August 29, 2011

Quick Tip: Linking it Together

Dressing for the corporate world can sometimes get a bit boring. What better way to infuse some fun and personality into a dress shirt than cufflinks?

1. Classic with a Twist

These caught my eye because they are unique but understated. I enjoy the playfulness of the cufflink-as-button.

Cufflinks by Burberry; Shirt by Hawes & Curtis; Jacket by Ted Baker;
Tie by Psycho Bunny.
2. A Simple Touch

These gunmetal cufflinks are probably my most worn pair. They are simple, not too big, and as it turns out most of my tie bars are gunmetal as well. Remember, always match your metals. More on that in a future post.

Cufflinks by Kenneth Cole Reaction; Shirt  by Brooks Brothers;
Jacket by Christian Dior (vintage).
3. A Splash of Color

These cufflinks add a pop of color and some whimsy to an outfit. I generally wear them with a more casual suit, but have worn them with a black suit and white shirt to sneak a little bit of fun into a more corporate look.

Cufflinks by Psycho Bunny; Shirt by BOSS Hugo Boss; Jacket by Lanvin;
Tie by Christian Dior (vintage); Tie bar by Kenneth Cole New York.
4. Vintage

Some of my favorite cufflinks are vintage pieces that were either inherited or came from a vintage store. There are some really good finds out there, you just have to sift through piles and piles of tacky cufflinks from the 70’s. Don’t worry though, your persistence will eventually pay off.

Vintage cufflinks (inherited from my grandfather); Shirt by Ben Sherman;
Jacket by Brooks Brothers.
There are more types and styles of cufflinks than I could ever begin to list. My best advice is to shop around and find the ones that suit your personal style and the image you want to convey.

As always, thanks for reading. Next up is Part 2 in my Art of Fit series on the casual shirt.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 28, 2011

Care and Maintenance: Cotton

Once you have some stylish clothes that fit properly, you have to make sure that you take care of them properly as well. In Part 1 of my Care and Maintenance series, I am going to cover the fabric you will most commonly encounter: Cotton.

You will find cotton in a wide variety of garments from t-shirts to sweaters. You will also find as many different care instructions. Some can be written simply, while others will provide nothing but symbols.

I will be the first to admit that keeping track of how to clean all of your various garments can get confusing. But I cannot stress enough how important it is to read the care instructions.

I have some cotton shirts that are dry clean only and some light cotton sweaters that are hand-wash only while other nearly identical pieces are machine wash and tumble dry.

This chart gives a basic rundown of the most commonly used symbols. I would recommend printing it out and posting it near your laundry room (or if you don’t have a washer/dryer, near your hamper).

Extra Tip : When hand-washing a knit item, like a sweater, basically just soak and rinse. Kneading or wringing will stretch out the fibers and cause the garment to lose it’s shape.

Extra Tip II : If washing a technical garment (athletic piece with some kind of moisture-wicking treatment) be careful not to put it in the dryer. It will lose it’s quick-dry ability.

This could quickly turn into a book, so if you have a specific question about how to care for your cotton garment, leave a comment or hit me up via email.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the series: Leather.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 23, 2011

Style Feature: The Classic Polo

As we get closer to fall, there are going to be the inevitable days that are hot in the afternoon and cool in the evening. In this post, I’ll show you how to take a polo shirt from day to night and everywhere in between.

1. A Day at the Park

Shirt by Lacoste Silver Collection; Shorts by Theory;
Shoes by Converse; Sunglasses by Bulgari.
Pairing a polo with shorts is a great way to step up your style from a simple t-shirt.

Extra Tip : Linen shorts add a nice summer touch while keeping you cool. More on this in an upcoming post.

Extra Tip II : The texture that these stripes give to the polo are a nice complement to the plaid in the shorts.

2. Dinner with Friends

Shirt by Lacoste Silver Collection; Sweater by The Men's Store
at Bloomingdale's; Denim by PPD; Boots by John Varvatos;
Watch by Bulova; Eyeglasses by Dolce & Gabbana.
The same polo can easily work for a casual dinner by pairing it with dark denim.

Extra Tip : On a particularly cool night, add a lightweight cotton sweater to give your look a little more depth.

Extra Tip II : When dressing up denim, keep the cut slim and the wash dark and simple.

3. A Night at the Theater

Shirt by Lacoste Silver Collection;  Jacket by Caffeine New York;
Denim by PPD; Boots by John Varvatos; Vintage scarf as pocket square;
Watch by Bulova; Eyeglasses by Dolce & Gabbana.
For a slightly more formal look, layer a polo under a jacket for a night out on the town.

