The coordination and contrast of color is a distinguishing hallmark of Paul Stuart. Autumn affords a prime opportunity for a gentleman to flex sartorial flair with a daring combination of hues that complement the season. Layers are a gentleman’s best friend from checked merino wool scarves to corduroy flat caps because warmth is the name of the game – wear it well.
Regarding Michigan weather during prime winter months of December through March, I am unapologetically serious about my outerwear and accessories. When the temperatures begin to steadily plummet and the wind chill makes it feel unbearably lower than the reported forecast, common sense drives me to retrieve the warmest apparel from my closet. So unlike some of my brethren than prefer a light coat, no hat, and no gloves – I definitely fully equip myself to battle Old Man Winter. Especially when my vehicle or home needs clearing of heavy snow, I require suitable protection from potential frostbite. Over the years, I have amassed a varied collection of gloves to shield my hands from harmful exposure. And perhaps my warmest pair is pictured above – the Polo Ralph Lauren Quilted Field Glove. For a mere $68.00, I found a surprisingly warm pair of gloves that have provided cozy service through some very frigid days. Seriously, their appearance belies the warmth and insulation provided when the cold outside makes naked hands almost unbearable. The quilted back is polyester while the palm is a decent grade of leather. The lining is polyester and olefin, which greatly contributes to its insulating qualities. There is ribbed hem around the wrist along with a discreet button closure. They are very lightweight and fit perfectly. I’ve owned my pair for a few months now, and after withstanding the rigors of shoveling snow or brushing my car off, they have maintained good integrity. If you are a gentleman in the market for a good winter glove, this offering from Ralph Lauren is a tremendous bargain.
It should not be a well-guarded secret – if you have been diligently reading this blog space – that I am an ardent admirer of the Cole Haan ZeroGrand collection. As I outlined in a previous post, these business casual oxfords are insanely comfortable and incredibly stylish. Lightweight and flexible, the ZeroGrand collection is very forgiving on the feet. True story: Recently I received my flu shot at a nearby CVS, and the pharmacist was rocking a pair of ZeroGrand. I complimented his choice of shoes and he stated it was his preferred footwear for standing all day. The collection also boasts an array of striking color combinations that affords a gentleman the ability to smartly coordinate with his outfit.
The particular pair pictured to the right is the Cole Haan ZeroGrand Stitchlite model. Advertised as java, the chocolate hue lends enough versatility to complement numerous shades of khaki or brown. Regular retail price is $180.00, but I was able to capitalize on a Cyber Monday deal, which effectively lowered the price-tag to $85.00 – with free shipping. Generally, I don’t participate in Cyber Monday sales, but this deal was simply too good to ignore.
Currently, this same model is still on sale, but not as steep as my catch at the time. Priced at $139.95, it is still respectable, but it might be wise to wait for a post-Christmas and New Year’s Day sale. The temperatures are steadily dropping week after week, so if you are contemplating a pair to sport around the office, ensure that you reserve some heavy boots to keep your feet warm and dry as you walk around outside. Because an outside winter shoe it is not.
As I am currently growing my beard long for the winter – Sons of Anarchy style – it was a prime time to search the market for a proper beard brush. My facial hair has the tendency to get wild and woolly, so the need for an appropriate grooming tool to keep my growth in check is a top priority. Aside from the desire for a neat appearance, I also have a bad habit of tugging the hairs on my beard the thicker it grows. My wife absolutely hates it. I already own a few beard combs to deter this compulsion, but unfortunately, they leave a graveyard of tiny hairs in the surrounding area. Therefore, I resolved myself to hunt for a beard brush, and I was elated to discover one at my preferred retail location for home goods – Target (pronounced Tar-jay). Available for a shade under $10.00, the Cremo Premium Boar Bristle Beard Brush is the perfect grooming companion for the discerning, bearded gentleman. Compact with a sturdy wooden handle, the stiff boar hair bristles are rugged enough to smooth and detangle my beard without leaving hair everywhere. However, it is not so stiff that it is abrasive to one’s skin. I also like the small size because it travels well without being a chore to carry on your person. It keeps wayward strands of hair in check for a tidy appearance, and it satisfies my urge to tug at it and leave unsightly patches. Definitely worth the $10.00 price-tag.
Peculiar as it may appear for a guy that pens material about stylish presentations for men, I have never possessed a healthy curiosity for timepieces. Sure, I owned a few unremarkable pieces – Kenneth Cole fashion watches to be exact. However, its ownership was born of a necessity to wear a watch during more formal occasions – nothing more. My understanding to date as far as being a properly attired gentleman is concerned, a proper timepiece is almost always an integral component of one’s presentation.
