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.

Review – Cole Haan – ZeroGrand

Zerogrand PromoMy attempts at loving the Cole Haan LunarGrand were devastatingly futile. I poured over image after image of the uniquely manufactured offering from Cole Haan. I scoured the Internet, perusing press releases and reviews. I even went to a store to evaluate the shoe in person. And when presented with the opportunity to receive 30% off an already reduced price, with another 50% chopped off that total, I still could not summon the courage to relinquish my credit card to procure the goods. The issue: The LunarGrand was just far too aggressive, even for my liberal sartorial leanings. So now, newly launched globally on July 7th, Cole Haan has bestowed upon the masses their latest sneaker/dress shoe hybrid known as the ZeroGrand. Can the ZeroGrand capture my adoration in such a way where the wildly popular LunarGrand failed? Let’s see.

Zerogrand Promo 4Before I launch into how I feel on the matter, first, let’s grant some blog space to Cole Haan to explain their newest innovation. The pitch: Weighing in at less than 290 grams each, ZeroGrand is the lightest and most flexible shoe Cole Haan has ever created. Marrying centuries-old broguing details with biomechanics, modern materials and today’s manufacturing methods, Cole Haan has considered every detail in make, mass and motion.

  • ZeroGrand features Grand.OS, a proprietary new engineering and design platform which brings unparalleled style and comfort to Cole Haan products.
  • The flexibility of Grand.OS comes through the engineered insoles, outsoles, liners and uppers that move with each step.
  • Grand.OS replaces the heavy steel shanks that have traditionally been used for support with an engineered cushioning compound that is stronger, more flexible and longer lasting; reducing the overall weight and slimming down the shoe’s outsole.
  • Each shoes weighs less than 290 grams.

 

Zerogrand Promo 3To state that the preceding assertions, courtesy of Cole Haan, were not impressive would be dishonest. The extensive resume warrants an honest examination. Now, the ZeroGrand arrives in two distinct options: one manufactured with ripstop nylon as the upper, the other reverse full-grain suede. The ripstop nylon upper pieces are bonded to each other using high frequency welding, thus reducing the number of components on the overall shoe. The suede alternative is laser treated to add pinking and add decorative stitch details. A Strobel stitch construction (the upper has been stitched to the insole) offers more strength and flexibility than other techniques. Both are detailed with a functional brogue that is laser cut for ventilation, flexibility, and lightness. Available colors for purchase right now: Flint grey, black, berkshire, and blazer blue. Expect to pay $248.00 retail for the no-stitch nylon version and $268.00 retail for the reverse full-grain suede version. So, how do they look in person?

Zerogrand 3Fortunately, I was able to get out and examine a pair up close and personal. For my tastes, although I fancy this shoe more than the LunarGrand, it just doesn’t marry well with my personality. Progressing towards the tender age of 40 more swiftly than I expected, this shoe is perhaps better suited for a gentleman younger than myself. Or, maybe a gentleman that works in a creative environment that encourages fashion-forward thinking. I’m just not there at this junction in my life. However, if you think this is the shoe for you, take a gander at my findings and judge for yourself.

Gentlemanly Observations

Pros

  • Impossibly lightweight design with the appearance of a heavy brogue, yet the lightness of a boat shoe.
  • Extremely flexible sole. Seriously, you can bend this bad boy in half and it will spring back into form. Great for individuals that may spend a lot of time on their feet or have underlying foot ailments.
  • And you never know when you will have to make a run – literally. The soles are definitely sneaker inspired.
  • As the ZeroGrand is not too stuffy, yet not too whimsical, it is a perfect compromise for the gentleman that navigates a creative, business-casual environment.
  • The suede is remarkably supple and smooth – probably the winner of both versions here.

Cons

  • The cost may frighten some gentlemen – at nearly $300 for a pair of shoes that is neither a sneaker or dress shoe, this business-casual hybrid is pretty steep for a shoe to be worn most likely in a casual setting.
  • The aggressive fashion-forward design may limit its longevity; investing in a shoe that may enjoy 2-3 years of popularity is very risky, as your look may become dated sooner rather than later.
  • To achieve its lightweight stature, there are some sacrifices with the construction. While the rubber sole is solid, some gentlemen may be off-put by the delicate feel of the nylon upper. The suede may be a better option if the nylon proves too flimsy.
  • The functional brogue is a nice touch; just ensure you check the weather channel before venturing out. The functional holes probably won’t play nice with rain.

Interested yet? If you are, head over to Cole Haan HERE to check it out yourself, or head to your nearest Cole Haan location.

Cole Haan ZeroGrandStay stylish gentlemen!

