Posts filed under 'Men's'
Q: Because of environmental issues, I try to consume less and re-use as much as I can; however, I find that I buy too much clothing, over half of which I barely wear. I know that it’s not entirely possible to have a 10-item-only wardrobe, but what 10 items do you think could make a complete wardrobe that would last forever (i.e. wear well and not go out of style)?
by John Liu
Item 1: Navy Suit
A staple of every gentleman’s wardrobe, the navy suit is versatile not only because of its color, but also because you can also wear the jacket as a navy blazer, which is another must-have for men. Get a wool blazer in a dark, inky-blue color and you’ll be set for life.
Item 2: Grey Suit
Charcoal Wool Modern Three Button Suit at Banana Republic
A trim gray suit in heather grey or charcoal grey never goes out of style. You could also argue that there is nothing more in style right now, either.
Item 3: Jeans
Loomstate Jeans | $96 (sale) at Saks
You can’t go wrong with a pair of straight leg denim jeans in dark navy and a simple pocket design. This pair by Loomstate is all these things and more: the company uses certified organic cotton and socially and environmentally responsible methods of production.
Style tip: Keep your denim dark by infrequently washing them inside out with detergent specially formulated for dark items, like this one from The Laundress.
Item 4: T-Shirt
Make sure your shirts are trim and well-fitting, like these from Splendid Always. The pima cotton used in these shirts are pesticide-free, making it as eco-friendly as it was stylish.
Item 5: White Oxford Buttondown Shirt
Solid Vintage Oxford Shirt | $59.50 at J Crew
I can’t think of a single thing with which a crisp white buttondown doesn’t look good. Enough said.
Item 6: Black or Brown Lace Ups
You’ll need a good pair of dress shoes, either in brown or black. Brown suggets luxury, black suggests sleekness. Whichever you choose, spend a little more and get a pair in cordovan leather. Also, if you really are practical, go with black; black shoes can go with colors that brown don’t (such as black pants).
Style tip? Getting a toe tap for a dress shoe with a leather sole will greatly extend the life of the shoe.
Style tip 2? Even the best dress shoes will get worn down with use, but that doesn’t mean you need to throw them away. Instead, get them refurbished. According to Esquire, Allen Edmonds will add new soles, heels, welting, foot beds and laces to the shoe, then condition and polish the leather, all for about $100. Just be warned: if the leather is cracked, you will have to get a new sole.
Item 7: Tie
Ralph Lauren Purple Label Tie | $90 (sale) at Ralph Lauren
Solid or stripes are always a safe bet, but if it’s practicality you want, go with a solid tie. Solid ties can go with any kind of shirt (i.e. check, stripes, solid, etc.).
Item 8: Khakis
Favorite Khaki Pants | $105 at Neiman Marcus
You want to wear khakis that don’t make you look like you just came from a country club. Get a pair that’s trim but not too-skinny–a pair of flat front khakis with no cuffs. I love the fit and color of this pair by Save Khaki. This pair isn’t meant to be worn with a navy blazer, but you know what? I’m tired of the navy blazer/khaki look, even though it is considered timeless.
Item 9: Wool Overcoat
You don’t ever ever ever want to skimp on your overcoat (trust me, east coasters). Your overcoat should be as slim and tailored as your suit. My style is a bit more modern, so I prefer overcoats that are bit shorter in length than traditional ones; look for one that falls no longer than the top of your kneecap. Get your overcoat in a dark color like navy or charcoal. Treat it well and you will never have to buy another one again.
Why an overcoat and not a peacoat, you ask? Pure practicality. Most peacoats hit at the waist or just below, and as such, you wouldn’t want to wear a suit or blazer underneath because the jacket would peek out from under the peacoat.
Item 10: Sneakers
Common Projects Leather Low Top Shoes | $278 at South Willard
If you have to get only one pair of casual shoes, make them plain white sneakers in leather or canvas. The only color shoes I buy (except for dress shoes and loafers) are white. Look for Jack Purcells or Chuck Taylors–or shoes by Common Projects.
