July 30, 2012

Style Etiquette: Shorts

With summer in full swing, you can find shorts everywhere you look. Remember though, that a big part of being stylish is dressing appropriately, so it is important to recognize the situations where it may be better to keep your legs covered, despite the heat.

Shorts are, by nature, casual attire, though of course their level of casualness varies with each pair. Keeping this in mind, you want to make sure that they are the right choice for the occasion to which you are thinking of wearing them.

First, there are the shorts themselves to consider. Americans tend to have a problem with baggy, cargo shorts. It is generally one of the easiest ways to spot an American tourist, because we have a mindset that shorts, of any kind, are always appropriate attire. While it is true that a slim, chino-style short is going to have more versatility when it comes to dressing up, there is still a line of acceptability to consider when making your wardrobe choices.

Anything with cargo pockets, holes, fringe, patches, paint, or other embellishments are considered extremely casual and should be relegated to daytime activities, sporting events, or other leisure activities. I, personally, do not think that shorts are appropriate for anything but the most casual of occasions after sunset. I feel that unless you are going to a movie or a concert (popular not classical) or the beach after dark, there is always a better choice to be made.

Personal preferences aside, there are a few occasions where it is never acceptable to arrive in shorts. While I would hope that it goes without saying that formal occasions, such as weddings and funerals, are not short-wearing events, I have encountered guests showing up to weddings in cargo shorts, a knit shirt, and a ball cap. There may be rare exceptions, such as tropical-themed or destination weddings, but unless it is explicitly stated, please do everyone a favor and don’t wear shorts (even a tailored shorts suit) to any event where a tie is expected. Even if it may be tolerated you will only draw unwanted attention, which is never something that a gentleman desires (especially for an event that isn’t about you).

I would also suggest thinking twice before choosing shorts for the theater or going out to dinner- and by dinner I don’t just mean the jacket required kind, but really any planned dinner out at a restaurant. Casualness has become a real epidemic in our society, and I think it is important to try to bring back that sense of respect and class that comes from dressing appropriately for an occasion. When you show up dressed overly casual, it can convey a disregard for both the location and for those you are with.

That is why, despite many opinions to the contrary, I maintain that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed for any occasion. And if you discover that you are ridiculously overdressed, just keep in mind that, for all everyone else knows, you just have some place fancier to be later.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

July 25, 2012

Style Feature: The Vacation Wardrobe

Packing for a week-long vacation is often a daunting task, and something I always have trouble with. I am a chronic over-packer, so it is always difficult to find a balance between packing light and packing enough so that I still have everything I need. When I recently went on vacation, I wanted to pack everything I would need into a duffel bag.

This is everything that I brought for a 7-day trip. I chose not to include undershirts, underwear, and my dopp kit since that would just look like a pile of black.

Extra Tip : Since it is summer, and was going to be a rather hot week, I brought enough handkerchiefs so I had a clean one for each day.

Day 1

Jacket by Bamford & Sons; Shirt by Elie Tahari; Denim by Juicy Couture Mens;
Sneakers by AllSaints Spitalfields; Hat by Coal Headwear; Scarf by Gant;
Duffel by Marc by Marc Jacobs

Always layer up for travel. Not only will it save room when packing, but layers also allow you to stay comfortable in the often unpredictable climates while in transit.

Day 2

Shirt by Uniqlo; Chinos by Gant Rugger; Shoes by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Laces from Allen Edmonds; Watch by Bulova; Bracelets thrifted

Colored chinos are a great summer item, but if you are packing for a trip, be careful not to get too colorful. When you have to wear something more than once, keep the colors on the neutral side to both maximize your possible outfits and to avoid being called on it.

Extra Tip : Changing out your laces to complement the rest of your outfit is a great way to add an extra pop of color.

Jacket by BOSS Black; Shirt by Uniqlo; Chinos by Gant Rugger;
Shoes by AllSaints Spitalfields; Tie by Rag & Bone; Tie bar by Link Up;
Pocket Square by Thomas Pink; Laces from Allen Edmonds

Chinos and a white woven are incredibly easy to transition for a meeting, event, or just a nice dinner.

Extra Tip : Nothing says summer like seersucker, and a nicely tailored jacket can keep you cool while staying stylish.

