May 23, 2013

Style Etiquette: Summer Weddings

For whatever reason, a lot of people like to get married in the heat of summer, which means you will likely attend at least one summer wedding at some point. As with any wedding, the invitation is the most important key to how you should dress. It should go without saying that, if there is a dress code stated, please follow it. For general tips on common dress codes, check out my other Style Etiquette posts here, herehere, and here.

If you snag an invitation to a more casual summer nuptial (as in not a formal event), you have quite a few options to flex your sartorial muscles. The first thing you will want to do is avoid the wool, if at all possible. Few things reflect a man’s mastery of style better than dressing appropriately, both for an occasion and the season. When you need to don a suit during the summer, go with a cotton or linen. Not only will it help keep you from melting in the heat, it will also make your look a little more unique.

In recent years, khaki has become the go-to summer suiting color and with good reason. It is neutral, versatile, and the lighter shade makes it a little more laid back, which is perfect for summer. Navy is another good cotton option for much the same reason, but it gives you a more classic look.

If you opt for the linen route, whatever you do, avoid white. It is my strong opinion that only the bride should wear white to a wedding (if she chooses to do so), plus everyone’s first thought for a summer wedding is almost always white linen. Be unexpected and go with a light grey or navy.

There is a third option that needs discussing – seersucker. There is a lot more to seersucker than just blue and white stripes. If you know the atmosphere of the wedding will accommodate it, try a khaki stripe instead of the usual fare. Seersucker fabrics come in solid, stripes, and even gingham so with a little legwork you can find a unique suit that will keep you feeling cool and looking dapper.

For shirts, I’ve found it’s best to keep things simple. A nice white shirt will make anything else you wear look good, so don’t complicate things with colors or patterns. This will remove the worry of coordinating your tie and has the added benefit of keeping you from showing anyone up. The goal is to make the wedding party (and your date) look good by not sticking out, which can be a tough balance to master. If you don't want to wear a white shirt, or shouldn't because of your complexion, go with a pale hue to keep that understated look in a more flattering manner.

Accessories are where you can really get to have some fun. Depending on the formality, time, and location of the event your options are virtually limitless with the potential combinations of neckwear, pocket squares, and cufflinks. Summer is a great time to venture into bowties and they do have a formal pedigree, which makes them ideal for a wedding. The added benefit of a bowtie is you can untie it if the reception gets crazy. This will serve the twofold purpose of looking cool and showing that you know how to tie a bowtie. Whether you choose necktie or bowtie, silk or cotton pocket square, it’s best to keep the colors and prints reigned in a bit. Remember, you don’t want to draw undue attention because of your fashion choices.

Summer weddings can be a lot of fun and can give you the chance to break out of the wool suit grind. Whatever you decide to wear, keep in mind that you are a guest to a very important occasion. Dressing appropriately will get you noticed for the right reasons but remember that fit is more important than fashion. If you only have a nice grey wool suit, but it fits you perfectly, embrace it, because nothing makes you look better than clothes that fit.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

May 14, 2013

Style Feature: Spring Pic(k)s

With spring in full swing, I wanted to share a few of my favorite looks for the season. This is possibly the most versatile season when it comes to options. You can safely bring in aspects of fall and summer to put together some unique looks so don’t be afraid to use seasonal patterns, fabrics, and colors to your advantage. Experiment with mixing things up to find a combination that is uniquely you. I like to wear color year round, but spring is when you can really have some fun with it, so look for new and exciting ways to introduce it into your closet.

1. Keeping it Casual

Even though it’s spring, the weather can still get chilly so don’t break out the shorts and tees just yet. Mixed with some seasonal pieces, a light leather jacket and some medium-weight denim can help combat the weather on those early mornings and late nights.

Extra Tip : Classic patterns like madras are a great way to ease into the warmer weather without looking like an Easter egg.

Extra Tip II : Colored boat shoes add a fun pop to any look, with or without socks.

Leather jacket by AllSaints Spitalfields; Madras shirt by J Crew;
Denim by Juicy Couture Men; Boat shoes by Timberland;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

2. A Touch of Dandy

Don’t be afraid to mix seasonal patterns and fabrics like this linen blazer, seersucker lapel flower, and cotton gingham bowtie. Just remember to coordinate, not match.

