Monday, December 27, 2010

A Very Merry, Slightly Belated Christmas To All

Even Jews like me have Christmas traditions. Mine used to be ordering Chinese and re-watching The Godfather parts I and II (I leave out part III because it's weird and awful and even Francis Ford Coppola himself will tell you that it was a waste of time, but that's a different entry altogether), but that's been moved back to Christmas Eve. Instead, for the past few years I've been spending the day out in the 'burbs at my buddy Chase's parents' place: The Beaumont Estate.

The Beaumonts are a warm, accommodating, fun, smart, and laid-back bunch. I mean laid-back in the sartorial sense as well, and although I overdress for pretty much everything from a day at work to going to the bathroom, I was killing the game on December 25th, as you can see from this photo. And now, to drop science:

1. You may remember this sport coat from a post I did back in November. I still love the hell out of it and wear it all the time.
2. I nearly always wear jeans, so I decided to switch things up a little and go the khaki route. Not the J.Crew rumpled, wearing-the-same-ones-I-wore-to-bed-last-night-because-I-got-way-too-hammered-to-get-them-off-before-passing-out look, but pressed and tailored instead.
3. The shirt is white with alternating brown/light blue check and is paired with a blue/grey wool plaid tie. Note that the large-scale tie pattern and small-scale shirt pattern.
4. The blue lambswool cardigan ties back to both the shirt and tie.
5. Finally, the whole jawn is finished off with a tie bar and a simple white pocket square.

The beauty of this outfit is that it involves many layers and can keep you decently warm and looking good at the same time. This is a particularly good idea for New Year's Eve, when a lot of us are bar-hopping as opposed to hanging out in the house. Feel free to bite anything here, just make sure I get the royalties.

Finally, to the Beaumonts: Your warmth, hospitality, and graciousness has meant a lot to me over the years. Thank you a million times over.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Quick Scribble About Formalwear

DISCLAIMER: Though the term "formal" in the men's sartorial tradition technically refers only to white-tie attire (cravate blanche, for the fustier of you), for the purposes of this entry it will also refer to semi-formalwear, also known as cravate noire, black-tie, dinner jacket and pants, or a tuxedo.

Dressing for a formal occasion isn't nearly as daunting or difficult as most men think; if you do it correctly, you don't have many options. Your jacket is black (or midnight blue, which can look blacker than black under artificial light). It's peak lapeled or shawl-collared, double-breasted or single-breasted with a one or two-button stance, side or no vents, and lapels and buttons are faced with either silk or grosgrain. Your tie-it-yourself bowtie is black. Your shirt and pocket square are white, you wear either a vest or a cummerbund (never both), and your pants have one solid strip of either silk or grosgrain running down the outseam of each leg. Your shoes are black patent leather oxfords or formal slipons, and the only exception to this rule is to wear incredibly well-polished black captoe oxfords.

That is all.

All too often, though, you can walk past any number of "formalwear" rental joints and the salesmen there will do their best to convince you that the four-button single-breasted, center-vented, notch-lapeled clown suit with coordinating teal vest and pre-tied necktie is "formal."

This is bull. The whole point of dressing formally is to adhere to a strict code of the rules of dress, and to break these rules is to dilute the formality of your outfit. This is why terms like "creative black-tie" are completely meaningless. There's nothing creative about formalwear! That's the beauty of it! You play by the rules, and you have no choice but to look dashing as hell as a result. If you break the rules but still try to pass yourself off as wearing a tux, you're actually wearing something that isn't quite a tux, but still not quite the typical business suit; you're now wearing a monkey suit. Or perhaps pajamas.

To any guys who plan to go formal on their wedding day or who are simply looking to buy a tux, please don't stray from the formula. It's worked for well over a hundred years, and you risk looking like an overdressed clown. Instead, take a cue from my main man from the Philadelphia Zoo. He's got the right idea.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Special Ed

Shopping is generally a hit-or-miss pastime. You'll miss more than you'll hit if your tastes are particular, and since I'm picky as all hell, I actually find myself passing over more items than I buy. Sometimes, though, I see something spectacularly ugly, and it's worth blogging about.

For those of you unfamiliar with Ed Hardy, it's a line put out by Christian Audigier, who's had a lot of success outfitting men who may not actually be douchebags but dress like them in real life. Up until when I took this photo, I figured that Ed Hardy's whole thing was limited to ultra-casualwear: t-shirts, jeans, baseball caps, and the like. I never had any idea that the brand would venture into neckties, and by doing so, it's compromised its brand identity, breached good taste even further, and managed to make me throw up in my mouth a little.

Here's the thing: I can't stand Ed Hardy. I've only witnessed one person (a woman) look good in it, but in general I think the whole line looks foolish, immature, and profoundly douchey. However, none of what I've seen of the line is obscene or unhealthy, so though I may bitch about it until I'm blue in the face, I can't say a guy is dressed "incorrectly" when he puts on a t-shirt with a bunch of skulls and flames on it with "Life, Lust, and Lollipops" or whatever scribbled on the front.

This tie, on the other hand? This is more of an affront to the senses than the stupid t-shirts, because this is trying to be something it isn't. Even with trendy men wearing ultra-skinny ties today with skinny jeans, there's still a certain elegance that a tie lends to an outfit. "Ed Hardy by Christian Audigier" is not at all elegant, and wearing it will make you look like you belong on Jersey Shore. If you actually dress like you want to be on Jersey Shore, please e-mail me to set up a consultation.

What does this say about the style of the man who chooses to wear it? I think it comes down to a lack of sartorial confidence, i.e. "I don't really know what looks good, so if I put on this obviously designer tie, people will think I look good, or at least that I'm trendy." This man doesn't know how to get attention without screaming and is willing to be a walking billboard, used by the company he's financially supporting. Avoid this at all costs, and think of it this way: if someone digs the way you're dressed, it should be in such a way that they ask you who makes your clothes; they shouldn't know right off the bat.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ace Hardware, or Happy Thanksgiving To All

After 17 years of living there, my parents will be the last of my family to move out of the house in which I grew up. I have positive feelings about it; my parents will be happy in their retirement and I'll be happy for them, and it's a normal part of the life cycle. It's not like I've lived there anytime recently, so no big deal, right?