Extra Tip : An easy way to bring some fun into your wardrobe is with a casual sport coat. The jersey on the collar is balanced by the peak lapels and tailored fit. I’ve dressed this jacket up and down and it always looks great.

Extra Tip IIPolo shirts come in a huge variety of different colors and fits. Add a pop of color to make your outfit stand out.

Extra Tip III : For an extra bit of style, try a full suit instead of just a jacket.

There are some great posts coming up including Part 2 in the Art of Fit Series, so check back soon.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 20, 2011

Reader Question: When to Wear Cotton Ties

After the extra tip I gave about cotton ties in my Summer Jacketing post, I received a great question from a reader:

Hi JJ,

I really liked your Extra Tip about seasonal ties. I recently bought a cotton tie on sale and I was wondering if it is still ok to wear into the fall? Thanks!


Hey GB and thanks for reading!

Congrats on your purchase. As I mentioned in the Summer Jacketing feature, keeping your ties seasonal (cotton and linen in the spring/summer and wool in the fall/winter) is a great way to put a cool twist on your style. That said, this is merely an accepted rule and especially in fashion, rules were made to be broken. There is no deadline that dictates when you should pack up the cotton and break out the wool.

Also remember that, just like with suiting and shirting fabrics, there are different weights in fabric for cotton ties. The gingham tie I wore in the post is a lightweight cotton in a bright color.

Cotton tie by J Crew; Shirt by BOSS Hugo Boss.

While gingham and seersucker in light and bright colors are my go-to for ties in the summer, as the seasons change I switch over to my heavier cotton ties in more subdued tones. I will often wear these ties well into December if the weather is warm enough.

Cotton tie by Rag & Bone; Shirt by BOSS Hugo Boss;
Tie bar by Link Up.

I would recommend that you follow the weather and dress appropriately. This goes not just for your ties but your entire wardrobe. Here in New York City there are certainly unseasonably warm days in the fall and winter. Don’t be afraid to break out your cotton if the temperature feels right. If you live somewhere like Miami where it is warm all year round, a cotton or linen tie is always appropriate.

Thanks again for reading and keep the questions coming!

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 17, 2011

Style Feature: The Summer Jacket

Though summer is beginning to wind down and fashion magazines are already well into the fall season, the heat is unfortunately still here. A lightweight jacket is a great way to stay cool (and stylish) until the weather does the same.

Here are three looks styled around some great summer jackets.

1. Classic Linen

The patch pocket linen jacket is one of the most versatile summer pieces you can own. Wear it with shorts, slacks, or jeans and it will always add a nice seasonal touch to your wardrobe.

Extra Tip : Your pocket square should complement, not match, your shirt (or tie if you are wearing one).

Linen jacket by Bamford & Sons; Shirt by Nautica;
Pants by Sons of Intrigue; Shoes by Ted Baker;
Pocket square by Thomas Pink; Eyeglasses by Dolce & Gabbana

2. Casual Cotton

The casual military details on this jacket add some structure to the light cotton shirt and pants.

Extra Tip : Nothing says summer like going sockless, but for added comfort I use super short invisible socks. All the look with none of the baby powder.

Extra Tip II : Chinos come in a variety of weights and fits. For summer, stick to light and slim.

Half-lined cotton jacket by John Varvatos; Shirt by Nautica;
Chinos by PPD; Shoes by Ted Baker; Sunglasses by Prada.

3. Tailored Cotton

Suits are always a great addition to your wardrobe. One way to expand your wardrobe is to break up your suits.

Extra Tip : Cotton, like linen, will wrinkle. Let it happen. This helps create a sense of effortless style.

Extra Tip II : Ties, like all your clothes, should be seasonal. A cotton or linen tie is a great way to change up your style for the season.

Half-lined cotton jacket (part of a suit) by Tallia Orange;
Shirt by Vince; Black denim by 7 For All Mankind;
Shoes by Paul Smith Jeans; Cotton tie by J Crew;
Vintage pocket square; Sunglasses (in hand) by Prada.

As always, thanks for reading.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 14, 2011

Style Feature: The Handkerchief

Today I want to cover what I consider to be a quintessential year-round accessory, but one that is particularly useful in the summer.

While handkerchiefs may make you hearken back to the heydey of your grandfather, they can actually be quite stylish and modern. What leaves a better impression than offering your date a nice clean handkerchief after discovering she’s allergic to the flowers you brought? Far beyond impressing your date, the handkerchief is a practical accessory with a myriad of functions. I always carry one with me and find it especially useful on a hot summer day to wipe my brow.