June 25th, 2008
Q: I recently discovered just how difficult it is to buy suits for shorter guys! I am about 5′6" and have a slim physique. I need a dinner suit for weddings/ formal dinners and another suit for work.
by John Liu
A: GQ hit on the 5 most important things a short man should look for in a suit:
(1) Buy Short Length Suits
(2) Wear your pant legs with very little break.
(3) Visually lengthen your arms by showing a little bit of your shirt cuff.
(4) Peak lapels help to visually elongate your body, making you look taller.
(5) Look for suits with a low stance (the place where the two front pieces of the jacket meet).
Beyond this, be sure to check out the different “How to Buy a Suit” guides by magazines such as GQ and Esquire, and men.style.com. GQ recently had a feature of “best suits under $500.” Esquire has an article on the best suits under $500, $1000 and $2000. GQ also has a general how to buy a suit guide that I highly recommend.
Now there are plenty of guys that wear $500 suits that look $2000 and plenty of guys that wear $2000 suits that look $500. The trick to making any suit look good (even one that is $500) is tailoring and fit. As for where to go to find this perfect fit, here’s where I would recommend starting your search.
$250 and below: H&M (really)
$250-$500: J. Crew, Banana Republic,
$500 - $1000: Hugo Boss (I personally love the fit, but we have different body types)
$1000 - $3000: Neiman Marcus, Saks, or Bergdorf (if you are in New York). Personally, I have found Paul Smith London to be the best fitting designer time and time again, but again my body type is different than yours (6 feet, 185lbs).
$3000+: Go bespoke…but I don’t recommend your first suit being bespoke.
Have a great tip about how to buy a suit for a shorter man? Share it with us in the comments!
Pictured: Suit for a Short Man, courtesy of GQ/men.style.com.
June 11th, 2008
Q: I want to purchase a bespoke suit. I’ve never purchased one before. What should I look out for? I’m willing to pay a huge premium, but only if I will definitely get my money’s worth.
by John Liu
A: One time I was at a fancy restaurant in San Francisco. It was the kind of place where you have to wear a jacket to get in, and if you show up without one, they give you one from their closet. I sat down and looked at the menu, which was pretty much completely inaccessible to anyone who’s not a Michelin-rated chef. Rather than try to decipher it, I asked the waiter as casually as I could, “So how is the steak?”
“Oh, it’s terrible,” he replied.
Now, he was being sarcastic, but I got the point: whatever I ordered, it was going to be great.
If you pick the right restaurant, you don’t have to know anything about food and can rest assured that you’ll get a good meal. Likewise, if you pick the right tailor, you don’t need to know anything about clothes, and you can rest assured that you’ll get a great suit.
Sure, I could give you a long laundry list of things to look out for. But if you’re going to the right place, I’m certain that the tailor will be doing these things anyways. My one piece of advice would be to know exactly what you want in terms of color, fabric, and style going in. The best tailors don’t give their input; rather, they simply do what you want them to do. Besides, the whole point of bespoke is to make a suit for exactly for you.
If you haven’t gone down the bespoke path before, you likely don’t have a good bespoke tailor you can trust. So do your homework. Search online for user reviews of tailors in your city. The bigger the city you live in, the pickier you can be, of course. When you find a tailor that gets consistently favorable reviews, go visit the tailor and ask to see his/her work. See if the tailor will let you talk to some of his/her customers and ask them about their experience.
Also, a “huge premium” can actually be really huge when talking about bespoke. The Kiton “K50,” aptly named because it takes approximately 50 hours to create, costs $30,000 to $50,000, and is made exclusively by Kiton’s chief tailor who personally measures and fits the client. If you already knew this and still are willing to pay this kind of premium, try Wilkes Bashford in San Francisco, which measures bespoke Kiton, or Kiton in New York. If you’re in London, check out Kilgour or any other fine tailor on Saville Row.
Finally, keep in mind that a true bespoke suit isn’t created overnight. A bespoke suit will take you a few visits to create. And a good bespoke tailor will allow you to wear the suit, get it cleaned a few times, and then go back for more tailoring for a perfect fit.
Style Tip 1: For more information on the bespoke process, and what you should expect to do (roughly) with each visit, be sure to read this discussion from Ask Andy About Clothes.
