Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Boots: Warmth in Style

Utilitarian style is certainly a departure for the typical business man.  Aside from a trench coat or over coat to protect him from the elements, most modern men do not utilize utilitarian clothing on a regular basis. The suit and tie are certainly far from utilitarian and while a sweater adds warmth and style, it would be hard to call it utilitarian.

Yet some utilitarian pieces are so iconic, they themselves become stylish: motorcycle jackets save your hide in a fall and look great, Sperry Topsiders keep you on your feet while on a wet sailboat, and duck boots keep your feet warm and dry even in the heaviest rain or snow storm. The look of each of these items is designed to help facilitate the task in question. A motorcycle jacket is made from rugged thick leather, it has padding in all the right places and is streamlined so that nothing will catch in the wind.  Topsiders have rubber soles with wavy cuts in the sole to help prevent slips, they are designed to get wet, holding to the foot better as they get wet, since the feet are sure to get wet they are designed to be worn without socks, as no one enjoys wearing wet socks.

As for duck boots, the soles help provide traction in the snow. The rubber, water proof sole wraps from the bottom of the shoe upward to cover the vamp.  Halfway up the vamp the leather upper boot begins, covering the foot and leg in warmth and water protection. The boot is typically fur lined and has a water resistant lining. Sorel the maker of the infamous Caribou boot, a variation on the duck boot rates the boot for up to -44 degrees.  This boot will keep your feet warm and dry. In addition to the great utilitarian value the boot offers, it also is quite stylish. The iconic look of the duck boot means that you can stay out of the elements and look good while doing it. Nothing flashy or ostentatious, just plain old utilitarian style, a man always looks good like that.  In my opinion the best looking and most functional pair of duck boots is manufactured by Sorel.  There Caribou boots sell for $110 and may be on sale for a few bucks less. These are the pair I choose to cover my feet.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Holiday Office Party

First and Foremost, I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday.

Pictures are in from the Holiday Office Party.  I wore a gray charcoal Hugo Boss suit, a white bespoke shirt and an Express wool plaid tie.  The tie is mainly gray and black with highlights of red and white.  This is paired with a red silk pocket square.  The silk compliments the wool tie well, as the different fabric add interest to the outfit.  The red in the square picks up the same color in the tie, helping to accent it, without being too much red, or looking too thought out.

A man never wants the outfit to look too planned, accidentally color coordinated and planned is the goal.  What I choose to call sprezzatura. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Reader's Question: Tie Widths Abound & Other Questions

Mr. BigShot writes (and no I am not making up that name)....
“I came across your blog the other day and enjoy reading it. I saw a post where you explained the best tie width is 3 inches. Do you know where I can find 3 inch ties? Most stores carry ties in 3.5-4 inch width, so it's a bit hard to find them.

I also have a couple more questions on items I need to locate. I'm looking for a pair of flat-front mid-grey (think grey heather or charcoal heather colors) for under $150, preferably under $100. Do you know where I can find these? I'm also looking for oxford collar button down shirts with shoulder pleats instead of the box pleat, which I find unnecessary. I have an athletic, lean body type, so a box pleat only adds extra fabric and puffiness to the back, which I don't need. Know where I can find one for under $75? Thanks.”

Thankfully, more and more retailers are adding the “slimmer” ties to there selection, at some stores they are not even categorized as slim ties and are just the only tie width sold.  Like with jeans, stay away from the skinny and gravitate toward the slim.  I certainly have my favorite places to sell ties around 3” they are in two different categories:

The High End -

Thomas Pink makes great dress shirts and ties.  Some of the best color combinations made, this also applies for their slim ties.  They sell slim ties for around $100 a tie and come in a wide range of colors and patterns.  This is certainly suggested for those that perfer bold colors.  Shown here is a more classic blue tie with white & red stripe, quite an elegant tie.

Brooks Brothers is known for classic, conservative style.  One of the original makers of the sack cut suit, they rarely make any deviations from the classic and most conservative style.  The fact that they are selling slim ties, is not an inditement on them, but instead an approval of the rebirth that 3" ties are having, thankfully.  Brooks Brothers sells their slim ties for $75 to $90 a tie and they come in a variety of classic looks and patterns.

Mid to Low Range Cost -

Starting at the top and working our way down.  J. Crew only sells ties in the 3" range.  They have a wide range of silk, wool and cotton ties in a variety of modern and classic patterns and colors.  It is a great way to experiment with patterns and colors without completely jumping the shark with an odd pattern.  J. Crew also is great for the traditional, classic, collegiate look, my personal favorite.  A look that J. Crew does as well as anyone, except for maybe Brooks Brothers.  J. Crew ties sell from $60 to $40 at full price and have quite good deals in store when ties go on sale.  I have picked up more than one tie at J. Crew for under $20, just need to keep your eyes open.

