The minimalism challenge

minimalism The minimalism challenge

Source: Mint

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I actually take New Year’s Resolutions fairly seriously. Unlike a lot of folks who say they’re going to go to the gym more, end up going a couple times in January then never go again, I make sure to keep at my goals consistently, and make them measurable in the case that I find myself slacking at any given time of the year.

For example, in 2011, though my resolution was incredibly superficial and ridiculous, I decided I wanted a six pack for the first time in my life. Yes, six pack abs, I know it’s stupid. Either way, around mid October that year, I found that I wasn’t any closer to my goal than I was in January.

I realized that it was because I was working out, but not really changing my diet, which is ultimately the most important part of it all. As a result, I stopped drinking alcohol completely for a month. Somehow lost 8 lbs. Yeah, no joke, and I don’t even drink all that much on a normal basis.

Then in November and December, every time I ate out, I packed home 1/3 of it to go. Didn’t matter how hungry I was, 1/3 of the plate was going to be boxed up. Helped me lose another 6-7 lbs. Sadly, I still didn’t end up getting a fully visible six pack at the end of the year, but I was happy to be keeping up with my goal for the full 12 months.

In 2012, it was all about drinking at least 8 cups of a water a day. I think I ended up going to the bathroom more than all my coworkers combined that year, but I succeeded for the most part, and still to this day have kept up the habit of drinking water as much as possible throughout the day.

minimalism 2 The minimalism challenge

Source: Vanseo

This year, the #1 resolution I have is to become more of a minimalist. A secondary goal is to write this blog more often, but let’s focus on the main goal today.

Why minimalism? Well, I’ve found that the money I earn needs to be going towards experiences and not things. I hardly ever regret spending money on experiences, but oftentimes find myself regretting purchases of clothing, furniture, gadgets, or whatever. I also need to feel like I own my things, and not the other way around. Hopefully going minimalist should help in that effort.

I’ve laid out a couple rules for myself during this time, and if you’re brave enough, you should join me. Check ‘em out:

1. Get rid of one thing everyday for the entire year: This is to just shed as much of my unneeded belongings as possible. It will be hard, especially towards the latter part of the year when I’ve gotten rid of so much, but I think it will be a healthy way to own only the essentials. Also, it will feel great to give my possessions to people who would actually use them. Everyone wins.

2. Do not buy anything unless it’s absolutely needed, or replacing something else: Impulse purchases, or sale-based purchases have dominated me for several years. As a result, I am trying not to buy anything unless it is absolutely needed, or replacing something that has worn down so much that it has become unusable. For example, I’m working on replacing a watch, since the other one broke down, so I consider that okay.

3. Experiences, not things. The money I spend on things should instead be going directly to experiences. A nice dining experience, travel, adventure. I know it’ll be worth it in the end, so why not? This also takes a bit of a mental change. Instead of thinking, “oh man I could have bought a puffer jacket for the price of this meal,” I need to look at a puffer jacket and think, “oh man, I could have such a nice meal for the price of this jacket.”

It’ll be hard, especially with having this blog, but I intend to do it. Keep me accountable, and let me know if you guys have had any thoughts of becoming more minimalistic yourself. Honestly, I think it’s healthy, and something that can help free the mind to do more than just care about stuff.

Buzzfeed article: 27 suit rules

enhanced buzz 17771 1388787738 4 Buzzfeed article: 27 suit rules

Source: Buzzfeed

I’ve been so MIA these days, I owe you all an apology. Thanks for continuing to show support though. The good news is that one of my 2014 New Year’s resolutions is to make sure I post more often, which should help shape my ass back up.

Anyhow, today’s topic is about a Buzzfeed article I recently read. Normally, Buzzfeed is a giant time waste for me. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve clicked through to a Buzzfeed article, and spent the next 15 minutes scrolling down ridiculous GIFs for no apparent reason at all.

Well the good news is that they sometimes have some really good tricks and tips, and in this particular article, it’s all about the men’s suit.

Don’t necessarily agree with points #3, #16, and #22, but the list is pretty solid overall.

Click on the above picture or this link to check it out.

It ain’t cheap, but here are a couple quick sales

25critic.span It aint cheap, but here are a couple quick sales

Source: NYTimes

Towards the end of the year, a bunch of giant sales start to show up at some luxury online retailers. The sales are giant because they consist of markdowns somewhere between 50-80%, which is a fantastic thing to see. The problem is that even with these discounts, it’s not easy to go wild and participate in a shopping spree.

