Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The New Double-Breasted Jammy

For about two years now I've become increasingly obsessed with acquiring a double-breasted blazer. After such a long time searching and not finding anything in my size (big surprise), an acquaintance of mine told me that he had just the thing in his closet and that it was too big on him, but there was a catch: it needed a completely new lining.

After putting it on and seeing how well it fit, I decided that I could give a damn about putting a new lining in. I have never, literally never, had a jacket fit so well and need no alterations whatsoever. I was stunned not only at the fit, but in all the correctness of the details: 6x2 double-breasted stance, side vents, peak lapels, and the perfect shade of navy blue. This was an offer I couldn't refuse, to hell with the fact that a new lining costs $70 and the thing smelled like mothballs. The way I see it, if I don't patronize my tailor regularly, he might go out of business. If he goes out of business, my life is hell. Not only am I happy to do my part to avoid this, but I'd much rather pay $75 on repairs and dry cleaning than four times that amount on a new off-the-rack number that I'd have to alter anyway. Who's the big winner here? Mikey's the big winner.

This thing is going to be sick with khakis, grey flannels, and even white jeans in the spring/summer. I apologize in advance for the crappy nature of the following pictures, but I'm a crappy photographer, so that's what you get. Bear in mind that the camera on my phone (yeah, that's what I used, sue me) doesn't do the jacket's color any justice at all; it's a true navy blue, not black as it looks here:

Or here:
Jacket+white jeans/(tan tassel loafers-socks) x unbuttoned pink button-down shirt=MEGA BALLIN'. This is going to kill in the springtime.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Gluttony Of Every Sort

I've been living a life of excess for the past week. For starters, I had two Thanksgivings, the first of which was a week ago at my girlfriend's parents' place. The second was this past week at my parents' place. Like most of America, I kept eating despite not being hungry and managed to pack more caloric intake into one meal than I usually do in three, and I did it twice in the span of five days. I felt and still feel an unusual combination of feelings: pride (for having eaten so much), shame (at having eaten so much), and mild heartburn all come to mind.

Nothing, however, compares to the elation I felt when my dad presented me with a ton of old ties he'd been given. Even when he was working he never wore ties, but now that he's retired in Florida, he barely has occasion to even wear shoes, so he plopped a bag full of them in front of me and told me to dive in. It was guilt-free gluttony except that he also instructed me to see if my cousin wanted to take any of them, which I failed to do.

Ron, if you're reading this, I'm sorry. I got carried away and acted like a selfish child. Please forgive me.

With the apology out of the way, you need to check these babies out. While I'm not a vintage nut, these ties are all decades old, and it's safe to say that Giuseppe from An Affordable Wardrobe (a blog that I religiously follow and suggest you do the same) would have a field day with these. This is only a fraction of my score-I came home with about twenty new-to-me ties-but these are all the labels that struck me as awesome. Check out this Floridian ridiculousness:

And some Long Island paisley insanity:
A cotton madras bowtie that was actually handmade in India, the birthplace of madras:
A real-deal Brooks Brothers number, likely from the 60's judging from its slimness:
I couldn't find information on when Mr. Pulitzer had his wares in L&H, but the label looks old:
To the unnamed man who passed away and inadvertently left these ties to me, I promise to keep them as well as you have and to one day pass them on to a worthy owner. Until then, I will be wearing the HELL out of these babies.

Monday, November 14, 2011

If The Shoe Fits

The author two years ago, with 37 pairs of shoes and what turned out to be an incredibly disappointing beard.
A reader named Matt left the following comment on an entry of mine a while back:

"Hey there, love the blog. I've looked through, and haven't seen any posts specifically related to your views on men's shoes. I'm trying to "grow up" my shoe collection, but there's lots of styles, and was wondering about how different styles of shoe can apply to different situations. Any thoughts?"

Good callout, Matt, and thanks for reading. I'm a full-blown footwear fanatic and will be the first to say that your shoe collection is incredibly important; a good pair of shoes will make you look like a million bucks while a bad pair will make you look more like, say, thirty-five.

Most people have to answer this question at some point in their lives when it comes to their footwear: black or brown? We all pledge our allegiance to one or the other at some point, and you have to decide for yourself which camp you fall into. This isn't to say that you can only own one or the other, but it does mean that most people gravitate to one side in general. I, for one, love brown shoes because brown shows off the character of the leather in a more handsome way than black, and I own quite a few in every shade ranging from light, orangey tans for summer to ultra-dark brown suedes for winter. Sure, I own a few black pairs, but these only see action once every two months or so. Keep my bias in mind as you read through the following list.

Without further ado, here's a list of a few pairs you can get by on for the rest of your life and not have to worry. Everything else is gravy from here:

  • Black oxfords: They should have minimal ornamentation like perforations, seams, wingtips, etc. You need a shoe that you can wear to a job interview, funeral, or some other event that requires seriousness on your part, and this is it. Pair them with your grey or black slacks or suits and make sure they're leather-soled.
  • Brown dress shoes: Try a medium shade, like a tobacco color. you can wear it all year round and it looks excellent with blue, grey, and tan suits or dress pants. Try a wingtip, cap-toe, or dress loafer to start, also with a leather sole.
  • Brown casual shoes: These can be a rubber-soled slip-on or lace-up in whatever shade you like. Get a couple of different shades and styles so you can rotate them and not wear them out too quickly and throw them on with jeans or your khakis.
  • Boat shoes: These are great for sockless wear in the warm weather and are a great chance to throw some color into your shoe collection. Find a pair in blue, red, green, cream, brown, or whatever you like that's available. Wear them with lightweight cotton pants or shorts in the summertime.
  • Non-athletic sneakers: No Nike Shox and no New Balances, I don't care what J.Crew is offering. You can get a streamlined "sport-inspired" sneaker at very low cost if you look in the right places. Wear these with jeans when you're hung over at brunch on a Sunday.
  • Snow boots: It sucks when your feet get cold and wet, no matter how grown up you are.
Like the rest of your wardrobe, take your time in building your shoe collection. There's a lot to learn about what you like and don't like: lasts (shoespeak for "silhouettes") that you like, styles that make your foot feel either great or uncomfortable, and how to build a shoe collection that syncs with the rest of your clothing. Own your style and don't be afraid to take a risk here and there. There's nothing more grown up about that.

Oh, and remember that while some shoes look good beaten up, oftentimes it just looks slovenly. A shoe shine kit is a man's best friend.

