Style & Substance – Drake’s – Donegal Lambswool Beanie

drakes-beanie-greyYes, dear gentlemen, the time has finally arrived, cooler temperatures are upon us and no head is safe from the nippy elements outdoors. And especially true for gentlemen dealing with the circumstance of barren scalp follicles, it is paramount that some form of protection be employed to negate the cold as much as possible. Options are plentiful, however, a gentleman must display caution and intelligence when choosing a hat. Trust my word, athletic caps fail to deliver the level of sophistication required for a gentleman of your stature. A felt fedora may regretfully boast a grandfatherly feel to it. And a beanie embellished with a playful pom-pom on top – maybe best worn during one’s middle school years. Now, an investment in a fine knit beanie will lend a touch of elegance without hindering your presentation with a dull, boring feeling. This particular beanie, delicately woven with lambswool, showcases an array of fanciful, colored wool flecks that infuse visual character and uniqueness. Whether married to a formal, navy double-breasted overcoat or ruggedly handsome shearling bomber jacket; the selection of a luxurious woolen beanie is but a natural choice to a measure of warmth and style to your cold season wardrobe.

Style & Substance – Cole Haan – GrandRevolution

cole-haan-grand-revTo be quite certain, if ever falsely charged with creating boring or lackluster designs, Cole Haan would fully exonerated because the venerable shoe brand is lacking neither innovation or creativity. Actually, the brand could be rightly accused of producing shoes that push the boundaries of aesthetics too forward for some gentlemen. And although they have long parted ways from Nike, the shoe brand is still producing hybrid footwear that fuses the traditional cosmetics of classic office sensibilities with urban street flair. The latest offering, a compilation of shoes from their GrandRevolution series, delivers a contemporary revision of a traditional oxford with the comfort and styling of a sneaker.

Embellished with laser-cut perforations along the quarters and vamp, the GrandRevolution series is equipped with Cole Haan’s now signature Grand.OS technology. The Washington Grand Laser Wingtip (pictured above) is listed at a retail price of $400.00. Now, innovation and comfort can certainly deliver some style points in the present, but gentleman might be a little hesitant to commit to a look that may be dated within 1-2 years. And while I appreciate a shoe that affords flexibility, support, and comfort; I am afraid the presentation is too bold to be paired with a conservative pair of trousers and will inevitably reveal its age in a year or so. So, I am curious, will Cole Haan’s latest offering simple become a hot trend of the moment or enjoy stylish longevity in the office?

Style & Substance – The Leather Backpack

Shinola Leather Backpack

Shinola Runwell Backpack

The reality is inevitable; professional gentlemen of a certain age will discover themselves absent the need of certain work accoutrements. The professional employment environment eliminates the service of trusted early education essentials such as the Trapper Keeper, your dandy assortment of colorful pens & pencils, your trusted backpack, and a sturdy combination padlock to secure it all. One could safely assume that at this juncture in your career, you have introduced some serious upgrades into your work life. However, one could also safely assume that one of those upgrades does not include the bag you utilize to transport your belongings. Yes, I am referring to your backpack.

Now, regarding today’s backpack, contemporary interpretations are manufactured with luxury details and soft, supple leather. Unfortunately, some gentlemen are lumbering to and fro with their high school backpack with the specter of chronic back pain patiently waiting for its grand introduction. Personally, I am partial to briefcases. However, for the creative on the move, commuting with only his business necessities, a backpack may be a logical choice. And that choice might as well be an investment in style, sophistication, and function. Canvas or polyester options will also a command spot in the marketplace, but a leather alternative will convey character and ultimately age with a timeless grace not afforded to the former. The choice is yours, just please retire that bag from 10th grade.

