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.

cas2 1024x682 Light blue OCBD

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.

cas3 1024x719 Light blue OCBD

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

cas4 1024x700 Light blue OCBD

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

cas5 1024x702 Light blue OCBD

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

Watch: Timex | Belt: Uniqlo

 —

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.

form2 1024x1005 Light blue OCBD

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

form3 1024x684 Light blue OCBD

Colorful socks per usual.

form4 1024x754 Light blue OCBD

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

form5 1024x700 Light blue OCBD

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.

 

Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Summer Getaway Outfits

It’s been a while since the last simpler woman post, and I want to make sure we don’t fully lose sight of the female perspective here at Simpler Man. Thus, I bring to you the next edition of Simpler Woman, written by my very fashion-forward friend Sarah.

Also, this post comes just in time for summer. It’s all about dressing the part of being on vacation, but still looking stylish as ever.

Summer Getaway Outfits

With summer travel around the corner, it’s time to check out the best outfits to pack for your beach or resort vacation.

First things first: you can’t have a beach vacation without swim shorts. I recommend ditching the board and surf shorts to modernize your look. Show me some leg, gentlemen! The Curtis from Saturdays Surf NYC is a favorite of mine. With a 15″ outseam, it won’t feel too short, but at the same time its length will move you away from that beach bum look. Plus, they have pockets, so they can double as shorts to wear into town after a day on the beach.

saturdays surf nyc   curtis board shorts   navy 1  Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Summer Getaway Outfits

Source: Thenextdoor

Once you have your swimwear, think about how you can stylishly double your beach wear into an outfit that will extend through the day. You can look effortlessly chic by pairing a soft, high-quality solid color tee with your new swim shorts. Put your plastic flip flops away and throw on a pair of Sperry Top-Sider boat shoes. Now you’ll be ready to hop aboard your yacht:

Sperry Top Sider for J.Crew  Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Summer Getaway Outfits

Source: Fashables

Also, make sure you’ve got your eyes protected in this hot weather! I always fancy a vintage Ray Ban aviator; it’ll give you an edgy allure and you can try a different type of Ray Ban than the Wayfarers.

ray ban aviator folding ultra 1 Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Summer Getaway Outfits

Source: Highsnobiety

Heading to a waterfront restaurant for a mai tai this evening? For casual dinners or nights out on the beach, I recommend a linen button down. I love the Mediterranean feel of linen shirts, especially in white. Perhaps these really attractive Brooks Brothers ones?

all white beach outfit Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Summer Getaway Outfits

Source: Bestylish

You can pair the shirt with a pair of jeans or chinos from Bonobos. Their Summer Weight Chinos are a lovely material. Or, try the Travel Jeans that can double up as both your airplane pants and your going out pants! If it’s too hot, you can still rock shorts at night, just make sure to keep away from cargos and other casual styles. Instead, spice it up with some patterns or colorblocking, like these Club Monaco shorts!

310229 10151621586341815 863260505 n Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Summer Getaway Outfits

Source: Bonobos

Hope this gets your suitcase packed! I better start working on mine next…

sarah maldives Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: Summer Getaway Outfits

Sarah is an avid traveler, wine lover, and fashion enthusiast. Today, she can be found in either San Francisco or Chicago, daydreaming about her next summer vacation.

 

The denim jacket, a perfect spring piece

denimjacket2 1024x682 The denim jacket, a perfect spring pieceGlasses: Warby Parker | Jacket: Gap | Shirt: Vince | Chinos: Dockers

It’s Spring.

Not quite hot enough for you to wear just a T-shirt and shorts, but not so cold that you need to bust out the wool peacoat. You need something that can protect you from a cool breeze, but not have you sweating in direct sunlight.

Well, I never thought I’d be saying this, but I’ve found that the perfect medium piece for springtime is… the denim jacket.

To be honest, I’ve never really had a liking for denim jackets up till the very recent past. Generally all denim jackets I had seen prior to last year were fitted awkwardly, wildly distressed, and of course, paired incorrectly (think light wash denim on light wash denim). The types of people wearing them were also usually in their fifties, and looking like they were going through some sort of midlife crisis.

