Posts filed under 'Men's'

Q&A: What to Wear to Meet the Parents

Q: I’m going to go meet my girlfriend’s family in New York for the first time this Thanksgiving.  I want to make a good impression, but I also want to stay true to who I am (which can be described as casually offbeat).  What should I wear?

J Lindeberg Polo Bold Stripe Pique BlackBy John Liu

A:  A study conducted some time ago about the importance of first impressions in job interviews concluded that the interviewer passed judgment of the potential employee within 3 seconds, and more often than not, that judgment was right.  No pressure, though, right?

The point of this story is to not only emphasize the importance of first impressions, but also to applaud your taking them so seriously.

That said, you don’t want to seem like you’re trying too hard to impress your girlfriend’s parents either.  Look well dressed but not overdressed; look sophisticated, but not old (yes, you can still look sophisticated and casual at the same time).  And try but make it seem effortless, which, admittedly, can be hard.

Since it is a special occasion, you probably want to dress up a little.  A sweater would look a little stuffy, as would khakis or dress pants if not done right.  I would go with either sporty chinos (flat fronts, unless you’re 35) or dressy jeans (dressy meaning dark with no fade).  For a shirt, you can either wear an oxford (keep it conservative here, stick with white, blue or something with stripes) or a polo underneath a cotton or tweed blazer (wool would seem a little stuffy here).

Try the pictured polo from J. Lindeberg (I have one in burgundy and charcoal and it’s GREAT) with a charcoal cotton blazer over some dark denim and either lowtop white sneakers or brown penny loafers. 

You could also try wearing this rugby shirt from Gap underneath a gray tweed blazer like this beauty from Ralph Lauren over some flat-front, sporty stone khakis and brown penny loafers.

It’s always hard to tell another person what to wear, so maybe the best thing to do is tell you what I would wear if I was visiting my girlfriend’s parents (with the caveat that we probably have different personal styles): gray tweed or cotton blazer over a light blue shirt and maybe a burgundy/gray cardigan over dark denim and simple white sneakers (have you seen those Common Projects lowtops?).

The second most important thing is fit.  Bagginess is for kids.  Wear your pants on your waist, not your hips.  If you have any doubts or questions, visit your tailor.

So what’s the most important thing?  Dinner Etiquette. Brush up on your manners with this guide and remember, the proper way to eat bread is to break the bread, butter the broken off piece, and gracefully eat it.

Pictured:  J Lindeberg Polo Bold Stripe Pique Black | $95 at J Lindeberg.

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2 comments November 20th, 2007

Q&A: What to Wear to a Tropical Wedding

Q: What colour should my suit be if I’m wearing it to a late afternoon wedding in a tropical country?  Dress code is "coat and tie."

 Ben Sherman \'Kensington\' Seersucker SuitBy John Liu, sartorialist

A: 
“Coat and tie” is an unusual dress code.  There are standard rules for black tie, black tie optional, etc., but “coat and tie” seems vague. It may sound silly, but you can judge the formality of the wedding based on the appearance of the invitation.  Is the font and overall appearance of the card more casual?  A suit will be just fine.  Is the writing calligraphy and formal?  You’ll probably need a tuxedo.

Still unsure?  I would go so far as to even call the happy couple (or someone else that would know).  I’m sure they wouldn’t mind the question and would probably appreciate your respecting the special nature of the event.

For the most part, it doesn’t matter where the wedding takes place, tropical or not. Wear what you would wear to a normal wedding.  My guess is that “coat and tie” means black tie optional.  What to wear to a black tie optional wedding?  It’s pretty standard: a simple dark colored suit, crisp white shirt and your (tasteful) choice of tie.  Since you’re going to be in a tropical climate, however, lighter colors (e.g. beige, white) are also acceptable.  You could also consider wearing a cream tropical dinner jacket. 

The only other thing to consider is footwear.  If the wedding is on a beach, go barefoot and bring a towel to wipe the sand off your feet.

Pictured:  Ben Sherman ‘Kensington’ Seersucker Suit | $595 at Nordstrom.

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3 comments November 16th, 2007

Q&A: Can I Wear a White Blazer during Fall or Winter?

Q: Is it possible to wear a white blazer casually in the fall and winter months? 

Armani Exchange Sleek BlazerBy John Liu, sartorialist

A:  As far as I know, there aren’t any “rules” associated with the white blazer; there aren’t any “rules” in general on when to wear clothes, the famous exception being the old-fashioned “Don’t wear white after Labor day rule,” which I tend to ignore.  That said, there are plenty on rules associated with what to wear in certain circumstances.  So, if you really wanted to, you’re free to wear the whitest white blazer you can find. 