Extra Tip : Stay consistent. With the cotton and linen on top, it’s important to keep the bottom from weighing the look down. It’s hard to go wrong with a slim lightweight chino.

Jacket by Bamford & Sons; Shirt by Uniqlo; Pants by Sons of Intrigue;
Shoes by Ted Baker; Bowtie and belt by Brooks Brother;
Handmade lapel flower; Socks by Corgi

3. Cool and Collected

On those warm spring days you can still step up your style while staying cool. Ditch the jacket and opt for a waistcoat instead. The more interesting details it has, the better it will look on its own.

Extra Tip : You can find interesting accessories everywhere. This pocket square is actually a women’s silk handkerchief from the ‘70s.

Extra Tip II : For a cleaner look, neatly cuff your sleeves instead of loosely rolling them.

Vest and chinos by Ted Baker; Shirt by Uniqlo; Shoes by AllSaints
Spitalfields; Vintage handkerchief as pocket square (women's);
Tie by Rag & Bone; Belt by Brooks Brothers; Laces by Allen Edmonds;
Socks by Corgi; Watch by Nautica; Handmade silver bracelet (vintage)

Now is a great time to break out of the mold and experiment with new combinations of dressy and casual, high and low. The best thing about style is that it's personal and a well-curated seasonal wardrobe gives you the ability to mix different pieces with confidence. What are some of your favorite spring looks?

Stay stylish,

- JJ

May 5, 2013

Reader Question: Boat Shoes and Socks

With spring (finally) in full swing and summer just around the corner, it seems that everyone is breaking out their warm weather style. With that in mind, I received a simple question with a potentially controversial answer.

James asks:
"I have been slowly upgrading my style over the last year and I find myself liking the preppy look. I really want to buy boat shoes but everyone says you have to wear them without socks. Is it ever okay to wear them with socks?" 
This will probably get me in some trouble, but the short answer is absolutely! There are plenty of places, including some major men’s publications that will take the hard line and tell you that never, under no circumstances, should socks and boat shoes ever even share the same grammatical space. They will make this statement unequivocally, with ‘because I said so’ being to only real justification.

Jacket by Nautica; Shirt by Uniqlol; Denim by AllSaints Spitalfields;
Boat shoes by Sebago; Socks by Corgi; Scarf by Z Zegna;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

This is something that I struggled with for a while. I am not a sandal/flip flop person and the thought of wearing any shoes (boat or otherwise) without socks was not something that even remotely appealed to me. Two years ago I jumped on the no-show Peds bandwagon and while they definitely serve their purpose, it still doesn’t solve the problem all of the time.

Sometime fashion and practicality find themselves at odds. I personally find it silly that people chain themselves to the idea that it is only acceptable to wear boat shoes without socks. Maybe that was once the case when boat shoes were worn solely on boats, but since most of us don’t own a boat (and many will never set foot on one) it seems incredibly inconvenient to restrict their use as though we were always about to step onto a yacht. Incidentally, many of these sticklers for the rules of wearing a boat shoe are all about the ‘winter white’ trend with no concern for the outdated Labor Day deadline. Plus, if a bastion of prep style like JFK was down to wear socks on a boat, then I think the rest of us are okay to wear them on dry land.

JFK on the USCG yacht Manitou 12 Aug 1962. Photo from the JFK
Presidential Library.

If the weather is chilly, especially in the late fall and early spring, it looks a little ridiculous (not to mention impractical) to be flashing your bare ankles. Tradition is important, but you should feel comfortable in your clothes and if going barefoot makes you feel uncomfortable, by all means throw on a pair of socks. Since you are presumably wearing boat shoes for their style instead of their function, I would recommend that your socks be fun, colorful, and interesting. If you are going to make a statement and wear your boat shoes with socks, them go all the way and really make a statement.

In the spring, pick lighter colors and more whimsical patterns. For fall, a heavier sock suits the bill better. Try something ribbed, a more muted color palette, or perhaps a nice Fair Isle pattern to get into the season. However you choose to wear your boat shoes, be confident in your choices and own it. Some of the best style decisions are the ones that are uniquely personal.

Stay stylish,
- JJ