November 23, 2014

Modernizing Vintage: Lord & Taylor Car Coat

I wanted to start this new series of posts because I’ve been coming across a lot of really great vintage pieces lately and I wanted to focus on the idea that new isn’t always better. Quality construction is something that is hard to come by these days, and when you do find it the price will usually have a zero or two more than you would like. It didn’t use to be that way and the simple fact that so many garments from 40, 50, and even 60 years ago still exist in wearable condition is a strong testament to that.

Tailored menswear hasn’t changed a whole lot in the last century, so taking a vintage find and incorporating it into your wardrobe can usually be done with just a few (or sometimes no) alterations.

I picked up this car coat made for The Man’s Shop at Lord & Taylor for $25 at a thrift shop coat sale and it is in immaculate condition with no visible wear and only one small scuff on one of the cuff buttons. 

I was drawn to it not only for the quality, which is immediately apparent, but also because the silhouette is in line with what you might find on the racks at a department store now. It looks to be mid- to late-60’s, but the labels inside suggest a production date in the early 70’s.

A classic coat like this is perfect for business attire, a casual day out, and everything in between. Pairing dark denim with a sweater and tie is a good all around look for a cold fall day. Since both the coat and denim are neutral, I wanted to make sure there was some color going on, so I chose a teal sweater and a purple tie. I like to pair analogous colors because they allow for contrast while still being pleasing to the eye. For more on color pairing, check out this post.

When a coat or cardigan has wood or leather-covered buttons, black in this case, you can tie things together by matching the color in your shoes and accessories. When the piece in question is vintage, pairing more contemporary looking items helps to keep the vintage from looking dated (which is a very important distinction to make). This coat is just another example that, while trends may come and go, classic style is truly timeless.

Vintage car coat by The Man's Shop at Lord & Taylor; Sweater and
watch by Nautica; Shirt by Barney's New York; Denim and bag by
AllSaints; Boots by John Varvatos; Tie by Penguin; Scarf by Tallia;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

How do you feel about incorporation vintage pieces into your wardrobe? What are some of your favorite vintage finds?

Stay stylish,
- JJ 

November 1, 2014

Dressing for the Occasion: Casual Interview

Preparing for a job interview can be stressful enough, but it’s important to remember that you only get one first impression. As someone who has hired for dozens of positions and worked with several hiring managers in various fields, I can say that appearance is often an important factor.

What I mean is that it’s important to dress appropriately for the job you are interviewing for because it not only makes it easier for the interviewer to envision you in the position, but it also shows that you understand and respect your potential employer. It’s one of those ‘dress for the job you want’ kind of things.

Some jobs, like those in business or law, will obviously necessitate business attire but more creative fields tend to allow a little more leeway for self-expression. Hopefully if you are interviewing at a company, you have a general idea of their workplace atmosphere and attire. My view is that you should dress as you would if you got the position, but maybe take it up a notch. There are always exceptions and each interview should be approached separately, but I have always found this to be a good starting point.

You want to be remembered when you leave the interview, but not for being the person who showed up in ripped jeans and a t-shirt or a lime green suit. Something like this purple herringbone sport jacket is memorable without being flashy.

A white shirt is classic and makes the process of coordinating a look that much easier because everything goes with white. What I like about Psycho Bunny, especially their ties, is the mix of fun and formality. The classic striped repp tie is appropriate for just about anything and the addition of the logo gives it a little bit of whimsy that is perfect for a creative field like fashion.

Personally I have an aversion to khaki chinos, probably from nine years of school uniforms. In this instance, a blue chino is basic enough while still being interesting. If the weather had been too warm for the cashmere sport jacket, I would probably have opted for a brighter pant instead to give me the pop of color that I’m looking for.

One thing that is often an afterthought is your bag. You should always bring copies of your resume to an interview, and you should bring them there in something respectable (read not a backpack). I find a hard briefcase too dated, so I opt for a soft leather bag. What I like about this one is the handles and the shoulder strap so it has the business feel of a briefcase with the versatility of a messenger bag.

Sport jacket by Scott James; Shirt by Uniqlo; Chinos by Gant Rugger;
Shoes by Ted Baker; Tie by Psycho Bunny; Tie bar by Link Up;
Scarf by Z Zegna; Bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs

With any interview, it is always better to err on the side of being overdressed than the opposite. Wearing something appropriate is equally as important as wearing something that makes you feel confident. If you can put together an outfit that is the perfect balance of the two, even better.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

September 26, 2014

Quick Tip: Knotting Your Scarf Pt 2

Scarves don’t just need to be a practical accessory. There is nothing wrong with wearing a scarf just as a style accessory. I covered a lot of the basic knots already in Part 1, but I wanted to supplement with a few more.