To me, though, it seems a bit “off” to wear a white blazer in the fall and especially in the winter even though white has become a year-round color.  White blazers feel like summer wear; I’m even willing to bet that you can’t find a ready to wear white blazer made in a winter fabric (i.e. a heavier wool) for that reason.  I personally stick to shades of navy and gray for my fall/winter blazers.

If you feel confident and savvy enough to wear the white blazer, be careful not to dress like Don Johnson.  Check out Omiru’s feature on how to not give off the Miami Vice vibe and check the great photo in the comments section.

Also, I wouldn’t recommend buying a white blazer– instead, choose a cream or off-white colored white.  And, in fact, the best (i.e. highest quality) white blazers are more of a cream color than paper white, since wool itself isn’t bright white.  As GQ’s resident sartorialist Glenn O’Brien says, “If the jacket is really white, it’s probably polyester, a fabric that doesn’t breathe well and thus isn’t the best warm-weather option.”

Pictured: Sleek Blazer | $195 at Armani Exchange.

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4 comments November 9th, 2007

Q&A: Top 10 Wardrobe Foundations for a Young Man

Q: What pieces would you say are the "Top 10" essential clothing items for a teenage boy? Most lists I’ve seen for men include items that I wouldn’t need, such as multiple suits and, say, a trenchcoat (that would be too dressy for school).

By John Liu, sartorialist

A:  Here are 10 items of clothing essential for a stylish high school teen, followed by a few suggestions that you can wear to help differentiate you from the 500 other kids in your class.  I am reluctant to make a “Top 10” because what you wear depends on where you live.  I’m on the East coast now, but I grew up in California, and my wardrobe essentials changed accordingly.  In California, I could wear warmer clothes a lot more often, so I had more shirts and fewer jackets.  You get what I mean.

But first, a note on fit. GQ once said, “bagginess is for little kids.”  They’re right; the most common mistake I see teens people make is how they fit their clothes. Keep in mind fit as you buy new clothes.  A major part of being well dressed is wearing clothes that fit you.

Nuts Graphic T-ShirtThe Graphic T-Shirt   
Is there anything more defining of teen fashion than the graphic tee?  Think about it – when adults want to look younger, what do they do?  They wear a graphic tee underneath their blazer!  Young Hollywood often wears interesting graphic Ts – open up a People magazine and check it out.

Nuts Tee | $15 at Threadless

Diesel Strude Military Woven ShirtButton-Down Shirts
Great for a date, dance or just anything you want to dress up a bit, sport shirts also are an important fashion rite of passage from dressing like a teenager to dressing like a man in his early 20s.  Roll up the sleeves to casualize these sport shirts.  Higher end sports shirts can act as dress shirts when you wear a blazer or even a more casual casual suit.  Don’t try wearing it with a tie though – most sport shirts have collars that are too narrow to look good with a tie (or even support it).  A final tip?  Try flannel.  When done well (re: NOT grungy), it is refreshingly stylish

Diesel Strude Military Woven | $150 at Urban Outfitters

Hoodies
Have some fun here.  You can wear a plain hoodie, or you can choose one with color or interesting graphics. I personally love hoodies that aren’t particularly thick, but then again I’m from sunny Northern California.

Stock Pinstripe Sweater Hoodie | 59.99 at Urban Outfitters 

Track Jackets
I love the retro coolness of a track jacket.  Get a track jacket in cotton instead of that really athletic looking shiny nylon fabric. 

Converse by John Varvatos Track Jacket | $195 at Urban Outfitters

Diesel Stitched JacketJackets
Jackets are another fashion “rite of passage.”  Everyone wears jackets, but while kids wear fleece and nylon jackets, adults will wear jackets in wool and other dressier fabrics.  Find a balance here.  You will eventually want a dressier jacket, but for now, you can stick to sportier or casual ones.  Jackets are an investment, and feel free to splurge on a great one.

Diesel Stitched Jacket | $250 at Neiman Marcus

Belts
Belts should not be used out of necessity–that is, your pants should fit you at the waist already.  Belts are another area where you can have some fun by adding some color.  Save your leather belts for wool pants; they are too formal and will look awkward when combined with, say, a graphic tee. 

Stripe Web Belt | $68 at Brooks Brothers

7 For All Mankind Standard JeanJeans
Get jeans with a great fade for everyday casual use and wear them to school.  Get dark denim with no fade for dressier occasions like dates and dances.  Blue is great, but also try grey (or faded black).  Don’t waste your money on anything but straight leg jeans.  A word on pocket design craziness: stick to something simple and classy.  This is one area you DON’T want a lot of crazy colors.    The best (affordable) jeans I have seen, hands down, is the classic 7 For All Mankind New York Rinse.  The picture doesn’t do it justice, seriously.  Simple, dark and cool.