Day 3

Shirt by Gant Rugger; Denim and sneakers by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Scarf by Rag & Bone; Hoodie (in hand) by Burberry; Sunglasses by Bulgari
Bracelets thrifted and from a street vendor

Even though it was warm outside, museums are often cold, so a lightweight scarf and hoodie are a great way to stay comfortable without the bulk of a jacket.

Day 4

Shirt by J Crew; Denim by Juicy Couture Mens; Sneakers by AllSaints
Spitalfields; Sunglasses by Prada; Bracelets thrifted

For a long day of walking, it’s hard to beat jeans and sneakers.

Extra Tip : Accessories are a great way to differentiate your looks without taking up a lot of space in your bag.

Day 5

Shirt by Gant Rugger; Chinos and sneakers by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Scarf by Rag & Bone; Sunglasses by Bulgari; Bracelets thrifted

Casual but comfortable.

Jacket by Bamford & Sons; Shirt by Gant Rugger;
Chinos and shoes by AllSaints Spitalfields; Scarf by Rag & Bone

Change your shoes and throw on a jacket and you can quickly be ready for a night out.

Day 6

Shirt by Elie Tahari; Chinos by Gant Rugger; Shoes by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Hat by Coal Headwear; Laces from Allen Edmonds

Blue and gray is a natural pairing, and the blue pants bring out the gradation of the ombre check in the shirt.

Extra Tip : On an overcast day, a hat can often take the place of sunglasses.

Day 7

Jacket by Bamford & Sons; Shirt by J Crew; Denim and shoes by
AllSaints Spitalfields; Tie by Rag & Bone; Tie bar by Link Up;
Pocket square by Brooks Brothers

Travel day with a last minute business meeting? Just lose the tie, grab your bags, and go.

Wherever you are traveling, make sure you keep three things in mind: the weather, your planned activities, and your mode of transportation. Keep your bags comfortably packed (no one wants a lead weight on their shoulder) and don’t be afraid to mix and match your pieces for maximum versatility. And most importantly, have a fantastic vacation.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

July 20, 2012

Favorite Finds: Slim Linen Pant

A few weeks ago, I posted a Favorite Finds featuring a linen pant from Vince, and one of my biggest issues was that I wished it were a slimmer fit. Most linen pants are a classic cut because looser clothing, particularly in a breathable fabric, will keep you cooler than something that fits more snugly. While this is both smart and functional, I like a cleaner legline and that can prove rather difficult to find in linen.

Club Monaco has the answer with their Justice Trouser. Available in Eclipse (navy) or Graphite (darkish grey), this pant is cut like any slim trouser should be, it just happens to be made of linen. It has all the hallmarks of a trouser – zippered fly, hook and eye closure, welted back pockets, and front pockets on the side seam – so it can easily be dressed up, but is also casual enough to throw on with sneakers.

I tried on a 33 and it fit perfectly. The legline is slim, but still comfortable, and the two colors that it is offered in will go with pretty much anything. I can’t stress enough how important dressing for the season is, especially when that season is defined by record high temperatures.

The coolest feature on these pants is the adjustable tab at the back, but chances are you won’t really need it, because one of the great things about Club Monaco is that they carry the less popular sizes, like 28 and 31, so it is much easier to get your perfect fit.

One big benefit to these trousers is that they are machine washable, a definite plus to help cut down on your dry cleaning bill. At $98.50, the price is on the high side, like most of Club Monaco’s merchandise, but not unreasonable, and their quality is generally pretty good. They also offer a 20% discount to college students with a valid student ID, which sometimes makes all the difference when deciding if a purchase is worthwhile.

Though these justice trousers my not make you feel like Superman (sorry, had to do it), they’d definitely make a worthwhile addition to your summer wardrobe.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

July 19, 2012

Quick Tip: Lacing Up In Color

While vacationing in Boston, I popped into an Allen Edmonds to see if I could score a pair of shoes that I had missed out on in NYC, but no such luck. What I did find, though, were these awesome laces.

Window display at Allen Edmonds Newbury Street with the
current color assortment

The reason that I like these so much is that they allow you to not only add some color to your outfit in an unexpected place, but also to breathe new life into a pair of shoes that you had maybe gotten bored of. We have all seen colored laces on sneakers, Converse has been doing it for years, and when Payless jumps on a bandwagon you know it has been around.