Style tip 2: If that answer didn’t satisfy you, here are five things to look out for:
- If it is “bespoke,” it should mean that the tailor is the actual cutter of the fabric. Ask him to make sure he is.
- The very best tailors also make their own garments. There aren’t too many of these tailors left, but if you find one, consider yourself lucky.
- The use of a sewing machine should be very limited. Bespoke suits should be hand-made, for the most part. That means, literally, the tailor sews the vast majority of the suit by hand.
- Make sure the canvas is hand-sewn or “floating.” If the answer is “no,” or the word “glue” is mentioned, run.
- Labels don’t mean much in bespoke.
Have a great tip about how to buy a bespoke suit? Share it with us in the comments!
Pictured: Kiton Bespoke Suit, courtesy of The Sartorialist on men.style.com.
June 4th, 2008
Q: I just bought a Valentino linen jacket in bitter chocolate. I intended to wear it with jeans and the perfect brown shoes to a swank party. My wife says no jeans! Now what? What pants and what color? Help please.
by John Liu
A: First of all, your wife is right. Even when she is wrong, she is right.
Secondly, in this case, she really is right. Jeans and a well cut jacket looks awkward; it’s something about the formality of a well cut blazer and the casualness of jeans that causes this clash. Just because every other guy wears a blazer and jeans doesn’t make it right. You can do better.
Linen is tricky; I have seen a few great linen suits, but I don’t often see a linen blazer without matching pants. I’m assuming you can’t go back and buy a pair of pants to make it a suit; if you can, I’d highly suggest wearing that suit without a tie to the party. A word to the wise: most of the price of a suit comes from the jacket. As a result, buying matching pants is often not expensive relative to the price of the jacket. It often makes sense to buy an entire suit, especially in the case of more uncommon pieces in a man’s wardrobe, under which that linen blazer certainly falls.
If you can’t get the matching linen pants, that doesn’t mean you should wear jeans. Instead, try some summer lightweight chinos in an olive or a light khaki color (more slate than beige khaki), as the gentleman shown above does (though don’t follow his lead on the sleeve length. And, of course, you could try finding some blue pants. I’ve said it before, but you will see men in Milan wearing blue pants in lieu of blue jeans. Any of these colors would complement your shoes as well. The trick is to get a pair with the right cut, so as to not make yourself look like you just finished 18 holes of golf. Try looking into Mason’s or Save Khaki; they make slim-but-not-too slim trousers in fantastic colors.
Style Tip? People often say that certain colors never go well together. Don’t listen to them. Certain colors are hard to pull off together, but just about every color combination can be done. Below, a couple of well-dressed gentlemen show how to do brown/black and brown/gray color combos the right way.
Have a great tip about how to wear a linen jacket? Share it with us in the comments!
May 21st, 2008
Q: I’m in a fashion plateau. I’m a college sophomore looking to expand my wardrobe. I find myself wearing a solid colored polo, cargo shorts and a pair of vans slip-ons or low athletic style sneakers every day. I would really like to try and diversify my wardrobe without ditching my polos. I want a more mature look but still a bit preppy.
Clockwise from top left: Patrik Ervell Linen Pink Check Buttondown ($264 at South Willard), Michael Bastian photo from The Sartorialist, Save Khaki Pants from GQ, Cardigan Sweatshirt ($157 at Oak).
by John Liu
A: You’re in luck–you don’t need to spend a lot in order to look more mature. In fact, you can often replicate a designer look at generic prices. To me, the spirit of “young but mature” rests in taking staples of a man’s wardrobe and putting a contemporary twist on them. The most common outfit you will see that captures this spirit is the classic t-shirt under the blazer look. You may also see some guys pushing up the sleeves on blazers. As for your specific question…
Pants: Ditch the cargo pants. Those bulky pockets are just a bit too high school. Instead, try some well-cut khakis in a lighter color. They’re worth the investment. I would look into a designer called Save Khaki; I like their cut and casualness. If you’re in New York, you can go to their boutique; otherwise you can find them at online at Barney’s Co-op, Neiman Marcus or Bergdorf Goodman. And if its prep you want, look no further than a pair of Nantucket Reds; these classics are the very definition of East coast prep. You can also try Ralph Lauren or J. Crew, which always has some good chinos (and of course, their classic chambray shirt). Or, if you want something new, you can explore Gant’s Rugger line. And while we’re on the subject of pants, don’t be afraid to try jeans that aren’t blue. Grey jeans look great.