Why? Because even at these ridiculously marked down prices, everything is still absurdly expensive. Jacket marked down 80%? Oh, it’s still $1,750. Keychains at 65% off? Ah, but it still breaks the 3 digit mark.

Anyway, the good news is that sometimes, you can still find decent pieces for relatively okay prices. And so, I wanted to mark a couple of them down for you here.

1. Barneys Warehouse. This sale has been going on for quite some time now, but it’s pretty great. Essentially you can take 50% off of anything on the website, and that’s wonderful because everything is already marked down from retail. It is final sale, though, so be careful.

2. SSENSE. This online retailer carries some really awesome luxury brands, and right now, there’s a sale of up to 70% off most of their stuff. Check it out!

3. Paul Smith. These guys are having their annual 50% off sale right now. Love the designs of this brand, and the quality is often pretty great, so check it out. Use coupon code AW13SALEUS to get the discount.

Anyhow, if you’re in the mood to do some high end shopping, these three sales should help you do what you need to do. I’ve already ordered a couple things, despite my wallet telling me not to. Merry Christmas everybody!

 

Essential Outerwear: The Field Jacket

So we’re onto the second installment of the Essential Outerwear series, and today, the spotlight is on the field jacket, or sometimes more broadly called, the utility coat.

fieldedit Essential Outerwear: The Field Jacket

So what in the world is a field jacket? Well I’mma get descriptive on you: field jackets are jackets that are inspired by a type of outerwear design worn by soldiers during World War II, usually characterized by a rugged look made of waxed cotton or some sort of synthetic, donning multiple pockets, and generally in an olive green or khaki color, just like the military men wore it. To see a couple classic field jackets, check out the M65 or M43.

I love field jackets and utility coats, and they’ve become quite popular in recent years. I swear every other person on the street is wearing some sort of olive green canvas jacket, whether guy or girl, old or young. Good news is that this ubiquity has made this jacket a very seamless one to wear in any situation. You can be in casual sweats, and a field jacket won’t look out of place. I’ve also seen the other end of the spectrum where finance folks from London are layering their Barbour jackets over their pinstripe suits. I might add that it’s not a bad look.

If you’re going to get one, I would recommend getting a field jacket/utility coat in a neutral color. Think olive green, khaki, navy blue, black, gray. They look best when they’re a bit distressed or wrinkled, and they should fit well at the shoulder, but it’s not 100% necessary for them to fit too snug. For example, the Barbour Bedale is one of my favorite field jackets, and it’s actually cut in a more classic form to help make sure your movement is unrestricted while you’re hunting that deer, or grappling a bear.

These jackets can also act as great rain coats. If it’s made of waxed cotton, it’s actually meant to be worn in the rain, as the wax keeps the jacket protected from any rain damage. I will have to warn you though, they usually aren’t as warm as wool or puffer coats, and hopefully you didn’t expect them to be. They work well in the winter time, but not in below zero degree weather.

Here are two of my field jackets, one being more classically field-like (the Barbour one), and the other being a little out of the box (the Banana Republic one). I like them both a lot though:

field1 Essential Outerwear: The Field Jacket field2 Essential Outerwear: The Field JacketI love the corduroy detailing on this particular jacket. field3 Essential Outerwear: The Field JacketWear these jackets with a scarf if your neck gets cold. Looks great in my opinion. field5 Essential Outerwear: The Field JacketHere is the most common color that you’ll find a field jacket in. Olive green. field6 Essential Outerwear: The Field JacketThis one has no lack of detailing either. Leather on the collar. field7 Essential Outerwear: The Field Jacket This is actually the jacket that Bond wore in the main battle scene of Skyfall. Couldn’t resist getting it for myself as a result. field8 Essential Outerwear: The Field Jacket

Sweater: J.Crew | Scarf (blue): Todd Snyder x Gap | Scarf (black): Prada

Jeans: Rag & Bone | Jacket (blue) : Banana Republic | Jacket (black): Barbour

Now, I normally say you should spend the extra dollar in getting a piece, but honestly, with field jackets, you can find some great ones for a little less at your mass retailers like Gap or Uniqlo. Penfield also makes some less expensive ones (though they’re going to be more than what you find at Gap or Uniqlo).

In the case that you do want to spend the extra dollar, I’d say look for jackets from Barbour, Filson, or Pendleton, GANT, or Jack Spade, in that order. Nordstrom has a great filter where they show only utility coats, so I’d check that out as well.

