Friday, August 28, 2009

Always List - Watch

Watch - an everyday time piece is essential to a grown man's wardrobe, and no your cellphone will not work. The kind of watch that you should look for is a durable, well made watch and if you have the cash make it one that will last 30+ years. An everyday watch needs to be able to make the transition from a suit to jeans to a casual Saturday to a date. This is the kind of watch Steve McQueen, JFK or Frank Sinatra would have worn. A classic elegant time piece that has enough bulk to be noticeable, but not so much bulk as to look awkward.

Rolex Submariner - ~$2,000
Rolex Oyster Perpetual - ~$6,000
Tag Heuer Aquaracer - ~$1,500
Omega Speedster Automatic - ~$3,000
Oris Automatic - ~$800
Bulova Marine Star - $250
Breitling Colt Automatic - $2,200
Cartier Santos - $3,000

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Always List - Boots

Every guy needs a pair of boots, a good pair of who-gives-a-damn-boots. The kind of boots that only look better the more wear and tear, or "character" they gain. The best boots can not be bought distressed but instead must earn the scrapes, scars and patina. Whether it be from riding on the chopper, doing yard work, or going to the bar, shit kicker boots are like a fine wine and a well dressed man, they only get better with time. A good pair of boots remind me of Marv, Mickey Rourke's character in Sin City, scars upon scars and each scar only improves his appearance. The kind of boots you need to feel comfortable saying, "This is blood for blood and by the gallon. These are the old days, the bad days, the all-or-nothing days. They're back! There's no choice left. And I'm ready for war." As Marv would tell you.

Frye Boots, Rogan Engineer 8 inch boots will work. Made well, classic style, good silhouette (sleek and full bodied), wooden heel with a rubber sole, rounded toe, high quality leather, no zipper. These boots can go from the board room to the bar to the motorcycle with ease.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Always List - Oxford Shirt

Sometimes in fashion we forget to praise the simple and classic. So often the focus and praise falls on the new, the flashy and even the odd. During the summer fashion shows a lot of articles praised Gucci for turning dress slacks into cutoff shorts, because they were a new idea; despite the look being so ugly and impractical that no one would wear them outside of a few fashion designers and label whores. Instead there should be an endless slew of articles about the practical, simple garments that fill our closets and actually get worn on a daily basis. Fashion writers should filter their approval and disapproval through a net of reality. Would anyone actually wear this crap? Will they wear it more than once? Will it be a mainstay in anyone’s closet for more than one soon to be forgotten season?

It is time we praise the mainstays of fashion, the essential clothing that no matter the trends are still worn; the pieces that we never fear may be out of style. We all love the simplest of pleasures in fashion, the articles of clothing that you can proudly call your favorite, not because they are trendy, but instead because they have earned that right after the 150th wash. Your favorite shirt was worn when you landed the job, met the girl, saw your team win the pennant, you beat your buddy in pool and won the wing eating contest. The favorites in any closet are always in style, are well made and will be still be made when you need a replacement, if you ever need a replacement. These items are on the “Always List” of fashion.

The Always List mainstay: the Oxford Shirt -

Every man has at least one Oxford shirt in his closet and most men have multiple oxfords. Hopefully, in your closet there are multiple oxfords in varying degrees of wear and tear.

  • The Dressy Oxford: Worn as a staple to the office because it goes with anything. This one is crisply ironed and fits like a champ. It is the nicest oxford in the closet and will go with a suit and tie as well as it does with a deconstructed blue blazer. The Dressy Oxford can be found at Ralph Lauren or Brooks Brother (pictured in order). The later has a great non-iron blue Oxford that can be worn for any occasion.

  • The Favorite Oxford: It has been washed so many times it certainly doesn’t have the same crispness it once did, but who needs crisp when you have comfort. It is the go-to-shirt when you need to have a button down shirt, yet you don’t know what else to wear. It’s perfect under a sweater for big date and always looks good under a jacket. It is also at home paired with a tie. At this point it prefers chinos or jeans, but don’t count it out with slacks. Basically it is a refined but slightly casual look., J Press & Ben Silver (pictured in that order) are the best Oxfords that after about 10 washes will be your favorite.