1. The Fake Infinity

This one is all in the name. Creating the look of an infinity scarf is fairly simple. Start out by tying the two ends together. If your scarf has fringe at the ends, you can tie the individual fringe together. This will give you a cleaner look, but it will also take more time to do (and undo).

Once knotted, wrap the scarf like you would a normal infinity scarf, hiding the knot in the folds. Adjust until it’s comfortable.

2. The Four-in-Hand

The four-in-hand has a menswear inspired name, but a much more interesting (and symmetrical) look than its tie knot counterpart. Start with the scarf looped over your shoulders, like with a French Loop. Take one of the ends and put it through the loop.

Twist the loop half a turn and put the second end through the loop below the twist.

Tighten and adjust.

3. The Loop and Tuck

This is similar to the variation on the single wrap that I did in my previous post, but with a slightly different look to the finished product. Start out with the scarf draped over your shoulder, with one end slightly longer than the other. Wrap the longer end around your neck once. 

Tuck the ends into the loop, then tighten and adjust.

There are a lot more ways to knot a scarf so don’t be afraid to experiment and find your own favorite. I wear scarves almost year-round, so using different knots gives me the versatility to keep things interesting month after month.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

August 8, 2014

The Shy Stylist Turns 3!

Today marks three years since I started The Shy Stylist and it’s been quite the ride. The last 12 months on the blog have had their ups and downs (mostly ups) and for the first time I’m not totally happy with where the site stands.

The last few months have been crazy busy for me between regular and freelance work, which is great, but there are only so many hours in the day and something has to give. Unfortunately, that has been the blog and the frequency of posts has gone way down. While I don’t see things slowing down for me in the near future, I hope to carve out enough time to publish at least two new posts a month.

I still love getting your emails and will always respond as soon as I can, so keep ‘em coming! I write this blog with the (possibly vain) notion that it will serve as a source of inspiration in a man’s sartorial journey, be that a starting point or just a pit stop along the way.

As always, thanks for reading!

Stay stylish,
- JJ            

July 5, 2014

Style Feature: The Weekend Wedding

Weekend getaways are usually pretty simple to pack for. When they revolve around attending a wedding, however, things can get a little tricky. Now a lot depends on the formality of the event and how far you have to travel, but with a few basic guidelines you can make your packing incredibly easy (even when you don’t know exactly what the weekend has in store). For this post, we will assume that it is a Saturday wedding and you are not involved in the ceremony.

Day 1 - Arrival

Shirt by J.Crew; Pants by Billy Reid; Sneakers by Converse; Watch by
Nautica; Antique silver bracelet; Tote by AllSaints; Garment bag by Tumi

When you travel, it’s important to be comfortable. When travelling for a wedding, it’s also important to dress somewhat nicely. Depending on how close you are to the happy couple, you might be introduced to friends, colleagues, or even family.

If at all possible, you want to avoid travelling in your wedding attire. It doesn’t matter how nice your suit it, it’s going to look a little rough after you’ve been sitting in a car (or plane) for a while. Try to book your accommodations to allow a day, or at least a few hours, to settle in and get ready. Either way, as soon as you arrive, you will want to unpack and hang your wedding attire to let the wrinkles start to hang out.

Day 2 – The Wedding

The wedding that I was attending had a loose ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ theme and a ‘festive attire encouraged’ dress code. Since it’s summer and a less formal dress code, I opted for a cotton suit and some more interesting shoes paired with a more whimsical shirt, tie, and pocket square.

Make sure you leave yourself enough time to shower, press/steam your clothes, and get dressed. Even worse than showing up underdressed to a wedding is showing up late. Personally, I like to start getting ready about two hours before I need to leave to make sure that I’m not rushing to press or shine anything.

Suit, pocket square, and belt by Ted Baker; Shirt by
Charles Tyrwhitt; Shoes by AllSaints; Tie by Alexander
McQueen; Tie bar by Link Up; Laces by Allen Edmonds

Day 3 – Brunch and Departure

Sport jacket by BOSS Black; Shirt by Ted Baker; Chinos and pocket square
by Gant Rugger; Boat shoes by Timberland; Belt by Brooks Brothers;
Socks by Corgi

Oftentimes there will be a brunch the morning after a wedding. Unless you are given specifics on how formal it will be, deciding what to wear can be rather difficult. I tend to overdress in general, so I will usually take a business casual approach - chinos, sport jacket, and sport shirt with no tie. If everyone else is in jeans and tees/knits, you’ll be stylishly overdressed. If for some reason, everyone is in a suit, you’ll be dressy enough to not feel out of place.

