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!

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.

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