Sunday, January 31, 2010

Chambray Shirts are the new Black

Chambray shirts are everywhere and for good reason, they are comfortable, classic, attractive and don't need to be ironed. Everyone is making chambray shirts from J Crew, Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, Mr. Freedom and Gitman Vintage.  Chambray shirts worked well for style icons like Steve McQueen, they should work well for you too.

The great thing with a chambray shirt is if worn right, it can be one of the most versatile shirts in your closet, take the looks provided by J Crew for evidence of that. J Crew pairs the chambray shirt with a suit (one of my personal favorites and a look I am sporting today), a chambray with a shawl collar sweater, with a military jacket & with a t-shirt and jeans. J Crew loves chambray so much they are even making a red version for their Spring/Summer collection.

Since I wear a chambray shirt quite often, I love the new colors that companies are making in chambray shirts. Woolrich have tan, black & blue chambray shirts.  J Crew have a gray, blue & now a red chambray.  Gitman Vintage have a full line of bright colored chambray with the bright blue being a personal favorite.

Be sure to jump on this style train and add a chambray shirt to your closet.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Burn the Black Suit

You are not a mobster, a kingpin or a part of the uncivilized masses. You are not a badly dressed news anchor, an executioner or a rock star and because of this, you should not dress like one. Stay away from black suits, they have no place in any well dressed man's wardrobe. The only exception being the Tuxedo, which most men do not own. Even a man that wears a suit only for funerals & weddings, should own a nark navy or charcoal gray suit for the occasion.

No black suits, this is a hard and fast rule for any well dressed man's wardrobe. It is one I follow strictly, dismissing even the black odd jacket as improper. Black is a harsh and drastic color, it does not compliment the shirt, tie or the man. Instead it stands apart from the shirt and tie as unit that is separate from the entire outfit. Black being the absence of all color does work very well with many of the great color combinations that men can employ with a shirt and tie. Greens lose their luster, pinks become
a harsh color, yellows looks downright awful and blues are ordinary, when matched against a black suit. While black is an important color to any man's wardrobe, it is just not appropriate in a suit.

Stick to the gray & navy suits as the base to the suit wardrobe, expand then into tans, blues, browns and greens. These additional colors will keep the wardrobe interesting and your style fresh and modern. Leave the black for the unkempt masses and stay the sartorial superior of your peers. Burn the
black suits and stick with the classics.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Four-In-Hand Make the Best Knots

Deciding on which tie knot to wear or not wear is a fundamental and defining decision of a man's style. Each tie knot has its advantages and gives the man a different feel and aura to his outfit. In my opinion the clear choice is the Four-In-Hand tie knot. The Four-In-Hand is a classic knot that is inherently imperfect and flawed, a built in element of sprezzatura in an otherwise impeccable outfit. The Four-In-Hand never looks the same two times in a row, the dimple rarely falls in the center of the tie and the knot can leave the tie askance slightly, all major benefits to the Four-In-Hand knot.

In my opinion the Full Windsor and Half-Windsor knots are too symmetrical, too balanced and too perfect. A man's outfit should never look too perfect, as he may come off as unapproachable, affected and vain. The perfection of the these tie knots becomes a detriment for a man that does not want his
outfit over power his personality. The large size of the knots can also create an unbalanced and un-proportional look that will be unflattering.  This is why I highly recommend and only use the Four-In-Hand knot. It is also a versatile knot that looks great with the perfect 3" wide ties as well as ties that are wider and skinnier.

The Four-In-Hand knot also looks great with normal collars or spread collars, as well as finished or loosened at the end of the day. The Four-In-Hand allows for variation, while other tie knots only look good with a suit. The Four-In-Hand loves hanging with jeans as much as starched collars and three-piece suits.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Style Profile - Gitman Vintage

After reading the recent GQ I noticed Gitman Vintage popped up a couple of times and on items I really liked.  I immediately had to check the website and was enamored with the style and design that emanates from the brand.  All of the clothes are vintage inspired clothes both in pattern and texture of the shirts.  They certainly show the timeless quality of a great shirt and simultaneously prove not everything from the 80's was un-stylish.  The Gitman Vintage Spring/Summer 2010 collection is inspired by Spring/Summer 1984.  I guess people in the 80's were cool.