Style & Substance – Triple F.A.T. Goose – The Return of a Cold Weather Classic

Hesselberg FrontAs a native of Detroit, the winter seasons from my youth were the epitome of harsh, brutal subzero temperatures of epic proportions. Frigid wind cascaded to and fro, numbing any exposed skin unfortunate enough to be left naked. Seemingly endless mountains of snow, slush, and ice lined the streets, thus making routine travel an unwanted adventure. Now, perhaps, this was a result of a distorted perception due to my repeated tours at Detroit bus stops in the dead of winter – Cass Technical High School was the destination of choice. Middle school was much more forgiving, as travel to the designated school bus pick-up location wasn’t as treacherous. Grades 9-12, well, not so much.

And so, among the arctic elements outside, daily expeditions were undertaken with the hopes of attaining a proper education. It was around this time (early 1990s) that a cold weather coat, the Triple F.A.T. Goose, was surging in popularity and adorning the backs of some of the coolest students at school. Filled with down feathers – the layer of fine feathers underneath a bird’s exterior feathers – these jackets offered supreme protection from the dastardly Old Man Winter. The insanely popular down coat inspired many competitors and became the trendiest piece of outerwear you could rock from December until March. However, after surging in popularity, the brand quietly disappeared.

Hesselberg HoodDuring its extended hiatus from the marketplace, there was an ascension of many other brands that capitalized and enjoyed much success in the void that was left by Triple F.A.T. Goose. Yes, a gentleman still needed to protect himself from the cold, so other options became viable. Nevertheless, many people yearned for the return of their beloved “Goose”. Now the company is back and ready the reclaim the top spot for affordable down coats. With so many years out of the public eye, what will today’s rendition of Triple F.A.T. Goose resemble? And, will this updated version sufficiently compete with other brands that readily occupied the vacuum left by Triple F.A.T. Goose’s absence.

Well, the brand is reinventing itself and reintroducing the Triple F.A.T. Goose coat with a contemporary reinterpretation to the public. “We brought the brand back as a result of numerous consumer requests to revive Triple F.A.T. Goose. When relaunching the brand, we really wanted to create products that our consumers would love and to wow them with new features. This was really the motivations for the For Arctic Temperatures collection. This capsule consists of jackets that have premium details such as water-repellent fabrics, real coyote fur ruffs, a soft interior lining, and storm cuffs”, says chief executive officer of Turbo Holdings Inc., James Chung.

Hesselberg Back

True, this new renovated and retooled Triple F.A.T. (For Arctic Temperatures) Goose is all about premium details and quality. First, let’s address the coat’s body. As a point of reference, the Hesselberg (pictured) will be examined for this article. Gone is the bulk and puffiness that were signatures of the original Triple F.A.T. Goose design. That being said, the new design still is robust and heavy in nature, but the silhouette is streamlined with a moderately close fit without being too restrictive. However, depending on personal preference, you may want to size up to allow more room. Also, driving could be cumbersome if you decided to wear your coat behind the wheel. While the extra cushion could be tempting, maintaining a proper fit beneath your seatbelt could be challenging. My suggestion: keep it in the backseat until ready for use.

Now, it has not been particularly cold here in Michigan, which is odd this late in the year. No complaints, but I have not been able to thoroughly vet the warmth of the Hesselberg. Nevertheless, I did take it out for a test run one night. I waited for a really chilly evening, and wearing only pajamas and a tee-shirt, I donned the Hesselberg and ventured off into the brisk night. And I must admit, I was completely – aside from mid-thigh and down – protected from the chill outside. The coyote fur-trimmed hood is HUGE – and I have a moderately large head. Your face will be more than protected from the blustery elements outside. The hood is constructed in a fashion where the rim can be softly bent and shaped to fit the contours of your head and retain adequate visibility. Because, as I previously mentioned, the hood is HUGE.

Another added benefit from the new collection is the storm cuff insert on each arm. Sewn into the inside cuff and extending outward like a fingerless glove when worn, it serves to block out any cold drafts that might find its way up inside your sleeves. And when combined with your standard pair of winter gloves, a gentleman will benefit greatly from the extra layer of warmth underneath – don’t worry, the material is thin enough to allow easy sliding under your regular glove. The zippered side vents underneath the sleeves allow you to moderately control the temperature of your body. Suffice it to say: I kept mine zipped!