Most men's retailers now sell slim ties, Nordstroms, Bloomingdales and even Macy's.  The latter have a variety of ties from different manufacturers: Ben Sherman, Alfani & Tallia.  The quality of the designs varies store to store and region to region depending on the buyer, but they usually have a good deal on the ties ranging from: $50 to $25.  I perfer the Ben Sherman or Tallia designs, but Alfani can have some good ties for evening events.  Stick to other brands like Pink, Brooks and J. Crew if you are buying the ties for work.

Grey Slacks -

As for the mid-grey slacks if you live near NYC, I suggest you try Uniqlo.  They have great prices and the cut is slim and slender, perfect for a slender fellow, like yourself.  The Uniqlo wool slacks are typically under a $100.

Another option is Banana Republic.  They have well made slacks in a wide range of classic colors.  I have a pair of flannel mid-grey heathered slacks that I picked up at Banana Republic for about $100.  Make sure you stick to the "Tailored" fit pants, as they are slimmer and will look better on you.  The "Modern" fit are slightly bigger throughout the leg.  Banana Republic sells their wool pants from: $180 to $40, depending on sales.  Good news, BR usually have the best sales on pants of any retailer.

The last recommendation is J. Crew.  They have the "Ludlow" cut pants, a slim, modern cut, which would look great with your frame.  The Ludlow pants are from $150 to $120 and rarely come down much in price.  They also do not typically come in a heathered look, but they will fit you well.  It is at least worth taking a look.

Oxford Shirts -

For the Oxford shirt, I recommend finding a bespoke tailor near you and having them make 3 to 6 shirts to your body type and with the pleats and buttons and collars to your preference.  Once you go bespoke with shirts it is hard to go back.  They are made especially for you to you liking and will make you look the best you can possibly look.  The slight increase in cost is completely worth the statisfaction you will have with the shirts.  This is an investment that will change your opinion on the way ready made shirts are sold.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Morris Stockholm: Fall 2009 Collection

Morris Stockholm called their Fall 2009 collection, Preppy Autumn.  An apropos name for the feel and look of the Fall collection.  I have become a fan of the Morris Stockholm look.  A look that is preppy, sprezzatura, carefree, classic and modern.

Morris Stockholm utilizes the classic F' 'em pants in the both their Spring and Fall collections.  Appropriately, the Fall collection are strong classic colors, base colors; red, blue & green.  The Spring F' 'em pants are in pink, pastel blue & pastel green.  Each season the color pallet changes and this is well recognized in the collections.  Heavy usage of colors, but the appropriate colors for each season.

A classic corduroy blazer, with elbow patches and leather buttons in a modern slim fit.  The sleeves are trim, which make the blazer look quite trim.  Navy patterned tie and patterned v-neck sweater, worn over a blue oxford shirt.  This is a nice combination of colors and patterns.  I also like the combination of wheat colored coat with gray slacks.  A mix of colors that is quite fall.

The lines on this outfit are very modern: slim, trim and clean.  The jacket is beautifully cut and in loud and broad colors in a great plaid pattern, this jacket will certainly stand out in the crowd.  I also love the tan shoes, both color and cut. 

The clean cut blazer in this outfit is gorgeous.  It is elegant, classic and has a modern cut, a great mix of two worlds.  The purple socks are an amazing touch with this outfit.  They are a pop of color that is otherwise not in the outfit.  That is the definition of artful dishevelment, sprezzatura.

I love the red flannel lining the underside of the jackets collar.  It adds a great unique element to an otherwise classic jacket.  And with this kind of jacket, you should actually be wearing it with the collar popped.  On overcoats, it is okay, on polos, it is a disgrace to your entire family.

Red plaid shirts are quite popular right now.  They are being worn in a variety of ways, but paired with tan/wheat colored corduroy pants it is not seen that often.  It is a great way to wear the shirt without channeling lumberjacks or farmers.  The oilcloth jacket is nice as well.

The story here is the red scarf with an otherwise purple outfit.  This is a beautiful mix of colors, but a very unusual one.  The addition of a red scarf takes this outfit to another level, something to remember when picking out a scarf in the future.

If a red scarf is the story in the last outfit, the red belt is the story in this outfit.  Once again the outfit is trim and modern in the fit.  Which makes the classic pairing look young and modern.  Add a bright red belt, as the sprezzatura element on the outfit, and you have an amazing outfit.

More bright colored F' 'em pants cut in a modern slim fit.  I personally would opt for a charcoal jacket, instead of the black featured here.  I actually think it would help make the whole outfit more cohesive.