Well, it is kind of a big deal. Not only is a significant chapter of my life coming to a very tangible end, it's happening around a major holiday, amplifying the strangeness of the fact that I'll likely never set foot in that house again. It naturally calls for some reminiscing, almost as if to honor the memory of where I came from and also to think about where I'm going. I'm truly thankful for the childhood I had in that house, but being a clotheshorse, I attach these memories to some pretty exceptional hardware I received from my grandfathers, which is pictured above.

Zadie had a thing for cufflinks back in the 60's. Any photo I have of him as a young man indicates that he was a very well-dressed young professional. I don't share his taste at all; big red and gold stones set inside gold links is loud in a way I don't particularly care for. You can, however, tell that he was a man with a strong, singular sense of style. In fact, nearly every piece of man-jewelry I inherited from him is just as exaggerated, with the exception of the silver pair you see above. They go with anything and are a very cool shape. I've worn them with great success. They still make the occasional cameo, and they're a hit when they do.

Papa, on the other hand, seems to have had a thing for rings. My dad, the man who taught me how to dress like a man (God dammit) has a few rings he likes, one of which he gave to me years ago. It's the one on the far right, though he had the stone replaced with an aquamarine, my birthstone. The ring to its left was Papa's, a simple gold and silver combination. While I appreciate the former's opulence and the latter's simplicity, I simply didn't get the ring memo and never wear them. I DID, however, inherit an incredible tie clip from him that I used to wear constantly, though it's not pictured here because I lost it a year ago like a damned fool. It was masculine elegance in action; brushed silver with a line of X's on it (looking like: xxxxxxxxx) on a black background, and a perfect two-and-a-half inches wide. I got compliments on it all the time, and I loved telling anyone who asked me "Where did you get that?" that I paid nothing for some designer tie clip, but rather inherited it from my grandfather.

For me, no better patrimony could possibly exist.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The New Odd Jacket and Trousers

There are times in your life when you're in a nondescript hotel room in northern Virginia without a damned thing to do because the only thing around is a Bertucci's and a Borders book store. You're tired, your legs hurt, you need to shave, and you're looking forward to a time when you can return to civilization. At the very least, you can't wait to go back to a place where there are delicious tacos in walking distance.

Interestingly enough for me, this is one of those times. Hence, this blog entry.

I've been more excited than a fat kid in a Hostess factory for the past week and a half because I finally got my new sport coat (pictured above) back from the tailor, who shortened the sleeves and took in the waist for me. I'd been on the lookout for something like this for months; a wool sport coat that dresses up or down, something I can wear with a shirt and tie or a casual sweater. I own a couple of corduroy sport coats, but they've never fit quite right and I don't wear them as a result. This coat remedied my situation.

Last week I went out wearing the outfit pictured above, but the component you can't see in the picture are the jeans I was wearing. Dark and slim, they work with the heavy wool coat because denim is also a heavy fabric and serves as a good aesthetic complement as a result.

Then it hit me: I was essentially wearing what is known in stodgy sartorial circles as an odd jacket and trousers. You know what it is because you've seen the basic uniform a million times: khaki pants, navy blazer, white dress shirt, and a red or blue tie. In my younger days I disliked this look because I felt it was trying to be a suit but inherently failing, but I was mistaken. The options for color and pattern coordination multiply exponentially when you don this outfit (as opposed to a traditional suit), and the potential for dandification follows suit. Pairing my sport coat with jeans instead of, say, flannel pants (which would be an equally baller option), lent a more youthful feel to the whole getup.

I certainly can't take credit for inventing the look, but I can sure as hell suggest that you give it a try. If your execution is on point, you'll be blown away by the compliments.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Treatise On Tassels

If you're into reincarnation and past lives, you might say that I'm an old soul. My parents always used to say that I was "insert elementary school age here" going on thirty, and they were probably more correct than they imagined. Case in point: I love wearing tassel loafers with casual wear.

Some of you will snicker and say "Mike, they look silly," or "Mike, you should enjoy your youth and throw on some Chucks," or "Mike, you can't wear those until you pay for a routine colonoscopy with money from your first Social Security check."

Well, Social Security isn't going to exist by the time I get to that age, so I have to get it in now while I can. I do, however, understand the apprehension that most guys have towards them. Most tassel loafers aren't cool in the traditional sense because most men who wear them are either past middle age or are young men who don't know how to dress themselves, so they just mimic what their dads (who, again, are past middle age) do. Hardly a recipe for looking baller at the club.

On the other hand, for a day off where you're moseying about the city, getting coffee, or hitting up a diner, tassel loafers are fantastic. Yes, I like them because it is indeed ironic to be a young guy in tassels, but the tassels themselves add visual interest, and they play very nicely with the blue lambswool cardigan I happen to be rocking the living hell out of at the time of this writing. So what differentiates cool ones from uncool ones?

First we need to talk about vamps. "Vamp" is a term that refers to the topmost part of any loafer. A women's ballet flat, for example, has a very low vamp, barely covering just the toes. Most loafers advertised to younger men tend to have higher vamps, but most tassel loafers are pretty low-vamped. In my opinion, this is what makes them look old man-ish, more "Grandpa" than "chic." Find yourself a pair of higher-vamped tassel loafers and you're on your way to looking like a well-dressed guy as opposed to a schlumpy old man.

Second, don't wear them with a suit unless you're a hell of a dresser and know precisely what you're doing. Sockless tassels with a slim suit can be very chic and Italian-inspired, but doing the same thing with a Brooks Brothers sack suit just looks like crap. Jeans and khakis, kept slim, will work well with high-vamped tassels. If you're a confident, advanced dresser, try them with some loud socks and well-cut dress pants. If anyone gives you a hard time, tell them you're prepping for your golden years.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Reaching Back

When presented with the "does life influence art or vice-versa" argument, I always say yes, life does influence art. In fact, our environment has a profound effect on how we act and how we view the world. For example, NWA probably wouldn't have written "Fuck the Police" had they not witnessed or been a victim of police brutality. It's tough to believe that anyone would make that up. What we wear falls into the same category as art, and I'll explain below.