Well, the good news is that things have changed, as they often do in the fashion world. The denim jacket is back and looking great, especially when incorporated into the appropriate outfit.

esq denim jacket 032713 xlg The denim jacket, a perfect spring pieceSource: Esquire

There are a couple things that you should know when looking for the right denim jacket:

1. A denim jacket should feel snug. It can even be used for layering, so you want to minimize bulk as much as possible.

2. The color of your denim jacket should not match most of your denim pants. If you do somehow end up pairing denims, you want to at least make sure they aren’t of similar color. Just FYI, I would recommend chinos or cords to be safe.

3. Make sure the shoulders fit perfectly on the jacket, as that measurement will be the most important in determining whether the jacket fits you or not. Alterations can be made elsewhere, but not on the shoulders.

4. I don’t think you necessarily need to spend a lot of money to get a good denim jacket. I’ve found that the Gap one I bought for $50 is rock solid in construction, and feels like it won’t be falling apart anytime soon. My Levi’s one from ten years ago is also going on strong, with no indication of slowing down.

5. Start with a less-distressed jacket, and give the jacket some of your own character. Like denim jeans, you’ll start noticing whiskering, distressing, and other marks on your jacket as you wear them in. You’ll probably find that you enjoy distress marks more when you’re actually the one contributing.

Here are a couple denim jackets at different price points that I would recommend:

~$50 : Gap

~$75: Levi’s

~$100: J.Crew

~$125+: BLK DNM

Keep it simple, find one that fits well, and you’ll be getting compliments in no time. Give it a try, it might be worth the effort and money! Good luck fellas.

Signature Style: Dandy Dapper

andre3000 tgj Signature Style: Dandy DapperSource: Thatgrapejuice.net

Last week, 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.

Today, we’re checking out a look that is very common to the world of “dandyism.”  A world of colorful tweeds, suspenders, paisley, fedoras, and lapel flowers. Again, like the Thom Browne look we discussed last week, this one probably isn’t for the conservative or risk-averse.

This particular style fascinates me, and I actually love it, even if I don’t sport it myself. I see it occasionally on the streets, but it’s in fashion magazines or albums of Pitti Uomo that I really see it in action.

I always wonder what brings people to wear this type of attire. Celebrity figures like Andre 3000, Common, or Sean Combs regularly sport these types of outfits, and I’m finding that more and more people are following suit.  Maybe it’s in order to exercise freedom of expression, letting everyone know that anything and everything is fair game. Or perhaps it’s to push the envelope in menswear a bit, giving a forceful middle finger to the casual T-shirt and jeans look that we’re all so familiar (and bored) with.

Either way, I wanted to at least bring it to your attention so that you can decide for yourself whether it’s a style you’d like to emulate or not. Here’s my buddy Ron sporting the look with ease:

Ron7 Signature Style: Dandy Dapper

 I wanted to make this outfit pop by incorporating many patterns. Some might say it’s too much, but in many ways, that’s kind of the point. 

Ron10 Signature Style: Dandy Dapper

Accessories galore. This is where a man can really show his individuality. Bracelets, colorful socks, hats, pocket squares, bow ties. All fair game.

Ron8 Signature Style: Dandy Dapper

The key to making an outfit like this look good is largely about fit. It’s still #1.

Ron4 Signature Style: Dandy Dapper

If you look closely, you’ll see there’s a lot of strategy employed in the accessory colors. Blues, reds, and yellows are carefully matched from shirt to bowtie to jacket. 

Ron5 Signature Style: Dandy Dapper

More than anything, a look like this really boils down to confidence. Simply know that you’re looking good, and you’re a majority of the way there.

 Hat: Nordstrom | Shirt: J.Crew | Jacket: J.Crew | Bowtie: Bloomingdales

Pocket Square: Turnbull & Asser | Watch: Timex | Trousers: J.Crew

Socks: Merona | Shoes: Allen Edmonds

Some of you may dislike the outfit, some of you may be fascinated with it. To provoke that type of polar reaction is actually kind of my point, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to style it for you. Personally, I think the guy looks pretty dapper.

