Friday, December 31, 2010

J.Press at Urban Outfitters??

WTF?  What did you say?  J. Press, the East Coast style stalwart of classic traditional men's clothes, are at Urban Outfitters, the purveyor of trendy casual clothing for hipsters?  This can't be a good idea.  There is no way these two companies came together and actually made something that works both of them... or could they?

Judge for yourself?  Traditional classic designs, modern slim cut, well made and straddling the line between stuffy and trendy without being either.  Yep, the combination is a slam dunk success.  Check out the wool crew neck sweaters in classic gray and light blue.  They are perfect in anyone's wardrobe.

They are heavy, classic and slim fit. 

Then we come to the oxfords.  They have a perfectly muddled blue oxford as well as a pink striped and blue striped edition.  The oxfords are cut for the modern day man, but would make the stuffiest traditionalist in Martha's Vineyard happy.  They have great style and are essential to any man's wardrobe.  It looks right at a hipster bar or under a suit in law office, which is a rare feat.

Then we have the khaki pants, slim cut without being tight.  Shorter cropped, without looking like high waters.  They would look good with Sperrys, Aldens or Purcells.  Another wardrobe essential done, just the way it should be modern but classically traditional.

I wanted to hate the collaboration between J.Press and Urban Outfitters, but instead I am impressed and wanting more of it.  I know I am getting carried away, but I would like to see Urban Outfitters modern tailoring sharpen the pencil on all that J.Press has to offer.  Maybe that would result in more well cut classics, or maybe it would just ruin the classic brand.  Either way, I like what we have here.  It is just what the stuffy J.Press needed and just what the ultra liberal Urban Outfitter needed, a well complimented collaboration of conflicting styles.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Carhartt Now More Than Ever

I have always loved quality and functionality.  I think they are both essential to my personal style as I like to buy something and wear it for years.  That is why I always recommend building a wardrobe on classics and not fashion.  But sometimes style and fashion converge, as we are seeing now in the rugged workman and lumberjack looks.  So now more than ever I recommend Carhartt.

Carhartt has made the best work wear for years.  Classic, durable, and great for cold weather.  The stuff can stand up to the worst abuse or the coldest conditions.  I highly recommend the Carhartt Chore Coat, as shown above.  It comes with blanket lining and a great classic look.  Suitable for a casual cold day around the city.  Wear it with jeans and a flannel or chambray shirt.

I also think they make a great looking vest and jeans.  The vest is not the horrible vinyl shiny look that you see everywhere, but instead a nice simple plain design.

The jeans are worker jeans.  They are relaxed fit and baggier than what is trendy but I like that right now, for an occasional variation to the slim fit jeans.  Go with the Duck Brown and wear them with Red Wing Boots, they will look better with boots, as they look like the belong worn with boots.  Just don't wear the jacket, vest and pants at the same time, that is just wrong.

So if you want classic and durable go with Carhartt and forget the APC colaboration with them, it just feels too forced.  Since when have the French and workwear ever mixed well?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Thomas Pink Joins the Real World

I love a nicely pressed shirt and crisp suit more then most men, but I also enjoy a good over-washed oxford with frayed cuffs.  To dress appropriately for the modern era a man must be able to move between informal and formal clothing flawlessly.  A man wearing a suit everywhere looks like an out of touch dolt.  A man who dresses too casual conversely is rarely taken seriously.  A modern dignified male must dress appropriately for all situations.

That is why it is always nice to see a great brand like Thomas Pink recognize the need for quality informal clothing.  This is a trend that we have seen already with brands like Brooks Brothers and Gant and now with the formal clothing experts at Thomas Pink.

Their new line of aptly titled "Informal" shirts and sweaters are perfect mix between relaxed comfort and classic conservative style.  A mix that we are always looking for.  Classically modern.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I am sure you have heard the hype that is surrounding SeaVees.  While I am not one to jump on the hype wagon, with SeaVees, I can understand why the are so appreciated.  Modern sneakers with simple clean lines, good colors, classic shape and textures.  While SeaVees are more of a summer shoe, these can work well year around in temprate climates.

Out of the three shoes featured, the navy blue leather kicks are the best of the bunch.  Clean and simple to the point of being classic and conservative.  These shoes look like something the Kennedy's wore to Martha's Vineyard as much as something worn by surfers to Venice beach.  Now that is what I call a versatile shoe.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


Clae shoes, the essence of the modern kick, simple, plain, elegant.  Clean lines, interesting textures, good construction and a great profile.  With the clean classic styling to this shoe it could be worn with jeans or dressed up with chinos.  This shoe would work with shorts or support a hefty fall wardrobe of flannel and layers. 