These are rough and often crazy times in which we live; the economy is still fragile, barely improving and will likely never return to the relative full-blown opulence we had in the eighties, nineties, and most of the 00's. Home ownership is still incredibly sluggish. We're scared of terrorists to the point of Islamophobia. We're pissed off at the banks and the bailout they received. President Obama, despite being an intelligent lawyer who certainly knows better, is more than willing to pervert our justice system by trying Guantanamo detainees in U.S. courts and KEEP THEM IMPRISONED IF THEY'RE FOUND INNOCENT. And healthcare? Christ. We're either disappointed that the public option died or, conversely, furious that so much money is being spent on new regulations. To top it off, some people still think that Sarah Palin is worth listening to, and Newt Gingrich's renaissance is underway.

Pardon the language, but shit is fucked up right now.

So how do we deal with this? Sartorially speaking (with a hint of Freud thrown in there), we've regressed. What are men wearing nowadays? Open up a GQ or an Esquire magazine and you'll see it plain as day: stuff our dads and their dads wore. Cardigans. Persol glasses. Tie bars and cufflinks. Slim, mod suits like we saw in the sixties. Hell, look at the picture of Mr. Rogers at the top of this essay; the man might as well be a Fall/Winter 2010 Polo Ralph Lauren ad (seriously, I'm going to steal this look, tie pin and all). I don't ever advise total bandwagoning, but if the people on said bandwagon are nattily dressed in classic clothes, jumping on it means that you never really have to get off of it.

We're reaching back for a time when things seemed safer and more secure, a time when flying didn't mean anxiety about being blown up or when we could be sure that our retirement funds would actually be there when we retired. Thankfully, that time was also a very well-dressed one. Your 401(k) might not look so hot anymore, but with trends the way they are nowadays, at least you can.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Return of the Texas Tuxedo

Though I didn't really start caring about how I was dressed until I was 16 years old, I was always clothes-conscious. Even as a small child I took particular pleasure in certain articles of clothing; I distinctly remember a white t-shirt with a green skull and crossbones which said "Bad to the Bone" in orange lettering that I loved to wear in Mrs. Tzizik's first grade class. As I reached the ripe old age of ten I decided that it was time to step things up a bit, so I took to wearing jeans, denim shirts, and bolo ties. Yes, there was a time when I would proudly rock a full-blown Texas Tuxedo, complete with appropriate neckwear.

The gentleman in this picture, however, was not ten years old.

To be fair, he wasn't wearing a bolo tie, or any kind of neckwear for that matter. The Texas Tux that he was wearing, though, is something against which I've previously railed, and you can read about it here.

Long story short, don't wear denim shirts with jeans. One element of good style is the ability to successfully pull off good levels of contrast in your outfits; this is why you wear a light blue shirt with a navy suit, not a dark blue one. The same logic applies to this gentleman's outfit. There is no contrast in material and almost no contrast in color whatsoever. When coupled with the tent-like fit of the shirt, this man looks like an amorphous blob of denim.

The solution: lose one piece of denim to achieve contrast between material and color. If you switch out the not-super-well-fitting-but-reasonably-acceptable-in-this-case Dad jeans for khakis, you're doing better, so long as you take that shirt to a tailor and get some darts put in it. Also, you can keep the jeans (or even better, upgrade them to something a little better-fitted and cooler), but substitute the denim shirt for a white button-down or perhaps a sweater. Either choice gives you instant improvement.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Pillars of Style, Part II: Pattern Coordination

Back in June I started a series called "The Pillars of Style." It's time to expand on fit, and this, Part Two of the series, deals with pattern coordination. This subject in and of itself is a huge can of worms, so I'll be breaking it down over a few entries. First, let's make one thing clear:

In theory, any patten can work with any solid. This means solid shirt with patterned tie, patterned shirt with solid tie, patterned jacket with solid shirt, etc. These are your training wheels, and it's difficult to mess up unless you have Ray Charles' eye for color (don't worry, Part Three on color coordination is forthcoming). Try it out, but let's put on our big boy underpants and learn a slightly more advanced lesson.


Some guys looks amazing in a striped shirt paired with a repp stripe tie while others look schlubby. The same goes for men wearing windowpane pants with a gingham shirt. How do you make it work? You keep scale in mind.

"Scale? What the hell do you mean by scale?"

A pattern's scale is its size, its proportion. Take, for example, two sport jackets. One has pinstripes (meaning that the stripes are very thin, as if they were drawn with a freshly sharpened pencil) that are 1/8" apart, while the other has chalk stripes (stripes that look like they were drawn in -you guessed it- chalk) that are 1/2" apart. Both are stripes, but the chalk stripe pattern is of larger scale than its pinstripe brother. Got it? Good.

Take a look at the shirt/tie combination in the photo above. This is textbook stripe-on-stripe coordination, and it looks boss as hell. All the wearer did was realize that he had a striped theme going, and he varied their scales. Narrowly-spaced stripes look great against thick, wide stripes. The same theory applies to checks; small checks look great against big windowpanes, which are a type of check. Having two like patterns of different scales allows you to have an intelligent theme to your ensemble while not making the viewers' eyes have to work to differentiate between the two patterns.

Next time, we'll mix two different patterns. Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Barefoot on NJ Transit

About a week and a half ago, a friend of mine posted the picture you see here on her Facebook page. Like so many other people who commented on it, my thoughts were basically as follows:

You have got to be fucking kidding me.

Bare feet? On public transit? This is not only a serious sartorial issue, but a hygienic one as well. Here goes:

First, what in the hell indicates to someone that it's okay to go barefoot on a train? This is a public place, and there were probably quite a few assholes like this guy who did the same thing. If he ends up with ringworm, athlete's foot, the clap, or whatever else might be transmitted through the floor, it's his own damned fault.