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…

Style & Substance – Harris Tweed Gloves

Harris Tweed GlovesThe incremental resurgence of interest in menswear has not been without some miscues and missteps. The elasticity of sartorial boundaries have been rigorously tested; stretched to the extreme limits of creativity without total rupture, the contemporary gentleman has enjoyed a dandy of time with a myriad of newly minted options. Nevertheless, it would be wise to eschew said options that are unabashedly a gimmick, a sartorial device only utilized to elicit a look-at-me reaction. Instead, embrace the basics – with just hint new age flavor that doesn’t straddle the lines of the ridiculous. Such as the cadre of gloves above. Here we have a basic staple (the gloves) combined with age-old cloth (Harris Tweed) to produce a stunning, fresh reinterpretation of an old classic. No gimmicks, just freshness all around. Sometimes…that’s all a gentleman requires.

Source: http://bntailor.tumblr.com/post/67616143566/harris-tweed-gloves-at-b-tailorshop

Style & Substance – Connect The Dots – The Unexpected Rise of Polka Dot Hosiery

Polka Dot Happy SocksIn the beginning (a long, long time ago), a gentleman’s selection of hosiery was relegated to the basics: dark navy and black. Simplicity. For those hurried mornings when the cognitive spark plugs aren’t firing at optimal levels, a gentleman need not stress over decisions regarding his socks. And so, black and dark navy it was. Some decades later (we’re not sure of the actual date), striped variations forced its way into the fray, and the peacock revolution was underway. Quirky, unconventional options were now de rigueur. Now, fast-forward a few years, and behold – stripes are now sharing the stage with polka dots.

  • Gent Hint: Big, bold polka dots are for statements, albeit casual statements. Small, subtle polka dots are quiet conversation starters.

Yes, as unbelievable as it may seem, the sartorial emancipation of safe, traditional style has brought forth a bevy of interesting options for the contemporary gentleman. And one of those options – yes – is polka dot socks. Small dots. Big dots. Plain dots. Colorful dots. They may arrive in cotton, wool, cashmere, or a myriad of blends of the whole lot – with just a touch of spandex for stretch. Sure, our formal education in style has been a stern instruction in conservatism. Such instruction has served us well over the years. However, variety is a good thing; actually, it is a highly recommended thing.

  • Gent Hint: Spring is the perfect season to break out the most exuberant selections you can get your hands on.

Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I readily admit that polka dots socks are trendy. Whether or not it becomes a reliable staple in a gentleman’s wardrobe remains to be seen. Striped socks gradually made the transition from trendy to mainstay; the jury is still out for polka dots. Nonetheless, I have invested in a few pairs, as I don’t see polka dots going the way as, say, camouflage. And let’s be honest, camouflage everything never had the potential for extended longevity. Polka dots could be different.

  • Gent Hint: Exhibit some conservative flair by opting for a subdued shade peppered with discreet, colored polka dots.

So,whether or not polka dots socks are appropriate for you, the ultimate decision is in your hands. Polka dots exude a lot of character, and one certainly cannot be in short supply of confidence when wearing them. Sure, they are currently trending big time. Absolutely. No doubt about it. Their popularity can continue to surge over the next few years, or it can even start to wane a little. Now, in my humble opinion, I do not believe that they will totally disappear from the sartorial landscape. If you have an adventurous side pertaining to fashion, I fully endorse trying on a dotted pair. Perhaps even a couple of pairs. Give your ensemble a playful jolt. You might be surprised with the results. Stay stylish my friends.

  • Are you tired of negative stereotypes and destructive imagery that permeate modern culture, especially regarding people of color? Well, spread some goodness. Spread the word about this blog. Tweet it. Post an article from this blog on your Facebook wall. Do whatever you can. It’s Gent Appreciation Week, let’s spread a little positivity in the world.

Style & Substance – Armstrong and Wilson Pocket Square

Armstrong & Wilson PSBecause in a world of safe, neat pocket squares dominating the gentleman’s marketplace; sometimes a fresh reworking of a classic is needed. Read on.

  • The Who - For the discerning gentleman that appreciates the contribution of unexpected, distinctive accessories that bolster the sophistication quotient of his presentation as a whole.
  • The What - Armstrong and Wilson, an independent menswear company founded by Ontario Armstrong and Clifton Wilson, specializing in creative variations of classic menswear accessories – please see the killer pocket square above.
  • The When – To be worn during times that cry out for next level style and grace.
  • The Where – Great for the office. Boardrooms may be tricky, so survey the business environment beforehand and style accordingly. And when the workday is complete; feel free to rock out with supreme confidence, as no one will look as uniquely dapper as you.
  • The How – These squares are usually cotton, linen, cashmere, or wool; so an irregular square fold is recommended. Ensure that the button detail is situated for maximum visibility.
  • The Why – Because of all the pocket squares you own, most likely, none are endowed with an elegant button detail. And if you do own one, perhaps you could use another – for variety of course.

Style & Substance – Bold Pattern & Color

Tie Bar PlaidBecause, in a sartorial landscape that highly favors muted color and restrained pattern, the unspoken rule of conservative attire begs to be broken. And any stylish gentleman will confess, the occasional introduction of aggressive color and dynamic pattern is what really designates him as being well-dressed. To be well-dressed, a gentleman must be well-rounded with his style. A wardrobe bereft of color or pattern is a wardrobe that lacks much-needed vitality. So, go ahead, stray from the comforting confines of familiarity. Break from the status quo. Trust me, your presentation will flourish from the injection of energy.