Two And A Half Weeks Ago, I Was An Internet Sensation

In a bout of being self-congratulatory (albeit a couple of weeks late), yours truly was photographed by Sabir Peele, Philly style guru, for his "That Girl, That Guy" segment on NBC Philadelphia's website. Follow the link and check out Sabir's write-up, as it's chock full of good advice. Take a look at his photography skills too, while you're at it.

I will resume valid(?) sartorial commentary with my next post. Thanks for indulging.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

The Return of an Old Friend

I don't really get into watches. I've never referred to them as "timepieces" and have never cared about Swiss movement or whether or not it will be keeping accurate time when my great-great-grandson gets his first prostate exam. In spite of this relative lack of enthusiasm, I still love them as a functional accessory and have worn a wristwatch every day for at least as long as I've been a college graduate.

Being a creature of habit, I've been wearing the same watch every day for a little over a year, but I recently found myself in a position where I had to bust out the old one I'd been wearing for about two years before that. While my newer one has more bells and whistles and is much flashier, you can see from the photo above that my old one is simple and understated. Only in being forced to wear it again was I reminded why I fell in love with it in the first place. It was like being reunited with a friend you haven't seen in a long time, something that's always a pleasant experience.

As an additional positive, I now have a two-strong collection of watches. A budding horologist I'm not, but it'll be nice to vary what I wear based on my mood.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

If It's Gonna Act Like Springtime In Fall, Pt. II

It snows on Halloween and then creeps up to sixty-three degrees in early November. Welcome to the Northeast, I guess. When November feels like April, you can react one of two ways:

  1. 1. Get all pissy about climate change, or
  2.  Make some lemonade and dress for the inter-weather.

Like I've said previously, these days are great ways to take advantage of what Mother Nature is giving us (or going through, really) and enjoy the best of both worlds. Here I decided to enjoy the warmth with a pink striped dress shirt (that I bought at a thrift shop for $7.50, no less) and a bright blue/yellow medallion pocket square. To keep me grounded in fall, I decided that a chocolate brown tie with green/yellow medallions combined with my favorite wool sport coat would do the trick. I think it did.

Long live delightfully mild fall weather.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Style Profile: Count Dracula

For a guy who enjoys dressing up, I really phone it in on Halloween, if I even bother at all. I never take the time to buy or make a costume, and I've used either an old 70's-era suit or a huge foam cowboy hat for some type of get-up for the past eight or so years. Not very creative.

With the holiday upon us and my having just seen two episodes of True Blood at my girlfriend's suggestion, I've been thinking about this country's vampire infatuation. Most recently there's been True Blood and Twilight, but we've always enjoyed bloodsuckers in our entertainment. Hollywood gave us Interview With The Vampire, Bram Stoker's Dracula, and even Eddie Murphy got in on the deal with Vampire In Brooklyn. 

None of these vampires, however, measure up to the Count Dracula played by Bela Lugosi (pictured above) in the 1931 original film. I went through a horror movie phase in my early teens, and I always had a thing for the old black-and-whites. Dracula was always my favorite. I always thought that Mr. Lugosi nailed the part of a dashing, aristocratic vampire, which I preferred to the corpse-like Nosferatu from German vampire lore. 

Enjoy the clip below. Note the Count's perfectly-fitting white-tie evening attire (I guess he would never wear daytime formalwear), complete with a pendant that presumably bears some significance to his aristocratic lineage. A more dashing vampire has never existed.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I Must Be Getting Old

A few weeks ago I realized that I might be a fuddy-duddy.

It was the beginning of a nice little Sunday with my girlfriend. We had plans to go to Ikea (our idea), Pier 1 (her idea), and Bed, Bath and Beyond (if we had time). One can't buy pant hangers on an empty stomach, however, and we decided to grab some breakfast at a local diner before we headed out. We walked over, took a seat right before the place got busy, and got down to business with some eggs.

I looked over her shoulder as we were talking and noticed a young man at the table behind her. He was in a group of three; he was one of two teenagers and there was an older man who was presumably their father. The teenager I couldn't stop looking at, however, was different from his counterpart insofar as he was wearing both a hat and sunglasses indoors.

My first thought was "What the hell is with this kid?" Despite my blue-collar upbringing, I was raised with a pretty strict sense of sartorial protocol, and wearing a hat and sunglasses indoors was something that would get me scolded pretty quickly. Teachers in elementary school were like drill sergeants about it.

Shortly after I wondered, "Where does this rule come from?" I can clearly understand why it's stupid to wear sunglasses indoors; sun won't get in your eyes when you're inside a building, and you also prevent others from looking you in the eye when conversing, which makes the sunglass-wearer come off as an uncouth jackass who fancies himself so cool that he can't be bothered with laying the naked eye on those he thinks are beneath him. But a hat? Where does the custom of removing one's hat while indoors come from, and why is it considered so disrespectful?

The custom doesn't have a distinct origin, but it seems to be steeped in simple etiquette. Hats are outerwear, and leaving it on while inside implies to your host that you won't be staying long, essentially rebuffing his/her welcome. For men, this tradition has extended to being in restaurants, schools, and most Christian places of worship (Jews wear yarmulkes and Muslims wear kufis), and sporting events while the National Anthem is being played. And elevators, for some reason.

To play it safe, ditch the headgear anytime you're indoors; you'll be viewed as a polite guest and please all the fuddy-duddies like myself. If you're like our badass friend pictured above, however, do as you please.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

If It's Gonna Act Like Springtime In Fall...

then I'll dress like it's springtime, God dammit:

Monday, September 12, 2011

Uncharted Waters

Every year around late August/early September, I get sick and tired of the heat and turn into a grumpy old man about it. Today, for example, I had to sprint to catch a train and thought two things to myself while panting and trying not to vomit:


2. "If the fall were here already, I wouldn't be soaked in my own sweat right now."

Don't get me wrong, I love the summer. I love going sockless and wearing lightweight pants and pink shirts and white shoes, but after a couple months of blazing Northeastern heat and humidity, it gets old. I, like many people who live to dress, love the fall because it means I can start layering again. I can wear cozy sweaters, wool ties, smart blazers, and boots. More importantly, I can do this without sweating my ass off. Happy days have highs of seventy degrees, I always say.

To that end, I was out shopping and stumbled upon the merino wool sweater vest pictured above. I'm super excited about it because it's not only a great color (army green with brown undertones; my crappy photography doesn't do it justice), but it's also the first of its type that I've ever owned. I have a vest that goes with a three-piece suit and a brown wool herringbone vest, but never a button-up sweater vest. It's uncharted territory for me, and this thing is gonna kill with jeans, a shirt and tie, sport coat, and some dress-casual boots.