Shorts: For those hot days, look into some clean cut Bermuda shorts; they’re like cargo pants without the bulky pockets. Nantucket Reds can be pretty stylish, as seen on Michael Bastian (pictured top right). Also check out what Banana Republic has to offer. Style tip? Properly fitting shorts do not fall below the knee.
Tops: You can stick to polo shirts, but I have a feeling that if you look around, every 3rd guy will be sporting a polo. How to differentiate yourself from these other guys? Look for polos that deviate from the common styles and brands. Try investing in some interesting buttondowns; they’ll come in handy for dates too. Solids and stripes are always a safe bet, but if you feel like being bold, try some checks or plaid. Whatever you do, leave the collar down; a polo with a popped color isn’t preppy, it’s pretentious.
Shoes: Don’t bash yourself too hard about wearing slip on Vans; they’re actually coming back in style. Also, classics such as Jack Purcells probably won’t go out of style any time soon, so don’t worry about wearing sneakers every now and then. You can find some alternatively preppy shoes without breaking the bank though: try some Sperry Top-Sider or L.L. Bean boat shoes.
Blazers/Suits: Also, now that you’re in college, it’s time to look into blazers and possibly a suit if you don’t have one. You’ll definitely need a well-cut suit for your job interview, so it’s only a matter of time. For about $500, you can get some pretty good suits at Banana Republic.
Regardless of what you buy, please make sure that whatever clothes you do buy actually fit you properly. Bagginess is for kids, not a mature guy like you.
Have a great tip about building a preppy casual wardrobe? Share it with us in the comments!
Pictured: Classic Fit Lightweight Chino | $69.50 at J. Crew, Nantucket Red Shorts | $52.50 at Nantucket Reds, Fitted Gingham Checked Shirt | $39.50 at Gap, and Common Projects Achilles Low Top Sneaker | $295 at Jake.
May 7th, 2008
Q: I’m so sick of the club "uniform" - dress shirt + jeans combo. I was wonder what else could I wear that will allow me to stand out while looking classy?
by John Liu
A: In order to stand out from the crowd, either dress up or down, but stick with one and do it all the way. Of course, there is a little bit of wiggle room, but if you want to stand out, just don’t plant yourself right in the middle of the “formality” scale by wearing a structured blazer, dress shirt and dark blue denim.
I think the dress shirt/jeans combo is so popular because guys consider it to be that “in between” look. They think (incorrectly) that by wearing a button down, they are dressing up, but by wearing jeans, they are also keeping it casual. Their mistake is thinking that the shirt is the piece of the outfit that defines the formality. In reality, the pieces of the outfit that define formality are actually the pants and shoes. You could wear a suit jacket, a dress shirt and a tie, but if you wear shorts, it’s still a casual look. Or maybe they’re doing it because everyone else is doing it. Either way, don’t follow their lead.
I don’t know what you define as a “club.” (In Tokyo, a “club” is what we in America would call a strip club.) If you’re going to a place mainly for drinks and atmosphere (e.g. museum/art gallery openings, lounges, restaurants for nightcaps, etc.), dress up. The look, summed up in three adjectives, is this: rakish, refined, and clean.
Try a dark monochromatic suit (color ranging from medium gray to black) with a white shirt and a tie. Don’t wear a tie narrower than 2.5 to 3 inches in width at its widest point. The trend of the moment, one that I embrace, is a dark, solid colored tie. Try a tie in charcoal or medium gray, but don’t match the suit color entirely; it looks too calculated.
As for accessories, the idea here is minimalism: skip the belt. The pocket square is up to you. You can wear your watch, but only if it’s subtle.
If you want to make the look more casual, skip the tie. Or you can skip the jacket altogether and wear a vest instead—but only if all components of the suit are from the same suit (i.e. don’t wear a medium gray pants and a charcoal vest). As always, fit is absolutely key. If your suit doesn’t fit, you’ll look like you’re trying too hard. Tom Ford (left) does it right, as always.
