Monday, November 30, 2009

Rugby by Ralph Lauren: 2010 Spring Collection

The Rugby by Ralph Lauren Spring Collection is considerably nicer than the previous year. With the change in climate in this country designers have brought the fashions back down to earth, which is a good thing, especially for such an edgy brand like Rugby.

The outfit are different, sprezzatura and modern, yet quite wearable and realistic. This 2010 collection is inspirational, while the previous year the outfits felt try hard.

The white cable knit tennis sweater cardigan is outstanding. I have enjoyed the cable knit tennis sweater for a while, but never seen it in a cardigan. What a great twist on the classic menswear staple. It certainly modernizes the piece for a new generation to own. The ripped jeans and tie are also a great choice with a classic banker stripe shirt.

The navy suit is very classic and well tailored. The shirt makes the outfit modern. The shirt has a contrast collar which is very sharp. The collar is shorter than normal, with a vintage cut. It looks like a throw back to the 1920s, the collar is rounded at the tips and held to the neck with a collar pin. This makes for the collar staying only at the neck and not sloped on the shirt. This is quite different from the standard classic look, but has its heritage in the vintage preferences. Another modern element to the navy suit is the tan belt, which pops on the dark background of the suit. I think that the light tan belt and shoes is a must for the spring. Very Italian.

The three piece chino suit feels like something the Great Gatsby would have worn. It is well tailored and comes in a thicker cloth than most of the other cotton suits. It also has a vest on the suit, an additional not commonly seen on suits. I also think the plaid shirt is a nice way to add interest and color to the outfit. More visually appealing than a blue striped shirt would have been. I am still on the fence about the bow tie, but gut tells me to lose it.

The cut on the plaid cotton blazer is perfect. This outfit has great sprezzatura, the unbuttoned and rolled cuffs, the tie tucked into the jeans, the unbuttoned and lose tie.  I think the pattern itself is unexpected and classic.  The white buttons on the blazer are a great touch, as well.

This is my least favorite outfit from Rugby.  It is plain and ordinary, it is also ultra casual.  I never dress this casual, so I really have little feelings about it.  I also do not like the navy blazer with white contrast striping.  As I have discussed before, contrast striped blazers are over done and too try hard.

Holiday Office Party Attire, done the right way

The proper Holiday Office Party attire should be able to be accomplished with your current wardrobe. You want to make sure the outfit is professional, classic, modern and fun. It needs to be memorable without standing out and representative of your personal style. To make sure that you fit all the requirements, stick to the mainstay classics in your wardrobe.

Classic Charcoal Gray Suit - Stick with a perfectly tailored and trim fitting suit. Make sure it compliments you and actually fits. Go with a charcoal gray, it will go with anything. You should already know what suit I am describing; yes the "Money Suit". If you live in an area where the weather is appropriate, you might want to break out the flannel suit for this occasion, but remember there will be dancing. Trust me, there will be dancing.

Black Oxford Shoes - Wear the classic black oxford shoes. This is the perfect occasion to breakout the shoes that you wear to interviews, weddings and funerals. Now add Holiday Parties to that list.

Dress Shirt - Keep it classic. The well tailored, white dress shirt with medium spread pin point collar is the perfect call for the occasion.  Think of it as the base for your tie and pocket square selection. It also makes the transition to the after party very well. Just undue the collar roll up the sleeves and you can hang all night without looking like you walked out of a Christmas themed nightmare. Remember, there will be lots of pictures and some sent to your clients and vendors, keep it classic.

Tie - For the tie I would recommend a classic gray tie with hints of red or maroon or burgundy. This will give it a hint of the holidays without making it look like you've been dreaming of a white Christmas since July. I also think a solid dark red tie in a satin or silk would look great. If you are going with a pattern, keep it small and classic. A wool tie or silk knit would also look great, as the fabric would play well against the worsted wool suit. As always make sure the tie is 3" or skinnier. Since it is a party, you can go with a tie skinnier than normal, but please do yourself a favor and do not go down to the 2" tie.

Pocket Square - Have some fun, it is a party after all.  Go with a wool or silk red pocket square, patterned with other colors if it is wool.  If it is silk, go with a dark red and avoid the true red.  Another great option is the always appropriate white linen pocket square, worn off slightly off kilter.