Pictures of it in action will follow, but not until the fall hurries up and gets here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Breaking The Rules

Menswear is rife with rules and regulations. Jacket sleeves are so long, pant waists come up so high, tuxedos come with facings, and you only wear suits with leather-soled shoes. With the passing of Labor Day, I've been thinking about the "no white pants after Labor Day" rule and questioning its validity. To bring an end to my questioning, it's important to remember that Labor Day marks more than the last unofficial weekend of the summer, filled to the brim with grilled hot dogs and 25% off sales at Macy's.

Celebrated first in Oregon in 1887, it became a federal holiday in 1894 after the Pullman Strike in which many workers were killed by U.S. Marshals and the U.S. military and President Grover Cleveland wanted to reconcile with the labor movement. Given that this holiday is one sympathetic to labor, the sartorial rule banning white pants and shoes (clothing generally relegated to white-collar types) serves to reinforce this sympathy, and breaking it would be in poor taste. The holiday also marks the unofficial end of summer and robs white pants of their utility, as pants of that color are generally made in lightweight cotton or linen.

Climate change has thrown a wrench into the system, however. While Labor Day is the unofficial end of summer, it is now hot and muggy well into September. I even remember being on a date in early October 2007 and sitting outside because it was nearly eighty degrees at night. I mean no disrespect to laboring brothers, but if we're going to have Indian summer every year now, you can bet your ass I'll be wearing my white jeans much later into the season.

Glenn O'Brien, GQ's "Style Guy" and one of my sartorial heroes once wrote that the rule should be extended into October, at the end of the baseball postseason. I couldn't agree more; if the world isn't willing to do anything about climate change, the only thing we little people can do is dress for the weather.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What A Difference a Half Inch Makes

First things first: if you read this entry's title and didn't immediately think, "That's what she said," we will clearly never be friends. This is the kind of in-depth sartorial analysis you've come to know from DLAMGD.

In the world of tailoring, a half inch is a mile. This lesson was reinforced for me a few days ago when I picked up a navy sport jacket from my tailor; I bought it a few months back and had the sleeves shortened immediately; I literally walked from the store to the tailor. In a rare instance of imperfection, this tailor left the sleeves about a half inch too long, rendering the garment non-wearable.

I finally got around to bringing it back to him, and the difference is astounding (please pardon the lighting in the pictures). You can finally see the bit of requisite shirt cuff at all times, and it's amazing how much more I enjoy wearing clothes that are properly altered. The lesson here is that if your clothes don't fit perfectly, you're missing out on being flush with confidence in your appearance, which is part of what dressing well is all about. A nice suit might feel good, but a perfectly fitted suit feels like the most elegant suit of armor you could ever don.

The details matter. Get thee to a tailor.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

My First Suspension

There are quite a few sartorial rules and guidelines that apply to all men: belts match shoes, socks match pants, ties should have dimples, and a million others. When you dig a little deeper, however, you learn that there are principles that flatter certain body types while accentuating the negative aspects of others. You've heard many of these categorizations before: tall, slim, athletic, portly, stout, and average are all common words to describe men's body types.

At 5'4" and about 125 pounds, I fall into the "short and slim" category. While any competent dresser can theoretically get away with wearing anything he pleases, there are some things that will emphasize my smaller stature and others that will work to minimize it. For example, I can't wear super large-scale patterns; they swallow me up and make me look smaller than I actually am. On the other hand, my body type displays tight, small-scale patterns to their best advantage because they don't have much ground to cover on my small frame.

Another concept that serves me well is the one where maximizing height is paramount. Pinstripes are awesome for me, because they draw the viewer's eye up and down, creating the illusion of height and therefore the illusion that I'm not just smashingly handsome but also maybe, you know, 5'6" or something. On the other hand, horizontal lines work against me, but I wear one nearly every day when I throw on a belt and effectively cut my body in half.

The solution to this issue? I had suspender buttons sewn into my suit pants (never use clip-on suspenders), and I picked up the braces you see above. For years I've been wary of wearing them because they're either too old mannish, affected, or just silly-looking, but I was wrong. Not only do they add two more vertical lines to the ensemble, but they're far more comfortable than a belt could ever be. With suspenders, your pants hang from your shoulders, not your waist. I can reach for things and my shirt doesn't come untucked, and my waistband isn't cinched around me like a twist-tie. Bonuses all around.

Perhaps most importantly, I've grown to appreciate the classic look of suspenders and find them playful and a little quirky, at least on a guy my age. They add another layer of visual interest that a belt simply doesn't provide, and I'll always relish the opportunity to coordinate something with a tie. I just need to round out the collection with ten or so more pairs and I'm set.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Who Wears Short Shorts?

An old middle school buddy of mine named Matt offered up a suggestion a while back by saying, "You should do a post on what shorts to wear. Also, tell dudes to stop wearing those giant cargo shorts from the early 2000's." Ask and ye shall receive, sir. First things first, here's a primer for what makes for a good pair of shorts.

As I've discussed before, the most important aspect of looking good is how your clothes fit. You can spend $30 on a well-fitted t-shirt and jeans outfit and look great, and you can just as easily spend $2,000 on an ill-fitting suit and look like hell (well, maybe not just as easily). Shorts, like bathing suits, are not exempt from this rule. They should fit snugly but not tightly around your waist and the inseam should end about 2"-5" above your kneecap (shorter inseam for smaller guys, longer inseam for bigger guys). An important rule that's often ignored is that the circumference of the leg opening should be relatively slim as well. If the circumference of your thigh is eighteen inches, then the short's legs should be, well, not much more than eighteen inches.

Material for shorts should generally be limited to linen or cotton, oftentimes khaki or chambray. Denim shorts are for children. As far as color and pattern is concerned, I suggest that you have a couple of basics like dark blue and tan, but branch out as far as you're comfortable. White, light blue, yellow, or mauve shorts? Hell yes. Crazy Bermuda and patchwork madras shorts? Indeed; so long as they're paired with a solid shirt, you're in business. Sockless feet tend to look better with shorts, and you can buy socks that are more or less invisible from Banana Republic and H&M.

Second things second, I'd like to accommodate Matt's other request and type it for all to see:

Dudes, stop wearing those giant cargo shorts from the early 2000's. If you have that much stuff to carry, get a messenger bag.

Finally, when I was in Greece there was a guy who had drawstrings at the hem of his shorts. He'd pull the legs up high and tighten the drawstrings to the max. I have no idea how the physics of this worked out, but doing so caused the shorts' legs to shamelessly place his junk front and center for all to see. If you have to ask how or why this is poor form, I'm not sure anyone will ever be able to help you.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Banana Hammock Debate

I just got back to the States about a week ago after having spent two weeks in Greece. It was amazing; I got to see my girlfriend after two months apart, leave the country for the first time since 2004, be on an archaeological dig, learn about seven Greek words, and finally hit up a beach with the new swim trunks I bought.

