Style & Substance – Necktie & Pocket Square Coordination

PS Fall 2014Admittedly, the gentlemanly art of dressing well can be deceptively simple. So simple in fact, there are a certain number of gentlemen that mistakenly oversimplify the exercise. For example, coordinating one’s necktie with its accompanying pocket square should be relatively painless, but some men choose to make the task painfully less painless than is warranted. Suspect department stores traffic prepackaged necktie & pocket square sets; both accessories consisting of the same fabric and pattern. The objective is to make the selection process mistake-free and thought-free. And therein lies the problem – the fact that gentlemanly thought in regards to attire will ultimately result in mistake-laden, sartorial disaster. So, thank you T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s for looking out for the brothers. However, your prepackaged box sets are not really necessary.

Gentlemen, you can select your own necktie and pocket square, and furthermore, they certainly do not have to match. Coordinate – yes. Complement – yes. Straight up match, pattern for pattern, color for color – no. Coordinating both can be simple and fun, just keep in mind what your primary and secondary colors are in your tandem. If your necktie is primarily navy, select a pocket square whose secondary color boasts hints of navy. Alternatively, one can choose like colors (like the Paul Stuart example above), but with differing patterns to create some visual separation. And yet another option is to smartly choose a complementing color. Burgundy necktie – try a lavender based pocket square. If colors stump you, perform a Google search of color wheels and allow them to be your guide. It’s not as hard as you might assume, or be allowed to think. The holidays will be upon us and the box sets will be out in force. Resist the temptation brethren, let the world know you can coodinate your own necktie and pocket square – and even knot or fold either as well!

Style & Substance – The Field Jacket

Field Jacket- Jack SpadeThe military inspired gentleman’s field jacket has witnessed a noticeable reduction in popularity this season, which is quite surprising given its ubiquitous presence last autumn. Nowadays, options are particularly scarce with the venerable pea coat standing tall once again. And that is an unfortunate turn of events, as the field jacket is probably the most underrated piece of outerwear that many gentlemen don’t have in their possession. Primarily based on function, sexy aesthetics are not of tremendous importance here. Nevertheless, let’s be frank, when the temperatures gradually drop to long john appropriate levels, sexy is the furthest concept from a gentleman’s mind. Sometimes what is required is a burly, no-nonsense type of coat to handle the dwindling digits in the forecast. Please don’t misunderstand, pea coats are up for the task as well, but they are a little more refined and dashing. Here, with the field jacket, what is needed is a coat that is constructed for active duty – welcome punishment that inclement weather may bring. So, if you can still locate one on the market, I highly endorse its procurement. I purchased two field jackets last year, and I love both of them. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Style & Substance – The Compelling Case for the Briefcase

Polo Briefcase

Ralph Lauren

Now, for purposes of clarity, the following passage is not an exercise in chastisement, rather, it is a passionate appeal to your sartorial senses. If you rightly categorize yourself as a professional gentleman, one that routinely operates within a professional environment, I strongly urge you to resist the temptation of haphazardly slinging a bulky book bag across your suit jacket laden shoulders. Trust me on this gentlemen. As the title suggests, book bags are meant to house, well, books and other random supplies that may have originated from Staples. So, if you have already settled into your permanent place of employment, and the atmosphere is unmistakably business, it is probably safe to retire the last remnant of your cash-strapped college years when you lugged around 4 inch thick Calculus books.

The reasoning is reasonable: 1) You’re not a student anymore. 2) Over time, the weight of that book bag (large straps and all) will ruin the shape of your suit jacket. 3) If your belongings does require something substantial to handle the load, a leather or canvas duffel bag would be a better option. 4) You’re not a student anymore. Apologies, but there is just something off when I see a sharp suit paired with a grungy book bag. And if you’re not a suit wearer – see reasons number 1 & 4. So, in lieu of your trusty book bag, introduce yourself to an old gentleman’s companion – the briefcase. And let’s be honest, 75% of the contents in that book bag can most likely be discarded, much like the contents of your wallet, but that is another blog post for another day. Your business accoutrements could probably benefit from a thoughtful trimming down. Most briefcases are large enough to accommodate your work life anyway. Besides, how much room does a tablet, cell phone, some folders, and a tube of ChapStick occupy? Ditch the beat-up book bag; select a carrying companion that complements your career. You’ll be glad you did.

Style & Substance – The Casual Nubuck – The Safest Way to Get Buck During the Summer

IMG_0174Woe unto the gentleman that stubbornly relegates his footwear collection to sneakers and, well, yet more sneakers. To shun and deprive oneself from a much-required element of variety borders on unforgivable sartorial sin. Sneakers cannot sufficiently satisfy every occasion in a gentleman’s life, and truthfully, neither can a formal dress shoe – although it comes tantalizingly close. The solution: seek comfortable middle ground. Enter the casual nubuck shoe. Nubuck is the outer layer of cattle hide that has been buffed and sanded to achieve a soft nap and light velvet touch. Similar to suede, it is actually a little tougher, and theoretically, should last longer. Perfect for casual work days. Perfect for a relaxed dinner on the weekend. Perfect for easygoing cookouts in the backyard. For all intents and purposes, it’s probably the perfect casual shoe that you are not wearing. Here are 5 reasons why you should be wearing them, like, right now.

