Light blue OCBD

I personally think that the light blue oxford cloth button down (OCBD) shirt is one of the most versatile pieces you can own. Just to demonstrate, I’ve outfitted my personal Brooks Brothers OCDB in two ways. One being more formal, the other being more casual. Check it out.

First, a casual OCBD look. I paired my shirt with a pair of shorts and sneakers to keep cool during the summer months.

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Remember that you don’t want your shorts to be any longer than seen above. Keeping it right at/above the knee is a great length in my opinion.

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I love a classic white sneaker. So easy to wear.

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Roll the sleeves up and wear the shirt like a short sleeved dress shirt.

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Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Shorts: Uniqlo | Shoes: Converse

Watch: Timex | Belt: Uniqlo

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And now for the more formal look. I wore this outfit to a client dinner the other day actually. Personally thought it worked quite well.

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The grey trousers / navy jacket look is actually one of my favorites.

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Colorful socks per usual.

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Can’t forget your accessories (belt/watch).

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Jacket: Black Fleece | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Belt: J.Crew

Pants: Uniqlo | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Peal & Co | Socks: Paul Smith (similar)

I encourage you all to get yourself an oxford cloth button down shirt, especially in the color light blue. Dress it up, dress it down, dress it all around.  It’ll work with more combinations of outfits than you can possibly imagine.

 

Shell Cordovan: The Story

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Boots: Peal & Co (Crockett & Jones)

Excuse my French for today, but these… are my ass boots.

Yes, ass boots. Why do I call them that? To clear up any confusion, it’s not because they get me a bunch of ass. It’s instead because these boots are literally made of leather from the rear quarters of an animal, also called shell cordovan.

Here’s the story as I’ve heard it.

Apparently in the early 1900s, shoemakers were tired of making shoes that did a poor job of shielding feet from harsh weather conditions. They wanted shoes that were weatherproof, durable, rock solid. Unfortunately the material they were using, calfskin, just wasn’t up to the task. As some of you may know, calfskin shoes generally stains and loses its shine after a night in the rain or snow.

As a result, people started to look in every which direction to find leather that could ultimately handle the elements, while at the same time still look shined and spiffy after a downpour.

They search high and low, wide and far, but just couldn’t find anything that was strong enough, until they tested the hide from a horse. At first the hide was nothing special- no better than calfskin. They almost tossed it away, but then saw that the butt region of the horsehide was actually a little different from the rest.

Yes, they realized that the butt region of a horse is actually one of the strongest leathers on earth, and thus started to build shoes out of it. It’s true, you can basically make 1.5 pairs of shoes per hide! If you own a pair of cordovan shoes, you basically are wearing the entirety of a horse’s rear quarters.

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The good news is that cordovan shoes look amazing. They always look shined, and never crease (though they do suffer from what’s known as “rolling,” look it up). They are also expensive. Almost unjustifiably expensive. You probably can’t get a pair of shell cordovan shoes for under $350 unless you find them used or defective in one way or another. However, remember that they are shoes that are meant to endure plenty of hardship before retiring. I could argue that cordovan shoes can last you an entire lifetime, if well taken care of! So, maybe that can help you justify the price a bit.

My favorite brands that carry cordovan shoes (and there aren’t that many of them) are Crockett & Jones and Alden.  These two makers actually rebrand their shoes through other retailers as well. All Brooks Brothers’ cordovan shoes are Alden, and Ralph Lauren cordovan shoes are C & J.

Definitely not a necessary part of anyone’s wardrobe, but worth a thought if you have the money. They look glorious, and really are one of the highest points of men’s shoes, period.

 

The summer sales begin…

 

cold summer 1920x1200 The summer sales begin...

Source: Beach Bayonet

Looks like retailers are looking to shed their summer pieces already. Crazy considering that summer hasn’t even really started yet, right? Some sales have begun, and there are more to come. Here are just a few notable ones:

1. Barney’s: Up to 60% off.

2. Billy Reid: Up to 50% off.

3. Brooks Brothers Black Fleece: 40% off all.

4. J.Crew : 40% off summer pieces.

5. Paul Smith: 30% off, but 50% with coupon SS13SALE20EUS today and tomorrow.

6. GANT: 40% off a lot of their items.

7. Allen Edmonds: Tent sale, up to 50% off select items like the Strand & Park Ave. Catch is that it’s by phone or local only.

