Style & Substance – Jack Black Dry Down Friction-Free Powder

Jack Black Dry DownRegarding the intimate affairs of gentlemanly grooming, I openly confess that my personal regimen has evolved immensely – largely in part to the creation of this site – over the last few years. My standard carousel of unremarkable soap and lotion has slowly transformed into a collection of sophisticated balms, moisturizers, soaps, and creams. However, a line may have to be drawn with the Jack Black Dry Down Friction-Free Powder. I cannot totally dismiss this latest offering from Jack Black, as I am absent experience in its benefits and qualities. Nevertheless, sprinkling some magical, moisture-absorbing powder down into my nether region seems a bit fussy. If you are an active gentleman, I can totally understand how and why this item would be beneficial. However, I just cannot fathom said gentleman allotting time to address his crotch with powder – unless there is something seriously going on with the sweat glands down there. Alas, I could be totally off the mark with my assessment. Perhaps gentlemen across the globe have been quietly suffering with sweaty privates and I am just totally oblivious. I’m interested to know if any gents out there have any experience with the Jack Black Powder. Please weigh in with your thoughts.

Style & Substance – The Wholecut Oxford

Berluti WholecutUnderstated in every facet of the definition, the wholecut oxford affords a beautiful touch of sophisticated subtlety to a gentleman’s footwear rotation. Aptly titled because its construction consists of a single piece of leather stitched to the sole, the uncommon wholecut is seldom recognized in the sartorial mainstream, perhaps because of the labor intensive process to manufacture such a quiet beauty. Nevertheless, if one can afford and locate this elusive, sexy beast from a reputable brand, I would wholeheartedly endorse the venture. Because, in a world of footwear where extravagant aesthetics are lustfully sought after, the wholecut offers next-level elegance, albeit shrouded in a plain exterior. And with its indistinct demeanor, a clever irony cannot be missed: In all of its muted glory; it is this lack of showiness that makes the wholecut stand pronounced away from the rest of the shoe field. Absent decorative distraction and coupled with a high-gloss shine, one cannot help by appreciate the naked aesthetics when paired with a pair of neat, natty dress trousers. Patterned trousers would be my preference to offer some visual contrast, but the choice is your own. If your closet is replete with wingtips, captoes and anything in-between, I would strongly encourage the contemplation of adding a wholecut to your repertoire.

Style & Substance – The Dotted Dress Shirt

Ted Baker Dot ShirtAdmittedly, a considerable length of time has elapsed since this unconventional trend has become popular. Well, presently, this unorthodox utilization of a dress shirt is starting to influence my sartorial, conservative leanings. True, I am not wholly opposed to stylish risk, nevertheless, I tend to avoid outlandish trends that are more runway spectacle than meaningful, useful style. And so, behold, the dotted dress shirt. Now, this may appear as a European transplant, but I vaguely remember my grandfather owning a dress shirt discreetly speckled with small dots. Not yet of teenage years, and therefore not fully appreciating the function of a dress shirt, I dismissed the oddly patterned shirt as something only my grandfather would wear. Now here we are today, and that peculiar dress shirt that my grandfather once wore has received a modern update. Definitely rakish, totally uncommon; the office has probably never seen a bold dress shirt like this in the boardroom. I may have to take the plunge. The risk is relatively low, and the reward is high on style, smoothness, and attitude. Stay stylish gentlemen.

Style & Substance – Burberry – Crocheted Lace

Burberry Crochet Lace CoatSo, regarding what best could be described as uniquely experimental, Burberry unveiled a look unlike anything I have ever laid eyes upon – at least in regards to menswear. Employing the decorative art of crocheted lace, Burberry has transformed menswear articles such as neckties, dress shirts, and outerwear into sartorial pieces of ornate artistry. I would be dishonest if I denied the beauty of the visual intricacy displayed here – it is most certainly stunning. However, its usage is what I am calling into question. To be blunt: Burberry is doing far too much. Has menswear become so boring that gimmicks have to be utilized to coax interest within the gentlemanly community?

Burberry is trying to reinvent the proverbial wheel, and I reckon this venture will fall flat and disappear within months of its availability. And woe to the gentleman that will be stranded with a $4095.00 crocheted lace coat in his closet. Yes – it is quite an expensive risk to undertake. Perhaps this material would be better served as a pocket square; perhaps even a scarf. In the real world – and by real, we’re talking non-celebrity realms – I highly doubt this usage of crocheted lace would be sartorially functional. Nevertheless, I could be incorrect. What say you? Is Burberry onto something, ushering in a new era of style, or is this just gear aimed at the likes of Dwyane Wade or Pharrell Williams, hoping that the regular gentleman follows suit?

Style & Substance – Fear of the White Dress Shirt

J Crew Cotton Linen

J. Crew Cotton-Linen Button-Down

In all seriousness, when employing the services of a white dress shirt during moments of formal dress, well, the exercise should be relatively  foolproof. Given its blank slate demeanor, a gentleman would be hard-pressed to unearth complications when coordinating varying elements of his ensemble. However, there are some gentlemen that opt for the most unusual colors when selecting a dress shirt. Burnt orange. Neon green. Hot pink. Well, perhaps the white dress shirt is overwhelmingly too simple. So simple in fact, a gentleman can be misled into a train of thought wrought with complexity. And then again, perhaps, a simple white dress shirt screams boredom. Allow me to present this appeal: Step away from the loud dress shirts and embrace the unspoiled benefits the white dress shirt has to offer. It is a clean canvas that a gentleman can practice his sartorial art upon without fear of a fashion calamity. It’s safe. It’s readily available. It’s timeless. It should play a vital role in your wardrobe. Gent Hint: Since we are approaching warmer weather, select a lightweight fabric such as poplin, linen, or a cotton/linen blend would be just what Mother Nature ordered. Gent Hint II: Skip the necktie and opt for a button-down dress shirt without the neck apparel.