Either way, a field jacket / utility coat is a great piece that you’ll own for quite some time, perhaps even for the rest of your life. I recommend getting one sooner rather than later, and wear it throughout the entire year. Love the ones I have, and I don’t regret a single cent in those purchases.

Male Fashion Fit Guide

Recently, I got an email from one of my readers about an infographic him and his team had created just a month or so ago. He essentially compiled tips from some of the most influential fashion posters on Reddit, and put them in one easy-to-read fit guide as seen below.

The tips on here are fairly aligned with my thoughts, so check it out!

MCjWRzI Male Fashion Fit GuideNot bad huh? Some of the tips on here are pretty black/white, but of course we live in a world of gray, so if you feel like tucking your jeans into your boots as a short man, or getting slim accessories when this guide tells you not to, I say go for it.

Merely guidelines to help you out, cheers.

Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

Finally, I’m starting the outerwear series I promised you all a couple weeks ago. First on the agenda… leather jackets.

leather71 1024x681 Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m a huge fan of leather jackets. What’s not to like? They protect you from the wind, feel great to the touch, and of course, make you look incredibly badass.

As a result, over time, leather jackets have basically become my favorite article of clothing. I’ll tell you though, the journey to get there was not easy. I don’t have the most forgiving body type, so leather jackets often looked weird on me. Sleeves would be too long, shoulders would fit awkwardly, and some reason, most jackets gave me the silhouette reminiscent of an NFL linebacker.

Also, the cost of real leather jackets were always prohibitive. If I finally found one that I liked, I usually needed to take a deep breath before looking at the price tag- mainly to prepare for shock. Usually every jacket extended well beyond the $1k mark.

leather13 1024x681 Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

Over time though, I realized two things. First was that it’s not easy to find a leather jacket that fits well. This is largely due to the fact that leather jackets are not easy to alter, so the flexibility of customizing your jacket disappears. The second is that it is well worth it to spend the extra buck for a nice leather jacket, because it will last you for a lifetime.

After understanding these two concepts, I decided to first, be patient with shopping for a leather jacket. The investment would be substantial, so making the right decision was crucial. Second, I needed to suck it up and just be okay with paying the money, knowing that it would be hard to get a decent leather jacket without spending a bit more. Plus, they don’t really go out of style.

As a result, here are the two I ended up with:

leather61 1024x681 Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

leather51 791x1024 Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

leather41 1024x681 Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

leather21 681x1024 Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

leather31 1024x776 Essential Outerwear: The Leather Jacket

 Sunglasses: Ray Ban | Shirt: J.Crew | Jeans: Rag & Bone

Belt: Hugo Boss | Jacket (Black): Theory (similar)

Jacket (Brown): Levi’s Made & Crafted (similar)

So this is an outerwear series in preparation for winter. You may be asking why leather jackets are part of that list. Well, leather jackets are actually appropriate year-round, and winter is no exception. Especially in cities like San Francisco, leather jackets work great during the colder months, especially when paired with a scarf and sweater.

They do well against the wind as they’re not porous, they are great at insulation (depending on the type you get), and the style is not only appropriate, but encouraged during the fall and winter months.

Get one if you have the opportunity, you won’t regret it.

Photo Credit: Chris Eldredge

A warning about Black Friday

Unlike a lot of folks, I’m a huge fan of Black Friday. Thanksgiving has just passed, the air is crisp, the malls are bustling with interesting people… If anything, it’s a wonderful time to people-watch and hang with some friends in a busy environment.

Black Friday Phone Deals A warning about Black Friday

Source: Visitminot

This may also seem like the best time of the year to buy clothing, especially when every single store has a seemingly ridiculous sale going on at the same time. That’s why I’ll see a line out the front door at Macy’s, or an ensuing fight between two middle-aged ladies clutching at a single purse in the Bloomingdale’s line.

However, I do have one warning for you all: Black Friday is usually not the best sale you’ll find all year, or even all season. So before you go to your favorite mall and wait in line for two hours, do some research, and utilize that nifty thing called your computer, to make things a bit easier for you.

Here are my observations around Black Friday:

1. Oftentimes, better sales happen around Black Friday, rather than on it. Shops like Macy’s have actually told me that they have higher discounted pricing on weeks prior to Black Friday than Black Friday itself. Not sure what the strategy around that is, but it seems to be shared across a ton of other retail stores as well.