Nevertheless, I have never assigned myself to the popular belief that a watch represents a gentleman’s station in life. Determining a gentleman’s position in life – based upon a discreet accessory worn on the wrist – was not fair and presumptuous. Moreover, given the digital age we all currently enjoy, being cognizant of the time should never be an issue with ubiquitous displays surrounding us. Smartphone. Tablet. Laptop. Desktop. Hell, a good old-fashioned wall clock will even suffice when necessary.
So, unless I was scheduled for an interview or attending a wedding; wearing a watch was simply nonessential. However, during the course of the past year, I was subjected to mild abuse from a work colleague regarding the lack of watches in my personal collection. His perspective did not hinge as much on the status symbolism, rather, it was intended to complete a distinguished and dignified presentation for a gentleman. And after some personal reflection, that standpoint began to resonate. Over the course of the following two years, I added a few modest pieces to my collection.
One of those timepieces was a token of appreciation from my employer for 15 years of dedicated service. No, it was not a Rolex. Nonetheless, I was not ungrateful. And actually, I was presented with an entire catalog of gifts for my selection, so I was very appreciative. The gift catalog featured a handsome selection of watches; I eventually landed on the Citizen Brycen Eco-Drive Chronograph. The Japanese watch manufacturer is an excellent entry-level choice for a gentleman starting a watch collection. I selected this model because of its old-school, utilitarian aesthetic. It’s a hearty, sporty timepiece. I love the navy face partnered with a brown semi-perforated leather strap. The case is 44 mm, a bit large, but not too gaudy for my sizeable forearm and wrist. The Eco-Drive technology means it is powered by light, so maintenance is extremely minimal. The complications feature a tachymeter, 1/5-second chronograph measuring up to 60 minutes, 12/24-hour time and date. This is my casual or business-casual timepiece; perfect for denim jeans, khakis, merino wool v neck sweaters, or crisp sport shirts.
Because, after exhibiting a steadfast faithfulness to his cotton companion, a gentleman deserves to explore options of the woolen variety. Don’t your feet deserve an added layer of warmth and comfort? If you are fortunate – some may argue the contrary – to live in a locale that offers the cozy comfort of gradually declining temperatures, woolen socks may provide some sought-after respite during a chilly commute. I procured this beautiful woolen pair from J. Crew during a clearance sale, as spring was on the horizon during the time. I fully understood the repercussions of my late season purchase, as I would not be able to reap the benefits until now. No worries, historical purchases educated me regarding the merits of woolen hosiery. It would be worth the wait. Some may argue that wool offers a sophisticated touch that stands superior in comparison with its cotton counterpart. I would agree. True, cotton can be manufactured in various forms. Nevertheless, when standing head-to-head with merino, mohair, cashmere or even donegal – cotton hosiery tends to come up slightly short in terms of texture, depth, warmth, and comfort. Wool absorbs moisture better than cotton, so your feet should remain warm and dry. For laundering, I suggest washing woolen socks in cold water on the delicate/handwashing setting, preferably with Woolite Dark. Woolen socks can be expensive, as it is not uncommon to expect a price-tag of $20.00 and greater for one pair. Nevertheless, there are some brands that offer options slightly less than that. Nordstrom’s house brand clocks in at $16.50 per pair or 3 pairs for $40.00. Both Cole Haan and Lorenzo Uomo have deals for 3 pairs for $30.00. And perennial favorite Gold Toe has 3 pair for $21.00.
At its core, a gentleman’s style is fiercely intimate; it is a sartorial expression of one’s personality and identity. It is a representation and presentation of self. More than a decade ago when I made the conscious decision to overhaul my look, I was very mindful regarding my selection of men’s clothing and accessories. Being quiet and reserved, I wanted my attire to typify my character with an appreciation for modesty, grace, and class. That being said, it is very important that a gentleman adopt a level of consistency, as in a signature look that identifies him readily to the public. Underrated, but an item that can definitely be classified as a signature is the gentleman’s hat. Think Samuel L. Jackson’s Kangol. Ne-Yo’s fedora. Walter White’s Heisenberg pork pie. Or Cam Newton’s…wait…scratch the last example; but you get the point.
And so, given my struggle with stubborn hair follicles, hats were an easy choice to incorporate into my burgeoning ensemble. Much like Samuel L. Jackson, I hold an affinity for the driver cap and schoolboy cap. This particular style of hat is a perfect business casual and casual companion. Generally, I don’t wear hats in the summer because of my propensity to sweat, and an additional garment layer only increases my body temperature. Autumn, early winter, and spring present the perfect opportunity to showcase a stylish brim. Pictured here is a birthday gift from my wife – a plaid wool driver cap from venerable brand Stetson. The Stetson brand has been making fashionable hats since 1865, and this hat is not any different. I spotted this handsome selection in Von Maur during a leisurely stroll during my lunch. I am a simple man, so birthday gifts for myself aren’t terribly difficult to select. Appropriate for the season, this grey wool driver cap boasts an all-over plaid with hues of olive, purple, blue, and burgundy.