Shirt by Psycho Bunny; Pants by Billy Reid; Sneakers by Converse;
Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs; Watch by Nautica;
Antique silver bracelet; Nike FuelBand

Depending on what your plans are for the rest of the day, you may want to change before heading home. I was planning some scenic detours after checking out of the hotel, so I changed into something a little more comfortable but still put together, in case I ran into anyone from the wedding on my way out.

Whatever you decide to pack for a weekend wedding, the most important thing to remember is that it’s all about the bride and groom. Be respectful of the event(s) they have put together – and yes showing up in cargo shorts and a t-shirt because you didn’t schedule enough time to change properly is disrespectful. If you aren’t sure about the level of formality, especially when it comes to events surrounding the wedding that will often not have the specificity of dress written out on an invitation, don’t be afraid to ask questions. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and overdress. That goes not just for the wedding, but also for life.

Stay stylish,

- JJ

June 8, 2014

Style Feature: The Summer Bag

Even though it’s not technically summer yet, it might as well be with the weather we’ve been having, and like with your clothes, your accessories should change with the seasons. Leather is classic all year long, but why not make things a little more interesting? A wool bag is great for winter and cotton is equally perfect for summer.

1. Summer Stripe

Sometimes a leather messenger bag just isn’t the right fit. Maybe it’s too big for what you need to carry or it feels too business-y for what you are wearing or doing that day. A smaller canvas bag is a good alternative. One of my favorite things about this bag is the versatility that the combination of the shoulder strap and handle gives me.

Extra Tip : Another benefit to a cotton bag is that when it starts to rain, like it did during this shoot, your bag won’t be damaged.

Bag by Jack Spade; Sweater by Nautica; Shirt and belt by J.Crew;
Pants by Billy Reid; Sneakers by AllSaints; Socks by Corgi;
Sunglasses by Alexander McQueen

2. Nautical Navy

Not all tote bags are created equal. A sturdy canvas tote with pockets will give you the function and the style with a seasonal twist.

Extra Tip : Scarves aren’t just for the winter. During the spring and summer, adding a lightweight scarf will keep the sun off of your neck, which actually helps you stay cooler.

Tote and scarf by Gant; Shirt by Gant Rugger; Denim by AllSaints;
Boat shoes by Sebago; Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs; Watch by Nautica

Now obviously there are innumerable options for seasonal bags as you can find them in a wide variety of styles, colors, and materials. The key, as with buying any bag, is finding one that suits your personal style and needs.

Stay stylish,

- JJ

May 6, 2014

Style Feature: The Henley

Despite their growing popularity, a lot of people are hesitant to give henleys a place in their closet. On a shoot recently, one was constantly referred to as 'the old man tee' by the photographer. I understand the sentiment, especially given that they are most often just t-shirts with a button neck and usually worn as such. To me, this shortchanges the versatility that they can have given the right combination of fabric, details, and color.

1. Front and Center

Not all henleys are created equal. With the right details, a henley can hold its own with a blazer and chinos just as easily as with denim and a hoodie. Look for things that make it more than just a t-shirt with buttons. With this one, the stiff cotton of the pleated bib front and button cuffs play against the super soft body giving it just the right balance.

Extra Tip : When wearing brightly colored pants, it’s best to pair them with neutrals on top. On the same note, patterns on top should be balanced with solids on the bottom.

Henley & boots by AllSaints; Jacket by John Varvatos; Chinos by Paige;
Scarf by Z Zegna; Bag by Jack Spade; Sunglasses by Marc by Marc Jacobs

2. In the Middle

Another approach is to wear a henley as a midlayer beneath a woven or sweater. Most pieces you will find are quite thin which make them uniquely suited for layering. Their popularity makes them readily available which means you can also play with colors.

Extra Tip : Socks are a fun and easy way to add color and pattern to your wardrobe, no matter how casual your look.

Henley by Perry Ellis; Woven by Gant Rugger; Denim
& sneakers by AllSaints; Socks by Corgi

3. Over the Top

I usually don’t wear henleys on their own. Instead I prefer to layer them, usually under (as in the last picture), but occasionally as a top layer. The buttons give you some added interest, but with the same functionality of a lightweight sweater. It’s a unique take on a classic silhouette, and depending on the henley it can be as casual or dressy as you want.

Extra Tip : Cords aren’t only for winter. A light, fine wale cord can take you through just about any season. Remember, it’s only cotton.