Admittedly, it's been about three years since I've been on an American beach, but judging from what you can find in stores, the styles for men's bathing suits haven't changed much. Brands like American Apparel sell trunks cut high so that they actually allow the wearer to get some sun on his pasty-ass thighs. This is the style that I purchased, and I like them because not only do I have pasty-ass thighs, but they also hearken back to ancient times, the 1970's, when American men viewed showing off their bodies as a simple masculine pride thing, not a symptom of the gay gene.

Unfortunately, the market is still dominated by the surfer-dude board short phenomenon. These are the bathing suit equivalent of capri pants, and they make no sense. Unless you have a sun allergy, why would you want to cover up so much skin? Furthermore, if you're over the age of 16, why the hell would you want skulls and flames on them, like the ridiculous Ed Hardy shorts pictured above?

European men generally have the right idea. Sure, there were some young guys wearing past-the-knee Billabong board shorts, but most embraced a shorter trunk. Some, however, took things too far. The picture I posted above is an exaggeration only insofar as no one wears a crucifix like Flava Flav wore a clock around his neck. Even on the minority of men who look like they've been chiseled out of stone, the banana hammock is just too much for my taste. While it's not the only style of bathing suit that puts one's moose knuckle front and center (too-tight trunks can do that as well), it's certainly the silhouette that draws the most attention to it. On men who are a bit softer around the middle, it does nothing to balance out their body size, making them look like they're wearing something two sizes too small.

In summation: go for a trunk that hits at about mid-thigh. Wear darker trunks with longer legs if you're a bigger guy, but still keep them a couple inches above your knee. The sun gods will be pleased.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Speaking of Shoes...

I picked up the blue suede shoes you see above over a year ago. I justified the purchase to myself in a few ways. First, I was out of town visiting a friend on a mini-vacation, so I felt like spending a little bit of cash. Second, they were on sale. Third, while I have a shoe collection so expansive and to which I'm so attached that my poor girlfriend probably wonders if I'd save them in a house fire before her, I didn't own any colored shoes.* It seemed like a good time to take the plunge.

As I stated in my previous entry, shoes can make or break an outfit. It's certainly a good idea to have a small collection in your closet: black dress, brown dress, a couple of casual shoes, some athletic sneakers, and a pair of sandals are enough to get most people by. Lately though, colorful shoes have become very popular for men and can make the difference between a bland outfit and a fun, more interesting one.

That's exactly what these camp moccasins do: provide a fun, light-hearted alternative to your run-of-the-mill footwear. Case in point: I wore these with rolled up light tan khakis and a slim-fitting pink polo shirt. Any casual shoe could have worked, from a brown penny loafer to a white sneaker. The blue, on the other hand, offers a pop of color in an otherwise minimally colorful dimension. Instant swag.

Try it out for yourself, but only if you're comfortable spending the money and, more importantly, if you already have the basics of your shoe wardrobe covered. There's no sense building a house with the attic first, and the same goes for your shoe collection.

*Is it better to say "shoes of color?" I'm stumped on this one.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Oh My God Shoes

I received this question a few days ago and have edited it for clarity but not content:

"I'm going to a wedding Saturday and need a new pair of shoes to go with my grey suit pants. Went to DSW and narrowed it down to two pairs of black shoes. Both are very similar, both slip-on leather loafers (no laces, no frills etc), also both are the same price: $65-$69. The question is, what do I get?

Pair #1. Bostonian brand. Ultra-light, flexible, rubber-soled, feels like a cloud on your feet. These are standard dress shoes that I could wear all night and they would be satisfactory.
Pair #2. Italian leather, originally $250, snug, wooden-soled shoe. When I say snug, I don't mean uncomfortable per se, but you can tell its a dress shoe (versus the floating-on-a-cloud Bostonians).

The snob in me is saying, "Get the Italian ones"; they will be stylish and you will look sharp. But the practical side of me says go with the Bostonians. They are still good, no-nonsense shoes, and if I hadn't seen the Italian ones they would be fine. Do I go for Italian leather or exquisite comfort? Also, how much work is a wooden-soled shoe? Am I going to go out one winter and completely ruin them? Does Italian leather stretch?"

Jesus Christ, where the hell do I start?

First, thanks for reading. Let me make a probable correction and tell you that these "wooden-soled" Italian shoes you're talking about are likely leather soles; wooden soles are rare nowadays and are only used in clogs and summer shoes. Also, any leather, Italian or not, will stretch and crease. To negate this, you must polish your shoes regularly and frequently (once a month will usually do just fine) and keep cedar shoe trees in your shoes whenever they're not on your feet. Additionally, don't wear dress shoes out in wintry weather if you can avoid it. I don't care of you spent $1,000 on a pair of leather shoes, they will get jacked up in the snow or rain. Snow boots were invented for a reason.

I haven't seen either shoe so I can't make a proper judgement call, but based on the information you've given me, the Italian loafer is the way to go. There's no difference in current selling price (though you tend to get what you pay for with footwear, and $250 original retail price leads me to believe that the Italian pair are likely higher quality), and while the Bostonians feel like you're walking on a cloud, you said yourself that the Italian pair wasn't uncomfortable, but that "you can tell it's a dress shoe."

And there's the rub. Dress shoes, by definition, have leather soles. That's one of the aesthetic details that sets them apart from their more casual counterparts, which generally have rubber soles. Rubber-soled "dress" shoes are a sartorial oxymoron. Can you get a way with wearing them? Of course, plenty of men do. Will you look polished, elegant, and dapper? Nope. Unless you have some kind of foot injury or are comfortable looking like a 22-year old college grad on his first job interview, all of your dress shoes must have leather soles.

George Frazier, a columnist for Esquire back in the 60's once wrote, "Wanna know if a guy is well-dressed? Look down." The shoes that a man decides to wear will make or break his entire outfit and speak volumes about his sense of style. Assuming proper fit and the like, good shoes will give life to jeans and a white t-shirt, while bad shoes can make a $2,000 suit look like hell. Choose wisely.

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Case of Extremes

I love my new iPhone. I've had it for about a month, and every day I'm blown away by its capabilities. In a span of five minutes, I can be playing Angry Birds while listening to Internet radio on my Pandora app and be interrupted to respond to a text message about whether or not I received an e-mail on which I was copied. For a phone, it also has a pretty sweet camera feature that allows me to take a snapshot of something whenever the opportunity arises to do so. Hence, the photo you see above (I've covered the subject's face in both a fake mustache and a seemingly all-too-appropriate American flag icon, courtesy of Forgive the fuzziness; I'm a crap photographer and you people will just have to deal with that.