  • The Casual One: The oxford that has been washed and worn so many times it is slightly frayed at the collar cuffs and buttons, but due to the hefty fabric is still in quite good condition. As you wear your favorite more, it will get to this state. Until then J Crew and Gap (once again, in that order) provide options for those of us that lack patience. This Oxford is still a staple for a night out to the local bar or for errands on a Saturdays. It should be more important for any grown man's fashion rotation then a t-shirt, we are beyond the college humor shirts, or at least we should pretend we are. This is a great comprise, it is just as comfy, it will fit in on any Eastern campus and it adds refinement to the college humor shirt when it is layered over it.
A good oxford is like a favorite pair jeans or your go-to-boots. They only get better with time. It just might be the most versatile shirt in your closet and endorsed by the coolest guys, including Paul Newman. It is easy to make it your own, just wash it.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Raw Denim - A.P.C. Jeans

A.P.C. is a french company that actually sells something worth talking about, raw denim jeans. Raw denim jeans are completely unwashed and untreated denim. The denim is like a blank canvas awaiting your masterpiece of style. The more you wear the jeans the more they get broken in, distressed, faded and become a secondary skin. A.P.C. by all regards make the best raw denim around. You can certainly find other companies, like Nudie & G-Star, that make good raw denim jeans, but judging by the pictures above I will stick with A.P.C.

Even though you aren't supposed to wash A.P.C. Jeans for a year (minimum of 6 months). During that time you are supposed to just wear them. Letting the denim breathe, distress and mold to your body. Raw Denim jeans are supposed to be bought a size too small and then as you wear them they will gain an inch in the waist. At first they are very stiff and uncomfortable, but over time they will break-in and easier to wear. Eventually they will be the softest, most comfortable pair of jeans, but you have to have patience to get there and ignore the fact that they need to be washed. I only wish that I had found these jeans in college, then I would have had an excuse not to wash them and a pair of jeans that were so uniquely broken in. I also want to hire someone with exact body type to break them in for me (but I guess that would take away part of the fun).

In the picture above you can see the brand new pair of A.P.C. jeans next to a pair that has been broken in for a year. I think the look is very cool and natural looking, unlike so many pair of "distressed" or "destroyed" jeans that are sold today.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Espadrilles - The perfect summer shoe

Espadrilles, as they are called, are one of the best lounging around summer shoes. They are classic, dating back decades, they are comfortable, they are stylish and they are not trendy, all perfect reasons to pick up a pair. Also, they are cheap (check out

Tom's has the best in the world. They are not super authentic from Tom's but they will last and they come in great colors. Tom's Shoes also donates one pair of shoes to the needy in third world countries when you buy a pair, so you at least you know you've put shoes on someone's feet. The crunchy granola liberal in me likes companies that help out others.

I prefer white, navy or red, but some of the bright color combination are great. Espadrilles are a perfect alternative to Converse Chuck Taylors or Jack Purcells. As good as the mainstays are, we need alternatives or else life would be way too boring.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fashion Rules

Do you know the fashion rules?

You have to be aware of the fashion dos and don'ts to properly break them, or else you risk looking like idiot. Ever talk the law with a career criminal? Trust me they know the law better than a lawyer does. A style expert, or just a well dressed man, has to be the same way, the laws of fashion need to be second nature to him.

The Rules: Abridged version

White is only acceptable between Memorial Day and Labor Day, which has been expanded to include Easter, thankfully.
  • Never wear linen in the winter and tweed in the summer.
  • Always match the color of your belt and your shoes, unless it is a web belt.
  • Wear a conservative tie and suit to a job interview.
  • Don't wear pleats EVER, plain front pants only.
  • Wear a dark tie with a tan suit.
  • Patent leather shoes are for black tie affairs only.
  • For Formal events wear Oxfords not Bluchers. Bluchers are a casual shoes masquerading as a formal shoe.
  • Go with a Four-in-Hand knot, instead of the stuffy Full Windsor (By the way, those might be the most boring videos of all time, good sleeping material).
  • The tie is supposed to reach your belt, not above or below it.
  • A button-down collared shirt is an informal shirt or sport shirt. A point collar is a formal shirt.
  • A blazer is less formal than a suit, but is still appropriate with a tie.
  • On a two button suit - button the top button and not the bottom button. On a three button suit - only button the middle button. On a double breasted suit - Keep the top button buttoned, never button the bottom one.
  • Do crease your suit slacks, don't crease your chinos or jeans.
  • A hat is to be worn outside and inside only until you sit down... And never inside in the presence of a lady (this is a really old school rule).
These go on and on and on.

Do you know the rules?

If not keep reading this blog for the modern day tips and read a suitable wardrobe and blogs like it for the classic rules of dress. Learn them, get familiar with them, and then break them. Its a valuable lesson and one that will save you embarrassment in the future and allow you to confidently know that the rule you are breaking that day is damn cool (and all your own).