Style & Substance – Eton – The Floral Pocket Square

Eton Floral PSTo be absolutely certain, the much-anticipated arrival of pleasant weather will necessitate the process of temporarily jettisoning apparel indicative of fall and winter seasons. And with that short-term separation, a gentleman will surely divert his sartorial selections toward men’s accoutrements that welcome the sensibilities of spring and summer. Assuming that the venerable necktie will be rarely beckoned for professional utilization – depending on your lifestyle – a pocket square is a viable alternative that lends unique character to the dapper gentleman’s breast pocket. Now, extending beyond the mere practice of rocking a standard pocket square in lieu of a necktie during the summer, I want to take the time to endorse the pocket square bearing a floral design. Fun, lively, and charismatic; a floral pocket square pops with gentle personality. It is an understated way to inject some softness into a masculine demeanor. Stock up on a few and employ when needed.

Style & Substance – The Medium Brown Oxford

Edward Green Brown OxfordBecause, when the severity of a black oxford threatens to compromise the sanctity of a fresh spring day, an alternative pair in a warm shade of brown will enable a gentleman to properly complement the day in style. Trust, as a gentleman’s presentation gradually adapts a lighter hue, the loyal employment of the black oxford will lessen more and more. Now, this is not a call for a complete excommunication from your shoe rotation. Rather, this is a thoughtful regulation of your trusted pair of somber kicks to specialized duty: overcast mornings, job interviews, funeral services, special events during the evening, etc. So, in other words, with the exception of moments that beg darker attire, a sprightly pair of brown shoes will marry perfectly with almost any lighter shade of trouser. Light to medium gray. Of course varying shades of brown or khaki. Earthy sage. And even softer hues of blue can coincide beautifully with your brown shoes. Now, whether you rock a cap-toe or wingtip, the selection is solely your own. I humbly suggest adding two pairs – more if you can afford it – to your footwear arsenal if you haven’t procured said pairs already. And with that – happy spring gentlemen!

Style & Substance – Linen Blend Necktie

Richard James Linen NecktieTo be sure, the artful procedure of dressing well can arrive with an array of anxiety and trepidation. And that should not be viewed as uncommon or surprising. The magic of a perfectly coordinated, immaculately fitted ensemble can surely elicit an erroneous perception of sartorial complexity that proves daunting for any gentleman not deeply entrenched in some serious style. Nevertheless, rejoice gentlemen, dressing oneself with a sophisticated hand is not as mentally taxing as it may seem. Sometimes, a mere departure from your sartorial comfort zone is all a gentleman requires to inject elegance into his wardrobe. So, circling back to the aforementioned comfort zone, let’s talk about one – the necktie zone. Now, standard necktie policy dictates the status quo selection of silk as a gentleman’s first choice. However, with spring on the horizon – don’t worry, it’s coming – I implore the gentlemanly audience to introduce a different type of flavor  to knot around their necks – the linen blend necktie.

Now, a linen blend necktie may arrive in a combination of cotton & linen or silk & linen. The percentage of each textile within the necktie will depend on the selected brand. As a personal favorite, I lean towards cotton and linen. So, what are the advantages of a linen blend necktie over a regular silk necktie? Well, none really. It all depends on taste. However, in the spirit of introducing a creative wrinkle – pun intended – to your necktie rotation, a touch of linen will add a lovely, delicately wrinkled texture that will contrast beautifully with a clean, smooth dress shirt. Given the impending season, a gentleman’s options will become plentiful. If I may further suggest, soft pastels in paisley or plaid are great patterns to complement the spring season. And if those are too bold for your palate, a solid necktie is still a great choice as well.

Style & Substance – The Wellington Boot

 

Hunter BootCurrently, I am experiencing great difficulty with the justification of purchasing a pair of Wellington boots. Given my present state of residence, shiver-friendly Michigan – where seemingly 8 of the 12 months require multiple layers of clothing, the slushy terrain almost demands the procurement of boots specifically designed for the frosty muck that awaits outside. Every year I dutifully entertain the notion, and every year I procrastinate until spring washes away the salt and slush, thus eliminating my desire to purchase a pair “Wellies”. Honestly, an investment would not be too bad, as relocation is certainly not an option at this point.

Nevertheless, I could simply invest in a standard issue of dress boots and terminate the internal debate altogether. Additionally, the affectation that inherently influences the ritual of donning and removing a pair of robust Wellies could prove to be a rather cumbersome task to perform daily. Moreover, my mundane drive to work could possibly morph into something much more adventurous and treacherous, as applying one hefty boot to the throttle might require some nimble foot action. And with that, it would be correct to assume that yet another year shall pass with me foregoing a Wellington boot purchase. Maybe next year. Maybe.

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!

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