8. Nordstrom: The Half-yearly men’s sale is on now!

I’ll probably post more as the days go on, but get at it while you can! Some of these sales come really only twice a year.

Wish List #6

I have a secret to let you guys in on. Since January of this year, I made a solemn vow not buy a single piece of clothing until the end of July. To some extent it was to prove to myself that I can be disciplined in my buying habits, and to some extent it was to see if I could seamlessly work with the pieces I already had in my closet for the coming Spring/Summer season.

It hasn’t been easy, especially with the style blog and all, but I’m happy to report that I still have not purchased any clothing since January, and have no plans to for the next several months.

Obviously this doesn’t mean that I don’t get tempted from time to time. Oh trust me, I’ve caught myself staring a little too long at a few select pieces. Just to give you an idea of what those pieces look like, here’s my wish list for June 2013:

Alden Suede Bucks

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Source: J. Crew

 Suede bucks look so good in the summertime, that it’s almost difficult not to get a pair after the month of May. The good news is that there are plenty of brands that make suede bucks, and at reasonable prices too. The pair above is certainly not one of them, but you can get ones from Bass or Florsheim that have price tags that are easier to swallow.

GANT by Michael Bastian Checkered Shorts

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Source: GANT

I don’t know what it is about checkered shorts, but I love them. Pair them with a solid colored T-shirt, henley, or casual dress shirt, and you got yourself an incredibly stylish outfit, without the fuss. These ones by GANT are pretty expensive, but I’m sure you can get a good substitute at your local J.Crew, Uniqlo, or Club Monaco.

Brooks Brothers Cotton Braided Belt

 Wish List #6

Source: Brooks Brothers

I’ve been on the lookout for a braided belt for several months now. Leather or cotton, I don’t care. I just think they look great, are easy to wear, and can really up-level an already awesome outfit. Keep them thin in width, and in a fairly neutral color like brown, navy, or  cream.

Miansai Bracelet

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Source: Barneys

Men’s bracelets are all the rage these days. And to me, there is no one doing them better than Miansai. This Florida based company is creating some of the most stylish men’s bracelets that I’ve ever seen, and I’ve been contemplating getting one for quite some time now. I’ve generally been a wristwatch-only guy, but I feel like I’ll make the exception for a Miansai bracelet.

So there’s my wish list for June 2013. Still got over a month before I can actually make any purchases, but don’t think I won’t be drooling over the above items during that whole time period.

Signature style: the suit

Joseph+Gordon+Levitt+Suits+Men+Suit+vppBzcQjozel Signature style: the suitSource: StyleBistro

Several weeks ago, I launched a series called Signature Style, where the goal was to showcase some very particular looks that might help you discover, or at least think about, your own signature style. The first two posts in the series covered some very distinct looks. The first being the Thom Browne look, or as I coined it, American Schoolboy Prep, and the second being a more flamboyant one called Dandy Dapper.

Well today, I’m going to tone it way down, and introduce a style you’re all probably familiar with. An outfit that will never get old, and will always remain acceptable: the formal suit.

We all probably know at least one individual who dons this signature style. The buddy who goes straight to his suit when an occasion isn’t purely casual. Think Joseph Gordon-Levitt, or Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother (yeah, yeah, I know he’s just a character).

Here’s my friend Joe in what I would consider one of the quintessential menswear looks of all time: the white shirt, brown shoes, plain navy suit look. Dashing, huh?

Joe9 1024x682 Signature style: the suitThis outfit is simultaneously classic and modern. Classic in that the outfit combination has stood the test of time, modern in that the fit and finish belongs here in the now.

Joe6 1024x816 Signature style: the suit

Though navy suits work for both day and night, I think that they’re most attractive when they’re reflecting the moonlight.

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The details matter. Adding a pocket square and tie bar upgrades this already fantastic outfit substantially.

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It all boils down to fit. Some might argue that a slight tug on the middle button is a good thing, or a bad thing, but I personally like an ever so slight tug.

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Dark brown is my favorite color to complement a navy pant. Oh, by the way, don’t skimp on footwear when you’re in a suit.