What is a new development is doing the same with dress shoe and boot laces. Instead of the old standards of black, brown, taupe, and white, laces are being offered in a variety of fun shades from red to purple.

Talking with the sales associate, she admitted that they were initially very skeptical about how they would be received given their more traditional clientele, but have since been flying off the shelves.

Jar of dress and boot laces in the store.

If you aren’t sure how you feel about colored laces, you can check out an Allen Edmonds store as they usually have a few pairs laced up colorfully. They are available both in-stores and online at Allen Edmonds for $6 a pair ($9 for boot laces), and everywhere has pretty much the same colors so don’t worry about missing out. It seems like they change seasonally, so check back occasionally. The store I went in had some remnants of a more muted palette but mostly all the new brighter hues shown on the website.

For an even lower price and a wider assortment of colors (though they likely won’t change with the seasons and don’t appear to be as vibrant) you can check out Shoe Laces Express and pick up 2 pairs for $5.49-$5.99 for a regular tip. There are different lengths and tip options (black, brass, or silver metal) that will affect the price, but are handy if you have dress boots or other multi-eyelet dress footwear.

My AllSaints Spitalfields 

For less than a venti at Starbucks, you can give your shoes a makeover and open up a whole new world of versatility, and nothing says summer like a pop of color.

Stay stylish and colorful,
- JJ

July 10, 2012

Style Feature: The Bracelet

I know there is a lot of debate about the appropriateness of man-jewelry, but if you do it right it can give your outfit a more complete and polished look. A bracelet doesn’t have to be an obnoxious gold chain or silver ID bracelet and the last few years have seen a steady rise in the popularity of men’s bracelets (just reference last year’s Burkman Bros craze if you don’t believe me).

This post will feature numerous styles and how to mix, match, and layer them up so experiment and define your own style, but don’t limit yourself to just these. I decided to group this by color theme because, well why not, but the great thing about bracelets is that you can pretty much wear any of them with anything.

1. Black

This is probably the most I would wear at one time, but the reason I can get away with it is because there is only one that is chunky. I always try to keep my accessories balanced both in size and material. Here the leather and corded bracelets lighten up the black sailor’s knot one.

Sailor's knot bracelet from Original Vermont Store; Other
bracelets thrifted; Shirt by J Crew; Denim by AllSaints
Spitalfields; Sneakers by Paul Smith Jeans;
Hat by Coal Headwear; Sunglasses by Prada.

2. Red

You might recognize this look from last week’s Linen Short post. I wanted to bring it into this post because it is a great example of the subtle tie-ins of color. The red in the bracelets play off the red text on the tee and the stripe in the hoodie.

Leather bracelet by (Product)Red; Sailor's knot bracelet from
street vendor; Hoodie by Burberry; Tee by Dolce & Gabbana;
Shorts by Theory; Sneakers by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Sunglasses by Bulgari; Watch by Bulova

3. Purple

Similar situation, but where the last outfit was a busy combination that the bracelets complemented, this is the opposite. A simple outfit is given some extra interest with the colors braided in while the braided leather and silver give it some substance.

Colored braided bracelet from street vendor; Leather and
silver bracelets thrifted; Shirt by J Crew; Shorts by Kenneth
Cole New York; Sneakers by Paul Smith Jeans

4. Blue

This look was a combination nautical/prep inspired. The washed out blue in the shirt is balanced out by the more vibrant hues in the bracelets and boat shoes. Similarly, the pants play off the pinstriping in the shirt and the earth tones of the corded bracelet help ground it.

Braided bracelet by Nautica; Corded bracelet thrifted;
Shirt by Gant Rugger; Chinos by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Boat shoes by Sebago; Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

5. Silver

Statement bracelets are something that should be worn with care. If you get too far out there, you end up looking ridiculous. This is a vintage chainmail piece from the ‘50s, so I let it stand on its own, which it is more than capable of.

