Feb
19
7

The Importance of the Collar Stay

Posted in Accessories, Dress, Fit Lesson, Office Wear, Shirts, Tips, Travel.

Collar stays – those little flimsy plastic pieces to go into the tip of your collar of your dress shirts aren’t just frivolous packaging that came with your shirt. They serve a very important purpose that isn’t at all dandyish – to keep your collar tips crisp and straight. Without them, the tips of your collar will start to do this upward bowing erection thing. Not cool.

I will admit to being tempted to nix the stays while wearing a shirt with a robust collar, only to find in the middle of the day it starts to bow upwards. Resist this temptation! Always, always put in stays. Additional benefits of the stay are when when you go sans-tie your collar won’t flop over, and when you do the shirt with sweater look it keeps the collar inside your sweater.

Even though they’re very important for you to not look stupid, the ones that come with the shirt are usually too flimsy to be used regularly. I don’t know why. The good news is that there are several inexpensive options to replace the original junky ones.

I tend towards the cheap and disposable because I inevitably lose them or don’t forget to remove them when having them laundered. Aside: your cleaner really should be removing your stays prior to pressing or they’re liable to melt it into your shirt. I have purchased several of the stays below from Brooks Brothers for only $9 online, and even cheaper if you have an outlet store. Advanced user note: quite a few airports have B Brothers now and they do carry stays.

You’ll notice there are 10 large collar stays. Since most modern shirts have collars that are slimmer than Brooks Brothers, their “large” stays are totally unusable. This is actually a great litmus test: if you are not a big and tall guy, and you can use one of their large (2.75″) stay without getting your neck stabbed then you probably have to upgrade your shirt. I tend to mostly use the small stays so I buy several of the vials at at time. P.S. I freaking love the vials but haven’t figured out what to do with them once I’ve lost all the stays.

Others will opt for the more durable option. I think this is fine if: you wear a dress shirt infrequently, need some added heft to weigh your collar down (say, while unbuttoned), or you are a responsible individual and don’t lose things all the time like me.

Indochino has a pair for only $9. Since they’re up to date on fashion, I would suspect their length is appropriate for most modern men’s shirts (the measurements aren’t online). Again, the only problem I foresee with these are losing them. I just did an Indochino purchase so will update once I have them in hand. Macy’s has several brass stays for $18 (no measurements though).

Bottom line: buy some stays and keep them on hand. Throw some in your dopp kit and in your car and you’ll be prepared for anything.


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Apr
3
13

Black Lapel vs. Indochino

Posted in Body Type, Dress, Office Wear, Shirts, Sport Coats, Suits.

The continual theme of PG has been that the most important thing you can do to make yourself look better is to wear clothes that fit properly. This usually requires a combination of knowing the right brands to buy and then having the finer points tweaked by a tailor. In an ideal world this would be simplified by having your clothes custom made for you, but this route has always been way too expensive. A new crop of custom online tailors has solved this problem by bringing custom tailored clothes to the masses at incredibly reasonable prices. Indochino has the largest web presence, but new upstarts like Black Lapel could start challenging them. BL is intriguing as it bills itself as having nicer construction and fabric than Indochino, at roughly the same price (BL is a little bit more expensive).

This post will compare my (limited) experience with both companies, to hopefully give you a bit of insight before you pull the trigger on a suit/shirt/pants. I highly recommend going this route. The prices and end result make this an absolute no brainer.

My Sample Size

Indochino:
• 2 shirts about a year ago (both remade)
• 1 pair of trousers purchased a year ago (no remake)
• 2 shirts purchased a month ago (no remake)
• Aided in purchasing 3 suits (1 remake, 2 altered)

Black Lapel:
• 1 shirts purchased a month ago
• 3-piece suit purchased a month ago (no remake, slight alteration)

Fit
My biggest gripe with the fit of IC garments have been the overly-tailored appearance of their final product. There is an extreme amount of tapering around the torso region, creating too much of an hour glass silhouette. I just think the look is slightly feminine and wouldn’t work for the average guy. Exhibit A.