Sprezzatura - Don't look too perfect.  That is an easy way too look like a nancy and have everyone hate you.  Mess something up a little bit.  Unbutton your cuffs, mess up the tie a bit, keep the pocket square sloppy.  No man should ever look perfect.

Socks - Have a lot of fun with your socks.  Make them brightly colored, striped, paisley, or another pattern.  Make them a different color than the suit and shirt.  Wear red, green, whatever.  This is a great opportunity to wear green and red plaid to go with the Christmas spirit, like the one above sold at Ben Silver.  It will be recognized and you will lauded for having pride in the season.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

The Best Undershirts are Gray

When dealing with undershirts, it is important to understand how the shirt going over the undershirt is being worn. For most men there are three options, with a tie, one button undone and two buttons undone. To best accommodate each style of shirt there are a few different style of dress shirts. To start off lets look at the most common solution, and the one I prefer.

Gray V-Neck Undershirt -

This is the most versatile undershirt in your closet and will work for most guys with most outfits. A gray undershirt is superior to a white undershirt since it will not show through from under a white dress shirt. The gray undershirt provides no visible undershirt lines (the male version of pantie lines). Since gray will not show through any light colored shirt, it makes it the most versatile color in the wardrobe. As a V-neck, the shirt allows for the top button to be undone without showing a t-shirt underneath. If the shirt has a deep enough V-neck, two buttons can be undone with a shirt being seen.

When I want a more casual look I appreciate the layered look of showing a gray v-neck shirt from under a button-down shirt. If the button-down shirt has two or three buttons undone and the gray shirt underneath, the look can be quite cool, it is a very sprezzatura and nonchalant look. 

For those that do not like to have a shirt showing underneath, ever, the best option is a deep V-neck undershirt.  Depending on the amount of buttons that you typically have unbuttoned, the best option I have found is the Alternative Apparel V-neck shirts. The Eco Boss V-neck is a deeper than normal V-neck and comes in two great heather gray colors.  It is also extremely comfortable cotton and is nice enough to be worn all by itself as a shirt.  The Alternative Apparel Eco Boss runs for about $28 direct or for only $15 thru Urban Outfitters.

For the people that demand an even deeper V-neck shirt I recommend the Alternative Apparel deep V-neck burnout shirt. It comes in a few extra washed colors and fabrics. It is a very soft cotton fabric and runs for about $30-$40, and featured below.

Lastly, for those that don't care about the depth of the V-neck and do not want to pay so much for an undershirt, Gap is a great option. The Gap sells two heather gray shirts for under $20, these shirts are quite comfortable and fit well. I also recommend the Uniqlo undershirt. It runs for about $10 per shirt and has fuller body than the Gap shirt.

Depending on your preference, think about gray... it makes for a great versatile alternative to white.

Monday, November 23, 2009

J. Crew 2010 Spring Collection

J. Crew in my opinion is the one of the best brands for presenting Sprezzatura style.  Thanks to Frank Muytjens, J. Crew has created a very uniform style over the last few years.  Especially in the last year or so.  I feel that the brand represents the modern male fashion, preppy, tailored, sprezzatura, elegant, classic, cool while not being try hard.  They seem to be blazing the trail, while the other brands are trying to keep up with their brand representation.  I personally love the look and find quite a bit of inspiration in it.

Here is how J. Crew sees the 2010 Spring/Summer.

Navy Suit - The most classic suit in the classic American wardrobe, a navy suit.  This is a lighter navy, which makes it stand-out from the crowd.  It also prevents it from being misdiagnosed as a black suit.  It has a modern slim fit without looking ridiculous.  It also has the appropriate level of Sprezzatura: no socks, chambray shirt, slightly rolled cuff.  It also has the appropriate level of classic elements: rounded toe wingtips, pocket square and navy suit.  A great outfit.

This outfit looks like something worn by a Kennedy on Holiday in Cape Cod.  Classic sunglasses, Sperry Topsiders, chinos and a button-down.  A very casual cool weekend uniform.

The best part of this outfit is the tan shoes.  I prefer the shoes to be oxfords and not bluchers, but I do like the bulk of the blucher, especially for a casual outfit.  I also like the tie for this outfit is light colored and almost gets lost in the outfit.  It is very Sprezzatura to wear the tie lose with a tie bar, very cool.

