Friday, February 26, 2010

Classic Shoes With a Twist


We all know that a pair of kicks can really change an outfit and help you stand out. Women certainly look at shoes a lot more then men, trust me they notice when you are rocking a new pair of shoes. At Modern Dignified we enjoy classic items with a twist, whether it is shirts, jackets or shoes.  It is great to have the iconic shoes in a closet, but it is even better to have memorable and stylish shoes that are not worn so often by so many people that they become a cliché. Keeping a unique voice with our style is certainly important at Modern Dignified.

VAEL Project shoes are just that, stylish, classic with a modern twist, unique and not yet on everyone's feet. VAEL Project shoes are high quality, well made and quite stylish, but still reasonably priced. The shoes are exactly what we look for at Modern Dignified a way to express our unique style without fitting in with a pre-defined subculture.  Take for example the Apres boot in black or brown it combines stylish components of a hiking boot and a work boot, while still keeping its own voice. This boot looks appropriate for a night in the city or a quite weekend in the country, a versatile boot with high end construction, yet it is only $215.

Another example of the unique style that VAEL Project offers, is the Deckard boot. It is the VAEL version of a boat shoe turned into a boot. It is combat boot combined with a boat shoe twisted into a modern stylish boot.  This is a bold look and not right for everyone, but it certainly has the style and design to get recognized in a good way. The Deckard boot is also reasonably priced at $220, considerably less than most boots of similar style.

VAEL Project also makes the Deckard boot in a mid height. This is a shoe that can be worn day in and day out with almost any outfit in the closet.  It can be worn to the office or on a weekend, it is a versatile and adaptable shoe. It is also sold in a style called: Charles, which comes with a more rugged sole that adds outdoorsmen style to the boot. Whether you choose the Charles or the Deckard mid, the boot is certainly Modern Dignified's favorite of the VAEL collection. Keeping with the well priced
trend, this boot is $150.

Most of the boots and shoes that VAEL sells come with different color combinations and styles. Take for example the Brogue boot, a classic shoe with brogue detailing turned into an everyday boot. It epitomizes classic styling turned on its ear, but done in a rakish way. The brogue boot has a variety of colors and looks, but our favorites are the classic black and the brown with red buffalo check detailing. This boot sold for $160, once again offers versatile fashion in a unique design. The addition of the red
buffalo check, is exactly the unique style that VAEL seems to channel.

Looking at the VAEL Project trainers, they seem to have found a way to mix colors and designs in a new way, while still feeling classic and timeless. The shoes we at Modern Dignified like are the Klipspringer Mocha, the Borg Metallic Gold and the Borg Frog, all selling for $130. The Borg Frog combined green, black, yellow, gray and off-white into a single cohesive shoe. The sleek shape and timeless lines for the shoes help keep it stylish while the designers at VAEL Project manipulate colors and textures. The Borg Frog has textured leather mixed with smooth leather and a recognizable sole.

If you want something different, classic, modern and stylish, VAEL Project is worth a look. Edgy and unique while staying true to the classics.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Subtle Sprezzatura - Twisted Tie Knots

Growing up we were taught how to tie the perfect knot, and not just a perfect four-in-hand but the perfect Windsor, half Windsor and Prince Albert. Despite needing to know how to tie the perfect knot for particular occasions, such as business meetings, interviews and funerals, not in order of importance, we have found that in some instances the perfect knot is just that.

Rarely, do we want our outfit to look perfect, unless it is immediately followed with disheveled or a gorgeous woman is on the other end of the statement. Instead we find that adding a little bit of carelessness and nonchalance to the outfit is, much more intriguing. We find that looking a shade less than perfect, is in fact the way we end up with a gorgeous woman calling our outfit perfection. The key we have found to knowing the right amount of carefree sprezzatura to an outfit comes with knowing how to be perfect and then mucking it up. The planned and calculated mistake that gives an outfit a careless air is when we at Modern Dignified feel an outfit is complete.

A common tactic we have shameless stolen from one of the King of Sprezzatura style, is the twisted tie knot. This sprezzatura flair among other quirks helped crown Gianni Agnelli as one of the best dressed men in the history of the world. A shrewd business man and head of Fiat, Agnelli would twist his ties on purpose to make his competition and rivals underestimate his brilliance. Agnelli used sprezzatura fashion quirks as a way to lull his fellow businessmen into a false sense of security. It is with that planned dishevelment that we at Modern Dignified find so appealing.

The subtleness at which Agnelli twists his ties is amplified by the employees at Sid Mashburn in Atlanta, Georgia. At Sid Mashburn they take the sprezzatura of the past, take it out of the boardroom, make it modern and amplify it. Not only are the ties twisted but they do not have the "appropriate" length and the back of the tie is not secured to the front.

What makes the Sid Mashburn version of dishevelment so intriguing and stylish is that the colors, textures and fit of the outfit is impeccably arranged. The jackets are tailored with a nice Italian slim cut. The pants graze the top of the shoes, but are then rolled to show off the sockless ankles. The shoes are top of the line and more classic than you'll find in most men's closets. The entire outfit is Country Club appropriate, but it is done with a modern edge that would probably piss off the conservative codgers at the Country Club. And while all of these decisions are done with forethought, the outfit looks thrown together. As if each guy just happened to come up the perfect combination of colors and textures, it is sprezzatura in every way.

