, and as their name suggests they were inspired by the boots worn by British soldiers in the Egyptian desert during World War II.  They are distinguished by their suede leather exterior, as well as their soles: they have soles of rubber that are mostly flat, but are wrinkled and rumpled along their expanse, and so they are called crepe soles.  Classically, desert boots come in light tan, to better blend with the sand, but these days they can be found in almost every color: brown, black, navy, white, sometimes even red or yellow.

We recommend that the desert boots you wear be in a classic color, at least so long as they are your first pair.  Experimentation can come later; what a FashionMR should be focused on initially is quality and classic styling.  As they are the shoe’s inventor, Clark is still the go-to company for desert boots, such desert boots are sometimes called ‘Clarks.’  However, you can find other models from esteemed companies, such as Mark McNairy New Amsterdam, Opening Ceremony, and Grenson.  Find a pair in classic tan and wear them casually, with blue jeans or chinos and a crewneck sweater on top.  They make good accompaniments to a leather jacket and even a more woodsy sport coat, something in tweed.  This is one trend you should have no fear of joining.

Style Experiment: the Double-Breasted Cardigan

When the world becomes too predictable, when your options become too easy, it’s time to crank up the Difficulty setting.  FashionMisters shouldn’t be cautious if they’ve built their wardrobe well- if you have the basics down pat, if you’re doing well with your color mixing and your pattern matching, you shouldn’t be afraid to throw something into the mix that makes people stop and look.  Enter the double-breasted cardigan, a stylish exclamation point to a winter wardrobe.

Simple enough: the double-breasted cardigan is a sweater that fastens across the middle like a double-breasted jacket or coat.  Like a double-breasted sport coat, it buttons at one side as one breast folds over another, and two sets of buttons run down the front.  Unlike a typical double-breasted blazer, double-breasted cardigans are often capable of buttoning all the way up, their buttons functional and able to lock in the warmth generated by their cozy knitting.  They’ve been seen with a variety of collars, from a polo collar to a shawl collar to a simple flat collar.  It is a newer item, gradually emerging in the past few years, but of course drawing inspiration from the rise of double-breasted suits on the runways.  It has grown into a luxury item, and as such, it is made of high-quality fabrics like merino wool, cashmere, and lambswool.

As mentioned before, the double-breasted cardigan is a statement piece.  It is still fairly uncommon, so if you wear it, prepare to be noticed.  That said, don’t go overboard.  Treat it like a normal cardigan and wear it as part of a smart casual ensemble.  A pair of corduroy pants wouldn’t be out of place, though the greater formality brought on by double breasts means you could wear wool pants as well.  We would recommend some kind of collared shirt underneath, whether this is a true dress shirt or a flannel shirt for extra warmth.  It’s a perfect solution to the question of home entertainment wear, and if you’re lucky enough to snag one this holiday season, we suggest you not be shy.

The Cutaway Collar

The clothing tastes of the American man have gradually drifted toward more Continental sensibilities, with a European focus on more adventurous color and styling.  Tailoring has also shifted, with a greater emphasis on close fits and flattering cuts.  In these two respects, American tastes in dress shirt collars have multiplied beyond the simple button-down collar, and a greater variety is now available.  We would encourage the FashionMR to take advantage of this new opportunity; in particular, one experiment worth conducting is to wear a shirt with a cutaway collar.  Once almost unseen on our side of the Atlantic, the cutaway collar has gradually crept into some of the more fashion-forward clothing labels currently available, and if you are feeling daring, we certainly encourage you to take a shot at it.

A cutaway collar, as its name implies, sweeps away from the center of the shirt in dramatic fashion.  It is even more spread than a spread collar, so drastically pulled away that it actually bends backwards, exposing a great deal of the neck to public view.  Its daring nature lends it best to power dressing, so cutaway collars are often found on dress shirts of considerable quality in fabric and construction.  A cutaway collar may be some extra insurance that the shirt you are purchasing is of fine quality, though of course you should do your research first.  A FashionMR should start pushing the boundaries of dress with caution, especially if he is new to this realm of style.  Paul Stuart sells several cutaway collar shirts through their youthful Phineas Cole label; that is the ideal place to start.

Two things should be noted about the cutaway collar.  First, the amount of space it leaves exposed at the neck means it takes a substantial tie knot.  We recommend a half-Windsor or even a full Windsor knot to give your tie the appropriate heft.  Finally, though you should certainly experiment with cutaway collars, know that you may not like it, at least not at first.  Shirt collars have classically been matched to the size of the wearer’s face, to best achieve the appearance of a squared and powerful jaw.  The general rule has long been that the narrower a man’s face, the wider his collar should spread.  If you have a broad jawline already, a cutaway collar may exaggerate it in ways you will not like.  Therefore, a FashionMR should, as we said, proceed cautiously.  There’s no need to get in a rush.