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Make sure to add a classic leather strap watch to an outfit like this. I personally believe in a situation like this, it’s as important as the suit itself.

 Suit: J.Crew | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie: Theory | Tie Bar: Thetiebar

Pocket Square: Joseph A Bank | Watch: Timex | Shoes: Allen Edmonds

I think there’s nothing wrong with being the guy who suits up at any chance he gets. I mean, there’s a clear reason for why the suit is in the highest echelon of menswear. It’s a symbol of put-togetherness, of class, and of masculinity. It doesn’t necessarily have to be part of your signature style, but I would always encourage people to take their suit for a spin every now and again. It feels good, and looks great.

As many have said before- take advantage of being a man. Wear a suit.

What am I wearing 1.22.12

Time for another outfit of the day post. Felt like dressing up a bit (ie: putting on a tie and pocket square), but also wanted to remain casual enough to blend into the city a bit.

Here’s my solution:

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Coat: Banana Republic | Sunglasses: Oliver Peoples | Pocket Square: John W. Nordstrom

Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie: Drake’s | Cardigan: Black Fleece

Belt: Perry Ellis | Pants: Ian Velardi | Socks: Merona | Shoes: Paul Smith

So as many of you know, I’m a huge fan of Thom Browne’s branding (the red, white, and blue, generally on grosgrain). That’s exactly why I’m wearing this Black Fleece cardigan along with a relatively conservative outfit. I think a small, but noticeable pop of color can really put some spice into an otherwise “safe” getup, so this cardigan fit the bill for me. I’ll certainly be doing a post about adding pops of color to an outfit shortly.

So until then…

Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Once in a while, I’d like to review a product for you guys on this blog. Sometimes, it might be my initial reactions towards a product I just purchased, and other times I’ll go over something that has been part of my outfit rotation for some time. Today, I’ll start with a fairly new purchase: a pair of shoes by the famous American shoemaker Alden.

Alden is one of the few remaining true American shoemakers. They manufacture in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and have been at it since 1884. The pair I got is one of their most classic designs, known commonly as the long wing blucher (LWB). The design is fairly similar to that of a normal wingtip, the only difference being that the wing design extends from the front of the shoe all the way to the back. Here are some pictures below:

alden lwb4 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Alden Made in the U.S.A.

alden lwb1 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

See how the wingtip design extends all the way throughout the shoe?

alden lwb2 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

You can tell the stitching on the welt ends at a point near the heel.

alden lwb3 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Black leather sole with rubber at the edge of the heel.

alden lwb5 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Wearing the shoes around the house.

alden lwb7 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

You can get these in many shades of brown as well.

alden lwb8 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Pretty handsome shoe in my opinion.

alden lwb6 Product Review: Alden Long Wing Bluchers

Outfit I’m wearing with the shoes.

Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Sweater: Old Navy | Watch: Omega

Bracelet: Unbranded | Jeans: Tellason | Shoes: Alden

Okay, so let me go into the review.

Construction: These shoes are solidly constructed. First off, all Alden shoes are Goodyear welted, meaning that the upper portion of the shoes are sewn onto a welt that also attaches to the sole. This is definitely one of the highest forms of shoe construction you can find, and Alden’s been doing it brilliantly for generations. The other great thing about Goodyear welting is that it allows you to easily resole the shoes when your soles start to fall apart. Alden has a great policy where you can send in your old shoes to them, and for around $100, they can refinish the entire shoe, get you a new sole, and have them back to you looking altogether brand new.

Another thing to add is that the attention to detail is top notch, probably because these shoes are hand-made domestically. I can’t find any flaws in stitching, lining, broguing, or just about any other construction element of the shoes. Suffice it to say, I’m happy with the overall quality.

Comfort: Comfort is surprisingly good. When comparing these to my Allen Edmonds, the Aldens are actually more comfortable even out of the box. I do believe they still require some breaking in of the sole, as the sole is a bit stiff from the get-go, but for the most part I think comfort isn’t going to be a problem. Might also have to do with the fact that the last (the shape/mold of the shoe) is a bit roomier than my other pairs of shoes.