Mess with the tie, mess with the socks, mess with the colors, mess with rules of fashion, but whatever the means just make sure that you look far from perfect. Look perfectly imperfect.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Subtle Sprezzatura - Socks Action

Subtle Sprezzatura is all about a simple way to break the rules and redefine an outfit. A subtle twist which crosses the line and rules without looking absurd and instead looks careless, carefree and artfully disheveled. For men the perfect way to put an outfit on its ear, add a hint of edginess and still look rakish, is with the ankle. Wearing bold and colorful socks or no socks at all, is an easy solution.

Not only does this look add an unexpected element to an outfit, it also is quite summery, especially when sockless.  Throw on a pair of white jeans and no socks or go sockless with loafers and you will not only look like summer, you will feel like it.


Some gentlemen tailor their entire outfit and wardrobes around bold socks, like Ign. Joseph.  Other use the bold socks to brighten a fairly mundane outfit.  This is Modern Dignified's favorite use of bold socks.  As shown here with a gray suit, white shirt and black tie.

Go boldly, go sockless, but go have fun with the ankle.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Subtle Sprezzatura - Color

I wanted to utilize the Morris Stockholm Spring/Summer 2010 collection to overemphasize the use of colors in a wardrobe.  Colors can add artful dishevelment to an outfit, a bold carelessness that makes an outfit pop.  Mixing non-matching colors in a seemingly nonchalant fashion, is exactly what sprezzatura is all about.  It is making the planned look unplanned, careless and artful.  While Morris Stockholm's use of color is anything but subtle, the lessons are easily learned for one's own wardrobe to use subtly or boldly.

Mismatching colors, textures and styles is often all it takes for an outfit to have that sprezzatura element it needs.  While mixing and mismatching colors takes a strong personal style, it is incredibly powerful and easily makes an outfit a standout.  The outfit above pairs bold red F-You pants with a classic light blue summer blazer.  This is worn over a white rugby shirt with a pink shirt underneath.  It is finished with a blue belt and a navy tie.  Essentially, the outfit is only two colors: the red family (pink & red) and the blue family (light blue, blue & navy) with a neutral white to balance the outfit.  Initially this outfit looks thrown together and the colors look mismatched, but instead they are two complimenting color family, used boldly.

Lets take a look at another Morris Stockholm color juxtaposition.  Here the dark green shoes compliment the sea green shirt while the salmon cardigan adds an additional pop on the outfit, off setting the match and adding depth to the outfit and color palate.  Like the white above, the khakis are used as a neutral that completes the look.  The bold green shoes are an unexpected pop of color for the outfit and they don't directly match the rest of the outfit, while still being complimenting.

With this summer mix, we can see that again Morris Stockholm use colors to add nonchalance to the outfit.  The pink & blue sweater vest, purple shirt, red pants and red pocket square all match, but non of them directly and obviously.  Like above, this outfit is made up of the red color family and the blue color family, which includes purple.  This outfit looks artfully disheveled and unorganized, but instead it is carefully crafted to look just the opposite.

Morris Stockholm continues to use these color principles through out the Spring/Summer 2010 Collection.  Notice how masterfully the colors subtly match and initially look mismatched.  Remember to keep to the color families and have fun mismatching colors in your own wardrobe.











Monday, February 22, 2010

Subtle Sprezzatura - Bracelets

To continue the Modern Dignified's look at subtle Sprezzatura techniques, we now look at the use of male jewelry. This is an arena that most men feel uncomfortable wearing anything more than a wedding band and a watch. There is no reason for a man to shy away from adding a bracelet to his outfit, they can be stylish, manly and are often worn by men that women swoon over. Take a look at these simple, stylish and elegant versions of the bracelet. It not only adds a little flair to the outfit, but it also a subtle bit of Sprezzatura, especially when worn with a suit.

Some men like Luca Rubinacci wear a lot of bracelets, day in and day out as part of his style. Others let one understated piece speak for itself. At Modern Dignified we feel that one simple piece goes a long way, but we aren't one to tell Rubinacci he is wrong.

To get the Modern Dignified endorsement the bracelet needs to be inherently manly, simple and made out of high materials like Stainless Steel, Carbon Fiber, Silver or Leather. The item needs to add a little bit of flair but never be flashy. Leave the diamonds, jewels and emeralds for the ladies.  Also, we feel that gold should also be left to the other sex, but copper is certainly acceptable. We have also found that simple colors are the best place to start and only after you feel comfortable with the idea should color be added, as always, with a very critical eye.

Onyx Beads make a statement piece that can work fairly universally. Above is a white version of the beaded bracelet worn with a tuxedo. It is a subtle statement that makes his impeccable outfit incorrect the perfect amount. And Uma Thurman seems to agree.

When picking the bracelet, make sure it is visually interesting without being overpowering. A simple curved nail or leather braided bracelet certainly fits the bill. These bracelets can even become a conversation piece.

The ID bracelet is a classic. It is such an iconic piece that it can even be worn at the most formal of business meetings, without a second thought.

Bracelets are a simple and subtle Sprezzatura for any outfit.