Category Archives: Fashion

Valentino – Men’s Paris Fall/Winter 2014/15

This is what the gentleman wears. Their interpretation of formal and professional attire is outlined in this season’s collection. Taking otherwise basic clothing and designing various patterns and prints to form a more casual look is what formal is becoming nowadays. Take a two piece suit, use the jacket to pair with jeans and you have a casual night time look. In Valentino’s case, take a cream colored pea coat and remove the buttons to get their new casual pea coat. Works the same way for warmth on a non-windy day but now it just looks and feels more relaxed and casual. The same goes for their navy and gray rugby striped design. It’s almost like an accessory to your everyday clothes. Providing the look of a pea coat, half the functionality and double the casualness. The sense of color is never lost even on a gentleman.

Wearing a wool burgundy two piece suit is always as classy in a professional setting as it is relaxed away from the cubicle. A little more risqué is their two piece camouflage herringbone wool suit, whereas as original as it is there has to be no fine line for a dress code to be able to pull this off. But once it’s on the cameras will not only find you but you will be looking for them as well. Herringbone patterns were a staple in this collection. Used in everything from suits to coats and even as partial designs in combinations on various pea coats. Going from relaxed to formal and back to relaxed was the route of this collection with basic duffle coats in cream and blue colors. Gray and cream pea coats that had owl and hawk prints starting with the wings on the sides and the body of the bird stretching to the back of the coat and if there was no design print then the there was a varied type of vent on the jackets back ranging in size from waist high to a full shoulder height vent that almost separated the coat and made it a formal cape. Valentino is all about the luxury materials and designs and nothing says that more than the use of purple leather in a double breasted pea coat. With shoulder epaulets, a button appliqued chest flap, belt buckle wrist epaulets and to finish off the look gray wool lapels with the purple leather collar and a rear horizontal shoulder vent. The most formal and yet casual collection comes from one of the top designers. If casual Couture is the new “it” then “it” is already here.

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.

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.

Pattern Watch: Black Watch Tartan

Plaid always seems more appropriate, any season.  However, something about the coming cold of Winter blended with the festive brightness of the Christmas season makes us reach more readily for the tartans of the many districts and regions of Scotland.  Plaid looks good on most men, and it opens up lots of opportunities for color mixing.  He should be willing to push the boundaries, however.  Instead of reaching for the very red, and very common, Royal Stewart tartan, he should consider Black Watch, the other great holiday choice, and the more subdued one at that.

Black Watch tartan takes its name from one of Scotland’s most legendary fighting units, the Black Watch Royal Highland Regiment.  Officially founded in 1881, the Black Watch as a tradition stretches back further, to the 42nd Royal Highland Regiment of the Foot that served with such distinction throughout the 18th and 19th Centuries defending the Commonwealth from threats foreign and domestic.  Their name came in part from their original role as the ‘watch’ of the Scottish Highlands, and came also from the distinct tartan they were issued by the Scottish government.  Woven from wool, the pattern adorned kilts, sweaters, bagpipes- and still does to this day, in the Black Watch’s modern incarnation as the 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland.  It consists of a dark green warp and weft woven in crossing over a background of dark blue, with lines of black criss-crossing the united tartan.

The dark colors of Black Watch make it particularly suited for Winter dress, and especially for Winter dress in the evenings.  It can be used as a substitute for black in dinner suit ensembles, appearing in jackets, cummerbunds, or bowties.  Slightly more casually, it is a popular pattern for sport coats, playing well against charcoal gray trousers or dark jeans.  We would give the FashionMR some caution: a little Black Watch goes a long way.  Don’t be afraid of it, but treat it with the respect it is owed.  Don’t go overboard.  A single jacket, one pair of pants, a matching cummerbund and bowtie should be enough for a whole outfit.  You’ll be the talk of your holiday party.

Color Study: Orange

Today we’ll look at the color orange, a worthy addition to any FashionMR’s wardrobe, particularly in this time of year.

Orange is a warm color, but not a hot one.  It is the color of the rising and the setting sun, but not the sun at noon.  It doesn’t make us wince away in its brilliance as yellow does; rather, orange is an inviting warmth, drawing us closer, making us slow down and bask in the comforting heat.  Orange lacks the immediacy of red.  It is a complex color, a considerate color, requiring more study than its other warm shades.  Yet orange is still bright, and still sturdy.  Its harmony with the falling leaves makes it suited for the outdoors, giving it a rustic, sporting aesthetic.  Anyone who has hunted quail will connect orange with the reflective vests used to identify hunters in the field.  Like them, a FashionMR who wears orange will be noticed without fail, and the scrutiny he will endure means the piece he chooses must be able to stand up to careful examination.

Orange is not a color that should dominate a wardrobe.  It is so sturdy and bright that a single item of it in an ensemble is enough to capture attention.  We suggest picking a piece that you feel comfortable showing off.  A sweater is an easy choice: wear an orange sweater under your navy blazer with brown pants for an ideal Autumn wardrobe.  It will make you appear warm and confident in the cold days to come.  On the other hand, you can go the Ivy League route and wear orange trousers.  Pair them with a gray tweed sport coat and a white shirt and you’ll be the toast of any party.  If you feel uncomfortable sporting orange in such a broad fashion, you can even wear something simpler.  An orange necktie will look good, particularly with blue, its complimentary color.  Hurry, though- Fall will be over before you know it.

Essentially English: J Barbour and Sons

In  another  installment of our look at classic men’s clothiers, we turn to England, arguably the foundation of modern fine dress.  It was the English, and then the British in full, who introduced modern business dress, and they in turn pioneered ‘country’ style, bringing us such wardrobe staples as tweed, brogues, and the odd vest.  This country aesthetic is maintained by a number of English companies still in business today.  Few are more iconic, and none remain more eminently practical, than Barbour, makers of outerwear and coats for more than 110 years.

J Barbour and Sons began as a small shop in the city of South Shields, England, founded, as you might guess, by one John Barbour and his sons Jack and Malcolm.  They began as sellers of oilcloth, but they quickly branched out into jackets, coats, and other outerwear, crafted from the very same cloth that was sold at their founding.  In the 1930’s, Duncan Barbour devised garments for motorcycle racers, being a keen motorcyclist himself, and these were worn by every British international team for the next forty years.  During World War II, as Duncan served in the British Army, Malcolm Barbour and Duncan’s wife Nancy devised the Ursula suit, a waterproof garment designed for submarine crews.  In the aftermath of the war, Barbour enjoyed extensive popularity that has endured to this day; Barbour has maintained this cachet by collaborating with contemporary designers, such as Tokihito Yoshida and Alice Temperley.  In its long history, Barbour has been awarded royal warrants, and currently holds three: one from the Queen, one from the Prince of Wales, and one from the Duke of Edinburgh.

Barbour has remained devotedly contemporary by evolving with the times, serving the needs and tastes of the public as they have changed.  However, their core products have remained the same, yet in this too they are successful, because Barbour’s classic products will never go out of style.  They remain relevant because they are, arguably, the best.  No jacket endures punishment like a waxed-cotton Barbour, which has made them the favorite of country lords and deer hunters alike.  This practicality brings with it a cachet that has endured the test of time, and will continue to  make Barbour relevant for long years to come.