Second, it's easy to see why this is a problem from a style standpoint, and it doesn't require much in the way of expert analysis. Bare feet are appropriate when you're at the beach, the pool, or in the shower. That's pretty much it. Sure, when you're seated for extended periods of time, removing your footwear can make you more comfortable, but taking your shoes off on a plane, train, and/or automobile is only permissible under the following conditions:

1. Your feet don't stink, and
2. You're wearing socks.

I don't know if this man's feet smelled like hell, but it's plain to see that he wasn't wearing socks. Not only does this not make any sense whatsoever with his business casual outfit, but it's disrespectful to the people around you. Like many people, I neither get off on nor am particularly disgusted by feet, but seeing bare ones on full display on a NJ Transit train is fucking unseemly. Also, it's important to note that this man's feet aren't just bare; the manner in which he's crossing his legs puts them on display, as if to say "This is my world, and you people who paid the same money for your tickets as I did are just in it. I'm going to treat this car as if it were my living room, take my shoes and socks off, and get comfy. Deal with it."

Way to alpha-male everyone on the train, dude. I'm sure you're proud of yourself.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Style Balls≠Style Brains

I took this picture about a week or so ago in Center City. Yes, the man in it is dressed as a cowboy adhering to a business-casual dress code. The moment I saw him I immediately thought that he looked ridiculous, but I also realized something that I didn't expect: that this guy, assuming that he wasn't a crazy vagrant stealing shit from Dudes Boutique on South Street, had brass balls and I admired him for it.

This presented me with some cognitive dissonance. How could I, a self-proclaimed style guy who prides himself on his knowledge of the traditions and history of Western tailored clothing, admire a man who went out in broad daylight in a place other than the rural American Southwest dressed like a fucking cowboy? I could do so because part of having style is having the willingness and ability to dress as one sees oneself, and if this man sees himself dressed as a cowboy, then so be it.

In style as in life, however, balls do not always win over brains. While this man showed off a major pair of cojones by dressing as a cowboy in Philadelphia, his look was inherently costumey and this is what I believe compromised it. Wearing a costume is a cheap, easy way to get attention; smartly coordinating a shirt, tie, and pocket square is more subtle but just as effective once the subtleties are realized. It's a simple case of negative attention versus positive attention.

The broader lesson here is that to dress ostentatiously is to appear foolish. It means you can't be taken seriously. This is particularly important to remember for events like job interviews, because no company worth its salt would fail to ask, "What the FUCK is this man wearing?" My advice is to learn the finer points of dressing -tie dimples, shirt/tie combos, proper fit, and a million other things- instead of being loud as hell and coming off as ridiculous. It takes a long time to learn the rules so well that you can break them, but once you do, you'll never look better.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On How The Wire Will Help You Dress Like A Man, God Dammit.

A chapter in my life came to a bittersweet end last night when I finished watching the final season of The Wire. For those of you who haven't seen the show, I suggest the following:

1. Stop reading this blog after completing these directions.
2. Obtain all five seasons of The Wire.
3. Take a week off from work and watch it all at once, because you're going to want to.
4. Remember to take bathroom breaks.
5. Deal with the emptiness you'll undoubtedly feel upon completion of the series.

In the interest of keeping the Wire relevant to the subject of men's style (and thusly giving me license to vent my sadness over the Internets), you should pay particular attention to two characters: William "Bunk" Moreland and Lester Freamon, both of whom are pictured above, with Lester in the cardigan. Throughout the series both men make rookie sartorial mistakes like having suit jackets with sleeves that are too long, but relatively speaking, they're the best-dressed male characters on the show. Here's a breakdown:


Bunk is a homicide detective who's wearing a suit nearly every time we encounter him on the show. While many of his colleagues follow suit (pun intended), Bunk separates himself from them by selecting items such as French cuff shirts, tie clips, and in the case of the photo above, a fedora hat. He also has a tendency to mix patterns in his shirts and ties, and generally does so well. His attire demonstrates both authority and swagger, two personality traits he possesses in droves.


Lester, an older character, is the epitome of what I like to call "Grandpa-chic." As you can see from the photo above, he looks more like Mr. Rogers than a detective, but it works on him, given his age, intelligence, and quiet but self-assured manner. His glasses work well with his face, there's always a dimple in his tie, and the cardigans he wears are, ahem, on point. He and Bunk share the same propensity and skill for pattern-mixing, and his look generally indicates that he's confident, intelligent, and can say a lot without being loud at all.

To get the full effect, watch the show. You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Saggy Pants Seem To Be A Big Deal

I wrote an entry on saggy pants back in April, but since a young Bronx man was cited and had to go to court for wearing his pants low, the Sartorialist has weighed in on it, and my sartorial kindred spirit Bethany Rein just published a thoughtful Examiner article on the subject. Here are my thoughts.

As far as the look is concerned, my feeling now is the same as then: it doesn't look good. I know all of you will read the rest of this sentence and think "No shit," but I fancy myself a bit of a men's style purist; certain articles of clothing are supposed to fit a certain way as a result of appreciating their historical uses. This is why, for example, center vents are too sporty for a dinner jacket and why Brooks Brothers angles their repp stripe ties down from right to left instead of left to right. With that in mind, they're called "waistbands" for a reason: so that they're worn on or around the waist. The sagging pants look is a breach of classic good taste, and I don't condone it on sartorial grounds.

On the other hand, what you or I consider to be "good taste" isn't necessarily what a guy living in the Bronx thinks is good taste. In fact, the kid who was cited was probably positively reinforced for his behavior before the citation: his friends probably thought it was cool and he may very well gotten attention from girls. In his social circle, he's likely well-dressed. In addition to this, let's remember that Mr. Martinez was a young man, and what do a lot of young men like to do? Piss off people in authority positions, which is precisely what happened here. Punk kids wear too-tight black jeans (another shitty look), goth kids wear ridiculous makeup and boots with gargantuan wedge heels (separately but equally shitty-looking), and the hip-hop kids wear saggy pants. Adults fucking hate it, that's part of the point. Look at the picture above; doesn't that piss you off a bit that you can kind of see that asswipe's pubes? Bingo.