One thing to remember is that even when wearing this type of clothing, you should pay attention to the way patterns & colors work with each other. In this particular outfit, each piece was carefully chosen to either complement, or purposely contrast other pieces in the outfit. The pocket square has hints of red that work with the bow tie, the bow tie has hints of blue that work with the gingham, the belt and shoes have a red tint that complement the bow tie, etc.

Anyhow, there’s my second look for this series. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. Cheers.

 

What am I wearing 2.13.12

A couple months ago, I wrote a post about wearing sport coats casually, and I wanted to put everything I said in there into practice today. This brown, all-cotton herringbone jacket by RRL does the trick perfectly, its design and fabric giving off a very casual vibe.

Kept my shoes, belt, and bag in the same color family as the jacket for consistency, and combined those elements with a very versatile white shirt and dark blue selvedge jean.

  What am I wearing 2.13.12

By the way, if you have the opportunity to get a Filson bag, I highly recommend it. Durable, rugged, stylish, and carries a lifetime warranty. You can see mine gets used quite a bit, as my raw denim has rubbed off on the side of the bag.

 What am I wearing 2.13.12

I’m a fan of this jacket because of its herringbone design, which is usually found on wools, but in this case, on cotton.

 What am I wearing 2.13.12

Some of the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. These suede chukka boots weren’t cheap, but I think they were worth the extra money.

Jacket: RRL | Sunglasses: Ray-Ban | Shirt: Thomas Mason for J.Crew | Watch: Omega

Bag: Filson | Jeans: J.Crew | Socks: Merona | Shoes: Alden

Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: 3 Men’s Wardrobe Basics

Let’s be real. About half of you visit this site, as well as other menswear blogs, to learn how you can impress the ladies with your impeccable style. There’s no shame in admitting this, we all know dressing better can garner more attention from the opposite sex.

For this reason, I’ve decided to start a guest-blogging series where you can hear from women directly, on how to dress better. Today, it’s all about 3 staple pieces that every man should have in their wardrobe. All brought to you by my very stylish, San Francisco living, dog-loving friend, Kristin. Read on:

3 Men’s Wardrobe Basics That Will Make This Happily Married Woman Turn Her Head for a Second Look

It does not take an extravagant show of style, the latest fashion runway look, or an expensive designer brand to make me to elbow my husband and say, “See, you need a basic (insert clothing item here) just like he has, that looks so good!” Because actually, in the vein of the mantra of this blog, it really is quite simple.  The simpler the fashion, the simpler the man, the simpler it is to get the approval of the ladies.

I have faith that as a reader of this blog you are already doing a lot of things right.  You aren’t wearing denim with patterns or embellishments on the pocket, you definitely aren’t pairing a suit jacket with a pair of jeans in an effort to look ‘casual yet important’, and the absolute only time you wear a hoodie to dinner is when you are grabbing something to go on a weeknight.  Right?  Right.  But enough about what I know you are already doing, and on to the wardrobe basics you should most definitely own:

1)  Dark jeans.

m1 462068 Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: 3 Mens Wardrobe Basics

Buy a pair & wear them every single time you are even slightly unsure of what to wear.  As a solid base to the rest of the outfit, I believe a guy almost can’t go wrong no matter what other fashion decisions he makes.  No stone wash, no holes, no embellishments, no fancy colors.  Just a pair of straight fit, dark blue jeans.

Such as these always stylish APC New Standards.

If you are intimidated that you might go wrong in your selection, I have witnessed miracles in the Men’s denim department at Nordstrom.  I guarantee they can have you in and out in 20 minutes with your new jeans.  And while you are there, perhaps you can browse for…

2)  A pair of sunglasses that aren’t black Ray-Bans.