Anyone who rides public transportation regularly knows that it offers ample opportunity to see some full-blown ridiculousness. Sure, there's the standard fare: the guy who's been running the same "I have cancer and need money for medicine" bit for a decade now, and there are plenty of people hawking "CD's, DVD's, incense, and body oils" to passersby. More interestingly, I've also seen breakdancing trios and a cappella groups on subways, and I've drunkenly watched an elderly, insane homeless woman hurl change at people on a bus only to witness her exit that bus at the next stop and see her pants fall down, exposing her bare ass to everyone else unfortunate enough to be on a SEPTA vehicle at three in the morning.

But I digress. After I got over the initial shock of seeing the guy in this photo, I realized that this outfit is an extreme case of mixing two complete sartorial opposites. One way defines camouflage as "a device or stratagem used for concealment." In other words, wearing camo is supposed to allow the wearer to avoid being spotted, to blend in so well that he or she becomes nearly invisible. Donning a pink wig, on the other hand, has the complete opposite effect of camouflage and stands out even more with that as its backdrop. It screams for attention and will do nothing to help you blend in with your surroundings. There's no doubt in my mind that this man's enemies will spot him easily.

The lesson here? Feel free to blend the high and the low, but don't go crazy with it. Jeans and a tie can certainly look great together, but sweatpants and a suit jacket are a different story. If it's attention you crave, blending sartorial extremes is a good way to get it. It's negative attention, however, and it's important to remember that you'll be looked upon as misguided or foolish as opposed to well-dressed. Everything in moderation, folks.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Word About Sunglasses

Wearing a suit and tie is like building a house: once you have a good foundation, the accoutrements end up doing most of the talking. One house's fireplace is like a suit jacket's lining, just as its curtains are equivalent to a tie, and its windows akin to sunglasses. When all the elements of building a home are harmonious, you get a beautiful place to live. When all elements of a suit are harmonious, you get a beautiful thing to wear.

On that note, I need to do a PSA in regards to men wearing athletic wraparound sunglasses like Oakleys with their suits. At a rudimentary level, all of your accessories should be as dressy as your suit; this is why we wear dress shoes instead of sneakers and leather-band watches as opposed to plastic digital ones. The same logic calls for sunglasses. Wraparound sunglasses are athletic wear and look terrible with suitings. Wearing one with the other makes as much sense as outfitting a stately, luxurious house with tacky Christmas lights.

A better option? Depending on the shape of your face, aviators can be a killer choice, as evidenced on Brad Pitt above (though I question his decision to go sans handkerchief). Well-made aviators have slim lines that sync up well with those of a suit's, and they're also easy to throw on with a t-shirt and jeans. Persols like the ones Steve McQueen wore in The Thomas Crowne Affair are clearly mega-ballin', as evidenced in the photo above. As far as price goes, you can find either of these silhouettes at any price point, from ultra-cheap to Bill Gates-thinks-it's-prohibitively expensive. Once you find a silhouette that meshes well with your facial structure, you'll see that you'll look so much better in these than your wraparounds that you'll probably leave the latter for athletic wear exclusively.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

A Minor Dilemma

This question showed up in my inbox about a week ago:

I have sartorial a question for you. As uninspired and bland a dresser I am I enjoy wearing 3-piece suits. My question is with a 3-piece suit is a tie bar overkill? I like the idea of wearing one but I dont know if I should be wearing it.

This is a great question. Tie bars are a fantastic way to add some polish to your look (I never wear a tie without one), and I argue that a well-cut three-piece suit is the outfit in which a man looks his absolute best, like he's wearing an incredibly elegant suit of armor. The problem we run into here is that the vest of a three-piece suit fills the utilitarian role a tie clip would; it holds your tie in place, thus rendering the tie clip superfluous. What the hell are you supposed to do here?

Not all of menswear is utilitarian, however, and I suggest using some good judgement in terms of where and when to combine the two. Are you headed to a fall wedding? By all means, get your shine on and use a tie clip a little higher up than normal so you can see it above the vest. If you're attending a funeral, on the other hand, it's best to keep the bling to a minimum and skip the hardware. Even if you look fantastic, drawing attention to yourself when doing so would be uncouth will make you look disrespectful, ostentatious, or douchey.

For some inspiration on how to get started combining vests and tie clips, check out dude on the left in the picture above. Him and his buddy are dandy as all hell, but he wears a tie clip with a vest to great effect. Killer.

Style Profile: Marvin Gaye

Tomorrow is Memorial Day, a time Americans set aside to remember those servicemen and women who died in service to our country by taking advantage of retail sales and grilling at someone's beach house. I don't know about you, but I think this lacks some of the sobriety and thoughtfulness that remembering our country's fallen soldiers should induce.

With that, I humbly submit this video of one of my favorite artists ever, Marvin Gaye, singing the Star-Spangled Banner at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game. It's one of the most unorthodox versions of the song you'll ever hear (very 80's-sounding to be sure, but good nonetheless), and it's safe to say that this man could dress his ass off. Everything about what he's wearing reeks of timeless style and unparalleled swag. Note the following:

-A perfectly fitted double-breasted suit with peak lapels and side vents.
-A graceful arc in his perfectly knotted tie.
-A pocket square that doesn't match the tie AND is puffed out like crazy.
-One half of one inch of shirt cuff showing from underneath his jacket sleeve.
-Sunglasses so thoroughly boss that he doesn't even take them off while indoors.
-Women hooting and hollering at him.

Then listen to his gentle, soulful voice; it'll help you remember just why we take this time to chomp down burgers and hot dogs with friends and family. Be safe, and Happy Memorial Day.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tough Guys Wear Pink

With the passing of Easter, it seems like spring has finally sprung. After a mostly rainy, chilly April, this is a welcome change to everyone. We can finally start putting sweaters away and pulling out the warm weather threads. Lighweight tan khakis? Check. Blue suede loafers made for sockless wear? Check. Pink polo shirt? Oh hell yes.