I side with Judge Franco on this one. One of the reasons that this country is such a great place to live in is that everyone, no matter his/her race, religion, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sex, or sexual orientation/preference has the right to dress however "foolishly" he/she wants, provided no indecent exposure is taking place. Conversely we, as the audience, enjoy the right to criticize, stare, or react however we want, provided no one is being harmed. To legislate what attire one segment of the population (namely, the powerful segment) deems "tasteful" would be an egregious misuse of legislative time, a waste of our tax dollars, and, to my not-legally-trained mind, a dangerous attack on all our First Amendment rights.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

News Flash: Pajama Pants Are For Bedtime

I have a confession to make. Back when I was nineteen and a second-semester college freshman, I learned a lesson. Like so many valuable lessons one learns in college, this took place outside the classroom. In fact, it was in the dining hall.

I remember it like it was yesterday. It was a Saturday, meaning that my friends and I were catching breakfast together at about 1:30 in the afternoon. Seeing as I had awoken only 15-20 minutes before this, I decided that it was kosher to mosey on over there wearing a t-shirt and pajama pants.

If I could type the buzzer sound that indicates "wrong" on game shows, I would type it here.

The woman who swiped our ID's to let us in recognized me. She was an older black woman with whom I had a bit of a rapport; we didn't know each other well, but we liked each other and the enjoyment of our brief interactions was both genuine and mutual. When she saw me in pajamas, however, she made no bones about calling me out on it.

"Baby, next time you come 'round here, you need to put some pants on."

Her scolding was maternal in nature, and I was mortified. But she was right, and I deserved to be. I was out in public, and while I was a college kid whose biggest problems were an inability to attract girls or incur the same amount of alcohol poisoning as my buddies, I still had to show some respect to the people around me and put on some actual, legitimate pants.

The man in the picture above was easily in his mid-to-late forties, and for the record, he wasn't homeless (homeless people get free passes from DLAMGD for obvious reasons). Sure, the windowpane pattern on the pants is actually pretty sweet, but that still doesn't take away from the fact that he looks completely foolish. The "I Just Got Out Of Bed" look is no way to present yourself to the world unless its in the comfort of your own home.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Wife Beater+Athletic Shorts=You Look Like a Douche

It's apparently Haterade Week here at DLAMGD. There's no rhyme or reason to it except that there seems to be more inspiration out there lately than normal. On the other hand, when you're at a diner at 2 AM, you're not necessarily going to see the cream of the sartorial crop.

Study the picture above. You'll notice a guy in a wife beater, athletic shorts, and basketball sneakers. To properly demonstrate how this makes one look like a douche, I'll begin my analysis from the bottom up.

1. Sneakers: They're basketball sneakers. By all means, wear them while playing basketball. Hell, wear them while doing anything athletic, I don't give a shit. They just look kind of sloppy, even at a diner.

2. Gym shorts: First, these shorts are insanely long; they hit at mid-calf. I've written other articles about this and if I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times: these are called capri pants, and they're for girls. If you're gonna wear long shorts, at least man up like my buddy Dima and buy some actual capri pants. I don't like them, but I respect him for owning up to what he's wearing.

Second, these are gym shorts, and this picture wasn't taken at a gym. Christ, even some ugly crap like denim cargo shorts would have looked better than this. Keep athletic wear at the gym.

3. Wife Beater: This is the most egregiously douchey part of the outfit, the douche-de-resistance, if you will. The wife beater (or A-Shirt, as it's called on the Hanes package) is appropriate in the following contexts:

a. As an undershirt (though it doesn't absorb armpit sweat like a normal t-shirt)
b. As something you wear when you know you're going to get dirty and sweaty: yard work, helping someone move, other types of manual labor, etc.

Here's the thing with guys who wear WB's as their shirt: they seem to think they're buff as all hell. The nature of the shirt is to show off your arms and shoulders, so it obviously looks best (though still not good) on guys who are in shape. Most guys who wear them "out," however, aren't in shape. A prime example: the dude in this picture. He's not ripped, he's not big. In fact, he was soft and a little chunky. In wearing a WB, he's basically saying that he thinks he's hot shit, that women love him and men fear his bulging biceps.

He was wrong. He looked like a douche.

Friday, July 16, 2010

All I Wanted Was An Iced Coffee

After dropping my bass off to get repaired for the second time in two months, I decided that because it was over ninety fucking degrees outside, I deserved an iced coffee. I waltzed into a coffee shop and saw what you see in this photo. My first thought was as follows:

"What the fuck?"

My second thought was, "I don't understand why anyone would do this." For one, it looks sloppy and conveys no message other than "I didn't, even for a second, put any thought into what I was going to wear today. In fact, I may very well be completely unaware that I look like shit." If something other than a living being could "look lazy," socks and sandals would be it.

Second, it doesn't make any logical sense. Sandals are meant to be worn without socks, so if it's hot enough to warrant wearing sandals, why the fuck would you wear socks with them and hold more heat near your body?

My advice is simple: Fuck socks with sandals. This is sartorial dumbassery, and doing it will make you look like a dumbass.

Monday, July 5, 2010

I Can't Believe I Roll My Jeans Up, or Why "Trendy" Doesn't Necessarily Mean "Bad"

I remember being eight years old and talking with my cousin, who's six years older than me (he was fourteen at the time, for those of you who didn't major in math). In addition to discussing our favorite Ninja Turtles and debating the merits of MC Hammer's discography, girls became a subject. If I'd had my current vocabulary and penchant for swearing at the time, my thoughts on girls would have been as follows:

"Girls fucking disgust me. Not only do I not understand their fascination with dolls or their aversion to playing sports, but they have serious, easily-transmittable cooties and should be avoided like the goddam plague."

My cousin told me that that'd change in a few years. He was right.

It seems the same has happened with my reaction to style trends. True, we're all products of our environment, but I always prided myself on knowing the traditional rules of men's style and adhering to them. Trends were inherently bullshit and would spell sartorial ruin if you succumbed to them.

As was the case with the ladies, I was wrong. I learned I was wrong about seven or eight weeks ago, when we had our first heat wave. It was hot as balls outside and I was wearing jeans slim enough to sustain being rolled, so I rolled the legs up a couple of times. I decided that it looked damned good and summery, but then it hit me: this is all over runways and every hipster asshole in this town is doing the same thing. What does that say about me?