2186306 p MULTIVIEW Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: 3 Mens Wardrobe Basics

Last year after Coachella, the organizers posted on the Coachella website a notice that went something like this, “If you lost your black Ray-Bans during Coachella weekend, be advised that so did everyone else so you are out of luck in getting them back.”  I breathed a sigh of relief knowing so many black Ray-Bans had been cleaned from the sunny California streets.   But it wasn’t quite enough so my advice is that you should too keep your black Ray-Bans where they belong:  music festivals and Men in Black auditions.  And find another pair of every day shades.

I like these by Persol, but really anything other than black Ray-Bans is a great start.

3)  Plain t-shirts.

 Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: 3 Mens Wardrobe Basics

You’re a guy so there is a high probability you are going to do it anyways, so all this lady asks is that you do it with a bit of class.   Invest in high quality, plain cotton t-shirts in non-neon colors that you cannot see through.  That’s it.  If your t-shirt has something to do with sports, you’ve messed up on this piece of advice.  If you bought your t-shirt on a brewery tour, you’ve messed up.  But your t-shirt has a cute dog on it that says, ‘Pugs not Drugs’?  That is cute, but no.  In fact, if you bought any t-shirt from a display at Urban Outfitters, you’ve probably messed up.

This is so easy to do, and cheap!  Try these from J. Crew.

Hey now, look at you with your dark jeans, your shades, and your nice t-shirt!  I love it!  You can keep it simple just like that, or you can add on virtually any other new item you have acquired based on the fashionable inspiration you have received from Simpler Man.  And when I see you on the street, I’ll take a second look, and elbow my ripped-old-jeans-wearing, RayBan-sporting, Indiana-basketball-t-shirt-styled husband to say, “You need to dress like that!”  To which he will inevitably roll his eyes and respond, “Cool it, honey.  You’re married.”

 Thoughts from a Simpler Woman: 3 Mens Wardrobe Basics

Kristin lives in San Francisco with her husband, Chad, and miniature dachshund, Wrigley.

She’s also a style guru, so you’ll want to take her advice. 

Wish List #4

Christmas has come and gone, and massive end-of-the-season sales have begun. Time for another wish list from yours truly.

Saint James Meridien II shirt

 Wish List #4spacer Wish List #4

Oddly, this shirt has been on my mind for the last three weeks. Really, it’s nothing special since all it is, is basically a long sleeve striped T shirt (albeit a high quality one) with a slightly unique neck opening.  To add, I’m not a huge fan of horizontal lines on shirts since I’m a bit shorter, and such patterns don’t do any favors for my stature. Still, this shirt keeps popping up in my head. I suppose it might be the shirt’s history? Or incredible layering ability?

You can grab one from J.Crew or Unionmade (who is actually having a semi-annual sale right now).

Wolverine 1000 Mile boots

boot2 Wish List #4

Why do I keep posting boots in my wish lists?

One boot that has particularly caught my attention is the 1000 mile boot by Wolverine. These bad boys are quite acclaimed in the menswear world, and for good reason. I had a chance to try them out recently, and not only do they look great, but you can immediately tell they’re built like an ox. Proper Goodyear welting on a leather sole, high quality upper leather & stitching, made in the USA… what’s not to like? Plus, I think they are incredibly versatile. They’re equally appropriate on a mountain hike as they are at an office event.

I would go out and get them immediately, but I think I’m past my boot quota for 2012-2013. Oh, and if these boots are too expensive for you, I found a great deal on an amazing, less expensive alternative made by Chippewa. You can find them on Amazon for only $86 with coupon “workboot.” Yea, seriously.

Drake’s navy pin dot tie

k0eh.03048.001 m 1 Wish List #4

I recently saw a Gitman Vintage navy shirt with a subtle pin dot pattern on it at a clothing boutique here in SF. I immediately wanted one in my closet, so I started searching the web to find one in my size. Unfortunately, I failed to find one at a decent price, but the shirt got me to thinking. Hey, wouldn’t this pattern look great on a tie or pocket square?

Since having that thought, I’ve been looking all over the web for a decent tie and pocket square combo in the navy + pin dot pattern. Well it turns out that one of my favorite tie makers, Drake’s of London, carries a nice one as shown above. They’re also having an end of the year sale right now, so the prices are cut about 25%.