2. Look at sites like Slickdeals.net, Fatwallet.com, Dealsplus.com, etc. to find better deals than you can find on your own. These sites are amazing, and (warning) addicting as well. They curate some of the best deals on the web at any given time, and the deals during Black Friday are generally pretty ridiculous.

3. Electronics, toys, and other items are more heavily discounted than clothing. Contrary to popular belief, clothing is usually discounted only marginally during Black Friday. Most of the bigger discounts you’ll find are related to other things like iPads, TVs, games, etc. Not always true, but just take a look for yourself!

4. Check blogs like Dappered & PutThisOn. Some menswear blogs post up sales during these times of the year. I would suggest you check them out for some of the deals that are ACTUALLY decent.

black friday shopping 620km111612 1363291018 A warning about Black Friday

Source: Styleist

All this to say that there are smarter ways to spend your time shopping this Black Friday. I wouldn’t recommend waking up incredibly early, waiting in line, fighting the crowds, and ultimately getting a deal that’s inferior to one you could get weeks later, when you could go online and figure all that mess out beforehand. Just sayin’.

Either way, have a safe and homey Thanksgiving, fellas. I’ll probably post before Thanksgiving again, but thought I’d put it out there for now.

Suit fit diagram

I’ve been pretty MIA this week, sorry about that guys. Dreamforce took all of my time this week.

One thing I wanted to put up here though is something that I saw online the other day. It’s from Real Men Real Style, a blog I follow from time to time, and it visually shows you the difference between a good and bad suit fit. Print this thing out and take it with you when you go suit shopping:

rmrs suit fit1 Suit fit diagram

Pretty good huh? Keep these details in mind when you look for your next suit, it’ll make a world of a difference.

Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

navy knit necktie e1352148177317 Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Source: Tie a tie

You know, I started this accessories series several months ago and never really got to finishing it. Man, I’m terrible. Well, here I am to continue it at least.

In case you forgot, I was simply going over all the different accessories that a man can wear. Before I started the series, I had this notion that men simply do not wear accessories (save watches). Turns out there are a ton of accessories guys wear, and I wanted to let you know my thoughts on all of the different types. Today we go over accessories that go around your neck: necklaces, scarves, and ties.

Okay, necklaces.

Necklaces used to be huge. Remember those shell necklaces everyone wore in middle school, or perhaps the black laced necklaces with some sort of emblem on it? Well, today, necklaces aren’t as big a deal, and in fact, I don’t recommend folks wearing one unless it has some sort of sentimental value.

Are you a devout Christian that wears a cross necklace? Or a guy whose mother gave you a pure silver necklace when you graduated college? In these cases, I’m all for wearing necklaces. Otherwise, I’m going to say don’t do it. For that reason, I’m not going to even put any recommendations here, sorry.

 Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Source: Etsy Don’t wear this please.

 

Scarves are one of my favorite accessories. However, they are really only appropriate during one, maybe two seasons a year. For this reason, I wouldn’t go too crazy on buying a ton of scarves. Get a couple high quality ones, and you’re good to go.

For the one or two you get, I recommend going cashmere. It’ll be the warmest and most comfortable option. Also, I recommend going with a fairly conservative color like gray, black, navy, or brown. This will ensure your ability to match it with all different kinds of outfits. I’m particularly a fan of some of these below:

 Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Source: Lystit

Here’s one I own that I’m a big fan of from Black Fleece:

 Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Source: Brooks Brothers

Oh and of course Burberry scarves. They can be a bit pretentious, but getting it in a more muted color like black/gray could be cool:

 Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Source: lystit

Either way, get a couple nice scarves and you’ll be set for the winter, warm and toasty.

brooks bros tie ivy style Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Source: Mediabistro

Ties. Ah, this could be a section all on its own. And it probably will be one day. Neck ties are cool, and they show off your character more than you think. If you have the opportunity to wear a tie, make sure to put some thought into it, and try to complement the rest of your outfit.

A couple quick rules to keep in mind:

If you’re wearing a jacket, try to match the width of your tie to the width of your lapel at the widest spot. These days, a 2″ 3/4 inch tie is a pretty good width to have.

Also, to make your tie look a bit sleeker, wear it with a dimple, perhaps a tie clip when appropriate, and find the right knot for your look (four-in-hand is my favorite).

silk men s ties formal necktie silk tie men s tie men ties The Best Collection Men Necktie Formal And Poly Silk Tie Accessories Part 4: Necklaces & Scarves, and Ties

Source: Fashionablefeeling

I think a man will usually end up with a bunch of ties in their life, but here are a couple essentials in my book.