On the other hand, if you’re going to a place where dancing is central, dress up by dressing down. I say this more for practicality rather than for style. Wear jeans, but mix it up by wearing jeans that aren’t blue. A great pair of gray jeans can go a long way. Slim chinos, like those by Mason’s (available at Barney’s New York and Douglas Fir), are also a great alternative. In Milan, you will see men wearing navy chinos instead of jeans.
Also, don’t be afraid to wear a blazer (roll up the sleeves to casualize it); again, just don’t wear a formal, structured blazer over a button down shirt and blue jeans. The trend of the moment is a horizontally striped crewneck tee. The gentleman in the gray jacket (right) has the right idea.
Last tip? Tuck in your shirt.
Have a great tip about what to wear to a club? Share it with us in the comments!
Pictured: Tom Ford Photo (left) and Gentleman in Gray Jacket (right), both by Men.Style.com.
April 16th, 2008
Q: I just got plaid pants (straight cut), but I don’t know what to wear them with! Here’s what the fabric looks like. Please give me ideas about what to wear with these pants.
by John Liu
A: We have good news and bad news about your plaid pants. The good news is that you won’t really have to spend a lot of time putting an outfit together when you wear these pants. The bad news is that it’s because you won’t have a lot of options. When pairing shirts with these pants, stick to solid, simple colors. As always, we would suggest a crisp, white shirt (tucked in). Shoes should be casual, but don’t wear sneakers with these pants. Try loafers or Tod’s drivers instead. Oh, and avoid patterned shirts or jackets, or else you’ll end up looking like an optical illusion.
Plaid like yours is bold, especially on a dressier piece of clothing. Last season, Tom Ford had a three-piece plaid suit that was particularly eye catching (shown bottom right). Then again, is there anything from Tom Ford that isn’t? He probably could find some way to make what amounts to a Hanes white undershirt fashionable, price it at $400, and it would sell out.
Wearing plaid pants with patterns can be done, as the gentleman in brown (pictured top left) proves, but it’s difficult to do, especially without a matching jacket.
Our advice for next time is to buy the entire suit, not just the pants. If you want one piece of the suit, buy the jacket, as it’s more versatile (you can wear it over jeans, chinos or wool trousers, if you’d like). When you have the whole suit, it can become a very chic piece; however, separating the jacket from the pants is much trickier.
Have a great tip about what to wear with plaid pants? Share it with us in the comments!
Pictured: Man in Brown Linen Suit by The Sartorialist and Tom Ford Suit by the New York Times.
March 19th, 2008
Q: How do I pick out an aftershave or cologne for myself? What is the difference between the two? How much is too much, and how do I figure out how much to wear?
by John Liu
A: Even though aftershave and cologne can smell the same, they’re two very different products. Aftershave is meant to condition the skin after shaving, so while it is scented, it contains conditioners to heal your skin after a close shave. Cologne, on the other hand, is purely for fragrance. As such, cologne has a much stronger, longer-lasting scent than aftershave.
How much is too much? While you can splash your face with aftershave, your coworkers will be able to smell you from across the office if you do so with cologne. Cologne is best applied in small quantities—a dab here and a dab there is enough.
Picking a scent is really a personal process. We would recommend going scent “window shopping” first to familiarize yourself with the variety of scents out there. Spray the fragrance on the paper cards provided at the store—that way, you’ll be able to distinguish between the colognes. (Plus, you’ll keep your wrists and arms scent-free.) Give your nose a break in between sniffing each fragrance. And take your time—the process of elimination to find the perfect scent doesn’t need to be done in a day.
Once you get down to the top three to five fragrances, you’ll need to actually try them on. Everybody has different personal chemistry, so a fragrance smells different on different people. Your perfect fragrance will be one whose smell you love—but one that also works for your personal chemistry.
Have a great tip about how to pick a fragrance? Or would you like to share your favorite scents? Share your ideas with us in the comments!
Pictured: Polo Ralph Lauren Eau de Toilette | $47.50+ at Sephora, Bvlgari Aqva Pour Homme | $40+ at Sephora, Rochas Eau de Toilette Spray | $44 at Sephora.