If the price is still too high for you, good news is that you can get both a tie and pocket square in this pattern at thetiebar for a lot cheaper than the Drake’s tie above.

J.Crew denim shirt

PJ BL122 DRESSC G 20121128165248 Wish List #4

Grant it, I don’t think it needs to be specifically from J.Crew, but I’ve been looking for a nice dark indigo denim shirt for a while now. I think a denim shirt is a piece that can effortlessly dress a formal outfit down, and still look appropriate in most situations. Definitely a refreshing change from your normal white, blue, or pink dress shirt that you may wear on a daily basis.

The only reservation I have with getting a denim shirt is its versatility. I generally wear jeans everyday and the color of this shirt in particular would be too similar to the color of my jeans, making the outfit look less than ideal. Either way, I’m on the fence, but I must say… J.Crew makes this shirt look damn good.

So there you go, my January wish list. You know, sometimes I wonder if it ever ends…

Oh well, TIME TO SPEND MOAR MONEY!

Peacoats, and Bond… James Bond.

The cool breeze of winter is approaching. You’re trying to stay warm, but it seems like your trusty old jacket just isn’t doing it for you. Guess what? It’s time to bust out the classic winter piece… the peacoat.

bond1 Peacoats, and Bond... James Bond.

Many of you probably own a peacoat or have owned one at some point in your life. If you don’t or haven’t, I would highly recommend going out and getting one before the start of the winter. It’s an incredibly functional and timeless piece of clothing that I think every man should own, regardless of age, stature, occupation, etc.

In case you don’t actually know what a peacoat is, let me help educate you. A peacoat is a wool (or wool blend) outer coat that was originally worn by sailors in the Navy (but obviously worn by just about anyone now). Peacoats generally have broad lapels, double-breasted fronts, metal, leather, or horn buttons, and go down in length to your upper thigh. They are also most widely available in their original color, navy, but can also come in black, charcoal, mid-grey, tan, etc.

So now that you know what a peacoat is, let me tell you why I think they’re awesome. First off, peacoats keep you warm. Real warm. Generally made out of a thick wool or wool blend, peacoats are meant to help you get through the hard winter times. I mean if they worked for naval officers out on the arctic sea, why can’t they work for you?

Second, peacoats are extremely classy, and can help elevate your look to the next level. Whether you’re wearing a T-shirt or full-blown tuxedo, the moment you put on that peacoat, you’ll look more sophisticated and classy than you did before. I know, I know… it’s a more casual coat, but as long as the body of the coat is longer than your jacket, I still think it can work well with formal wear.

This brings up my third point. Peacoats are versatile. They can work on top of virtually any outfit, as they can be worn both casually and formally. Layer it on top of your henley, or use it as outerwear for your suit! A peacoat will do just fine in both situations.

bond45merge Peacoats, and Bond... James Bond.

Now, just because peacoats are awesome doesn’t mean that any peacoat will do. I highly recommend putting a little bit of money behind one of these to ensure quality, as almost all designers will make a peacoat, and some will be of terrible quality. Personally, I think $200-$300 is a sweet spot for a solid peacoat, and I swear it’ll be worth it. The Schotts ones below will probably give you the best bang for your buck, quality-wise. Also, I would stick with navy or charcoal grey in terms of color. Lastly, make sure the coat fits nice and slim on you. You want the coat to still flatter your body and fit immaculately. Keep it relatively snug, but also make sure that you can fit a sweater or jacket underneath.

