From the Archives: If the Shoe Fits...

So I picked myself up a new pair of dress shoes to compliment my wardrobe. I had been looking and looking for just the right pair of dress shoes in a nice, walnut-like color and, after trial and error with some pairs, I got lucky.

I was returning a pair of this "error" variety that I had ordered online to a brick and mortar location, and lo and behold, these Bostonians jumped out at me. They are their "Fremont" model in brown (I would call it a "walnut" or "oak" even). I had not seen them in store before (believe me, I would remember). So I tried them on, and jackpot. The right color, the right look, and- most importantly- the right fit. They go great with navy and gray suiting and are a great addition to any wardrobe.

Upon browsing some more of Bostonian's other offerings I also caught site of my next pair of true Oxfords. By "true Oxford" I mean the vamp (tongue and "upper" of the shoe) has only a slit where the laces attach to tie the shoe versus 2 separately stitched pieces of leather attached to the vamp. That type are called "Bluchers"- like the above Fremont model I purchased. A lot of companies today market shoes as Oxfords, but in reality they are Bluchers ("open laced"). Here's the "Canton" model I am considering. See how the vamp (upper) is one piece with the laces going through it? That is a true Oxford and not a Blucher. You may also notice I have a thing for details on my shoes. While neither of these pair are full out "brogues" (think wingtips), I do prefer a little detailing to give the shoe a little oomph. The first pair- the "Fremont"- has a little more to it beyond just the cap toe being perforated. But the sleek look of the black "Canton" Oxford model is not lost with lots of detail- minimal perforations on the cap toe and along the side accent this great looking shoe, but do not overwhelm the beauty.

The best part? Bostonian makes these quality shoes for anywhere from $75 to $130. For a good dress shoe, that's cheap. How long they will last remains to be seen, but they do have a sole that seems ripe for replacing in the future so I just have to keep the upper nice (read: shoe shine periodically). You can find them at Bostonianshoe.com (powered by Zappos) or any of their affiliated partners. You can also find Bostonians at their eponymous brick and mortar stores or department stores like Macy's carrying their line (click on the "Where to Buy" tab at the Bostonian website for a store location near you). Many of these sites and stores I am sure will also have some discount, coupon, or other deal at any given time (I got $10 off at the time), so the price point may be even sweeter.

Remember, if the shoe fits, it doesn't mean you should buy it. Think about the fit absolutely, but also make sure you are getting a style you like and one that wears well both in style and color with whatever clothing with which you are trying to pair them. Lastly, the quality makes a difference. Pick up a decent pair like these Bostonians or even Florsheim, Johnston & Murphy or Banana Republic for fair money. You can also go high end on the likes of Aldi or Ferragamo, but then you are talking an entire other post on price vs. quality and I am out of time.

Originally posted in Spring, 2009

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The Perfect Project

As Mr. Steven Alan notes on his Twitter feed, @Steven_Alan, "I've been invited by @VAustralia to create the perfect bag for the perfect destination-Australia Check out @perfectproject http://ow.ly/x0pV."

OK, first and foremost, I
cannot believe there are no comments at the Perfect Project blog! I had seen a shorter post from Mr. Alan a ways back and really didn't dive into it much then. Just for fun, design a bag. Now the ideas are flowing. Maybe it wasn't well documented, or well marketed or whatever, but my god, people. To paraphrase Dr. Seuss- Oh the places you'll go with this opportunity! And so, here I went...

Rip stops and sail material come to mind after checking out the trip's
blog posts from the man himself. And something that might be utilitarian. But that might look a little lower end than necessary. I don't think leather is the way to go either (at least for the bag itself) so what does that leave? Waxed Canvas? Maybe some combination waxed canvas outer/ripstop inner for a little more water resistance? And obviously, I would recommend dimensions suited to a carry-on.

Now- the handles. Leather strapping. Horween Shell Cordovan to be exact-
And against a waxed canvas in a charcoal grey outer- now we're talking! Gasp! Maybe even pull out a Woolrich Woolen Mills wool in subtle plaid? Would fit right into the current Steven Alan Fall line of outerwear. Maybe this...

or, this...