For this much style, the driver cap is a very affordable $30.00. Treated properly, this hat should provide dutiful service for many years to come.
Generally, the corporate work environment requires a standard code of professional dress, and generally its employees are bound by that code. Now, companies rarely venture into the tiny specifications regarding work attire, rather, a broad overview is presented as a guideline. For example, companies that welcome the presence of neckties won’t necessarily dictate the parameters it must abide by; such as its color, fabric, or pattern. Sure, common sense is a fantastic guide to certain unwritten rules within the office. Meaning, an office environment boasting a variety of stripes & solids; a Disney themed Donald Duck necktie may be slightly out-of-place. However, among that sea of stripes & solids, other designs are perfectly acceptable, save your favorite Disney character. Enter the medallion print necktie – your new go-to necktie in the workplace.
Simply, a medallion print consists of a repeating pattern of detailed, decorative emblems. Patterns and shapes can be symmetrical or asymmetrical, complex or straightforward, large or small. Certainly, a medallion necktie can interrupt the visual monotony induced by over usage of striped or solid selections. Sure, the latter choices are safe options, however, medallions afford forward style without breaking any corporate dress protocols – written or unwritten. Illustrated above is a necktie courtesy of Brooks Brothers. In fact, I actually own the necktie above. A Brooks Brothers necktie tends to lean decidedly conservative with solid construction. However, I highly recommend purchasing their neckties in person, as the weight and feel can be hit or miss. The material of some neckties are robust and thick – excellent attributes for knotting purposes; others are a little dainty and thin – workable, but not my preference.
A medallion print necktie works with solid, striped, or checked dress shirts. A gentleman should be mindful of the scale between the patterns of the necktie and dress shirt. A large medallion print should be balanced by either a small stripe or check pattern. Conversely, a small medallion print will work best with a larger stripe dress shirt pattern. Solid shirts, of course would be negligible. Gentlemen’s Standard approved, an array of medallion patterned neckties in your rotation is an intelligent investment for the professional gentleman.
Sure, the winter season is underway. However, in the arena of style and fashion, brands are gearing up to stock shelves with spring clothing & accessories. Therefore, serious sales will be plentiful as we head into the new year. That being said, one of my favorite websites – Mr Porter – have commenced their annual round of discounts. Over the next few weeks, discounts will climb as high as 80 percent of retail price, but stock will surely be slim pickings at that point. In some regards, it is a game chance, anticipating a price drop before your object of desire is scooped up. Notable brands are stocked such as Ralph Lauren,Timex, Burberry, and Hugo Boss. Likewise, brands that are not household names, yet still boast superior quality such as NN07, Richard James, and Grenson are available. Personally, I’ve been able to find some insane deals during this time. So, Happy New Year shopping!
So, here we are again, yet another winter season in Michigan. Wait, well, technically winter does not commence until December 21st. Nevertheless, Michigan weather is never one to strictly adhere to a specific calendar day, so wintry temperatures arrived early this year. Fortuitously, Black Friday generally coincides with the impending falling temperatures, offering a wide variety of cold-weather accessories for the gentleman seeking a bit of warmth. This year, I was able to score a cozy, 100% cashmere beanie, courtesy of J. Crew at an outstanding 50% off the $79.50 retail price. And even at full retail price, the quality is exceptional at that price-point. However, J. Crew seemingly remains in a state of perpetual discounts, so you’ll be hard-pressed to find an item that isn’t on sale. Given my previous experience with their woolen hats, a gentleman simply cannot go wrong when selecting from their inventory. Much like my previous purchase, J. Crew offers a hat that exhibits a comfortable fit without burdensome tightness, great warmth and protection from the elements, and just enough nuanced styling to distinguish it from standard beanies on the market. Currently, the model above is available in dark honey (pictured), navy, and heather oatmeal. And yes, it is on discount, 35% to be exact, courtesy of the code WINTERSALE. Bundle up and happy shopping.
For better or for (mostly) worse, in the affairs of varying dress, men tend to gravitate towards simpler options. Now, do not be mistaken, simple can produce an air of unexpected sophistication and elegance. Conversely, the preference for oversimplification can lead to a presentation bordering on pedestrian and uninspired. An explanation for this gentleman’s retreat to simplicity is fear; fear that one’s sartorial choices may lead to a foolish appearance. And the last thing a gentleman wants is look foolish. Personal experience and experimentation has guided me toward making bold selections, initially on a relatively small-scale, and then building on my confidence to construct more complicated ensembles. The easiest commencement point – an accessory. It is low risk that can produce a high return.