Suit: Double Breasted Suit - Proper Buttoning Technique

Double Breasted suits are back, whether you are a fan or not. Personally, I don't like the look, but some men feel great in them and they fit their personal style. If you are going to wear a Double Breasted suit, two rules: Slim Fit & Top Button Only.

Slim Fit - the most important thing is the shoulders. Minimal shoulder pads is key. The shoulder pads should look natural and contour with the arm. Avoid bulky shoulder pads or pads that extend past your natural shoulder. It is a suit for work, not for playing football with Brett Favre.

Slim Fit also goes to the overall fit. It should be snug on your torso, not tight but snug. It should have slimmer arms and legs. Once again you don't want a tappered skinny pant look but instead a slim fit straight leg look. A double breasted suit is a big suit with an over powering look, minimize your profile with a slim cut. Otherwise you will look like a 'roided up power hitter.

Top Button Only - only button the top button, the bottom button is for show. Make sure that you keep the top and inside buttons done at all times, but the bottom button needs to be undone so that you minimize the conservative, over powering look and make it more modern. Remember this suit is very classic and very conservative, you need to keep it modern in fit and style and buttoning technique.

Also, save the double breasted suit for the important business meetings with conservative clients and power brokers. Use the single breasted (two or three button) suits for everyday wear.

Never ever ever, did I say ever, wear the double breasted jacket without the suit pants. It needs to always be a suit, never worn with jeans and never with different colored slacks. It is not as versatile as the single breasted suit which can be worn with jeans or different colored slacks. The double breasted is only used as a suit. Buy your single breasted in all the important colors before buying a double breasted.

Suit: Three Button Suit - Proper Buttoning Technique

When wearing a three button suit it is important that you only button the middle button. This will allow the jacket to create an X shape in the front with the top button folding over creating a longer lapel and the bottom opening up to reveal the shirt and tie. When only the middle button is done and this X shape is not seen, then the jacket does not have the right fit and is need of tailoring.

Proper Tailoring is always crucial with a good suit, but especially with a three button suit. Remember, never ever use the top and bottom buttons, leave them for the unfashionable. The suits above have the proper buttoning and fit.

Suit: Two Button Suit - Proper Buttoning Technique

The popular style right now, and for good reason, is the two button suit. It is a modern cut with its roots in classic style. It allows for more shirt and tie to be shown, which makes men look taller and slimmer. It also is the style suit that our President prefers and is definitely a good thing, the man knows how to dress.

He always buttons his jackets correctly, top button only. And because he has perfectly tailored suits that always means you can see a little bit of the tie under the button. This is a classic look and one I try to emulate.

I also like that President Obama never has a tie that is too perfectly tied. The dimple is always a little off center. He also wear plain front pants with his suit, a great touch for a man in as good of shape as President Obama. Considering he is the leader of the free world I appreciate that he shows as much artful dishevelment and modern style as is appropriate for a man in his position.

Remember, keep the top button done, the bottom one left open.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Whether you want to call it nonchalant, unstudied, carefree, artful dishevelment, sartorial rebellion, or sprezzatura, the concept is the same: men’s outfits should never look too perfect. An outfit should rely on the tailoring and fit rather than an obviously studied presentation of colors and fabrics and patterns. Does this mean that style should not follow rules, classic idioms and social norms? No, it is important that the rules are known, understood, internalized and most of the time followed. Dressing with the confines of societal norms is necessary, especially at events that call for it. Wear a shirt, jeans and Chuck Taylors to a job interview and you most likely won’t get the job. Wear a tuxedo to the office and you will be laughed out of the building. Wear a conservative suit and tie combination on a first date and you will come off as stodgy and boring. Wear a white linen suit to a Christmas party and you will forever be remembered as “that guy”.

At the same point, if you always make sure that your pocket square matches your tie exactly, your shirt is extra starched and no fashion rule is ever broken, then your wardrobe will make you seem like an un-original try-hard who is downright unapproachable. But if you break some rules and make your style nonchalant, cool and modern, you will come off as a cool and hip guy with a great sense of style. After all we are men and part of our charm is our idiosyncrasies. Ask any married woman why she really loves her husband and you will get a list of things he does wrong that she loves about him, a list of enduring faults that he has and will be able to change. Our charm comes from our lack of perfection, so should our style reflect our own lack of perfection? I certainly can embrace imperfection as an asset and can flaunt it in my personal style. But how can I accomplish this without looking like uncoordinated style misfit?