I love wearing pink. Pink polos, pink dress shirts, pink ties, and even pink socks. I know a lot of guys aren't into the color, and I strongly believe that this is because they feel like they'll be perceived as effeminate, gay, or both. First this idea is totally arbitrary and has changed over the decades, as evidenced by this citation I copied and pasted from Wikipedia's article on the color pink:

"In Western culture, the practice of assigning pink to an individual gender began in the 1920s or earlier. An article in the Ladies' Home Journal in June 1918 said: 'The generally accepted rule is pink for the boys, and blue for the girls. The reason is that pink, being a more decided and stronger color, is more suitable for the boy, while blue, which is more delicate and dainty, is prettier for the girl.'" Western society has clearly flipped the script on itself as far as gender/color assignments are concerned, but this quote just goes to show that these assignments are meaningless. Given the state we're currently in, however, it also shows that it takes a man who's very secure in his masculinity to wear pink. You know, tough guys.

To avoid wearing pink is incredibly ill-advised because most people actually look quite good in the color, especially if you're like me and have a pinkish undertone to your pasty, Ashkenazi Jewish skin. The pink shirt will make your face look flush with color and literally brighten your countenance, and you're likely missing out on some very positive attention by not throwing this color on under your face. Just as a tip, if you don't know what the concept of an "undertone" is, ask your girlfriend, who probably thinks about it when she's buying makeup. If she thinks men shouldn't be wearing pink, dump her ass.

Show some confidence and break out of the blue box sometime this spring. Don't pop the collar on your polo shirt, though, I don't give a damn what color it is. Nothing says "I'm a complete douchebag" like a popped polo collar, so unless you want to send that message, keep it down where it was meant to be.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

(Oxy)moronic Dressing

Like so many things in life, dressing well requires an understanding of the big picture, the reasons for wearing the things we wear. If you lose sight of the sartorial message you're trying to send, you will ultimately look foolish. This, for example, is why wearing socks and sandals looks ridiculous. The entire point of wearing sandals is to enjoy socklessness, so why the hell would you wear socks with them? All you end up doing is demonstrating that you've completely missed the point. It's a sartorial oxymoron.

I witnessed a similar situation a few days ago when I saw a man wearing a black peacoat, oversized charcoal grey pleated dress pants, and a pair of black Adidas Sambas. Sadly, this guy had no idea what the hell he was doing and looked like a retarded man-child as a result. Forget about the fact that his clothes fit him like hell; he was wearing dress pants and sneakers, which completely dilutes the meaning of both.

I believe it was back in 2009 when GQ openly endorsed wearing suits with sneakers. In their defense, they only gave the green light to sneakers with minimal detailing and slim proportions, but I still think the advice was misguided and overly trendy. This was one of the first times I'd ever read the magazine and disagreed with the sartorial advice it's offered, and seeing it in action (though the execution was particularly poor) made me assess why I think it looks so foolish. Suits are a modern Western man's way of dressing up, and sneakers are a modern Western man's way of dressing down. While this blending of the high and the low can sometimes work (dress shoes with certain jeans, button-down collar shirts with some suits), pairing sneakers with a suit just looks silly, no matter how cute your girlfriend thinks the guy from Entourage (pictured above) is. If you want your feet to be comfortable, finding comfortable dress shoes is totally doable if you, you know, try on more than one pair. If you want to take some of the stuffiness out of the suit, I suggest that you either:

a) ditch the tie, or
b) consider wearing something besides a fucking suit.

Remember, this suits-with-sneakers trend is just that: a trend. It'll be gone sooner than we know it, and you don't want to be the guy reworking his whole wardrobe just because GQ told you to.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Thing About Suede

As far as spring footwear goes, you can't really beat a well-worn pair of light-colored suede shoes. Also known as "reverse-calf," suede is actually a type of leather made from the underside of the calf's skin (hence the aforementioned term), the right style can dress up or down very easily. Casually they look fantastic with khakis or jeans, while the Duke of Windsor himself was the man who popularized wearing chocolate suede shoes with a grey suit, a look that's still regarded as smart, as evidenced by Prince Charles in the photo above. Additionally, the material is extremely pliable, meaning you spend less time breaking them in and more time enjoying comfortable, good-looking shoes.

As you may already know, however, suede is a delicate material. In a rare instance of poor planning on my part, I was caught in the rain this morning wearing my light brown suede bluchers. All it took was walking a total of seven or so city blocks before they got soaked, and I was pissed at myself for allowing such a thing to happen. Here's what I did to (successfully) bring my babies back from the dead:

1. Spray those jawns. Many shoe stores offer protectant sprays on the cheap. They're not bullshitting you when they try to sell you on it, so pick some up and spray your suedes before wearing them, and then periodically after that.

2. If they get wet, let them air-dry. Do NOT set them next to a heater or something like that to try and speed up the process. It'll do more harm than good. Keeping shoe trees inside them will help them dry even better.

3. Use a suede brush to restore the nap. Once the shoes dry, they'll still be spotted. Most water spots can be removed using a suede brush; try it in a couple of different directions for thoroughness and you should be good. Remember, though, that they won't look brand new after doing this; once suede is worn, it starts to look, well, worn, and there's nothing bad about it. It's just the character of the material, and if you get them stained or wet, you're just gonna have to learn to love it.

4. Don't get caught wearing them in the rain again, you dumbass. If they get seriously stained and you can't do anything about it yourself, drop them off at a reputable cobbler and have them cleaned professionally.

Next time it's warm enough, try out a pair of suede shoes with khakis, a polo, and no socks. You'll look good as a result of this alone, and if your shoes are worn in but cleaned, you'll have achieved summertime baller status.

Monday, February 28, 2011

It's Just Business

I received the following via a comment on "Pack Much Back, Much?":

Anonymous said...
"I REALLY love your blog and I'm always awaiting updates. I have a question that may sound extremely dumb, but I wanted some expert clarification (I don't know if this is an 'ask' type of blog, but I figured I'd give it a shot).

What is the clear definition of 'business-casual' for men? I thought I knew what it meant, but I'm confused when I show up to work sometimes and see men wearing ALL TYPES of stuff. I see people wearing the dress shoes, slacks, and collared shirts (which I figured was appropriate). However, I sometimes see extra-fancy suit jackets & blazers, sneakers, ties, rumpled shirts, cardigans, jeans, short & long sleeves, some tucked and untucked shirts, vests...the whole spectrum (not ALL on the same person at the same time of course). Any advice for what is appropriate business-casual wear and acceptable variations of the 'template?'"

First things first: thanks for the love, Anonymous. I appreciate you reading DLAMGD and hope you continue to do so. Second, this blog certainly has an "ask" component to it, and I'm happy that you asked.

The thing is, your question is impossible to answer. The inherent problem with business casual is that there is no one clear definition, and this is what frustrates and confuses many men in the professional realm. You have, however, correctly inferred that there is, in fact, a template of sorts by which you can decide what to wear to the office. Here are some suggestions, paraphrased from Alan Flusser's Dressing The Man:

1. Cleanliness is paramount. Slovenliness in attire or hygiene is completely unacceptable in any profession where business casual is the dress code. The only excuse to break this rule is if you're doing yardwork or are so old that incontinence is the new black.
2. If you don't know what to wear to a meeting, wear a suit.
3. When in doubt, overdress. Worst-case scenario, you can ditch the tie and jacket.

