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.