Vintage silver bracelet (heirloom); Shirt by Elie Tahari;
Denim by Juicy Couture Men's; Watch by Bulova

Whatever your choice, be it one piece or several, bracelets are a great way to bring depth and nuance to an outfit. And better still, you can find them almost anywhere, at any price point, or even try making your own.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

July 7, 2012

Favorite Finds: Linen Blazer

While it appears that the summer heat is in full effect, that doesn’t mean you can’t stay stylish with some tailored pieces. The most important thing when buying tailored clothing (after fit of course) is to make sure they are weather appropriate, and in the heat that means linen or cotton.

Uniqlo, my go-to place for stylish basics, has the perfect jacket to help you look cool while staying cool. Ever simplistic, the ‘Premium Linen Slim Fit Jacket’ is exactly what it purports.

According to the hangtag, the linen is “natural and high-quality ‘French Linen’ sourced from Northern France and Belgium” and I would have to agree. The feel and quality of this linen jacket could easily rival several $500+ pieces that I have tried on.

This two-button blazer features a single vent, patch pockets at the hip, and two inside pockets, perhaps for storing your wallet or handkerchief. It is ¼ lined to allow for maximum breathability. The lapel button hole is non-functional, but is stitched in a way that any tailor could easily open it up.

The color selection is great as well. Uniqlo’s website says it comes in 4 solid colors (off white, beige, navy, and black) and two colors in houndstooth (gray and blue).  The store I stopped into did not have the off white or navy, but a great selection nonetheless. All of the colors felt surprisingly soft except for the black, which had a slightly stiffer hand.

I tried on the gray houndstooth in a Medium and it fit about like a 40R. This is definitely a very slim cut, which is surprisingly not that easy to find in linen pieces as they usually tend to be more classic and draped.

The list price on this jacket is $79.90, but it is on special promotion in-store (at least in NYC) for $59.90! Honestly, there is no reason not to buy this jacket. For this price, and even for a slightly higher price, the quality and practicality cannot be beat. I am currently trying to find space enough in my closet to justify buying it myself, especially since it looks like we are in for a summer full of heat waves.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

July 3, 2012

Style Feature: The Linen Short

Linen is one of the quintessential summer fabrics. Not only is it breathable, it’s also incredibly durable, naturally resistant to dirt and stains, and can absorb water better than any moisture wicking performance fabric out there. So what better way to incorporate it into your wardrobe than a pair of shorts (especially in the midst of another heat wave)?

1. Plaid

Infuse your summer wardrobe with some extra style. Plaid linen is a great twist on a classic summer item.

Extra Tip : The simpler the color palette, the more versatility the piece will have. In this shot, the bold statement tee dominates while the red accents in the tee, bracelet, and hoodie, tie it all together.

Extra Tip II : Be careful with pattern mixing, pick one piece to focus on and let your other patterns complement it.

Shorts by Theory; Hoodie by Burberry; Tee by Dolce & Gabbana;
Sneakers by AllSaints Spitalfields; Sunglasses by Bulgari; Watch by Bulova;
Woven bracelet from street vendor; Leather bracelet by (Product)Red

2. Solid

Shorts by Kenneth Cole New York; Shirt by J Crew; Sneakers by Paul Smith Jeans
Watch by Bulova; Thrifted leather bracelets; Woven bracelet from street vendor

The beauty of solid linen shorts is that not only will they keep you cool when it is hot, they will match well with pretty much anything. They are a great piece to anchor your casual look in the season.

Extra Tip : Don’t fight the wrinkles, embrace them. That is what makes linen the ultimate wash and wear fabric.

3. With a Twist

Shorts with a sport coat? If it is the right jacket and the right shorts, absolutely. Not to mention that this look is particularly on trend right now, as shown in this Favorite Finds and nearly every SS13 runway show.

Extra Tip : Keep the jacket tailored to balance out the casual look of the shorts.

Extra Tip II : A seasonally appropriate fabric for your jacket, like this gingham seersucker, will help tie the look together.

Extra Tip III : Unconventional items make great pocket squares. This one happens to be a vintage lace doilie.

Shorts by Kenneth Cole New York; Jacket by BOSS Black;
Shirt by Gant Rugger; Shoes by Ted Baker; Sunglasses by Prada;
Vintage lace doilie used as pocket square

Shorts may not be for everyone, but if you're looking for a pair this summer, linen is a great option to add to your closet. And don't forget that linen is perfect for pants, jackets, and even wovens too.

Stay stylish,
- JJ