I've come to the conclusion that trendiness isn't necessarily all bad, you just have to be selective about the trends you choose to adopt. In general, I find that you're better off flexing trendy pieces into your casual wardrobe as opposed to your formal one, only because dress clothes are generally more expensive, and since not many of us are wiping our asses with hundred dollar bills, we can't afford to go out and buy new suits every year. A suit is a suit and has certain pre-determined correct proportions that don't change with the ebb and flow of fashion. With that in mind, remember that this ultra-narrow lapel trend we're seeing (with skinny-ass ties, to boot) will be gone in a few years. In fact, I'm saying it right now: seven years from now, we'll be seeing super-wide lapels on suit jackets, and it'll be all the fucking rage. Mark my words.

On the other hand, plaid shirts are trendy right now. If you find one that fits well and has colors that look good on you, why the hell wouldn't you give it a shot? Fedoras and porkpie hats are both part of the classic men's sartorial canon AND freakin' ubiquitous right now, so what's the harm in trying one out? If your pants are slim enough to roll up when it's hot, roll 'em up. You do the same with your shirtsleeves, right?

Think of it as selective trendiness, guys. It's ok, trust me.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Pillars of Style, Part I: Fit

Dressing well is not necessarily easy. There are many things that factor into whether or not you look good in your clothes, but I feel that there are three main aspects that transcend all others and form the basis for looking good in whatever you're wearing: fit, color coordination, and pattern coordination. Here are some thoughts on fit.

Guys, look at yourself in the mirror and repeat this aloud: "If my clothes don't fit well, I will look bad."

If you want proof, look at the two photos above. The name of the first picture is something like "Man in Suit is Depressed." This isn't surprising; he looks like shit because his suit looks like a burlap sack on him, and this is depressing. See how huge the body of the jacket is? Did you notice that his sleeves are far too long and billowy? He looks like a little kid wearing his dad's suit because he's drowning in a sea of excess material.

Contrast that with the picture of Jon Hamm, Mad Men's Don Draper. First, take note of the slight hourglass shape that his jacket affects. It's snug, but not tight; you can tell because the jacket's buttons aren't hanging on for dear life. Second, look at the sleeves. Notice that they're not baggy but hug his arms in the same way that his jacket hugs his torso. Also, see all that shirt cuff he's showing? It's more than normal due to his physical stance, but it's still intentional. Always show about a half-inch of shirt cuff. The proportions of the suit sync up perfectly with those of his body, and if there were a pocket square in that welt pocket, we'd have suiting perfection on our hands.

The rules of fit also apply to more casual clothes. Sleeves on any jacket shouldn't be so long as to touch your hands. Your jeans shouldn't bunch up around your ankles, and your polo shirts shouldn't be able to double as God-damn parachutes. Tailors exist to help you with this, so find find one. I use two in Center City: Master Tailors between 16th and 17th on Spruce and Richard Chae on 15th just above Walnut. I even boldfaced it for you, so now you have no excuse.

Finally, the way your clothes fit inevitably affects the way others perceive you. Sure, some people are colorblind and have trouble coordinating colors. Patterns can be a pain in the ass to mix and match, so many men either fail miserably or don't even try in the first place. There's no reason, however, for your clothes to fit poorly. If your stuff is too loose or too tight, there's no reason you won't be perceived as slovenly, unattractive, unsuitable for work, childish, or just too lazy to get your clothes tailored properly. On the other hand, a well-fitting wardrobe will help you be viewed as professional, adult, and in the eyes of many women, a handsome son of a bitch.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Myth About Black

I was out shopping a couple of days ago when I overheard this interaction:

Boyfriend (looking at a pair of brown shoes and black shoes to coordinate with an orange-red shirt): "I don't know which to get..."

Girlfriend: "Get the black. It goes with everything."

This is where I shook my head in surprise and disappointment, because the girlfriend was wrong. I was surprised because she herself was well-dressed, and disappointed because she passed on some bad information to her boyfriend.

Black does not, in fact, go with everything. A perfect example of this is wearing black shoes with very dark navy blue pants. This is acceptable in sartorially conservative fields such as politics and law, but that doesn't mean that it looks good. Brown shoes are a much better option.

The same logic applied to the boyfriend's shirt. Orange and red look too dramatic against black, and there's a distinct Halloween-ish feel to the color scheme that's inherently cheesy. An earth-toned shoe (brown) compliments this much better than a stark contrast with black, and to my eye, this statement also applies to nearly any color that exists in the world.

A tip for rookies: keep your black shoes to either formalwear (in which case black shoes are mandatory, as they're considered to be more formal) and black or grey pants or jeans, though grey pants and jeans both go quite well with brown shoes. Everything else-khakis, dress pants in blue, tan, olive, and brown-looks better with brown shoes, particularly my new jawns in the picture you see here.

Brown shoes, on the other hand, maintain much of the everyday, useful formality of black shoes (insofar as they're professionally approrpiate be worn to most workplaces), but take on other colors better than black. Higher-quality brown shoes, when properly cared for, acquire a patina and natural highs and lows in the hue over time, and thus gain more character. Black just tends to look worn.

Aspiring metrosexuals, start thinking about brown shoes. When you coordinate them well with an outfit, you'll look much smarter and much dandier than the guy who's dressed head-to-toe in black.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Do Not Give Any Of Your Money

I'm not generally one to bust out the Haterade (well, not too much), but a friend of mine stumbled across the website, a site selling pre-folded, permanently sewn pocket squares. He asked me what I thought of it, so here goes.

I instantly equate the idea of a pre-folded pocket square to that of a clip-on tie. I feel that it's widely recognized that a man wearing a clip-on tie is amateurish and sartorially immature, even outside of the fashion and style industries. For example, I'm sure that a friend of ours, a well-paid lawyer at a medium-sized East Coast law firm, would be ridiculed by his peers if it were made public that he wore clip-on ties (which, for the record, he doesn't). It's fine for boys to wear clip-on ties; they don't know any better and the parents have no good reason to invest real money in something their son will just grow out of in a year or two. Grown men, however, have no excuse.