With this shoe, it is the flannel texture with the gray leather accents that really provide the visual intrigue.  Its all about the depth and warmth that this shoe which is complimented with the basic and attractive profile.  If you are looking for a sneaker for fall, take a look at Clae.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Red Wing's Flying Away with It

When it comes to winter boots, again and again we turn to Red Wing.  For winter shoes you first need a shoe that will hold up.  After that you and only after quality can you look at style.  In the winter it doesn't matter how nice it looks, if the shoe isn't durable, water proof and warm, who cares.

Red Wing boots are a staple in quality boots and they look good, that means they are worth buying.  As with any good dress shoe, boots should hold up for years no matter what you put them through.  Red Wing boots will be good for years.  Drying them out after the snow and the rain, and wear them again and again.

Especially nice when they come in interesting options like blue leather or chukka boots.  Basically, if you don't have a pair, buy yourself some Red Wing boots.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Timberland Steps It Up

As an attempt to not miss the party, which is stylish and fashionable clothes, Timberland has decided to make some shoes that widen their appeal. Timberland under the brand name Timberland Boot Company has decided to make some shoes that not only standup to what any brand offers but actually surpass many.

Timberland has released an Oxford shoe and a Chukka Boot. While the Oxford has appeal, it is the chukka offering that stands out. Presented in a brown and black leather with a slightly distressed look the shoe looks like it has been worn for years. It delivers a refined look without being stuffy or pretentious. Exactly what we look for in a boot.

While his boot would be perfect for jeans, it could really set off a nice flannel or corduroy suit in the fall months.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Essentials of a Work Wardrobe - Belt

The perfect belt for work is a simple reversible belt with black on one side and brown on the other. The buckle head swivels to the side that will match the chosen shoe color. The belt and shoes should always match and this belt helps ensure that. It also makes it easier for travel, making one belt the only need to switch between two pairs of shoes, the ones you are wearing the ones you packed.

Reversible belts also ensure that you can buy a higher quality belt and wear it daily, as opposed to buying two lower quality belts. The highest quality belts have leather that starts out stiff and will loosen with wear. This is key for long term use of the belt. Lower quality belts start out pliable and only get more pliable with time. They also have a tendency to crack or split. Another common fault of cheap belts is a buckle that is loose or less effective. The more it is worn, the worse it gets. For a belt, which is worn daily, this is quite troublesome.

One additional thing to address when buying a work belt is the color of the buckle. Do you prefer silver, gold or a dark graphite color for the buckle? This is often based on the color of the watch and  jewelry metal that you wear. The most modern look and the most versatile is a dark graphite buckle. It will go well with silver or gold and does not stand out when wearing it. This is a great trait for belt buckle, since we are not wearing cowboy boots and tight jeans. We recommend a simple graphite buckle, it will work with every outfit in the closet.

The best companies for belts are the same companies that sell shoes, for the most part. We recommend looking at: Bass, Ben Silver, Cole Haan and Johnston & Murphy. For lower quality belts check out: Macy's.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Essentials of a Work Wardrobe - Shoes

Are the most important and the most expensive item in the wardrobe, behind suits. The key is that a good pair of shoes when polished regularly and stored with shoe trees, will last a minimum of 15 or 20 years and potentially will last a lifetime. No other item a man can buy will last as long as a good pair of shoes. Not a suit, not a car, nothing. So it is highly suggested that everyman have at least two pairs of high quality shoes. One shoe in brown leather, one shoe in black leather, both in lace up oxfords. For the most versatile wardrobe the pair of black shoes should have clean lines and a classic look. Either a plain oxford or cap-toe oxford will do. This shoe needs to be simple and basic so it can be worn to interviews, weddings and funerals. This is the most conservative shoe in the closet and will be worn more than your favorite pair of jeans. The second shoe needs to be a dark brown shoe with some brogueing. Depending on your style anything from a wingtip to a cap toe oxford with slight brogueing
will suffice.

With both of these shoes it is crucial to stay away from them being a blucher and stick with oxfords. A blucher has an open throat lacing and is less formal than the oxford. The oxford has a closed throat lacing and is much more formal. To begin with it is best to stay with the more conservative and formal oxfords. They will have cleaner lines and will look better with a suit. Bluchers are a bulkier shoe and don't look as good with a suit, the extra weight typically only looks good with jeans or khakis.