And we needed an inner liner material... nylon/ripstop of bright color (so you can find your valuables) like here...
Or maybe- and here I might be a little too symbiotic- a Steven Alan shirting cloth, like his reverse seam, red/grey plaid Oxford cloth...
I just think the heavier red/grey plaid weave is a great offset to one of the more simple wool plaids for the outer and both go great with the Horween Cordovan Leather handles (preferably in a deep burgundy/cognac color).

A military zipper across the opening (but carbon fiber so as not to set off metal detectors in airports) a
nd a zipper pouch on the side- both with small (carbon fiber) carabiners on the ends for extra hooks (for keys/mug/sport bottle/other bags/etc.)

Wow, how time (and ideas) fly. Just some brainstorm for you Mr. Alan. I might even jump on Google SketchPad and start "doodling".

(Need more Steven Alan? The eponymous designer's line can be found here.)


Levi's Jeans and... CORDS!

Yeah, that was an ad spot tag line back in the 80's that I remember. But since then, and rightfully so, Levi's kind of lost the whole corduroy thing- at least from this consumer's perspective. I mean, sure, I had my old Levi's maroon tight wale cords when I was a kid, but never do I remember owning any after I think Junior High.

Let's face it. Cords are the second cousin in the Levis Strauss & Co. family. The family member invited last to the party. But with a new focus on men's style- and, more importantly, fit of men's clothing- I think cords have seen a resurgence that was due.

Take a look at stops like INVENTORY and their recent obsession with cords:




...and here

Or GQ's hint or Details' spread on corduroy suits.

There are some good pieces out there. But to invest in a pair without breaking the bank like some of the above, why not go back to the company for which I first remember corduroys. Levi's has these cords in my favorite cut- their 514 Slim Straight which doesn't take skinny jeans too seriously, but gives a more tailored, modern fit. And I swear Levi's built the 514's bottom and thigh cut for my "hockey ass."*

(*For the uninitiated, a "hockey ass" is when a person- typically on hockey players- who have developed upper legs due to skating/exercising the thighs/quads and subsequently blends into the buttocks musculature, hence leaving them w/less of a definitive ass and more of a, ahem, full-bodied look.)

Take a look...

The color is pretty spot on- not too khaki, not too brown. Though I hate they named it "Cougar" given that: a) it's an overused phrase currently, especially since: b) it's a guy's pant and all. But name aside, the color is pretty spot on for a Fall item. You can also get it in "I had these in 4th grade" brown (nay, "Cacao") or go modern in Machine Grey like here.

I like the grey too, paired with some Sambas or other stylish sneaker makes it a great option for a casual Friday night. Although I would argue a nice grey wool pant or even flannel pant w/said sneakers is a marked improvement and the cords are best left for the weekend.

All 3 sport a narrow, more modern pinwale cord. And, for better or worse, they are a "denim stretch" fabric (67% cotton, 33% polyester) meaning they may hold form better, but don't think you're getting a top-of-the-line cotton cord. But for under $70 bucks (U.S.) you can't really go wrong.


Two Years Old and Still Good

This shot, shared by the Sartorialist almost 2 years ago, is still on my hit list. It's just a perfect Fall mix (a kinda casual dressy look) and would most appropriately work given the weather here in New England right now. Now here's a real challenge... I would love to know everyone's opinions on what footwear to pair with this outfit. I have ideas, but I'll hold out for a bit.


THIS is How It's Done (Part Deux)

I wrote a post about shirt sleeve length back in January. Obviously, it still holds true (hell, it's a timeless style lesson), but here's a reinforcement of said point with 3 special notes:

  1. Same guy as before (Dario Spadea) nearly a year later still practicing high style. (See below for the original post.)
  2. The law applies the same to less formal appearances as it does more formal (compare his 2 pics below).
  3. Like I said previously, you see some wrist as his arm is bent which pretty much will tell you this shirt fits him perfectly when his arm is by his side (as does the peacoat over it).

(Photo: courtesy of the Sartorialist.blogspot.com)

---Original Post from January, 2009---
I was looking back through some pics of styles I like, trying to find a particular look I remembered seeing when I suddenly came across this picture.

courtesy: Scott Schulman

The point: This is absolutely, positively how a blazer or suit jacket arm length should be tailored. Period. (And how much cuff to show on a dress shirt under it.)