Enjoy the weekend.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Friday WTF

It's Friday, so we got to laugh about something.  Check out this collection from the Paris runways.  The designer is Walter Van Beirendonck and my guess is he is on drugs.  The clothes look like they are made out of florescent colored pipe cleaners.  The whole presentation is just absurd.  Enjoy the laugh.

Reader's Question: Pocket Squares

John O. from Los Angeles asks:

"Do you know any good and affordable sources for (1) silk paisley pocket squares, and (2) white linen pocket squares with hand-rolled edges?  I got my white linen squares from Schweitzer Linens, but for some reason the linen ones have machine hemmed edges.  The cotton ones seem to be hand rolled, but I didn't buy cotton ones (nor do I plan on buying any plain white cotton squares)."

Thanks John for the question.  I find that a great place to look for pocket squares is at Bloomingdales.  In store they have a wide selection of pocket squares, in the suit section near the ties.  It is one of the larger pocket square sections.  The Bloomingdales brand silk pocket square is sold for around $22.  It has hand rolled edges and come in great patterns and colors.  They also usually have a few pocket squares on sale as well, I have found some great ones for about $10 a square.  Good luck find a helpful sales person, but that story is told over and over again.

Online I find that a great place for affordable pocket squares is Sam Hober.  They make bespoke neckties as well as carry a huge selection of ready made ties & pocket squares.  I found a couple paisley pocket squares on the site that I felt were quite handsome.

This blue paisley is perfect for winter with its dark rich colors.  It is sold on Sam Hober for on only $35.  The coloring would be great to accent a dark red madder tie.  It would also compliment a gold or olive tie.  This square would work well with gray or navy suits well since it has such a universal navy base color.

The olive green paisley square above can also be found on Sam Hober.  It would go great with a navy or blue tie, gold or yellow tie and a dark red tie.  A bright red tie with this pocket square would look too Christmas like.  You could also wear it with a dark forest green necktie.  I think this square would pop out best in a navy suit, but you can never go wrong with a gray suit.

Sam Hober also has a beautiful hand rolled white linen pocket square.  This linen pocket square is sold for $40 and is a weave with considerable weight.  Some white linen pocket squares have much thicker and rougher thread, which makes the square less refined.  A white linen square should hold a crease well and add a clean, crisp, strip of color to a suit.

You might want to also check Lands End and Men's Wearhouse online.  Both of those retailers has pocket squares ranging from $15 to $10.  The Lands End pocket square is above and the Men's Wearhouse square is featured below.

A linen square should always be folded and ironed into a perfect square for display.  A silk pocket square should be dropped hap-hazardly into the breast pocket.  They should be worn differently and provide a different edge to the jacket and look.

Remember to email me your fashion questions to: Modern Dignified.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Morris Stockholm: Spring 2010 Collection

In this cold weather, what better to look at then Spring clothing?  Morris Stockholm released their Spring 2010 Collection, which is below.

I enjoy the bright colors and color combinations that Morris Stockholm present.  The pastel color pattern is full use.  I admire the bright pastel F' 'em pants, they are slim straight and modern cut.  I also like the lavender tennis sweater.  I always enjoy tennis sweaters and this one is a great representation of the sweater.

The tan cotton suit has a modern silhouette.  The addition of the green driving moccasins is a nice addition to the slim silhouette one button suit.  I personally do not enjoy the dark shirt paired with the suit.

More of the same, high contrast colors.  Rolled pants and sockless shoes, seems to be consistent heading into the new season.  I enjoy the red fabric belt used in this outfit.  The mix of orange, red, pink, pastel green and kelly green in one outfit is very inspiring.  The reasons those colors work, is because the greens are in the same family and the orange, pink and red are in the same family, which means it is essentially only a mix of two color families.

More brightly colored F' 'em pants, which look great.  The pink shirt balances the fuchsia pants well.  The blue tie with pink and white stripes is a classic color combination.  For a sprezzatura flair to the outfit, the green belt is a great addition to this preppy outfit.  This is a look that I can see Chuck Bass rocking, for sure.

Well, at least the girl in this picture is pretty.  Not much more to say about the it.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Ralph Lauren: 2010 Spring Collection

Ralph Lauren's collection is about colors, which is the essence of Spring clothing.  Bright blues, pastels, white and tan seem to be the key colors that Ralph Lauren want us to be wearing this Spring.  I especially appreciate the blue suits that are so common in this collection.

I also enjoy the yellow shoes in this collection, very sprezzatura.  The entire collection uses colors as a form of sprezzatura.  Hope this is inspiring and provides some ideas for your Spring wardrobe.