The brightly colored are a great addition to the chambray shirts that are hopefully already hanging in your closet, if not, then pick up a Gitman Vintage gray chambray as well.

I have always enjoyed seersucker shirts and suits, since they don't wrinkle ever.  It is even easier to love seersucker when they look this good.

If a handshake can tell you the kind of man you are dealing with, the same can be said for the oxford when it comes to designers.  Oxfords are that essential to every man's wardrobe.  Gitman Vintage does the plain oxfords well, but I personally love there striped oxford.

Gitman Vintage has created a great selection of cotton poplin shirts, every color and design that a man would need.  These would look great under a suit for a modern pop on your favorite suit or could go well with jeans or khakis on a casual weekend.  No matter how you wear these shirts, they are cool and stylish.

Personally, I have never seen a patchwork madras that I would ever wear.  Most of them are so hideous I can not disassociate myself from them fast enough.  Well, that is until I saw this patchwork from Gitman Vintage.  It is perfect for a vacation in some beach town or for a day on the boat with shorts and topsiders.  If you don't own a boat, at least with this shirt you can look like you should.

Whatever your favorite shirt, Gitman Vintage certainly can add some style to your wardrobe and hopefully it can be as timeless as this collection.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Style Profile - Justin Timberlake

Justin Timberlake has a modern hip style.  He balances a look that effortlessly flows between suits and casual wear, while looking equally as sharp in each.  Part of the ease comes from each outfit being situation appropriate, which is key to any free flowing style.

Timberlake has been able to own certain looks which highlight his style while not defining it.  He often wears fedoras, three piece suits and cuffed jeans, but these elements are not needed in each outfit for Timberlake's style to be complete.

Timberlake also utilizes variations on these key pieces, pairing a cardigan sweater with a leather jacket and tie.  This is a great variation on the three piece suit.  The sartorial contradiction in this outfit, is what I personally appreciate.  The cardigan sweater and leather jacket are not typically worn together, it is this unusual pairing that makes the outfit really stand out.

Here are some additional looks from Timberlake for you to enjoy and gain inspiration from.  He may be one of the better dressed young celebrities in Hollywood.  Hopefully, if our youth emulates his style, our next generation will have a cool and good looking sartorial style.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Briefcase Style

Get a good briefcase and it will be with you for years, growing better with age and gaining a distinguished patina.  Like a fine wine, a beautiful woman or a good pair of shoes, a briefcase gets better with time.  Because of this, find one that fits your style and your workload and keep it around for the long haul.

Personally, I don't like to carry a lot of files and paperwork on a daily basis, so I prefer a folio style briefcase, day in and day out. A folio like this Jack George Underarm Briefcase works great. Made from beautiful and distinguished crocodile leather, it becomes more than a briefcase it becomes a wardrobe accessory.

The Le Donne leather flap fold briefcase can store a laptop and the files from work. It comes in a chocolate leather with two different carrying devices. It has a shoulder strap for hands free carrying and a hand strap for ease of use. The key is the hand strap is attached to the case itself and not the flap fold, which is important for carrying heavy loads. This briefcase sells for a reasonable $149, but similar models from other companies can sell for more or less depending on the quality of the leather. The best leathers will be hard at first and will soften with time, cheaper leathers will already be soft at purchase or will feel plastic.

The McKlein Briefcase is an attractive and more formal option than the flap fold briefcase. It has a harder, rigid frame with enveloping front pockets.  This design looks best with just a hand strap, but a shoulder strap can be added for airports and when hands free travel is needed. Due to the rigid frame, the laptop will be stored safely and conveniently, while the other files and paperwork can fit in their own pockets. The tan color is quite striking making it a statement piece. No need to match shoes or belts to the color of the briefcase, it is a stand alone piece. But it is nice to have a stand alone piece that looks quite attractive.