Style & Substance – Man Purse or Portfolio Bag?

Suit Supply Collage

Suit Supply

For seemingly decades, the conversation pertaining to a gentleman’s style, in regards to sexuality and masculinity, has always been a topic subject to much speculation and conjecture. In the contemporary world, the progressively blurred sartorial lines within the realm of men’s style has produced an ambiguity between femininity and masculinity that confounds many and drives trepidation. An ambitious gentleman who strives to dress elegantly will almost always bear the distinction of being too affected or ostentatious. For a brief moment, society was so confused by the return of the well-dressed gentleman, a cute label was christened to identify him – the metro-sexual. Frankly, I think that is one of the silliest monikers ever invented. So, what is all of this rambling for anyway? Well, an interesting picture danced across my Facebook timeline yesterday. It was a photograph of a dapper gentleman of color; holding what appeared to be a hybrid of a book bag and satchel, it arrived with a caption: Man purse – yes or no for your man?

Honestly, in my humble opinion, it didn’t look like a purse. However, I think the term “man purse” prejudiced the viewer to think of it as such. Without the caption, I think people would surmise the guy was just carrying a small duffel bag. The responses were overwhelming decisive – the look was too feminine for guy, leave the small bags for women. And so, I searched the Internet for similar bags for a reference point. I came across a cadre of bags offered by Suit Supply – they really have some sweet bags in stock – and amongst the group were a few selections referenced as portfolio bags. In an age when a gentleman is inundated with small gadgets and accessories, is it a stretch to understand why he may require a small bag to house his belongings, without calling into question his sexuality? Or, is this one of those cases where fashion is straddling the line between being a man and being effeminate? Your thoughts?

Style & Substance – Breaking Plaid – The Ubiquitous Pattern of the Season

A. Olch Plaid Pocket SquareAlexander Olch

Please gentlemen, do not be mistaken, this isn’t your great grandfather’s plaid. Embarrassingly fusty. Slightly stodgy. Obliviously dated. No, this contemporary rendition is different in every facet imaginable. To be certain, gone are the days of grumpy and grouchy checks, and in its place we have at our disposal something brazenly hip, something resolutely ballsy. Trust, the tradition remains intact, but do not confuse tradition with antiquity. Today’s plaid does not break from tradition, it merely turns up the volume. The intersections of vertical and horizontal lines are more adventurous; blazing a path of varying widths and lengths. The color choices are plentiful and unconventional; anything from eggplant purple to forest green is confidently on the table. And the instruments for which a gentleman can demonstrate his sartorial expertise: sport coats, neckties, pocket squares, dress shirts, etc. Again, any and everything is on the table. This autumn, the department stores are stocked to capacity with plaid offerings. So, a gentleman might as well dismiss his visions of those nightmarish plaids from yesteryear, and instead select at least one bold plaid furnishing to add to his inventory. It could be as subtle as a pocket square. Or, it could be as showy as a sport coat. Either way, the most ubiquitous pattern this autumn begs for spot in your closet.

Coming Soon – Autumn 2013

Richard James Leaf Print PS

Mr Porter – Richard James

For many individuals, autumn recently arrived – albeit a tad prematurely, and provided a brief glimpse of what to expect late September and all of October. And what did that glimpse reveal? Automobile windows liberally covered by early morning dew. Nippy evenings that necessitated the need for an additional layer of clothing for comfort. And, we figured you have noticed, the days are steadily becoming shorter, with night arriving early, minute by minute. Soon enough, autumn will be upon us. So, what will the sartorial climate look like?  Unsurprisingly, fabrics will adopt a decidedly dark complexion, but don’t worry, tones won’t be exceedingly morose. All the bright hues and vibrant patterns of summer will step aside for conservative tones and sly, sophisticated designs. Clothing will become a touch heavier, but not burdensome. And a gentleman will have more accessories to deftly incorporate into his ensemble – without overdoing it. This season – less is definitely more. It will be the astute selection of a chosen accoutrement that will make the biggest visual impact. Sure, summer will definitely return, if not for a few weeks, to remind everyone that its time has not expired for the year 2013. Enjoy it. Because, as we move into the first half of August, we can be sure time is going to fly by. Get ready.

Style & Substance – Passagio Cravatte – Custom Neckties

Gianni CeruttiHave you ever wondered how a delicate piece of sumptuous fabric is transformed into an exquisite slice of luxury that is the custom-made necktie? Not really, but now your interest has been aroused? Well, be sure to keep a watchful eye for an upcoming conversation I had with founder of Passaggio Cravatte, Gianni Cerutti. Passaggio Cravatte is unique because they don’t stock ready-made product; everything is hand-made and individually conceived. Neckties. Pocket squares. Ascots. Bow ties. The choice is ultimately in your hands. Well, technically, your choice rests within Mr. Cerutti’s hands as he crafts your selection from scratch. Stay tuned.

http://www.passaggiocravatte.com/

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