Additionally, if a more casual shoe is desired, than opt for a loafer rather than a blucher. The loafer will add variety to the wardrobe and be quite useful in the hot summer months. Loafers are also perfect for flying as they are easy to remove at airport security. If you choose a loafer stick with a penny loafer as they are smart looking and classic. Stay away from loafers with tassels or any unneeded frivolity. Plain and simple will never go out of style. The loafer should also be in a mid-brown color. Not as dark as the oxfords but also not as light as a tan color.

These three shoes will serve most men well. As you wish to add further shoes to your collection, add varying degrees of brogueing in various colors. We recommend add shades of brown from dark to light tan with brogueing or no brogueing, based on your personal style. Lighter shoes are preferred in the summer and darker shoes in the winter, as they match the weather and the amount of sunlight.

The best places to buy good quality dress shoes are: Allen Edmonds, Alden, Ben Silver, Cole Haan, Johnston & Murphy and Banana Republic. For loafers Bass is one of the best options, but the previous companies will work.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Essentials of a Work Wardrobe - Dress Shirts

Will be worn daily and always need to be clean and pressed. This means that having between 8 and 12 dress shirts will ensure there is always a clean one to be worn. Even if the office allows for polos to be worn, wear a dress shirt Monday through Thursday and leave the polo for occasional Fridays. Don't become the polo on every Friday guy, that looks too routine. A nice oxford cloth with jeans is always a good look. For dress shirts, conservative and classic will ensure the most use out of the shirts and that
they will work with the widest range of ties.

For shirts a young professional should stick with barrel cuffs and have a healthy mix of button down and semi-spread collars. The shirts should include at least two plain white shirts, a light blue shirt, an oxford cloth light blue, a white shirt with blue pinstripes, a blue and white banker stripe, a tattersal and a check shirt. Additional shirts should be more experimental in colors and patterns. These colors should include light pink, lavender, pale green or light gray. The patterns should be multi-colored check, multi-stripes and ginghams. The experimental shirts can include blue checked shirts with an orange or green over check. But like with the suits, these outliers are worn less often than the conservative options.

It also must be noted that a closet full of patterned shirts should have a closet of plain shirts to compliment it. While a closet of busy shirts should have a lot of plain suits to compliment the wardrobe. Busy shirts and busy suits makes for obnoxious outfits.

The best place to buy dress shirts are: Banana Republic, H&M, Brooks Brothers, Macy's & Uniqlo.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Essentials of a Work Wardrobe - Suits

Every man needs at least two suits in his closet at all times, while to begin no man needs more than six suits in his arsenal. The exact number you settle on should be based around how often a suit is needed in the office. Most offices two suits will suffice. The first two suits need to be a Navy and a Charcoal Gray. The Charcoal Gray suit should be plain, this way it can also be worn to weddings and funerals, as needed. The Navy suit can be plain or for some variation be a herringbone, chalk stripe, pinstripe or
nailhead. The third, fourth & fifth suits should first come in varied shades of gray, from darker to lighter or an additional navy. The patterns should remain conservative: pinstripe, herringbone, chalk stripe, houndstooth or nailhead. With the sixth suit and perhaps with the fifth suit (in only the most liberal environments) can some experimentation take place. This experimentation is in colors or patterns, but not both. Experimentation in colors: Tan or Brown. Experimentation in patterns: Windowpane check, Glenn Check, or multi-stripe.

The suits that are to be worn most often are the conservative ones and the experimental suits the least often. In conservative places of business like Law Firms and Banks, the experimental suits should only be worn on Fridays. All of these suits should be two button or three-roll to two button. They may or may not have a vest. They all must have flat front pants with no cuffs. The lapels should be between 2 ½ inches and 3 ¼ inches in width, with the ideal width at 3".

The best place to buy these suits are: J Crew, Banana Republic, H&M, Men's Wearhouse & Brooks Brothers.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Reader's Question: New Job, New Wardrobe

We have another question, this one from Pete in San Diego. To send your questions email us at: Or find us on Facebook or Twitter.

Do you have any suggestions on how a young man newly interested in updating his wardrobe, after college and now starting to job search should begin?

For this exercise let's assume this new college graduate has a typical college wardrobe, which is anything but appropriate for the workforce. This will mean he needs to start from scratch and focus on classic essentials that will last him a few years, or at least until he starts making enough money to buy some real clothes. Over the next week we will explore the essentials to a versatile work wardrobe.