I feel this is even more true with's pre-folded and sewn pocket squares because although they should be, they're not considered a "necessary" part of the business or dress sartorial canon in America. When the average American man goes to work or an event that requires him to wear "a suit," that is generally taken to mean suit jacket, matching pants, dress shirt, dress socks and shoes with matching belt, and tie. A pocket square is unfortunately not an essential part of this uniform. Only the more stylish men of today are wearing them, and a pre-folded pocket square is thusly more unstylish than a clip-on tie precisely because it is a half-assed attempt at looking stylish. You didn't have to try, but you did. On top of this, you're completely oblivious to the fact that you failed miserably.

Also, like clip-on bow ties, these pocket squares are too perfect-looking. Part of looking great is looking natural, and it's not natural to have a pocket square folded into a fucking dandelion or the top of a chess rook. Just like imperfections like a mole can be considered a "beauty mark," small asymmetries and/or natural unevenness add character to an ensemble and allow the wearer to show off some panache (see the poorly-taken picture above). The pre-folded ones just make you look like a tacky mob boss.

Finally, the beauty of a pocket square is that, like a tie, it can be folded or puffed in a variety of ways. The decision as to how to wear his pocket square can, for the well-dressed man, be indicative of his mood or general demeanor and is just as important as coordinating it, color and pattern-wise, with the rest of the outfit. A pre-folded and sewn pocket square limits the mileage you can get on each one you own and robs a man of this freedom of sartorial creativity, his means of truly expressing who he is through his clothes and how he wears them. This self-expression is where dressing becomes a sort of visual art, and the dipshits at compromise this art. This self expression, however, when untainted by such a sartorial faux pas, is the true essence of style.

Long story short: sack up and fold your own pocket square.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

A Spring Ceremony

Weddings rock. In addition to dancing, eating, and getting completely sauced on someone else's dime, you get to see two people on what may be the happiest day of their new, shared life. I had the extreme pleasure of seeing two good friends of mine, Nick and Liz, tie the knot last weekend after dating for about forty or so years.*

As you can see from the photo, Liz was nothing less than a radiant bride. But hey, weddings are all about brides, right? Also, this is a men's style blog, so it's time to give my man Nick some credit. Since I had a hand in dressing him and his groomsmen for the big day, I'll shamelessly plug my own business (Modus Wardrobe Consulting) and take some credit too.

You've probably put two and two together by now and deduced that Nick is the guy in the above picture. Congratulations. I would also like you to note that he's a handsome son of a bitch, so making him look good in a suit wasn't all that difficult. His outfit is the perfect spring ensemble for men: khaki suit, white shirt, striped tie. Here's a breakdown of why it works (with particularly important points in bold):

  • The jacket is impeccably tailored. You can't tell from the photo, but take my word for it when I say that its body was perfectly hourglassed and extended down no further than his thumb's second knuckle. The sleeves ended at his wristbone and showed the perfect amount of shirt cuff. There wasn't one roll in his collar, and it showed off his shirt collar swimmingly.
  • The pants were baller. The waist fit perfectly, the break was minimal, and the pleats didn't exist.
  • The color of the suit coordinates incredibly well with Nick's hair color and is in the same color family as his brown eyes. When fit syncs with your body shape and colors sync with those you naturally possess, you have no choice but to look awesome.
  • You can't tell in the photo, but Nick was wearing a white, slim-fit French cuff shirt with blue silk knot cufflinks. This was the perfect way to dress up and formalize his khaki suit and inject a shot of color into the ensemble.
  • Simple, but interesting. The green and blue alternating stripes work well together on their own, but also play nicely with the neutral suit.
  • The blue stripe in the tie references the aforementioned blue cufflinks. This just went from looking "nice" to looking "smart."
  • Nick picked this out himself and deserves extra credit for doing so.
  • They were tan wingtip oxfords with a slightly tapered toe and a slim profile. Brown shoes are perfect with khaki suits, and this particular pair was boss as hell.
  • Earth-tone argyle jawns. Classic, but not plain.
  • He wore a white linen one. Always wear a pocket square with a suit jacket; it lends dapperness and an air of gentility to your look that you can't really get without one. They're not expensive either, so you have no excuse.
Follow these principles when dressing up in the warm weather and I guarantee you'll look good. And to my friends Nick and Liz, congratulations. I know I speak on behalf of your friends and loved ones when I wish that your years be many and joyous.

*Just kidding, it was only about nine years. Still though, people were starting to tap their watches.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A Break From The Norm

Being a 20-something packing a smartphone in 2010, I update my Facebook status regularly on all sorts of inane crap. One of my most recent status updates, regarding some women's tendency to mistake leggings for actual pants, generated quite a few comments. My buddy Dan suggested I write about it, and while I know this is a men's style blog, I feel strongly about this issue and have decided to throw a curveball.

Sometimes, leggings work. A girl I know recently told me of an outfit she wore to work which included leggings, a long sweater that hit just above mid-thigh or so, some kind of cool belt to create a semi-high-waisted look, ballet flats, and some unique jewelry. This works because:

a) This girl is very, very stylish and good-looking in the first place, so she's got a leg up, and

b) The leggings were not mistaken as pants (i.e. worn by themselves). She knew that the first things to do when rocking leggings are to cover your ass and conceal any potential camel toe. Or, in the case of some more unfortunate women, moose knuckle.

On the other hand, solo leggings with Uggs and some poofy Juicy Couture jacket that hits at the waist look like shit. The whole getup looks slovenly, even if you have an ass that could beat Jennifer Lopez's in a street fight. Like sweatpants, wearing leggings by themselves in public projects to the world that you don't care about how you look, and, by extension, how others perceive you.

Seriously, if you want to look casual, wear a pair of jeans. That's why they exist. If it's too hot for jeans, get a pair of shorts. Or wear a skirt. Dressing casually does not preclude you from dressing decently, no matter your sex.

Ladies, thank you for your attention to this serious matter.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Sweatpants Aren't Alright

I wish you could have been there, really. There I was in Center City, walking away from Rittenhouse Park after having finished a delicious lunch from the Pad Thai Shack. It was a gorgeous day, and the positivity in the air was nearly palpable.

Then some dickhead walks by wearing an orange t-shirt with grey sweatpants, the legs of which were tucked into his black leather combat boots.