March 4th, 2008
Q: I just got myself dark brown skate shoes (Vans), and I don’t know how they should look. How do I look cool in them?
Feeling the love for this outfit? Here’s more information about it.
A: Whether you’re a college undergrad or you’re a working guy looking for a breezily chic weekend look, here’s what to wear with brown skate shoes:
Jackets: Bring out the color of the shoes with a casual jacket in a dark brown or chocolate brown hue.
Shirts: With the dark brown skate shoes, you can wear anything from a t-shirt to a polo shirt to a button-down sport shirt. We like the look of a brightly colored polo (in cobalt blue, bright green, or even orange).
Pants: Jeans are a no-brainer, as their casualness matches the attitude of the shoes–but don’t discount khakis or cords here for a little variety.
Accessories: For an extra punch, you can add a secondary bolt of color with a brightly colored belt.
Have a great tip about what to wear with skate shoes? Share it with us in the comments!
February 26th, 2008
Q: I am getting married in April on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. My fiance and I are trying desperately to have a very casual wedding. Ties will not be allowed. My fiance will be wearing one of the new J Crew bridal dresses, which are nice because while they are full-on bridal dresses, aren’t as crazy formal or elaborate as typical wedding dresses. What should I wear?
by John Liu
A: You should be as formal as your bride. You said that her dress is a full bridal gown, but it isn’t a “crazy formal or elaborate” gown. Does this mean the dress isn’t down to the floor? The length of the dress instantly adds (or subtracts, in the case of a short dress) to the formality of the gown.
If her dress is knee-length, try a blazer over a button-down shirt with wool trousers with dressier leather loafers. Warning: I wouldn’t suggest pleated khakis and a navy blazer, unless you’re going for the country club look. Instead, try a medium or dark gray blazer with a white shirt. You’ll find that a crisp white shirt will really pop beneath that color blazer.
If her dress is down to the floor, I would say go with a suit but no tie. The key to this look is the shirt collar. Get a flimsy collar and it will fall down under your jacket lapel and look sloppy. Keep the look sharp with a firm collar. GQ explains how to pull off the look here.
In either case, you’ll be wearing a jacket over a button-down, so tuck in your shirt.
You said you want a “relaxed” suit, but I don’t think you mean that. Relaxed is a term that describes a loose but not baggy fit. It’s usually associated with jeans. If that is what you mean, then I apologize. In that case, try looking at American made suits. The so called “sack suits” are usually boxier, looser cuts. The jacket would follow your silhouette, the trouser will feature a wider leg, and so on.
It’s up to you, but I personally favor a more slim-fitting suit, especially for a no-tie look. Try some European designers. I have a Paul Smith London suit and can personally vouch for its fit.
A big factor of formality with suits is color. The darker the color, the more formal the suit. I would agree with you and stick with a darker suit here. Moreover, you’re not wearing a tie, which also makes your look less formal, but if you did, I would tell you to wear a skinny (but not TOO skinny) tie. I would also tell you not to wear a belt. A lot of people don’t wear belts nowadays, especially with the “shrunken” suit in fashion. Going beltless is a sleeker look and tends to add an air of informality. The beltless look has become a fashionable look; GQ’s Style Guy (Glenn O’Brien) has written that he never wears belts with his suits.
Whatever you do, just remember that sophisticated is clean, simple and tailored. If your clothes are all of those things, you will shine whatever you wear. Also, before you buy anything, know how things should fit. Certainly, the tailor will help you when if you get a suit, but you should also know yourself how things should fit. I liken it to buying a car. Sure, you can go to the dealer and trust everything they say (and if you go to a respectable dealership they probably are honest), but you still want to have prior knowledge. I strongly recommend reading Details’ Men’s Style Manual. It will give you a very good sense on what proper fit means and how to really look chic.
Have a great tip about what to wear to a casual no-tie wedding?
Share it with us in the comments!
Pictured: Hugo Wool Suit | $795 at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Style question? We’ve got answers. E-mail us at tips at omiru dot com, or leave us a comment with your question.
January 16th, 2008