Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Reader Question

Can you recommend an online resource for affordable pocket squares?
Pocket handkerchiefs are widely available online in the twelve to thirty-five dollar range from suppliers like The Tie Bar, Southern Proper, Howard Yount, Kent Wang and Sam Hober.  Pricer squares may be found at Ben Silver, Paul Stuart and Mariano Rubinacci.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Russell Moccasin

My favorite pair of casual boots are the pictured Chukka Hikers that I had custom made a few years ago by the Russell Moccasin Company.  The company has been hand crafting hunting-inspired boots in Berlin, Wisconsin, for over one hundred years.  They offer a wide variety of moccasin-style boots and shoes in an array of different leathers and finishes along with many custom options.  They can even craft boots and shoes out of your own game hides.

To order a pair of custom boots or shoes from the Russell Moccasin Company, you must provide careful tracings of your feet along with ten different measurements of each foot.  Deatiled instructions are provided on their website and in their print catalog.  Once you submit your tracings and measurements, they keep them on file for ten years so that you may easily order additional pairs of footware.

My feet are wide at the ball, but narrow at the heel.  Because of this oddity I often find off-the-rack shoes to be uncomfortable.  Because my Russell Moccasin Chukka Hikers were made to the shape of my foot, fit and comfort are not an issue.  And that is the beauty of custom-made footware. 

Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Stylish Movie: The Thomas Crown Affair

Widely hailed as one of the most stylish movies of all time, The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) stars Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway.  McQueen is a bank executive who orchestrates a bank heist and then plays cat and mouse with a beautiful insurance investigator (Dunaway).  Throughout the movie McQueen exudes rugged sportiness and masculinity while wearing an array of three-piece suits with flat-front pants, along with his trademark Persol sunglasses with custom blue-tinted lenses.

Marion Maneker, in Dressing in the Dark: Lessons In Men's Style from the Movies, wrote that the "original Thomas Crown Affair ... remains one of the best movies for learning how to wear a suit and tie.  Steve McQueen's pale blue shirt, royal blue tie and classic three-piece Prince of Wales suit conveys his character's old-money background and reckless thrill seeking better than any dialogue."

For sartorial inspiration, I recommend The Thomas Crown Affair.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Classic Blazer

It is a linguistic error to refer to all odd jackets as blazers.  A blazer is a specific type of odd jacket characterized by details, such as metal buttons, that are steeped in naval heritage.  In its most classic form, the blazer is double-breasted, with metal buttons in a 4-on-2 stance, peak lapels, side vents and patch pockets.  The fabric is coarse, such as flannel (for cool weather) or hopsack (for warm), and blue in a shade slightly lighter than navy.  The buttons are traditionally brass or gold, but men with gray hair or who intend to wear the jacket with gray trousers may instead opt for silver or nickel.  A dressier, yet still classic, version of the blazer is often seen in worsted wool, with buttons in a 6-on-2 stance (like the drawing above) and flap pockets.  In either variation the combination of double-breasted blazer and odd trousers is less dressy than a lounge suit, but more dressy than a sport coat and trousers.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Continuing Saga of the Tom James Trousers

My Tom James tailor arrived at my office first thing this morning for another fitting of the gray trousers with the protruding pockets.  He took additional measurements as well as several photographs of the offending problem areas.  He promises to return with the altered pants in a week to ten days so that he can ensure they fit perfectly.

I have had a hankering lately for a double-breasted blue blazer with peak lapels, flap pockets, and matte silver buttons.  We chatted a bit about looking at fabrics and buttons on his next visit, and he offered a twenty percent discount on the blazer to make up for the trouble I've had with the pants.  Although I'm still waiting for the pants to be right, I can't argue with their customer service.  More later on the pants (and the blazer).

Monday, March 8, 2010

Styptic Pen

Have you ever nicked yourself shaving and then had to walk around the house for the next ten minutes with a scrap of toilet paper glued to your face in a vain attempt to stop the bleeding?  If so, then you may be unaware of handy toiletry item call a styptic pen (also known as a styptic pencil).  A styptic pen works by applying some type of alum, usually aluminum sulfate or titanium dioxide, to a cut.  This causes the vessels to constrict and stop the bleeding.  To use a styptic pen you simply moisten the tip of the mineral and dab the offending nick.  Styptic pens are widely available at drug stores; the one pictured above is available online at The Art of Shaving.

Book Review: Dressing the Man

When I encounter a sylistic conundrum, I often first refer to Alan Flusser's Dressing the Man.  Heavily adorned with photographs of style giants like Fred Astaire, Clark Gable, and the Prince of Wales, and illustrations from Esquire and Apparel Arts, Flusser's Dressing the Man is the ultimate reference on men's style. 

In Dressing the Man, Flusser examines the historical development of tailored men's clothing and sets forth the rules for their proper wear based on those origins.  He discusses the art of mixing patterns, considerations of proportion for diffferent body shapes, and appropriate colors for varied complexions.

This book will likely not appeal to the casual dresser.  With the exception of one chapter (that seems to have been added as an afterthought) on business casual, Dressing the Man focuses mainly on timeless, traditional conservative male attire.

For any man interested in looking his best, Dressing the Man deserves a prominent spot in his library. 

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Warby Parker

Warby Parker, an upstart eyewear company started by four students who met at the Wharton School of Business, has come up with an interesting new concept in eyewear sales.  They have cut out the middleman and offer vintage-inspired acetate eyeglasses directly to consumers for ... only $95.

Warby Parker offers twenty-seven classic frame styles in black, tortoise, amber, crystal and a variety of other brighter colors.  They even offer one monocle, "the perfect accessory for budding robber barons, post-colonial tyrants and super villains."

To see how frames look on your face, you can upload a photograph of yourself to the Warby Parker website and try on frames using their Virtual Try-On service.  When you have narrowed your selection you can take advantage of their Home Try-On service.  Warby Parker will ship you up to five pair of frames, free of charge, to try on at home for seven days.  GQ Magazine has called Warby Parker "the Netflix of eyewear."

The other day I played with the Virtual Try-On service and then decided to order a selection of frames to try on at home.  I quickly recieved an email informing me that recent features in GQ, Vogue and Daily Candy had resulted in an unexpected number of orders thereby depleting their home try-on inventory.  I have added my name to the waiting list, but have been informed that it may be a month before frames are available.  Notwithstanding the delay, this combination of classically-styled frames and an innovative business model has me quite intrigued.  More on this later when I get my hands on some frames.