Sartorial trial on error is the best instructor. The accessory of choice? Well, despite what some individuals may perceive regarding gentlemanly accoutrements, the selections are plentiful. In the interest of recognizing the current and upcoming season, cold weather accessories suits this post perfectly – specifically gloves. In the past, I would gravitate toward the standard issue glove, unremarkable and disposable, generally arriving with a black or blue color. However, as I began to take more risks with my style, I welcomed selections with small embellishments that elevated it above your regular gentleman’s glove.
The glove above is an offering from Dents of England – an English manufacturer of stylish accessories including fine knits and leather goods. I purchased this glove for a few reasons. Functionality: a combination of leather and flannel to provide proper insulation from the wintry elements. Aesthetics: a beautiful contrast of black leather and grey flannel exterior; combined with a sharp, adjustable snap closure around the wrist. Incorporating such small details into your presentation will instantly infuse an otherwise lackluster appearance with maturity and class.
Because, when protecting your hands from continuously plummeting temperatures, a gentleman should employ a pair of sophisticated gloves to get the job done. Now, I want to be totally transparent with the audience, this of gloves will deplete your bank account to the tune of $90. I was the beneficiary of a sale, so I secured mine for half that price. If you are patient, Mr Porter typically has a winter sale in January. Stay tuned to this space for updates.
Duffle bag. Briefcase. Messenger bag. Backpack. Generally, this assortment of gentlemanly accessories would be categorized under leather goods & travel bags, and they would be dignified with their appropriate name. However, since the public seems to believe that only a woman can own a stylish travel companion, it is necessary to differentiate a bag being carried by a woman versus one being carried by a man. And that is accomplished by simple attaching the word “man” as a prefix to the word “bag“. I don’t know which word I hate more, man-bag or metrosexual, but both are equally ridiculous. So, why am I exploring this topic today? Well, after JR Smith’s monumental mental collapse in the waning seconds of regulation in the NBA Finals (Game 1), the only other topic that has garnered more lattention is Lebron James’ post-game attire – specifically his alligator man-bag (Thom Brown bag, pictured above) that accompanied his ensemble.
Gay. Homosexual. Fag. Those are some of the words I read around the Internet used to describe James’ presentation. To be sure, I am not a fan of gentlemanly interpretations of style that go above and beyond to appear effeminate, but upholding the ever-enduring trope of being sartorially masculine can sometimes border on foolishness. In a desperate attempt to eschew the slightest hint of homosexuality, we practice behavior that is downright stupid and has nothing to do with sexuality. Holding an umbrella – what, are you afraid of getting wet from a few raindrops? Wearing a coat – what, a few drops in the temperature have you shivering? Rocking a man-purse – what, you can’t carry your lipstick in your pocket?
So, let us have a discussion about the “man-bag”. Selecting one is simply a means of function. Yes, a gentleman needs a carryall to house some of his odds & ends that he cannot carry on his person. Sure, a gentleman may possess less small accessories that require storage than a woman, but he still requires storage nonetheless. Prime example: I purchased a lunch bag from Target to carry, you know, my lunch. Over time that lunch bag has transformed into a storage space for my wallet, checkbook, car keys, cell phone, cell phone charger, eyeglass cleaner, eyeglass cloth, Bayer aspirin, Motrin, various vitamins, hand lotion, lip balm, and whatever else finds its way into the Bermuda Triangle of lunch space. And before you ask – no I am not stuffing my coat pockets with all those items, and I would have no luck in the summer anyway. And no, all those items (varying shape the items being a contributing factor) cannot fit into my briefcase. Therefore, for my lifestyle, I need a bag of some sort to provide refuge for my accessories.
Alternatively, I can walk around with low energy, smudged eyeglasses, chapped lips, ashy knuckles, a stiff back, and a headache – because damned if I look gay walking around with a bag to hold all my stuff. But I do – it’s just a lunch bag that does the heavy lifting because I’ve just been too lazy to invest in a smooth, stylish bag. Again, it all depends on lifestyle, but as I have grown older, I find myself carrying those little odds & ends that I choose not to stuff into my outerwear or pants’ pockets – which distorts the shape of the clothing over time anyway. Trust, there is nothing gay about Lebron James. So, man-up and go get a man-bag. Just kidding. Whether it is a medium duffle, messenger, tote, or just a stylish carryall; I believe every gentleman could benefit from owning one. I’ll be sure to post a picture of mine when I scrap together enough coins to do so. Although it won’t be anywhere near the $41K James dropped on his alligator companion. Respect.