BL solves this by offering 3 different fit types for their garments – slim, tailored and standard. I think this is a great idea though it wasn’t immediately evident as to the functional differences between the three fits (I was a bit confused). I opted for the most form fitting version: slim fit. This seems to correspond more with the fit of an IC garment.



Suit
The fit of the BL suit jacket is flawless. No imperfections. It’s very form fitting so I can’t gain any weight in my gut. After my experience, I think the average guy should go for the tailored fit as opposed to the slim. This will give the custom look without the overly-feminine silhouette of the IC suits. Note that in the photo the cuffs of my shirt aren’t buttoned (I never button my cuffs). If I had to change anything, it would be to have the jacket be a bit shorter but that’s most likely a personal preference.

The cuffs on the pants are a little long, but that’s easily fixed by my tailor. The fit is so good for the jacket that it makes me think I may have made a mistake in my measurements.

The vest is a different story from the jacket as it fits a bit boxier than I’d like. I know I tend to prefer my vests to be very form fitting, so this could be particular to me. This is probably something that my tailor can correct.

Shirt
The shirts I purchased a year ago from IC were in need of a complete remake (paid for by IC). The fit was far too snug (extreme pulling at the buttons) and the right armpit was much higher than the left. A remake was acceptable but definitely not perfect. I added about a 0.25″ to several of my measurements. Inexplicably, the right armpit was still slightly tighter (causing a slight wrinkle in the front of the shirt). The more recent shirts I received were far better (I used the remake measurements). No remake required, but they still had an imperfection in the right armpit.

In contrast, the BL shirt was flawless in its consistency of fit. The only issue for me was that it was very form fitting, but somehow does not look overly tailored. I did find a bit of pulling at the buttons of my shirt in the chest region and am still deciding if this is something I can live with. The flawless fit (even if the fit was a bit too snug) makes me think that the tailored fit would have been perfect for me. BL did warn me by saying the slim fit is “very form-fitting”. They weren’t kidding.

Construction/Overall Feel
This is the clear cut winner for Black Lapel. The suit feels very well constructed and light. My experience with IC’s suits (again, caveat that this could be old info) was that the suits were very heavy. Also, the chest region seemed to be unnaturally bulky, most likely due to the way in which the suit was constructed. You can read about this in more detail here. Granted, IC could have corrected this problem.

I just found that the BL suit flows more naturally like my much more expensive suits. Derek Tian, co-founder of Black Lapel, told me that their suits are half-canvassed thus accounting for it to drape much better, but also allows for better wear through time.

Material
I couldn’t really feel a significant difference in the fabric of my suit. They both seemed to be of solid quality without feeling too cheap or papery. I think IC and BL are similar in this respect. However, the way in which the garment is constructed definitely affects the feel of the suit more than just the material (see above) and this is where BL shines.

The material of the dress shirts is where there was the most difference. My first experience with IC’s shirts were that they felt too synthetic and thin. However, my most recent IC purchase felt much more natural and had some decent heft to them.

The BL shirt that I have feels more like my normal dress shirts. Not too thin and see-through, which is important with a white shirt. Aside: in the photo I’ve got a ‘beater on, this is a huge no-no.

Bottom Line
I like both companies. But, in my experience BL is the clear winner, especially for suits. The construction feels better and the fit was flawless. This is huge for me because I hate the thought of going to a tailor after having something made custom. I’m very excited to see their new offerings as they grow their line.

Indochino does offer more choices that work with my existing closet, since right now BL has more basic items that I have plenty of. Because of this, and the improvement of their fabric, I would not hesitate to purchase more shirts from IC. However, unless I really loved the pattern of a suit, I’d think twice before I purchased another suit from IC.


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Feb
18
1

Give Your Luggage an Upgrade

Posted in Accessories, Tips, Travel.

Next on the stylistic upgrade list, is choosing your luggage. Don’t scoff. I know it seems like this is totally insignificant, but it doesn’t take that much effort to turn something every other guy ignores into a chance for somebody (hopefully hot) to say “look at that guy.” And sometimes that’s all we need to close.