Henley, leather jacket, and bag by AllSaints; Woven by Gant Rugger;
Cords by Gant by Michael Bastian; Boots by John Varvatos;
Scarf by Gant; Sunglasses by Alexander McQueen

If you’re looking for a new piece to add to your spring wardrobe, or just a new way to layer your existing pieces, a henley is a great addition to any closet.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

April 15, 2014

Favorite Finds: Uniqlo x Michael Bastian 2014

Michael Bastian’s second collaboration of knits with Uniqlo dropped last month and I finally got the chance to check it out. For those who may not be familiar with his work, here’s a quick rundown on Michael Bastian.

Before starting his own line in 2006, Michael Bastian was the men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman. In addition to Uniqlo, he also has an ongoing collaboration with Gant, and won the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year award in 2011. He has become a leader in modern prep style, an aesthetic that can easily be seen in this year’s collaboration.

I was expecting a slim fit, but it was really slim. The tag lists a 38”-41” chest as being Medium, which is usually helpful. I have a 40” chest and always wear a Medium in Uniqlo, even their slim fit, so I thought that would be fine. I was in a rush, so I bought the shirt and took it home. When I went to try it on, it was only with some difficulty that I managed to get it past my shoulders.

Once it was on, it didn’t fit terribly. It definitely fit, just a little too snug for my personal taste. I tried a Large, but the proportions were off. If you like a tight fit or have a slighter build than I do, it might be perfect for you. The other thing that made it a no-go for me was how high and tight the armholes are. Again, that is a personal preference thing and not any reflection on the design. I have seen similar cuts from so many labels, it’s just not my cup of tea.

There are 11 styles, each in multiple colors from the initial release last month and another 8 styles that just arrived this week. Solids, prints, stripes, all told there are 77 different shirts to choose from, so you should have no problem finding one that suits you.

On top of that, the detailing on all of this collaboration’s offerings are really great. There are some with a 4-button placket and a button down collar, others with safari pockets, and still others with an open v placket.

For $22.90, there isn’t a lot to complain about when it comes to price, but the quality is a lot better than what you would expect. All the polos I looked at were 100% cotton and have a nice feel to them as well. There is also hem tape reinforcement at the side vents, which matched the contrast collar/placket/cuffs on the one that I bought.

The stores I hit in NYC are still pretty well stocked in styles and sizes, but I noticed that the website is starting to run low on sizes in the first wave of styles. Remember, the fit is super slim, but that is how it is designed. I’ve actually seen a couple of these polos on random passerby, and, on the right body type, they look great.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

March 23, 2014

Reader Question: Carrying Keys

If you made a list of accessories that contribute to your style, a key ring is probably nowhere on that list, but maybe it should be. I received an email from a reader a little while ago that touched on just that. Skip writes:
            This may seem like a stupid question, but I wanted your advice on dealing with my keys in a professional atmosphere. I just graduated college and moved into my own place and have a car, so I have a lot of keys and I’m not sure what to do with them. In school I had them on a lanyard, but that doesn’t seem very professional. My new job has a business casual atmosphere so it’s not like I’m wearing a suit or anything, but I still don’t want my pocket bulging with keys. Any advice?

This is actually a really great question, and something that I think a lot of guys struggle with, I know I did. We pay so much attention to our clothes, shoes, and accessories, but keys are oftentimes an afterthought at best.

Obviously where you live and work plays a part in both how many keys you carry and how you carry them, but at some point you are going to need to carry them on your person and that is when this afterthought becomes important. You don’t want to show up to an event in a nicely tailored suit with a lump in your pocket because of your janitor-inspired key ring.

Yorkie Key Chain by Orvis

There is no shortage of options to choose from: generic or souvenir key chains, branded fobs, even leather cases. Personally, I prefer a carabiner for the versatility that it offers. I can clip it onto my belt but its slim profile also makes it easy to tuck into a jacket or pant pocket if needed. I can also easily add or remove things from it, which lets me quickly grab just my apartment key when I go for a run or keep track of the key if I rent a car for a trip out of the city.

Stripe Key Fob by Brooks Brothers

For the most part, I like to keep my key ring light, with just my building keys and a ring of loyalty cards. I also keep a cloth fob on there because it makes them easier to grab when I toss them into a tote, but it doesn’t really affect the profile or weight. Luckily my work keys are all electronic so they don’t need any extra real estate, and I don’t have a car key to deal with on a daily basis. I used to carry an additional ring of miscellaneous keys (lock box, guitar cases, etc) but that got too bulky.

Alpha 6 Hook Key Case by Tumi

If you are stuck with regularly carrying a lot of keys, another option is to carry a bag or briefcase with you. A small internal pocket will keep them off your person, but still within easy reach so you don’t find yourself digging for them.

Whatever you choose to put your keys on, the most important thing is to edit what you carry to keep your keychain from turning into a weight.

Stay stylish,
- JJ