Top row L to R: Vintage inherited from in-laws; Vintage inherited from in-laws;
Nautica; Kmart (originally white, dyed by me).
Bottom row L to R: Burberry; Brooks Brother; Vintage from flea market;
Vintage inherited from in-laws; Thomas Pink.

Don’t think that you are limited to just a boring white cloth though. Handkerchiefs can be a great complement to your outfit, much like a pocket square. They come in a variety of colors, patterns, and weights and can be found everywhere from upscale department stores to your local flea market. Some of the nicest handkerchiefs I own are vintage items ($1-$5 a piece) found at the Hell’s Kitchen Flea Market. Carry one in the inside pocket of your suit jacket or leave a corner peaking from the back pocket of your jeans.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 11, 2011

The Art of Fit: Part 1 in a Series

For my first post, I wanted to cover a topic that is the foundation of style. In my opinion, fit is probably the single most important aspect of style. If your clothes don’t fit properly, no matter how expensive or well-made they are, you cannot look your best. This general introduction to proper fit will be the first in a series of posts on fit tips covering everything from denim to suits.

As I am sure you will hear me say countless times, men in America have a problem knowing their size. I have found that the vast majority of men wear clothes that are one or two sizes too big for them. The problem with this is that it leaves you looking sloppy, no matter how nice your clothes may be.

Man on the street. The shoulders on this shirt were
about 3" off the shoulder. Also notice the billowing
around the waist and the saggy pants.

Many of my personal styling clients are reluctant to try on clothes that actually fit them. They have become so accustomed to a looser fit that they feel uncomfortable in clothes that are the correct size. Shopping should be fun, but when someone tries on clothes from one label that they believe to be the right size and they end up too small, many people start universally buying the next size up. The problem with this is that every brand uses a different fit model and, as a result, sizes vary from one to another (and sometimes even within the same brand!).

Shirt by Allsaints Spitalfields; Jeans by Juicy Couture Mens (now defunct);
Shoes by Ted Baker; Sunglasses by Alexander McQueen; Watch by Bulova.

The good news is that when shopping for clothes there are some very valuable resources at your disposal that can make your shopping experience not only enjoyable, but also productive. Most department stores, especially in major cities, have a personal shopping department. Don’t think you have to be rich to take advantage of this - it is almost always a free service! The benefit of using a personal shopper is that they have an exceptional knowledge of the product in their store and are often experts on fit and style. They will be able to show you pieces that you will like, as well as options that you might not have considered; a great way to expand you wardrobe and step up your style.

Suit by Paul Smith; Shirt by Charles Tyrwhitt; Shoes by Allen Edmonds;
Tie by Robert Godley; Belt by Lacoste; Tie bar by Kenneth Cole New York;
Pocket square by Burberry; Eyeglasses by Dolce & Gabbana.

If you happen to be shopping in stand-alone stores or boutiques, employees are often required to wear the label’s product. This first hand knowledge can be really helpful when shopping a new brand (and sometimes even a brand you know well) to get you familiar with how an item should and will fit, saving you both time and potential frustration.

More detailed posts on fit to come.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 8, 2011

Welcome to The Shy Stylist!

Hello and welcome to my style blog. I started out wanting to write The Shy Stylist as a way to show people that great style isn't something that can only be achieved if you are the flashiest or loudest or brashest person out there. I've never been any of those things, nor do I care to be. Instead, style to me is the ultimate expression of one's self - be it who you are, who you want to be, or even who you want people to think you are. Style can be loud, but it can also be quiet, elegant, or nuanced.

Living in New York City, and in Miami before that, I have come to realize that the best style is not seen on the mannequins along 5th Avenue or in the windows of a Bal Harbour boutique, but within the city itself. If you take a minute to look around, you will find countless sources of inspiration as well as cautionary tales to avoid in your own life.

What I would like this blog to be is a jumping off point for you, the reader; a place for tips, advice, and inspiration for your own unique sartorial choices. I envision two primary features for this site: Reader Questions and Style Features. The Reader Questions can be anything remotely style-related that you want to know about. Just send me an email and I will do my best to answer every question. In the Style Features, I will take a piece or accessory and show different ways to wear it, share my own style rules, fit tips, diy, and more. I’ll also on occasion post on other style or fashion-related things that peak my interest, so be sure to keep a look out.

Stay stylish,
- JJ