As a fourth tip coming from yours truly, remember that there's no replacement for impeccable fit. If your clothes fit well, you can wear jeans and a white t-shirt and still look decent. In addition, learn some basic color and pattern coordination. I've written a bit about these concepts already; links can be found here and here.

To address your question more directly, remember that the word "business" is found in the phrase "business casual," so things like sneakers, rumpled and/or untucked shirts, and most jeans are inappropriate. On the other hand, I've always thought of business casual as more or less a combination of some of the following components:

-Khakis that are pressed and tailored, not rumpled like the ones J.Crew says are all the rage that you can wear on your own time. Dress pants are always a safe option.
-A dress shirt. This does not mean any shirt with a collar; some polos are fine in the summer, but there are plenty of casual button-up shirts (sometimes referred to as "sport shirts") that are too casual and funky for most offices. And it should never have short sleeves. If it's warm in the summer, roll up your god-damned sleeves.
-A v-neck, crewneck, cardigan, half or full-zip sweater in a tailored fit and material like merino, cashmere, or a non-chunky lambswool.
-A blazer or sport coat that coordinates with your pants but doesn't necessarily match (this would be putting on a suit, which is more in the "business professional" dress code). Start with navy and move on from there.
-Throwing on a tie never hurt anyone.
-Relatively thin casual socks or dress socks. Feel free to play with color and pattern here as your style/office/the season permit.
-Shoes with some kind of heel. It doesn't have to be a "dress" shoe per se (i.e. have a leather sole and intended for wear with a suit), but it should be based on that silhouette. You can go with lace-ups, loafers, chunky suede wingtips and boots in the winter, light tan tassel loafers in the summer, and whatever else so long as it retains a dress shoe's silhouette. Don't forget to shine the shit out of them.
-A vest, you say? Give it a shot if your office isn't sartorially stuffy.

As with any situation where you need to look presentable (i.e. pretty much all the damned time), keep yourself well-groomed. A little stubble might be alright, but if your hair isn't combed and you smell as if you haven't properly, ahem, washed your ass, people will become much less forgiving. Finally, walk tall. Nothing looks better on anyone than confidence.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Pack Much Back, Much?

I don't know how the hell it happened, but after posting "The In-Betweens" on the Facebooks, an interesting conversation was generated in regards to how to dress if you're a guy whose body is normal except for an unusually large tucas. Since I'm a small-framed guy, I've never considered such a predicament, but the question is totally valid. What's a dude an ample badonkadonk supposed to wear? Apple Bottom jeans? Boots with fur? Certainly not sweatpants.

Please read the rest of this entry before Googling "men with big butts." I should have known better.

For the purposes of this entry, let's say that this bootylicious guy is:

A) Not paying to have all his clothes custom-made, and

B) Looking for day-in, day-out pants: jeans, khakis, and that kind of thing. Let's also assume that the issue he's experiencing is that while his waist size is, let's say, 32", he needs to go up to a 34" or 35" waist size just to get the pants to fit around his posterior. If the increase in size is two inches or less, it's fine to buy the larger size and have the waist taken in by a competent tailor. In fact, if you have the dough, have the tailor taper the leg too, if possible. Remember, however, that an increase of more than two inches will likely result in your pants looking strange because the back pockets will appear too close together.

Depending on how you like your pants to fit, it's also worth trying on a slimmer fitting pant in a larger waist size. If you're a 32" waist and like a not-too-snug, not-too-baggy fit, going up to a 34-35" waist on a slimmer cut might alleviate the problem.

It's also important to look for brands that do more to accommodate what your momma gave you, and the only way to figure this out is by trial and error. After a good bit of Googling, Wrangler and Bonobo came up. I haven't worn Wranglers since I was ten and while the Bonobos generally look cool and the company offers a great return policy with free shipping, they can get a little pricey and I can't personally speak to the quality of them. Take a day to go shopping at a bunch of different places and try on every pair of pants that you like in a few different sizes. This method can also work in department stores that carry various brands. Find a salesperson who will actually tell you when something doesn't look right (that's how you know he/she is being honest), and write down what works.

Another option is to avoid tucking in shirts if at all possible. This will draw less attention to your waistline and, by extension, that big, healthy ass of yours. If you have to tuck in, throw on a single-vented sport coat if it isn't too hot outside (side vents tend to maximize the gluteus maximus, not minimize it). Be absolutely sure, however, that the coat isn't too tight, as this will cause your vent to pull apart and make your ass look like it's bigger than it actually is.

As last ditch efforts, you could stuff your crotch to try to even things out, pay for liposuction, or get a job as an exotic dancer at a sleazy Western-themed male strip joint so you only have to wear chaps. Becoming a professional Jennifer Lopez impersonator might be in the cards for you too.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The In-Betweens

Northeasterners complain about the weather incessantly, and I'm just as guilty of this as the next guy. It's always too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter, and we generally get a total of five and a half weeks of truly pleasant weather a year. Thankfully, this past week saw a break in the awful winter we've been having in which we've seen temperatures in the high freezing my ass off and about 6,963,096 inches of snow and ice. Sure, I'll take the nice weather, but what the hell am I supposed to wear when it's fifty-five degrees in February?

These days are a rare opportunity to mix seasonal color palettes and textures and actually get away with it. Since I clearly fancy myself a man of style, I was proud of the outfit I rocked the other day and decided to use it as an example here. Bite whatever you like about it, but in the meantime, here's the breakdown:

Sport coat: This is the same one that I picked up back in October or November and have worn nearly every day since. It's neither too light nor too dark and has flecks of blue and rust colors in there. Typically it's great in the fall as outerwear or in winter as something worn underneath an overcoat, so it made sense in February.

Sweater: Bright yellow cotton crew neck. It's casual and relatively chunky and is generally a great option in the springtime, but hey, it was sunny outside, so why not? And although the color is super bright and maybe a bit loud, it's tempered by the coat and the next piece.

Shirt: This blue gingham number is probably my favorite dress shirt. The scale plays nicely with other patterns, it's a great shade of medium blue, the collar has a great spread to it, and it works in any season. Since blue and yellow are primary colors, the shirt goes well with the sweater, as does:

The tie: I picked this guy up at Club Monaco because they were having some ridiculous sale and it was nine bucks. The colors sync with both shirt and sweater, and the scale of the stripe is larger than that of the check, making for a nice contrast.