Design: Truth is, I don’t think these shoes are very sleek or sexy. The last that these shoes are on, called the Barrie last, is slightly chunky, and the longwing design takes a bit of getting used to at first. For that reason, some might consider the design to be too old or boring. However, I don’t think these shoes are trying to be some sort of modern chic cocktail-hour shoe (like many English or Italian shoes might be).

They’re designed to be a daily workhorse of sorts, with a signature American look & feel to them. The chunkier sole helps support your foot better, the rock solid leather defends your foot from the elements, and the long wingtip design is a classic design that’s been loved and worn for ages. I personally love the look, hence me purchasing, but can see why others might feel like the shoes aren’t handsome enough to buy.

Material: The materials used are very high in quality. I can already tell that the sole and uppers feel hefty by touch, and will stand up to daily wear and tear with ease. Good news is that leather is still soft, despite being so durable, making the shoes a pleasure to wear.

Price: The price of most Alden shoes will be between $400 and $600 (when made with calf-skin). Clearly, they’re expensive, and not something to be taken lightly. To add, Aldens don’t go on sale. I was lucky enough to find a loophole and get some on sale via some menswear forums, but I likely won’t have an opportunity like that again. So the question begs, are they worth the asking price?

Well, it depends. To some, the price increase from a pair of Allen Edmonds might not be worth it. They’re constructed similarly and might even source their leather from the same place. I do know they use the same cordovan leather. However, I do think that the attention to detail on these shoes is much higher than any of my Allen Edmonds. The shoes feels sturdier, and thus, looks like they’ll last longer. They’re also more comfortable. So to me, the increase in quality is evident, and sometimes I’m willing to shell out some more dough as a result.

Just be aware that the law of diminishing returns is certainly playing a factor at this point. Let’s say these were almost two times as expensive as my Allen Edmonds. Are they two times as good? No. Are they, in my opinion, maybe 10-20% better? Probably. So the question really becomes, are you willing to pay double the price for a slight increase in construction and quality (and design for those who like it)?

Conclusion: Overall, the shoes are constructed with the highest quality materials, feel rather comfortable even from the get-go, and are clearly strong enough to be in the game for the long haul. The look of these shoes can take a little getting used to (as I had to), but they are a classic Alden design- something that will likely never go out of style. The asking price is steep, but could be worth it for some of you. For those who need to save some money, stick with Loake, Charles Tyrwhitt, or Allen Edmonds. If you like any of their designs and have the money though, I highly recommend a pair of Aldens. You’re guaranteed excellent quality and construction.

Here are some links if you’d like a pair for yourself:

Unionmade

Alden of Carmel

J.Crew

Quick looks & pleasing everybody

I was tossing and turning in bed the other day, unable to fall sleep. In situations like this, most normal people would read a book, count sheep, or just idly lay in their beds till the inevitable sleep haze engulfed their conscience.

Well, I’m a bit weird, and probably not very normal. Thus, as a sleep remedy, I decided to go into my closet and start randomly taking pieces out, just to put them together in different combinations that I thought might work out. Also, I felt compelled to add ties to the mix as well.

It kind of worked, as I was so tired of putting on and taking off clothes that I eventually plopped on my bed and immediately fell asleep.

The outcome is below. And yes, I am actually wearing pants.

mGYcx Quick looks & pleasing everybody

The hunter’s look.

Jacket: Barbour | Vest: Barbour | Tie: Ovadia & Sons | Shirt: Brooks Brothers

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The formal look.

Jacket: Black Fleece | Pocket Square: Nordstrom | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie Bar: Thetiebar | Tie: Theory

SFXsI Quick looks & pleasing everybody

The ultra-hyperextended neck look.

Jacket: John Varvatos Collection | Shirt: Black Fleece | Tie: Drake’s

Fiknf Quick looks & pleasing everybody

The cold day layering look.

Coat: Hugo Boss | Knitwear: Banana Republic | Shirt: Black Fleece | Tie: Theory

GkwgP Quick looks & pleasing everybody

The overcoat with suit look… or as I like to call it: blue steel look.

Coat: Banana Republic | Jacket: John Varvatos Collection | Shirt: Ben Sherman | Tie: Ben Sherman

Zqy0X Quick looks & pleasing everybody

The Looper-ish look.

Jacket: Theory | Shirt: Armani Collezioni | Tie: Thetiebar

tSoEK Quick looks & pleasing everybody

The blue, blue, blue, and blue layer look.