First, decide what you need it for and how many pieces you want to purchase. If you mostly take weekend trips, just grab a cool carry-on bag and be done with it. It’s inexpensive and easy.

To be completely covered, you’ll need something to check-in and carry-on. These don’t have to match. In fact, I prefer it if they don’t. This is one of those situations where you don’t want to show how much effort/thought you put into the decision. Yes, putting effort into not looking like you put effort is sort of dumb. But, it gets results.

So, here’s how to ditch that black roller bag.

Weekend Bag
For a carry-on, I’d go with a duffle-style bag. I really dislike rolling bags as carry-ons. There’s just no style in the look. And if you’re going on a weekend trip you really shouldn’t be packing too heavy.

Typically, you want to go with a durable fabric option like leather or canvas, because it will age well. I tend to stray away from ballistic nylon, even though it’s super durable. It just doesn’t look as good.

Fossil actually has some cool looking bags. This leather bag from them has an amazing price for genuine leather and it’s got an absolute classic style that you can’t go wrong with. Go with brown as the patina and wear from traveling will impart some great character.

This is my weekend bag that I use extensively. It’s perfect. It has a nice masculine style yet is really easy and comfortable to carry around.

It doesn’t get manlier than this. Hell, the canvas is called “Fire Hose canvas.”

Checked Luggage
For a large check-in bag, I prefer ones with a harder outer shell. They protect your things from just about any punishment the airports dish out. I also find that a large one is perfect for keeping my sportcoats/suit jacket wrinkle-free.

Just make sure you get one with four spinning wheels and heavy duty clasps or zippers (these usually are the first things to go). I lugged one around Italy one summer that only had 2 inline wheels and hated myself about 1 minute into my trip.

Here’s one from Muji that I really like. Great price with a perfect simplistic design.

This Samsonite is a solid no-nonsense option with a pleasant price.

Tumi is on the high-end side but their luggage is virtually indestructible.


Apr
26
2

Trouser Love for the Big Fellas.

Posted in Body Type, Fit Lesson.

I received an email recommendation for a company that specializes in Big and Tall clothing for men, which reminded me that the big guys need some style love as well. As I’ve mentioned before, just because you’re a larger guy doesn’t mean that you can just throw on some baggy clothing and call it a day. Even if you’re a B&T you’ll need to watch the tailoring and fit of your clothing. The idea is that baggy or ill-fitting clothing will make you look bigger, for any body type. It isn’t so much that tailored clothing will be slimming, but more that it won’t accentuate a B&Ts size any more than necessary.
Read the rest of this post


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Jan
14
3

Felt + Leather = Awesome.

Posted in Accessories.

I just purchased the new 13″ Macbook Air (b-t-dub, unbelievable machine) and wanted a sleeve to protect it from my abuse. I cannot stand bland (black) neoprene sleeves, or really anything from the Apple Store. Frankly, nowadays I find it a bit overwhelming just walking into an Apple Store. So, I was on the lookout for something unique and cool (even if the only people who will ever see my sleeve are TSA employees). I searched all over and finally stumbled upon Byrd and Belle’s Etsy shop. They are making some really cool protective accessory sleeves out of felted wool and leather. The combination and execution is one of those odd looks that can be simultaneously decidedly masculine and feminine (don’t ask me how).

For added cool, you can customize your sleeve using different felt and leather colors, so I opted for tan leather with their gunmetal felt. I also asked Angie to add the straps that are present in their Macbook Pro sleeves onto mine. After two weeks, I just received my new sleeve. Flippin’ love it.

Their shop has sleeves for other Mac products (man, wish I had purchased her iPad sleeve as opposed to my Dodocase). Below are examples of their iPad and iPhone sleeves.

Felt + leather has become increasingly popular these days, but Byrd and Belle’s prices are surprisingly reasonable for handmade items, so check them out.