Tan suede desert boots, slim straight destructed jeans and a red chambray shirt.  It doesn't get much more casual than this outfit, yet due to the color and textures it is still stylish.  This outfit is appropriate for errands on a Sunday, but can still be worn on a casual date.

This is my favorite outfit of the J. Crew collection.  This outfit would be cool in 50s or 60s or today.  The outfit is a great representation of the American style while not looking cliche or overplayed.  The green jacket with red plaid lining is a standout piece, without being over whelming.  The blue shirt, gray sweater and chinos is classic and stylish and cool.  The washed chinos make it sprezzatura and the slim lines make it modern.  Also, the outfit is much more casual with the shoes, a more formal.

Chino suits are great for the summer, so are topsiders.  The combination is classic and contradictory, a good thing for any outfit.  I would lose the bow tie though.

Nice weekender bag, it looks like his father owned it, exactly the right look.  A denim shirt and denim jeans can look horrible and the epitome of style, but due to the shoes, the Sprezzatura way the shirt is haphazardly worn and tucked in and the slim fit jeans, the outfit looks modern.

Who doesn't like a sweater with shorts?  I always love a gray undershirt, that look never gets old.  Throw on topsiders and the outfit is complete.  I would lose the ugly ass big bag though.  For the love of all that is manly, leave the purse carrying to the women.

Shawl collar cardigan fantastically classic and modern.  It is a look that never leaves the closet of the stylish but is now being added to the closet of the fashionable.  I still think you should wear it, I know Steve McQueen did.  The chambray shirt adds depth to the outfit.  Also, shorts with desert boots is the sartorial contradiction that is both modern and Sprezzatura, it is completely unexpected and appropriate.

In this photo I really dig the white blazer.  It is a look that is perfect for the Spring/Summer.  Make the blazer a shawl collar, slim fit and washed, and no one will think you just walked out of Saturday Night Fever.  I also appreciate the chino suit jacket paired with the navy suit pants, it is a nice color combination.

The blue chino slim fit pants in this picture (on the left) are great.  The color and the fit make them enormously useful.  They go with almost any color in a closet and make an outfit standout.  All that while still being classic and not standing out and making you look like a jackass.

Here is a close-up of the chambray shirt.  It is an interesting shirt a good color and has depth since it has multiple levels of blue in the fabric.  The tab color also makes it more interesting than the standard shirt.  The military green belt is also a great touch.  It is rugged and aggressive but also very stylish, especially when worn with a nice pair of chinos.

Could you add any more colors or patterns?  Probably not, but the outfit still works.  This is the ultimate Sprezzatura, it looks like he dressed himself in the dark, yet still "luckily" got it right.  This is modern fashion at its best, unexpected, daring, classic and incredibly interesting.

J. Crew inpires me.  Good job Frank Muytjens.  By the way, Frank Muytjens personal style is also quite interesting.  The shoes and purple socks are fantastic.  I love that the socks match nothing on the outfit.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

New York City Trip Recap - Part 2

After leaving the Liquor Store I wandered the streets of New York, enjoying the beautiful fall day and looking for a unique and special find.  I wanted more, I wanted one last store to enjoy immensely.  A store that can only be found in New York and would leave me with a feeling that I had a memorable New York City experience, a final note on an amazing day of enjoyable shopping.  I truly am a nerd for shopping, I know, you don’t have to remind me.  But if you want to you can email me at:

Just then I wandered across an interesting looking store, Cockpit.  I poked my head in and found exactly what I was looking for, a great find hidden in the maze of city streets.  Cockpit has some of the nicest staff I have seen at a store.  They were competent, knowledgeable, conversational and yet knew the right moment to leave me alone right before I would have had an urge to injure them.  The store looks like a Military service hang out on an American base in Vietnam mixed with a gentleman’s parlor mixed with a retail store in NYC.

Cockpit makes their own military inspired clothes as well as actual military replicas.  The store also has a great selection of well made Over coats, Top coats, leather jackets, boots, leather shoes and casual wear.  They had some very interesting and well cut henleys, sweaters and military inspired shirts.  Cockpit also had unique vintage pieces from previous Wars like the Japanese Kamikaze pilot flight suit and the 1941 American solider Army helmet.  Apparently Cockpit was the company that made the brown leather Bomber jacket Tom Cruise wore in Top Gun.  Next month they are re-releasing the jacket, which will be sold in store.