Carry your files in style with a good leather briefcase.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Imperfection is Perfection

An outfit on any given day should an air of nonchalance. It should not elude to any planning or fore thought. Instead it should look carefree, spontaneous and effortless. The outfit should have mistakes, imperfections, elements of artful dishevelment and sprezzatura. The gentlemen that work at Sid Mashburn in Atlanta, Georgia, certainly dress with that thought in mind.

If your eyes do not prove to you the benefit of dressing with nonchalance, artful dishevelment and eccentricities as displayed by the Sid Mashburn crew than the following two quotes hopefully will.

"Have no fear of perfection - you'll never reach it."
- Salvador Dali

""I want to be loved, not in spite of my faults, but because of them.""
- Lise Bennett

The Italians use the term sprezzatura to describe the purposeful mistakes made in one's dress. I personally, think the term has an elegance to it that provides me with confidence when I break the conventional rules of style and fashion.

To prove my point, once again take a look at Peter Samuelson, Matt Lambert and Justin Doss, the featured employees of Sid Mashburn. Their clothes are well tailored and proportional. The colors and designs and looks are all traditional Americana. But it is the mistakes in the outfits that add the visual interest. No socks, short and crooked ties, button-down collars left un-buttoned, those are the eccentricities that define the outfit.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Style versus Fashion

Style and Fashion are not interchangeable words, as is the missperception.  In fact there is a stark difference between style and fashion. John Fairchild is quoted as saying: "Style is an expression of individualism mixed with charisma. Fashion is something that comes after style." I have always seen Fashion as an ever changing ebb and flow of clothes, cuts and colors driven by high paid designers with a new jacket, shirt, shoe, fabric or color to push onto consumers each and every season. Fashion is the devil popularizes a style turning it mainstream, profitable and a caricature of its origin.

Style, when done properly, is timeless, genuine and borderless, essentially the polar opposite of Fashion. Style is often a personal expression of clothes, accessories and demeanor. It can not be emphasized enough, style is deeper than just the clothes, it embodies one's personality, attitude and characteristics. Style is about how a man wears his clothes, letting his inner self define the clothes rather than the clothes define the man.

Fashion is about wearing a new trend, a hot designer or a popular outfit because the people around will see you in a certain way. A perception that by wearing the same Gucci designer jacket that is all the rage, the world will think you're cool, smart and hip.

Style on the other hand is about owning and personalizing the clothes. It is about how you feel in the clothes find a personal voice and expressing it with the overall look. Style is more than just one trendy outfit or popular pair of jeans, but instead the overall look, day in and day out. A personal style is expressed in the moments of casual relaxation as well as the formal attire.

This concept is crucial to understanding style and defining your own personal style. Style is as much about how you wear your jeans as it is about how you wear your suit, or don't wear your suit. Style is an expression of self.

Think of Steve McQueen, a man that exudes style, he had his own look that was timeless and classic, yet quite personal.  He wore a suit with the best of them, classically fitted and tailored, but with his own twists, like a pocket watch with the vest and blue tinted sunglasses. Not everyman can own these choices with the confidence that McQueen does, because for him, they are genuine choices. When McQueen is seen riding his motorcycle it is often with khakis and a sweatshirt, not your typical bikers wardrobe. Yet, at no point does it look incongruous, because it fit his style, his personality and his demeanor.

To look at the other end of the spectrum, Kurt Cobain was the leader of plaid wearing teens. Kurt Cobain exuded style while being as far from fashion as possible. Cobain didn't set out to create the grunge movement and the fashionable assault that followed, he was instead just expressing his personality, wearing what he felt comfortable with. Due to his genuine and immense charisma, style and attitude others emulated him with considerably less aptitude.  Sticking with his personal style Cobain never wore a suit, a tuxedo or anything nearly that formal. It was not him and doing so would have compromised who he was. His style would not allow for it.

Learn from the best: Be stylish, not fashionable.