Standard Jean in New York Rinse | $163 at 7 For All Mankind

Cords
A great casual alternative to jeans, cords are at their most versatile when they have a medium wale.  What’s a wale, you ask?  A wale is a measure of the width of the “stripe” on corduroy fabric.  The lower the wale number, the thicker the width.

BDG Bootcut Cord Pant | $49 at Urban Outfitters

Shorts
If there’s one thing to remember about shorts, it’s that they should be above the knee.  This is so important that it bears repeating.  A proper fitting pair of shorts should be above the knee.  Please do your part in ending America’s love affair with oversized shorts by buying shorts that fit – i.e., those that hang above the knee.   When spring comes around, try getting some simple light khaki and brown shorts from Banana Republic.  Forget the cargo pockets.

Converse Jack Purcell SneakerSneakers
Here’s a style tip: don’t get your everyday sneakers at Foot Locker.  You’ll end up looking like Jerry Seinfeld (read: awkward).  Get low tops instead of those all-purpose K-Swiss sneakers.  Jack Purcells are always a safe bet too.

Converse Jack Purcell Sneakers | $49.95 at Nordstrom

Have a great tip about wardrobe foundations for a young man?

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Style question?  We’ve got answers.  E-mail us at tips at omiru dot com, or leave us a comment with your question.

9 comments November 7th, 2007

Q&A: Can I Wear a Suit to a Black Tie Event?

Q: Can a man wear a simple black suit with formal shirt and bow to black tie event. I have a great well fitting black suit and it pains me to pay for a generic, well worn hired tuxedo. Does the button style matter? I have black plastic buttons, where most tuxedos have covered buttons.

 John Varvatos Star USA TuxedoBy John Liu, sartorialist

A:  It’s better to wear your well-fitted black suit than a rented tuxedo that doesn’t fit.  If you’re looking to make a good impression, fit is of surpreme importance–an ill fitting suit or tuxedo looks obviously rented. 

A note on  color: Many men call charcoal and dark charcoal suits “black,” and it simply is not.  Put your dark charcoal suit next to a black suit and you will see the difference.
 
Ideally, you would have your own well fitted and tailored dinner jacket (which, combined with matching pants, comprises a tuxedo), but as the Stones said, you can’t always get what you want.  On the bright side, designers are making suits that aren’t that much different than tuxedos anyways.  Of course, with the suit, you will be missing the stripes on the sides of your pants and the satin on your lapels.
 
I would strongly advise wearing a shirt with a placket to cover the buttons, especially since you are wearing a bow tie.  If gives you a dressier feel, which you need especially because you’re wearing a suit and not a tux.  If you can’t, you can’t, but black tie and white tie events have rules that should be followed.
 
Lastly, your bow tie should be black silk.  Gloves are optional, but I would advise against them here because you’re wearing a suit.


Pictured: John Varvatos Star USA Tuxedo | $995 at Nordstrom.

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4 comments October 31st, 2007

Q&A: Is All Cashmere Made Equal?

Q:  Is there a difference in cashmere quality across different brands? Or, is cashmere just cashmere?

Cashmere V-Neck SweaterBy Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A:  Not all cashmere is made equal. Cashmere can come in one, two, or four or more ply.  What’s the best?  Two-ply is preferable to one-ply.  But after two ply, any additional ply increases the weight of the garment but not the quality. 

The best cashmere comes from the long strands of hair on the underbelly of a cashmere goat.  Lesser quality cashmere comes from the goat’s back and legs.  Also of importance is the "hand" of the cashmere–or how it feels.  Look for a silky feel, smooth weave, and great softness. 

For reasonably priced cashmere, try Uniqlo, Land’s End, or Banana Republic.  For high quality, more expensive cashmere, check out Brora, who is known for classic Scottish cashmere with a contemporary twist.

Fun cashmere fact? It takes one goat four years to produce enough wool for one sweater.

Pictured: Cashmere V-Neck Sweater | $178 at Banana Republic.

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2 comments October 30th, 2007

Q&A: How to Wear a Blue Blazer, Part II

Q:  I have recently recevied a blue
blazer as a gift and I was wondering what I could wear with it to keep
the young look and what colors would go best with it.

 Ben Sherman \'Weathered\' Velvet BlazerBy John Liu, sartorialist

A: 
A big part of keeping the blue blazer “young” is fit.  Older gentlemen seem to prefer those bigger, boxy cuts, and we associate these looser styles with “old.”  The way to fit a jacket—any jacket—is by the shoulders.  Why? Because the shoulder is the one area a good tailor, even a great one, can’t fix (if your tailor says he can, run).  How can you tell if the shoulder fits?  Stand sideways straight up against the wall – if the jacket’s shoulder pads hit the wall before the meaty part of your upper arm, it’s too big.
   
The length of your sleeve should be measured such that it hits your wrist bone; your shirt should be about ½ inch longer.  Have your tailor take in the sides for a cleaner, more streamlined fit.
   