Here are some peacoats that I would recommend at different price points:

~$50-$100: Uniqlo Peacoat , Topman Peacoat

~$100-$200: J. Crew Bayswater Peacoat , Banana Republic Peacoat

~$200-$400: Schotts Peacoat , Diesel Wittory Peacoat

~$400-above: Maison Martin Margiela Peacoat , Burberry London Peacoat

So you’re probably wondering why the title of this post mentions James Bond. Well first off, I think James Bond is an amazing fashion icon, especially with Daniel Craig running the show. If you need some fashion inspiration, just watch a Bond movie and you should be set for a while; I know I always am. Second, the peacoat that I’m wearing in the pictures above is actually the same peacoat Bond wears in his latest movie Skyfall. The makers of the coat, Billy Reid, released a limited supply of them to the public right when the movie was released, and I was lucky enough to get in the first batch. Check out some of the details on this thing:

bond23merge Peacoats, and Bond... James Bond.

Just a couple thoughts on this peacoat. First, I do think the quality is great. It’s a pretty expensive coat ($695 MSRP) so I fully expect it to be, and thankfully Billy Reid didn’t disappoint. The wool is nice and warm, the cut is slim and fashionable, and the leather trimming is beautifully done.

With that being said, I may not end up keeping the coat for a couple reasons. First, I’m not much a fan of the lapels. I think they can look great on a lot of people, but to me they jut out a bit too much. Let’s just say that when the collar is popped, my side profile is less than flattering. Second, the coat is a tad big on me. The sleeves are way too long, and instead of ending at my upper thigh, the body of this peacoat goes down to my mid thigh, and I think that might be longer than what I would consider ideal. A slightly taller man would probably love it though. Lastly, the peacoat is unlined. Nothing wrong with unlined coats, but I prefer a layer of thinsulate so that my arms don’t itch from the wool.

Anyhow, the next shipment of these babies starts in January so keep a look out in case you’re interested. It’s an excellent coat and I would highly recommend it if you like the look.

Couple Sales

Turns out that in preparation for Black Friday, there’s already a couple sales going on! Just wanted to let you know about them in case you’re looking for some new clothes at decent prices.

1. Land’s End

flannel Couple Salesflannel1 Couple Sales

The value king Land’s End is having a 40% off of one item sale. Again, I stand behind the quality of this company (for the price). Great for basics and staples. Some items I recommend are the Stormer Parka, Tartan Shirts, and my recent obsession: Fair Isle Sweaters. Good stuff, good prices, go for it.

2. J. Crew

j crew shawl card Couple Sales

I’m not too much a fan of J. Crew at retail price, but when items go on sale, my eyes usually light up. Right now they’re taking 30% off of their sale items with the promotional code MUSTHAVE. I would recommend checking out some of their Thomas Mason shirts (I own a couple and love them), New Balance sneakers, Timex watches, and Billy Reid sneakers. Damn does this company have some great partnerships or what?

3. Steven Alan

steven alan Couple Sales

Steven Alan is another company that I don’t really care for at retail price. However, on sale, my mood changes drastically. Quality is pretty good, and design can be great. Today is the last day of their sample sale, where products are marked off up to 70%. Check out their blazers and jackets, as I think those might be the best value during their sale.

4. Gitman Vintage

gitman vintage Couple Sales

One of my favorite sites on the internet is MyHabit.com. It’s owned by Amazon, and here’s a link for them you can use. This site is very similar to Gilt.com, where they host daily deals, but oftentimes they have some amazing brands up there at amazing prices. Today, they’re advertising for Gitman Brothers Vintage, and I stand by their products big time. Love their shirts, I definitely recommend them.

So there you go! Have at it gentlemen, it’s time to look dapper.

Correlation of brand and quality

outside pic Correlation of brand and qualityOliver Peoples sunglasses :: Gitman Vintage shirt :: Hamilton Khaki watch :: Tellason jeans :: Clarks beeswax desert boots

Ah, the topic of brands… one of my favorites, and one that is often controversial. Why? Because people will always have disagreements about brands, whether it be on quality, style, reputation, whatever. I’ll attempt to swing at this curveball though, and I hope it doesn’t anger too many of you.