This was nothing less than an affront to my senses; I was stunned. So stunned, in fact, that I couldn't get my phone out in time to take a decent enough picture to post here. Just take my word for it when I say that the idea was the same as the picture of the woman above, but with shorter boots and a t-shirt instead of a sport coat.

You might be wondering, "Why is this such a big deal, Mike? Does wearing sweatpants really make you a dickhead?"

In the aforementioned context, you can bet your balls it does. Here's why:

Sweatpants are made for working out, helping people move, painting, sleeping, or being under the age of ten. They are not an article of clothing that's in any way fashionable. They flatter neither men nor women, and if you become in any way aroused, everyone will know (and hopefully be impressed). In fact, my old friend Matt once said, "If you wear sweatpants out of the house, that means you've lost the will to live." I couldn't agree with him more.

The man in question, however, is different. He hadn't lost the will to live; in fact, tucking his sweatpants into his boots was his misguided stab at being fashionable. Dude thought he was hot shit, but dude was wrong. The look was intentional, which makes it a particularly egregious breach of good taste. I'm not personally a huge fan of wearing combat boots unless you're actually, you know, in combat, but it's trendy these days, and had he simply substituted jeans for the sweatpants, he would have at least not looked sloppy.

Guys, here's a good rule of thumb: Don't wear sweatpants outside of the house or the gym (transit to and from the gym applies too, that's why they have locker rooms). It's sloppy and projects to the world that you could care less about how you look, which means you could care less about how you're perceived by others.

You're better than that, and you know it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Thomas Crowne Affair, or Why You Should Emulate Pierce Brosnan When Wearing A Suit


I watched the 1999 remake of The Thomas Crowne Affair this past weekend. I know this isn't a film blog, but here's my review:

It was crap. True, you get to see Rene Russo's cans, but

A) They're not that spectacular, and

B) Her character sets feminism back oh, I don't know, about 100 years or so. She apparently can't be a serious businesswoman in the presence of a dashing, handsome rich man who happens to betray her trust over and over again. And the end scene where Pierce magically shows up on the plane to hand her a tissue as she begins crying because he hurt her yet again? That's so insanely farfetched it belongs in a romantic comedy. He might as well be god-damned Hugh Grant.

But I digress. The saving grace was Pierce's wardrobe. That son of a bitch can dress, and you can tell he took a couple of cues from Steve McQueen, pictured at the above right as the OG Thomas Crowne from the sixties' original. We're talking full-blown men's sartorial splendor, here. He's completely comfortable in his suits at all times, and while Messrs. McQueen and Brosnan probably achieved this by having bespoke suits made for them, you can closely approximate this by finding a good tailor who will do what you ask.

Pay attention to the details of the photos above, namely the following:

  • The collar of the jacket always allows for about 3/4" of shirt collar to show.
  • See the shirt cuff peeking out from the jacket sleeve? That's intentional, and it should be 1/4"-1/2" of cuff showing.
  • See the dent below the knot in the tie? It's called a dimple, and you should always have one. For a good instructional video, click here.
  • For a dash of elegance, throw on some French cuffs.
  • As far as pattern coordination goes, you can't miss with a muted suit, white shirt, and boldly patterned tie. Or, in the case of Steve McQueen, bold suit with muted shirt and tie.
  • Get yourself a decent-looking watch with a leather band.
  • If you're going sans tie, lose the t-shirt underneath.
  • Always, always, wear a pocket square with a suit jacket. It must never, under any circumstances, match your tie.
Guys, if you follow these tips, you will look better than 90% of the schlubs wearing suits. If you're bent on seeing Pierce's suits in action, it's worth it to rent the movie and pay particular attention to the first ten or fifteen minutes. Just keep it on mute and you'll be fine.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Dude, Pull Up Your Pants

I've been seeing far too many boxer shorts lately.

I don't know if it ever left, but the trend of wearing your pants LITERALLY halfway down your tucas seems to be more common. Then again, we're living in an era of easily accessible, inexpensive, tailored-looking men's clothing. Perhaps the pants-too-low guys are just more noticeable when surrounded by the pants-in-or-around-the-correct-general-vicinity guys. In any case, here's my beef with the whole thing:

Pants are made to be worn at or around your waist. Sure, different styles of pants have different "rises" (a term that refers to where the waistband of the pants sit in relation to your natural waist), but they all have one thing in common:

They cover your ass. Completely and literally.

True, it's your right to wear your clothes in any way you choose to do so, and you guys may think you're hot stuff showing off your Calvin Kleins, but trust me, no one wants to see your underwear. In fact, the term "underwear" exists for a reason and is about as self-explanatory as any word could be; you don't need a degree in fucking etymology to figure out that it's to be worn UNDER your other garments, to be seen only by you and/or your significant other.

Guys, please pull up your pants. If you don't, you may end up like the poor gentleman on this video.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

An Introduction/Badass Hosiery

"Unpretentious, no-nonsense sartorial advice? What does that mean?"

Well, it means that I like talking about men's style while "keeping it real," which can sometimes mean a shit-load of swearing. This doesn't mean that I use profanity just for profanity's sake; I simply feel that much of the writing that exists on men's style has an air of pretension to it that renders it inaccessible, and dressing well should be a skill that's accessible to any guy, regardless of income, social status, cock size, and whatever else men use to distinguish themselves from their peers. I hope that writing with edge with which I typically speak will make style more accessible for more men, resulting in a better-dressed population with fewer schlubby assholes on the street. I'm not saving the world, but I hope to make it look a bit better.

This is my light-hearted but knowledgeable contribution to the men's style blogosphere. Feel free to ask questions, start a dialogue, and leave comments. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful. If any of it offends you, I cordially invite you to kiss my hairy Hebrew ass.

In the meantime, check out the above-pictured badass socks I just recently picked up from American Apparel. They're canary yellow and cost only $8, which actually makes them cheaper than most other brands. I'm showing you these because I strongly feel that if there's one quick, relatively cheap, alterations-free way to inject some color into your spring wardrobe, it's getting some brightly-colored and/or boldly patterned socks. Coordinate them with any other part of your outfit for some continuity and you're golden.

Or yellow, in this case.