Product Specifications

  • 80/20 goose down filling – meaning 80% goose down and 20% goose feathers. Goose down is one of the best and lightest insulators on the market. The air pockets between the down protects against loss of heat.
  • 10,000 mm performance fabric, Teflon coated for water resistance.
  • Fill power of 600. Fill power is the measurement of loft for down feathers. The higher the lofting power, the better a coat will be insulated due to the amount of air that can be trapped by the down. A fill power of 550-750 is considered very good.
  • Coyote fur-trimmed hood that helps shield your face from skin-numbing wind. Coyote fur also doesn’t freeze or absorb, you know, in case your area gets hit with freezing rain or the like.
  • Neck and pockets lined with soft fleece for more added warmth.
  • Storm cuffs to block out sneaky cold air that likes to travel up coat sleeves.

With so many luxurious details, one would expect to pay a considerable amount of money for such an offering. In the case of the new collection from Triple F.A.T. Goose, look to pay half of what you may spend on a comparable coat. Quality down outerwear will fetch nearly $1000.00 and more. Here, the models offered range from $400.00 to $500.00. Relatively inexpensive when you consider that proper maintenance will extend its wintry service for countless years. Now, I would be remiss in my writing duties if I do not offer the following disclaimer. Because of the quality and performance of Triple F.A.T. Goose, there were troubling cases of theft during its height of popularity. Therefore, I would display an observant amount of caution when wearing one.

However, you need not worry about this contemporary version of being too flashy or garish. The reserved design and discreet appearance should ensure it retains all its classic appeal without becoming dated. Only the updated, signature Triple F.A.T. Goose logo on the sleeve reveals its identity. So, what does the future hold going forward. “Probably the most noteworthy and anticipated project is our expansion into the women’s and girl’s outerwear. We’ve already started the design process for these categories and the products are looking great so far. We’re excited for the launch of these new collection”, says Chung. If the men’s launch is any indication, the ladies will not be disappointed. Stay tuned.

For more ordering information, please visit Triple F.A.T. Goose for details.

Style & Substance – Fingerless Wool Gloves

Barbour Fingerless Gloves

Barbour Fingerless Wool Gloves

True indeed, a gentleman’s personal style is mostly recognizable when it dominates the optics, not necessarily in an offensive manner, but by means of exclusively garnering the attention of surrounding company in a relatively flashy manner. Given that fact, some gentleman push their personal style above and beyond sartorial limits, extending well into the peacock region, and that is when the visuals border on obnoxious. Well, today I am here to state that such regions don’t necessarily require traversing. Steeped in sophistication, sharp style is shrouded in sly subtlety. For a gentleman, it’s looking seemlessly altogether while effortlessly putting it all together. And that introduces today’s topic for discussion: the gentleman’s fingerless gloves.

Paradoxically speaking, fingerless gloves are a gentleman’s accessory that is hard to notice, yet one can’t help but notice. Now, before I offer my humble endorsement, let’s discuss the fingerless glove’s function. It’s really not terribly complex, however, recognize that fingerless gloves aren’t exclusive to hobos, nor workers that stock cold beverages in the freezer at grocery stores. If the weather is sufficiently cold, yet the deployment of cashmere lined leather gloves is a tad premature, a smart pair of toasty fingerless gloves is a reasonable option.

Manufactured as a woolen protectant for your hands, cold weather can be sufficiently kept at bay until real frigid conditions materialize. Bonus: Given its construction, a gentleman can retain the full dexterity of his fingers! So, whether you’re dropping $12.00 at Target (fashion frugality) or $425.00 at Barneys (temporary insanity), a warm pair of woolen, fingerless gloves can provide perfect cover from nippy temperatures, allow freedom of movement for your fingers, and add a dash of roguish charm to an otherwise proper presentation. Stay stylish gentlemen.

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.

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