To start, the key is about the fit. Inexpensive clothes that fit well look much better than expensive clothes that aren't the right size. So when buying the first round of clothes, it is better to focus on the fit then the brand. Then upgrading the quality and the brands in the closet as time progresses. The only exception is shoes, which we will discuss later in this essay. The essentials are classic, conservative and safe, as the last thing a newly hired professional wants to come across is anything but. Beyond reputation building a classic and conservative wardrobe will ensure the largest amount of use out of the items. By sticking to classics, the items can be worn again and again without raising an eyebrow or a snide remark. Whereas a young professional breaking out a brown glenn check suit with purple over check is not only seen as unprofessional but wearing that suit more than twice a year will probably roll some eyes.

The items that are needed can be bought for around $3K to $5K, depending on brands and how much is in the closet already. As time goes, additional items can be added yearly or every few months to keep the wardrobe fresh and expand the options. What every man needs is:
  • Suits - a minimum of 2 suits, maximum of six
  • Dress shirts - classic shirts between 8 and 12
  • Dress shoes - one brown & one black
  • Belt - one reversible belt
  • Sport Coat - at least one universal odd jacket
  • Wool slacks - a minimum of four wool slacks
  • Sweaters - wool sweaters, a minimum of two
  • Chinos - 2 pairs of clean dress chinos
  • Ties - at least six to ten ties in classic patterns & width
  • Watch - one classic watch
  • Overcoat & Raincoat - one of each
  • Accessories - Pocket squares, Tie Clips, Socks, etc.
With this list in mind we will further explore each item in detail over the next three weeks.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Land's End Canvas

With the huge success of J Crew, there have been a lot of classic American brands trying to rethink and redefine their look. While the brand's style is not as original as J Crew, they certainly are less expensive and provides an additional location to buy some of the classic American Prep pieces.  A perfect example of this is: Land's End Canvas, good clothes, great prices with a few pieces unique to the designer. 

Rugby Shirt - this classic preppy item comes in either navy or light blue and is sold for only $45. I can be worn with jeans or khakis by itself or it can be thrown on over a button down shirt, as featured here. Thrown over a button down shirt, is my favorite look for a Rugby Shirt. It adds a little more style and character to the classic piece.

Chambray Shirts - Land's End takes the essential chambray shirt one step farther by offering a blue with white stripe, like shown above. As well as a whole line of colors, including a tan and an off-white. They also priced the shirt at $39, instead of close to $100 as seen at other stores.

Ties - Also available are some nice modern ties.  They have a classic navy and light blue rep tie as well as a gingham, a plaid and patterned tie.  And they are only $40, which is a great price.  They are also slim ties.

Hoodie - We all need a hoodie or two in the closet.  Land's End Canvas offers a modern looking hoodie for only $50.  The hoodie comes in navy or gray with white drawstrings and zipper.  The contrasting zipper and drawstrings are a good look adding interest to an otherwise average looking hoodie.

Peacoat - They also have a canvas peacoat.  This a great spring/summer jacket for a reasonable $80.  This coat will keep you dry in the rain and warm during the summer night winds. 

Pocket Squares - one of the most unique and different items that Land's End Canvas sells is the plaid and gingham pocket squares. They are sold for $9 a piece and can really add a nice spark to a jacket.

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Deeper Dive into LL Bean Signature

LL Bean is a classic American brand with clothes that embody the East Coast and being an Outdoorsmen. They kept those roots with their new offshoot, LL Bean Signature. The difference is the line of clothes has been developed by Alex Carleton of Rogues Gallery and a former LL Bean employee. Carleton, pictured above, modernizes the classics, slims down the fit and puts a few classics on their ear, especially shoes. Typically when designers get involved the prices sky rocket, but thankfully in this case LL Bean keeps the prices grounded, intelligently keeping the brand within reach of most consumers.

At Modern Dignified we are enamored with the Buck Chukka, a combination between the classic Oxford Buck and the Desert Chukka Boot. It combines two similar shoes into a mix that is both unique and stylish. Carleton had the foresight to realize the popularity of both shoes and the genius to combine them. This is really a standout piece for only $115.

Also notable in the collection are the shirts, while they are not hugely divergent from classics in most closets, they fit well and are priced well.  The Washed Oxford in plain or gingham is selling for a moderate $49. The gingham oxford also comes in a sharp looking yellow and a classic red.

Another example of the good prices is the Striped Mariner Polo, a classic nautical look that is selling for $29, a price usually reserved for polos on sale in the winter. The Sportsman Madras Plaid button-down goes for $55.  It is nice plaid pattern and is worth the price, but it also doesn't pop in
the same way as madras and plaid shirts from brands like Gitman Vintage, Band of Outsiders and J Crew.

Overall, LL Bean Signature has a few pieces to compliment the closet as well as one or two stand out items, but overall it underwhelms especially considering the hype around the brand.