1. The black tie.

2. The wool tie.

3. The striped tie.

4. The pindot tie.

If you want to add a couple more, I’d suggest getting some more solid colored ties outside of the black one, and perhaps a knit tie. Just typing this stuff up, I realize that it may take a couple more posts to really delve into ties…. So that’s what I’ll do instead.

Anyhow, when people are interacting with you, they’re looking at your face, so make sure you keep your neck-wear game up. These accessories should help immensely. Cheers.

An interview with John Varvatos

187437432 1024x652 An interview with John Varvatos

I know I told everybody that I’ll be starting a coats/jackets series this week, but I wanted to first share with you an interesting thing that happened to me last week.

A couple weeks ago, I got an invite to attend a party John Varvatos was holding over at his SF store on Geary St. It was dedicated to the launch of his new book, Rock in Fashion, which is a really cool photo-laden coffee table book showcasing the fashion of famous rock & roll artists. If you didn’t know already, John Varvatos is a huge fan of rock & roll, and most his designs are inspired by the genre. Oh, and if I have to go even further back, John Varvatos used to be the head designer at Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, and now owns his own label.

Anyhow, I had the opportunity to sit down with the man himself for about 15-20 minutes last week to chat about anything I wanted. To be honest, I didn’t really prepare questions ahead of time, so I basically ended up asking him about things I was genuinely curious about- things I wanted to share with you guys, in case you’re interested in hearing about them.

187437424 1024x786 An interview with John Varvatos

So the first question I asked him was about trends, and how he approaches them. Does he take notice of trends happening in the space, and design his pieces to follow those trends, but also add a bit of his own twist? Or perhaps he is intentional about creating trends for others to follow?

Turns out that he hardly ever pays attention to trends. He said he just doesn’t have the time or patience for it anymore. The only thing he really pays attention to is the silhouette of today’s pieces. He mentioned that our eyes shift to enjoying different types of fits from time to time, and he needs to keep notice of that. For example, everything is now slimmer, more cut to the body, and he thinks of that when creating his clothes. Other than that, he doesn’t bother with it.

He did say that sometimes, his designs turn out to become trends in the marketplace more widely (apparently he created the laceless Converse shoe). When he realizes that his stuff is being overdone, he makes it a point to stop development of those type of pieces, and revisit them years down the line.

Second, I asked John about what he actually does, now that he’s the name of the brand. Does he involve himself in the business-side of things? Just be a figurehead? What exactly does he do?

John told me that he literally spends 90% of his time in the studio, designing. Sketching out pieces and seeing how his clothing looks on models. All the business stuff? His CEO handles it. The other 10% of John’s time is spent being the figurehead for the brand, doing PR.

I was actually really glad to hear this, since usually, these brands just rely on someone else to do the actual designing. It was great to know John Varvatos still has a hand in everything John Varvatos (the brand) actually creates. I’m a fan.

Lastly, I asked him how he deals with creating pieces that work for all body styles. I’m not the biggest man in the world, but I still fit into this stuff quite well. Six feet four guys also fit well into his stuff.

He said this was a huge challenge, but they think about this stuff all the time. They purposefully create pieces that will work for some folks, but not for others, and sometimes they make their clothing in a way that would flatter a shorter man just as well as it would flatter a taller man.

He also uses very realistic models on his clothing, and does everything he possibly can to make everyone happy. I personally think this is still a mystery to me seeing as how many different types of body types there are, but he seems to be doing a good job.

187437420 1024x682 An interview with John Varvatos

There’s Mick Rock with John Varvatos

As a side note, midway through the interview, famous rock photographer Mick Rock joined in the conversation, and damn, that man is a full-haired rockstar. At the ripe age of 65, the man was still sporting a very trendy distressed denim jacket, shaggy hair down to his shoulders, and a thick British accent that made it seem like I was talking to a member from the Beatles. What a boss. It’s crazy to have been in front of two guys who have worked with Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, The Who, The Rolling Stones, you name it.

Anyhow, it was a great party and interview, and I’m glad to have talked to the man himself. I’ll be checking out John Varvatos pieces more and more as I continue my fall shopping. Big thanks to those that allowed this to happen.

PS: I asked John what artist I need to listen to now, seeing as how classic rock is being faded away, and he told me without a doubt, Gary Clark Jr. is the new guy on the block. The next Jimmy Page or Eric Clapton, he says.