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Dec
30
2

Cool It – Dressing for Fall & Winter.

Posted in Accessories, Casual, Fall, Outfit Ideas, Pick-a-Outfit, Style Theory, Tips.

I know it may seem obvious, but as the temperature changes so too should your wardrobe. Guys, this does not mean putting a long sleeve tshirt under your existing summer wardrobe or wearing your trusty 8-year old coat from Macys/Wilsons/Burlington. Dressing for each season goes way beyond wearing temperature-specific clothing. There are subtle idiosyncrasies for each season and a big part of looking put together is understanding the underlying style rules so that you don’t look out of place for whichever occasion you’re getting shiny for.

Sooooo…my cold weather = Central Texas cold weather, more akin to fall in the Northeast/Midwest and not NE/MW winters. I’ve several times ended up on my back in the middle of DC sidewalks when it’s snowing out because I insist on wearing my boots from Texas (*hint: they’re not designed with snow in mind). Definitely not an expert on full-blown winters.

Colors

Color palette is drastically different in the colder months compared to the warmer months. Think earthy warm tones for when it’s cold out as opposed to brighter color tones. This means no pastel-ish colored shirts. Your skin will have a naturally paler tone in the colder months which does not compliment the brighter colors well.

This does not mean you only dress in brown, grey, and black. All you need do is adjust the hues of your favorite colors towards the darker side of the scale. If you like green, just choose a shade closer to the forest green end of the spectrum. This is helped by the fact that it is very common for cold weather garments to use heathering, which is just incorporating flecks of grey into fabric to subtly darken the color. See the above awesome graphic (a big ol’ thanks to Ms. JCH) which illustrates how color hue is dependent upon outdoor temperature.

If you’re doing your post-Christmas shopping now, you’re in luck because most men’s stores will only have their Fall line out right now which by default will only incorporate muted colors.

Patterns

Just as with the warmer months, go ahead and opt for a nice pattern with your tops. Plaid right now is incredibly popular, simply because it’s awesome. Fall/winter plaid are deeper in color than what you’d find in spring/summer offerings. Be careful though, if it evokes images of lumberjacks go ahead and avoid it. Most modern big-box brands make some fantastic plaid shirts that are very stylish. I think that JCrew is making the coolest shirts out there.

These usually are casual shirts, but you can easily dress it up. Throw on a dark solid tie (see more below) to contrast with the pattern of the plaid shirt. Pair this with dark jeans, brown belt and shoes and I promise you that at least one person will comment on your outfit. Honestly, this is one of the coolest looks that a guy can wear. It’s a modern take on a very masculine look. More examples of this look can be found here and here.

Advanced move: do exactly what I said above, but while wearing a suit. Make sure that the suit has a modern cut. This works especially well with grey, blue, and brown suits. As a word of caution, do NOT wear this on formal occasions.

Textures

Don’t scoff! Texture is actually very important. Just like color choices, each season has a texture that just feels right. I think that it’s a visceral thing for most people. You know these rules, you’re just not necessarily aware of them

When it’s colder out you’ll want to go for the more substantial and rougher fabrics: thick wool sweaters, corduroy, and wool sport coats. These heavier fabrics are functionally significant and just look right.

Before I forget (this is a biggie), when wearing corduroy try very very hard to avoid thick waled cords (wale = how wide the ridges in the corduroy are). This is true if the corduroy are pants/jackets/underwear.

An easy way to add some well-needed texture is in your tie. In the outfit I mention above, go ahead and opt for a wool or knit tie to the combination. This immediately adds another dimension to your outfit and makes it all the more appealing. The tiebar.com is an incredibly great resource for stocking up on ties in general.

If you’re just building your wardrobe go for the staples: that means solid grey and blue wool ties.

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Those are the opening rules for dressing for the colder months. I know some of them may seem self-evident or trivial, but once you incorporate them into outfit ideas (more to come) you’ll see what I mean. Plus, it makes putting outfits together a bit more fun since it becomes a puzzle. Yes, more fun. Don’t judge.


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