Coat: Black Fleece | Jacket: Levi’s | Shirt: Brooks Brothers | Tie: Ovadia & Sons

My first thought was to put these photos on reddit, mainly because I was curious to see which outfits vibed well with the huge crowd over there, and which didn’t. I put the album up on reddit in the morning, walked away from the computer for about an hour, and then revisited its status shortly afterward.

Apparently the album became quite popular in that hour, ultimately hitting the first spot on /r/malefashionadvice, receiving thousands of up-votes, and getting more comments than I could read.

Turns out that pretty much every single look was simultaneously criticized and praised, showing how incredibly different peoples’ tastes are. Some people said my Barbour look was the best, while others thought it was the worst. Some argued that leather jackets should never go with ties, others said leather jackets looked best with ties. Let’s just say there was a lot of noise, and it taught me a valuable lesson.

The lesson is that you aren’t going to please everybody with your look, no matter how great it is. Sure there are rules that you should follow to look better overall (for example, getting things that are more fitted to your body), but even then, you just aren’t going to win everyone’s approval, as everyone’s tastes are different.

I put together 7 very different outfits, and for each outfit I got hundreds of different reactions. At first, I took each comment constructively, learning from what people had to say. Later on though, all I ended up really caring about was my own opinion, especially after seeing how much contradiction there was about what people thought was right and what people thought was wrong.

I think the best thing is for you to feel confident in the clothes that you wear, and present your unique style to the world expecting nothing in return. Sure, positive reinforcement may help you feel better, but ultimately, I think the most attractive thing about someone’s style is how they own their look. The swagger and confidence they have in wearing what they are wearing. The great thing is that no one can help you own your look, only you can.

Anyhow, sorry to go on a rant there, but I hope I was able to at least provide you with some ideas for outfits. Oh, and just kidding about the pants comment I made above. Commando all the way.

What am I wearing 12.23.12

Sometimes, you just want to feel comfortable and warm. Well, for me it’s just one of those days. Here’s what I’m wearing… while heating up some hot water for my tea.

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A shawl collar cardigan can be worn with so much; it’s so versatile. This is a very casual outfit for me, and I feel the cardigan doesn’t look out of place, despite being equally appropriate with a dress shirt and tie.

wiwtcargo1 What am I wearing 12.23.12

Interesting story about the pair of chucks I’m wearing. They were gifted to me by the person who designed them (a designer at Converse). Honestly, I don’t know how many pairs of these are around, but my suspicion is that it’s quite limited. Shout out to my cousin for hooking it up.

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Even if you wear a simple T-shirt, it can still be a solid contributor to your overall look. In this case, I feel like the popping color of burgundy helps this shirt be one of the standout pieces of this outfit.

Cardigan: Brooks Brothers | Shirt: Rag & Bone | Watch: Omega

Pants: Uniqlo | Shoes: Converse

It’s so interesting… I put this outfit together on a whim based on how I felt (wanted some comfort and warmth), but it looks like every item I’m wearing is kind of a “trend” item. The chunky shawl collar cardigan has been the thing to wear this winter, the colors burgundy (or oxblood as many like to call it) & olive green are prime colors for Fall/Winter 2012, and cargo pants have only recently begun to become popular again in mainstream fashion. Maybe I gotta take it easy on the fashion trends!

Either way, thought I’d share with you a comfortable look that you can easily emulate if you feel like it. Happy Holidays folks, stay comfortable and warm.

Now to get back to my hot tea.

Brooks Brothers Sale

Brooks Brothers is doing a pretty interesting thing over the next five days. Basically, they’ll be putting a category of items (like shirts or sweaters) on sale for 40% off, one day at a time. Today, it’s all about sweaters. You all probably know how much I like Brooks Brothers for essentials, so I thought I would put it out there.

homepage1 12032012 Brooks Brothers Sale

Some standout sweaters for me are: the Aran cable-knit sweater (might be sold out in most sizes by now) for $118, the merino cardigans which are $70, and the fair isle wool cardigans, priced at $77. I’d say quality, at these prices, will compare quite favorably to any competition.

Watch their site for the next 5 days in case you don’t need sweaters, but you need something else. Good luck!