I think brand names are a wonderful proxy for discerning quality distinctions in clothing. I swear by certain brands due to their quality (eg: Tellason and Gitman Vintage in the pic above), and will always trust that they will make a genuinely great product. However, I also think that brand names can often be over-emphasized, bandwagoned, and taken way too far. For example, I know many people who will immediately dismiss the quality of companies like the Gap or J. Crew because they generally make mass-produced articles of clothing at less than optimal quality-control. Before moving forward, let me tell you right now, I’ve bought pieces from both Gap and J.Crew that have exceeded my highest expectations. And though it’s not always the case, I’ll often find deals that will blow away any competition at those price points: Thomas Mason shirt from J.Crew for $35? I’ll take it anyday.

Also, in the other direction, people will endlessly praise companies like Lanvin or Oxxford for their excellence in quality. However, I’ve had a pair of Lanvin pants tear apart on me, and have a friend whose Oxxford shirt lost two buttons in the first day of wear.

Am I saying that J. Crew makes a better product than Lanvin? Absolutely not. In fact, I can confidently say that Lanvin is at another level in terms of clothing quality (I mean just look at the price difference). However, what I am trying to say is that brands are not static, and there will always be quality changes that come with following a brand, up or down. Thus, it doesn’t make sense to rely solely on brand when making a decision on what to buy.

Now that I’ve gotten that giant caveat out of the way, I will say that brands can at least make it easier for you when shopping for clothes. All brands have reputations to uphold, and need to stick to a certain level of quality in order to maintain those reputations. Thus, you can trust certain brands that have held the test of time, or been deemed by the general public as high in quality. This way, when you enter a mall and you have 100 brands in front of you, you’ll be able to at least start weeding out what you’ll look through and what you won’t, based on brands.

I wouldn’t advise that you put all your eggs in the brand basket though. Nothing beats going into stores and actually feeling fabrics, wearing the clothes and moving with it, checking the construction, etc. If you find a piece that catches your eye, don’t dismiss just based on brand. Go up to the piece and check it out! From there, make sure that the quality is high.

ae Correlation of brand and qualityAllen Edmonds Dalton boots :: Diesel Darron jeans

So what are good indicators of high quality garments?

1. Material. Is it made of more natural materials like 100% leather, cotton, silk, or wool? Or is the material fully/partially man-made (spandex, rayon, polyester, etc.)? If possible, I would recommend sticking to more natural materials. Not bulletproof in determining quality, but it’s a start.

Also, does the material look and feel solid? Hold the garment against a light, and see if the thickness of the material is consistent throughout. Buttons and zippers matter too (horn buttons > plastic buttons, zippers can feel more solid on some rather than others).

2. Construction. Take for example suits. Some suits may look amazing and have a great fabric, but aren’t constructed in a way that deems them high quality. They may be fused together in the inside and the outside by glue, rather than canvassed fully to help remain its organic shape. Maybe the seams on a shirt or jacket are at points like the elbow, which might not make the piece as durable due to the way we move. Are buttons put together well? Are shoe soles stitched or glued? Inspect items as best as you can to check on the constructional integrity.

3. Made in ____. This can sometimes be misleading, but it is indeed important to check. Products made in the U.S. or countries in Europe are often more reliable in quality than those made in Southeast Asia and China. This isn’t ALWAYS the case, but it correlates quite often due to the cost of manufacturing. In reality, it just costs more to produce things domestically, so the quality better match the price.

4. Style. Don’t forget that we buy clothing so we can look good. It’s not solely just to feel great, since if that were the case, we would all just wear blankets of cashmere and fur exclusively. If a piece of clothing is styled well, there is a higher likelihood of the brand fitting you better. Look at the styles, patterns, and designs, and ask yourself if you find them especially appealing. For example, one of my favorite brands is Theory. Not for the material quality, since that can sometimes be shoddy, but because all Theory products seem to fit me down to a T.

So in all, definitely identify the brands you feel are great quality and fit you well. You can use these brands as go-tos and make the process much easier when shopping. However, try not be a brand-whore, and think less of others due to the brands they wear. There are some fine quality garments in virtually all clothing brands, and until you feel & wear the clothing yourself, you shouldn’t make rash judgements on the quality that certain brands can offer. Check for yourself, and buy things that are high in QUALITY, not just BRAND.