My favorite piece was a wool herringbone top coat that was inspired by German officers.  The coat was modernized with a trimmer, sleeker, tailored fit.  It has black velvet accents on the collar and sleeve cuffs that can be worn two different ways: rolled up to reveal black velvet or undone for a more simple look.  It is double breasted and garnished with simple black metal buttons.  The details on the coat are fantastic, including the beautiful lining.  The coat is an absolute statement piece.  It can be worn dressed up or dressed down, but it will always get you noticed.  Sometimes, that is just what a man needs.

Next time in town, I am certainly going to visit Cockpit again.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New York City Trip Recap - Part 1

On my NYC shopping trip that was discussed so much before the trip, here is how the trip went.

My first stop of the day was to Uniqlo, which I went into detail already.  I arrived at the shop at 11a and was there about an hour.  From Uniqlo I went to Rag & Bone and then to Jack Olive.  Read about those stores by clicking the links.  By that time it was half past one and my stomach was growling loudly.


On my way to Delicatessen I passed through Canal st., New York City’s Tijuana or the “Fashion” district in Los Angeles.  Anything can be bought on that street, fake designer bags, colored contacts, fake Rolex watches and of course Obama Condoms.  That’s right, Obama Condoms.

Hawked by a woman with a giant shiny sign above her head Obama Condoms are the “ultimate stimulus package”.  They are “hope flavored” and a perfect way to “remember the election with your next erection”.   They even have McCain condoms as well, but there were no catchy slogans accompanying the McCain condoms.  I would be a miss not to mention that you can buy Obama Condoms online.

Finally I made it to Delicatessen for lunch.  What a nice trendy spot in the Village.  It has good food, beautiful women, a nice d├ęcor and a fine bar staff.  I recommend stopping by the establishment for lunch during a shopping excursion, sitting at the bar and ordering from Victor.  He has a great sense of humor, comments on the beautiful woman, has a great grasp of the menu and for making drinks, and will flirt with the woman non-stop.  Compared to him you will look like a saint, a perfect compliment to lunch experience.  I recommend you try the Tuna Tartar, which is among the best I have ever had.  I enjoyed the Cheeseburger spring rolls for there uniqueness but wouldn’t get them again.  Above is a picture of the Fried Chicken with Jalapeno-Cheddar Cornbread.

After lunch I strolled over to the Liquor Store, as it is called.  It is the J. Crew directional flagship store in Tribeca.  It certainly is not your standard J. Crew retailer but instead a destination store that sells all of the special J. Crew men’s items.  The store holds inventory for the items that generally sold only online and via catalogue, no matter the size of your local J. Crew retailer.  They carry Alden shoes, Red Wing Boots, the special edition Levis and Globe Trotter luggage.  They carry the Burbour jackets, Mackintosh top coats, and Ludlow suits.  They even carry things that can’t be bought online or via the catalogue like vintage Rolex watches, tie-clips and vintage belts.

All and all the store is quite unique and interesting experience.  It is the J. Crew ideal in store form, certainly worth the visit.  As for making the store a normal shopping destination, probably not, but I would stop by for inspirational ideas and to try on unique items.  Few other places can you try on the Mackintosh coat to make sure the size fits just right or the pair of Alden oxblood loafers.  I also have to commend the store for having a selection of items sold only at the Liquor Store.  Most people notice the tie-clips, Rolexs and belts, but I took note of the bags and books.

The Liquor Store by J. Crew had a nice selection of Weekender Bags and over the shoulder totes that are not yet sold online.  They also have a selection of books, which seemed quite interesting.  It seemed to me that someone had taken as much time choosing the books as they had choosing the clothes.  For me those details do not go unrecognized.  In the photo above you can see the black leather weekender, it has clean lines and a cool classic shape.  Quite a handsome and smart looking bag.

On my way to my next store I encountered a group of street performers singing outside of yet another J. Crew down the street.  They were quite fun to watch and listen to.  Tomorrow I will post Part 2 of this journey.