Click pictures below to enlarge

Five reasons to wear some bucks

  • A distinguished pair of nubuck shoes can handle almost any casual environment that a gentleman may encounter during long summer months when fun is inevitable.
  • Because, when dress shoes are too strict and sneakers are far too lax, a clean pair of denim jeans require the appropriate middle ground – the laudable nubuck. And that includes khakis as well.
  • Colored dress shoes, perhaps, are too garish for an average gentleman’s sartorial palate. Colored nubucks, on the other hand, afford the slightest of flexibility for experimentation. It’s a low risk, high reward circumstance. You can’t lose.
  • Maintenance is crazy simple. Yes, shoe trees are still recommended. However, a gentleman need not worry about shoe polish and the like. Invest in a suede & nubuck protector. And invest in a brush and gum eraser. Touch up the obligatory scuff or stain as needed.
  • Nubuck shoes are relatively inexpensive. In fact, they can be readily purchased at discount spots such as DSW on the regular.

Style & Substance – The Black Cap-toe Oxford

A&E Park AvenueIf by chance you are an adult male, and it can be safely assumed that you are living an adult life, one can logically reason that moments will occur that demand adult, sartorial tools to satisfy the adult situation at hand. To be sure, a gentleman will likely experience a job interview, wedding, and funeral during his lifetime – which is just the bare minimum. If one factors the high probability of miscellaneous events such as graduations, formal dinners, or church services into the equation – then sir, you seriously need to equip your feet with an indispensable style accoutrement: the black cap-toe oxford.

Yes, we have been recently spoiled with contemporary footwear offerings, wildly varying from wingtips boasting a kaleidoscope of color to multiple strapped monks bearing a sweet suede armor. To present the current climate bluntly: The options are nauseatingly endless. Nevertheless, sometimes a gentleman must reintroduce himself to the basics. Because, despite the irresistible charm of blue suede monk straps, a job interview probably is not smartest venue for a stylish showcasing, or a funeral for that matter. And so, for life’s moments that beg for you to be the adult in the room, forgo the distractions on your feet and embrace the sophistication of simplicity. Black. Clear of any elaborate brogue or perforation. A simple cap stretching across the toe. Two pairs – desirable. Three pairs – outstanding. Invest well, you’re an adult, you have a lot of life to live; embrace each moment accordingly.

Style & Substance – The Floral Lapel Pin

Flower Lapel

Lanvin – Mr Porter

So, the idea has been dancing around in my head for the past year. Floral lapel pin or no floral lapel pin? This simple, yet elegant gentleman’s accessory has existed for seemingly centuries, but contemporary utilization had relegated it’s purpose to weddings or other formal occasions that begged strict dress attire. That is, however, until Nucky Thompson expertly demonstrated the debonair art of pinning a floral accessory to one’s lapel, and then proceeded with business as usual, ignoring the ornate touch that meticulously placed it there. Absent any signals that would predict a downward trend in popularity; the floral lapel pin is literally everywhere now – casual or business. Pin or button version; arriving in an array of materials from silk to wool. And so, regretfully, I have procrastinated and not jumped on the bandwagon. The bandwagon seems full. Seriously, it appears that every gentleman is wearing one on every Tumblr page I come across. Last month, I was going to make the plunge, and then my wife spotted Jalen Rose rocking one on ESPN. She thought it was ugly. And truthfully – it was. Too big. Too garish. Color didn’t complement any of his ensemble. It was kind of bad. Nevertheless, I believe my selection process will result in better choices. Spring is officially here – granted it does not feel like it – and the weather is going to necessitate the need for lively color. No time will be better than now to add a floral flair into the mix. Right? So, happy hunting I go. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Review – Armstrong & Wilson – Pocket Squares

IMG_1764

The gentleman’s pocket square: A discreet piece of sophistication whose primary objective is to effortlessly elevate the overall sharpness of a suit. Now, for seemingly decades, the pocket square was relegated to bland neutrality – no offense to the crisp, clean elegance of the gentleman’s white handkerchief. However, recent developments on the sartorial front has emancipated the classic accessory from the confines expected stodginess and monotony. Widely and roundly believed to be on the cusp antiquation, the contemporary pocket square has emerged reinvigorated, offering a countless amount of variety and selection. And perhaps none are as unique as the pocket squares available from Armstrong and Wilson.

Founded in 2009 by Ontario Armstrong and Clifton Wilson – each a finalist in Esquire’s Best Dressed Real Man in America – Armstrong and Wilson has sought to reinvent tradition surrounding the pocket square, and they are more than succeeding. With an astute attention to detail; the duo infused their reinterpretation with an exciting variety of color and pattern, blessed the inventory with exquisite material, and added a detail that has become their signature – a button. And now, with a surging popularity, it is not uncommon to spot their product being worn by the likes of Chris Bosh, Mos Def, Michael A. Smith, and Lebron James.

Personally, I first noticed these fashionable pocket squares a few years ago, but the pricing precluded my inclusion with the aforementioned players of the Miami Heat roster. Stunning visuals aside, dropping $55 to $85 on a single pocket square just wasn’t in my budget at the time. However, with a few job advancements and a purchase of a high quality camera, the plunge was ready to be made. So, here we are today, ready to offer an honest evaluation of the merchandise for the audience. So, let’s dive right in and break it all down for you.

Style & Substance – 5 Menswear Trends We Can Leave In 2013

the year 2013Soon enough, we will bid a bittersweet farewell to the year 2013, and in turn we will welcome in the new year with open arms. Arriving with the new year, we will surely witness new style trends and perhaps even a resurrection of a few forgotten classics. Now, it has been firmly established that sartorial options for men have increased exponentially over the last few years. A painful dearth of viable choices for sophisticated gentlemanly attire is no longer the reality we face, instead, we have become inundated with options galore. And as the year 2013 proved, that can be absolutely fantastic or regretfully painful. Sometimes the limits of style were pushed to the extremes of ridiculous. That being stated, I have compiled a short list of 5 style trends that should remain in 2013 and never enjoy any future renaissances. If you are guilty of rocking some of these looks, don’t worry dear friend, I just humbly request you reevaluate your current sartorial state of affairs and proceed wisely. Now, let’s go to work, first up…

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