The length of the jacket usually shouldn’t have to be altered - you should be able to cup the sides with your hands when your arms hang straight down.  Now, there seems to be a movement towards shorter jackets (thank Thom Browne), but at the very least, it should cover your butt.

Now that you know how to fit a blazer, learn what to wear with one in How to
Wear a Blue Blazer, Part I
.


Pictured: Ben Sherman ‘Weathered’ Velvet Blazer | $269 at Nordstrom.

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3 comments October 18th, 2007

Q&A: How to Wear a Blue Blazer, Part I

Q:  I have recently received a blue blazer as a gift and I was wondering what I could wear with it to keep the young look and what colors would go best with it.

Blue Two-Button Legacy Blazer By John Liu, sartorialist

A: 
The blue blazer is a timeless classic, a versatile staple of a man’s wardrobe, so first of all, kudos to the gifter!  However, the blue blazer often conjures up images of old men at country clubs – sometimes justifiably so
which is unfortunate.

You can make your blazer less “country club” by changing the buttons from gold to a dark navy blue (if they aren’t already).  Changing buttons is a fairly simple task for a tailor and shouldn’t be too pricey. 
   
As for what to wear with your blue blazer, you can’t go wrong with jeans, as long as they aren’t too similar in color.  You can wear blue, of course, but you can experiment with other colors, such as a darker gray denim.  For more formal occasions, you can still look young in gray pants, such as chinos or flannel trousers. Earthy tones such as brown or olive also work here.  Avoid khakis, which will give your blue blazer an older feel.  As for fit, look for pants that are well fitted and slimmer rather than baggier.

For shirts, a crisp white oxford works well here (when doesn’t it work well?).  You can make the blue blazer more casual by wearing a graphic tee.  For something different, though, try a windowpane plaid or smaller gingham shirt, but don’t get too crazy here.  For those blazers that are dark and inky (the ones I like), a skinny-but-not-too-skinny tie looks great here especially in a dark purpleish/gray. 

Complete the look with brown shoes, a brown belt and even a crisp white pocket square.  You could even get away with wearing white sneakers, but be careful – if they’re too athletic-looking you might give off the Jerry Seinfeld vibe. What to wear?  You can’t go wrong with lowtop Jack Purcells. 

Now that you know what to wear with a blue blazer, you need to pick one with the right fit.  Check back tomorrow for How to Wear a Blue Blazer, Part II to learn how to fit a blazer correctly.

Pictured: Blue Two-button Legacy Blazer | $298 at J Crew.

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4 comments October 17th, 2007

Q&A: Are Cultured Diamonds Tacky?

Q:  Are cultured diamonds considered tacky? I have been researching engagement rings and stumbled onto a website that deals with such products. They seem more sophisticated then I thought. They would also allow me to get a nicer looking ring.

Diamond RingBy Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A: 
The technology to create cultured diamonds is pretty advanced–as such, these cultured diamonds are the same as natural diamonds in terms of atomic structure, and visually, you can’t tell the difference between a natural and a synthetic stone.  Of course, these facts aren’t advertised by De Beers. 

That said, how you choose to express your commitment to your fiancee should not be dictated by Madison Avenue–or by the whims of fashion.  A ring can be very beautiful whether it contains natural or cultured stones.  The decision should be guided by (1) your finances, and (2) what you and your significant other find beautiful. 

Perhaps a less expensive ring that allows you to invest in a home sooner suits your needs (as a couple) better.  Or maybe you want to trade natural for cultured in order to purchase a larger stone.  Remember the old adage that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  An earnest heart is the best gift of all.

Photo Credit:
Stephend9.

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5 comments October 11th, 2007

Q&A: How to Wear a Sports Jacket Without Looking Old

Q:  My sister got me a great brown sports jacket,  but when I wear it with a white collared shirt and blue jeans, it makes me look like a professor instead of a college student. What can I wear it with the jacket to better suit my age?

Herringbone Blazer at the GapBy Colleen Geary, fashion stylist and image consultant

A:  How sweet of your sister to buy you such a useful wardrobe staple!

To make the sports jacket more age appropriate, pair it with a casual top.  The graphic tee plus sports jacket is one of the oldest looks in the book, but there’s a reason why it’s a classic.  For a look that’s a little more "street," you can wear a hoodie with the sports jacket and tee.  To kick the style quotient up a notch, pair it with a deep-buttoned henley or a light weight v-neck sweater.

What colors to wear with brown?  Cream, robin’s egg blue, shades of green, and even orange all pair well with brown.

Enjoy your blazer, and do wear it as you take your sister out to dinner when you’re back at home.

Pictured: Herringbone Blazer | $88 at Gap.

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5 comments September 26th, 2007

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