First, let’s understand what sprezzatura means and where it comes from. Sprezzatura, is a term that originates from Baldassare Castiglione’s The Book of the Courtier. It is defined as “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.” Otherwise defined as "Artful Dishevelment". When I think of the embodiment of sprezzatura, I think of Columbo, the TV show from the 1970s. Not for his dress (even though it was very sprezzatura), but instead his carefree, nonchalant demeanor that had a distinct and measured purpose. Columbo would catch people off guard with his hap-hazard demeanor and yet was calculating using his nonchalance as an asset. That is my goal with fashion, to be studied, measured and calculated in what I wear but make it look effortless, carefree and artfully disheveled. It takes a lot of planning to look unstudied.

Varying Degrees of Sprezzatura –

Since style changes based on the occasion this has a wide range of implementations and execution depending on what, where and when of the outfit is worn. An interview, a date and a normal day at the office all call for a different style and level of formality. This also calls for a different level of carefree dishevelment that is portrayed in the outfit.

For a formal and proper occasion, like a black tie event, the outfit’s carefree nature should be in the subtle details. An informal patterned pocket square, a cuff link missing a loop, a tie or bow tie that is tied just slightly crooked, an un-buttoned surgeon’s cuff button, an informal bracelet or two worn with a watch, an antique watch with a leather band with a natural patina, a red carnation in the lapel (instead of a more formal corsage), unusual or brightly colored socks, or an older belt with natural subtle distressing. Implementing one or two of these elements will provide the outfit with subtle sprezzatura while still allowing the wearer to fit into the event without looking out of place, or badly dressed.

For less formal events and occasions the same techniques as above can be implemented, as well as more overt and bold sprezzatura. This is where personal style comes into play. For some a hap-hazard ironing job and a twisted tie are extremely disheveled, while for others these are just the standard implementation of daily sprezzatura. While one man can pull off red driving shoes with jeans and a white linen coat, another man would not feel comfortable and confident in the outfit. Some men feel that wearing jeans at all is wildly rebellious, while another man may need to wear tattered and distressed jeans to reach the same level of sartorial contradiction, considering his personal style. Sprezzatura is the broken and bended rules in a man’s outfit, idiosyncrasies of his personal fashion.

As you will see with the experts of sprezzatura, each man’s implementation is filtered through his own style lens. It is personalized and distinct to his own set of fashion rules and acceptable gray areas. Lapo Elkann and Luca Rubinacci, for example, have bolder and more extreme implementations of sprezzatura then Gianni Agnelli. Yet, all three of these style icons, have their own unique version of sprezzatura that would not work for another man. Rubinacci’s bright blue slacks do not work for Elkann or Agnelli. But then Agnelli’s watch worn over his cuff would look wrong on Rubinacci or Elkann’s wrist. Take a look at how these men implement sprezzatura, personalize it and make it their own. What is your sprezzatura technique? I would love to hear your personalization.

Sprezzatura Fashion -

Gianni Agnelli – the Godfather of modern sprezzatura. He dressed off kilter because he wanted to put people at ease, not because it was cool or "in fashion".

Lapo Elkann – the son of the Godfather of modern sprezzatura. He took sprezzatura to a whole new level.

Sid Mashburn – one of GQ's Ten Most Stylish Men in America. His style is a perfect mix of Southern charm and Italian sprezzatura.

Michael Bastian – classic lines and slick fashion with a subtle sprezzatura. He gives classic American style an edge.

Luca Rubinacci – no one does modern day Italian sprezzatura better. He reinvents style everytime he wears an outfit. A brilliant mix of extreme sprezzatura and Italian tailoring.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Fall Essentials - Shawl Collar Sweater

Retro is back in fashion and that is certainly evident with shawl collar sweaters. I am still a little undecided if I love or ate the look, but it is certainly something different, which is always needed in men's fashion. Plus, shawl collars were popularized by Steve McQueen and Paul Newman, who can doubt their style?

Rugby Shawl Collar Cardigan - in the picture aboove

Rugby College Stripe Shawl Collar Sweater

Woolrich Shawl Collar Cardigan

Woolrich Shawl Collar Sweater

Rugby Shawl Collar Cardigan

Ralph Lauren Cable Knit Shawl Collar Sweater

J Crew Shawl Collar Sweater

J Crew Shawl Collar Cardigan

Hugo Boss Shawl Collar Double Breasted Cardigan

Hugo Boss Shawl Collar Sweater

Hickey Shawl Collar Sweater