Here are the keys:
  • Your shirt cuff should meet the break of your wrist when your arm is straight by your side in a comfortable position (NOT to be confused with how to measure yourself for a shirt sleeve- i.e., crooked elbow, shoulder to wrist).
  • You should show 1/4 to 1/2 inch of cuff before your jacket begins (again, same position- arms by your sides).
  • Caveat: You will notice when you bend your arms (e.g., while driving) you may see your wrist and the jacket may seem higher up your forearm than you are used to. But this spec is still the difference from being well-dressed versus being stylish.
I have argued this point with a seamstress altering one of my jackets and several store clerks at various times trying on clothes and all were in the wrong (IMHO).

*Side note: I have a dress shirt on right now given to me as a gift and it is not my customary brand/sizing, but a close facsimile; It is driving me nuts because, despite the shirt stating the same measurements, the sleeves are juuuust a bit longer than my usual measurement and it is driving me crazy! (Yup, I have issues.)


Proper Cloth Custom Dress Shirt Giveaway c/o StyleCrave

If you haven't checked out the folks' at StyleCrave (part of the uCrave network) then, well, you don't know who they are. But that obvious point aside, let me give you some insight- the guys know their shit when it comes to finding some good lookin' clothes. And occasionally, they throw in a contest to boot.

Take this hookup they are giving away in collaboration with ProperCloth.com. (Incidentally, the guys at Proper Cloth also know a thing or two about the business of clothing- the founder is an MIT Biz School grad who combines his mad tech and business skills with his love of fashion and takes pointers from a former 20-year custom clothing vet by way of Brooks Brothers and that "other little business school," Columbia University.) I digress, onto the contest!

The first step: visit ProperCloth.com and use the "create a shirt" tool to design your very own custom dress shirt.

Next, there are three ways to enter the Proper Cloth Custom Dress Shirt Giveaway: on Twitter, on your own blog or in the comments on StyleCrave's page. Here's how you can get involved:
  1. On Twitter: Tweet this to tell the world about your shirt design: I'm a mens fashion designer, thanks to @StyleCrave and @ProperLife http://bit.ly/jiobf
  2. On Your Blog: If you have a blog, mention this contest- you could even share a screenshot of your shirt with your readers. (See mine below.)
  3. In the Comments on StyleCrave's page.
The prizes:
  • First place: $200 gift certificate for ProperCloth.com
  • Second Place: $100 gift certificate for ProperCloth.com
  • Third Place: $50 gift certificate for ProperCloth.com
The boys at StyleCrave note that this giveaway is only open to US-based readers over the age of 18. Take a look at my design and why I picked my specs:

Navy and Red Pinpoint Dobby Check Shirt w/Blue Mini Bengal Dress Stripe Cuff and Collar
  • I like blue. It's "my color". But to just do another blue shirt would be boring. So I chose this slightly subtle blue and red check. You can pair with a number of suits (yes, you can mix checks with a striped suit- just leave the tie to a subtle pattern or solid), sport coat or leave it to its own devices and come away a winner.
  • Personally, I saw it under a V-neck cashmere sweater with a knit tie and blazer- perfect as we head to fall and very RL (not typically my thing, but I'd make the exception here).
  • I also chose French cuffs because I am really obsessing on these from the brothers at BillyKirk. And you can dress up French cuffs or dare to dress them down.
  • On that note, I threw in the Mini Bengal Dress Stripe in light blue for an accent on the cuffs and collar. Why? Because if you pull this shirt off in a suit and then, as is customary, you take off your jacket and roll your sleeves (whether getting down to some nitty gritty work or maxing and relaxing after with a Bombay & Tonic- my drink of choice), you need something to anchor the dress down look with your dressed up personality- and that's the business-like Bengal stripe accent. Which, by the way, scores against the I'm sure you know better than to match wider-stripe suit. (See? Told ya you can mix the check with the stripes!)
  • And the last detail is the semi-spread collar (the "English Spread" as Perfect Cloth so calls it). It can stand up on its own without a tie and not make you need the button-down All-American look, but with that rockin' red/blue check still look very American.
So there you go. Check out the contest and grab yourself some distinctively styled shirts in the process.


Surely, THIS Must Be Heaven?

Like Pletty with his Monday Muses, I bestow upon thee- Ms. Beckinsale.