Pocket square: Red and blue like the tie, but not identical. I also just dig the dots because they're playful and a little irreverent.

Jeans: Slightly washed-out dark jawns. Always a solid anchor for nearly anything that doesn't require you to wear dress clothing.

Footwear: These entirely baller British Tan wingtips are typically only good in the spring and summer, but again, it was sunny out and they made sense. And yes, the socks are loud as hell, but the green coordinates well with both blue and yellow, and the white stripes link back to the stripes in the tie. A little symmetry can go a long way.

Climate change is here gentlemen, and a lot of the rules about seasonal appropriateness (i.e. no white pants before Memorial Day) might end up going out the window in the next few decades, so it's best to practice new modes now. If Mother Nature isn't going to stick to a script for the weather, you shouldn't be expected to stick to one when it comes to dressing for it.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

A Presumably Gallant Southern Wedding

I received the following question in my inbox recently:

"I have a wedding at the end of this month in Savannah, GA. What should I be wearing? Please advise." My response is as follows, and I'm very curious to hear the opinions of any well-dressed Southern readers I might have.

Savannah, GA? I've been there before, it's a cute little town. Enjoy yourself while you're there. Also, please bear in mind that I'm a Northerner through and through, a Philadelphian who was born in and grew up around Boston. With that said, my knowledge of Southern sartorial etiquette might not be completely up to snuff. In any case, here goes:

Even though it's the end of February, you can still get away with a lot of warm-weather stuff all year round in the South. With that in mind, go with a bunch of color. While I feel it's a little early in the year for seersucker, a khaki suit with no socks and a bow tie would be a ton of fun, or you could go a little more conservative and do a dove grey cotton or lightweight wool suit. If the weather's going to be too cold for going sockless or wearing cotton as opposed to wool, I'd go with some colorful striped socks that maybe sync up with your tie or pocket square. The beauty here is that either of these suit colors give you endless options in terms of shirt/tie coordination; you can do basic white or blue, or you could start knocking people dead with pink, canary yellow, or bright green.

Unless the invitation says "black tie" somewhere on it, I'd ditch the sober black lace-ups and opt for a pair of brown shoes. If you're feeling frisky, throw on a pair of spectators or saddle shoes with the khaki suit to give yourself an air of festiveness. It's a wedding after all, right?

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Grow A Pair

In the January 2011 issue of GQ, Glenn O'Brien fielded a question about from a salesman about men needing their wive's or girlfriend's approval before making any clothing purchase whatsoever. I won't get into Mr. O'Brien's response (which was excellent), but I can say that I've seen this scenario approximately eighteen bazillion times, one of which was last week. Two things were clear about this couple: that they were linked romantically and that he had absolutely no say in which coat he would or wouldn't buy. It went something like this:

Woman: Are these all your men's coats?
Salesperson: Yes, but we have more sizes in the back. (speaking to both, but making eye contact with the man) What were you looking for?
Man: (Totally silent, looks over at wife/girlfriend)
Woman: Blah blah blah blah...

I write "blah blah blah blah" not to belittle the woman, but to emphasize that the important point here is that the man in this interaction was so clueless and helpless that he came off as pathetic and completely whipped. She may very well have actually been carrying his testicles in her purse. This man, a grown man, appeared to be mentally healthy and reasonably successful. How in the hell does he not know how to pick out his own damned coat? Asking for your girl's opinion is totally reasonable, but having her pick out all your clothes is a completely different thing altogether. It sets you on a path where the next logical step is to have her cut up your food into bite-sized pieces and wipe the snot from your nose. Being able to dress yourself is a life skill, like balancing a checkbook or making a doctor's appointment. It's reasonable to assume that this man could do these things; why not buy clothes?

Many guys simply don't care. Men in this country are raised to be not at all concerned with how they're dressed, and while the pendulum is swinging towards dressing decently (for now), it's still safe to say that many men are afraid that any aesthetic sensibility with regards to their appearance will make them "look gay."

This point of view is offensive on many levels, as it associates dressing well exclusively with homosexuality and homosexuality with inherent wrongness and shame. Dressing well knows no sexual orientation or preference, and there's nothing inherently wrong with homosexuality. Some gay men dress well, some dress poorly. The same can be said about straight men, bisexual men, asexual men, and whatever other sexual orientations that anthropologists might otherwise chastise me for omitting.

Maybe this couple was happy with this arrangement. Maybe they're doing an unorthodox social sub/dom thing. Maybe he's a pushover and she's a control freak. Maybe they hate that he doesn't know what an appropriate winter coat is, or maybe he's so afraid to appear gay as to defer all sartorial decisions to his girlfriend. Whatever the explanation, I think it's much better to have an ignorant person perceive you as gay for dressing like a man (God dammit) than to be dressed and treated like a pathetic, helpless little boy who's still caught up in mommy's apron strings.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Dress to Incept

Since I'd been out drinking on both New Year's Eve Eve and New Year's Eve, I decided that it was a good idea to fall back last night and maybe not give myself a mild case of alcohol poisoning. I rented Inception, which basically kicks your mind in the apricots and then forces it to be engaged at a high level for two and a half hours. The movie is incredible, though, so it's worth it. Just be sure to detox with something reliably funny afterward; YouTubing Louis C.K. standup routines worked for me.

I would like to point out that just about every male actor in the movie was particularly well-dressed. I mean, we're talking Ocean's Eleven well-dressed. Suits were perfectly cut and color-coordinated, shirtsleeves and collars were so exacting in their standards that they had to be custom-made, and even sportswear was the epitome of what casual elegance should be: relaxed, but not at all sloppy or slouchy. On this last point, Mr. DiCaprio performed particularly well. A round of applause for you.

The real prizes, however, have to go out to Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Cillian Murphy, and Ken Watanabe. These three look dapper as hell and fully understand what it is to wear a suit, not allow it to wear you. The pictures above barely do any of them justice. If you watch the movie, note Watanabe's pocket square/tie coordination. Pay attention to Gordon-Levitt's high shirt collars and the elegant authority that his three-piece suits (broken up or not) imply.

Finally, just watch Murphy. Literally every detail of his suit is correct; he's showing the proper amount of shirt cuff, his suspenders (yes, suspenders) are subtle and not tacky, his double-breasted jacket is side-vented and is tailored with the kind of precision that you can only get from custom clothing. The details shine most when Murphy is in motion; you can see how everything literally flows together to form a whole that's truly greater than the sum of its parts.

Just watch the dimples in those ties, gentlemen. You slipped a couple of times there.